Hello, friends!! I hope y'all had a wonderful, blessed Easter! We had a beautiful, full day. Two egg hunts, Easter baskets, brunch, and bonnets, service and Sunday supper. Sunday Easter supper. And then we all took naps!
Jack and Amelia fixing to sing with all the children up front
Amelia just before I discovered she was under a pew getting a quick bite of Easter candy before service.
The Easter Bunny brought a few little fun things for their baskets...
Y'all, I just cannot look at this picture without getting tickled. Amelia Kate was just so serious about her gloves and her purse and that hat. Oh my. Jack couldn't take pictures as he was too busy spotting airplanes.
Now that the holiday is over, I suppose I can rest up this week since all of our meals are already prepared. Dozens upon dozens of hard-boiled eggs, egg salad, devilled eggs .... ;o)
... because I'm betting by the time this holiday is over, I will have lost them on account of all the sweets I've consumed.
This past weekend, Jack, Amelia, and I attended a holiday cookie exchange, so I just whipped up these pretty little macarons to take with us.
Only kidding. :o) The beautiful little things are the handiwork of THE Rebecca Masson of Houston's Fluff Bake Bar.
The pinky red ones are peppermint, and I cannot remember what the white ones are. But they are even better than they look, if you can believe that. Can you see the sparkles on the peppermint ones? The white ones look just like great big pearls. They are incredible!
Mike met Rebecca at an event recently, and he brought me home a box of those macarons, fluffernutters, and these ...
Once again, I forget what he called these, but they are chocolate with some salty pretzels (I think??) mixed in. They are shockingly smooth in texture and , unfortunately for my waste line, irresistable. In fact, we had already both been into this bag before I bowed it back up to take a picture of it. I'm fairly certain there are only two left ... and that is strictly due to will power.
If you live in or near Houston, I would highly recommend these as stocking stuffers. Or party favors. Or whatever else you can think of. I fully guarantee you will not be disappointed!
As for the cookie exchange, I took Neiman Marcus bars or, as they are known around here, Texas gold bars. I think I like the latter name better. Whatever they are called, they are easy as brownies to throw together. I got this recipe from Kiki, and it has never, ever failed me. Or her. And it won't fail you either.
They are made with two cups of pecans and a box of butter pecan cake mix. (And two sticks of butter, a box of powdered sugar, and cream cheese ...)
I did make sure to leave all of them at the party. However, I came home with plenty more sugar.
There's a little sneak peak of my pink kitchen. ;o) I have white twinkly lights on the backs of the counters, and it feels so festive. Everytime I walk in it, I feel like I'm in Nigella's kitchen.
It just makes me want to spend all my time in the kitchen.
But I won't blame it all on the white twinklies. My pink oven is a little bit to blame.
That is what I have said to Mike all along. Poor man. There is no doubt the thought probably crossed his mind to just steal away in the night and leave me in good ol' Georgia. But, thankfully, if that thought did cross his mind, he didn't pay it any attention.
Because he delivered me and Jack and Amelia in Texas.
To be more specific ... Dallas.
It had been our plan for months to settle in a small town outside of Austin, but at the 11th hour (literally), our stars realigned and led the way to Dallas. At the risk of sounding premature, I must declare that I am falling in love with this city! I keep fighting the urge to pinch myself. Because, just in case this is all a happy dream, I sure don't want to wake up from it. We were blessed to have found a little house in one of the old neighborhoods right in town. It is the best of both worlds. I have everything that downtown Dallas has to offer, but I feel like we are living on a quiet, little street in some quiet, little town.
Our neighborhood has turned out to be nothing but wonderful. On the day we moved in, I met more neighbors than I have ever known in all my life. Everybody came over with offerings of help, advice, cookies, dinner, and wine. According to the life-long Dallasites I have met, that is very typical of this area.
Packing up our Georgia home was surprisingly easy. I only cried at the very end when all of the rooms were emptied, and I was doing the last (of at least 5) final walk-throughs.
Just before we rode away, I drug Mike up into the attic to help me write each of our initials on a rafter. I, of course, chose an inconspicuous spot on a rafter way in the back ... but a place that would eventually be seen. Seen, Lord willing, by someone who loves that house as much as we did.
As for our new little abode, I am finding it suits us very well. The first time I saw it in person was just before the moving trucks arrived. I was happy to see I had inherited twelve rosebushes and the most gigantic rosemary plant I have ever seen. The roses are scraggly as all get out, but by nature I am attracted to diamonds in the rough, and I wouldn't have been near as happy about those roses had they been perfectly manicured.
Like the outside, the inside of the house has proven to hold other little pieces of charm...
I also happened to inherit a pink kitchen. Yes, pink. Mamie pink. A 1950s Mamie pink kitchen, y'all. And well, it just deserves a post all it's own.
As for Jack and Amelia, they have handled the move without any hiccups. They have big neighborhood full of sidewalks, a backyard with a great climbing tree, and they are sharing a room with twin beds. And they are as happy as clams in butter. As a mother, I don't guess there is anything I need beyond that.
The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite times of year, probably because it is smack dab in the middle of the best season of all the year (summer) and because I consider myself very patriotic. Though I will be the first to admit to taking for granted (and sometimes not even recognizing) my freedoms all too often.
We had friends over for the day for grilling and fireworks. The kids played in the water and on the slip 'n slides, while we all got to visit. We fixed ribeyes and my favorite grilled chicken with a maple-bourbon glaze. It is the best!
The adults also played MR. FREEZE!
It was enormously entertaining! Everybody draws a slip of paper, all of which are blank except one that says "Mr. Freeze." Mr. Freeze then has to freeze at some point, and each person freezes as soon as they notice that he is frozen. The last person who notices must (fill in the blank) . Then we would collect and redistribute the slips of paper for the next round. It sounds so simple (well, um, because it is), but it is very fun. :o) I wish I had pictures of people playing the game, but I was either laughing too hard or frozen (and trying not to laugh too hard). I must point out that Mike was almost always the last to notice. And I may or may not have told him that explains a lot. Ha! I love him. :o)
THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE WHO SECURE AND PROTECT OUR FREEDOM!
"I have found a friend in Jesus,
He's everything to me.
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.
The lily of the valley,
in Him alone I see
all I need to cleanse and make me fully whole.
In sorrow, He's my comfort.
In trouble, He's my stay.
He tells me every care on him to roll.
He's the lily of the valley,
the bright and morning star.
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul."
- Old Gospel Hymn
Happy Easter weekend, friends!
I had good intentions of posting about our Christmas festivities before the turn of the new year, but I suppose I just got too busy living life to actually talk about it. And so, for the sake of posterity, I will post about the Christmas of 2010.
Firstly, this has been the hands-down "funnest" Christmas ever. As fun as the Christmases of my own childhood were, I daresay they are even better know that I am a mother. I remember momma being giddy around this time when we were young. Giddy is not a word that would otherwise describe momma, but come Christmastime ... momma was giddy. This year, I would call her and tell her that I know now that she wasn't crazy back then, just having a real good time. :o) Christmas really is "the most wonderful time of the year."
We baked and ate heavily. We consumed dangerous amounts of snowballs, sugar cookies, fudge, and store-bought candy canes.
To counter the sweetness, we each ate our weight in sausage balls, which really have nothing in particular to do with Christmas but everything to do with all holidays.
And don't forget the oyster stew.
This year, our home saw more twinkly lights buried in green boughs than ever before. I love the glow of tiny lights. I am not the only one who falls victim to its allure.
One evening, while Mike was bathing the babies, I set up trees in each of their rooms. Just small ones, nothing major ... but, oh my goodness, they loved them. Amelia Kate was always making promises to go directly to sleep if we left hers lit. The first night it was up, she told her daddy it was so beautiful she didn't want to close her eyes. Haha! I love that it doesn't take much to make them happy. I made a big deal out of it, and they just fed off of that. It was truly the greatest.
Jack's tree ...
Amelia's tree ...
Amelia is attracted to all things glitzy these days, so I thought it was only fitting that her tree have some sparkle. Her tree was outfitted with tiny pearl lights, blush pink glass ornaments, and silver and gold extras. Glitz is a total departure for me. So it is glitz with restraint. I figure that little girls deserve a little sparkle just like the big girls every now and then. ;o)
Both Jack and Amelia must have been on Santa's good list this year, because sure treated them Christmas morning.
Santa even dropped off some snow here in Atlanta ... just enough for some tiny snowmen, which is plenty for me.
Our little family's time together at Christmas is so very special to us, and it's something I cherish with all my heart. We have been thrilled to create new traditions and grow closer together in them.
Now that the New Year is in full swing, Mike and I are busy on our resolutions lists and coming up with ways we can help each other see our hopes and dreams. The first one on my list has something to do with watching what I eat, of course. And I'll get right to it ...
right after I eat this celebratory New Year firecracker cupcake...
Happy New Year to all y'all, my sweet friends!
As I have mentioned before, Elfie can get into quite a bit of mischief. Take last night. Do you know that he had put most of Jack and Amelia's presents in my bedroom closet ... and they found them! I immediately ushered them away from the goodies to find Elfie (who was still at his post downstairs) while an un-named master elf hid the toys again. When I returned to the scene with Amelia and Jack, the toys were mysteriously gone. Oooh! I told Amelia she must be doing a good job of being good because it sounds like Santa and his elves already have her presents ready and now they are just playing fun tricks with her. So, today, Elfie upped the ante (for distraction purposes) by hiding baby candy canes in fun spots, getting chocolate all over his face, and leaving powdered sugar footprints all over the counter.
Gracious sakes... :o)
Speaking of crazy elves...
It seems Christmas is creeping up on me faster than ever this year! So this week, I am trying to bake small batches of cookies and candies in order to get my fill before the season is over. Like I mentioned the other day, Amelia is all about some kitchen time these days, and I am taking full advantage of her eagerness. I hope she is always this excited to spend time with me. :o)
Tonight, we made SNOWBALLS!
This cookie is, by far, one of the trickiest recipes I've ever attempted. This is my third year baking them. I have tried various recipes and variations in technique. Every time I put them in the oven, I say a quick prayer. Ha! If you have ever made these, then you know what I mean. If you have made these, and you do NOT know what I mean, then I want your recipe!
As soon as I get a free second, I promise I will post recipes for this and for the other things I've mentioned this week since I have gotten several emails regarding the recipes. I am in a major hurry to curl up and watch the Burgermeister Meisterburger!
Today, we cranked out about three cookie sheets worth of goodies to hang on the tree. Amelia Kate wants so badly to be in the kitchen, so I have been cooking up ways (pun intended) to satisfy her heart's desire. I am so happy she wants to spend time with me there. Although, I am inclined to think that she would take up big with anyone who would let her stand on a stool and mix concoctions in big bowls.
The tree sure smells tasty!