Monday, November 29, 2010

Busy Thanksgiving Weekend!

It's Monday and I'm having a hard time getting back to my regular routine, I just want to sleep...sleep and digest all the food I ate over the weekend :)

I had a wonderful time with my family, my brother Frank and his wife Jennifer, who are expecting their first child in March of next year, came down from Virginia. My sister Eileen and her husband, Derek and their two cute little girls also came down from Santa Clara. They were able to come for Thanksgiving but unfortunately will not be down for we had Thanksgiving/Birthdays/X-mas/Baby shower all wrapped up in one weekend (not all in one day mind you). We did not do a full on X-mas, just our Secret Santa gifts among the adults and the kids got to open a few presents early.

What big eyes your turkey has, Sophie! My brother-in-law Derek with his daughter (my niece) Sophie.

My husband, Eric helping our daughter, Eilan with her turkey.

Gifts for my brother Frank and his wife Jennifer, since we won't see them until next year :(

Jennifer is positively glowing!

My niece Annie Bananie (OK, it's just Annie), isn't she just so cute!

"Auntie, are you stalking me?" Yes, my little Annie Bananie I was stalking you, your just too cute!

The boys (Kade, Aiden and Mattias) trying to get Annie to come over to them, by tempting her with a turkey.

"Please don't tell Mommy on me"

The next day we got together again for the Birthdays and a little X-mas.

My sister-in-law Camilla with her daughter (my niece) Madison and her Birthday gift, she loves horses!

My brother Garmon...just being Garmon :)

My sister Eileen, made and decorated these cupcakes for the Birthday people.

Aiden, Mattias (my nephew) and Kade, patiently waiting to devour a cupcake.

My brother Garmon and the princesses, Eilan, Madison and Sophie.

The princesses enjoying their cupcakes and ice cream.

Breaking out the leftover pie and ice brother Frank, Kade, Eric, my brother Corey and Camilla.

Sophie opening one of her early X-mas gifts...a Princess Dress Up Chest.
Mattias, Kade, Grandma Bekkee, Camilla and Eilan

Sophie getting help from her mom, my sister Eileen.

Wow, a princess! Sophie and Eilan

Kade is happy and excited about his new toy!

Aiden can't wait to tear open the packaging and fly his!

Eilan with her new princess Glo Doodle, it's very neat!

I'd love to hear how your Thanksgiving weekend went!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I am thankful for God and his Son and his perfect plan of salvation, for all the blessings he has bestowed upon me and my family, for his love, guidance and protection and that his love and mercy is boundless!

May you all have a wonderful, happy, cozy, healthy Thanksgiving full of laughter and delicious food with your loved ones!

Here is a yummy cookie recipe...

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from a recipe by George Duran of the Food Network)

1 C. (2 sticks) of butter, unsalted, softened
1 C. white sugar
1 C. light brown sugar (I used 1 1/4 C. of Palm/Coconut sugar)
2 Large eggs
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 can (15 oz) or 1 1/2 C. of pureed pumpkin
3 C. of gluten-free all purpose flour blend ( I used Namaste Perfect Flour Blend)
2 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 - 1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice (or only 1 if you like the spice flavor more subdued)
2 C. of gluten-free chocolate chips (milk chocolate is recommended by George Duran, but I used semi sweet)
Parchment paper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment or spray with non-stick spray.

Using a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy (may not happen with the palm/coconut sugar and that's OK). Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheet(s) and bake for 11 to 17 minutes or until cookies are browned around the edges. Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack with a spatula.

These are very light and airy and cake like, not your usual crisp cookie...very delicious!! I'd love to hear what you think of them!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Visiting the Optometrist

A few days ago I had an eye check up at my local Costco Optometrist, we have money in my husbands FSA account that needs to be spent on medical related things, so this is one of many that will take place till the end of the year.

I remember the first time I went to an optometrist all alone as a adult, it was a bit nerve wracking, but I was determined to do it and I did. My motivation was to acquire a pair of very trendy, cool looking glasses that would be sure to make me look beautiful, cool, confident, smart and I'm sure many more thoughts like that were going through my young, vain brain.

Now when talking to people who do not know me or that I am hearing impaired, I don't usually tell them right away that I am deaf, I like to see how the conversation goes and if the need arises, I tell them. Talking to the receptionist was easy enough at first, she looked at me and talked straight at me, giving me a form to fill out, then she proceeded to look for my file behind this large bookshelf and I had a sinking feeling she was talking to me behind the bookshelf. Ever alert (as most deaf people need to be or least that is how I am) I was watching for her and sure enough she peeked from the side of the bookshelf and asked me what my first name was, it was then that I felt I should tell her about being deaf as she might continue talking to me behind the bookshelf. After I told her, I could see her face change from focused, determined to friendly and embarrassed, she apologized profusely and I told her it wasn't a problem, that I just needed to be able to read her lips when she talked to me. Relieved, she asked me the questions that she needed and proceeded to prepare my file for the optometrist. Now for the optometrist, he came out of his office, took my file and started walking back into his office and I could vaguely hear him talking, he turned around and was looking for someone (me) and then called my name, I sheepishly stood up and let him know I was hearing impaired and that I needed to read his lips, his face also changed, going from confused to smiling and reassuring which in turn reassured me and put my fears at ease. This is the difficult part...sitting down in the seat with this huge contraption in front of my face where he has to turn a series of lenses to get the right prescription and he says "One or two?" and his lips (or face for that matter) are not in my line of vision just a series of letters on the wall. Luckily I can hear and discern some speech using my hearing aid only ( my comprehension without the lip reading is a  measly 13%) and I knew from previous experience that he was going to say one and two so I needed to focus on listening for those words. He spoke loud and clearly and I was able to hear the words without much problem, so the hardest part went pretty smoothly...whew! I received the good news that there was no change in my prescription and my eyes were healthy...yay! Now comes the fun part, I took the yellow paper with my prescription information next door where many stylish frames were on display and tried on different frames till I found one that I felt made me look beautiful, cool, confident...wait a minute...I'm not that deluded anymore :)

Friday, November 19, 2010

ICAP Field Trip- San Juan Capistrano Mission

ICAP is a Charter School that my kids go to once a week to supplement their homeschooling curriculum. We feel this combination gives our kids a more well rounded education. This semester, both of my boys are taking History classes and my younger son is learning about California History, hence the purpose of our field trip.

My younger son, Aiden (with some of his classmates) is second from left and my oldest son, Kade is the one in orange shielding his eyes. Eilan my daughter is standing next to him at the end.
 I remember visiting this very Mission as a young child on a school field trip as well. It was nice to be able to take my kids and re explore this beautiful historical site. I love the look of the old buildings and the gorgeous designs that were painted on the walls, doors and ceilings...they just don't make things like that anymore!

They allowed the children to touch and play with animal pelts, toys and costumes...they loved that!

My husband helping our daughter figure out how to use one of the toys.

Wouldn't Eilan have made such a cute little Indian?

There were beautiful gardens and flowers all around the Mission as well as fountains containing Koi fish (this was also a big hit among the kids).

We very much enjoyed our glimpse of California history! If you are ever in the area of San Juan Capistrano, stop by and pay them a visit.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dung Balls! (Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls)

Sorry for the title, I hope it didn't cause you to lose your appetite, my younger son took one look at these delicious balls and proceeded to tell me they looked like dung balls so I couldn't resist ;-)

I love the show "The Biggest Loser" it is so inspiring watching those people work their rears off to get healthier. I know It really encourages me to get off my own rear and eat better too! I'm not a fan of low fat (unless it is naturally low in fat) or non fat foods, I believe whole foods are the best way to go. I also do not use artificial sweeteners like Splenda, so I'm leery of the cookbooks that are put out by "The Biggest Loser". I came across their newest cookbook "The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook" and found the recipes in it quite versatile, meaning I can sub the non fat or low fat dairy products and whatnot with their whole fat, whole food counterparts quite easily. Devon Alexander is at her best in this one!

Here is one of the recipes from the book that I have tried and love...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls by Devon Alexander in "The Biggest Loser Dessert Cookbook"

1/2 C. + 2 TBSP of Old Fashioned Oats ( I used Gluten-Free Oats by Bob's Red Mill)
2 TBSP of honey
2 TBSP of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TBSP of all-natural creamy peanut butter

Add oats, honey, cocoa powder, and peanut butter to a medium mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer fitted with beaters, mix until well combined. Lay a large square of wax paper on a cutting board or flat work surface. Using your hands, divide the mixture into equal portions (the mixture will be sticky), and place on the paper. Roll each portion into a ball. Serve immediately or store on the counter top in a resealable container for up to 3 days.

Steph's Tips: I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe (after you have made them and like them first). If you do this, then put the ingredients in a Kitchenaid type mixer otherwise using the mixer and beaters will make the mixture fly out all over the counter. Instead of dividing the mixture into equal portions, I just pull a small amount out and roll into balls and place on the wax paper.

Also you can use almond, sunbutter or any other nut butter you love in place of the peanut butter.

My husband would like to add a decorating tip...he thought it would be fun to add plastic dung beetles around the table top or around the dish containing the balls...cute huh?!

Don't worry they are far from tasting like dung ;-)

Finding Humor in Homeschooling

I frequently check out The Pioneer Woman blog written by Ree Drummand, I love her sense of humor it reminds me of myself, she however, really lets it all out... in a good way! As a home school Mom, I can relate to this post of's an hilarious way to vent frustration that can inevitably build during the school year ( OK, I would not actually do this, but you'll get a good laugh I promise).