My bestie from home called with a cool recipe on how to make old fashioned Christmas ornaments to hang on your tree. She said it made her whole house smell wonderful.
We tried it and wow, was she right. It was like Christmas morning and the North Pole were right there in our kitchen.
Here's the recipe and we hope you enjoy. Thank You Amy!
Old Fashioned Christmas Ornaments
1 1/4 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup Mix of Cinnamon and Ground Cloves
1 Cup Salt
1 Cup Water
The 3/4 Cup of spices can be done as you prefer. I used 3/4 cinnamon and 1/4 ground cloves because I had to grind the cloves in a blender.
Mix all ingredients together and knead. If the dough is too sticky, add more cinnamon as opposed to flour.
Roll the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness on parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with cinnamon.
Cut with cookie cutters then place on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Use a straw to put holes in the top of each ornament before you bake them, so you can lace a string or ribbon through each once they're done.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
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Earlier this year we got our first family dog. The kids and I had wanted one for years, but my husband didn't. He thought it would only add extra chaos into our already crazytown house. Boy - was he wrong.
Much to our delight, Adam gave in. After countless attempts and years of trying to convince him it would be alright, I'm happy to announce that the past eight months have been a breeze. Not one thing has gone awry.
No couches have been destroyed...
No walls have been chewed through...
...and the thing my husband is the happiest about, is now that the kids are finally old enough that they don't pull the ornaments off our Christmas tree, we were able to decorate it all the way to the bottom. It looked so pretty with our family dog lying beneath with the peaceful glow to match the tranquility of our perpetually calm home.
Yes, it's the first official Christmas we've had a family dog and not a worry in the world.
Oh - and the minor detail that she happened to chew through the every single strand of lights once they were unplugged and hanging from the tree didn't phase my husband one bit. In fact, he loves the dark tree with no lights so much, that it may even become a new family Christmas tree tradition.
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One hundred and one years. That's how long one of my favorite people has lived. She's a patient I met at work, and she's as sweet as she could be.
In passing conversation, I asked what her favorite Christmas in the past hundred years has been. Without hesitation, she closed her eyes and smiled.
"When I was a little girl," she began, "I was worried that Santa wouldn't come to my house. Times were hard and I didn't think he could make it."
Her slight smile grew as I watched her go back in time.
She continued, "I went through the house and found an old shoebox. Later that night on Christmas Eve, I secretly hid it under the tree in hopes that he would find it and put a gift inside."
Opening her eyes, she took my hand, "Do you know what I found when I woke up on Christmas morning?"
I held my breath and waited.
"That morning, I ran straight to the tree. Looking underneath, there was the shoebox. When I peeked inside, there was a single piece of fruit, a few pieces of candy," she had the widest grin, "and a brand new baby doll. It was such a beautiful doll wearing a light pink dress, all my own. I'd never had a better Christmas."
Fighting the tears, the light in her eyes and pure joy was still undeniable. It was a simple gift, but it to her it meant the world.
Let us remember the spirit and true meaning of this Christmas season with the love that could fill a shoebox and one hundred and one years of happiness.
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The time had come. Night after night, week after week of countless hours of practice had come to this.
Our fifth grade son began playing the trumpet this year and if you've read our blog, you know it's been a little less than...well...stellar.
For hours we've endured, I mean, enjoyed the beautiful sounds coming from this amazingly deafening loud instrument. To think that our son, along with several other fifth graders would join together for a Christmas concert was almost more than we could handle.
Needless to say, we readied ourselves for the event. Taking our seats, we listened as the assistant principal welcomed us and prepared us for what we were about to hear.
Reminding us that the students hadn't even picked up an instrument before three or so months ago, we couldn't help but wonder what to expect.
What came next, was completely wonderful. I know it's hard not to be a proud mom, but in this instance, when the band conductor prompted the first song, it was impossible not to be.
My eyes began to water and a lump grew in my throat. When everything came together, it was truly fantastic.
To hear the music...actual beautiful music...come in the form of songs that we could not only recognize, but also enjoy, was simply amazing.
No earplugs were needed, no wincing or trauma occurred. I looked to find Christian in the mix of his classmates and my heart grew a thousands times full. It was less than a minute ago that they were all in kindergarten together, but now they were so grown and mature.
The band instructor ended the concert with a word about how much the students have learned. I don't know if I've ever seen someone take such a group of young kids with absolutely no experience and turn them into something so impressive in such little time.
If you'd like to hear one of their songs, I've linked it to our facebook page here. (Sorry about the camera work.) https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=327056584165984&set=vb.189002857971358&type=2&theater
To the man who taught our little ones how to play, we thank you. I can't even imagine what they'll sound like a year from now.
And to all the band kids and musicians of the world, I am in awe. To see where you began and what beauty you can create, is truly a magical thing. Please take a second to VOTE to go up in rank! Thank You!
Our seven year old little boy had his Christmas play at school this week. He's been so excited for the big night and we couldn't wait to see him on stage.
He got the part of a shepherd boy and has practiced 'taking a knee' for the part, saying that he wanted to stay just the way his football coach taught him how to sit during practice.
I didn't know exactly how taking a knee like he does in football would look during the middle of a manger scene, but we were eager for the performance nonetheless.
When time for the play finally came, Preston was dressed from head to toe in his cute little shepherd costume. He walked across the stage with the other adorable kids and took his place.
Preston usually has the biggest smile and we expected him to beam from ear to ear. For whatever reason though, he looked serious...angry even. His little brow furrowed as he took his place beside the manger.
Elbowing my husband, I whispered, "What's wrong with him? Is he scared?" Adam shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
For the whole scene, little Preston knelt motionless, looking like the grumpiest shepherd...ever.
When the play was over, we all hugged and kissed him, telling him how great the whole play was. The school and the kids put so much work into it, making it beyond impressive for such little ones.
Getting in the car, I leaned back, "Preston, were you okay up there during your part?"
"Were you upset about something?"
"Well Buddy, why did you look so angry?"
"I wasn't angry. I was serious."
"Serious? What do you mean, serious?"
"Well, my teacher said, that she didn't want anyone goofing around. She said that she wanted us all to be serious, so I was."
Putting my hand over my mouth, I turned back around and tried to hold in my giggle. Adam shook his head laughing as we drove away.
"You did a good job being serious, little man. We really liked the play."
A few seconds out of the parking lot, Preston nodded, "Yeah, you know it is a serious thing to take a knee for Jesus...so that's what I did."
Their little minds never cease to amaze me. Here's to the grumpiest looking shepherd ever, with the biggest of all hearts.
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I started this blog as a journal of sorts. I've written in a diary my whole life and began blogging to keep my thoughts and memories throughout the days. It's my way of giving the kids a sort of 'memory book' of their childhood.
An important page in that book I'd like them to have is about friendship.
They're going to meet friends that will come and go, but my hope is for them to find true friendship. The kind that lasts the test of time.
I want them to know that they're going to come across different types of friends throughout their lives. They'll have friends who want the best for them and who find joy in their happiness...but they'll also have the ones who want what's good for them...as long as it's not better than what the friend has.
They need to know that there are friends who genuinely make you happy. When you're with them, your cheeks hurt from laughing. There's nothing you could say or do that would offend them and when it's time to part, you truly miss them and feel thankful for spending time together.
Other friends won't bring the same joy. Sure, you can do things or go places together, but it's not the same. That ease isn't there and in some cases, you even feel worse when you take your separate ways. Those friends will hopefully be few and far between, but it won't take long to spot them out.
To have true friends, unconditional friends and positive friends, is nothing less than a gift from God. To be able to pick right up where you left off no matter the time or distance between you, should be cherished.
I've had the fortune of having some of the best friends on Earth. My roommate from graduate school, is one of them. We met when we were 18 years old as freshmen. Four years later, we went on to grad school and spent countless hours in our little apartment laughing, studying and having so little money that we'd eat corn out of a can for dinner.
Amy and I went through some of the best and worst times together. No matter what test we'd have or boyfriend we might cry over, one thing we'd always do, was throw on sweats and a t-shirt and vent. Back then, there were no cell phones, laptops, or iPads. I'm dating myself, but back in the 'good ol' days' friends would simply sit and hang out. (gasp)
Nine out of ten times, we'd end up throwing a movie in. Our go to, was always "Dumb and Dumber". Why? It's hard to tell. The more Amy and I watched it though, the more we laughed, to the point where we could pull lines from the movie and fall over for no apparent reason.
We swore that one day, if they ever made a sequel, no matter where we were in our lives, we'd promise to see it together.
Guess what? They did.
Sixteen years have passed since graduate school. We've been in each others weddings, been to baptisms and birthdays of our children - and just like back in the day, we've seen each other through the good and bad.
It didn't take a second to decide then, when or how we would see the movie. Amy figured out the best meeting place between Ohio and North Carolina with the movie times and location.
We both told our husbands (who thought we were crazy) that the plan was in place.
Our fantastic parents watched the kids so Amy and her husband Dominic and Adam and I could meet in West Virginia to see 'Dumb and Dumber to'.
From the outside looking in, it was insane, but to us, it's what friends do. We didn't have to go all that way just to see a movie or fulfill a promise...we wanted to. We wanted to laugh our heads off and wipe tears from our eyes. We wanted to stay up talking and sharing thoughts and stories. We wanted to do what true friends do...simply be happy being together.
If my children read nothing more than this, here's what I want them to know. No matter what happens in your life, true friends will always be with you either in person or in spirit. They'll take joy in your success and they'll hurt with you in your failure. Your friendship will stand the test of time...for as long or as far away as you may be from each other. And if you're lucky, if you're very, very lucky, you might even have a friend that would be crazy enough to drive states away, just to get together for a movie, a promise and a bag of popcorn.
Life doesn't get much better than that.
Thank you for always being the Best of Friends Amy! Miss and Love You. (According to the map, we've only gone 4 inches...)
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Years ago, my mom heard about a walk through nativity scene. When she went, she was so impressed by it that year after year, she urged us to go.
We've always been too busy though. We've been out of town or had important things to do, so we've never been able to make it. There's never been enough time.
This year we made the time.
I guess I didn't know exactly what to expect, but I surely didn't expect this. The attention to detail and amount of work involved with this annual production was nothing less than phenomenal. We were taken back in time and awe inspired as we took the same journey that once was taken by a young couple, to a little town called Bethleham.
The travels began by getting a gold coin to pay our taxes.
We were told that we needed to travel for three days from where we lived in Nazareth, to our place of birth in Bethlehem for the census.
As we traveled, we met different people and families along the way who were concerned about the new laws as they voiced their opinions.
We watched as (the cutest) shepherds noticed a star.
We were warned to continue on our path and pay our taxes.
Along the way, we passed through towns and markets.
We listened as three wise men spoke of a new King being born, causing King Herod to order the baby to be found.
The three kings followed the star as we continued on our path, meeting more travelers along the way.
Seeing shepherds once again, we were finally led to the manger.
When we approached, it was something to behold.
The night was one we'll never forget.
In the hustle and bustle of life, especially around this time of year, it's easy to forget what the season is really about.
It was nice to get a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, through the most amazing way possible. Experiencing it first hand through an incredible journey of our Savior's birth on that holiest of nights.
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Have you ever been with someone long enough that you don't need to use words with each other to communicate anymore? You know...when all you have to do is give them a certain look or expression...and they know exactly what you mean?
Adam and I took the kids to get a Christmas tree this week. Actually, before I go further, I should clarify. Adam needed to get something at the store and I saw some Christmas trees for sale.
You see, he and I are the complete opposite. In almost every sense of the word, we are night and day. He's analytical, I'm a dreamer. He's grounded, I float in the clouds. I love the idea of a real Christmas tree and he...well...you get the idea.
In my mind, a real tree is magical. The way it colors the house with that woodsy smell, the deep richness of the pine, the feeling of Christmas comes alive from the minute you bring it home.
Adam's version of a real tree is how big of a mess it is, that it's annoying to keep up with and water...and more than anything else, how it's a complete nightmare to have to deal with when taking it down and out of the house.
I get that. I really do...but it's Christmas...and every once in a while, he'll agree to give in.
This year was no exception. Going back to not having to speak a word to get your point across...
When we went to the store, there was a tree area. Adam shot me a look as I smiled "that" smile at him. Walking through the aisles, there were rows and rows of trees that stood proudly, just waiting to go home.
That's when I saw it. The tree of all trees. It stood out in a mass of others as a ray of light shown down and birds began to sing. Adam took one look at the tree, then one look at me and knew exactly what I was thinking.
"Oh no. Don't even think about it. This tree wouldn't even fit it our yard."
And with that...I couldn't help but bust out laughing. He didn't realize when he'd said it, but quickly knew it was the perfect set up for the best line in the movie "Christmas Vacation".
When he knew what I was thinking, Adam shook his head. "This is the one...isn't it?" He muttered as he tried to mentally calculate how to get it on the car and into our house.
Nodding, my smile grew form ear to ear.
There's something to be said about being with someone for so long that you know each others thoughts and feelings - and even if I don't say it out loud enough, I hope he knows how he's the best thing that ever happened to me...Griswold tree and all.
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The only thing better than a perfect pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving Day, is a perfect turkey. This year I was in charge of the meal from start to finish. It was a challenge I was eager to accept, except that this year, I had to work on Thanksgiving day as well.
Our patients on caseload needed to be seen, which meant I had to balance cooking and baking before, during and after work.
It was on like Donkey Kong.
The best thing I learned from Thanksgiving this year, was that if you follow the directions listed on the turkey to every detail, you could quite possibly end up with the best, most delicious tasting turkey known to man. I'm still waking up at two in the morning to get a turkey snack.
The worst thing I learned? If you DON'T follow the instructions on a ham and just 'wing it' (bad pun) along with the turkey, you could end up with the worst, most awful chunk of leathery meat imaginable. I mean like, hiking boots could be made out of this stuff.
With the worry about work, I put both the turkey and the ham in together at the same time, thinking I was the Martha Stewart of all delicious holiday meats.
Ummmm...yeah. Not so much.
I will say that was one of my favorite things about the day, regardless of the food, was that we had a little helper.
What we're used to, is a group of kids running around the house like wild, or a toddler wanting to throw eggs into the proverbial pumpkin mix.
This year though...our little girl was old enough to truly help us in the kitchen. It was hard not to smile as our youngest carefully measured and focused on her cooking and baking. I had visions of years to come which were both as bitter as they were sweet.
So the day was a success. One filled with perfect turkeys, horrible ham jerky and future pumpkin pie bakers, made with love.
We hope that you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year and we pray for those who couldn't be with ones they care about for whatever reason that might be. May your year that follows, be blessed beyond compare.
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I've worked in restaurants, watched cooking shows and tried my hand at making meal after meal. I recently learned something that I've never seen before though.
I love to cook with onions. Sautéing them, grilling them, you name it...they give recipes that certain...umph. What I hate though? Is chopping them.
The burning sting that brings tears to your eyes is enough to drive you mad.
Here's a trick you can try that might surprise you. When I heard about it, to be honest, I didn't believe it. I decided to give it a go just to see if it worked though, and it knocked my socks off.
What you do, is take a single piece of bread. (I used a regular old slice of sandwich bread.) Bend the piece of bread in half, then bite down on the bent side so that most of the bread is sticking out, making you look like you have a duck bill.
Chop, dice or slice your onions and waaaait for it...
For whatever reason, as long as you keep the bread in your mouth, the burning and stinging won't reach your eyes. You can chop away and nothing hurts.
Sure, you might look like a crazy person, but at least you won't have tears streaming down your face when you're done.
I hope if you try it, it works for you too!
Until then, happy cooking and have a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
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