Tuesday, December 29, 2009

plum pudding

I decided to try a traditional dessert for Christmas this year. Plum pudding is a big to-do, it turns out, because it needs to be started a minimum of eight days before you are going to serve it.

First you soak dried fruit in 3/4 cup cognac. Then you make puddings out of it, and soak those in another 1/2 cup cognac for at least a week.

Then the big feature is that you pour flaming cognac over the top when you serve it. We had Christmas dinner at Chris and Jared's house, and sure enough it was very pretty. Chris took some video:



You also serve it with a "hard sauce" which is cognac mixed up with confectioner's sugar and a little butter. That was very tasty, but the pudding was kind of a dud.

As you may have guessed, the pudding ended up STRONGLY alcoholic in flavor and content. I was disappointed to find out that I couldn't even really taste any of the ingredients, and could only guess at what kind of fruit I was chewing on. I took one bite and pretty much exhaled pure cognac in Alex's face when I turned to him to tell him about it!

The conclusion: I very much like the idea of plum pudding, but I will need to find (or make) a recipe where cognac is an accent, not the whole point of the dish.

Monday, December 28, 2009

train set!!

Let me start by explaining that Alex and I are really not impulse shoppers. Alex earns the money and I make sure everything gets where it needs to go, and it is all very sensible and well-thought-out.

Usually.

And then we were at Target to pick up a few things, and we saw this awesome train set. It is nearly all wooden. It has a drawbridge, an airplane, a helicopter, police and fire stations, and a whole lot more. It was very exciting for us. We had planned on Jack's new bedroom being his big present for Christmas, but we had to throw this one in too!



He dove right in to start driving trains around the track!


A bit more of a babyzilla view.... a sign of things to come!

I'm not sure what he's holding here, but it might be the roof of the airplane.

...and here goes the gas station, being carefully dismantled. This is why I like wooden toys. You can take them apart a million times in a row with very little danger of them actually getting broken.

So far the winner of the whole set is the helicopter. He loves flicking the propeller at the top.

Ah, yes. I did mention Babyzilla, didn't I? :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

bedroom for Jack

Jack's big present this year was his very own bedroom. When we originally got this apartment, the second bedroom was going to be an office for Alex. However, Alex found a really exciting office job and didn't need to work from home anymore. We decided it would be perfect to reduce the office down a lot, put it in a corner of our (huge) living room, and make the office into a bedroom for Jack.

Lucky for Jack, he was right in on all the action as I built a bookshelf and bed for him. The bed was much more of an involved process, so I didn't get any pictures of him helping with that, but this is a series of him helping to build the bookshelf. This really showcases his observation and mimicry skills, since he was watching me use the tools and then copying what I did very closely and carefully.

Here he is coming along after me, tightening screws.

So excited to be helping!

Tightening more screws -- aka screwdriver-ing the holes where the shelf support pegs would end up.

You have to make sure the tip of the screwdriver is in there nice and tight so it doesn't fall out while you are working!

There was also this other tool, a kind of curvy allen wrench, that was for tightening up certain bolts. He thought that was also very exciting.

Here it is at work:

When it was done we loaded it up with toys. This looks a bit odd, but is Jack backing up to sit on the pumpkin. (He loves sitting on balls and round things.)

Choosing a toy from his inventory:

And settling in for some serious play time. :)

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year. Jack was old enough to be excited about all the toys and activities, but not old enough to be crazy about the day. For instance, we got to sleep to a normal hour!

We took about a million pictures of the day, and they will be trickling in. Hopefully I will get to post a whole bunch more when Jack naps, but for now I thought I'd post some good old-fashioned Christmas cheer. If this isn't a happy boy, I don't know what is!

What's better than riding on a new dump truck?

Riding on a new dump truck and playing with a new bulldozer!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

stockings!

I made us some Christmas stockings this year. Jack helped to pick out the colors and I have been working on them off and on for weeks during his nap times and stuff. Now they are finally done, and just in time for Christmas Eve!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

cookie cutter fun

Jack knows just what to do with a cookie cutter. (Run off with it!)



continuing on the cooking theme....

Oh look, Camera Face! This is what it looks like with accessories. :PHere, mom, you have some!

Okay, then I guess I'll finish it!

I don't remember what we were cooking, but obviously he enjoyed it. Must have been some kind of cookie dough, I guess. Sadly, this was the last time this spoon was spotted. He started drumming with it and shattered the top (a ceramic pair of apples) on the floor.

Friday, December 18, 2009

soda bread!

We have done quite a bit in the kitchen recently. Jack loves helping! He takes careful notes and then tries to do exactly whatever I did. :) Here we were making soda bread.

Oh, a camera! Better put on Camera Face!

After I cut the dough into two loaves, he had to cut it too.

He actually had figured it out pretty well. He would have cut the loaf in half again if I had let him work on it long enough!

Were you wondering why there was a reindeer helping us cook? Yeah, that was to distract him when he got over-exuberant about helping!

Lest you think it's not possible to cook with a one year old, take a look at these loaves all ready to bake. Ta-daa!

Where have those Bowlings gotten to, anyway?

Well, November was a busy, busy month. Alex has been hard at work, of course, and I wrote two books!

I was hired to write a non-fiction book, which I completed. I also did NaNoWriMo and won! However, that just means I wrote 50,000 words on the project. It still has a ways to go before it is done though -- maybe 75,000 more words for the first draft to be complete!

As soon as November and the books were over, I started madly trying to catch up with everything I had been ignoring for the month. Laundry, vacuuming, dishes, scrubbing everything that I'd been ignoring all month.... We also took a trip down to Tennessee for Alex's grandpa Jack's funeral. (More on that later, in a separate post.) And then it was time to start in on the parade of Christmas cookies and shopping for presents.

Sheesh! It's a wonder I'm here only 2 1/2 weeks into December! Anyway, I have a ton of pictures that I was at least able to take during November, so I will be trying to get them all posted and caught up by January.

For now, it is time to put Jack to bed. But I'll be back!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

paper top hat

We are getting a little bit into paper-and-tape crafts these days. One of the things we made was an awesome top hat!




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

autumn happiness!

While at the park we found that one of the oak trees had dumped leaves just everywhere. And we got to it before the park cleanup people did! Well. We sat right down and figured out the best thing to do with leaves:


video

The quality is pretty awful (cell phone footage for you) but it was too cute to pass up!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween!

We took Jack trick-or-treating this year. It was fun! Okay, so he's barely 1 year old but he had a great time. He loved the costumes.

Admiring a ring for my princess costume. (Yes, I was wearing jeans. I was a baby-chasing princess. Let's get serious!)
We went to 3rd Street in town because you can go from store to store getting treats and it happens early enough in the day that Jack could participate. Here he is in costume, approaching the trick-or-treat zone. So cute!!

It was rather busy! Luckily that meant there were many costumes to admire.

"Trick or treat!" We told Jack he could also say "Raaar!" because that's easier. This woman was totally charmed!

"Hey, she put something in my pumpkin!"

"Come here, thing. What are you??"

It's candy! Good for putting into the pumpkin and taking back out.

He got the hang of it quickly. I love how he held the pumpkin on his own!

After trick or treating we went to the park to visit with the other dragon!

Here's the official stash:

And the victory lap! (He very much likes to circle around things these days.)

Chewing on the wrong end of a lollypop. (Don't tell him! He likes them that way!)

Dad checking whether the pine cone is still as exciting as before. (Yep!)

Where should we put this awesome temporary tattoo?

It's good to see he's getting started right on the important Halloween tradition of rummaging through all the sweets afterward and confirming the awesomeness of your goodies!
In conclusion: I'm still not sure he gets that he got a pumpkin full of candy. And that's just fine with me! Right now he's treating the candy as "items to be removed from and added to the pumpkin," so we can wait at least until next year before being a candy fiend is necessary. Phew!