Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookied Out

Photo from kraftfoods.com

I am completely, 100% done with cookies for quite a while. I have spent 4 entire days baking. I spent 2 with my mom, one with Alicia, and one by myself. I've baked chocolate chip, gooey butter, ginger, peanut butter, melt aways, sugar cookies and loads and loads of peanut brittle. Don't get me wrong, I love to bake but I don't think I've ever spent that much time in the kitchen before. I had a blast with my mom and Alicia because all the chit chatting makes the time fly but I don't even want to smell another cookies baking for a very long time!

Why all the baking, you ask? I was helping my mom prepare for a choir get together at their house, Alicia and I were just having fun, and I was baking goodies for all of Steve's employees. I also decided to make peanut brittle for all my aunts and uncles as well as Steve's relatives, too. I have a very yummy and easy recipe for the brittle. Check it out here. After the baking was done, I was on a mission to find cute ways to package all the yummy treats. I landed on Martha's line at Michaels and I was very pleased with how they turned out. Steve said some of his employees even commented on how nice the packaging was. Way to go Martha!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Warehouse Sale

I have an obsession with books. I love the way they smell, the way a new book feels when you open it and I really enjoy children's books too. The children's books are always so colorful and tell such wonderful stories. I have definitely passed along that love to Ava already. The kid will sit for half an hour and look through her books "reading" to herself.

Since I was a teacher, I get emails about Scholastic's warehouse sales. For those of you who don't know, Scholastic is the company that sends home monthly flyers with your kids from school. They sell books for a reasonable price and it always got my kiddos super excited about reading. Anyway, when I found out they were having their big sale right before Christmas, I knew I had to go. I emailed some girlfriends and we made a date. I ended up spending close to $60 on books. I know, I know...it's a lot. You have to remember I was the girl who spent her allowance on books instead of makeup and clothes. Everything was 50% off and I know how much Ava and I love reading her books so it was money well spent. I also picked up several of the Disney fairy chapter books for my niece's upcoming 8th birthday.

If I could pick my ideal career, besides teaching, I would definitely own a bookstore. One of those small, quirky stores that has all the books you have been searching for...forever. I would host monthly book club meetings in the store that everyone would make treats to share at each meeting. I would know all my regulars by name and they would know about me and my family. Of course, we would serve great coffee too. I don't know how many of those types of stores still exist with Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders running the show now. That is my ideal though...a girl can dream *sigh*

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mini Me

My days and evenings are filled with little moments like this. I am doing a seemingly boring chore, like loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, sweeping the kitchen, etc. and right on my heels is mini me trying to do the same thing. In this case, I was hanging snowflakes from Ava's fan using a step ladder. Little did I know that Ava was on the first step of the ladder with me. She is so quiet sometimes!! I went to step down and that's when I noticed her. Steve was home and found the situation funny so he snapped a few pictures. I love that little stinker so much!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Round 1 Ava, Round 2 Santa

After almost meeting Santa on Sunday, I was determined for her to actually meet the big guy. I talked to some of the "elves" before we left on Sunday at Bass Pro and was told that Tuesday around 6 would be a good time to come back. The plan was no set. We arrived at Bass Pro a little before 6 and headed in to get into the short line. The line was actually a good thing because it gave Ava ample time to check this Santa character out. She was waving to him and saying hi the entire 20 minutes we were in line. By the time we were up, I was confident there would be no tears...and I was right. He talked to her about Dora before he tried to hold her. She just stared at the floor the whole time doing her shy routine. She let him hold her and we got a tearless and smileless picture. That Santa was the sweetest and nicest Santa I have ever met. He took his time with her and was so friendly to us too. We will definitely be going back next year. Round 1 goes to Ava...yea!!

Round 2 however was a completely different story. Bass Pro is near my dad's house so we decided to eat dinner with him and my brother and my niece after seeing Santa. This was also the same night the Pattonville Fire Department's Santa was coming around my dad's neighborhood for all the kids to see Santa. This is their 26th year to bring Santa around to all the neighborhoods. We ate our chili and then saw the lights of Santa coming down the street. Santa comes down the street pulled by a fire truck or ambulance and Santa is on his sleigh on a trailer bed with all the lights going and horns blaring. The truck goes really slow...usually. This year they were going a lot faster and we had to dash outside so Santa would stop outside my dad's house. I had to rush Ava into her coat and hat and then out the door we went. I opted to sit with Santa and Ava. Ava immediately burst into tears the second she saw this Santa. You can see from the pictures that she was not a happy camper. There were tears and snot bubbles. Poor, young, fireman Santa didn't know what to do with her. We snapped our pictures and then off Santa went. I think he was happy to be on to the next house! Ava was a trooper though. After all, she sat with 2 strange men dressed in funny red suits in one night. Round 2 definitely went to Fireman Santa!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Unusual Find

Sunday, as we were killing time in the Chesterfield area, we stumbled upon a rather unique sculpture. It was chilly so Ava and I stayed in the car but Steve ventured out to take some pictures. It's hard to tell from these pictures but the sculpture is huge. On a warmer day we'll have to take some more pics with us in them so you have more of an idea of the size of this thing. Cool but kinda creepy at the same time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Almost Santa

We had big plans to take Ava to see Santa on Sunday. The operative word there is had. I refuse to pay the astronomical prices at the mall, so when I found out from my mother in law that Bass Pro Shop was going to have free pictures with Santa I was in. I was a little leery that Santa might have a Red Ryder BB gun and a fishing pole but I was game anyway. We loaded Ava in the car, picked up the MIL and headed out for Bass Pro.

After the 30 minute ride to get there, Steve hopped out of the car to go get in line. As we were headed in he called and told us to get right back in the car. What?!? It was 3 o'clock and I was thinking we might have to wait 1/2 an hour but I was just a wee bit off. They gave Steve a line ticket to come back and get in line at 6. Who knew Santa was this popular. Ava was very restless so we decided to head in and let her walk around for a while. They had quite the winter wonderland there. We never saw Santa because he was on a break the 1/2 hour we were there...bummer. However, they had all kinds of toys set up for the kids to beg their parents for while they waited. Among my favorites were the pink crossbow with the phrase "bring 'em up right" on the box, a stuffed deer head, and a target practice game. While there was no Santa in sight, it was still an entertaining outing. Where else can you take your picture with a stuffed raccoon for Christmas?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Card Rejects

Last year was our first photo Christmas card, and I have to say that I loved it. Before Ava, there was no reason for Steve and I to send a photo card. Who really wants to see a picture of Steve and I? Anyone? Anyone?? Yeah, I don't see any hands up. Anyway, with the addition of a cute baby to the mix then all of a sudden the photo card was a must. This year I chose a card that had multiple pictures to fill because I had so many of the little darling I wanted to use. I have plenty of pictures to choose from but none of these made the cut. Truth be told, these are actually my faves. You really can't get a *pretty* smile out of the kid. She is either making a goofy face at the camera or staring at you like you're nuts. There is no happy medium with her. These show the real Ava...the goofball that my family knows and loves. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Adorable Freebies

Print these cuties out for this holiday gift giving season. Check out Kristen's site, Domestifluff, here.

It's Here

The holiday season is really and truly here. We went to a concert Friday night at the Cathedral downtown complete with a bell choir, children's choir, and adult choir. Saturday was the annual wrapping party for the family our group of friends adopts every year. My friend, Amy, organizes and hosts a party every year where our group of friends buys all the gifts for a family and then gets together to wrap all the presents. It's always a good time. The kids ended up having a dance party in their family room. It was quite a site!

The presents in our house have all been wrapped and I can confidently say I have only one more person to buy for and he's always my easiest...that is until this year. I'm drawing a complete blank on Steve. I pride myself on giving gifts that are thoughtful, useful, and fun. This year for him I've got nada! I know I'll pull something out in the end but for now I'm constantly thinking and looking.

Steve took off yesterday and we actually watched 2 movies together. That never happens. It was nice though. A time to curl up together and just be next to each other while Ava was sleeping. Grown up time is so good and so valuable now. You take it when you can get it!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Pink Christmas

Yes, that is a 3 ft. pink flocked Christmas tree. I know, I know...how much more girly can you get? Well this probably tops all the girliness I've subjected Ava to! But I would have loved to have this tree in my room when I was little and I'm sure most of you girls would too!

Last year after Christmas my mom called and asked if I wanted her to pick up a pink Christmas tree for Ava for $12. Of course my answer was YES!! When she brought it over last year in the box, Steve saw it and threw me a look like, "you've got to be kidding me!" I just quietly put it in the basement and never gave it another thought. This year I started to pull all the decorations out of the basement and I stumbled upon her little tree and got so excited for it all over again. I put it up in Ava's room and turned out the lights to show Ava her new tree. She was not disappointed and neither was I. She gave a rousing, "ooohhhhhhhhhhhhh" several times and clapped her hands. I was worried about finding ornaments to put on it but I think I like it just the way it is. Maybe next year when Ava's a little older she can help make some ornaments or pick them out. Best $12 I've spent on Christmas decor in a while.

On a side note, Steve actually thought the tree was pretty too. Not as "ugly" as the box showed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

One of Those Christmas Tree People

We have been so busy lately! Busy in a good way though. Now that I can say Thanksgiving is officially over after 4 dinners ending on Sunday, it's on with the Christmas cheer! I like to get my tree up the day after Thanksgiving but seeing as I had people eating here Friday and I was cooking the entire turkey spread that wasn't happening. Steve finally got our tree up last night and Ava was oh so intrigued by the entire process. She even got under the tree while Steve was plugging in all the lights on our pre-lit tree (love it!).

Today is my dilemma. I am one who has matching ornaments on the tree meaning our tree is all silver, blue, and green. We don't have a tree with ornaments from when we were kids. This is an adult tree. So yes, I am one of *THOSE* Christmas tree people! I love the kid trees but I want our kids to make the ornaments for that tree, so that will come probably next year when Ava can help make some ornaments for the tree. But back to my dilemma. The kid is fascinated by ornaments and all things sparkly. I have silver glittered feathers on our tree, some ribbon, and lights right now. Ava won't even leave the feathers alone. I'm terrified that if I put glass ornaments on the tree with hooks she will end up breaking one or worse yet cut herself. I'm not worried about anything going in her mouth so at least that's one less thing to harp on! I guess I can always decorate the top half of the tree and leave the glass and hooks out of her reach. That would be one unique looking tree though! Oh well, at least the tree is up even if it never fully gets decked out!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

There are so many things in my life to be thankful for but by far these two are at the top of my list. Enjoy every minute with your families over this holiday break!!

Bookmark Freebie

Sharon Rowan has an adorable Etsy shop and a great blog too. I found these on her website and thought they were too cute not to share. They would be a perfect gift with a great book for the reader in your life. Get the *FREE* download here.

She also has a great desktop calendar too. Check it out too!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

We've been very low key around here lately. To be honest, it almost worries me a little. Ava hadn't been sleeping well and was crabby a lot. We went to her 15 month check up and after talking with the doctor it was what I had assumed. The kid wasn't getting enough sleep. We started putting her to bed at 7 instead of 8 and she still sleeps until 7 the next morning. Since she cut out her morning nap, she is taking about an hour and a half nap in the afternoon. That extra hour of sleep gave me back my happy baby. As a bonus, Steve and I get an extra hour together without the wee one too. Life has been back to normal...calm.

This holiday season is shaping up to be a busy one as always. I love this time of year and want to savor every moment. However, I'm trying to enjoy these last few days of laziness and do nothingness but stick around the house because those days end on Thursday. Thursday we are going to 2 Thanksgiving meals in two different states. Friday, I'm hitting up the Black Friday sales for the first time with one of my friends at 4am. Then I have to come home and do the whole Thanksgiving meal here at our house for my family. Let the craziness BEGIN!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

One Bowl Banana Muffins

"I see you oh yummy banana muffin."

"You look so perfectly golden on the outside."

"I am going to enjoy every bite of you without using my hands.
That is how much I want to savor you!"

"Okay...the no hands things was taking too long and you are
sooooo yummy! I will use my hands!"

My daughter loves bananas so we always have them in the house. Sometimes they start to turn a little too brown for my liking so that's where this super easy recipe comes into play.

Banana Muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup veggie oil
2 mashed bananas
1/2 cup chopped nuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a good sized bowl. Stir in egg, milk, oil, bananas, and nuts or chocolate chips (if you're using them). Mix until just moist. Scoop into greased muffin tin or you can also use muffin liners. Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These freeze great after they are baked. Then you can just thaw them out on the counter. You can also make a loaf out of this as well. Bake the loaf for about an hour. I haven't been adding nuts or chocolate because they are usually for Ava. Definitely a crowd pleaser with the little people in my life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crazy Good Ideas

I am a sucker for a good party. Not just how great it is to get people together and mingle and catch up but the actual party planning. I know that might be a little weird but I enjoy planning the menu and coming up with table decorations and flower arrangements. I like to make sure all the little things count too. I like to plan how the food will be arranged and what font I will print my food labels out in...like I said, yes, I know that is a little obsessive and weird. I *love* it though. I do have to truly watch what a spend and now that is part of the planning too. Being down to one income does pose a bit of a challenge at times. As I have been planning my little Thanksgiving get together, I wanted to share a site that I have a blog crush on. If you haven't visited The Party Dress please make a stop over there for some great eye candy and photography as you can see above. She covers everything from kids parties to weddings. Love her!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Bunny Cart

Ava has been playing a lot with her shopping cart. You know, loading it full of all kinds of random things like stuffed animals, puzzle pieces, books, and the occasional piece of Tupperware. But why stop there!! I had the bright idea to put Sweet Pea in the cart and let her push her around. I lined the cart with a towel and gingerly lowered SP into the cart. I was fully expecting her to hop immediately out but no...she sat calmly looking at us like, "What now?" Ava walks up and attempts to push the cart. If you look closely at the first picture you can see that SP is sitting up and has her paws out the front of the cart. For those of you who have met our darling bunny you know just how fluffy she is. I say fluffy but Steve just says she's fat. Anywoo, as Ava started to push SP, the cart was a little to front heavy and it started to go tumbling down. Hence the second pic where I am trying to save SP from crashing to the floor as the cart topples forward. Needless to say, SP was done with the whole cart experience. Ava however was not. She chased SP around the house for the next 15 minutes trying to pick her up and get her back in the cart. Moments like these make being a mommy so worth it and so hilarious!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Holiday Paper Love

Snow bird cards from Ave 9 River

Nine Tiny Reindeer from Wit and Whistle

Printable Peppermint and Gumdrop gift tags
from Little Paper Dog (only $4!!)

I am a sucker for all things lovely and paper. I have so many sets of cards and stationary just waiting to be used. These are a few of my faves at the moment. I especially love the idea of printable gift tags. You can print as many as you want and use them year after year too. So clever and economical!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Technology Queen

Obsessed with all things electronic...she is definitely her dad's little girl. Anytime a phone, remote, or Steve's iTouch or Blackberry are within reach you better believe she is pushing every button she can. She has called people accidentally (luckily it's been family only) and started searching the Internet on our phones. We didn't realize some of it until we started getting billed for it! Little stinker!

See that second picture and the poor pitiful face. When she gets caught and she knows it, she quickly hands off whatever the "no-no" is and looks all sad and innocent. That face is not going to work on me...very often :o)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

RIP Morning Nap

Oh how I will miss you, Morning Nap. We were such great friends. I could get my blog posted during the nap, clean up the kitchen, start some laundry, and so many other things that needed to be done for the day. But, alas, our time is over. Now I have to rely more on your brother, Afternoon Nap. I sure hope he can pull through for me!

Now morning nap time is filled with Ava taking out and putting away EVERYTHING she can get her hands on. I guess the good news is she does put things away but it is still a mess because it's a 15 month old putting her clothes back in the drawer or the diapers back in the basket. Today, after her room was sufficiently a wreck, she proceeded to bring me book after book to read to her. She does love her books. Her way of loving books is getting out every book she owns and surrounding herself in them. Then she will carefully pick out the one she wants me to read and brings it to me. She hasn't caught on to putting books away yet but we are working on it.

She's a great baby and I love spending all my time with her but naps are great too! All I can say is that I run around like a mad woman during her afternoon nap trying to get everything done. Those afternoon naps need to stick around for a while!