A Recipe for Christmas Fun

Way back when when I was a Pampered Chef Lady, I earned a stoneware gingerbread house mold. My oldest two daughters, the only kids at that time, were 2 years old and 4 years old. That was the first year we made a gingerbread house. We have made one every year since- with the exception of last year.

This year was the first with the grands. The grands are 4, 3, and 2 years old. Their mamas, the two toddlers from the beginning of this story, are 27 and 25 years old. That is a lot of gingerbread houses! That is a lot of really great memories.

Traditions can be a tricky thing. There can be a lot of pressure to continue traditions handed down to you and they can feel like a yoke. Those same traditions can also make you feel grounded, like you know who you are and where you came from. I don’t want my kids to ever feel like the things we do every year are a yoke. If we outgrow certain things, I don’t want them to feel guilty that things needed to change. But, I also want them to have a thread to hang on to that runs all the way back through their history.

The gingerbread house is one of those. It is also my tradition. They can develop new things with their own children, but this gingerbread house mold and this tradition belongs to me and Tony. Mostly me, he was usually at the station when the house was made. My family that I grew up in never made a gingerbread house, we have lots of other traditions. So this is a “new” thing. If someone wants to carry on the gingerbread house when I am gone, that is fantastic. If they don’t want to, that is okay, too. I will have made all the memories that I am going to make by that point and it will be their turn to make the memories they want. But, they will be able to look back at this blog and see pictures and know who I was- at least a little bit. I think that is the best part of traditions- the imprint it makes on family history.

I have included the recipe for the gingerbread just in case you wanted to create a new tradition.

A LITTLE EXTRA FLOUR MAKES THIS DOUGH STURDY ENOUGH TO MAKE GINGERBREAD HOUSES, BUT ALSO WORKS GREAT FOR COOKIES. PLUS, THE SMELL OF GINGERBREAD BAKING IS DELIGHTFUL. (pamperedchef.com)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1½ tsp (7 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) ground ginger
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) baking soda
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cloves
  • ½ cup (125 mL) vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup (125 mL) sugar
  • ½ cup (125 mL) molasses
  • 1   egg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, and cloves together in a medium bowl.
  2. Use a hand mixer to beat the shortening and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the molasses and egg and beat until smooth.
  3. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until fully combined.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball and divide it into 2 portions. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it for 30 minutes. Use the dough to make cookies with cookie cutters or press into mold.

DIY Keepsake Ornaments

DIY ornament

As I spoke about in a previous post, the children are given a new ornament each year.  I try to buy the ornaments while on our summer vacations, but to be honest that is hard to do sometimes.  If I was content with buying a mass produced ornament at a big box store it would be easy- but I am not.  I want ornaments that tie into our trip and experiences in some way.  Then I discovered clear glass ornaments at Hobby Lobby.  Now, I can use all the shells, sand, leaves, twigs, and such to create ornaments.

This years ornaments have a beach theme as our trip was to Galveston Island.

What you will need:

  • Clear glass ornaments from a craft store
  • Ribbon
  • Filling for the balls- sand, shells, drift wood, sea glass, etc.
  • Embellishments of you choice- I used metal letters, glitter and jingle bells
  • Modge Podge

Step 1, pour sand and add large items

Step 1: pour sand in the ornament

Step 2: place the larger items in the ball- I started with the drift wood.  As the pieces we brought home were large, I broke off small pieces that would fit.

Step 2, adding shells in the ornament

Step 3:  add shells & rocks- obviously not a lot of the shells will fit through the hole at the top, but you can collect enough to do the ornaments.  This is a good use for the pieces of sand dollars and mother of pearl that you find.

metal lettersStep 4: Prep the embellishments for the ornaments.  I am using metal letters I bought at a local flea market.

Applying modge podgeModge Podge makes a great medium for applying glitter to the letters.  Of course, shinny paint or any other form of paint would have worked.  I like bling.

Applying the glitterOn goes the glitter. Notice the brown paper covering my work surface- this is contractor paper from Lowe’s super useful stuff and really cheap.

putting ribbon on the glittered lettersStep 5- Add ribbon to glittered letters- once they have dried.

keepsake ornaments put togetherStep 6- put it all together.  I added a jingle bell with fishing line to the ornaments as well.  You can tuck the ribbon and fishing line into the hole of the ornament then press the metal hanger and cap back into place and this will hold it all together.

DIY ornamentThere you are- pretty as a picture and full of memories.  That is the way you make a home.

Simple Beauty- Christmas Decorating on the Farm

I love Christmas time- I have a  desire to bake, cook, clean, decorate, and wrap gifts tied up with lots of ribbon that sparkles that I am just unable to suppress.  I do get some help from the kids, but mostly its just me and I love it.  Tony enjoys my creations, especially those emerging from the kitchen, but is also content to sit and watch.  Many wives gripe about their husbands not being involved but I don’t see it that way.  He loves what I do but its not his thing to decorate- plus, if he got involved and started having opinions then I would not get to do it my way uncontested.  I like doing things my way.  Therefore, we have a nice balance, I drape greenery and lights on everything that will stand still and then when the sun sets and our home is shimmers, we sit on the couch and he tells me, “It’s beautiful, baby.”  That makes my heart happy and we avoid silly fights.

So, as Thanksgiving came and went the bins of decorations came out.  I have collected many items over the years that I love.  I usually pick a few things up each year after Christmas has passed.  But the things I love most are vintage junk.  The junk ( more on the great junk in another post) plus Christmas photographs of my children when they were little make up the most treasured of our Christmas decor.  For a few weeks, I am once again surrounded by their little cherub faces and toothless smiles.  These framed photos are stored in the bins with the other lights and ornaments.  As the bins are emptied of the Christmas contents, I pack away all of my usual decor into the empty bins- giving me a clean slate on which to create.

Decorating for Christmas can get expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.  Simple white lights mixed with fresh greenery is beautiful and elegant.  Add in some cheap dollar store bead garland and you have a classy display.  The greenery can be obtained by a county drive with a pair of lopping shears.

Cheyenne and the greenery

Vintage ChritmasWhite lights and greenery mixed with a vintage tool box, glittered Merry Christmas and a ceramic Santa painted by my very talented Aunt.

Coca Cola Christmas TreeThe only artificial tree that I have in my house, this white tree with white lights holds all my Coca Cola ornaments that I have been collecting for over a decade now.  The Coca Cola Christmas village was given to me by my awesome mother-in-law.

China HutchThis china hutch has a mixture of tool, white lights and glittered Pine Cones– the pine cones are a really fun project to do with the kids.  We made our pine cones about 5 years ago.  Each year I store them in large zip lock bags and they have lasted really well.

Merry & BrightThis in an antique window that I painted an ornament on.  The ornament is patterned after my favorite Merry Brite ornaments that hung on my parents tree for years.  I love those old ornaments.  As you can see, I need to fix the white stripes.  I stored this window in the storage room in our barn, this summer the cow got inside and licked off a lot of the paint.  I repainted the dots, but wouldn’t you know it I am out of white paint.

vintage santaSince, before I was born ( I am 41) this Santa covered my great-grandmother’s front door.  After she died, my grandmother moved into her house, so I have spent every Christmas Eve in that home and so have my children.  One day, I was over at Grandmother’s house and she was going to throw out this Santa.  I said, “I will take that, thank you very much.”  Now, it has hung in my home for over a decade.  My children  do not remember a year when that wasn’t apart of our house.

I love making memories.  I look at is as my privilege to be the keeper of those memories as well as the creator of memories for my family.  My Christmas decor is filled with memories of the people I have loved, many of them are no longer with me.  In this way, they live on.  In years to come, I hope nieces and nephews, grand children and children will pull something out of a box or smell are familiar aroma from the kitchen and remember me fondly.

 

 

 

 

 

A Merry Christmas – What A Great Weekend

Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012

My daily posts have been delayed since my Thursday post because me and my little nest have been celebrating our Christmas together.  You may find this odd, but then my family is odd in a sense (or more than one sense) but it is odd in a good way.

For long before I entered this world, my mother’s family have been celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve so that the children could go to the “other” side of the family on Christmas Day.  In all my 41 Christmases I have only missed one, when I was 7 and we lived in New Mexico.  So, for my whole life I have spent Christmas with all my aunts, uncles, cousins and extras (our family is open and if you need a family to share, we have one).  This is a highlight of my children’s lives as well.  For all their lives, we have to my grandmother’s for the day then go to my parent’s house to spend the night and all wake up together on Christmas morning and eat breakfast.  Then we pack up all the kids and gifts and head to Tony’s (my fabulous husband) family.  As you might imagine, I am beat at the end of all this merriment, but I would not trade it for the world.  When I went to college, I realized how odd my family was in the fact that I knew more than one set of grand parents and great-grand parents, knew my cousins and aunts and uncles.  I had a very large safety net and support group.  In this day of most families being far flung and fragmented I had a great rock.  In that way, we are odd.  I am so glad.

The problem that arose was with Tony’s work schedule.  As a flight medic, he worked a 24 hour shift and the medical field knows no holidays.  If your schedule falls on a holiday too bad.  Then there was the issue that we wanted to make Christmas memories with our family at our home.  What to do?  There is only so much time in a day…  Well, we decided that with the population increase and all that Santa might just need to divide up the delivery days.  So, Santa began to  hit our house on Christmas Eve morning or which ever morning fell closest to Christmas Eve and Tony was off.  This has worked great for many years, but this year posed another hitch.  Cheyenne, our oldest, had moved out and now had adult responsibilities, she can’t just come home and stay for a week on end so that we can all celebrate.

So, this year we moved the celebration all together.  Really, it is not about the day specifically, it is about the celebration of Christ our Savior being born.  That our salvation entered this world- that is the point.  So, to honor God and His gift we celebrate with our family.  The Hobbit was also coming out this weekend and we thought this would be a fun part of the celebration as we were all looking so forward to this movie.  The movie did not disappoint, it was wonderful.

And what a wonderful weekend it was all the way around.  I spent Friday preparing and Saturday cooking.  Jonathan helped me with every dish I made.  I am so grateful for his help.  We ate by candlelight on the fancy dishes, gold-ware, gold- rimmed stem ware and Damask tablecloth.  Of course, there was a small quarrel about who would light the candles- guess you never get too old to light matches.  Food just tastes better on a finely set table.

Because I believe that my children are destined for greatness, I have made certain that they know table etiquette and will know what to do should they find themselves at a table with more than one fork.  My older two daughters have done their share of setting the table and serving dinner, but this night was Sierra’s turn.  Sierra is a bit different from my other children.  It is as if she were born knowing that she should have servants, since we don’t have any servants, her father and I will do.  It has been quite funny to watcher her.  We do, on occasion, have hired help working on the farm and in the nursery and it never has occurred to her that she was either too young or too short to give them orders.  One young man in particular was 6 foot 4 inches tall and I walked around the barn to see her at a whopping four foot 2 inches and 10 years old telling him what he needed to do (her chores of course) for the day.  It is hard to describe the air with witch she carries herself, it was not a bossy or bratty way, just one of authority- apparently because he went off to do her bidding.

So, because of this she was not so crazy about some aspects of being the hostess.  When Savannah asked her for more potatoes- the food was served in courses so this was not a family style meal with the food on the table- she looked at her with such a “you have got to be kidding me’  look, it cracked us up.  She then got up and took Savannah’s plate.  Just before she returned, Savannah said, “she had better not bring me just one potato”.  Well, these two might just know each other pretty well because just as she spoke Sierra returned with her plate with one lone slice of potato on it.  Sierra then proceeded to tell Savannah that she needed to go on a diet.  The whole family cracked up!  Of course, if you have ever seen Savannah you would know that last thing she needs is a diet.  Anyway, it was a great meal and we made some great memories.

Dinner 2012

Christmas Dinner 2012

Our Menu:

First Course: Mushroom Soup

Second Course:   Beef CarbonnadeGratin Dauphinois, and Sweet Peas

Third Course: Pistachio and Chocolate Delight

Recipes to follow…

Christmas Gifts All Around!
Christmas Gifts All Around!

Sierra learning to be a good hostess.
Sierra learning to be a good hostess.

Jonathan won out and lit the candles.
Jonathan won out and lit the candles.

Now, on to the rest of the Christmas celebrations.  I thank God for blessing me with so much.