noun: a small piece or amount of something, esp. one that is left over after the greater part has been used.
synonyms: noun: fragment - piece - bit - shred

Sunday, December 18, 2011

All Lit Up and No Place to Go...

Hello, Happy Sunday and Welcome to the Farm!  I hope this last week has been good to you.  As we come upon the last full week before we hit Christmas, I imagine all of you have been extremely busy with your preparations for a wonderfully exciting holiday.  And, if your week has been anything like mine, there has been candy, cookies, parties, cards and gifts galore.  I love when things are so cheery.

Like most of you, we have been doing a little here and there, trying not to overwhelm ourselves.  I haven't really put out many decorations for Christmas this year; I'm trying to keep it simple.  Not to mention, there is so much going on that I just don't have the time or the room at the moment.  And since we are spending Christmas with my children, we will enjoy their decorations much more than we will ours.  That, my friends, is something I can't wait to do!

This will be the first Christmas I've been able to spend with my children in quite a few years, and I am sooooo excited!  And this will be little Addisyn's first Christmas, so just imagine what kind of fun that will be!  Oh yes, Gramma and Poppa are going to spoil her with lots of loves. We can't wait!

Now, with all the hubbub surrounding the season...the shopping, the baking, the caroling, the visiting, etc., one would think that those activities would be sufficient.  Wouldn't they?  WELL, WOULDN'T THEY?!  At least, most NORMAL people would.  Apparently, my husband is not so normal.    On the way home from work one day last week, I called to ask if there was anything he needed since I was going to be stopping at the grocery store.  He said, "no, just hurry up, there's a surprise waiting."  Woo hoooo, I LOVE surprises!

Uh huh...did I ever get one!  As I was driving down our road (waaaaay before I would ever hit our driveway), I saw some lights and thought, "hmm, our closest neighbor must have put some decorations up."  He was a little late this year, so it was nice to see he did have the Christmas decorating spirit.

As I drove closer, I could see...UH, was my hubby who had done some decorating.  Yup, he decorated one of his tractors.  Really?  Really. Grrreeeeaaaattttttttt.  Now the entire portion of Eastern Washington could see our house. Well, not really, because the tractor was in front of it.  But, boy, could they see that tractor!  Now, I had heard stories of how he decorated the tractor at Christmas, but in our almost 31/2 years of marriage, I had yet to see it.  Ha!  I was sure seeing it now!

As I drove up the hill right before my driveway, I had to laugh.  My hubby is such a big kid.  A couple of years ago he took toy cars and hot glued ribbon to the tops of them to hang on the tree, and now I've got a mammoth lit up thing in my front yard. Good thing we live on a farm or the neighbors would be complaining loud and clear! I have to admit, it was really cute, and the pictures shown here do not do it justice by any means.  Every night when I come home, I laugh because of the message it sends out.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Look At Me!  Poor tractor, all lit up and no place to go.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ginger and Eggnog and Christmas, Oh My...

Hello, Happy Sunday and Welcome to the Farm!  I hope this last week has left you feeling well and looking forward to the upcoming holiday.  Our tree is up and decorated; the Christmas potluck at work is Tuesday; and I'm participating in a cookie exchange a week following.  Time is going so quickly!

Through all of the hurry, hustle and bustle of the holidays, too many people forget that they are supposed to be FUN.  Yes, we want our Christmas dinner to be perfect; our tree to be beautiful; and everyone to be happy but, sometimes, in the midst of all we think we need to do, we forget about relaxing for a  moment or two.  We're just so busy!

While I love the lights and the music and the joyfulness of the season just as much as anyone else, I DO like to relax as well. Spending the time to sit down and rejuvenate yourself is really important if you're going to be able to hold up until the end of the holiday and...let's face it...sometimes it can be gruelingly (is that even a word?) long. Tiredness hits.  Time goes too fast.  The store is sold out of that one item that someone wants more than anything.  Work days become longer not only because it gets dark sooner, but  because we are also planning activities there.  And really, just HOW many people do we really think we can be at one time?  Wonder Woman is a fictitious character, yet we all think that's what we need to be around this time of the year.

So many of us get involved in so many different activities and, since the holiday season is actually relatively short (it just doesn't FEEL short sometimes), often times any thought of ourselves is pushed to the back burner.  The worry of being less than perfect overtakes our common sense (well, mine anyway, but I feel better when I include all of you so I'm not alone) and we just keep stuffing more things into our calendar.  

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is  bake.  Which, of course, is why I'm involved in a cookie exchange.  BUT, aren't some of the things we fix at this time of the year the ONLY time we'll get to have them?  Although I like to bake, and bake I do all year, when Christmas is just around the corner I like to turn to my favorite flavors of fall.  They just seem to be more "flavorful" right now.  I know, I know, they really don't taste any different the rest of the year, but for some reason, they just seem to fit the chilliness in the weather, the fire in the fireplace and the special activities of the season.  My cookie of choice (and I'm very sorry to admit that I do not like to share with anyone) are Ginger Crinkles.  They're just so yummmmmmy. My children enjoy them as much as I do, but with them being grown up now, I get them all to myself.  Woo Hooooooo!

While I'm baking those cookies, I like to make myself an Eggnog Chai Tea Latte'. And as soon as that first batch of Ginger Crinkles comes out of the oven, I'm grabbing a couple (ok, ok, a few...), taking that cup of Chai and sitting down for a minute. There's just something soothing about the warmth, the melding spiciness of the chai tea, and the mellowness of the eggnog.  It's my favorite combination during the eggnog season (and just WHY isn't eggnog available all year around anyway?). During a time of such harriedness, a little solitude is a great thing (oh, I do LOVE my solitude).  Sometimes, though, I wish someone would stop by just so I can offer them their own little bit of heaven!

If I happen to be out and about and feel like I need a minute for myself, I'll go to a local coffee shop and order a Chai Latte' and a slice of pumpkin bread or gingerbread, and grab a table to sit at and reflect.  Not only is it truly tasty, but it's also nice to feel that sense of pampering.  

A little time with my friends Ginger and Eggnog (Eggie for short) leaves me feeling a little warmer, a little less harried, and a little more like I'm in control. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA   I said it leaves me FEELING that way; I didn't say I WAS in control!  Next time you need a relaxing treat for yourself, even if it's not during the Christmas season, whip yourself up a batch of Ginger Crinkles and make yourself an Eggnog Chai Tea Latte'; then grab a book and read a few chapters while you take a few moments for yourself.  

I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do!  Ginger and Eggnog and Christmas, Oh My!

Ginger Crinkles

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup cooking oil, shortening or butter (I prefer butter)
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
Granulated sugar (optional)

Stir together the flour, soda and spices.  Combine the brown sugar, oil, molasses and egg and beat well.  Add dry ingredients beaten mixture, beating well.  For 1-inch balls.  Roll in granulated sugar, if desired; place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree oven about 10 minutes ( about 2 minutes longer if you want crisp cookies).  Remove from pan and cool on wire racks.

Makes approximately 4 dozen  (recipe courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book - a really old one!  LOL)

Eggnog Chai Tea Latte'

Eggnog (homemade or store purchased)
Liquid Chai Tea Latte' Beverage (usually found in the coffee/tea/cocoa aisle)
Nutmeg (optional)

Combine equal parts Eggnog and Chai Tea beverage in a saucepan*; heat until just steaming.  Pour into cup(s), froth (if you have a frother**) and sprinkle nutmeg on top.  

*For those of you with a latte machine, of course you can do it that way!  
**A frother is not necessary, but it sure is fun.  :)

Serves as many as you want to make it serve. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Crafts for Children...

Hello, Happy Sunday and Welcome to the Farm!  Wow, here we are in December already.  These months have flown by; where did the time go?  Didn't we just take the tree down? Weren't we just decorating and celebrating?  I guess I'm caught in a time warp.  Well, hubby got the tree out Thursday and put it up.  We have one of those pre-lit trees, which makes the task a little less time consuming.  BUT, it is still in the same state it was when he first put it up.  Naked.  Except for those lights.  Poor tree, probably thinks it's unloved.  Truth be known, I just haven't felt like taking out the decorations yet.  I did do it this morning, but  under duress.  Once I started getting them out, the going was great, but before that I just didn't feel very Christmasy.  Looking at the decorations as I brought them out brought back that spirit and anticipation of the season, so why didn't I just do it Thursday?  Because I'm stubborn.  But you didn't hear that from me.  If my kids see this, they'll never let me hear the end of it.

Going through those decorations always allows me to remember just when I received or purchased them.  Yes, I'm one of "those" people that remembers everything.  Like the snowman ornaments and figures that my BFF Carla bought for me; the houses that I just had to have so I stalked China n' Things until I was sure I had one of each; the Nativity that my son borrowed my credit card to buy for me; the stockings that my friend Sonja crocheted...everything that is in those boxes is dear to me for one reason or another.

The ornaments I get out every  year and really love, though, are the ones my kids made when they were little.  Ah, sometimes I wish for those days again, so they can bring me home those really cool, authentically designed Christmas lovelies.  Not only are there ornaments for the tree, but there are decorations to put just about anywhere.  They're awesome.  And original.  And mine, all mine.

They remind me of the innocence, the fun, the wonder, the excitement...all of those things that children feel when they know Christmas is right around the corner.  And the looks on their faces when they get to hand it to you and you smile so big your mouth hurts, because these truly are the greatest of gifts you could ever receive.

All of the decorations shown today can easily be made by children of almost any age, as there are different (grade) levels of these colorful beauties.  Of course, you always want to have an adult supervising since there are things like paint, glitter, glue and cutting involved.  Most, if not all of these Christmas cheerfuls are self-explanatory as you look at them so I'm not including directions, although you can certainly email me should you need help.  You will notice right off that I didn't put anything up there that I didn't know how to make myself.   hee hee hee Those I left in the bins because they intimidated me.  Really, how can my kids make these crafty little things when I can't?  It's simply not fair, so they are going to be ostracized from the grouping today.  That doesn't mean they will be left out of the decorating though.  :)  I'm not THAT mean.  Well, maybe...

Now that my kids are grown, I really miss those little treasures during the year, but I will always have these ones to look back at and cherish. Maybe they'll make me some new ones soon - after all, they are still my kids.