so merry and so bright

Friday, January 9th, 2015

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I hope you and your family had a great Christmas. I got so caught up in not stressing out that I didn’t blog for over a month. But don’t go thinking I was sitting around eating peppermint bonbons all day. Oh no, there were lots of Christmas festivities.

Graham was a shepherd in the Grandparent’s Day Christmas play at school. I thought his costume was adorable, but I guess he didn’t. He asked if he could dress up like a wise man for Halloween next year.

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What a Christmas Play boy.

Wells was in “A Play in a Manger” at Church. He had a speaking part, and we were very proud of him.

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We decked our halls.

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The children were not impressed with our outdoor lights or lack of inflatables. I dug out the silver tinsel tree that my parents bought me when I was in college and put it in the playroom window. I took them outside for the big reveal, and Wells said he liked it, but the neighborhood pool still had more lights than us.

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We got our tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It stopped taking water two days after that. We finally got it decorated on day seventeen. It was officially a CRISPmas tree at that point.

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I’m not complaining though. My friend Roxanne’s tree fell four times. FOUR. And a snake crawled out of my friend Susan’s tree. A SNAKE. IN HER TREE. THAT SHE BOUGHT FROM THE SAME LOT AS US.

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We celebrated Nan and Lily’s birthdays with a trip to the Laurel Christmas parade and a little antiquing. (If you ever have a chance to attend the Laurel parade, do it. It is the best.)

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(Not sure what they were talking about, but it looks like Wells miiiiight be on the naughty list.)

Lily let me do her hair for her 13th birthday party. If you know anything about thirteen year old girls and how particular they are, you understand how honored I was.

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We cheered Kailey on at her cheerleading competition.

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We did a little Christmas light looking.

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And some Christmas cookie-ing.

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The weekend before Christmas was our Louisiana family get together. We hung out in New Orleans the day before.

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(Bloody Merry)

We stayed an extra day so SK, Wells and Mawmaw Sarah could go to the Saints game.

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I told Graham we could do anything he wanted while they were gone, so we ended up on Bourbon Street.

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We eventually made our way to the aquarium, and Graham declared our day the best ever.

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I know you shouldn’t buy your kids gifts the weekend before Christmas, but he “reallllllly” needed the enormous stuffed shark. When she saw it, Mawmaw Sarah asked Graham if he wanted to go to college.

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Speaking of gifts, we let the boys open one on Santa eve (which is actually Christmas Eve eve eve since test run Santa comes to our house). Wells loved his, but Graham was obviously expecting the hot tub.

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Trust me G, I know what it is like to not get what you want for Christmas. (Cough. COUGH.)

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He was over it just in time to leave out a little food for Santa’s reindeer and then listen to the Christmas story.

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I hope your children didn’t watch Santa Hunters. Ours did, and then proceeded to booby trap our house. Wells really wanted to sleep in the living room, but we explained that early Santa don’t play that.

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Every year they ask for at least one remote controlled contraption (that typically breaks by the end of the day). This year, it was a Roboraptor that is almost as creepy as our old friend remote controlled shark. It has a free roam mode and lurks all over the house. I sneaks up behind me while I’m eating, and I feel like those kids in the kitchen on Jurassic Park.

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On Christmas Eve we travelled south and spent several days with our families.

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(Let me be the first to say that we got our money’s worth out of those Christmas pjs and santa shirts.)

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(Nan’s peanut butter balls… my favorite)

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(Mawmaw’s pumpkin praline pie… my other favorite)

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(So. Many. Pictures.)

It was a fun December, and I was sad to see it go. But not that tree or the family of snakes that I convinced myself were living in it.

Happy New Year!

friday five

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Happy Friday. Someone (you know who you are) told me that they weren’t fond of my Friday Five posts. So I assumed the rest of you didn’t care for them either. Then last night at our neighborhood Christmas get together two someones requested I write them more often. Sorry someone #1. You’ve been outvoted.

I read something online the other day about “surviving” Christmas. Isn’t that the silliest thing you’ve ever heard? Can’t you just picture God looking down on all our crazy and thinking, “I sent my only son to Earth to die on a cross. I’m realllly sorry for all the stress it causes YOU.”

There is stress during the holidays, but I think we bring most of it on ourselves. Trees have to be perfect (the finger is pointing at me because we went to three lots before I found one I liked), thoughtful gifts need to be purchased (the five year old is asking for a hot tub again this year) and cards need to be sent.

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And then there’s the elf. People complain about how much work it is but that punishment and pain is self inflicted.

Parties, gifts and decorations are supposed to be fun. If you find yourself trying to “survive,” just skip it. All that stuff is not what it is really about anyway.

What a debbie downer lead in. Now I’ll never get elected captain of the CHRISTMAS CHEERleader squad. *Christmas Spirit Fingers*

1. Peppymint

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If I do find myself on the outskirts of crazy town, I use a little of this Now Peppermint Oil. I know you think that sounds like a bunch of hippie dippie bologna, but it works. Plus it makes our house smell wonderful. I like to use it in a diffuser or put a few drops in the corner of the shower (great for sinus congestion too).

2. The Greats of Bath

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These AHAVA Lavender Dead Sea Salts are wonderful. So wonderful that my kids are fighting about who gets to soak in the tub first. The lavender scent is very calming so I just throw both of them in there at the same time and it all works out.

Maybe Santa will bring the hot tub and we can all soak together.

3. Oil No You Didn’t

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This time of year my skin gets terribly dry. Probably from all those peppermint oil showers and long lavender baths. For years I’ve used Neutrogena Sesame Oil. I keep it in the shower and use it before I dry off. I know…TMI. Just didn’t want anyone to think it would be effective in the aforementioned diffuser.

4. Mask and Ye Shall Receive

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I have to switch to a heavier night time moisturizer in the winter. Just call me Ashy Olsen. I started using this Énergie De Vie Overnight Mask from Lancome about a month ago, and I love it. Which means it will probably be discontinued. Get it while you can.

5. Peppermint SNAPS

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I am embarrassed to share this one since I tend to side eye OMG PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES. But it is sugar free and delicious, and I feel for peppermint what most feel for pumpkin.

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So I really had no choice but to buy three bags of Candy Cane Pretzel Flats at Whole Foods last week. Straight up pretzel and peppermint perfection. If they will let me exchange the blown out brining bag for more of these, I promise to share.

Check out all the Friday five posts from April, Natasha, Darci and Christina.

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Have a great weekend!

red turkey

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Since the boys were out of school, I took last week off to be with them. I asked Wells what he wanted to do while he was on break, and he requested to stay in pjs for an entire day. As much as I hated to (hint of sarcasm), I agreed. So Monday was pj day, but by 11 they both asked to change so they could go outside to play. Being the committed woman of my word that I am, I kept mine on all day.

I volunteered to cook the Thanksgiving turkey this year. After reading through several cookbooks and online recipes, I decided that brining the bird was the way to go. I used a “no leak” brining bag (2 gallon ziplock) from Whole Foods, and SK and I put it in our outside fridge (did I mention the turkey weighed 18 pounds?). The next morning, the bottom drawer of the fridge was flooded with salt water (from the brine and my tears). I went out and got another bag, and then manhandled the bird by myself because SK was at work. I might have dropped it and there’s a possibility that our garage looked like a crime scene. Then, I got up at 5 the next morning to roast it. Five. A.M.

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Everyone said it was *moist* and delicious, but I think that was just out of pity and fear. But, Graham said that he loved the turkey. The red turkey.
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Also known as ham (that Aunt Yaya purchased fully cooked from a fundraiser).

I was all about that baste, but I will never volunteer to cook another turkey.

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We called Mawmaw K to wish her a happy Thanksgiving. While I was on the phone with her she said, “time passes so quick, honey.” I already suspected that was the case, but when a 95 year old says it the truth sinks in.

My little Lily four years ago…

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And now…
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And this weekend she officially becomes a teenager.

So quick, honey. So quick.

live and let pie

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Last week, I made a sweet treat for teacher appreciation snacks. Nothing says appreciation and thanksgiving like pecan pie. This bite size version is so easy and delicious.

Mini Pecan Pies
(Southern Living, 2008)

3 cups of chopped pecans
3/4 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of dark Karo
3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of salt
4 packages of Athens mini phyllo shells

I had every intention to take pics along the way. This is all I got…

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I think I got distracted by the conversation in the background. Graham had just finished his dessert (Biscoff cookies dipped in Nutella) and SK was trying to clean him up.

“I look like I’m covered in poop. But if this is poop, I love poop.” -Graham

It was hard for me to get back on track after that. In case you didn’t lose your appetite, here’s the rest of the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roast the pecans for ten minutes. While the pecans are roasting (don’t forget to stir them occasionally), mix together the sugar and Karo. Add the eggs, butter, vanilla and salt. Once the pecans have cooled a bit, add them to the mix. Spoon some into each phyllo shell and bake for 20 minutes. Let them cool for 30 minutes on wire racks.

NOTES-
* Do not remove the phyllo shells from the freezer until you are ready to fill them. If they are the least bit thawed, the pies will be soggy. Blech.
* Sixty tiny pecan pies will not fit on one cookie sheet. Use two or cook in batches. Line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with Baker’s Joy.
* Do not overfill the shells or they will bubble over. When they do, you will give thanks for lining the cookie sheet with foil.
* You will be tempted to eat all sixty. Remove them from your house immediately.
* Do not put your Christmas tree up until the day after Thanksgiving. (Cough. Cough.)

I ran out of here so fast that I didn’t even get a photo of the finished product. My friend saved the day and snapped some pics in the teachers’ lounge. (Thanks again, Kelly!)

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So good y’all. If you are traveling over Thanksgiving, they are perfect to make ahead and take along in airtight tins.

But, if you run out of time, Biscoff cookies dipped in Nutella are a delicious alternative.