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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Card & Letter 2013

As you can see, I haven't posted in a little while.  As soon as we returned from our Christmas trip to Disney, reality brought a new tire, a dishwasher to replace & a hard drive that crashed.  Yes, I was that lady who cried at the Apple store.  Once when they couldn't fit me in, once when they told me my barely two year old computer needed a $479 hard drive replacement, and then again after I agreed to the repair and they entered the information realizing that the repair would be free because Apple has had a problem with my model.  My computer now has a new hard drive and I didn't lose too much saved information.  Yeah!

I have lots planned to share with y'all.  A new Chocolate truffle pie recipe, my Christmas coconut cake, Kizer family asperagus casserole, goodies for the school friends, and a new cinnamon roll recipe (I have been pondering this one for a while), but first our family Christmas card.  I have written a letter with our card every year since the year after Honey and I married.  There was one year when C-man was 3 and the Princess was 1 that I just couldn't pull it together to get one out.  My thought was, "Do people really read these letters?  They take so much time and people probably toss them anyway." That might be true with some but I received 3 notes & 2 phone calls from family or friends wanting to know why they didn't receive a letter - no joke.  I like to please, so even if they are occasionally late, I do my best to get a letter out every year sharing what has happened the previous year.

I hope y'all enjoy the letter and our card.  Our family wishes you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  May the love of Christ and the hope his birth brought us fill your home and heart with joy.  I hope you enjoy this wonderful time of celebration with family and friends.

Dear Friends & Family,

    As I sit to write this year’s update, I am reminded of all of our blessings.  We have had a few bumps in the road this year, but we have each other, wonderful family & friends, & the love of Christ.  Please know that although we don’t see many of you often, we do think about & pray for you often.  We hope that you have enjoyed 2013 with happy memories & loved ones.  Colin (aka 'C-man) (9 1/2), Lily Brooks (aka 'The Princess') (7 1/2) & Hannah (aka 'The Baby') (5) are all doing very well.  They grow up so quickly, but Allen & I are doing our best to not let the rush of life take over what is important & hope that our children are learning how to be servants of The Lord above all.  We were very blessed again to have family time together & hope that the children will always remember these memories as a family. 
Trips & Events -
Disney World - We wouldn’t be the O’Briant family if we didn’t go to Disney World would we?  Honey wanted to go this past spring with my brother, L, and his family to celebrate my niece & nephew’s 3rd birthdays.  Who am I do deny such a sweet gesture?  Our children were so excited to show LB & D the ropes at Disney explaining the rides & shows with excitement and Lily Brooks was a very gifted cousin babysitter to little D.  Some highlights - Hannah did Jedi training with Colin for the first time; L’s family LOVED Hoop Dee Do Revue as much as we do; Hannah was tall enough to ride Expedition Everest & surprised us all by not liking it; Colin became a master sorcerer in the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game; running & laughing through rain showers; the first trip that all of the kids truly enjoyed the world showcase at Epcot; all 3 being chosen in the Pirate tutorial & so much more.  I was so grateful that Honey had the idea and happy that L’s family had such a great time. 
    Honey sprang for annual passes this year that have allowed us to go a couple of times.  We took a short trip for fall break that included our favorite Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party where Honey was ‘Willie’ from ‘Duck Dynasty’; I was ‘Pocahontas’; Colin, ‘Captain Jack Sparrow’; Lily Brooks, ‘Princess Jasmine’ & Hannah, ‘Izzy’ from the Disney show Jake & the Neverland Pirates.  Highlights of the trip - everyone now likes to ride ‘Tower of Terror’; the girls now want to play the sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game with Colin; the water slide at the resort & a million trips down it; pirate tutorial; I was picked for the Indiana Stunt show; the girls meeting the new Princess Sophia (Hannah’s favorite); & my special night with Hannah.  The Magic Kingdom was open until 2 a.m. one evening so we all took very long naps with the plan of going & having a very late night without crowds.  Lily Brooks got sick, Colin didn’t want to go & Honey wanted to watch football.  However, Hannah was so excited that a bull wouldn’t have been able to hold her back.  Hannah & I arrived at 8:30 & had the BEST NIGHT.  We rode almost every ride in the park, saw characters & had an unforgettable night together.  She still talks about it & it will go down in my mommy log as a precious memory. 
    We head back for a special Christmas trip that is our Christmas gift for the family.  We have never been to see the lights & decorations and are all excited to spend time together. 
Mexico - Honey & I really, really, really look forward to these trips together and were lucky enough to have a get away together to the Secrets Maroma resort in Mexico where I was the resort Pilates/Yoga instructor for the week.  It was beautiful & probably the best trip we have taken where we enjoyed time together. 
Dallas - The children & I were excited to take a last minute spring break trip to Dallas to see Honey’s sister, BA and her husband, J.  We had a fabulous time and highlights included, Colin getting to attend a Dallas Stars game with Uncle J; a girls pedicure night; a trip to the Stockyards & Rodeo in Ft. Worth; a night at Medieval Times Dinner Show & a day at a new park together.  We all went back to Dallas for July 4th weekend and included a trip to the Perot Museum, another Medieval Times Dinner night & lots of pool time.  We hope to take a trip to Dallas each year, especially with new Baby S on the way!  Lily Brooks can't wait to play babysitter!

Mexico girls trip - This July, after swimming lessons were finished, the girls & I took a very special trip to a family resort in Mexico where I was the resort yoga/Pilates instructor for the week.  We had saved money to take Lily Brooks to Notre Dame for her to compete in the Miss Majorette of America competition.  She, however, was not all interested in competing & I didn’t want to spend money doing something she wasn’t excited about.  I found a great price on flights & for just a little more, took the girls to Mexico for some beach time.  (C-man is not a fan of the beach & was so thrilled with a week alone with Mimi & Pappy that he suggested we take a girls trip every summer!)  My mom joined us the first 3 1/2 days & Aunt BA joined us the last half of the week.  We enjoyed beach time, sandcastles, snorkeling, kayaking, pool time with the other kids, cooking classes, movie nights (In Spanish with English subtitles. When we asked Hannah, who is just learning how to read if she wanted to leave she responded by looking at us like we had grown an extra head and said, “No, I’m watching a movie!?”), the bungee trampoline, Mexican food & more.  The girls love the beach so much that every day they would literally just sit quietly at the edge of the water & let the waves roll over their legs for at least 30 minutes.  They absolutely my girls & inherited the love of sand, sun & the ocean honestly.  A highlight of the trip was a first for me as well.  Our birthday gift to the girls was getting to swim with the dolphins.  The experience included kisses, holding the dolphin’s fins for a ride & being pushed by the dolphin while riding a boogie board.  The trip was so much fun that Hannah, in particular, asks me at least once a week when we are going back to Mexico & plans to ask Santa for another trip to Mexico.

C-man  - C-man is in the 3nd grade at ECS.  While he is a gifted student, his ADHD complicates life.  Honey & I are learning, doing our best to help him learn coping skills to stay focused on the task at hand and balance the pros and cons of the medicine.  It’s a daily evaluating process but he is healthy & learning to pave his own way.  He loves reading (a LOT), math & science, playing chess, video games & video game creation, acting (he was a Prince & Guard in the all-children’s ‘Aladdin’ the Musical this summer & the Shoemaker in the ‘Shoemaker & the Elves’ in the Fairy Tale Trails this fall.  He also started acting classes this fall & had a great time learning), & LOTS of Golf.  For his birthday again this year he wanted a ‘Mine-craft’ video themed party at Golf & Games with mini golf, laser tag, go carts, bumper boats & a ropes course - the party almost sums up all of the things he loves most!
    This summer C-man attended two week long camps - Camp Lake Stevens in Oxford, MS, where he attended solo & Lakeshore with his cousin, K, in Eva, TN.  He LOVED both weeks.  I worried about hygiene & the many clean clothes that came back home, but Allen assures me that it is perfectly normal for boys.  I am thankful for the girl balance in the family!
    He & Honey enjoy playing golf together & C-man takes golf lessons a few times a month.  This past spring/summer he competed in several TN Junior Golf Association golf tournaments in the 8-9 age division.  Allen’s dad, Pappy, was Colin’s caddy & they enjoyed the time together.  C-man is still learning & we are very proud of his ever-constant positive attitude.  C-man also swam on swim team again this summer.  While he enjoys the swim meets with ribbons for everyone, swim team practice every morning is a battle that I think I have now lost.  He is probably proficient enough to go to the driving range & putting green while the girls have swim practice this summer.  My love of swimming just wasn’t passed on to C-man.  Oh well.  He is his father’s son.  I’m hoping that will make anticipating his moves slightly easier as he matures.

The Princess -  Lily Brooks is in the 1st grade at ECS this fall.  According to her teacher she is a leader & over-achiever.  She is doing well, but her desire for perfection & “fear of failure” (yes she has used those words) are sometimes hard to balance with just growing up.  Our princess is quite the fashionista.  Yes, she still hates her school uniform, but accepts it & is the first one ready every morning.  In fact, she helps me get C-man focused about half of the time & is extremely responsible.  Her favorite things include singing (she sings in a vocal group at a local studio, just started private lessons & she sings in church children’s choir), takes ballet classes, piano lessons, acting (she was in the chorus and a townsperson in the all-children production of Aladdin the musical this summer with C-man and was an elf in the ‘Shoemaker & the Elves this fall), swimming (she swam on the Country Club swim team again & is quite the breast stroker.) & baton twirling.     
    Her love of baton twirling has only increased and she has enjoyed twirling this spring with the girls from ECS.  This spring, she won beginner ‘Little Miss Majorette of the South’.  My mom was with us & it was a really fun experience.  She decided against the national competition in lieu of Mexico & I don’t blame her a bit. She has been able to twirl at an ECS football game and will participate in several more competitions this spring. 
    Lily Brooks’s birthday this year was her first fun & exhausting sleepover party. You may have also noticed that Lily Brooks isn’t wearing glasses anymore.  Last summer, because of swimming, she spent more time without glasses than with and the transition in the fall was difficult.  My dad told us that she was ready for contacts & she made the switch this past May before swim practice started.  She loves them, needs help putting them in, but is doing great.  She still battles asthma and the scar tissue in her ears hurts in this cold weather but other than that she is perfectly healthy for which we are extremely grateful.

The Baby - Our little angel is ever-hilarious with a mix of princess & soccer star.  With the impending birth of a new baby cousin, I think she is starting to worry about her status as the baby of the family & has started to call herself the ‘Baby Princess’ & likes to be assured that she will always be the baby of the family.  I think she really likes her place in the family!  She is thankfully still at home with me & I love having her as my side kick.  She is the most easy-going child who has become very self-sufficient.  She even asks me most days what we are doing so that she can pack her backpack accordingly.  She sadly has to wait on her siblings’ activities frequently but she is always prepared with activities of her own.  I think that her ability to keep up with her things will serve her well.   She & I have ‘school work time’ 3 days a week for a couple of hours each day & she goes two half days a week to ‘gymnastics preschool’.  The Baby will start 1/2 day Kindergarden at ECS next year & I will need lots of prayer to be able to make it through letting her go.  Seriously.  

The Baby loves soccer (she played spring & fall and did 3 soccer clinics this summer), swimming (she swam this summer on swim team at age 4(!) & loved every minute of it), and now acting (she made her debut in the Shoemaker & the Elves with her siblings as an elf and had so much fun.). 

Us - It has been a difficult year with Honey’s health spending 4 weeks in the hospital throughout the year.  Thankfully, he was able to see a specialist at Vanderbilt a couple of weeks ago & we are hopeful that they have figured out the root of his kidney problems.  We should know more this month.  Honey is happy at the bank where he serves as head of bond accounting & continues to travel often to assist clients.    He also took on a new role trading loans.   I taught 8 long weeks of swimming lessons this summer to assist financing private Christian education for Colin & Lily Brooks.  It was exhausting, still hard on our children not having Mommy all of the time, but well worth the effort for our family.  I am truly grateful that the Lord has blessed the swimming lessons.  I taught Pilates/Yoga & stability ball at a local church but had to stop in May for swimming lessons & look forward to returning this Jan.  This summer I tore a tendon in my rotator cuff & had surgery in August to clean out the area, remove a bone spur & repair the tendon.  We are so very grateful to my mom & Honey’s parents who helped for 4 weeks when I couldn’t drive.   The physical therapy has been slow but I’m happy that it is healing nicely.  After much encouragement from Honey, I started writing again and have started a blog that you can read at  We love you all & pray we are able to see more of our friends & family this year.  We hope you enjoy a healthy, happy 2014 filled with laughter, love, family, friends & showing God’s grace to others. 

Love, Hope &

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sausage & Cheese Bread and more Elf antics

I make this appetizer several times over the holidays and thought I would share the recipe with y'all.  It is very easy to make and is very popular with my boys.  If you attending a party with any men in attendance I can pretty much guarantee this bread will be gobbled up quickly.

Sausage & Cheese Bread
(Makes two loaves)

2 loaves of frozen bread dough, thawed (can be found in packs of 5 loaves at your local grocery store.  I buy mine at Kroger)
1 lb of browned ground sausage
2 cups of shredded cheddar (or your favorite blend - I use 'light' Mexican blend)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brown & drain sausage, set aside.  Roll out one loaf of thawed bread dough in a rectangular shape.  Sprinkle half of the sausage and 1 cup of the shredded cheese equally over rolled bread dough.  Roll bread dough into a log just as you would cinnamon rolls or a jelly roll as shown below.  Pinch dough together at the end of your roll to keep roll in place.  Place bread roll, seem down, onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until bread begins to brown.  Let bread cool for at least 5 minutes and cut into slices. 

One loaf rolled with sausage & cheese and one frozen loaf section

I usually make two loaves at a time to use all of the sausage.  While one loaf bakes, I usually roll out the other loaf and freeze the log wrapped in aluminum paper.  The trick is to spray your aluminum foil with a non-stick spray before you wrap the bread log and freeze.  Also, make sure to thaw your bread log completely before baking. 

Yummy sausage & cheese bread

 Last, but not least, here is what our elf, Jingle has been up to the last couple of days. 

Jingle had it 'snow' cotton balls all over the kids beds!

A paper sack race with Pikachu & Perry
Jingle decorated the entire room with Christmas bow!

This was a huge hit! Jingle brought doughnut snowmen

Jingle wrote 'Ho! Ho! Ho!' on the kids to be silly!

Now time to wake the girls and off to dinner at Epcot. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Seriously Awesome Homemade Shower Cleaner

This isn't an exciting Disney or Christmas post.  I promise more of those very soon, but I had to share this awesome find. 

I really don't mind cleaning the bathrooms.  In fact, I would rather do that than fold endless piles of laundry or hand wash the mountain of dirty dishes that I've had to wash since the first of September when my dishwasher first broke.  Since that time the extended warranty company and I have been playing tug of war with the repair man having made 8, yes EIGHT!!!!, trips to my house to repair my  still unfixed dishwasher, but I digress.  Back to the shower. 

The girls and I have asthma and the smell of Tilex is extremely hard on my lungs.  My process of cleaning the bathrooms for as long as I can remember has been to cover my mouth and nose with a cloth, spray the cleaner, leave the rooms to vacuum for at least an hour and then return to hurriedly clean the bathrooms while I again cover my mouth and nose.  I knew that the fumes couldn't be good for me and tried some of the 'green' brand and generic cleaners. While the fumes weren't as bad, the cleaners didn't clean the showers and tubs as well and pretty much doubled my cleaning time.  No good.  Time is a precious commodity at my house and I'm sure it's the same way at your house.  I don't have time for a cleaner that doubles my cleaning time.  

After sweet sister shared her homemade laundry detergent recipe with me (more on that soon.  Needless to say, I am IN LOVE with the homemade laundry detergent), I thought that a homemade version of shower cleaner might be the answer to my bathroom cleaning problems.  After trying a few different versions that are out there, I found a very easy formula that works WONDERS with no fumes.  I really don't think my showers and tubs have looked this clean or beautiful since before the precious children arrived. 

Seriously AWESOME Shower & Tub cleaner - 1 cup White Vinegar, 1 cup dish soap & 1/3 cup water

Here is what you need - 

1 cup of dish soap (Dawn or generic dish soap)
1 cup of white vinegar
1/3 - 1/2 cup of water

Pour soap, vinegar and water into a spray bottle, give the spray bottle a good shake to mix the 3 ingredients, and spray on your shower and tub.  Some other versions I have seen don't have water added.  I tried the Dawn/vinegar mix without the water and found it was too thick for my spray bottle.  Adding just a bit of water helped thin my mixture so it would spray much easier. 

This cleaner solved my breathing while cleaning problem and cleaned much better than the brand name cleaner I had been using before.  Even if you don't have asthma, it's worth a try.  The fumes probably aren't good for anyone. 

Hope y'all are having a great week.  Stay warm!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Greatest Gift

Li Bien Nativity Ornament
I follow Proverbs 31 Ministry’s daily email devotionals and they are all always fabulous devotionals.  Sadly, I usually only read about 4 out of 7 days each week because time tends to be in short supply with 3 children.  (I really think that precious C-man with ADHD should count as two children!)  A couple of years ago I happened to take time and read a Christmastime devotional that has truly made a wonderful impact on my life.  

The writer shared a gift she had received at an ornament swap.  As she opened the beautifully wrapped ornament she found a note included that explained that whoever received the ornament would be prayed over every day for the next year.  EVERY SINGLE DAY the giver promised to pray specifically for the recipient of her ornament gift.  

I just happened to read this devotional on the very day the ladies from my Sunday school class were gathering for the annual ornament swap.  It is a wonderful time that I look forward to each year.  I was excited and honestly a little nervous to include such a note with my gift.  Other than for Honey and my children, I had never made such a promise.  I also didn't want to seem like I was upstaging anyone else with this gift, but truly felt led to include the note and be true to my promise.  Wire Trees
A lady who I hardly knew opened my gift and I am so very glad she did.  I emailed or texted her about once or twice a month in addition to seeing her at church to check in with her and to see if I could pray over in particular.  'E' and I became great friends and found we had so much in common, including ADHD sons, Ole Miss, and much more.  My prayer friend 'E' has since moved, but I still pray over her and her family are never far from my 'prayer thoughts'.  I guess old habits do die hard.  

Last year, a young mom and newer member of our Sunday school class was the recipient of my ornament and note. (She actually stole my ornament from another and said it was for the prayers!)  I made a point to have coffee with her and have tried to make a special point to check in with her.  I have loved this year of praying for 'A', her new baby and all of the struggles that every mom of littles endures.  

Last week, a precious lady who I adore was the recipient of the glitter trees, a Santa soap dispenser and a year of my prayers.  This wonderful mother actually wanted to transfer my prayers for her to her son.  Talk about selflessness.  I wonder if her son knows how much his mama loves him?  Yes, I will pray for her son but mamas need the fuel that prayer brings too.

These past two years of praying for these two women have been such a blessing to me in so many ways.  Even when their year was 'up' I still kept each in my thoughts, and of course in my prayers.  I highly recommend you consider adding this gift of prayer to your ornament at your gathering this year.  You won't regret it. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

Daily Advent Ideas & Scriptures (Downloadable List of Both) and Jingle's Latest Antics

Daily Advent Scripture, Activity & Treat
I know this post is a little late, but life has just kept me from the computer.  Y'all know how that is!

My littles absolutely our elf, Jingle’s arrival as soon as we return from Mama Jane and Daddy Doc’s house for Thanksgiving.  They love his ‘Elf Antics’ and Honey & I have enjoyed their joy and laughter about Jingle.  However, I also want to teach them the meaning of Christmas and how to have a servant’s heart.  One of the tools I use to help teach this is using an Advent Calendar.

Growing up, my family used a precious advent calendar that gave a verse to read each day.  It was midnight blue with gold embossed lettering and the nativity scene beautifully painted on.  My siblings and I eagerly anticipated our turn to open and read each day's door with the scripture.  My guess is that Mama Jane is tearing up reading this realizing that I remember exactly what that Advent calendar looked like.  I would bet that my sweet sister (and maybe baby brother) also remember it as clearly as I do.

I wanted to add to the tradition I grew up with to include either something to do together as a family or something to do for others.  I found this precious idea at Design Dazzle using 24 Christmas socks that is super easy to put together using 24 socks, a long festive ribbon, numbers, and clothespins.  Each day has 3 items -  a Bible verse for the day,  either something to do together as a family or a way to serve others, and a Hershey kiss for each child if they have been sweet the day before.

You can find festive Christmas socks at Target or your local Dollar store.  I found mine in the dollar section at Target.  They aren't perfect & didn't exactly fit within my 'vision', but I just didn't have time to go to another store to find the perfect cheap Christmas socks.  My thought is that my children won't remember that the socks didn't fit in with our decor scheme perfectly and my hope is they will remember the experience.  Plus, my house isn't perfect either so the crazy socks fit in perfectly.
I have listed 40 ideas just in case some don’t work for your family.  You can download this FREE printable of family advent activities HERE on Scribd and download our advent scripture list HERE on Scribd

I hope y’all enjoy these Advent ideas.  It is my desire that my children not only enjoy the fun of the Christmas season but also learn to have a servant’s heart.  Honey and I want our littles to understand that our one purpose is glorify God and to be His hands and feet.

A little Reminder!

Jingle is a little adventurous on a zip line!
On the way to DISNEY WORLD!!!
It’s CHRISTMAS!!! *squeals all around the house*

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Some New Paintings, the Latest from Elf Jingle & more

A sorority sister of mine asked me recently about paintings that I have painted and posted on Facebook.  She wanted to know where I hang them all because I seem to paint so many! Until a couple of years ago I swore that although I was creative, I was NOT artistic at all.  Those gifts seemed to pass to my sister who enjoyed drawing as a child and is a gifted photographer.  My artistic abilities seemed limited to stick figures.  Once I had little ones, I found myself having more and more 'make it work' moments forcing what little artistic ability I had to be pried from deep within.  Once it peeked out, I found that I really loved it and actually found it relaxing.  Imagine that?!?

I signed up for more and more painting classes at local art studios and try my best to paint about once every couple of months.   I am no Monet, but I can follow instructions.  In fact, the art classes have helped me to just 'go with it' more and I find myself enjoying painting more and more.

The paintings are throughout the house but I change them according to the seasons.  Some of the paintings I really love and some will hopefully soon retire to the attic permanently.  The fall paintings were just taken down to make way for the collection of Christmas art.  I have plans to paint a Santa soon but am not sure I will be able to fit it in the schedule.

If you are contemplating trying a class at one of the many art studios that have popped up, I highly recommend trying it with a friend.  Relax, don't be too hard on yourself (been there, done that) & enjoy two hours of not having to clean up behind someone!

Don't you love the 1970s speaker/sound system?  Funny thing is - it still works!

I love this snowman in the kids' snowman themed bathroom for winter

Sweet sister-in-law and I painted this one just before Christmas a couple of years ago

Here are the latest from our elf, Jingle -

He loved playing Disney Apples to Apples with the other toys.  The Beast & Marie were on a roll apparently.  Jingle brings our children a family game every year as a parting gift so it's only fitting that he gets to play a few games with the other toys while he visits.  Below is a picture of the ornaments that the Princess made for Jingle and Santa.  I was lucky enough to hear her whisper to Jingle that she made them just for him and Santa and asked him to take them to the North Pole for her.
Add caption

Snow Angels - Crazy elf!

The Princess is the Star Student this week in her class.  Below is her poster to share all of the things she loves.  I really really love the Walgreen's photo app.  My iPhone pictures aren't as good as my Cannon, but they are so convenient.

I had to share this last precious picture of the Baby.  She had to tag along on several errands with me this morning, including to Pier 1 to purchase a gift for the Sunday school ornament swap tonight.  I assure you I was extremely quick in my shopping, but while we were there she begged to sit on the 'comfy chair'.  After I paid for the ornament, here is how I found precious angel.  It was nearly painful to wake her and disturb her from the 'comfy chair'.  Thankfully, she wasn't too mad at me.

Now, off to make some sausage & cheese bread for the party tonight.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Prize Winning Caramel Apple Pie

This is one of my favorite desserts and I know you will LOVE it.  Honey would be seriously disappointed if I didn’t share that I did win 1st place in the pie division with this recipe.  It almost always disappears in the blink of an eye at family gatherings and is just down right yummy. This year, the Chocolate Truffle Pie was the first to go but the Caramel Apple was gone by dinner.  More on the Chocolate Truffle Pie soon.  I sadly didn't take any pictures and wanted to make sure it was a winner before I shared it with y'all.  

Prize Winning Caramel Apple Pie

After trying several recipes, I found fabulous inspiration on HERE.  I tweaked it to adjust it how I love it and hope y’all will enjoy this family holiday staple. 

Prize Winning Caramel Apple Pie

1 unbaked double pie crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
7-8 Granny Smith apples, peeleKd, cored, and thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Melt butter in a saucepan.  Stir in flour to form a past.  Add water, sugar, and brown sugar and bring to boil.  Reduce temperature to low and let caramel simmer for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cinnamon and vanilla.  

Place the bottom crust into the bottom of your greased deep dish pie pan. Fill with apples and mound the apples slightly.  Pour about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of caramel sauce on top of apples.  Cover apples with lattice work from second pie crust.  Gently pour remaining sauce over lattice and let sauce seep into pie.  Pour slowly.  Seriously, pour slowly to ensure that the sauce does not make a huge mess and waste precious yummy goodness.  Using a pastry brush, gently cover lattice work with sauce.  This will make your crust AMAZING.  

Bake 15 minutes in your preheated oven.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degress and bake an additional 35-45 minutes until sauce bubbles.  It is hard to know if your apples are tender.  I suggest placing your pie toward the bottom of your oven to keep the top from burning.  

This pie is AMAZING.  Promise.  You and your family will love it.  Honey cannot wait to have a piece and I had to bake this without him around to obtain decent pictures that don’t include a fork getting a bite of pie.  

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 North Pole Breakfast

As soon as we got on the road from Mama Jane and Daddy Doc's house, the girls starting asking about our beloved elf, Jingle's return.  Jingle had plans for a snow man themed breakfast for December 1st (his traditional return to our home), but first things first.  Unpacking from our trip, bringing all of the Christmas boxes down from the attic and taking the kids to see 'Frozen' filled our Saturday. We all highly recommend the movie 'Frozen'! It was so fabulous that all three children asked to go see it again today.  Honey sweetly agreed and we all went for round two this afternoon. 

There was a slight hiccup after we returned from the movie yesterday.  Jingle's hiding place was a mystery for several hours y'all.  He is a sneaky one.  Thankfully at midnight, (yes, midnight!!) he graced us with his presence.

The Princess has always been an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl, awoke at 6:15 a.m. to find the table set and plates set out with Jingle and his Elf book.  Jingle also left out most of the ingredients for snow man pancakes, apple turnovers (C-man's favorite), chocolate chip muffins, and hot chocolate!  The Princess helped me prepare everything and the Baby trotted down around 7 a.m. to find most everything ready and then ran back up the stairs to wake C-man.  They loved the North Pole Breakfast and are happy to have Jingle return to our home.

For more of Jingle's plans for this December you can read HERE