Friday, December 28, 2007

Train Trip


A couple weeks ago we had a delivery to make to Seattle on a Monday. We decided to go ahead over there on Saturday and make a weekend of it. Since we had plenty of time my husband thought it would be fun to ride the Amtrak train from there to Portland on Saturday, spend the night at a hotel near the train station in Portland, and then ride the train back to Seattle on Sunday. I thought it was a brilliant idea!(We could have ridden the train from here to Seattle, but since we had 7 heavy boxes to deliver we decided that probably wouldn't work very well.)

None of us had ever ridden a "real" train before, that we could remember, so this was a real adventure. We arrived in Seattle about an hour and a half before our train was scheduled to leave. We had deliberately left early to allow for extra time to park the truck and find the depot and get our boarding passes and whatnot. We had no trouble with any of that, so we had a little extra time to look around the train station. I was enchanted! The building was over 100 years old. It had been remodeled in the 1950s or '60s and was definitely showing its age again. I was glad to see that they (whoever "they" might be) were in the process of restoring the building. It had been very lovely at one time, so it will be neat to see it restored.

The process of boarding the train was very similar to boarding an airplane, only much more relaxed... no security to go through, and while they said for us to have our ID ready no one ever asked to see it. The coolest part was when they called for boarding, the guy said, "Last boarding call for Train 513 to Portland. All aboard!" I had wondered if they actually still said, "All aboard!"

We had asked for four seats together on the train, and when we boarded we discovered our seats faced each other. That was neat. The interior of the train was very nice and up-to-date. (After the aging depot, I wasn't sure what to expect.) It was nicer than an airplane. Comfortable seats, more elbow room, more head room, more foot room. There were curtains on the windows, personal reading lights, and headphone jacks on the arm rest for watching the movie they showed on overhead monitors.

It was interesting to see the passing scenery from a different perspective. My husband had got new GPS for an early Christmas present and he had it along. He held it up to the window and was able to get a signal. He was curious to see how fast we were going (70-80 mph at times). We thought it was funny that the GPS was confused that we "seemed" to be on the railroad tracks. It makes automatic adjustments for accuracy errors so it will move your route to the nearest road if the reading is off a little. Every time the train ran parallel to a highway the GPS popped our route off the railroad track and over onto the highway. It was just sure we couldn't possibly be driving down the train tracks!

It was about lunchtime so I "hiked" down to the bistro car to get some hot dogs to eat in our seats. It wasn't what I think of as an old-fashioned dining car, but more like a concession stand with 2 or 3 tables in one car. It was between cars 2 and 3. Our seats were in car 8, so it was quite a little walk through car after car.

Soon after we finished eating they started a movie. Fortunately, it was a kids' movie, so the girls were happy to plug in their headphones to watch it. It was a 4-hour trip, so that kept them occupied for a good portion of it.

The Portland train station was about the same age as the Seattle one, but it had been remodeled more recently, so it was a little nicer. We didn't linger long, though, as it was several blocks to our hotel, and as it gets dark very early this time of year we wanted to go ahead and get checked in.

We called my mother from our hotel to tell her about our trip. She asked if I remembered riding on the train before. I didn't. She got to figuring, and it turns out that my last train trip had been almost exactly 40 years ago... Christmas 1967. I was barely 2.

We had a relaxing evening in Portland and an uneventful (but fun!) ride back to Seattle the next day. I forgot my camera, so I took pictures with my cell phone. They aren't the greatest, but definitely better than nothing. I also found some pictures of the two train stations online.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

He came...

On Christmas Eve as we were out driving around looking at lights and enjoying Christmas music, we stopped to visit for a bit with an older couple who are dear friends of ours. We had asked if they would be "in" that evening as we just wanted to drop off a box of cookies and wish them Merry Christmas. They assured us that we were more than welcome, even though some of their family would be there. They would be serving family communion and invited us to join them for that. That was a special time... but what struck me the most was the story told by another of our friends' guests, a Jewish man.

He said it was 25 years ago that night, Christmas Eve, that he came to know "Yeshua" the Messiah. He had been raised in the Jewish tradition and so was familiar with the "Scriptures", but knew nothing of the New Testament. That night he was visiting a Christian family and he asked, "Who is Jesus? And what does He mean to me?" His friend wisely counseled him to ask God that question. So after he went to bed that night he lay in the dark and out loud he said, "Who is Jesus? What does He mean to me?" He said he repeated that 3 or 4 times and as he lay there with his hands folded across his chest he was aware of a Presence in the room. He felt hands cover his, and lift his hands up and fold them into the position of prayer, and then gently lay them back down. And he knew. Jesus was there... and Jesus had come to be his Messiah. The Messiah that had been prophesied. He wasn't just some dead guy. He was the living Messiah.

He told how he began to read the Torah again and how it all began to make sense. He could clearly see the Gospel right there in the Old Testament scriptures. Adam sinned. That could have just as easily been him. God required a blood sacrifice. Jesus came to offer that.

And now, although this man still celebrates Hanukkah, he also has a reason to celebrate Christmas, because that's when Jesus came to him.

Isn't that a neat story?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Beverages

What could be cozier than a steaming mug of something delicious to sip on these chilly, gray days? I admit, my favorite these days is a caramel latte... but unfortunately, that's not very good for my waistline. I'm glad there are lots of alternatives to choose from!

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I love spicy hot tea... and especially enjoy the Celestial Seasonings holiday teas about this time of year. Several years ago my sister-in-law introduced me to Nutcracker Sweet and Sugar Plum Spice. I liked both of them. The next year at Christmas time Gingerbread Spice was added to the line, and I liked it even better. Last year the new flavor was Candy Cane Lane, and since I've always enjoyed peppermint tea, it became my new favorite. The new flavor this year is Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride. Of course I had to try it, too. It's probably my least favorite of the five, but I enjoy having all them to rotate through the flavors.

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Here's a favorite from my childhood:

Friendship Tea

My mother got this recipe from Sister Frances Rehfeldt.

1 cup instant tea
3 cups sugar (or 2 cups sugar substitute)
2 small packages instant lemonade mix (Kool-aid)
1 14-ounce jar Tang (1 3/4 cups)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves

Mix all well. Use 1 to 3 teaspoons of mix to a cup of boiling water.

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Deluxe Hot Cocoa Mix

We included bags of this in our goody boxes this year...

4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding

Place all ingredients in large bowl. Stir together. Store in a sealed container. Add 1/4 cup of mix to an 8 ounce mug and fill with hot water. Add more or less mix depending on your taste.

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Do you have any favorites? Please share! I love to try new hot drinks.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Winter


Is today the first day of winter? Or is that not until tomorrow? In any case, it's been winter here for, oh, at least a month. Seems like an awfully long time until spring... *sigh* It's always seemed to me like Christmas ought to come in the middle of winter, and then by Valentines Day it ought to be spring. But, no, according to the calendar, winter is just beginning.

It's cold today, but for a change, at least it's not dreary. We don't get a lot of sunshine during the winter here, so I am enjoying the view out my window of the sun glistening on the snow on the mountain today (see picture). The sun came out yesterday afternoon and we had one of the most glorious sunsets I have ever seen. The fact that it occurred before 4 o'clock in the afternoon didn't detract from the beauty of it. The most spectacular part of it was the reflected pink light on the snowy mountain tops to the east. Too bad I was driving and didn't have my camera with me. I'm sorry you missed it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Beulah's Sugar Cookies

This is a family favorite going back to my childhood. My mother got the recipe from my aunt's mother-in-law, Beulah, and she made them often when I was growing up. It makes a huge batch. If you don't want to bake it all at once, you can form the dough into logs to freeze. Then when you're ready to bake, just slice and place on the cookie sheet. Very handy!

2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 cups shortening
2 cups margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
9 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspooon cream of tartar

Combine sugars, eggs, shortening, margarine and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Sift together remaining ingredients. Stir into sugar mixture. Form into small balls. Dip the bottom of a glass into water, then sugar. Use the glass to press each cookie onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees until light brown. Yields about 9 dozen.

Note: It's pretty to use a cut crystal glass with a patterned bottom if you have one. We also use colored sugar on the cookie tops for special occasions. For Christmas this year we did some red and some green.

Blessed

The girls and I just came back from delivering our Christmas goody boxes to the print shop. It was such a fun thing to do! We have enjoyed working on them over the past few weeks... and it was fun to surprise all of Daddy's co-workers with a box of yummy things to take home.

One lady in particular thanked the girls and then she came back to where my husband and I were to tell us "thank you" as well. I told her that the girls did most of the work. She said, "Your girls are just awesome! You are so lucky! You have such a nice family." And she kind of sighed a little. I wanted to say, "No. Not lucky. Blessed." But I just smiled.
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Simple Gift Wrapping

I was raised to be frugal. We didn't have a lot, and what we did have we made the most of. My mother would save wrapping paper from one year to the next and re-use it for family gifts. She'd caution us, "Now try not to tear the paper!" And when gift unwrapping time was over she would carefully smooth out the crumpled paper and fold it up to re-use next year. No, she didn't get upset if we tore into the wrapping paper. She was never that uptight about it. But she did try to recycle whenever she could. Later she discovered reusable gift bags and gift boxes, which is mostly what she uses now, I think. But I betcha she still has some carefully smoothed out used wrapped paper stashed away somewhere!

Inheriting this tendency to the frugal, but in actuality looking to save time more than the few pennies wrapping paper costs, I decided to go with preprinted gift boxes for our family here at home last year... and I love them! I bought 2 or 3 bundles of assorted sizes (shirt box size, one a little bigger, and one a little smaller). Most of what I'm giving to the kids and my husband fit in these boxes. Clothes in the larger two sizes. Books, DVDs, craft supplies, etc. in the smaller size. Pop the gift in. Add some tissue paper if needed. Tape it in 2 places. Voila! Under the tree it goes.

No, they aren't elegant packages. But they are festive enough with pictures of Christmas-y things like snowmen, Christmas trees, holly, Santa, etc. Makes Christmas morning clean-up easy, too. Just collect and flatten the boxes and pack them away to re-use next year.

Gift bags are even easier to use and re-use. The problem with those is that it's easy to "peek"... and since we start putting gifts under the tree as soon as the tree goes up, that doesn't work real well for us.

Re-usable gift boxes. Works for me!

This week's Works for Me Wednesday features "Christmas-ish" tips. Pop over to Rocks in My Dryer for more tips.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Catching Up

We were gone over the weekend... thus no posting. Just got back last night, and I'm playing catch-up today. We had an absolutely wonderful weekend! My husband said he told someone that he had been working so much lately that he wanted to plan something "spectacular" for the family... and I'd say he pulled it off! He took us on a train trip (Amtrak) from Seattle to Portland. We spent Saturday night in Portland and rode the train back to Seattle on Sunday. My mother tells me that the last time I rode a train (a real train, not a city train or an excursion train) was almost exactly 40 years ago--Christmas 1967. I was too young to remember.

I forgot the camera, but took quite a few pictures with the camera on my cell phone. I haven't used it before so I have no idea how they will turn out, and I'll have to wait until my husband can help me get them off the phone. Then I'll post more about the trip.

In the meantime, yesterday and today's posts for The 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour are up... Click the links to read the articles:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Fruitcake Recipe

(No, we won't be including this specialty in our Christmas goody boxes, but I thought I'd share the recipe in case anyone needs to know how to make fruitcake.)


Items Needed:
4 oz. dried fruit bits
1 railroad tie
wood saw
large rubber mallot
safety goggles

Wear your safety goggles. (Children: Get help from an adult!) Cut a one-foot section from the middle of your railroad tie. The resulting block of wood should be the size and shape of a loaf of bread.

Then, take some fruit bits and pound them into the block with your rubber mallot. Spread the colors around, or you might wind up with an ugly fruitcake. Don't be afraid to throw some elbow grease into that mallot!

Good fruit bits should be much harder than the railroad tie, so you can't break anything. For best result, you should pre-treat the fruit bits by setting them on top of your garage for a year (or by microwaving them on HIGH for 30 minutes).

Finally, cover it tightly in plastic wrap, and give your loved ones the timeless and enduring gift of fruitcake.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Edition #10


13 Random Christmas Traditions
from My Family, Then and Now


Some more meaningful than others!
  1. I can recite the Christmas story from Luke 2 word-for-word just off the top of my head. I memorized it for a Christmas program as a child and I've never forgotten it.
  2. I can also recite A Visit from Saint Nicholas (aka "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"). Not that I memorized it for a Christmas program... I guess just reading it aloud so many times over the years made it stick in my head.
  3. My family had a tradition for several years to read the Cajun Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve right after Daddy read the real Christmas Story from the Bible, and right before we opened gifts. In this version Santa drove a skiff pulled by alligators through the bayous of Louisiana. My brother, Allen, was usually the designated reader.
  4. Mother made red felt stockings for us in 1974. She cut the letters of our names out of white felt and stitched them on. We used them every year until we grew up and left home. She still gets them out any year that any of us are home for Christmas. The original 5 stockings are a little faded and worn by now... but the collection has grown right along with the family! New stockings have been lovingly sewn for all the in-laws and grand-babies.
  5. My parents "stuffed" our stockings with an apple and an orange in the foot of the stocking, and a giant (foot long?) peppermint stick in the leg of the stocking. There were usually a few other small gifts tucked around the peppermint stick, but we could always count on those 3 things filling the bulk of the stocking. The candy was more of a treat than the fruit was!
  6. My great-grandmother mailed small gifts to all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. (She had 6 children and 22 grandchildren, so you can imagine how many great-grands there were.) She usually sewed something for the girls and women--maybe an apron or a potholder. The boys and men would get things like a pair of socks or jersey cotton work gloves or a bandana. We were always allowed to open our gift from Mother Shumaker on Christmas Eve just before bedtime. Mother Shumaker died in 1982 when I was 16. Her daughter, my grandmother, carried on the tradition until she died in 1998.
  7. My husband and I started our own open-on-Christmas-Eve tradition with our children when they were babies. They get a new pair of pajamas and a Bible-related book or CD to open before bedtime on Christmas Eve. By now they can pretty much guess what's in any package under the tree that says "Christmas Eve".
  8. The children love to do their Christmas shopping at the Dollar Tree every year. They loved picking out gifts for each of their cousins who live in the area, and for each other.
  9. My younger daughter asked me the other day to tell her one thing I had got for her sister for Christmas. "I won't tell! I promise!" So I whispered in her ear, "A book!" She was thrilled! She thought she knew some great secret! She ran and told her sister, "I know something you're getting for Christmas. Mommy told me. But I can't tell you!" So my older daughter came to see if I would tell her a similar secret. I whispered the same thing to her. She was not impressed. She told her sister, "That's not a secret! We always get books!"
  10. Mother usually served "egg nog" for breakfast on Christmas Day. It was quick and easy to make, and we were much too excited to take the time to sit down to eat. Mother's egg nog is not the thick, overly sweet stuff you can buy at the grocery store... not was it spiked with whatever it is that people add to eggnogs for parties. She simply blended milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg... kinda like drinking home-made ice-cream without freezing it. We loved it! And I make egg nog for my kids on Christmas morning, to serve along with a breakfast casserole or cinnamon rolls.
  11. Our gift-opening tradition is to open the presents one at a time, with everyone watching whoever is opening something, rather than all tearing in at the same time. It seems more in the spirit of giving that way, and it makes the gift-opening time last longer.
  12. My husband and I started a new Christmas Eve tradition last year. We loaded the family up when it got dark (which is about 4:00pm this time of year in this part of the country!) and took a long drive to look at Christmas lights and enjoy each other's company. When we came home and got the kids tucked into bed, my husband and I had fun flipping through XM channels listening to a wide range of Christmas music and just talking and looking at the Christmas tree. It was such a relaxing, enjoyable evening that I told my husband I'd like to do that again this year. He thought it was a great idea and got a new Christmas music CD to surprise the kids with on our drive that night.
  13. My favorite "tradition" that I have carried on from my parents is that no tradition is set in stone. Our traditions evolve from year to year... and from one season of life to another. We continue the traditions we enjoy most, and are always open to adding new ones.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

'Tis a Gift to Be Simple...

If you've been following my blog for awhile you may remember that I'm a Bzz Agent. That means I get to try new products in exchange for talking about them. One of the rules of being a Bzz Agent is that I have to be honest in talking about the products (which is the only way I would agree to do it anyway), but usually the products are cool enough that I don't have any problems talking them up. However, this one had me stumped. It's not that it's a bad product, it's just not something I would ever buy or necessarily recommend. Then I hit on the way to spin it... It's the perfect present for someone who has everything!

Six or eight months ago one product I got to try was the Sonicare toothbrush. I have really enjoyed using it, although again, it's probably not something I would have bought... but I think it probably does a better job of cleaning and whitening my teeth than an ordinary toothbrush, so yeah, I could recommend that. Then a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate in the Bzz Campaign for the Sonicare UV Santizer. I didn't really understand what it was, but I figured out that it went with the Sonicare toothbrush (or other electric toothbrushes), so I was game to try it out. I got it, and now I don't know what to do with it! It's like a little shower for my toothbrush. Pop the toothbrush inside. Close the door. Push the button. A cool blue light comes on for 10 minutes. Then the toothbrush is germ free! Except, you can't prove it by me! I still don't know why rinsing the brush in hot water doesn't do the job just fine. But... that's just me. Maybe someone on your Christmas list is more concerned about sanitizing their toothbrush than I am. If so, this would make a perfect gift! If they already have an electric toothbrush, that is.

Which brings me to today's post in the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour. Today's gift is Simplicity! Click here to read a short and sweet article by Wanda Brunstetter.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The 12 Days of Christmas

There are some Christmas songs that are just down-right annoying... and I have to say The Twelve Days of Christmas is right up there on my list. Especially since the general consensus these days seems to be that the song refers to the 12 days before Christmas. However, I've read enough vintage novels to understand that Christmas was celebrated from Christmas Day through Ephiphany. Here's what Wikipedia says about it: The Twelve Days of Christmas and the associated evenings of those twelve days (Twelve-tide), are the festive days beginning the evening of Christmas Day (December 25) through the morning of Epiphany (January 6). The associated evenings of the twelve days begin on the evening before the specified day. Thus, the first night of Christmas is December 25–26, and Twelfth Night is January 5–6. This period is also known as Christmastide.

Personally, I think I would love to go back to that tradition. Celebrate "Christmastide" in simple ways for 12 days... and that's it! Not start sometime in the middle of November, well before Thanksgiving, with weeks of frenzied activities and way over-done commercialization. Of course, knowing us Americans, it would probably take us the 6 weeks to get ready to celebrate for 12 days, wouldn't it? Yep! Wikipedia has something to say about that, too: With the onset of more Americanized and secular traditions throughout the past two centuries (such as the American "Santa Claus", popularity of Christmas Eve itself as a holiday, and rise in popularity of New Year's Eve parties as well), the traditions of the Twelve Days of Christmas have been largely forgotten in the U.S. This is also heightened by the commercial practice to have "After-Christmas Sales" begin on December 26th and run usually until New Year's Eve.

Okay, I admit, we don't wait until Christmas Eve to put up our Christmas tree like they do in all the vintage stories... but we seem to be gradually getting later and later about it as we get older. We did finally put it up last night. That seems plenty early enough to me, but I know many people have theirs up weeks before we do.

Anyway, I got to thinking about all this because I had agreed to participate in Glass Roads Public Relations "Twelve Days of Christmas Holiday Blog Tour" and it started today-- 12 weekdays before Christmas.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

MawMaw's Date Loaf Candy

This is my dad's favorite Christmas candy. I got the recipe from his mother, who used to make it for him at Christmas time. She's not able to any more, so I decided to try my hand at it this year. It required a phone call to both my mother and my grandma... but I got it done... and boy, does it taste good! I didn't know if the kids would like it because of the dates in it, but they do! It's a very rich candy, so just a tiny piece at a time is enough.

Don't worry, Dad. I'm sending you some. That was the whole idea of making it.

Date Loaf

3 cups sugar
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups pecans or walnuts
1/2 pound chopped dates
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine sugar and milk. Mix well and boil until mixture thickens. Add chopped dates and butter. Mix well. Mash until mixture forms soft balls. Add nuts and vanilla. Stir until it gets stiff. Pour on damp tea towel. Roll up and put in refrigerator several hours. When cold slice in thin pieces.


I discovered that it took about 30 minutes of boiling for the milk and sugar to thicken. That was on medium low. I stirred frequently to keep it from boiling over or scorching. It may have thickened sooner if I hadn't stirred it so much, but it turned out okay, so I guess it didn't hurt anything to do it that way.

Also, I used walnuts because they are considerably less expensive where I live. I like pecans better, but walnuts are good enough!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Workin' Hard

During the week before Thanksgiving my husband and his brother remodeled the front office of the print shop. My brother-in-law directed the construction, while my husband took care of the electrical work. They built 2 walls to make one large room into 3 smaller ones. They did a good job. Everything looks great!

What was not-so-great was the number of hours they had to work to complete this project. My husband told me he worked 165 hours in his last 2-week pay period. A-ha! That would explain why we didn't see much of him during that time. It would also explain why the man falls asleep every time he sits still for longer than 5 minutes.

Just as soon as the construction project was finished, the shop got in a huge collating/binding job, so we're not seeing much of "Daddy" this week either. Last night he asked us to take him supper. We were happy to do that, as the kids hadn't seen him since Monday night. After we ate I offered to help with the collating. He was hesitant. "Oh... I doubt it would make much difference." Obviously, I work slower than he does, but I told him, "Look! If I work for an hour maybe that will be a half hour less that you would have to work." So I jumped in and helped for about 3 hours. I think we actually got more done with me helping than he thought we would. My feet and legs are sore from walking around and around on the concrete floor, but that's probably good for me! And I know it's good for my morale to spend time with my husband...!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dad!


*

And I just needed to tell the world!

My mother's birthday is in September, and it always amuses me when I call to wish her a Happy Birthday. Dad will get on the phone with Mother and say, "You know whose birthday is next, don't you?" It's a game we play. His isn't until the 5th of December... a good two-and-half months away.

"Yeah, Dad. Your granddaughter's."

"Oh, yeah." As if he forgot. "Well, after that."

"You mean your grandson's?"

"Oh, yeah." Selective memory again. "After that, I mean."

"Oh! You must mean mine!" which is around Thanksgiving.

"But whose is after that?" he persists.

"Hmm... I just don't know."

Somehow, I don't think I could forget your birthday, Daddy!

Thanks for being such a fun tease... and for loving my mother... and your children (even the in-laws!)... and all 10 of your grandchildren. We love you!

P.S. You can visit Dad's blog at OzarkCountyParson.blogspot.com.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Holiday Homeschool Open House 2007

Many homeschool families take a break from academics for the month of December to focus more on service projects and holiday activities. It seems like we're never far enough ahead (or even close enough to being caught up) to do that, but we have decided on a family giving project this year that has already been a hit with our girls.

My oldest daughter (almost 15) loves to cook and bake... and it's beginning to look like she has the gift of hospitality. We talked about having a holiday open house and inviting all our friends to stop by for a hot beverage and baked goodies, but with our current housing situation that didn't seem very practical. So the alternative we came up with was to fix goody boxes to deliver to Daddy's co-workers and other family friends on the Friday before Christmas.

Daddy works at a print shop, so we were about to get a supply of nice envelope boxes with lift-off lids. (The boxes hold 1000 business-size envelopes, so they are about 8.5'x11'x4'... pretty good size.) The girls have spent several evenings wrapping the boxes, keeping the lid separate so it will lift off without unwrapping the box. It's been interesting to see how they've coordinated different wrapping papers... putting one kind on a box and another on it's lid. We plan to line the boxes with foil, and then with colored tissue paper.

We have also started preparing (and freezing) some of the goodies to go in the boxes. We plan to make 20 boxes, so we knew we needed to allow plenty of time. We plan to fill them with: a variety of cookies and candy (I'll be sharing recipes here throughout the month), mini loaves of banana bread, dipped pretzels, Chex mix (original and "puppy chow"), and hot cocoa mix. I found some holiday-themed mini cupcake papers to set the candies in, and small decorated clear plastic bags for the various mixes.

It hasn't necessarily been a "cheap" endeavor, by the time we have gathered all the baking and decorating supplies, but we are having fun putting it all together and I think it will be well received. I am also persuaded that such a project is surely worth some school credit in the areas of Life Skills and Math, at least.

Visit more sites participating in the Holiday Homeschool Open House.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday:
cheddar broccoli soup
Tuesday:
baked pork chops
Wednesday:
chili and cornbread
Thursday:
chicken quesadillas
Friday:
sausage rice casserole

Sunday, December 2, 2007

In the meadow we can build a snow man...

Er... snow girl, that is!

We've had quite a bit of snow here this past week. Most years we'll have an occasional flurry several times before we get enough snow to stick, but not this year. About 4 snow storms in a row came through this week, so we now have plenty for the children to play in... and boy, have they been having fun!

This afternoon they built this "giant" snow girl. She stands over 6 feet tall, and girls being girls, they had to "dress" her up, complete with green pine needle hair!

It's snowing again now, so Miss Snowy's "lovely" summer clothes are now all delicately dusted with fresh white powder. She doesn't seem to mind.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Just Ramblin'...

I know, my blog been heavy on the book reviews lately. Not that I've been reading excessively... just posting the book blog tours on schedule.

Speaking of books, I have some winners to announce! A copy of For Parents Only will be going out to Canda and Denise... and a copy of When the Morning Comes goes to Lorna. Congratulations, ladies. Hope you enjoy the books!

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the month of November, and to be honest I think that's where most of my creative writing energy went. I didn't make the goal of writing 50,000 words in one month (I finished the month at just over 30,000), but it was a good exercise for me, and I'll probably do it again next November.

My just-for-fun creative activity for the month of December is to participate in Holidailies. The goal for this month is to post a blog entry every day. Somehow I think that will be easier than writing 50,000 words. No, I won't be writing an original, thought-provoking essay every day (that would be harder than writing 50,000 words), but you might be interested in updates on our family's holiday activities, or special recipes we enjoy this time of the year, or maybe some pictures from time-to-time, and, of course, a few book reviews here and there. So... I invite you stop back throughout the month... and if you decide to participate in Holidailies, too, let me know!