Friday, December 30, 2011

5 years old!

Mariposa celebrated her birthday on December 27th. Since we were planning a party for that night, we had our small family "party" at lunch. She requested ice cream bars as her dessert:

We give each of our kids 3 gifts for their birthday: something they need, something they want, and something we think they'd like. Mariposa got a backpack, a princess dress, and a ballet sticker book. Earlier in the day she opened a Lego water bottle from the CCs, and at lunch she opened this Queen Amadala doll from grandma and grandpa, which she took with her for her nap. :o)

All the cousins came over in the evening for hot dogs, spinach fettucine, and cake.

She asked for a wedding cake:

Lots of girly stuff as gifts, perfect for our girly-girl.

Happy Birthday to my sweet orange-haired girl!

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Party prep

Gemma helped me with Mariposa's birthday cake. Right in front of me, she leaned over and took a bite!

I thought it was funny so I grabbed the camera and told her to pretend to take a bite, so I could get it on camera:

Apparently she doesn't understand the word "pretend":

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas celebrations

After Mass we continued our traditions by going up to grammae and papa's house. This year the Denfelds joined us along with Uncle Rick, who has been coming for a few years now. We ate a great dinner of ham, potatoes, corn casserole, salads, etc. and some spicy drinks a la Marcus, and cookies and bread pudding for dessert. Then the madhouse that is the opening of presents!

It is so hard to keep everything straight when you have 9 kids opening gifts at the same time. But it was fun. Our big family gift this year was a great telescope; we will have fun with that.

Gemma liked the tree as much as (or more than?) her presents....

Christmas morning at our house. Marcus snapped these pictures before the kids woke up. Sorry the first one is blurry, I couldn't tell by the thumbnail when I chose the picture:

Each kid knew just what pile was was who's:

Gemma got a pillow pet from Santa:

Bunny got a Star Wars set:

Mariposa got a barbie and a puzzle:

James got legos of course:

After breakfast at grammae and papa's, we came home (still in our jammies!) to open gifts from family far away. Uncle Joe sent this great hex bug raceway:

A baby from grandma and grandpa:

Bunny loves these puppets!

Then for dinner BACK up to grammae and papa's, with special guests Father Peter and Father Dominico. Gemma loves "Minco"! Delicious prime rib, broccoli rice casserole, etc. Gotta love tradition. Merry Christmas!

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Christmas Play

The kids look forward to being a part of the Christmas Play as a part of the Christmas Eve family Mass every year. Father Peter did not disappoint and he created a great play that included a baby shower for Jesus, the 3 queens along with the 3 kings, and the star of Bethlehem getting arrested for shining too brightly. :o). It was fantastic!

Mariposa was a non-speaking angel along with Sophie:

Bunny had a speaking part as a servant to the 3 queens. She had wonderful stage presence and remembered all her lines easily.

James was a shepherd and he also had a speaking part! He was having trouble remembering his lines (he's more of a "general idea" guy than worrying about details like specific words) so we made up some hand motions that worked like a charm and also made his part very cute. He was awesome.

In all there were 50+ kids in the play with 30 speaking parts. Father Peter wrote lines for everyone who wanted them. It was a rich experience and we are looking forward to next year!

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A visit from Anna

Anna is home from Oregon State! We had her over for a chili dinner the other night:

It was great catching up on how college is going. It sounds like everything is going fantastic for her, and we loved hearing the stories! Anna will be in a sorority and she told us about rush week, something Marcus and I had no experience with, so that was neat to hear. She even spent some time with us by making sugar cookies:

A nice evening with one of our favorite people. :o)

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Nutcracker matinee

Earlier this month....

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Monday, December 26, 2011

How many....

How many cars is too many?

Our new van. This makes 6 vehicles on our property. Plus the horse trailer. And the tractor. Maybe we have a problem?

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Surprise package from FedEx

The other day we got a mystery package in the mail. I noticed it was from a "Stephanie" in Boulder, so I had a good guess as to what it was. Bunny had no clue and was very curious....

Just what I thought! Joe's girlfriend Stephanie sent some of her fantastic cookies and confections!

We had been thinking a lot about Steph lately...I saw on her (and Joe's) blog that she bakes a ton of cookies with her friend Electra every Christmas. This year we have been baking a lot too! So I have been thinking of Steph.

Bunny (and all of us) says thank you!

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Bakin' cookies, spending some time with you!

Inspired by Stephanie and Electra, we spent the week making cookies! Here we are making buckeyes for a homeschool moms' party that I attended:

The buckeyes won first place! I didn't even know it was a contest, or I would've made something more gourmet!

Buckeyes are easy to make. Melt/mix 2 sticks butter with 2 cups peanut butter and add 1 1/2 pound powdered sugar. Form into balls and freeze. Dip in melted chocolate and refrigerate. (grandma Chr.'s recipe)

Next, for "us" we started with fudge. We wanted to start with the cookies/candy that would keep well without the quality being compromised. Bunny enjoyed making the fudge; she didn't know what ingredients went into fudge before we started. I used the recipe on the marshmallow creme jar, have used it for years and it has always turned out well.

Gemma was a big help of course. Here she is trying to get into the marshmallow creme:

Next we make French Butter cookies, another family favorite. It is a Martha Stewart recipe
that I started making more than 10 years ago. These are one of my favorites because I love butter cookies, but this year it was Marcus who requested them. They also keep and mail very well.

Gemma helped put in the decorative button holes:

Next were sugar cookies (to be decorated later), Russian teacakes, and lemon meltaways. We also did gingerbread cookies. I chose Joy of Cooking's recipe, which I was a little apprehensive about because it said "reduced fat" and that always makes me leery, but Joy had not done me wrong yet so I went for it. They turned out well! It was a good sturdy dough that had great flavor as a baked cookie, not too spicy or sweet. I think they were just billed as healthy because they are a traditional European cookie and those are usually less fat/sugar (except France). I let the kids play with the leftover dough:

Bunny had baking on the brain and she wanted to make some dog treats for Daisy. She did them all by herself, dishes and all!

Today I finished up by mixing the batter for grammy's chocolate cookies, another one of Marcus' favorites
and some M&M cookies for the kids. Will bake those tomorrow so they will be fresh. In total 8 kinds of cookies plus the dog biscuits and maybe buckeyes tomorrow if I get to it. I could count the total number of cookies but the number would be way low since we ate "a few" straight out of the oven....

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Muffins with Eliot

On Wednesdays we have Eliot over for the afternoon for a playdate before Religious Ed. class at St. Matthew. This past week I put her to work :o) by making snacks:

The girls made mini muffins with mini chocolate chips. They used my famous muffin mix (ok it's not famous but it sounds impressive if I say that).

8 cups flour (I use half whole-wheat pastry flour)
3 cups sugar (sometimes I use the unrefined kind from our bulk bins)
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg

To make muffins use 2 3/4 cup mix with 1 egg, beaten, 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup oil or melted butter. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes (less for mini muffins). Ideas for mix-ins include 1 cup blueberries, chocolate chips, 1/2 cup mashed banana, 1 cup dried fruit, or 1 cup diced fresh peach. For an extra special treat, melt 6 tablespoons butter and add 6 tablespoons brown sugar...put 1 tablespoon (or so) in the bottom of each muffin tin along with 2 or 3 pecans, then add the batter on top. Yum!

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O Christmas Tree

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