Wishing you and yours a very lovely, happy, blessed Christmas Day! May the true meaning of CHRISTmas find your heart.
Wishing you and yours a very lovely, happy, blessed Christmas Day! May the true meaning of CHRISTmas find your heart.
It’s here, it’s finally here! The night to start or finish wrapping gifts, the night to put together all the toys and bikes, the night to play Santa, the night to set out milk and cookies for yourself to enjoy later. It’s here!
My husband and I have so many plans!
I just don’t know if we’ll have enough time!
We’ll OBVIOUSLY be turning on A Christmas Story just as soon as it starts tonight. It’s a family tradition that I grew up with that I am imposing upon my own family. Best movie ever.
And so is Elf. But they haven’t played it on the channels we have, yet.
We really do have so much to do today. I’ll be making some casseroles for tomorrow’s brunch (Cracker Barrel inspired cheesy hash brown, and a white chocolate and cranberry bread pudding – all of which you’ll see here soon!). We’ll be cleaning the house for guests, we’ll be doing special traditions with our sons and we’ll be going to Christmas service. It’s going to be lovely.
Our elf Duncan was here again. And today is his last day with us.
Yesterday, he set out a birthday party for Jesus!
And today he packed his bags up and left a good-bye note for the boys. We’ll miss you, Duncan!
Also, I made a turkey dinner last night.
I got this HUGE (almost 10 pounds) turkey from Publix for $7.80. I couldn’t believe it. It’s actually the first whole turkey I’ve made. I think it came out great. Was it a leeeetle bit dry? Sure. Whatevs. It’s my first. The prep was easy (olive oil, Kosher salt and poultry seasoning), but I don’t care how strong your stomach is, pulling out a half-thawed, leaking bag of innards will make you queasy. Well, me, anyways. Blech. And that neck. I am southern, but that neck. *Shudder!* I cooked it (the turkey, not the neck – dat nasty went right in the bin, although I am sure someone somewhere has a great recipe for it, lolz) according to directions and the whole time it was cooking, I was drooling. Whenever there is a cooked turkey around, I am like The Old Man Parker (the dad on A Christmas Story). I cannot resist sneaking (which…as an adult who made the turkey, do I really have to sneak bites? I guess I sort of do, with kids around, if I want peace while eating.) crispy skin or breast meat pieces. Oh just yum! I made a quick gravy from the drippings and corn starch and pepper. Gravy is one of those foods that, and my parents will back me up on this, I got really sick on after eating too much in one sitting as a child and came back for more AFTER…um…disposing of it. Know what I mean? I love gravy. I’m gross.
Anyways. Enough about my grossness.
I served the turkey with steamed fresh green beans and sweet potato casserole (basically the same meal as the other night, but subbing turkey for ham). It was SO good. And yeah, I’ve served my family sweet potato casserole with marshmallows three weeks in a row.
I tried to show my older son how to make a wish using the wishbone, but for some reason, it didn’t work. Neither of us got our wish. That dang thing was as slippery as an eel. We sure did try to break it. He even tried to break it with all his three year old might! It wouldn’t budge. Whatever. He still thought it was cool.
Enjoy this last night before Christmas!
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
It’s so easy to get caught up in the baking, shopping, wrapping and unwrapping of gifts this time of year. But if we take a minute to really think about why this is all even happening, it changes things. Matthew 1:18 tells us of how the birth of Jesus came to be. It explains that Mary, a young woman, was pledged to be married to Joseph. She was found to be with child and since they had not been together, Joseph decided to discreetly send her away (because he was a righteous man). An angel appeared to him and told him not to be afraid of this and that the child born to them would be from the Holy Spirit and would save everyone from their sins. Joseph faithfully followed through with what God put on him.
Mothers – can you imagine how Mary felt through all of this? A young virgin, given the task of carrying the Savior, the man who would wash away the world’s sins for the rest of time. Although scared, Mary was also faithful to God’s will. He sent angels with comforting words and guided her and Joseph to the place where Jesus would be born.
Mary, heavy with child, rode on a donkey to Bethlehem. Can you feel how deep her ‘burden’ was? She gave birth to Jesus in a stable, surrounded by animals and her Joseph, a far cry from how most births happen now.
What a humble beginning for the baby who grew into the man who would go through such pain for us.
Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth, how He came into this world, how He has saved us. I am eternally grateful for what that couple went through on that night in Bethlehem. I am so grateful to know Jesus in my heart. He has changed my life.
And all we have to do to be saved is to ask Jesus to live in our hearts and to live by His word. We can be free in Him. He can heal your pain, heal your heart.
If you want to know Jesus in your heart and are not sure how to start this, you can say a simple prayer with me. Or you can use your own words.
I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you.
Salvation Prayer from:
‘Tis also the season to be super busy! Which we have been. Non-stop. It’s been mostly good stuff too.
My sweet dog, who I am convinced has severe anxiety (and who also does not react well to anti-anxiety canine meds – story for another time!) had to go to her yearly allergy appointment. And the next day, she went under anesthesia to have her denties cleaned. She looks like a million bucks, but is still adjusting to the weird week she had (LAST week). She’s so weird.
But isn’t she so cute (if not a little wide-eyed lol)?
Our elf Duncan came a few times since I last wrote.
He TP’d our tree. Bigs got a kick out of it. Actually, so did Smalls. He’s been super into finding the elf each morning.
He rode on a dinosaur (and took a dino friend!) to Bethlehem to see Baby Jesus.
And he got into some more sweets (a la Buddy the Elf). He was drinking real maple syrup through a straw, got out the Hershey’s syrup and some marshmallows. He’s going to need to go see Hermey the Dentist Elf if he keeps this up.
And my husband and I went on a date to a Christmas party with our friends. The food was out of this world.
We had so much to eat! It was definitely a foodie type party (that turned into a dance party once my DJ husband started with the music and our host husband brought out the party lights!).
There were all kinds of desserts (truffles, cake balls, cake dip, melted snow man mix) and savories for days. My absolute favorite thing bordered on dessert, but was with the savory foods – brie with walnuts and cranberries in phyllo cups. I probably ate my weight in them. As I typed that, I realized I also say that a lot. But I don’t have a problem. 😉
No decorative or food stone was left unturned. We had a fabulous time!
Same time, next year??
We had a gift exchange (which is always a hoot) and there were these gourmet marshmallows as one of the gifts. I convinced my friend who won them to let me try them. I’ve been wanting to for forever. These particular ones were s’mores flavor. Um, you know how I feel about that particular flavor profile.
Look how cute they come in their adorable package!! And, boy, were they good! If you need a gift for anyone…or yourself (especially for yourself!!!)…get them. They have tons of other flavors and are made by hand in small batches. A must try!
Here’s the website:
I guess it is also a ’tis the season for desserts…look at this beauty I had some [most] of while dining out. Ice cream in a cinnamon-sugar dusted won ton, crème brûlée, and a whipped cream covered brownie a la mode. It was redonkulous.
Starting then, I am now on a crème brûlée kick. I have never made it, but will very soon. And probably make it turn out like scrambled eggs. I’m sure you’ll see that here.
And, also this happened. My sweet friend gave this to me for Christmas. I have been wanting to try this for AGES. We don’t have a Trader Joe’s around us (although one should be coming some day) and she traveled recently and picked up this little gem. GINGERBREAD cookie butter. One of my favorite things.
Food gifts are so great.
I hope this post finds you ready for Christmas, feeling peace and a full tummy.
I’ll leave you with two funny things Bigs said to me recently (which prove, as if his face isn’t already exactly like the little boy version of mine) that he is mine:
I made you a dessert. One that’s good for you! It practically screams “health”! And plus it’s easy, which is a good, important thing in my book. So go make them. And eat them. Blogger’s orders!
Chocolate Dipped Clementines with Sea Salt!
I started with my mise en place (again). Always important in cooking and baking. It saves a ton of time.
This recipe calls for three simple ingredients: semi-sweet chocolate chips, clementines, and sea salt.
Now you’ll have to use your imagination on how the double boiler of chocolate looked. And then it was melted. And it was glossy and smooth and beautiful.
I became a genius half-way in the middle of my process and wanted to “clean up” my SD card on my phone to make more room for pictures. I then proceeded to delete all the pictures I’d taken of this process.
Smooth move, ex-lax. (Remember saying that as a kid? Gross.)
Anywho. Once the chocolate was melted and smooth, I dipped the clementine segments into it and placed it on a plate. I then sprinkled some pink Himalayan sea salt (what I had by way of sea salt) on the melted chocolate.
I placed all the trays in the fridge for about 15 minutes to firm up the chocolate.
I had a good feeling about these.
Aren’t they festive?
Once they were set, I TRIED to transfer the segments to a presentation plate. I say “try” because my genius self didn’t use parchment paper on top of the trays.
This is the result:
I will, undoubtedly and pathetically, pick these sad little pieces of underside chocolates off the plates and eat them during my boys’ nap.
This recipe was great.
If you are looking for something easy, but wonderful, to make with a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day meal, this is your answer.
They are not only easy to make, but VERY easy to pick up and pop in your mouth. They’d make a beautiful addition to any holiday table.
And have I said how delicious they are? That sea salt really makes the chocolate pop and the oils and juices from the clementines infuse the chocolate.
Here’s the recipe I loosely (used my own [non]measurements) followed:
Lovely. Just lovely.
Also. Yes. Duncan. He came again. This time, he sat his tired self right in the cookie jar. Either he really likes sweets a lot or he’s just too tired to keep coming up with naughty things to do. Either or. 😉
Have a wonderfully blessed day,
Countdown to Christmas: 6 Days!
Our stockings are hung on a stocking holder (we don’t have a chimney) with [some] care…the boys are patiently waiting for St. Nick to go there.
Bigs has actually been singing “Happy Birthday to Jesus” all week. It’s great. He really seems quite interested in celebrating our Savior’s birth.
It’s always tough (I’m finding) to balance Elf on a Shelf, Santa, AND Jesus, so I am very grateful to see his interest in the REAL reason for this season.
Today is the countdown to Christmas – one week. Eeeeek! Are you “ready”? Are you ever ready?
Our Duncan showed up again!
He got into some candy, that rascal.
And then he got into my Glögg (a Scandinavian Christmas mulled wine). What a cheeky little fella.
Yesterday afternoon, I heard my boys’ muffled (but loud) voices and lots of giggles coming from the dining room. That usually means trouble of some sort. But this time, they were being so cute (and quite creative!).
They were huddled in the corner of the dining room, talking into the wall, their voices amplified as if a microphone were used. They were so cute! I love when they use their imaginations (Bigs was saying, “whole milk” into the wall corner, for the record).
My husband is now on a maybe temporary gluten-free and lactose-free diet, due to his Crohn’s Disease and has, obviously, had to change many things he eats. Since he is unable to eat the same Christmas cookies we’ve had (Guess I’ll just have to eat his share…I’d HATE for some to go to waste…), I decided to make his favorite treat – peppermint bark. It’s both gluten and lactose-free, anyways.
The first attempt started off well (the fact that it is named “the first attempt” should be an indicator that it, in fact, didn’t turn out well).
I gathered my ingredients…mise en place all up in here…
I put my chocolate chips in the tinfoil wrapped pan.
I stuck the pan in a preheated 375 degree oven (thinking…quick melting).
Then, this happened.
My chocolate (about a cup’s worth) seized up. I think I learned a valuable lesson here. Low and slow (just like BBQ) is the trick.
So I tried it again. This time, I put it in a 325 degree oven, for a shorter amount of time. Perfection. I smoothed the chocolate out. Then I realized that my peppermint pieces were too big, so I had to get out my mortar and pestle and go to work.
Why can’t I do things right the first time!?
It’s okay. The bark turned out so beautiful. I think my husband will love it.
I placed it in the fridge to set and then cut squares.
Yes, indeed. They look profesh. Am I allowed to say that about my own stuff?
They smell great. I am not a HUGE fan of chocolate and mint together (although sometimes I get a hankering).
I think my husband will be really happy with the way these came out.
* I used about 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
So now I have about one cup of slightly burned seized up chocolate crumbles. Any ideas on how to use those? And for some bizarre reason, I am finding these crumbles all over my house and on my person. I have found them all over the kitchen and all over my laptop and obviously on my clothes and hands. I THOUGHT I contained them. What a nuisance!
Have a wonderful evening!
Countdown to Christmas: 7 Days!
With school out for winter break, it’s been great to have so many social activities for my boys to stay busy.
We went to a local market and got some fresh cranberries (with which I made homemade cranberry sauce). Look how they were displayed:
A mini bog! So cool! I was so excited to see this. This sort of stuff makes me happy. It was neat to show Bigs how cranberries are harvested.
We went to my parents’ house this morning to drop off gifts and I got snap-happy with their tree. They have a real tree. I grew up with a real tree. Sadly (?) now, we have a fake tree. But maybe one day, I’ll get back to a real one. Anyways, the second you walk in the door, that fresh pine scent smacks you in the face, in the most wonderful way!
We had another Christmas playdate today, this time through my church Mom group. We had a local kids’ singer come by and play his guitar and sing Christmas carols and the kids danced and had a blast! They played at the park…
…where once again Smalls tried to keep up with the big kids.
And the kids decorated sugar cookies!
Bigs was a little more conservative with his sprinkles this time.
And that’s okay…
We had a wonderful time. I kept snapping pictures of my boys. I am so blessed by them.
My sweet Bigs, with his huge blue eyes, framed by long, dark lashes. His freckles, like a soft dusting of cinnamon across his nose and cheeks…his little cheek dimple that comes out when he offers up a saucy little smile.
I am so in love.
And my precious, naughty Smalls…who is as crazy as his soft, bouncy, golden curls. He, too, has long lashes that frame his blue and yellow eyes. I adore his little dimpled chin and his little, teeny button nose.
How did I get so blessed?
Thank you God!
Last night, after dinner, we went to look at more Christmas lights (something we’ve done a gajillion times this season!) and saw a house that decked out their entire roof and lawn, in addition to their whole house!
Isn’t that something? It was magical!
And dinner was pretty magical, if I can say so, as the cook.
I made a full ham for the first time in my life. Huge hams and turkeys were on sale at our Publix for a ridiculously cheap price. I got one of each. I wish they came with an extra freezer. But they didn’t, so we had the ham right away.
I glazed it with cherry preserves.
I served it with sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows…the ONLY way to serve it), fresh green beans (blanched and then sautéed in sesame oil, a little olive oil, fresh garlic and maple syrup) and homemade cranberry sauce.
It as all so good and festive! Everyone ate a ton. Smalls LOVED the green beans, who knew!!
Leftover ham tonight. Ham sandwiches. Those are the best. With mayo.
Also! [Can you maybe guess what I’m going to say next??]
Duncan was here!
Sadly, he was sick one day. Poor thing.
But he bounced back the next day and made s’mores with the boys’ nutcrackers!
What will he be doing tonight?!
No one (but me) knows…
Also, here’s a picture of Bigs and a huge nutcracker at Walgreens. I love how my boy loves Christmas so much!
Have a wonderfully blessed night!
First things first. Santa is going to come through for Bigs this Christmas. If you recall, all Bigs has asked for this year is a bouncy carrot. I don’t think he’ll notice, or even mind, that the carrot is a “stress toy” intended for overworked or overwhelmed carrot-loving adults. I think he’ll really think Ol’ Saint Nick was listening. And that warms my heart.
Yesterday, we had our usual Friday playdate. I am so grateful to be a part of such lovely Mom groups, where our kids can play and we can commiserate. Just kidding. Sort of. We went to a local park, where Smalls tried (and succeeded) to keep up with the older kids.
He loves doing all things with Big Brother Bigs. The ONLY problem is that, as a teeny little 1 year old, he cannot possibly physically do some of the same things. I caught him almost stepping off an eight foot (okay, a five foot) drop, just “doo doo doooo”, not a second thought. Scary!
I adore that he loves Bigs so much, though.
After playing on the park, we headed to a pavilion to decorate cards for Hospice patients. One of the moms in our group delivered them afterwards and told us how happy it made the facility!
The kids did a wonderful and adorable job of decorating the cards.
Smalls sort of colored on one.
He was more interested in our next activity, which was decorating, or in his case, EATING cookies.
And Bigs, my sweet Bigs, took his cookie decorating job VERY seriously.
Some might call this a mishap, but it was intentional on his part. He’s not the son of “Sprinkles in my Lunchbox” for nothing!!
The kids had a great time and so did us Mommies. Have I mentioned how thankful I am for them? I have found it to be life-changing to have a Mom support system.
Duncan was here again this morning. And guess what he was doing? He was having himself a little Italian picnic in our [kid-finger-proof] china cabinet. He was eating spaghetti and carrots, which is funny because that is what we had for dinner last night!
Bigs was blown away that Duncan was eating what we had for dinner. It was pure coincidence, of course that part of my miniature food collection matched what I served them, but it was really neat!
And I have to show you this…because that’s what I do here. I show you things.
Bigs made this in school and it is too cute for words. I hung it on the tree.
It’s a candy cane turned over to be a “J” for “Jesus”. And this is what Bigs told me about it, “It’s Jesus in a napkin.” HAHAHAH I could still be laughing loudly about that.
Have a blessed day and may you feel the warm, loving embrace of…Jesus in a napkin. 🙂
Do you know how hard it is to give your dog a bath while your 1 year old is in the bathroom with you? It’s so hard. Said 1 year old opens the toilet lid and throws stuff in (or places his arm, elbow deep, in the toilet hole and laughs hysterically), he pats the dog with her medicated (I have a very special dog with severe allergies that require both a shot and a medicated bath once a week) soap all over her. Did I mention that the dog’s a nervous sort that is prone to seizures if highly excited or overwhelmed? Anyways. I literally am “just sayin'”.
Duncan was here again this morning (surprise, surprise). He showed up in a cereal box, of all places.
And while eating their cereal out of the bowls “Duncan” set out for them, the boys played peek-a-boo.
You can see Smalls’ (right side) eye through the little bear mouth hole (LOL!).
So. The cupcakes I made for Bigs’ class yesterday were…mostly a hit. Something went a leeetle bit awry with the frosting (which ALWAYS works because it is a foolproof recipe…which really says something about ME!) and the vanilla wafers didn’t really stick nicely to it. So some of them slid during the transportation process and some of the reindeer looked a little wonky (that’s the last reindeer, Wonky – you didn’t know that did you?? 😉 ). I’m not sure how many of the 3 and 4 year olds noticed though.
They looked alright right after I made them though, for the record. 🙂
I also decorated another dozen for the parents, teacher and whoever else needed a cupcake (which in my world, is everyone).
These were decidedly less attractive, sort of haphazardly thrown together. Whatever. I honestly never even met one cupcake I didn’t eat.
The Christmas program was absolutely adorable. I couldn’t contain my smiles upon seeing my Bigs stand up on that stage, nervously looking at all the faces looking back at him. My husband (and obvi Smalls) came for the show, too. We were so very proud of our oldest, and all his wonderful classmates too!
After my hubby got of of work, we surprised the boys with taking them to see the area’s biggest showing of Christmas lights!
It was simply amazing.
I couldn’t even contain my own self when it started (fake) snowing! Simply magical.
There was a nativity scene, about which Bigs has learned so much in school and church. He calls it an “actiwiwy” scene (like how he says ‘activity’). He’s perfect.
Looking at lights, especially in this quantity, sure makes it feel so special.
Have a wonderfully blessed Friday,
It’s been a strange (for some reasons), sad week (for other reasons)…and it’s not even over yet. But I am able to see the blessings mixed in. And I am so very grateful for them.
The second I saw Bigs when picking him up in his classroom on Tuesday, he excitedly told me he had something that he made and wanted me to see. Poor kid – I made him wait (not knowing what it was) until we were all buckled in the car, snacks distributed. I pulled out a Christmas card from a white envelope. When I opened it, it had a typical holiday message inside, but lots and lots of pencil scribbles all over that message. Bigs had written me a Christmas card and said he did it because he really wanted to do something special for me. I was in tears!
This is, by far, the most special Christmas card I’ll receive. Later on that night, while the house was quiet and both boys were snug in their beds, I listened to Bigs talk himself to sleep (on the monitor), which he does every nap and nighttime, for hours, and heard him telling his “friends” (stuffed animals) about this. He said, “I gave Mommy a Christmas card! I put lots of scribbles in it. It made her HAAAAPPPPPYYYY.” I just sat there, monitor up to my ear, thanking God for this precious boy who means so much to me and thanking God that I mean so much to him that he proudly tells his animals that he made me happy with this. I am so blessed.
And Smalls. This kid. While he has the energy of…what has a lot of energy that an average human cannot keep up with? Whatever that is, he is. Sure, he destroys my house and causes some headaches. But I love him so!
My little climber hangs on everything. And jumps. And leaps. And balances. In these pictures, he is hanging from his high chair (which, incidentally, I have to use the straps to contain him while he’s eating…something I never had to do with Bigs. I even took the straps off when Bigs used it!) and is about to stand on the arm rest of a chair. He loves standing in that wingback to look out the window. Well. He did that yesterday and fell right off, but not before grabbing that curtain and clinging to it for dear life. That sucker pulled the curtain rod right out of the wall, drywall powder flying everywhere, my holiday swag (from atop the window) rushing down to the ground. Sigh. Once he was comforted and I was redecorating my house, he tried to do it again. He came back for seconds. I guess that goose egg on his forehead, a lesson did not teach!
But despite being such a rough-and-tumble little guy, he has the most sensitive heart when it comes to me. And I am so grateful. I must get hundreds of hugs from him throughout the day. He will just come up and put his head in my lap, say, “Awww!” and go about his bizniz. And he’s just started squeezing during hugs, with all his might, curling his little skinny arms and hands around my neck like he’s my scarf, and let me tell you, I feel the love pouring out of him and into me.
I am so blessed.
We met some friends at the local zoo this week for a playdate. While we were waiting on them to arrive, my boys and I watched the splash park area where we spent many of our summer days.
Bigs watched longingly.
And my sweet Smalls grabbed my hands and firmly planted them over his teeny face, not wanting to see the splashing water because it scared him. I adore that my boys trust me and that God has put them in MY trust.
I am so blessed.
For me, it’s the little things that make me happy.
A Christmas card from my son. I am going to frame that thing.
Tinsel on the diaper booty of my little son (as he’s touching the tree and every ornament on it within reach).
I love that little diaper booty.
My boys sharing a cup of eggnog. This is Bigs holding up the sippy to Smalls’ mouth. They fuss and fight and annoy each other, as siblings oft do, but they are the best of friends.
I am so blessed.
And materialistically speaking, I got these pair of shoes (have I mentioned I “collect” shoes??) for…wait for it…$0.01 this week. AND they have ice cream on the part where you put your feet. How perfect. [I had a coupon for money off my whole purchase and the whole purchase was the amount of the GC, save for $0.01.] Deal of the century, which is needed because we are on a serious budget!
I won (Sorry to my dear friend from whom I “stole this” and thank you my dear friend who brought this!) this sweet little gumdrop Christmas ornament for my Sweets Tree at my church group ornament exchange.
It’s the little things.
Our elf, Duncan, has been up to some things this week too!
He “hung around” with a swing saying, “North Pole or bust!!”.
He pulled some Christmas books off of the bookshelf and had a little reading sesh.
And I made some kid food and desserts.
Today is Bigs’ last day of school for the year. And he has his Christmas program, at which, surely I’ll be shedding tears! I am so proud of him! Today, I made a Santa and stocking shaped PB&J (added the crusts back in but left them out of the picture, because…ew), he has corn, an applesauce squeezy fruit,some holiday-shaped Goldfish crackers, and for dessert a few holiday Goldfish cookies and Christmas M&M’s. It’s a special day. I put a close-up of the sandwiches to show detail – I used red, gold and green food-safe food spray and some food gel to make polka-dots on the stocking.
And for the ornament exchange party last night, I made a healthy dessert dip! I made a Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dip out of…chick peas!!
It’s the little things that count. And I feel so blessed. Some days I’m just thankful to get up in the mornings.
Today I get to make special treats for Bigs’ class to enjoy after their Christmas program. I can’t even wait.
Hope you have a peace n blessin’s filled day…remember that the little blessings count.