Monday, November 30, 2009

Tree Trek 09

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is the day we go get our tree. Lucky for us there is a tree farm within a five minute drive of our house. We have been coming here for the past seven years and once we had the first experience of not only picking our own live tree, but cutting it down ourselves, I can't imagine doing it any other way.
Whenever we had out I always think of the scene from the movie Christmas Vacation when they walk forever until they find the perfect tree with the ray of light shining on it (love that movie by the way) Our trips are never quite like that but there is a bit of searching for the right tree. It always bums me out just a little when we don't have any snow for picking out the tree cause that just makes it more fun. It has been several years now since we had snow for our annual tree trek and this year was more of the same. We did have to bundle up a bit because it was really windy! Here's a look at our search for the perfect tree.

Away we go!

How about a cute little Charlie Brown tree?

Or this one?? Maybe for the minimalist look?

We can't cut down any tree that doesn't get the Kenzie hug of approval. This one's a keeper.

Time to cut it down!

The girls job is to push the tree over so that it doesn't land on Dad's head.

How cute are they holding hands??

This is the "Gift Wrapper" that nicely wraps up our tree so we can get it home safely.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Here we had a very nice Thanksgiving. It was pretty low key and traditional with good food and good company. We had Dom's parents and my parents joining us this year. Dom is always a huge help in the kitchen and I am always thankful for that!

Mackenzie checking out the turkey.

Dom carving the turkey.

The table with the turkey napkin holders made by Mackenzie.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Making a List and checking it Twice

But this isn't a christmas list. This is my thanksgiving menu list. Then I will usually have a thanksgiving prep list going too These are things that I want to get done around the house that aren't food related. Things like make sure that there is toilet paper in the bathrooms, clean the oven and wash the good china. Then there is of course the grocery list.

Our Thanksgiving meal is usually very traditional, but I usually try at least one new recipe every year. And when I say new I mean something I've never tried before. Ever. No trial run before the big day to make sure that I can even make it or that it actually tastes good. I like to torture myself like that. It just wouldn't be Thanksgiving for me if I didn't have at least one cooking related panic attack.
This year though, my untested recipes are really easy so I'll just have to find something else to panic about. Like is there enough propane to cook the meal or did I buy enough potatoes.
Here they are in case you're curious. The first one is Emeril Legasse's Bacon Braised Green Beans because lets face it everything is better with bacon.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
6 slices of bacon, diced
1 cup thinly sliced onion
2 Tbsp. sliced garlic
2 pounds green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed
1 cup chicken stock, canned low sodium chicken broth or water
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Set a dutch oven over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is well browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are trasluscent, 3-4 minutes. Add the greeen beans and toss to combine with the bacon and onions.
increase the heat to medium high and add the chicken stock. As soon as the stock begins to boil, place the lid on the pan and cook the beans for about 6 minutes. Remove the lid, season the beans woth the salt and pepper, and toss well. Replace the lid and cook until the beans are tender, 1 or 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and transfer the beans to a serving dish.

The other recipe is Buttered Rosemary Rolls from The Pioneer Woman

Frozen, unbaked dinner rolls
Melted butter, regular salted
Fresh rosemary, coursely chopped
Course sea salt

Spray a small iron skillet with cooking spray (or olive oil). Place frozen rolls in the skillet, leaving plenty of room for rising. Cover and allow to rise for several hours. After rising brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with chopped rosemary. Brush with additional butter. Sprinkle with couse sea salt. Bake according to package directions, usually 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes), until rolls are a deep golden brown on top. Serve skillet on the table.

Now I have one more recipe that I haven't decided whether I will make as part of Thanksgiving dessert or not but I will include it here. My favorite candy is chocolate covered cherries and as much as I love them I only eat them during thanksgiving/christmas season. This recipe is for
chocolate covered cherry cookies and it is from the Tasty Kitchen website.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 jar (10 oz.) Maraschino cherries drained, reserve juice
1 package (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cups sweetened condensed milk

In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Blend well and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter or margarine and sugar on low speed until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat until smooth and well blended. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place on a ungreased baking sheet. Press down the center of the dough with your thumb. Place a cherry in the center of each indentation.
In a small saucepan, combine chocolate pieces and sweetened condensed milk. Heat over low heat until chocolate is melted. Stir in 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of the reserved cherry juice.
Spoon about 1 tsp. of the topping over each cherry, spreading to cover the cherry. If the topping seems too thick, thin it with a little more cherry juice.
The frosting does not melt and run all over the place seals in the cherry.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until done. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Makes 3-4 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday Values

I am taking an online course at called Holidays in Hand and the first assignment was to write down our holiday values and goals for this holiday season.

The most obvious one for me is togetherness. This includes both family and friends. Things have been a little hectic lately-Dom is working a lot, we decided to paint the livingroom and hallway, Kenzie's birthday and Halloween as well as at least one of us being sick for the past month and time is just flying by. I hope that during the long weekend of Thanksgiving we can reconnect with each other and that things will actually slow down a bit so we can enjoy each other.
I also want to concentrate this season on being grateful for all we have and to make sure the kids understand the importance of being grateful.
We have lots of traditions I want to continue (I will go into more detail on those at a later time). Many of them are ones that Dom and I have started since having the girls and I hope that these may be even passed on by the girls someday. I also would like to capture these traditons in words and pictures.
We will try to help out someone less fortunate by donating food and picking a name from the angel tree at church.
That's my list for now.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I am one of those people that likes to make lists of things that I am grateful for. I believe what you put out to the universe comes back at you and the power of positive thinking. These lists usually help bring me out of a bad mood and get things back into perspective. I have been taking care of sick family members for two weeks and hoping that I would make it without getting sick. Last night I began getting sniffly and sneezy and this morning woke up cranky. Todays list is to help push away the crankies. It is also Veterans day which is extra incentive to be thankful.

So I will start my list by being grateful for my father-in-law and my nieces husband Miles, and to all the veterans who have served and those that continue to serve and protect this great nation.
I am grateful for the girls having no school today so that while I am not feeling 100% I can stay home in my jammies and just hang out with them. I am grateful for the little moments that we shared today like baking brownies, painting our nails and watching UP together.
I am grateful for my girls who are happy, healthy and continue to inspire and amaze me everyday.
I am grateful for a wonderfully supportive husband who works hard so that I can stay home and take care of the house and family.
I am grateful for wonderful friends and family both near and far.
I could go on and on but for today this feels good. Try making a gratitude list sometime and see how it makes you feel afterward.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

10 Favorite Sounds

My niece recently posted on her blog her 10 favorite sounds. I decided to do the same. It was harder than I thought it would be. I drew an almost complete blank at first then I got on a roll. Here they are in no particular order:

10. The "whizzz" of a fishing pole signaling you have a fish on while trolling on the lake.

9. Waves gently lapping against the beach or the side of the boat, so relaxing.

8. The crackle of a campfire in the evening. This conjures up memories of backyard barbecues and camping trips.

7. The crunch of leaves as you walk through the woods on a crisp fall day.

6. Peepers at dusk- a sure sign that it is summer.

5. Growl of a muscle car or stock car when they first start up and then the low grumble

of the engine as it idles.

4. The "tink" of a puck hitting the goal post during a hockey game.

3. The sound of Dom's voice on the phone when he call in the middle of the day.

2. The girls laughter.

1. Hearing "I love you" from my husband and kids.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Birthday Rock

Today was Mackenzie's 7th birthday. She has been asking for a guitar and being one who likes to pluck out a tune on occasion I had to oblige. Besides you never know, this could end up being her passion. She was actually able to pick out mary had a little lamb without any instruction so she has a good ear.
Here are a few pictures of the little Birthday rocker.

Watch out Sheryl Crowe, its Kenzie Ciolino!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Time to make the Donuts

I have been wanting to make homemade donuts for several years now, and haven't got around to it. Finally last weekend I decide that this was the weekend we were going to do it. I say we because I am a little bit intimidated by the using the fry daddy and made Dom do that part. Why? I have no real reason except that a large vat of burning hot oil seems scary. It's just one of those things that freaks you out until you try and they you wonder what all the fuss was about.

Anyway, I had two good recipes. A regular plain donut recipe and an apple cider recipe both very similiar. I went with the apple cider recipe. The apple cider recipe has of course apple cider in it as well as pumpkin pie spice. I also coated the warm donuts in a sugar and pumpkin pie spice mixture. The recipe came from one of my new favorite websites Our Best Bites. There is a little linky over in my "blogs that inspire me" list. I am not going to list the recipe here, you'll have to go check it out on the website for yourself. It is sooo worth it! The donuts were yummy! We will definitely be making these again, not a regular basis as they are not very good for your body, but they are definitely good for the soul.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Halloween Roundup

After having either one or both of the kids sick the week of Halloween I made the executive decision that we would do trick or treat at the mall where it was warm and dry. This was met with much grumbling from the oldest who decided that if she couldn't trick or treat with her best friend she wasn't going to trick or treat at all. And just for the record her best friend was sick.
After much coaxing and unfortunately a few tears she reluctantly got dressed and joined us.
Now granted the mall isn't the most exciting place to trick or treat, but the kids get lots of candy, and it is warm so you actually see what everyone is dressed as. Now granted it was an unseasonably warm 70 degrees outside, and despite the predictions of rain it didn't start till after we got home. So maybe I was being a little overprotective, but considering Kenzie had a fever all week ( she was fever free for 48 hours we took her out in public) and there was a chance of rain I think I did what was best.
Once we left the mall with a bucket of candy Becca was in a much better mood and they spent the ride home checking out their stash and trading candy. So despite the rocky start we had a happy ending!

Here is Padme Amidala in attack of the candy corns. Apparently Candy Corn Witches will turn you into candy corn instead of a toad. And just for the record this candy corn witch doesn't even like candy corn but she sure got a lot of compliments on her costume. I made the leg warmers about a month ago when I thought we would be trick or treating outside.

Padme's laser blaster!

The candy corn witch taking a ride on her broom!

This is the candy reject pile. Lucky for me and Dom there is some good stuff in there!