Over the holiday weekend, the weather was blustery and unkind.  We had planned to spend Saturday in the city getting some much-needed shopping done, but after looking out of the windows and looking at the online weather warnings, we decided to bunk it at home.  It was an experience unlike any other.  We all had NO PLANS, and so we sat at home doing whatever came to mind.  Thanks to the overcast weather and falling snow, I was compelled to break out my Pioneer Woman cookbook and try my hand at her cinnamon rolls -something I’d been dying to do for over a year but had never been brave enough.

I don’t care for cinnamon rolls.  They always look so inviting and wonderful, but when you bite into them? dry.  All anticipation comes crashing down, no matter how much you microwave it (the roll.  not the anticipation).

These rolls were different.  They were moist and soft and absolutely delicious.  The only problem was: the recipe made exactly 51 cinnamon rolls.  It used up every single pan in my house that was somewhat cinnamon-roll friendly.Photobucket

Now let me take you back…

Last week, we had a Valentine’s Party for preschool.  The kids wanted a pink butterfly cake, and I was going to bake sugar cookies for them to decorate.  But I got sick the weekend before the party.  I bagged the sugar cookie idea.  I bagged the butterfly cake idea.  Instead, we had cake mix cookies (made out of strawberry cake mix) and we decorated them as if they were sugar cookies.  I made a batch of frosting, and the kids had a blast.

I made the frosting in my favorite stainless-steel bowl.  My husband’s grandmother gave it to me as a bridal shower gift, and I treasure it.  It has a ring on the side of the bowl, and no matter where I’ve lived, I’ve always kept that beautiful bowl hanging on my wall in very close range to my cooking area.  My husband used to use it for popcorn.  It didn’t bode well with me.

“Are you telling me I’m not allowed to use that bowl for popcorn?” He asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “It’s mine.”

“You mean it’s … ours,” he said.

“No.” I shook my head, “It’s mine.  Your grandma gave it to me as a bridal shower gift and I use it all the time and when it’s not hanging in it’s spot I get cranky.”

It’s not characteristic of me to impose rules on my husband, so when I do he generally takes the hint that I’m not to be trifled with.  Besides, the rules I do give generally have to do with kitchen duties and really there’s only two rules.

#1) Don’t use my mixing bowl.

#2) If you’re going to interfere while I cook by telling me I need to measure ingredients, I will unkindly escort you out of my kitchen.

Anyway, the kids didn’t use all of the frosting.  I covered it tightly with Cling-Wrap (material of the gods!) and put it in the fridge.  The next night, I was exhausted.  We did scriptures and prayers with the kids, and Trent went right to sleep.  Lacy did not.  I put “The Princess Bride” on her TV to help her drift off, about 2 hours later, she woke me up.  Her movie was over.

I stumbled out of bed and started it again, mumbling at her to go to sleep.  I should’ve just turned the dang movie off, but who thinks straight in the middle of the night?  Later on in the night (I’m not sure how much later because I’m too blind to see the clock and too tired to put my glasses on), she was by my bedside again.

“Can I have some juice?” She asked.

“Yeah,” I mumbled and promptly fell back asleep.  I was awakened again by a noise coming from the kitchen.

clink, clink, clink…

I’d heard that sound before.  My foggy middle-of-the-night brain registered that it was the sound of my prized mixing bowl -the ring it hangs from hitting the side of the bowl.

clink, clink, clink…. SLAM

My eyes popped open.  My brain began registering facts more quickly: mixing bowl, frosting, fridge door slamming… LACY.  I squinted in the darkness to see the silhouette of my daughter, clinking as she went, pat-pat-pattering into her room with a big bowl of frosting.

“Lacy!” I hissed, so as not to wake up her dad, “NO!  What are you doing?”

“Can I have some juice?” She asked, innocently handing over the bowl of frosting.

She got her juice.

Now back to the cinnamon rolls: what do you do with 51 cinnamon rolls?  A few days before, my husband had expressed a sincere concern for my health -er, lack of health, I should say.  Something’s amiss with my blood sugar, I think.  In any case, my 25 year-old body acts more like a 55 year old body at times.  Given that we’d both like for me to bear children again someday, I need to take better care of my body.  Read: I need to give away cinnamon rolls so I won’t eat them.

We took a pan to grandma.  We took a pan to my folks.  We took a pan to my brother.  We divided up individual rolls to this person and that person, saving only 2 pans for ourselves: one small pan and one larger pan for our Sunday breakfast and after-church snack.

Saturday night, I covered the big pan in tin foil and I nestled up to watch “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” with my husband (a good movie, by the way, or I wouldn’t have mentioned it.  Word to the wise: only watch it once.  If you watch it more than that, Alyssa Milano’s mouth may start to grate on your nerves).  From the kitchen, I heard the rusting of tin foil.  I ignored it, hoping it would go away.  I didn’t.  It got worse.  Soon the rustling sound gave way to a tearing sound.  At that point, I sat up to go stop the tearing but I was too late.  My son came bolting out of the kitchen, holding a big pan of cinnamon rolls at a 45 degree angle over his head.  He clutched the pan in a small space where the tin foil had been ripped away.

The best part?  He didn’t take his eyes off of his parents as he b-lined it for the sanctuary of his bedroom.  Honestly, I’ve never seen the kid run so fast on his tip-toes.  Maybe he thought if he held the pan up high enough, we wouldn’t be able to reach it.  He was wrong.  And as I took the pan out of his hands, he WAILED loudly so as to let all nations, kindreds, tongues and people know that HE HAD BEEN WRONGED.

It probably wasn’t in the interest of good parenting to give him a roll, but I did.

It was in the interest of my sanity, and that counts for something.

Now that you’ve read through the entirety of this post, I have to say: I feed my children.  I feed my children well.  I don’t know why they hoard sweets in their room, but I suspect it’s because they’re on the normal side.

Hard Work and One Spectactular Weekend!

In my last post, I mentioned that I was burning the candle at both ends and then I fell off the face of the earth.

Not having time to sit and blog is surely one of life’s little annoyances -at least it is for me.  Taking time to sit and write about life’s everyday occurrences is something I really look forward to.  Today, I have mounds of crafting to do before Christmas, but I just had to sit down and write.

The last day I blogged was my husband’s 30th birthday.  We didn’t do very much to celebrate because I had super-de-duper secret plans in the works that had taken up ALL of my spending cash.  I did manage to get a cheesecake together and take it to his work, which I told him I would do.  He told me not to because they might be busy, so I shelved the plan.  Then he called me the morning of his birthday and told me to go ahead with the plan.

I sighed a great sigh because I filled my day with other plans on account of his CANCELLING his birthday cheesecake.  Instead of saying “GAH!” I said, “I love you.”

He read the “GAH!” through my tone.

The cheesecake was made and delivered in the end.

That evening, we had the opportunity to watch our daughter perform in her first EVER tumbling meet.
As the class began their stretching, the teacher would have the go through that actions of “making cookies” in a way that would stretch their little bodies out.
“What are you going to put on your cookie?” She’d ask the students, one by one.
“Jelly beans!”
And then there was my daughter’s reply…

To finish up their stretching, the teacher had them turn into “rocket ships” and “fly” different places.
“Where do you want to fly?” The teacher would ask the students, one by one.
“The ice cream store!”
And then there was my daughter’s answer:
“The Land of Oz!”

She waited patiently on the wall between routines.

First she did a floor routine, then a beam routine, and lastly: a trampoline routine. Her beam routine:

The next day, Thursday, was the only day I had to get things done before we left to start celebrating my husband’s big birthday bash, and I was busy from sun up to 1 AM.
I made monkeys and cleaned and cleaned monkeys.

I had to get them finished before we left because I wanted to deliver them to their rightful owners. Once I got those three done, I started on another one. He’s the cute little guy on the far left.
I wanted to try and give him a persona before I gave him away to my husband’s brother. He’s an unabashed monkey lover, and I’d joked with him earlier about making an Adolf Hitler-themed monkey. I decided to give it a try.
First came the ‘stash and angry eyes.

Then came the authoritative black hat with hand-stitched swastika.

Then I stitched his arm up at a permanent angle.
Then I took a picture of my children stuffing their shirts with the monkey stuffing.
“Santa Clause!” They cried out, “Santa!”

Then I added the armband.
Not so cute now…
But definitely worth the time it took to make it!

I wrapped and packed the monkeys that night. Hitler Monkey was packed up with a pair of homemade monkey pajama pants that I had also made that day and which I was tempted to put on and never take off.
Ahhh….. PJ pants.
We woke up early on Friday morning and packed the car up. By lunchtime, we were at Aunt Darah’s house. We dropped our kids off and turned right back around. We drove two hours in another directions to get to my husband’s secret birthday spot.

The England House.

My husband took me there for our anniversary in September, and he hadn’t stopped talking about it since.
As we crawled in bed one night, he started talking about it again.
“How badly do you want to go back?” I asked.
“Real bad,” he answered, “Just as soon as we can.”
So I started working hard. I babysat, I crocheted, I made aprons, I taught preschool and piano lessons, I played piano at the high school… and somehow it all came together.

I was also able to snag us reservations at my husband’s favorite restaurant, The Cottage Place. It’s been voted the best in town for years. Before checking into our room, I had my husband stop off at Wal-Mart so I could pick up some much needed cosmetics. I ended up spending $40 all at once because I hadn’t bought eye shadow or mascara in months. I put off buying these kinds of things, you know, on account of money. Then I have to buy them all at once and I end up needing to really spend a hunk of money, so I turn to Wal-Mart instead of JC Penney. Besides, if you get eye shadow, you need to get glitter. And if you get glitter for your eyes, you should probably buy the shimmery body lotion.
And then you’ll probably end up hating yourself for it all once they ring you up.
But only if you’re a cheapie like me. However, I HAD to have that crap! I haven’t been able to get dressed up for a date in ages!

As I got dressed and ready for dinner, my husband tried to visit with me. He didn’t do a very good job on account of the headache he’d had for four days straight. He was quiet and tired -I felt really bad for him, and I hoped that he would start to enjoy his weekend getaway as much as I was able to enjoy it.
We pulled up to The Cottage Place a few minutes before our reservation time. They were running behind, but it didn’t bother us at all. We didn’t have anywhere to be, and we didn’t mind waiting.
We ended up waiting so long that the restaurant management gave us a complimentary appetizer.
Four of the FATTEST shrimp I’ve ever seen!
They were swimming in anchovie sauce, which I thought would disgust me out of my brains, but it was SO good that my husband and I literally mopped up every speck up sauce with our complimentary bread.
Our meals arrived shortly thereafter. He got the artichoke chicken and I had the seafood pasta. My dish was filled with a few more of the fattest shrimp I have ever seen, soft scallops, and the best salmon I’ve ever EVER had! I’d never tasted anything like it.

The restaurant put us up in a cozy corner table -very cut off from the rest of the restaurant. We were surrounded on two sides by window panes that let us watch as soft snowflakes started to fall outside. I watched as my husband’s mood lightened, and I was so glad that we had come. He fed me his chicken and I fed him my seafood, and we were so full we couldn’t muster room for dessert (probably because we had each eaten six hot wings a few hours prior).
LOOK at those SHRIMP!

My dish, my dish, my dish…

After we were filled to the brim with holiday cheer and OUTSTANDING food, the waitress snapped our picture.
You can’t see it, but I’m wearing heels. I never, ever wear heels so I had to make note of it. At 5’8″, I never, ever heels. Especially because the man I’m sporting is 5’11” (but if he asks, tell him I told you he’s not an inch short of 6 foot).

We pulled back into The England House around 11 pm, and snow was falling all around. I snapped a picture of the back of the house.

I loved the way the camera’s flash reflected off the snowflakes. We nestled into our soft, warm bed and SLEPT SO HARD. When we woke up, there was a soft covering of snow.
The England House was decorated for Christmas, and there was a big, beautiful REAL tree in the front parlor. It hadn’t quite been decorated, but it was so full and fragrant that I had keep from hugging it. The best part? They paid $20 for it. $20! For the best BEST tree I’d ever laid eyes on!

Before we checked in, I could smell that tree from the porch outside. As the owner opened the door, the smell of Christmas wafted around us, and we settled comfortably into “vacation mode.”
Breakfast on Saturday morning was delicious. My body was still digesting dinner from the night before, but I was powerless to resist breakfast. Powerless.
Banana crumble served in a ramekin and a baked egg souffle!

As we ate, a fire crackled in the fire place next to us, and snow continued to fall in large downy snowflakes. The flickering taper candles on our table topped the atmosphere off perfectly.

Our second stay at The England House was as perfect and picturesque as the first. Of course we’ll go back. Of course we’ll love it. Of course the owners will treat us like we belong there. Of course I’ll be responsible for eating most of the chocolate in the candy dish set out in the kitchen.

Here’s the back of the house after the snow.

I love nothing more than escaping reality with my husband. Our reality is really as good as it gets, but it’s still nice to sneak away now and then.
One of the greatest things about The England House is that the rooms don’t have televisions in them. No television means we spend more time talking and more time listening. By the end of our stay, we’re always 100% reminded of why we got married, why we’ll stay married, and why we’ll be back to visit The England House again and again.

After checking out, my husband and I were able to get some Christmas shopping done. We hadn’t shopped together at all this season, and we won’t be able to again -so we had a GREAT time wandering the aisles of Target. By this point in the weekend, my husband’s headache was nearly gone and he was back to his teasing self. I couldn’t get ENOUGH of him!
We bought the kids all sorts of little goodies here and there -nothing too expensive because we’re poor as church mice these days. Luckily, the kids are too little to notice or care.
The drive home was peaceful.
Then the drive home got foggy.
Then the drive home got REALLY foggy.

I kept joking to my husband that I felt like Russel Crowe in Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World.
“I feel like we’re going to get hit on the port side at any given second,” I said. Then I’d imitate a sailor’s whistle.
Then he’d turn his podcast up.

We made it back to Aunt Darah’s house much later than I had anticipated, and I can’t express my THANKS enough for what she did for us! She made it possible for my husband to have the best birthday yet.
I was able to pay for all of it which my husband felt more than a little weird about, but it was SO nice to be able to take care of him for a change! I almost forgot to take my wallet with me just about everywhere we went because I’m so used to him paying, but it was 100% worth all of the work that went into it.
Which -by the by -still isn’t done. I’ve got loads of monkey socks waiting for me on the couch and two little kids that both woke up with coughs and cute croaky voices.

Here’s to a day filled with humidifiers, orange juice, sock monkey stuffing, and a traditional family sing-a-long tonight that I will be attending solo.
Thanks in advance to the husband who has agreed to stay home with the kids so I can play and sing tonight!

Later on tomorrow, I’ll blog about our family get togethers. Last night, we met at Aunt Lil’s house for a smashing Christmas dinner with the tastiest bruschetta this mama’s evah had.
Tune in tomorrow (the other side of three sock monkeys).