Apparently our big gift this year was books! Between the five of us, we have about 30 new books to add to our shelves! What can I say, we are a family that loves to read!
You know where to find us for the next few days until it's time to head back to work and school and reality.
Saturday, December 29
Tuesday, December 25
Monday, December 24
Week 4: Love ... The fourth Sunday of Advent is the one just before Christmas. All four candles are lit. The prayers acknowledge hope, peace and joy, and then add one of love.
"God of love, You so loved the world that you sent Jesus to be with us. Help us to love others and to welcome Jesus into our lives."
We were not home last night to light our candle so we lit it tonight. Last night we had a very special dinner with two of my Aunts and my Grandmother - perfect for this Sunday of love. I did not seen my Aunts or Grandmother too much while I was growing up so it has been wonderful getting reconnected now that we live closer. This is our first Christmas away from "home" and it is so nice that we were still able to celebrate with family.
Wishing you all Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Christmas and all year through.
Sunday, December 23
Last night we celebrated. Dinner out - BBQ, hushpuppies, fried okra and, of course, margaritas. Dessert at home - red velvet cake made by my men. There were presents - useful things, thoughtful things, and touching things - and lots of laughing. Lots and lots of laughing.
Now I am 37. The next year will be a good one. I can tell.
Friday, December 21
The teachers' gifts are lined up and ready go. We give (basically) the same gift every year to all of our teachers - Hot Chocolate Mix and something else homemade. I try to keep it kind of simple and it's always something consumable. I know the teachers get a lot of gifts over the years from their students so I don't want to add any clutter (I've got plenty so I just assume everyone else does too!) This year the boys and I made Cranberry Almond Granola to go along with the Hot Chocolate. So good!
Holiday Hot Chocolate Mix
25oz powdered milk
3 cups powdered sugar
3 cups powdered non-dairy creamer (like Coffee-Mate)
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
Mix all in a big bowl. Store in an airtight container. Approximately 3Tbls per mug of hot water or milk.
*You can also add a 16 oz bag of mini marshmallows and a 12oz bag of mini chocolate chips. We usually add the marshmallows but not the chocolate chips (they don't melt well). This year we found little star and tree marshmallows so we packaged them separately.
Cranberry Almond Granola
Original recipe can be found here. I've used several different granola recipes over the years and I like Stephanie's formula the best.
8 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup honey
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup almond butter
1 Tbls cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups dried cranberries
We used this list compiled by Bella Dia to print ours.
Topher liked these, Edmund preferred these, and Chaz (always the Jan Brett fan) liked these.
Wednesday, December 19
Monday, December 17
Sunday, December 16
This week we light the pink candle as a symbol of joy. This lesson is a good reminder to us all to find a bit of joy everyday. I know it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and sometimes it gets the better of us. I know that, here, there has been a little crankiness creeping in lately. So today we step back a little and think about joy!
Edmund got great joy from lighting the candles on the wreath. (Finally, his turn!) Dinner was Rigatoni with Sausage Portobello Ragu, a tossed salad, and crusty bread. Wonderful!
Our Advent prayer for week 3:
Loving God, we thank you for the joy you bring us. Help us prepare our hearts for this gift. Bless us and help us to bring joy to others through our thoughts, words and deeds. Amen.
Monday, December 10
What do you get when you combine a digital camera, a tripod and mom who has a plan with 3 (no wait, make that 4!) other family members with different plans? You get 1 usable photo and 83 outtakes! (yes, that's right. We took 84 pictures)
We recently set up the camera and took a family photo for this year's Christmas card. It was a real feat but it got done and I'm so pleased with the picture I chose. Of course it was one of the first 5 that I took but you can never be too sure or take too many back ups!
Here are a few that we chose not to use...
Sunday, December 9
It's the second Sunday of Advent. I've added some evergreens to our wreath this week. Three little vases each holding a different bit of greenery - one is Fir, one is Cedar, and one is White Pine.
The second candle is the candle of Peace. I'm trying very hard to keep peace at the forefront of our lives right now. It's so easy, especially at this time of year, to let the stress take hold. We (me especially) try to live up to some self imposed expectations for the holidays and life becomes anything but peaceful.
Chaz lit the candles tonight. Dinner was a roast chicken with rosemary and root vegetables - potatoes, turnips, carrots and onions. Chaz also treated us to some little jelly bowl cookies that he made.
Our Advent prayer this week:
Loving God, we thank you for the peace you give us through Jesus. Help us prepare our hearts to receive Him. Bless our worship. Guide us in all that we say and do. Amen.
Peace be with you.
Saturday, December 8
The weather here has been so mild - 80º in December! We are taking full advantage of living in a warmer climate. Instead of driving around and looking at holiday lights like years past, this year we took a little after dinner walk around the neighborhood. It was such a beautiful night and all the lights made it that much more magical.
It was such a quiet and peaceful stroll. We walked with no destination, no set route, no schedule, and no timeline. We just walked ...and enjoyed ...and appreciated.
Thursday, December 6
This morning the boys woke up to find some little treats tucked in to their shoes! Today is St. Nikolaus Day.
Saint Nicholas is the Patron Saint of children. He also was a man of great character. He did many good deeds and helped those in need. Legend says that he secretly tossed some gold coins in the window of a poor man. The man could not provide a dowery for his three daughters which meant they would not be married and instead sold in to slavery. These coins landed in their shoes or stockings that were drying by the fire.
Now, Saint Nicholas comes on the eve of his feast day bringing little gifts and trinkets to good boys and girls. Those that are not good, however, receive switches from Knecht Ruprecht (St. Nicholas' dark traveling companion) Luckily we were well behaved and didn't get the switches. Thank goodness - it was close at times!
Topher, used to think that the switches were exactly that, light switches! He thought that Ruprecht was going to bring outlet covers and switch plates from Home Depot! He's older and wiser now, though.
St. Nicholas brought each boy a special gingerbread cookie (apparently these were a favorite of his), some gold (chocolate) coins, an apple and a special little pack of holiday tissues. (it's cold and flu season after all) He also left a new book for the family on the kitchen table as well as a few more gold coins. This year's book is Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.
Saint Nicholas craft found here.
Tuesday, December 4
Tonight Chris and I get to have a very rare night out. A night with other adults and no children. I am really looking forward to it!
A night like this calls for a new handbag. I just love this red corduroy and have had it my stash for some time now. I bought it either last year or two years ago with a skirt in mind. Unfortunately, in my excitement with the fabric, I neglected to pay attention to the direction of the nap. It wouldn't do for a skirt. (Can't have corduroy that runs horizontal!) It's perfect for this project, however.
This bag has very quickly become a favorite of mine so I went back to that pattern for this new bag. For the interfacing, I used some scraps of some bottom weight that I had left from the lab coat I made for Halloween. It gives the bag a little more structure than the flannel (although I really like the flannel, too). I also added a split pocket inside like I did the first time. It's very handy.
I'm sure there will be plenty more of these charming handbags in my future. I must admit, I'm really surprised at how much I love this pattern. It makes a very sweet little bag but the bag has no closure which is something I would normally shy away from. Of course it means I can't stuff my bag full of unnecessary items which is a good thing!
Monday, December 3
A few new books have recently been added to my cookbook shelf. (shelves, really, I have 4!) Not all the new books are actually new and not all are new to me but they are new additions to my collection.
I found The Vegetarian Epicure (1972 edition) by Anna Thomas for less than a dollar. My mother has this book and I've always enjoyed it. (Our favorite lasagna recipe comes from this book) I've been checking this one out from my library and then renewing it until they politely ask that I please bring it back.
Another used book that I picked up was The New Laurel's kitchen. This is one that I was not really familiar with but I'd heard so many good things about. It, too, was about a dollar. It had to come home with me.
I also bought Cooking Free by Carol Fenster. This one I bought new. Chris has several food allergies and intolerances and hasn't been feeling up to par lately. We are on an exploratory mission to see what we can do to get him feeling better.
Another one that I bought so I wouldn't have to keep checking it out from the library is The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. There are so many recipes in this book that I really like. I also like the handwritten look of the recipes. It's like being given a cherished family recipe collection.
There are also plenty of cookbooks that are on my wish list. I love to sit and just read them over and over. (and the more pictures the better!) And since I really love to cook, they also get plenty of use, too.
Tell me about some of your cookbooks.
Sunday, December 2
The candles are out and the wreath is on the table - we have entered the season of Advent. This is a favorite part of the holiday season for me. December can often get a little chaotic and hurried and the simple act of slowing down on Sundays is such a welcome respite.
The first candle is traditionally lit by the youngest family member. (Those that are too young have the privilege of blowing them out) This year, Topher is old enough to light the candle. He's feeling very proud and oh so grown up!
That first candle symbolizes Hope and we say a little prayer as we light the candle.
Dear God, We place all our trust and hope in you. We pray that you will send your son Jesus Christ into our lives, to guide and protect us through difficult times. Amen
(Our Advent song can be found here. I'll try to find a sound clip of the tune.)