Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Minute Decorating Ideas

My friend, Erica, told me I could share her wonderful (and virtually free) tree decorating tip with you that she used this year.  I thought her ideas were brilliant, tasteful, cute, and even kinda hip (she's always hip). I love, love, love her Christmas tree this year!  So simple: Lots of draped yarn and some cute fabric tied into bows on the branches.  A few twinkly lights and a few colorful balls and voila! Awesome Christmas decor.  You rock, Erica.

Here's another simple idea we did a few years back when I was a little more in control of how to decorate the tree (this year, the kids took over with colored lights and crazy ornaments... but I'm happy for them.) Its another very simple and virtually free way to decorate your Christmas tree: nostalgic photographs attached with clothespins and hanging gingerbread men and women.  We also threw in a few of our sentimental ornaments and some simple lights:Homey.  Check out the full post from Christmas '08 here.


Elliott's wish list... with graphics.  Would you like to see some of his gift giving ideas next?

I'm sorry, but I think my kid is awesome.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Hunt

We came, we hunted, we conquered.

As you may know, I love to chop down our Christmas tree every year, rather than buying it from a lot (see Christmas '08 for more on that), and this year was no exception.  We gathered together a small gaggle of people and took them all with us to get the tree out on Frosty Mountain...  It was really jolly to have some friends along.

{I hope you watched that progression of photos.  One minute everything is fine; the next, the world has fallen apart.}

We were so excited to take Caiden to get our Christmas tree this year since it is the first year that she actually realizes what is going on...  But she ended up just being crabby the whole time!  Meanwhile, Elliott was as chipper as can be and so excited to help Daddy cut down the tree. Caiden just kept being a punk and didn't really want to join in the fun--she wouldn't help us chop it down, she wouldn't let us take her picture...  Once the tree was felled, everybody cheered... except for Caiden.  She broke out in the most pitiful wail of what I can only assume was self pity.  Classic.  Once that happened, Elliott got concerned and he started crying.  Doubly classic. (I just want to take a moment to thank the industry of film/television for making this child/parent anomaly of parents trying to make something fun and kids not having much fun so timeless and hence, making it funny when it happens.  Thank you.)

We brought the tree home, whipped up some madeline cookies and some nice hot coffee (it had been raining all day and we were cold, wet, and muddy), strung some lights, and then our whole gaggle helped to decorate the tree.  We then proceeded to make ornaments from hollow eggshells and then later had breakfast for dinner with all of the egg innards.  I think we made some memories.  Only time will tell, eh?

Oh, and in case Elliott and Caiden read this in years to come... I love you guys, nothing can ever make me stop.  No amount of tantrums, or whining, or anything.  Not only that, but I want you to know, we had a great time!  Christmas tree hunting with you is the best!  It wouldn't be as much fun without you. Lots of love from your Mama. <3

Thursday, December 2, 2010

25 Days of Christmas

Elliott started reminding me about our advent calendar a few days ago at which time I began to ponder what to fill the little boxes with this year.  I'm not too keen on the idea of giving them a piece of candy every single day for 25 days...  So I started to try to think of some activities or something we could do instead.

I prayed about what I should do and then put it out of my mind, then I would pray again the next time I thought about it.  Lo and behold, December first rolled around on Wednesday of this week, as these things do, and I surprised the kids by presenting the advent calender, with all of its colorful boxes, to them over breakfast along with our Veggie Tales nativity set (which I love because it is plastic and unbreakable and fun for them to play with).  They were very excited and kept asking if we were going to open a box that day.

This is a prime example of one of those moments I talked about previously where the Holy Spirit provides inspiration, because... I had nothing; and then suddenly, I did! 

Our advent calendar this year is as follows:

1. Each morning, the kids open the corresponding drawer number and find a slip of paper inside.  (Day one said something like this, "Read Genesis 3:15 and Galatians 4:4 to find out more about baby Jesus.")

2. We open up the Bible and, starting at the first prophecy concerning Jesus, the Messiah, we read 1st the prophecy in the Old Testament and then its New Testament follow up. (Day one prophecy was that the Messiah would be the offspring of Eve; Galatians following up that He had come and redeemed us.)

3. I present the children with a coloring page that I quickly sketch out to help bring home the ideas we talked about and plus be fun for them, of course relating it back to Christmas and Jesus' birth that we are celebrating. Day one was a picture of the tree of knowledge from the garden of Eden with the serpent coiled around it to show the fall and our need for a Savior; then an arrow pointing to a little manager with the Messiah, baby Jesus in it; also a crown to show His triumph over the serpent.) I'm an extremely amateur illustrator (I'm pretty terrible, actuallly).  I'm just keeping it simple but inspired and they don't know! They love it.

Surprisingly for me, they really enjoy this process and activity.  They haven't even been disappointed at not finding any candy waiting for them in the little drawers.

It has been really fun seeing Caiden (3) take interest and be full of question over baby Jesus in the manger and all.  This is the first year that she is actually taking these things in, so its all new for her and exciting for us!  Elliott (5) loves explaining all about Christmas to his little sister.

Enjoy the season, my friends, and meditate on God's goodness, grace, and foresight to plan and execute the greatest rescue mission of all time!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Impressive Apple Pie

This is an elegantly yummy dessert that makes quite the presentation with its apples piled high in a big mound covered with beautiful, buttery, flaky crust.  An old fashioned sort of dessert that is the perfect thing for a chilly fall evening with close friends. 

The market near my house had pie apples for something crazy like 46 cents a pound, last month, so I immediately thought of apple pie and Elliott (5) hastily agreed and climbed on board with my devious plan.  We made it on a regular weekday evening and ate it after dinner with a few friends; it was quite the homey treat.

My (borrowed) killer apple pie recipe can be found at Simply Recipes along with all of their other family tried and true recipes that have yet to disappoint. (The secret ingredient to the flaky crust is almond flour...sshhh...)  I would make any recipe from their blog.  Have your pie and eat it too! <3

Recipe Links:
Old Fashioned Apple Pie
All Butter Crust with Almonds