Monday, December 29, 2008

Keeping our Tradition

Christmas 2002, we spent Christmas in Yakima. It was Mason's first real Christmas (he had just turned 1) and we hadn't been to Yakima for Christmas since Mac was born. On our way home from Yakima, Lee decided it would be cool to drive through Leavenworth and take Stevens Pass. Cool it was. Leavenworth is a little Barvarian themed village near Wenatchee. It has been named one of America's best Christmas destinations on Good Morning America (last year) and is on another Christmas Town countdown on another show on a cable network (I just can't think of it right now). At Christmas time, the whole town is decked out in lights (I couldn't get the coolness on my camera-I guess I need a fancier one). In 2002, we walked around, we went through some of the shops, we ate some German dinner, and we went home. On our way home, Lee and I thought it would be neat to go there next year, stay the night, etc. So we did. And it's something we have been doing around Christmastime since. We have missed a year here and there (last year we didn't go, because we just moved). We did go there for Christmas, but it was a huge pain in the you know what, getting presents there. And that year we went for Christmas Day, I got sick, Mason was in the hospital for a few days because he was sick-so being sick sucked all of the fun out of it. When you do something like that, you have to make reservations in August or September before Christmas and I made them in August.
While we are there, we go up Icicle Ridge (I think that's what it's called) and go sledding down this huge hill, that's usually a road when it's not snowy. When we got there, it had just snowed 7 inches the night before.

Mac got plowed into the snow by his Dad, that is why Lee was laughing in the picture above. Mason made it all the way down the hill on his little blow-up sled thing. He's 40-nothing pounds, so he sailed down nicely.

We went into town after drying off at the hotel room. There is a hill right in town where everyone goes sledding. Lee towed Mason in town on that little blow-up snow thing he has. Everyone thought it was cool, and asking Mason for rides. Mac is carrying a tube.

The guys in town Sunday morning. I got Lee 1 1/2 pounds of Fudge at a Fudge place. They had so many different kinds, so I got him 1 1/2 pounds of different flavors. Mason got this little wood snake thing from the Wood Store. They had all of these cool wood puzzles the shape of things. He had $20.00 to spend from his Birthday money from Papa & Nana Dawson-and this is what he ended up with. I tried talking him into something cooler, but he had his mind made up.

Mason saw this huge bear in front of a store, and HAD to have his picture taken with it. And the snake too. He said goodbye to the bear when we left.

After I took pictures of the guys, Mason w/the bear- Lee said the snowy Bronco Truck was feeling left out. It snowed another 5 inches or so the night we stayed in Leavenworth. Stevens Pass was compact snow, and it was snowy when we got there each way. I'm grateful we have this huge SUV of a truck to get us to our Christmas Tradition.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


It snowed ALOT! This is our front sidewalk and porch. I showed Mac "how to" shovel snow. He thought it would be okay if he just skimmed the surface. I then showed him, and shoveled circles around him. He got the point.

I baked, ALOT! This is just a small sample of what I did. I got behind in the baking because I was busy bundling up a certain 7 year old boy up in snow clothes. And then him and his brother would come in wanting cocoa. And then I would hang up thier coats and snow pants, and mop up the melted snow off the floor. It was never ending. So on the night of the 23rd...I baked, all night long. I was done at 4:00am-but Lee wakes up at 5:00am, so I stayed up and made him his lunch, got a few plates of cookies for him to give and went to bed at 6:00am. I slept for 3-4 hours and woke up to hand treats out to friends. There was alot of snow out still, and my Mini-Van didn't get the memo that it's supposed to "pretend" it's an SUV and should behave accordingly. I almost got stuck 2 times.

I took this pic this morning-it snowed on Christmas Morning while we were opening presents. It really came down, and was a cool sight to see from our window.

We wrapped presents in Tinkerbelle Christmas wrapping paper for the boys. This was an idea that I had, and that Lee wanted to do. We didn't get the "freak out" reaction from them that we thought we would. I guess the paper needed to be pink to get the full effect. We are the meanest parents in the world. Lee and I wrap presents on Christmas Eve. This started when Mac was a 1 year old. We start when the boys are in a "coma" to be sure they hear nothing-that is usually around midnight. Lee is usually half asleep and I am tired and cranky. One year, Lee stepped on the scissors-and they broke. They were the only ones we had in the house. He was demoted to "tape boy" and wasn't allowed to leave the couch. This year, like last year, Lee told me that we needed to stop wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. He has been saying this for several years. We do this earlier the year we went to Leavenworth for Christmas.

Mason woke up at 7:00am-which was too early for us (I went to bed at 2:00am). This was the first time he woke up yelling "It's Christmas! Santa came! He came and left stockings stuffed of stuff for us! You have to wake up now! It's Christmas! Come on! Your killing me here!" Yes, he really said all of this in a 2 minute period. This went on until 7:30am. I prefer it when he used to just say "It's Christmas. Wake up." and then proceed to slap our faces a little (not to hard) to wake us up.

Santa leaves our Christmas Stockings on the couch. We haven't had a mantel to hang our stockings out, ever. We have little mantel shelves, but it's not the same. We hang them on stocking hangers on the mantel shelves, Santa fills our stockings with stuff, and leaves them on the couch. He has always done this for us. They are pretty heavy when he's done.

We opened gifts.

Yes, the teenager is going to kill me for this one. But really, I don't care.

We made Mason read the tags. This was the educational part of his Christmas. It was torture. But he survived.

We ate breakfast. I made these Christmas Braid Bread loaves for the first time ever. I made the dough and filling last night, and rolled out and baked this morning. They were so yummy! I made an Apple Filling like for a pie, and I glazed them-this is before the glaze. We also had an egg breakfast casserole, also a first for me. It was all yummy.

And then.....some of us fell asleep. We are grateful for so much this year. We hope all of you have a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Passing the time..Mason style.

Honestly, it really doesn't take much to entertain Mason. Like these cups for instance. This isn't the first time he has found these cups. Well, the first time it happened-I tossed them. I always toss them because, well, who would want to drink out of them after he has stacked the blasted things everywhere in the house. And, I have serious germ and cleanliness issues. He really wanted me to drop everything to take pictures of all of this. So I did. And now, I'm blogging about it. The price you pay for me to take pics of you on my camera. There is a 75% chance it will end up on my blog. He was very pleased with himself.
I was in the Kitchen when he built this and told me "Mom! Look at my Castle!" So, I did. Then he told me "No! Now look at it from over here"-as he's pointing to the sliding glass door. This, he has never done before. He stacked 2 rows of this "Castle".

Mason not only stacks these lovely cups, he also counts them. He stacks and counts. Or he will sit down on the couch and count them. He loves to count. Which, I can't complain. But he does drag them all over the house. I draw the line at sleeping with them.

He has also been playing out in the snow, with Mac. It's been cold, snowy (we have had snow for 7-8 days now, and it has stayed for those 7-8 days). It's been icy, cold, snowy and now the wind is blowing-and they are threatning that we may lose our power. So, I cleaned house and did laundry for the better part of the day. I'm super glad that Lee kept the Generator. We were going to put it on Craigslist over he summer, but we never got to it, and Lee also decided to keep it over the winter. And, being that we lived on Whidbey Island for several years, we are prepared-for the power to go out.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowed In...

It's been like a Winter Wonderland around here this past week. Yes, I said WEEK. I was raised in Eastern Washington, where it snowed all winter-starting sometimes with Thanksgiving day. The first snow is always exciting. Even though I am thirtysomething years of age, I still love to see the white stuff fall. It took alot of snow where I lived to cancel school though. My school district had it's own snow plow. To get to my High School, there was a hill that you had to go up, so that got plowed first. When we were in school, and it started to snow-we stayed at school until the powers to be decided to let us out early, so the buses could get us home. There were 3 buses that always got let out first: 1. The White Pass bus. 2 & 3 The Chinook Pass buses. Our school picked up kids from the White Pass Ski Resort (whose parents worked there). One year, the bus couldn't get up there, so they weren't able to come to school for 3 days. With fresh powder at the base, I'm sure thier hearts weren't too broken.
Why do I mention all of this? Because Mac went to school on Monday, and has been out of school Tues-Wed-Thurs (today) and possibly tomorrow. Mason has been out of school all week. Lucky me. It's a huge mess over here in the Seattle areas. From Olympia-all the way up to the Canadian Border in Blaine, WA it's a mess. My Mom sometimes laughs that we get 1-2 inches or less of snow, and we have a 2 hour late start or possible cancellation of school. It hardly snows this bad here in Western Washington. The last time it was this bad was 18 years ago. The news keeps reporting this fact, and I was here at the time to see it. It was my first winter in Seattle.
Being snowed it has it's advantages. I get caught up on things that I've been putting off all month. I'm cleaning my office, sorting through and organizing old photos, cleaning and going through Mason's toys and stuff, and there will be some baking. My friend Aimee is supposed to drive over here from WallaWalla, which I don't think it will happen. She has an SUV, but, it's a mess over here! We have tried to establish a tradition of Christmas Baking. We trade who goes where every other year. This year, it's her turn. And we had a bunch of activities and baking planned. When we bake, we stay up all night long dipping pretzels and other stuff in chocolate. It's a blast. So we will see what happens. I will bake regardless if she comes or not, it just won't be as much. We bake 6-8 different types of cookies, brownies, and then there are the pretzels. I also have Christmas cards to do as well. Maybe I'll start with that.

Monday, December 15, 2008


It's been cold. It snowed some on Friday night, most of the day Saturday, and then really started coming down Saturday night. I measured almost 3 1/2 inches on Lee's truck Saturday night, and I didn't bother measuring Sunday morning.
I made an attempt to take a "Christmas Card" photo of these two boys. They complained it was cold. But I was the one outside without my coat on.

Our back deck railing and part of our back yard. To the upper righthand corner, Mason's climbing/swingset/play thing. It's wood and had swings, a climbing wall, ladder, slide, etc.

It's a regular Winter Wonderland here at our house. We just might have a white Christmas. It's still really cold here, we are supposed to get more snow on Wednesday and Thursday. Mac had a 2 hour late start today, and Mason didn't have AM Kindergarten. They are thrilled with all of it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My Christmas Playlist

I love Christmas! I love the lights that people hang up on their houses and trees. I love to go shopping, wrap presents, and listen to music. My Playlist posted on this blog is full of Christmas tunes that I have come to love. My favorite Christmas Carol is "O Holy Night". It's a beautiful song, and I love to hear someone else sing it. I couldn't find a version on Playlist that I liked well enough to post it. I know my list of songs on the blog are full of "modern" Christmas songs, but they are songs that get me all excited about Christmas, when I'm out and about, driving, or whatever.

Every Year Every Christmas- Luther Vandross This song is off of his Christmas CD "This Is Christmas. I got the CD when it came out in 1995. I love almost every song on this CD. I play it when I decorate our Christmas Tree. Lee makes fun of me when I play Luther, he knows it's Christmas when he hears it.

Do They Know It's Christmas- Band Aid I remember exactly where I was when I first heard this song. It was Christmas Day 1984, I was at my Grandma's house with my cousins, watching MTV (because we didn't have MTV at home), and like every 14 year old teenage girl in the 80's, was madly in love with rock bands. Bob Geldoff (member of the Boomtown Rats), wanted to bring attention to the famine in Africa. He wrote this song, called a few friends (Bono-U2, Duran Duran, The Police, WHAM!, Paul Young, Phil Collins, Banannarama, and many other's) to sing and record it. MTV had a special on how it was made and why. All of the proceeds went to the famine relief in Africa. I thought all of it was very cool, and I still do.

Last Christmas- Wham! Speaking of being a teenage girl in the 80's, I was madly in love with George Michael. When I was 16, I was wrapping Christmas presents in my bedroom, listening to the radio. Yakima was a smaller town than it is now, and there were only 2 good stations to listen too. This song was dedicated to me by an ex-boyfriend the night I was wrapping presents. He was an idiot...we only dated or "went out" for 2-3 months, in the summer-not "Last Christmas"! I didn't like the song for a year because of that. But then, after I saw the video a year later, I forgot about the whole ex-boyfriend thing.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)- U2 Who doesn't like U2? This came out, again, in the 80's on a Christmas Album (because that is what it was called back in olden days) in 1987 called "A Very Special Christmas". The proceeds went to the Special Olympics. I had the cassette tape for years, until it died. Then I bought it on CD a few years ago. I still love the songs on it. On the CD there was a "bonus track" by Bon Jovi....

I Wish Everyday Could Be Like Christmas- Bon Jovi Love this song too. This was a "bonus" track on "A Very Special Christmas-One" There are now 3 I think. It's the red one. Last year, I had to go to the dentist, had a root canal. I brought my CD player with me, and I listened to this song, while I had my root canal. And oddly enough, I still like the song, despite my unpleasant experience.

All I Want For Christmas- Mariah Carey I like Mariah Carey, just no enough to own her CD's. I first heard this song on a movie "Love Actually" with Hugh Grant, and alot of other talented English actors/actresses. I really liked the movie, the soundtrack, and this song.

Believe- Josh Groban This song is off of the soundtrack for "The Polar Express", Mason's favorite Christmas movie. He calls it the Polar Express song. I took Mac and Mason to the theater near us in Seattle-when we lived there. I think Mason had just turned 2 or 3. He sat for the whole movie except the last 15 minutes of it. Lee was out of town that weekend, so I took the boys out. It was a good little memory for us. I wish the movie theaters would play this movie every Christmas, it was awesome on the big screen.

Silent Night- Josh Groban I like Josh Groban, and think he has an amazing voice. I love Silent Night as well, and think Josh does an awesome job singing it, without thrashing it like some other artists do.

Winter Wonderland- Eurythmics Another song of of "A Very Special Christmas". I have always liked this song since I was a kid, and this is my favorite version of it.

Christmas Canon- Trans Siberian Orchestra I love these guys! I love this song. I love Pachabel Canon anyway I can listen to it. I can't remember the first time I heard it. It was on the radio, and then I bought the CD. Trans Siberian Orchestra takes classical music songs, and adds Christmas songs to it, with some electric guitars thrown in the mix.

Christmas Eve Sarajevo- Trans Siberian Orchestra I was driving into Seattle the first time I heard this song on the radio, and wasn't stuck in traffic at the time. I like how it starts out soft and sweet and then builds up to something powerful. That is the only way I can describe it. My Sirrius/XM Satellite radio has a Christmas Song station. Lee was driving us somewhere in the minivan and told me Trans Siberian Orchestra was in town a few days before, AND DIDN'T TELL ME! So, we heard 3 of their songs, while we were driving in a 3 hour period. And he told me he guessed he should have gotten some tickets to we could go see them. Husband will be getting a lump of coal in his stocking this year for that.

So This is Christmas- Celine Dion I liked this song when I was alot younger, by John Lennon, before I really listened to the lyrics-we are talking 5th grade here. It's an anti war song, and I'm thinking about removing it from my playlist because I support our troops. I like Celine Dion's version. Sheryl Crow sang it at the Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting thing a few years ago, and I liked her version too.

Other songs I like that aren't on the playlist: Santa Baby, Silver Bells, Away in the Manger, The Little Drummer Boy, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Do you Hear What I Hear. I could go on all day. It snowed here last night, it's cold outside. I like the snow, I can tolerate the cold, but I'm grateful it's not like this all the time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy 7th Birthday Mason! 7 Things We Love About You.

1. I love how you like to "tinker" in the garage and "help" your Dad out when he is outside. Even if it's out in the rain, in your socks.

2. I love how you constantly ask "Where's Mackie" when he is gone on a camp out or overnight somewhere. You two fight alot, but I know you two also love each other.

3. I love how you are "with one with the dirt" when you are outside. Yes, it drives me nuts when I see you literally laying face down on the ground when you are playing. But this is something you love doing-so I let it happen. Unless you are in your church clothes.

4. You love school...and I am so glad! You have one of the best kindergarten teachers in the school district. You go to school everyday on 1/2 days, which is a perfect fit for you. I am so grateful you are smart, bright, and inqusitive. And yes, I cried a little bit after I dropped you off on your first day of school.

5. I love it when you are sleeping. You have always looked like an angel, from the time you were a baby. I love that you are a heavy sleeper, so I can go in your room and kiss you-without you "wiping" off my kisses. Dad loves it when you come into bed with us at 2:00 in the morning every once in a while when you have a bad dream. Just as long as you tuck your little feet under you Dad's back and not mine.

6. You love being at home. When you come home from school, you just want to be home-and not go out anywhere...except the library.

7. I love how you talk. You often times mispronounce words, and have a lisp that makes my heart melt. When you were at Childrens, when you were a tiny baby- the nurses often told me "looking in his eyes, he looks like he has so much to say". You have alot to say, all the time. You let me know what makes you happy, mad, sad, and you giggle when you are really excited about something.
Sorry this post is 2 days late. It took me a few days to gather my thoughts, and not get too emotional. You had such a rough start when you were born. I have been recently been sorting through our family pictures, and when I come across a baby pictures of you-it makes me happy that you have overcome so much. You are now a normal kid, who happens to have a medical chart at Childrens Hospital that is more than 5 inches thick. Looking at you, no one would ever know. You have taught me to have patience and that anything is possible. I am so proud of you!
Happy Birthday Mason!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh, Christmas Tree & other stuff

Our Christmas Tree, is fake. I've come to terms with it over the years. I was raised with an artificial tree. I buy tree smelling candles to make it smell like we have a real tree in the house. We have white lights on the tree. I have full control of the big tree. I assemble the tree, I put the lights on, and I use to hang 95% of the ornaments-but I have relinquished some control. Mac and Lee have piped up over the last 3 years on the color of the lights. They want colored lights. I tell them "too bad". So I have compromised. Our little tree that we have downstairs. The boys have FULL control over thier tree. I assemble it, put the colored lights on it. They decorate it. The whole thing. I don't even rearrange the ornaments afterwards. It has some John Deere ornaments, Sponge Bob Square Pants ornaments, a Kasey Kahne (NASCAR driver-also Lee's cousin) ornament. Some small colored ball ones (that do break). Last year was the first year we had it up. They had some colored lights on it last year. This year-I bought them LED colored. I admit-it's a cooly lit little tree.
This is Mason's favorite decoration. I think I bought it last year. It was on sale, and Mason HAD to have this Plastic Snow Globe. It's huge. It plays annoying Christmas music with the press of a button. Snow blows in it everywhere. He loves it. The good thing about it, the batteries don't last long. All good things must come to an end. Until the Dad pulls out some batteries from who knows where, and fixes it for him.

The other stuff. Mac has an e-mail address. If you e-mail me, I will e-mail you with his address. This is a picture of him checking to see of he got any mail from anyone. Nope, not yet. It pained me to watch him type in his e-mail address and password. I think it took him 5 minutes to type it in. I'm a mean, mean Mom for typing that. But, it's the truth. Typing and computer skills are something he will be working on this year.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a really great Thanksgiving Day. The Turkey-was perfect.

The table was set nicely. We had Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Company Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Honey Glazed Carrots, Cranberry Sauce, Apple Stuffing, Rolls, Pumpkin, and Apple Pies. Oh, and Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Cider.

Mason was wondering why we were using the fancy dishes, the fancy bowls, etc. At his school the day before, he was asked what he was grateful for-he said his house.

My guys. They dressed themselves. All three of them were wearing their Carhart Overalls an hour before this was taken. They clean up pretty well.
The Day after Thanksgiving, I woke up Mac at 4:45am to go shopping. He needed new jeans, and Old Navy had them on sale for 50% off one day only. I haven't been able to buy him a pair of jeans "off the rack" for him since he was 1-2 years old. He is hard to fit when it comes to jeans. We got to Old Navy 1/2 an hour after they opened, and he was kinda awake. He pepped up after we were done, and was wondering where we were going next. We went home. I didn't get any pics of the shopping trip-I was barely awake myself.

The day after Thanksgiving, it's a tradition with me to put up the Christmas Decorations. I think this comes from working at Nordstrom for so many years. They always have Christmas Decorations up the day after Thanksgiving. Mason has been obsessed with helping me decorate. I assembled the tree (yes, it's fake) and put the lights on the tree. I told Mason we would decorate the next night. When I wasn't helping decorate the tree, he took it upon himself to do it for me.

He pulled the ones he like best out and threw the ones he didn't like on the floor. This is what I found on the floor. Mac's first Christmas ornament, that is fragile-glass, and the Santa Wreath ornament that I have had since my first Christmas with Lee. Both-priceless and un-replaceable.

And this is how he likes to decorate the tree. He likes to clump ornaments on one branch-or in one area. Not to worry, when the boys go to bed, I "redecorate" the tree. When they wake up, they never know. I'll post pics of the tree later. I hope all of you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Shopping Done

Yesterday, I did my/our food shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner. I dropped Mason off at school, I had to drop some Cub Scout stuff off somewhere else, and I went to the store. It had been YEARS since I went shopping by myself. I made really good time (less than 1 hour). It was a really good day until......I went into another Grocery Store to buy 3 items in less than 10 minutes-and my tire was flat. It was flat to the ground flat. I was freaking out because I was suppose to be home in 15 minutes to meet Mason's bus at home. Some nice stranger-with kids (who saw me freaking out a little in the parking lot), drove me home. Then my neighbor drove Mason and myself back to the grocery store where I was to deal with the flat tire. On my list of gratefulness (yes, I know, that's not really a word)-the guys from Les Schwab are on the top. It was a big adventure for Mason-he gave Lee the blow by blow in great detail of the tire guys coming to help us, how we waited forever for them to get there (it was only 10 minutes), going to Les Schwab to get the tire fixed, and then going to McDonalds for lunch (because Mason was starving to death for chicken nuggets). The guys from Les Schwab are getting a big Christmas Cookie Plate from me this year.
This is all of our stuff, except the Turkey, I bought that earlier this month on sale. I only used 3 plastic sacks-other than that, I did the enviromentally correct thing, and brought my own canvas bags. I often times forget to bring them. My sister-in-law came over from Yakima this summer for a week, and made fun of my canvas bags. This is a picture to prove, I do use them. I've been using them for 7 years now, when I discovered that the thing stressing me out most in my pantry area were the plastic grocery sacks. I also use them for other things like, snacks for road trips, extra clothes for day outings, Cub Scout Stuff, Camping, and the list goes on. I love using them, because when I put my groceries in them, I know the bags won't break on my way from the car to the house. The colored Trader Joes ones are my favorites. They aren't canvas-I'm not sure what they're made out of.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Dad, I haven't made any rolls yet.

This is my Dad, Larry (I will protect his identity by not publishing his last name). He lives about 20 minutes from me. It's been nice to live so close to him now. He stops by whenever it strikes his fancy, and if he knows I'm baking. He is semi-retired. I won't get into that. I will just say-he is too young and healthy to be a real retired person. He's been working again, and I haven't seen or talked to him since Halloween. He called me today asking if I've made rolls for Thanksgiving yet, because he just read this blog, and saw the pictures of the rolls yesterday. If I had made the rolls, he would have been to my house in 15 minutes, because he speeds. And because he likes my rolls, and chocolate chip cookies. I told him I make them on Thanksgiving Day. He knows this. He used to have Red Hair. This is who Mason got his Red Hair from, amongst other things (like his temperment, but I won't say that). Blogging people, meet my Dad. Love You Dad!

Countdown to Thanksgiving-Pumpkin Pie

I have posted this recently. If you click on "recipes" on the bottom left hand corner of the list of topics I have written, you will find it for October 24th of this year. This is the Pie my Mom made for years, and I have made it for 12-13 years. It's a Honey Pumpkin Pie, and it's to die for.

Countdown to Thanksgiving-Sweet Potatoes

Well, I just made my menu and shopping list this morning (at 6:00am). I feel like I am leaving something out, so I'll have to check with Lee to make sure. I love Sweet Potatoes. I especially love them with Brown Sugar and Cinamon. The little marshmellows, I can take it or leave it. A friend of mine came over for Thanksgiving 3 years ago, and she brought Sweet Potatoes, and she steamed them. I admit, I just opened a can and cooked them a bit, mashed them, added my other ingredients, and then served them. Fresh Sweet Potatoes are so, so much better than canned, and with not much effort. I was suprised.

1 1/2 lbs Sweet Potatoes
Brown Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
little marshmellows-if you want

Steam Sweet Poatoes whole and unpeeled for 30-40 minutes. Be careful not to over steam them, unless you want them mashed. Let them COOL. Peel them and leave them "whole" as much as you can. After you peel them, slice them and arrange in a baking dish. Put spices on them. Melt butter with Brown Sugar and drizzle on Sweet Potatoes.

Hope's Notes:
I have only made these twice. The first time, I over steamed them, and they were way soft, and took zero effort to mash them, put on little marshmellows, and bake them for however long it took for the marshmellows to get golden brown. I liked them sliced. I do this the day before, bake them to "heat" them. I throw them in the oven until they are warm on the inside, which is like 10-15 minutes. You will have to poke them with a knife or something to make sure. Sorry for the vague instructions. It's just really simple.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Thanksgiving Food Timeline

Last week, I didn't realize that Thanksgiving was so close! I started a "Food Timeline" early on in my life, when I was still working full time at Nordstrom. The first Thanksgiving meal I made, I didn't do anything in advance, including the pies, and was more exhausted after making Thanksgiving Dinner, than I was working a 12 hour shift on the sales floor. After that, I got smart and decided to do stuff the night before, and then I had more time to "relax" and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade :) Now, I do as much as I can 2-3 days before, and it really makes for a less stressful day. I am going to write this as Mon-Tues-Wed-Thurs, because, this is how my brain works.

Monday: -Finalize Menu-compile your list for shopping.
-Clean the Fridge out, go shopping.
-If I have a small fridge, buy Ice for Coolers to leave outside on back porch.

Tuesday: -Cook potatoes for Company Potatoes.
-Make Cranberry Sauce
-Take Turkey out of freezer (and thaw out in fridge).

Wednesday: -Assemble Company Potatoes, and put in fridge.
-Make Cranberry Sauce (if it wasn't done on Tuesday)
-Steam Sweet Potatoes and put into an oven proof dish of your choice.
-Bake Pies.
-Clean house
-Feed the hungry children that you have ignored most of the day.
-Chop up onion & celery for stuffing, and put in the fridge.

Thursday: Turkey Day!
-Wake up at 6:00am (or earlier depending on size of Turkey & what time dinner is).
- Make stuffing, stuff the Turkey, turn on oven, put Turkey in oven. Go back to bed.
- Peel potatoes for mashed potatoes and leave in pan with water until ready to cook.
-Watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
-Make Roll dough.
-Set table. Threaten children that if they come within 5 inches from the table....

The rest of it is a blurr. I manage to get everything out on the table, warm. I microwave sliced Turkey, if it's cooled down too much-so it's not cold. But I slice the Turkey last. I put in Company Potatoes RIGHT AFTER I take out the Turkey. I also take out the Company Potatoes out of the fridge, about an hour or 1/2 an hour before I take out the Turkey. I put in the Sweet Potatoes (recipe will come tomorrow) when The Company Potatoes are almost done. The potatoes for mashed potatoes are cooked and ready to be mashed, and the gravy is made. We also have Honey Glazed Carrots too. That will also be happening at the same time the potatoes are cooking on the stove. After the Sweet Potatoes are done, I put in the rolls to bake. Everything is out on the table, waiting 1-2 minutes on the rolls. Making sure people are sitting at the table. And then we say a blessing on the food, go around saying what we are grateful for......and then eat. Then there is the clean up and putting the left overs away. And that is always fun. This is where to cooler is handy if you run out of room in the fridge. I put things in the cooler that we don't use on a regular basis like condiments, extra butter or margarine, left overs of something else from earlier in the week, etc. Stuff that I know is safe and won't spoil if the ice melts to quickly, but it's winter, so it won't. If you are blessed enough to have a second fridge in the garage, then you don't need a cooler. I'll post more recipes tomorrow and Wednesday.

Countdown to Thanksgiving-Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Since I discovered how simple making my own Cranberry Sauce really is, I haven't purchased or opened a can of Cranberry Sauce since. It's probably been, 11-12 years. I was reading my Martha Stewart Menus for Entertaining Cookbook, that I recieved as a Birthday gift in 1996. This book has menus for Spring-Summer-Fall & Winter. Recipes for Spring Luncheons, Easter, Baby Showers, Thanksgiving, & Christmas. This is the only recipe I use in the book. Anyways, like I said. It's super simple to do (my Mom even makes her own Cranberry Sauce, after I told her how easy it was).

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

4 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup of sugar (or a little more)
1/4 cup of water
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/4 cup)

Rinse the cranberries well and discard any that are soft or bruised. In a large saucepan, combine the cranberries with the sugar, water, and orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring often. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook the berries, uncovered, just until they pop, about 10 minutes. Chill.

Hope's Notes:

-I buy 2 bags of fresh cranberries, because when you sort them out (and you do want to do that), you end up with less. If I have more than 4 cups of cranberries, I add more sugar, water, and orange juice.
-I make this 2-3 days before Thanksgiving. I don't know how long it keeps in the fridge, it never lasts longer than a week in our fridge. But I think I've had it in there 2 weeks once, and it was still fine. It's kinda like a "jam".
-See how simple it is?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Countdown to Thanksgiving-Company Potatoes

Because of how unpredictable my weekend is looking (except Sunday), I have decided to post another recipe for my little countdown. Thanksgiving is sneaking upon me (yikes!) and I have yet to compile my shopping list. This recipe is Lee's favorite, however, I didn't know it was his favorite until we were married for 5-6 years. When we first got married my MIL sent me many recipes that were "Leeland's favorites"-oh, my husbands given name is Leeland. I made several of these recipes, and when I did I got a "What's this?"-looking at it like it came from a outer space. I would respond "It's your favorite". He would look at me and then reply "Who said it was my favorite?" I responded "Your Mom". He then replied "You know she has 9 children, she can't possibly remember whose favorite food is whoms. This is "someone's" favorite, but it's not mine". This conversation took place 5-6 months after we got married. Out of 5-6 of Lee's favorite recipe's, 2 of them were correct. So, I stopped asking for "favorite" recipes. Lee failed to tell me that this was one of his favorite recipes that he absoulutely had to have for holiday dinners (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas) for the first 5 years of marriage. I got the recipe and have made it for the last 11-12 years. It's super yummy, and depending on how you do your potatoes-boiling them and shredding them yourself or store bought frozen kind- it's fairly easy to do. I made 3 9x13 pans of these 2 days before Thanksgiving last year. I made 1 for dinner at my In-Laws, 1 for us, and 1 for a funeral that was the day before Thanksgiving. And, I cooked the potatoes and shredded them myself. It was exhausting.

Company Potatoes

2 lbs of frozen shredded potatoes-thawed
1 can of Cream of Chicken Soup
2 cups of Sour Cream
2 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese-grated
1/2 stick of butter
1 bunch of Green Onions-chopped
Bread Crumbs-Plain and unflavored if you buy them in a can

In a saute pan, melt butter and saute green onions until soft (but not soggy) about 2-3 minutes. In a large bowl combine ALL ingredients, except the breadcrumbs and mix very well. Put potato mixture into a 9x13 pan. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Hope's Notes:

-I make this 1-2 days before Thanksgiving or whatever I'm making it for. I bake it the day of the dinner. It takes about an hour to cook it when it's cold from the fridge, 45 minutes if you make it up and then bake it right away. I always stick a knife in the middle to make sure it isn't cold in the middle.
-I have always boiled the potatoes unpeeled, and whole-allowed them to cool and then shredded them with a cheese grater. I can't tell you how many pounds of potatoes or how many potatoes, because if varies with the size of the potato and, how many pans of this I make. I ususally just peel and shread enough to fill the 9x13 pan (for measuring), and then dump the grated potatoes into the bowl and start mixing. I used frozen grated/shredded potatoes in the past, and the potatoes always had that funny frozen taste to them.
-I do use more Sour Cream than the recipe calls for. If the mixture seems "dry" add more Sour Cream.
-Do use Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I have used Medium Cheddar Cheese in the past, and it doesn't taste the same.
-I do use 1 bunch of green onions-it gives it more flavor.
-I have turned this into a "Main Course" casserole by cubing pieces of Ham. I have purchased a Ham Steak, cubed it, and added it to the mixture-yummsville!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Countdown to Thanksgiving-Bread Stuffing

This recipe came out of my Mom's Step-by-Step Cookbook (Better Homes and Gardens) that has been out of print for more than 20 years. I have always used this recipe. I got the idea to put in apples and a little bit of cinnamon from another recipe from a magazine, that I didn't keep. But by adding the apples and cinnamon-it made the stuffing more moist and yummier (is that a real word?) This recipe doesn't get any more boring or basic than this. But, it's always been good. I follow the recipe to the letter, because there is salt in the butter and the chicken broth. You can add a little more salt if you like, but I never do.

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 teaspoons poultry seasoning or ground sage (I use the poultry seasoning)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 cups dry bread cubes
1 cup chicken broth

Saute the onion and butter until tender. Put bread cubes in a large bowl. Pour onion and butter over breadcubes. Stir in poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Add chicken broth, mix all of it well. Stuff into Turkey.

Hope's Notes:

- I always double this if I have a Turkey that is over 15 pounds.
-If you have left overs, put the remainder of the stuffing in a pan (9x13 or whatever)-add more chicken broth, and bake it at 325-350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. I can't remember what I do or for how long. I do, add more chicken broth so it doesn't dry out so much. I only add more chicken broth for the leftovers.
-I also chop the onions and celery the night before and put them in a tupperware dish so I don't cut myself at 5:00-6:00am or whenever I put in the Turkey.
-If you add apples and cinnamon, I saute the apples in the onions and celery, and add a little more butter in the saute pan. I add the cinnamon with the spices.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yeast Update

Today I went to Williams-Sonoma and they no longer carry the SAF Perfect Rise Yeast. They don't know when or if they will get it in. I looked online, and you can order it online-but the packaging is different, so I don't know if it's the yeast I've been using. I have used Fleishmans & Red Star Yeast in the past. It works fine. But double check the expiration dates.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Countdown to Thanksgiving

I decided to post recipes that we have for Thanksgiving. I love the holidays, and even though it's hard work, I do love to cook dinner. Being that I worked retail for the first 7 years or so of our marriage, it was hard to get to visit family over the holidays. I worked late the night before Thanksgiving and then I would have to be at work first thing in the morning the day after Thanksgiving. The only thing I wanted to do was hang out in my sweats and cook. Lee didn't like going anywhere either, he was tired too, and it was a good chance for us to be together. Being that most of the time is was just the two of us, I liked to experiment with different recipes. Simple things like adding Cinnamon and apples into the stuffing, or trying a new side dish was always fun. But when it came right down to it, we preferred simple & basic.

The first time I made Thanksgiving dinner, was 1991. Lee and I had been married for 6 months and we were living in Seattle. We didn't feel like going anywhere, so I decided I was going to make dinner. We invited our good friends Kris and Alex (we had our first dates together), and I cooked. This was a lofty goal for someone who only knew how to make lasagna 6 months prior. I was armed with my Step by Step Cookbook, and I felt like I could do anything. The recipes I use now are from 4 different cookbooks or sources. Some are family favorites.

I know it sounds terrible, and it sounds like we prefer to be by ourselves for Thanksgiving-but we have spent several Thanksgivings at The Bryant's (Lee's family) and with The Dawson's (Hope's family). We lived 1 mile away from Lee's family for 3-4 years. And it was a potluck situation, I would make Pumpkin Pies (I made 8 one year, Lee's brother's eat alot) and I would also make another Turkey-and bring it. Lee is the oldest of 9 kids-5 of them being boys. The year Mac was born, we went to Lee's parents house. I made Pies, a Turkey, and something else. Not bad for just having a baby 3 weeks before, huh. Anyways. If we do go somewhere for Thanksgiving, I have to make another "Thanksgiving Dinner" for us the day after, because we LOVE leftovers. I will also post my Turkey Soup recipe for leftovers. And, another reason why I make so many pies if we go somewhere else....Lee has to have at least 2 pies to eat over the Thanksgiving weekend.

I know this post is kinda all over the place. It's Sunday, and my brain is a little scattered anyways. We also love Thanksgiving because it gives us a chance to reflect on the year, and be grateful for all of our blessings. We are grateful for family, good friends, the church, work, a home to live in, and a country which we are proud to live in. So, it's not all about the food.

Countdown to Thanksgiving-Lion House Rolls

I have been making these rolls for 15 years I think. We were living in Salt Lake City, and I was invited to attend a Luncheon at The Lion House. The Lion House was originally a home that Brigham Young built for his wives (yes, I said wives) and their children. It is now a restaurant, that has banquet rooms, alot of people in Salt Lake City have receptions there. At the luncheon, they served these rolls, from the pans. They were hot, and they were huge in size. They were the best rolls I had ever had. So my friend that I attended the luncheon with went through her Lion House Cookbooks, and we found the recipe. I made my first batch, and I haven't used another roll recipe since. If I come across other roll recipes, I make it for dinner (those nights when I have time) and I'm ususally disappointed, because they aren't The Lion House ones. This recipe makes 3 dozen.

2 cups Warm Water (110-115 degrees)
2/3 cup Non fat dry milk
2 tablespoons Dry Yeast
1/4 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
1/3 cup butter, shortening, or margarine (I always use butter or margarine)
1 egg
5-6 cups all purpose flour or bread flour (I use bread flour)

In a large mixing bowl, combine water and yeast until yeast dissolves. Add non fat dry milk, sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups of flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed, the dough will be smooth. Mix by hand another 1-2 cups of flour; dough will be getting stiff and remaning flour may need to be mixed 1/2 cup at a time after the first 3-4 cups of flour. Dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour. The dough will be smooth and elastic. I knead it for 5 minutes, adding a little bit of flour if needed.

Place dough in a well greased bowl (I use shortening), cover with plastic wrap, and then a warm wet towel. Place the bowl someplace warm until double in size (about an hour). Push down dough and knead it for 1 minute with a little bit of flour. Divide dough in 3 sections. Roll out dough into a circle. With a pizza cutter (or a sharp knife) cut out 12 triangles. Starting with the wide end of the triangle, roll up dough into a crescent, tucking the small end underneath the roll (so it won't unravel when it rises). Repeat process and place onto a greased cookie sheet and allow to rise and double in size (about 30 minutes or so).

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until light or golden brown. Brush with melted butter right after they come out of the oven. Makes 3 dozen or 1-1/2 dozen if you want them to be bigger.

*Hope's Notes:

Yeast: I use SAF Perfect Rise Yeast, you can buy it at Williams-Sonoma. It's not that expensive. It comes in a little box. It's the best I've ever used, and haven't looked back.

Butter vs. Shortening: I made this recipe with butter and with shortening. It was way better with butter or margarine than it was with shortening.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Post #40

Wow! Here I was going to write stuff about what we've been up to this last week, and low and behold-I read that this would be Post #40. When I started this blog, is was November or December of last year. I was in our rental house on South Whidbey, surrounded by boxes, and I believe it was past midnight-so I had no business being on the computer. We were literally about to move, I was in the process of packing, cleaning, finishing up with Mac's Football (I was Team Mom amongst other things), found a house, signing papers and basically running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. What possesed me to start a blog was beyond me. I didn't have a digital camera to download pics of my family (yes, a pic of me is missing-I know), I didn't have anything profound to write about. I decided it would be like a Scrapbook for our family, and to stay close to friends & family members who live far away-or not so far away. I didn't tell anyone about the blog for several months, because I really wasn't doing anything with it. It was just out there in internet land-simply existing.
With help from my friend Becky from The Cornwalls-she tagged me, and that's all it took for me to get hooked. Armed with a Digital Camera and stuff that is in my head (this can be a scarry place to be), my family are the primary targets for who knows what, and them wondering "is this going to end up on the blog"? Mac now says "is this going to be on your blog"? or "look out! Mom's got the camera out and you will end up on the blog"! I took a picture of my Dad at Halloween, and he is suprised that his picture hasn't ended up on my blog yet (he did ask).
I have surfed the internet and there are hundreds of blogs with different subjects. I worked retail for 11 years-and have 11 years of interesting tales to tell. The thought of starting a blog with my stories has crossed my mind. Working high end retail brings in people from all walks of life. I recently told a friend of mine about a time when a drug addict who was a size 2 was trying to return some bras she had stolen. The bras were a size 44 DDD and she was a size 32 A. If anyone is interested in the story.....let me know.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy 13th Birthday Mac! 13 Things We Love About You.

1. You would rather spend time with your Dad and Family than do something with your friends.
2. You Love Football, and begged your Mom to play for 3 years before she said yes.
3. You are compassionate. When you were 9, you thought that someone should turn an old building you saw into a place for homeless people to go.

4. You work hard. You have Dyslexia like your Mom, and worked really hard on improving your reading skills to keep up with your classmates. You also work hard when you work with your Dad.
5. You are patient. Refer to #1 for an example.
6. You make friends easily and are a sociable kid.

7. When you were 5 years old, we went to a fancy restaurant and said "I think I will have shrimp for dinner". You still like shrimp, and steak, and pizza.
8. You are polite and you have manners-apparently you do use your manners out in public, and for that I am grateful.
9. You are flexible, easy going, and are willing to "go with the flow" of life.
10. You easily accept change. We have moved around alot, and you never complained.
11. You LOVE Science and like to watch things blow up. You like to watch Mythbusters to see how things work, and to watch things blow up.
12. You are a very good big brother. When you were 6 and Mason was a baby, I needed to take a shower, and put him in the swing for you to "watch him". You were watching cartoons, and felt Mason needed to watch them too. You moved his swing into the same direction as the T.V. and did this successfully, without getting his oxygen tube caught under the swing and kept his feeding machine upright. I was shocked when I got out of the shower- 10 minutes later.
13. You are an all around good kid. When you go on Scouting trips, or stay at friends houses, I am always told what a good kid you are, and never cause problems.
We are proud of you Mac! I can't believe you are a Teenager, and am shocked that you are 13. Where did the time go? It doesn't seem like 13 years, but I guess it is. Happy Birthday!!