Sunday, December 14, 2014

Aubrey's Christmas Program

Aubrey's Christmas program was on Friday. She was thrilled that Grandpa Ted and Grandma Sue came all the way from Hesston to be there. Wayne and I were surprised that our little performer (at home) looked nervous and frequently chewed on her fingernails. I couldn't get a good picture with my phone, but they all looked adorable (of course) :) and the backdrop was really cute too.


Afterward was a cookie reception, which Aubrey said was her favorite part.  



Tyler Trivia

Some things I've learned about Tyler lately. He loves board games, Scott Joplin (and other rag time music), and turkey, mustard and bread sandwiches. No mayo no butter. So, there you have it. Tyler trivia for the day.

Almond Toffee


Heath candy bars are one of my favorites. Whenever we make the rare trip to Dairy Queen, my go-to is a Heath blizzard. 


This is essentially a Heath candy bar, only easier to make. Instead of individual pieces of toffee dipped in chocolate, you spread out a layer of toffee, top with a layer of chocolate, then break into pieces.  For this batch, I used sliced almonds instead of chopping them. It's not as pretty, but it's just as tasty. (You can chop, use slivered or sliced. Whatever you prefer or have on hand).


This is a re-post of this recipe. When I made it a few years ago for the first time, I didn't take any pictures. And I didn't know that it would become an annual tradition.  Because I now make it every year at Christmas-time, this recipe bears repeating. 


I have tried other toffee recipes that are a lot more finicky. This one has turned out every time. If you like to make Christmas candy, or if you'd like to start, try this one. I love it. It's a reliable recipe and it's definitely a keeper.

Almond Toffee
- Women of Great Taste


1 cup butter (no substitute)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
1 bar (7 ounces) milk chocolate 
1/2-3/4 cup finely chopped almonds, toasted

Generously butter a half-sheet pan. In a heavy saucepan over medium high heat cook butter, sugar, salt, water and corn syrup to hard crack stage (290 degrees) stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Immediately remove from heat and stir in almonds. Pour into prepared pan and spread mixture to the edges. Cool for at least a few minutes. Microwave chocolate until melted. Spread over toffee and sprinkle with remaining almonds. Chill until chocolate is firm, about an hour. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Makes 2 1/2 pounds


I found these free Christmas chalkboard printables for homemade treats from lilyandval.com. Click to link to the website.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmas Craft

Today it snowed and I am cozy inside. So, much to Wayne's chagrin, I pulled out the Christmas tree. I had to cut off about half of the pre-strung lights as they have gone out. So, that took a couple of hours and wasn't any fun. I'm definitely not looking forward to when the other half needs to be taken off. But, Aubrey has been begging to get Christmas decorations out ever since we packed up Halloween decorations. She patiently waited and was quite excited to help hang ornaments. 
Later, the kids got themselves dressed and played outside by themselves. Um. That is awesome.

 This week, I saw a few different Christmas decorations on Pinterest here and here. I thought they looked simple and we had most of the needed items already on hand.

Yesterday, Aubrey and I did a little shopping. While we were out, we picked up ribbon and glitter glue. Mid shopping trip, we took a break to stop at a park...and picked up pine cones.


When we got home, Aubrey and I painted the edges of the pine cones and when they dried added a little glitter. (Okay, so she did one and then ran off to play). Since we had everything else on hand, it was a quick and easy decoration. 



I hot glued ribbon to the rest (and then hooks when I ran out of ribbon) for ornaments. 
A quick and inexpensive way to change things up. 

Halloween 2014

This is the first year in ... forever, that Wayne hasn't joined us in carving pumpkins. The virus that started with Aubrey made its way to Tyler then Wayne. So, this year he was out. Aubrey and I made the pirate and Hello Kitty pumpkins. Tyler carved the pumpkin below. When a couple of days later Wayne still wasn't interested, Tyler carved another one. It's fun that he can now do this on his own. (Other than gutting them...still my job).


 Two nights before Halloween, we went to the Sam's Club Halloween scavenger hunt. I was impressed with what they put together and the kids loved it. (It also made our shopping trip quite enjoyable).

The next night was Trunk or Treat.

Red Ninja and Mermaid

Every time (all 3 nights) that anyone asked her whether she was a mermaid, whether she was Ariel, or even whether she liked to swim, she said that she's "not the real Ariel."


Aubrey loved running into her preschool friends, Claire and Emma. (The cows were having a little dance party by their car).




On Halloween, I enjoyed visiting Tyler at school for his party. I wasn't planning on going, but he really wanted me to come, which surprised me. So, I went, of course. I don't know how much longer he'll want me there. (And this is the last year that I'll only have one in school, and don't have to decide which party to attend).


The room parent did a great job of coming up with Minute To Win It activities that the kids enjoyed. It was the least chaotic class party I've been to. (She split them into three groups so that there was not such a large group eating or playing games all at the same time).


On Halloween, we went trick-or-treating with Michael's family and soon after we started we were thrilled when Eli and Lisa joined us.

Aubrey and Eli held hands for quite awhile. So adorable.

(And yes, Aubrey thought she had to tell people that he's not the real Scooby Doo). I guess she was concerned they were going to confuse our community with their costumes. Silly.



I saw this the week before Halloween. Every time I saw an Elsa (or 2 together), I had to laugh and think about this. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Salted Caramel-Apple Profiteroles

With three out of four of us feeling not so well, it's been a lazy weekend. Not exactly what I envisioned...maybe we'll get those pumpkins carved this week. But, today since we were all laying around, and I had a couple of Honeycrisp apples that I didn't want to let go bad, I decided to try this recipe. Delicious. And dressed up enough for company. I found it on the King Arthur Flour and pinned it to Pinterest...but I don't like that I had to refer to 3 different web pages and then sift through them to make this. So, I decided to post here. It is certainly not my recipe, all credit is given to King Arthur Flour!
(This iPad picture doesn't do it justice, but it really was delicious)!



I made a half recipe, which made about 12. Double this to make the original size batch of 24.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons white whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat - it got darker, so next time I'll bake for a little less time)
  • 1/4 cup flour (bread flour if you have it)
  • 2 large eggs
1) Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 1 baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
2) Place the water, butter and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Remove from the heat and add the flours all at once. Stir vigorously until well combined. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the dough forms a rough ball, about 15 to 30 seconds.
4) Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to a mixing bowl. Let the mixture cool for 5 to 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center reads 140°F. Beat in the eggs one at a time. The first egg should be fully incorporated before the second is added. Beat for 2 minutes after adding the last egg.
5) Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons (a cookie scoop is perfect). The mounds of dough will be approximately golf-ball sized. Leave a couple of inches between the balls of dough, as they'll expand quite a bit in the oven.
6) Bake the puffs for 8 minutes at 425°F. Don't open the oven door during the bake. After 8 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 375°, and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown. Remove the puffs from the oven and, using a sharp paring knife, make a small slice near the top of each, to let the steam out. Return the puffs to the oven. Turn the oven off, prop the oven door open slightly, and let the puffs cool inside for 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
I made 1/4th of a recipe which yields 7/8ths cup of caramel sauce.
(Follow the link for the original recipe and variations).
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 T boiled apple cider
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice*
  • *No Apple Pie Spice? Substitute 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch ginger, and pinch nutmeg or allspice
1) Combine the cream, corn syrup, sugar, butter, and boiled cider in a heavy-bottom, deep saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to medium-high heat and cook until the mixture reaches 226-230°F on a candy thermometer, 8-10 minutes, depending on your particular stove. 
3) Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the salt and spice. Pour into a glass jar to cool. Store at room temperature for a few days. Refrigerate for longer storage.
For every two profiteroles you want to serve, core, peel, and slice 1 large apple. Sauté the apple slices in enough butter to cover the bottom of the pan, with brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.
When I did this, I used 1 tablespoon butter, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons boiled cider, a pinch of cinnamon, and a few drops of brandy for each apple.
The filling kind of caramelizes on the apple and it is delicious.

Assemble and serve!
Puff pastry (bottom half), ice cream, apple filling, puff pastry (top half), and a drizzle of caramel. Enjoy!


Sickie

Yesterday, I woke up with an upset stomach and headache. Wayne told me he felt the same way on Friday (and was losing his voice yesterday and more today). So, Aubrey also woke up with a headache, I figured she had what we had. I gave her some ibuprofen and forgot about her feeling bad because she acted normal. 

Late afternoon she said she was cold. I was out of it, and sent her outside to play to warm up. Duh, Melody, that's not normal on a hot afternoon - it was in the upper 80's yesterday. Then I found her asleep around 4:30. She had been complaining of a headache. I took her temp and it was 104.3. I put her in the bath, gave her another dose of ibuprofen and her temp briefly came back to normal. Then it ranged from 100.5-103. 

I googled her symptoms (WHY DO I DO THIS!?!) and panicked when all I read was that fever + headache = meningitis. (She, of course, complained of neck pain soon after - one of the hallmark signs or something). Of course, someone I work with has been out on and off this year, most recently in the last 2 weeks, because of aseptic meningitis. I told Wayne that I didn't want to panic...but I was panicking and asked him to help me decide if I'm overreacting or if I should take her in. He came to look at her with me. 

After a call to the nurse on call who suggested checking a few things that seemed to confirm my fears-  Aubrey was difficult to wake up and said that it hurt to move her neck, and it appeared stiff - then the nurse said we should take her to the ER.

So, I took her. They did a strep test (which the PA suspected because of her red throat and swollen lymph nodes) came back negative. They said it doesn't appear to be meningitis. For both of those, they said it might be too early to tell but is likely just some other virus. When the doctor came in, he was a little pompous, so I chuckled inside when he appeared to stress out when she threw up (for the only time) while he was in the room. He immediately ordered Zofran for her nausea which seemed a bit of an overreaction. Not that I'm one to talk here. ;)

I was so relieved. I felt badly for taking her in for "nothing" and mostly because I expect the bill to be ridiculous. But, when she woke up numerous times in the night feverish, crying, sometimes making no sense, and complaining of a headache, each time I could reassure myself that it was okay.

While we were there, of course because of her fever, at least 4 people asked me whether we had been out of the country. Um, no. No Ebola here!

Waiting on the strep test in the ER.


She still has a headache, a fever, says her throat hurts, is fatigued, and her stomach hurts too. But she is much more herself today.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jerry

We were so happy to have a chance to see Bob and Isabel. Ted and Sue brought them down for an evening visit on Tuesday. We were treated to a delicious dinner out and were able to catch up a bit afterward. Bad job, me. I didn't get any pictures.

This week, we were asked to send a 12-month outfit, 2 pairs of socks and a pie pumpkin to school for a project. I found the one baby outfit I had not passed down of Tyler's was this Steeler's outfit. So, that's what we sent.

Friday, Tyler came home with "Jerry."  How fun!

I think Jerry will become a permanent Fall fixture in our house. :) (With a newly decorated head every year, of course). 



Aubrey

Just ran across this picture from earlier this month...



One evening, October 7th to be exact, I had turned the garden sprinkler on (we're still harvesting tomatoes, peppers and basil), and Aubrey was playing in the garden.

A few of Aubrey-isms I don't want to forget.
- A massage is a "suhmahj." (I don't know how to spell it, but you get it, right)?

- Remember is "renember."