Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Christmas Rundown

Well, Christmas is over for us here at the Kuck house. It was a wonderful week, and one that I really do look forward to every year...but damn, I'd be lying if I didn't say I was exhausted. No matter...I'm home now, with no place we have to be until I work on Tuesday...so I am looking forward to a little downtime. Lord knows the kiddos should be more than entertained, with all the new stuff they have! But all in all, we thoroughly enjoyed the past week with family and friends, and feel truly blessed to have so many special people in our lives. And yes, my blogger friends, that includes you as well. I never anticipated that I would meet so many wonderful people through my blog...in fact, I never thought I would meet ANYONE! So I guess I feel doubly blessed, and I thank you all for stopping by, sharing your lives with me, and commenting on my posts. Can I just say that you ROCK?

But I digress...let's get back to the Christmas rundown. We started this shindig on Wednesday, when Mom, Joe, and Jessie showed up for Christmas Eve. Luke couldn't make it this year, as he had to work on Christmas Eve and on Friday, and being that he has a 6 hour drive, it just didn't make sense. Bummer, though! I made an awesome (if I do say so myself) Christmas Eve dinner and then we went ahead and opened some gifts. Everybody stayed overnight, and hung out on Christmas Day, playing with the kids and watching movies. Jess stayed again on Thursday night, and Dad and Taffy came in on Friday morning. More eating and more gifts...and more playing! We had a low-key evening and then got up this morning to head north to Barry's dad's house. More eating, more gifts, and more playing...are we sensing a theme here????

Anyway, here are a few pics for you...

Barry and Kendall, snuggling on Christmas Eve

Noah, tackling me under the tree...
Whoa! MarioKart!
Kendall and Noah, with their new archery sets. I am in big trouble...

Dad and Barry, holding up the kids' new tire swing so they could try it out...
Kendall, Devin, Noah, and Zach...cousins!!!
Kendall was totally psyched to get her sewing machine. P.S...I don't sew. We may be in trouble here...

Devin and Zach, showing Noah how to set up his new army set. Devin was very much into the "strategy" of things...I don't think Noah was though. He just wanted to drive the tank.
Aunt Amy got a set of Double 15 dominoes, so she sat down with Grandma Luanne to teach the kiddos how to play Mexican Train dominoes. They really enjoyed it!
At 6:30, we were finally back home! I sat down with the munchkins and helped build a big train track so they could play with all the new Thomas stuff. I even let them stay up until 10:00 because they were playing so nice together.Hope you all had a very Merry and Happy Christmas! And I also hope you all get a little R&R this week to recover!

On to the New Year! Bring on 2009!

Just one more...

Just one more family Christmas celebration today, and then I can sit down and blog!!! See you soon!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Baking

My decoration of the day is the Snow House. This was given to us the first Christmas we were in the cabin by our friend Nancy. You can't really tell in the picture, but the roof is covered in glittery snow. A candle goes inside and casts a soothing glow when lit. I always put it on the coffee table in the great room, because I like to light it in the evening. Isn't it cute?
My kitchen has been a flurry of activity the past week or so in preparation of Christmas and all the people who will be coming through. Here's a sampling of what we've been cooking up:
Peanut Blossoms, of course!!

Reindeer Munchies

Molasses Softies

Caramel Cashew Fudge

Russian Tea CakesButtery Almond Crunch

Pistachio Bark

Nothing I make for the holidays is too involved. It can't be, especially if the kiddos want to help, and they most ALWAYS do! All of these recipes are available, if you feel the need to make them. Just let me know!

How's the holiday prep going? Are you all ready for the craziness to commence? I am! This is my favorite week of the year!! Plus, I'm really enjoying not having to get up early to get Kendall ready for school...I'm SOOOOOOO not a morning person! :)




Friday, December 19, 2008

First Christmases and a recipe

This is the ornament that was given to us in 1995 for our first Christmas as a married couple. I'm not normally "into" the Hallmark ornaments, but this was so cute, and a very thoughtful gesture! And who could resist those little mice, anyway?

More firsts...
Kendall's first Christmas...again, a gift. It's a crystal rocking horse. So sweet, and so very, very special!And again, another first...Noah's first Christmas. The pacifier in that little bear's mouth looks just like the one Noah got at the hospital. Too bad he was only into the pacifier for a few weeks. After that he just wanted his Mama... some things never change! This was a gift as well. Looks like a lot of my ornaments were gifts, eh? But sometimes those are the best kind. Look how special these are to us! Every one is a memory! If Teresa were here, we might sit down and cry together!! (heehee...I love ya, T!!!)


Oh yeah, and a recipe, per Wreggie's request...

Stromboli

2 eggs, separated
1 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp oil
8 0z pepperoni
2 c. grated mozzarella
1 can mushrooms
1 loaf frozen bread dough (my fave is Tiseo's from Meijer!)

After separating egg yolks from whites, mix yolks, parmesan, parsley, garlic powder, oregano, pepper, and oil together. This will form a thick paste.

Stretch and roll out your dough into a large rectangle. I usually make mine the size of my rectangular pizza stone, but hey, do whatever size you want! When you get it there, spread the thick paste all over the dough. Then put down your pepperoni (edge to edge!), mushrooms, and cheese. Roll the dough up lengthwise, being careful to roll the toppings, not dump them. After you have it all rolled up, pinch the ends together to seal and roll underneath. Then place the roll seam-side down and in the shape of a horseshoe. Brush with egg whites and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes. I find that it sets up really well if you let it set for 10 minutes or so before cutting it. Serve with marinara for dipping!

So here we are, folks! The weekend before Christmas has arrived! Are you ready? Time is running out! I'm doing quite well, if I do say so myself! I only have two more little things to pick up and wrap, Kendall's holiday party at school, and 3 things to bake today. Also, I have to send out those last minute cards to folks whom I didn't have addresses for. As their cards come in, I send mine out! Also on the agenda tomorrow (after I put in a few hours at work, of course)...Christmas Eve meal planning and another Christmas craft with the kiddos! Should be fun!!!

Have a great day, peeps! And don't forget the Reason for the Season!!! :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A few things...

Ok, ok, since none of you replied that you are simply bored to tears by my ornament posts, here's another one! Well, actually two...
This is Sprinkles Jr.. Sheri and I were out shopping last Christmas, looking for the perfect gift for our friend Sarah when we came across these cuties! They are snowmen made out of ice cream and candies (all fake, of course)!! Of course, we sent one to Sarah...and then I just couldn't help it, I bought one for each of us. Kendall and Noah LOVE them. Each year they pick one to be "theirs". This is Vivian Vanilla....
And as if that weren't enough, we're in full Christmas swing around here!! The tree and decorations are finished, the cards are sent, part of the baking is done, my brother's package is in the mail, presents are all bought and almost all wrapped. We're spending a lot of time listening to Christmas music and making Christmas crafts and reading Christmas books...I LOVE IT!!!! But of course, we still have to eat, so I've also had to find time in there somewhere to cook. Now as of late, it's been nothing fancy....in fact, the other day I made chipped beef on toast. The kids were NOT crazy about it!!! Can you believe that? I loved it when I was a kid!!!

Anyway...I made one of our favorite family stand-by's on Monday. It's perfect for when you don't have a lot of time, but want something yummy and stick-to-yer-ribs!! Say it with me now, folks...STROMBOLI!!!!! It is so easy...I recommend you try it asap!!!

As you can see, I kept the sides ultra simple...just some sugar snap peas and pineapple. I usually make a big salad when we have company, but my kids won't eat salad (what's up with THAT???) so straight-up fruit and veggies it is for us!!! Then I serve the marinara on the side in little condiment cups so they can dip it if they want. It's such a fantastic winter meal...my friend Heather requests it every time she and the kiddos come for a visit!

And remember when I told you about Noah and his response to questioning??? Well, here's the proof, ladies and gents...don't say I didn't tell ya so!!!
video

Oh yeah, and who forgot to mention that you actually have to do laundry and clean the bathrooms and dust and sweep during all of this holiday madness???? Seriously! I guess I thought somebody would just show up and do it all for me....my mistake!!!

I'm off to tackle the growing mound of laundry...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another decoration, and a recipe for Kate...

Is anyone getting bored with my decoration thing? Because if you are, I can stop anytime...just let me know! My feelings won't be hurt...I promise!

Today's decoration is this cute little ornament we picked up a few years ago. Each of the kids has one. It's a tube for your letter to Santa. The kids write 'em out and stick 'em inside, and Santa reads them on Christmas Eve and leaves all their presents under the tree. Well, ok, Kendall writes hers out...we help Noah. He likes to cut out pictures and glue them to the list. Hey, it works!!!

Alrighty, Kate...I know you asked for this last week, but I'm just now getting around to it! Sorry!
Here it is...the most awesome chicken recipe...everyone requests this one when they come for dinner!! Sorry, no pictures - you'll just have to trust me on this one! No one in this house will wait for the pictures to be taken!

Lemon Cream Chicken

1/2 c. + 1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. butter
1 c. chicken broth
1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. whipping cream
lemon slices for garnish

In large, resealable bag, combine 1/2 c. flour, salt & pepper, and chicken. Shake to coat. In a large skillet, cook chicken in butter for 8-9 mins on each side until juices run clear. Remove chicken and keep warm.

Add broth to drippings. Bring to a boil over med-high heat, stir. Simmer uncovered for 10 mins. Stir in 3/4 c. cream, lemon juice, mushrooms. Cook over med-low heat for 5 mins. Combine remaining flour and cream and stir until smooth. Stir into skillet. Bring to boil, cook and stir for 2 minutes until thick. Return chicken to skillet and heat through in the sauce. Serve chicken on a pretty platter and pour the sauce over the top, garnishing with lemon slices.

It's really good with a big green salad and some yummy fresh bread. Try it...you'll like it! I promise!!

In other news...Barry, the kids and I have been diligently working on some of the Christmas gifts we make. I'd love to share pictures, but some of the people receiving them read this blog, so I guess I'll have to wait until after Christmas to share. Just love keeping you all in suspense...LOL!! Have a great day, peeps!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

JK Original

This is a JK original...meaning I made it! A couple of years ago, I saw this at my favorite cross-stitch store and made it for myself because...well, I loved it! And the following year I made like 5 more and gave them away to some of my favorite people for Christmas. Isn't it cute? And anway, I'm all about saving trips... :)

Friday, December 12, 2008

A New "Do"!

There's something you should know about me.

I'm not weird about my hair. And by that I mean that I know it's JUST HAIR. It will grow back, it will look completely different from day to day...and I'm not afraid to do something drastic. I've had some super short hair, and longer hair, and just about everything in between. Just ask Kate, who commented on all my different hairstyles throughout the years. Here we go again, Kate!!!

I've been growing out my hair for a while now...just kind of letting it go and working with it along the way. It was super easy for summertime, and I quickly became a ponytail princess. But here's the dealio...I have very fine textured hair. So even though I really liked my hair longer (it was the longest it's EVER been!), my hair just couldn't hang. It was breaking on the ends and the round-brushing was taking it's toll. So I decided on Monday that it was time for a change! I called for an appointment, and lo and behold, Damon could get me in today!!!! So in I went, with a head full of ideas and a picture of a sassy new do in my purse. Damon thought it was a great idea, and got right to work. The first cut was straight off the back....WOW...what a lot of hair was laying on the floor! He was having a ball, just snipping away and chatting the entire time about how "hot" this haircut was going to be. ("HOT" is his word. No matter what, you will leave Damon's looking "HOT"...)

So anyway, here it is....

Before...

After!!!!
It's really short and stacked up the back...really full and swingy. I really like it, but we'll see if I can make it look that good tomorrow morning!!! You ladies know how THAT goes....

Bring on 2009!!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Little Noah for ya!

Noah and I made molasses cookies on Wednesday, and oh my, are they ever good! We just LOVE making cookies around here!! He was being so darn cute that I took a couple of videos so you can get a little Noah fix for the day. And yeah, I know his hair is super short...we went that morning for a haircut, and she really BUTCHED him!! But he's still cute!!
video


video

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My newest decoration

Our Bunco group has a white elephant exchange for our last gathering of the year. We always set a $10 limit and the theme is Christmas decorations...how fun! I am a stealer. As far as I'm concerned, the white elephant exchanges are no fun if no one steals...so if you want to keep your gift, you'd better hide it well! heehee!!!

This year, I stole Joanne's gift....can you see why?
Isn't he just the cutest little thing? I knew exactly what I would do with him as soon as I saw him! I hung him in one of the great room windows and then used fishing line to hang these sparkly snowflakes I picked up on MAJOR clearance last year all around him. What do you think? Personally, I LOVE IT!!!
Of course, I wanted to know where my friend Jen got him, since I wanted another one for the other window. She said they were at Sam's Club, and I am so excited, because on Sunday I went there and found them! They came in a pack of two, one snowman and one Santa. I guess you'll just have to wait to see the Santa, though!!! :) Maybe tomorrow!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Santa's Magic Key


Santa's Magic Key

Our stockings hang upon a wall.
We have no fireplace at all!
You see the problem is quite clear.
Santa, how will you get in here?

We heard a legend. Is it true?
Of magic only you can do.
We'll leave out any plain old key
and mark it "Santa" so you can see.

Your magic makes the key fit right,
so you can get inside that night.
Thank you Santa, here's our key.
The milk and cookies are on me!

Santa left this for us on the morning of Christmas Eve the first year we were in the new house. Kendall was concerned, you see...because our old house had a fireplace, and this new one didn't. We hung the key on our front door handle and she slept very well that night, knowing that Santa would have no problem getting in to leave her gifts under the tree!

I wrote Santa a letter that year, thanking him for the wonderful ornament and asking where he found it. He replied that his, of course, was an original...but pretty good knock-offs could be found here. :)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Wish List

Last year, I posted my wish list for Christmas, so I thought maybe I'd do the same this year...just in case Santa's reading? ;)

At the top of my list this year is a remote car starter. We didn't get to build our garage this summer, so I am still without. It really doesn't bother me except for the fact that I want all of the tools and "garagey" stuff out of my basement...and of course, I don't like it in the winter! A few years ago, when I was driving my Grand Prix, Barry got me a remote car starter for Christmas. I LOVED it. The car was all toasty and warm by the time I had to load the kiddos up. And even better, I rarely had to scrape my windows! But alas, we sold that car and the remote starter along with it. So, now I need one for my Accord! Santa...are you listening???Have you ever seen the Woodwick candles? My MIL got me one last year, and I thought it was so cool! They have wood wicks, and sound like a crackling fire when they burn. And they smell nice too!!!After hearing Jen and Teresa talk about how much they love the Ped Egg, I have decided I must have one. I can't wait to try it. Plus, my sister was looking for a $10 gift for her white elephant gift exchange with friends, and I told her about the Ped Egg! She said it was a HIT! It got stolen like 3 times!Of course, you know I love Yoga, right? Well, a couple of years ago I bought this book for Sheri for her birthday and have been coveting it ever since. An 8 week program of yoga by Rodney Yee...just what I need to get my butt motivated!
The best concert I ever attended was Harry Connick, Jr. in Dayton, Ohio. What a show! He is so damn hot! Not to mentioned talented and COOL. So, of course, because I NEVER buy CDs, I am asking for his two newest for Christmas!
This year I have been using a lot of fresh herbs when I cook. They make such a difference, but OMG, are they expensive! So I'm thinking some small potted herbs like basil, thyme, flat leaf parsley, and rosemary might be just the thing I need!And of course, what woman doesn't want just a little pampering for herself? I know I sure do!! If I got a gift certificate for a facial, I would pee my pants! My skin could use a little pick-me-up!Do you use cast iron skillets when you cook? If you've never tried them, you should! They are the best cookware I have ever used. I swear, if you treat them right, they are completely non-stick and the heat conduction is second to none! The only problem is that the handles get HOT. So, these little cheapies will hopefully find their way into my stocking!
If you enjoy cooking and do it a lot, a good knife is a must. Unfortunately, I have some really sucky knives. And I have 2 whole knife blocks worth! My dad tried sharpening them last year, but they are just crappy...so I would really love a brand-spankin'-new Santoku knife to use for all my chopping needs!
Here's a little something I just added to my list this week. My MIL was looking for some ideas for me and I had seen these in the new Lands End catalog this week and decided I liked them. Comfy, cute, and I can wear them to work. Although I want them in the desert sand color, which isn't shown here, but you get the idea, right?
That's about it peeps. Oh, there are other things I could come up with of course, like a new food processor, or a 70-300 mm lens for my camera, or a Mickey Mouse waffle iron, or a scrapbooking retreat. But I didn't really ask for any of those things. I really just want to have a little downtime with my friends and family. Some simple gifts...some good food. A glass or two of good wine. Chocolate. A beautiful snowfall on Christmas Eve. Peace on earth.

You know...the things everyone wishes for.... :)

Friday, December 05, 2008

M-I-C....K-E-Y...

M-O-U-S-E!!!!!!

My good friend Amy from San Diego sent us this ornament for our tree either last year or the year before...and it is one of my favorites! Any of you who've been around here for long know how I love Disney.

Love, love, love, love, LOVE IT!!!!

It's the happiest place on earth! It's magical! It's the only place where everyone gets to be a kid again! I would go twice a year if I could...no joke. Every time we've been out to Cali to visit Amy and her family, we go to Disney. It is a MUST. If I get within driving range of that place, it's like a tractor beam pulls me in...I can think of nothing else!

So for a few years now, at Christmas time, Amy sends me some sort of Disney related item. She is the best gift-giver!!! Here are a random sampling of some previous years' gifts:Cloth napkins, embroidered with Mickey

Disney wine charms

Disney Antenna toppers...the Mickey one was on my van, the Pluto on Barry's truck. Unfortunately, my Accord doesn't have an antenna!

The Mickey egg timer

My fave mixing bowls, the middle sized one fell out of the cabinet and broke this spring...I was so sad!

Mickey appetizer plates...need I say more?

As you can see, one of the reasons I love Amy's gifts are because she never sends something ridiculous or tacky just because it's Mickey. The gifts she sends are cool, classic, functional, and well-thought out. Amy is the best, even though she DOES think I'm a tree-huggin', feng-shui, granola cruncher!




 
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