Friday, December 31, 2010

Today is the Day....

So last night we took the kids way out to the 'burbs to hang with some good friends and to play games.  

These friends are "long haul" friends, the kind who know all your secrets and can tell embarrassing stories like when you almost stiffed your boyfriend (to be husband later), but didn't mean to...

Yeah, that did happen..... Long story, good ending....

Anyway....  Friends like that forgive you and then make fun of you.  

They insult you in the "nicest possible way'...all in love, of course.  

These friends invited us to party with their new suburban friends they have met through their kids' school.  

I was beginning to think it might be a long night since we didn't know these people, 
when we discovered how hilarious and fun they were.  

When a friend brings over a beer tasting contest they created themselves, 
you know they are great to have around.  

We ate some tasty food and played the usual party games...Pictionary, etc. 

BTW, girls RULE at Pictionary.  

We are better drawers and our instincts are much quicker... 

 I'm just saying.....

So, then as we were basking in the glow of female Pictionary superiority, 
one of the ladies suggested a new game.  

She very enthusiastically explained that she just learned of this game last week and that it was SO FUN! she explains that the premise of this relay game involves a small glass of beer on the floor 
and a quarter shoved between one's two cheeks, on the outside of one's jeans.  

Yep, jam a quarter in your butt, penquin walk a few feet to the cup, unclench your posterior 
and hope the quarter lands in the cup of beer.  

All jaws hung to floor as I wondered what frat party she snuck into.  

The communal reaction was "Are you kidding me???!"  

Needless to say, after a few beverages, everyone tried it 

(no, I am not kidding..) 

and there were some ringers in the group...

Yep, Tommy could be deadly at this game...

Not something to brag about, but it's a fact... 

The laughter and shouts could be heard in Cleveland....

 Later, the party turned to dancing as Shakira blasted on the stereo.  
The kids bounced in from the basement...  

 There were girls aged 4-14, with one 4 year old who was, I swear, Kate's twin.  

The boys could not be bothered, but the girls and moms tore up the dance floor.  

The quarter party mom was dancing the whole time and had fun with her 4 year old.  

This little one knew all the dance moves from her older siblings.  

She could boogie!  

Kate stared in awe at the big girls and tried to emulate their dancing.  

She and the other 4 year old started to break dance when all realized that she was going commando!  

She didn't care that her little white butt flashed on the dance floor and we laughed so hard.  

Her mom just laughed and kept on dancing.  Her eyes sparkled with delight.  

It was then that my friend told me that this same mom was headed in for a mastectomy next week.  

This sparkling mom of 4 little kids.  

Whose mother and aunt passed from breast cancer.  

And she was playing silly games and dancing the night away.....  

Bravo to her and a lesson to us. 

Make each day count as we jump into this fresh, new year.  

Show your fanny to your close friends, shove a quarter in your butt, laugh, share 
and dance the night away......

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's is for Grownups.....

Back in the Dark Ages, when I was a kid, New Year's Eve was an Adults Only holiday...
Yeah, I know, us kids were seen and not heard in those days, too, 
but c'mon, can't we have one holiday to ourselves anymore?  

At least we have Vegas...

Back in the '90's, they tried to make Vegas family friendly and it fizzled... 

You can't keep "what stays in Vegas in Vegas" if you run into Cousin Earl and his kids while you are in a drunken state, attempting to lick the belly button of the Caesar's cocktail waitress while at the craps table. That hasn't happened to me, but hey, we have seen some interesting goings on in V-Town.  
The night I got married in Vegas, some of our guests had STORIES! 

So Vegas, thankfully, went back to a grownup's party.  

But I digress.... 

For those of us who don't have the freedom to don sparkly somethings, high, painful and totally gorgeous shoes and dance the night away at some overpriced New Year's Eve event...

or to throw on your jammies, burrow into your Snuggie and watch Dick Clark struggle to breathe 
as Ryan Seacrest shows us how overexposed and annoying he can possibly be...

us parents must find a way to make New Year's fun and entertaining.  

There is a beauty in that, I suppose, as we can  politely decline expensive New Year's Eve invitations.  

Being broke, this comes as a relief, even as I enviously watch pretty little 20 somethings 
slip into cabs on Southport, headed to music, champagne and flirtation.  

However, after I resigned myself that this New Year's Eve would be spent at home, 
I became interested in how I could make it fun for the family.  

With an 8 year old and 4 year old at home, one doesn't have to come up with a huge production.  

One of my good friends says they do fondue on the living room floor and watch a movie.  

Who doesn't LOVE fondue?  

My husband hates it because his first experience was at a fondue restaurant where he almost aspyhxiated from the fumes of the oil.  But he is a party pooper.  

Fondue is fun!  

We are doing kids and adults surf and turf.  I'll do shrimp for the kids and lobster, 
if I can find a deal at Aldi or Costco, for us.  

For the kids dessert I am making bubbly Jello parfaits.   

1. Make bubbly Jell-O according to the directions on a box of Sparkling White Grape Jell-O. Be sure to use club soda, seltzer, or ginger ale and follow the tips on the box for getting the gelatin to sparkle.
2. Chill the Jell-O in champagne flutes or parfait glasses. We suggest making these the day of the party, since they might lose some bubbliness if they're made further ahead. Wind a metallic multicolored star garland (available at party stores) up the stem of the glass for pizzazz.  

 I am thinking Molten Chocolate Cakes for us.  

Serves 6
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Whipped Cream , for serving, or adult entertainment....hee hee!
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 6 cups of a standard muffin tin. Dust with granulated sugar, and tap out excess. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in flour and salt until just combined. Beat in chocolate until just combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  3. Place muffin tin on a baking sheet; bake just until tops of the cakes no longer jiggle when the pan is lightly shaken, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
  4. To serve, turn out cakes, and place on serving plates, bottom sides up. Dust with confectioners' sugar, and serve with whipped cream.
We hit the party store for some cheap hats and horns, plus poppers for the kids.  

Just as we are all getting a little tired of each others fascinating company, 
we will head down the street to our neighbors.  

They have 3 boys; just the kind of entertainment our kids need to tire them to blubbering oblivion.  

We adults may then have some time to relax, enjoy some beverages 
with adult carbonation and adult conversation.  

Sigh.....I relax just anticipating it!  

So, to those of you who will have sore feet and sore heads on New Year's Day, I salute you!  

I will be happy to have no pain as I slug on the couch and admire the floral floats of the Rose Parade.  
I went to it once, but that's a story for another day....  

Happy New Year to you!

If you are having a fun adults party at home, though, here is a fun tutorial to make hats for your female 
(or perhaps male, too) guests.... 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Non Traditional Christmas Dinner

A standing rib roast Christmas dinner is one of my favorites.  

We have made it many times.  Prime rib, delicious!  

However, I did not have the oomph this year to prepare and cook those beefy main courses along with the countless side dishes that must accompany such a grand meal. 

It just wasn't in me.  

The Christmas spirit was alive and well, but I longed for a different and yes, simpler meal. 

We were a small group this year, our family and my parents.  

They were happy to step off the beaten path, too, 

so we went Italian.  

Now this might be a traditional meal if your last name is Mariani, Piscatelli or Barbarino, but to us Benson's from the Old Country of Norway, hitting the pasta is a new thing at Christmas.  

My dad has a famed recipe for Braciole, which he reinvents every time he makes it.  

Essentially, it is a flank steak, pounded thin and then stuffed with pine nuts, hard boiled eggs, parmesan, spinach and a whole host of spices. 
It is then seared and then braised in his aromatic red sauce until the meat falls apart.  
This extravaganza is served over spaghetti pasta.  
This braciole will fill you up for days....with a smile.  

To add to this feast, I decided, not lightly, to attempt to make my Aunt Nancy's famous Rice Balls, 
otherwise known as Arancini in other parts.  

My aunt learned to make the most perfect and satisfying Italian food from her mother in law, aka "Nanna".  

Her rice balls were one of the most anticipated dishes served at Christmas.  

These tasty, baseball-sized orbs are made of seasoned ground beef with Romano cheese in the center, surrounded by cooked rice, lightly coated in bread crumbs and then deep fried.  

They sound heavy, but they are surprisingly light and very flavorful.  

Served with her famous red sauce and you are full and happy.  

Comfort food at its best.  

Never before have I had the courage or implication to make Rice Balls, 
but a burst of insanity compelled me to pick up the bag of rice and romano cheese at the store.  

With Aunt Nan's recipe in hand, I called her for moral support. 

She spoke in the quick short hand of an excellent cook, who rarely measures anything while cooking.  

"You will be fine, " she reassured me.  

So yesterday I took a deep breath, sent the kids off with their father and started.  

Much to my surprise, the process, while a little time consuming, was not as daunting. 

I worried that the making the "snowball" part of the recipe would cause me to have sticky grains of rice peppering my body like confetti as I tried to stick the whole mess together.  

Wet hands keep the rice in check.  

I worried that the ball of rice would disintegrate in the hot oil.  

It didn't happen.  

For sure the fried ball would become soggy while draining on the paper bags.  


Okay, would they taste okay on the next day?  

Sure did!  Success!  

While this is not a recipe for a Tuesday night before CCD, It will enter my repertoire for special events.  

Also for dinner we served a tossed salad, dinner rolls and a lovely trifle, compliments of Lucinda Scala Quinn of Mad Hungry.  

Traditions get passed in zigzags sometimes.  

Rice Balls went from Sicily, to Rock Island to Melrose Street.  

Fine by me.....


1 lb Ground Beef
1 6oz can Tomato Paste, diluted with 1-2 cans water
Pinch Sugar
3 C Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
Salt & Pepper to taste
Pinch Seasoned Salt
1 48oz bottle of Corn Oil
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 C finely grated Romano Cheese
1 lb long grain rice
Prepare Rice according to pkg directions.  Let cool.  Fry onion until translucent.  Add ground beef and cook until brown.  Drain.  Return meat to pan and add tomato paste and 2 cans water, sugar and simmer until sauce is absorbed.  Sprinkle cheese on top of meat and cool.  Stir cheese into meat mixture. Rinse hands in cold water.  Cup hands and spoon 3 heaping tablespoons of rice into hand.  Pack firmly.  Add 2 tablespoonfuls of the meat mixture on top of the rice and add 3 more tablespoonfuls of rice on top.  Form and firmly shape into a "snowball".  Gently roll in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Deep fry in very hot oil until golden brown.  Drain on cookie sheets lines with brown grocery bags.  Serve hot with red sauce.  I recommend this marinara.  Can be made ahead and stored on parchment lined Tupperware airtight containers.  Refrigerate.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gimmee Some Shugah,,,,,,,,

Today I made cookies, in between kid drop offs and pick ups.  

I was starting to feel guilty that the kids were only having Peppermint JoJo's from Trader Joe's for Christmas cookies.  

I love to bake.....

I really do....

but time kind of got away from me this year.....

That whole job/working thing put a crimp in my planned eat bonbons/lounge/get mani pedi's/bake/lunch with the ladies scheme.  

My husband just doesn't think he can replace me at the factory....

Oh the nerve!....  

Everyone's replaceable, right?  

Oh, right....I work for free....


Ok, so I have a good excuse not to bake much, but here's what I accomplished today....

Scandinavian Rosettes.  

My mom, grandma, great grandma and so on have made these goodies and so I must keep the Norwegian tradition alive.  

Bonus!  I tried making them with Soy milk instead of whole milk and they were great!  

Jack must have confiscated at least 10.  They are light and so crispy.....yum!  

Here is the recipe:

You need the rosette irons to make these.  They can be found in Andersonville or here

2 Large Eggs
2 T Sugar
1 C Whole Milk (Soy works, too)
1 t Vanilla
1 C Flour
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 C Vegetable Oil
1/4 C Powdered Sugar

Whisk together eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl, then add flour and salt, whisking, until just combined (do not overmix or the cookies will blister).

Heat oil in a 3-4 quart heavy saucepan with rosette iron in it until thermometer registers 370- 375 degrees.  Carefully lift out iron, letting oil drip off into pan. 

Dip all but top edge of iron into batter 3 seconds, then submerge iron into oil and fry (batter adhering to iron) until golden, 35-40 seconds.  Do not let go of iron; cookie will shatter if it hits bottom of pan. 

Lift out iron letting oil drip off and working over paper towels, carefully pryoff rosette in same manner, heating iron in oil 10 seconds before dipping it into batter each time.

Dust rosettes with powdered sugar before serving.  (This recipe can be halved.  Rosettes are best eaten within 1-2 days of being made.  Keep layered between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container.  Makes 2 1/2 dozen. 

Next I made Jam Thumbprints and Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter cookies from Mathew Mead's Holiday Magazine.

Jam Thumbprints
2/3 Unsalted Butter (or Margarine)
1/3 Sugar
2 Egg Yolks
1 t Vanilla
1/2 t Salt
1 1/2 C Flour
2 Egg Whites, slightly beaten
3/4 Walnuts, finely chopped
3/4 Seedless Jam (raspberry, strawberry or apricot)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar, using an electric mixer on high speed, until light and fluffy.  Add eggs yolks, vanilla and salt.  Beat well, then switch to low speed and gradually add flour until dough forms.

Shape into 1" balls, dip them in the egg whites and then roll balls in the walnuts, covering the entire surface of each cookie.  Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet.  Press center of each cookie with thumb to make imprint.

Bake 15-17 minutes.  Let cookies cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to wire rack.  While still warm, fill imprints with jam.  Let cool completely.  Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Cookies

11/4 C Flour
1/2 t Baking Soda
1/2 t Baking Powder
1/4 t Salt
1 Stick Butter (or Margarine)
1/2 C Sugar + 1/4 C for rolling
1/2 C firmly packed Brown Sugar
1 Egg
2 C Chocolate Chips
1 T Shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat together batter, peanut butter, 1/2 C sugar, and brown sugar, using an electric mixer on high speed until smooth.  Add vanilla, egg and then the flour mixture until well combined.

Shape the dough into 1 inch balls and roll them in extra sugar.  Flatten the dough balls with a fork in a criss cross design.

Bake 8-9 minutes.  Let cookies cool 1 minute on baking sheets then transfer to cooking racks to cool completely.

For the coating, melt chocolate chips and shortening in a small heavy saucepan on medium heat, stirring frequently until melted and smooth.  Remove from heat.  dip half the cookie into the melted chocolate.  Place on wax paper until chocolate has set.  Makes 2.5 doz.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Make Way for the New....

Eight million, four hundred thousand and sixty two..... 

The number of Legos in my house... 

You think I'm kidding...

I've counted them!  

Twenty four hundred Polly Pockets outfits and related microscopic shoes.  

Old Polly's shoe collection dwarfs Miss Imelda's...  

Enough GI Joes to populate a small mercenary force in Afghanistan..... 

Barbies that rival Heff's entourage....

Matchbox cars to fill a lot at Carmax...

And enough broken parts and missing pieces to fill the bathtub...

If I glued all the broken parts together in a massive sculpture, 
I might have a pop art piece worthy of MOMA.  

The toys my kids have! 

Does your family room resemble toy armageddon?    

Mind did...until today.  

We have this annual rule:  Kids must part with some toys and donate them 
to make way for what bounty Santa may bestow.  

Usually I stack the deck and lay out about a dozen toys in good condition for them to choose from, 
but today I was short on time.  

Fortunately, my awesome in laws took the kids ice skating for a few hours 
and I dug in for some good toy culling.  

We have three garbage bags full of goodies for St.Vincent de Paul and two large bags of broken stuff.  

The kids' rooms are so clean and organized I was sure Hazel's spirit took me over.  

Ahhhh, the feeling!  

Okay, so I know it will last only until they get home, but I love it.  

Bring it on Santy Claws.....We got room for your stash!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Vacation

We are one day into the kid's Christmas vacation and here are my thoughts:

1. Oh My God.....there are 14 more days until they go back to school!

2. Is it normal for them to pick at each other for sport?

3. Is it normal for me to wish I was at some tropical island, getting a massage, poolside, with no kids?

4. Boredom eventually leads to near felonies...

5. Bringing your kids to the liquor store, no matter how badly you want Kahlua Mocha Peppermint,
is not a good idea.

6. Shopping carts in liquor stores are worse than bulls in china shops.

7. Being out of stock of Kahlua Mocha Peppermint is grounds for a riot.

8. Sophia Coppola cans of champagne make a decent Plan B.

9. Kids count the presents and keep score.

10. Fred the Elf is not keeping behavior in check this year.

11.  Do they make Enforcer Elfs?

12. Do manicurists make house calls?

13.  I could use a house call.....Silver  polish, please....

14. Is Super Nanny in the neighborhood?

15.  We could use a tune-up.....

16. Bribes work.

17. The Wii is only marginal entertainment with a 4 year old as a competitor.

18. I may break out yet another gingerbread house decorating kit to keep the peace.

19. Can a 4 year old master Monopoly?  Those games eat some solid time...

20. Only 4 hours til it's 5pm......cocktails!

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's the Thought That Counts....

It is Year Two of being broke at Christmas....

I have a couple of choices;  

I can whine and moan that there will be little under the tree, or I can do something creative.  

Even when the coffers were a little more full, it was fun to put together some homemade gifts.  

As a kid, all my presents were made by me, since I had no money.  I painted plaques for my mom, made the usual pottery ashtray for Dad and embroidered a hankie for my grandma.  

It was so fun and exciting to make things for gifts and everyone at least acted as if they liked them.  

Good enough for me....  

So what to make that is easy and economical you ask?  

Here are the gifts I have made this year....

1.  Cherry Garcia Biscotti:  

I made these last year to rave reviews, so I thought I'd make them again.  They are great hostess gifts, crossing guard gifts or to whomever,  wrapped in clear bags or in a tall tin, garnished with a ribbon.  

Biscotti is shamefully easy to make:  

Cherry Garcia Biscotti
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried bing cherries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks/chocolate chips
(I add 1/4c chopped pistachio nuts, too)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, beat eggs, adding sugar gradually, at medium speed until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in vanilla extract. At low speed or by hand, stir in flour mixture followed by cherries and chocolate.
Drop spoonfuls of batter into long lines on prepared baking sheet and, with well floured hands, shape the irregular lines into rectangular logs about 1/2 inch high. Length and width are your prerogative, and you can use more than one baking sheet, if necessary. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, until logs are a light gold color and are fully set (they will spring back slightly when touched with a finger).
Slice logs into 1/3-1/2 inch thick slices (1-1.5 cm) and lay flat (on their sides) on baking sheet.
Lower oven temperature to 300F. Bake sliced cookies for 15 minutes, flip them and bake for an additional 15 minutes. If cookies are not firm, depending on how thickly they were sliced, turn again and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 4 dozen.

2.  Glimmer Sugar Scrub:  

I found this recipe in  a recent magazine ad.  This makes great teacher gifts.  

I have been told they are a little tired of the chalkboard/apple ornaments or the mugs of hot chocolate mix... 

The scrub is a nice indulgence and I topped it off with a silver crystal  Lucky Bracelet I found at Whole Foods for only $9.00 each.  You can find most of the ingredients at the grocery store.  
The essential oil can be found at Whole foods or health food stores.  

Here is the recipe for the scrub:

1 cup Organic Cane Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 capsule of Vitamin E (broken open, oil used)
2 or 3 drops Essential Oil (I used tangerine)

Mix all ingredients well and pour into small container.

3. Stoli Doli:  

Okay, so this last homemade gift is on the selfish side, since I plan to enjoy it with the recipient.  

Let's hope she doesn't read my blog...I don't think she does.  

Anyway, Capital Grille has this enormous vat of pineapple vodka on their esteemed bar and it looks cool.  How great is it to have pineapples steeping away in vodka, just waiting to be part & parcel to a fabulous cocktail?  I have to believe a few of those constitute a serving of fruit...right?

I found the container at Marshall's for $20 bucks, used two and a half liter bottles of Costco vodka and four juicy pineapples.  

That's it!  

After about two weeks of mingling, there will be some serious vodka tasting going on.  I think my sister in law will enjoy having this eye catching conversation piece in her brand new kitchen.  
If not, we would welcome it in ours........

So this is Homemade at the Herlihy's for 2010.  Even if the economic picture for 2011 is rosier, 
you can count on a few homespun goodies anyway.....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Everything is Great, but No One's Happy.....


So, I am happy that construction has resumed underneath my house... 

Tire tracks from trucks and cement trucks have created ruts in my front yard that rival Burma Road, 

but it's okay.....there is progress.  

Really, I am glad that the way I know the guys are working under my house is the aroma 
of stale cigarette smoke wafting through the vents.  

But it's hard to be amused when I come home with the kids after school to find fumes and 
exhaust in my living room so noxious they would kill an elephant.  

I don't know what piece of equipment they are using down there, but I have windows open, bathroom and stove vents on high to keep us from getting high, or worse!  

Stop complaining, you say...

your foundation is nearing completion.  

You are right, I sigh....

Then there's my phone... 

Perhaps it has been dropped once or twice....

Okay a lot....

Most functions no longer function, but the phone part actually works..

That is until today when the service was disconnected. 

He, who shall remain nameless FORGOT to pay the bill, so I was a lonely island today.  

The bill was paid this morning, but I still had no service all day.  

It will most likely work tomorrow, but jeez....I want instant service!  

My feelings can best be describe by this hilarious clip from Conan's old show on NBC.......

I'm feeling a little sheepish....

I'll stop pouting now as soon as that glass of white crosses my lips....  

Ahh....much better!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Better Than the First Snow...

First snow of the year!  

So much excitement this morning as snow covered the ground, with more on the way.  

It was the packable stuff, too...

Perfect for snowballs, snowmen, snow forts, you name it.  

Jack shoveled with this jammies... 

Precision, or even removing snow from the sidewalk was not exactly his intention.

Throwing it around, was the goal, I think.  

The first snow is a great thing, but to me on this day, the bigger excitement was this....  

Yep, a truck full of dirt....

Dirt that once lived under my house, is being trucked OUT...

The guys are back and I hope this time it's to finish the job and make my foundation whole.  

Perhaps I can actually hope that the plywood that has graced the front of our house for the last two years 
may disappear in a few weeks.  

Now THAT brings me tidings of joy!  

Back to the snow....

The kids have been outside for hours, having a ball, getting red cheeks and snotty noses.  

They were about to come inside for lunch 

When what to their wondering eyes did appear 

But 6 santas donning running gear!  

Returning from a 5K they finished today, 

They encountered 4 kids who kept them at bay.  

Bearing balls of snow and pint-sized might 

These kids gave these Santas a jolly good fight.  

As I write they are still at it, a persistent bunch, 

But now it's time for their beers and the kids' lunch!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Stop and Smell the Owls....

Ready, Set, Go!  

Do you feel like the holiday season is always the 50 yard dash? 

I do, 

and today I was reminded to enjoy the little moments....

the good ones, I mean.  

So this week has been the mad prep for my annual ornament party...

So much hard work, culminating in a really fun, satisfying night with friends.  

We ate, 

we drank, 

we created the coolest, most original ornaments ever, 

and we bought some fab Stella and Dot bling.  

These gals are the best....ya know who you are!  

After the last reveler went home to tuck her kids in bed, I cleaned up and hit the hay. 

Was it worth the planning, millions of errands, cooking and labor?  

Yes...I just wish I stressed a little less beforehand (so does my charming husband).  

Speaking of T$, he is usually my wing man who creates ambiance with lighting, a killer fire and great music.  

Instead, he was big-rigging it to and from Indiana to get some Suburbans or something.  He rolled into the house about 4am.  This man works more than anyone.  

Anyway, with all parties from 2010 in the glorious past, I felt the relief of just enjoying the rest of the holidays, notwithstanding finishing shopping and planning Christmas dinners, etc.  
So, I pick up my son from school and come home.  
He decides to break rocks and look at them in his microscope outside or create a meth lab.....

A little crazy, but who can quash a potential budding scientist?  

Somewhere in my motherly recesses, I decided to make him a hot chocolate, which he loved.  

Score one for the mother!  

As I scanned Facebook, I came across this ,  

I am warning you, grab a box of Kleenex...  

"Mom, Why are you crying?"....yeah, it broke me up because, well, you'll see....  

Then, not five minutes later, I heard the most raucous cawing out back.  

Jack and I looked up to see a massive Great Horned Owl hanging out at the top of our maple,
in our back yard.  

He was the most awesome sight.  

Only problem was that three huge crows and one large hawk were telling him he was trespassing in their 'hood.  

They put up such a fuss that he finally took flight.  What a wing span!  

Someone was telling me to stop and enjoy this moment, hug my son and make him hot chocolate.  

Life may suck sometimes, but this moment rocked.  

I am dubbing him Rose, the Christmas Owl, because he made me stop and "smell" him........