In honor of my howlingly funny friend, Rebekah, who writes an annual "Christmas Card Reject" post each year, I thought I'd share some pictures that were funny and sweet. Sophie Bushong you are a treasure!
This next one is my personal favorite...
Charlotte and I have matching bracelets, along with her two grandmother's
And finally, a picture of The Bribe. I'm lucky we got some shots that didn't have Charlotte drooling blue jellybean all down her face.
So I'm only 12 days behind in posting Halloween pictures, not too bad, right? In case you can't tell, Sam was Jake from The Neverland Pirates and Charlotte is a charming bunny who didn't want to wear her paws.
They were both excited beyond measurement as we headed out into the neighborhood with our friends, Batman and Batgirl.
Sam wouldn't wear his eye patch so I attempted to be creative and drew one on instead.
Neither of them have asked where all their candy went, thankfully. Did anyone watch Jimmy Kimmel's "I told my kids I ate all their candy" on YouTube? I was dying to try that with Sam...but I restrained myself.
Sam had his teeth cleaned for the third time in his young life, an old pro at this point. He just about drove the hygienist batty though, reaching for buttons and pulling on things and causing the water cup to over flow repeatedly.
The best thing that happened there though, was Sam building a massive wall of Jenga blocks that spread across the office.
I am reluctant to even talk about this amazing trip, spoiled rotten with the opportunity to go to a place like this and see this part of our country.
But there have been picture requests, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites. Scott and I headed out to Pebble Beach for a few days in the middle of the month, with a ministry called Equip. Scott played golf and I enjoyed lots and lots of time by. my. self. Which was heavenly.
There were many opportunities for the two of us to connect though, we had a memorable dinner at The Inn at Spanish Bay our first night and spent the afternoons tooling around the Peninsula exploring the coastline and taking pictures.
We built our own tower on the actual "Pebble Beach"
Standing on the 18th green of the historic course, breathtaking!
My eyes just ate up the sights and sounds of the coastline.
The beach at Carmel, my newest favorite city in the US.
The Lone Cypress on a foggy afternoon
And every night, a bagpiper walks on a stone path, along the golf course at Spanish Bay, playing a selection of hymns and tunes, and then finally stands behind the hotel and plays as the sun sets into the Pacific. You can order a glass of wine and sit beside a firepit to enjoy the experience. I cried, it was so beautiful.
Well Halloween is almost upon us and my world is surrounded by all things pumpkin. Literally. Scott counted 68 gourd-related items strewn haphazardly about the house.
Anyways, I was looking for something pumpkin-y to make for Bible Study this past Thursday and decided to try a new recipe, (to me at least) it's been around and comes from the highest possible source: Mary Gieser. I added a bit of sugar to the frosting and increased the cream cheese, but aside from that, it's all Mary.
Three really nice things about this recipe: it makes a ton, filling a half sheet/jelly roll pan; it uses an entire can of pumpkin; and third, you can make it the day ahead of time with no discernible difference, perfect for a Halloween party. Enjoy!
1 & 2/3's cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 (15 oz) can of plain pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Spray a metal half sheet pan (or jelly roll pan) with Pam. In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin until it's well mixed. In a separate small bowl, combine the dry ingredients and then add them to the wet. Mix thoroughly. Spread the batter evenly into the pan. Bake for 25-30 min, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the bars completely.
As the bars bake, make the Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups powdered sugar
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer until smooth. Slowly add in the remaining ingredients and beat until fluffy. Use it to frost the bars when they're cool.
These are delicious, delicate with a strong flavor of pumpkin. Closer to a cake then a cookie, but you can still pick it up with your hand. Try them!
So I'll admit it, I am not a monogamous chocolate chip cookie baker. I bounce around from recipe to recipe, trying different ingredients and techniques in search of the holy grail: the perfect cookie. A cookie that is rounded and moist in the middle, doesn't spread too much while baking, uses really good chocolate and stands up well to travel.
I've settled into a committed relationship with an adaption of Thomas Keller's Chocolate Chip cookie, out of his Ad Hoc cookbook. Chef and Owner of The French Laundry in Napa Valley, Bouchon in New York and Vegas and a few other notable places, this guy obviously knows his stuff.(This being the understatement of the year.) I, however do not have time to chop up a 55% chocolate bar and a 70-72% chocolate bar, SIFT THE CRUMBS out to keep the cookie looking "clean", and other such nonsense. So here is my version. I hope you enjoy.
2 & 1/3 cups flour, plus 1 TB.
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 lb. unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. good vanilla
6 oz. semi sweet Ghiradeli chocolate chips
6 oz. 60% chocolate Ghiradeli chocolate chips (to taste, sometimes I add more, eyeball it)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the first three dry ingredients in a small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle beat the butter on medium spead until smooth but not creamed. Add the sugars and mix, don't beat too much air into it. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egss, one at a time, beating until mixed. Add the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. Add the chocolate chips.
Using a small ice cream scoop (2 TB size) scoop balls of dough onto a wax paper covered rimmed baking sheet. Fill the sheet with balls and then stick it in the freezer until they are frozen fairly solid. Dump them all in a zip lock bag to store in the freezer, or bake them from frozen form on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for five minutes, one sheet at a time, then rotate the cookie sheet and bake another 4 & 1/2 or 5 minutes.
Next Saturday Sam will be the ring bearer in our cousin Ally's wedding, the one where she's marrying our other cousin (third one from the other side), Ben. We take our official wedding roles very seriously around here.
Sam is very excited and proud of his new "man" clothes. I however, am overwhelmed with all the new components to worry about: man socks, man shoes, a mini-man belt, a dress shirt, tie, vest, jacket, and then, of course, the most important piece of the equation:
This bag of carefully chosen jelly beans that will be waiting for him at the end of the aisle, dangled by his beloved aunt "Gecka" in the pew, where he will sit and eat them quietly for the duration of the ceremony. If all goes according to plan. Is that ok with you, Jess? I forgot to ask. Ha ha.
"How slow do I need to walk, Mom?" "How far do we need to walk to the wedding?" "Can I throw the pillow?" These are a few of the questions being asked currently.
We will keep you updated as to how it goes. Stand by.
In August, I co-hosted a bridal shower for a my sweet cousin Ally who is marrying a third cousin of mine (no relation to each other, I swear!) this October. Sam gets to be the ringbearer. He has a tiny suit and purple tie. More on that to come I'm sure.
It was a magical day, my mom and dad hosted it at their house and the yard was like something out of a magazine. Ally glowed the entire time, and her future mother-in-law, Anita, took most of these pictures. She is an amazing artist, I wish I could BE her sometimes. Check out some of her pictures on her blog.
Also for fun, can you tell which pictures Anita took and which are mine? I'll give you a clue: it ain't hard.
And just for fun, here's the menu:
-Austin's pulled pork on hawaiian rolls, coleslaw and pickles on the side
Or began, I should say. I meant to post this back on September 8th.
Sam had his first ever soccer game earlier this month. The first of what feels like 10,000 that potentially lie in front of us. It was pure comedy gold, screaming and cheering and crying because the other team was SO pitifully bad that Skip (Scott's twin brother, the head coach) finally took three of his own players out and left only his son Spencer (above) on the field to face six players of the opposing team.
Spencer still scored.
It was 27 to 0. The coaches decided to get on the field and help the blue team's cause. It involved: holding onto the back of the yellow team's jerseys to keep them from the ball, kicking the ball to the blue team, Scott carries a poor sweet crying girl in his arms, running with her down the field, dribbling to the goal, stopping the ball, sets her down behind it and watches proudly as she timidly tapped it into our goal. A girl from the opposing team, mind you.
Every parent on the sidelines broke out into a massive roar of support for her. She tearfully ran to her mom with her arms in the air, "I did it Mommy!" I may have cried a little.
What I learned: preschool soccer is awesome; that Sam hates it when I yell for him or any other player; that he doesn't stop beaming while he's on the field; and finally, that my husband looks really really hot in his soccer shoes, Mr. Assistant Coach himself.