December 31, 2010

In under the wire...

I wanted to finish my December Daily project by the end of the year. My family was all off work and school for the week, so our Christmas holiday lasted a bit longer and I wanted to capture that time with family and friends. Now, as we head toward midnight, the final pictures of Christmas are complete. Here is my December Daily Project... right on time!

Thanks to Ali Edwards for sharing her wonderful project idea with us. When you visit her site, click on "continue reading" at the bottom of her entries then scroll down to see the other people who participated - there are some amazing artists!

December 26, 2010

Share Your Christmas Surprises!

My family picked great things for Christmas gifts. Candles, chocolate, coffees, a knife sharpener, a fireplace pie iron, and a great New York puzzle/map.

But by far, the best gift I received is the camera used to take these pictures because it is from my three kids who used their own money, chose the perfect camera for me, and worked together to get it done - without me having any hint! I have been without one for almost a year, and they knew how much I missed having my own.

What was the best gift in your home this year?

December 25, 2010

Now I can share these!

Now that the gift opening is over I can share the jewelry I made as gifts. I made the photo bracelet for my oldest, and another for my sister. I made the pendant necklace for my other sister.

December 23, 2010

Potato Pancakes

Tonight for dinner my kids asked for one of our holiday traditions - potato pancakes. We usually only make them for Christmas and maybe one other time during the year because they are so much work. We have tried starting with frozen hash browns but they don't give the same consistency. Some people put the potatoes in the food processor and make a paste out of them. But nothing is as good as freshly shredded - which is why we only make them for the holidays. I made ten pounds tonight. Anyone else want to make some? Here ya go....

Deena's Potato Pancakes
  • peel and shred potatoes
  • for every 4-ish cups of potatoes add 1 egg and 2-3 T of flour
  • add a generous amount of salt
  • I like minced onion, not my family
  • mix well with a fork
  • drop by fork fulls into olive oil or olive oil/butter mix
  • fry until one side is crispy, then flip and fry the other
  • serve with applesauce or sour cream (our family is half each)
You might want to serve with a salad or make sure there is enough milk in the house - these are hard to stop eating, and definitely not a low fat food!

December 20, 2010

December 17, 2010

the ABC's - a critical life skill

My youngest was in charge of music this morning while I was driving her to school.

"Can you see if that song is on my ipod?" I asked.
"Yeah, sure."
(pause while scrolling is occurring)
"No, it's not - oh wait. I'm having trouble with my alphabet. Yeah it's here."

Having trouble with my alphabet? The kid cracks me up! And I never really thought about how important that piece of information is in today's world. Now that was a great start to my day.

December 16, 2010

number three - or two

We caught squirrel number three in the trap yesterday. Today I was telling my co-worker, and she said, "Are you sure it's not just squirrel number one or two returning?" She pointed out that the stash of nuts we put out in the trap is probably calling every squirrel in the neighborhood to our house. Now, THAT, would be our luck.

December 15, 2010

I'm not a minimalist, but someday I'd like to be.

FB over at The Everyday Minimalist made me laugh today. The last couple of days she has shared pictures of her kitchen cabinets. It made me think of some of the times when family has been over to my house cooking. Like on Thanksgiving when my sister asked for a whisk for the gravy. "Over there" I said, "in the drawer. It looks kinda like a fork." It was. And another time when we were taking hot dogs out of the pan of water and I handed her the grill tongs. Trust me, there are utensils and gadgets I would not want to be without, I just choose them carefully. What are they, you ask? Ok, here they are:

1. George Foreman Grill - I love that even frozen meats cook quickly, and the drippings drain off into a little pan, so you can drain it or use it for gravy or sauce. It is awesome for grilled cheese sandwiches!

2. Magic Bullet Blender - The perfect blender for the smoothie lover because it can handle ice and chunks of fruit effortlessly, and my family does not like chunks of anything in their smoothies. Clean up is really easy because it all comes apart.

3. Pampered Chef Scraper - This is my number one, favorite kitchen utensil. I have four of them. They are stain proof, heat proof, and sturdy. Great for everything from frying potatoes to turning the edge of an omelet. And the small one fits inside a soup can....

December 12, 2010

kinda squirrely

Since the squirrels moved into our attic a month ago, we have been trying to get them leave. They are in a point of the eaves where we cannot get from the inside, and from the outside it's 2-1/2 stories off the ground. We tried a loud radio and leaving the lights on, but that didn't help at all - I think they actually liked it - so we borrowed a live trap. It took a week of trying it in different locations but we finally caught one.

Then, Sunday morning we heard the familiar rummaging around in the attic. Their food stash must have been low because a few hours later, when I looked out the window, there was squirrel number 2, in the trap. We think there were only two upstairs, but it would be just our luck that the one we caught today was just another random squirrel from the neighborhood, so we put the trap back out just in case. Next step? Figuring out a way to seal off the openings....

December 11, 2010

Album in a Box

Looking for a cute and quick idea? Try making an Album in a Box. The box keeps little tokens in one place and is an easy way to store the album - and you can display it under the tree next year! Great gift idea for a party host or baby sitter. You can give it with photos or let your giftee add their own.

Not really over the river and through the woods, but still pretty

The path to the compost bin....

December 9, 2010

good thing I chose unlimited....

I just got my cell phone bill for November and all I can say is, "Wow." One of my daughters had 1,696 texts, one had 2,792 and the other had 2,927 texts for the month. I'm no math genius, but spread over 30 days that's somewhere between 57 and 98 texts a day. Assuming that they are sleeping at least 7 hours a night, that's 3-5 an hour - not accounting for the time they are in school. I'll let you all figure which total goes with which kid.

December 8, 2010

one down....

Yesterday I decided that since efforts to trap our squirrels had failed, we would return the trap when I got home from work today. I was crabby about having to take an hour out of my night to drive out and back to return something that didn't even work. As I pulled into the driveway this afternoon, miracle of miracles, there Mr. Furry was, in the trap. Turns out they don't want peanut butter or sunflower seeds or oranges - just cover it with snow and toss some leaves inside. Hopefully, with snow predicted this weekend, that others will be out scurrying around and can join Mr. Furry in their new home soon. We never get that lucky - although today was close.

December 7, 2010

St. Nick comes around again.... grrrreat.

Yesterday I came home to find the dogs had eaten all of the St Nick stuff - and today, that they had yakked it up all over the living room carpet and on the beds. Those pictures were not as cute as the damage ones....

Managing Teen Holiday Stress

While flipping through a newsletter recently I came across an article about teens and holiday stress. I know some people are thinking, "What does a teen have to be stressed about, especially during the holidays?"

Some of the causes of stress are the same for adults, but the one that got my attention was, "Many teens feel empty because holidays are not the same as when they were young kids." Awww. I never thought of it like that before. In addition, the holidays can be especially difficult for teens affected by loss or divorce, and the extra expectation of holiday spirit may just be too much.

Teens can try many of the regular things we think of to fight stress: eat right, get enough sleep, and slow down. Here are two more ideas: 

Let go of ideas of perfection. When my kids were younger I had ideas of exactly how Christmas morning should be - the perfect tree, matching outfits, visits with Santa.... It was exhausting - for all of us. Now, I just don't care about those things. Wear sweats to Grandma's? Pizza for Christmas breakfast? Whatever. 

To do something charitable. There is something rewarding about doing a nice thing for someone else. Fortunately, my kids are good at seeing these opportunities, whether it's a $5 gift for the toy drive or taking an extra candy cane for a friend. I think it's important for teens to be the recipient of something charitable too - being on the receiving end helps them to think of ways to pay it forward.

If you're interested in reading the whole article you can find it at the Rhode Island Department of Health.

December 6, 2010

St. Nick goes to the dogs

Apparently our dogs were not happy that St. Nick did not include them, and they took care of the matter themselves today while we were gone....

December 1, 2010

Welcome December with some desktop cheer!

I found this great little advent calendar gadget from Michael at I like that you can't open the boxes until the correct day, otherwise I'd open them all the first day.