Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Christmas Tree!

Finally...Christmas tree decorating pictures!

Bri placing the star on top of the tree. It was really Brian's turn since he is a Senior this year...but he disappeared to his room for a little while.
You might notice that there are no regular Christmas ornaments on this tree. We each get a new ornament every year to commemorate something that happened in our lives. I tried packing up Kelli's and Meagan's a few years ago when they moved out...but they prefer to place their ornaments on the family tree. We still have their 'Baby's First Christmas' ornaments!
Meagan and Davin...rockin' around the Christmas tree!

The family...minus Kelli, Matt and Brooke who were unable to make it.

Meagan, Derrick and Davin.

Will and Brian hamming it up. Those Christmas lights are on, by the way. Please note the stockings on Will's feet!

Bri, Brian and Will in the cheerleader pose.

"Got a little Captain in ya?"
Tomorrow we will have the gang over to celebrate Christmas as a family. The married children are spending Christmas Day with the in laws this year...so we get Christmas Eve. Thursday we will have friends over for dinner and games. Friday morning we will be heading to north Arkansas to visit Jim's family. We are looking forward to a leisurely visit. YEAH, RIGHT! We will only be there one full day before heading home on Sunday morning.
If I don't get to talk to you before we get back...

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Progression Of A Santa Photo

I persuaded Meagan & Kelli to take the grand babies to visit Santa last week. I am envisioning a mantle laden with annual Santa pictures...looking back ten years from now and seeing them grow up right before my very eyes! It is something I had always intended to do with our five children, but in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, it was never accomplished.

Needless to say, the task did not go without a few hitches. Evidently Brooke took one look at Santa and burst out screaming. So much for cute, smiling, Santa pictures! Davin didn't seem to mind Santa too much...though with Brooke screaming, he determined not to get too close to him. Thank goodness for Santa's quick wit. I will let you see in photo format the progression of a Santa photo--all just to please Nonna.

And here is my favorite!

I just love Brooke's little 'hammy' tails. She looks like a little reindeer sitting there. Davin finally decided to smile, but alas, the picture crew had already taken six photos and were too busy for more! Next year we will have three grand babies to sit in Santa's lap. Better warn Santa now!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This Soup Was A Big Hit

I know I promised pictures today...but I ran out of the house without my memory card. I will try to post tomorrow. Instead you get tomorrow's post a day early. Isn't that a thrill!

I have always loved Olive Garden's Soup, Salad and Breadsticks with Zuppa Tuscana for my soup. I found this recipe last winter and it has quickly become a family favorite. We had this on Sunday night before decorating the tree and I think each of the boys (Jim, Brian, Will and Derrick) had at least two bowls...maybe three.

Sausage and Kale Soup
1 pound of mild Italian sausage
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large bunch kale, with center ribs removed
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 pounds of unpeeled small potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
2 quarts chicken broth
salt, to taste
red pepper flakes, to taste
pinch of dried thyme flakes
1 cup cream
Crumble and brown sausage until no longer pink, then drain well. Set aside.
In large soup pot, fry onions in olive oil until translucent. Add garlic and cook briefly. Add broth, beans and sausage to pot and simmer for 30 minutes.
Cut kale into medium shred and add with potatoes. Add thyme, salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
Add cream just before serving. NOTE: Do not boil after adding cream or it will curdle!
Serve with salad and french bread...sit back and enjoy!

A few hints:
1. I use the potato masher while cooking the sausage to make sure it breaks into small crumbles. I saw Rachael Ray do this a few weeks ago and it works great for chili and such.
2. My sister's complaint with most recipes is that she cannot find the 'specialty' items in her small town grocery store that I often take for granted. So, if you can't find cannellini beans, use great northern beans instead. They taste just as good.
3. In case you have never used kale before, it is with the cabbage in your produce department. I swear, it doesn't taste like cabbage...but it is in the cabbage family. If you can't find kale, I have heard that spinach will work as well.
4. I know it says to use mild Italian sausage, but since I double the recipe, I mix mild and hot.
5. Don't break the "no boil" rule after you add the cream...you will end up with a huge mess that you can't eat! I actually add the cream AFTER I have turned off the burner under the soup.
6. My two boys HATE onions...but they never taste them in this recipe. The onions honestly cook to nothing by the time the soup is ready to serve.

Monday, December 15, 2008

You Are Only As Old As You Feel

Hello All!

I am sitting at home today awaiting the arrival of my new refrigerator. The Sears truck should be arriving anywhere from 1:45 to 3:45. I am supposed to be working from home...but am having some computer issues (ain't it always so?). I haven't been on the laptop in FOREVER because Bri has been using it for school. Once I finally found all the 'parts' this morning and got it booted up it needed major updates and virus sweeps. I am now waiting for someone to get back from lunch at the office because evidently my desk computer is not turned on. I have been trying to access it for about half an hour now. So, I am writing to you instead!

I will have Christmas tree decorating pictures for you tomorrow. The memory card for my new camera doesn't fit in this computer...so I will post them from the office. Bri and I went out and bought the tree yesterday afternoon. Meagan, Derrick and Davin came over last night for soup, cookies and ornament arranging last night. Kelli, Matt and Brooke were not able to make it due to Matt's work schedule...so we hung their ornaments for them. I have some great silly pictures of the boys to share.

We had a pretty good weekend. The girls and I had a bridal shower to attend on Saturday afternoon for a dear family friend. I went to dinner afterwards with my "Best Girls". We went out for Mexican food...our meal of choice most Girl's Nights. After a long meal of nachos and fajitas with a large side of guacamole, we headed to the mall for our annual picture with Santa. We just started the tradition last year...but it is great fun! If you haven't had a picture with Santa lately, you really should do it now! We decided to turn the evening into a pajama party, so we bought pj's at the mall and got a hotel room for the night. I love being able to just hang out and leisurely catch up on each other's lives. It was a real treat...and I am thankful to have a supportive husband who is understanding and doesn't freak out over such things. We had a blast! Who says pajama parties are just for teenagers? Evidently our children think so...because the next morning we had been given a new nickname -- Rebel Grandmas! I guess they think we should be sitting home darning socks and knitting sweaters. Oh well, I will bear the name with pride!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well! I would love to hear from you.

Much love,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Oh, Me Of Little Faith

Never doubt childlike faith. She wanted to build a snowman, and...

that is exactly what she did.

Actually, they made more than one!

Will made his first.

Brian brought in the first snowball...which Hoss promptly ate. Crazy dog!

It started snowing again just after dark. It was beautiful.

They said that Houston received between 1 and 3 inches last night, mostly on the east/northeast side.

And I didn't think she would get a snowman!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

We are having snow flurries in HOUSTON!!!! Can you believe it? All I want to do is sit and watch it through the front door of my office. And if you think I am excited, you should see this!

Stacy sent me this picture of Brianne at work in Tomball. She is so excited about the snow. She has already called me twice to let me know that it is getting heavier. She is hoping to make a snowman. I don't know if we will get that much...but at least it is beginning to feel like Christmas time!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Everybody Loves A Parade

Check out who's driving this SHARP car!

Brian drove one of his friends in this morning's Waller Christmas Parade. She is competing for Miss Junior Waller County.

Good luck, Desiree!