Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas 2015

Last year our Christmas revolved around my husband's work schedule which required us to celebrate
on Christmas Eve with our family.
We enjoyed it so much that when his schedule potentially presented problems to us again,
we were happy to once again enjoy all the fun together on Christmas Eve!
This was the last year we will be celebrating in this room as my Mother-in-Law will be moving in 2016.

It has been a long-standing tradition for our family to order Chinese food on Christmas Eve, 
and it just makes everything so much simpler for us!  Plus, it's delicious!!!!!

This guy picked out the necklace I'm wearing because he wanted me to remember
"that he loves me."  Sigh.

This girl simply could not WAIT for her brother to open his gift from her. 
She knew how he had picked this out a long time ago and talked about it all the time.
Each of our children picked a siblings name from a basket and bought a gift for that person.
Not this girl.
No matter that she picked one name.
She kept wanting to back our shopping for each and every sibling!!

After our reservation time was up in the club-room,
we moved the party up to my mother-in-law's apartment where the children played some more
and the girls finished a puzzle with Grandma!

We had such a lovely time together full of fun and laughter.

On Christmas Day, we simply relaxed, took things slow, and remembered 
who's birthday this was commemorating anyway!
We had a delicious lunch together with all our favorites.....

........and then we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

Soon after we had a sweet little surprise visitor who was not quite
two weeks old.
Aryn was delighted!

Because the weather was so very warm on this Christmas Day,
the girls and I took a walk where we spotted some
beautiful Christmas decor that our Loving Heavenly Father scattered
around for us to see and enjoy!!!

Such a blessed time together and lovely memories to carry us into the new year!!!

Happy New Year!!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Baking

One of my favorite things to do over the holidays is to create some yummy treats in my kitchen that I remember from my childhood!  Usually I can round up lots of willing helpers, but this year, my helpers were scattered around at or with other various activities.
Honestly, it was kinda nice having the kitchen all to myself and being able to move through each project with out a ton of mess.  No bikering, no crowding, no spills, and lots of Christmas music.
Very relaxing, very little stress!

Because we were so busy preparing for and participating in several different programs and events,
I wasn't able to start baking until everything was over.
So, on the scond day of Christmas break I pulled out all my recipes, ingredients, and baking pans and got busy!!

These yummies elicit memories of Christmas time so long ago in an ancient, brick farmhouse
in Northwest Ohio.
Mocha Nut Butterballs are a cousin to the Mexican Wedding Cookie/Snowball cookie,
but have cocoa and coffee in the dough.  They bake up light and tender and then are rolled
in confectioner's sugar.
You can find the recipe here.

These Sour Cream Cutout cookies didn't turn out quite like I had envisioned.
It had been years since I have made a cut-out cookie, and it may just be another several years until
I do so again.  This project made me feel like a rookie in the kitchen.
The flavor is wonderful and just how I remember, but they popped up so very thick.
Think biscuit.
I put too much liquid in the frosting so it wasn't as thick as I was envisioning,
but it did dry and set-up nicely so these were stackable after decorating.
I loved them, but my family hardly touched them?

Find this recipe here.

My intent was to make a TON of goodies and then share them with our precious neighbors
who have been such a blessing to us this year.  So as I finished up the baking of each cookie,
I found containers to package them up in.  Here you can see the final cookie I made on baking day.
These Chocolate Mint Drops are another favorite from my childhood that I looked forward too every Christmas as a little girl.  
They have a subtle chocolate peppermint flavor that comes from crushing up candy canes.
A chocolate glaze is drizzled over top to pump up the chocolate goodness of these gems!!

Mom's Chocolate Mint Drops
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup crushed candy canes
2 eggs
6 T. cocoa plus 2 T. shortening, or,
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla 
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup oats

Chocolate glaze
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 T. cocoa
3 T. milk

Cream shortening and sugar.  Stir in candy.  Add eggs.  Blend in chocolate, milk and vanilla.  Stir in other ingredients with oats last.  Chill for 1 hour.  Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet.  
Bake 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool and drizzle with chocolate glaze.

I also made three batches of Puppy Chow and bagged those up to give away as well.
You can never make enough of this addictive treat.
I rarely make it outside of the holiday season because it is so delicious, and so easy 
to consume an entire batch in one sitting!!
If you don't already have that recipe, you can find it here.

We love to make treats and give them as gifts every year.
You can see what we've done other years by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Reflections {Part 3}

On the Friday before Christmas, our Homeschool Assistance Program hosted
a Christmas celebration for all the students on the final day before our winter break.
My girls wanted to give a little goodie bag to each of the students,
so we spent some time assembling all those gifts as well as teacher gift bags.

For the party, each child brought a white elephant gift from home for a gift exchange.
They played games and shared lunch together before giving their class supervisors their gifts.

The Lord has truly blessed our family with this program and the delightful friendships my children have developed and the opportunities it has offered us!!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Reflections {Part 2}

Our Homeshool Assistance Program kept us busy this month with two very special events.

"Joy to the World" emphasized the need for telling the world of the Good News
of Jesus Christ through a lovely little drama that incorporated the entire student body in story and song.

After the program was over, the Beginning Foods class that I taught this semester hosted
a "Mini-Dessert and Hot Chocolate Bar" reception for the students and their families.
My students prepared some of their favorite Christmas cookie or candy recipes,
and our Ashlyn was, once again, supervising the hot chocolate bar.

We were so blessed by the enthusiasm of all the students and the lovely responses of their families.
Joy, joy, joy!!!!