Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Around the Table with My Family

I have my parents visiting now. On Saturday our out of town kids are coming to stay for 10 days. We'll have extended family and future extended family with us during the holidays, too. I want to make this time special.  

Because I want this for you, too, I won't be posting until after the first of the year so we can both enjoy our families and our times around the table--eating, playing games, and visiting. 




Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!




We're going to have a white one!


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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What I did Right Last Christmas (part 2)



Last Christmas the example of a friend motivated me to get organized for the arrival of our family. Read part one here.

The 8 days our house was full of people went fabulously. I had time to sit and hold the baby, visit with my daughter-in-law, play the complicated board games my family prefers (one game took well over 2 hours), go on outings for “light-seeing” and coffee, and bring 10 people home for dinner!


My sister-in-law had to sleep on a bed we pumped up every night in the family room which is right off the kitchen in our house. We draped curtains over the opening and she said she was staying in the “Taj Mahal”.

We had my parents-in-law over several times as well as a couple of movie viewing nights with friends. I guess we should now call our family room “The Taj Theater” as that is where we “show” our movies.

Two hour-plus Carcassone game!

We included a stop to visit my 90 year old friend, Marion, on Christmas Eve and sing carols with her for an hour at the retirement home where she lives. We left there and went straight to the Christmas Eve service and were home and eating supper by 6:30!

Below is the menu I made up. In italics are the comments I wrote down during the week and after to remember for this year.

Wednesday, December 21
Dinner – Left over Autumn Pork Stew, salad (lettuce, orange slices, sweet pepper, poppy seed dressing)

Thursday, December 22
Dinner – Asian Salmon, baked potato, salad (Jim and I)
Frozen pizza for youth group boys game night

Friday, December 23 (Daniel, Abby, and Anna arrive)
Lunch – Pumpkin Soup (freezer); Orange slice salad with poppy seeds and oil and vinegar on lettuce leaf; bread rolls; Christmas cookies

Dinner – at Stiles and dessert at Debi’s

Saturday, December 24
Breakfast – cheese strada, fruit,

Lunch – cheese, summer sausage, and crackers, orange and apple slices

Dinner – taco soup (crock pot), coleslaw, cookies

Sunday, Christmas
Breakfast – scrambled eggs, Christmas ring, sausage

Christmas Dinner – Turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, Waldorf salad, (brown and serve rolls) – (family brought rest of the meal) 12 lb turkey is too small. Pay more for a bigger one! Didn’t have rolls, no complaints on that.

Evening – snacks – Ate at 3:30, so didn’t really need snacks.

Monday, December 26
Breakfast – Cereal, bananas, milk, coffee – everyone likes homemade granola, lots of yogurts were good addition

Lunch – potato cheese soup w/leftover mashed potatoes – good use of leftovers! ("Smashed Potato Soup", Family Circle Slow Cooker Meals, p. 143)

Dinner – Turkey & Dressing casserole, salad – good use of leftovers! Added boxed sweet potato casserole and fed 8

Tuesday, December 27
Breakfast – oatmeal, fruit, nuts

Lunch – quesadillas, with peppers, chicken, black olives, and mushrooms – 4 star idea!!! Served “buffet” style; 2 large frying pans on medium-low to heat; chips and salsa

Dinner – Spaghetti and Spicy Meatballs (freezer), salad – everyone loves the spicy meatballs! Need at least 4 per person, 5 would be better.

Wednesday, December 28
Breakfastcereal – Thankgiving French Toast – the make-the-night-before breakfast dishes are great, I get to do my exercises before breakfast!

Lunch – sandwiches, fresh veggies, pretzels – lunch meat and tuna

Dinner – Chicken Enchiladas (freezer), salad – 0 stars. Family prefers beef and bean enchiladas

Thursday, December 29
Breakfast – oatmeal, fruit, nuts, milk

LunchGarlic Chicken Vegetable SoupDaniel and Abby went to Grandma and Grandpa’s for lunch, we ate leftovers.

Dinner (celebrate Samuel’s birthday)
Tender Chuck Roast, Mashed potatoes, green beans w/almonds, carrot salad, angel food cake, - this chuck recipe is very good, but roast needs to warm to room temp. before placing in oven, or it doesn’t get done!

Friday, December 30 (Samuel leaves)
Breakfastcereal, bananas, coffee, yogurtused second Swedish (Christmas”) ring

Lunch – Chili, cornbread, salad

Dinner – honey curried chicken, rice, stir fried broccoli with peppers – did rice in oven with chicken—worked great; cover chicken with foil to keep moist.
(Daniel, Abby and Anna leave)

Saturday, December 31
Breakfast pancakescereal, yogurt, and fruit

Lunch sloppy joes, (freezer) raw veggies – left over taco soup

Dinner stuffed shells, salad – Grandma and Grandpa took us out to Bishops for last time, it closes Sunday.

Sunday, January 1
Breakfast ­– Paneton (Peruvian Christmas Bread), eggs, oranges

Lunch – Pork roast, boxed scalloped or sweet potatoes, green beans w/peppers
(Lois leaves)

Dinnerfrozen pizza popcorn and apple slices

Leftovers
Taco Soup – 3 servings
Smashed Potato Soup – 3 servings
Pumpkin Soup – 4 servings

Still have on hand
Garlic Chicken Vegetable Soup – 8-10 servings
Frozen pizzas – 4
Stuffed shells – 4 servings
Sloppy Joes – 5-6 servings

My goal with all this menu information was to give you some inspiration and ideas. I hope it did, and I'm wishing you a wonderful and organized holiday season!

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Linking with these blogs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Adventing Around the Table

When my oldest son was going to have his third Christmas, I wanted a fun way to go through the Christmas story with him that year and for years to come. That was back in the heyday of counted cross stitch, so I decided to create an "heirloom" advent calendar to tell the story of Christmas to him, and hopefully, future siblings.


My sister-in-law, Lois, designed cross stitch patterns and made up kits to sell for extra money, so that made me brave enough to work on my own design. I finished it all that year except the background--which took the next 22 years and the advent of a grandchild to motivate me to finish!

I chose ten different people and events from the Biblical Christmas story to highlight that I hoped would help our children understand the true reason for Christmas and who Jesus is. I created a design for each person or event to be put up on a ten day advent calendar that included a Bible passage to read. I also found a Christmas carol that reinforced the message to sing after we did the reading.

When the kids were little we had to be very careful about keeping track of whose turn it was to attach the figure to the background via the Velcro stickers or there could be some very un-Christmas-like attitudes! In their teen years apathy was "cooler" than excitement about it, but even when we had all grown kids and no grandchildren, they wanted us to do the devotionals. 



Most years we fell behind on the daily readings one or two days because of some other Christmas related activities but we just doubled up on a other days. That didn't matter, the point was to remember and reflect on the Biblical Christmas story.



I'd like to encourage you to consider creating your own Christmas advent devotional to help your children think more about Christ than presents. Even if you don't cross stitch or do other crafts, this kind of devotional would be easy to set up, using a hobby store or Christian bookstore. You could buy a shadow box to fill with nine, ten, twelve, or, if you are really energetic, twenty-five items that you find in the hobby story or Christian bookstore. At my granddaughter's Sunday school they had ten stickers they put on paper key tags to hang on a small tree. Another way to work this would be a nativity scene that you add one figurine to each day. One friend has the wisemen start out in another room and slowly advance through the house each day till they arrive at the stable.

How ever you do it, your kids will love the novelty and listen more attentively to the original Christmas story. And don't forget the carols, even if you can't sing, (I can't at all!). Some we really enjoy and some we laugh our way through when my voice cracks (which is often), but those words will stick with your children all their lives and will be an important part of their Christmas, no matter how far they stray.



I am now working on one for my first two grandchildren. It's in year two of work, but I hope to finish before the oldest's third Christmas next year.



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