Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas breakfast

Since it's our first year as a family with a kid I wanted to start some traditions to carry on throughout Palmer's childhood. Christmas breakfast seemed like a great place to start! I saw a recipe for cinnamon rolls on The Pioneer Woman's show on food network, then looked it up again later on her blog. If you are going to make them, the things you might not have in the pantry that you'll need for this recipe are maple extract, yeast, and whole milk!

After Christmas Eve service at church and hanging out in Plano for a couple hours, I came home to make a mess of my clean-ish kitchen to make the dough! You do a little work on the stovetop, then there are a few periods of downtime for the mixture to cool and the yeasty dough to rise between addings of flour and such. These breaks were perfect for present opening for Tyler and me! Shh, Palmer isn't old enough to realize we cheated :) (For the past few years we have been swapping presents on Christmas Eve. . . or earlier. . . but I guess that tradition will have to stop once our kids get old enough to question it!)

You can use the dough right away, but I decided to save the roll-making for the morning. It was gloriously risen and surprisingly easy to roll out straight from the fridge. I thought it would be much stickier! I did a "half" recipe. Half, which makes FOUR pans. Anyway, half a recipe makes one large buttery, sugary, cinnamony log that slices up so pretty!

This is before they were allowed to rise in the pan (after I put them in the oven for 5 accidental seconds, glanced at my recipe, and threw them OUT of the oven when I realized my error). They puffed up after about 30 minutes of rest, and baked to a beautiful bronze!

I had the frosting ready to drizzle on the hot rolls, according to Ree's instructions, and OH BOY were they good. I'm not even that into sweet breakfast (meaning I can't put away a whole pan of Pillsbury Grands like my husband can) and I very much enjoyed these! Don't get me wrong, they are plenty sweet. The texture of the rolls was perfect and I loved the flavor that the coffee and maple extract gave the frosting- all in all, superb! It will be even more fun to make them again next year :)

breakfast with Santa

A couple weeks ago, Palmer sat on Santa's lap for the first time! We went to Breakfast with Santa at Tyler's mom's church, CUMC Plano Dec 10th. We ate pancakes and sausage first, then went upstairs to play with the elves (church youth kids).

Next, one elf wrote down Palmer's "wish-list" and another escorted us in to see Santa! Palmer was a little overstimulated already by the crowds of people so early in the morning, so he was a bit unstable when we got to the Santa part. He sat on his lap, though, and only whimpered a little! Here is the official photo :)

11 months

Palmer is such a big boy! He had a very fun Christmas and has more toys than he knows what to do with now. He especially loves the play table my mom gave him and putting things in and out of the little trunk on his walk n ride from Tyler and I. I can't wait for Tyler to put together Palmer's slide that Kay got him in the backyard. I think as soon as he walks he'll like to slide (with help of course). I'll do a few Christmas posts soon with lots of pictures :)

He had a bit of a cold over the past week with congestion and a runny nose. It's so sad to see your baby all stuffed up and sad! This gave us a few nights of very choppy sleep, but I think it's clearing up now. Palmer goes to bed between 6:30 & 7:30 and stays in his crib 11-12 hours, depending on the night. We successfully cut out the feeding at 3 or 4 am, but sometimes he has to be soothed back to sleep.

Palmer also experienced his first lingering diaper rash this past week. I'm not sure how much it bothered him, but we switched to disposable diapers for a few days so we could use Desitin on it. They make diaper rash cream to be used with cloth diapers (it doesn't "clog" up the fabric), but I haven't needed it til now!

He loves to eat and will gobble up Cheerios as long as you'll let him. He likes other crunchy finger foods too, and yogurt! He gets very excited about yogurt. New things he's had lately are whole green peas, blueberries, and cubed avocado. Half of these types of things end up on the floor, so mealtime can be quite messy. I'm still making purees for him since he doesn't get enough calories from the snacks alone. Lately I've made him carrot/apple, yellow squash/pea, and potato/spinach. I thin out the potato/spinach puree with beef broth to make it smooth.

He also totally sucks down these snacks called "Grabbers" made by Gerber. I recently found them in the Target brand for about $0.60 less though- YESS! They are basically fruit puree in a pouch that a toddler can hold and drink out of. It is so handy to give him these in the grocery store to keep his tummy full while I shop!

Oh, Palmer did something new and exciting especially for the holiday! On Christmas Eve, we went down to Plano for the Christmas Eve service at church and annual nacho night with the Nicholas family. He really liked the children's service with the nativity scene kids in costume and all the singing going on. That night after lots of eating, playing, and socializing it was finally time for Palmer to go to bed. Everyone waved to him before we left the room and he waved back! It was soooo cute. Palmer is great entertainment and we have loved having him around this Christmas- I know that next year will be even better!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

an unexpected project

Tyler decided to insulate the water pipes under our house this year so we could still have running water (UNlike last year), if it stays below freezing for a few days. When he came back inside after only 10 minutes or so and gave me a look, I knew the news wasn't good. He came across a sewer leak under the house. . . yuck. Let me emphasize that any waste, including potty, garbage disposal, sinks, washing machine. . . all of it exits via this sewer line! I was optimistic that it would be a quick fix- something must have just disconnected.

I was wrong.

Turns out it was those darned tree roots back to haunt us, breaking into our ancient clay pipes in a search for water. This image is of a clay pipe broken open, showing the tree roots inside. (This pipe was, surprisingly, nowhere near a tree.) "How was ANYTHING getting through that pipe?", you might wonder. It wasn't. Hence, the sewage pooling under the house.
To save two to three THOUSAND dollars that we estimate based on a plumbing consult we had done a few months back, we decided Tyler would try to fix it himself. My awesome husband took a couple days off of work, hired a day laborer, and did it! It took a day of digging (sewer lines are underground), and another day to fit and install all of the new sewer pipe. With some help from his dad, we only had to be out of the house for 1 night. I'm so proud and happy he was able to get everything working again for a whole lot less money than if we hired someone. What a handyman!Above: along the back of the house. Below: around the corner into the driveway.

Since the sewer pipe install, it has rained a few times and delayed the filling back up of the hole with the dirt that he excavated. Over the weekend, Palmer and I went outside to help! The trenches are now filled and the project is complete.

Oh, honey, what about insulating those water pipes? :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

10 months

This post is a few days late- November 26th sneaked right past me with all the Thanksgiving business going on! Palmer is getting more mobile day by day. He does a pretty good army crawl on the wood floors when there is a tempting item beyond his reach (aka, cat food & water). A few times a day he gets up on all fours too, but doesn't stay this way for too long. In other news, I think it's time to retire the beloved Bumbo til baby #2 before Palmer tips it over! He leans waaaaaay over sometimes while sitting in it and I think disaster is imminent. It's on to the high chair full time now. We'll just be carrying it back and forth to the dining room since Palmer and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen during the day!

Palmer's mobility is not the only thing increasing lately. This little man is getting an attitude! He cried, real tears, at dinner the other night when he didn't like his "mac & cheese" dinner. What a hard life he has :). The other incident that comes to mind is the little fit he threw when we took an iPhone away from him on Thanksgiving. He did not forget about it for a good 5 minutes and tossed aside all other toys offered to him! Although his newly forming opinions may be an inconvenience on occasion, it's still really neat to see him making decisions and becoming a little individual!
Oh, and one last thing. Palmer now has EIGHT teeth!

thanksgiving & beyond

We had such a wonderful turkey day with family! The food was yummy and plentiful. I roasted a turkey with no lid for the first time, and I think it turned out great! I rubbed it with an herb butter made with our own parsley and thyme, plus store bought rosemary and sage. I basted with warm chicken stock from the stovetop every 20 minutes or so and got a beautiful golden brown color. Check it out!

I did tent the turkey with foil once it got brown so it didn't get too dark on the very top. Nate and Tyler did the carving so we didn't have to pull it apart with our hands :)

Let me say I don't know how Thanksgiving dinner gets finished without double ovens. I guess everything just has to wait its turn! It was nice being able to have two free ovens while the turkey rested since dinner rolls, mashed potatoes, and stuffing need different baking temperatures. Other sides we gobbled up included salad with avocado and gorgonzola, green bean casserole, creamy corn with green chilies, deviled eggs, cranberry sauce, and probably more that I'm forgetting!

My mom brought 5 pies, (pecan, apple, cherry, chocolate, and pumpkin), and Tyler's mom brought a caramel pie, so we had plenty of dessert! During coffee and pie after lunch, we engaged in a few rounds of Mexican Train dominoes, and since we didn't keep score I can claim victory, right :) ? My mom took a bunch of family photos, so head to facebook if you want to see more!
Sweet Palmer was very happy all day with lots of hustle and bustle around him. He is a people watcher, so 10 extra folks at the house was a treat! Palmer ate the Turkey Dinner flavor of Earth's Best baby food for lunch, so he was in on the flavors of the day. I may or may not have given him some melted Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla later in the afternoon. . . what the heck, it's the holidays!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

wreath on the cheap

I have been looking at wreaths in all the holiday circulars lately, and very nearly bought this one on sale at Target for $20. . .but missed the sale, drat! This particular wreath was $25 regular price, which I probably would have paid if I hadn't stumbled upon the 50% off Christmas floral sale at Hobby Lobby last week.

I started out looking at Hobby Lobby's pre-decorated wreaths, but couldn't find one I really liked. Next, I went down the aisle filled with pinecones, glittery branches, festive berry sprigs and more that are meant for decorating your own garland and wreaths. I was sold on making my own after this!

I got a plain wreath with bendy pine twigs like on an artificial tree, some red berry sprigs, a pretty gold bow, and some flamboyantly glittered pine needley things. The bow was a little pricey, but I didn't really want to buy a whole roll of wide, wired gold ribbon that I would only use for one bow. (Plus I didn't want to make the bow. . . I had enough of this in 2008 for our wedding :) I love the look of red berries in Christmas decor, and got the gold glittery things to tie in the color of the bow.

Here is the breakdown on prices. . .

plain wreath $9.99
fancy gold bow $5.99
3 red berry twigs @ $1.27 ea- $3.81
2 gold glitter pine sprigs @ $2.27 ea- $4.54

TOTAL- $24.33
after 50% discount for Christmas floral sale- $12.17!!!

My mom helped me place the 3 berry twigs in a clockwise spiral, following the direction of the wreath needles, with the bow centered on top. I cut the glittery pine sprigs into individual, err, needle bunches, and dispersed them evenly over the whole wreath. We used floral wire to secure everything to the metal wreath frame, and ta-da!

Pretty good for $12, dontcha think? :)