Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holiday Happy!

The season is officially upon us! My inlaws arrive today and the to-do list keeps on growing. My kids are SO excited, especially my three and-a-half year old, who bolted across the carpet at the mall when given the go ahead to see Santa and LAUNCHED himself onto the guy! I have never seen him deliver a hug with such enthusiasm. My 20 month-old cried the whole time, but I pretty much expected him to be confused about the whole sitting-on-a-strange-dude's-lap thing. His brother was the same way two years ago!

I got most of our send-away gifts out yesterday with family who are traveling to the big Van today. I am really glad I took the time to make some homemade gifts - see my food page - as they are being very well-received. A new addition to the pancake mix was some pure maple syrup which I transferred into pretty jars and spiced with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. The way this beautifies something which is already so decadent and delicious is amazing. It smells GORGEOUS! I will have to try it for our own Christmas breakfast.

Yesterday morning was quite beautiful, and as we watched "the sky wake up" (in the words of my son) I made the kids a lovely breakfast snack of "Christmas toasts with chocolate and snow." They loved it. I'm going to make Giada's stratiacella dessert again - see my food page for the link - and put it in the freezer for Christmas Day. Not a traditional dessert for the holidays but I think it will go over well. So yummy.

Our Christmas tree this year turned out to be much smaller than we thought it was, and so it's up on the kids' train table (which they graciously sacrificed at the promise that there would be even more room for presents this way). It has evolved a little since we took this photo but it's a fun, wonky little tree, and probably our last small one as next year we will be in our living room with its 13-foot ceiling!

Today the kids and I will go for a long walk and once I've tuckered them out, we'll return home for lunch and naps, and a major cleaning blitz for mommy! I will be glad to see the other side of it and glad to see my in-laws - yes, it's true - as it will mark the real beginning of Christmas for us. From there on in it will be about wrapping gifts, seeing friends and enjoying family. YAY! I love Chrissamiss.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


My house is a mess! My kids are twice as busy as I can keep up with and my to-do list is ten times as long. And that's okay!

Every year I try to do too much. People tell me not to, but I LOVE making and buying and beautifully wrapping special things and especially giving them to those I hope will be happily surprised at how personal, fun or thoughtfully chosen their little treats are. I use a lot of twine and little brass bells when I wrap things up - it's simple but festive - and I bought some of those label punches so I can make my own tags with fun paper. For my kitchen gifts I add a larger tag or recipe card with instructions on how to make and tie it on with twine and a nice piece of fabric.

So far this year I have made homemade pancake mix with holiday spices and ingredients and vanilla orangecello - check my food page for the recipes. The pile of gifties and stocking stuffers is growing and I hope to get on the wrapping this week so I don't have to put my back out in another 24-hour marathon (last year was painful but I think I got to the chiropractor in time)...I also found a couple of wreath bases for a couple of dollars at the thrift store and decorated them with inexpensive potpourri from Superstore and some reindeer ornaments I got for 50 cents apiece at the dollar store. I also had a string of old painted wooden beads I added to one and I think it looks awfully cute. Now I just have to convince my husband to put a nail in the front door so I can hang it up (one of the challenges of living with a builder is that they detest marring finished surfaces, even in the name of making a home feel homier and more festive...).

I still have some shopping to do but my cards are ready to mail and I even have a real family photo to send this year. My husband is, to say the least, as anti-poser as they come and HATES to sit for photographs, but after several days of nagging, he complied. We only got one where we were all smiling as Noah, our 20 month-old, cried the entire time, and of course I look a little too happy in that one (but fine in the one where our three year-old, Griffin appears drunk, and Noah perplexed)...but I am thrilled, nonetheless.

This year my in-laws are coming to stay with us. It's Papa's first Christmas with his grandsons, and also the first year the boys will both be old enough to feel the magic of the season. I can't wait to witness their excitement on Christmas morning. And though I am not religious, I am going to PRAY FOR SNOW! We will miss seeing my side of the family this year, but now that we have young children we can't have everyone at once (at least not until our new home is ready).

Christmas dinner can be stressful if not planned ahead. I highly recommend the Christmas edition of Jamie Oliver's magazine, if you can find one (it's a British publication but I found it in Chapters). The heading on the cover is "Christmas With The Olivers" and the issue includes a chronicle of their Christmas at Jamie's parents' place last winter (now that's thinking ahead). Anyway, it's full of great tips and photos and recipes and I am ready to plan an awesome meal, delegate the parts out to those wishing to help, and those who don't can have clean-up duty. If you are the primary cook for your household, make sure you get things organized ahead of time so you can enjoy yourself too! I will photograph as much of our spread as possible and try to journal here throughout the holidays (we shall see!).

We haven't decided which charity (or persons in need) we will contribute to helping yet for the year. Every year we give to someone (or an organization that helps someones). We do know that we want to help out families with children. Suggestions are welcome, the more local the better but we will consider anyone in real need.

May this holiday season for you be all about paying it forward, showing people you love them and getting a little break to curl up with a loved one or a good book. Oh, and HAPPY FESTIVUS! Please feel welcome to leave comments about what Christmas means to you.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Onward & Upward!

So, this weekend we will apparently be able to go and STAND ON THE MAIN FLOOR OF OUR HOUSE. I am beyond excited. Working on the kitchen floor plan has almost driven me over the edge. Everyone has an opinion so it's time for me to sit down ALONE and go over my options. I have a better idea of how I want the space to feel, but unlike my husband, who builds houses all the time, I have trouble visualizing the actual space if I can't be in it. The walls and ceiling are going to be up soon and then I will really have to start making decisions...I will post a link to the Horizon website and if you go into the Projects page you'll be able to look at the photos of our build in progress. Just select the "LEED Platinum Home" shots.
I shall return soon, but for now that's what's new...Happy weekend all!