Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December Recap

Wow. It's been a fast and furious month. This poor little space has been highly neglected among all of our activities: Hanukkah, Christmas, our road trip tour de Texas and having Cooper out of school! Here are some high and low notes of the month:

I lost my biggest blog fan and most avid follower this month. I say that in jest but there is no one that loved this blog more than Kyle's grandmother, Bubby (Marolyn). She printed off every post that I wrote to show to people and also laid them out on her coffee table in her living room. If I ever questioned the importance of posting yet another "this has got to be the most hilarious thing that any kid has ever said" moment, I knew that Bubby would read and treasure it…and she did!

Bubby was a very spirited woman who never let her opinion go unknown. Towards the end of her battle with cancer, she would constantly remind us that "these doctors don't know who they are dealing with!" I had to laugh because that was true, on oh so many levels. She loved us all fiercely and we loved her right back. We will all miss her very much.

In lighter news…

 - Our Elf on the Shelf, Bama, returned this year. He made his scheduled appearance only a few days late after being misplaced by Mom and Dad. When all else fails, chocolate.

 - Cooper's beloved Mr. Snake tragically lost his eye in a severe wall banging incident a few months ago. He was promptly removed from the group of animals Cooper sleeps with every night, affectionately named "the stuff". He would say, "I don't like him anymore. His eye is broken." There is a lesson in there about tolerance and acceptance that somehow didn't translate! Anyway, I performed a little surgery a la Doc McStuffins and voila…Mr. Snake is happily part of "the stuff" again!

 - This little cheeser helped me decorate the Christmas tree this year. I've only been waiting to do this with him SINCE HE WAS BORN! We blared Christmas music and drank hot chocolate and there was only one reported ornament loss to speak of!

 - In other "wanted to do this since they were born" news…I officially have a shopping buddy. I knew this would happen eventually, I just didn't foresee it being the case with a 17 month old. Watch out Kyle, she's coming for your credit card! Let's just say, I didn't mind the company while shlepping through town buying gifts this year!

 - Kyle and I spent 1.5 days in Belize soaking up the sun and enjoying childless laziness. Unfortunately (on many levels) we had to cut our trip short to attend Bubby's funeral and spend time with family, but it was beautiful and luxurious while it lasted.

 - One of Cooper's favorite activities is to go golfing with Kyle. So, on days when there aren't many people on the course, Kyle will take him out to play a few holes. (Tough Dad job, I know.) Cooper will don his fishing/golfing glove and they head out to tear up the course (and the water hazards). Our apologies to the other golfers!

 - Cooper really got into the season this year. Eight nights of Hanukkah celebrations bode well for almost 4 year old boys! Every day during Hanukkah, Cooper would announce that he said "Burch atah adonai" (the beginning of the Hanukkah prayer) and that he was ready to open presents clearly ignoring the whole waiting until sundown thing. Patience is not our strong suit!

 - Speaking of getting into the season, I made Cooper help me clean out his toys so that we might give the ones he no longer plays with to other boys and girls. Y'all. We gathered up 5 trash bags full of toys! Embarrassing yet extremely satisfying. We even had one whole toy drawer empty…until Christmas came along!

 - I'm always taken aback by the simplicity of Cooper's holiday wishes. Last year he wanted a basketball and this year he wanted a light for his bike. I always fret over what to get him when in reality I should just embrace it before he discovers the beauty that is the Toys R Us catalogue. True to form, he wouldn't open up another gift this year until Kyle attached the light he got from Santa to his bike!

Hope your December has been just as full as ours. I really can't believe 2015 is just knocking on the door. Since I'm recapping… Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Christmas Sneaker

My Mom was a terrible present hider. (Sorry Mom but you know it's true!) Every Christmas, I would sneak into her closet and get a preview of my Christmas morning "surprises". I knew exactly where to find them. They were in the same place year after year after year… I thought I was so clever!

Well, as it turns out, I am not "so clever" and have inherited the bad present hiding gene! I got a bunch of the kids' presents on Amazon the other day and put the CLOSED box of toys in our hall closet. Apparently, that little smiley face on the side was just too tempting for little eyes because this happened last night:

Me: (to Kyle, who was internet shopping two weeks before Christmas!) I should just give you your Christmas presents now!

Cooper: (overhearing me) OK!!! I want my present now!

Me: Sorry bud, you are going to have to wait until Christmas.

Cooper: (after a dramatic slump to the ground) But I really, really want them. PLEASE?!?!

Me: Sorry, no.

Cooper: (now crying) But I REALLY, REALLY want my Superman Legos!

Me: (fighting back the laughter) Did you peak into Mommy's Christmas box?

Cooper: (so very innocently) Yes, I did.


Just another one to add to the list of how my boy is older (and much wiser) than I give him credit for!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Spiced Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze

This is another one of my favorites from the Giada De Laurentiis "Weeknights with Giada" cookbook. I made this a couple of nights ago using five (5!!!) pork chops and we had zero leftovers. Granted, they were on the smaller side but everyone in this house loves this recipe and gobbles it up!

It's highly adaptable for the kids. I just cut the red pepper flakes when seasoning their chops and I don't use any of the glaze for them…more for me!

You can find the recipe on Giada De Laurentiis' website here or copied below.

Spiced Pork Chops with Sweet and Sour Glaze

¼ cup olive oil, plus extra as needed
4 (8-ounce) boneless pork chops, about 1 ½ inches thick
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, pale green and white parts only, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, at room temperature
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes. Add the pork to the pan and cook until cooked through. for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side, or Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, honey, garlic, scallions, and rosemary to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey has dissolved. Simmer for 9 minutes, or until slightly reduced. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange the pork chops on a platter and drizzle with the glaze.

Happy Mommy.

Happy kids.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Pesto and Goat Cheese

Hi! If you missed my post last week due to the Thanksgiving shuffle, I posted a really great (and EASY) Barbecue Rubbed Salmon recipe here. This is a good one to tuck away when you're cooking but not in the mood to do a ton of work!

On to the next…

We LOVE spaghetti squash around here. It's versatile (can be subbed for pasta in most any dish) and feels lighter than pasta, even when you're adding sausage and goat cheese to it! I love to keep one on hand and use it to help purge the refrigerator. That half-empty jar of sun-dried tomatoes you've been holding on to? Thrown 'em in with your spaghetti squash! Not sure what to do with last nights leftover baked chicken? Chicken spaghetti squash! That half-eaten bag of spinach? You know what to do…

Here's a combo that we love around here:

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage, Pesto and Goat Cheese

1 whole spaghetti squash
3-4 oz. Goat Cheese
Package of sausage links (I usually pick up the Applegate Chicken and Apple Sausage)
1 jar artichoke hearts
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes
1 jar pesto (about 6oz)
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Place cut-side down in a foil lined baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tender.
  4. Remove spaghetti squash from oven and let cool. 
  5. Chop about half of the jar of sun-dried tomatoes and about half the jar of artichokes. Chop sausage into bite-sized pieces.
  6. Scoop out insides of spaghetti squash with a fork and toss with goat cheese, sausage, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto.
A note for the kids… When I make this for my family, I set aside a portion of spaghetti squash that I toss with a little bit of butter and serve to the kiddos with chicken sausage and peas!