Friday, November 28, 2008

The Thanksgiving Report

Yesterday we enjoyed a special Thanksgiving with family and friends. For the past 3 years my sister has hosted Thanksgiving. This year we were all invited to celebrate at our friends, the G's.

Shortly after our arrival I headed outside to check on the smoked turkey. Christine's tradition is to smoke a turkey breast. This year a whole bird was decided upon. The flavor is amazing!

The tables were all so beautifully decorated and everything looked so festive. The sunlight outside added to the joyful mood of the day.

Carla has a yellow kitchen and I love her latest display of china on the kitchen wall:

I was happy to see that despite the sunshine outside Jim had started a nice little fire inside -- perfect for atmosphere.

Some lovely hors d'oeuvres were enjoyed, including Rarebit Cheeseball, Goatcheese with cranberry and lemon, marinated olives, and a bacon/pecan spread for endive:

A special treat this year is having mom's brother, Uncle Bill, here for the holidays:

Our kids had so much fun. The G's have plenty of toys to amuse them and when they get tired of that, they can bother Jimmy. Tweety bird was rescued from the commotion and sent upstairs for most of our visit. Tweety returned towards the end and David was overheard saying, "James, James, the turkey's downstairs now."

Here is our delicious Thanksgiving meal, to which everyone contributed:

Three choices of cranberry sauce: 1) a traditional NPR recipe that has been aired since 1956; it includes horseradish; 2) Ocean Spray; 3) Cranberry-Orange-Fresh Ginger which cooked up into a beautiful jam from all the natural pectin -- delicious!

As always, James can be counted upon to provide a good picture of food enjoyment:

And here is my plate with a sampling of everything: smoked turkey, roasted turkey, cranberry sauces, traditional stuffing, sweet potato-chile dish, green beans with orange and pecan (very, very good), gluten-free cornbread, sage and sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes and turnips (which I loved, loved, loved!) and sauerkraut:

The children seemed to have plenty of energy after the meal and it was time for them to tackle Jimmy. Afterwards we took them on a nice little walk to the park:

Arriving home from the park, we heard some fantastic piano playing coming from the other room. After knowing Carla for 13 years, we have now discovered her hidden musical ability. Christine joined in with a guitar and we all sang from Sound of Music:

Meanwhile, deep and important discussions were going on:

And then it was time for tea and dessert. Carla's tea set-up looked like it was right out of the Pollock House in Glasgow.

And the caffeine drinkers were treated to Scottish Blend:

It was necessary to taste each dessert: pumpkin pie, chocolate-pecan tart (gluten-free), Parisian chocolates, Butterscotch-Rum Cake a la M. Stewart, apple pie and cherry pie:

The Butterscotch-Rum Cake was pretty incredible. I had a few bites from the center where I could taste the wonderful flavor and texture of the cake as well as a bit of the creamcheese/brown sugar icing. Definately worth the 4 hours it took to make.

And so ends another memorable Thanksgiving. Special thanks to the G's for making the day so special for us all!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


"Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good;
for His steadfast love endures forever!"
Psalm 118:1
This year I am incredibly thankful for the gift of health that I have been given. For so many years I wondered if I would ever feel well again and now I have enjoyed almost a year of renewed energy and better health than any other time in my adult life.
It is with a very full heart that I give praise and thanksgiving to God for this wonderful blessing, for the privilege of being able to enjoy my children so much more, to be able to pick up my two-year old to no physical detriment, to be able once again to serve my family.
Although health is a wonderful blessing, and something I have been mindful of everyday, it is really the blessing of salvation that I am most thankful for -- of knowing that through Christ's death on the cross and resurrection I have been made right with God.
Those whose souls have been made right with God are able to rejoice and give thanks in any circumstance for we have received the greatest gift of all. Then, despite ill health, struggling finances, or torn relationships it is still possible to rejoice and be glad this Thanksgiving. And even to remember that sometimes trials and distress are hidden gifts and blessings, showered on us to make us more like the King we serve.
This is my prayer that I would continually be grateful for the good health I have been granted, but above all I would continue to be conscious of the priceless gift of salvation that is mine in Christ.
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;
Habakkuk 3:17-19

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rachel's Birthday Part II

I decided to let Rachel have a birthday party this year since I've never had the energy to do a proper one before this. (It also helped that Thanksgiving did not fall in the same week this year!)

We started with a craft -- creatures made out of pinecones:

The girls had so much fun and I was very impressed with their creativity. Isn't this penguin adorable!

We had mice, penguins, birds, peacocks, ballerinas, and butterflies.

Oh, the girls were told to come in dress-up clothes.

Here they are, having fun:

I loved this butterfly --sort of a winter wonderland fairy:

Next the girls had a tea party. I bought the cake for a very good price at Trader Joe's and was very impressed with it. After baking cakes two days in a row, I refused to make another. :)

I had so much fun watching the girls enjoy themselves:

And some of us couldn't resist the pull of the craft table once the girls were finished:

With sugar coursing through veins, Rachel jumped up to get an hilarious Thanksgiving book to read to the girls at rapid pace -- I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie :

Then there were lots of fun presents to open:

The last hour was playtime and the children had a blast playing with Rachel's new dolls or pretending to be kings and queens. I think the party was a success. :)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rachel's Birthday Part I

Rachel turned 8 last Friday! She had a lovely day, beginning with breakfast out at Bob Evans with Daddy.
The requested cake was Lemon, with pink icing:

It was a special treat to have Michael's brother and his wife, along with their two boys (Ethan and Josh) here to help celebrate!

The rest of the (local) family joined us for cake and to watch Rachel open her presents. Everyone chipped in to give Rachel Felicity, an American Girl Doll.

Rachel was so surprised, and so happy.

Grandma arrived with flowers, of course:

After a nice evening the kids had a big slumber party with all the cousins in one room (except poor David who didn't know what he was missing).

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving, A Little Late

Yesterday I had intended to participate in Creative Kitchens over at Reflective Ponderings. The theme was "Thanksgiving." However, life is busy right now and so I'm late, but I thought I'd go ahead anyway since I'd already planned my post. :)

I have lots of wonderful memories of Thanksgivings -- time at my grandmother's as a little girl with the entire extended family snuggly crammed into her house in the depths of the Vermont countryside; simple, quiet Thanksgivings in north-central PA with no family around; festive Thanksgivings overseas with a myriad of nationalities joining in.

This year we will be joining my family in their traditional celebration with close friends. We've already met to plan the menu and divy up the responsibility. I'll be bringing baked olives, cheese ball, sweet potatoes, and fruit pie(s), (I think).

I wanted to share two recipes that I have made this year which I've really enjoyed. I made Sourdough Stuffing with Sweet Potatoes and Cranberries for a dinner we had about a month ago. I loved this stuffing and can't wait to make it again.

Wednesday night we had friends all the way from Sheltand, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Oxford joining us for dinner. I decided on a trial run for my sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving and made Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes. We all pronounced it a winner. The picture doesn't communicate much, but with hints of lime, chilies, and cinnamon, it's really a delightful addition to a dinner plate:

My mom made sure we always did fun Thanksgiving crafts when we were young. Often we made thank-you cards for people who had helped us during the year, or Thanksgiving cards for distant relatives. Several times we made turkeys out of gum-drops and oranges. This year the kids and I made apple and gum-drop turkeys:

Today is Rachel's 8th birthday so we are in the midst of a weekend of celebrations and family visits. A lot is happening around here and perhaps on Monday I can post some pictures!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Putting a Face with a Name

Today the kids and I drove up north to pick up milk for our milk co-op. We have several cow shares and thus get our milk straight from a farm.

We've named "our cow" Posie, and that's how we refer to the milk -- Posie milk. Today we actually got to see the cows, and perhaps put a face with the name. What do you think?

It was fun to see the farm and all the cows and it's nice that the children know exactly where milk comes from!

Do the pictures communicate how cold it is?! It's in the 30's and it's been in the 20's at night!

Monday, November 17, 2008

So Long, Farewell

It's time to say goodbye to vacation and get back into real life. We did enjoy our two weeks!

We had days out to places like the Children's Museum and the One-Room Schoolhouse, days at home with a quieter pace, and days for visiting -- like our trip to see Grandpa and Grandma Fulk:
One day Mommy and Rachel went together to get their hair cut. I think it was Rachel's very first time to have her hair cut at a beauty salon.

One of the highlights of the vacation was a jar I came up with (thanks to an idea from Heather). It contained little activities to do -- one each day. The children took turns drawing one out in the morning, and fondly named the jar the "Funland jar". The activities included things like:
-- making new playdough
--making leaf sun catchers
-- collage
-- decoupage
--indoor tennis
-- a trip to the dollar store
--writing stories
--baking cookies
I'm contemplating a similar idea for the month of December.
On the first day of vacation Andrew designed this armor set and had Michael help him build it:

Today we got back into our normal school routine, which felt really good. There were snow flurries today and it's very cold (in the 30's). I'm off to perform a haircut, and then maybe read in bed!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Morris-Butler House

Yesterday Michael and I toured the Morris-Butler House -- an historic home here in the city, which I had never heard about before.

I believe the home was built around 1865 by Mr. Morris. Morris was in the speculation business and lost his home 5 years later in the crash that came around 1870. Mr. Butler, a bankruptcy lawyer, bought the house. (Sound like a scenario that could happen today?)

The house is decorated in the Victorian era, and the parlor was all decked out for Christmas:

It is hard to take pictures without a flash in a house that is not full of natural light. This painting was hanging in the dining room. The house contained quite a few paintings by J. Cox:

The kitchen was beautiful! And, I found out they do classes here which I can sign my children up for!! How fun!

Here is the ice-box. I was surprised that ice-boxes were used that far back. My great-uncle used to tell me about his in the early 1920's.

It was so much fun to walk around the rooms and admire all the beautiful furnishings and hear tidbits of history:
The nursery was very inviting and I wanted to take home the child-sized hutch with the teasets and the lovely dolls nearby:
The sewing room was very appealing too -- can't you just imagine how much fun it would be to settle down in this cozy corner for a nice afternoon of stitching!

A bedroom on the third floor which would have been used for older children:

The surrounding neighborhood is filled with lovely older homes which I enjoy looking at:

While Michael and I were enjoying the 1860's, the children were going to school in the 1920's. They were delighted to go back to the One Room Schoolhouse once again:

James and David stayed in the 21st century and enjoyed a day with Grandma.
Our vacation is coming to an end. It has been a good time, with different forms of refreshment. The house has been cleaned today and hopefully we're in shape to begin what promises to be a very, very busy week.