Merry Christmas from Finn

I know I said “…….until 2014,” but Finn wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

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There he is!  Wishing y’all a Merry Christmas!  Dig his spiffy new pajamas?  We got them from Pajama Gram.  In fact, the whole family got them.  I will, hopefully, be able to get a picture of all of us in our matching jammies one of these days.

In the meantime, please be safe.  Have a happy and healthy Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.  And THANK YOU for stopping by and reading!

Wendy

Poinsettias!

I can get a little plant-life in even though it is Winter…..and I might add that it does not FEEL like Winter at this very moment.  Mind you, I am not complaining.  We had a small taste of snow, and how quickly it becomes tiresome.  Planning ahead makes all the difference when one MUST go somewhere in the horrible weather.  But I am off on a tangent…..

I love poinsettias.  But alas, they are not pet-friendly plants.  I think it is particularly worrisome if you have a cat.  Cats can jump and climb and sample all kinds of vegetation.  Dogs (well, depending on the dog, I suppose) generally can’t get up to the high spots in a house.  Still, if the plants drop petals or leaves, that’s not so good if a curious canine comes around.

Members of my church order poinsettias every year at Christmas time.  They are placed at the altar, as well as in windowsills, and all around the sanctuary.  Here are the ones at the altar this year:

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At home, I have 4 tiny ones in my kitchen window.  It is far away and up high enough from Finn, just in case he gets any bright ideas.  (Finn has a voracious appetite for just about anything)  Also, if they drop petals, the sink ought to catch them.  They are sparkly and glittery!  I got them at Trader Joe’s:

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How about that bubble-glass-pendant light?  That came from the “Young House Love” collection from “Shades of Light.”

I probably won’t post again until after the holidays.  We have a lot going on, as I’m sure all of you do, too.  I treasure the time spent with family, and having all my kids home for Christmas is wonderful.  May you have wonderful holidays and family time.  Treasure making the memories.

….until 2014!

Wendy

Vegan Christmas Cookies

Today I am embarking on a journey.  I am baking Christmas cookies, Vegan Style.  I currently have 3 vegetarian children, one of whom is Vegan, one who doesn’t eat dairy (but does occasionally eat a tiny bit of seafood), and one who is trying it for one month to see how it all works out(but does eat dairy).  Joel still likes meat, poultry, and seafood.  I can’t digest red meat, so it’s off-limits to me.  I can tolerate poultry and most fish.  I do make beef for Joel once in awhile.  Christmas dinner is usually filet mignon.  This year, Joel will be the only one eating that.

The rest of us will be eating:

My vegetarians eat this at Thanksgiving, and I tasted it and it is really quite good.   The key is NOT to expect it to taste EXACTLY like turkey!  It just doesn’t.  Really.  But it isn’t bad.  Really!

Back to my mission today – to bake some cookies.  Here is the recipe:

http://www.ohladycakes.com/2011/12/sugar-cookies.html

And here is how they turned out:

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I have found that vegan baked goods have a slightly different texture, due to the fact that there are no eggs or milk.  They are still light and fluffy, and very, very SWEET.  (Not diabetic-friendly!!)  I am going to freeze this batch and the rest of the dough, since Vegan Child won’t be home for the college break until tomorrow.

All my shopping is done – I just have a tiny bit more wrapping to do.  My cards will be sent by this weekend, so I apologize to any of my card recipients if you get yours “late.”  I figure if it’s by the New Year, then it’s all good.  I have done my holiday decorations in “Minimalist” style this year, and so far nobody has complained.

Of course, I always crank up my stress level by adding a random project to the mix.  My gift to myself is re-painting the ceiling and walls of my front entry/vestibule in Town Mouse House.   Add that to one child having been sick, a school concert in the works, numerous holiday parties and events that must be attended by various family members, well……I’m sure we don’t have it much different from anyone else out there.  And really, none of this is complaining on my part!  Just describing the busy-ness of the season.

My hope and prayer is for good health, safety, and joy this Christmas and in the New Year.  From our family to yours – Blessed Peace on Earth!

Wendy

Thanksgiving and Gift Giving

In the midst of all of my painting projects(as well as cleaning, de-cluttering, and decorating), I get hit this time every year with multiple gift-giving occasions.  All three of my children were born during holiday time, and we celebrate Hanukkah AND Christmas, so I feel like George Jetson on the treadmill:

Except substitute “Joel!” for “Jane!”

Here is my  frugal, garden-y gift idea!  Plant bulbs to “force” over the winter indoors:

http://www.hallmark.com/christmas/ideas/forcing-bulbs/

That should add cheer to anyone during a dreary winter day!

All my children are winter babies.  My first baby was born around Thanksgiving.  Three years, one week, and five minutes later my second baby was born, and that year it fell during Hanukkah.  Three years, five weeks and five minutes later, my third baby was born – Epiphany!

Well, truthfully, every year, I am reminded that  they are the greatest gifts to me and Joel.  We are  so very fortunate to have them in our lives.  Having each of them during holiday time was incredible.  I became uber-organized and had all decorations up, gifts mailed to far-away relatives, cards mailed, food planned and pre-cooked……all by sometime in October.

That only happened each of the three years my children were born.  Every year after became much more challenging.  I now had 3 kids with holiday birthdays!

I ended up having to simplify, which really is a good thing.  When you keep it simple, you are able to actually take stock and remember what the season is all about, after all.   There is nothing more wonderful than spending time with family and friends.

Here are our traditions, for the most part:

1-Birthdays- Each child got a party.  It varied year to year as to size and cost.  They also got one “important” gift from Mom and Dad, and a little gift from each other.

2-Hanukkah – We give them money.  For creative ways to give cash, I looked into Pam Young’s “Everybody Loves Money,” and www.stickitrightonthemoney.com.    It is a lot less boring to give cash when packaged creatively.  One of our favorites was “Cold, Hard Cash.”  Place the cash in a sandwich zip top baggie, seal.  Place that baggie within a gallon zip top baggie, fill with some water, seal, lay flat on a baking sheet and freeze.  The recipient will have to use a hammer to get the money out. 🙂  We draw names with extended family and put a limit on the dollar amount because our family is huge.

3-Christmas – We give them one “main” gift plus stocking stuffers.  Now that the kids are older, the stocking stuffers include a lot of little gift cards for the likes of  Starbucks, iTunes, Panera, Amazon, etc.  We draw names with extended family for this holiday, too, and put a limit on the dollar amount because our family is huge.

4-Financial – I keep a separate gift-giving account so that we do not take from our main household account.  This has worked very well for us because we do not have the burden of  debt come January and we are able to stay on track with regular bills.  For more on the topic of money, particularly staying debt-free, read “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey.  http://www.daveramsey.com/home/

5-Keeping it fun – On Hanukkah evenings, particularly the first one, we light the menorah, play dreidel, and eat latkes(potato pancakes).  On Christmas Eve, we eat a special dinner, go to church, and then have a treasure hunt.  I have several sets of clues, and recycle them every few years.  The “treasure” has come to be new pj’s for everyone.  In leaner years, they got a small piece of candy or an ornament.  When the kids were little this filled them with so much excitement!  The rest of the gifts are opened on Christmas morning.

6-Santa Claus – This is a personal subject.  As a child, I was traumatized and bullied when I found out that Santa wasn’t real.  I was much older than most, probably around 10 or 11 years old.  It sounds dramatic, but I still remember it so vividly as a crushing blow.  I made the decision to be honest with my children, and instead of doing without Santa altogether, I told them that Santa was the Spirit of Giving.  That Spirit should live in all of our hearts, therefore making each one of us a Santa to other people.

7-Interfaith – Another personal subject….if you are a member of an Interfaith family, I highly recommend, “Raising Your Jewish/Christian Child” by Lee F. Gruzen.  This book handles the subject in a sensitive, compassionate way, as it is written by an Interfaith parent.  My children have always felt so lucky to have the two religions in their heritage.  I feel blessed by that as well!

I look forward to this year’s holidays!  Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, I am once again reminded how much I have to be thankful for – Joel, my three children, my puppy dog, our wonderful, HUGE family 🙂 and all the great friends in our lives (y’all know who y’all are!)  Wishing all of y’all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah(since they fall at the same time this year), and may you find joy in your life every day!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

With love and gratitude,

Wendy  ❤