Sunday, December 28, 2014

Random Things That Make Me Happy

For some odd reason, I am feeling pulled to make New Year's Resolutions or goals or some such thing. That really isn't like me, especially not lately.

Lately, I have been more of a go-with-the-flow, live-in-the-moment sort of person.

I thought I would make a list of things that make me happy.

1. Being outside

2. Feeling competent at pretty much anything

3. Feeling close to someone

4. Laughing

5. Acquiring new information

6. Learning how to do new things

7. Organizing or cleaning something

8. Writing or saying something beautiful

9. Floating in the water where I cannot touch the bottom

10. Being a part of a large crowd

11. Being alone in an uncluttered place

12. Random, unexpected intensity

That is all that I can think of for now!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Parenting Advice

I have fallen off blogmas and will probably not go back.

In other news, I read so many blogs from parents of young children who seem to worry about the wrong things so I feel called to put out some parenting advice of my own.

These words are for parents with children of all ages. Always strive to be kind; modeling kindness goes a long way toward growing kind human beings. Encourage your kids to be brave. Do not force them, and remember that braveness looks different in different people. You can never know exactly what your child is thinking or feeling.

Perhaps most importantly, put nothing ahead of the relationship. When something else becomes more important, your child will know, and quickly lose respect and connection with you.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blogmas Day 11: Christmas Food, What Is on the Menu

I don't know? I do not think was have strong traditions about specific Christmas foods in my family!

We have a Christmas party of sorts every year, but the furthest I've gotten on planning the menu at this moment is that we will have buttery brie and crackers, and a dark chocolate salted caramel Oreo pie.

About the rest, we shall see!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blogmas Day 10: Show Us Your Cookies, or Recipes

I have a lot of recipes that I use for Christmas cookies, but this is my favorite:

Gingerbread Cookies
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, Beat in the egg, water and molasses. Stir in the dry ingredients except for the 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Roll the dough into walnut size balls. Roll each ball in the reserved sugar, and place them 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 9 to 10 minutes.

This is a close second that just smells like Christmas Eve to me:

Christmas Casserole Cookies
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sugar

Beat the eggs with an electric mixer. Beat in the sugar. Stir in the dates, walnuts, coconut, vanilla and almond extract. Place in a 2-quart casserole dish, and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and immediately beat with a wooden spoon. Let the mixture sit until it is cool enough to handle, and then form into balls and roll them in the reserved sugar.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Blogmas Days 7, 8 & 9!

Oops! I have been busy with work and missed a few days.

Day 7
Handmade Christmas: Your Favorites to Give or Get
I love to get hand-knit mittens. I have never had a pair of mittens from the store that was quite right!
I am not much of a homemade gift giver. I don't really enjoy making things. I have given photo books before and baked goods, but that is about it.

Day 8
What Is on Your Wish List This Year?
I want a calendar with big squares, but I think someone has already taken care of that need. I would love gift cards to get warm clothing. I think I spent my entire yearly clothing budget on summer stuff this year. I always like treats and games to play with the family.

Day 9
Winter Items You Can't Live Without
Snow shovels!!! We go through so many snow shovels. Hot chocolate and flavored coffees. Music. Warm soups and stews! Salt for the steps. Mittens.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Blogmas Day 6: When Do You Open Presents

We open presents on Christmas morning! Some years we open them right away, and others we wait until after breakfast. Both work well for us. When I was growing up, we were morning openers. My dad was responsible for maintaining the temperature in the factory he worked in so some years we had to wait until he went in and came home (and the place was probably a 30 minute drive away.) It wasn't really a long wait, but when you are little, those presents are very enticing. I remember some years my mom let us open one while he was gone, and one year we got up really early and did it, but I think all of use agreed that that didn't really work.

My favorite part of opening presents is doing it one at a time. We get to enjoy our own gifts and others' vicariously. We didn't do that when we were little, but after we adopted the tradition, I knew I would never go back!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Blogmas Day 5: Favorite Christmas Food

I enjoy Christmas cookies, as long as they're good Christmas cookies! I love gingerbread with whipped cream and nearly anything with peppermint. Roast turkey and roast pork are not completely Christmas traditions around here, but they are both delicious as is homemade cranberry sauce.

I like good food, and I am a good cook, but I am not really a foodie. That may be why this topic is difficult for me!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Blogmas Day 4: Favorite Christmas Music

I love Christmas music. I love carols. I love modern Christmas songs that make me laugh. I love old sentimental favorites.

My favorite carols are "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "It Came upon a Midnight Clear." Both evoke the scene and the feeling of that first Christmas night so long ago. My family favorite is "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays." 'N Sync started this one, and it fast become our family's favorite. It never feels like the Christmas season has really arrived until we have all listened to this, and singing it together unaccompanied is a Christmas Eve tradition. My favorite from this century are a few of the holiday songs put out by The Killers, particularly "Don't Shoot Me Santa" and "Boots." This year's "Joel,  the Lump of Coal" came out two days ago and combines The Killers ingenious mixture of humor and sentimentality to make me cry.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blogmas Day 3: Favorite Christmas Movies

My favorite Christmas movie is "You've Got Mail." It is a soft and sweet romantic comedy, and it plays on the early computer culture that I grew middle-aged with. I like that everything doesn't work out perfect, but it does work out good enough.

My favorite Christmas TV special is "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." I always enjoyed it the most as a kid. I loved they way they incorporated explanations for so many holiday stories. I love that some of my children really like it too, and we watch it most years. (It is on ABC next Tuesday!) "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" is a close second favorite.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blogmas Day 2: What Christmas Means to Me

I love Christmas! I love the whole season. I love the decorations and the family togetherness and even the shopping and commercialism. I love thinking about the baby Jesus being born in a stable with his mom loving him so much, representing love and hope and peace.

What does Christmas mean to me? To me Christmas is about finding that peace inside myself to move me through the dark times. To me Christmas is seeing divinity in the little things. To me Christmas is family togetherness, and that most definitely includes intentional family. To me Christmas is hope and the rebirth of light that gives me a fresh start after the darkest night.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The First Day of Blogmas: My Favorite Christmas Tradition

On the first day of Blogmas, my true love gave to me a giant Christmas tree.

My favorite Christmas tradition is to turn off ALL the lights in the house  when we have finished decorating the tree. Then we all sing Oh Christmas Tree. Close second is when I turn off the lights every night and gaze at the tree. A close third is our annual Christmas gathering. It use to be on Christmas Eve with lots of family and a few friends. Now it is whenever we can manage it and with very few guests (maybe one some years) but I still love creating the feast and then resting with my family in the peace of the season.