Curly Crafty Mom: December 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

What I read in 2012...

If you haven't been on Goodreads.com, it is a great site where you can keep track of all of the books you have read and want to read. What is even better is you can see what books your friends are reading and how they have rated them. I have gotten a lot of great ideas from my friends on what to read in 2012! I spent the early part of the year reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels... and, I am STILL not done! I think she has two books out that I need to read still, and then #13 should be her last book. I finished #10 and decided to take a break and I am still not sure if I'll ever read the last 3. I am a little burned out on them and they were not getting any better!

Since I held myself to finishing 2 books a month or 24 for the entire year, I stayed away from 'bigger' books that I have been wanting to read... so, I am going to read however many books I read in 2013 (not keeping track). But, I would love to read the 2nd book to Pillars of the Earth (World Without End) and also A Game of Thrones.

Later in the year I started reading the books I REALLY wanted to read, not the books I felt I should read... an example of this is when I finished Chop, Chop, The Uglies and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... I felt I should read the rest of the books in the series, but didn't. I may go back and read some of them, but I probably will not. Some other books I felt I needed to read were ones in my closet I hadn't read but I still had held on to them- such as the Kristin Hannah books I received from a House Party and some given to me as gifts.

I also read the Daily Bible this year and it took A LOT of time even though it was 3-4 pages a day. There were times where I would get 1 or 2 weeks behind due to illnesses in our household or vacations... but, I finished it three days early!

I joined a bloggy book club on Back to the Roots and that is how I came about reading The Book Thief, my favorite 2012 book. The book club is starting its second book in January which will be Terra... cannot wait to read more books I normally wouldn't select.
 

So here are the books I read  last  year with a Goodreads rating of 1-5 (5 being highest).

1. Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse Novels #4) (3 Stars)
2. Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse Novels #5) (3 Stars)
3. The Help (5 Stars)
4. Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse Novels #6) (3 Stars)
5. Divergent (5 Stars)
6. All Together Dead (Sookie Stackhouse Novels #7) (4 Stars)
7. Heaven is for Real (5 Stars)
8. From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse Novels #8) (4 Stars)
9. Insurgent (4 Stars)
10. Jacob's Story (4 Stars)
11. Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse Novels #9) (5 Stars)
12. London Escape (4 Stars)
13. Dead in the Family (Sookie Stackhouse Novels #10) (2 Stars)
14. Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex: A Hands-On, Practical Guide to Communicating with a Difficult Ex-Spouse (5 Stars)
15. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (4 Stars)
16. Little Bee (4 Stars)
17. Gone Girl (4 Stars)
18. Chop, Chop (3 Stars)
19. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate (5 Stars)
20. Winter Garden (4 Stars)
21. True Colors (3 Stars)
22. The Uglies (4 Stars)
23. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (4 Stars)
24. The Life of Pi (5 Stars)
25. The Book Thief (5 Stars)
26. Daily Bible (NIV) (5 Stars)

December Wrap Up / 2012 Resolutions Wrap Up

1. In December I took it easy and only ran 24.3 miles, but for the entire year of 2012 I ran the most ever... 554.1 miles! I was really excited to make it to 550! I completed 2 5K's, 1 10K and 2 half marathons! I PR'ed on the second 5K and the second half marathon... the 10K I ran while I was sick and did not PR. :( (but, I'm ok with it!)

2. I read two books in December, and a total of 26 books in 2012. I beat my goal by 2 books.

Here are my reviews of the December books:

Life of Pi - Amazing read, and I got to see the movie the weekend after I read it which was even better. To sum it up (shortly) - a boy survives on a life boat with a tiger.

The Book Thief - I will repeat my Goodreads review here - My favorite book I read in 2012. This book is dark, it is narrated by death himself... yes, that was creepy. However, the main character, Liesel develops profound relationships with her foster parents, a young boy with a crush on her that later she develops a crush on, the weird yet important relationship with the Mayor's wife and of course Max, the Jewish man her foster parents hide in their basement. Any normal person would have broken down in Liesel's life, but she finds comfort in learning to read with the first book she stole after her brother's death, and she continues to find comfort in other books she steals... later, she gives others comfort in reading to them. Does this book have a happy ending? No. This book actually gave me a really bad nightmare one night after I read it... after the bombings. I am surprised I liked this book so much, given all of the gloom in it... but, I think what I liked best of all was Liesel and her strong and charming personality that never wavered in the book. She was true and determined to act out her beliefs and devoted to her family and friends. You will definitely walk away feeling differently after you have read this book.

3. What did we do in December?

- Elfie returned and we tried out the Lego Advent calendars for the first time
- I baked every weekend in December: Nutella-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies, Red Velvet Crickle Cookies, Creamy Christmas Mints, Gingerbread/Sugar Cookies for Santa and Chocolate Chip -Pudding- Cookies
- Santa Dash (5K) with PR
- Kids worked on Melted Snowman Ornament
- 2012 MoBot Electric Train show
- School Christmas play (first time Auttie was in it, too!), Cubscout Christmas party, Class parties
- Christmas!
- First Snow

4. What's up for January? Hoping to have a time to gather my thoughts for another post on my new resolutions! I did OK with my 2012 resolutions... BUT, some still do need a little more work or I just want to focus my time and attention elsewhere. I did finish the Once a Day Bible, my running and reading goals, and my never ending 100 item to do list is at 30 items right now. I'm OK with it. I do want to say I am pretty happy where I am in life right now, and 2012 was full of dreams that came true for me. Hope 2013 is even better, or the same! :)

Chocolate Chip -Pudding- Cookies

Jello-Pic
Well, I completed my December goal... I wanted to bake a different cookie recipe every weekend in December. One weekend I did do mints, but... that's ok! This weekend I almost got lazy and skipped... but, I have been wanting to try a chocolate chip recipe I saw on Pinterest where you add vanilla pudding.


Closeup-cookie 
AND, vanilla pudding made these cookies AWESOME! Seriously, MAKE THESE! These are the BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP cookies I have EVER made. This is now my new go to chocolate chip recipe!


Cookies-on-Plate 
If you like cookies that are more cakey than crispy, you will love these, too! I used my tablespoon cookie scooper to make the scoops and they formed a really nice shape after they baked.


Bakers-Joy 
I cannot remember if I mentioned this or not, but Brian introduced me to Baker's Joy and I love it! Its baking spray WITH flour!

Can't wait to try some new cookie recipes each weekend next December!

Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Chip -Pudding- Cookies

1 1/2 sticks (or 3/4 cup) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
2-1/4 cups flour
1-2 cups chocolate chips (or whatever add in you would like)


1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
 

2. Stir together flour and baking soda and set aside.
 

3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together.
 

4. Add in pudding package and beat until well blended.
 

5. Add eggs and vanilla.
 

6. Add flour mixture slowly until well incorporated.
 

7. Add chocolate chips or whatever add-in you chose.
 

8. Roll into 1″ balls and place on greased baking sheet.
 

9. Bake at 350 F for 8-12 minutes.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Easy Bake Oven Experiment

Easy-Bake-Oven
It is the weekend after Christmas, and we have spent a lot of time opening and enjoying the kids toys. Autumn has been just ITCHING to try out her new Easy Bake oven. She has been dragging the box around, trying to open it, etc. SO, I promised her we would try it out this weekend... I heard SO many mixed reviews about the oven, so I was a little worried it'd be a flop of a toy.


Auttie-Mixing-Cake-Mix
I have to admit. I loved it. A lot of the complaints are about the tray getting stuck inside the oven (it goes into it from the side, it doesn't open like a regular oven-- this makes it safer as it is really only hot on the top where there are tiny vent holes) and that the portion sizes are small. The portion sizes ARE really small, but they are SO cute. They are Autumn sized. And, Autumn loves little things. The oven came with chocolate chip cookies and also a recipe for red velvet cupcakes with pink icing and sprinkles. Autumn wanted to make the cupcakes first. Here she is mixing the batter (it only needs a tablespoon of water)...


Auttie-Filling-Cake-Pan
Filling the cupcake pan


Auttie-Holding-Pan
Ready to put the cupcakes in the Easy Bake oven. Yes, she did sample the batter, that is why her mouth is all red! ha!


Pushing-Tray-In
With my help, pushing the cupcakes into the warming vent


Pouring-Icing-In
While they cooked, we worked on making the icing... once again, just a tablespoon of water needed... then, mix mix mix mix.


Spreading-Icing
Once the cupcakes were done baking, we had to push them further into the oven so they could cool "inside" the oven. Then we took them out of the oven and the tray was cool and the cupcakes could be iced right away.


Adding-Sprinkles_Closeup
Then she added some little sprinkles   


Finished-cupcakes
And, here is how they looked... aren't they ADORABLE? They were pretty good, too, for the size. ha! Can't wait to make the chocolate chip cookies with her! We also bought a smores mix. Fun times! Gotta love having a girly girl!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

First Snow


Yesterday afternoon it started snowing for the first time this winter in St. Louis, so of course the kids wanted to go out in it on Saturday morning. Autumn told me to take her picture on the porch before she stepped into the white stuff, so I did. She's such a cutie these days.



Nathan-Snow
It really wasn't a lot of snows... not enough to make a snow man, but we did get the sled out and had some snow ball fights.


Autumn-and-her-snow-angel

Aut-Snow-Angel
Autumn really wanted to make a snow angel, and she did a swell job! 


Both-Kids-on-Sled
Then we did a little sledding... Nathan got this sled for Christmas last year, and we didn't even get to try it out until now.


Nathan-pulling-ME
I even got on the sled a couple of times... oh, the kids thought it was SO funny when I was on the sled. Ha!


 Nathan-Snowball-on-Head
Nathan got hit right on the head with a snow ball. Ha! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Morning

Me-and-Kids
On Christmas morning, we celebrated with my family by enjoying each others company, a breakfast all prepared by Brian and we opened some presents. While Brian was prepping breakfast, my Mom snapped a darling photo of me and the kids.


Nathan-and-Grandma
My Mom and Nathan... Autumn wouldn't cooperate.


Hot-Cocoa-Bar
Breakfast included a hot chocolate bar! Even the crock pot was decorated


Hot-Cocoa-Bar-Toppings
I loved all of the different toppings and the hot chocolate itself was homemade. The little pine trees around the gingerbread house are upside down ice cream cones that were frosted.


Hot-Cocoa-Mugs
Nathan asked me what the candy canes were for, and I told him to stir your hot cocoa with! It was funny because he pulled his candy cane out later on and some of the bottom of it had melted, he thought that was too funny. 


Crushed-Peppermint

Marshmallows
Crushed peppermint and the cutest little Christmas marshmallows


Left-side-of-table

Right-side-of-table
All of the food was delicious... YUM! I still had leftovers for lunch today at work... hey, who says you can't have breakfast for lunch?

Cookies-and-Cheese-Plate
Cheese tray and homemade cookies



Kids-Opening-Gifts
After eating, we opened gifts...  Nathan got more Skylander figures and Autumn got an Aurora princess doll, matching dress and a hair styling set. Thanks Grandma, pa and Aunt Tracy/Jeff! I got a pair of knee high brown boots and Brian got some weight training gizmos. We also got a gift card to Balaban's. 

Later that evening we went over to Brian's brother Guy's house and had another meal and played cards. What a wonderful Christmas we had!

Christmas Eve

Night-Before-Christmas-Book
Every year we read Twas The Night Before Christmas, and well, this year... Nathan read it! I cannot believe my boy can read so well now... if I had put this book in front of him last summer, he wouldn't have been able to read it as well.


Cookies-for-Santa
I let each of them pick out 3 cookies each for Santa


Ready-to-Open-Gifts
Then, we went to the candle light church service. While I was loading the kids in the car, Brian brought all of their gifts upstairs... they would be surprised after church by Santa's visit!


Nat-trying-to-get-into-Santa-bag
They LOVED how Santa had left a little Santa bag for each of them filled with toys.


Autumn-and-her-BIG-gift
There was a big gift outside Autumn's Santa bag that she unwrapped first.


Nat-Airplane
Nathan got a lego set, he really wanted an airplane because we are going to be flying to Disney this summer


Aut-Doggy-Doo
Autumn really wanted a game called Doggy Doo (don't ask)


Nathan-Skylander
And, Nathan has been asking and asking Santa for the Skylanders game for the Wii.


Aut-Easy-Bake
Autumn was excited about her Easy Bake oven, we are going to try it out this weekend... I've heard mixed comments about it... 


Nathan-with-Marshmallow-Gun
Nathan has been really wanting a jumbo Marshmallow gun since they had them at cub scouts, Autumn got a mini marshmallow gun. I keep telling Nathan not to shoot his eye out.


Brian-with-Marshmallow-Gun
Or, maybe I should be more worried about Brian having the marshmallow shooter. Ha!


Nat-Unwrapping
I made sure the Santa paper for Nathan was Mickey, since he's so excited to go to Disney.


Nathan-with-Santa-Bag
Finally, we reached the end of the gifts... but, oh wait. Those were Santa gifts... Brian and I had special gifts for the kids from us.


Opening-mini-iPads

Autumn-on-couch-with-Mini-iPad
We decided to get both of the kids their very own mini iPad. Nathan's is black with a blue case and Autumn's is white with a pink case. Nathan can play Skylanders on it, take pictures and movies (he's been wanting a camera) and Autumn loves to take pictures and play games, too. Autumn also loves to listen to music on hers with her headphones. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bake Day

Nathan-Gingerbread-Dough

Nathan-Sugar-Cookie-Dough
Every year before Santa comes to visit we bake COOKIES for him... I used to try a different recipe every year, but the last few years we have stuck to ICED GINGERBREAD and SUGAR COOKIES. They are just the perfect Christmas cookies, and... I have found the bestest eva recipes for them that we cannot keep them around long enough. What I have learned to do is make up the dough the night before and put it in the refrigerator to chill so its easier to handle when its rolled out and cut into shapes. Here is Nathan with his gingerbread and sugar cookie dough.


Aut-Gingerbread-Dough

Auttie-Sugar-Cookie-Dough
And, Autumn with her doughs. I really shouldn't have... and, I don't let the kids have more then a pinch of each (because I'm so paranoid!)... but, I ate way too much cookie dough! Thankfully, I did not die from it.


N-and-A-decorating-cookies
While the cookies baked and cooled, I set up the table with sprinkles, icing (white, red and green) and candies. I even got these gingerbread edible stickers.


Done-Nat-Gingerbread-Cookies

Done-Nat-Sugar-Cookies
Nathan's cookies... Brian and I did decorate some of these... you can probably tell which.


Done-Aut-Sugar-Cookies
Auttie's cookies... I thought I had a photo of her gingerbread cookies, I will need to check my camera again. She kept dumping sprinkles on the cookies without icing, so I had to redo those! Arghh, that girl! I kept telling her to ice them first. lol. All in the fun... all in the fun.
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