Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Salty, Crafty, and Sweet Christmas {Soft Pretzels... Move over, Auntie Anne's}

The inspiration and recipe for these comes from over here.
Sarah's blog has been one of my favorites for years.  You really need to check out her family-friendly recipes at cooking on clover lane.  Every one I've tried has been delicious.

These pretzels exceeded my expectations.  They are fabulous.  But let me give you a little pep talk first.  For those of you who are afraid of yeast, like I was, and still kind of am... do not be afraid.  When I look at a recipe and see yeast, for some unknown reason, it stresses me out.  I always assume it's going to be more complicated than it is.  If you have a Kitchenaid mixer, this recipe is a snap.  

Here are two things I learned after making my first batch of pretzels.
1.  A teaspoon is a teaspoon and not a tablespoon.  In my first batch, I used 2 1/2 tablespoons of yeast, instead of teaspoons.  Just so you know, they turned out just fine, but were a little yeasty (for lack of a better word) tasting.  Imagine that.
2.  Parchment paper is not the same as wax paper.  Yes, I  sort of knew that, but apparently, when there are 5 little boys running around the house and I'm trying to think, I think thoughts like, "Well, I'm sure there's only a minor difference between wax paper and parchment paper."  When my oven started smoking, I realized my mistake.

Batch 2 turned out perfect.  Since I didn't have parchment paper, I just sprayed my cookie sheets with cooking spray.
This is the finished product.  Yum!  The boys and I ate batch one as a snack, the yeasty ones, without a problem.

I think it's helpful to measure the water temperature.  But my hot tap water was 110 degrees.  Now I know that.

Just let your mixer do the work for 8 minutes.

Put in bowl and cover to let rise.

In about an hour, it looks like this.

Cut in 12 pieces.

Let your kids have a blast making long ropes of dough and form into pretzel shapes.

Deep concentration.

Graham made most of them. 

He really got into it.

This is how they look after your dip them in butter and sprinkle them with salt.
Just like you're at the mall.  Minus about $30.

 Cry Cry tried to make pretzels.

He wanted to do it all himself.

Poor baby.

He wants to be a big boy so badly.

We delivered ours to some friends in the neighborhood. 
It was a good way to pass those lovely hours right before Daddy gets home.

Now go make some pretzels.  I promise, it's fun.
Craft day is tomorrow.  I've never been much of a crafty mom, so I'll let you know how it all goes.

Monday, November 28, 2011

11 Years and Counting {A Late Anniversary Post}

Chris and I have had these conversations about 100 times in the past years.

"Can you believe how fast time is passing?"
"Can you believe that [insert child's name] is [insert age] years old?  Where have the YEARS gone?"
"Did you think that when you met me that this would be your life?"
"Can you believe that God has given us all of these [motioning to kids]?"

Anniversaries, for us, are a time of reflection.  I can remember (I think) where we were for each one.
From our first, sitting at a fondue place in Chicago... 7 months pregnant, the day after Chris ran the Chicago Marathon.  To this one, where we felt so blessed to have stolen a night away when Papa was in town, went to Fireside Pies, Starbucks, a movie, and then to a late-night breakfast (haven't done that since college) at Cafe Brazil.  

I'm incredibly thankful to be Chris's wife.  It's amazing to be with a man whose name is so respected.  The more I know him, the more I'm excited for the years to come... for many more anniversaries to celebrate.

A good name is to be chosen better than great riches,
and favor is better than silver or gold.
Proverbs 22:1

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Christmas Plan {Salty, Crafty, and Sweet}

I'm getting so excited for this Christmas.  We are taking this week off of school because of Thanksgiving.  For the remainder of our weeks until Christmas, I've decided we will only do school on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Flexibility is one of the reasons why I love home schooling so much.  I have to remind myself of that when I hear the school bell ring.  Yes, I'm excited to take some days to do some fun activities with my kids.

Remember 25 Days of Cookies.
{Here is a tray of all the completed cookies, minus I few I forgot to save}

 It was great.  I'm glad I did it.  The boys loved every day of it.  They are asking about what we are doing this year.  I love that after only one year of doing something a tradition has been formed!  But I did want to vomit cookies or anything made with white flour, butter, and sugar after about day 15.  And although it was fun for the kids to make something every day, it wasn't very efficient, and I'm all about efficiency.  I could have made all those cookies in about 2 days of massive baking, and then cleaned up the mess, and called it a day.  Please go back and check out the things we made under the Food tab.

This year, thanks to the creation of Pinterest, we will be doing something a little different. 
On Mondays, we will make something salty and holiday-ish, yet kid friendly.
On Wednesdays, we will do a Christmas craft.
On Fridays, we will make a dessert of some kind... maybe a cake, maybe a pie, maybe a cookie...
whichever way the wind blows.

We hope to, once again, use these as gifts to neighbors, family, and friends.

{Graham about to deliver some cookies to a neighbor last year}

{Asher may or may not get to use the meat tenderizer this year}

{This will get licked more than once}

{And that cute face may bring something to your door}

Of course, I'll blog about the whole experience and let you know how it goes. 
I'll start on Monday.  I've purchased all the things I need for the crafts a couple of weeks ago.  I have lots of ideas of things floating around in my head of what I want to make.  I hope to solidify some things this weekend.  In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

And Happy Birthday to me!  Sorry I couldn't resist.  Don't you hate it when people don't tell you it's their birthday?

See you Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011


This one came out the womb loving coffee.  Maybe it's because one of the few sweet treats I could enjoy while pregnant was an iced coffee from McDonalds.  I had gestational diabetes with him and McDonalds was the only coffee establishment at our little country exit, so for $1.69, I could get a sugar-free vanilla iced coffee.  It was such a yummy treat in those months where every grain of sugar or flour that would touch my lips would make my blood sugar sky rocket.  For all you diabetics out there, it gave me an appreciation for the difficulty of the lifestyle decisions you have to make.  

Anyway, back to coffee.
This is Cry Cry at 11 months drinking his grandfather's Starbucks, just black coffee with a little creamer. The kind that puts hair on your chest.

Drinking it like it was water.

Even today, he begs for a cup when I'm pouring mine.

Being the good mother that I am, sometimes I give him a cup.  Now he asks for it "with milk."

I just love his chubby hands on that mug.

Good to the last drop.  

Always good to enjoy that morning cup with you.
Hope we can enjoy this tradition for MANY years to come.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I'll never make waffles from a box again.

Sometimes I love the world wide web.  After seeing PW's tweet, I had to make these waffles.  They were delicious.  I think the next time I have people over, I will make them for dessert and serve them with whipped cream and fresh fruit (So, who wants to come over???).  The cinnamon and vanilla make them delicious.  I made a double batch because I didn't want to come up short for my hungry boys, and I had this many leftover, enough for the next morning's breakfast.  You can find the recipe here.

In other news, my camera is malfunctioning.  It's taking pictures, but for some reason having trouble with the uploading process.  I need to deal with that, but it's hard to walk into a camera shop to get your questions answered with all the boys in tow.  Target... yes!  But nice camera shop... no!
So here are some recent instagrams.

We've had some colder weather down here in these parts.  Cold enough for hot cider.

Chris took all the kids for a camping trip a couple weekends ago, and after being so indecisive about what to have for my dinner and a movie ALL BY MYSELF, this is what I came up with.  Gross.  Both the pot pie and pizza are reminiscent of my childhood.

Don't you love good garage sale finds.  All of these books (and a few more) for $5.

Along with a PAIR of chairs like this for $25.  How would you recover them?

These guys have my heart.

This is where we spend Monday mornings.

And this is what happens when your brother "drops" a book from the top bunk, accidentally.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Soul Surfer {Bethany Hamilton}

[Cry Cry as Bethany]

We loved watching Soul Surfer at our house. 
My boys loved it.  What's not love?  Shark attacks and bikini-clad actresses :) 
During a long weekend that Chris was out of town,  I think we may have watched it 3 times.  I'm a firm believer in lots of media when the husband's out of town... for sanity purposes.   Then they spent hours with their arms tucked in their shirts surfing on pillows.

At the end of the movie, when Bethany is interviewed, she's asked if she wishes the shark incident would have never happened, and she says, "No, because I've learned I'm able to embrace more people with one arm than I was ever able to embrace with two."

Isn't that the truth?  Our weaknesses can be our strengths.  They endear people to us.  They encourage others to be brave.
Good to know every once in awhile Hollywood can produce something with a good moral lesson.  Get it at the Redbox if you haven't already

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Embracing the Camera {Moments}

I'm thankful for moment like these.  I know this time with these little boys is short.
Soon they will be bigger boys who won't want to snuggle up to their Mommy.
Love these moments with them.

You can Embrace the Camera here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...

I have to say, I'm rather proud of myself.  This may be the first year since kids that I've gotten a little bit of a jump on Christmas.  Usually it's about December 15 when I start to panic.  Maybe it's because my baby just turned 3.  I've been getting good sleep for quite a long time now.  Maybe it's because my sweet husband took all five boys camping this last weekend and left me all by myself (lovely).  One of the things I did was this...

I've loved these collages ever since I saw them on Meg's blog.

Aren't they cute?

  To be honest, I didn't really spent a ton of time on mine, just pulled out photos from Christmas day the last three years.  Why only the last three years?  And why just Christmas day?  Well, the pictures on my computer only date back about three years, and I'm too lazy to go digging into the archives.  And I chose only pics from Christmas day because it helped me narrow it down.  Otherwise the options would be endless, and I might spend hours searching for images that are perfect.  If I love how they turn out, I may  print a collage for each all of our Christmases, which will involve scanning.  I'm guessing I may finish that project when I'm in the nursing home.

Anyway, I'm hoping to hang these from a garland or Christmas ribbon somewhere, maybe the mantle.  I think the kids will enjoy looking at them and discussing Christmases past.

Here they are:

More on Christmas plans for the Wolfe family later.  For now, it's off to bed I go.  This time change has got me tired.