Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas Wishes & A Sweet Recipe

This year's family Christmas photo features the wonderful addition of TWO new grandbabies!
 Duke is now 4 1/2 months and Violet just 10 days old the day we took this.
Sweet Darsy is now 20 months.  
She knows how to fake smile already - it just kills me.  She says "cheese" when she does it.
So now we have three under three!  
So nice that Rich and I don't have to fight anymore over who gets the grandbaby - there are plenty to share :-)
They should make for a very merry Christmas indeed and we feel blessed beyond measure. 
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At the photo session we got one of Pop and Grammie hugging our sweet little grand-blessings.   This photo is such a treasure.
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And this Christmas as usual, we will be having these for breakfast:


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BUT -I happened on a new recipe this year... 
and people - it's the best EVER.
These are the cinnamon rolls of my DREAMS.

Browned butter just may be my new favorite thing!
I also made some browned butter cookies that were To.Die.For. 

You're welcome for the recipes. :-) 
It's my little Christmas present to you, my blog readers.
Blessings to you all this Christmas, 
may the joy of Jesus and what His birth means be yours.

 
BROWNED BUTTER CINNAMON ROLLS

Dough:
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons)
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 egg
Filling:
  • ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of butter
Frosting:
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 2-3 cups of powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you like it.)

Instructions
  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in butter; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.
  2. In Kitchenaid bowl, combine 2¼ cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; whisk together. Add water, egg and the milk mixture; beat well with paddle attachment. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time, using a wooden spoon to stir well after each addition. Add a little extra flour if you need to, the dough needs to form a ball and clear the sides of the mixer.
  3. When the dough has just pulled together, switch to the dough hook and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. When ready, the dough will spring back when lightly pressed.
  4. Place dough in a medium bowl, cover with a cloth and let rest on the counter for 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, brown your butter by placing it in a small microwave safe glass bowl or container. Cover it with a saucer or other well-fitted cover and microwave for 4-6 minutes. Butter will melt, pop and then turn brown. (you can also do this over the stove-top, but I find the microwave method pretty easy.) While butter cools slightly, mix together brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12x9 inch rectangle. (use your 9x13 baking dish as a guide.) Using a pastry brush- slather the dough with the brown butter. Sprinkle dough with cinnamon sugar mixture and press in lightly so it doesn't fall out when you roll it, getting all the way to the edges.
  7. Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Using a serrated knife, cut into 12 equal size rolls and place in a 9x13 baking dish. Cover and let the rolls rise in a warm place* until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees .
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for 14-19 minutes, or until golden. Let cool for about 10 minutes and then spread them with frosting. (directions below) Serve warm.
To make the frosting:
  1. Whip together the softened butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time. Beat until creamy and spreadable.
Note: I'm not a huge fan of cream cheese frosting, so I just made a simple glaze of powdered sugar, softened butter, milk & vanilla.

BROWNED BUTTER SEA SALT COOKIES
(copycat of the The Brown Butter Cookie Company)

1 cup salted butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Flake sea salt

In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until browned.  Add to KitchenAid mixer bowl, add both sugars and vanilla and mix.  Cool to room temperature.
In a small mixing bowl combine flour and baking soda.  Stir it into sugar mixture and mix just till combined. 
(At this point it is recommended that you  let the mixture rest for 1 hour, but it is not necessary)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  
Roll dough into 1” balls and dip lightly in salt.   Bake just until set -about 13-15 minutes.  Do not overcook!






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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Grandbaby #3 is HERE!!

INTRODUCING 
 Violet Rae Steadman 
Born December 8, 2016   
7 pounds 15 ounces

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I cannot BELIEVE we are now the grandparents of THREE sweet babies!  We are so grateful for each one of them!  They sure have our hearts.

Here are a few photos of our newest little cutie pie!

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Less than a couple hours old! 
I guess she already thinks Pop is pretty funny.

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One day new :-)

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Darsy, say "cheese" (love her little squinty eyes)

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Two granddaughters!  All the heart eyes.

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Precious baby 

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Family of 4!

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Sweet sisters at home

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Pop and I had so much fun with Darsy while her parents were in the hospital.  Rich was able to work mobile and we went and stayed at Emma's. 


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Morning book time

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While Emma was in labor and we were awaiting updates, we took Darsy to the mall to get her own "baby" at Build A Bear.  And one for her new baby sister too. :-)

Approaching Build a Bear... 
Darsy couldn't even BELIEVE such a place existed! 
She wanted a wacky neon one, but Grammie steered her towards a more classic (and cute) one.

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Getting the bear stuffed.  The machine was a bit loud, so she wasn't so sure about it.

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Choosing names for the bears with Pop. 
They (he) chose "Sky" and "Sunshine."

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The finished products! (note the Violet theme going on)

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She really liked Panda Express for lunch.


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That sweet face!


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She loved getting on the rides at the mall
(thankfully she doesn't yet know they go on for $1)

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Later we made a little Costco run and grabbed some pizza.  
She picked every single olive off my slice- girl after my own heart!

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The next day when she visited Violet, she brought her new bear and doll stroller we got her. She was so proud and seemed to grow up overnight.

And before I go... don't want to forget my sweet grandson, Duke!
Here are some recent shots of our big boy!

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A recent selfie with Duke at Grammie's.  
(Just noticed the gun supplies in the background.  
Don't worry - everything is ok over here, ha!)

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4 months!  He smiles so big now!


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Still hanging on to those blue eyes...not so much the hair though!


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Having rocking time is the BEST!  
I think it's safe to say that Duke liked it too. 

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And one last shot... all my grandkids together for the first time!  I think Duke is feeling a little trapped between TWO girls! And he only has girl cousins on Stephanie's side, too! (Poor dude!)







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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Portland & Washington


Rich has a colleague who invited us to stay at his horse ranch in Yacolt, WA.  We decided to make a nice trip out of it, so in mid-November we travelled to the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  It is one of my favorite places to visit - not only because is it incredibly beautiful, but because many of my loved ones live there!

We flew in early morning to Portland (the closest airport to Yacolt) and spent the day exploring.  We grabbed our rental car and hit downtown for some window shopping and lunch.  I highly recommend Lardo. We had the most delicious pork shoulder sandwich, the best salad with delicata squash, beets, and candied hazelnuts, and their "dirty" fries with chunks of pork, peppers, fried herbs and parmesan.  YUM!  A little tip:  go hungry and don't plan to eat for the rest of the day.   Well ... that is unless you just decide you need a donut from Blue Star.   I mean, when in Portland, right?

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After lunch, we visited the largest bookstore in the country, Powell's. Wow, what a place!  Humongous, and fun to browse.  Later that afternoon we visited the Pittock Mansion,  a turn of the century residence on 46 acres that is now open to the public.  Also, we made a short trip to the International Rose Test Garden, but at this time of year blooms were not on full display.  

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                                        Pittock Mansion, Portland

In the late afternoon we made the little over an hour trek from Portland to Yacolt, WA.  I'm sure you've never heard of Yacolt.  I hadn't!  It is a very, very small remote town in Clark County with a population of around 1500.   Rich's colleague, Chuck, bought a large acreage there and built Mustang Mountain Ranch over the last 20 years.  Recently, he acquired an adjacent property on 20 acres, a home called Wild Horse Station that he rents as a vacation home.  He invited us to be his guests there.  We got there around dinnertime and Chuck and his family warmly welcomed us.

We were a little blown away by the "cabin" we thought we were to stay in.   I guess I was thinking something smaller and more modest - more of a guest house I suppose-  but the place was a full blown authentic log cabin home!

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It looked so pretty at night when we arrived! 

We enjoyed a lovely home cooked meal and evening at the main house and then retired to our toasty, cozy home in the woods.  
It was really something else.

The next morning, we enjoyed some tea by the fire before heading over for another gracious meal of omelettes made by Chuck, bacon, fruit and croissants. 

Chuck showed us around the grounds of his horse ranch.  It's quite incredible.

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Chuck and his sweet daughters, Andie & Theresa


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 Andie and one of their 25 horses!

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The road to the Log Cabin from the main residence... makes me want to sing "Country roads... take me home" 

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Log Cabin front entrance

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 View from front porch - the main house is on the right 
(the red roof is his indoor horse arena, house is above that to left, mostly obscured)

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Cozy fireplace, stairs leading to loft

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Entrance to living room

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the gorgeous living room (I spy relaxing hubby)

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The large kitchen

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The master bedroom -- vacations are for unmade beds, am I right?

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I'm even gonna show you the bathroom because it was so cool. It had log cabin walls!

After a few lovely days in Yacolt, we headed to Seattle to see these awesome people!!


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Kait and Tim moved to Seattle last summer and are living on a BOAT! 


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Here she is - the "Autumn Dawn" in Salmon Bay.

We even spent the night there on board! It was an experience :-)
We had a great time having lunch and exploring their little town of Ballard and having Kait's homemade pizza in their cozy "galley".  


The next day, we headed to Pike's market.  Rich had never been there, and it is a must see place if you're in Seattle.

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You kind of have to start the morning with coffee at the original Starbucks right outside the market, and a delicious coffee cinnamon roll at Piroshky Piroshky.  Just follow your nose to the cinnamon smell, you can't miss it.

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We later hit breakfas
t in the market at Lowell's -- if you want a yummy breakfast with a great view this is your place.  We had a delicious leisurely breakfast of eggs and potatoes.

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In the afternoon, we took the 35 minute ferry ride to Bainbridge Island.  The ferry is enormous and holds at least 50 cars!  There is both outdoor and indoor seating, both with great views.  It's such a fun experience.

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The view looking back at Seattle from the ferry.

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My love on Bainbridge shore.

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  We drove around the island and then happen to find (read: happened to YELP) some really yummy ice cream at Mora.  Cinnamon ice cream with pear sorbet - pretty incredible!

Later, back in the city, we had to stop at the iconic Seattle chowder spot, Pike Place Chowder for an early dinner before Rich flew home.  They have 8 different chowders!

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We shared the "sampler" which is four 6 oz chowders of your choice.  Only $13.95 - perfect for two and SO perfect in the cold weather.

Poor Rich had to get back to the "real world" but my adventure wasn't quite over.  I dropped him off at Sea-Tac and headed about 1 1/2 hours north to my bestie's house.

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Carol, my dearest friend, lives in Sultan with her wonderful, large family.  These days only six of her eight children live at  home, but it's still a full household.   She and her son Matthew thought it would be funny to hack my phone,  and I think it's funny that I can post this on my blog :-)

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The next day, I got to accompany her on her bi-monthly shopping spree!   She lives kind of far out of the city, so she treks out only once every two weeks for major shopping, gathering her food and household needs.  She usually takes one of her older children to help, but since I was there I got to step in. :-)  It was really so much fun to hang out all day, just us two.  We hit 4 or 5 stores, stopped at a latte stand, may have polished off a box of Trader Joe's macarons in the car, and even squeezed in a delicious lunch at a cozy place.  Lots and lots of chatting about everything -- she is my closest confidante and one I admire and love so much.  We email and text frequently but it's just so great to have face time.

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Other than our big outing day, it was a low key stay.  We enjoyed a walk through her neighborhood with her three sweet little girls.

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I love her daughter Hannah as if she were my own!  I wish all young ladies were as mature, sweet, and so easy to talk to/hang with.  Not only is she super cute, but the girl has some mean homemaking skills, too (I could learn a thing or two from her, not kidding).

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Movie selfie on my last night. 
Auntie K was sad to leave this sweet family that I love so much!





 







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