Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve!

I think Christmas, or similar winter holidays, which are so rich in tradition are the best, and hardest holidays for couples.  Each family has its own traditions, and sometime combining them can be difficult.  I know growing up in my household, leaving the house was something we never did.  Christmas was intimate- something we did only together as a family.  John's family is more extensive, so they did traveling around Christmas time, something that's taken a lot of years to get used to.  Even now, I don't care for it, although I enjoy spending Christmas with the family immensely so it's worth it.

Other random things that I think about when thinking about Christmas now compared to the Christmas I grew up with...I don't remember Christmas Eve dinner being elaborate or special.  In fact, I can't even tell you what we had.  I think it was a normal dinner.  John's family does fish each year, which is so amusing to me since most of them don't even like fish!  My family always exchanged PJ's on Christmas Eve, which I have no clue where or when that tradition started, but I've always liked it.  Fresh new PJ's to sleep in, and to look cute in for Christmas morning pictures.  Christmas morning was always Cinnamon rolls for my family, and Bacon for John's.  Now it's a yummy combination.  Though I sadly don't mean Cinnamon Bacon Rolls.

I'm a firm believe that Christmas is what you make it.  All the stresses of the holiday can impact the overall feeling only if you let it.  Sometimes I hate the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, but when it comes to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they really are the best days of the year for me.  Mostly because the day is all about me and my husband and my kids, and our family, and just enjoying making one another happy.  Sure, the kids might not understand that right now, but they will some day, I hope.

I hope you and yours experience the joy and love of these days.  And please, share your Christmas traditions with me.  I love to hear about differences and similarities.

Our Christmas Card Photo this year

Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Guinea Pig Birthday!

For Lilia's 4th birthday, she asked for a Guinea pig.  I did some research to see if that was an appropriate gift, and while the opinion is mixed, I decided it was ok since I'm in the acceptance that the Guinea Pig is mine.  Her birthday is Monday, so we got the Guinea Pig last night so it had a little time to acclimate.

So here is the little guy.  I think he's adorable, although very skittish at the moment.  I'm afraid it'll be some time before Lilia can hold it, although I can hold him, and let her pet him.  Which I'm sure she won't mind.

Right now, he's in my open closet.  Lilia has no clue he's there, which is actually fun.  I keep slipping in to watch him, and give him fresh hay.  I've already discovered he likes the marigolds from the hay blend I got, and carrots, but not orange peppers.

Half the cage, the side he hides in.
Because he is Lilia's present, I'm letting her pick the name.  Lately she's taken to asking me what my opinion is though, so I have to come up with a few names.  And that's what I'd like hear from you!  Name suggestions, appropriate for a 4 year old.  So, please, leave a comment here in "A little bit me" with a name suggestion for the little guy.  Right now, I'm calling him piggy, which I don't really want to stick.  ;)  There are 4 days until my little girl turns 4.  And of course, I'll let you know what was ultimately picked!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hot WPOP action!

Do you know how much I miss Wegmans?  The funniest part of the story is the fact that Wegmans was rarely my grocery store of choice while we lived in Buffalo.  It's where we bought nice foods, like delicious cakes and pastries, good cuts of meat and gourmet items we couldn't find at Premier Gourmet on Delaware.

Regular, Diet or HOT??
But now...oh man, how I miss it.  My two grocery stores are either Walmart or Hannafords, or if I don't mind a half hour drive, Price Chopper.  It's so bad, I am half tempted to make monthly trips to Wegmans in Syracuse rather than shop at either place.  We have a trip to Buffalo planned for tomorrow and Wednesday and one highlight of the trip will be a visit to Wegmans.

I digress.  I also grew up in Rochester, and had a Wegmans five minutes down the road.  And that leaves certain memories.  Despite saying soda, I drank WPOP.  In fact, the reason I'm posting this particular topic is because this time of year in the 1990's, I remember drinking a certain ginger ale flavor- WPOP Hot Ginger ale.  I want badly.  In my memory, it was so delicious!  I also have a memory of a WPOP cola or lemon-lime soda with peppermint flavor, although I can find no reference to it online anywhere.  I wonder if I made that part up in my head.

So, there was really no point in todays blog, other than to whine, and reminisce a little about things I'm not sure even exist...(well WPOP hot ginger ale did exist...Please tell me if you remember it!)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Melting Candy Canes

Ok, so I have no clue is this is the "proper" culinary way to melt candy canes.  But I'm never one for proper anyways.

So first some warnings- Melted candy cane is HOT.  Don't get it on your skin unless you like some serious burns.  Also, keep a close eye on it, so it doesn't burn.

I start with a small non-stick sauce pan.  Turn the burner to low, and then put a few broken candy canes in the pan.  You could probably crush them, and they'd melt faster, but I have this sick fascination with watching whole pieces of candy can melt.  I also don't use any sort of non-stick spray on the pan, since I'm not sure how that would affect the final product.

After bit, you'll see the candy canes start to melt.  Let them melt a bit, it'll look like the exterior of the candy cane is starting to melt off, and then take a spoon sprayed with Pam and stir.  Stir occasionally until the candy canes are completely melted- it'll look like a thick pink syrup.

To drizzle, you have to work fast, as it hardens quite quickly.  You can pour right from the pan, although I almost always use a spoon.  Be very careful not to get it on your skin.  You'll also find it leave threads, though if you just wait a few minutes, the threads will harden and you can easily clean them up.

To clean up the pot, pour water into the pan, and boil.  If there are any sticking to your spoon, stick that in the boiling water as well.

And Voila!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I liked adding twists...

Making rice krispie treats is always a part of the Christmas cookie tradition in this house.  I always add a little twist by melting down candy canes, and drizzling them over the finished pan of rice krispies.  I love doing this, mainly because afterwards I pour in some water to the pot I melted the candy canes in, and boil.  Not only does this make it easy to clean up, but it makes the house smell yummy!

This year, I spotted bags of Jet-Puffed Gingerbread Marshmallows.  I knew instantly we'd be doing something new to the rice krispie treats.  I ate a few, and they were pretty tasty.  Stronger in that gingerbread taste than I thought they would be.  Hoping for the best, I substituted these for regular marshmallows.

It worked really well.  They smell delicious.  They were a tad softer than usual, but in a good way.  And they tasted delicious!  I was pretty impressed, and very happy that I gave it a try.  Even the kids enjoyed them.  I still drizzled on a bit of the melted candy canes, which is always a plus. 

Ok, so maybe it's not as pretty as it could be...I promise it was tasty though!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cookie Fail!

So today I was supposed to write a little blurb on the wonderful gingerbread cookies I made using my new KitchenAid mixer.  Sadly, I won't be doing that.  I made a little mistake, unable to find my gingerbread cookie recipe, and used one that turned out dry and crumbly.  So frustrating!  I was able to make a small batch, but the dough was so crumbly it made the process annoying and I gave up.

Of course, I won't give up!  I just need to find MY recipe, so I can make delicious, light, soft cookies, worthy of the effort of making, decorating and of course, eating.

I will note though, that the cookies I did make were good, just a little bland.  It needed more molasses, and maybe another egg!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Early Christmas Present

I got my Christmas present early.  I've wanted a stand up mixer for a long time, and on Thanksgiving night, I went out with my sisters-in-law for some late night Toys-r-us and Wal-mart shopping.  I saw this, and the price ($149!!!), and immediately texted the husband.  We'd make a Christmas present, but of course Christmas is the time of year a stand up mixer is just so useful!

So today, I opened it, and used it for our first batch of Christmas cookies of the year.  Gingerbread cookies!  It was such a piece of cake, and my house is now filled with the smell of ginger, cloves and cinnamon.  It's so perfect!

Of course, now I don't really have anything to unwrap on Christmas morning...but I'll make up for that by using this little baby everyday until Christmas.  Oh, and subtly hinting to John which accessories I'd like for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, My birthday, Our anniversary, and "My wife is great" day.  I kid, I kid.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I never really had a nickname, outside of my internet "alias".  Shannon doesn't really have much potential.  At best, my little sister called me "Shan" when she first learned to talk, but it was never something that stuck.  My mother's choice of Shannon was not her first choice.  Her first choice was April Love, and I am forever grateful to my dead beat dad for doing one thing right for me.  He told her no way.  Her second choice was Jennifer Joan, so she could call me JJ.  Again, thanks Dad...nothing about that nick name sounds appealing to me.  So he picked Shannon, and here I am today, with a perfectly beautiful Irish name.

My daughter has a few nicknames.  She's called Lily or Lil by family.  She used to call herself Yada.  Now Liam calls her Yaya, though she doesn't seem to like it.  "That's not my name!"  I think it's adorable.

I wonder if Liam will have a nickname.  I call him bozu regularly, although that's my own little thing with him, as my special little guy.  Lilia used to call him Yam, but that didn't stick once she got better at her words.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ho Ho Ho, Merry Chrischris!

This is probably the first Christmas where Lilia actually remembers Christmas the previous year.  It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy, and totally excited for Christmas morning.  I was impressed by how much she is able to retain this year.  On the way home from preschool, Lilia told me all the things we needed to do to get ready for "Chrischris".

First, she (again) reminded me that we need a tree, and that we needed to put lights and "stuff" on it, and put a star on top.  After that, we need to put stuff on the windows and on the walls, and put out presents.  It's gotta snow.  Santa is going to come, and we are going to eat cookies!

I think with Lilia around, being excited about Christmas is really easy.  I know Liam will enjoy it too, but it's Lilia who is just at that age where Christmas really is the most magical, beautiful and awesome time of year.  I'm so looking forward to making cookies, shopping and watching Mickey's Christmas Carol together.