Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Photos

Steven with his new Golf Clubs!
Steven and Me in his classroom, beside the tree.
George and the kids at Disney's Very Merry Christmas Party.
Mom and Dad with the kids Christmas Eve.
I am only posting a few "key moments" from Christmas this year. It has been so busy, but I do want to remember some of the festivities when I look back.
I brought a griddle into Steven's class and make pancakes for the kids. Of course, I had all the parents send in breakfast items to go along with them. We had "Christmas Breakfast". It was a big hit.
We went to Disneys Christmas Party again this year. Lots of fun, but we did have a little rain that kind of slowed us down. It was a nice relaxing time for us.
Steven got his first set of golf clubs as a gift from Uncle Pete and Aunt Heather. Pete plans to take him out for his first "lesson" when in warms up a bit. George has no interest in golf, but it is in Steven's blood. Both my brother and George's brother really enjoy golf, so we will see how he does.
I love the photo of Nana and Papa Bear with there little grands. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve. First, we went to Christmas Eve service at our church where I sang in the Ensemble, and we had a candle light service. Then, home for Christmas Dinner and opening gifts from Nana and Papa. The kids were so good in church bc they knew they were coming home to presents! Ha!
We had a wonderful Christmas Season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gingerbread House Party

This is one of the best ideas for a Christmas party I've seen. I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Trish's house last Sunday for her MOM ONLY gingerbread house party. I must say, after spending most of the month of December running around to parties and events for the children, this was a welcome change. She prepared everything in advance, and had all the little candies ready for us to adorn our houses. We had a lite supper and yummy chocolate peppermint martinis to start the evening. The ladies were all so creative, and all the houses turned out adorable. My kids were so impressed when I brought it home. Amanda Lily was upset that she didn't get to join in on the fun, but not to worry. Trish invited her over on Monday to make her very own gingerbread house with Joshie. They used up all the leftover candy from our Mom night. (:
I am posting this mostly to encourage any of you girls who are looking for a fun party to put together for the Christmas season. Trish is so creative in her party planning, and such an inspiration to me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pecan Pumpkin Trifle

Here ya go Janet!

Pecan Pumpkin Trifle
Prepare your favorite Pumpkin Bread recipe and add 3/4 cup pecans to the batter, then bake in 3 round cake pans.

Other Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup pecan pumpkin butter (i use Muirhead)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup Brandy
1/4 cup water
1 cup pecan halves, toasted
Cut your pumpkin bread into 5 to 7 thin slices. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat together the cream, vanilla and sugar on medium high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the pecan pumpkin butter. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine maple syrup, brandy, and water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 mins. This burns off the alcohol, and leaves the flavor. Set aside to cool.

To assemble the trifle, place 1 slice of the bread in the bottom of a trifle bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the bread with some of the maple syrup mixture and let it soak in. Using a spatula, spread 3/4 of the whipped cream mixture evenly over the bread. Repeat the layering process, and garnish with the toasted pecans.

The pecan pumpkin butter is key. If you can't find it at Williams Sonoma, you can buy it on the company's website. Or, if you want to substitute it for another pumpkin butter, that would be fine, just be sure to add some finely chopped pecans. This is a special treat that takes some work in the kitchen, but you can make the pumpkin bread and whipped cream mixture the day before, so that all you need to do is assemble. SOOOOOO WORTH the time and effort.

Here's a photo of the one I made tonight for a Christmas party we are attending. Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mrs Fisher's Seussical Surprise

Steven's Teacher recently celebrated her birthday. I decided to surprise her with a party with the class. Her favorite author is Dr. Seuss, and she loves the book Green Eggs and Ham. So, I went with that for a theme. She was genuinely surprised and very happy.

I read the story to the class before serving them green eggs and ham. They were hilarious! Imagine a group of 2nd graders with green eggs in front of them. Ha.
Every one of them were good sports and gave them a try. I actually didn't end up throwing many away! Then for my favorite part of all.....the cupcakes. I made "Thing One" and "Thing Two". Shut Up, they were cute. Super easy, but let me know if you make them, because I have some pointers. Here are the photos from the day. Fun Fun Fun

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Giving Thanks

We held Thanksgiving Dinner at our house this year. My sister in law, Heather, and I rotate hosting each year, and this year was my turn. I was so excited doing all the preparation... finding the perfect recipes, setting a great table scape. All who know me, know I love to cook and serve food. There is something creative in the process that I find very gratifying. I was particularly happy when my Father in Law, Stavros, told me how impressed he was with the turkey. He did the honors of carving, and commented on how moist and delicious it was. Coming from him.....that was huge to me! I brined the bird for 24 hours before roasting it in the oven. Williams-Sonoma was a great resource for Turkey how to, and I followed their advice to the "t". I also made a pecan pumpkin trifle that was yummy. Heather made the most beautiful tart I have ever seen in person. It's the one in the photo. It was all just delicious.
My very favorite moment this year was when Steven read his book "My Thanksgiving Prayer", and Amanda Lily read a book she made at school. It was so precious to hear them giving thanks for all they are blessed with. My heart swelled with pride to watch them and hear all they had to say. We had both the Kountanis and Green sides of the family, so I couldn't have been happier. My home was filled with love.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Halloween Night

Here are just a few snaps from Halloween. We did a hayride with Pam and Andrew. The pictures say it all.....lots of fun and candy. My kids were Star Wars characters. They are all about Star Wars these days. Mom made Amanda Lily's costume again this year. She did such an awesome job. I won't ramble bc I have so much to do at home. Just wanted to post these photos before Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jack O Lanters

Last night, we had our neighborhood friends over to carve out Jack O Lanterns. We had dinner first, then got to it. The Martins had to leave for a Trunk or Treat, so it left us to carve with Larry and Trish and their family. We had LOTS of fun! Trish carved out Sponge Bob, while I took on Steven's Boba Fet Star Wars guy. George, using his trammel power tool, did Amanda Lily's Belle. We got big laughs out of my husband with his power tools, but I have to say his ended up being my favorite. Amanda Lily of course is so happy with it, too. The kids were so funny cleaning out the inside of the pumpkins. Steven and Ben would have no part of sticking his hands in and pulling out the pumpkin "guts". Amanda Lily and Josh did it, but were both totally grossed out doing it. Ha!

On a sad note, we got a call from Greece this morning saying that our beloved Yia Yia had past away. She lived a long life, but it was sudden, and no one was prepared. George is very devastated by the loss of his Grandmother, but thank goodness we have our faith to know we will all see her again. Going to Greece this summer will not be the same. Steven and Amanda Lily both know she is in heaven, but I don't think they grasp the concept of her not being here anymore. Please keep our family and extended family in your prayers.

Here is a photo of her with Steven, Amanda Lily, and a couple other cousins last summer. She was a wonderful lady who will be truely missed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

October Stuff

Here are a couple of photos from this month. We went over to Sea World for the Spooktakular, and honestly, it wasn't much. The past couple of years we have been so happy with the experience, but this time around, not so much. Not that we had a bad time, it just wasn't anything spectacular as far as Halloween is concerned. In years past, they have given out GREAT candy and treats. This year, we got tootsie rolls and twizlers and they only had a few candy stations. No sea animal treats were given, either. Sea World in general is a great park, but I don't recommend making a special trip for Halloween. It's not much different than any other day at Sea World with the exception of LOTS of people and LONGER lines.

Tomorrow night, we are having friends over to carve out our Jack O Lanterns, so I took the kids over to the Pumpkin Patch at church to pick our pumpkins. I got a few cute shots of them. I love this time of year.....just wish the weather were cooler. I'll post photos of the Jack O Lanterns next time. Hope everyone is having a good weekend.