Gingerbread House Decorating Day

Gingerbread House Decorating
Gingerbread House Decorating

I may or may not have mentioned before that I am not very crafty at all! Thanks to Pinterest I am becoming more crafty but I seriously need step by step instructions and sometimes step by step pictures. And a step by step video probably would not hurt either.

My daughter (isn’t she lovely) on the other hand is EXTREMELY crafty and creative and AMAZING! She makes me jealous and I seriously cannot wait for her to get older so that she can make me all the stuff I see on Pinterest.

The part I did
The part I did
A work in progress
A work in progress

As you can see, I cheated and bought a kit (told you I was not crafty) but she used her creativity to make a design all her own.

Her face makes me smile
Her face makes me smile

My kids do not get a lot of sweet. And they certainly don’t get to make giant cookies covered in frosting and candies that they will later be able to nibble on. So her face in this picture always makes me laugh because I know that in her head she is “dreaming” of eating this sugary masterpiece!

Finished product!
Finished product!

And here it is all finished and ready to go! Not too bad for a first time and with no help from Mom!

 

Christmas at Disney

Extraordinary Christmas Decorations
Extraordinary Christmas Decorations

Disney does (almost) all things well. And well, Christmas is no exception. It’s kind of hard to get into the Christmas spirit living in Florida, especially if you were born and raised in Ohio. Green and Christmas just don’t go together in my mind (at least not yet). But one sure fire way we have found to get us ready to Deck The Halls is to head to Disney Hollywood Studios and spend some time at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

View from the end of the street
View from the end of the street

This is just a small part of the display, impressive isn’t it? This was actually a private home display at one time. The Osborne family was a real family in Texas that knew how to decorate for Christmas. Obviously they had some serious money and obviously the local power company LOVED them!

Hidden Mickey
Hidden Mickey

The kids and I always try and find the Hidden Mickey’s in the parks and you know Disney adds them to the Christmas decorations too!

I want these!
I want these!
My favorite building!
My favorite building!

Reminds me of a cupcake! I would love to decorate the outside of my house like this but my husband would never allow it. So I just go to Disney and stand in front of this building for 30 minutes and pretend it’s mine!

LOVE!
LOVE!

Be still my pink and blue loving heart! I’m telling you if my house was decorated like this for Christmas I would never ever take them down and I would turn them on every night! My neighbors would hate me but I know that I would be smiling every time I came home!

Too cute!
Too cute!

 

Thankful Disney knows the reason for the season!
Thankful Disney knows the reason for the season!

The absolute best part of the Osborne Lights is the nativity scene! It is beautiful!

Emmanuel "God With Us"
Emmanuel “God With Us”

Most precious Christmas gift ever given to anyone.

A tiny babe,
God wrapped in flesh,
Sent to die,
That we may live!

Walt Disney World’s New Fantasy Land

The New Fantasy Land
The Entrance into BE OUR GUEST

As I have mentioned before we are huge Disney Fanatics. We spend at least 2 days a month in the parks. And we have been known (since we can pull out of our drive-way and into a parking spot at Magic Kingdom in about 25 minutes) to drive over for just a few hours in the evening to eat some ice cream and watch the Electrical Parade.

We never tire of Disney and can ride the same rides over and over again (we seem to find new things to fascinate us) but I must tell that when the NEW FANTASY LAND opened we were beyond thrilled. We spent months trying to sneak peeks behind big privacy walls and riding rides we thought might give us a glimpse into the construction zone.

Let me tell you, the wait … WORTH IT! This place is amazing! And just what the Magic Kingdom needed. We have done everything in the New Fantasy Land except eat at Be Our Guest (we have reservations for May). It is the HOTTEST dining reservation in Orlando and is usually booked well in advanced of the 180 day window Disney allows guests (except hotel guests, they get to make their reservations up to 190 days out).

Story Time with Belle
Story Time with Belle

One of the first things we did in the New Fantasy Land was Enchanted Tales with Belle. My kids are a little old for this but we still enjoyed it. In true Disney fashion the decor and special effects took our breath away. And of course getting to meet Belle and have some one on one time with a princess is always a bonus!

Belle and Delaney having a chat!
Belle and Delaney having a chat!

Enchanted Tales with Belle is interactive They have people from the audience (mostly children) play the different characters from the story. The little kids were adorable. This is a great way for parents to get some special one of kind vacation pictures.

If you have a princess loving little one or a dramatic type child this is an attraction you will not want to miss.

LEGOLAND Florida Wrap-Up

Lego Carousel
Lego Carousel

As I stated in my last post we are Disney Fiends and so I must tell you that we were less than impressed with the rides at LEGOLAND. There were a few rides that my boys enjoyed but most of the rides are geared to much younger children (I would say between the ages of 5 to 9).

Extraordinarily Beautiful
Extraordinarily Beautiful

I know this post is about LEGOLAND but just look at those eyes!

Lego decorations in the restaurant
Lego decorations in the restaurant

The best part of the park (in my humble opinion) are the decorations and Miniland USA. They even decorate the restaurants with Lego figures and props. We didn’t eat in this food court like restaurant but we did stop in to take some pictures.

The decorations were Extraordinary
The decorations were Extraordinary

The food was decent. We ended up eating lunch at The Pizza and Pasta Buffet which was actually very good (but pretty crowded). It was not Disney but it was good and filling. I will tell you one thing that I recommend above all else.. GRANNY APPLE FRIES!  OH MY GOODNESS! I have got to figure out this recipe so I can make these at home. EXTRAORDINARY!

All in All it was a great day! Lots of good memories, laughs, apple fries, and fun! If you have a child like mine that LOVES Legos, you should go! If you have a boy between the ages of 5 and 10 you should go! But if you don’t fall into either one of those categories, I would suggest you go to DISNEY! But that’s just me!

LEGOLAND Florida

One of the Extraordinary things in our lives is where we live. We live in central Florida, the heart of all things Disney! And boy do we love our Disney! We are pass holders and can be found at one of the theme parks just about every weekend. Disney is our home away from home and we love it!

A few years ago LEGOLAND made it’s debut about an hour and a half away from us and since my middle son is a Lego Fanatic we made the trek down to see what all the hype was about.

Lego Christmas Tree
Lego Christmas Tree

The holiday decorations were amazing!

Extraordinary attention to detail
Extraordinary attention to detail
Andrew with the Lego Christmas Man
Andrew with the Lego Christmas Man

The Miniland USA was by far the best part of the park! It is absolutely amazing the amount of detail they are able to get into these city landscapes. We spent hours looking at them and pointing things out to each to other. I would go back to the park just to see these again. I wish that I had taken more pictures, but the pictures really don’t do them justice anyway.

Mini World
Miniland USA
Because we love the USPS
Because we love the USPS
Little tiny mailbox!
Little tiny mailbox!

 

 

 

 

 

No matter where the children and I go we are always on the look-out for USPS mail trucks, mail boxes, and mailmen! And believe me when I tell you that they are EVERYWHERE!

Mini Land dedicated to Star Wars
Miniland dedicated to Star Wars

My middle son, Andrew, who is not only my Lego Fanatic but also a Star Wars fan was completely impressed with the Lego Miniland dedicated to all things Star Wars.

Amazing!
Amazing!
Lego Darth Vader
Lego Darth Vader
Lego R2-D2
Sissy Girl with Lego R2-D2

The life size Star War characters make out of Lego bricks were beyond amazing!

Because this post has gotten WAY TO LONG! I will wrap up our trip to LEGOLAND Florida tomorrow!

Menu for the Week of December 9

Monday December 8
Breakfast: Pop Tarts (I give myself grace on some mornings and we just eat from the cupboard)
Lunch: Hot Dogs, Pretzels, Fresh Fruit, Cookies

Hawaiian Meatballs

Dinner: Hawaiian Meatballs, Simple Fried Rice, Salad

Tuesday December 9
Breakfast: Cereal, Banana
Lunch: Spaghettios, Bread, Canned Fruit, Candy

Baked Spaghetti

Dinner: Baked Spaghetti, Cheesy Garlic Bread, Salad
Baking: Easy Microwave Fudge

Wednesday December 10
Breakfast: Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits
Lunch: Pizza, Salad, Pudding
Dinner: Taco Ring, Spanish Rice

Banana Sour Cream Bread

Baking: Banana Sour Cream Bread

Thursday December 11
Breakfast: Cereal, Toast, Banana
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets, Tater Tots, Yogurt, Pudding

Chicken and Rice Pilaf

Dinner: Chicken and Rice Pilaf, Bread Machine Buttery Rolls, Scalloped Potatoes, Buttered Carrots
Baking: Killer Candy Caramel Apples

Friday December 12

Breakfast: Pigs in a Blanket, Eggs
Lunch: Fish Sticks, Soup, Applesauce, Cheese Curls, Brownies/Bars

Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust
Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust

Dinner: Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza on Homemade Pizza Dough

Saturday December 13

Overnight Coffee Cake

Breakfast: Overnight Coffee Cake
Lunch: Sandwiches, Potato Chips, Fresh Fruit, Snack Cakes
Dinner: Oven Fried Cornflake Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Corn, Noodles in Sauce, Baker’s Dozen Yeast Rolls

Sunday December 14

Basic Biscuits

Breakfast: Eggs, Fried Potatoes, Basic Biscuits, Sausage Links
Lunch: Eat Out/Leftovers
Dinner: Baked Soft Tacos, Spanish Rice, Salad

LINKED UP WITH: I’m An Organizing Junkie

Meet Pumpernickel (He is Our Extraordinary Elf)

Pumpernickel!
Pumpernickel!

This is Pumpernickel! He travels from the North Pole every year on December 1st to spend the Christmas season with us.

He is a mischievous little elf who does CRAZY things at night while we are sleeping. Pumpernickel appeared on our breakfast table 3 years ago and we (OKAY maybe more me) have loved having him around.

Pumpernickel has been a way for us to keep some of the magic in Christmas. With three kids who are growing up way too fast (at least in my opinion) our elf has given us a chance to have some fun and “believe” again.

Making Marshmallow Snowmen
Making Marshmallow Snowmen

Pumpernickel has become my way of bringing the EXTRAORDINARY into our Christmas celebrations!

Easy Homemade Pizza Crust (You Will Never Need Take-Out Again)

Our family spends wastes a lot of money on eating out!

After a LONG day of school, Bible quizzing, cooking, cleaning, and on and on and on, that phone number to the local pizza place is so TEMPTING! I know that with just the push of a few buttons dinner will arrive fast and hot. However, my bank account will take a hit that it was not expecting and I will have to figure out where that money is going to come from.

ENTER Easy Homemade Pizza Crust! With a just a few ingredients and a little bit of time, I can save some DOUGH (you saw that one coming right?) by making DOUGH!

Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust
Extraordinary Homemade Pizza Crust

Easy Homemade Pizza Crust (original recipe)

1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon yeast
1 heaping tablespoon sugar

Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Add water, salt and vegetable oil to a large bowl.

Add bread flour, sugar and yeast, mix with a spoon until a soft dough forms.

Put dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Then roll out dough, on floured surface, until a little larger than your pizza pan (I use a stone from Pampered Chef). Place the dough onto your pan and roll up the edges to create a lip that will keep your sauce on the pizza while it bakes. Using a fork prick holes in the dough.

Pre-bake your crust in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes. Take out and top however you like.

Return pizza to the oven and bake another 10 minutes. ENJOY!

Forget the Take Out!
Forget the Take Out!

Melt In Your Mouth Buttermilk Biscuits

I have finally found a biscuit recipe that I can make (EVERY TIME) and they always turn out GREAT! I have also learned a few “secrets” to making fluffy, soft, EDIBLE biscuits that I will share in the recipe!

I am not sure if it’s the recipe that is “fool” proof or if the “tricks” are what make this recipe work but either way it has taken me 17 years of marriage to be able to make a Homemade Biscuit that is worth eating.

Extraordinary Buttermilk Biscuits
Extraordinary Buttermilk Biscuits

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits (original recipe)

2 cups bread flour
8 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 heaping tablespoons sugar
1 stick COLD butter, cut into pieces
1 – 2 cups buttermilk (may need more or less, depending on flour)

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together in bowl of Kitchen-Aid Mixer. (If you do not have a Kitchen-Aid, or some other type of stand mixer, you can try this recipe using a hand held mixer).

Using your Kitchen-Aid mixer cut the butter into the flour mixture. Mix just until the butter becomes “pea” size.

Add just enough buttermilk to make a heavy, workable dough. I have found the drier the dough the more stable the biscuit.

Knead the dough lightly (still using your Kitchen-Aid), only enough for everything to stick together. DO NOT OVERKNEAD!

Pat dough out onto a well floured surface to around 3/4-inches thick. Fold dough over so that it makes a “double” biscuit.

Buttermilk Biscuits with dough folded over.
Buttermilk Biscuits with dough folded over.

Use a floured glass or mason jar ring to cut dough into circles.

Place on an un-greased baking sheet (I use one of my Pampered Chef Stones). If you leave the edges touching it will make for a softer biscuit. If you want your biscuits to have a crunch, space them out a bit more.

Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for between 10 and 12 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack (we actually eat them straight from the oven)!

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

MAKE SURE YOUR BUTTER IS COLD!
HANDLE THE DOUGH AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, LET YOUR MIXER DO THE WORK!
DO NOT OVER-BAKE, SET YOUR OVEN TIMER AND KEEP CHECKING THEM!