Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It is Organizing Season...

I read that tag line at Jane's Apron and loved it (and told her so). The Christmas tree is down, the decorations are put away, and I am feeling light and free.

So, here it is New Year's Eve. I don't make resolutions, but the airy feel that comes from rediscovering all the space my home really has inspires me to keep going. I get our files in order, shredding the old, cleaning out drawers that have gotten disorganized with the lack of attention I've given them over the past few months. After feeling almost disconnected to my home by the change the holidays bring, I feel rooted again. I'm ready to get us all back on track, keep to our routines, and get things back to normal. Obviously, I'm not the only one, because people are writing about the same thing all over the blogosphere.

Like Jane, I signed up for Martha Stewart's Organizing Tip of the Day. (Do I think I want to be Martha Stewart? No, no, no...but I do like help staying on track.) Melissa, at the Inspired Room, posted her 4 Best Tips for Creating Order Every Day at Blissfully Domestic and I agreed with them all. Now that the holidays are over, I'll be back to my morning laundry routine, which sets the whole day on the right track. Pretty Organized Palace has 5 Quick things to organize right now to help us get started feeling light and in control as we go into 2009.

I'm ready to clean out closets, get back to sewing, and start planning our spring garden. The post-Christmas doldrums have passed and I'm ready to go.

Do you like to start fresh after the holidays? What do you do?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thank You Letters


Do you write thank-you letters? Do you have your children write thank-you letters? We write thank-you letters in our house whenever we receive gifts. I was raised that it was just the polite thing to do. Sometimes it takes a heck of a lot of badgering to get the kids to write their thank-yous and other times, they shock the heck out of me. This year, Buttercup decided to shock us all by getting her thank-you's written on the 26th! That means she got them done well before I did. Can you believe it? A nine-year old voluntarily writing all her thank-you's the day after Christmas? I was stunned. Not so stunned that I didn't encourage her to lord it over her brothers in the hopes that competition would do some of the hard work for me. Unfortunately, that didn't work - darn it!

So, while I was shown up by my 9-year old daughter (I am sooo proud!), I, too, am done with my thank-you's. She used fairy stationary she found in her room and I used these awesome Olliephant notecards that the awesome Penny at Sew Take a Hike made up. I added the "Thank You" with a rubber stamp. I even made my own envelopes with Penny's template. Aren't they cute? So, if you're keeping score, the ladies in the Nagle household are done with their thank-yous. Men?

Christmas Wrap Up...


As New Year's Day fast approaches, Christmas is already becoming a memory. As the deSantafication process continues (oh, come on, didn't you watch the Santa Clause 2?), I'm putting things away and wrapping things up...and filled with warm memories of another terrific holiday. I thought I'd share some of the high points!



On Christmas Eve, the kids decided the three cats needed Christmas presents, too. So, lead by Valiant, they went downstairs and sewed up cat toys on Buttercup's sewing machine. As you can see, Tuck definitely appreciates his. (Notice the little embellishment added to the toy...no plain jane toy for these cats!) Oh, did I mention his little toy is infused with cat nip?




Poor Superman made the mistake of "pinky promising" that he'd make these cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning. I found this recipe a few years ago and it is amazing. The recipe is actually called Clone of a Cinnabon and, trust me, they are that good! As you can see, he made enough to share with the neighborhood. (Yep, Superman can save the world and COOK! Is it any wonder I thought he was a keeper?)



I made these towels for some friends after seeing this tutorial at Sew, Mama, Sew and finding some inexpensive "bar" towels. (What are "bar" towels, anyway?) I wasn't up to the patchwork part, but I did love the fabrics I found, so gave it a go. Didn't they turn out well? Now, picture cute little oven mitts to match, doesn't that sound terrific? Unfortunately, those didn't turn out so well, so they stayed home. Maybe I'll have better luck next year!




Finally, the snow kept us in until Christmas day, so these goodie plates (including those cool Christmas trees) were put together Christmas Eve for Christmas Day delivery. This year's goodie plates were very simple and included these Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies I found via The Mother Load, and these simple vanilla cookies I found in a little holiday cookie book I have. After I snapped this picture, I attached the cinnamon-applesauce gingerbread ornaments we made and we were off. (The cinnamon-applesauce ornaments also have 2 T of white glue and were "iced" with fabric paints, so they last for years!)

Best Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until blended. Stir in chips with a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough by 1/4 cups at a time onto the prepared sheets. Cookies should be at least 3 inches apart. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until edges are lightly

Buttery Almond Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar - divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla * (oh, please! Use at least a tablespoon)
3/4 cup chopped almonds (Um, we truly dislike nuts in our baked goods, so I leave these out!)

In a small mixing bow, cream butter and 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar. Add the flour and vanilla nd mix well. Stir in almonds. Shape into 1-in balls. (Again, I used my Pampered Chef scoop.)

Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-16 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown and cookies are set. Cool for 1-2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with remaining confectioners' sugar. (I used my shaker.)

There you have it, some of the odds and ends from my first attempt at doing more a bit more of a home-made Christmas. I know I'll do better next year, but I was pretty pleased with what I did do.
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Nineteen years ago today...


Nineteen years ago today, I was the girl lucky enough to marry Superman. Oh, I know that most people only saw Clark Kent when I married him, but that was fine with me...I saw the man beneath the glasses. Unlike Lois Lane, I saw beneath the surface and made a lifelong commitment to that boy/man he was back then. I knew the man I was marrying would surprise them all. I knew on paper we didn't look like a good match. I knew the in-law problems would probably never go away (and I was right - sorry, Honey!) and I knew I was probably a total pain in the rear (and I was - again, sorry, Honey!) I knew he was too young (only 23!) to take on a girl as messed up as I was. None of that stopped me. For I knew who he was and what he was, when most people didn't bother to look beneath the surface. I knew he was my hero, my protector, my knight in shining armor, my partner, the father of my future children, my stability and security, my biggest fan, and my very best friend. Truly, it was the best decision of my life. Yep, I married Superman nineteen years ago and he's never let me down. Wasn't I a lucky girl?

Happy Anniversary, Superman! I love you!

Monday, December 29, 2008

How I discovered blogs and why I decided to join in on the fun.

I first discovered blogs when I started searching Google for tips for living a more frugal life. The first blog I found was The Simple Dollar...I started reading Trent's advice and tips for doing more stuff for ourselves and disengaging from the conspicuous consumption of our society. As he attributed information to other blogs, I'd follow the links and it snowballed. In the year since I discovered his blog, that first click has grown into reading a LOT of blogs via RSS Feed.

So, I learned how to do things I had never done before, but that was not what hooked me on blogs...instead, it was that people who write blogs actually answer your questions. I love that! Can't figure out why your cookies didn't turn out? Ask the poster and he or she will help you trouble it. Have a dilemma with a point of view supported by the blogger? Write them (politely) and they will most likely engage in a dialogue with you. Blogs are NOT impersonal, anonymous noise. Instead, they are a sincere attempt by a lot of wonderful people to share information they've found valuable or meaningful. Want to know how to put in a zipper, make a cake, or make some exotic dish? Chances are good that some generous blogger has taken the time to write down step-by-step instructions with pictures to help you make it happen. I love the tutorials and real-life recipes bloggers share. They make me feel like I, too, can be creative and successful. These are NOT perfect people bragging; they post about their failures along with their successes...they are enthusiastic people sharing their passion with anyone who cares to join in. Their enthusiasm is infectious and I urge you to click on the links to some of my favorite blogs...whether they are writing about sewing or cooking or frugal living tips, these bloggers are awesome.

Sushi



Do you ever stop to wonder how much of the world you just don't see any more? How much of it you see without actually ever processing it? I was reminded of this when Buttercup brought this picture to me. "Here, Mom, This picture is called "Sushi"", she said as she handed it to me and cheerfully headed off to her next adventure. I didn't actually pay attention at first. I said my "thank you" and praised her and never really took my attention from what I was doing. It was later that I realized how astounding children are. What you can't know is that we don't eat sushi, we don't eat fish at all, unless you count tunafish sandwiches. Never. No one. Ever. I have no idea where she got the idea for the square plates, the wasabi, or the California roll...but she drew quite an accurate rendition, didn't she? Proof positive they observe far more than we realize and a reminder of how much we might be missing each day.
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I cannot believe it is snowing AGAIN!


So, rather than show you yet another picture of my house being buried in snow (I had a concrete walkway and driveway yesterday, seriously!), I decided to bake! These are just tried and true peanut butter recipes that I used to make with my mom when I was little. I've tried other recipes, but none seem quite as good (or easy), so I always go back to my old stand-by. It has never let me down. This recipe will always give you the perfect peanut butter cookie. You want crisp cookies? Cook them the full ten minutes. You like chewy? Pull them out as soon as the edges begin to brown. They are always, always awesome.

I did a little experiment with one of the batches this time, because I'd always been curious about the whole smashing-with-a-floured-fork procedure, so I cooked one batch without smashing them. Quite the risk-taker, aren't I? (Okay, not really...I forgot the whole flatten-with-fork step for one batch.) Well, low and behold, they became cookies anyway, just without the quintessential peanut butter checkerboard. So, if you forget to smoosh the cookies, you'll be fine!

Peanut Butter Cookies – 10 min @ 350°


Cream: 1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla*

Then add in:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Roll into large, walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookies sheet. (I used my Pampered Chef cookie scoop - I think it is the medium one. I don't roll them anymore, just plop them on the cookie sheet.) Flatten with flour-dipped fork and cook at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Recipe note: I always cook with butter, but my mom was a margarine girl. This recipe turns out well either way.

* Disclaimer: I have never in my life only put in one teaspoon of vanilla, so I just wrote what the recipe calls for. We always use closer to a tablespoon of vanilla, but this is up to you.

Happy Baking!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

It is always the same...

at this time of year. I'd have to say this is my favorite time of year, but... by the time Christmas has been put to bed, I am feeling so overwhelmed by the "things" we have, that I am chomping at the bit to clear them out. Superman and the children have put their feet down and the Christmas tree MUST stay up until New Year's Day. So that means my furniture is rearranged and normal is not yet attainable. Instead, Christmas decorations disappear a little bit at a time...slowly, slowly, so I don't get caught and accused of "not being in the spirit". The stockings and holders are put away, the singing angels in Buttercup's room are put away, the Advent Christmas tree that was in Valiant's room is packed up, as are almost all the kitchen decorations. Christmas music isn't playing all the time and the tree is not lit.

Like this post from Generations Gone By, I'm trying to get back to normal, predictable, even routine and pedestrian are fine! So, the sheets are in the dryer, another load is in the washer, the bathrooms have been cleaned, and Superman is back in the garage doing some amazing garage thing. It is back to paying bills and thinking about groceries. I'm wrapping up year end paperwork, getting things cleaned out and decluttered for the new year.

Yes, we have two birthdays in February, as well as Valentine's Day to think of, but for now, we're back to being just us with a Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Only 364 more days...

For me, Christmas Day is bittersweet.

Don't get me wrong. This is my favorite time of year and I love, love, love Christmas. I love the kindness and generosity of perfect strangers as we go about our days. I love the spirit of giving and caring that seems to infuse everything we do. I love the sense of the holy that graces us when we least expect it. I love trying to come up with the perfect gift for each person. I hate that it ends so quickly. Months of thought and planning go into making this day special. Heading off to bed with a Christmas Tree surrounded by festively wrapped gifts and I'm excited to see the faces of my children when they get the barely dreamed of perfect gift. Yet, scarcely an hour and a half after we wake up, the presents are open, the kids are thrilled and the day seems to be done. We still have a terrific breakfast, followed by an awesome dinner, but it seems so quiet! The excitement seems to pass so quickly. I miss the Christmases of my childhood, surrounded by extended family and friends...beginning Christmas Eve and boisterously continuing long into the night on Christmas Day. Maybe my parents have completely different memories of those same Christmases, but for me, they set the gold standard for holidays.

The decision to move away from So California meant that we were moving away from our respective families and the possibilities of those times. The holidays are when we feel this distance most poignantly. We are aware of the empty spaces at our dinner table. We try to fill those spaces with phone calls throughout the day, but we all know they are a poor substitute for the smiling faces we miss. We're making more and more friends here and our children are getting older, so we're not too far away from the time when our children will be bringing their special guests to our dinners. I, for one, can hardly wait.

In the meantime, only 364 days til Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Clement Clarke Moore
or Henry Livingston


'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Traditions worth keeping...

Buttercup's view of our Christmas tree and her favorite ornaments...

Do you do a "theme tree" every year? We don't. We unwrap favorite ornaments year after year and happily see old friends. Our tree has ornaments that first adorned my mother's childhood tree. How cool is that? I wouldn't trade that family history for the most "beautiful" theme tree in the world. So, when I read this post by Pam at Gingerbread Snowflakes yesterday, I had to agree. Imagine my surprise when the photos she shared of some of her most precious ornaments included one from my own grandparents' tree. (Dad, do you still have the partridge in the pear tree ornament?) I guess I have successfully passed this tradition along, as my little Buttercup filled my camera with the above images sometime in the past few days. Aren't they awesome? I have no idea how she determines favorites vs. "just okay", but she definitely has an eclectic mix. Look carefully and you'll see Superman's Darth Vader ornament, various animal ornaments, crocheted cats, puzzle ornaments for kindergarten, various birds, angels, snowmen, etc. Some are hand-made, some are store bought. Some seem quite modern and some are very organic looking. Can't you just picture her sharing these ornaments with her own children years from now? Now that truly is a worthwhile tradition!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gingerbread House...better late, than never...


Well, Buttercup and I finally finished our first ever gingerbread house made from real gingerbread. We've made the graham cracker gingerbread houses for years, but I was inspired to attempt the real thing this year. (Well, actually, last year at the after-Christmas sales, I snagged a giant make-a-gingerbread house cookie cutter set, so the inspiration began then!) Despite a few mishaps, we are pretty proud of our results. Plus, it just seems so Christmas-y to have a real Gingerbread House. What do you think?

The serious Christmas countdown has begun...tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Are you ready?

Monday, December 22, 2008

So Sad...

Our hearts are breaking for Superman's family. We just received the sad news that his sister's husband lost his fight with cancer last night. There is nothing we can so or do to ease the pain of their loss. Please keep them in your prayers...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sisters truly are forever...


Did you know I have a sister? I'll bet not many of you do. Well, I do...she was born the summer before I turned 7 and shortly thereafter moved to New York, where she lived until she was an adult. I think we've actually seen each other fewer than ten times in our entire lives...and I'm 45! Through all the years, though, I have always been aware I have a little sister. I'd read tales of the closeness of sisters and wonder. I'd see knick knacks with sister sayings and I'd wonder. I hear of her from shared cousins and I'd wonder. And I always wondered, "Does she wonder, too?"

In the meantime, life has gone on and we've created lives for ourselves. We were raised by women who were polar opposites and taught to value very different things. At first blush, our lives are quite dissimilar: She was raised on the East Coast and I was raised on the West Coast. She's married with no children and is well-traveled. I am married with three children and haven't gone much of anywhere. She's athletic, well-educated, well-read, and has a modern, edgy side. I'm not so well-educated, not so athletic, and not so modern. She's dark (she's half Greek, with sparkling brown eyes and lush dark brown hair) and I'm blonde (I have brown eyes, but not like hers!)...and so the list could go on. We could find so many ways we're different, but...

We also discovered that digging a little deeper uncovers the ways we're far more alike than people would realize. We're almost exactly the same height and bemoan getting pants long enough! We've discussed the trials and tribulations of being close to 6 feet tall by the time we hit high-school. We're both loud, opinionated, loyal, and curious. We even subscribe to many of the same blogs. We've laughed as pictures reveal that we've decorated with the exact same pieces of furniture, that we've selected the same colors to surround ourselves with, that we both cook and sew, and scrap and, finally, we've both married men who provide us with security and stability we so desperately need. The more we talk, the more we realize, we really are sisters...

...and yes, it is magical.

The Kindness of Strangers...


Like so many people in our area, Friday and Saturday seemed to be filled hurried trips to stock up on groceries, gas, and other things before the next snow storm arrived. So, it was no surprise that we found ourselves with our two younger children sitting outside the Home Depot waiting for Superman to finish discussing the intricacies of snow chains with my dear old dad.

I'd settled into idle people-watching, when I noticed an older gentleman rolling one of those big lumber carts to his truck parked right next to us. He really struggled to maneuver that cart in the snow and I wondered if he had someone to help him put his load in his car. A moment or two later, I realized this old man was going to attempt to lift an entire toilet up and into the back of his truck BY HIMSELF. Prince Valiant and I quickly got out of the car and lent a hand. (May I say here that a toilet is really, really heavy? Superman is really strong, because he's never asked for my help with our toilets.) We made short work of getting the task (Valiant is getting so strong!) and wished the man a Merry Christmas and headed back to our vehicle.

A moment later, a tap on the window and this man gave us this amazing birdhouse as a thank-you for helping him. I was so touched by his generosity, especially because we really didn't do much. It turns out he makes these out of large recycled cans and sells them. (I wonder if he knows about Etsy?) Anyway, I thought I'd take a minute to share his information with you, in case any of you would like a birdhouse like this in your yard. They are so cool and the picture doesn't do it justice. He's even made it so that you can unscrew the lid to clean it out. These are definitely meant to be used. (Dad, cover your eyes, cause this one's for you!)

If you're interested, please contact:

Mr. Darrell Smallwood
American/Green Birdhouses
Nine Mile Falls, WA
509-389-6439

The next time you see an opportunity to lend a helping hand, don't pass it up. It is the little moments that add up to make life so wonderful.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pizza Night


Tonight was Pizza Night! It seems to be working its way to a full-fledged Friday night tradition, but we'll have to see. The best part? The breadmaker, Superman, and the kids cook dinner! We use the breadmaker to make our dough, combining a little of this and a little of that from various recipes to come up with a dough we like. Then Superman and the kids work it into pizza shapes and add the toppings. What kind of toppings? Well, so far, they're purists: Cheese and Cheese with Pepperoni and Sausage. I think we need to add a vegetable version with a light garlic sauce to the menu, but I haven't found the perfect recipe yet. This pizza is pretty good as it is, so I really can't complain.

Here is the dough recipe I've come up with via trial and error: (Add ingredients in the order your bread machine calls for. Mine calls for liquids first, so that is the order in which I listed the ingredients.)

Breadmaker Pizza Dough

1 1/3 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Granulated White Sugar
2 Tablespoons (or more to taste) Italian Seasoning
2 Teaspoons (or less to taste) Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon salt
3 cups White Flour
2 Teaspoons Active Dry Yeast

Set your bread maker to the dough setting and come back when it is done. Dough will be very sticky and wet. Pull and shape into pizza crusts - we use two Pampered Chef Stones - one round one and one rectangle and always have a little bit of dough left. Spread marinara sauce as you like on each crust (we only like a little, but it is an definitely individual preference). Sprinkle grated cheese all over (we use cheddar and mozzarella with some parmesan because we always have it on hand!), and top with whatever toppings you like on your pizza. At our house, this becomes competition to see who makes the best pizza...I think they're all good, but maybe I'm biased!

Bake at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes and, viola, you have Pizza!

Gratitude...



The doorbell rang last night and, as I ran for the door, I had to wonder who had braved the weather to end up at our doorstep. (Two feet of snow in 24 hours is a lot of snow so it required an intrepid person to make any trips, that is for certain.) Imagine my delight when I discovered Mr. M and his daughter on my doorstep, bringing us this lovely wreath and some home-made Christmas candies. Mrs. M is so clever and her candies are awesome. (I really like the bird-nesty one with marshmallows!) I was tickled when I saw it and immediately ripped the fake wreath off the door and replaced it with this amazing real one! (I think Mr. M was a bit taken aback by my enthusiasm!)

Where she found the time to do these things this year, I don't know. In addition to her wife and mother duties, she's added full-time student to her many hats...and they are finishing up a huge basement remodel. Oh, did I mention that her husband is active-duty military and keeps disappearing with little notice? In the midst of all she has going on in her life, she got us this lovely wreath (you should smell it!) and made her terrific home-made candies. I feel so special and I have such gratitude in my heart. These are the things that remind us it is truly not the money we spend, but the thought we put into our gifts that makes a lasting impression. So, to Mr. and Mrs. M, thanks so much for such wonderful gifts. We love them! We are so grateful that we have friends like you in our lives.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Best Ever Cinnamon Swirl Bread!



My family loves cinnamon raisin bread...all except Prince Valiant, who hates raisins. This recipe is for Cinnamon Swirl Raisin bread and I just don't add the raisins. The best part of all? You get to use your bread maker for the dough all the way through the first rise. The second part? The directions are so easy to follow, I've never messed it up. Hot cinnamon swirl bread on a cold evening? Nothing much is better.

The only tip I will add is when you get to the step where you roll the loaf, try to roll it tightly (not the easiest thing to do with buttery dough) so the swirls stay tight and "swirly" when you cut the bread.

So, What does a mom do when everyone is outside shoveling snow?





She keeps warm inside by making cookies! These cookies were intended for Buttercup's gymnastics Christmas party, but the record snows caused everything to be cancelled! Four wheel drive would have gotten us there, but we're happy to stay at home instead. So, this is what you can do when there is two feet of snow outside your door: Turn on the Christmas music and break out the mixer! The house smells wonderful and you can say you did something worthwhile. Since gymnastics won't be meeting up again until after the new year, guess what people will be eating during a rousing game of Quiddler tonight?

Snow Day!


Record setting snows in Eastern Washington gave us the free time to play around with getting our blog started. No place to go and nothing much we can do between trips outside to shovel. What will we do with it? We're not sure...definitely share news with friends and family, maybe add some information about some of the fun things we've been doing, or are learning to do. Only time will tell! Thanks for sharing your time with us.


So, today we're sharing pictures of why we love Eastern Washington! Our banner has a picture of our home taken this morning and Buttercup is having a ball playing in the middle of the street! We know everyone grumbles about the snow, but as transplants who grew up in a place with only two seasons: rain and summer, we love the four seasons. Winter came with style this week!