Baking Together

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One of the best things about the holidays is the large variety of delicious food. I love seeing the table covered with place settings and chairs wedged in every possible location so everyone can have a seat and enjoy a meal together. But while the actual feast is wonderful, the best stuff actually comes AFTER. After all the food has been eaten and everyone is stuffed, and you’re sitting around chatting and laughing and thoroughly enjoying the company. And then, someone breaks out the desserts. All sorts of cookies and cakes and pies and brownies and other delicious goodies. It may not be great for your waistline but it certainly does taste good! And it only lasts a brief time, so it’s worth it to indulge a little.

Since we had Christmas away from our house this year, we didn’t have to do any of the work for a feast or even prepare any type of desserts. Nonetheless, before we headed out for our vacation, I wanted to do some Christmas baking with Ian. I thought he would enjoy helping me make cookies, and I wanted to share that with him. So I pulled out the Hershey Kisses and we made Peanut Butter Blossoms. These are one of my favorite cookies, and they are SO easy to make.

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I gave Ian the important task of unwrapping the kisses and placing them in a bowl. He was so intent getting the wrappers off- it was really adorable. About 5 kisses in, he asked if he could eat one. I made him wrap a few more before letting him have one (at which point, he popped it in his mouth, chewed and said “OH, YUMMY!!!”). The downside to this was that once he tasted one, he wanted more… so I had to keep an eye on him to make sure none of the others found their way into his greedy mouth. By the time he was bored and lost interest, he had eaten a total of 5 kisses (out of about 20 that he unwrapped), and I was ready to begin forming the batter into balls for baking.

I ended up with nearly 40 cookies, and they were TASTY! Ian was especially fond of the Hershey kiss on the top (in fact, most of the time, he ate the kiss off the top and then didn’t want the cookie at all). Fortunately, my husband much prefers the cookie to the kiss, so things evened out just fine.

I can’t wait to make these again next year, when Ian’s attention span is a bit longer and he’s able to actually help just a bit more for a bit longer.

Have you ever made Peanut Butter Blossoms (here’s the recipe)? Did you make any this year? Did you get the kid(s) involved?

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sorry I was a bit MIA over the last few weeks- we went on a nice long vacation to visit family, and I just didn’t feel like burying myself in electronics and the internet.

Our vacation was lovely and filled with family and laughter. Ian loved seeing his aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. He even got to see his great grandmother and some of his great aunts. It was so nice! Our car was definitely loaded down as we made our way back home- with gifts and items, as well as love and joy. I didn’t want to miss one minute of the vacation, so I took a little blog hiatus for a moment…but now I’m back!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a very happy new year! I’m excited for 2015 and can’t wait for everything this year will have in store for us. And I wish many happy tidings on you and yours, as well!

Visiting Family- Thanksgiving in Delaware

This year, Ian, Jon, and I made the drive out to Delaware to visit my sister and her kids. It was a long, boring, 10 hour trip, but the visit made it all worthwhile.

We left Tuesday night around 5pm and unfortunately hit some rush hour traffic getting out of our area.  Once we were freed of that, we drove for another hour or so before stopping to get some dinner.  Our dinner stops normally take between 40 minutes and an hour (you just can’t be quick with a 2-year-old itow!), and this one was no exception.  We used to be the type of people who HATED stopping, even for a quick bathroom break, but having Ian has definitely changed our outlook.  He needs this break to stretch his legs and get his wiggles out. And since we drove at night, it was his last chance to move freely until we arrived in Delaware.  So though we try not to dawdle too much, it’s pretty much inevitable.  We got back on the road in under an hour, though, so I consider that a success.  

We hit some pretty awful construction traffic (really, why does the department of transportation do construction during a holiday week??) which slowed us down and generally made the drive annoying, but once we got out of Ohio it was pretty smooth sailing.  We pulled into my sister’s driveway around 3:30AM, carried Ian up to bed, and unloaded the few necessities from the car we required right then (bathroom stuff, suitcase, pillows, etc).  Then we all crashed.  

Unfortunately, before we could really fall alseep, Ian was awake and unhappy.  He was in an unfamiliar house, in an unfamiliar room, with his unfamiliar 11 year old cousin sleeping just a bed away from him.  Needless to say, he was a little freaked.  In an effort to salvage some sleep, I grabbed the little moster and brought him into bed with us.  If he wasn’t such a wiggler, this would have worked like a charm.  But he kicks, and flops, and tosses, and turns.  And generally takes up way more space in a bed than a 2-year-old ought to.  So it was a night punctuated by spurts of dosing and waking until he finally roused himself at 7:30AM raring to get started with the day.

My sister, angel that she is, tried to take Ian off our hands and give us a few more hours of sleep, but he wasn’t having it.  He only sees his aunt and cousins once or twice a year, so he doesn’t really “know” them yet, and he just wasn’t too thrilled about spending the morning with (to him) strangers. So I dragged my butt out of bed and accompanied him downstairs for some playtime and breakfast.

Ian’s a wild, boisterous child, but he’s pretty timid around new people and situations. So it took him most of the day to really figure everything out and get accustomed to everything.  By that evening, the kids were all sprinting around the house and playing like they were old friends- but those first hours were pretty rough (and clingy).

Wednesday was a wonderful day of relaxation. We did pretty much nothing. Mostly because it rained all day, but also because we were just tired and lazy and it felt good to sit around and not have anything in particular to do.

Thursday morning was a crisp and cool fall day, but we dragged the kids to the park down the street anyway to get their energy out.  It was pretty soggy from the rain (and the slides were pretty drenched), but you know how kids are- that didn’t bother them one bit.  We only lasted about 30 minutes before sucumbing to the cold and calling Uncle… though I think Ian would have been content to play there for the entire day.  The kid just loves being outside and loves playgrounds.  We changed out of our soggy clothes when we got back and began to prep for Thanksgiving dinner.  It was my sister’s first time ever cooking and hosting Thanksgiving (she visited us last year, and has always gone elsewhere in years past), but she did a fantastic job!  The food was delicious- and there was PLENTY of it… the mark of a good feast.  The turkey was done sooner than we expected, so we ended up eating a bit earlier than planned- but that just meant seconds later in the day!  Nothing wrong with that!  We all went to bed that night with nice, full bellies and the promise of leftovers the next day.

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Friday morning my sister and I got up at 5am to do some Black Friday shopping.  Last year we got up at 4, and we probably should have done that this year, too, but 5 just seemed so much more appealing.  We hit Toys R Us first which was a MAJOR disappointment.  Nothing we wanted was on sale, so our guess is most the sales were targeted for Thursday night (and we had no desire to shop on Thanksgiving).  We went to the mall next to hit a few specific stores, but again, not much promise there.  Our next stop was Kohls, and oh my, did we hit the motherlode! Everything was discounted even more deeply than usual, and we managed to get a great haul for a fantastic price (and terrific Kohls cash!).  We vowed then and there to just shop Kohls next year and not bother with anywhere else.  We had wanted to hit Target, too, but it was nearing 9am and we were pretty much done with shopping, so we skipped it, grabbed donuts, and headed back.  Minus the black mark that was Toys R Us, it was a successful adventure and a fun sister outing.  This type of stress-free, laid back Black Friday shopping with my sister is something I’ve really come to enjoy (and look forward to).

Friday evening we drove out to Rehoboth for dinner, pictures with Santa, and a tree lighting. Even though it was cold, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  The line for Santa pictures wasn’t long at all, and we zipped right through it.  Ian was really intruiged by Santa until it was actually our turn to get our picture, and then he was less than thrilled.  So we have this really wonderful picture of him completely freaked out by the whole thing. 

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We probably have at least one more of these types of pictures in our future… 

Dinner was delicious- we ate at a pizza place nearby, and the pizza was wonderful!  Ian’s favorite part was the pepperoni, but he was eating and happy, so that was fine by me.  After dinner, we wandered over to the tree-lighting area and listened to the carolers.  Ian loved the music and was pretty sad when it was over.  But he was definitely excited and awed to see the tree light up suddenly!  In fact, he loved the Christmas tree so much that he didn’t want to leave.

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It was a fairly late night for him, but he weathered it well.  We put him to bed once we got back and settled in to watch the Virginia Tech game for the evening (and we won- woo!).  

Saturday we packed everything up and let the kids run and play all morning.  After a good lunch and delicious desserts, we got ready to head out.  It was definitely sad leaving my sister and the kids behind but knowing we’d see them again in a few weeks for Christmas made it just a bit easier.  We got on the road about12:45pm- just in time for Ian to settle down in the carseat for his nap.  He fell asleep shortly after 1 and actually slept until nearly 4, which was wonderful! 

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We drove another hour or so and then stopped for dinner and gas.  Then it was back in the car for the rest of the trip- and got back to our house about 11pm.  The drive was easy and stress-free, and Ian did really well.  We tossed him in bed when we got home and he promptly fell back asleep, allowing us to get a nearly full night’s sleep in our OWN bed- always a lovely feeling after you’ve been away for a while.

Sunday was spent unpacking, recovering, and decorating the house with Christmas lights. A fantastic end to a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  I couldn’t have asked for anything better and am incredibly thankful for loving family and safe travels.

What did you do for Thanksgiving?  Did you travel anywhere or host out of town guests?

Barefoot Books- Season’s Readings

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, I know many of us are rushing (and stressing?) to get our holiday shopping done.  So many people to buy for, so little time.  And what to get everyone?  It seems to just get harder every year!

In addition to things the kids on my list specifically request, I also like to give a book.  It’s just my thing.  Call me a weirdo if you want, I don’t care.  It’s something I like to do, and I’m going to keep doing it until there aren’t any kids left for me to purchase for.

This year, most, if not all, of those books will be coming from Barefoot Books. Yes, I sell Barefoot, so that’s definitely an incentive.  But also, I just LOVE these books.  They are so unique and such a perfect fit for so many different kids.  It’s really a no brainer.  And with Barefoot’s current 20% off sale (ending tomorrow night- 12/3), I can get all my shopping done at a discount- does it get any better than that?

I’ll probably be getting my son some new Bear books for our collection and probably a new sing-along, too:

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"Bear About Town" is part of the Bear series and helps teach the days of the week

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"Bear on a Bike" is part of the Bear series and emphasizes different types of travel.

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"Driving my Tractor" is one of our extremely popular sing-alongs.

For my new baby nephew, I think Alligator Alphabet will be going in my basket:

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My 9 year old neice is a bit tougher since she’s on the older end of the Barefoot spectrum, but I’m thinking a copy of “Twelve Dancing Princesses” (hardcover) would be perfect for her:

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And my 11 year old nephew will probably be getting Achilles (hardcover w/CD) because I think it’s something he’ll really enjoy!

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So if you’re looking for something new and unique this year, why not check out Barefoot (http://bethbfb.barefootbooks.com)?  You won’t regret it…especially if you are able to try them out during this sale. Just use code TOGETHER20 at checkout to get your 20% off.  And if your order is over $60, it ships free.  Don’t you just love savings!?

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(By the way, I’m also hosting a little Season’s Readings sale over on Facebook and Instagram.  I’m selling off some inventory at steep discounts, and you won’t want to miss you.  Hop on over and check out what I’m offering… if you see something you want, message me or comment on the post to claim it as yours. The prices are great and the products are amazing- things will go quickly!).