Saturday, November 29, 2008

Favorite Holiday Recipes

I thought I'd share a couple of my favorite holiday recipes that I made for Thanksgiving this year. They are equally good for other holiday meals. The Cranberry Apple Relish comes from my mother-in-law and has been an Atkins family tradition for a long time. The Cheesy Olive recipe is from my mother. She used to make them as an appetizer at the holidays and I would eat the cheesy part and leave the olive. Now I appreciate the amazing combination of flavors!

Cranberry Apple Relish

(I'm including the amounts here for a small or large batch.)
This recipe is simple if you own a grinder that can easily grind up the cranberries and raisins. Without a good grinder, it becomes very challenging. I own a grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer and it works great!

Cranberries: 3 c. for small or 7 c. (2 12 oz bags) for large batch
Raisins: 3/8 c. or 7/8 c.
Apple: 3/4 c. or 1 3/4 c.
Sugar: 1 c. or 2.5 c.
Lemon Juice: 3/4 t. or 1 3/4 t.

Wash & pick over the cranberries, then grind or chop. Grind or chop raisins and add to cranberries. Chop apples by hand and add. Add & stir in sugar and lemon juice.
After everything has been mixed in, let it stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved and some juice has been formed. Then keep in refrigerator or freeze. (Make a big batch at Thanksgiving and freeze half for Christmas.)

Cheesy Olives

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (do not use pre-shredded as it will not mush into the dough properly.)
1/2 cup butter soft / melted
1/2 tsp. paprika
Dash hot sauce
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
~72 olives (green with pimentos)

Mix cheese, butter, paprika, and hot sauce.
Stir in flour and salt to make dough.
Let stand 10-15 minutes.
Roll 1/2 - 1 tsp. dough around each olive.
(Can be prepared ahead and refrigerated before baking.)
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cranberries are a Diuretic

Happy Thanksgiving! I was thankful that I was able to spend Thanksgiving with family (my brother-in-law's family and his in-laws, who are all very nice.) Everyone brought something so that Jane, my sister-in-law, wouldn't have to cook everything (although she did an awful lot of it!) Most everything was a special recipe from scratch, so it was a particularly yummy Thanksgiving dinner. So, what do my kids eat at Thanksgiving? Aside from the desserts and snacks, which they're going to love in any setting, they each had a very unique, but not very varied plateful of food.

Owen ate rolls with butter. He had seconds. And thirds. He may also have had some crackers with a bite or two of cheese.

Sierra ate cranberry relish (my mother-in-law's phenomenal recipe that I make every year because I have the grinder attachment for my kitchenaid mixer.) And to mix it up a little, she also ate cranberry sauce (the kind from a can.) In fact, it's likely that she ate a whole can's worth. (Certainly more than half a can!) As a result, she had to pee a lot! So, despite the fact that she was doing well using the potty and went a bunch of times successfully, she still had a couple of accidents. In fact, 5 minutes after she successfully used the potty, she she had an accident which left a significant puddle on the floor. That's when I started to think, "hmmm... I think cranberries are a diuretic!"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's try them all!

My first child has always been a slave to routine and familiarity. He's much more willing to try new things than he used to be, but with something like, say, peeing on the potty, I would worry that he might have to go outside the house and just not be willing to use a strange toilet. It took a long time before he would even use the toilet at school.
My daughter, however, once she likes doing something, wants to try all the different variations. She would love to try every toilet. Last week she told me she had to pee while we were in the car. I had told her when we were getting in that I had a little portable potty in the car, so she should always tell me when she has to go, even if we're in the car. We stopped at a rest stop and I offered to take her in. No, she wanted to use the portable potty. But nothing came out. So we tried the potty inside the rest stop. Still nothing. (She just wanted to try them out.) Once at the mall, she tried at least two toilets (successfully.) She loves to go at school and will even request that her teacher help her with wiping rather than me, even if I'm there. And best of all, the other day we were coming home from the Boston Aquarium with friends in the car, stuck in traffic on Rt. 2, and she said she had to pee. "Can you hold it for a little while, or do you have to go now?" I asked. "I have to go now." So I pulled over at a gas station just off Rt. 2. Ooof! The smell hit hard from the one bathroom (no separate women's.) The nasty looking bar of soap sat on a sponge on the sink. "Ok, Sierra, don't touch anything. You're going to go quickly, and we'll wash our hands with wipes at the car." She was so proud of herself, using the gas station bathroom and staying dry!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm Due For a Sinus Infection...

Once a year, for the past I don't know how many years, I get a cold that develops into a sinus infection. I think this might be the one. On Oct. 26 I got some kind of chest infection which developed into pneumonia. I got better with antibiotics, but the cough hung on while my body continued to try to clear all the mucus out of my lungs. The cough was getting better, but I think the sickness weakened me, because now I've caught a head cold. It includes an extremely annoying tickle in my throat that's now developed into an unrelenting cough. The coughing is exhausting. But I can't sleep. Too much coughing. I can feel my sinuses filling up. The face pain is coming, I just know it. I think I'm in for another doctor visit....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dry All Day!

I'm in complete disbelief. Sierra was out of the house with me all day and managed to tell me every time she had to pee. We're 5 minutes before bedtime, and she's still wearing the same underwear she put on this morning. It's a miracle! Child 1: 2 years. Child 2: 4 days. I know, I know, there's bound to be setbacks, and she hasn't dealt with a poop well yet, but I really think this is huge!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A First Success!

Well, Sierra's been really struggling to figure out the mechanics of peeing during the four days she's been wearing the underwear. But just a minute ago she was standing in the kitchen and whispered to herself, "pee on the potty," and then said out loud to me, "I think I have to pee on the potty!" We rushed her into the bathroom where we found her dry and she proceeded to pee!! This is so very exciting!!!! (Keep in mind that earlier today, she peed in her pants just about a minute or two after having sat on the potty, unable to pee.)

I'm so happy I peed on the potty and got a reward!

I'm so happy, I get a little reward every time Sierra has a success!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Potty Training Pain

Don't get me wrong. I'm really glad that Sierra has decided to give up pull-ups and start wearing underwear. But she doesn't know how to tell when she needs to go. Twice at school today (I was parent-helping) she had accidents right before I was planning to have her sit on the potty. Then she had another accident at home. It's only 2 o'clock! I'm hoping she figures it out quickly because I find all the cleaning up exhausting.

Oh, and I need to buy more underwear!

[Update: By the time she went to bed, she had had 6 (at least) accidents. While she sat on the potty once, she didn't actually pee there. On the plus side, she still wants to wear underwear -- at least she's not giving up!]

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Going on Safari!

Today's safari birthday party was a success. Steve set up a scavenger hunt "safari" with photos of animals all over the yard. The kids took their safari hats and binoculars and had to find and check all the animals off their list. Combined with a bounce house (a castle because they didn't have any animal ones,) a zebra pinata, and a hippo cake, it made for a fun day for the kids. (Sorry, I don't have photos of the safari yet. I took them on my brother's camera an I don't have them on my computer yet.)


Pinata goodies! (no candy)

The cake -- not bad, eh?

The photogenic birthday girl!


Sierra has decided that when you're 3, you wear underwear. She has been unsuccessful using the potty while wearing pulll-ups, but I'm hopeful that this "big girl" attitude will do the trick! I've heard of it happening with other kids. Her daddy is not very hopeful. He remembers Owen saying the same thing when he was 3... and when he was 4....

So, she's wearing underwear right now! And she's peed on the potty once today. Everyone keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dinosaur Dig Party

I'm finally getting around to posting something about Owen's 5th birthday party. We played up the whole dinosaur theme with the Triceratops cake (seen here), dinosaur decorations, and dinosaur activities. Steve made giant dinosaur footprint cutouts for the floor and walls, he made chalk footprints up the driveway, we had green streamers (I should have had more) and blow-up dinosaurs, and really great dinosaur tablecloths.

For activities, we did the following:
- The kids came in and decorated their own gift bags with fabric markers and puffy dinosaur stickers (which turned out to be a mistake because then I had to stuff the bags during the party.)
-The kids then went outside and dug through the sandbox for a dinosaur skeleton.
- Steve hid photographs of dinosaurs all over the yard and the kids went on a scavenger hunt to find them all and fill in the letters on their sheets to spell C-R-E-T-A-C-E-O-U-S.

-Steve then told the kids a whole story about protecting dinosaur eggs and they did a relay race with eggs (balloons) and putting them in nests.

-We had a triceratops pinata (filled with mini plastic dinos and other little toys, not candy.

- The kids played pin the pteranodon in the dino picture. (Most of them figured out how to cheat. Not the kid in this picture, though....)

- We were going to play a dinosaur version of musical chairs where you try to hide in the dinosaur footprint, but we ran out of time.

The activities really kept the kids busy and active for the whole 2 1/2 hours. Before the pinata, we stopped for a snack that included homemade cheddar dinosaur crackers. At the end, we ate the cake!

Tomorrow we're doing a Safari Party! Stay tuned for an update and cake photos!

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I love halloween! I just wish that I hadn't been sick this year. Maybe the kids won't remember that I never took them out to get pumpkins or spent much effort to decorate the house. Thankfully, I made the bulk of their costumes for our trip to Disney in September. But I never did finish painting the brown bits onto the sweatsuit for Owen's costume.... He didn't seem to mind.

Owen was a triceratops:

And Sierra was a hippo:

Very cute, if I do say so myself!

(Note: I bought Sierra's costume and added some details like the hands, toes on the feet, and the tail. My MIL made the hood with the horns for Owen's triceratops head. I added the frill and the paint to the hood and made the tail and the clawed hands and feet. Just in case you thought I was more crafty than I am....)