December 23, 2010

Girls Night at the Nutcracker

I had the pleasure of taking my girls to the Nutcracker last night. We had a fabulous time being together. The girls had a lot of questions for me about the story and the dancing. I hope this will be the beginning of a tradition that will last for years to come.
Ballet Arizona has some of the most beautiful costumes that I have seen anywhere and the Nutcracker is their biggest show of the year.

Hope all is well!! XOXO -Amber

December 18, 2010

Winterized Garden

It's a shame that I didn't photograph our backyard BEFORE we did all of the work, because then it would have been obvious how much work we did to winterize our garden. I didn't though so you'll just have to take my word for it. We had a hard freeze a couple of weeks ago that killed nearly everything. The only things that were able to pull through were things that like the cold, surprisingly, peas, brussel sprouts and lettuce. Everything else is toast. So we dug out all of the old plants and added some chicken pellets and compost to start amending the soil for spring. Josh also disassembled our bird cage for the winter as the net is a little beat up and will need to be replaced. Our poor little yard looks bare but also a bit bigger.
We also dug up all of our radishes, and there were quite a few, queue happy music : )
The chicken pellets worked because our radishes were sizable this time around, delicious too!
Hope all is well!! XOXO -Amber

December 13, 2010

Christmas Chutney

The Christmas chutney that I made this year is from the Nigella's Christmas cookbook, surprising, I know. It is really pretty simple and takes under two hours total, not all of which is spent working. The fruit portion of the chutney consists of green apples, cranberries and chopped soft dates. I used 5 smallish peeled and diced granny smiths, one bag of cranberries and 16 oz of dates.
Then you just add the zest of 2 clementines, then add the juice and scrape out the pulp into your chutney pot.
You add 2 cups of sugar and a teaspoon (give or take) of various spices; ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and 1/4 t of cayenne pepper.
Pour almost an entire bottle of white wine vinegar over the top and turn the heat on. When it starts to bubble, put the lid on and turn the heat down.
I find that the perfect time to sterilize the jars is while the chutney is cooking.
After about an hour or so the chutney should have turned into a "pulpy mass" which is a pretty good description of the consistency.
I just used a soup ladle to fill my jars and voila, it's festive and delish!!
Hope all is well!! XOXO -Amber

November 28, 2010

Frank turned TWO!

Our little boy turned 2 the day after Thanksgiving this year. We still had family in town so we were able to have a proper birthday celebration. We had a Spongebob theme which Frank liked and we tried to do everything that a 2 year old would appreciate. Everyone was involved in the cake making process, probably because we decorated the cake with rolled fondant. Yummy!

We had bubbles that we could blow at the table, Spongebob stickers and noise makers.
Jillian did an awesome job making a birthday boy hat for him to wear at the head of the table
Whenever Frank sees a Spongebob balloon at the checkout of the grocery store he yells and calls out for it so Josh picked up a birthday balloon and Frankie went a little wild when he saw it. He toted that thing around with him all day.
He had a ton of fun opening all of his gifts from everyone and he got a lot of cute clothes and toys
Frank's biggest gift was a train set with a table to set it up on. It's a little bit big for him but he loves the one at Barnes and Noble and we figured he will be able to play with it for years to come
Overall his party was a success : ) Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber

November 26, 2010

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving here in Phoenix. It's been unusually cold here so we've been bundling up next to the fire and drinking tea. We of course made a plethora of tasty food and have a fridge full of leftovers. I have to say I am so very thankful for my amazing family, they bring so much joy to my life each and every day!
I know hydrangeas aren't necessarily in season or Thanksgivingy but they were so beautiful when I was selecting flowers that I couldn't resist!
We were very blessed to have family in town to celebrate and feast with us!
Finally had the occasion to bust out the china : )
We had a ton of fun cooking and tried several recipes from THIS blog which I suggest you check out because they were Brilliant!! Especially the rolls, turkey brined in buttermilk, and sweet potato casserole.
Spending some after dinner time with Dadgum
We of course at too much and just had to veg out for a while after dinner

Hope all is well!! XOXO -Amber

November 20, 2010

Fast and Easy Sewing Project

So I've been busy sewing but I haven't been able to post pictures because I am mostly making Christmas gifts. I have taken a break lately to sew up a few Christmas related items including this little outfit for Frankie (minus the turtleneck). I followed THIS tutorial which was sew easy!! Isn't he a cutie : ) I'm planning on posting some more pics of other projects soon. Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber

November 16, 2010


The announcement of Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement made my day today!! I am super happy for them and am eagerly awaiting wedding details.

November 12, 2010

The Fall Garden

Our fall garden is growing really well! I put up 5 1/2 foot bamboo supports for all of the green beans and they are not nearly tall enough. The plants have grown up over the top, drooped down the sides and then crawled back up either themselves or an adjacent bamboo pole. I've not ever had such luck growing beans before and they're delicious! Our squash is growing like crazy and producing tons of little fruits.
Even though I dumped almost half a pack of radish seeds by accident when I was planting, they don't appear to be hindering each other too much and the radishes that we've already pulled up have tasted great!!
Farmer Bob is enjoying the cooler weather : ) and our eggplant and okra are still doing great!
Our only big pest these days has been these tiny little bugs that seem to love the cucumbers. They don't bother any of the other plants but they are nearly covering both of our cucumber plants not seeming to bother the plant but keeping all of the blossoms we've had from producing any fruits. Any ideas on what these are and how to handle them?? I've tried spraying them with soapy water with no real results, and there are too many to squash without harming the plants.
the spoils : )
Hope all is well!! XOXO -Amber

November 10, 2010

Happy Veterans Day!!

This past weekend Anthem celebrated Veterans Day by having it's annual Veterans Day Parade. It's the biggest Veterans Day parade in the state and I feel so lucky that we are in walking distance to the parade route. All of our favorites were back this year with the exception of the black hawk helicopter, which is currently deployed so we can't complain. In lieu of the helicopter they had Chinese fighter planes do a flyover in formation which was very cool to watch.
This was the biggest U.S. flag I have ever seen! It was as wide as the entire street and had two people walking under it to keep it from touching the ground.
The Shriner's really know what to do in a parade! Josh found out that they do at least 25 parades a year so it's no surprise that they've got the whole thing figured out. Frank LOVED them and he was pointing and shrieking/screaming (happily) at them as most of them went past.

Hope all is well!! XOXO -Amber

November 6, 2010

Nigella does it again!

Nigella Lawson is my favorite "culinary guide" hands down. Her first cookbook, How to Eat, might be my favorite cookbook of all time. In it, she doesn't simply list recipes, she provides culinary inspiration letting the reader in on her passion for food, a passion which I share. This week we tried her "PLE Butterscotch Tart" (which I can't help but think is a typo and is meant to be Apple Butterscotch Tart). It may be my new favorite dessert recipe, which is saying a LOT considering it doesn't contain my favorite ingredient, chocolate. The four of us ate the entire tart within 25 minutes of our first taste, it's that good!!

Apple Butterscotch Tart
1 plain pastry dough (I made mine with 1 C. flour, 1/2 C. butter flavored shortening, and 3Tb ice water)
1 lb. cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (we used granny smith which I highly recommend)
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
pinch salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream

  • Line an 8-inch tart pan with pastry
  • Layer apples in shell
  • Mix remaining ingredients together to make a paste
  • Pour the butterscotch paste over the apples
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 425
  • Lower heat to 350 and bake for another 20-25 minutes
  • Enjoy!

November 1, 2010

Halloween Fun

Hope you all had a fun Halloween! We did all of the traditional Halloweeny things: carved pumpkins, roasted pumpkin seeds, made treats, dressed was a hoot!
We made popcorn balls using "the best popcorn balls ever" recipe on and they were great if you ate them right away but the next day they're just soggy.
the kids each got to pick out a pumpkin
Josh is our master carver
Katniss Everdeen - all of my other pictures were blurry but she had a leather belt and boots, brown pants and a backpack.
Gelsey with her Nimbus 2000
Spongebob assessing his loot.

Hope all is well! XOXO -Amber