Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our Place


Do you remember this?



Or this?



This?


Family Christmas on the beaches of South Carolina.
We're doing it again this year.
Seven days of family, funniness and...the beach, you guys, on Christmas!
I've never spent a Christmas on a beach. It might be weird.
But I can tell you one thing:
I will not be complaining.

I have a good feeling that Sand and Christmas lights will make quite a dashing couple.

If you don't remember here are the posts about our last two trips to SC:



{PS. I love how, in this post, I was so sure I'd never see our house again.
I could not have been more wrong. We're returning to the same -perfect- beach house this year.}






A Christmas Post


Chicago.
 Eggnog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate. Dark. With whip.



Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He wraps some and sets others out just so...for maximum "wow" factor.

 
Colored lights on tree/house or white? I used to think white but have been leaning toward the colors more lately.

Do you hang mistletoe? I don't. It's sort of sad. Next year, perhaps?


When do you put your decorations up? Just after Thanksgiving.


Cookie Day 2011


What is your favorite holiday dish? Any sort of crackers with cheese or creamy dip. Appetizers win.

 
Favorite holiday memory as a child? Looking at the decorated Marshall Fields windows in Chicago. Magic.

 
When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I can't remember. It was like this slow realization that left me neither disenchanted or bitter.

 
Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We usually do all of our "family gifts" on Christmas Eve (a tradition of the husband's) and then our Santa gifts on Christmas morning, naturally. 


How do you decorate your Christmas tree? White lights and all handmade ornaments from my babies this year. (Nothing breakable...have you met my littlest?)

No? You haven't? Well...here he is.


My "Ralphie."

Snow! Love it or dread it? Dread it's coming and the mess it makes but adore looking at it.


Can you ice skate? Oh my. I have but it isn't pretty. I'm really good at sipping hot chocolate and watching others ice skate though.


Hot Chocolate - all dressed up.
Do you remember your favorite gift? Usually anything that came from the American Girl store was a big win.


What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Laughter. Warmth. Family. Jesus.
What is your favorite holiday dessert? Cookies.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? The advent calendar. Baking Christmas cookies with the little ones. Giving gifts. 


What tops your tree? A red star. 
Holiday dinner for two.


Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? Not gonna lie, I adore receiving. But the look on someones face when I've gotten them the perfect gift is completely priceless. Giving. 

Candy canes: yuck or yummy? Eh.


Favorite Christmas show? New: Elf.  Old: Little Women. Older: White Christmas 

Saddest Christmas song? Sad and Christmas don't belong in the same sentence.
But the UGLIEST Christmas song has to be that ridiculous "Last Christmas" song. Blech.



What is your favorite Christmas song? Sacred: O Holy Night. Secular: Christmas Waltz


These cookies are unassuming and amazing.

{Christmas survey from here.}
Do your own and post in my comments for a little link-up.





Little Girl, Big City {Part One}

Once upon a time there was a little girl.
She was a pretty little thing with sparkly blue eyes and spun-gold hair.
She was turning five.

On the day before her birthday - a chilly day in December - her birthday adventure began.
Her daddy and brothers woke up early, before the sun even had a chance to peek over the horizon, to bring her to the train station.
She was going to Chicago!
{accompanied by her Mama and Grandma Honey, of course.}

It may not have been such a crazy morning if they hadn't missed their scheduled train...
but they did.
And so, the morning was crazy.

First, they were a little behind because Mama had to curl this little girl's hair so it would lay just right.
Next, Daddy took a wrong turn with only minutes to spare until the train left the station and put them on a path far out of the way. By the time they arrived to catch the train it had already gone without them.

Mama just about cried.
But Daddy had other plans.
He raced those worried girls through red lights (boy did Mama laaaaugh at that) and under bridges and over the highways until he beat that train to the next station and they hopped right on, just as if they'd never missed a beat.

They met Grandma Honey on the train and sat down to the strawberry cupcakes the little girl had requested, made special by her Mama.
They ate those cupcakes with a fizzy, pink drink at 9:30 in the morning.
They were famished from their busy start to the day.
Cupcakes taste just as good...maybe better...at 9:30 as they do any other time of day.


Before she knew it...
after some coloring and story-reading and window-gazing and lunch-eating and Mommy-snuggling
{and maybe some Mommy-shushing}


...that little girl had arrived in Chicago.


Her Grandma Honey made certain she was dressed snugly before she ventured out into those windy streets.

That little almost-five-year-old was amazed at the high buildings and bustling crowds she met.
Mama said, "This is the city where I was born. Do you like it?"
She said, "Yes." Her eyes as big as they could go.

Grandma found a cab to take them to their next destination...
"Where to?" the cab driver asked.
"Chicago!" that smart little girl answered.
"You're IN Chicago." the man said - he wasn't wearing any shoes! only socks.
On those dirty old, cold streets.


"To the American Girl Place, please." Grandma answered.
And they were off...

{Part Two to come...}

Monday, December 19, 2011

I'm Still Here...

...and, apparently, so are you.
Thank you for not deserting my deserted blog!


Christmas break is upon me and, thus, the opportunity to blog.
New, Christmassy blog posts coming soon!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tenderloin TLC: Roasted Rosemary Pork Loin

We don't eat much pork in our house.
I never really knew how to treat it...how to coax the best flavors out of it...
how to really love it.
I mean, I knew about the classic pork and apples combos but it just never really appealed to me.

Until I had Tracy's Roasted Rosemary Pork Loin at one of those diamond-in-the-rough church Christmas parties.
{You know, the kind of potluck with a motley crew of mismatched pans and rubbermaid bowls full of the most mouthwatering deliciousness... You know the kind.}

She put together this gorgeous pork loin that was succulent and laden with rosemary and sweet juices.
Ugh.
Changed my pork-less little life.

Here's how to treat your pork loin right:

You start with rosemary.
Lots of it.


Gather and mix brown sugar, sherry, garlic and some grainy mustard.
Dump in the chopped rosemary.
Prep the bath...the loin is about to luxuriate in this...

Sprinkle a hefty amount of salt and coarsely crush pepper over the prepped loin.


Douse the seasoned meat in all of the brown sugar and rosemary mixture,
and pop that happy little baby into the oven - covered nicely and tucked in with tin foil.

Be sure to set your timer for every 45 minutes or so to take out the meat and spoon the juice over the top;
it will keep the meat glowing.


You're going to cook it for a few hours {depending on the size of your roast} and for the last hour or so take the foil off and let it crisp up a bit on the outside.

And then...plate her up and give that girl the close-up she's begging for.


Me still, my heart.
Pork tenderloin heaven.

Roasted Rosemary Pork Loin

5 lb pork tenderloin
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons sherry
1/2 tablespoon grainy mustard
salt + pepper
garlic + fresh rosemary
{be liberated from the confines of the recipe and use the garlic and rosemary to taste.}

Cover with heavy foil and bake at 325 for 3-4 hours.
Remove pork loin every 45 minutes to an hour to baste in sauces.
Remove foil 1 hour before the end of cook time.
{Adjust cook time for a larger/smaller roast.}


This is such a great holiday recipe.
It screams Christmas to me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some Things...

Here's the thing.
My little old brain is much too overloaded - full to bursting - with Very Important Information for school.
To the extent that I normally can't compose a coherent thought and spit it out in conversation...
and I definitely can't sit here and write an intelligent blog post.

So. Here it is. My random, catch-all blog post.
(They call it "flight of ideas" in nursing.)

You've been warned.

I have a new food love.
Cowboy Caviar.

It's a zingy little blend of corn and beans and peppers and a few tomatoes scattered throughout.
But it's not just a regular old salsa...it's got this little acidy vinegar thing going on and it's so stinkin' good I could cry.
I put it in just about everything.
On top of nachos is my favorite thus far.
{I got this particular kind here.}


Speaking of school.
Was I speaking of school? No?
Oh well...
Speaking of school, it's going fabulously.
I mean really, I've gotten quite used to seeing B's scribbled on my tests instead of A's and that is a step in the right direction.
The first few B's just about gave me panic attacks and heart palpitations (yep, I was the student that thought anything less than a 90 was failing) so it's really very nice to have gotten desensitized to the 84 and 85%'s that just keep on popping up.
You know what they say, If you can't beat 'em; lower your expectations and join 'em.
...or something like that.


And can I tell you about the friends I've made in nursing school?
They are fabulous and totally inappropriate and smart and cute and keep me {mostly} sane through this crazy time in my life.
I'm really coming to love those girls.


I started clinicals - the bit in school where you actually go to a nursing setting and take care of real, live people instead of totally creepy adorable rubber dummies.
I love that.
But I do get a little confused from time to time about my boundaries.
Like...we were at a nursing home last week and this great elderly lady was jabbering on and on about how much she loves her nude nylons but she only has one pair left and it has a large run that was started by her big toe and she really wishes she either had more nylons like that or she had some clear stuff to paint on it and make it stop running and she asked her niece to bring her some new ones but her niece hasn't yet and is on a cruise right now so she wont be back for a long time and maybe I could rinse them out for her and set them somewhere nice and warm to dry...
You get the idea.
I had the most overwhelming desire to leave my nursing duties right then and there and drive myself to Walgreens and get this lady a little egg-ful of nude nylons.
Seriously. She was the cutest thing.
And then I realized that probably wasn't within my scope of practice and didn't do it.
But boy, did I wash those ripped nylons well.


Beck loves soccer.
{Told you this was going to be random.}
And he is so, so good.
So good, in fact that he makes about 95% (I'm being modest) of the goals during his games.
So good that Mr. B. let me in on a little dream he has for our family...
He thinks we could get Beck into a European soccer club and ride the boy's soccer glory all the way to England or Spain or Italy or somewhere fabulous like that.
{You know, those Europeans are very serious about their football.}
Which sort of scared me and excited me at the same time.
I mean, nothing like putting all your eggs in one {little, 6-year-old} basket.
Pressure, much?
But also, if that happened I would be over-the-moon excited.
Ha!
Until then we'll just watch our dude dominate the crappy community soccer fields and be really, really, glowingly proud of him.


I think I want to make a big commitment...
Are you ready?
It's huge. It's actually scaring me because it's so huge.
I want to commit to doing another A Day in {insert month here} series.
{If you don't know what I'm talking about, click here.}
I was just looking back at those posts and marveling over how much life has changed since then.
It's fun to see what we did on a regular old day...
Would you join me if I started it up again?


Another blog-related commitment I'd like to make:
A photo challenge.
Since I got this new camera I've been a picture-takin'-fool and it might be fun to have a little guidance.
Alicia did a great one and I'm thinking of giving it a whirl.
{yeah, it says "august 2011." whatever. I'm unorthodox like that.}


Okay. Enough rambling.
I think I covered it all.
Food, school, nude nylons, pipe dreams about European soccer, overcommitments to blogging.
Yep, I'd better stop while I'm ahead.

I know I don't update the blog too often anymore but I certainly can find the time to tweet a lot.
So follow me here if you want to keep up between blogs.

Friday, October 7, 2011

How Fall Should Be


I'm going to join the chorus and say, "Fall is my favorite season."
I've been loving all of the pumpkin-spice-latte and boot-wearing and leaf-crunching Fall rhapsodies clogging up my twitter feed.
I give a hearty "amen" to every single one.
{Although, I did read this funny blog post...but I have a feeling she's in the minority.}
So...with no further ado, I give you my own tribute to Fall...
The {second} most wonderful time of the year.
{Christmas still holds down the #1 spot in my heart.}


Blue skies and a sun-colored Chevy bound for the other side of the river.

Rosy cheeks and a ferry ride.
Cluttered counters and a supper made entirely of crusty french bread and fresh apple butter.



A weekend afternoon spent at the apple orchard breaking in my new shoes.

Realizing...again...how truly happy the color orange can be.

Reaching into the treetops to pluck the perfect specimen.



The perfect apple pickin' basket.
{Evie loves her Blessing Basket; a perfect Christmas gift.}
The sweetest yellow, leather shoes and stripey leggings.


Discovering that corn comes in browns, eggplant, orange and red.




A really juicy bite.

Colors so vibrant you could have sworn they were paints on a canvas.



Finding that apples can make quite nice stand-ins for soccer balls.

Making the time to just be with them...no homework, no concerns.
Just babies and apples.


To hear more of me waxing poetic about the glories of Autumn, see these past posts:




 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Camera.

You guys.
I have a new camera.
I sort of love it.
I'm also quite intimidated by it.

I am convinced this baby has much much more picture power than I have knowledge to implement.
Never taken a photography class in my little life...but I'll give her a go.



September has been good to us thus far.
A dinner party at Grandma Honey's.
A romp at the St. Louis Balloon Glow.
A family camping expedition.
A long visit from Gramma.

I'm linking up to day with Beka in her photo challenge.
The theme for the week is "September is the best month ever."
Which just might be true...


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pirate Birthday Parrrrty.


Riddle:
What do you get when you add fake sticky mustaches...

A new 6-year-old...


And some fake tattoos?


If you were thinking complete hilariousness, you'd be right...


Oh my gosh, they're cute. 
Err...I mean, fierce.


I put together some Blood Red Cupcakes {much more piratey than Red Velvet...}


Planks are a must-have...
made of chocolate wafer sticks and piped red frosting.


 The brave plank-walkers over stormy seas...
{or soccer balls and an empty kiddie pool, whatever.}

Auntie bequeaths the pirates their pirate names.
Names like One-Eyed Leroy Bones and Black Beard Stanley.


There was a fair prize at the end of a lengthy and rowdy treasure hunt.



 Divvying up the spoils.
{Disregard my husband's nearly scandalous used-to-be-jeans. He likes to really put on his Sunday best for parties.
Just call him Captain Classy Legs.}


Pirates love birthday candles.
Check out all of the "sympathy blowers."
: )


Even little sisters get in on the mustache magic.




This was such a fun theme for a party and I found lots of resources to make it happen.
The party stores were full of pirate props and Target has a whole line of pirate party favors and decor right now.
The mustaches are actually scrapbooking supplies with sticker backs - they weren't the most pleasant experience being ripped off of tender upper-lips.
My apologies to the mothers of the boys to whom I gave an upper lip waxing experience.
They really didn't cry all that much. Just a tear or two.
{kidding...mostly.}

The cupcake toppers were free printables from here.
And many of my ideas {"Walk the Plank" treats, pirate names} were from this blog.

I can't believe my boy is six.
It just can't be.
But when his legs dangle to the floor as he sits on my lap and he comes out with phrases like,
"Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?"
{which grants him whatever he's thinkin' just about every time...it's too cute.}
and, "I have an excellent idea"
and, "What a peaceful night..."
I am forced to come to terms with the fact that this boy is, indeed, growing up.
And growing up into one of the most magnetic, infectiously joyful people I've ever met.

Click these links for Beck's past birthdays on the blog: