Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas with the Stovers

 Merry CHRISTmas!  Today, we celebrated with my side of the family.  Katie and Sai drove up from Charlotte to spend some time with us.  We missed Andy (currently deployed to Qatar), but it was still a fun time together.
 Family Photo
 Jacob loves this book
 Mr. Sai plays with Emmaline's new puppets 
 Bangles from India (Ellie likes to call them "shingles")
 Little House on the Prairie books 
Who doesn't need more Legos?!
Happy Birthday, Dad!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Our Christmas (Eve)

 After an awesome Christmas Eve service at church and dinner at Burger King with both sides of our family (hey, it was the only place open!), we headed back to our house to do Christmas with the kids. Nathan has to work on Christmas Day, and we didn't think the kids would want to wait until he got home to open their presents.
 Emmaline with her gifts 
Ellie's loot
Jacob's pile
Hello Kitty Legos
A new Nerf gun
 Emmaline loves to play kitchen, so this was perfect for her
Nathan got a video he had been wanting
New running shoes for my new passion

Christmas Eve with the Curleys

We have 5 Christmas celebrations this year.  Today, we spent the afternoon with Nathan's extended family at his Aunt Karen's house.  It is super crowded with lots of cousins, aunts, uncles,  and other family members.  And, it is a great time of conversation, teasing, and fun!   Nathan had to work, so he wasn't able to come until the end, but he was able to get in some visiting before we had to leave to head to the Christmas Eve service at church.  
 Jacob with his gift from Grandma & Papaw Curley
 Ellie loves her new puppy
Emmaline got a kitty

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lemon Thyme Bread

Every year at Christmas, I make some type of edible treat to pass out to friends and family.  I've done hot chocolate mixes, cookie mixes, and this year, I made Lemon Thyme Bread, using a recipe I got from the November issue of Taste of Home Magazine.  My kitchen smelled so good when this was baking.

Lemon Thyme Bread
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. sour cream
1 3/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Powdered sugar

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg.  Combine the flour, thyme, lemon peel, baking soda, and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  Cool completely; sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Yield:  1 loaf (12 slices)

For Lemon-Thyme Mini Loaves:
Use 3 greased 5 3/4x3 inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

For Lemon-Thyme Muffins (or Mini Muffins):
Make batter as directed; fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups (or mini muffin cups) two-thirds full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes (or for mini muffins, bake for 10-12 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean.  If desired, top with your favorite frosting
Yield:  1 dozen muffins or 4 dozen mini muffins

Lemon-Thyme Icing:  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme and 3-4 tsp. lemon juice, as needed, to achieve a drizzling consistency.
Yield:  2 Tbsp. icing

Peanut Butter Fudge

Here's another of my Mom's great recipes.  This is really simple and tastes so much better than anything you'll buy at a store.  You'll have about 2 lbs. of fudge and I usually get 36 pieces out of an 8X8 pan.  Do not double this recipe or the fudge will be runny.

Peanut Butter Fudge

2 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. chopped peanuts (optional)

Combine sugar, corn syrup, milk, and salt in medium saucepan.
Cook over low heat, stir constantly, until sugar dissolves.
Cover pan for 1 min. to allow steam to dissolve sugar on side of pan.
Uncover pan; cook without stirring to 236 degrees.
Remove from heat.  Add butter
Add vanilla, peanut butter, and nuts.
Beat until thickened and loses its high gloss.
Turn immediately into a buttered 8x8x2" pan.
When completely cool, cut into squares.

This can be stored for 2-3 weeks in a tightly covered container with wax paper between the layers,
 so the fudge won't stick together.


You can't live in Ohio and not have a recipe for these tasty treats.  A recipe makes 125-150 buckeyes, depending on the size.


Peanut Butter Balls:
1 lb. melted butter
2 lb. peanut butter
3 lb. powdered sugar

Mix above ingredients and roll into balls the size of buckeyes (about 1 Tbsp.).  
Refrigerate for about 2 hours.

Chocolate Coating:
24 oz. chocolate chips
1/3 bar paraffin

Mix chocolate chips and paraffin in a double boiler until melted.  Don't add too much paraffin or the chocolate will be too runny to coat the peanut butter balls.
Dip the refrigerated balls into the chocolate mixture with a toothpick.
Place on wax paper and refrigerate.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peppermint Fudge Cookies

I found this recipe a couple of years ago, though I can't remember where it is from.  These taste just like the thin mint cookies that the Girl Scouts sell.

Peppermint Fudge Cookie

3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted and cooled
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 pkg. Andes creme de menthe chocolate mint chips
1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, shortening, vanilla, and eggs with electric mixer on medium high until smooth.
Beat in melted chocolate. 
On low speed, beat in flour and baking soda until well-blended.
Reserve 1 c. of the mint chips.  Stir in remaining mints and the chocolate chips into dough.

On ungreased cookie sheets, drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.

Baking 10 minutes or until centers of cookies no longer look moist (do not overbake).  
Immediately sprinkle with reserved mint chips.
Cool one minute; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks.

Makes about 6 dozen.

Melting Dreams

I've had several people on facebook ask for recipes that I'm using this Christmas, so I thought I would post them here for everyone.

These shortbread cookies are one of my favorites.  I think my mom found this recipe in the local newspaper several decades ago and it has become one of our Christmas food traditions.  They really do melt in your mouth, hence the name, "Melting Dreams".  One recipe only makes about 2 dozen cookies, so I always make at least a triple batch.

Melting Dreams (Shortbreads)

1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. corn starch
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. butter (you must use salted butter for the right taste)

Mix dry ingredients together.
Cut in butter w/ pastry blender and then use your hands (The warmth of your hands helps blend the butter thoroughly, though if the butter is soft enough, I've discovered that my kitchen aid mixer does just as well.)
Shape dough into a large ball.
Use 1 Tbsp. of dough and roll into a ball.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Make a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie with a fork.
Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or until bottoms are light brown.  Do not  let the tops brown, or the cookies will be too done.


Daddy's Christmas Present

Nathan has been wanting some sort of backyard fire pit type thing for quite some time.  He went on a call this week for work and the person at the call was selling her chiminea.  So, Nathan bought his own Christmas present.  It's not all he's getting, but I could get used to him doing the shopping!  And, this way I know he's getting something he really wants!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Outfits

Nathan's Mom bought the kids' Christmas outfits this year.  I wasn't too keen on the pink color of the girls' dresses at first, because it isn't the traditional Christmas red or green.  They grew on me though because the girls' love their fancy dresses and they look absolutely adorable.  Jacob is getting to be pretty handsome, as well...when did my baby boy get so big?
Love them so much!

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 Christmas Ornaments

Our Family Ornament
 Ellie loves wearing her robe and slippers around the house.

 Jacob got his first skateboard this year.

 Emmaline has been working really hard on potty training.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Best Christmas Present Ever

All 3 of the kids participated in the Christmas program at church tonight.  Emmaline sang with the preschoolers and did a great job.  She can't sing most of the words, but she know the motions that go with the songs better than most of the kids.  She really stole the show and made everyone clap after each song they sang.

Jacob and Ellie both had parts in the older kids' program.  Ellie sang a solo and was an angel in the nativity scene at the end of the show.  Jacob played a Wise guy, sang a solo, and was a wise man in the nativity scene.  Everyone did so well and we were really proud of them.  

These shows bring back so many great memories from when I was growing up in the same church and singing in programs on the same stage.  My friend, Emily, and I had solos and various speaking parts in every program from kindergarten through junior high.  I'm hoping the kids will have as many fond memories of these programs as I do!

 Love them so much! 
 Emmaline clapping after one of their songs
 Ellie singing her solo
 Jacob during his solo
 Time for cookies
 Ellie and Emma
Nathan and Jacob

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Co-op Craft Day

Instead of the regular homeschool co-op schedule, the kids had a craft day.  They colored pictures, made ornaments, and had a great time with their friends.  After crafts, we enjoyed a carry-in lunch with the other families.  Lots of yummy food and lots of laughs equals a perfect day!

 Emmaline made an ornament with Mommy's help
 Jacob made one too
 And so did Ellie
 Coloring a picture
 Lunch time
Silly faces
Friends:  Elijah, Elliot, Ellie & Emma