Wow, 2016 already!? I blinked and we went from Christmas-time to post-new year in nothing-flat! A quick re-cap of life since my last Menu Monday:
Remember this project?....
They were super fun and rather easy to make... our first real attempt at anything truly quilting related.
We did have their mugs ready in time. Sorry no pictures. Brooke used a white permanent marker to write message on each mug then baked it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes to get the ink to set and viola! We made Peppermint Hot Cocoa by busting up some candy canes in a Ziploc bag with a meat tenderizer, about one candy cane per 1-1.5 cups cocoa, and placed the finished mixture in a sandwich bag tied shut with ribbon and nested inside her nifty mugs with a candy cane tucked in as well. It looked super fancy yet was so simple!
Our oldest made it home for Christmas and even stayed a day longer than expected on account of a delayed, then cancelled, flight. We played games, they did some post-Christmas shopping (do you like Brenden's awesome hat his older siblings purchased for him?) and just relaxed... something Zach greatly needed after a rather rigorous semester at school (he is a Junior studying financing at University with a multitude of extra-curricular on his plate).
We got a sweet little floppy eared bunny for FREE through the homeschool advertisements. He was aptly named Samwise Gamgee by his new mama and uncle. They felt it was appropriate for his coloring and assumed intent to be a kind and devoted friend. He is Brooke's. He lives in her [and Ashley's] room. Loves music when played by his room-mates, books and homework and waking Brooke up in the morning with hops and nibbles on her arms and nose!
Some really big news....Brooke became a teenager... the last of my four to officially leave "childhood" behind. It was bittersweet. She is really into Paris and French anything. She asked for a beret and anything Eiffel Tower. She also got a a mini shopping spree complements of us, her older sister and her grandma. She bought new boots and purse on a steal of a deal clearance and then visited Michaels to add to her craft supply collection.
It was a fun day but I think the most talked about topic was the cake:
I decided to jump on the Fondant bandwagon since the elegant finished look seemed the perfect approach to a Paris inspired cake. I bought my Fondant at Walmart in the cake decorating isle (adjacent to the greeting cards isle). I did a box of rollable Fondant AND a black sheet for the ribbon around the middle. Honestly, I LOVED the rollable. Not only was it super easy to handle, but the final product was soft and the taste was great. However, I was not a fan of the sheet. The pieces I carved from the sheet were stiff to handle (even after some spritzing [package recommended] which made the color run ) and it was stale to taste. I ordered the Eiffel tower topper from Amazon. It is a sturdy, good quality metal. We were quite pleased with the results. If you have not done a Fondant cake, I highly recommend them. Check Pinterest for some great tips and tricks (I did, you can see some of my pins here)!
Other embellishments on the cake: colored Sixlets from the baking isle, flower candles for a splash of whimsy and the plastic "1" and "3" had a button underneath which, when pushed, made them flash colorful lights! Fireworks around the Eiffel tower! Magnifique! The pink flower at the front of the cake was done with the white fondant and a tiny dab of red liquid food coloring kneaded in. I also used black sparkle gel for highlights and mounting the Sixlets to the cake.
Here is a How-to video I finally uploaded to YouTube. Definitely not one of my best videos (I crack a couple of jokes without cracking a smile... I was nervous!). I filmed it last Valentine's Day in the old house. I have had so many requests for learning HOW to do my ice-cream cake, it seemed past-due time to show the world! Never-mind the bad camera angles and stiff hostess!!! For the above cake the kids picked soft brownie-filled Chips Ahoy for the sides and it proved to be a good fit.
Other-other tidbits and the real reason I haven't blogged since mid-December....
Back-to-back-to-back company! Our young missionary friend (soon to be guest poster here on Faithful) spent a few days in the guest house while he did some recruiting for Christian Youth in Action. Shortly after he left our sewer backed up (non-related, I promise!!). After some trial-and-error we discovered roots growing into our pipes! No money to call Roto-Rooter but just enough for some chemicals and a plumbing snake, we went to work. Thankfully we had back up 'facility' in the guest house which was, apparently (and thankfully), NOT obstructed. However, this ran us into the week of Christmas when all my procrastinated baking was getting done... without being able to regularly run/drain water in my kitchen! In the midst of the chaos some long-time and dear missionary friends from India called needing a place to stay through Christmas Eve morning. The good Lord reminded me of how true hospitality isn't about MY plans, an orderly house, or anything else on this earth. True hospitality is simply open heart - open home. Despite the sewer juggling, we had quite a wonderful visit with our friends and I was glad God sent them when He did. The whole event helped me remember the most simple wonderful things in life in the midst of the busiest season of the year. I even (sort of) learned how to make the Indian (Asian) version of tortillas from them! I may try them this Friday.
As the sewer was just finally starting to run right and I got the sheets changed on the guest house bed, Zach boarded his flight out of Seattle looking forward to his own space (the guest house) for the holidays vs. sharing a bachelor pad with 3 other young men! My cookie trays were prepped for delivery and Christmas Eve and all the Christmassy celebrations ensued. Although we were bummed to miss church on account of Zach's arrival time (right in the middle of service). My favorite part of the entire day (other then seeing my boy) was handing those cookie boxes and bags to all our neighbors and getting to meet them at last (the two houses closest to us have new owners as well!) On our walk back home we saw this beautiful site;
a full Christmas Eve moon rising. The funny thing is how light the picture looks when actually it was quite dark out when we took it! I'm never able to catch good moon pictures but hubby was at the helm and he did a great job!
This week Ashley has started mentoring with her youth pastor/music director at one of the churches we attend. This means a very early arrival to youth group on Tuesdays from now on and an all new approach to Tuesday night dinners. Something we won't have to manage this week since hubby is on call and will actually be home early enough for a family dinner before we scatter. Wednesday I take the kids to pick up their new glasses so a planned slow-cooker meal will be welcomed as we get home just in time to eat. Otherwise we have a relatively slow week, adjusting back to our school schedule and all the rest of day-to-day. It will be a welcome rest after the craziness of the last 4 weeks and the step-up starting next week when Ashley begins her first college course through dual enrollment (I will be driving out twice a week...)
Menu for this week...
- french toast (Ashley brought a bunch of day-old bread home from work!!)
hubby: leftover Chicken Fried Rice
me and kids: leftovers, sandwiches
Chicken Fried Rice
Early youth group and a last minute change of dinner plans... I will scrape the fridge and freezer for odds-and-ends which could use some eating up!
Pork Roast with Carrots and quartered Potatoes
Roast is super easy. I use to be afraid of it but now I make it whenever I can get roast on sale. I use my slow cooker:
- 1 Roast (pork or beef)
- splash of oil
- onions (quartered), carrots (peeled and cut into aprox. 1.5" segments), medium potatoes (any kind, washed and quartered)
- Onion Soup mix (home-made or store bought)
- Worcestershire Sauce
Place oil in frying pan and sere roast on medium-high heat just till brown on all sides (this is messy and noisy)
Put veggies in bottom of slow cooker, place sered roast on top. Pour water in till it comes to about halfway up the side of the roast. Splash in some Worcestershire Sauce (aprox 1-2 Tbsp or to taste). Pour 1 packet or 1/4-1/3 cup of onion soup mix over top of roast. Place lid on cooker and roast on High for aprox 5-6 hours or on low for 8-12 hours.
When done, use some of the juices and about 1tsp beef bullion to make gravy. I use Wondera and it is Wondera-ful!
(If I have any leftovers, I will make stew for lunch on Thursday!)
Chicken - I'm still workin' out the details!
Homemade Beef and Black Bean Burritos
Burgers and Home Fries
How were your holidays?
What are you cooking this week?