Wednesday, December 13, 2017

O Tannenbaum: Egg Nog

Happy Chanukah everyone! We celebrated the first night last night and it was a success.  Candles,  dreidels, sufganiyot and presents.  But you'll notice there are very few community Chanukah activities.

So instead I'm commemorating the festival ood lights with a different kind of lighting - tree lighting! We've been to three separate tree lightings.  The first was way back in November.

Every year the Old Globe puts on a production of The Grinch every year.  And every year the casts lights the tree at the theater.  I've always wanted to go, but I further it's early and by the time I remember tickets are long gone.

This year I was on top of it, and early November found us gathered around a tree that was already beautiful, even before being lit.

 We stayed toward the back, so we could sit in the grass and munch our complimentary popcorn. When the show started,  we hosted the boys on our shoulders so they could see.

 The cast puts on a little show before the lighting which involves the Grinch proclaiming his hatred of Christmas, only to be won over by Cindy Lou Who and the other Whoville children. We were not in the best position for picture taking, so you'll have to settle for this snap I got of the green guy.

 And then the Grinch lifted Cindy Lou to the switch to turn on the lights.  And "snow" feel all around.  It was pretty magical.

Thatboy complained about how early in the season the tree lighting occurred,  grumbling that it might have well been July.

Personally, we wait for tree - related celebrating until after Thanksgiving. The weekend after we stuffed ourselves with turkey we headed to pick out our Christmas tree.

The boys quickly fell in love with various trees at the farm.

Finally we found one that Thatboy approved of and while they tied it to the roof of our car, the boys kept themselves buddy.
And then all that was left was decorating and lighting it!

With our tree up,  it officially feels like holiday time. We've traded in apple cider for hot cocoa and egg nog. Lots of egg nog. We quickly ran into a problem, finding that the containers of egg nog sold at our local stores are finished in a day.

The only solution is to make it yourself. Trust me,  it sounds more intimidating than it is. The recipe itself is easy, but it does need time to sit, so plan in advance.  Also,  this is the kind of eggnog you don't share with your kids!

Egg Nog (from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
12 Eggs yolks
12 Egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 quart heavy cream
1 quart milk
1 quart bourbon whisky
1 cup rum

  1. Beat egg yolks with 1 cup of sugar and salt until very light.  
  2. Beat egg whites until stiff
  3. Beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  
  4. Combine yolks and whites and beat until thoroughly blended.  
  5. Beat in cream
  6. Beat in milk.  
  7. Stir in whisky, beat well.
  8. Add rum.  Pour into a gallon jug and refrigerate for one week.
  9. Shake thoroughly before serving. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Holiday Reading

Both of my kids still do bedtime stories, and if we're being perfectly honest, I do too. Something about being curled up in bed and reading just seems like the perfect way to end the day.

And this time of year,  seasonal reading arms very appropriate.  I can't wait to get my hands on Hiddensee, Gregory Maguire's take on the nutcracker story.

Until then, here are some favorites we're sharing in our home!

For the little guys:
The Hanukah Bear -  I love this story of the best that wakes up from his hibernation and follows the scent of latkes. Because I would do the same thing.

The Night Before Christmas - It's a classic for a reason.  I mean, it gives us the iconic image of Santa.

Just Enough Is Plenty - A family in a Polish shtetle find a way to make their latkes stretch to feed the mysterious stranger who shows up on their doorstep the first night of Chanukah.

The Polar Express - On the cusp of believing? Take a ride on the Polar Express to the North Pole!

Clifford Celebrates Hanukkah - a good introduction to the Hanukkah celebration. Plus Clifford saves the day,  as usual.

For the slightly older:
The Latke Who Wouldn't Stop Screamed - I can't help it.  I love Lemony Snicket.

A Christmas Carol - the original Christmas ghost story. I still remember reading it in school!

A Little Princess- Technically not a Christmas story,  but since the Christmas scene is so magical, I think it counts.

For the kids at heart:
The Gift of the Magi - This introduced and sparked my love for O. Henry.  It's a classic Christmas story, so sweet, and bittersweet.

Matchless - I love the story of The Little Match Girl. Even though it makes me cry.  Gregory Maguire is wonderful at yakking classic stories and retelling them.  This is no different.  And the retelling still makes me cry.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Runday: Jingle Bell Run

My town has a Christmas parade.  It's supposed to be a pretty big deal.  Basketball was cancelled the day of the parade because people would have a hard time getting there.

But we've never had a chance to see it, because it is always the same day as the Jingle Bell Run.  Every year I think about skipping the run, rolling out of bed, and going to the race.  And every year I think about the fact that we've been running this race since before Thatkid was born,  and I don't want to break the streak.

And then we get there, and I remember why we return year after year after year.  It has something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

We dressed up in our festive best and loaded the children in their wagon.

As soon as we got there, Thatbaby spotted Santa.  Thatbaby is obsessed with Santa this year and couldn't wait to go say hi.

The kidzone was, as usual,  filled with fun things for the boys, like cookie decorating, coloring,  and home depot projects.

He also wanted to run the race this year. So we started the race together, with Thatkid running ahead and Thatboy trailing behind with the wagon and Thatdog.

It didn't last long before he wanted back in the wagon, and Thatdog and I took off to catch up with Thatkid.

As usual there were some great costumes.

By the turnaround we were all back together again.

Right before mile 3, Thatkid was ready to take off again and we made a final race to the finish.

Then we turned around and headed back so we could run across the finish with Thatbaby.

After the race Thatboy headed to the beer garden while the kids did some more coloring and ornament making.

See?  Something for everyone.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips

We're very equal opportunity with holidays around here.  Partially because we're an interfaith family.  Partially because we live in an area with various cultures.

So in addition to Halloween,  we also partake in Dia de Los Muertos festivities.  After participating in the Carrera de Los Muertos we headed over to Old Town San Diego,  where they go all out in celebration.

Everywhere you turned there were calaveras and calacas, symbols of the holiday.

There were all sorts of vendors, like Juanita's, who were handing out samples of their delicious soup and frozen hot chocolate.   We already love their Mexican hot chocolate and keep it in our pantry.

There were stages with dancers and performances.  And we sat and watched for a while.

They also had crafts for the kids.  The boys sat and made their own Day of the Dead masks!

If your kids are like mine then you know that most outings like these are filled with requests for snacks.  Or maybe I'm just lucky.

In any event,  my Mary Poppins bag always holds the answer and I throw some snacks in there. Pretzels, granola bars,  or homemade potato chips!

Sour cream and onions are one of my favorite kinds of chips, they seem a step up from regular ole potato chips, but still kid friendly.  And really,  all it takes is a mandolin. 

Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips  (from Cooking Light) 
1 large russet potato cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
1 1/2 tsp dry ranch dressing mix
  1. Arrange one third of potato slices on a large microwave safe plate.  Spray with cooking spray. 
  2. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the ranch dressing mix. Microwaved, covered, for 4 minutes.  Turn over and microwave for another 3 minutes until dried and crisp. Remove from plate and cool on a wire rack. 
  3.  Repeat with remaining potatoes and ranch dressing mix. 

Monday, December 04, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Here We Come A Wassailing

Happy December!

Are your kids as excited about the holidays as mine are? December is the best with kids and we take full advantage.

Holiday music starts playing as soon as Thanksgiving ends.  And my children love to sing along. 

There's nothing that makes the season more magical to me than holiday music.  I have so many playlists, and make more each year!

With that in mind, here are my top 10 holiday songs for kids.  Or,  my kids' favorite holiday songs.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Runday: OC Turkey Trot Gobble Wobble Kids Dash

This year Thatkid has been requesting a lot of races.  One of those races was the turkey trot he did last year.

The great thing about this turkey trot is that it has kids races,  divided by age.  Which means I didn't have to drag him through 5 miles.  Since there was a separate division for 2 and under I signed Thatbaby up to run too - his first actual race he would run himself!

We arrived early,  and it's a good thing we did,  because the race was much more crowded than last year with lines backed up trying to get in the parking lot.  The nice thing about doing a race near where we would spend Thanksgiving is that we missed all traffic getting there.

All the trouble getting in,  and the extra crowds meant that many of the racers started late,  which meant there were too many on the course to start the kids races on time.

We kept the kids occupied as best we could with the photo booth,  but even that lost its Allie and they got antsy.

Finally it was time to line up.  Except the divisions were totally different than what we registered for. Instead of 2 and under , Thatbaby was placed with the 2-4 year olds.  Which made him very overwhelmed and he turned to me and said "mama you run with me?"  And so I did.

When he finished, we hurried over to see Thatkid off as he started his race.

Success for both my little turkey trotters.

Success and pie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Which is the perfect time to recap Halloween, right? Well whether it is or not, here we are.

I wanted to do a special breakfast, but weekday mornings are hard since I get the boys ready for school.  So I incorporated them in breakfast making.  I used Trader Joe's pumpkin rolls and popped them in the oven while the boys and I whipped up some cream cheese frosting.  A little food coloring and we were on our way!

This is the first year that Thatkid was allowed to wear a costume to school, and he took full advantage.

His school had a Halloween parade and it was the cutest thing ever.  I seriously get such joy out of Halloween.  Seeing all the kids dressed up fills my heart with joy.

After school we got ready for trick or treating.

This year we decided to join forces with the kids' best friends and all go out together.

Thatbaby started out with his little friends.  He got so into it.

Eventually his being so into it meant he didn't wait to wait for his slowpoke friends (someone inherited his dad's long legs and quick stride) and he joined the bigger boys in their candy quest.

After we'd hit a fair amount of houses we retired back to home base where the kids sat around and indulged in their spoils.

It was a pretty successful night.

Believe it or not, the boys have barely made a dent in these buckets.  Thatkid donated a pound of it to send to the troops, and neither of them gets more than a piece at a time, usually on a weekend afternoon.  So we'll have leftover candy for the foreseeable future.

And speaking of leftovers, are y'all ready for Thanksgiving leftovers?  For me, this is way better than candy.  In fact, I love Thanksgiving leftovers so much, I made my own!  Last year TMIL spent Thanksgiving with us, and our usual weekend with my mom turned into just spending the day and heading home after dinner.  So no leftover turkey the next day. No leftover stuffing. This year we're doing the same thing.  But this year I'm prepared. Last week I made a turkey, stuffing, the works!  And I have leftovers! Last night we even had burrito bowls made with leftover turkey.  In preparation for our feast I had bought pounds and pounds of sweet potatoes...that I ended up not using.  It seemed overkill to add to the mashed potatoes I had already made for the four of us.  So I also ended up wit "leftover" sweet potato.

Luckily sweet potatoes are easy to use.  A side that goes side just about everything.  A meal in itself with panfried with some sausage or stuffed with ground turkey.  When cut super thin and baked they turn into the perfect crisp accompaniment to sandwiches and burgers.  A great fall alternative to your regular potato fries!

Sweet Potato Shoestring Fries (from Cooking Light)
3 Tbsp orange juice
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch thick strips

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Combine orange juice, oil, ginger, salt, and red pepper in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.
  2. Combine juice mixture and potatoes in a large bowl, tossing well to coat.  Remove potatoes and discard juice.  
  3. Arrange potatoes on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes.