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Deluxe Hot Chocolate

It’s that time of year.  Once the first snow falls, we here at the Child’s Play household usher in the ‘Hot Chocolate’ season.  We get the supersized Hot Chocolate mix from Costco, a bunch of super secret ingredients, and then prepare ourselves for some of the best drinks around town.

 

Want to join our happy group, sitting around the table sipping our cocoa together?  Here’s what you do:

First: get any generic mix. That’s not the special part…it’s what you put into it that makes the difference.

Second: if you are really wanting something indulgent, heat up a cupful of milk with a bite size dove chocolate at the bottom. Heat, mix, and voila! Fancy hot cocoa.

Third: Add a layer of marshmallows.

Fourth: Add a scattering of chocolate chips (this is The Naturalist’s idea).

Fifth: Spray a generous amount of whipped cream from a can into your mouth.

Sixth: Spray a generous amount of whipped cream from a can into the cup of cocoa.

Seventh: Sprinkle with colored sugar crystals (this is The Golfer’s idea.)

Eighth: Drop in a peppermint stick (this is my idea).Yum.

Yum!

Yummy Yum!

Its the perfect thing to have first thing in the morning, or after a brisk walk outside to watch the sun set.

Leaf Inspector

Once upon a time, there was a sassy princess with a very important job.

When the leaves fell, she was in charge of checking to see they’d all achieved the correct color…that the reds, yellows, and oranges were the proper vivid shade.

Some of them don’t pass inspection.

Once all the leaves on the ground were inspected, the work was only just beginning. Next was getting to all the leaves still on the trees. That’s when it’s good to have a sister as big and tall as The Naturalist.

“Up!”

“Higher!”

“Almost there!”

“I can almost reach it…”

“That’s it! Right there! These leaves are perfect!”

With the tree passing muster, off she’d go…
Only a billion more leaves to go!

Overheard…

Tonight was a rather late night due to the double header of “Fearless Planet” on the Discovery Channel, and “Ocean of Fear: The Sinking of the Lusitania” on one of our HDTV channels.

The Naturalist and Golfer climbed into their bunk beds later than usual, and as I walked passed their room I overheard their goodnight conversation. I had to park myself outside their door…their chatter reminded me so much of what my older sister and I used to say when we were their age–except we weren’t such savy consumers.

Golfer: “What do you think Santa will bring you?”
Naturalist: “Whatever it is, it’ll be great! He always brings good stuff…even if I don’t ask for it specifically.”
Golfer: “I don’t think he’ll bring me a video game, that’s more what the Easter Bunny brings. I mean, I’ve gotten a video game every year for 3 years every Easter!”
Naturalist: “Yeah, it’ll be something else.”

Naturalist: “You know what I really REALLY want for Christmas?”
Golfer: “A horse?”
Naturalist: “No.”
Golfer: “Art supplies?”
Naturalist: “No. I’ll tell you what I want. More than toys. More than games. More than anything.”
Golfer: “What?!?!”
Naturalist: “A Tempurpedic bed and pillow.”
Golfer: ….
Naturalist: “Because you can have the best toys and games in the world, but if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you won’t enjoy them. I need to get better sleep at night. I don’t care if I don’t get anything else…I want a nice, soft, comfy Tempurpedic bed.”

I sat at the door, amazed at what I was hearing. I mean, everyone always says how quickly children grow up, and to enjoy them while they’re young, and to enjoy the passing moments because they are gone all too soon. Until now, my kids have all been young enough and whiny enough to keep me from reminiscing (much) about the good old days. But all of a sudden I realized that my little pre-teen has crossed a threshold between utter kid-ness and young adulthood. It does, indeed, go fast. It was only yesterday, it seems, that she was asking for toys and games. Now, she’s moved on to orthopedically designed mattresses and pillows.

Between that and The Sassy Princess almost out of diapers for good, I’m a little verklempt. After 11 years, it’s strange to think that babyhood is going to be gone from our house very soon!

This Christmas, rather than a bike, maybe I’ll ask hubby for a baby*.

*I kid, hubby, I kid. A bike will be fine. Kinda.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In honor of Tom the Turkey, we will not be eating any fowl this year. Really, we don’t eat turkey very much anyways…but now we have a good reason not to. The plan is to have all the food ready to eat by 2:30 this afternoon. That way we can gorge ourselves once in the afternoon, lay around in a gluttonous stupor like slugs (not to imply slugs are gluttonous), and then do it all again this evening.

Instead of Tom, we’ll be eating a big, juicy prime rib (in the oven now, giving off the most delicious smell) and in case that’s not enough we’ll also be dining on honey glazed ham. Also in the oven/stovetop/microwave/refrigerator:

Stuffing (Stove Top, my favorite!)
Candied Yams
Candied Carrots
Mashed Potatoes
Corn
Jello Salad
Crescent Rolls (Pillsberry, my kids insisted)
Fudge
5 assorted Pies (Village Inn, my dad’s gift)

I like to get all my cooking done for the whole entire year in one go, which is why we have 10 pounds of roast baking alongside 8 pounds of ham alsongside enough side dishes to feed the neighborhood. But it’s amazing the creations that can be made with a few simple ingredients….shepherds pie, stew, sandwich meat, pot pie, ham rolls, split pea soup, ham hock stew, etc. etc. My mom isn’t here for this year’s festivities, and I miss her–but I’ll miss her more tomorrow as I try to wrestle all the leftovers into other delicious meals to freeze. She makes the finest soups/stews around.

Wishing everyone a lovely Thanksgiving and a nice loooong nap!

What’s keeping me busy.

Well, the most obvious thing is making all the plans for Thanksgiving Day. What to cook, what to do, what to cook…oh, and what to eat. Actually, our menu doesn’t change much from year to year, so at this point it’s just a matter of getting the food and assembling as much of it ahead of time as possible. We’ll have 6 adults, 6 kids, and 1 Sassy Princess. Good times! Good food! Lots of work and coordinating!

The less obvious thing is istock.com. The link will bring you to stock pictures of ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’. Basically, what you do is search using a few key words and voila! Dreamy pictures of the subject, ready to download for a few credits each. In fact, the pics are so great, maybe I’ll serve PB&J’s for Thanksgiving, download a few stock photos of amazing dinners, photoshop our faces into it and call it good. I can’t stop searching on it…I’m the kind of person that will happily sit down with someone else’s scrapbook and be just as excited about looking through it as if it were my own. I love pictures.

Pictures like this one:

And on a side note…I’m running a giveaway on my soap blog. Go check it out and have a shot at winning a lovely sampler of handcrafted, natural, bestselling bath and body products. Lovingly created by yours truly after all my kids get into bed at night.

Something happened on the way to the playroom…

A few days ago, I tucked the Sassy Princess into her bed to take a nice snuggly nap after lunch. I had big plans to clean our playroom, which is always easier to do if she’s sound asleep and totally incapable of coming in behind me to dump out all the containers I carefully organize, fill, and put in their place.

So, I organize, fill, and put the playroom into order.

I then walk by the Sassy Princess room and notice she hasn’t fallen asleep at all. In fact, she’s been working very hard…as hard as I had in the playroom. She’d been busy doing this:

Which is to say, she’d been diligently removing everything from inside her closet and depositing them all over her room. In short, not sleeping at all.

I walked into her room and was greeted with “I’m working, Mamma! I’m just doing my job!” and then she made a beeline for the door. When I intercepted her and announced that now was a good time to go back in and clean it up, I got this kind of body language explanation:

“It’s too bad I can’t help you clean up, lady.”

“You know I would, but I’m just not feeling like it right now.”

“There’s quite a few reasonable reasons as to why I just can’t lift a finger to help in that mess…it’s hard to know where to start.”

“But mainly, it’s just because I’m so stinking tired. I really didn’t get a good nap, you know. And you know how important it is for growing toddlers to get some good down time! In fact, I think I’m going to get some shut eye right here on the stairs. ‘Night Mamma! Have fun in my room! Try not to be too loud…it disturbs my quiet time.”

I did get her to help pick up some stuff. Then she drifted into the playroom while I finished up. By the time I got finished with her room, the playroom had been torn (back) apart in the same manner. All in a day’s work, for both Sassy Princess and me.

Welcome Visitors

Every so often, the kids and I like to call up the sitemeter and see who’s visited us here. The Golfer is a total statistician and loves the graphs of how many visitors from each continent/country/etc. Every time we check how many visits we’ve had, he gets all excited and then says, “Only 6 billion more people to go”, which leads me to believe he’s hoping everyone in the world reads our blog once. So, you know, if you have friends, let them know that are welcome to stop by anytime.

Here’s a few of the places (with mileage away from us) that really stood out to the kids, and got them looking closer at the map…

Colombia Bogot, Cundinamarca 3,007
United Kingdom London, London, City of 4,702 (or, as The Golfer likes to refer to the UK, “Home of the Redcoats”)
Netherlands Emmeloord, Flevoland 4,851
France Billancourt, Ile-de-France 4,895 (or, as The Golfer likes to refer to France, “Home of our allies”)
Estonia Tallinn, Harjumaa 5,049
Germany Ladenburg, Baden-Wurttemberg 5,089 (or, as The Golfer likes to refer to Germany, “Home of the Hessians”)
Czech Republic Praha, Hlavni Mesto Praha 5,251 (I have some great pictures of the Hlavni Mesto area of Prague. Someday I’ll get back there…)
Japan Yachiyo, Hokkaido 5,419 (or, as the Golfer likes to refer to Japan, “Home of the Kamakaze fighters”)
Brazil So Paulo, Sao Paulo 5,673 (Never been, want to go.)
Pakistan Islamabad 7,427 (How cool is this?!)
Sudan 7,678
United Arab Emirates Dubai, Dubayy 7,814
India Bombay, Maharashtra 8,441
I forgot to save one from South Africa…I had no idea it was around 10,000 miles away!