Category Archives: Holidays

Service Project for Christmas, 2015

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Every year, our family usually chooses some kind of service project to do at Christmas time.  This year, since we have changed churches, some of the opportunities we usually do were no longer as readily available.  So, we chose one from the new church we have been attending.  It was very different because they wanted each child–well over 100–to receive the same 4 items.  They asked everyone to get a pillow, pillowcase, blanket and some socks.  They told us what age and size the child was and if it was a boy or girl.  We chose an 11-year-old girl, because that is Patsy’s age and we thought it would be fun to help out someone the same age as she is.

We were able to easily find the socks and pillow at a Walmart near the church last Sunday.  The blanket was made and tied from fleece I had on hand from a JoAnn’s sale a while back.  I am happy to report that I am now out of plain-colored fleece.  There is still lots of printed choices in my stash.  The kids voted that a hand-made blanket would be better than buying one.  They love theirs that they have made or received as gifts.  I totally agreed with them.  I love it when they can participate in the giving somehow.  I also love giving hand-made items.  It makes it more personal, to me.

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Today, I was able to sew the pillowcase.  I was able to use up 2 left-over pieces of fabric from other projects, as well as some lace I had on hand.  I was able to find pretty, pastel colors and we hope the little girl that receives them will enjoy having them as much as we enjoyed making them.

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Gluten-Free Stuffing With Apples and Water Chestnuts

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I wanted to make stuffing for Thanksgiving.  I needed it to be gluten-free, but I didn’t want to pay the price for packages of gluten-free stuffing mix (I would have needed several boxes at around $5/package) and I didn’t want it to be either too dry or gummy.

I decided to take a loaf of gluten-free bread I had in the freezer.  My daughter made multiple loaves during the summer because she was practicing for the fair, and we just froze them all.  It was unsliced, so I sliced and cubed it.  I divided the cubes between 2 cookie trays, drizzled a little butter over them and sprinkled on some seasoning.  I used poultry seasoning on one tray and Bragg’s mixed seasoning on the other.  My plan was to use one batch for croutons if it made more than I needed, but I ended up using it all.  Then, I baked those trays at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

The bread cubes were definitely dried out and crisp, but a little chewy in the middle.  I had 1/2 pan left of the gluten-free cornbread my mom had brought over.  I had some frozen broth from a time when Rob had cooked a chicken with apples and onions, so it was apple-flavored chicken broth.  Regular chicken broth would work well, also.

Thursday morning, I made the stuffing.

2 quarts homemade stuffing cubes

1/2 of a 9″ x 13″ pan of gluten free cornbread, crumbled

2 onions, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

1 can sliced water chestnuts

2 large apples, cubed

2 cups broth

2 Tablespoons poultry seasoning

1/4 cup melted butter

salt and pepper to taste

Salute the celery and onions until soft in a little vegetable oil.  Pour bread cubes, cornbread, the vegetables, apples and water chestnuts into a very large bowl.  Sprinkle with poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Drizzle with the melted butter.  Pour  1/2 of the broth over the mixture and stir.  Check to see how moist it is.  If it is still very dry, add the rest of the broth.  Check again.  Add more broth if needed.  Mine took about 2 cups of broth.  The cornbread I had was quite moist but the cubes were quite dry.  I did not want the cornbread to be gummy so I stopped adding broth when there was still some definition to the cubes–the stuffing was not all stuck together into 1 big ball when I mounded it on a spoon, but it did not just fall apart, either.    The cornbread broke down into little bits that kind of held the cubes together.  I poured it into a flat pan–mine is larger than 9″ x 13″ and baked it for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.  IMG_1755.JPG

It turned out amazing!  It had wonderful flavor from the apples, onions and celery and a nice crunch from the water chestnuts.  It was not gooey or too dry.  It was economical, too, when I used the homemade croutons.  I was very pleased with the results.

A Successful, Happy Thanksgiving 2015

IMG_1771I could ask myself what constitutes a “happy” Thanksgiving.  Is it the food? The decorations? The company?  In our family, I have to say it is all of that, plus more.  As I looked around the table and into the next room, which was overflowing with more company, I realized that there were people in those rooms with chronic diseases, job losses, dehibilitating special needs, schedules that were overwhelming to them, sick people, exhausted people, people with spouses missing for different reasons, lonely people and those who had suffered deep, grievious loss. And, that was only the ones who could come!  But, each and every one of those people had a hard time choosing which blessing they wanted to share when Rob asked them to share before the prayer.  There were so many choices!  Even the youngest had no problem choosing things, such as good water, food, a house, etc.

IMG_1752.We took the meat off the bones last evening and they were placed into our 2 crockpots. Then we filled them with water, salted them, and then put them on low for the night.  This morning, Abbie (my eldest) and I picked the meat off the bones and froze the broth into cartons.  I smell soup coming up!

After we ate, we cleaned up and everyone sat around eating dessert and visiting.  The 2 big cousins went and picked Lovana up from work and that was a great surprise for her, as one of her close cousins is just in from California for the weekend. Everyone enjoyed being with her for the day!

IMG_5007Patsy did a great job in her play at school on Tuesday afternoon.  It lasted 6-10 minutes so was just the right length for the young cousins to enjoy.  It was really cute and it really put us in the Thanksgiving mood!

Today,  after things were put away, and people had visited as long as they wanted to, they went home leaving me with a super-clean house.  Amazing.  To me, it was more than just  a happy day–it was a successful, happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you had a great day, too.