Sunday, November 23, 2008

All I want for Christmas....

     I never ask for anything for Christmas.  I usually just pick up something I want when I am out and about and call it my Christmas gift.  It saves a lot of time.  No returns that way.

     This year, I thought I'd throw a wrench in all of that and ask for a gift.  So, we were in the car the car the other day and I said to Paul, "I think I want a Christmas gift this year."  He was all ears... because I never ask for anything.  

     "Well, actually, I want one of two things.  I either want electrolysis for my eyebrows..."

     He about went off the road.

     "What?" I asked him. " Have you seen the rate at which my eyebrows grow??  One of these days the dogcatcher is going to come after me!"   

     Seriously, it's ridiculous!  And, the worst part of it is, I always forget to keep up with them until I start having double eyebrows.  You know, the regular eyebrow is still there and then the new growth under the regular one starts to take over.  You know it's bad when the non-observant daughter says, "What's wrong with your eyebrows?"

     So, I think it's a perfectly legitimate request.  Who has time to take care of four kids, homeschool them, pay the bills, grocery shop, make all the meals, clean up bodily fluids, wash clothes, shuttle kids to all their activities, do post-adoption paperwork, schedule a multidisciplinary approach to all Emme's issues, etc....  Did I mention that there will be here 27 people at my house for Thanksgiving????  6 of them students from China attending the local University !!  (What in the world am I supposed to talk to them about?  And, do they even eat turkey?  Speaking from experience, I want nothing to do with their food.  What makes me think they want some sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce??  Should be interesting!  It's gotta make for a good story... at least.)

    "Ok, well I either want electrolysis for Christmas or a photography class.''

     I gotta raised eyebrow and a smirk of the mouth from that request.  Translated... "now that's a good idea".  

     I think, if you ask for something totally ridiculous first, the next request is bound to be granted.

     I have always loved to take pictures.  I have been the only historian in my family and Paul's family.  My brother, awhile back, bought me a really nice, very expensive camera and I am sure I am not making full use of it

     You'll see what I mean when you see the pictures.  I need help!  

     I didn't get any natural picture taking abilities either.  If their is some kind of picture taking gene, we don't have it in our family.  I don't know that I have ever seen my dad with a camera in his hand.  And, my mom, bless her heart, (you can say anything you want about someone if you say 'bless their heart' first) apparently, she has some kind of disability that does not allow her to look through a camera's view finder,  focus on a face and then capture the face in the square. Lots of pictures of me when I was growing up.... I only have half on a head.  Or, my brother and I would be in a picture together and since I was a bit older and taller, there would only be a picture of my body - no head!  (More on that to come in a future post.)

     So, because I want to be like Pioneer Woman or my friend Sharla, when I grow up.  I need a few lessons.  But, until I get those lessons, if you want me to share some things with you,  you're just gonna have to deal with the poor quality of my photos.

     I meant to share this first recipe awhile back so you could try it and then decide if it would be something you'd want to make for Thanksgiving, but clearly, that did not happen so you're going to have to trust me.  

     The first recipe is for a pumpkin cake.  It is important to know that I hate pumpkin pie.  I wish I felt about all desserts the way I feel about pumpkin pie.  I'd have a lot less problems. 

     Last year, the girls and I studied our way around the world, starting in the USA.  At the conclusion of the tour, it is suggested to make some of the recipes that were listed in one of the books we were using.  So, had this recipe not been in that book, I would have never tried it. Why??  Because I just told you I HATE pumpkin!!!  Are you not listening?

     But, even though most of the recipe comes from the book, I would like some credit for tweaking it and making it my own and making it better.
     We'll start with the ingredients: 1 box yellow cake mix, 2/3 cup o' sugar, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 can of pumpkin (16oz) and 1/4 cup water.
Look at that awful picture!!  One would think I'd be embarrassed to even show it!  

Anyway, combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
     I always stir the dry ingredients around.  

    I also thought I'd take a picture of my hand.  Do you know that my hand has looked about 90 years old since I was 16??  What is up with that??  But, besides looking at my 90 year old hand, I wanted you to see my nails.  I did them myself in about 5 minutes from a $3 box of fake nails I bought from CVS.  I think I missed my calling!

    Add eggs and stir them into the mixture.

    Add the water and the oil.  
    Check out my mixer.  He's handicapped.  Poor fellow. (He's got one leg.... please read like the skit from Saturday night live.  I've got one leg) He's busier than a one-legged man in a butt kicking contest.  If he can do it, anybody can!
    How on earth do you lose one of your beaters??  One of these days, when my rich uncle dies, I am either going to get a second beater or a kitchen-aid mixer.  (P.S.  I don't have a rich uncle.)

     He looks worn out, doesn't he?
     Add the pumpkin.  Beat on low speed until smooth.

     Poor into a greased pan.  Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.  The ol' toothpick methods works if you want to check to see if it's done.

     The recipe in the book calls for baking it in a bundt pan for an hour.  I don't like the word bundt so I used a regular cake pan.  

     The recipe did not call for icing either so I made my own.

    Take an 8 ounce package of cream cheese and 1/4 cup of butter- allow them to soften!!  Very important.
     Look at that hideous picture.  As if you can tell what's in there!
     Anyway, it is very important that you use your mixer to blend the cream cheese and the butter FIRST!!
     Then, add 2 teaspoons of vanilla and blend that together.  After that is blended, add a 1 pound package of powdered sugar.  If you try to add the powered sugar before you blend the butter and the cream cheese.... your icing will look like it has some sort of disease.  It will be all bumpy and not look pretty at all!
     Once the cake comes out, allow it to cool.  I usually put mine in the refrigerator.  And, if I am really impatient, I put it in the freezer.  

     After it cools, you can ice it!
     ****NOTE****   Put the cake back in the refrigerator and allow it to get really cold.  It tastes best this way.  It's actually a great cake to make a day ahead.

     If you try it, let me know how you liked it!

     Because I have no shame about my picture taking ability, now I will show you a true invention of my own.  I was looking for a way to get more fruits and vegetables into my system and especially into my kids.  So, I made this up and they all love it.  As a matter of fact, they ask for one about every day.
     Ingredients:  banana, frozen strawberries, a frozen berry blend (includes blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) fresh spinach (which I accidently froze one time and it still worked perfectly... so now I always freeze my fresh spinach.
There's the awful picture.  Hey, you gotta start somewhere!     Then, (and I am so sorry that I don't have measurements, I just wing it according to how many people want one) I add some Northlands Cranberry Pomegranate (it is 100% natural juice, no sugar added.)  Next, I add some skim milk.  I also use 1 or 2 packets (again depends on size) of stevia.  (Stevia is a natural sweetner.  There is nothing artificial in it!  I love it!!  You can find it with the sugar or in the health food section of a regular grocery store.)  I top it off with crushed ice and blend until there are no chunks.  You can make it thicker if you use less liquid... that's the way we like it.  Then we eat it with a spoon.

     That blurry purple thing is the final product.  And, just so you know, you can't taste the spinach AT ALL!!  It is so yummy!

    Let me know if you try this too!  


Gina said...

YES! First of all, I love that you're turning your blog into a daily read. I mean I know how long it takes you to do a post...but I love reading stuff from you more often, it's so fun!

Secondly, I used to get electrolysis I think maybe the summer after my freshman year at college. It hurts like nobody's business. You know your famous saying? I'd rather get a barbed wire enema? Well, I would. It hurts so bad. Just keep up on the waxing, it's so much better!

I'm glad you're turning into the new Pioneer Woman. Maybe you can be the Midwest Woman. =)

Pam said...

Maybe you should ask for a new mixer for Christmas. Love your new blog!

Kevin said...

You said you'd hunt me down if I didn't leave a comment... I hope all is well. Give your family a hello for me.

Chubby Baby Designs said...

I noticed your nails right away!!! I'm quiet impressed, when can I make am appointment with you? :)
I'm SO making the pumpkin cake for my fam! I made a pumpkin pie for my big family this weekend, so I'm kinda over the pie.
The smoothies are AWESOME! I love making smooties for the kids. I will try the spinach this week!

Sharla said...

I have an idea...tell Paul to send you to my house and I'll give you photography lessons! Actually, let's get the hubby's to send us some place really cool so we'll have some great subjects/landscape to work with! Now that's my idea of a photography class!!

I admit, the stuff in the blender looks yucky but hey, it might be a great way for me to get my spinach.

Mari said...

Now you made me feel bad for lurking...
For your information you have an addicted blog reader all the way on the other side of the world in Norway. I followed your journey to Emme and love your blog.

And since we don`t have thanksgiving or halloween here I have always wondered what to do with an entire pumpkin. I am soo saving your recipe :)


Jodi said...

I found your new blog and love it! Good luck with Thanksgiving! You are so funny to read and brave to boot! Take care!

Abby said...

Oh I love it! You are killing me with the step by step photos. It's great. But I must admit that I wondered what 90 year old was at your house, baking a cake. HELLO! I never noticed your "weathered" hands before. Anyhoo, secondly, I'd just like to say that your pumpkin cake recipe is to die for. Seriously. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Love ya.