Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The easiest, best sugar cookies...

We made cookies for the boys' Sunday School teachers this year and boy, did they turn out completely perfect! I have made a ton of cookies, all turning out pretty well...but these were just wonderful!
Here is the recipe we used...

  • 1 French vanilla cake mix (honestly, you could use any flavor cake mix, but we wanted to make a more classic sugar cookie version)
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • granulated sugar, sugar sprinkles, or jimmies for decoration
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the yolks and butter together until well blended. Add vanilla. Slowly add cake mix to the batter and mix until slightly firm. Now you can either form into balls and roll in sugars, or scoop and drops them onto a baking sheet using a melon baller (which is what we did). Bake for 11-13 minutes.

I scooped out the batter using a melon baller and then the children added all the decorations. We had candy cane sugar sprinkles, solid red sugars, solid green sugars, and regular granulated sugar to add to the top of each cookie before they baked.

The kids loved to make these and even made a few for Santa.

These were delicious!!! We bagged them up and
put a printed label on them for the 4 Sunday
School teachers.

While they baked, we tracked Santa using the NORAD tracker on my phone. After we located him on my phone, the kids would track him on the globe. Educational and super fun too!!!

Christmas blessings...

Christmas at our house...

Christmas with Family....

Christmas with Nana and Pops!

We had a fantastic Christmas this year, full of family and fun. I got everything I wanted, and then some, and the kids had a very Angry Birds Christmas. That was the most asked for item on the list this year...anything with and Angry Bird on it.

Now with full bellies, full toy boxes, and less than full bank accounts, we look ahead to 2012 in excited anticipation. This past year was full of ups and downs in equal measure, and I am reminding myself to be thankful for both in equal measure as well.

Even though I am still feeling a little blue about the events of the past week, I am so happy about my life and those who are in it. Now to work on my New Year's Goals...which I am afraid, may look remarkably like 2011's goals. Work in progress :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011


This Christmas has been pretty depressing for me and for my family. Two weeks ago my great aunt passed away. She was a wonderful, Christian 87 year old woman who will be greatly missed.

However, we lost someone else Friday that cuts very, very deep. The boys and I were in the kitchen, with my recipe book open ( it is filled with handwritten recipes from family and friends) to the peanut butter cookie recipe written by Glenda Tyler. It was around noon, and we were planning to bake these cookies, and then pack the boys' bag to spend the night with Nana and Pops...when I got a frantic call from Nana (my mother). She told me not to bring the kids over now, that her neighbor, the same Glenda Tyler whose recipe I was currently using, was being loaded into an ambulance. We found out an hour later that she had passed away.

This one hits us all like a ton of bricks. I never remember a time without her. She was friends and neighbors with my parents, taught me Sunday School and Children's church, was in our group of Rod Run friends, and was like that favorite aunt that you could call to share anything with.

She championed for me to get a phone in my room when I was 12, she encouraged my parents to pay me for my good grades, and she was a constant source of flat out hilariousness. Mimi Tyler was present for every milestone in my life. She helped host my graduation party, wedding shower, baby shower, was present for my wedding, the birth of my children, their birthday parties, etc. She took me on a trip to see her family in Liberty. We went to the outdoor theater to see The Sound of Music and she got up in the middle of the aisle to belt out her own rendition of "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music". She took myself and a friend to a neighboring church as little children and scared us to death because the members were very charismatic and were jumping around and squealing. I clung to her dress as if they were going to scoop me up and sacrifice me. Incidently, she had no idea that was going to happen.

When I got my driver's permit, I drove to her house first. We shared a love of glitter, sparkle, shoes, and jewelry. She was unique, incredible, hilarious, kind hearted, and wonderful. Mimi loved the Lord, she loved Elvis and Coca Cola, and had about a 100 pair of rhinestone glasses. She loved Oldie's music, shopping, and her family. She had an extended network of friends because she was a magnet. You could walk into a room she was in, and be instantly drawn to her.

So this Christmas began very somber, very empty, and full of tears. The night she died, I went into my closet to get presents out, and ran across a box of cards. In the box was a card she had sent me for my graduation. I don't know why I kept that particular card, but I am sure glad I did. She had covered that card in a beautiful handwritten letter to me.

But as I cried, my youngest child said something that brought me peace. He said, "Don't cry mom. When we die, we will see her again." I thought about that and his simple faith in God's promise to us. I found myself being incredibly jealous of Mimi, that she was able to see my grandmother and celebrate with her family members that have passed. It is comforting to know that she is rejoicing today...the day we celebrate our Savior's birth...with God himself. It almost doesn't seem real to me. I am sure it will seem real at her funeral on Tuesday.

I hate to get so deep on this blog, but it is mine, and it is a record of my life and experiences. This is mine. I forced myself to smile and celebrate Christmas for my children and for their happy experiences. Our Christmas morning has been beautiful, relaxing, and blessed. We are blessed beyond words. Tomorrow I will post some pictures of our Christmas festivities, but today I wanted to post some pictures I found of Mimi Tyler.

The lady in the right in the purple...that's my baby shower

There she was in a black dress, behind my car at my wedding. Yes that is popcorn filling my car...

Here she was in pink, at my graduation/18th birthday party

And, here, in the middle as a hostess for a graduation breakfast for me...

And this one is my favorite....Mimi Tyler at the hospital, holding Caleb at less than 24 hours old.

Hug your family members today, even the crazy ones. Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paula Deen's crock pot mac and cheese

This Christmas, my wonderful hubby bought me the GE 3 pot crock pot!!!! How could he have known that I wanted that???

But wait, you say. Christmas is still 4 full days away. Right you are, my friend. My husband is the biggest kid of them all. When he buys a gift, he just can't hold it in. You can see it in his face the moment he walks in the door. Usually you would think the giveaway would be the bags in his hands. But NO! He could leave them in the car, walk in the house, and be beaming from ear to ear. He can't wait.

This year, he made it all the way to December 13th. Can't blame him for trying. And I get to reap the benefits of his impatience.

So today, while he was sleeping, I plugged in the crockpot and threw a whole bunch of stuff into two of the pots, turned them on, and headed to the movies with my kids.

When we returned, lunch and dinner was ready. One pot held a beef and cheese lasagna, and the other held Paula Deen's mac and cheese. I have never made homemade mac and cheese correctly....until today!!!!

If you like macaroni and cheese, you have to try this recipe. It is just too easy and super delicious. You can also use other blends of cheeses to give it a different flavor, but I stuck to the recipe ( minus the eggs ) and it was perfect!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our first family pictures

I cannot believe that in the almost 7 years that we have been a family of 4, we have never had a set of professional family photos taken....until now!

My friend, Crystal is a really talented photographer that was hosting some mini sessions at a place called Out Under the Trees. Basically it is a property that the owner allows photographers to use...and it has so many different background options. We were able to get several pictures that were more Christmasy and several that were more neutral.

Crystal did an amazing job wrangling my family. Just wanted to share them with you...