Through Every Season

Year: 2011 (Page 1 of 9)

Christmas (Eve) Morning

I actually should start with the night before.. 
Mike took me rug shopping.. yay!
 We’ve been having problems with the puppy making 
messes on the rug in our hearth room.. especially 
when mom isn’t home to let her out a billion times a day.
My wet vac might as well have a permanent home there.
A friend helped me find these rugs on Thursday.
I was thinking about buying some cheep, ugly carpet tiles and 
she talked me into these machine washable runners.
Not beautiful but functional and way better than the carpet tiles.
Mike thought they were OK so here they are.  🙂
 Christmas Eve morning I made myself some 
gluten free ginger bread cookies..they taste pretty good.. 
a little weird.. but I’ve gotten used to them.
I think I missed them up by trying to grind my own 
cloves instead of making one more trip to the store.
 Here we are getting ready for presents.
We are all dressed because we were going
out for lunch right after.
Judi tried on the head band Wendy made her.
 James thinks posing for photos is torture.
 George is wondering what’s going on..
 I passed out the Christmas cards we got for 
everyone to see.. and had to explain
the boys who their 2nd cousin was.
 Mike read us the Christmas story from 
the second chapter of Luke.
 The most interesting gift was the assortment
of hot sauce Joel got to share with everyone.
Joel didn’t need any socks.
Joel and Josh are making plans for how to use it all.
Lunch at Casa Blanco 
Josh’s ipod camera..

Christmas.. Wrapping Things Up

For many Christmases now, the kids have wanted only 
two things: money and candy.
There were many early years were we only had five dollars for each from us,
but their grandparents aways gave them plenty for a nice Christmas.
When they were younger, we actually gave them 
their money and took them to the toy store
before Christmas, so we could wrap their presents
and put them under the tree.
A couple of years we bought a family gift.. like a game system.
One year we went on a family vacation as our gift.
Two or three years ago we super surprised them
by shopping for them and sneaking their presents in
late one night while they were asleep.
They never even thought to look in our closet..
because we had never hidden gifts from them before. 🙂
We never have presents under the tree..
now that they shop on line after Christmas.
I think the last couple of Christmas mornings we just pulled stuff out 
of Walmart bags and gave them to them.  🙂
This year I decided to be a little more creative 
with their candy/money wrapping and made these gift bag tags..
using part of this free printable nativity I love.
We discovered chocolate oranges a couple of years ago. 
They instantly became part of the tradition.
I made these money wraps for their cash yesterday.
Most years I forget to go to the bank in time, and have to
write them an IOU.  This year I actually got their 
grandparents’ checks cashed in 10’s and 20’s for them.
And bought them some things they needed like socks and gloves.

Judi’s been a little confused by my redecorating everything
and insisted that we keep the candy cane buying tradition, too.
I didn’t want them on my tree, so I put them on this wreath instead.
I usually buy 2 dozen so the kids get 6 each.
I made this star/cross wreath some time ago out of
the 4′ Christmas tree we had before inheriting my grandmother’s
much nicer tree and some dowels and wire.. it fell apart.

I redid it this year with duct tape and twine.
It’s much stronger now.

I put an extra wreath in the bucket I bought for my fall flowers.
The bucket needs a red bow.. doesn’t it?

Back inside…
 Have you seen this book?  I really like it.

 I had packed these glass ornaments (below) in our advent candle pillars
for our last move and didn’t find them until this week.. (over two years later).
I haven’t been together enough to actually do an advent devotion.  
Maybe next year with the book above.
I decided they would be safer hanging here than on the tree.
I hung them across some wire left over from my 

names of Jesus ornaments with some invisible thread.

I think they look like musical notes.  Even Judi thought they were cool.
They are the same color blue as the satin I used to wrap the tree.

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.


Nativities and Garlands

George loves to knock things down from my counters and such 
and bat them around for a while..
Zoe loves to eat the things she knocks down.
I am renaming them the George/Zoe demolition team.
They spent last Christmas knocking down and eating pieces of my nativity. 🙁
I have a lot of pieces.. they fill up all these boxes.
I wasn’t looking forward to losing pieces this year.. 
Mike suggested that I use both mantles (George doesn’t bother them)
instead of keeping the whole nativity in one room.  Brilliant!
I actually like this arrangement better than last year..
Using the different rooms allowed me to separate them into sets.
I put my soft nativity on my dresser.  It’s not as enticing as the smaller pieces.
  It needs a manger.. or mat or something.. project for next year?
On the right side of the piano, 
I have Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem.
Since George can actually get to this one,
I sprinkled it with cyan pepper (great cat repellant).
So far so good.

I put my main manger scene on the mantle in that room .
Then our original set and collection of angels 
and advent candles on the mantle by the tree.
The garlands are new… 
I’d seen several garlands in blog land and was inspired to make my own.
I made some paper snowflakes out of leftover paper 
from my names of Jesus ornaments.  I thought the colors would
stand out better than white snowflakes against a white mantle.
Then added my “Love, Joy, Hope and Peace” ornaments to them.
And cut out two doves.
Then I found a star png on google (love google) and photoshopped 
some old pictures of the kids on top, and had them printed at Walmart. 
The cut out stars were kinda lost in the garland by themselves,
so I googled how to fold a 5 pointed snowflake to help show them off.
My other garland is made of some other random ornaments that 
I didn’t know what to do with.. I was really surprised 
when saw that I had a woodsy theme once I they were up.
I had these birds and bells which I liked,
but didn’t go with my new themed tree.
This Smoky Mountain souvenir was too
Christmasy to wait for my January wreath.
 and these two lonely eggs..which 
Mike’s grandmother made for us years ago
are so small that they didn’t show up in the big tree.
There were twelve painted eggs originally..
before all the years of kids decorating and knocking over trees… 
I added some pinecones which were my original inspiration
 And.. ta da a woodsy garland..

Trimming the Tree (with ornaments)

 Every Christmas up until last, I’ve bought the kids an ornament at the
after Christmas sales to add to their collection.. then each Christmas
the kids got to decorate the tree with their own ornaments.
They loved this when they were little..

Last year, the kids decided it was too much trouble to put their ornaments
on the tree and that they didn’t really care about collecting ornaments.
It kinda hurt my feelings..

I decided that if I was going to do all the work from now on
that I was going to start over with new ornaments for me.

At the after Christmas sales last year, I bought these ornaments
80 or 90% off.. I was so excited.. my favorite color..
I guess my blue and white tree has gone out of style..
there were so many of them left to buy.. I bought 20 for a little over $20.

A few weeks after that, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed
something to do distract myself from my impending surgery
and while recovering. so I started making the quilted ornaments
with the names of Jesus on them that I showed you in July.

Reading the names of Jesus all those weeks was great therapy,
but when I hung them on my new slim tree
a couple of weeks ago.. I didn’t like them. 🙁

I loved reading the names of Jesus on the tree…
and I love quilts.. They just aren’t my decorating style. :-/

So I decided to make simpler, paper ones.

I bought some scrapbooking paper in my favorite colors
and a corner punch and went to work.
 The cardboard, wire and beads I had on hand.

 Judi and I both liked the glitter idea.

Here’s my new, slim, names of Jesus tree.
I found the ribbon on clearance last year too..

There are 25 different cards with over a hundred names.

I decided that I had room for a few more ornaments
and divided all our old ornaments into themes.

 I hung the ones that reminded me of Jesus on the tree.

This is one of my favorites..

Then decided to save the snowmen for January..
and make a winter wreath or garland.
There were other ornaments that I will try and have the kids
go through and donate to a thrift store next year.
 I didn’t have a tree skirt.. so I pulled this satin out of my
grandmother’s stash and wrapped it around the tree.
George had to try it out right away.
 My newly decorated tree.
Here are the jpgs if you’d like to print your own:






Trimming the Tree (Literally)

We inherited our Christmas tree from my grandmother quite a while ago.  
I am not sure how old it is, but I’ve seen baby pictures of myself 
sitting in front of it.  It’s a really nice tree..
 it’s been though several up dates since I’ve had it.
One year after the kids played chase around the tree, 
knocked the whole tree over, broke my angel and several ornaments, 
I built this kid/cat proof tree stand out of some scrap particle board 
and some plumbing parts.  Not beautiful.. but it’s so heavy it works great.
 Another year I replaced the center pole after it cracked.
And repainted the color coded ends of the branches
with dollar store fingernail polish.
Since moving to this house I’ve been admiring those new simmer trees.
My tree is so wide I normally have to take out a piece of furniture
to make room for it.  And being so wide made it look kinda straggly.
I often used  the string of lights to help support 
a couple of the bottom branches.
Mike and I went out Black Friday and looked at trees.
When I realized that most of them weren’t as nice as mine,
I asked Mike which size skinny
tree did he like the best.. 51″, 45″.. etc.  
My tree was 63″ wide.
then I did some math.. 
This is what it looked like after I used a hack saw 
to trim down the first two rows..
See how wide and straggly the bottom branches look?
And here’s my new slim tree.
I love it!  It looks much fuller and I only had to 
slide over my bench to make enough room for it.

Black Friday Deals

We are not one of the brave shoppers that spend their 
Thanksgiving waiting in line then shop all night, but we do enjoy 
going out late Friday morning and seeing what they’ve left behind.
The last year or so having popcorn popping in the house
hasn’t been the best thing for my corn allergy.
It makes me dizzy, confused, and really irritated.
So for a while I stopped buying it.
I finally suggested that we buy a microwave for the back porch.
We found this one for $40 at Target on Black Friday.
It’s actually too small for a regular bag of popcorn,
but it works great for those new microwaveable popcorn bowls.
 I made this shelf totally out of scrap wood. $0
Then bought two cans of spray paint for it. $8
 And now we have a popcorn station.
We could have gotten a used microwave for less.. 
but Mike has this thing about used and public microwaves.
Our other great Black Friday deal was these golf clubs.
There’s a group of men at our church that plays golf 
together from time to time that Mike would like to hang out with.
He needed someone to practice with before playing with them
and suggested that it would be a good way for usto have fun and exercise together.. especially if we walk the corse instead of riding a cart.
I made him promise several times that it was
 just for fun and not competition.  
We played a couple of times before and really enjoyed it.

The clubs were regularly $400 for each set.  We got both sets
for around $150.  I didn’t think I needed my own set..
Maybe Mike didn’t want to share his with me.

Mike rented “Golfing for Dummies” from Net Flicks.. and
we found a driving range and have gone out a few times.
I might be enjoying them even more than Mike.
We also found a cheep course near by.
It’s closed for the season.. so we’ll have to practice up for the Spring.


What’s Cooking for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is my kids’ favorite holiday, “because we get to eat.”  
Joel and I spent 3-4 hours on Monday grocery shopping.
He had to take his car in for an oil change and 
was happy to hang out with me while he waited.
Judi is my regular grocery shopping helper.  
She is so well trained.  
I made a Thanksgiving Shopping List that 
I re-print every year and she knows it well.  
She’ll be home from Guatemala late tonight.
It doesn’t usually take quite so long.. 
but we were out of EVERYTHING after 10 days of no fridge.  
I am so glad Mike fixed it.  So far so good.  Yay!
As my mom pointed out, it usually takes me several days
to do all the cooking for Thanksgiving.. but
I don’t mind because the kids enjoy it so much.
Yesterday, I made some stuff that turned out great:
Cranberry-Orange Relish
1 lb. cranberries
4 apples, peeled
1 orange with about 1/2 of the peel
1 1/2 c. walnuts 
1/2 c. pineapple with juice
1 c. sugar in the raw
Blend in blender.
Refrigerate overnight.
Will keep in freezer for 2 months.

Spicy Pumpkin Ginger Soup (for lunch)
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 oz. ginger root, grated
2 T. butter
1/4 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. roasted pumpkin seeds
black pepper
4 c. pumpkin
4 c. vegetable broth
Two pumpkin pies (one sugar free).
Then the sugar-free Peanut Butter and Oatmeal cookies
didn’t turn out so great.  I so need help with those. 🙁
Today I made some Banana Pudding with Xylitol.  
I hear it’s good, but can’t eat it because the xylitol comes from corn.
I also made some Pumpkin Chip Muffins.. the kind we eat every year 
for breakfast ..and a gluten free recipe I tried for the first time.  
I had to run to the store for muffin liners mid-mixing them 
(I added them to my grocery list for next year.)
 and almost forgot to add the pumpkin in when I came back.  
Thank God they looked funny and I realized my mistake.
They went really well with my leftover pumpkin soup.
Pumpkin Chip Muffins or Cake
4 eggs
2 c  sugar
14 oz. can pumpkin
1/3 c vegetable oil
2/3 c apple sauce
In a small bowl whisk together,
 adding each in order until smooth.
3 c  flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon 
1 t.  all spice
1 t.  nutmeg
1 dash salt
Mix in a large bowl.  Make a well.
1 c walnuts
1 c  chocolate chips
1 c  raisins
Stir in wet ingredients about 25 strokes 
until just combined.  Don’t over stir.
Spoon or use a 1/3 c. measure to fill well 
greased or paper lined muffin tins about 3/4 full.  
Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 20-25 min. 
or 55 minutes in a bunt pan.
I made the gluten free muffins basically the same way with only 2 eggs, 
and 1 and 1/2 cups sugar, then substituted 1 and 1/4 cups teff flour 
and 1/2 cup tapioca flour for the flour.
I just finished the Strawberry Jello Salad – and realized that 
I could probably safely eat it.  🙂
I stumbled across this recipe this morning 
Olive Oil and Vinegar Dipping Sauce:
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 pinch salt and black pepper
and decided to add it to my Thanksgiving Dinner list..
I think I’ll enjoy it more than gluten free/corn free gravy.
Tonight, I am making Cheesy Spinach Burritos (for dinner).
Then I’ll put the turkey in the oven to cook over night on low.
And we’ll go the the airport to pick up Judi!!!
Tomorrow we’ll make:
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Green Been Casserole
Ore-ida Crinkle Crispers
Crescent Rolls
Turtle Pie

4 med. sized apples
2/3 c. pecans or walnuts
1 c. raw sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pkg. frozen sweet potatoes, thawed
1/2 c. butter, sliced
Cut apples and sweet potatoes
 into chunks and toss together.
Layer in buttered dish.
Dot with remaining butter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. 
It will probably all last a couple of days at the most.
3 Large boys who “get to eat.”
Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Family Name Clock

I started this project while sitting in my recliner 
for those first two months after my surgery.  
I had a lot of time for staring and thinking.
Once I had the idea, I designed it in photoshop.  
Then my good friend, Misty, gave me some boards from her fence
that they were repairing after all that wind damage.
I screwed the boards into a panel and started cutting 
out the circle of the clock months ago.. but my jig saw’s
motor burned up mid circle and my project was put on hold.
 I printed all my designs out in light gray to save 
ink and laid them on the circle for placement.
I taped a piece of wax paper to my printer paper and 
ran it through the printer.
Then I used a spoon to rub the ink and wax on to my wood.
A couple of times it took two coats.
“Blessed to be a Blessing” is our family motto.
 A couple of times I forgot to reverse the image,
a very important step. 
The boards were a little too thick for my clock works. 
So I drilled them down a bit. 
Now I know what time it is.

Fall Field Trip

For Veteran’s Day Mike took me to the coolest mill we’ve ever seen.
It’s called Falls Mill and it’s only about an hour from us.
This is a treadmill for a dog.. 
He treads and the butter churns in the thing in front.
 The water wheel was over a hundred years old.
Up stairs they had a museum.
 This player piano plays 20/30’s music and comes
complete with drums and cymbals.
 They had a collection of cast iron.
 And I thought Mom would like the cameras.
I really liked the spool organizer.
Where can I get one of those?
For a while the mill was used to spin thread. 
I thought demonstrating this weaving loom would be a cool job. 
 Here’s where the water runs down the wheel. 
And a picture of the mill from down below.
The sun wasn’t real cooperative. 
 We were there.
Most of the leaves had fallen
in this valley.
 Loved these berries.
 This tree was gorgeous.
 The garage.
On the way home we passed this barn
 and Mike stopped so I could photograph it. 
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