Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas -- The Food

Being a family with lots of foodies, Christmas meant enjoying lovely food and cooking together.

Brunch, while opening presents, is traditional:

Mom began making Cardamon Bread for Christmas when we lived in Chicago. Now it is one of those tastes we associate with Christmas. One day, I'll have to post the recipe:

When Michael and I married I began making this tea ring for Christmas breakfast each year. We often have different fillings: apricot, festive apple, or rasberry jam:

Rachel decided to make all the boys and men biscotti for their gift. I think Baby was expecting something a bit more chewable:

Sometime after noon preparations for Christmas dinner began in earnest. Brussel sprouts were the vegetable of honor:

Uncle Bill suggested stuffed pork loin. Carefully he sliced the loin open and laid it flat:

On went the sourdough, sausage, cranberry and sweet-potato stuffing:

Rolled up and tied securely with string,

it was plopped in the pan and surrounded by apples:

Here we are doing the "Martha Stewart and Guest" pose -- don't you think!!

The table was set with my birthday tablecloth and the birthday flower arrangement which has now dried to a lovely centerpiece. A surprise package in the mail yielded Christmas crackers!!!!

And the crackers were in gold, to match the napkin rings! How perfect!

I made a pumpkin-gingerbread cake for dessert, but everyone was too full to eat it. Oh well. Next year I won't bother with dessert. Cookies will be enough!

The Christmas Fruitcake was allowed out of its tin:

Everyone lended a hand. Emily mashes the potatoes and turnips:

Mom helps with the gravy (made with some of my precious crab-apple jelly):

Here is the incredible stuffed pork loin with the gravy poured on top:

Cracker-pulling time:

On went the crowns:
Here we all are. And, we all wore our crowns for the whole meal! Michael has come a long way!!!

My dinnerplate: pork loin, mashed potatoes and turnips, butternut squash gratin, brussel sprouts with pancetta, homemade rolls, homemade applesauce, and salad. The salad was incredible: greens with fuji apple, dried cranberries, toasted pecans, freeze-dried apples for crunch on top and a creamy gorgonzola crumbled throughout. Amazing!

Cookies and mince pies for dessert:

There were even some chocolates we made:

We were just sitting down when we remembered that we'd forgotten to make the eggnog! Thanks to the vitamix, this was an easy chore:

After a delightful glass of eggnog is was time to call it a day!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas -- Presents

I suppose it is about time to start posting some Christmas pictures. I'm sorry there are so many, but part of the reason for this blog is to give Grandparents and others who are far away a better glimpse into our lives, so here goes.....

The children came out of their rooms at precisely 8:00a.m. Christmas morning and headed downstairs to open their stockings. They are allowed to do this on their own and they had a lot of fun!

We joined them shortly after 9 am. and started getting the brunch organized.

A few elves arrived sometime after 10:

Then it was time to open the presents, enjoy some tea, and nibble at the food.

Emily had gone to great lengths to make her gifts pretty:

Andrew made or bought presents for everyone. He had $13 saved and on Monday I took him out to shop for everyone on his list. It was so fun to be out with him and I hope that we make it a tradition in the coming years. Here he is with David and the present he bought for him:

Uncle Bill made the kids parachutes and helicopter wings:

Andrew quilted a trivet for Grandma:

Baby had SO much fun with everything:

Em chose a comfortable chair from which to enjoy the morning's festivities:

I loved this picture of the boys watching Michael:

Handing out gifts:
Mommy's new apron, made by Auntie Em, along with her new necklace:

Baby wanted no help whatsoever in opening presents. Note all the shreds of white tissue paper since he couldn't get the bow off first:

This is what Uncle Bill calls "creative tissue":

Andrew and James received army outfits, which they love:

Grandpa arrived with a beautiful wooden barn for the kids to play with (I didn't get a picture of it yet):

Here is our new painting from my parents:

I've saved all the food pictures for a separate post. :)
In the mean time life is getting back to normal, somewhat. We had a nice day of school today and then there was the regular grocery shopping to attend to.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

One Picture

As I wave good-bye to Christmas 2008, I just had to post one picture from our day. I am thankful for special memories with my family. I've downloaded 209 pictures and will have plenty to post about in the upcoming days. :)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I thought I would share a few snapshots from the past few days. These are some of the memories I want to hold onto for the years ahead.

We enjoyed a little impromptu Christmas tea last week with friends -- one of those "bring whatever's in your cupboard"-type teas:

We used my new tablecloth from my Goodwill 50% off trip and the Christmas china I was given in Scotland:

Festive colors predominated:

Over the weekend we tried out our new snowman and snowflake pancake forms which arrived in a surprise box on the doorstep: (only the snowman is pictured -- that round pancake is NOT a snowflake :) )

Rachel has taught herself to play two Christmas carols on the piano. I'm very proud of her. She had fun playing with her friend Sunday afternoon:

Cookie Baking, some of which is going on even as I type:

I am quite sure that one of the most delightful memories I will take from this season is attending the Frog and Toad Broadway show with Rachel, Andrew and James. Put on by a local acting company, it was really an oustanding performance.
Pictured are Frog and one of the Birds:
I grew up listening to my mother read Frog and Toad books and then I began reading them to my own children. We have even written our very own Frog and Toad Valentines story. So, it was quite sentimental in a way, to attend this show.
Here's Toad:

Brenda at CoffeeTeaBooksAndMe suggested last year that people make a list of what they want to do over the holidays and prioritize it so you can actually accomplish something. Otherwise, one feels rushed about trying to do everything and feeling as though you're not doing anything.
One thing on my list this year was to take the kids to the Children's Museum for the Yule Slide:
And yes, I did actually take James to see Santa. We don't "do" Santa, and I was sure my husband would think I was nuts, but I thought it would be cute.
James was the perfect age and was very talkative, answering all of Santa's questions. He did seem to get stumped on the naughty/good question. He told Santa he wanted a costume to dress up like Santa for Christmas. :) Fat chance, James.
We enjoyed all the festive displays:

My Uncle Bill went with us and he and I had an hilarious time taking pictures of ourselves in the funny mirrors:
Here's a group shot:

Half way through our visit I found myself jogging out to the parking lot to make sure I had turned the lights off. It dawned on me at that moment: last year I was here at the Museum in a wheelchair and this year I was here without Michael and able to actually jog all the way down and out to the car (okay, I was a little sore the next day). Praise the Lord for His mercy to me in restoring my health. It makes me feel like crying.
The kids and I have a mountain of cookies to decorate this afternoon and a huge pile of Christmas books from the library to make our way through.
The baking list for tomorrow is striking a bit of fear and trembling into me, but I'm sure it will get done.
I do hope that you too are finding special memories tucked here and there among the rest of life that has to happen. Christmas greetings to you all!