Married twenty-three years to my wonderful husband and best friend. We have 3 "home-grown" kids, 1 hand-picked by God from Africa and 1 very hyper-active dog. Our life is blessed. We are a close knit family with strong Christian beliefs. And just recently we have bought ourselves a farm. Do we know what we are doing? Nope. Come along with us on our journey…you might have a great laugh or two.
To celebrate our new found freedom, we decorated us a big ol' batch of sugar cookies. And of course, what's a little par-tay without friends. Our oldest daughter invited some of her best friends over and they had a blast. Unfortunately our oldest son was at swimming and missed out on all the fun, but don't you worry I think he enjoyed the finished product even more.
Sugar cookies and a winter break…what more could a whole bunch of hard-working kids ever want.
Our sugar cookie recipe is very easy and very tasty, with or without the icing. Leave all that store bought stuff where it belongs….in the store. It's way cheaper and so much better for you because all of the ingredients have names you can actually pronounce. Have fun and celebrate your freedom!
Sugar cookies (recipe credit: from the book Homemade)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and butter, and beat until the mixture is well creamed. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until mixture is smooth.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Add the flour mixture to the cream mixture, and beat until all the ingredients are well blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until the dough is chilled, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, set out 2 or more baking sheets, and lightly four a work surface.
4. Turn out the dough onto the prepared work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness. Using cookie cutters dipped in flour, cut out as many cookies as possible. Carefully transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Collect the dough scraps, reroll, and cut out additional cookies until there is no more dough left.
5. Bake until the cookies are just lightly browned on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
6. Prepare the frosting: In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients and beat until creamy. Add a little additional milk as needed to reach the desired consistency. Spread the frosting over the cooled cookies and sprinkle with colored sugar.
This week is finals week for my two oldest children.
Do you remember finals?
Big ol' fat UGH.
I hated finals. The cramming, the studying, the reviewing. It made no sense to me. Even now. Let's just take everything that you should have learned all throughout the year and squeeze it into one really long, really hard test and see how you do. Ooo, ooo, and then we'll make it 110% of your grade, how's that sound.
Okay not really.
On top of everything, it stresses the kids out so very much. Or at least my kids. So I'm trying to keep it low key this week. Quiet. And positive.
Of course, you can only say "you can do it!" or "keep up the good work" or "yeah for you" so many times.
Then I just can't help myself and interject some creative ones in there.
Things like, "Here's some hot chocolate sweetie, some marshmallows were spilling over but don't you worry I licked them off for ya", or "I put your underwear outside to dry, let me know when you need them so they can thaw a little before you put them on".
Just to see that they're not brain dead yet. Good to check ya know.
For now, we're counting down the days until Friday. The glorious, golden dawn of the start of Christmas vacation. We're gonna chunk those books for a week or two, decorate us some sugar cookies and relax.
Tonight we fed over 50 teenage boys dinner. Oh, and did I mention that they were swimmers. All. Of. Them. Coming right off a practice. That's like having a dinner party for 50 ravenous lions. Oh, and you better had fixed a hippo, an elephant and possibly a hyena for dessert. If you know what's good for you.
Man, these boys can eat.
And eat some more.
Basically what I'm saying is that I cooked food all…day….long. Here's what you need to feed a crew like that. 70 bottles of water, 4 gallons of chocolate milk, 1 gallon of white milk, 6 loaves of french bread, 2 red velvet cakes, 1 gallon of ice cream, 60 cupcakes, 3 big ol' bowls of fruit salad, 2 lasagnas, and 2 big ol' honkin' (think big and go bigger) pans of penne rustica pasta (it's the recipe from Macaroni Grill - love that place).
I did have some help with most of the items served. Thank the heavens above for that one. I only had to fixed the 2 big penne rustica pasta dishes. But I will tell you that I made pasta for a solid hour today. That's right, made.
Ever tried homemade pasta?
Oh, you are missing out. Trust me, there is HUGE difference in taste. And the best news is that homemade pasta is incredibly easy to make. Unless you are trying to feed an army. Well, then not so much.
Homemade pasta is basically eggs, flour and water. For our family size of 6, our pasta recipe is 2 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of flour, dash of salt and a little bit of water. Done. Ain't nothin' too it. I will tell you that I do have all the pasta attachments for my kitchen aid so it makes my job very easy. My husband has given them to me over the years and I love them. I've even got an attachment that can make those curly ones, and spirally ones. Love it!
The boys loved the homemade pasta. Weren't nothin' left.
So go on out there…. throw out those dried up, boxed, broken up, who knows what's in them, store bought noodles and venture out and make ya some of the homemade kind. Trust me, if you do….be prepared. You will never go back.
It was about 7:30 at night when my smallest little one and I went outside. We walked down the driveway and looked left and then right. The neighborhood was all lit up. Beautiful. Sparkly.
Then we turned around and looked back at our house. Ugh… Black. Pitch black. Okay, technically it was lit up by the street light but something about Christmas by the light of the streetlamp is just not the same tingly, sparkly kind of thing. So we got to work.
Now, I came from south where….how shall I say this. We do things a bit differently. Sometimes conventional methods just don't cut it and you have to get….hmmm, creative.
Enter…the fling method.
Now, I'm gonna mention that my partner in crime that evening was about 3 1/2 feet tall and really I only gave him one job and one job only. I told him that if I fell off the ladder to go in and get his brother (who by the way got out of this job playing the homework card). My little one then proceeded to tell me that 911 would be better. I agreed. And then he asked me which numbers to push to call 911. Not feeling good here, people.
Up the ladder. Down the ladder. Round and round the tree we went. Until…
It was time for the fling method.
Not familiar with this?
Well, it's simple really. When you get to top of your ladder and cannot reach anymore of your tree, reach your arm way back and fling the rest of the lights onto the tree.
The lights are done. And that my friends is perfect. Perfect because your job is done. You didn't fall off and now your house is all lit up. Ahhh, I love me some creative Christmas lights.
Seriously. That seemed to me to be the fastest holiday on the planet. Could I have a redo, please? It's such a wonderful holiday to eat and eat and then go and eat some more. Totally not good for you, but my kind of holiday for sure. I love me some good eatin'.
Now….comes the aftermath. The bazillion loads of laundry. The suitcases and bags in the middle of the floor. The van with a peculiar kind of smell (definitely need to find that one). The grocery store that is about to go bankrupt since I haven't picked up my milk order yet. And finally….
If that wasn't enough?
The Christmas decorations have emerged from the depths of the basement begging to be hung, lit up, taped up (oh yes we do…), and precariously placed all throughout the house. Have mercy….this place is a disaster zone.
On my list of things to make today is yogurt, marshmallows, mayonnaise, bread and figure something out for dinner this evening. Probably chicken pot pie. Whew….