Tag Archives: family

Better Late than Never!

23 Dec

We all have our strengths, and our weaknesses.  I am terrible at getting Christmas cards out.  I’m good at picking them out and ordering them.  It’s the addressing, stamping and mailing part that challenges me.

Just to illustrate, my husband and I were married in October of 1995.  I had the cutest cards made with our wedding picture and the words “Marry Christmas”. Get it, “Marry” instead of “Merry”?

Anyway, I must have had 150 of these lovelies made up.  I wrote little thank you notes for our wedding in them, addressed them, and stamped them.  Well…about 10 years later, I found a box full of them!  Stamped, addressed, everything!  What happened?

I know some people got them, because they felt it necessary to inform me that I misspelled “Merry”. Urgh!

I ALMOST put them in the mail and blamed it on the post office.  I was so embarrassed that so many people didn’t get a thank you note from our wedding.  Oh well, I moved on.

That brings me to Christmas 2010.  We had the cutest pictures taken in October (plenty of time), ordered Christmas cards, and never got them out.

Fast forward to this year.  I just couldn’t justify ordering more cards after my failure to follow through last year.  So, it’s last years card you get!

Yes, I am mailing out last years card.  I wonder how many people will even notice?  I don’t think I would.  I would be too busy admiring those cute kids!

Just to update things a bit, I included a picture from our daughter’s wedding in October of 2011.  Isn’t she beautiful?

My only expense was $13 for the copies of the pictures and postage.  Not bad.

They are all addressed and ready to go to the post office today.  Hope I don’t find them is some box in ten years:)

Merry Christmas!

Advertisements

Cookie Day is Coming!

4 Dec

Every year, my very best girlfriends, whom I have known since I was five, get together along with our families and decorate Christmas cookies.  My friends are four sisters who have adopted me into their “sisterhood” since I have no sisters of my own (boo hoo).

Sadly, they all live about two hours away and every year my family drives up to one of their houses and we don’t get home until after midnight.  So this year, they are all coming to my house for a “Cookie Day Slumber Party”!

It’s going to be so fun!  It’s a good thing I got the house in order for Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, all of their kids are getting older now, because one year I hosted cookie day and had colored frosting from one end of my newly carpeted house to the other.  I forgave them, because all five of my kids have grown-up with this tradition and have, undoubtedly done the same.

I remember my Sarah last year just sitting at the decorating table eating a mound of frosting.  It wasn’t pretty.  In fact, I think she had more green sprinkles than frosting.  It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

Each family brings a load of sugar cookies that we have already baked and then we can all just chose any of the cookies on the table to decorate.  It’s fun that way because every gets a greater variety of shapes.

We used to try to bake the cookies the same day, but I always seemed to burn mine because I would get distracted chatting.  So now I just burn my own at home:)

I’ve been thinking about how to get prepared for cookie day and remembered the most amazing cookie blog ever, Bake at 350.  I found it last year and suggested to my friends that we take our cookie decorating to the next level.  I even emailed a link to the blog to them and none of them even looked at it.

So, it was tubs of nasty frosting with food coloring and powdered sugar and milk with food coloring for the 30th year.

Well, this year, it’s at MY house!  We are going to kick it up a notch!

Take a look at these babies:

Did I mention that my friends and I get pretty “into” our decorating.  I won’t call us competitive, but…ok, we can get a bit competitive.  Unfortunately, I am definitely not the best cookie decorator.  I think that honor probably goes to one our daughters.

I love these trees, too!  Aren’t the dots so cute?

The trick, according to Bridget at Bake at 350, is to outline, then fill, then flood with frosting.  We will be expanding our frosting repertoire this year to include outlining, filling, and flooding.  I can’t wait!

Are feeling inspired?  Are you getting hungry?

Here are some tips from Bake at 350 to help you get organized and will make your cookie baking more enjoyable:

First…take a look at your supplies.  You’re going to need:

If you are planning on mailing your cookies or giving as gifts, you will need:

OK….next.  Start early.  Cookie decorating is really more fun if you break it up into chunks.   
Do one of the following to make life easier:

  • make the dough ahead and freeze (thaw in the fridge overnight)
  • bake the cookies and freeze (thaw at room temperature for a few hours)
  • bake the cookies the day before decorating
  • make the icing a day (or so) before decorating (if you are doing fine detail work, you’ll want to make this the same day you are using)

I think I’ll be baking the cookies a few days in advance so I can use my time to get ready for company.

Here is the recipe that I used last year and the cookies were awesome.  I love how they held-up and they tasted better than the others (sorry girls!).  Notice that it calls for sugar with vanilla beans.  I’ve been storing vanilla beans in my sugar ever since I read about it last year.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies (from Bake at 350)

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling (video on University of Cookie).

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Enjoy and have fun!

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

29 Nov

Wow, what a week!  It feels like I haven’t posted in forever!  I hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend with much love and family and/or friends.

My Thanksgiving was wonderful…mostly, but I’ll get to that.

I tried to spend all day Wednesday in the kitchen in the attempt to get everything pre-made as much as possible so all I would have to do Thursday is the turkey and gravy.  Nice thought, but real life happened and I only got a few things done in advance.  Thankfully, my sister-in-law, Kelly, and her family stayed with us and she was a HUGE help all day Thursday.  We would have eaten on Friday if it wasn’t for Kelly.  Thanks, Kelly!

We chopped, we assembled, we baked, we washed dishes, repeat.

We made delicious food, I must say.  My little stove got some major action.

I was in charge of the stuffing, of which I made WAY too much!  But, it was delish and I am still eating the leftovers.  I made it with cornbread,  sausage, roasted chestnuts (yes, I roasted chestnuts), mushrooms, and granny smith apples sautéed in white wine. Yum! I love digging through and finding all kinds of treasures.  I’m weird like that.

Then, much to my husband’s chagrin, I made brussels sprouts.  I think I converted a few brussels sprouts haters over to the dark side.  All I can say is everything is better with bacon!  Even my husband loved them.

I wish I had a picture of our turkey!  We got a 27 pound fresh, organic turkey from our store, of course, and it was the best turkey ever.  We brined it in the morning and cooked it without stuffing for about 6 hours.  It was a beaut!

I also made a pumpkin goat cheese cheesecake that was absolutely sinful.  I made it for my mother-in-law, Patti, who was turning 70 on Saturday.  All of her sons were there to sing Happy Birthday to her. Happy Birthday, Patti!

I really wish I had a better camera so I could capture how pretty the table looked, but you’ll have to just use your imagination.  I think it turned-out quite lovely.

We gave each couple a small jar of local raw honey to take home with them since most everyone was visiting from out-of-town.  My new antique dishes mixed beautifully with my china, thanks to my lovely daughter.  Thanks lovely daughter!

I think the coolest part of the table was the thankful tree.  We placed bowls with little paper leaves in them on each table and asked people to write what they are thankful for and hang it on the tree.  That was our centerpiece.  Here is the undecorated tree.

Did I mention I love sparkles?

Here’s a view of part of the table from upstairs.  Don’t look at it too long or you’ll get dizzy, or maybe it’s just me.

Here’s a peak at the kid’s table.

And the “teen table”…

I think everyone had a nice time.  I know I did…until…

I ate something funky that didn’t agree with me.  I know what it is, but I’m not going to say.  I will say that it had oysters in it and cayenne pepper; not a good combo for my tummy, apparently.  One minute I was washing dishes and the next minute I was lying on my bed unable to get up.  Such a bummer!

Not only did I miss the big family picture, but I missed dessert!

Thankfully, the ladies all pitched-in and finished the dishes (all 3000 of them) before they left.  What a blessing!

And I was fine the next day:)

Happy Thanksgiving from the Bradley Bunch!

Dressing or Stuffing?

22 Nov

There’s no difference between stuffing and dressing, according the The Food Lover’s Companion.  Both are mixtures “used to stuff poultry, fish, meat and some vegetables.”

The Joy of Cooking differentiates between the two by saying it’s stuffing if you put it in the bird, and dressing if you serve it on the side, but the National Turkey Federation says that “both terms are used interchangeably.”

I read somewhere that the term dressing became popular because the term stuffing didn’t sound mannerly.

Who cares?

I LOVE it!  I love it so much that I have been dieting all week so I can eat as much as I want.

I love it so much that I am serving three different dressings/stuffings on Thanksgiving.

I will stuff my bird, but the majority of our dressing will be made the day before and cooked in a separate dish.

Since we are hosting 300 people…I mean 25 people, my mother-in-law is making several things and bringing them to help out.  I am so grateful!

One of the things she is bringing is Oyster stuffing.  Hmmm.  I have had this once at my sister-in-laws house and just don’t get it.

I think it’s the fishy thing with the turkey thing that just doesn’t jive with me.

That was a few years ago, so I am going to give it another college try this Thanksgiving and see if my taste buds have matured.

In light of the oyster stuffing selection, I will be making a cornbread stuffing with sausage, apples, and (Lord willing) roasted chestnuts.

I am getting hungry just thinking about it.  I will be altering several recipes to create my own pan of deliciousness!

Here are the recipes I am pulling from:

Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage and Apples by Pioneer Woman

Buttermilk Cornbread Stuffing with Sausage by Country Living

I am also going to try a southern-style dressing that I think my kids will enjoy.  Really, I’m just trying to keep them out of my stuffing.  I found a good one by Paula Dean, but I’m going to try one from Shoshanna at the Bulk Herb Store.  I love her.  If you watch her video, spend some time checking-out some of her other videos.  She is awesome.

The southern dressings are more like a pudding with a bunch of eggs.  I love my dressing all chunky with lots of bits of yummy things.  So I thought the contrast would be good.

No matter what you call it, enjoy it.

Queen of Your Home

14 Nov

I was reading a little devotional this morning by Nancy Campbell called “100 Days of Blessing: Devotions for Wives and Mothers” and came across a quote I wanted to share by Rev. T De Witt Talmage:

“Thank God, O woman, for the quietude of your home, and that you are queen in it.  Men come at eventide to the home; but all day long you are there, beautifying it, sanctifying it, adorning it and blessing it.  Better be there than war a queen’s coronet,  Better be there than carry the purse of a princess.  It may be a very humble home.  There may be no carpet on the floor.  There may be no pictures on the wall.  There may be no silks in the wardrobe; but, by your faith in God, and your cheerful demeanor, you may garniture that place with more splendor than the upholsterer’s hand ever kindles.”

Nancy writes, “Your home is not a prison to restrict your life.  It is a place where God can use you to influence many lives for Him, firstly your children, and multitudes of others who will come into your home over the years.  My greatest delight is to bring people into our home, feed them at our table and by God’s grace, show them God’s love and lead them closer to God”

Lovely words to keep in mind during the holidays and always.

Clean-up Mission #2

13 Nov

Counting today, which is half over, I only have 3 more days to get my house de-cluttered.  That wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t homeschooling my kids and driving all over San Diego for their various activities.  But I am determined to get my house in order for Thanksgiving, when it will be filled with family from all over the United States enjoying each others’ company in a nice, tidy home.

So I had better  get on with Mission #2: the landing.

For some reason, the landing has taken itself very literally and has become the “landing” spot for every homeless thing in the house.  Time to find a home for this stuff.  Much of it will be going in the trash:)

I also thought I would add a mini mission to this post: the breakfast nook floor.

     Although not as dramatic as the landing, these piles of books have been equally as irritating.   I moved a bookcase out of my kitchen a few, ahem, months ago, and they just never made it out of the kitchen.

Most of these are keepers, so I just need to put them in a box and put them somewhere until I can buy another bookcase.

Boy, I like the after posts much more than the before posts.  How about you?

I only have two hours to work on this today, so I had better get cracking!

 

 

 

 

Clean-up Mission #1

9 Nov

As you will soon find out, I am pretty much an open book, and I don’t pretend to be someone I am not.  As I mentioned before, my house is a bit out of control and I am on a mission to clean it up before November 17th.   That’s just 8 days away.  Yikes!

The deadline is because I have a cleaning lady coming to help me shine the place up for Thanksgiving and that’s the latest appointment she had available.  If you have ever had someone else clean you house, you know that it can be even more work preparing for them to come than the cleaning itself.  Basically, it is my reward for getting a handle on the messes that are taking over my house.

Case in point:

This is my master bedroom.  I know, I know, it’s not pretty.  My mom would be so embarrassed!  That’s why I’m posting these pictures.  Not to embarrass my mom, but because I need accountability!  Now I HAVE to clean it!  No more putting it off until tomorrow, or next week, or next year.

Here’s another corner of my bedroom:

Don’t ask me why I have tubs of baby clothes and cloth diapers all over my room.  I’m done having babies.  I’m just not good at getting rid of stuff.

I think it’s because I was always holding onto the kid’s clothes for the next kid.  When you have 5 kids, that’s a lot of stuff.

I guess I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, but now it’s time to do something with all this stuff.

Here’s the plan:  I am going to have one box for give-away/garage sale stuff, one tub for really nice stuff that I can pass down to my oldest daughter for her baby or sell on Ebay, and one tub for clothes that I am still saving for my youngest daughter.  Everything else will go away or be thrown away.

And they’re off…

I’ll post after pictures soon, I hope.