Browsing the blog archives for December, 2012.

Thanksgiving Rewind

California, Domestic, Kids, Marriage

So as I mentioned about eleventy billion times last month, we took a road trip out to Las Vegas to celebrate our first American Thanksgiving with our dear friend Nichole and her four children! She is originally from the south and I am..well, I’m me, so we went all out. Our Vegas adventure was short and sweet. We drove out after dinner on Wenesday, checked into Circus Circus, did some late night wandering around the hotel and went to bed alarmingly late. Fun! We had an incredibly lazy Thanksgiving morning, much to Nichole’s dismay, but we did have a fantastic evening together once we finally got there!

The whole menu is pretty crazy, but it was a lot of fun and there were 11 of us total. We had to leave all the leftovers with her (sorry!!), but there are 5 of them so that made sense anyway! She made a lovely turkey with stuffing and gravy, she and her wee ones also made the cranberry sauce, ham, pinto beans, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. I brought my very first sweet potato pie, apple crumble, cocoa brownies for the kids and my trio of tarts; lemon meringue, pumpkin and Sailor Jerry pecan (and of course my cherry apron and matching headband – essential items).

I’m linking to three recipes I just put up on the site from that day. They are all equally bananas-amazing.

Lemon meringue has been one of my husband’s favorite pies since we met so I have a lot of practice with this, and I’ve tried a few different recipes over the years but this has been the absolute best one. (read)

These are another piece of the trifecta of awesome that was my tart collection at our first American Thanksgiving. Half a dozen are made without any run and the other half are spiked with Sailor Jerry. (read)
Sweet Potato Pie
Sweet Potato Pie
It sounds typical to say I’m from Canada and I’ve never had sweet potato pie, but I think it’s just all in who you know and my exposure to Southern Belles up to this point has been pretty limited. However, I spent Thanksgiving this year with a real life Southern Gal, and she put me in charge of the sweet potato pie – she even gave me her Granny’s recipe. (read)

On Friday, we picked three of the zillion things there are to do in Vegas with kids and each of them was a hit.

First we just went downstairs to The Adventuredome in Circus Circus. As the name implies, it’s an indoor amusement park, and it’s way bigger than this Canuk remembered from my own childhood! Like, woah. We wanted to get to make sure we got to do all three things before we headed home so we let the kids each pick a couple of rides and away we went! Please note there are very few actual horses on the carousel. Wee One #2 picked the dragon and Wee One #3 picked the flying bunny. There were also flying bears and pigs. I honestly thought that was pretty rad.

We are all a little in love with Vegas and we’re all eager to go back again. This was our first road trip since we moved to LA and I have to be honest, it feels pretty amazing to come home to California. Like, taking a vacation from vacation!

Our next stop was The Silverton to check out the aquarium and the mermaid that was rumored to hang out there. While we waited for her to make her entrance, we saw a leopard print sting ray. What?? We spent some time this summer with Wee One #3’s Godmother, exploring the aquarium in Long Beach and we got to see a lot of sting rays but I had no idea that leopard print sting rays existed! So cool!
The chocolate factory was a must do because every year for years and years and years, going back before I can remember and ending when my granny started getting ‘the old’, my aunt went to Vegas every year with either her girlfriends or her sister in laws or nieces or all of the above. Every single time she came back, she’d bring us Ethel M chocolates. It only felt fitting for us to hit the chocolate factory and pick her up a box of Ethel M chocolate. The kids thought it was pretty cool to see where M&Ms come from, though I’m sure this is not the only place they are made!

This picture is hilarious to me and really sums up where they are right now. Wee Ones #2 & 3 are crazy and hyper and delightfully insane. Wee One #1? Well, he’s 12 now so he’s not about to get into shenanigans with them ON CAMERA, but trust me, he is just as delightfully insane as they are. 😉

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Little Updates and Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix


Much, much business is happening around here lately, as I have no doubt is happening at your house as well!

First a quick homeschooling update. When we started this journey a little over eight months ago, I was really excited to do it but I honestly wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. I had the best intentions and the best books, but that alone will only take you so far, right? Well, I am very happy to report that since we have started working with a local independent study program and doing a fairly even mix of Canadian and American curriculum, the kids are doing even better than expected! Wee One #2 started 2nd grade this year, but at the rate she has been going, she is fast tracking through it and will end this school year finishing 3rd grade. Next fall, she will likely be challenged enough by the 4th grade work to keep working at a steady pace through it and not fast track again. Our 7th grader is progressing ahead of schedule but instead of fast tracing through to 8th grade, he is spending his extra time exploring some of his lessons more in depth than the textbooks go. It’s been a really amazing to see how they learn at home and with each other.

I have been asked about our littlest one, and what she gets up to while the others are working. Truthfully, I have folders and folders of neat activities I have been saving to post about. We make play doh every other day, we conduct a lot of mini science experiments and she is learning her letters and numbers by sight. She is learning something that is normally an epic problem in households with a busy toddler – she is learning patience! Since I spend so much time working and crafting and reading and just being with her, she knows that if I need to step away for 5 minutes and help one of the other kids, that I really will be right back. She used to be on the verge of a fit every time I had to walk away from her and now? She just continues on with whatever it is we were doing until I get back (not that I’m ever really more than across the room during school time anyway), but it’s nice to see.

Thanksgiving in Vegas was such a blast we have all decided it’s our new go-to for a random family weekend getaway. If we can’t hop in the car and visit our family, we may as well hop in and have a super fun weekend (& visiting our friend Nichole and all her kids is a serious plus too)!

This year we were lucky enough to be sent an Elf on a Shelf from Santa himself!! The girls have been so excited each morning when they get up to see what she has been up to! I will devote a blog post this week to our first week or so with her. This of course has meant a lot of silly late night insanity with my husband preparing for our little elf’s arrival! Hilarious.

There’s also been more holiday baking going on between Thanksgiving and today than ever before in previous years – I even started on my crazy complicated cookies. You know how much I love to bust out the ruler and egg wash, right?! Usually, I have my girlfriends around to sample new cookies and plenty of family members on both sides and even kids and teachers at school to pawn the sweets off on. Here though, there is considerably less and I am eating waaaay more than I should. However, I have joined a local mommy group and they have been the happy recipients of some treats already so it’s looking up. 😉

Years ago, I came across a recipe for homemade hot chocolate mix and then last year my girl Sammie made homemade instant cake mix and I’ve been searching for just the right recipe this season. Mason jars filled with hot chocolate mix and tied with a cute ribbon are a simple but still sweet gift to give to people you might not know well but see ALL. THE. TIME. Like the FedEx guy (even though he’s always kinda surly) or the UPS guys (who is always super nice). This recipe is crazy rich – which is perfect for the holidays, right?!

This recipe filled 6 15oz mason jars, we saved one for home and we are keeping the other 5 around for gifting.

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix – via Just a Pinch

7 cups non-fat powdered milk
1lb confectioner’s sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups powdered non-dairy creamer*
2 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cups mini white chocolate chips
*you can choose a flavored version but it might compete with the chocolate unless it’s hazelnut

Sift together the powdered milk, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, and non dairy creamer.
Now add the mini marshmallows and chocolate chips! See? So easy! Now just fill your jars and voila! Prepare a cup the same as you would any other cup of instant hot chocolate, by warming up a cup of water or milk and adding more or less scoops to taste.
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