Tuesday, December 25, 2012

christmas wishes

merry christmas, from our homes to yours.

may your days be merry and bright.

Monday, December 24, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: bacon and swiss quiche

i love special breakfasts on christmas morning...or christmas eve morning. i love having an extra moment to spend with my family in the midst of the holiday chaos. this year i threw together a new quiche and it turned out amazing. it is just as good reheated the next day and my kids devoured it both the first and second time around. need a new special meal for your family? try quiche for breakfast.

bacon and swiss quiche

one pastry single pie crust (i either buy one frozen or refrigerated. there is no   
      need to make something that is just as good purchased.)

5 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups half & half (or whole milk)

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

8 slices bacon, cooked until crunchy and crumbled into pieces

1 1/2 cups shredded swiss cheese

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

prepare the pastry for a single-crust pie and place in a pie tin. crimp the edges as desired. line the pastry with aluminum foil and bake at 450 degrees for 8 minutes. remove from oven. 

heat oven to 325 degrees. in a medium bowl, mix all remaining ingredients well with a wire whisk. pour egg mixture into prepared pastry shell. bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. let stand ten minutes before serving. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

non-traditional christmas gifts

my grandmother has a miserable combination of dementia and alzheimer's. there are some days when one part of her memory is off and other days when her brain is affected by the other disease. it's rough going. she doesn't know who i am. if she gets something new, she does not understand what is happening. she will usually declare that it is not hers and promptly give it to someone else. in her mind, everyday she eats new things because she can't remember ever eating it before. she meets new people...everyone including her family is a stranger. some days my grandpa is still alive and is just out running errands. those days are great ones. 

i love my grandmother and i remember her heart and mind the way she used to be. if you haven't read it yet, read "my life in quilts" to know a piece of my life where my grandmother is concerned. 

i want to honor her at christmas but i know that regular gift giving is out of the question. my husband's grandmother is suffering in a similar way so traditional gifts for her have become difficult. to find a ways to both honor our grandmothers and perpetuate their heritage, i'm giving them the gift of giving and donating in their names to some of my favorite charities. this is perfect for someone for whom a traditional gift is no longer feasible. beyond that, it is something i'm doing for my kids as well. let's face it...our kids probably get enough gifts at christmas to last the year through. i can certainly substitute one of their toys for food for a child somewhere else in the world to keep them from starving. again, even at their little ages, they are filled consumed with "first world problems". i'll take any opportunity possible to start to change their world focus.

in case you are looking for something non-traditional to give for christmas, here are my favorite charities to support, not only at christmas but the whole year through.

compassion international

my husband and i both sponsored kids with compassion before we were married. since then we have continued that tradition together. we have pictures of our little sponsored kids on the refrigerator and my kids ask about them all the time. they are surrogate members of our family. for $38.00 a month, you can give a little one a better chance to live without struggling for basic necessities. there are so many kids that need help.  sponsorship can start during christmas and continue the whole year through. 

world help

this organization has so many ways to give. you can buy school uniforms, wheelchairs, clean water, food, animals, bibles, anything that suits your desire to give. visit their "gifts of hope" link for dozens of great ideas. looking for something unique for your family? they also have a link to buy gifts created in third world countries to support their local incomes. it's a win for everyone involved.

for unique christmas gifts from third world countries:

samaritan's purse

i love samaritan's purse. i love their "operation christmas child." we participate in giving the christmas boxes every year and i love involving my kids in the shopping and stuffing for other children. beyond the christmas boxes, samaritan's purse offers dozens of other cool christmas gifts. buy hot meals, milk, fruit trees, build a house, and everything in between. if you have the means, you can even pay to fly a child to receive heart surgery. their line up of gifts is extensive. find something to give to honor a loved one today.

heifer international

these are great for christmas because it is a simple, one time gift. give a flock of chicks for $20.00. rabbits, honeybees, geese, a piece of a cow, anything could help a family survive and thrive for years to come. 

whichever way you choose to give, you cannot go wrong when you think of others and remember how privileged we are. we are so blessed. christmas is a great time to take time to bless others and to teach our children to do the same. my grandmother was a generous giver. this is the perfect way to honor her legacy. how about you? do you have someone you could honor today?

Monday, December 17, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: chocolate covered pretzels

my kids love little christmas treats. let's be honest. i do too. december is usually not a month that is big in the weight loss category in my house.

anyway, i love to make chocolate covered pretzels for the kiddos. they are so easy and they will last several days. grab your ingredients and go!

chocolate covered pretzels

one bag old fashioned dipping sticks

one bag milk chocolate chips

one bag white chocolate chips

christmas sprinkles (any kind)

melt one bag of chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. start by microwaving it for one minute. mix well. return the chocolate to the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate is a melted, smooth consistency.

dip each pretzel into the chocolate using a spoon to coat all but one tip. place covered pretzel on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. 

sprinkle with various holiday decorations. let cool at room temperature until set. 

remove from wax paper and share. repeat the process for the white chocolate covered pretzels and you're set! enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

the fall of the elf on the shelf

i had the highest aspirations this year. i was going to be one of those crazies who has a plan for what "charlie", our elf, will do each night. i scoured pinterest. i made lists. i was organized. i even had a pretty good run. charlie was more creative than ever. i felt like a rock star.

here are some of my efforts. trust me, you'll want to save your applause until the end.

i was pretty proud of myself. i thought i was the toast of elfing mothers everywhere. 

then i got busy...and tired...and sadly forgot all of my best laid plans. the kids didn't seem too upset...until i found this note from my daughter in our office.

in case you had trouble reading it, it says: "dear santa clause, please ask our elf to move to a different place? it has been three days and he still hasn't moved. from addalynne. to santa."

yep. greatest letter ever. sadly, that is my favorite thing that has come from the elf on the shelf this year. i did move him after this...but i think i set my own standards for charlie a little too high. there was no where to go but down. so sorry, charlie. better luck next year. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

mmmmm, mondays: heavenly fudge

i'm going to be real here. fudge is my holiday weakness. i could eat an entire tray of it myself. it's one of those treats my grandmother used to make for me and it holds not only value for its deliciousness but sentimental value as well. honestly, any dessert that consists almost entirely of chocolate, butter and sugar is probably on my top ten list. this recipe is simple and delicious. my five year old has helped with the stirring process the last two years and it turns out amazing. looking for something to share with your neighbors? this just may be the dessert for you.

heavenly fudge

1 1/2 cups butter

6 cups sugar (yep...you read that right!)

1 1/3 cup evaporated milk (a little less than one 12 ounce can)

2 packages (12 ounces each) semi-sweet chocolate chips (use chocolate chips 
         and not baker's chocolate.) 

2 (7 oz.) jars of marshmallow cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

melt the butter in a large saucepan. add the sugar and the evaporated milk and mix. bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly (this is a great time to bring in the kiddos and have them take turns stirring). continue boiling over medium heat for five minutes. stir constantly to prevent burning. 

remove from heat. add the chocolate chips, marshmallow cream and vanilla and mix until fully melted and incorporated. pour into a buttered 9 x 13 pan and a 8 x 8 pan (there should be enough to fill both.) cool at room temperature and cut into squares. heaven!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

a very married chistmas

nellie & my mr.

once upon a time, i was married without children. when i reminisce, i find those distant days in my past appear like a foggy mirage. during the holidays, my husband and i cuddled more, spent time together, searched for the perfect gifts to make each other happy. those days feel like a lifetime ago.

the christmas season is swirling around us. i am the first one to admit that christmas without children sounds like a christmas tree without lights. it may look fine, but something would always be missing. christmas with kids, however, has become so pumped up on steroids that it's hard to stay focused. moms these days have to create magic...not just on christmas day, but the whole month through. advent calendars, service projects, elves on shelves, and other christmas activities fill up the entire month of december and once the 26th rolls around, i usually can't wait to pack the whole business up for another 11 months.

when you add a husband to that mix, things can get ugly. there is so much pressure to purchase the right gifts, make everything beautiful, keep children engaged, be service minded, and entertain family that marriages can face some tough holiday waters. somehow the participation and collaboration of a spouse that used to be totally acceptable is just not good enough anymore. the pressure that mothers feel to get everything right becomes the squeeze that gets transferred to their husbands when they don't seem to understand or contribute like they should. i hear more of my friends who are angry with their husbands in december than in any other month of the year. i certainly do not believe that is coincidental.

this year we're doing something drastic. my husband and i are going on a cruise the week before christmas. that's right folks, these milky white, post-thanksgiving thighs are going to be seen poolside for an entire week. the cruisers won't know what hit them. i'm sure some people will think the timing is selfish...how could we not want to spend those days before christmas with our kids? believe me, i've heaped my own pile of mommy guilt on my own head thinking about it. that guilt has only lasted for only a minute before wisdom has kicked in and i realized that christmas is not just about our kids.

christmas should be about family...as a whole...husbands not excluded. i'm sure the kids would rather have happy parents than every other christmas trimming. so often i am so busy with the five kids that my husband and my marriage take a back seat. those days of taking time together and treating each other with even more love and affection during christmastime are long, long gone. don't you think it's time to bring them back?

i get it, a cruise is not in the plans for most couples this christmas...but something else still can be. take some time just to be together. put down the smart phones and the christmas lists and do something fun. here are some ideas:

  • rent a movie and watch it by the fire together. make hot chocolate and popcorn. cuddle. (crazy, right?) 
  • go out to dinner. can't afford much? go out to coffee. if you can't afford a babysitter, swap childcare with a friend. offer them a night out and watch their kids and then have them do the same. 
  • play a board game together. 
  • feed the kids sandwiches one night and order take out for the two of you. wait to eat it until they go to bed and sit and just talk for a while.
it doesn't have to be extravagant...just take time in this crazy time to spend time together. 

okay, so here's my last little tidbit before i sign off. to all you husbands out there who may be reading "the third boob..." 
  • first of all, you rock. any man that goes to a site with the word "boob" in the title just for reading purposes is a good, good man.
  • secondly, if your wife is crazy during december, there is a good reason. do something to make her happy this month. does she like coffee? go get her one. are flowers her thing? pick her up a bunch. 
  • third, if possible, do something extra each day. your wife is working double time this month to make the magic happen. if you don't normally clean the bathrooms, pick up a toilet scrubber. is the dishwasher full? empty that sucker. christmas cards need addressing? offer to address a few. doing something so your spouse doesn't have to means that she is free to spend time with you. when things get done around the house, wives are usually happier people. that saying..."a happy wife means a happy life" is so, so true. my husband steam cleaned the carpets on the stairs the other night. i have never loved him more. 

i really, truly cannot wait to hear your responses to this one. got any other ideas of how to spend time with your spouse? i'm dying to hear them. extra tips for husbands during december? pass them on. christmas is my favorite time of the year, truly. at the end of the month, once all the celebration has ended, i want to come out of the experience merrily married. how about you?