Wednesday, December 30, 2009


September 13-December 29 (my birthday)

That's how long Kila stayed with us before she showed her true colors: unhinged and manipulative; crass and immodest. I say good riddance! (I have pictures of how she left her space before she came back from her date- to pack up- full of trash, mixed with wet and dirty underclothes, towels on the floor, but I won't gross you out like that)

We took her in and all (and I mean A LOT) of her stuff, rearranged two bedrooms, a bathroom, the dining room and the fridge to make room for her and gave her limits and a place in our family as one of our own. Allowed her to stay within the boundaries of her high school so she can graduate. Mr. Man and I signed on to let her stay the whole school year as her Education Guardian. We allowed her friends to come in anytime and eat, no questions asked. We added to our menu to accommodate her food choices and even funded her hair routine of biweekly dyeing-- ALL FOR FREE.

But I guess she's too good for us...

For our own children, we have 4 major rules outside of the obvious:
  1. Curfew is tight but negotiable- tell us where you go, who you're with and check in at least once.
  2. Personal Spaces- clean once a week
  3. Laundry- once a week
  4. Chores- get it done and offer to help
Kila broke all on a weekly basis and never mended her ways. My house stank of clothes reeking with secondhand smoke (from her boyfriend's car) and mounting laundry and dirty shoes. She claimed she's 18 and should be free, but she didn't want any responsibility either. When asked about why she wasn't complying to the rules, she said:

  1. "I'm 18, I should be able to enjoy that!" (She's still in highschool and she was allowed to go out every night- curfew Midnight) I don't ask for details and don't mind waiting up for her. Glad I didn't give her a key...
  2. "The bed's gonna get slept on anyway, what's the big deal?" (She's been sleeping on wet towels and dirty clothes, sleeps for 12 hours a day on weekends, during break- making L-Infinity gag with the smell)
  3. "I don't like doing laundry!" (Did I mention the room reeked?)
  4. When asked why she hasn't been helping unless we had to ask her (constantly), "I don't eat here anymore!" (She worked and went on long dates since break- that would be 1 week). When asked if she can help with any other chores, she said, "I don't know! (loudly)
Her boyfriend (a jobless 19-year old who met ONE awful Mormon family and judged us in the same vein though he voraciously accepted our offers of food and didn't mind lounging in our couch to relax his gut after) gave her the idea that he is her knight in shining armor by stating, "I'll take care of you.", further spun her web of acting like the victim that she's been portraying. To her credit, she is the product of a "spineless, crazy, mother who stole her graduation money" (her description), but I think, she's milked that sob story long enough.

She's 18 and we respected that and that's why we rearranged our whole life the past few months to accommodate that fact, but instead, we ended up taking in someone who didn't know how to be grateful and the whole time, vindictive. She said that she didn't trust us because "our close-knit family weirded" her out (I feel so loved). She also stated that she wasn't going to change her ways for us but she changed for her boyfriend for herself. (fine and good, but I didn't ask her to change, I asked her to help out and mind the major rules.)

She left labeling my daughter ignorant and other awful things thru texting. Her boyfriend, disrespected me in my home by cussing me out. I guess they are each other's soul mates. Don't worry, we blocked her phone and took them out of our Friends list in Facebook. We wiped them out of our lives because we don't need people that will bring us down. I made sure she left with ALL of her stuff and that she picked up her trash TODAY because I wasn't going to ring in the New Year with her still a part of our lives. I've had enough...

Now let's see boys and girls, how long this fairy tale between them would last, shall we? I say good riddance but I do pray that her own family gets their act together and soon bring her back home because she is clearly only 18, by age...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Best Christmas Yet...

But not in the way most people think of... though the grands' gifts certainly made us smile... (Remember, we only do stockings and PJs)

On Christmas Eve, we had our little snow storm turn into a mini-blizzard...

That left us with snow paths...
Today, Christmas Day... We were greeted with this- blue skies and a temporary winter wonderland! (only lasted most of the daytime)
But look, my "engineered" petunia survived! Yes, engineered, I combined pollen of two colors and replanted in aerated soil. Pretty cool, huh? The original plant... dead...
At our front door, most of the snow's melted.
And our snow inspector, Cece was a bit flummoxed as to why it is still so cold. Brrrr!
The kids didn't mind, there was a mini-snowman waiting to be created--
... and a mini-snow sheep! :-)
You can't stop a good snowball fight...
or at least a good "threat, aim and dodge" bit.
How about actually throwing a gigantic snowball? How do you like my "thick-skinned" children playing in their new PJs? Well, they do have their gloves on. ;-) (Kila's on her way to see her beau, so she was dressed for that)
That sends a 17-year old home back to her mommy? "I have snow in my boots!"
The grin of satisfaction arrived since there are more snowballs to make- big ones, too!
Or bigger ones still with some leftover hanging on the boots. Carry on snow, anyone?
More to make...
Or just make the one, that much bigger!
Then morning turned to afternoon which then turned to night which meant- Christmas dinner! (Here's your plate... This set was given to me by a good friend)
What's your fancy? If it's Filipino feasting you desire, we have it all- Baked Tilapia, Pancit Sotanghon (Mung bean noodle dish), Lechon (roast pork), Lumpias, Roasted Eggplants, Hot Chocolate, Fruity Beverage, Seafood, Fruits and Sweets even some Pan de Sal and Rice to give you further side dish choice.
Of course, we can't forget the traditional, Puto, or glutinous rice flour cakes. You steam them and sweeten with sugar, butter and coconut. Yum!

Why our best yet? Because, we know why we went through all this trouble... It is the Lord's birthday and He deserves the best... Perfect seasonal weather with delicious and meaningful food- the best way to celebrate a birthday, don't you think?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Perfect Christmas Eve...

Today was unbelievably amazing!!!

First, we were alerted to a snowy treat outside of our front door. So naturally...
We started a cozy fire.
Had some fun in the snow...
And thoroughly enjoyed our annual, though normally on Christmas Day, grazing! Mr. Man and his family always had a grazing table on Christmas Day . This is where we collect all food gifts we get and our chosen fingr foods to enjoy without cooking. See the blue box, that contains, "Pan de Sal"- the Filipino dinner rolls! Yep, I baked them yesterday!
Back in December 12, we had L's friend Tyler take our Christmas portraits. I think they turned out great! Here's Mr. Man and I...
Mr. Man and the kiddos...
A horizontal line-up...
Starring the kiddos...
And our chosen pic to share...

Tonight's stories were Luke 2:1-15 and "Mary's Dream". I also reiterated why we don't do giftgiving in December anymore though stockings and pjs on Christmas Eve are still part of our tradition which Mr. Man grew up with.

Merry Christmas everyone! (Oh, yeah, tonight, I made Calamansi bars- the Filipino version of Lemon bars. Yummier!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fruity Veggie?

Yesterday, instead of cookies or pastry, I made BANANA BREAD. It has to qualify because my arms are starting to kill me from all that batter stirring! Yes, I'm ashamed to admit it, chocolate chips were in it-- Mr. Man's new fave.

We watched a mini LDS video about getting the spirit of Christmas as stated by President Thomas S. Monson. There was this family who was busy planning the materialistic aspects of Christmas while their youngest child busied herself by making her own Nativity. Her constant traveling through the house got the family's attention and they followed her into her room, desperately trying to reach the baby Jesus from under the chest she put the creche on.

Isn't that how most of the world is right now? Still trying to reach the gospel of Jesus Christ? It reminded me once again the importance of reaching out to others and teaching them about our Lord and Savior. The dad had to help fetch the baby Jesus but quietly allowed the youngest daughter to place HIM on the manger. Are we that careful in sharing HIS message to others that we don't frighten them, but instead leave an immovable spirit of truth? I know that I, for one, can do more of this. I do love the Lord and hope that my meager efforts are helping to put a smile on HIS kind face...

Today... Mailed out most of the Newsletter/Picture to friends and loved ones. Mailed out packages for in-laws. Found out don't have enough pictures and need more copies. Need more papers for newsletter. Hit Jo-Ann's and Hobby Lobby and found 70 & 90% off deals, respectively. Treated the kids to Sonic- with coupons, $30 worth of fast food, only paid $19!

Tonight, it was a confection all the way from Utah-- from the grands! PUMPKIN COOKIES!

They sent the ingredients, I baked it! Moist, sweet and with chocolate, so... YUM!

So, despite all the chocolate mixed in, which is by the way, the seed of the Cacao FRUIT, BANANA and PUMPKIN seemed to have broken the uber-sweet streak I've baked so far. LOL

The story, or rather stories, were called, "The Dolls' Christmas Party" and "Silent Night-The story". I'm sure most of you have heard of both, but the latter is one story we read every year and still in awe that someone can be so honest in their awed feeling of the Savior's birth. May Heavenly Father continually bless the descendants of J. Mohr and Franz Gruber...

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hard, Soft and Oh So Cute!

December 18- We baked the chocolate chip cookies that we ordered from L's pizza kit fundraising. Epic Fail on the "Little Caesar's Chocolate Chip Cookies". We followed their directions, but the whole batch came out rock HARD! Graduated to ice cream topping-- my kiddos' idea.

Highlight of the night was talking to the grands on the phone over their generous family gifts of hot cocoa and cute ornaments. Wow!

The story was "Grandma's Christmas Gifts"... It's about a generous grandma who went out of her way to gift two neighborhood kids the sleds they wanted for Christmas.

So... instead of the failed petrified cookies, you get to meet the very cute duo of our home; Mr. Man and I-Dude, with our diva cat, Cece. Love them!

For most of the day, we were out shopping- not for gifts, but rather for our Filipino traditional feast. And since we are having our Christmas dinner on Christmas Day instead of Eve, I again have that extra day to plan out the whole scrumptious menu. I was so homesick after seeing all of the ingredients and foods that I grew up with. *sighing deeply*

Tonight, it's a batch of Rugelach; a SOFT pastry treat that I got from Food Network, compliments of Ina Garten. But since I didn't have any preserves or dried fruits, I made a creamy chocolate filling instead! Heavenly!

The filling is blended cream cheese, cool whip, brown sugar, cinnamon, chocolate chunks (Hershey's Dark) and chopped walnuts (except I-Dude's- allergies). I used the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and baked for 8-10 minutes on 350F. I cooled it for 3 minutes then arranged on a platter before a generous sprinkling of chopped milk chocolate (Hershey's bar).

I waited to serve it after listening to "Angels We Have Heard on High" off the church website, LDS dot org. Each crescent was still slightly warm and the chocolate pieces slightly melted on top, making it doubly delicious!

Enjoy your Sabbath!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nutty, Stubborn and Difficult

Got your attention? He he...

I was just describing the biscottis I made-- Honey Nut Biscotti (ok... so I couldn't part with my cocoa- shoot me later; I have 7 more baking days to go)

Again I found this recipe at Food Network from Ellie Krieger. She used pistachios, but of course, i didn't have any of those, so... it's got pecans and walnuts in it instead which makes them NUTTY. Each loaf had to be sliced and double baked (STUBBORN), and dipped in bittersweet chocolate that was rather tedious by the time I was done with most of the slices (DIFFICULT).

Tonight is our Aunt Kate's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY! The biscottis are in her honor and hopefully, we can send some to her also.
That is if the kiddos, don't eat it all first! :-)

Tonight was also rather like all of the above-- we had moments that fell into those categories, but our story, "The Little Match Girl" who tried to warm herself with the matches she was selling but died in the attempt showed us that sometimes we forget just how good we have it and that outside of our cozy though bouncy bubbles, there are true sufferings out there; hidden by our rushed ways.

This Christmas season, may we be slowed down enough to reach out to those in need...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Something Refreshing

After enjoying a few cocoa-rich confections, I was getting a little tired of chocolate, which by the way were decimated by teenagers and kiddos alike plus a hubby hurrying to get to work tonight, I opted for another first in my desserts "conquer" list. Of course, I made sure that we were able to gift some of these sweet treats before the kids got to them. ;-)

In comes, Lemon Bars! The kids love grandma's so I thought I'd try it. They turned out great and I can't wait to have them cool down and firm up more since that's how the kiddos like them best.

For tonight's story, we read, "The Fairy Christmas" where a young and barefoot singing transient,was welcomed in by two little girls and had a fabulous Christmas.

I was afraid the lemon bars would be too tart, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Here's to refreshing friendships everywhere, compliments of Christmas magic.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snow and Sunshine

In continuing the "12 Days of Cookies", I found out that I only had two eggs left and not enough butter. So I had to search for easier recipes that didn't require or much of the two above. Lo and behold, snowball cookies!

But I also didn't have the right oil nor the right cake mix it required so I had to be creative. In the process of "tweaking", I made my own recipe, "Snow and Sunshine" cookies. You'll see... (or rather, read...) The glow is from the candlelights we light up every night.
But boy, oh boy! Were they delish! Just enough crunch on the outside and oh so soft and buttery on the inside! Wow!

Ok, here's MY recipe. I had to tweak the Crisco recipe I found on Food Network.

Snow & Sunshine Cookies
1/4 C canola oil
1/4 C olive oil
1 1/4 C quick rolled oats
1/2 C walnuts, finely chopped (leave out for allergies)
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
2 lg eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 C powdered sugar; in a sandwich bag

Preheat oven to 350 F
Combine olive and canola oils with oats and let stand for 5 minutes.
Stir in cake mix, eggs & vanilla until well mixed.
Fold in nuts (leave out for allergies)
Form into balls and place 2-inches apart on baking sheet

Bake 8-10 minutes; cool for 1 minute before rolling into bagged powdered sugar.

While I finished up the cookies, J-Pony decided to try her hand at making a card house. Kila and L-Infinity had a rather lousy and scary concert (3 members fainted during the performance, dehydration was suspect) and couldn't wait to eat the cookies and brownies while I-Dude had his hands full of his artwork and Legos.

We also learned about the Christmas traditions of the Philippines and how Filipinos focus on the star on that fateful night. Filipina Soul dot com had this beautiful example of what "Pinoys" normally display on their homes at Christmas time. I remember watching my dad put up one these lanterns at the front of our home in Manila. Of course, we've never been able to hold on to one, so we had a different one every year.
These below are our "parols" or star lanterns the last four christmases. I still can't afford an authentic one of my own yet, but I'm working on it. :-)

"Pinoys" also focus on family, food and togetherness at Christmastime. Trees and gift giving are often optional for those with modest means and is actually more of the European and American influence.

What are your "Pinoy" like traditions?

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Desserts...

Today, my hubby and I walked. Walked together to the store to get some fresh air. To him it was just a walk, to me, it was so romantic! Just the two us, in public, holding hands. (giggling like a teenage girl)

Anyway to make it sweeter than chocolate cake, we came across a great lunch deal at Kroger's-- Buy 2 Buitoni tortellini packages for $7, get a 2-liter Sprite, a package of sweet Italian sausage, and a package of caesar salad for FREE!!! (Total of $8) Talk about a great lunch!

Oh, also, have you heard of the Food Network's "12 Days of Cookies"? Well, I'm finally on board! So yesterday...
Since a combination of busy and quiet filled the last two days, these two were a nice treat. Chocolate chip cookies last night and Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownie bars tonight. Yum! No story tonight, just family time...

Do you think we already have chocolate for blood? LOL

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sweetly Squeezed Saturday

If today was any busier, we'd have pulled our hair out!

We had to combine breakfast and lunch, drop off Kila to work, pick up L-Infinity from AcDec District meet, make copies of pictures at Target, come back home, change into our Disney shirts, go to the park with our photographer Tyler (L-Infinity's church bff), go to dinner, come back to make sure L and Tyler had enough time to go to a friend's early graduation party, string up lights, open another family gift, story time then run to the store for milk.

Dinner was a nice treat; we promised Tyler that if he took our family pictures, we will celebrate his induction to NHS with a 3-hour service sign-off and free food. So we took the whole family to Rock n' Rogers!

The above photo was on the wall almost touching the ceiling behind us, while I made sure that the gang had proof of where we were with the one below. The kiddos loved the old cartoon (Chilly Willy and various others) medley on the tube along with a whole ceiling of fun things to look at! (Yes, I used my cell...)

(Each one of us had a different Disney character on except L and Mr. Man; they both chose the main guy on The Night Before Christmas. I had on a Pooh sweater while J-Pony had Mickey and Minnie and I-Dude had Rhino from Bolt.)

So after all of that, we were exhausted! But when we took the time to exhale, this is what we accomplished...
A fun family-centered mantle of past Christmases from 2002-2009. I actually needed two more frames so I gotta go back to Walmart and hope they have these frames again. (Got them on clearance last year, 75% off)
A subdued and respectful display to honor the Savior's birth...
And cozy smiles... (L was on the phone with Tyler and Mr. Man is still stringing up lights)
Our family gift tonight from "the grands" was themed after warmth. Each of us got a new pair of gloves and this beautiful Nativity throw based on Luke 2:11; I love it, it's definitely helping my love of Nativity collecting grow! Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Can't you see how loved it is already? :-D

We squeezed in the story of "Jesus as my Lawyer". It is about how one man's death led him to a courthouse where Satan and Jesus Christ fought for his soul in front of Heavenly Father. Of course, the Savior won-- after all He already paid for all of our sins. I guess Satan would have to try better next time...
I can't wait to see the pictures! How sweet was your Saturday?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just Chillin'...

Errands and nap took most of the day for Mr. Man and I today. After the kiddos got home and made our usual weekend drop-offs(Kila to Target for work) and pick-ups (L from Choir Tech Rehearsal), we treated the kids to our new favorite bbq joint, The Cobb Switch and relaxed a little.

Then, we headed home and just enjoyed some decor tweaking and getting cozy.

I-Dude with Cece... while L-Infinity waited to open one of our family gifts (a gingerbread house kit), and...
J-Pony finished up the tree while I tried to finish up the mantle and Mr. Man strung up some more lights inside.
Shutterfly thru Target wasn't cooperating so I guess we'll have to wait for our pictures of Christmas past to adorn the mantle (you'll see...)

Mr. Man and I read the story, "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry. It was long and written oddly I think, but at least the kids stayed awake.

How was your Friday?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Shining Example

We had a wonderful time reading the story, "The Holy Night" where the author Selma Lagerlof portrayed Joseph as a man divinely protected from harm to help him fetch some fire to warm the baby Jesus and in the process, warming the heart and opening the eyes of a hardened man.

I-Dude chose "Joy to the World" for our song and we all made a birthday card for Mr. Man's sister, Aunt Kate, on the 17th. It was amazing to see the kids quiet, listening while simultaneously envisioning the story. When I asked them who was the man in the story, Kila guessed Joseph right away while the others described why he would be protected from physical harms of dog bites, road blocks of sheep, and the sharp end of a spiked staff. I love how each story we read, brings a whole new set of perspective and the spirit of goodwill in our home.

We ended the story with a fitting treat, star-shaped biscuits topped with honey butter. I can almost imagine the stars twinkling and dancing with the throngs of angels while I was reading this story.
This is Paula Deen's recipe. So you know, you'll find it in Food Network.

Hope your nights are just as bright as those stars during this Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Dozen Baker in Me

It was an exciting day today. It was uncle Noel's birthday, there were friends to play with outside, no homework, Disney shows were abundant and... big boxes from Grandma and Grandpa arrived! We waited for Mr. Man to wake up before we opened both. G&G set up this year's loot where we had some gifts to open while waiting for Christmas day. How awesome is that? We found two DVD-shaped packages and Mr. Man had J-Pony choose one. It was Santa Buddies!

Perfect for our Movie/Soda Nights on Friday!

To quiet down for the night, we did the skit, "The Baker's Dozen". According to this legend, St. Nicholas visited a baker as an old woman asking him to give her an extra cookie to make a dozen. The baker, though honest, was not generous.

I left exactly 13 of the Mexican Wedding cookies I baked as our sample. At the end of the skit, we shared our own "baker's dozen".

It also occured to me that I have baked a dozen different things of the doughy variety. Let's see...
  1. Sandwich bread (white and wheat)
  2. French bread
  3. Italian loaf with cheese and herbs
  4. Brownies
  5. Cookies
  6. Pie
  7. Cheesecakes
  8. Pan de Sal/Dinner rolls
  9. Biscuits
  10. Cinnamon rolls
  11. Muffins
  12. Cakes/Cupcakes
  13. German pancakes

Isn't that wonderful?! I love knowing that! I feel like my own bakery. LOL

Hope you all had a great Wednesday!