Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...Finally!

Are you guys ready for Christmas?  We are...finally!  We had a couple stragglers wanting Christmas lights this week, but for the most part we were able to hang out as a family.  

 Ernesto took this photo on his last official day of work.  
Every night, he calls us when he was a few minutes away and we head out to the porch to greet him.  He toots his horn all the way down the street and Mateo gets really excited.  He usually climbs in and helps papi park the truck.

The lighting pro wrapped our tree with a mix of the opaque colored C-9s (my favorite)
 clear C-7s and led [warm white] mini lights.
 This little guy was a great helper

 In fact, he placed all of the ornaments on the tree.
This little guy was happy to roll around on the floor and watch.

We made a special trip to Lennox Mall so the boys could sit with Santa.  Mateo's face is that same scared stiff look as when we visited him last year.  Marcelo is happy [per his usual] and tapping mateo on the arm as to say "come on, this is fun smile!"

The lighting pros finally worked on our house (last but not least) and of course Mateo wanted to help.
"luz, luz papa up"
He would've climbed right to the top If I had let him.  Boy is he a daredevil.

Down the street at Turner Field was the ongoing Global Winter Wonderland.  We had been passing  the display in our car for over a month, so it was cool to finally go inside to see what it was all about. There were "monuments" from all around the world lit up in lights, international food and a some carnival rides.
It was totally geared for kids, which was fine...because... we have kids.  We used a living social coupon for a 2 for 1 admission.  Mateo ran around like a madman [past his bedtime], rode the ferris wheel, bumper cars and some little bee cars [4 times] that go in a circle.
Totally worth it just to watch him explore something new.

Merry Christmas!  What are you guys doing for the holidays? We are off to Ohio this weekend! Looking forward to what I hope will be a white Christmas with the family.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Art Wall Progress

I know I should be posting pictures of our house decorated for Christmas, but I am a little behind in blogging everything. (imagine that!)  I finally got my mantle to where I like it...curated clutter.

It took me a while to be happy with an arrangement, and then everything had to come down for Christmas!  You might think by the look of these pictures that I keep a clean house.  You would be wrong.  I have two kids and clutter is abound.  I have just shoved everything to the opposite end of the room like so...

 I am excited to share the progress on my art wall project too.  While my brother Brrrian was staying with us and working with Ernesto he pushed me to "just hang one" and get started.  That was the hardest part.  Once I hung the first one, I got on a roll and it started looking so great I wanted moremoremore.  I know art makes a home, but still, I was amazed at how it changed the look and feel of our living room.  I have a lot more to hang.  I want all the space filled.  I am hoping I get something for xmas and I still have to hang my pieces (DIY).  I am excited to finish!  Here is where it stands now.
Christmas decor up next!

Friday, December 13, 2013

5 Recipes From A Domestic Godess [wanna-be]!

Remember our pumpkins from the pumpkin patch outing?
Well, I am sad to report that these never got carved.  They looked great on our porch, but since Ernesto was working everyday, we never got around to making these into jack o' lanterns.
 I am happy to report though, that they were still put to good use. Sort of.
While my mom was here for my birthday we were looking for "new and exciting" activities for Mateo.
I cut open the two big pumpkins on the deck, gave Mateo a big spoon with directions to scoop out all the seeds.
15 minutes of fun! Ha

Since my mom is the queen of "waste not, want not" she wanted to cut up the pumpkin so we could puree and freeze it for all the baking I do in my spare time. (Oh someday I will be that domestic goddess!).  I always see the little "pumpkin pie pumpkins" at the grocery store, but never thought you could use the big pumpkins for eating.  Before I knew it my mom had the pumpkin cut up and roasting in the oven.

My mom popped the pieces into our Vitamix and made a beautiful puree.  Unfortunately, my mom flew home and left me in charge of freezing it.  I may have left the pumpkin in the refrigerator a couple days too long, and when I added it to my eggs, it tasted acidic! UGH!  I'd like to just think that it was a bad pumpkin, instead of my own negligence. 
I had to resort to the canned pumpkin, which is not as exciting as saying I used fresh pumpkin that I my mom roasted.  Nonetheless, the following recipes turned out delicious! 

Pumpkin Muffins  
(recipe adapted from Deconstructing the Home and 
Flax Muffin recipe off Bob's Red Mill Ground Flax Seed bag )
Cook Time: 30 mins
Yield: 16 Muffins
1 3/4 Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 Cup of Ground Flax Seed
1 1/4 teaspoon of Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon of Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/4 Cup Chopped Candied Ginger
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
3/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Molasses
2 Large Eggs 
2 Cups of fresh (or canned) Pumpkin
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3/4 Cup Whole Milk
1/2 Cup Walnuts
1/2 Cup Raisins
Preheat oven to 400°. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or use cupcake papers.  In a large bowl whisk together flour, flax meal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Mix until combined.
Toss in brown sugar, molasses, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and milk. Mix all ingredients until combined. Fill muffin tins ¾ of the way full. 
Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

These muffins turned out so delicious!  They only lasted 2 days in our house!  (we did have over night guests)  They are dense and filling, but best of all healthy!

I remember we always roasted the seeds from our pumpkins growing up, but Im sure they weren't spicy.  And since this is a requirement at Casa Espinoza, I went online and found this quick recipe from Martha.  Pretty tastey.

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin seeds, chili powder, cayenne pepper, coarse salt, and fresh lime juice; toss to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until puffed and browned, about 15 minutes.

Of course one of the recipes has to be pumpkin pie!  Ernesto loves pumpkin pie.  Kroger pumpkin pie?!  Last year on Thanksgiving we had a blind taste test, and I am ashamed to say Kroger beat me!  Ugh!
But not this year!
I used the recipe from Libby's canned pumpkin and used a graham cracker crust.  It was delicious. This recipe has been going strong since 1950, and it's way better than Kroger!!

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
15 oz. can of Libby's pure pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk

MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.

Last, but surely not least, is the pecan pie.  My mom and I set out to midtown's Christmas parade last week and on the way back to the car we stumbled upon a pecan tree where all of the pecans had fallen right on the sidewalk.

My mom could not walk by without loading up the stroller.  I had Marcelo in the carrier, but I ended up doing some squats to help her collect.  Believe it or not, I was sore from picking pecans.  What?! That is when you know it is time to work out again!

These pecans along with a couple other sweet spots by my house afforded us enough pecans for several pies!  We made two.
We used the classic Karo Syrup recipe and doubled the nuts!  It was the best I have ever tasted!  More is more!

Pecan Pie
1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pure Vanilla Extract
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans
1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Cool for 2 hours on wire rack before serving.

One more recipe I whipped up is this one from Smitten Kitchen for Spicy Gingerbread Cookies.
Im telling you guys, these are amazing!  I made them last year, and again this year.  A tradition starts!  I don't see why I would ever need to try another recipe as this is the perfect blend of sugar and spice.  And I do mean spice.  A teaspoon of black pepper and good dose of ginger gives these cookies a bite!

Mateo has been so into Play-Doh lately that he had fun "helping" me with the cutouts.  Snowflakes and the traditional men!  They are gone.  Didn't last 3 days. I think this is the reason Im not a domestic goddess.  We would eat everything I make...and quickly.  Yes, yes that is why.

Monday, December 09, 2013

My Life [as of late] in Pictures

Since I have been swamped with kids and Christmas lights, I have [obviously] not had any time for blogging.  I thought I would share what's been going on in pictures.
{LED wrapped trees -$600 each-call me for a quote on your trees}

{employee of the year - tio Brrrian}
{at the Children's Healthcare xmas parade in midtown}

{una cerveza, por favor}

{dirty boy after school}

{having fun in the leaves}

{what casa Espinoza looks like lately at 630am}

{neighborhood amigos}
{tree time!}
{future lighting pro}
{Mateo's big boy bed-just flew off once}

{thumb sucker? he hasn't done it since}

{Grandpa teaching Marcelo how to use the ipad}

{missed out on these nightstands while thrifting #kickingmyself}}

{playing at the children's museum}

{waiting for papi to come home}
{finally! some art wall progress and tree is decorated- #ihavethebestmomever}


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