26 December 2012

Snow Princess

This Snow Princess spent Christmas with us.

Until she opened her Cinderella costume, at which time she completely morphed
into character and remained Cinderella throughout the day.

25 December 2012

A Beach-Themed Christmas


Well, another post disappears...


Yep, a sports metaphor from a sports-clueless girl. On Christmas afternoon, our oven gave up the ghost. Wouldn't light. Broken. The control panel works beautifully, as does the infrared broiler. I think it's the electronic ignition.

Our planned pork roast Christmas dinner waffled a couple of times early in the day, then disappeared altogether and resurrected as a wonderful Boars Head Boneless Smoked ham half that I bought on a whim at Caputo's on Friday--along with some Bel Gioioso Mascarpone and Bel Gioioso American Grana cheeses. Those in-store tastings can be quite effective.

The Fun Kids slept until a fairly decent hour and we divied the presents into three stages: from mommy and daddy; stockings from Santa; and gifts from grandma and grandpa (CA+me). 17 mos. LC will never be left in the dust by the older two--he LOVED Christmas.

Then, MA and I worked with LE and JA to make an oldie, but a goody--Apple Cinnamon Donuts. We made three dozen miniature Apple Cinnamon Muffins, then MA dipped (more like swam) them in butter, and LE and JA rolled them in cinnamon sugar. YUM!


Serves: 12

Cooking Time: 15 min

  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups Bisquick baking mix
  • 3/4 cup apple, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease bottom only of 12 medium muffin cups (3 dozen mini-muffins).
  3. Beat egg slightly, stir in remaining ingredients just till moistened.
  4. Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake till golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes (@12 minutes for mini-muffins).
Then, dip each warm muffin into melted butter and roll in a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.

By noon we'd pulled together a Bloody Mary bar and several noshes for the adults:

  • Tomato-basil-garlic-balsamic bruschetta
  • Pickled beets-goat cheese-toasted walnut bruschetta
  • Assortment of cheeses and crackers
  • Ambrosia baguette
  • Mascarpone and fresh red raspberries on Carr's Whole Wheat crackers
  • Truffle pâté from Fresh Market
  • Crudités
Somewhere in there, JA (5-1/2), LE (3-1/2), and I (What! You actually thought I'd parenthesize my age?) dressed the table for our beach-themed Christmas with candles made from seashells collected at Virginia Beach, and Croatan and Outer Banks beaches, surrounded by more seashells, and blue and white glittery-snowflakes and holiday greetings--Merry, Cheer, Joy... Before placing the shells, etc., I'd spread a brown kraft paper runner down the center of our farmhouse table. Then, we sprinkled white sand (salt) all about. (JA is worried about the clean-up...)

There was some sincere discussion about skipping our roast pork dinner and repeating the noshes... But after almost everyone had a nap, we concluded that we'd feed the Fun Kids early and have an adults-only Christmas feast.

I whipped-up a brown sugar-honey-mustard glaze, and we nuked the Boar's Head ham, microwaved the Creamy Potato Casserole, and cooked the Trader Joe's Haricot Verts stove-top, finished with a lemony Almadine. Had to skip the dinner rolls (no oven). In spite of some stumbling blocks, our dinner was lovely and very tasty.


2 lbs. hash browns, defrosted
1/4 c. melted butter
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 to 2/3 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. grated sharp cheese (Colby or cheddar)--I used chunks of Velveeta

Mix above ingredients and put in a greased 9"x13" or shallow microwavable bowl.

350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Crackers, crumbled
1/4 c. Butter

Melt butter and stir in cracker crumbs mix. Sprinkle topping over potatoes and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Or, microwave until cheese is melted and all is hot.

Our dessert was German Chocolate Brownies (Based on the Baker's Chocolate One-Bowl Brownie recipe--just substitute Baker's German Chocolate) with French Vanilla Häagen Dazs ice cream.

These were brownies I created (and froze the leftovers) for food gifts. (The Coconut Toasted-Pecan Topping got messed up somehow--operator error--so, I packaged the topping separately from the brownies. Voilà. Also, passed-off a larger jar as ice cream topping...)

We finished the evening by (re-)watching Picture Paris. JE and MA saw for the first time.


24 December 2012

Snow Day

It's so great having a kid-sized hill just across the cul-de-sac!


22 December 2012

When Will I Be Old?

My sisters and I laugh whenever any of us refer to being middle-aged... What? We're going to live past 100? The truth is, the five little girls are all over 60. 67-66-64-63-61 as of today. Our "baby" brother is 53.

Yet, we're certainly younger than our parents were at this age. And, dad is 91 with rosy cheeks and a healthy glow. Maybe we can't grasp being older because we have a living parent, several aunts and an uncle, and numerous cousins of several generations.


Loved this piece of writing in Kate Morton's The Distant Hours.

(As Saffy tangles with her preciously-mended silk stockings) "Oh Lord, no!" Saffy's big toe caught and she began to topple sideways. There was a split second in which she might have righted herself, but her toenail had snagged in the fiber and to plant her foot would have risked a new ladder. Thus, she took the fall bravely, whacking her thigh painfully on the dressing-table corner. "Oh dear," she gasped. "Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear... "

All seemed in order; it had been a narrow escape. Saffy let out the sigh she'd been holding, and yet she wasn't wholly relieved... When she and Percy were girls they'd had plenty of opportunity to observe adults up close and what they saw had mystified them. The ancient grotesques behaved, for the most part, as if they'd no inkling at all that they were old. This perplexed the twins, who agreed that there was nothing so unseemly as an old person who refused to acknowledge his or her limitations, and they'd made a pact never to let it happen to them. When they were old, they swore, they would jolly well act the part. "But how will we know?" Saffy had said, dazzled by the existential knot at the question's core. "Perhaps it's one of those things, like sunburn, that can't be felt until it's too late to do anything about it." Percy had agreed on the problem's tricksy nature, sitting quietly with her arms wrapped around her knees as she gave herself over to its consideration. Ever the pragmatist, she'd reached a solution first, saying slowly, "I suppose we must make a list of things that old people do--three ought to be enough. And when we find ourselves doing them, then we'll know."

Gathering the candidate habits had been simple--there was a lifetime's observation of Daddy and Nanny to consult; more difficult was limiting their number to three. After much deliberation they'd settled on those leaving least room for equivocation: first, professing strong and repeated preference for England when Queen Victoria was on the throne; second, mentioning one's health in any company other than that which included a medical professional; and third, failure to put on one's undergarments whilst standing. Pgs. 138-139.


Picture Paris

Picture Paris
29 minutes

HBO short film by Brad Hall, starring his wife, Julia Louis Dreyfus.

Love it. Charming. Heartbreak. Paris. Food. Paris. New and enduring love. Paris. Twisted...

21 December 2012

Going Grey the Stylish Way

After years and $$$$$, I think I've found the hair color solution--natural grey with blonde highlights. I'll have to try it and see how it goes with my skin tones--pale and paler. Think this scheme might save me some $$$ without giving up entirely... Something I'll never do, until I'm at the pearly gates. Then, as I understand it on good authority, I'll be my best "me" for eternity.

20 December 2012

YOLO: You Only Live Once


Yep! My new motto is YOLO. That's why we're planning a return to the beach late January for a few weeks.

18 December 2012

Joyeux Noël

She's our Joyeux Noël. Noël Joy. Almost 3, and simply gorgeous.


When I forwarded these adorable porcupine photos, she told her mommy, "He looks just like me!"





16 December 2012

Another Sunday in the City

RvH and I have decided to celebrate Christmas in Chicago today beginning with the 9:30am service at Fourth Presbyterian on North Michigan Avenue, brunch at Nordstrom's Cafe, window gazing and shopping at Nordstrom's, Nieman Marcus, Ralph Lauren, et al...

Someone may have purchased a turquoise beret at Nordstrom's... Cute!

We catch up on our lives and opinions, exchange Christmas gifts, and have a lovely day.

This evening is our Small Group's Christmas dinner, so I have to hustle around once I'm home to prepare a hot vegetable for our contribution--cauliflower, broccoli, carrots; sautéed onions,celery, cheese sauce (Velveeta and a bit of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup), buttered breadcrumbs... Voilà! (They lick up every bit--disappointing CA who was hoping for leftovers.)

I'm exhausted! Really exhausted, and I can't even sleep in tomorrow because LL wants an extra day at Health Bridge this week. Big idea... I make arrangements to meet a bit late--9:00am sounds good.

13 December 2012

Book of Mormon

Really can't recommend.

It's complicated. Wouldn't want to offend my more conservative friends.

You laugh. Belly laughs. It's endearing.

The language is foul and blasphemous. Truly. A very, very guilty pleasure. Underneath are some harsh truths. It's silly and provacative.

The LDS takes the high road--buying three very tasteful pages of advertising in the program.

Example: You've seen the play... Now read the book.

We scored big for once, buying 4 good seats last spring--the first day tickets went on sale. After noticing, at a late date, that that the tickets said explicit language and then viewing a few YouTube videos, we questioned JL and PLJ further. They both backed off. So, CA suggested we sell our 2 extra tickets on Stub Hub. It sufficeth to say--the two of us got in free. And, we did not mention to the lovely Texas couple, in the third and fourth seats from the aisle, that we had scalped them. So to speak.

After theater, we walked over to Miller's Pub for a late, lite supper. Our waiter told us that the cast and company, along with family, had been in for a late dinner after dress rehersel just a couple nights prior.


12 December 2012

Time to Leave

Three more nights with the Fun Kids in Cincinnati--MA is traveling to NYC and we're helping JE for the duration.

We lay low Monday while the two older Fun Kids go to school. Great day to relax and unwind. LC is constant entertainment. He's reached the terrible twos way ahead of schedule, but most of the time is charming, entertaining, and hillarious.

Joseph-Beth is a treat that CA and I give ourselves Tuesday a.m. A great independent bookstore with the additional feature of Brontë Bistro (another coffee shop Cincinnati edition) for a quick and lovely breakfast coffee.

Can you tell LC feeds himself?
I do a repeat of my now infamous super-sized M+M cookies--to great acclaim. And, we manage to get the carpet cleaners in while CA and JE take all three Fun Kids back to Recreations Outlet to use the rest of our Groupon. What a great place to entertain and exercise (exorcise???) the kiddos.

09 December 2012

At the Beach: The Rest of the Week

Too much going on. Too much fun. Couldn't keep up with posting once the Fun Kids arrived. What a lovely problem.

Fantastic food: Pi-zzeria, 11th Street Taphouse, Soya, Catch 31, Pochahontas, Sawasdee Thai... We just couldn't fit any more in!

Swimming, beach combing, biking, digging, chasing waves and sea gulls... Eating... Some shopping...

Virginia Beach, Croatan Beach, Corolla... Lovely. Calming. Blissful.

Great weather most of the week. No complaints. You just layer up in the a.m., peel down throughout the day, then reverse the order and layer up.