Tag Archive for Christmas

How Could I Forget?

As an add-on to my post about my birthday , I realized this morning I forgot something.  My sister, Laura, (aka) Dooney sent me this lovely little salt and pepper shaker collection.  Oh and she had tucked some chocolate in between these little guys, but it is nowhere to be seen.  Hmmmm.

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Aren’t they sweet?

I’m starting to get quite the collection now, as once in a while Travel Man will bring me a little salt and pepper souvenir from whatever state/country he’s been to.  I have this group shown above, some hens sitting on their nests, and some really cute Christmas salt and pepper shakers.  It’s funny how little collections like this start, and then they start to grow and grow and take on a life all their own.

It’s such a sweet gift from my sister I’ll be giving these little guys their own little shelf in the kitchen.

Thanks Dooney!  And that’s my birthday once again!  Hope everyone’s week is off to a good start.

Does your Family have a Christmas Project?

My parents started a wonderful holiday tradition well over 15 years ago.  They print a family photo calendar for the New Year filled with pictures and memories of the past year, or even from many years ago.  I have blogged about this project in the past, but it becoming such a time-honored tradition it’s a story that bears repeating.  When this annual project started,  in 1997 my Mom was the editor, and set up girl.  She would collect pictures that had been taken by family members for the prior years happenings, and use those to put the pages together for the New Years calendar.  The calendar also includes all of the family member birthdays and anniversaries.  So there’s no forgetting any important dates.

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Over the years the process of putting the collected the pictures, and scanning, and building the calendar pages has transformed into a completely digital process.  Now a days the pages are put together using Picasa’s collage feature.  Pictures for each month’s page still have to be collected, but the process of putting the pictures on the pages is a much easier process and allows for a greater number of pictures to be included.

This is a page from our 2013 calendar:

August Calendar page

Credit for this collage collection goes to Travel Man.

The printing process of the calendar is another piece of family history.  For many, many years my Mom would put the calendar together in “old-school” fashion.  Cutting and pasting each picture to the page and then scanning it in for the final copy.  My Dad was in charge  of printing all of the copies. They did all of this, including the printing, at home, and I’m sure they were printing 10 or more copies.  Quite a venture.  And with your parents being the “project managers” on this type of project, you knew you had to meet the picture deadline.

Of course pictures submissions have always been  strictly voluntary, but everyone likes to be included on this project.  And even more exciting for the 2013 calendar, a few of the pictures that Evan  took during the year made it on the calendar too.  That would mean that this year’s calendar was put together by four (yes that’s 4) generations of family members.  Wow!!  I just realized that fact.  Isn’t that amazing?

In the younger years of our family calendar, the kids would all count how many times they made an appearance in the calendar, and of course compare their counts.  (I think my Mom went a little nuts with this one.). And they were also quick to let their grandma know if a picture had been duplicated.

For quite a few years we only included pictures from the previous year. Then in 2004,  my mom surprised us all and threw in old pictures of some of us, and it was a great blast from the past.  From that year on we have had pictures from the here and now,  and a few from the past mixed in as well.

We have now been doing the calendar for so long that someone will take a really great picture or a really funny one, and we’ll say, “That’s a calendar shot!”.

A few years ago my Mom commandeered help from everyone who wanted to help put  together the pictures for the calendar. So, around Thanksgiving time my mom will post a message on Facebook for what month people would like to be responsible for. Once the months are all assigned then the picture collecting frenzy begins.  I always tell myself I’m going to collect the great calendar shots as we go through the year, and then life sets in and I forget,and the first week of December I’m scrambling to find pictures.  Oh and there is also someone assigned for the picture on the cover of the calendar. This is a coveted position each year.

The updated printing process has now been assigned to Staples. Once the editing is complete the calendar goes on a flash drive and a few days later, voila the calendar is finished.  I think my parents print around 20 copies of the calendar each year now, and they’re always ready for our family’s Christmas day get together.

The calendar has created a wonderful  pictorial of the family history. Watching the kids grow up, and ourselves getting older.  I have all the picture portions of my calendars in binders, so we can page through the years, and enjoy all of the pictures quite easily.  The binders become a great conversation piece at family parties.  Travel Man will carry a calendar with him this year, as he loves to share pics of his family, and we’re hoping he’ll feel like he has a little piece of home with him.

Our 2013 Family Calendar is a sight to behold, and welcomes the newest member of the family, Miss Madison.  Hats off to my parents for keeping this tradition going.  It is a memory that I’m certain will be treasured for years and years to come.

This post has been linked to the GRAND Social linky

Oh I had fun making Cinnamon Rolls

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Now I know everyone is busy this week setting goals for the new year, maybe trying to cut back on the sweet treats and what you are eating, but the next time you have a sweet tooth and need a great sweet treat, you need to try this recipe.

Over the holidays I created the cinnamon roll recipe from my Pioneer Woman cookbook.  Oh and what fun I had.  I’m  pretty sure this was the last treat I put together for my 2012 Christmas baking season.  First of all you need to understand the I am a bread-head.  I love anything breadalicious.  Bread, rolls, French bread, sweet breads. ,yum, yum.

I actually haven’t made anything along the lines of a bread recipe since October when we had a homemade pizza party.  So I gathered the ingredients, made the dough as directed, and voila here’s what it looked like after is had risen for about an hour.  Beautiful isn’t it?

1-photo-001Whenever I see a bowl full of poofy dough like this I just want to punch it down and smell the sweet bread flavors, and I did.

Next was rolling out the dough into a semi-rectangle, and adding the toppings.  butter, cinnamon, sugar, butter, cinnamon, sugar.  It was wonderful.

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Then came “The Roll”!!  Starting at one end and rolling as tightly as you can, but uniformly until you end up with your rectangle of dough looking like this…

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This recipe makes two long rectangles for the cinnamon rolls.  The first rectangle I rolled was a little bit loose, and I probably could have rolled slightly tighter.  By the second rectangle I had my system in order and it turned out great.

Then you cut the rolls, place them into your baking pans, and let them rest and rise again.  I used foil pans, since most of these were going to friends and family for a Christmas treat.

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Once they rested, they go into the oven for 20 minutes, frost and you are ready for some seriously sweet noshing.  But make sure you include a good cup of coffee with your treat.  Then it becomes spectacular.

I had so much fun rolling the dough and putting the rolls together.  The texture of this dough was fantastic, and made the assembly process all the easier.

My taste testers here at the house have proclaimed that this recipe must be a new Christmas tradition.  I agree.  I will add this to my annual Christmas baking arsenal for many years to come.

What’s your favorite baking recipe?

>> Photo credit for this post goes to my Travel Man…

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

1-IMG_0045I promise this will be my last post concerning Christmas trees from the  2012 holiday season.  But I could not share this story with you until all of the gifts had been given.

Many, many moons ago I did some Christmas crafting, and made some ever so cute fabric Christmas trees.  At that moment in time I was a young mom, and would craft my little heart out and sell them at a Christmas boutique every year.  Fun memories.

Over the years I lost my fabric Christmas tree, and had not made any new trees for quite some time.  Then when we were visiting my sister in October, she told me that she had to throw her little tree out because it got moldy.  I was so sad for her I knew exactly what I would give her for Christmas.

I scoured my Babe Cave (aka the sewing room) looking for my old Christmas tree pattern and I could not find it anywhere.  Oh Boo!  So of course I went to JoAnn’s found the pattern (so elated McCall’s still had this pattern), got my supplies, and went home to make trees.  By the way I already had the fabric.  I had purchased it on clearance last Christmas season.

I decided to make one for my sister, one for my brother, and one for myself.  We would all have the same tree from the same fabric.  Kind of cheesy I know, but I’m cheesy and traditional like that.

So here’s how they go together:

The trees are made from a McCall’s Crafts pattern 3777.

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For each tree you are making you cut out 6 pieces of the tree pattern.  You can also use contrasting fabrics, so in that case you would cut 3 pieces from each fabric.  I’m going to be making some trees with contrasting fabrics for next Christmas.

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The next step is to baste either rick-rack or some type of lace around the edges.  You baste 1/2″ from the edge.  This step is completed only on 3 pieces of the trees.  Leave the other 3 plain to form the tree sections.

Next, sew two pieces right sides together, and leave an opening on the bottom according to the pattern.  Be sure you have one piece with your trim, and one without.  Trim your seams, and clip the corners and curves.  Turn the pieces right side out and press flat.  You should now have three pieces to stitch together to form your tree.

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Lay two of the sections on top of each other and baste through the center according to the pattern.  The pattern piece has a line for you to trace to follow for this portion of the stitching.  Lay the third piece on top of the two you have previously basted together.  Line up your edges, etc. and pin in place.  Stitch through all three layers.  You should now have six openings in the bottom of the tree. This forms six sections that will be stuffed to form the tree.

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Once you finishing stuffing and plumping your tree, you stitch the openings closed, add a star and voila a nice little tabletop tree for years to come.  The beauty of this pattern is that you can choose very simple or very elegant fabrics.  You could embellish with mini ornaments, or ribbon bows.  The sky is the limit.

And a funny side note to this story-  as I was assembling the trees I was making I started  digging around in one of my little Christmas storage bins.  In the bottom of this bin there were some pattern pieces all folded up nice and neat. I unfolded the pieces and there were some patterns for a few different ornaments.  The last piece I unfolded was my old, old pattern for the fabric Christmas trees I had made so long ago.  I laughed to myself for a few minutes, and got back to my sewing.

I’m thinking next year of making some plaid trees for the younger crowd in the family.   Or maybe polka dot trees for the girls and plaid trees for the boys.  Time will tell, we’ll have to wait and see.  If you like to sew, and are a crafter at heart give this pattern a try.  It’s a lot of fun.

The Party House – Our Year in Review

??????????????????????????????????????Today is New Year’s Eve, and tomorrow will start the beginning of a New Year, 2013.  This is the time of year I love to reflect back on everything that has transpired at the Party House in the course of just one, short year.

We have had numerous birthday parties for the family members who live here locally.

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Had a great family event in April at Angels Stadium.  Almost everyone in the family was able to make it to an Angels game together.  I honestly cannot remember if the Angels won or lost that day, but we  had a great time.

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Hosted a great dinner party when my sister and her husband were here from Montana in May.  Laura showed us how to make her red sauce enchiladas.

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A special birthday was celebrated for our baby boy in July.  He turned 21.

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We actually got to celebrate Travel Man’s birthday on his actual birthday this year.  That was a fun, fun time.

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October brought us the baby shower celebration for my daughter, Naomi.  We had such girly fun that day!!

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November brought the arrival of Miss Madison Kay, our second grandchild.  What a delight she is.  I know I’ve said that before, but I’ll say it again, because I’m her Grandma.

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And of course we celebrated Thanksgiving together, and for the first time in a long time my sister, Laura, was able to join us at the dinner table.

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Christmas Day was celebrated here with the family.  We were delighted to have our nephew, Jim,  here for the days festivities.  It’s always a little more casual on Christmas Day for us.  Dinner was buffet style, with tons and tons of goodies and cookies.  A wonderful party ending to 2012.

My parents with almost all of their grandkids!

My parents with almost all of their grandkids!

We are always grateful to be able to host the family events.  It’s always a wonder that we can get so many of the kids and their significant others together in the same place at the same time for the same event.

Every year I am equally amazed that even though my husband (aka Travel Man) is on the road for a good amount of time during the year, we are still able to sneak in as many short trips as we do.  And before I get to the trips – do you know that my Travel Guy was in the air for well over 160,000 air miles this year?  I could not believe that number, I’m still in shock as I am writing this.  That’s a lot of travel.  I am ever so grateful that he takes such good care of us, and always keep us laughing with his travel stories.

Our trips together this year included-

A trip to the Reagan Library.

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A trip to Reno to visit my parents while my Dad was going through some chemo treatments.

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A trip to Las Vegas in June (this was the second time), so my daughters and I could attend a Celine Dion concert.  Travel man drove us there and home.

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A trip to New York in August to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

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And a trip to Montana to visit my sister and her husband.

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More trips than I could have imagined we would could possibly take this year.  Thank you Travel Man.  You never cease to amaze me.

1-DSC01296And finally, I would like to give a standing ovation to my Dad.  My Dad is battling lung cancer (actually he’s kicking it in the butt!).  He was told in January of this year, that there were no additional,  conventional methods of chemotherapy or radiation available to him that would be helpful in diminishing his tumors.  My Dad, he’s a fighter, and he never, ever gives up.  He got on the computer, researched some alternative therapies, found a doctor first in Reno, and then in Carlsbad, and never gave up on living.  My Mom keeps telling us that since my Dad was an engineer in his working life he just has the mentality that this problem he has needs to be solved, and he’s going to solve it.  And by the way my Mom, she’s a rock star.  She definitely deserves the “Stand By Your Man Award” for 2012.  The love and compassion she shows for my Dad is a priceless gem.

I am completely elated, overjoyed and ecstatic to tell you that because of my Dad’s hard work, perseverance, and his never give up attitude in this year of 2012, his tumors have diminished over 40%!!  It is hard to express in words what a wonderful feeling it is that my Dad has seen such a tremendous improvement.  It’s happiness, relief, joy, and a great big WHEW!  This man, my Dad, has redefined the word perseverance.

It reminds me of my favorite Winston Churchill quote: “Never, never, never, give up.”

From the Party House to yours, wishing each and every one of you a very Happy New Year, and may all good things come to you and yours in 2013.

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