May Day is Lei Day!

 

May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii, and it’s all about celebrating Hawaiian culture. I love it! Everywhere you go people are wearing fresh flower leis and it is such a fun celebration! We weren’t able to get downtown to see the festivities but we will for sure get there next year!

 

One of the traditions is to elect a royal court with a King and Queen and princes and princesses. We didn’t go see them but we have our own royalty in the house, Omar was elected to Kindergarten prince which is quite the accomplishment! The school is having their big May Day event later in the month and we will get to watch all of the grades dance a hula and the royal court will be dancing their own hula as well! I can’t wait!

 

But to celebrate lei day, the kids got to make some fresh flower leis themselves. Gotta love it! The plumeria are everywhere around here and Mckenna wants to start making them more often!

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Easter!

Easter1These probably need no explanation. There was basket hunting. (Does everyone not do this? I always did this growing up… You have to find your basket!)

Easter2Fun treats from Mimi like the hatching dinosaur and the wierdo marshmallow rabbits. Because my family is really weird, these bunnies may have had a cameo during our Skyping. Along with Dove rabbits… The marshmallow rabbit tragically met it’s end in the microwave. Wow this sounds really demented as I type it out, but it entertained us all!

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Full disclosure… the egg hunting and dying took place on Monday, the day after Easter! I know! What a holiday fail! But the kids were happy and we just ran out of time during the weekend! Also, I just filled the eggs with candy they received ON Easter. But they REALLY did not need anymore candy!Easter3That picture in the lower left corner, she was just cheesing and had NO clue the egg was right next to her head. Walked past it TWO more times after that!

We had my awesome friend Cat over for dinner with her three darling kiddos who we just love!

Easter5I was making a big dinner anyways, I cannot cut my holiday meals down in size!

Also my wonderful friend brought me the bestest hostess gift! (Please ignore my goofy face and grainy ipod photo!)

photo (13)I have a new favorite wine. Seriously. Yum.

Wonderful Easter Sunday with some pretty great people!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Christmas!

Surprise! We spent Christmas Day the exact same way as everyone else, but I am going to throw some pictures up here anyways!

stockingsChristmas morning, kids were up at 7am (two hours earlier than they have been up all Christmas break!) We do things a little crazy here… Stockings are at the breakfast table and the kids sit and open stockings and we eat breakfast before diving into the present opening. This makes sure mommy has coffee, we aren’t starving and we can relax and enjoy the gift opening. Bowser even got a stocking this year and was very happy with it!

We then had a bunch of this action:

presents

 

Gift opening is such a traditional family thing. I’ve been talking to some friends this year and it’s really amazing all the different ways that families open their gifts on Christmas morning! I keep all of the gifts hidden, including the ones sent from family, the only gifts under the tree before Christmas were some I had received. Then on Christmas morning there is the big surprise reveal with a mass of gifts all mixed together. Then everyone opens one at a time so we can all ooh and aah over each gift. It can take awhile, especially when we have a big group of our family together. One Christmas it was my mom and dad, two brothers, my sister, my aunt and her two boys, and the four of us. You couldn’t see the floor in my moms living room and we were opening presents for HOURS. But I love it. We get to relax and it isn’t a mad rush of tearing through the gifts in 10 minutes.

Anyways, all of this eventually led up to my gift that Omar had sent me that I was saving for last. I really thought it was a pair of shoes because the box was just the right size:

cameraNope, it’s my new baby girl! I was SO surprised and wish he was here to give it to me in person! I am in LOVE with this camera. Although I am still such a sentimental baby that I can’t give up my Canon quite yet. I have had that camera for FIVE years, we have been, literally, all over the world together! It’s like an extension of my hand! Switching from Canon to Nikon is a little crazy, got to figure this new one out but so far I am having a blast!

We spent some time the rest of the day doing some cookie business, well the kids did anyways while I made a big ol’ dinner just for us.

cookies

 

Dinner was great, well that mac and cheese could have been better. Mckenna got all dressed up and put on some of her new makeup courtesy of Mimi! I got a huge kick out of this dumb little Lego figure I had picked up for Omar’s stocking. You didn’t know which one it was going to be and it ended up being good ol’ Hamlet with poor Yorick. Perfectly suited for a five year old, right? I, however, love it!

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We had a really good day with just the three of us. We were missing daddy BIG time though. Glad that this is one more big holiday over and done with and we can cross it off the list! Just counting down the days!

 

 

Christmas Party!

I invited my football team over for a Christmas party this week. I was a little nervous ahead of time because people are TERRIBLE r.s.v.p.ers these days. So up until people started showing up I was really only sure of two or three ladies. Thankfully more showed up. I made a giant 8lb pork butt in the crock pot and turned it into bbq pork sandwiches. Of course I had told everyone to bring sides or dessert and every. single. person. brought a dessert. Really? So I made some mac and cheese really fast. But there was plenty of food in the end. We all had a really good time, the kids had a great time, so it was pretty much a success!

Mah Girls

 

Group shot with some of my girls. Don’t worry, the pregnant one doesn’t play, she is one of our assistant coaches wives!

We ate, drank and were merry. Can’t ask for more than that.

Commence Baking!

This month is flying and I mean FLYING by! As much as I am not ready I am being pulled into the holidays kicking and screaming. As usual I am a HUGE procrastinator when it comes to holiday stuff. My bestie Janelle reminded me that this was my make it or break it week.  Friday is the last day of school for my kids so I needed to get as much done as possible while juggling all my normal stuff as well as a gingerbread house party and two Christmas parties. No problem! I work best under pressure!

So tomorrow is the kids last day of school and I wanted to send some cookies in with their teacher gifts (I’ll post a pic as soon as they are done) so I pulled out the KitchenAid and put that bad boy to work. My favorite newish cookie, Bars Bars. I have my old standard favorites that I grew up eating and have to make every year so it feels like Christmas, but this is one I’ve only been making for 7 or 8 years. I got it from someone I used to nanny for from an old cafe recipe book she had. I love them. They have made their way into my annual cookie plates and are here to stay.  Baking this morning reminded me that this isn’t a chore I have been dreading. I love it!

Does the phrase “Cream butter and sugars together” make anyone else’s heart flutter? Because that is poetry right there.  Also, I get some sort of sick satisfaction from having obscene amounts of butter, brown sugar and chocolate chips in my pantry.

But here is a fab cookie recipe that I recommend you try. And as always if we are friends in real life I have first dibs on bringing this to any joint social function. That is the law with recipe sharing.

Bars Bars:

2C butter

4C brown sugar

4 eggs

1T vanilla

2t baking soda

4 1/2C flour

6-7C quick cook oats

Chocolate Layer:

2T butter

1 can condensed milk

1t vanilla

2C chocolate chips

 

Cream butter and brown sugar. Add vanilla & eggs. Mix well. Add flour and baking soda. Mix well. Add oats. (you guessed it) Mix well.

Spread 2/3 of the dough on a 1/2 sheet pan (12×17) (I like to line mine with parchment for easy removal/cleanup)

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Melt the ingredients for the chocolate layer in a double boiler and spread over dough.

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Drop the remaining dough over the top. Bake at 350 for about 25-30 min. These are pretty rich so you can cut them smaller than a normal bar cookie.

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These are SO SO good. So now I have cookies to send in tomorrow (should probably get started on the cake pops I promised Mckenna I would make for her party) and there should be plenty left over to send some to Omar as well. I am waiting for my Christmas cards to get here so I can start baking and giving cookies and cards to all of my local friends here.

I am rockin’ this week!

On Hoarding Seasonal Creamer…

I live on a military base in Spain.  As far as grocery stores go, we have the commissary on the base and numerous Spanish grocery stores off base.  While we do shop at groceries stores off base sometimes (the produce, booze and meat selection is better) it starts to get pretty pricey when you have to pay for everything in Euro.

So for the most part we shop at our commissary. The selection is okay as long as you don’t start getting too adventurous in you cooking.  Its nice, we can get our American brands, which is especially nice around the holidays.

One problem is that seasonal items go quickly, REALLY quickly. So when I FINALLY saw the holiday creamers on the shelf yesterday (doing my third ‘one last thing’ Thanksgiving shop) I grabbed 6. Three pumpkin and three sugar cookie.  Plus I have two vanilla toffee that we just started getting in stock. Also three quarts of eggnog.

I have a problem. The family will drink the eggnog no problem, in fact my kids will drink it with lunch if I let them.  However, I am the only coffee drinker in my house and now have a shit load of coffee creamer that isn’t going to last forever.  So I have been doing what any rational person would do, I am drinking about 8 cups of coffee a day.

Should keep me motivated for all that cooking I am about to do today!