Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Legacy Lives On!

Every Christmas Eve since I can remember my Dad baked a big ham for us to eat on Christmas Day.  My Dad is a great cook, meaning he spends lots of time laboring over his food.  We all marvel over the savory smells and the taste is better than anything I have ever tasted.  In fact we would moan on Christmas Eve because it would make everyone hungry.  I knew my Mom always bought an Esskay Silver Label Ham and my Dad used a spicy mustard, but I never took the time to learn more, until now.  Right before Thanksgiving I saw they had these special hams on sale and I had a coupon (one in recent paper too) plus $6 off my order.  I got a free 18 lb. turkey and a 9 lb. ham for $7.87.  Great deal!  I put the ham in the freezer and Monday took it out to thaw and called my dad for his recipe.  Let's just say my dad has a way with words and it isn't always pretty.  Honestly you should see my directions with arrows and then he was just giving me steps out of order, but it was all worth it last night as my family sat down for a delicious ham, fresh green beans from our summer garden and fresh mashed potatoes also from our garden.  My family awoke from napping they way I would on Christmas Day smelling a delicious ham cooking in the oven that would make your mouth water.  I was so proud of my meal that I sent my parents some ham and fresh baked cookies.   Thanks Dad may your ham recipe live on through our family and maybe even some others too.

Here is Joseph's Mouth Watering Ham Recipe:

1 Esskay Silver Label Ham
Apple cider vinegar
Gulden's Spicy Mustard
1 c. Brown Sugar + some for on top of ham (step 4)
Whole brown cloves (take them out when eating they are very spicy)

1.  Spray roaster with cooking spray and add some water to bottom (this is prevent scrubbing your pan for days...which I am now doing)
2.  Put ham on rack and rub or pour some apple cider vinegar on top of ham.
3.  Score ham and place whole cloves at each intersection.
4.  Sprinkle top with brown sugar.
5.  Put in oven at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours (for 9 lb. ham)
6.  After an hour and half of baking pour mixture of 1 cup brown sugar mixed with 1/3 cup spicy mustard.  I used a spoon to make sure ham was well coated. 
7.  Continue to bake for a 1/2 hour
8.  Last 10-15 minutes turn your oven to broil to make top a little crispy.  Now I didn't do this step because I cooked mine for 2 hours and it was slightly crispy.

Can you smell it?

Christmas Parade

Back in November, yes before Thanksgiving our town had a Christmas Parade.  We had great weather and kids enjoyed watching the parade and loved getting candy.  In fact Mommy brought a small Ziploc for the candy it was overflowing!  We were excited to see our friends Ellie and Kate (and Aunt Holly) walking for their dance studio.  Thanks Mom for coming along with us, it was a nice morning treat.

This was the highlight for Blake, Thomas!

Baking the Traditional Sugar Cookie

This year I had two little helpers for the traditional cookie baking!  I started the day with look with your eyes not your hands until Mommy needs help.  That didn't last long.  We certainly had a mess, but it was fun.  They each took turns cutting out designs they liked.  Blake frequently selected the "choo-choo" and Ava like the "glove" it was actually a mitten, but she is too cute to correct.  I let them each decorate a cookie and then eat it (yes, before lunch and this is one of those times that it's important to let things slide).  To my amazement they did a great job with some help and they were perfectly content (this year) to let Mommy do the decorating!  Please notice there are NO pictures of them cutting out the shapes:)

Our decorating supplies

Blake's choo choo with the #3 on it.

Ava really preferred the icing then eating the cookie!


Brunch with Santa

We took a family trip to have brunch with Santa!  We had a great time and lots of wonderful food.  We started with a story with Mrs. Claus where she read about Curious George's Christmas and after the story she gave the kids cookies.  Then we ate an array of food, but the kids had a hard time eating with so much to look at.  While Ed filled up, I took the kids around the room to look at different displays.  Next we headed over to see Santa on his sleigh.  Blake was not thrilled about getting his picture taken and Ava didn't want to sit with Santa.  So Mommy sat with Santa in his sleigh and held Ava, while Daddy stood next to Santa holding Blake.  I'm not sure if they were smiling or not, I will have to wait until I get the picture in the mail.  Santa asked the kids what they wanted, Ava said a baby and Blake said a leaf blower.  Santa chuckled and said no one has ever asked for a leaf blower and that Dad must be ready to put him to work.  I told Blake Santa would certainly remember him, which made him proud.  Santa gave the kids a treat bag: jet, pig, apple and candy.  They also had ornament making and gingerbread houses to decorate, but they were a little advanced for Blake and Ava.  We had a great time and enjoyed the Christmas spirit that filled the room.

I think she's upset because Daddy's beard is giving her hair the "static" look:)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nuk, pacifier, binky, bippy, etc.

Ava is getting bigger too and has given up her pacifier, affectionately called her "Nuk".  Last Tuesday she was having some cold symptoms and didn't want her Nuk when she went to bed.  In fact the few days preceding she only chewed on it...I had to toss two.  She is cutting her eye teeth, which is probably why she had the cold symptoms.  It has been good to break her of this because I knew she needed to give it up eventually, but I fretted on how and when.  Luckily she lead me and decided it was time.  I just love when my kids do things like this, it makes my job so much easier.  Now it hasn't been smooth sailing.  Even though she has only asked for it one night  and my response was they are "all gone" and she was satisfied with this answer.  The other side is that she has been waking a lot in the middle of the night.  In fact the week of Thanksgiving I slept about 15 hours that whole week!  When we went shopping on Black Friday, my mom couldn't get over how bad my eyes looked and yes I had on makeup!  I looked like I should be playing football since I had the black under my eyes already.  I am so proud of Ava for conquering this difficult item of comfort to give up. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toddler Bed, Oh My!

Today we (I mean Ed) turned Blake's crib into a TODDLER BED!  It scares me that he is growing up so fast, I just want to hold onto him and never let go.  I guess all moms go through this, but I was actually happy to see him excited and so far nap is going well.  I am so proud of all the new accomplishments Blake is making.  Ed did talk to me today about take Blake hunting out of state after Christmas.  I will probably cry, so Mom I know you are reading this, can we plan a girls trip?  I don't think I can stay at home while my first baby is in the treacherous woods with only the bare essentials.  I'm sure I will blog about this topic at another time.
Any way, here is Blake and his new BED.  Can someone tell me when we buy bedding, like sheets and blankets that you tuck in? 
Ava enjoyed Blake's new bed too.  To make her feel good we lowered her bed to the lowest setting.  I know you are probably thinking we should have already done this, she is such a monkey.
Can you tell he is thrilled?

Thumbs up to the new bed!

Ava couldn't miss out on her picture being taken:)

Two peas in a pod!  Can't you just see them sleeping together?  They are such good Best Friends.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Chicken or Turkey Pot Pie

I am not one that boasts about her cooking, because I don't feel that I am a good cook.  I get by and I like to cook and bake, evidence is on my hips, butt, stomach, etc.
I came across this recipe in one of my magazines and gave it a whirl with a few tweaks.  My husband says it is his favorite, which is high praise since his mom is a wonderful chief.

Turkey Pot Pie (great for upcoming holiday, but I used Chicken)

2 cups Turkey or Chicken (I used an oven roaster, one that it is oven ready, just put in a roasting pan and bake)
1 cup stuffing (I used the box type because it has all the seasonings in it) if you don't have stuffing or prefer not use stuffing add 1 onion, chopped some dried herbs and salt & pepper
2 cups mixed veggies (I used leftovers from dinner: corn and peas, but can add frozen veggies)
1/2 cup chicken broth (used all the drippings from roasted chicken)
2 cups cream of chicken soup (1 -2 cans depends how thick you want it)
1 pie crust (get from store or make at home)

Combine all ingredients except pie crust in a saucepan.  Heat until warmed through and herbs release fragrance.  Use more or less soup to find a thickness to your liking.  Pour into individual ramekins, I used casserole dishes or use deep dish pie pan and cover with pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden and flaky.

* I made 7 meals with one roasted chicken!  The first night we just ate off the roasted chicken, night two I used chicken and mixed with rice and then I made 3 casseroles.  You can freeze them and then it will need to bake for 1hour at 350.
* This week at Martins or Giant the Chickens I use are on sale for $8.99.

I made my own pie crust, because I had the ingredients on hand so here is the recipe for pie crusts.

1 Tbsp sugar
4 cups flour
2tsp. salt
1 3/4 cup Crisco

1 egg - beaten
1 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 cup water

Combine sugar, flour and salt.

Add Crisco - cut into dry mixture until coarse

Beat egg, vinegar and water together and add to dry ingredients.

Makes 4-5 crusts depending on how thin you make them.  You can refrigerate.

You Might Be a Redneck...

If you pull your kids behind a four wheeler on sleds and there is no snow!

Yes, this is my husband and two adorable kids yesterday playing outside.  Leave it to my husband to come up with this idea.  Blake thinks the same way, so I can only imagine what he will be doing in the coming years:)

Friends and Fall

Holly called me up the other night to see if I could watch her girls while she did a photo shoot, of course I was thrilled to do this for her. We had a great morning.  We played inside then went outdoors to get some fresh air and run some steam off.  We had a snack and made a craft and played with Blake's new train set.  Honestly with four children in the house it was soooo quiet, Yes I said QUIET!  They entertained one another and stayed busy that I even folded some clothes.  It was an honor to watch Kate and Ellie.

Scarecrows, in case you were wondering!

Happy Fall Yall!

Okay, I realize I have already posted SNOW, but the truth is God did bless us recently with some fall type weather too.  We have been busy raking leaves and jumping or sliding into them.  The kids really enjoy when they have "something" assigned for them to do.  I doubt this faze will last so I better enjoy it now.  Daddy and Blake also made trails through the leaves, like an obstacle course, and we had races through it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What I love about three year olds

There are many things I love about my three year old son, but these three will crack you up!

1.  They don't mind getting their nails painted.  I mean if Mommy is painting hers and Ava is asking for her nails to be painted then surely I should too.
I tried painting them with this clear coat (so Daddy wouldn't have a cow), but he wanted PINK nails!

Sorry you can't see the color on his nails, but look how happy he is.  Don't we all just want to "fit"in.

2.  Who cares if you drive a Barbie four wheeler, it moves with the touch of button and doesn't Daddy have a four wheeler too?
This is a two thumbs up toy!  Great yard sale find Mom!

3.  Why do girls have long hair and boys short?  Can't I wear pretty barrets and bands?

They could be twins?

Good thing he has on camo!
Who knows maybe one day this will be good blackmail????

Blake's 3rd Birthday Party

We had a Thomas the Train theme for his party.  No I did not make this cake, could you tell?
We celebrated Blake with our family on Sunday.  I first have to say that I have the best family and support around.  Everyone we invited (19) was able to come and I think that says a lot about my family and this busy world we live in that everyone took the time and made the effort to be here.  My grandparents traveled 30+ minutes to be here, whom we affectionally call "Happy Pappy" and "Grand Mary".  My parents came, of course it could have been a blizzard and they would be here to see Blake (and Ava too).  Ed's parents came, now they didn't have far to travel (they are our neighbors), but we already celebrated Blake the weekend before with them, but they made decision to come to this too.  My brother worked, but came after work and his wife had to run their oldest daughter, Lauren, to sing at a Memorial, but they came directly after.  My sister Sheila and her family had a function and came after it (she's more than a best friend, she's a sister).  My other sister, Holly (again more than a best friend) came with her family and they just got home the day before from Disney.  Let's just say I feel the love!
The party was a lot of fun.  Grand Mary said it was like an eposide of Peanuts with all the children running around.  We ate, had cake and ice cream, opened presents and caught up with everyone.  These are the memories I will cherish and think of as the "good ol' days".

Happy 3rd Birthday Blake

Friday, November 4th we celebrated Blake's birthday, just the four of us.  Mommy made pancakes for breakfast and then Blake opened his presents.  He got the game "Chutes and Ladders" and a Home Depot Chainsaw!  All he really wanted was a chainsaw, and thankfully he told me in plenty of time so that I could find the right one.  Probably for a solid month he has wanted a chainsaw, because Daddy has been outside cutting up skids to put in our outdoor wood stove.  He is Daddy's little helper. 
After some playtime we all headed over to Chucky Cheese's for lunch.  It was a great time to go because it wasn't packed and the kids could really play all sorts of games.  Blake liked any game that had a ball in it, whether you caught it in a basket or tried to make it in a basket that was the game for him.  Ava liked all the rides, pony, tractor, car, train, anything that moved.  Daddy took Blake over to claim his prizes and he came back with 2 items for himself and 2 for his sister, what a boy. 

Not sure if he is willing to share this new toy, yet!

This is the beginning of power tools!
 After lunch the kids feel asleep in the car and well that was apparently a nap for them (10 min).  We had dinner and ate cake and ice cream and sang (Ava has been practicing this song daily) then headed outside to run around and played a game of Chutes and Ladders.  Blake took first prize, Daddy came in 2nd, Ava won 3rd place and poor Mommy came in last.  We really had a great day.  Blake even told Daddy, "that was a fun day" and gave him a huge hug that night (melted his heart because normally he works on Friday, but used a vacation day for this special occasion...this melted my heart).
May not look thrilled, but he is:)

Now if this grin doesn't brighten your day...

Don't look too close at this cake, yes I created this masterpiece!

Hard at work!