Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Aftermath

Well, we've made it through three rounds of family celebration! The kids had a ball, and of course have already started fighting over "stuff." Sigh. Need to go through their room again and pass on some of their outgrown treasures. The kids particularly enjoyed our Christmas Eve candlelight service (they got glowsticks rather than candles!). They brought all the kids up on the platform to listen to the Christmas story, and our daughter was listening quite nicely when she suddenly felt the need to reassure me and started waving and yelling, "I'm up here, Mom!" They really are starting to understand what it's all about, though, which is great to see. Nothing quite as cute as last year, though, when D would wave and say, "Hi Jesus!" every time he saw a nativity scene.

I ran out this morning for about 45 minutes and managed to spend $101.42. Bought an artificial tree, new tree skirt, bows, and a very pretty topiary thingee that will look great on the piano. I'm going to be going through our Christmas boxes and getting rid of some of the older, dilapidated decorations. It's definitely time to retire some of the stuff I bought in college!!

Anyway, hope you had a wonderful time of celebration with your friends and family. Talk to you all next year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Funny

Breathing a BIT easier :)

Well, I managed to make it to the P.O. last night with seven minutes to spare. Packages have been shipped priority, so here's hoping they all make it to their destinations within three days.

Also did the grocery shopping (I don't think I could have fit another thing on that cart - and I'm pleased to report that I did not lose consciousness when I saw the total!) and got some more cleaning done. Still a lot I need to finish up today, though, so toodles!!

I'm going to be taking a break for the next week or so. May you all have a blessed CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Chistmas is HOW many days away?!?!

I'm so far behind it's ridiculous. Haven't wrapped a single gift or even sent cards yet. I'm seriously debating whether it's even worth doing at this point. We didn't put up many decorations, but the tree and nativity set will have to suffice. I did manage to finish a little project that is now hanging on the wall in our living room that you can check out here.

We're doing Christmas with hubby's sister on Saturday, and then my brother on Sunday. Christmas Eve candlelight service at the church, but then the rest of the week is blessedly free of other obligations. Gifts have all been purchased, but I will be doing the mondo grocery run tonight. Need to pick up normal stuff as well as ingredients for spinach cheese pie and seafood chowder. Mmm Mmm Good.

We did have a very lovely surprise earlier this week - UPS knocked on the door, and I couldn't figure out what the big white package could be. Well, it was a cooler full of goodies from Omaha Steaks (in fact, that box will be providing our Christmas dinner!). Mommy was excited about the pounds and pounds of meat - Daddy and the kiddos were excited about the dry ice in the bottom, and had a ball playing with the "fog" in the bathroom.

So what else is going on? Little D is on day 5 of medicine for an ear infection. I'm still not over this silly cold, and our daughter isn't really healthy, either. I am thankful that none of it is severe (we've had several friends with children in the hospital recently) but I'm getting tired of slime. On the mommy and daddy front, we're still trying to decide how to handle the Santa issue. We've just side-stepped questions up to this point, but D has heard all about the jolly old elf from others, so is asking lots more questions. Santa wasn't a part of my childhood, and hubby doesn't remember it ever being a big deal. I know many people consider it to be part of the "magic" of the holidays, but I really don't want to focus on the gifts. I do have a great book that talks about St. Nicholas and I'm leaning toward reading that over with the kids.

Lastly, here's a bit of silly fun:

Your Elf Name Is...

Pixie Tinsel Toes

Friday, December 14, 2007

We have a winner!!

I just had our little girl draw a number, and she picked #3. So Jenn, the CD is all yours! Watch your mailbox :)

Friday Funny

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my doctor and sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out over several Christmases, since I had to write this letter with my son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between cycles, and who knows when I'll find anymore free time in the next 18 years.

Here are my Christmas wishes:

I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (in any color, except purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the breeze, but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the candy aisle in the grocery store.

I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh month of my last pregnancy.

If you're hauling big ticket items this year I'd like fingerprint resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music, a television that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals, and a refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can hide to talk on the phone.

On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, 'Yes, Mommy' to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the use of power tools.

I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting 'Don't eat in the living room' and 'Take your hands off your brother,' because my voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only be heard by the dog.

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few Christmas miracles to brighten the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.

Well, Santa, the buzzer on the dryer is calling and my son saw my feet under the laundry room door. I think he wants his crayon back. Have a safe trip and remember to leave your wet boots by the door and come in and dry off so you don't catch cold.

Help yourself to cookies on the table but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the carpet.

Yours Always,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Peppermint Candy

Ready for another ridiculously easy recipe for holiday treats? I came up with this idea last year, and it's sort of become a tradition around here. Pick up a bag of candy melts (craft store or back in the craft area at Wal-Mart; Michael's has these on sale quite frequently and it's just over a dollar for a 1 pound bag). Dump them into a microwave safe container, and nuke 'em until they're soft. Pour onto a cookie sheet (it's much easier if you put wax paper down first, trust me!) and sprinkle with broken candy canes. Allow to set, them break into little pieces. Package up and wow your friends.

I'm not really a big fan of peppermint flavor, but somehow when you mix it with the creamy vanilla candy, it's really good! And once again, the process is definitely kid friendly. D had a ball helping break candy canes and then dumping the packages (another hint: the little candy canes are the best to use for this; just whack the package once with a coffee mug and then snip the end off. Individually shrink wrapped canes are a pain!) Oh, and licking off the spatula is fun, too!

And while you're buying the candy melts, how about picking up some chocolate ones? They're generally cheaper than chocolate chips, plus they set up much better. They're great for dipping cookies, pretzels, and even marshmallows. You can put large marshmallows on wooden skewers, dip in chocolate, then roll in misc goodies (chopped nuts, crushed candy canes, colored jimmies, etc). You can make quite a nice little "bouquet" by arranging in a glass jar. Try it with large pretzel rods, too. Package them in a nice crinkly bag (look in the candy making section!) and they make a great gift for friends and neighbors.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More holiday fun

I don't think the Christmas season would be complete without watching a group of kids sing a song or two. They're so doggone cute dressed up in their holiday finery - and then there is the delightfully unpredictable behavior. One hamming it up for mom and dad, while another scowls and refuses to sing a single note. The inevitable nose picking. Ah, good times. And this year's performance was particularly exciting as this was our son's first "public performance." He managed the chorus of "Go, Tell it on the Mountain!" pretty well, and didn't do anything too obnoxious. So can you find him buried in there? Hint: he's wearing red :) Don't forget you can click on the picture for a larger view

In other news, the chocolate crinkles never made it out of the house. There were a number of issues: first off, I made the mistake of leaving the storage container out on the counter. Within reach of little hands. The kids ate more than I want to admit, managed to knock quite a few in the garbage can, and just generally messed up the remaining cookies . Since I didn't want to subject anyone to our kids' drooly leftovers, I made another batch of goodies. And I will now reward my three faithful readers by sharing another tasty recipe!

Peanut Butter Fingers

1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
1 c old-fashioned oats (uncooked)
12 oz pkg semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 c powdered sugar
1/2 c crunchy peanut butter
3 Tb milk

Combine the first 9 ingredients and mix well. Press into a greased 9x13 pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for about five minutes, then spread the chocolate evenly over the surface.

Combine the remaining three ingredients in a small bowl and blend. Drizzle over the chocolate, then sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. Cut into small bars.

So there you have it - another tasty but simple holiday treat. Now I'm off to do laundry, sort paperwork, and decide what we're having for dinner. Thrilling stuff, eh?!

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's my birthday - but the gift is for you!

Well, two weeks from today I'll be turning 34. Where has the time gone? I can vividly recall times as a child, whining how s-l-o-w-l-y the days passed and desperately wanting to be older. But now I'm one of those old people :)

For those of you who don't know, my birthday is Christmas Eve. So birthday memories are intertwined with candlelight services, family gatherings, and general holiday craziness. But the one constant through all those things is MUSIC. I adore all sorts of music, but the melodies of Christmas are particularly dear. From traditional carols to funky new stuff and even hysterical spoofs - I love it all. And my ginormous pile of Christmas CDs proves it (I think last time I counted it was around 70). I have numerous "favorites" but Rose of Bethlehem by Selah is definitely in the top three. Beautiful arrangements, lush harmonies - from the soft tinkling of piano on Silent Night to the closing strains of the title song.

Oh, Rose of Bethlehem
How lovely, pure and sweet
Born to glorify the Father
Born to wear the thorns for me

Anyway, I'd like to give away one copy of this CD - and I don't want to wait until my birthday, because I'd like you to have a chance to listen to it before Christmas! So leave a comment sharing one of your Christmas favorites - whether a family tradition, Grandma's cookies, funny memory, or even a song - and I'll randomly draw a name Friday morning (12/14). And please leave your email address, too, so I can contact the winner!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Funny

Man, I know this is how Christmas often feels around here! :)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Chocolate Heaven

Who doesn't love Christmas cookies?!? One of my favorites growing up was always Grandma's Chocolate Crinkles. But as I got older, I realized that they did tend to be just a teensy bit dried out (of course that's a great reason to fire up the coffee pot!) Well, last weekend our pastor's wife brought Chocolate Crinkles to the church decorating night. One bite and I was hooked. I pinned her down and demanded the recipe (OK, so maybe I just smiled sweetly and asked) - she laughed and told me that they were embarassingly easy. Even better! Anyway, I got the recipe earlier this week and decided to bake some up with the kiddos this morning (as I'll be taking some with me for lunch today, a craft night tomorrow, and church on Sunday). Let me tell you, they're truly luscious AND easy! Drooling yet? Here's the recipe so you can bake some up for your family. Easy enough that even a 2 and a 4 year old can make them! :)

Chocolate Crinkles

1 box of chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1 Tb water
1/2 c shortening

Blend together in mixer. Roll into balls (walnut size), then roll in powdered sugar and place an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 min.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monday, Monday

It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas! I helped decorate the church on Friday evening, and I must say it's quite lovely all decked out in greens, red bows, and gold. Still haven't done anything here at home, though. We're planning to get our tree this evening - an artificial one. We'd been debating about investing in one for a couple years now, and I think we're going to take the plunge. If we can't find one that looks somewhat realistic for a reasonable price, though, we'll be heading back to our standard lot to fork over another $30. I have Christmas music playing, plus I've been humming "Unto Us" (a rocking tune we're doing this month as part of worship - you can hear a snippet here - #8) We also had our first snow of the season yesterday - enough to excite the kids when they looked out the window in the morning - but it soon turned to rain and the ground is clear again.

Our little girl has been battling a cold and has been mopey (she pretty much spent all day Friday either sleeping or just sitting in the corner of the couch). She's perking up now, but I've got a sore throat/stuffy nose, and now our son has been hacking like mad. Hmmm... now that I'm thinking about it we might just focus on pulling out decorations tonight and pick up the tree itself tomorrow. We visited some friends last week who had already decorated their entire house, and ever since then our son has been asking when Christmas is coming to our house. Awwww... Nothing like pleading brown eyes to bring out mommy guilt :)

I'd like to bake some cookies with the kiddos over the next two weeks, too, and deliver them to various neighbors, but we'll see if it actually happens. Still a lot going on - getting together with a few friends over the course of the week, a craft night with the MOPS moms on Friday, then church activities on Saturday and Sunday. I think I need to take some time to sit down with the calendar and think through the rest of the month. There is always so much that I want to do for the holidays, but never enough time. I'm sure I'll be sharing more thoughts on that as we get closer to Christmas.