Christmas Card 2013: …and this one was JUST right!

When my parents were visiting, we all headed up to a picturesque hilltop so they could help take our family Christmas card picture. It was a very short uphill hike, but the kids started complaining about three steps into it. We did manage to capture one good image for the card, but as usual, the outtakes are hilarious.

This spot was too squinty:



This kid didn’t want to smile. Plus there was a spot on the camera lens. Duh:





This kid kept wandering away…



And this spot was just right, if we could only get all four of us to look at the camera and smile at the same time:





Finally, success!

xmas card 2013


(Later, there was a scorpion:)


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Morning Breakfast: Apple Puffed Pancake

Puff Pancake

This is what my mother made for breakfast on Christmas morning. Now I make it every year. But also every year, I lose the recipe and I have to call my mother for it. Luckily, I remembered that last year she emailed it to me, so I found it nice and snug in my Gmail archives. I am posting it here for posterity, and so that you might also enjoy:

Apple-Puffed Pancake

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup flour
3 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 lb butter
2 apples, peeled & thinly sliced
2-3 tbs brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425. In a blender or large bowl, mix eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon till blended. If using a mixer, batter will remain slightly lumpy. Melt butter in a 12″ fluted porcelain quiche dish or a 13×9 baking dish in oven. Add apple slices to baking dish. Return to oven until butter sizzles. Do not let brown. Remove dish from oven and immediately pour batter over apples. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in middle of oven 20 minutes or until puffed and brown. Serve immediately with bacon and some Lipitor. 6-8 servings.

Photo courtesy of Our Cooking Cafe, with permission.

Gorgeous Day Stuck in the House

lego xmas treeAnyone who read this post probably chuckled and thought “Wow she totally just jinxed herself.” Well, if that was you, you were right.

I started feeling sickly last week on Saturday evening. Stewart had been sick – he still is but he stoically pushes through it, just doing his thing, clearing his throat and moaning every now and then, but still going to work and coaching flag football and picking up Christmas gifts and changing the brake pads on the car, ETC. – and I unfortunately caught his bug.

It really kicked in Thursday afternoon, and I’ve just been getting worse. The timing is good and bad – good because Stewart’s semester is over and he is around more often to help me out, and because the boys are out of school so there’s no ferrying around of one or the other of them to various school functions or practices, but bad because there are plenty of things I’d like to do before Christmas Day that require energy that I don’t have. Gingerbread cookies – I wanted to make the dough from scratch this year instead of using the pre-made refrigerated tube. Elfing the neighbors – we walk around the neighborhood dropping off bags of cookies, one of the children wearing a Santa hat. Driving around to look at holiday lights on the houses – last year we drove out to the Christmas Tree lanes in San Marino and Altadena, where the residents go over the top with their decor. We had hot chocolate and joined some friends and had a lovely time.

But time’s running out now and I’m on my third day of just staying around the house, carrying out one task or another and then taking a nap. The boys have been mostly tolerant of my lame state, snuggling up with me in bed and asking for snacks much less frequently than usual. But I’m sad that they are stuck inside without me to captain an outing to the park or the beach or even the grocery store to pick up some eggs and coffee creamer, (two things we are never lacking in this house, so you know I must be feeling pretty bad).

Today’s activities included:
-Forced LEGO building. Their assignment was to create a Christmas tree out of LEGO’s.
-The cleaning of the rooms and the trying on of the clothes they own, to weed out things that no longer fit.
-Thirty minutes of outside play. I timed them. Their reward was a TV show. It is sad that they must be forced to play outside. Whatever happened to my free-spirited little roamers who loved their swingset?

Stewart came home from his errands and finally took them for a walk. I’m sure it won’t last long, but at least they’ll get to see some holiday lights. I’ll get some peace and quiet. I’m already needing a nap after writing this post.

Flashback Friday: The Baths


Greetings from The Baths on Virgin Gorda (British Virgin Islands), July 2002.

It was our honeymoon. We rented a 42′ Beneteau and sailed it around the islands, mostly dead reckoning because you can see every island from where you are. There are very few photos of the two of us together, because it was just him and me. We brought our video camera too, a giant device by today’s standards, that recorded onto VHS-C. (Mommy, what’s VHS?) But the salty air killed it right away, so there’s no footage.

It’s just as well. The most relaxing time in my life is recorded in my memory. It’s my happy place.