Sunday, December 27, 2009

Amy's quilt

I am so proud of how well this quilt turned out! I did EVERYTHING myself, including the actual quilting part. There are things I can do better next time, like my mitered corners. But over all, I am quite pleased.

christmas morning.

And now, the totally unflattering christmas morning pictures. From puffy eyes to frizzy hair, from pajamas to facial hair, we've got it all! Next year, SIMPSON STYLE! No one gets to open presents until they are presentable!


James and I made paper bag puppets to help with the nativity story we read on christmas eve. They were fun to make and fun to play with. Can you tell which one James thought was the best?

Our new stocking!

Behold, my BIG christmas project this year (besides my sister's quilt). Our new stockings. in order:
Drue, Ashley, James, Oliver.
And everyone got to pick out their fabric. Well, they got to pick from what I picked out.
Don't you love the fabric?! It's from Moda fabrics. The collection is called FIGGY PUDDING. They are only missing their Monogram which I will add next year. I jut ran out of steam this year!
Each stocking is actually quilted in diamonds on their points in coordinating thread. Which means, you can see the quilt in person, but not on camera. :(

I'm so happy with them.

The Nativity

Pre James nativity. lovely.
Post James nativity. That's Baby Jesus out of the manger, on the ground. Apparently, it looked like rain that night because the shepherd is checking the weather. And, yes, that's a King of the Orient on the roof, passed out because he had a little too much Martinelli's.

O Tannenbaum...

Behold! The Charlie Brown tree! It's not AS bad, but it's still spindly!
Don't you just love when all your ornaments migrate from the bottom of the tree to the top because some 3 year olds just can't help themselves and take them all off?!
This is just as we got the lights on the tree and turned off the lights for the boys!
Oh Christmas tree! And half-naked boy! Thats my little alpine boy, with no pants on. He just decided he didn't want to wear any and I didn't have the energy to change his mind.
The quilt on the wall is actually covering up the (VERY VERY VER DRAFTY) huge front window.
Next year, a tree skirt!

I lied!

I made cookies this year! Last year I didn't. I think if I add one christmas activity every year, by the time I'm 50, I should be as productive with my family as my parents and relatives were with our family growing up!
Anyways, behold the cookies! In true Simpson style, I used only 3 colors of frosting- white, red and a TINY bit of yellow. Also, since I only own 1 cookie cutter, I made a lot of bells. the other cookies are free handed.
You may notice my head is missing. I do not think this is a coincidence. It actually fell off during the frosting part:) but that night it sure felt like I had no head.
Nebraska Cookies! Go Huskers!
Stars. Bells. "Tree". Strange yellow finger-looking thing. But everything is better with sprinkles!
Bells and circles. I actually made a sand dollar cookie. But then I covered it with frosting- oh well!
The cookies were not tooo bad.. I could do better... but I need my cookie committee for that! (Amy, Mom, Nina...)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Silent Night

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright 'round yon virgin,
mother and child,
holy infant so tender and mild
sleep in heavenly peace.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to our beloved friends and family. We love you. I shall return in the new year- with many pictures, I promise!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Feet eating

Oliver learned how to eat his feet. I tried and tried to catch him chewing on his toes (SO cute) but he was way to interested in the camera. So, I got another photo shoot.

I am pleased to say that his eyes have not (yet) changed to brown.

I honestly think this kid is WAY too cute! He's currently working on getting up into crawling position. I'm sure I get another photo shoot when that happens too:)

Christmas countdown

I have had ONE stoke of brilliance this holiday season. Just one. Because James gets so much time at home, and not at school, I needed to come up with SOMETHING to keep him entertained for long periods of time. And something NEW to do everyday.
So, I made a classic christmas paper chain and added a neat thing (if I do say so myself).
Each link has something to do - bake, color, craft, sing, play... really, just DO- written on the underside. Each countdown day, we take off a link and do the thing written.

Here is the Gingerbread house. James really didn't do much more than eat the candy. In fact, I had to keep the candy moving away from him as I decorated so I could finnish the thing. But I think it was fun!

You might notice that each side of the roof is different. One is a lattice-top punctuated with candies, and the other is a garland top OF candies. Neither of these things is an original idea, I just wanted to see if I could be as crafty as the box:)
Added bonus: I got the ice-sickles to work! Next year had better watch out- I'm getting ready...

Messy face!

Oliver has begun eating solid foods. Actually, he's ben very interested for a LONG time. Tonight, for example, he tried to eat my lasagna and not his yummy pears. Anyways, he LOVES eating. So much so, that he tries to share the food of his mouth with the rest of his face:
And he thinks his hands need to have some too. And we should probably think about naming his clothing- because, in the immortal words of my father, "if you feed it, you might as well name it".
But he's so happy about it all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A child's prayer

Tonight, James said our family prayer all by himself without any cues from Drue. This is how it came out:
Dear Heavenly Father
Thank you for juice
Thank you for Thomas
Thank you for James number 5
Thank you for Gordon
Thank you for Henry
Thank you for Mavis
Thank you for Duck
Thank you for Oliver
Thank you for Mommy and Daddy
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

In case you are wondering about all those names before Oliver, Mommy and Daddy, they all belong to the many working trains in the Thomas the Tank Engine series.

We thought this was so sweet and just had to share!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ward Party 2009

I'm sorry this post doesn't have any pictures. I took my camera with every intention of taking pics, but I was working HARD, on my broken foot, ALL DAY. Not even exaggerating on this one. I woke up at 7:30 and it was GO GO GO until 10pm last night. I'm sure you have had a day like that- they are just hard to remember how incredibly exhausting they are. So, yesterday plus my non-sleeping 6 month old and my non-sleeping 3 year old make for one VERY tired mommy- and forgetful. Sorry.

Just to recap:
last year's ward party in Salt Lake was terrible for me.
Food: soggy potato bar with mystery meat in meat sauce with frozen lettuce salad and cold, over-cooked cross cut green beans, and hard roll.
Entertainment: well, when the accordion music began, we left.

This year, I was in charge so we did things Concord style! And it was GREAT!
Food: Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, glazed carrots, homemade rolls (yum!).
Entertainment: nice ward choir program centered on the scriptural story of the Advent.

The story:
I knew what I wanted to do for this party since I got called to the Activities chair in August
I remember my mom and dad cooking (seemingly neverending) turkeys for the ward christmas party every year. I remember assembling salads, serving, working in the kitchen, cleaning up, singing in the choir and generally being involved with every aspect of the Ward christmas party for Concord 2nd ward, pretty much every year. And I loved it. So, when it came my turn to plan the christmas party, I just did what I'd ben trained to do- I threw a ward christmas party like the one's I grew up working in. There must be a gospel parallel here but I'm still recuperating, so don't ask me to think quite yet.

Everything went off without a hitch- thanks to my ARMY of volunteers, because I didn't get a committee that could help me until last sunday.

There was only one thing that didn't happen and that was the background music during dinner- amongst all the things I was thinking about and remembering, I forgot to pick up my ipod which I had loaded with great christmas music. Oh well. NEXT YEAR!

And we added one thing: FAMILY PICTURES! Since we have 3 professional photogs in our ward, I got one to volunteer to take family pictures, since folks were all dressed up anyways, I thought it might be a nice thing for them. They seemed to like it.

We did have one kid that threw up, but he did it at his family's table and not by the food (thank you!) and I don't think it was because of the food.

So, really, it was a success.

Lesson for next time: reduce stress levels by evaluating the tools in the kitchen BEFORE the day to cook. Also, it would be nice to be in the kitchen the WHOLE time, and not have to leave to play for the ward choir. And while I guess I had control over where I would be- since I was in charge- I'll just think a bit about that before hand.

And we came in UNDER budget.

(contented sigh and smile)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We enjoyed our first Thanksgiving holiday in Nebraska, and also as a family of four (!). I spent the better part of two days making everything, but it was all delicious. And, if I may say so, very yummy.
We have forgone the traditional turkey because we're not a big enough family to merit an entire bird- and turkey leftovers are only good for so many days before they become a chore to eat. AND, I don't know how to smoke a turkey like my dad- he's the best! So, instead we roast a duck. This year was SO much better than last year because I'm not preggie, so everything actually smells good! I'm really happy with the way the duck turned out. So, here's what I did- just in case you want to make one too:
Rinse in cold water and dry with paper towels. Pierce skin all over with a fork or sharp skewer.
Make a rub with about 2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper, 2 T orange zest. Rub a dub dub the bird.
Roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan at 350 for about 2 hours. Every half hour, baste with the orange sauce that usually comes with the bird.
You can stuff the bird. I made a Whole Wheat Apple Orange Sage stuffing. It was FANTASTIC, and I'm not really THAT into stuffing.

Anyways, this is the end result of the stuffing:
And the end result of the rest of the duck.
Of course, no feast would be complete without Jaquay Potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, glazed carrots, martinelli's and rolls and for dessert, pumpkin or apple pies!
During the course of our dinner we do a thankful ABC wherein we take turns going through the alphabet finding things we are thankful for. It is sweet to count our blessings this way.

And now, I need to go prep for the Ward Christmas Dinner. It's gonna be delicious!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Oliver's photo shoot

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood- and with the sunlight streaming into my room- which was clean, incrediby- and a sweet happy baby, I just had to take a photo shoot!

My sweet little Oliver.
Such a sunny face!
I love it when his eyes smile too!
And when he crinckles up his nose...
But even a baby can only do so much!
Okay, one last push-up!
My baby is now 6 months old! Where has the time gone?! He is an "independent sitter" now! I can't believe how fast this time has gone. I love you, Ollie Bear.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cute James sayings

We were singing the "pick up clean up" song a couple of days ago and at the end, James said: In the name, Amen. Apparently, we needed to close our clean-up session appropriately.

Also, "trick-or-treat" turned into "purple treat!". I think it got him more candy because every single house just LAUGHED when he said it.

And, we're reading Llama Llama, Red Pajama- but James calls it " mama mama red ma mama". Which we think is also cute.

Thomas the Tank Engine is "Tom-a-dis"
and the piano is "pammo"

I was just remembering that about 1 year ago, James said his first word! What improvement a year's time makes!

And you were right. He talks so much now, I actually ask him to be quiet. Just thought you should know.

Halloween and some Yum

This halloween I had EVERY intention of making James a new costume! But you would not believe how hard it is to find just SOLID red footie pajamas. Seriously. I looked everywhere. Even on eBay. Nothin'. James WAS going to be Dash Incredible- because he IS that fast. Instead, he went as a chef. Again.

Oliver, on the other hand, was VERY easy to figure out! An ear of corn. We're HUSKERS now.
Can you see our pumpkin? Drue wanted to carve something for James that he could read- and ABC was something he could easily identify- so there you go (said in greek accent).
As you can doubtless see, I did not get into the costume experience, and neither did Drue. This is weird for me because I've dressed up for Halloween for every holiday up until this year.
But it's tough being a mom of 2. So, maybe I can get something together for net year. Although, to be perfectly honest, I'm not about to make a great costume for my post baby body- too expensive... and probably not flattering- which is what I'm all about right now.

And now for something completely different.

I made this for dinner last week and it looked so DARN good to me, I had to take a picture. That salad is a French Warm Goat Cheese with Mustard Vinaigrette Salad. SO yum! Salmon and roasted savory sweet potatoes. I'll even share my recipe if you want it...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Martins Hillside Orchard

Today, Saturday, we went to the Hillside orchard once again and for the last time this season. We LOVE it there! When you arrive, there's this GREAT arrangement of pumpkins and cool gourds for a photo op.
This Martins own and run this wonderful, family-friendly, kids-centric, photo-op-abundant farm! They have made it a beautiful place to come and visit- totally free to get in, park and play! They only charge for the produce you carry out! So, they have :
The classic Corn teepee. This is in the Kids area.
Pumpkins EVERYWHERE! James is such a ham.
This is Rocky. He's the family dog and is GREAT with kids! We were the ONLY people there today so James played with Rocky (amazingly not getting even the littlest bit scared of him). Actually, when we pulled into the "parking lot" Rocky followed us in and waited for me to get out of the door so he cold be the first to greet me!:) Gave me warm-fuzzies.
This is why we went today- we needed pumpkins! James gravitated towards the little ones (thank you, lord!)- Drue gravitated towards the cookable ones (yum yum!) and I got a PERFECT carving one:)
My pumpkin boy. Indian name: Dances with Pumpkins.
This is the entrance to just one of the three apple orchards. So cool.
Boy on hay bale with pumpkins. Showing off HIS choice.

Isn't this just so homey and quaint? I love it.
This butterfly garden is now barren. BUT in the summer and early fall it is teeming with the Monarchs during their migration to Santa Cruz!
The entrance to the corn maze. It's short, but always fun!
See how GIANT those pumpkins are next to my 3 year old?
This is Mrs Martin. She was so sweet.
We LOVE going to the Hillside Orchard- and we'll be going again at the beginning of next season to pick strawberries!