Saturday, December 29, 2012

Bread and Beer, Anyone??

I LOVE baking bread...wait, let me be clear. I love the result of baked bread. I don't necessarily love the hassle, time and effort that goes with making it from scratch but there's just nothing like a fresh piece, hot out of the oven, seething in melted butter! So, for Christmas, I was appropriately gifted a beer bread mix. I was given the convenience of a just-add-beer mix but for those of you who want to test a new easy-peasy recipe, here you are. And the beauty of it? The beer lends the oh, so sudsy and airy texture bread needs but without the time and torture of yeast, waiting for the dough to rise...etc.
Beer Bread
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz. beer (make sure it's one you would drink...the taste comes through!!)
1/4 cup butter, melted
Stir ingredients together and pour into greased 9X5 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until knife inserted into middle comes out clean. Serve warm with butter...yum!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chocolate Brownie Bliss

Here is a recipe that I found to be delicious, indulgent and easy to make from scratch. The last part is  the real kicker...I rarely attempt homemade but this recipe was easy to follow and turned out amazingly!! With simple ingredients I usually have on hand, I was able to make a giant batch of these guys to tote along with me to my hubby's Christmas party. They have a touch of mint which, believe it or not, totally enriches and seems to intensify the chocolate flavor. Crushed candy canes add the perfect holiday touch and trust me, these will fly off the plate. Take note: keep a few to the side for yourself! Give 'em a whirl!

Brownies:
3/4 Cup Of All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Of Sugar
3 Eggs
1/4 Tsp Peppermint Extract
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Cup Of Butter
4 Oz Of 100% Cacao Unsweetened Baking Bars (I used 1/2 cup cocoa powder instead..)
Toppings:
Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares With Mint Or Andes Mints (Enough To Line Top Of Brownie Tray)
Chocolate chips
Crushed Candy Canes
Preheat oven to 350 °. Mix Brownie ingredients with electric mixer and pour into 8X8 pan lined with foil and sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. (I doubled and used a 9X13 pan...) Bake for about twenty minutes, or until knife inserted into middle comes out clean. Do not overbake or they will be dry!! Once out of oven, immediately sprinkle chocolate over top and let melt. Spread and sprinkle with crushed candy canes. Pull out of pan when cooled and cut into squares with serrated knife. Enjoy!

                                               


Adapted from http://deanmcdermott.com/blog/post/peppermint-brownie-recipe-gift-idea

Sunday, December 16, 2012

50 Shades of Grey...Hair

Having just celebrate my 29th birthday and with my 30th looming around the corner, I realized that maybe I should start doing a little damage control. Having kids has already aged me long passed my years and given me an all-around tired finish. My metabolism has come to a screeching hault, I have too many grey hairs to count and with daily dark circles under my eyes, I've perfected "exhausted chic" so...what's next? Sure, thirty is the new twenty and fifty is the new forty...blah, blah, blah but right now I just feel...old. Daily squabbles with kids, never getting enough sleep and the constant beckoning of my to-do list has me spread a little thin and leaves me short on "me time". Sure, I could book a sitter, squeeze in a few spa treatments that would turn back the clock, start juicing, dieting, plucking, dying, and shaping if I had the money and time, but let's be real here, that's just not going to happen. Guess I have to go about it the old fashioned way.
So with a renewed fervor, I'll attempt to make small changes. Not just changes for the way I look but mostly, for the way I feel. First off, I've been working on getting better sleep and eliminating caffiene. It starts with knowing my body's clock and listening to it. That means when the Sandman arrives promptly at 9:30 nightly, I obediently hit it. No more meandering, cleaning or staying up to watch a little more TV but off to bed I go. This has made such a difference in my sleep!! I feel like I sleep deeper and stay asleep longer.
Secondly, I force myself to take a brisk walk or jog daily. I've been doing this for years but lately it's been easier to find excuses and slack off. But starting the day moving helps me stay more energized the rest of the day and gives me a little time to myself. I spend that thirty minutes or so reading or listening to music.
Lastly, I am doing my best to just go easy on myself, take things a little slower, stress less and just be. It's not going to really make a difference if all the laundry gets done or if dinner is made from scratch. What matters is that I have a healthy and happy family. And that starts with me!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas in Movies

No Christmas season is complete without watching our arsenal of Christmas movies. Starting around October, when the beginning of the holiday season arrives, I begin to rifle around for our collection of Christmas movies. Weekend after weekend, we park it on the couch with the kids, popcorn and snacks in hand, and school them on the movies that for mommy and daddy, are classics. We've added a few of their favorites along the way too!!

1. Elf (One enjoyed pre-kiddos and the namesake of our daughter, after the character "Jovie")
2. Deck the Halls (Danny DeVito. Need I say more??)
3. Christmas with the Kranks
4. The Holiday
5. Home Alone
6. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York
7. The Santa Clause (Tim Allen making us laugh some more!)
8. Love Actually ("To me, you are perfect". Best line in a movie!!!)
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (works for Halloween too!!!)
10. The Elf on the Shelf (Just got it this year and the kids LOVE it...super cute!!!)
What movie says "Christmas is coming" to you????

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Gingerbread Family

Today my daughter asked me if we could make gingerbread cookies and I'll admit, I was leary. Most of our holiday activities are set up by me in hopes the kids will appreciate the traditions I create for them. Half the time, it hardly feels worth the effort. First off, they don't follow directions too well. If we are baking, they stick their fingers in the batter, get flour all over and generally make it more work for me. At craft time, they get sticky, fight over everything and I end up having to clean it all up alone. So why do I keep trying?? Well, they love doing activities and have fun with them and I know that deep, deep, really deep down, they will one day appreciate that their mommy made the holidays fun. So I approached the gingerbread men with hopeful trepidation. I contemplated buying the cookie mix, rolling and baking them ourselves then decorating with whatever the kids chose but that's what crazy moms do. I went with the smarter, less messy option: a Wilton Gingerbread Kit. It came with four large pre-baked cookies, icing and red, white and green decorations. This was the answer. For $5.99, I would avoid all the anxiety a Type-A mother like me hopes to. So we got home and got decorating and guess what?? It was a hit! We sat at the table and the kids carefully decorated a cookie in their likeness and happily munched a few of the candies on the way. It killed about thirty minutes, gave us something to do and reminded us that Christmas is just around the corner. I highly recommend making these with your kids. It's sure to be a holiday tradition they will always remember!!
                                                                        The kit...
                                First thing's first...pop the bubble paper that protects the cookies!
                                                  Tada! The Beebe family, in gingerbread!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

8-6

8:00 p.m. is a good time in my house. The kids are sleeping, mommy is relaxing and there are no more demands. Maybe some laundry, dishes in the sink, but nothing like the mental and physical toll that is two children. From screaming fights and bickering to the constant tug-of-war that is motherhood, I feel like I'm in a hamster wheel. But at 8:00, I punch my card and am off until bright and early the next morning. Really early, like 6:10. Sure, my kiddos get up before the sun, but I wouldn't trade it for the peace and quiet I have at night for myself and for my hubby. I'm on mommy time, and get more done in the couple hours I have to myself at night than in the fourteen spent with my babies all day. Gee, I wonder why! But then it must be the mommy in me that actually anticipates being awakened by the pattering of little feet on the wood floor, and the snuggling that ensues. Yes, I told my sister on the phone the other night that I wonder why people have kids at all (Jovie was putting soap in Logan's mouth at the time, cut me some slack!) but it is all too clear when my warm and cuddly babies climb into my bed and make me forget a time when I actually slept. All night. Without any interruptions. But I'll sacrifice sleep any day if it means spending those precious moments with my children.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Naked is the New Black

How is it that kids can think it sooo funny to run around naked?? Seems like every time I turn around, they are stripping and running free. Perhaps it is that they make me laugh, make each other laugh and because it is just plain silly to be in the buff. Now, last I checked, being naked made me want to run too. In the opposite direction of mirrors. Ask any woman, no matter how perfect you think they are and I'm sure they will have a  laundry list a mile long of their flaws. I know I do. Having kids, especially a daughter, has taught me a lesson, though. I no longer analyze every imperfection, blemish, dimple and gray hair. How can I expect Jovie to be a strong, independent and self-assured little girl if I put myself down constantly? What kind of an example would I be? So years ago, I ditched the negative voice in my head saying I wasn't smart, pretty or thin enough and started listening to that smart-as-a-whip lady who knows that being myself is just fine. Yes, my jeans get snug every now and then so I sacrifice a few bowls of ice cream and log a couple extra miles on the treadmill but I refuse to give in to my doubts, my insecurities and my weaknesses. Where would that get me? On a train to misery, that's where! So let's give ourselves a break and adopt a childlike attitude about ourselves. Ditch those negative voices already!


                                          Just chillin' under the table with our cat...no biggie.