Thursday, December 25, 2008


On Christmas Eve, the boys helped me bake cookies for Santa. They were, of course, made with refrigerated cookie dough, but they're mighty tasty.

Casey begged me to buy these cookies with
Christmas trees on them.

Brett helping out.


As bedtime finally came, the boys both helped get the cookies and milk ready for Santa.

Casey thought Santa would be really hungry.

Brett pouring the milk. No spills.

Needless to say, the boys were very excited for Santa's visit. Casey was so excited he'd fall asleep for a few minutes and then wake up crying because he still had so long to wait. The anticipation was almost too much for him. Brett, he fell right asleep and had to be woken up this morning.

When morning finally came, the boys could hardly wait to go and see what Santa had left for them. I made them wait in our bedroom until I got the video camera ready. Below is video of them walking into the living room and getting a first look at their loot.

I think they were very pleased with their presents and have spent most of today bugging us to help them open them. :)

There were especially excited with Santa's gifts.

We all had a great Christmas. Dan bought me some new pajamas and slippers and a new purse and a hat, scarf and glove set. He has great taste and always does a good job picking things out.

Dan was thrilled to get a version of the game "Pitfall" for the Wii. This was a game he played on his Atari all the time when he was a kid.

I hope all of our friends have had a great holiday and I can't wait to hear about their holidays.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Farewell play date

On Friday night, we had Casey's best friend, Kole, at our house for a final playdate. Kole's family is originally from Texas and they are moving back this weekend.

Casey handled it pretty well. There were no tears and we've promised to let the boys keep in touch via letters and e-mail.

I made a little scrapbook for Kole filled with photos of some of the fun times he and Casey have shared.

Kole's scrapbook.

The boys had a full night, playing the Wii, making things with Legos and eating pizza.

Casey showing Kole the scrapbook.

Playing with Legos.

The Star Wars fans.

Best buddies.

Classroom Christmas

Since Friday was the last day of school, Brett brought home the Christmas presents he made for us and he also got to bring home one of his presents, a stocking that was filled with little presents and treats.

His teacher asked each parent to send in a stocking with their child's name on it and 25 little items to put in each stocking. I sent in snowmen pencils I bought at Oriental Trading.

Brett and his stocking

I was really impressed with all the neat items that filled the stocking. Some parents really got into the project.

My friend Janette bought these cute Christmas figures.
She took a photo of each child and filled the frame.

Here's a large candy kiss.
Casey's eyeing that one.

Brett with all his loot.

The other neat idea his teacher had was to create a photo Christmas card from the class that was sent to each student's house.

Brett's class Christmas card.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another visit from the Tooth Fairy

Tonight, Brett lost his seventh tooth while he was eating a Christmas cookie, so I guess we'll be having a visit from the Tooth Fairy.

Since I don't carry cash, I'm thankful the Tooth Fairy takes care of giving the boys their dollar bill.

Brett and his tooth.

A visit from Nana and Papa

My parents came to visit last week to see the boys before Christmas. We've had a great week filled with lots of good cooking.

On Sunday morning we exchanged presents with them. The boys were almost vibrating with excitement about getting to open their gifts. I'm afraid to see what they'll be like on Christmas eve!

Nana Doris opening her new pajamas.

Nana Doris with Brett and Casey.

The boys with Papa Louie.

Casey opening his new Star Wars DS game.

Brett got a new baseball game.

Aren't they sweet?
Yeah, right!

Christmas luncheon

On Friday, we had our department Christmas luncheon. We usually have a great meal at one of our managers' houses and a white elephant gift exchange.

This year, we went to my boss' house, where we had quite a spread...turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, homemade corn bread and tons of different desserts, including a tiramisu I talked my dad into making for me.

Here's my plate.
Funny how it ended up looking like a wreath of food.

After we ate, we began the gift exchange. This year, Melissa ended up with the number one, which traditionally isn't the best number because you don't get to steal a gift or swap for another one unless someone steals yours.

She sort of ended up having a lucky number (and good taste), because she was forced to pick a new gift at least three times since people swiped hers.

Gift number one: a snow globe that played music

Gift number two: a recharging desk for electronic gadgets

The Christmas wine glass charms she finally ended up with.

The guys always end up with the funniest gifts; usually something they'd never pick in a million years. Most of the time they take them home for their wives.

Dan with kitchen towels and candy.

Harry with a plush dog that danced and played music.

Phil with a decorative ball made of seashells.
I ended up taking pity on him and swapped
with him since I have a beach-themed bathroom.

Monday, December 8, 2008

By popular demand

I have altered the post below by adding the recipes for the goodies shown.

I will wait to post the recipe for my Christmas bark until later!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Recipe swap

Today I was invited to a recipe swap at my friend Julie's mother's house. I've never been to one, but since I bake Christmas gifts for my co-workers, I was hoping to find a few new recipes.

I wasn't disappointed. Nine ladies met and swapped recipes. There were some really great treats.

Coconut almond bars


3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups sweetened coconut
1 3/4 cups Eagle brand condensed milk
1 cup sliced almonds

Bake at 350 degrees in buttered 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper. Mix crust, pour into pan and press into bottom. Mix topping except for milk and spread over crust. Pour milk evenly over mixture.

Bake 30-32 minutes until golden. Cool, then cut.

Butter pecan fudge


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup pecan halves, coursely chopped
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

In large, heavy saucepan, combine butter, white and brown sugars, cream and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Stir in confectioner's sugar until smooth. Fold in pecans.

Spread into a buttered 8-inch square dish. Cool to room temperature. Cut into 1-inch squares. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

S'mores bars


1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter/margarine
(1) 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass).
Mix crumbs and butter. Press on bottom of 9x13 dish. Pour sweetened milk over crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, nuts and marshmallows.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cranberry Hootycreeks


1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet.

In large mixing bowl, beat together butter, egg and vanilla until fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together until blended.

Drop heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets, them remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Peanut butter bars


2 cups peanut butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, margarine and brown sugar. Press into 9x13 pan.
Bake at 300 degrees for 5 minutes. Frost with chocolate chips to cover the top.
Let cool and cut into squares.

Oreo bon bons


One package reduced-fat Oreos
One package low-fat cream cheese
Chocolate or white chocolate almond bark

Blend Oreos in food processor until fine. Mix cream cheese and oreo powder with mixer. Use a tablespoon as a guide to form uniform balls. Let harden in freezer.

Melt almond bark in microwave. Dip balls in chocolate and put on wax paper to cool. Sprinkle with holiday sprinkles or drizzle with contrasting chocolate.

(This recipe also works well with vanilla and mint Oreos.)

Bonus Recipe:

English Toffee

Melt together:
1 cup butter (no substitutions)
1 cup packed brown sugar
3-4 teaspoons vinegar

Cook in saucepan until at hard crack stage (using a candy thermometer).

Pour into parchment paper-lined pan (8x8 or 9x13 for thinner toffee).
Cool. Break into pieces.

We each got to vote for our top three choices, and prizes were awarded. My Christmas bark actually won first place!

I got this really cute Christmas cookie candle.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wishes for Santa

The Wichita Eagle has a new feature on for Christmas. You can upload a video of your child talking about what they'd like Santa to bring them for Christmas.

Here are the links if you'd like to see Brett's and Casey's videos.

Friday, November 28, 2008


We drove to Kansas City on Wednesday night to spend Thanksgiving with Dan's family. It was a quick trip up and back since Dan had to work on Friday.

This year, we decided to eat at a restaurant instead of having his parents cook, since Dan's dad recently had back surgery. Dan's brother made us reservations at a new restaurant and it was great.

The Sawmill restaurant.

There was quite a buffet.

The buffet was great. They had anything you could want for Thanksgiving, even some things I didn't expect like waldorff salad, noodle cassarole (a nod to our Jewish relatives), and sweet potatoes with homemade marshmallows. It was all delicious.

Casey and me.

Brett and Dan.

Our niece Lily and Casey.

Casey enjoying dessert.

The Loving cousins
Sophie, Lily, Brett, Casey and Maggie

After dinner, Nana Harla had all the grandkids help her put together a gingerbread house. She's very brave! :)

Sophie, Brett and Nana Harla.

Casey and Maggie decorating a cookie.

Lily with her cookie.

We left Kansas City at about nine to drive back to Wichita. It was a long day, but lots of fun. As you can see, it really wore out Casey and Wanda!

Casey and Wanda on the drive back.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gingerbread Junction

On Sunday, Casey and I went to Gingerbread Junction, a fundraiser for the Assistance League, where you get to make your own gingerbread house. Brett is still a little under the weather, so he stayed home with Dan. We went with Kathryn and Lauryn, who also joined us last year.

This is the second year we've gone and it seemed a little easier to make the houses. This year they had much better "glue."

I love looking at the professional houses people make for charity. It's amazing what some people can do with icing!

I'd call this a gingerbread manor, not a house!

This had an ice theme.

This barn was cute.

When we got there, we ran into Denise and her daughter, Lexie, and her mother-in-law, so we all sat together. It seems like the kids' favorite part was taste-testing all the decorations.

Lauryn loved the icing.

Casey working on his house.

Kathryn and Lauryn.

Denise and Lexie.

Casey and his house.

Lexi demonstrates the best way to clean
your hands after decorating your house.

Casey and me.