Category Archives: Holidays

Happy Day After Thanksgiving–2019

Today, after a wonderful day full of family, friends and food yesterday, I feel as if I’ve eaten all that food myself! I’ve had a relaxing day today, and have not accomplished much at all. Don’t you just love the turkey veggie tray my sister made? So cute!

Rob cooked the ham and the turkey on the barbecues the day before Thanksgiving. He cooked them to perfection, as always.

Everyone brought food, including Lovana, who made a delicious salad. After I took this picture, she added sliced apples, some candied walnuts and some balsamic salad dressing. It was all eaten, which was quite a compliment to Lovana, as the table was groaning with delightful options. We had an eclectic mix of the classic holiday food with some Eritrean lentils and injera bread, tons of dessert, and assorted side dishes.

I made some gluten-free pumpkin pie. I struggle with gluten-free pie crust. It rarely tastes good when I make it. This time, it turned out! Yea:). The pie crust recipe was one my daughter found on-line. And, actually, she mixed it up. So, technically, all I did was roll it out and make the filling……so now you know the secret of good gluten-free pie crust…you need a Lovana at your house:)



The cookies Jake helped make on Monday were in the cookie jar. My little friend, Danait, carefully put the Cracker Jacks in the bowl and then passed them around the room. She also passed the bowl of candy. One piece for you, one for my mouth–that was her motto. It was very cute.

Everyone visited for a long time, and my good-natured nephew, Steven, was buried with all kinds of goodies by a laughing little girl…

Everyone went home happy and well-fed. It was a great day. We have much to be thankful for on this weekend, and always. We had a few family and friends who could not join us, due to work, but we will catch up with them very soon, because Christmas is right around the corner….and it’s only 3-1/2 weeks away! Yikes!

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I hope you all have a very nice Valentine’s Day this year.

I made cupcakes for my daughter, nieces and nephew. Rob is delivering the ones to the kids this morning, when he goes to put Jake on the bus and get Michaela for their bi-weekly trip to the swimming pool. We added a small gift card for each of them.

The little sugar hearts were purchased last year after Valentine’s Day, so were on clearance. As long as you keep them dry, they last a very long time. There are plenty left for next year. The cupcakes were made into hearts by putting a marble in the edge between the paper and the tin before baking to make the paper push in, forming a rough heart shape. The tops were frosted using a Ziplock bag with a little hole cut into it so the frosting could squirt out. It was a fun, quick, inexpensive project. The cupcakes themselves were from a boxed mix, purchased for 39c on clearance after Christmas because it had little red and green sprinkles in it. I just added a bunch more sprinkles from my pantry, so they became multi-colored, like Funfetti. They are loaded with sugar and gluten, so I won’t be tempted to eat any. At all. I loved making them for the kids, though.

I made 6 of these cupcakes in regular round shape and froze them, unfrosted and clearly labeled “NOT gluten-free” for an upcoming birthday party. I’ll frost them when that day comes.

Yesterday, Rob and I had a wonderful, rare day. We decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a drive. We decided to visit quilt shops, so we drove around and went to a few. We chose ones out in the country so we could just enjoy the scenery. Since it’s a shop hop, we were given a kit for a 6″ block at each place. We only had a few hours, and didn’t worry about how many places we got to, but instead just meandered along. There are 16 shops spread out along a long, wide path that are participating and there is no possible way to get to all of them without spending way more time than we had–so we didn’t try to do them all. After I finish this baby quilt I’m working on, I will make up the blocks I got and figure out something to do with them. They are very pretty.

It was so much fun to be able to just visit and spend time together. You would think that we would have lots of time with just us, but in truth, hardly a day goes by that we are not surrounded by children, so we really enjoyed a few hours of “just us” time. And, we made it to pick up Patsy at school with 5 or 10 minutes to spare. Whew! Then, I had several hours to make cupcakes, cook dinner, and we went to evening church, so I was still able to get some thing done at home. Hopefully, we can remember to carve out some time again, soon! It’s such a good memory already:)

Thriving In My Thrifty Christmas Week–December 26, 2018

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Merry Christmas to everyone!  The post that usually goes up on Sunday?  I think I wrapped it on accident and put it under the tree:). Now that I have a moment to breathe, I thought I’d catch everyone up on our week before Christmas.

We spent a lot of time on Christmas this year, instead of a lot of money, so it was a mad whirl until the very end.  Despite the hustle and bustle we engaged in, there were plenty of times to just do fun things, relax and visit.  I’m very happy with how things ended up.

And, we stayed thrifty.

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A while back, I was given some super-cute Christmas sprinkles.  Jake used this entire jar up on his 2 projects.  He had so much fun, and took the wrapped Krispie treats to his teachers and bus drivers.  They loved them.

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We made lots of gifts.  Rob made gorgeous cutting boards for quite a few family members and friends.  This photo is in process, when he was treating them with oil so they would stay nice.  He made them all from reclaimed wood.

I sewed quite a few items.  We put together several photo gifts–some enlarged pictures, and a couple of photo albums.  We used coupon codes from Walgreens when we ordered the prints and went through Ibotta to get a few cents back.  One album was put together by Patsy for the cousins’ grandma who is visiting from Florida.  That way, she can have pictures of her far-away grandchildren all the time.  She loved it!

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Patsy and Rachel got matching hats.  When Patsy chose her new middle name, she chose 2 middle names.  Rachel is one of them.  She’s a pretty special cousin and they like hanging out together when they can.

Patsy made super-cute bird houses for lots of us, and Chex Muddy Buddy mix for the rest.  Everyone was happy!

Harnet and Danait came and stayed for a couple of nights.  We had so much fun!

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Danait loved seeing the Christmas train at the church before service on Christmas Eve.  She remembered it from last year and was so happy to see it again.  The service was lovely, too.

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I love this picture of my sister, Rosalie, and Harnet!  We had such a good time spending time and visiting.  Rosalie gave Rob such a funny gift–It was box inside of box, inside of box, inside of box, with cute little signs and keys wrapped in it and a toy truck!  Can you guess what was inside?

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The signs read, “Ft. Knox” and the keys were to open the fort.  The truck was a “get-away” car to haul it away with:). Then inside was a bag of gold coins (chocolate, of course!). It was very clever and everyone loved watching him open it.

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The glitter was in there, too.  I mean, gold glitters, doesn’t it?

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Of course, Rob was up to tricks, too.  He nailed and glued Alissa’s gift together, then finally gave her a hammer and chisel so she could pound it open.  Once she got in, she was baffled by the Home Depot and PetCo gift cards (both blank).  He finally pulled her real gift out of his backpack, but sure had fun teasing her first!

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Of course, she paid him back by wrapping his gift in miles of bubble wrap, yards of tape, saran wrap, and lot of other sticky stuff.

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There was an ice rink of “Frozen” going around the place!  Little girls are so fun to buy Christmas gifts for, and the family had fun, I’ll just say:). Her little costume (not in this picture, this is a nightie), actually has lights on it and it sings, “Let it Go.”  Crazy!

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Believe it or not, I got a few non-Christmas-related frugal things done as well.  I re-covered Rob’s pillow with some quilted fabric I’ve had for a long time.  It was worn out, but he likes that exact amount of stuffing, so I just made a new cover.

We did some deep cleaning and organizing on several days, spending several hours we probably should have used for other purposes, but it sure feels good to have some areas clean and things organized that were messy before.

I cooked many meals.  I spent every last cent of my reduced $50/week, plus and extra $50 grocery budget, and have to admit, I dipped into the “little extra” I had set aside.  I will still end up the month under $300 instead of $250, and that includes several food gifts for people, all paper products and toiletries we needed, Christmas extras like cream cheese,  plus lots and lots of produce for my salad eater, Rob.  One thing I bought was 5 boxes of Chex cereal for $1.49/box.  Pasty used a lot of them for her Chex mixture.  The lady behind me in line said she had never, ever seen anyone buy so many boxes of Chex at once.  (She was nice, it just wasn’t part of her world to stock up like that). I politely made conversation with her, but later, to Rob, I said, “who COULDN”T eat 5 boxes of Chex!!!”  Frankly, she might just faint if she every saw my garage:)

Patsy got to do work projects with the youth group at church twice, racking up money in her account for youth group activities. There is a retreat in February she is working hard for.

Today, when I took Harnet home, I got stuck in traffic on the way back.  It took me a long time to get home.  Thankfully, I had a piece of candy in my purse, which I ate,  and then grabbed a little ziplock of frozen ham and bean soup from the freezer, and warmed it up right away once I got home.  I was so glad that was in there!  I almost had to stop and grab something, but made it home without a low blood sugar, saving at least $5-$7.

Rob grabbed some wrapping paper, bows and ribbons today at 70% off.  We wrapped most gifts this year instead of using bags, using paper bought on clearance another year.

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The holiday was wonderful.  There are many more pictures I could show, and many more people who shared the week with us, but this post is way too long already.  We had a great time together as a family, and with friends over the past few weeks.  Tomorrow, we start our routine again, by taking the kids to the pool in the morning and I’m going to my exercise class.  Let’s just say….. it’s time:). I had a lot of turkey.  and ham.  and…….

 

 

 

Thriving In My Thrifty Week–Nov. 25, 2018

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I was given a beautiful bouquet on Thanksgiving.  They made such a nice addition to the holiday atmosphere.  They were special to me because they were a very thoughtful gift from Allison.  She is the love of my autistic son, Anthony’s life.  Rob was able to pick them both up on Thursday so they could join us.  Although they live in different homes, they are very committed to each other and are very sweet.

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This is a picture from a few weeks ago–they are such a cute couple!

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Jake was happy to show Anthony and Allison how to play Wii, after the meal.  (As if they didn’t know how, but they were good sports!)

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My oldest daughter, Abbie, was stressed after a long work week, so baked and baked and baked until midnight.  Boy did we eat good.  When you added all these tasty desserts to the lemon meringue pie my nephew made, the apple one I made, and the cookies Patsy made…..boy, oh, boy!  And, the best part (or the worst), was it was all gluten free.  Some was dairy free as well, for those who needed it.  I ate WAY too much, but Rob, the determined did not.  We got all the extra food out of here–sent home with our guests, except the part of the feast we felt was best to keep.

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Of course, we had coffee, made by queen of coffee herself:). It is so good.  There’s nothing quite like it.  Needless to say, the other coffee remained neglected on Thursday.

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When I went to Fred Meyers on Saturday, I was surprised with several freebies.  I knew the gum was the Friday freebie, but was not expecting condiment cups, a can opener, and a little candle.  I was doing a little grocery shopping, because that’s all I seem to do lately:), and got the bulk curry powder and cloves I was after from there, along with several items such as 99c pasta sauce (5), 99c gluten-free crackers (3), and $1.99/lb butter (5).  I was not able to get bulk poultry seasoning there.  They were out.  I guess the “secret” of buying bulk spices to save lots of money has gotten out.  Ibotta has been doing a rebate at Safeway only (it’s not offered at other stores I shop at) of red lentil pasta.  The first time I bought it, it cost $2.79.  I got a $3 rebate.  I also got a coupon for $1.50 off 2 boxes and the rebate popped back up.  I went back Saturday and got 2 boxes.  They were a little more expensive–a little more than $3/box.  The cashier ran my $1.50 coupon twice, and took off $3.  I pointed it out to her, not wanting to cheat anyone, and she said she was leaving it, and have a nice day.  So, I ended up paying around $4, and will get $3 back for one box, making the average of the 2 boxes around 50c/box.  Today, the rebate popped up again, expiring in 12 hours.  I’ve sent Rob for one last box.  This is simply a new product that they clearly want people to try, and I’m delighted!  I’m sending some to Lovana in her next care package, since she eats vegetarian and it’s high protein, and am eating a box soon, since it’s gluten-free. With these high-value rebates and many other lower-value ones on things I needed to buy,  plus some bonuses I qualified for, I’ve been able to get my Ibotta account built back up again, which is awesome since I cleaned it out for some of the great holiday sales.  My comedy still continues–I went to the store at least 7 times over the past few days–no matter what I buy, I seem to out of something daily–odd things like Dijon mustard, cornstarch, cloves, curry powder, along with normal things like milk and eggs–we are just cracking up every time I announce that I’m now out of ____!  I guess I’d better start serving 99c pasta sauce on free red lentil pasta:)

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I’ve been able to do a little sewing lately.  This skirt was one I’ve had in progress for a while, but finally finished in time for Patsy to wear for Thanksgiving.  I got the top for only $10 at Fred Meyers and was super happy at how nicely it went with the skirt.  You cannot see in this picture, but there are pink buttons all down the front of the skirt.  I have so many buttons from a large boxful  Rob bought years ago at a yard sale. It was great to use some up and it kept the cost down.

I was able to get in on some great sales at JoAnn’s on Saturday.  I used up the last of 2 gift cards I still had from either my birthday or Christmas, and added some cash to get things like interfacing and some fabric for a few projects with the large discounts that were being offered this weekend.  It was fun.  I haven’t allowed myself inside of JoAnn’s much lately.  I was amazed at the carts piled to the top with fabric, AFTER the cloth was cut–not bolts before it was cut.  There are some ladies out there who are going to do some major sewing or crafting!  I’m sure they must be making blankets or other items for charity.  Or perhaps making something to sell.  Those are the only explanations I can think of for any one person buying that much fabric!!!  In fact, since I was not quite the early bird I planned on being, much of the calico was already in carts, or behind the cutting counter. But, I still found 2 pieces I liked at 70% off.  It was crowded, but people were patient and nice, and I had a good experience.

We had a wonderful holiday week with no school, lots of kids, a huge feast, and time with family and friends, but this week is back to normal.  The routine started again today.  That always feels good, too.  How was your week?

 

Happy Thanksgiving-2018

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I want to wish each and every one of you a very happy Thanksgiving Day!

We got up bright and early this morning, and Rob has already finished cooking the turkey on his barbecue.  He has a ham going out there, now.

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We’ve got stuffing, vanilla rosemary maple glazed sweet potatoes and of course, green bean casserole ready to pop into the oven to finish warming.  The sweet potatoes will have maple candied walnuts on top, and I was delighted to find gluten-free fried onions to put on the green beans.

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An apple pie with streusel topping awaits.  The table is covered with trivets and pot holders waiting for all the great food and goodies the family will bring.

The house is spotless, thanks to the family members who came yesterday and helped clean.  The table in the garage is out from it’s load of clutter it carries between holidays and looks pretty with a freshly ironed tablecloth. (Thanks, guys!). There are chairs in every nook and cranny around the house.  All we need now are the guests, and they should start arriving before too long.   It’s shaping up to be a wonderful day, full of family and friends.  Although we will miss the ones who cannot be here, they will be in our thoughts on this day, especially.  We have much to be thankful this year.

Rob and I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to each of you and your families on this day.  I’m sure there are as many different ways of celebrating as there are people in this country, but I know every one of us has a lot to be grateful for.  I love having a day where I can take a moment and reflect on all the blessings the Lord has brought to me this year.  Have a wonderful day!

Simple Super Bowl Stadium Meal

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For the Super Bowl, I made a simplified version of a food stadium.  There were many ideas on the internet, and many of them bragged that it would cost only $25 or less to build the stadium (not counting the food).  I decided to look in the cupboard and pulled out lots of bread pans and other bowls and plates and made my own for absolutely free (not counting the food).

I also made the food quite simple, with a few treats thrown in. The little sandwiches were peanut butter and jelly, and plain peanut butter.  I made a pot of home-made chili and some turkey hot dogs.  Some people had chili dogs and some just ate hot dogs.  There were lots of veggies, and the bowl with the orange lid held simple dip.  On the left were pickle rolls–lunchmeat with cream cheese and a pickle, a family favorite that makes my crew feel like it is a special day.  My niece lined the soda cans up on the sides and said they were the people watching the game.  She had fun helping “build” the stadium. The guacamole in the middle was supposed to be the field.  I also made baked potato skins with bacon, green onions and cheese, but they were over on the stove for people to grab, along with the hot dogs.  I made some brownies from a mix I had, and put them in the one bread pan that is empty in the picture above.

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I was able to pull a lot of the food from the pantry, and people brought lots of chips.  Soda was only $2.50/box, and of course, hot dogs and chili are very inexpensive to serve.  Peanut butter sandwiches, using bread I got on the clearance rack were well received.  It’s a perfect example of how you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make an occasion special, and everyone had a great time.

The party was just a small one, and the food was what we ate for Family Sunday Dinner.  Some of the family was out of town, but my niece brought a few friends, so there were extra kids, which always adds life to a party.  Later in the afternoon, when the game itself was on, most of the family were already gone, and my husband watched it to his heart’s content.

It was a fun, simple party and everyone had fun!  I’m glad I did it.

Christmas Fun–Creative Gift Giving–2017

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On almost every occasion, Rob finds a way to spice up the gift-giving.  At least one niece or nephew often gets their present wrapped super creatively.  Sometimes he uses duct tape, wooden boxes nailed shut, loads of pennies instead of money, dollar bills taped into a long strip or rolled into a wrapping paper tube, etc.  This year was no exception.  He froze Alissa’s gift card in a block of ice.  It was actually a dummy card-not loaded, in case the water damaged it.  He gave her a new one once she got it out.  To make the joke funnier, unbeknownst to him, my sister and nephew froze HIS gift card in a block of ice infused with gummy fish, since it was a gift card to Cabelas to put towards his fishing license.  Since neither side knew what the other was doing, it was super funny, and there were several good-natured comments such as “payback” and “serves you right.”  🙂

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My sister, Gail, never has any spoons in her drawer when we go over there, for various reasons.  So, we did the 12 Spoons of Christmas for her.  Rob rounded up as many spoons as he could find from Goodwill on 2 trips and we finished with plastic ones.  There were 12 labeled, wrapped gifts for her, starting with 1 Spoon for the Christmas Tree.  It was a spoon with a bunch of gaudy decorations glued to it, and a hanger to make it into an ornament.

The 2nd Day was 2 Turtle Spoons.  2 spoons were taped to a package of Turtle candy.

The 3 French spoons were decoratively placed into a French fry sleeve, inserted into floral foam

4 Calling spoons were taped to a very old cell phone.

5 Spoony rings are in the picture.  Rob bent them into rings.  See how well they fit?  So fashionable!

6 spoons a-laying were just 6 spoons taped into a 1/2 egg carton.

7 Spoons a-swimming were dangling from a swim-suit hanger, surrounded by raindrops and empty water bottles.  Of course, there was a shower cap, which my sister immediately put on!  Patsy did a great job drawing the raindrops.

8 Spoons a-milking were 8 spoons taped to a rice milk carton.

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9, 10, and 11 were spoons Pipe-cleanered together for spoons a-piping, Spoons a-leaping (doing the long jump), and spoons a-dancing (a very decorative mobile for their new remodel).  All of these gifts are just awful, of course, and will never be used for decorations:)

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The last one was 12 spoony Hawaiian drummers drumming.  12 spoons were taped to a huge, Costco bag of brown sugar and palm trees and a drum were drawn by Patsy.  This was another joke, because my niece had bought 12 pounds of brown sugar recently, and brought it home to her mom.  It was on sale so she thought she should get several, but that was a lot, so we’ve been joking about how she was going to use up that much!  So we bought her some more:) Everyone was roaring with laughter as she unwrapped each elegantly wrapped gift and she really hammed it up, making it more fun.

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Another fun addition to the party was a Saran Wrap ball game.  This was a twist on the old “unwrap the package” game that we have played for years.  (In that game, you wrap and wrap and wrap a small gift and then people unwrap when the music plays and pass it around when the music is going until someone gets the gift.  Sometimes there are candies in-between the layers that fall out and people get it as well).  This was a little different.  My niece wrapped many, many gifts in many, many yards of plastic wrap, encasing each gift with a few more layers.  The ball was quite large when she finished. The rules were:  The guy in front of you had dice and rolled until he or she got doubles.  You could unwrap the Saran Wrap until the doubles were rolled.  You could not rip, tear, or use a pocketknife.  The ends were hard to find as the wrap had been cut frequently.  So, sometimes it took your whole turn to find an end that could be unwrapped.  When doubles were rolled, you had to pass the ball on for the next guy’s turn.  There were all kinds of goodies my sister and brother-in-law had gathered up.  There were charger cords, dollar bills, candy galore, little flashlights, gum, survival gear, and other super fun prizes.  We had a great time with that, although in the end, after the kids robbed me blind of some of my little prizes, I did end up with a $1 bill to keep:).

You may notice one niece with a tablet.  My niece, Rachel, in Ireland, joined us for the game via Skype!  Caitlyn was sure to take a turn for her frequently.  Technology is so cool sometimes!

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We all gave and received many great gifts this Christmas.  But, I venture to say, the joke ones will remain in our memories for quite a while along with the more “serious” ones.  I will also say that everyone who helped with the joke gifts got as much enjoyment out of thinking them up them as the receiver did getting them, and that’s the best kind of creative gift in my mind–fun all around.

 

Did you do any creative gift giving this year?  Or do you plan to for upcoming birthdays? We are always open to new ideas, as long as its all good, clean fun and the kids still get the present in the end.  I’d love some new ideas to add to the mixture.

 

 

Holiday Fun

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Alissa had a contest at one of her holiday parties on Wednesday.  She was supposed to look the most “Christmasy.”  She spent quite a bit of time sewing the fake tree on her Goodwill sweater, and then hung it with candy ornaments right before the party!  Silly, and fun.  She won 2nd place:)

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Ja’Ana had a little tap dance show for the parents tonight after her class.  It lasted about 5 minutes, but it was cute!

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Today was our last day of homeschool and tomorrow the public schoolers will finish up until January 2nd.  We just finished studying Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” and so we watched the movie today.  They ate chips, cookies and popcorn and colored in a big coloring book Alissa got for her white elephant gift exchange.  We only had 2 assignments, plus a long math session,  beyond that to finish up, and I’m assigning no homework for the 2 weeks we have off.  While they watched it, I wrapped a bunch of presents.  I feel like I’m gaining on that project of Christmas presents.  I plan to wrap again this weekend, and then I’ll know what I still need to get.

Although it is crazy-busy, I do feel that we are getting time for some enjoyment this holiday season.  We have been lighting the advent candles several times a week and reading some scriptures and doing a few advent activities.  Instead of trying to get to that with every person, every day, I just go with whoever I’ve got at the moment.  So, I may read/do activities with J and Alissa some days, Patsy others, and on Sunday afternoons, Jake now wants to light the candles and he made a little “ornament” for our paper advent tree stating the Jesus was bron. So cute! He asked me today if we could light them again next Sunday afternoon.  Of course we can!

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

FC514CB2-830E-4A36-BA2F-6CD18AFC1649We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with 20 people sharing the day at our house.  I had a few anxious thoughts about where they were all going to sit, but it all worked out beautifully once I figured things out.

We set up a table in front of our fireplace.  Luckily the day was so warm that I did not have to build a fire, so those guests did not get roasted:)  In the garage, I put an extra leaf in the table that stays out there and put some tv trays by the chairs.  I also put extra chairs and tv trays where ever there was a corner.  Lastly, I broke my “don’t eat on the couch” rule, and no one spilled.  Patsy’s room became the play room, and the kids played games in there.

We had SO much food!  We had all the traditional foods, with a few twists.  I cooked the turkey on Tuesday, and just warmed it up.  The potatoes, though, I mashed that morning, and made gravy.  Our family loves potatoes, and we ate the entire 10 lbs!

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Then we took off for a couple of days of camping at the beach.  No matter how rainy and wet, we still love it!  And, boy did it turn out to be rainy and wet!!  Last night, Rob had to get up around midnight and put the awning in, it was so windy.  Then, a little later in the night, the power went out.  He got up again to change the water heater to propane, the the fridge does it by itself. Then it came back on, and woke us up again.  We drove home today, very slowly and safely, wishing we had a couple more days because we needed a nap!!!

We took Jake with us, as he has been longing to go camping for months.  This morning, he was already asking when the next camping trip would be.  We stayed inside for the most part, watching movies, reading books.  The kids did lots of craft kits and  Legos.

The sad news is that my main computer crashed   It’s in the shop.  So, my phone will have to do for now, and I find blogging much harder.  (Note:  The phone did not work at all, nothing posted, there just was not any reception there in most places, so I’m now switched out to an old computer that we had at home and am making a better post.  Sadly, this computer will not do pictures, so I have to use the one poor one I was able to load on my phone, plus there are old pictures I can use.  But, no new ones from this trip until the good computer comes home.)  Hopefully, it will be fixed soon.  (Note:  It’s fixed.  We lost the entire hard drive and everything on it.  I’m bummed.  We can pick it up whenever we can drive up there–a day or two)

 

 

 

A Simple, Home-made Halloween–2017

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Yesterday, we celebrated Halloween.  Now, I must confess, Halloween is both Rob and my least favorite holiday.  For many, many years, we hosted an alternative harvest party of some sort, took the kids to one at church, or just did our own thing that night.  One time, in 20 years, we took the kids, including the nieces and nephew, trick-or-treating and we were completely worn out by the end, so we did not do it again.  To be fair, we tried to take them to every relative that lived within an hour’s drive of each other–lots of places, really far apart, nursing homes included, etc.   We were driving for hours, unloading them, visiting, and off again.  They were little, and it was just plain a lot of work.  All the relatives did enjoy the costumes, especially the elderly relatives who were in homes.  So, we went back to our regular ways.

However, when we got Patsy 4 years ago, Halloween was one of her most favorite things–a rare, good memory of times with her birth mother, a special evening she much looked forward to, a MAJOR BIG DEAL to her.  So, we decided that we would try to let her have some fun on that day/night, in a way we could all enjoy.  We saw no reason to remove one of the few happy memories/traditions she had from her past, but we did want to change the focus a bit from scary, gory, and dark to light, happy and fun.  In other words, keep the fun part, get rid of the rest.  To be truthful, we still don’t like Halloween much, but we do like our daughter and her feelings more than we don’t like Halloween, if you get what I mean.

For the past few years, we have spent the evening with the cousins.

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This year, Patsy was a princess, using an old dress I made years ago for Ja’Ana.  Alissa dressed up in her pajamas.  She recently got a job at a daycare for 2-1/2 hours each afternoon, and they were having the toddlers and staff wear pajamas Tuesday.  Jake, is Darth Vader, in a pair of pajamas, a cape, a mask and a light saber.  Just don’t call him that!  His name is Jake, and he is still under there, in case I was wondering:)

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Last year, Uncle Rob started a tradition with Michaela.  She really, really wants to be involved with the whole trick-or-treat project, but after all, she is 20 now.  Kind of old.  So, she and Uncle got a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups and drove around, following Jake and his helpers (anyone who would get out of the van and take him up to doors, from his sister Caitlyn, to Alissa, and of course, Patsy).  This year, he also had Heath bars, Snickers, assorted candy, and Starburst in the van for all of the, well, helpers?  This year, again, she scarfed down candy, this time with Lovana (who isn’t actually eating much candy right now, to be fair to her), Caitlyn, Alissa, Ja’Ana, J’s friend Angel, Patsy……. Yes, a party in the van, all for the sake of Jake and Michaela.  Of course, Jake and Michaela.  Anything for Jake and Michaela.  Lots of eager volunteers for this task:)

Earlier in the day, Michaela and I had cut out the pumpkin cookies, and baked them.  Jake was offered the opportunity of decorating them, but he was too excited for the party to start.  So, Caitlyn and I decorated them.  My sister made a taco bar, and we had everyone eat dinner before Uncle took off with them.  I stayed back at the house with my sister and brother-in-law,  handing out candy.  It was fun to see the kids in their costumes, and admire the pumpkins my niece had carved.

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The kids coming up to the door enjoyed them, too, and she received a lot of compliments on her carving, which I passed on to her when she got back.

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Patsy lit up her pumpkin as soon as we got home.  It’s about done for, already, but that’s ok.  Another Halloween is past, and now we are moving forward towards Thanksgiving, one of my absolute favorite holidays in the whole world.  I can’t wait.