Monday, December 21, 2009

Sharing Christmas is Here!

Merry Christmas and welcome to this year's Sharing Christmas! You can add your blog to the Sharing Christmas list by signing up on Mr. Linky at the end of this post. Please remember to link directly to your Sharing Christmas post and to link back to this blog so visitors can easily find their way to the other participating blogs! Thanks and enjoy your visit!!

I have to start off with a few bits of information. First, this past weekend, we, along with most of the Eastern coast, got walloped by a major winter snow storm and ended up with over a foot of snow. The past few days have been filled with tons of play time in the snow and not much house cleaning time. I am thankful that I thought to snap a few pictures of the house last week the night before I had some friends over for a Christmas brunch, because I was not up for a ton of cleaning tonight!

I hadn't taken all the pictures I needed and rather than stress I just took them regardless of the disorder!

Here we go....

Come on in, welcome to my home.

That's my wonderful husband trying to ignore me taking a picture of our family room.

I love this little trio of decorations, the pottery is something I have out year round. I bought it in Rothenburg Germany and I love it's simplicity, not to mention the memories of my visit.

Here's our tree, missing a tree topper, which didn't survive the trip to the attic this year. Our tree is full of a mish mosh of homemade ornaments, 30+ year old ornaments I got as a baby, and many celebrating all the various passages of life, new marriage, new house, new baby, etc.

My mom would always give us a new ornament to put on the tree each year on Christmas Eve. It was reflected something that we were involved or interested in that year. I feel bad that I keep forgetting to get the girls started on their own ornament collection, but this year I remembered and on Christmas Eve they'll each be putting up a tiny glass ballerina.
Here's our staircase, decorated with garland and lights. I really should have taken the time to move the TV so it was flat against the wall. But I didn't. So you all get to see the lovely TV that is a big part of our family room (I have to say I've gotten used to it!).

Into the dining room. I love having a simple centerpiece, basically a hurrican candle surrounded by berries, holly, pinecones, etc. My prefered way of decorating involves accenting with greenery and berries/holly. In the top right of the picture you can see our version of Elf on a Shelf...Santa on a China cabinet!
Another hurricane, accented with berries.

Some more simple greenery makes the radiator cover look more festive!
Now into the kitchen. I know it's cold outside, can I offer you some cocoa? This baby does it all! Not a Christmas decoration but the speed at which we get our morning coffee definitely makes Matt and me much more festive! Plus the kids can make endless cups of hot chocolate just by pushing a button!

I don't decorate much in the kitchen, just a seasonal candle or two, since I need to preserve as much counter space as possible for all the Christmas baking! (and, you know, all the many meals prepared in the weeks before the actual last minute baking.)
This year I wanted to add some color and shine by using Christmas ball ornaments outside of the tree. I saw some cute ones at the dollar store, threw them in a dusty bowl, and voila....

I set up the Little People Nativity set on the table in the kid's playroom. It looked nice for a few days. Now it looks like this...
It's definitely been getting a lot of use!

Last picture is of our Advent Calendar.
This December we have really tried to focus on the season of Advent and preparing for Christ's birth. I have little slips of paper that I put in each box that gives us a Christmas activity to do for that day. Some of our favorites have been, calling someone on the phone and singing Christmas carols, watching the Polar Express as a family, making Christmas cookies, reading the Christmas story from the Jesus Storybook Bible, at the dinner table telling each family member what you love about them, and many more.
I have to admit that there are days that I forget and the girls have to remind me to put something in the box! They really look forward to what each day's box holds, just as all month we look forward to the Jesus' birthday! I think today we're going to be decorating a gingerbread house!

I can't leave without sharing a Christmas recipe with you. This is one that I've made a number of times to give as gifts and I've gotten a ton of compliments on it, probably because it's different and not something you usually get homemade.
White Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti (from Kraft Foods)
2 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar 2 eggs 1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups whole grain cereal flakes with cranberries and almonds 3 squares
BAKER'S White Chocolate, chopped
4 squares BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate
HEAT oven to 325°F. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in cereal and white chocolate. Divide dough in half; shape each half into 14x2-inch log with lightly floured hands. Place on greased baking sheet.

BAKE 25 to 30 min. or until lightly browned. Transfer to cutting board; cool 10 min. Use serrated knife to diagonally cut each log into 12 slices; place upright on baking sheet. Bake 15 to 18 min. or until slightly dried. Cool on wire racks.

MELT semi-sweet chocolate. Dip biscotti in chocolate; let stand until firm. I think I usually just drizzle with the melted chocolate rather than just dip, that way you get a little chocolate in each bite!
Enjoy! Thanks for taking the time to visit, I hope you'll take a second to say hello!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

P-Dub comes to PA

It was a cold and rainy Sunday. There were rumors of icy roads and treacherous driving conditions. But nothing could stop me from taking the journey to meet Ree Drummond AKA Pioneer Woman.

Ok, it wasn't that cold, and the roads were only icy in the morning when I was tucked up nice and warm in my house, the journey was only 30 minutes and meet...well, meet is pretty relative in this case, but yes, I did meet Pioneer Woman.

I met my friend Teri and we drove down to West Chester, where Ree was doing her signing, together. While there was no icing on the roads, it was raining pretty hard, perfect time for the one broken windshield wiper (passenger side of course) on our ancient Honda to decide to start working, completely out of rhythm with the other one. I left a message for Matt saying "the windshield wipers are fighting." There was no other way to describe it.

Thankfully we arrived at The Chester County Book and Music Company safely and quickly got inside out of the rain. I was looking extra cool sporting my Dora the Explorer umbrella! We got a ticket for our place in line and were happy to be 133. Not too bad, only an hour early and we were able to get decent seats.

I was sitting right next to this display.

It's a miracle I didn't buy anything.
Here's Teri looking excited!

And here comes the woman of the hour (day, week, month,
I mean her book is on the NY Times best seller list)
I love the look she's giving that iced coffee. Even though it's blurry
I think you can see the love!
Ree did about 3o minutes of Q&A which was fun. She was relaxed and comfortable up there, not that I was expecting anything differently! I loved hearing her charming answers and listen to her say that not all homeschooling moms wear denim jumpers....followed quickly by "not that there's anything wrong with that!" Too funny!
This was her last out of town book signing, so Ree kept on taking "just a few more" questions. That came back to bite her in the butt when the very last question was a request for Ethel Merman! So glad we got to see it and hear it in person - Teri was smart enough to catch it on video, hopefully she can post it on her blog!
After the Q&A Ree got busy signing books. We knew they were going to call us up in groups by our numbers and were pleasantly surprised that they were in groups of 20. That meant that we had to wait awhile to actually get in line, which wasn't too bad since we were in a huge bookstore with an amazing kids section and tons of cool gifts and fun stuff to check out. Once our number group was called we didn't have to wait long at all.
Here's the line...
Here's me (why am I finally off "align center" mode? finally!) all excited to be a few feet away from P-Dub!

Here she is! Signing my book!

Of course as soon as it was my turn I got all star struck and really didn't know what to say. What I did do was ask if I could look under the table and check out her boots. Yes I did! They were, in her words, "sassy!" Then when I went to get my picture taken I had to check to make sure I wasn't flashy anyone. Thankfully Ree totally understood.

Here's my picture with her.

Could I look any more awkward? Is it obvious that I am not a natural in front of a camera? Why did I put my right arm on hip like that? No my arm pits were not sweaty, but since Ree has been so open about her own issues with sweat I would definitley have to claim it if they were! Doesn't Ree have lovely hair? Don't you love her jacket? Aren't you glad that I edited this picture so you couldn't tell that my shirt was teensy tiny bit sheer? And here I was worried about flashing someone!

Teri and I had a great time, I was so thankful she came with me and I had someone to talk to you (not sure I how I would have passed the time in a store surrounded by thousands of books). I feel pretty lucky that it worked out to get to see Ree, I know some people drove hours and then waited for hours for the opportunity and I had a quick 3o minute drive and a two hour line wait.

Thanks P-Dub for making the journey to PA!


Comments include spoilers for the finale, so enter at your own risk!!!

OK, I am in the midst of my post about my visit to see Pioneer Woman but I at least want to get a Sisterhood post up. I am still watching the Finale, but so far I have really enjoyed it.

I just watched Kathryn and Jakob's dance and was stunned. It was just so good. So good. It basically rendered Adam Shankman speechless!!!

Other highlights so far....Ellenore and Jakob's piece by Tyce, Ryan and Kathryn's samba.

I didn't love Ryan and Ellenore's weird contemporary one, but that seemed like a combination of weird choreography and no backstory to help understand it!

My favorite guy is Jakob (since I am still a bit heartbroken that Legacy is gone) and my favorite girl is Kathryn (I liked her when she was known as the high piched crying girl...I'm just saying). I would love to see them as the final two, with Jakob (just because he truly is the best dancer) winning it all.

Ashley and Ryan just danced. I was not into it and I got yelled at by Matt because he thought it was very touching and sweet and I missed it all. So you'll have to let me know what you thought!

Russell and Kathryn finished off the night with a hard hitting Nappy Tabs routine, that I loved. Lots of cool moves and just good old hip hop with no props or masks or costumes. Doesn't hurt that it was girl Kathryn and the sweetest guy ever, Russell (close second to Jakob).

So what did you guys think of tonight's finale? I was so happy not to see all the solos, but I think Jeanine's solo in the finale was what gave her the edge over Brandon to win it all.

Ok, those of you still watching, chime in and discuss away!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sharing Christmas 2009

Would you believe that I almost forgot this year? I am working on my post for my new six year old and I realized that it's December 8th and I haven't posted anything on "Sharing Christmas". If you'll remember the past two years I have hosted a Christmas tour of sorts, where we share a little bit of what Christmas looks like this year in our house.

It's definitely a fun little blog event and I love reading and seeing what is going on in your neck of the wood this Christmas. Many of you have new homes, or new babies, or, in my case, just another new year. Not only do you have a chance to document what this Christmas looks like for you, but you get to share it with some of your favorite bloggers (ok, so not
Pioneer Woman or Big Mama, but some of our other favorite bloggers!)

I thought I'd give us a little time to "prepare" and host this year's Sharing Christmas on Monday December 21st.

How it works:

On Monday morning head over here to add your blog to the Sharing Christmas list. I hope to have a Mr.Linky up like last year to make it nice and easy! Please make sure and link to the specific Sharing Christmas post and not just to your blog itself. This way you can continue with your regular posting and visitors can easily click over to your Sharing Christmas post.

After posting your own link, please take some time over that day and the next few following to visit the other blogs posted. Since you're taking a peek into their home, it's always nice to leave a comment and let them know you were there! We all love to hear from our visitors! :)

Ideas on what to post....

Pictures of your house in all it's Christmas-y-ness.

Share the recipe for a favorite Christmas recipe or treat!

Some Christmas traditions special to your family

What is going on in your life this Christmas? How will this Christmas be different or the same? Whether or not the decorations look the same, I find that each Christmas has a different "feel" to it, based on what's going on in and around my life.

Basically, just have fun and be festive!!! I would love it if you posted a link to this (just take the picture and then link back here for all details) on your blog and encouraged your friends to take part in Sharing Christmas. All are welcome, it's always fun to meet new bloggers!

Ok, so now back to writing about my darling six year old. Also, I'm going to see Pioneer Woman...more on that later this week!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Last week was a busy week. We headed out of town early on Wednesday and got home Saturday evening. The kids played nonstop with their cousins basically from sun up to way past sun down! Thanksgiving dinner was held at my inlaws but I was lucky enough to have my parents there as well.

While my kids were busy playing I was busy helping get ready for the big meal. This was the second year that we've used a brining method to prepare the turkey and I've been really happy with the results. Brining is basically soaking the turkey in a salt water/spice mixture for 12 hours or so the day/night before you cook it. I found the recipe from non other than The Pioneer Woman and I figure it's good enough to share with you. Not that you'll remember for next year's turkey, but just in case you do, click HERE. Also, I love her recipe for actually roasting the turkey, it involves doing most of the cooking on a lower temperature and then turning it up and basting it with butter (because it's Pioneer Woman, of course) to make the outside nice and golden brown and crunchy.

I also made the stuffing which is a recipe I got from Renee that she got from her mom. I like it because it's a simple sausage stuffing with the addition of diced granny smith apple - stuffing is one of my favorite sides so I like to stick with what I know and love. Yummy! Maybe you can beg Renee to pass it along to you as well!

Finally I made homemade rolls, using a recipe I found on My Kitchen Cafe. They were super easy and super good, tasting like warm crusty french bread in a roll format!

Enough with the food...oh yeah, I also made if-I-do-say-so-myself delicious Chai Gingerbread bars. Should I share that recipe too?!

Along with spending time with family we got to spend a night with a group of old friends. It was basically a house full of kids running around, up and down stairs from the basement to the main floor, from the main floor to the upstairs, and at one point all of them bundled up and headed outside for an impromptu fireworks show! I missed it because I was holding an 8 week old sleeping baby. I promise that I didn't grab that baby and use him as an excuse to not go out in the cold!

I love Thanksgiving and I truly have so much to be thankful for. Materially I have everything I need plus much more. I am very thankful for the roof over my head and the food and clothes I have every day, plus the many over luxuries I enjoy. But I know I could have all that and more and still want more (believe me, I often do!) I am most thankful for the hope I have in Christ and His grace and forgiveness in my life and knowing that He has a plan for me. I know it's nothing profound but it's a promise I cling to as I go through each day.

I also feel abundantly blessed relationally. My husband, my children, my family, my friends - all are such an important part of my life and I love them all! I know that here on earth our relationships will never be perfect, or even close to it, but I just feel blessed to know people who support me and my family as well as challenge us as they live out their faith in their lives. I'm talking to YOU and YOU and YOU and YOU...etc....thanks for the big and little ways you impact my life!

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