Thursday, December 27, 2012

naughty or NICE?! {LINK UP!}

You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I'm telling you why.  Santa Claus is comingggg...to TOWN! He's making a list, and checking it twice.  He's gonna find out who's naughty and nice!


Well kids ... the jolly old elf came and went.  So what's the verdict? Were you naughty or nice? Well I'd say after the Christmas I had this year ... Santa thought I was NICE! :) Yayyyy.  I was running around like Kevin in Home Alone when I opened my pretty packages.  (no but really, this is very close to my reaction...So much for a poker face...)



I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas gifts with my favorite online pals .. and give you a chance to Link up and share too!  I'd love to see what goodies you raked in this Holiday.  Or just hear some great Holiday stories.

Alright...Katie's top 3 favorite gifts for this year include:
  1. Marc Jacob's Classic Q Francesca Black Leather purse (I can't seem to find the exact replica image...but it looks similar to this...I might have the name wrong)
  2. Burberry scarf (hubs picked this out all on his own...my very first one...ever! JUMPING for joy!)
  3. Fireplace Screen (yea, go ahead and say it..."you know you're getting old when"...you're more excited about a fireplace screen for your living room than a pair of boots)

    Alright folks, lets hear it and see it!  Who or What was it this Holiday that had you dancing around your living room like a crazed Christmas fool?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Farararara Ra Ra Ra!

Merry Christmas Everyone!  A short post today, but wanted to make sure I wished all of blogger world very, very, very Merry Christmas with lots of cheer.  And super safe travels to all.

I'll share with you our family Christmas card this year .. and I used the "perhaps Christmas is something more" quote from the Grinch on the back :) From us to you! Merry Merry!


And if you need me, you can find me snuggled up with my family watching: A Christmas Story, Elf, or Christmas Vacation on REPEAT (take your pick, because I can guarantee it will be one or all of those movies, more than once)

Farararara Ra Ra Ra!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Recipe Monday: Merry Christmas Chow!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  Because I was a good little girl this Christmas and WAYY ahead on my holiday shopping (and wrapping I might add), I had some extra time on my hands to really get in the Christmas spirit and add to the Holiday Baking - YUMMMMM.

Today, in the spirit of Christmas and spending time with your loved ones, I devote this recipe post to coolest kid on the block ... my baby brother: MAX!


Maxman and I have always been close, and growing up we were often the 2 siblings that were home the most often together.  Because I was a pre-teen with a mother who was "baking-challenged" and I discovered my love for it with my sweet Grandma Elaine (more on her here if you've missed it), I always made it my mission to add sweets to our family dinners/household snacks.  And because poor little Max was too young to tell me no (or well even if he did, he was too young to have a choice) I always made the little guy my helper.

One of his favorites, and a recipe we came to PERFECT over the years is none other than crispity-crunchity, chocolatey, peanut-buttery PUPPY CHOW.  There are a gazillion names for it I'm sure, but here in the BlueGrass it's better known as Puppy Chow.  It's the simple age old recipe on the back of every Corn or Rice Chex at your local grocer. If you haven't tested it out yet, I suggest you do so - NOW. (and if you can't find the recipe on the cereal box, message me and I'd be MORE than happy to share)


Max and I always had a different way of doing things though, and our poor mother's kitchen took the beating.  The key to the messiness with Puppy Chow, is that after you coat the cereal in all it's chocolatey goodness, you then have to coat it in powdered sugar.  A task that doesn't pose too challenging for your average adult.  Buuuut add in a super short, pint sized, know it all pre-teen and her baby brother who was ordered to do EVERYTHING the way I commanded - OR ELSE!, and my dears: we've got a HOT mess in the kitchen.

One of my favorite puppy-chow cooking memories was at our Plum Hill house. Mom had to run out for something and asked me to keep an eye on the little guy...(bear in mind I keep referencing him as little...he's almost 20 and in college now...but it's really hard for me to picture him more than 3 feet tall playing with Poke-mon, so give me a break).  Here is at Xavier in his (NASTY) dorm room with his new college buds. (he's the one on the left)


Nevertheless, I decided I would be a great babysitter and entertain him by making puppy chow (although let's be serious..I clearly was doing this more for my own benefit rather than his). Weeelllllll, the way WE made Puppy Chow, was to combine all cereal and chocolate in a bowl and then place in 2 large zip-loc bags -- add TONS of powered sugar to each -- and SHAKE furiously until it was well coated. 

So, naturally, I handed him the zip-loc bag with coated cereal and extra powdered sugar loaded in to start shaking and told him to zip it up and shake (not paying attention to whether he actually did that or not).  Next thing I knew, I turned around and he, the kitchen, the floor - COVERED, I mean COVERED in powdered sugar.  He had a "OMG" I'm in trouble look, but being the super cool big sister I am (and because it wasn't my kitchen...because if this were to happen today you can bet I would set out in full panic crisis mode), instead of getting mad...I simply started laughing grabbed a handful of powdered sugar out of the package and threw it at him. Which erupted into the most ridiculously messy food fight that kitchen had ever seen (yes, we had more than one...we were "THOSE" kind of kids). 

THANK GOODNESS our mother is fun and LOVES us so, because she walked in nearly a minute later ... *OH NO, HOLD YOUR BREATH*.... annnnd....joined us :) -- AHH...memories.

Alright, enough of memory lane ... onto the recipe.  So, this is a version of Puppy Chow, but entirely different in both taste and texture.  It really doesn't have a name.  And, I make it all year long, but in honor of the holiday, we're noting it today as Christmas Chow! (Sorry, I didn't get a better pic once it was all finished...i got sidetracked and completely forgot)


Recipe Monday: Christmas Chow!

Ingredients:
  • 1 package Kroger Candy Coating (Vanilla)
    • I swear by this stuff, it is SO easy and SO good
  • 1-2 heaping tablespoons Peanut Butter (I use Jif Reduced Fat)
  • 4.5 cups of Rice  (or any type really) Chex Cereal
  • 5 cups Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch Cereal
  • 1/2 bag regular or peanut butter M&M's
    • Optional Items I have also seen in this dish:
      • Nuts of any kind (often peanuts)
      • Pretzels (usually sticks)
Directions:
  • Toss together cereal in large mixing bowl
  • Melt candy coating and peanut butter together for 1 minute
    • Seriously this stuff is so easy, it melts in the tray it comes with and you toss once finished
    • Follow instructions though, to ensure you do not scorch!
    • Start at 1 minute, stir
    • 15 second intervals following (often doesn't need more than 2-3)
  • Toss and coat vanilla peanut butter mixture over cereal - to ensure all pieces are coated
  • Add in candy pieces
  • Spoon out mixture over wax paper to harden (about 15-30 minutes)
  • ENJOY!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

32 Years of Marriage ... THIRTY TWO!

32 Years of Marriage ... THIRTY TWO!  That's right folks, longer than i can even imagine (because this lil' gal ain't even been alive that long) .. my parents have been joined in Holy Matrimony.  Celebrating their 32nd Wedding Anniversary Today - Married on December 20th, 1980.  Geeze.  They've officially been married more than half of their lives.  With the discomforting and depressing thought that nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce now-a-days .. I'd say 32 years of wedded bliss is something to celebrate!  Can you imagine the secrets and stories they're able to tell on each other.  Ha, i giggle at what they know.  I haven't even completed my second year of marriage yet and the amount of black mail information i have on the hubs. WHEW. 

Mom and Pops met at a bar (beyond fitting if you know my parents) "The Lighthouse Limited" in Northern KY back in the day.  I'm pretty sure my dad (John) was rocking a killer stache, an Afro and some ridiculous muscle car with an engine that roared.  My mom (Penny) was likely showing off her killer legs in some short shorts, hair straight as a board down to her butt, and her automobile ... or space Mobile from what it sounds like was some honker of a machine that rivaled a coach bus (or maybe that's just my over zealous imagination going to town).  I forgot to sneak pictures while i was at their house the other weekend ..but this one is pretty money .. and on point with the high waisted daisy dukes mama - NIIIICE.


My parents have accomplished so much in their 32 years together, and as their daughter I wholeheartedly mean, there is not one thing they could have changed that would make me more proud.  I could tell you they're perfect ... but we all know I'd be lying.  I could tell you they never made mistakes and were always incredible role models ... but anyone who's gone out for drinks with the Neace's knows better (and if you don't find out that night .. the next day is bound to be a tell tale sign). I could tell you they never missed a ball game, or always had the exact right advice for what i needed to hear .. but that would again imply perfectly normal parents.  And one can clearly see with the amount of excitement on my father's face [for the 8th lobster he is about consume while dressed in ridiculous 60's apparel] that is simply not the case.  They in turn are something much better. 


Alas, all of their imperfections does in fact make them perfect parents in my eyes.  My parents are my friends, my best friends and always have been. Many would say our family dynamics are a bit eccentric, but it works for us.  My parents moved away from their family and friends in their early 30's to pursue their own dreams and learned to be parents along the way.  Great parents. They've worked hard to be where they are today and deserve EVERYTHING they have.  They taught my brothers and I to be self-reliant, to find the humor in life, and the importance of good company and a good party.

With my younger brother heading off to college this year, they are officially empty-nesters and living up every minute of it.  I got a really sweet text from my dad while they were on one of their recent trips that literally made my heart melt.  GUSH!



I can't remember if this was the same trip or not ... but they always wanted to make it to Niagara Falls and finally did a couple of weeks ago.  Here's a snapshot of one of their remarkable vacays (yes, that is my dad pretending to drown in the falls ... and my mother doing a signature cheer leading move to express excitement) :)



So here's to you John and Penny.  May your happiest moment of the last 32 years be your worst moment in the next 32!  Love you both!


P.S. I searched appropriate wedding gifts for 32 years of marriage and uncovered this:
For the 32nd year of marriage it is suggested that your gift be an item that showcases the semi-precious gemstone Lapis, or a conveyance.
What is a conveyance? The answer: anything that transports you! Be that over water, on snow, in the air, underwater, on land or into a transcendental state, any of the following gift ideas should be considered a conveyance and a potentially ideal 32nd anniversary gift.
    • Car
    • Sailboat
    • Surfboards
    • Tandem bicycle
    • Motorcycle with a sidecar
    • Hang glider
    • Vespa
    • Jet skis
    • Skateboards
    • Rollerblades
    • Unicycles
    • Snowmobiles
    • Go Carts
    • ATVs
    • Segway Human Transporter
Therefore, you will be getting an e-card from your loving daughter.  Conveyed via the web .. imagine it being delivered like so...and i have successfully given you THE BEST 32nd Anniversary gift of all:

Underneath my keyboard lives tiny little elves that skateboard to the monitor to deliver the letters. The elves then Rollerblade the letters to the mail house in the back of the computer. From there small hairy trolls ride unicycles through wires that transmit them to the mail delivery room (imagine the mail house from the movie Elf). Once the mail is sorted by fairies on tandem bicycles they attach the mail to a hang glider and send it up the sucky thing.  Half way through they drop the mail onto go carts powered by baby dinosaurs who travel up your computer wires.  The tandem motorcycle then use one seat for the driver (Carlos from the Hangover) and the other seat for the mail.  Carlos imprints my letter on your screen and you see your magical message and VOILA.  Best daughter ever. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

White Elephant meets Porcelain God

Like many families, offices, and friends ... i fall victim to White Elephant games MULTIPLE times every Christmas.


For those of you who have been living UNDER A ROCK,
White Elephant works like this:
  1. Have guests sit in a circle with White Elephant Gifts in a pile in the middle.
  2. Each person draw a number from the basket (put numbers from 1-number of guests) or you can do it by Birthdays. January 1 would go first, December 31 would be last.
  3. The person who draws the number 1 or has the earliest birthday begins by unwrapping one of the gifts and showing it to the group.
  4. Person #2 can now choose to either open a new gift or steal the open gift from person #1. Then person #3 follows and so on and so on.
  5. Play continues until everyone has a gift.
          
    Optional — You may want to give the #1 person a chance to steal a different gift at the very end of the game since they otherwise do not get the chance to do any stealing
        
    *NOTE: If your gift gets stolen, you have the option of either
      1. A) opening a new gift or
      2. B) stealing an open gift from someone else. Once a gift has been opened it can be stolen by anyone whose turn it is, with two exceptions:
        1.  A gift that has JUST been stolen from you is now OFF LIMITS (for you).  No stealing gifts back that have just been taken from you (but you can steal it back if it is stolen later in play)
        2. Once a gift has been stolen 3 times it is out of play and stays with the 3rd and last “stealer” - It's now on LOCK!
And, because I've never understood exactly why it is called White Elephant ... I went to work with google and found out. 
In case you're interested too...I'll share:


In Thailand and other Asian countries, the white elephant was considered a holy being. But, the upkeep of this animal was outrageous to say the least. They needed special food, holy housing, and all sorts of special treatment. So much in fact, that usually only a king could afford a white elephant. The death of a white elephant spelled DISASTER  so these animals were pretty pampered pets. The origin of our white elephant gift began when ancient kings became EXTREMELY DISPLEASED with their assistant. They would make a gift of the white elephant to the assistant. At first, this appeared to be a great honor. But soon, the assistant would become crippled by the financial burden of the white elephant. Hence, when we give silly, ELABORATE gifts of little value, we call them WHITE ELEPHANT GIFTS.


Usually, at our family Christmas we play White Elephant, but most of the presents aren't a joke or white elephant-ish. The majority of them are nice, but every person picks their own gift, so it's fun to play with steals, etc.  (note: i say MOST because EVERY year my brother brings some ridiculous gift no one wants - and somehow i ALWAYS end up getting it). This year I lucked out with his hand picked Gnome Chia Pet and an As Seen on TV Tortilla Bowl Maker.  Thanks Jon Ryan. Thanks.

My gal pals and I also have an ornament exchange every year in which we play White Elephant to try and head home with the cutest, most sparkly colored decor.  Leave it to my friends however to mix in some questionable Christmas scenes and ugly, UGLY ornaments.

However, our office Gift Exchange is MUCH more fun and includes a healthy mix of white elephant items and good ones.  This makes the game great because steals are truly coveted and it really is complete luck of the draw combined with strategy.


About 3 years ago, i decided to participate with a White Elephant gift that played both sides of the fence. In other words, i supplied some nice alcohol (because what else do co-workers really want?) and combined it with some funny bathroom trivia books.  That same year another co-worker brought an infamous As Seen on TV items.  So, the following year we agreed to stick to our themes and stay the course.


I stepped it up that year, and purchased a full on white elephant gift.  You can find it here if you'd like to gift one.  I give you ... Potty Putt Putt:



And this year...I was so proud of myself when i found this little fella online.  That's right a Toilet Mug.  I made sure to wrap it extra pretty and this thing is SO MUCH bigger than i expected that everyone was eye balling this baby, and it was chosen at a perfect time - PRIME for steals.  The Toilet Mug was stolen twice and ended up heading home with my co-worker Barry.  I can't wait to sit in a morning meeting with him and watch him drink his watery brown coffee from a toilet - SICK.  You can purchase it here if you are interested :)




If you need more White Elephant Ideas, I'd be glad to help pick some out.  They're so fun to shop for and the look on people's faces when they are expecting something so great and wind up with a Chia Pet or worse is PRICELESS.


I'm already on the hunt for next year's potty themed present ... What magical Porcelain God gift will i come up with...?!?! Muuuahhhhh---hahahahahahha.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Support Sandy Hook

My sweet sister in law forwarded me email below last night, and I thought it would pair perfectly for this National Day of Bloggers in Silence and Support for Sandy Hook.  Although none of us can truly feel your pain and suffering, you are in our thoughts and prayers.


The Email:

Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.

Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy; they didn’t know what to say. They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

“where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. “This is heaven” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house”.

When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near. He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.

Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring, those children all flew into the arms of their King and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face. And as if He could read all the questions she had, He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad. “

then He looked down on earth, the world far below.  He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe, then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, “Let My power and presence re-enter this land! “May this country be delivered from the hands of fools”

“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools! “Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now, my children, let me show you around.”

Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “in the midst of this darkness,” I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”


Monday, December 17, 2012

Recipe Monday: Ooey Gooey S'mores Cookies

Well hey there!! Remember me?  You know... the girl who set out a couple of months a go to build a blogging empire and then abandoned her entire site for nearly over a month!? Now that is dedication.

Ahhh!  Well gang .. all i can tell you is, i promise there is a reason.  Well, several reasons.  All of which i plan to fully update you on - IN DETAIL - in due time :) You have my word.

You also have my word, i will never abandon you for this long ever again (or at least i don't plan to!)

So - in honor of recipe Monday, I will give you a DELICIOUS recipe to try out for your holiday baking this year.  My mom and I entered this into our 4th Annual Mother Daughter Cookie Exchange this year, and although we walked away with no awards (booo.) we did walk away with SEVERAL compliments, and a guest who wanted our recipe to make for her next entry at her cookie exchange the following weekend.
(that was the moment in which i was able to high-five myself saying, "yea your cookies were overshadowed this year, you still did great"...*sigh*)

Here's the signature group photo ...


...don't mind Laura in the front row (yes...) in a sheep costume, or Carey in the back dressed as the Virgin Mary...there's more to come on that in the actual Cookie Exchange post..all i can tell you is THEME is important and although not mandatory holiday attire is encouraged :)

Ooey Gooey S'mores Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 full graham cracker sheets)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Mini Hershey’s Kisses (or chocolate chips/chunks)
  • 1 cup Jet Puffed Mallow Bits
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray (we used a Silpat instead).
  • Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, use a food processor or blender to crush 7 graham cracker sheets into 3/4 cup fine crumbs.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together.
  • Add the chocolate and marshmallows and stir to combine.
  • Place 1.5 tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
  • Makes 2 dozen cookies.
 

I wish i could take credit thinking of these adorable little treats, but i found the recipe on this adorable blog: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dessert/gooey-smores-cookies.html  The woman is a GENIUS i tell you. 

The addition of the ground up graham crackers adds so much flavor to an otherwise somewhat ordinary cookie you won't believe your taste buds. And she is ON POINT with the over sized chocolate chips and baby marshmallows (take her word for getting them at Target - I looked elsewhere and came up empty handed - walked into target and voila! - ADORBS!)

The only addition we made was adding some swirled melted vanilla baking chocolate (colored red and green) over top to add a little Christmas flare.

I'm working on my post to let you know how everything went at the cookie party - but for now I will leave you with your recipe. So fire up those ovens, bake some deliciousness and share some yummy holiday spirit!