Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Recycled

We are putting away our Christmas decorations. For me, it gets to the point where it all just feels like so. much. clutter. I try to hold out until New Year's Day... but can't! I love the feeling of empty space when it is all cleared out and we have our house back. I thought I would share a couple of ways we "go green" as the Christmas season ends.

1. Ornament Storage
Nearly every time I go to Costco, I pick up a dozen apples. They are a staple in our fridge for school lunches and afternoon snacks. The containers in which the apples come are made of 70% recycled drink bottles, are recyclable, but are too way cool to throw away. They work perfectly to store many of our ornaments!

2. Ribbon Re-Do
I LOVE to wrap presents with real, woven-cloth ribbon! I love the luxury of big bows tied onto the packages. No wimpy, stringy, curling ribbon or stick-on bows for me!!! "It's so expensive," you say. Well, not really if you buy the big, 50-yard rolls of ribbon at Costco for just $6, and/or stock up at the after-Christmas clearance sales at the craft stores.

Plus, here is my big secret... I recycle much of our ribbon! Yes, I have trained my kids when opening presents on Christmas morning: "The paper goes in the trash bag. Pile the ribbon up by Mommy." Then, it is my job later to carefully smooth out and roll up that pile of ribbon. And, to make sure I find it when I need it, I put it away in our boxes of Christmas decorations. By taking care to store it, it is ready for wrapping next year. If you get a gift from me, you may wonder if the ribbon is recycled, but you probably won't be able to tell for sure!

How do you recycle {& I'm not talking about re-gifting!} at Christmas?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Baby Boy is 15!

This cute baby boy who has given me so much joy...

Is turning into a man right before my eyes!

Today we celebrate Zac as he turns 15! We so proud of the fine young man he is... great citizen, hard worker, awesome student, wonderful son! We love you Zachary!!! Happy Birthday!!!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spinach Garlic Stuffing Recipe

My sister makes this awesome stuffing. I have never liked the dressing or stuffing that usually accompanies Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. But my sister's stuffing, that is a whole 'nother story! I love it! I actually will make traditional cornbread dressing because my husband likes that. AND I will make my sister's stuffing, as well. I have been doing this for probably ten years.  It is GOOD!

Dana's Spinach Garlic Stuffing

20 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I have successfully subbed fresh baby spinach)
1 cup butter
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 whole onion, diced
2 heads fresh garlic, peeled (lots and lots of garlic cloves you will keep whole, or cut in half!)
6 cups fresh bread crumbs (I get sourdough bread and cut into 1" cubes)
15 oz. ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 Tb dried parsley
2 tsp salt
1 tsp poultry seasoning

Stir fry the veggies in the butter. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. This can be stuffed in the turkey and also under the skin to add good flavor to the bird. Or, place in a greased casserole dish and bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I like to bake it in a dish and uncover it at the end so it gets crispy on top.

{Note to my friends who had this with me this Thanksgiving.... I actually messed up and doubled the amount of poultry seasoning when I served it to you! This recipe calls for less poultry seasoning than what you tasted.}

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just keep smiling!

Last week was one of those weeks! The downstairs heat went out last Saturday and wasn't fixed until Friday... I was settling into my new job... I was co-coordinator for a middle school ministry Christmas party for 150 Tuesday evening... I was responsible for getting 24 freshly-printed and properly-identified t-shirts to Jacob's class party on Thursday {after learning on Monday that they had been printed on the wrong color shirt, but that all worked out fine!}... I was scheduled to volunteer with the 7th grade "Victorian Celebration" at Abbie's school on Thursday... I have been assisting numerous customers with Christmas orders and deliveries and design projects... I was working on our Christmas card and letter... I had kids to watch and errands to run and packages to get ready to mail... all while certain rooms of my house look like something exploded. 

Making dinner wasn't exactly at the top of my To Do list! I was so glad when I had the inspiration on Thursday to make Tamale Pie. But then, in my distraction, I burnt the cornmeal I was cooking on top of the stove that was supposed to be the crust, and not just a little. I had a good 3/8" of black, burnt crust on the bottom of my little stainless steel pot. I was a little flustered, and set it down on my butcher block. {The butcher block my mother had commissioned someone to make for her over 25 years ago. The butcher block that has also belonged to my sister, and for the last 8 years has been mine. That butcher block.} 

When I picked up the pan and saw the mark, it did look like a happy face to me! I just had to laugh. I posted a funny status on facebook: "My reputation is ruined! I just burnt dinner. On to plan B..." Plan B ended up being burritos, using the filling that would have gone in the tamale pie. Everyone agreed that dinner was tasty, fortunately.

The burnt mark on the butcher block might be able to be sanded away. Or it might stay. Gil says it adds character. Right now it is a reminder to keep smiling! Enjoy the moments. We are so blessed and have so much for which to give thanks!

Just keep smiling..... even when your husband surprises you with the news that you will be dog sitting for the next week!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is for kids

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
~Luke 18:16

Right in my kitchen I have a beloved Nativity set. Whenever small children come to visit, they are immediately attracted to it. And their mamas are almost always heard asking, "Are you supposed to be touching that?"

And my response is always, "That's why it is there."

I love that kids can touch and feel and act out the Christmas Story. It should be right within their reach. My children have always loved playing with this set. And I can always count on one of them to put it back "right" after other kids have come along and set it up their way. I love that having this Nativity right at hand and eye level allows the opportunity to talk about Jesus and God and this beautiful season of Christmas!

I am linking this post up with Richella at Imparting Grace. She is having a Home for the Holy Days party!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It's a Giveaway Day!

Welcome to my blog today! I am pleased and proud to be partnering with Modern Parent to give away this beautiful 8x8 pre-decorated scrapbook. You can go to the Modern Parent Facebook Page to get the details for this one-day (December 8th, 2011) giveaway!

If you want to give a gift from the heart, here is an easy way to share love and memories with minimal effort. I have already done most of the work for you!!! {But guess what... it was easy... I used a kit so it all came together really quickly!}

This cute 8x8 album has a classic chocolate cover (that can be personalized with added Persona Imprinting). The 24 inside pages are already decorated and ready for your pictures. These rich, earthy colors work well for a guy, like your husband or dad, as well as your mom or best girlfriend!

Each page is unique and will be even more beautiful with YOUR photos on it!

This prize package includes everything you need to make a special, sure-to-be-loved gift! Just add pictures!!! The pages are ready to go, complete with beautiful papers, stickers, and photo mats. In addition, you will receive a Tape Runner adhesive dispenser for attaching your pictures to the pages. Once your album is complete, Page Protectors slip on to add the finishing touch. All of this is worth nearly $72.

All YOU need to do is gather up your pictures, get them printed, and stick them down.

See how the photo mats are the perfect size for 4x6 photos? You can also add your own captions and sentiments directly to the pages. Cute and easy and memorable!

Be sure to check out Modern Parent to get yourself into the drawing for this sweet gift. You can also visit {& Like!} my Facebook Page, too! And if you don't win... well, I have lots of other options for you! Who in your life would appreciate a lovely little scrapbook made just for them?

{Simply Said mini-books}

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Husband Rocks!

Looking through my pictures, I see that I have lots and lots to share and I have no delusions of ever catching up. But here is something cute I can't resist sharing today. Pulling food out of the freezer yesterday for our meal last night reminded me!

A few weeks ago I had cooked a huge lunch of Chile Verde and homemade refried beans. We were having company after church, so I spent hours the day before prepping everything. I had my crockpot and roaster going Sunday morning so that when we arrived home, the delicious lunch was waiting for us to enjoy. 

As soon as our company left, Abbie and I wanted to head out to do a little shopping before we went to church that evening. But my dilemma was that I had a lot of food to put away (I call them "planned-overs"!). Well, Gil graciously offered to package up and freeze the food so that we could leave without delay. So sweet!!!

Well, I just had to giggle when a few days later I went to the freezer and this is what I found. He made my day with this sweetness. And each time I see these (now dwindling) containers in the freezer I smile. He loves me!!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Time for Tea!

Today is the day! It is our annual Christmas Tea at church! {I wrote about it here and here last year!} I have three friends attending with me, plus four others who bought tickets will sit at my table with us. We have 80 tables all beautifully decorated, which is always a feast for the eyes.

I set my table up Thursday after school with the help of Abbie & Jacob. Then I went back yesterday to add a finishing touch and see all the other tables that had been decorated. I am looking forward to this afternoon and my SIXTH year enjoying this wonderful tradition!!!

{I am having so many issues with blogger letting me upload my photos... I don't know what is going on. After twelve attempts, this is the only one that would work and it isn't right, either. Hopefully I will be able to upload all the tea table photos I have taken!}
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