Saturday, December 26, 2009

Some Of Our Home Grown Gifts...

I posted in November about the busy elves here at Cotton-Top Hills, but I couldn't show you the entire picture. We didn't want anyone to see their gifts before they got them, that wouldn't be any fun. But now that Christmas gift opening is over I can show you some of our projects.
Em and Soph put together some fleece blankets for several members of our family. This one here is for our little nephew.

WB amazes me with his talent for woodworking. He is a true artist in that he can envision something and then go and put it together. Our little niece needed some food for her play kitchen so WB made her these.

I'm not sure she'll recognize these artistic wooden eggs and plate for what they are, but she's pretty sharp so I bet she does. But I can also hear her saying "Those eggs aren't white like the ones we buy at the store!".

Our little nephew is just starting to get around so we figured a train would keep him busy. We all helped with the sanding and varnishing of this little guy. It was so much fun to put it together.

We made a few more things that I'll just have to save for another day. But the best part of this whole venture was the joy we felt in making something for someone else. We spent many weekend hours working on something for someone else. It was a blessing to our family, and hopefully to those who received these heartfelt gifts.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Cookie Swap

My blogging friend Jennifer is have a cookie swap over at her blog and she is also giving away some cookies to one lucky winner who participates in the Cookie swap. Go check out her blog and all the yummy cookie recipes people are posting.

The recipe I'm going to share is one that came from my grandmothers, Nano, family. Her parents came to this country from Germany and these cookies were a favorite. I must admit I usually leave out the minced citron, but I'm not sure why. I think they would be delicious with it!


1 cup honey
1 egg well beaten
grated rind of 1 lemon
2 T. lemon juice
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup minced citron
2 1/4 cups flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. each ground cloves, mace, allspice, soda, nutmeg, salt
blanched silvered almonds (optional)
silvered citron (optional)

Heat honey just under boiling in a saucepan. Cool to lukewarm and add egg, lemon rind, lemon juice, and brown sugar. Mix almonds and citron with 1/4 cup flour. Mix remaining flour with spices, soda, and salt in large mixing bowl. Combine honey mixture with dry ingredients. Add almond and citron mixture, and mix with hands. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Divide dough into quarters and roll each into a rectangle. Cut out cookies using round cookie cutters or you could use Christmas shapes. Place on greased cookie sheet, spread with glaze (recipe follows). You can decorate with blanched almonds or citron or leave plain. Bake in a preheated 400 F oven. After you place the cookies in the oven reduce heat to 375 F. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cookies test done. These cookies should not be hard, but chewy and moist.

1 egg white
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
dash of salt
1/4 t. vanilla or lemon juice
Beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Fold in sugar, salt, and vanilla or lemon juice.

You can put the glaze on after baking, which we usually did as we were decorating them for Christmas.

If you have a favorite recipe please share!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Day of Shedding

Yesterday seemed to be a day of shedding for my family. Seems like some of us were just ready to lose a few things.

First thing in the morning we took Em to the dentist for the removal of her braces. She's had them on since April to correct a bite problem and to straighten her front teeth.
She was so excited to finally have them off! I think her teeth are beautiful.
This sweet child has two loose front teeth. Yesterday, much to her amazement, she was finally able to pull one out.

She may be asking Santa for her two front teeth if she manages to lose the other one before Christmas!
Then there is my dear WB. They had their annual moustache growing contest at work last month. The judges will announce the winner today, but yesterday was judgement day. So when he got home he very happily shaved off his facial hair.

Oh, there's my sweet face. I'd been missing parts of it. The part I couldn't see under the hair. I think he'll keep the sideburns for awhile. I kinda like them:)

Now for Little One and I. I'm not sure we shed anything yesterday. I could be pessimist and say I shed another year off my life since today is my birthday, but that sounds kind of negative. I prefer to think I gained another year of wisdom. I'd like to report that Little One shed her pull-ups for good, but we're not quite there yet.

So now I'm off to shed a few pounds of fat. Part of my new years resolution, I'm a year older, next year is my 20th high school reunion kind of thing.

How about you, shed anything recently?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Elves Are Busy

A few weeks ago my little elves got very busy

Chief Elf, also known as WB, set up his little workshop.

These are just glimpses of the toys and presents that are being made.
Sorry, we can't look too close because then we might give away some surprises.

Let's just say this years Christmas is home-grown, like my kids. We've named our little home-grown business:
Look for our upcoming products in a store near you. Wait sorry, we're not quite there yet but maybe soon.

One more hint as to the loose theme we have attached to most of our gifts this year, because I'm all about themes and tying our gift giving into some sort of lesson. We are studying Texas this year. Oh, that was one hint, but I'll give you one more:

I'll keep you up to date on our progress and maybe unveil some of our projects over at my Crafty Corner in the next few weeks:)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunset At Cotton-Top Hills




Monday, November 16, 2009

Easy Christmas Gift for Preschooler

Little Ones big sister's are busy creating Christmas gifts for their loved ones. We came up with a fun and easy idea for their 2 1/2 year old sister. After looking at some of the systems that "help" read stories to children, like Leapfrog and the such we decided we could come up with our own little system. Borrowing from the reading centers we used to have in school we are using this:
And these:

Then the 7 year old and 9 year old are going to record each story to a cassette, put it in a baggie they have decorated and give the whole caboodle to Little One. So now when her sisters go off to read she can plop down in her little nook and read along with her sisters!

Do you have any easy preschool gifts to share?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles...Yum!

This morning we didn't have a pumpkin candle to burn, so we decided to welcome the fall by stirring up some autumn aromas in our kitchen.

I got this recipe at Smitten Kitchen, which is a site I just found, and it has some wonderful recipes. There are beautiful pictures here of food prep as well. Everything is so pristine and beautiful. But you probably won't find that here. Especially when I have my three little chefs helping me out. Oh who am I fooling, it doesn't happen when I'm cooking alone either. But this is REAL folks, this is life at my house. So I'm giving you fair warning, these pictures may not be clutter free, but here at Cotton-Top Hills that is the norm. The food is usually real good anyways. I promise!

First you sift all the dry ingredients. Try to get them all in the bowl as opposed to all over your 2 year old and counter-tops, but if that happens don't despair it will turn out just the same.

Next let your expert whisker whisk up all the wet ingredients, while you go clean up all the clutter on your school table.

Then put your 7 year old to work beating the egg whites until soft peaks form, because you are cleaning up the flour that is all over the 2 year old and counter.

Gently fold the egg whites into the liquid and flour mixture that your 2 year old has diligently stirred.

Scoop into hot waffle iron

And serve. They are so deliciously yummy and makes your house smell like fall just burst through the front doors.

I'd give you the recipe here, but I don't want to get anyone upset about recipe stealing or the sort so instead I'm going to send you over to Smitten Kitchen to grab it. That way you can compare her pretty pictures, to my not so pretty ones. I'm okay with that because I am secure in my messy ways.

Happy Fall!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fair Ribbons

To say our garden was pitiful this year would be an understatement. I'd show you a picture if it didn't make me cry to look at it. We still haven't figured out what we did, or what mother nature did, to our three garden plots. The last two summers we have had corn, peppers, squash, gourds, tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons and eggplant galore. This year we have barely had enough tomatoes for a salad, a couple of eggplants,and a few watermelons. The rest didn't produce at all.
A few accidental pumpkin vines managed to grow in our front flower beds. We nursed them all summer, allowing them to take over, in hopes of a few pumpkins. Our effort paid off with one, yes ONE, big pumpkin. Little One took very good care of the mini-pumpkin vine which has produced many little pumpkins.

So our visions of another year of taking lots of produce to the fair for more ribbons dwindled. But Em managed to enter one watermelon, Soph the lone pumpkin, and Little One her mini-pumpkins. Guess what? They all won ribbons. I was so proud of them.

Disclaimer: Soph's pumpkin is not the actual pumpkin she entered. Seems there are pumpkin snatchers at the fair who will take your pumpkin and ribbon even when your name is boldly written on it!

Em also entered a very yummy cake, which won in our books and a picture. Neither won ribbons, but I loved seeing her work hard. We're already looking forward to what we can enter next year!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seeing A Diamond In The Rough

It was three years this July that I first laid eyes on our house. We had decided to move from the small town we were living in to be closer to the "city". We looked at houses in town and nothing even came close to appealing to my husband and I. Then I found this house online while browsing the local real estate. It seemed wonderful. The up close picture of the two story brick house looked promising. Plus it had 4 bedrooms and according to google map it looked to sit about 6 miles outside of town in the canyons. We sent it to our realtor and off we went.

This is what we found.

The weeds and native grasses had run of the place. There was no sidewalk up to the front door or any sort of walking paths around the yard. No people were living in this place, but there was no doubt that occupants of this property were lurking all around.

But I remember the hot sun beating down on me as I climbed the driveway thinking that this was home. Tears even came to my eyes at the thought of living in such a place. Later I would find out I was pregnant, which could have contributed to the emotions I was feeling, but no matter I loved the place just the same.

Ten years earlier my husband and I had found this little tucked away neighborhood as we were driving around killing time during a trip to the "big city". We both agreed we would love to live here some day and raise a family. It was a dream that we pushed aside as life got busy with the arrival of two little girls, jobs, and the paying of everyday expenses. Moving just wasn't a priority or a possibility for those ten years.

Moving into our dream house wasn't easy in many respects. Between a difficult pregnancy, stress filled jobs and living between homes an hour apart for 6 months I would be lying if I said all was a bed of roses. Even the fixing up of the place was crazy at times. I was for the most part out of commission, either because of my expanding middle or later because of the needs of my newborn. A newborn that was at one time labeled as a "failure to thrive".

We had our work cut out for us! The first project we would tackle would be making a sidewalk up to the front door. And of course if you own even a little bit of land we had to name the place...

I'll give you a hint as to what it was...
Any guesses? And tell me do you see the diamond in the rough or do you prefer your diamond already buffed and polished?

*This is a Blue Scaled quail also known as Cotton-Top Quail. When we moved in we had dozens of these guys running around the place. They would come with their fluffly little babies and at times I could look out my window and see dozens of these Cotton-Tops bobbing up and down the Canyon, filling the hills with white topped birds. So we named our place Cotton-Top Hills that spring and it has stuck.

Winner of Give Away

The winner of the wall graphic give away is Elizabeth!
Large Format posters will be in touch soon with your winning information.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Blog and Give Away

I'm so excited to have my new blog up and running. Actually I added three new blogs to my home site Eskimo Kisses and Air Hugs. Slowly, I will be getting each of my blogs up to speed and linking them all together on each one. For now my home site has buttons that can link you to them. This blog will be dedicated to home life here at Cotton-Top Hills. We are constantly making improvements, adding this and that, and learning to adjust to the rural life in the Texas Panhandle.

To help kick off this new blog I have a give away from Large Format Posters. I'm really excited about this new product. I will be giving away a 24 X 24 wall graphic. It is like a large sticker you can post on any flat service, check out what it looks like here.

I think I'd use this picture my husband took of our house recently while flying with a friend.
To enter this give-away just leave a comment telling what you would use your wall graphic for. If you would like to be entered more than once tweet about it, blog about it, or put a link to my blog on your facebook page. Then come back and let me know that you did in a separate comment.
**Winners and blogger must pay $5 Handling Fee to claim prize, shipping is free. Only open to US residents.

If you want another chance to when this wall graphic check out my other new blog about homeschooling here.

Good luck everyone!
**Forgot to mention the contest winners will be picked on Monday, Sept. 14th!.**