Thursday, December 31, 2009

Popular Soup aka the famous Navy Bean Soup Recipe

My most popular entry by far has been my Mom's Navy Bean Soup recipe. I always thought it was something only my Mom and Grandma made, but apparently it is more well known than I thought! Every single day I get many, many visitors seeking a recipe for this soup. The one thing I'm most curious about is if anyone ever makes it?? No one ever comments that they do.

So, partly because I need to catch up on Holidailies, and partly because it's so popular, here's a post from the archives about The Soup (along with the recipe):

****


One of the things my Mom made often in the winter was bean soup. It was always after Christmas or Easter, the only two holidays we baked a ham. I think on a rare occasion my Mom baked a ham for Sunday dinner just so she could have it to make the soup afterwards! Clint baked a ham at Christmas and put the bone and leftovers in the freezer. He got it out today and decided to make bean soup. I haven't tasted it, so who knows if it's as good as Mom's.

(shhh -- but probably not!)

Anyway, it reminded me of a story to share:

Does everybody know who Chef John Folse is? http://www.jfolse.com/ I'm sure all my cooking friends do!!

Well, many years ago John Folse visited Morgan City for a cooking demonstration. Everyone was asked to bring a family recipe and the story behind it to enter into a drawing. My Mom loved John Folse and watched his show faithfully. Of course she went. I don't remember where I was. I must have aerobics or some other plans... I didn't go with her. My Mom wrote down her Navy Bean Soup recipe. It was something my Grandma made often and passed down. There was no real "recipe", since it was something they just threw together.

Anyway, the recipes were all put into a box and at some point, John Folse reached in the box and pulled out a recipe. Right away, my mom recognized her piece of paper!! Yes, he pulled her recipe. She couldn't believe it. I don't remember the details if she got to go up and meet him or what. I think she got a gift basket.

But, since her recipe was picked, it was going to be published in John Folse's next cookbook. And my Mom was going to get a free copy when it became available. Months later, sure enough, she got her cookbook in the mail. And sure enough, there was her recipe. Of course they embellished her story a bit so it sounded more 'cajun' (haha!) but her name and recipe are published. We were so excited.

Then... years later.... she got a call from John Folse's cooking show. They wanted her to prepare her soup ON his show! They would tape an episode in her kitchen, with John Folse himself. And my Mom, being who she was, turned them down!! I think they called at least twice. She said there was no way she'd let anyone show her rinky dink junky kitchen on TV!! Can you believe it... she said no!! I wish she would have done it.

But anyway, the cookbook is somewhere at my Dad's house. It's a nice piece of family history. If I can get my hands on it, I will scan and post the pages with my Mom's recipe. I was able to find the index page on Amazon:




Navy Bean Soup



1 pound dried navy beans


1 cup chopped onions


1/2 cup chopped celery


1 cup diced tomatoes


1 cup diced potatoes


1 cup chopped cabbage


1/2 cup elbow macaroni


2 cups diced ham


1/2 cup sliced green onions


1/4 cup chopped parsley


1 tsp. salt
black pepper


hot sauce (optional)


Method: Rinse the beans under cold running water. You may wish to soak the beans in cold water overnight to cut the cooking time by one-third. Place beans in a large cast iron dutch oven and cover by two inches with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook approximately one hour or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Add onions, celery, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, macaroni and ham. Blend well into the bean mixture and cook 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add water to retain desired consistency. Add green onions and parsley. Season to taste using salt, pepper and hot sauce.Note: When stirring beans during the cooking process, mash approximately 50% of the beans, pressing with the cooking spoon against the inside of the pot. This will give the navy bean soup a creamy consistency.

My Mom's (embellished!) story behind the recipe:"Since my grandmother and mother were unable to read or write, recipes would have been of little use to them. So they cooked the way people before them had cooked, back to the dawn of time, I suppose. They cooked from memory. When you think about it, that's really quite a skill. You have to remember every ingredient of a recipe and how the end product tastes. It also means keeping a mental catalog of herbs and spices and their effects on flavors so accurate that you can add the proper amount without resorting to measuring spoons or cups. Of course, after a while everyone learns to cook their favorite dishes from memory - as I do this one. But imagine having to do it every time! This, by the way, is the 'special' version of mom's soup - the one she fixed as a treat when we had leftover ham. In the everyday version, she used salt meat."

Joyce B. Russell
Morgan City, Louisiana

2009

I can remember a time when I would have been incredibly sad to stay home on New Year's Eve. Of course I have spent many NYEs alone and wondering what I was missing (nothing ha!) Many were spent out on the town partying the night away. How things have changed! Now I'm content to whip up a few party goodies and sit at home with my family. We can watch the fireworks all around us, have a drink or two, and chances are I'll be asleep well before midnight.

This year has gone by so incredibly fast.

It has definitely been a time of transition and adjustment. Lots of sadness hanging over my head still. I miss my Mom and it has been terribly hard working through the grief. Maybe someday I will get there.

We spent more time in the doctor's office this year than ever before. Thankfully for nothing serious but we were all much sicker than usual at inconvenient times!

I'm happy to say that I have a couple of TRUE friends. I don't ever have to question their motives.

This was a year of spending money - $6500 to tear down a shack and haul it away. Basically we paid that much for trash. UGH kill me now!!

The most awesome highlights being my surprise birthday party and our trip to Disney World. <3

Of course the best part of all this year has been my family. It's the best watching my girls grow and learn as they become the most wonderful little people. They always bring a smile to my face, no matter what.

Hello 2010. I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Who knew?? And Christmas pics finally.

Who knew that posting a gripe on Twitter could make a difference!! Clint tweeted about our issues with AT&T giving us the run around and someone responded. A couple of phone calls later and a replacement modem shows up at our door today. AND we even got a follow up call after that to make sure everything was ok. So glad to have my Internet back!!

So anyway... I can finally post a few Christmas pictures. I got an awesome camera for Christmas - a Canon Rebel EOS. Now to learn how to use the darn thing.














Books

My Mom took me to the library a lot. I was in the summer reading club for 12 years and received a gold medal my senior year. We went for all the summer movies. But most of all we went for books. I loved books. I loved to read. My Mom had a knack for picking out the best books. We'd go our separate ways and I may have found one or two books that looked interesting. My Mom would come around the corner with a stack of the cutest books ever. They were always about cats or something cute that we could relate too. And they were always, always the best loved stories. We'd leave the library with five or six books. I would read them cover to cover in a day or two, and we'd return for more. Sometimes I was so engrossed in the story I couldn't put the book down. My eyes were tired. My arms ached from holding the book. Yet I read on until the story was finished. Then moved on to the next book.

I was about eleven or twelve when I started reading Stephen King. Now those were some real books!! And once I started reading, I'd become so involved I couldn't put it down. Many nights I stayed up until 4:00 AM to finish the book I had started that day. I remember reading Pet Sematary and it scared me to death the first time!! Someone gave us a box of books and in it I found "If There Be Thorns" by V.C. Andrews. I read it in about a day and was hooked. I was desperate to find the other books in the series!! I read those Flowers in the Attic books from cover to cover, over and over again. The Heaven books also. I still have them. I re-read them all just a few years ago and I still loved them.

Now, I barely find the time to read. And when I do, nothing interests me as much. Maybe I was in need of an escape. Or maybe it was the fantasy I enjoyed. I just haven't found anything that grabs my attention like it did back then. Clint gave me a copy of Twilight for Christmas. I'm about halfway through it. It's okay enough to read, but I don't get what all the hype is about. The banter between Bella and Edward is annoying. I guess it's supposed to be witty, but as I'm reading I'm thinking get on with it... I'm still reading it though in hopes that it gets better. I have New Moon to read next. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 7

Today is day 7 with out Internet service. Clint has called and bitched at AT&T three times now. On Thursday, our replacement modem would be shipped next day air and would arrive by Saturday.

On Sunday, he was told the modem had shipped and would be here Monday or Tuesday.

On Monday, there was NO record of our order number. It didn't exist and there was nothing showing a modem was even on it's way.

It's supposed to be here tomorrow. Or so they say.

Ridiculous!!

We had Comcast previously, and it was unreliable and nothing but trouble. I'm thinking we may give them another shot.

I don't know who's wireless I'm picking up. It's not my neighbors' as previously thought. As long as my laptop is on the counter aligned with my kitchen window, I can pick up a signal. Slow as heck, but it's there. If it disconnects, all I have to do is dial up and the wireless connects also. Weird, huh?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happiness....


(still no internet ~ AT&T, where is my modem that was supposed to arrive 3 days ago?)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Still no internet

It's going to be Monday or Tuesday before our Internet is fixed. I've figured out that if I position my laptop in line with my kitchen window which is facing a tiny (bathroom?) window at my neighbor's house I can pick up their wireless. I guess I shouldn't complain since I'm "borrowing" it but man it's S-L-O-W!! And it keeps dropping. I can't read blogs or look at pictures. Anyway, I'm behind on Holidailies posting and reading, so hopefully I can catch up next week.

We had a really nice Christmas. My Dad came Christmas Eve (with his dog!) and spent the night. We had our traditional party food and opened gifts. We forced the kids to go to bed and Santa passed. Operation trampoline was a huge success. I'm so proud ~ It's kinda fun saying we were able to hide a trampoline in plain sight for two whole days!! The favorites for both Valerie and Veronica so far are the trampoline of course, tinker toys, and the Cinderella castle play set we bought at Disney World.

Once we're back online I'll post some pictures taken with my new fancy camera!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!!!! I wish the best for you and your families!

~So much for Holidailes as I have to miss a few days. Unfortunately, our modem has gone kaput. We have a dial-up account as a back up, but it is super slow. I can pick up my neighbor's wireless, but it is weak and very sporadic. I'll be back once our replacement modem arrives, which could be as early as tomorrow or as late as next week.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Eve

Growing up, Christmas Eve was always spent at my Grandma's house. Everybody went - Aunts, Uncles, cousins. Everybody. I'm assuming there was food, but I don't remember much about the food, which is odd for me!! It was all about the presents then. The adults gathered in the living room while the kids scoped out the presents under the tree. After what seemed like hours, it would be present time and we'd rip off the paper with glee. My Uncle would make remarks about hearing Santa's bells. It must have been very late by the time we got home.

Around high school, my Grandma grew weary of the Christmas celebration. She declared her hate for all of us and that was the end of that. My Mom decided we would do it ourselves. I vaguely remember her telling me we would make our own party food, and I thought it was odd and too much work for just the three of us. She did it and every year afterwards. It was always the same ~ chicken salad sandwiches, cocktail sausages and meatballs, devilled eggs, chips, dips, and punch. Oh, and lots and lots of cookies. My Mom always made a coconut cake for Christmas too. I hate coconut, but her cake was awesome.

My Mom would go to church every Christmas Eve. If it was cold, she'd wear her long, gray, wool coat. I remember when she bought it and I thought she was nuts. Christmas Eve was the only time she wore it, and only if it was cold enough. (I sold the coat last winter and cried and cried afterwards.) While she was at church, I'd start the sandwiches and heat up the food. We'd eat when she got home, clean up, then open gifts. Occasionally I had a boyfriend around, but usually it was just the three of us. Sometimes it was quite lonely. It seemed everyone, everywhere was off at big family celebrations. Everyone except us.

Clint came along, and we had Christmas with his Mom the first year. Two guests for a total of five people was a party to us. Then his Mom was gone. Clint and I married and the kids came along. Now there was six. For two years in a row, there were six of us.

Now, we are down to five. The one who started it all is missing. And it's up to me to carry on these traditions and create new ones. I often wonder what will my kids remember. I don't think they will remember much, if anything, about Christmas at Grandma's. And that's ok. They'll know Christmas at home, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Miss you, Mom. Merry Christmas.




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Exhausted!

Tired, tired, and more tired is how I feel!! Veronica is sick and hasn't been doing more crying than sleeping. During the day she's fine, but at night she starts feeling bad again. She has lovely strep throat, which I'm sure Valerie will come down with any day!


Valerie had a GREAT birthday!! She brought cupcakes for her class at school. There are only 14 kids in her class and the cupcakes came in quantities of 30. I figured that would be good since we'd have leftovers to bring home. For some reason, the school shared them with another class - the 3 year olds. That's fine and all, but I felt bad that we didn't have any birthday cake for Valerie at home!


Anyway, Veronica and I put on party hats and waited while Clint picked up Val from school. When she came in, we yelled "Surprise! Happy Birthday" and sang to her. She giggled and was so happy. We took her out for dinner and some friends met us there. Then we played a few games in the restaurant's party room. After that we went to the mall to see the "snow."


Today was our annual cookie swap playdate. So fun!! They found a Santa to come visit and hand out gifts. And of course, there were TONS of yummy cookies and snacks. It was a great playdate!!


Now, I'm tired and the next few days are going to be non-stop.






Sunday, December 20, 2009

Operation trampoline has begun


How does Santa deliver a trampoline?! We're going to find out. I covered my french doors overlooking the backyard with wrapping paper. (I did both inside and out so if they peek they still see paper!) I told Valerie she could color pictures and decorate the doors with it. It's part of our Christmas decorations.
With all the rain, it's pretty easy to tell them that there's too much mud to play on their swing set.
I think I have that part covered.
The plan as of now is for "Santa" to assemble the trampoline on Wednesday while I keep the kids occupied in town. We won't return until after dark. That way, Christmas Eve will be the only day we have to keep them from seeing into the backyard. My Dad is coming so they'll be occupied with him, and we can always go to a movie or the mall.
The only problem is that we haven't been able to recruit any elves to help!! Assembly is a two person job, so I'm hoping we can find somebody to help for a little while.
Christmas morning we'll plant a picture of a trampoline under the tree. The girls will tear the paper off the doors and look outside to find that a trampoline "magically" appeared during the night!! Santa is awesome like that.
These things never go according to plan, so I'll really be surprised if it works. I'm really hoping we can pull this off.

Five years ago today....

Five years ago today, my life changed forever!

They day before, December 20, I had a doctor's appointment. Clint was going offshore in about 2 weeks, so I mentioned it to the nurse. I was having contractions off and on but nothing was progressing. My doc asked me if I wanted to be admitted to the hospital to see if we could get things started. Off we went. I was ready to get this over with!! We spent the night in this teeny tiny room. Clint had to sleep on the hard floor. I was given Cervadil and it kicked up the contractions quite a bit. I had pain meds a few times and I was asleep but I could still hear Clint making all kinds of noise!! Sometime during the night it was decided to remove the Cervadil because my contractions were back to back and I couldn't sleep.


The next morning I was moved to real delivery room. I was able to take a shower before getting comfy in my bed. Pitocin.... epidural... stupid cath.... breaking of my water.... And the darn epidural was not working. They had to come adjust it and gave me a little 'boost.' The darn cath was causing me more pain than the contractions!! It was awful. And I cried!! The boost helped and I spent most of the day resting and watching the contractions on the monitor.

About 4:00 I was checked and it was time!! I had more or less been in labor for two days and was so exhausted. We did the usual practice pushes and I started feeling PAIN. Horrible pain... with every contraction came waves of misery. (Pitocin is awful!!) The boost to my epidural had worn off. I am not sure how long it took, but it was probably two hours before someone came to boost my pain meds. In the mean time I was hurting and crying and panicking and really scared! I had never done this before!! And I wanted it to be over.

Finally, once my epidural was adjusted, on December 21, at 7:33pm, Valerie came into the world.

I wish I could stop time because five is the perfect age to be.


Happy Birthday, Valerie Nicol! Love you ~ always!











Saturday, December 19, 2009

And they all asked for you!

Today we went on down to the Audubon Zoo! Earlier in the year I purchased a family four pack of tickets for $25 which were about to expire. Today was sunny (for a change) and one of the only free days we have left this year.

It was a PERFECT day!

My Dad came with us, so I had to buy one ticket since I only had four. A family came up behind us and said they accidentally ordered 2 extra tickets online, so they gave them to us. For free. These weren't even just zoo tickets. They were the $20 Insectarium and IMAX tickets. Wow! They just handed them to us and said "Merry Christmas!"
Then, almost every where we went this is what we saw:





Nobody.

We had such a good day! I love the zoo. The kids had a great time!


Friday, December 18, 2009

Our Elf

I think most of the Mommies out there are familiar with Elf on a Shelf. What a keen idea!! It's supposed to help keep the kids in check during the holidays. Nobody wants one of Santa's Helpers to see them being naughty.

I really wanted to do this, but there was NO way I was paying $30 for the real deal. It's cute and all... but really, $30? I searched for something to substitute and found a bendy Santa at Walmart for a $1.00. I figured since it would be FROM Santa, why not have the "elf" BE Santa.

After we put up our tree, a package mysteriously appeared under the tree. Inside was the "elf" and a letter explaining that he was there to keep an eye on the girls until Christmas. Any wrongdoings would be reported to the big man in red himself. Oh my! My kids bought it.

So every night, the elf mysteriously moves from place to place. He's been found hanging from the light fixture. In the plants. Having a snack of Cheerios. My kids talk to him. Hug him. Kiss him. Sing to him. Ah, the magical innocence of a child.






Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas pictures

We attempted Christmas pictures a while back.... failed. Well, we did get ONE decent shot. The rest... well, see for yourself.












And the winner:




Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My first love

My first love was a boy named James. I was 19, and so was he. We had known of each other for many years. We both attended the same junior high and high schools, but our paths never did cross. Our senior year, he actually took one of my best friends to a few dances. I had never really noticed him until then. I guess maybe I liked him then and didn't know it.

Once college started in the fall, I would occasionally see him around campus. We'd toss out a friendly wave and that was about it. As clear as day, I remember seeing him on registration day. He came up to me and asked to see my schedule. I didn't know it at the time, but he did that so he could match my hours. Just before our second semester started, James called me and asked me to carpool on Tuesday and Thursday.

Twice a week he drove to my house and we took turns driving the 30 minute commute to school. We did not talk much. Some days we didn't say anything at all. He worked and partied (as most college freshmen do) so many days he slept. I really didn't know that much about him, but what I did know I found I liked more and more. By the end of the semester I had it bad for him. It was ridiculous at how much I liked him, but I couldn't tell him. Or I didn't know how to.

I had made a new friend and we made plans to hang out during the summer. We decided to go "out", as in bar hopping. The drinking age was 18 at the time, so going to a bar for the first time at 19 was actually a little late compared to most!! I had hoped and prayed and wished for James to be there. Just... where ever we were going. I just wanted to see him. And him to see me.

He was. And he did.

I spotted him first. But I knew it would be best if he saw me on his own time. And he eventually did and approached me with his surprise at seeing me. I had quite a bit to drink so some of the details are a bit fuzzy. I do remember trying to beat off some drunk guy and James came to my rescue. Later.... much later.... he told me one of his friends asked him "why do you care? do you like her?" And he said no... but it made him start thinking that maybe he did....

Weeks passed. I'd see him around when we went out. We ran into him at the gym where we hung out and played endless games of volleyball.

Then one night, something just felt different. I hate to sound cliche, but it was magic. We had started hanging out at a country bar, and we danced every single slow song. I felt drunk, but hadn't touched any alcohol. James felt the same. We had a lot of electricity. It was that natural high we all search for.

We had our first real date not long after that. And from then on, we were inseparable. We talked or saw each other every single day. He worked at a grocery store around the corner from my house, so when he got off of work, he'd come over. We had plans for the future. Our future. He came along on a family vacation to San Antonio. My Mom and Dad took to him. James was part of our family.

Until about a week before Christmas.

One night we were watching a movie in my living room. Out of the blue, he told me that gradually over two weeks he decided didn't love me anymore. And he left.

I was crushed.

He came over once more on Christmas Eve to give me the gift he had bought weeks earlier. It was a gold bracelet with a gold heart charm. Because he still loved me when he bought it.

I was devastated. I had no idea a broken heart would hurt so much!! Before that, I thought girls were silly for crying over a boy. I sure did cry. For a very long time, I cried. It was many months before I was able to move on. I hated seeing him because it brought so much back.

And one day, he started coming into the video store where I worked. With a girl. A year later, he married her. And not me.

I am so glad he did.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The stranger


What do you see when you look into these eyes?


This has always been one of my favorite pictures. I'm not sure how old she was ~ twenty something I'm sure. I see a pretty young woman with her whole life ahead of her. Full of hopes and dreams. Bursting with youth and energy and ideas. See the sparkle in her eyes? The power of being young. Notice that sly smile, as if she had a secret or two.... and I'm sure she did.
I look at her and I wonder what she was like when she was young. I wonder who she wanted to be. What did she plan to do. What did she want for herself. What did she want out of life. And if any of it came true. She had no idea that I would ever exist. She often talked about how she wished her life had been different. How she was too old to do anything or change anything. It was too late she said. I always told her it was never too late. Never.

Only now it is.

Sometimes I feel like I hardly knew her. To me, she was Mom. I saw her only as Mom. To everyone else, I don't know. Quiet is what she got often, but she was far from quiet. She yelled. A lot. As we looked through her things after she died, I felt she was a stranger. Lots of trinkets and such that we had no clue why she had them or where they came from. Then finding a wedding ring with another man's name engraved on it. And a letter only a few years old attempting to make contact with that same man.... And my Dad who just says, "oh yeah, she did tell me one time when I called her that she was getting married." He never - NOT ONCE - in over FORTY YEARS ever asked what happened. It just made me wonder who was this person. And how could there be so much I didn't know? What other secrets did she have? She didn't like to talk about herself much. How can you know someone your entire life, yet be left feeling like there was so much you didn't know....
Often I stare at her pictures and try to imagine what she was thinking or how she was feeling. This young woman is a complete stranger to me, yet I knew her for thirty-six years.
* I'm honored to say this post was selected as a Best of Holidailies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Child

Growing up, I always felt terrible for kids with December birthdays. Especially those right at Christmas time. To get short changed on presents? Oh no! Plus everyone is so busy with the holidays that birthdays get put on the back burner. Secretly I was glad it wasn't me! I was happy with my end of summer birthday, thank you.

Now, of course my first born's birthday is in December. When I found out my due date - December 29, my first reaction was oh no! A Christmas baby! It was a blessing to be home with a newborn that first Christmas. It made it so special. It still is and always will be a special time for our family. But to everyone else, sometimes it's a different story.

I'll never forget when someone I knew very well sent me a lengthy email complaining about having to buy a birthday gift for a child at Christmas. This person went on and on about how inconvenient it was and how buying a birthday gift was just an unwanted expense at this time of year. And the nerve of the child (and parents) to have a birthday and a party so close to Christmas. My jaw dropped. I just sat there reading in disbelief. I didn't know how to respond. I don't think I said anything, but now I wish I would have. (Funny how people's true colors shine when you least expect it.) For you see, Valerie's birthday is December 21. And this person knew that. (Oh and for the record ~ she was complaining about someone else.) You can't choose your birthday. We didn't have much say so in the matter.

I won't lie. It's tough. It isn't easy trying to plan a birthday party in the middle of Christmas chaos. I usually try to have it a few weeks early so that there's a little bit of a break. And presents? It's not easy deciding what is Christmas and what is birthday gifts at the same time. And I guess my child is forever doomed to receive birthday gifts decked out in Christmas wrapping paper. But no, it's not an inconvenience. We just go with it. It IS kind of special having a birthday party with Christmas decorations all around!

Valerie is still too young to really get it. When she's older, I'll probably let her decide when to have her party. A New Year's Eve slumber party birthday sounds fun to me. Even a June half birthday would work. I try to stress to Valerie that it is special to have a birthday at Christmas. For now, she believes me.



I think.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cookies galore!

Yesterday we attended Cookie Day at a friend's house. Basically she spends the entire day making batch after batch of cookies. The kids get to cut out the dough and decorate. Of course at the end of the day, everyone gets to bring home some of each kind! Valerie loved it last year and couldn't wait. This was Veronica's first time, so I had Clint on standby in case he needed to come rescue her. Sure enough, about an hour into it Veronica started having meltdown after meltdown. Daddy to the rescue! They went to town and after a few hours, Veronica was crying to go back. After that, she was fine the rest of the day. Go figure! It was a great (but messy) day!









So, do you like to bake? And do you bake Christmas cookies? The reason I ask is because I told someone about our cookie day and she gave me the most bizarre look. She seemed very confused and asked what did we do all that for? Umm. For Christmas? Christmas cookies?? And she looked at me like I had three heads. As in what is that about? Like she had never heard of BAKING at Christmas??? Very odd.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The time of year.....

I love shopping this time of year. Not even buying things, just being out in the hustle and bustle. I love to look. Window shop. I love seeing the Christmas decorations. The music. The gift sets lining the aisles. Candy! The overflow of toys. I love seeing people walking the mall loaded down with bags. I love it all. I know it annoys the heck out of some people, but not me. It's fun being out in the middle of it all. I think it's even more exciting now that I have kids to shop for. It may sound silly, but I am almost sad that I am *done* shopping for the kids. That doesn't mean I can't look though!!

I like when regular TV shows air a Christmas episode. I like the Christmas TV cartoon specials. It brings back fond memories - before DVDs, before VHS, when you actually anticipated Rudolph coming on TV. Now, if you want to watch it in July, you pop in a disc and you can. No big deal. I was always counting down the days until they came on. When those shows aired, Christmas was getting close!! Frosty, Rudolph, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and A Charlie Brown Christmas. There was something magical about sitting in front the TV watching shows that I had already seen a thousand times over. And I admit I still watch them with my kids!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hello Mrs. Grinch ~ that's me!

I'm a grinch when it comes to Christmas cards.


There, I said it.


For years, I took the time to design our card myself. We'd sit pretty in front of the tree and use the remote to snap our family picture. Then I'd scout all the online places for the best deal to get them printed. I'd address them by hand and buy Christmas stamps and address labels. Then 40 or so cards would go in the mailbox.

Come Christmas Day, and we'd have about five cards hanging in our doorway.


I mailed 40? And we received 5? Really?


So my card list was cut. And every year it gets cut even more. I'm mailed about 12 so far this year.

I know, I know. That's not what Christmas is about. But why should I give my time and effort to send a card to people who don't ever reciprocate?

We all have elderly relatives who do not send cards. I'm not referring to them. Some people just don't do cards. I don't mean them either. And sometimes things happen and we run out of cards or we just don't get around to sending any. Again, not them.


There are some people who just don't send us a card. I know they send them to others because they tell me so. I hear them mention where they ordered cards or tell me about the picture they are using. But we never get one. I guess we are not worth of being on their card list.


Well you know what? They're not on ours anymore either.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bells for Her

There is an entry way closet at my Dad's house. It used to be filled with junk, but at some point along the way my Mom turned it into a linen closet for towels and laundry baskets. The junk is still there though - stacked up on the high shelves. It's mostly odd and end stuff, holiday decor, candles, and nick-nack sort of things.

The other day while we were there my Dad decided to get out the Christmas tree so the kids could decorate it. It's a tiny two or three foot tree because my Mom got tired of messing with a big tree. I called it the "Charlie Brown Tree." She still wanted a tree but it was too much trouble with the big one she said. Anyway, I went on the hunt for ornaments and of course found them stashed in the closet. I started poking around to see what other Christmas treasures were in there. It made me really sad as I took down box after box. One box was labeled in my Mom's handwriting "Christmas 2007." It was all new things. My Mom likely bought them in an after Christmas sale in 2007, never knowing it wouldn't come. Not for her.

I spied a Wal-Mart bag and in it I found her handmade ornaments. My Mom was so crafty and creative. And everything always turned out just the way she wanted it. In the bag was a few crocheted angels. She loved angels. And there were the bells. Oh the bells!!! I had forgotten about the bells!!

Quite a few years ago we were at a craft show and found the cutest plastic canvas bells. My Mom just loved them. But heck no was she going to buy one! She wanted to make it. She searched high and low for the pattern with no avail. Somehow she stumbled on a craft Yahoo group. She described the bells and said she was seeking the pattern. Lo and behold some kind soul knew exactly what it was and sent it to her.

She made them in all colors. Then another year she made all new ones to match her "Charlie Brown" sized red and gold tree. My tree is a mish mash of stuff, so they match perfectly!! I think she'd be happy to know they are there. Along with her other handmade ornaments, of course.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

An awesome gingerbread house

Yesterday was rainy and dreary. We were pretty much stuck at home inside all afternoon. Rain = bored and cranky kids. I had been wanting to make a gingerbread house, so I decided it would be a good day for it.


A few years ago someone gave me a Pampered Chef gingerbread mold. It is super easy to do, and I figured I would make two houses. One for the kids to decorate and one for me. The first one gave me so much darn trouble ~ ugh! It fell apart twice and I ended up having to re-make the royal icing. I was trying to use icing that I made for Val's birthday cake (that I never got to make) and it just wasn't holding. So I made another batch. All the while the kids were screaming and fighting and crying like the little angels they are.... Valerie kept asking me why was it taking so long? Veronica kept being mean to her big sister. And so on. I never got around to the second one. Maybe today.


FINALLY after a brief struggle (and cursing) I was able to glue the darn walls and the roof together. And it didn't collapse. I let it sit to dry for a little while, then let the kids have their way with it.


I gave them each an icing bag with a star tip. We used the candy we got from the Christmas parade a few days ago.


And WOW.

Just WOW!!!

I could not believe how well my little decorators did!! I know I am biased since they are my kids and all... but just wow. They each took their time and placed each candy in *just* the right spot. Valerie used her icing tip just perfectly. They are pros already!! I look at it and think there is NO WAY an (almost) five year old and a two year old made this. It belongs on the cover of Martha Stewart magazine or something. Of course they get their talent from their Mommy!!!


See??









Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ho ho ho!!

Saturday (even though Valerie had the flu) I took the girls to the mall for their Santa picture. Some kids cry when they see Santa, but not mine. When she first saw him, Veronica yelled out "SANTA!!" And jumped up and down. Valerie followed with "I see SANTA!!" Then Veronica kept trying to run to the front of the line. Leave it to my kid to shove everyone out of her way to get to Santa first. Luckily it wasn't very busy so she didn't really bother anyone. Anyway, their picture came out halfway decent. I keep all their Santa pictures together and line them up on the piano every year. I like seeing how much the kids have changed. Santa, he always looks the same.


I was always terrified of Santa. There is not ONE photo of me with Santa. I can remember getting in line at the mall for pictures. But the more I thought about it, the closer we'd get, the more I realized I didn't really WANT to. I was scared. So I'd convince my Mom to bail. I don't think she minded because she probably didn't want to wait in line!!! Wait... I think there is one picture at a church function. And the only reason it exists was because I was standing *near* Santa to get a present.

What about you? Share your Santa photo stories!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Holidailies kick off!

And so it begins... today is the first day of Holidailies! Last year I did surprisingly well and posted every single day. I even had a few entries chosen for "Best of Holidailies." This year... who knows!! My kids have suddenly turned into very needy life forms. I need time to think in order to write. Or make that write (fairly) well. And lately I'm lucky if I can eat or sleep in peace. And who knows if I will have anything even slightly interesting to say. But here goes.... let's give it a go and see what happens!!

~ A big HI to all Holidailies readers ~ I'm Melanie, married to Clint for almost 7 years. My girls are Valerie (4) and Veronica (2). I'm a SAHM and wouldn't have it any other way. We live all way down in south Louisiana~ any farther south and you'd be swimming!!!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sob...

I am just sitting here on the verge of tears. Valerie has the flu. Again. The doctor took one look and said either she has the flu or mono. The flu swab came back positive.

So no birthday party on Saturday.

I had this fab party all planned out. After all, turning five is a big deal! I rented an awesome princess castle bounce house. All of Val's friends were coming. I had a castle cake all planned, and had even made all the towers. We have all the food and snacks. Everything is ready to go....

And now we can't have it. Chances are she'll be feeling better by Saturday, but she may still be contagious. And who knows if Veronica will come down with it... or me... or Clint. It's supposed to be freezing cold Saturday as well. Better to be safe and put the party on hold for now.

I know it's not the end of the world and we will reschedule it. Val was just so excited and I was so excited for her.

Now I'm just so sad for her.

Valerie

Poor Val. She is so horribly sick!! Sicker than when she had the flu. We were up all night with her. We'll be heading to the doctor in a couple of hours.

The most awful part? Her birthday party is Saturday!!!! I've been planning it for over a month. She is super excited and has been counting down the days. I admit I have too! We have tons of family and friends coming. I started on the coolest birthday cake. I'll be so sad if we have to cancel her party.

Kids are resilient, so hopefully she'll make a full recovery in the next two days (and none of us catches it.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ready... set... WRITE!

It's that time of year.... time for Holidailies!! I'd like to invite all of you to join in this year. Basically it's a blog project and you are supposed to post daily for a month. If you're not quite up to that challenge, there is a section called Holidailies at Home for less frequent posters. Writing prompts are offered to help with ideas if you get stuck. It's a wonderful way to find great new blogs to read and also to make new friends. So, stay tuned.... daily updates to begin shortly!!! Be sure to sign up and let me know that you did!!