Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas: Part 2

Hi Friends! Hope everyone had a great Christmas holiday. Can you believe tomorrow is New Year's Eve already? I feel like time has flown by this year. It really is true that as you get older, life passes much more quickly. Good thing I have a great camera to capture the moments.

Real Christmas morning, with perfect little kid bed head:
Watching videos with Uncle Mike and cousin Brooks
Cousin-pa-looza in the bathtub. They will really hate this picture when they are in their teens!
Fixing cars at the shop. Yes, he is sitting in the engine of the car. No, it is probably not safe, but we all did it growing up and we are no worse for the wear!
Riding motocycles at the shop. Could Cullen be any more of a boy??
DC at twilight
Successful visit with family!

It has been another wonderful trip, but I am admittedly ready to get back home and get back into a routine. The past six weeks have been a little nuts- I think it will be good for all of us.

How was your Christmas?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Since on Christmas, our little family will be with our really big family up in DC, husband and I decided to have Christmas morning for baby boy yesterday. I never realized what a big deal this must have been/be to our parents until I couldn't sleep the night before because I was so excited to see Cullen's reaction in the morning. There is something indescribably special about the anticipation of Christmas morning from a Parent's point of view; all the sudden our mother's desires to be with us on Christmas (as adults) make a lot more sense. (In fact, I could write an entire week's worth of posts about entitled Things About My Childhood that Make Sense Now that I am a Mother, but I'm not ready to admit all of that quite yet.) So 'Christmas morning' arrived and at 6:15, we heard baby boy squirming in his crib. We waited to see if he noticed that Santa had left his stocking in the bed, a tradition of husband's, but all we heard was "Momma! Dada!" and into his room we went. We brought the stocking back into our bed, but Baby Boy apparently takes after his mom a little bit and isn't quite ready for anything before his morning coffee..err.. milk.


Fast forward 20 minutes, Momma and Dada had their coffee and Baby Boy had his milk and english muffin and back to Christmas morning we go. C was a little unsure about unwrapping gifts at first, but caught on pretty quickly that there was awesome stuff underneath that pesky paper.





That afternoon, I took a hand at my own family traditions and made sugar cookies with C. My mom always made Gingerbread houses with us, completely from scratch, from my grandfather's bakery recipe and while I know I am not ready for that, I was admittedly pretty proud of myself for putting on an apron and finding my rolling pin. I even made my own icing, which is a big deal because I really hate baking. My friend Cate put it perfectly, when she told me 'You are Martha Stewart, but the jailbird one, not the magazine one.'


I think jailbird Martha and C$ did a pretty good job for our first attempt. And the cookies were really good, at least while they were warm anyways...after that, they were really hard. O well, it was still fun!

All in all, it was a wonderful day and made us excited to continue the Christmas celebration with our extended families over the next few days. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

C-Monday

No words, just pictures. I think they say enough.





Have a great Monday!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Music

Husband and I agree on a lot of things but Christmas music is not one of them. On Christmas morning in his house, he and his 4 siblings had to wait at the top of the stairs and then come down one by one to Bing Crosby's "White Christmas". This was after of course, the night before, snuggling up together watching It's a Wonderful Life and sharing at dinner what blessings they were most thankful for that year.

Growing up, if my parents made us wait at the top of the stairs, it probably would have turned into some sort of competition to see who could get down the fastest. And being that I have already explained that my brothers had a turf field in the basement, and we used to jump off our deck into a pile of leaves, you can imagine that Bing Crosby wouldn't exactly be a crowd favorite. We preferred really endearing holiday music traditions like when my grandfather used to line us up and have us sing "Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer"... to my grandmother. And we loved every second of it. Meanwhile, while Kev's family were in their holiday sweater finest, heading to the Church Choir Concert, my family was off to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show, but only the half with the electric guitars and fire. Our family's favorite Christmas movie was Home Alone, and there might have been once or twice when we set up traps like Kevin McCalister's in our basement. My poor mother.

Anyways, when we were little, my parents had a CD entitled A Very Special Christmas. It is what we played every Christmas morning. Here is the song list (the ones in bold were our favorites):

1."Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" - The Pointer Sisters
2."Winter Wonderland" - Eurythmics
3."Do You Hear What I Hear?" - Whitney Houston
4."Merry Christmas Baby" - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
5."Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" - The Pretenders
6."I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" - John Cougar Mellencamp
7."Gabriel's Message" - Sting
8."Christmas in Hollis" - Run–D.M.C.
9."Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" - U2
10."Santa Baby" - Madonna
11."The Little Drummer Boy" - Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
12."Run Rudolph Run" - Bryan Adams
13."Back Door Santa" - Bon Jovi

14."The Coventry Carol" - Alison Moyet
15."Silent Night" - Stevie Nicks

Husband didn't even know Bruce Springsteen and Run-DMC had Christmas songs. It is a travesty really. So this year, as we realize C$ kinda knows what is going on, and we try to decide what of our past family holiday traditions we want to incorporate into our new little family's life, our Christmas morning music might be the most eclectic mix of all. Although I maybe I will spare my mother getting a concert from her grandchild about getting run over by a reindeer. Maybe.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

All I Want (Be)For Christmas

Is a shimmery skirt!
The other day, I was wasting time photo stalking on facebook when I came across pictures from my dear friend LA's Christmas shower where she was rocking a sequenced mini in the most classy way.

LA is one of those really fabulous people who looks completely and awesomely put together in every situation. When we were roommates in college, I used to sit on her bed and creepily watch her get ready because it fascinated me. She literally rearranged my outfit for me every Friday night. And even though I don't have her knack for style, nor will my lip gloss ever stay on for more than 5 minutes or my hair be voluminous, a girl can dream right?

So now I am thinking I need a fun skirt to make look grown up with black accessories.

Like LA's version from jcrew:
Or this very versatile one (one sale!) at Ann Taylor Loft:
A pink-hued sparkler from Banana:
A pleated version from Urban Outfitters: Or the cheap one from Forever 21:
What's your favorite holiday accessory? I can't get enough sparkle! Thanks for the inspiration LA!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Few Things

1. On Sunday, we took Baby Boy swimming at our Y, but the only way we could get him to not be scared of the water was if he was wearing his 'swim muscles.' Our over-enthusiasm for Sunday's swim muscles carried into Monday, as Cullen insisted on wearing them around the house. Even at dinner.



2. I made Kelly's Chicken Brushetta Bake for dinner last night. O-my-yum. Everyone should have this recipe on hand. Not only was it delicious and healthy, but also super easy and hands off cooking. Love it! Thanks Kel!


3. Is anyone else so happy that How I Met Your Mother now comes on at 7 and 7:30 every night? Every time I think about being a mature adult and watching the world news, I watch re-runs of Ted and the Crew and decide that learning to be awesome is way more important instead. Sad?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I'm Back

Hi Friends! Hope you had a great week and enjoyed my guest bloggers! Please be sure to visit Alysa, Martha and Kelly to tell them just how awesome they are. Thanks for your help girls!

So...where have I been? Husband and I had grand plans of catching a military hopper flight over to Europe and spending a few romantic days in Paris and Germany while Baby Boy hung with his grandparents in DC. We did not make it... you can read more about why not at Three Little Army Wives. After deciding to give up our hopes of Europe, but not wanting to forgo our little vacation, husband and I checked in to the Gaylord National Hotel (DC's version Opryland) and started on plan C/D/F. Refusing to let the flight situation get us down, we enjoyed sitting on our balcony overlooking the atrium of the hotel and DC in the background.

We even visited with the Grinch to get some tips on how to still have Christmas spirit despite our plan not working out.
After a little research, we decided to head out on Monday to the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, PA. A-w-e-s-o-m-e decision. It was beautiful and so relaxing.

From the Christmas decorations
To the inviting fireplaces
And the comfy tavern bar
A fancy dinner (also, I cut 4 inches off my hair and dyed it dark redish brown..thoughts??)
Our very own bonfire
And just enough snow!
We enjoyed every second of this little getaway. We have already discussed going back. And with a $77 a night military rate, I wanted to high five everyone at this gorgeous, historical hotel.

After three days in Bedford, we decided to head to our version of 'Germany', the Bavarian Inn in Shepardstown, WVa. The reviews on tripadvisor were all so positive, stating that the rooms were elegant and European and the food was to die for. Turns out, tripadvisor LIED. Yall, I can't even begin to explain the fit of giggles that ensued as was checked in to our room. The hotel was built in 1994 and literally hadn't been updated since. The entire bathroom was pink and ceramic. The brass accents and bad stenciled popcorn walls were cringe-worthy. The 'fresh fruit' in our room was 2 apples from the grocery store. I mean, I am talking bad, bad. bad. Realizing we would not be able to sit in the room until our 7pm dinner reservations, we opted to head to Charles Town to the casino to do a little gambling. We stayed for 30 minutes, lost $60 and decided everyone there was in a funk of ciggarete smoke and despair. I have never been to such a brightly lit, sad place in my life. I didn't even take any pictures because Daffodil's is supposed to be a happy blog!

Back in Germany, we got ready for dinner, which turned out to save of stay. Our waitress, who we named Doris, (I think her real name was Pamela, but it didn't suit her) was the funniest old lady I have ever met. I am pretty sure she wanted to take Kev home. She even insisted they take a picture together after stating 'You just can't keep good lookin' down."

As we left, she gave him a hug and I'm pretty sure felt up his arm muscles. I did manage to convince her to take a picture with me in it, and she begrudgingly obliged.
By Friday, we were grateful to head back to Winston, happy to reunite with Baby Boy and really, really glad we weren't stuck in Europe trying to get a flight back.

So while it wasn't the trip we planned, we had a wonderful time. I love my son and my family and friends, but I love so much to spend time with just Kev. We feel very blessed we get so many opportunities to go places with just each other, and this trip will definitely go down in the history books as one of the best and the most hilarious.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tis the Season: 3 Favorite Cold-Weather Recipes

Hi, friends of Kate's and happy holidays! I'm Kelly, Kate's friend from college (War Eagle!) - i'm also a fellow blogger over at Fitting Back In (where I write about running, reading, weight lifting and life) and Healthified Kitchen (where I post all of my recipes, meal plans and "food stuff.)

I don't know about you guys but I'm SO feeling this holiday season. To be honest, I wasn't feeling it last week. I just wasn't in the mood, the weather wasn't cold enough and I didn't even feel like shopping. True story. However, I spent Monday - Wednesday in Chicago and am in the full-on Christmas spirit now, and have enjoyed ordering gifts for my loved ones and writing letters to friends and family. Ah. Tis the season. One thing i'm also TOTALLY feeling is chili. Soups. Cold-weather eats. My goal for this weekend? To stay in and cook a few soups, freeze them and have them ready to eat with a quick defrost! Yes, this may sound VERY lame, but to me it sounds like a wonderful chill weekend, the calm before the storm that will be our upcoming travels. Anywho, enough rambling, here are my 3 favorite soups/chilis - I hope to make them all this weekend! Enjoy!
Buffalo Chicken Chili
Recipe from My Bizzy Kitchen
Makes 4 servings

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 stalks celery, diced
½ large red pepper, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
2 ½ tbsp of chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
½ tbsp paprika
¼ cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) black beans, drained
1 (15 oz) chili beans in sauce (do not drain)
salt and pepper to taste
4 tbsp fat-free sour cream
Jalapeno, sliced thinly

Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours. Shred chicken with two forks. Divide into four servings and serve with fat-free sour cream and jalapeno slices.

Nutritional Information (including sour cream): 417 calories, 55 carbs, 3 fat grams and 40 protein grams.

Review: So good. Spicy but cool, flavorful, filling and I really felt like I was eating something really bad for me – but it’s not! I used all of Biz’s stuff – just cut it in half and decided to use the slow cooker...and was lazy and didn't puree the celery, garlic and red pepper!

Recipe by Gina’s Weight Watchers Recipes
Pasta Fagioli
Makes 4 Servings

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, small to medium size
½ tbsp minced garlic
1 celery stalk, diced
1 15 oz can cannellini beans
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 large bay leaf
1 tbsp basil, dried
1 tbsp parsley, dried
1 tsp oregano, dried
4 cups fat free chicken broth (or 2 cans)
2 cups water
Sea salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. small pasta (I used mini fusili)
8 tsp grated parmesan cheese
40 grams fresh mozzarella, grated

In a deep pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Blend can of beans with one cup water in electric blender until smooth. Add blended beans to pan then add the tomato sauce, celery, chicken broth, basil, bay leaf, parsley, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water and bring to slow boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Add pasta and cook uncovered until pasta is al dente, according to pasta directions. Ladle soup into bowls, remove bay leaf, and top each serving with 2 tsp grated parmesan and 10 grams fat free mozzarella.

Nutritional Information: 418 calories, 70 carbs, 9 fat grams and 20 protein grams.

Review: You guys! It was so creamy and fabulous like MELT in my mouth. I can’t wait to make this again and make more of it. Me and my husband are officially obsessed with this new, rich, filling recipe.

Creamy White Chili
Recipe adapted from My Kitchen Café
Makes 6 Servings

20 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup onion, diced
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 tbsp olive oil
2 15.5-oz. cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-oz. can chicken broth
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies 1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
Optional: fresh cilantro for garnish

In a large saucepan, saute chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and cream. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: 384 calories, 27 carbs, 15 fat grams and 29 protein grams.

Review: Wow. The sour cream + whipping cream base really make this soup taste sinful. The can of green chiles adds a nice kick, but it's mild (add a second can for even more!). There is nothing I would do different. The serving may not look huge but it packs a lot of protein with the chicken and beans and kept me full for hours.

Q: What's your favorite cold-weather dish? I'm just all about some soups and chilis! Risotto and casseroles sound great, too! :)

Q: Are you in the holiday spirit? How is your Christmas shopping coming along? I'm almost done... yay!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Cheap and Easy Christmas Decorations

Hey friends of Kate's! I'm Martha and you can find me over at marthametzler.com.

I decided to write about an easy Christmas decoration that you can do in a quick jiffy and save some money! It'll add a little pizzazz to your table or mantle, take your pick!

Take a hike with your sweet family and grab some good, sturdy pine cones on your walk. Take them home and dust off any dirt that's on there.

Now, pick out your favorite glitter colors, I chose silver and gold. Martha Stewart has some killer bottles at Michael's. I got some spray adhesive from the craft store as well.

Lay the pine cones out on a covered table (or you can do it on your kid's craft table and blame the mess on them) and spray with the adhesive. Then glitter those cones as if you were making Mariah Carey proud!

I chose to display them on some silver cups and candle holders and add little stars as shown below:

I hope you enjoyed this little craft and stay happy this holiday season!



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Time Traditions

Good Morning Daffodil-ers!

I am so honored to be able to guest blog on C-Monday, whilest our friends Kate and Kev are off on their European adventure. What's ironic is that in my life, I am currently keeping a blog regaling the tales of my travels in India, so I should be good at this right? Wrong. My instructions from Kate are to share something holiday-esque like a recipe, decorative inspiration, or fashion tip. I am currently living out of a backpack, moving homes every two nights, and have eaten every single meal out for 90 days. Needless to say, I have been staring at the screen with my hands in keyboard position waiting for inspiration. I have realized how thankful I am to have a creative friend like Kate for the days when I am going to have to actually match a lamp to a comforter or make an appetizer that does not have the words "bagel" or "bites" in the title. So after some contemplation and brainstorming, I have decided to share some of my favorite Christmas time traditions with you all.

1) Wrapping Gifts with Jane Austen

While most people grumble about the time and energy it takes to wrap everything you have purchased for your loved ones, wrapping gifts is probably my favorite holiday tradition. There is something therapeutic about the rhythm of wrapping; and let's be honest, when you are surrounded by all the fabulous trinkets you bought for others, it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. For as long as I can remember, I have been wrapping my Christmas gifts with one of my favorite women, Jane Austen. After hauling all of my gifts and 250 rolls of Snowman wrapping paper into my parents bedroom, I pop the five hour version of Pride & Prejudice into the VHS player, and I get to work. I realize that there is nothing holiday-esque about Pride & Prejudice, but the holidays are about happiness, and nothing makes me happier than five hours with Elizabeth Bennett. If my brother and dad are lucky, I finish my own wrapping in the middle of the third tape (yes...you read that correctly...TAPE), and I offer to wrap their gifts as well. For the record, my parents also have rooms with televisions accompanied by DVD players in their home, but the tradition started with VHS and if I were to change that, it would not be much of a tradition now would it? One wrapping tip I will give you is to try to match your wrapping paper of choice with your personality; it gives your gift an extra kick. For example, when I see Kate over the holidays to give her the souvenir I got her in India, it will probably be wrapped in some paper with skateboarding Santa men on it. The moral of my story is that you can turn the evils of wrapping into some quality alone time. With the right movies, cup of chai tea, and string of mini candy canes, wrapping could turn into your favorite holiday hobby.


2) Christmas Light Displays

You know that house in your neighborhood with 15,000 strings of lights covering every inch of the front exterior of their home; usually accompanied by the entire K-Mart set of life size blow up versions of Santa, each of his reindeer, Frosty, and a giant pine tree? I know you know what I am talking about; every neighborhood has one of them. They are usually referred to as "the crazy house" or "the house with the tacky lights" or "the neighborhood eyesore", but we all know that we are really harboring feelings of jealousy and awe. Without these crazy people, Christmas just would not be the same. Since I was Cullen's age, my family and I have spent one evening every Christmas driving around the Northern Virginia area for hours on end, searching for the houses of crazy Christmas light people. We usually stock the car with delicious snacks and hot chocolate, and pop Bing Crosby into the CD player to set the mood. My brother and I used to keep our eyes peeled out the windows to be the first to spot signs of a crazy Christmas light yard, to which we would scream "FOUND ONE!" Then my family would pull up to the house, turn off the ignition, and stare in immense appreciation at a 450 pound statue of Rudolph. So, this holiday season, get your favorite people in a car and go on a crazy Christmas light scavenger hunt in your local area. If you see any of the culprits, make sure you thank these people for their community service and for sacrificing their child's education for the December electric bill.



3) Christmas With the Right Family

After Christmas dinner at my grandparents home in Perryopolis, PA; our family partakes in the most anticipated Christmas tradition to date...Christmas with the Right Family. All that is required of this fun-filled family game is one gender-neutral gift and a whole lot of Christmas spirit. Basically, everyone sits in a circle around the table, while one person is elected to read the Right Family Christmas Story. In the story, each time the word LEFT or RIGHT is mentioned, you have to pass the gift in that direction. Upon completion of the story, whomever is left with the gift in hand gets to keep it! In our family, my young and sassy cousin usually throws a fit if she does not win, so we end of up giving the gift to her anyways; but the game is a wonderful tradition for us. To play yourselves this year, you can print the story of the RIGHTS here: http://www.angelfire.com/fl2/thisnthat/games/gameright.html



Happy Holidays everyone!