Archives for December 2011

What we’re doing today

a peek at our Christmas morning

In a weekend full of family and celebration, the happiest moments were right in our own living room, surrounded by our kids. Christmas Eve morning I was awake at 6:30, puttering around drinking coffee, and setting out coffee and cocoa fixings for our kids. They would soon be waking up and wandering into the living room, either via sleepy feet or in the case of our married daughters, in cars with their husbands.

John and I had done the hurry-scurrying the evening before, setting out gifts and filling stockings, and now we were ready to sit and enjoy. The little girls were awake in their beds for a good half-hour before we finally went in and told them it was okay to get up. Older kids came out a little slower, but just about everyone wore sleepy smiles of anticipation. Kids’ eyes tended to be on gifts. We parents were watching our kids, savoring their enjoyment of the day.

As always we began with the reading of the Christmas story in Luke 2. Then it was time for the singing. This year we had help from this Christmas carol collection
which was a nice addition to our tradition. Everyone got to pick a song for us to sing a verse of, and we had a really nice sing-along.  We tortured the kids a little bit longer by asking everyone to share a favorite Christmas memory.  We talked about Jesus, the real gift of the season.  And then, finally, it was time for gifts.  (Click on pictures to enlarge.)

After the gift opening, it was time for a leisurely breakfast, then games. The boys spent the majority of the day on Republic Commmando. Others of us played  Dutch Blitz
and Wits And Wagers, both games that I’d requested for Christmas.  Dutch Blitz is usually a 4-person game.  But marking a second set of cards allowed us to play with eight people– a sure way for wild chaos to ensue.

Later in the day we all went over to my mom’s for clam chowder and more gifts and lots of visiting. (ALL my siblings were there– lovely!)  And the next day we visited John’s family and had a lovely prime rib dinner there.   Every bit of those two days was good.  But none of it was better than sitting in our living room with our own kids, watching happy faces, savoring their happiness over the day, and celebrating the Greatest Gift, Jesus, who was the one to begin all this gift-giving in the first place.

New year ideas

Christmas was truly, exceedingly lovely. Happy kids, happy parents, much goodness. We haven’t had such a peaceful and delightful Christmas in years.  I am hoping to get some photos edited to share with you later this week. But for now I thought I’d share a few ideas for the new year.

First of all, if you’re looking for a devotional to begin in the new year, you might be interested in this free Kindle book by Cynthia Heald called Dwelling in His Presence. (Remember, you can get Kindle for PC free.)

Second, if you happen to be looking for a movie to see with the kids during break, you might consider the animated movie ‘Tin Tin’.  John and I took our oldest son to see it for his birthday today, and we all enjoyed it.  Kinda reminded me of a family friendly animated Indiana-Jones-style adventure.  Good fun, and amazingly cool animation.

And here’s a lovely idea for a diary that my daughter pointed out to me.  It would be so much fun to read in a year or two or five.  I hope that your Christmas was lovely too, and I will be back in a few days!


Rejoice, in a manger lay
The promise of God’s love for us
For everyone

Heaven and angels sing
The coming of the King
The only son of God most high
His name is Jesus Christ

A good day at the mall


…family time this week, so I may not post much for the next week or so. I’ve a got a sewing day planned with my daughters and sisters, our son’s 20th birthday to celebrate, crafts to finish, sugared walnuts to make, stories to read, games to play, cooking to do, gifts to wrap, and other preparations to make for Christmas. Wishing your family a blessed Christmas filled with many moments to hold close to your heart in the future.

One that I will treasure from this morning: the happy chaos that comes from three teenagers jamming on three guitars all at the same time, while another helped me with a sewing project, and several other kids gathered in the kitchen to make peanut butter cookies. The noise. The life. The memories to cherish. We are blessed.


Free cookbooks & cheap snaps

My cookbook winners are Becca (yup, her cookbook was definitely the ugliest!) and commenter #20 Sharon. Email me your address, ladies, and I will get free copies of Family Feasts headed your direction first thing Monday!

In other news, I just had to share a picture of the diapers I’ve made lately.  These are mostly newborn and small sized, mostly boys with a few pink ones in there to cover all the bases. 🙂  I’ve been having so much fun!


There was a bit of discussion about snaps in the comments on my how to sew a diaper post.  I’d mentioned that I was using my sister’s industrial-quality snap press, which is a spendy item.  Looking online last week for more snap colors, I found this deal on a hand-held snap press and 100 each of 3 different colors of snaps for $33.95.  I wasn’t sure how well this smallish press would work.  But I figured it was worth a try, especially since I was also getting 300 snaps.

When it came, I gave it a whirl.  And broke three snaps in a row.  Ugh.  I went to the website and watched the videos on the website.  Turns out I had the wrong size attachment for my size of snap. Once I changed it out (using a part that came with the press), lo and behold, it worked wonderfully.  You don’t even have to change attachments for the two sides of the snap, which is a nice time saver. If you’re looking for an affordable snap press, you might want to give that one a try.  But do be sure to watch the online videos. Then you won’t waste your first three snaps like I did.

(This is not a paid review.)

Crazy ways to save money

Over the years I’ve gotten into the habit of always looking for the most affordable way to meet my family’s daily needs.  Well, almost always. I looooove books, and our budget could use a serious intervention.  I’ve got one planned.  After Christmas.  Ahem.

Anyhow.  When you habitually look for ways to do things affordably, the cool thing is that you’re going to find LOTS of ways to save money.  Some of the things that work well for us:

Being willing to look for creative and affordable solutions has saved us lots of money over the years. I highly recommend looking at life with a creative and flexible eye. We’ve gotten two years out of a $10 Craiglist microwave.  Recently when the start button fell off on the floor, my hubby performed a creative fix with a bit of plastic and a single screw to get more use out of that $10 find.

But there are moments when my creative mind pushes it a little too far, and I end up complicating my life unnecessarily.  One such moment:  the time I decided to to save money on vacuum cleaner bags by cutting the top off a used bag, emptying the contents, and stapling the bag back together to be reused.  This little plan used about a million staples, and ended up blowing out in the middle of use anyhow. Dirt everywhere.  Not pretty.

How about you?  What stellar ways have you discovered to save money?  Which ideas were ‘fails’ at your house?

Ugly cookbook contest

The other day I asked for pictures of worn-out copies of my cookbook for an ugly cookbook contest.  The winner of the contest wins two brand new autographed copies of Family Feasts.  In addition, anyone who votes in this contest and then comments below is also eligible to win a third cookbook. So check out these well-worn cookbooks, vote at the bottom of the page, and then comment to enter the drawing for a cookbook of your own.

#1- Alison









#2- PlainJane









#3 – Diane









#4- Jayme









#5- Becca










I’ll tally the answers and decide on winners on Friday afternoon.  Looking forward to hearing from you!