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December 29, 2011

Christmas Eve 2011

Every Christmas Eve is spent at my father-in-law's house and this year was no different. We had a delicious prime rib dinner and the younger girls had lots of fun with gifts and presents this year.

Rachel and Joslynn pose in front of the tree.

Grandpa must have given them some giggle juice!

Rachel loved playing with the Charlie Brown Nativity Set. She lays down all of the figures and says they are going "nite, nite."


One of my favorite photos of my niece, Joslynn. She was all over that box.


Once the presents were cleared away, Grandpa showed Rachel his train. But it wasn't working at first so the two of them had to figure out what was going on. She was following his every move.


And before we left, Rachel was snuggling with Patzi on the couch. 



December 28, 2011

Christmas Gifts for Teachers

Rachel has 5 teachers at school. That's a lot when you are talking about Christmas gifts and last year when she had 4 teachers, I decided to give each one of them a pan of lasagna and garlic bread. It was very well received so this year, each teacher got a pan of cinnamon rolls.

My co-worker gave me a bread machine a while ago and I've been attempting to perfect cinnamon rolls. I make the dough in the machine, spread cinnamon, butter and sugar on them and roll and cut them. I then put them in a pan and freeze them. When I want to eat them, I take them out, leave them on the counter overnight where they rise and are ready to go into the oven in the morning. And they are delicious. I am getting better but the raw rolled cinnamon roll doesn't look very appealing. And I may have forgotten yeast in one of the batches for the teachers. Should still be tasty just not as fluffy as the others.

I wrapped them in foil tins I found at the dollar store and added a decorative top with instructions. I just hope they tasted okay.



December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

Almost every year our Christmas holiday is a whirlwind and this year was no different.

Santa came on the morning of December 24th and Charlie, our elf, went home with him. I think as Rachel gets older, Charlie will be a tad more creative in how he returns from the North Pole rather than just hanging in a different place.

Rachel woke up at 6:15 am that morning and didn't go back to sleep so we just began the present unwrapping. I think she had six or eight things to open and she was somewhat into it and somewhat crabby. Even her dad commented and said something like, "Rachel, I don't think this how your mom and I pictured  you at Christmas." And I forgot to get out the camera until the very end.

Everything was done and cleaned up by 8 am. I made some dishes for the upcoming festivities - cinnamon rolls for breakfast at home, cheese potatoes and herb bread for Christmas Eve and a killer Peanut Butter Brownie Torte for Christmas day. It was just a busy day getting things ready and cooking and packing the car for Christmas Eve at my father-in-law's house. On Christmas day we drove to the Thumb to celebrate with my family and then on the 26th went to hang out with my aunt in Sterling Heights. It was busy and tiring and I'm kind of glad it's over. Every year I tell myself I won't travel as much the following year, and every year we travel.

Rockwell is always in the spirit!

Crazy excited to help her mom open her present! (You can see the tent Santa made for her in the background)




December 19, 2011

Penguin Party

I've been hyping up Rachel's 2nd birthday party when I talk to her about it. I assure her she is having a penguin party and shortly after seeing her penguin cake, she realized what was going on. She would wake up from her nap and see the cake and say, "penguin party." When she saw her penguin party favors she would say, "waddle, waddle, waddle, penguin party." 

We've been wearing our penguin finger puppets and practicing our song so we shared it with our friends at school. She loves to sing it and so did the kids. It's so great being next door to her school!


 What on Earth do you do with....homemade Fish Graham Crackers...

...Penguin Cups...

...homemade penguin finger puppets...

...penguin sticker sheets and a thank you card with penguin songs....


...you put them all in a gift bag for friends!

And the penguin finger puppet is attached to the back of each bag with a piece of velcro so we could take off the puppet, sing our songs and put it on for each kid to take home.

A penguin party isn't complete without a penguin cake! This was SUPER EASY to make and I found the recipe here. 

 I followed the directions except, I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Frosting, which means I didn't tint the frosting with black food coloring as the recipe stated. I also made the wings out of chocolate. I just melted chocolate chips in a zipper bag, cut the end and traced an oval pattern on waxed paper. Once they were dry, I affixed them with frosting, flat side down. I used necco wafters and m&ms for the eyes.

I made these super easy penguin olives and a cheese ball igloo for snack. I thought the Penguins were going to be very hard to make so I told myself from the beginning I would only make 12 - for the number of kids in her class. I used jumbo and medium olives, one carrot and half a brick of cream cheese, heated in the microwave. I then cut a triangle out of the jumbo olives and used a pastry bag with tip to fill the bellies with cream cheese.

The cheese ball recipe was very basic: 2 bricks cream cheese, 1 packet ranch and 2 cups shredded cheese. It's quite mild, so it might be perfect for toddlers. I put it in a bowl with plastic wrap and then let it set up/harden. I heated the other half of the cream cheese brick in the microwave and spread it on the igloo, then let it set up and used a skewer to make ice blocks on the igloo.

And of course my daughter wore her penguin tee shirt on her special day! Two penguins for a 2 year old! 



December 13, 2011

Cookies for Grandpa

If you are a faithful blog stalker with a good memory, you will recall that I make my Christmas cookies in July. But usually in December I make one batch of sugar cookies for my father-in-law because he loves them, or as he likes to say, " these are my favorite." 

This year Rachel helped me. She even decorated one cookie for her "gam-pa". And when she was finished, she got to eat a cookies. The photos tell the story. 




December 05, 2011

Meet Charlie - Our Elf

Charlie graced us with his presence from the North Pole on December 1st. Rachel is enjoying finding him every morning. And she loves to say, "Charlie Funny" and "Charlie Silly" whenever she sees him in his new location.