Thursday, December 30, 2010
On Christmas Eve we always head to MeMaw's (DH's mom) house for their celebration. DH snapped this picture of me pretty soon after we got there. I was staking out my seat on the couch. With minimal seats and many, many grandchildren, getting a place to sit on an actual couch is like musical chairs.
My son is making a triumphant roar of some kind as he opens this gift. He almost looks like he is going to kill it and eat it. In this side of the family, the opening of the presents is a chaotic affair. I am greatly distressed by this. When I was a child...we had a small family. It was my mom, my dad, my brother, and me. Each person got several presents and we took turns opening. As each person opened one of their gifts, the others waited patiently, watching to see the person's reaction, or to see what they received. It was very personal and very orderly. My guy's family is totally the opposite. Everyone rips at once. Wrapping paper is flying everywhere, everyone is talking, everyone opens all their gifts nonstop, with no pauses in between.
I guess to me, the giving of a gift is a personal thing. I take time to pick out a gift I think a person will truly enjoy. I like to see their face when they open it and hear what they say. Maybe I'm just being neurotic, who knows? All I know is that at MY house, I make everyone take turns. After my son opened the legos, we basically didn't see him for the rest of the night. All I saw was the back of his head, which was partially submerged in the box of legos.
We got one of the kids to take a picture of us...we feel it is important to get pictures of us together. So when we are older we remember what we looked like way back when.
After we got home, the stepkids had to go back to their mom's house. My son put on his new jammies and took the ceremonial leaving out of the cookies photo. This year we added a carrot for the reindeer. He finally kind of smiled, because I threatened him. I told him Santa didn't leave presents for boys that don't smile in their Christmas pictures. I know, I'm so bad.
We had a really nice Christmas this year, and I know we have so much to be thankful for. Next time, I'll show what happened on Christmas morning. Here's a hint: it involves me and sharp metal objects. Now, you can't miss that! Happy New Year to all!
Posted by GardenMom at 12:06 AM
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I've been promising the kids they could go out and play in the snow, and the day before Christmas Eve, we got the major ingredient for that recipe. Thursday into Friday, we got somewhere between 8 and 10 inches of snow. I'm not sure how much exactly, I never saw the weather report that said the precise number. I just know it started snowing Thursday evening, and didn't stop until late, late Christmas Eve. So, the kids bundled up and headed out into the fluffy stuff. They were out there quite a while, sliding down the neighbor's driveway on tubes and sleds. When they came in, they were coated in snow. They even had snow crammed into their pockets. They had to peel everything off in the porch before they came in. I wasn't in the mood to waller (a word from my Missouri childhood, an adaptation of 'wallow') around in the snow myself, so this is the only picture I got of the snow adventures. My son seems to be going through a stage where he doesn't want to smile in pictures. I have given up harassing him to smile for the time being.
Since my stepkids had to go home to their Mom's house late on Christmas Eve, we opened their gifts on Friday afternoon. They are basically teenagers now, so we are mostly past the days of toys. My stepson is excited about his model firebird, and my stepdaughter is loving her fuzzy sweater boots. Note: We aren't watching horrible, inappropriate things on the tv...it has the parental settings turned on, and no matter what, every 4 hours if you don't change the channel, it brings up a screen where you have to punch in a password. Yeah, I'm that big meanie mom that doesn't let the teenagers watch R-rated movies without me approving first and putting in the password. I'm sure the 15-year old loves me on that one.
I swear, my son is really excited about his Bakugan case he got. And I think that is almost a smile. See, he's really happy!
Here's another really entertaining face. He opened a whole set of bakugans. I'm not sure why he looks like he's going to lick it.
It's like the old Life cereal commercials. Look, Mikey likes it! He really likes it!
Here, my son is showing off the stilts he got from his PopPop. Stilts! Are you kidding me? Here, let's give the ADHD kid stilts... My dad has a real sick sense of humor sometimes.
I don't even know what is going on with my stepkids' faces in this picture. She looks like she is playing air guitar with her new tennis shoes, and maybe he is envisioning my son on stilts, who knows?
So much went on the day of Christmas Eve that I had to break it up into two posts. Stay tuned for next time, when my son buries his head in legos for two hours and small children try to eat crayons as a Christmas snack. Merry Christmas!
Posted by GardenMom at 11:39 PM
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Hmmm...after I looked at this picture, I kept thinking it looked familiar. Then I looked back and found this post. What is it about this time of year that brings on wrestling in the kitchen? Is it the boys being cooped up indoors? Is it my stepson being in wrestling at school? Or is it that there is only one peanut butter cookie left, and the winner gets it? I vote for number 3, just cause my cookies are so awesome... ;)
In spite of Dad kicking his rear end, my stepson seems to still be in a good mood. Possibly because I told them more cookies will be ready soon.
All the kids take their turns cutting out shapes to fill a tray. They each have their favorite cookie cutters. Some of the cookie cutters were passed down to me by my mother. We have some trains my son particularly loves.
We always get a laugh when someone can't guess one of the shapes, and calls it something bizarre. This year we had a rule. No junk cookies. The boys think it is funny to dump a pile of each kind of sprinkle on the same cookie. This looks really, really gross. And of course when it is time to eat the cookies, do they pick one of THOSE cookies?... NO. They pick the pretty ones. I put my foot down this year.
The kids are all getting so big. I remember doing this when my son was 2, my stepdaughter was 7, and my stepson was 10. They were a heck lot smaller then, but I think they ate just as many cookies.
Mommy has a happy smile here, but I was pretty cranky this day. I was tired of cleaning up all these messes by myself. I felt like the little red hen that grows the wheat, harvests the wheat, and when it's time to eat the bread, here comes everybody. I think the kids were tired of me snapping at them. After I cleaned the cookie mess up, I took a nap. Things were better after that.
And after the nap, I was happy to eat some of the results. Cookie artists we may not be, but they all taste good! A Christmas cookie will fix a lot of things!
Posted by GardenMom at 10:31 AM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
We have been very busy around our household lately. I don't get out of school for break until 2 days before Christmas, so I'm trying to cram a lot of Christmas preparations into my day-to-day schedule. I'm really going to try and post more, even if it is just a picture and some thoughts. I think I have this thing where I think I need 10 pictures, recipes, and the kitchen sink for it to be a proper blog post. I need to relax a little, I think. Anyways, my two best guys got together to put up our antique christmas tree light a week or so ago. It is the old-fashioned kind that you put every little bulb in by hand.
It sits on top of our antique sewing machine...always. You know how that is. My son gets offended if my guy does it without him, and the other way around as well. So, we have to wait until the planets align and they are both home at the same time.
This is just a little attempt at making my own holiday trays for the table. I love reindeer moss, I've decided. It is awesome. The color and texture is fascinating.
We've been doing a lot of baking, when I can fit it in. My son likes to help me...especially when it involves unwrapping little candies. We make the little hershey kiss cookies every year.
Forgive me while I get used to my new camera. It took me 2 weeks of taking pictures with it before I realized that the flash won't work unless you lift it up by hand first. LOL. I've never had a camera where you had to do that. They just automatically popped up the flash, or it had the flash built in. This one is a little nicer. It was a preChristmas treat to myself. It has more megapixels, and a much, much better digital zoom. However, it takes me a long time to learn a camera, so some of my first shots are a little strange. This one is my son taking a picture of me, because he really likes taking pictures. He is excited because I said he could use my old camera.
My guy and I had to go to his fancy-pants work Christmas party the other night. I decided to dress up a little bit...so I required that he wear his nice clothes and tie. We don't get many chances to dress up, so I was going to take advantage. We had someone snap a few pictures of us so we have proof that we do own nice clothes. Anyways, I am tired, and need to rest up, I have tons more to do this week. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Posted by GardenMom at 10:21 PM
Friday, December 3, 2010
I was not surprised when my fiance texted me the other day, to tell me I had a package (I have been doing a LOT of online shopping this holiday season). I was VERY surprised when my fiance texted me that it was a box with plants in it. WHAT? Plants? It is Dec 1st. In Iowa. As soon as I got home, I cracked open the box and there was this beautiful little pine inside. Phew...this little guy can take a little of Iowa winter sitting on the porch til I got home. What a wonderful surprise on an otherwise normal Wednesday. Thank you to Costa Farms for the thoughtful gift.
We've been very busy decorating around here. It is our first Christmas in our new home, and I am having a very good time getting everything ready. My pretty new plant will make a great living addition to the decor. Merry Christmas early!
Posted by GardenMom at 8:27 PM
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I've been putting it off for quite a while, because I've been pretty busy, but last night I decided I better get to making applesauce, before all my apples go bad. I usually do a crockpot recipe, but I decided to do it on the stovetop this year, because I didn't have time for the crockpot to sit for hours, and I wanted to do a LOT all at once.
I left the skins on, because I knew I would be running the apples through the food mill later on. I used my handy-dandy apple slicer gadget to prepare the apples. The only part I discarded was the core, and any yucky spots I found.
I put a few inches of water into the pot and let it cook for about 20-30 minutes until they were soft and cooked through. I stirred them a lot to circulate the top and the bottom apples. The pot was full when I started, they cooked down quite a bit.
The apples looked like this when they were done. I used a couple of different kinds of apples, mostly red delicious, but some Arkansas black, and some honeycrisp. Using a variety of apples allows for better taste and less need to add a lot of sugar.
My food mill is not fancy...just one of the old Foley's food mills. It worked just fine though. Especially after I figured out that the food mill was exactly the same length as the diameter of the bowl. There are two hooks on the backside that you can't see, but it allows me to brace the mill on the bowl while I am cranking the apples into sauce. After all the apple was pushed through, I dumped out the skins and put more cooked apples into the mill.
It turned out to be a lovely consistency and I LOVE the rosy pink color that came from cooking the apples with the red skins on. I added a little sugar because I like a sweet applesauce, and some cinnamon.
I repeated this process several times until I had used up my apples. I ladled the sauce into jars, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace and capped them off. They went into a waterbath canner for 15 min for pints, and 20 min for the quarts. I ended up with 15 pints and 2 quarts of sauce. I'm not sure if this is enough applesauce for a year for us. My son and I are the ones who eat it, and one jar will last through several lunches...so who knows? It is definitely a good start.
Have you ever made your own applesauce?
Posted by GardenMom at 2:31 PM
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
I have not been doing a very good job posting on my blog lately...mostly because October has been a VERY BUSY month for us. We had company 2 weekends of the month, and we were out of town one weekend. We had all the Halloween activities, plus our first really hard freeze last week. So I haven't had much time to spend on my blog. I am hoping November will be a little more low key, while I get the garden cleaned up and finish up some canning projects before the Christmas season starts and winter sets in.
During the Halloween weekend, my Dad came to visit. My son was very excited to see his 'Pop-Pop'. Dad got to participate in some things he's not usually here during. Usually we carve pumpkins a few weeks before Halloween, but because of being out of town, we did it 2 nights before. My son enjoys really getting his hands in there and getting the seeds out.
This picture is funny to me, because after you see the pumpkin carving picture, when you look at this one, it appears as if he is biting a huge chunk of pumpkin. This is actually the next morning, and he is eating a big sticky roll with orange icing.
Our jack-o-lanterns took one evening and part of one morning to carve because I like to do fancier designs. I enjoy pumpkin carving, and if anyone near me ever offered a class on 'advance' carving, I would take it in a second! I don't care so much for the scenic pictures, but I love a scary, detailed face.
After the pumpkins were carved, my son wanted to go to the nearby pond to feed the ducks. Evidently, there was a large group of geese on the way through, because I never have seen so many geese here at once. The swan was present, but it took us a while to find the ducks.
We don't throw bread to the ducks very often, I know it isn't very good for them, but we don't do it but a couple times a year. The ducks took a while to find because I don't think they get along very well with the bossy overbearing geese. I always wonder how wild creatures stay this white.
For that matter, I wonder how my Dad's shoes stay so white! We had to play dodge the goose poop while we fed the birds and enjoyed the sunny day.
We always save our seeds to roast. Ben loves to mix them up, and this year we boiled them in salt water first, to really get that salty taste on the inside as well as the outside. He had to go to bed before they were done though, because our trick or treat is on actual Halloween, and it was a school night.
I love Halloween decorationing, and I am slowly adding to my collection of things to put out in the yard. Some people have way more than me, but I can only afford so much at once, and dh won't help me with Halloween decorating. So I am limited to what I can do without geting up on the roof. I guess we do have one of those hook and pole things for Christmas lights. Maybe next year I can get some of those orange icicle lights to go around the gutters of the porch.
Sigh, it is time to move onto thinking of Christmas now. Whether you like it or not, the stores force you into considering Christmas as early as the week of Halloween (when many stores are shoving the Halloween merchandise to one side already to start setting Christmas merchandise out). Even if you declare it is obscene and disgusting, you are still thinking about it. I suppose the only way you could avoid it is if you don't go into any place that sells anything from October 20th until Thanksgiving. Maybe longer than that. But then you'd be thinking about avoiding it, and they've still got you. I've taken my decorations down, but I won't put Christmas ones up until after Thanksgiving. I refuse to participate until after my appointed time. So...Happy Halloween, Happy Thanksgiving, and NOT (merry christmas early).
Posted by GardenMom at 3:35 PM