Can you believe it’s been a month already? Can you believe it’s fall?! 🍂 Where did the Summer go?
For our little brood school started almost a month ago. Our kids don’t need a lot of back to school supplies fortunately. The schools are pretty good about not requiring a bag of supplies brought in the first day. So most of our back to school is a new backpack and some clothes.
Let’s be real here, my kids aren’t the most gentle on their possessions. So most of the shopping we do is clearance and sometimes from second hand shops. There are great deals to be found. So we don’t spend a lot of money on back to school shopping.
I don’t think it really registered with my kids they were going back to school. Dawn didn’t even let me do the obligatory first day of school photo! Luckily Little Red let me snap a few of her before we headed off to the bus stop.
How was the first day of school at your house? Link up below.
This summer has been a busy one around here. While we haven’t been out or travelling much with three kids from toddler to teenager, everyone has their own schedules and ideas of summer fun. On top of the kid schedules and summer ideals AJ has been keeping himself busy with travel for work and the National Guard. The poor guy needs some down time to unwind and relax. It seems even family vacations can be not as much fun for him, or me for that matter.
Our most recent family vacation was this summer just this month. I had a work convention in New Orleans with Younique and since none of our family had ever been there before we opted to make it a family trip. I think this sounded easier and better in theory. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time but traveling with all the kids and exploring a city is not easy for one parent alone. Like I said, the man needs a vacation.
Our vacation started with our flight down to NoLa (New Orleans, Louisiana), read all about there here. Once we arrived it was late at night and the 5 of us needed transportation. We hailed our first Uber! More on our Uber experiences later. Let’s get to why you’re here… our vacation!
We did a lot of walking around the city, our hotel was close to where I needed to be and downtown. My personal to do list while we were there frankly consisted mostly of trying the local food. Hey I know my priorities! Besides I was in classes most of the time during the day or had events at night.
AJ and the kids explored more than I did and they had a great time doing so. They walked around the city, visited the French Quarter, an insectarium and aquarium. (AJ has those photos on his phone, I forgot to snag them from him. I will edit the post with his photos later.) The kids weren’t terribly interested in trying the local cuisine. They preferred McDs to local fried southern chicken. I still don’t understand that one, but hey no money or food wasted there I suppose.
There was a lot of rain, one day there was even a flash flood! We tried to keep inside during the downpour. We stayed safe but not dry. Later that night the power went out in our hotel, while we were trying to pack up for our flight home. No power, no water and no AC. I can officially check that off my list of things I want to do… ever.
Delicious food was what we had the most time for as a family and walking around Riverwalk near the convention center. I would definitely enjoy visiting NoLa again with AJ to explore the city more. Enjoy some photos I have.
Usually our vacations are near or with extended family, this was a nice getaway, even tho it was mostly a work trip for me. Where did you go this summer? Do you have a normal vacation spot each year?
What are your plans next year? I’d like to go camping next summer and explore more of the woods and area where we live. A vacation doesn’t always need to be somewhere away from home. Post about your vacation? Link up with us below!
Welcome to the festive holiday season! This month for our Mommy Blog collab we are opening our homes and showing you our Holiday Décor. This month Katie, Tracy and I are joined by Dara and Danielle.
Our decorations are for Christmas and they go up every year on St. Nicholas Day. The kids also get a new ornament to hang on the tree and the family gets a new ornament to mark something special from the year. This year Dawn received a set of 3 ornaments to commemorate the first three years of the high school marching band. She has been participating since the inception when she was a freshman.
Little Red’s ornament is of kids on a school bus. She started public school this year and is thrilled with riding the bus, of course it was the best choice! Baby K is daddy’s little boy so his is baby snowman goofing around with daddy snowman. For our family ornament we purchased one in Williamsburg, VA of the Colonial district.
We have two trees, one for the family and special ornaments, the other is for the kids to decorate with their ornaments and whatever else they wish to use from my totes. In years past the girls have used all Disney ornaments and some balls. This year Dawn didn’t want any of those on the tree, she’s becoming an adult and too cool for all that nonsense. The kid tree is near the fireplace in the back of the house. We hang out stockings for Santa on the mantel with stocking holders.
Baby K has been grabbing ornaments off of the trees faster than I can pick them up. Instead of fighting him on keeping them on the tree I filled two Mason jars with the small ball ornaments from the kid tree. The big ones from the tree in the front room ended up in a glass bowl. It adds more décor and holiday festivities to the house. Besides I’m not going insane doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.
Here in the front room we have our tree where the presents are placed by Santa, ok and Mom and Dad.
A tradition on my side of the family is for everyone to have their own fancy Christmas stocking. My grandma started making these before I was born and everyone who has married into or been born in the Adams side of my family has one! When Dawn was born I began helping make them and have almost completely taken over. I enjoy watching them come together and knowing every year they are hung and enjoyed is an added pleasure. Being so far away from my family I can look at this wall and feel connected to them all during the holiday season.
We have three nativity sets, although two of them are missing a piece or two… The first was one AJ had purchased overseas, I love this little nativity scene we keep it out all year round.
The second is a set with a few missing pieces, they’ve been lost or broken and thrown away over the years.
Our third and newest nativity scene is this beautiful set with figures and all made from the wood of an Olive tree. It was a gift from my mom a few years ago.
We also have two advent calendars. This one I made when Dawn was a baby. The kids love pulling the little pieces out every year. I love it because I don’t have to remember to buy or put 24 little items in the advent.
A few years ago my sister Renee gave us this advent set. it is so fun and festive but I never end up putting anything in it, because I am forgetful to say the least!
I love all things about Christmas decorations. My home feels festive and homey this time of year. I enjoy the lights, shiny decorations, and all the little pieces of decoration that come together making a beautiful holiday season. I hope you have enjoyed this peak into our holiday home. What are some of your favorite holiday decorations around your home?
Years ago when we first moved to Jersey, we were invited to our first ever Pie Night. When the Sommerkorns moved out of the area, many were saddened by their departure and the thought of the end of Sommerkorn Pie Night. We could not let this happen! I am no Liz the pie professional but I took on the task of keeping Pie Night tradition. Over the years I have incorporated many pie recipes from the web, old cook books and of course Liz’s selections. (Seriously this woman has amazing skill and talent with pies.)
The idea behind Pie Night is to enjoy and savor all of the delicious pies before Thanksgiving dinner. Usually on Thanksgiving the table is adorned with a gorgeous turkey and all the filling sides. By the end of a Thanksgiving feast there is no room for pie. It is shameful as pie deserves our love and respect as much as the turkey! Pie night to the rescue; an entire evening devoted to pie. Yum!
Pie Night, as is our spin on the tradition, is Friday night before Thanksgiving. This year I took a deviated path on recipes. This year’s pies came from old recipe books my Grandma has given me from the 60s, 70s and 80s (that’s fun sometimes just trying to figure out the ingredients and measurements), some came from newer recipe books, family recipes and of course Pinterest.
Instead of a traditional chocolate cookie crust (I ran out of Oreo’s) I opted to make some chocolate dough pie crusts. They aren’t the same as a cookie crust but served their purpose.
Sometimes, even my large kitchen isn’t enough counter space for Pie Night prep.
The favorite of the night was the chocolate mint cream pie (seen sitting in the middle of the table with the chocolate cookie crust). Down low on the list were Gingerbread Cream Pie, Salted Chocolate Pecan and Peanut Butter Bacon pies. In all fairness the Salted Chocolate Pecan and Gingerbread both did not set enough and ended up being devoured by my family the next day when they were set. PB Bacon is one I have not made in a few years but made it by request from Big D this year. A new concoction for me this year was an Almond Joy pie. It was scrumptious!
Things I learned/proved:
Instant vs Cook & Serve puddings… it makes a difference
some pies will take longer than the recipe says to set firmly
chicken pot pie will always be a favorite, it’s a staple now
Oreo cookies dipped in homemade German’s chocolate cake icing are delicious!
everyone has different taste
I think the last one makes pie night fun and worth while. I enjoy baking and seeing others enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Happy holidays!! I love this time of year for baking. In a few weeks my counters will be covered by various cookies for gifts and cookie exchanges.
Wait, why keep it all in person? This year I am joining an online cookie exchange and sharing with you one of my favorite recipes.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c white sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
~1/2 c powdered sugar
In a medium bowl mix together the first three ingredients. Add in eggs and vanilla. Continue mixing until smooth and shiny.
In another bowl combine next three ingredients. Stir flour mix into cocoa mix with a wooden spoon only until smooth.
Cover the door with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper. Roll spoon of dough into ball. Cover ball in powdered sugar.
Bake for 10-12 minutes for smaller cookies and 12-14 minutes for larger cookies. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet.
My family loves these cookies and I end up making a double batch so I have enough for gift boxes.
These are the cookies I saved from the cookie monsters in order to take a picture for you. Seriously they were about half gone!
Don’t they look delicious? Please don’t try to eat your screen, these are only an image.
What are your favorite cookies to whip up for the holidays? I love trying new recipes, and you really can’t go wrong with cookies. For another delicious recipe, head on over to Katie’s blog and check out the recipe she’s sharing as well!
I like that title don’t you? You must be here for our 2015 holiday updates.
We went pumpkin picking at a local patch to kick off the fall season. Dawn was at marching band practice, we went after pumpkins to watch them perform.
For Halloween I was able to pull out my sewing machine and feel the crafty juices flow again. That was such a nice feeling. Every other year we do Halloween as a family theme. AJ threw some at the wall, the one that stuck was Peter Pan and CPT Hook, the girls were fairies. It was fun! I made all of our costumes, for the most part. You’ll see…
Dawn dressed up as Vidia, she doesn’t like skirts (so nothing made on her costume), #2 took on Rosetta, very fitting for her; #3 decked out as Peter Pan not Robin Hood. I embodied Silver Mist, and AJ CPT Hook. His shirt and jacket were my favorite pieces to make!
Thanksgiving was quick and easy at our house. No one came for a visit and we had no one else eating at our house. AJ decided to deep fry the turkey. Good idea: shorter cooking time. Bad idea: cooking a bit too long. It wasn’t as moist as I thought it would be, oh well we can try again another time.
Christmas was fun. We stayed local and attended a few functions between work, church and friends. All in all we had a good time together as a family and for us, these holidays are about family.
Going back through my posts and photos I realized there were a few things I missed in October. In no particular order…
Halloween – we decided to not do a “family” theme this year. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on costumes either so I pulled something together for AJ and me. We were Catwoman and Batman. Yes he still wears the sweater.
Dawn, after many ideas, landed on a “cereal” killer and the little of course wanted to be a princess, Princess Aurora to be precise (aka Sleeping Beauty).
A few weeks before Halloween we found ourselves down at FT Indiantown Gap (FTIG) for a special event. While killing time waiting for said event (I’ll get there) I took the girls over to Hershey to play around. Little did I know the amusement park was actually still open, I was not prepared for a day at the amusement park so we did the Hershey World experience instead. We took a tour, learned about making chocolate, made our own chocolate bars and just had fun together.
We were down in the area for a special event. AJ was getting promoted to Captain and officially taking command of the unit. He addressed the troops, the Colonial said a few words then asked me to “pin” him. Colonial ripped off the old rank and I punched on the new one. No one really showed me how to do it but that’s okay. It was my first time and I’m so proud of AJ and glad I was able to be there to support him. The COL had a bit more difficult time getting his rank off the hat, it was pretty tightly pinned down.
Merry Christmas! Yes I know that was last week but between baking, being pregnant, finishing up on Christmas plans and just being myself I did not post for Christmas. I have a few fun posts coming up. So stay tuned for some NEW adventures in baking, Christmas events around our house, traditions, lia sophia, jamberry as well as one or two giveaways! Who doesn’t like free stuff? Psshh…. you know you do so stay tuned!
This was the first time we have hosted Pie Night while I was pregnant. I really can’t tell you how I made it through the day and night other than great helpers and the grace of God.
My day started at 6am with a 30 minute one way trip to Walmart for a few things I had missed on my list which were necessary for the pies. Thursday I had finalized my list, made notes, highlights and set out the plan for the day. I was going to pre-make pie dough but didn’t have shortening, oops. At the end of the night I tried getting some photos but, again missed out on some including all of the pies set out before they were eaten. I can’t believe how fast some of the pies went this year. Everyone seems to come hungry having not eaten dinner or just a light snack after lunch because the savory pies were gone in a flash.
Here is the list of pies; sadly some of these did not make it to the table. The ones crossed off either didn’t turn out right or didn’t make the time crunch cut. Thankfully my friend Tara made and brought a chicken pot pie. I did take a new approach and just “oh well” attitude about the things that didn’t turn out right, pies not being done right or not making the time crunch. It was a lot less stressful that way!
GF Pumpkin pie (we normally make this for a friend with gluten allergies but since they were unable to come it was cut with the time crunch)
Caramel Apple Pumpkin Nothing special, really disappointed with this pie. I won’t be keeping this one.
Grasshopper (this was a simple recipe much like making rice krispy treats and Dawn had been wanting to make a pie by herself all day so I let her do this one, she cooked the marshmallows instead of just melting them, there was no saving this pie. Oh well.)
Baked Alaska (Lion House cookbook) Simple peppermint ice cream pie with chocolate syrup and a meringue topping. Dawn made this one too. It melted after browning the meringue she set it right out on the table. After refreezing it is just ice cream in a pie crust. Not again.
Gingered Apple Cranberry I’m really glad I have extra ingredients (except apples) because this was the last pie out of the oven, a bit late but it was gone in minutes. I am going to have to make one for Thanksgiving, anyone want to have us over for dinner? I’ll bring the pie.
Brownie easy and delicious. We will keep this one around for next year. The kids especially liked this one.
Buttermilk (Lion House cookbook) This pie didn’t make it out to the table it didn’t quite set right but AJ put it back in the oven the next morning and it finally set. AJ really likes it, it’s okay just a standard “custard” type pie.
Dreamy Apple This is a favorite of many, classic pie recipe. It didn’t go as fast this year as it has in the past.
Classic Double crust Apple (somehow didn’t have enough apples but we had other apple pies)
Angel Pie (Ladies Home Journal 2000 cookbook) This sounded delicious and fun. Everything cooked properly and turned out well. I wasn’t sure about making an entire crust from meringue but it worked. It is sort of a cross between a lemon cream and lemon meringue pie upside down. I won’t be making it again though. Too much work and effort for the meringue crust. I’ll try making it in a regular crust with the meringue on top in the future.
Cherry AJ LOVES cherry pie but I can’t stand it (probably because I’ve never had one fresh, and I still haven’t haha). This year I finally made one. I started with this recipe but tweaked it a little. I didn’t use the added juice as I had fresh cherries and after they were pitted just let them sit in the bowl for awhile thus creating their own juices. It was devoured. AJ barely got a slice himself.
Salty Honey Another idea that sounded good but didn’t turn out as great as expected. I won’t be making this one again.
Peanut Butter Silk (LHJ 2000 cookbook) This seemed to be a favorite of the night. Will keep it in the rotation.
Lemon & berry this was our gender reveal pie. It was fun but not as blue as I would have liked. I would add food coloring if I could do it over again. The only way I would keep this pie is without the berries. It wasn’t a favorite of the night or mine.
Pear with struessel & caramel I like this pear recipe. The only change I would make is drizzling the caramel on top of the pie instead of serving it on the side. The sauce thickens and cools too much and quickly.
German chocolate pecan First of all German’s chocolate is a real thing, it is not just regular chocolate it is sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate normally used in baking. This pie was super sweet, but in a good way. Not overly sweet like the Chocolate Avocado pie. We will keep this one around.
Shepherd (really should have prepped this one in the morning and just heated it up)
Tomato Think cheese pizza and you’ve got this. I used all greek yogurt and no mayo in this one. No one seemed to notice. It was gone. A keeper.
Pecan (just didn’t make the time cut)
For the toppings we had vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and lemon whipped cream. I did not make chocolate or fudge sauce this year. For drinks we put lemon slices into our water dispenser/pitcher, had our Kuerig out with apple cider cups and a guest brought coffee K cups. We also had bottles of soda, IBC root beer and cream soda as well as Crush in strawberry, orange and grape flavors. We also ended up with 2 liter bottles of cranberry ginger ale, cherry 7-up and A&W root beer. Another successful and fun pie night. I love this tradition! (thank you Liz)
As I mentioned in my previous post, this weekend is semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I have never been one of those people who recalls names, faces AND what they said at the same time. I can recall great quotes and messages that touched me but I tend to not be able to recall who said them. One of the treats I get after and during conference is from a friend’s site found here. Not only do I get to recall who said my favorite quotes I can also print them up and put them around my house for the next six months. (Then I put up new ones from the next conference). It is such a treat to have such talented friends sharing their abilities and gifts with those of us (me) who aren’t as craftily inclined.
This weekend I have enjoyed listening to the words spoken and finding answers to questions I did not realize I had. It has been a wonderful treat hearing the words spoken by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, apostles and other church authorities. They all speak with such intelligence, wisdom, power and spirit. It may be the pregnancy emotions a little but I definitely felt moved this weekend. It is always a great treat and tradition listening to conference.
Another tradition in my family is conference rolls. This is something my mother started. When I would drive up to Utah from Southern California to visit her during conference weekend I knew I was going to have yummy food, including her conference rolls. She only makes them once, sometimes twice a year. She doesn’t always make them for every conference. In fact this weekend she told me she wasn’t going to be making anything. That tends to happen when your kids are all grown up and almost all married or living somewhere else I suppose. The last few years I have taken it upon myself to keep this tradition going in my own family. This year they were almost “after” conference rolls because I didn’t start making them until this morning and couldn’t get them in the oven until after the morning session. While waiting for the dough to rise I decided to try making a Kit-Kat pie. A friend had mentioned hearing about it and I had made a Butterfinger pie for Pi Day back in March. I figured I could apply the same principles there and it would be great. It turned out okay. In the end I decided it just needed some more Kit-Kats and would probably be pretty good with some chocolate syrup on top. Other than that it was okay. When I make it again I will definitely be using at least four king size bars. I only used two in this recipe, but here are some photos for you anyway. For the conference rolls and all their splendor, see this post.