Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Day (Blogmas 25)

Hello. Thanks for reading #Blogmas2016. You don't know how much I've enjoyed this! Today's post is special. Today I'm going to tell how we spend Christmas morning!

On Christmas morning we get up around 7 o'clock. We gather around the living room with our parents and grandparents. Before we open our presents, someone will read us the Christmas story found in Luke 2:1-20. After this, we take turns opening presents ( and pose for a zillion pictures!) This year Christmas is on a Sunday, so we will go to the morning service at church. Then Christmas dinner with ham and casseroles and mashed potatoes and lots more very delicious food(including pie!) The time together as a family is wonderful. We don't watch TV in the mornings. Instead we turn the TV to a channel that plays a Christmas fire and music.

"And it came to pass in those days , that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there were with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, the made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them."

And that is the true reason for CHRISTmas!!! Merry Christmas and thank you for doing Blogmas with me this year.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Review: A Family Arrangement by Gabrielle Meyer (Blogmas 24)

In this book, Abram is a single father of three boys, aged 5, 3, and less than a year. He is busy trying to build a new town in Minnesota called Little Falls. Everything is going....ok at least, until Susanne's sister Charlotte arrives and demands that she be allowed to take her nephews back to Iowa City. Now Abram has 10 months to prove to Charlotte that he can make a town with a doctor, preacher, and school teacher where his sons can grow up safe. And prove to her that he isn't like her restless father and ex-fiancé.

This book is 5 stars!

1: This book caught my attention right from the start. It was much easier to get into than Cowgirl Under the Mistletoe.

2: I enjoyed seeing how they went from hating each other to, well, the opposite.

3: The boys were so sweet and I loved how they all learned sign language to help Robert. It showed how much Charlotte cared about the boys.

4: Not gonna lie, I cried in this one. Any book that can make me cry is one I'm going to reread!

5: The ending!! I feel like I always say that, but I love love love good endings and this one was one of the best in a while!

I hope you enjoyed this last Christmas book review for #Blogmas2016. If you've read every pot this December, please leave a comment! And don't forget to check back tomorrow for a Christmas Day finale! Merry Christmas Eve to everyone!!!!

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Legend of the Snowflake & 1 more Chritstmas Movie (Blogmas 23)

I know this is a super short legend, but it is also pretty sweet and beautiful. I hope you enjoy it.

And the movie that is a must-see this season, which I accidentally neglected in previous post is..... Polar Express!!
Happy Blogmas!(Only 2 more days until Christmas and the last day of #Blogmas2016) Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Green Bean Casserole Recipe (Blogmas 22)

This is one my absolute favorite dishes ever! We make it a point to have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas especially! This recipe makes a 9x13 casserole dish.

You'll need: 4 cans of French cut green beans, 1 container of French fried onions, 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, as well as salt and pepper(to taste, no specific amount)

Make sure your oven is preheated to 375F or 400F. Either one works. In the casserole dish mix the green beans, soup, and half of the onions. Also go ahead and salt and pepper it. After you get that all stirred and mixed well, sprinkle the other half of the onions over the top. Then bake until hot and bubbly! It's really simple and easy! Hope you enjoy this recipe. Happy Blogmas everyone. Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Christmas Village (Blogmas 21)

Every year my grandfather puts up a GORGEOUS Christmas Village. Sometimes he puts it on the shelves and desks, and really all the flat surfaces in the living room and their bedroom, and sometimes, like this year, he and my grandmother clear out the china cabinet and put it all on display there. It is stunning, and a tradition that we've been doing for ages. Here is a picture of the display a few years ago. He had the whole thing decked out.

Happy Blogmas! (and Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve Eve.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Review: Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien (Blogmas 20)

This literally....... a collection of letters from "Father Christmas". They were addressed to the Tolkien children and span from 1920-1943. This book review was one that I had hoped to post on Christmas Eve, but I really wanted you to be able to pick it up at the library and read it before Christmas. Also, this one isn't going to use my typical 12345 layout, simply because the book wasn't in chapters. It was just a lot of letters. Super sweet letters though! I loved it. The letters are addresses to John, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla Tolkien. The original letters (the copy if the book I read had pictures of these in it) were written in a scrawly shaky handwriting, that of Father Christmas. Also, several bits were written by the North Polar Bear. (He gets into a lot of mischief!) Most of the letters were accompanied by beautiful, colorful pictures. Those that weren't came with a wonderful explanation as to why there was no time for drawing. Some of the letters (especially those during WW2) reference a large battle with bad goblins that destroyed lots of gifts, hence the reason Father Christmas couldn't bring as many that year. I found myself drawn into the story, and even feeling a little sad as one by one the children became too old to hang stockings or to write letters to Father Christmas, even though I know it was just make-believe. Bottom line-- Go get it and read it with your family. The antics of Polar Bear and his nephews especially will keep the kids quite entertained! 5 Stars for this wonderful Christmas story!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Much Ado About.... Stockings? ( Blogmas 19)

Stockings... Some people hate 'em, some people love 'em. What is a good solution to this money grabbing Christmas tradition? Here are a few helpful tips.

Stocking #1- Pick cheaper, small items. Like hot-wheels, stickers, crayons, mini coloring books, chapstick, little stuffed animals. Or for teens, you may need to get slightly more expensive....SLIGHTLY! Don't go overboard, because in all likelihood, they probably have way enough stuff already. Try things like gift cards, earbuds(not the expensive kind!), gloves, deodorant, perfume/cologne, flashlights.

Or you could go for... Stocking #2- We've all heard tell of the days when a stocking held little more than one orange. Well, maybe this year you should do an old fashioned stocking for your kids. Fill it with oranges and apples and walnuts. For a more modern spin, throw in a chocolate bar and a pack of their favorite gum. Not only is this a delicious option, it is also not going to stick around and become clutter in your house!

Thanks for reading and I hope these are helpful as you get prepared for Christmas! Happy Blogmas guys!

Side Note! Except for one or two, most of the pictures I put on my blog I just found in a google search.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bacon Wrapped Dates & Pineapple Chunks (Blogmas 18)

This is another easy recipe, perfect for the Christmas parties you'll be going to this year!

You'll need bacon, dates, and pineapple chunks. And tooth picks.

First, cut the bacon into pieces just long enough to wrap around the dates and the pineapple chunks. Make sure you preheat your oven to 375F. (Tip: For easy cleanup, line your baking sheets with tin foil.) After you finish wrapping your bacon, stick it with a toothpick so that it won't come unraveled. When you put them on the baking sheet, make sure to keep them a bit spaced, otherwise you just get soggy bacon. Once you've done this, bake for 20-25 minutes. It's delicious! Happy Blogmas guys, and I hope you try this super easy recipe!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Party Tradition (Blogmas 17)

Today, the Saturday before Christmas (Eve) is the traditional day for our family Christmas party. Family members drive from hours away to spend this day together. First, like any good party, we start with food. Finger food mostly. Lots of sweets as you can imagine. Of course, sandwiches and veggie trays are there to. Special family recipe punch is also served, and let me tell you, that stuff is aMAZing!!! After food, we have a gift exchange. The only rule is that the gift can only cost one dollar. Then let the craziness begin, because stealing is allowed. It's Dirty Santa, and it is FIERCE!! Of course, laughter is always one of the main parts of this activity. Sometimes we try a game but with 20+ people in a small house, that one doesn't always work out. The third part to our tradition flip-flops between years. We will either do a cookie exchange with each other, or (as we are doing this year) we will make fruit baskets and take them to people locally as we carol. It's one of the most fun things, and we look forward to it all year.

Do you have a similar tradition? Please share it in the comments! As always, Happy Blogmas!!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Review: Cowgirl Under the Mistletoe by Louise M. Gouge (Blogmas 16)

In this book, the main characters are Micah and Grace. He's the local pastor, and she, well, she's the lady deputy. He's looking for a woman who would make an ideal pastor's wife, and she never expects that any man would love her, especially since she's taller than most of them in her small western town. Only, they are desperately I love with each other, and afraid to admit to themselves.

This book gets 4.5 stars.

1: It did take a couple of chapters for me to really get into it. Also the chapters are pretty long, 20 or so pages some of them.

2: I love especially the romance between Grace and Micah. It is so super sweet, and it started of with a very firm foundation in rock solid friendship with lots of teasing and bantering.

3: Also, this is a mystery. A group of outlaws comes hunting for Grace, due to her helping them to be arrested three years earlier. ( that happened in another book in this series, but it wasn't really necessary to read the other three before this one.)

4: I love how Electra ( not the best name choice for sure) changed as the story progressed. She was super annoying for a while there, but at the end of the book I was seriously hoping that she and Grace would be great friends.

5: This book also had some great scripture references, and a super clear salvation bit in there. And it was really nice, and worked well with the story, not shoved in there desperately. I liked it! A lot!

Happy Blogmas guys! Hope you enjoyed this review, and all the posts so far. I plan to do at least one more recipe, probably two, before Christmas, and also have two more Christmas book reviews planned.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Easiest Christmas Punch Ever (Blogmas 15)

Here is a super simple, way easy recipe for punch. You just need two ingredients. You can use Sprite or Ginger Ale and you'll need sherbet.

1: Don't refrigerate the soda, or it won't melt the sherbet.

2: You can use any flavor of sherbet you want, because it works with any of them. We usually just pick the color that goes with the party. Ruby Red for a 40th anniversary, green for Christmas, whatever works for you.

3: Put the sherbet in the punch bowl and then fill in with soda. As the sherbet melts or you serve the punch, add more soda. If you run out of sherbet, just put another container in the bowl.

Hope you love this super easy punch recipe. Happy Blogmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Legend of the Candy Cane (Blogmas 14)

Today's #Blogmas2016 post is a little different. Today, I just want to post the text for the legend of the candy cane. This story is one that I have loved for a while now and I thought it was worth the share, even though it is a bit shorter than the others. Happy Blogmas.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It's Me, Eloise! (Blogmas 13)

One of my all-time favorite Christmas traditions, (It has a book/story and a movie to go with it) is Eloise. Every year for longer than I can remember my grandmother and I have snuggled down together somewhere warm and read the story Eloise at Christmastime. It has always been one of my favorite stories. After reading it, we watch the movie adaptation ( with Julie Andrews!!!!) together, sometimes with hot chocolate or some other treat. It has such happy memories that I wanted to share it with you for #Blogmas2016. I hope you enjoy this post, and maybe if you've never heard of Eloise you'll check it out.

Happy Blogmas everyone!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Review: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (Blogmas 12)

In this Christmas classic, Scrooge is visited by 3 Spirits whose sole purpose is to make him not be miserly any more. I especially love this story since our school does a play production of it every other year. If you need more plot summary, please, watch it or read it. It's not a story that anyone can afford to miss out on.

This one gets a 5 of course!!!

1: The overall story is of the redemption of a miserly old man and that is the perfect storyline to go with Christmas.

2: Bah-Humbug!!!!!!!!!

3: Actually, I didn't realize that the Cratchit kids weren't all named. Apparently our director made up names for the two younger Cratchits. And also for Fred's wife. Who knew?(Unless of course, I somehow ended up with a seriously abridged version. I don't know.)

4: My favorite ghost, personally, is Past. Of course, I may be a little biased. But seriously, Scrooge's reaction when he remembers his boyhood is PRICELESS. And also his reaction at Fred's party in present.

5: The ending..... That whole paragraph or whatever is amazing. "And to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father." and "As Tiny Tim observed, God bless us every one"

Happy Blogmas guys! And I hope you enjoy the Christmas book reviews!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Family Fruit Salad Recipe (Blogmas 11)

This is a recipe that belonged to my great-grandmother! I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does. This is written how she wrote it, not organized by ingredient or step. But stick with, okay, because its super yummy!

This makes a large fruit salad.

Buy & drain 2 large cans of fruit cocktail, 2 average size cans pineapple, and 1 large jar maraschino cherries.

Let these drain while cutting up: 4 oranges, 4 apples (unpeeled), 4 or more bananas (cut up and add the bananas last).

Also add 1 cup of walnuts and a small bag of marshmallows.

Optional: Small bunch of green grapes.

Put the drained juices in a saucepan. Set aside half a cup of these juices for later. Heat the rest of the juice.

Meanwhile, mix up 4 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 beaten egg yolks with the cold juice (the juice you set aside earlier). Stir, and when blended, now add slowly to the boiling juice (take that off the stove while mixing, unless you want scrambled eggs stuck in your fruit salad). Then put back over the heat until it is very thick. Then add one cup of sugar, stir over low heat until the juice is glossy, cool until cold, then slice the bananas and mix all things together. Chill/Refrigerate.

Happy Blogmas Guys and I hope you enjoyed this recipe!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hallmark Movies (Blogmas 10)

Every year I love to watch Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas. Here are 10 of my favorites from the past few years, not necessarily in preference order.

1: Snow Bride (2013)

2: Window Wonderland (2013)

3: Crown for Christmas (2015)

4: 12 Gifts of Christmas (2015)

5: The Christmas Note (2015)

6: Mistletoe Promise (2016)

7: Every Christmas Has a Story (2016)

8: December Bride (2016)

9: A Perfect Christmas (2016)

10: Finding Father Christmas (2016)
Happy Blogmas Guys!!!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Caroling (Blogmas 9)

Time for another tradition. This one is one of my favorites. Every year our church or school takes a group of teenagers to the local nursing home. We walk the halls and sing carols. We stop in some places for longer, if they sing with us you know, and we even make a stop in the Alzheimer's ward. It is such a rewarding experience. It costs you nothing but the joy you can bring to the lives of others is more than repayment of the time you spend there. One year we actually went caroling around to people in the church. It was pretty cold but so special and fun. This is definitely a tradition you should try this year. Let me know in the comments how it turns out! Happy Blogmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Review: Miracle On 34th Street by Valentine Davies (Blogmas 8)

A classic story about the man who believes he is Santa Claus, the woman and her daughter who look at life in a no nonsense way, and Fred, who does believe. Of course, many people don't believe Kris Kringle when he claims to be Santa Claus. He goes to court to prove that he is in fact sane, and with the help of Little Susan and a Christmas miracle, manages to prove it!

This book is a 5 star in every way.

1: This book, at only 118 pages, with 19 very short chapters, is ideal for children to read.

2: Even though it is easily understandable for children, the magic and timelessness of this story call to the child in all of us. It's great to read as a family. Possibly a chapter a night leading up to Christmas.

3: The illustrations, though just simple paintings (Tomie dePaola) and not Picassos, (in fact, they aren't quite what my imagination conjures up) are still beautiful, with their bright colors they definitely capture the magic in the story.

4: One of the great quotes here is "Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to"

5: The story ends with (SPOILER ALERT if you haven't read or watched, which you should) Susan getting her wish, and a happy ending for the loving couple Doris and Fred. It is the perfect ending for the perfect Christmas tale!!

Happy Blogmas guys! I know the review was really short, and a little different but the book was also short, and I think really speaks for itself. So go, read it, watch it, whether it's for the first time or the hundredth time, this one deserves a revisit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

5 Classic Christmas Stories (Blogmas 7)

Christmas time is known for its iconic stories. Here is a list of a few that are worth the read this season, whether they are chapter books or short children's stories that need a revisit, these familiar books will send you down memory lane!

1: Maybe the most recognizable Christmas book, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens has been adapted over and over through the years into plays and movies, but nothing beats the original tale! (This is on my list to review this month, so be watching!)

2: Nearly as famous is Miracle on 34th Street by Valentine Davies. This one also has several film versions to enjoy. My personal favorite is the one starring Maureen O'Hara. (This is also on my list to review!)

3: Although not a chapter book, The Night Before Christmas is a story that many people, from children to adults, can quote at least a few lines from. It's definitely worth a look through even if you don't have kids!

4: Another great shorter book is The Nutcracker, the written down story that goes with the BEAUTIFUL ballet!!! The story touches that inner child within us!

5: And of course we can't forget Dr. Seuss's wonderful Whoville masterpiece, How The Grinch Stole Christmas. It's a story that everyone knows, but no one gets tired of it. What's Christmas without this grouchy green fellow?

Did I miss one of your favorites? Comment below and tell me! Happy Blogmas!!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Classic Christmas Movies (and a few newer ones) (Blogmas 6)

Here are a few Christmas movies that you have to watch this year! You won't regret it!

1: It's a Wonderful Life
     An angel gets its wings! Come on, can you get any better than George Bailey and Clarence?

2: White Christmas
    No one who's seen this one can forget the iconic songs like "Sisters" and especially "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas"

3: Miracle on 34th Street
    Whether you watch the 1947 version or one of the slightly newer ones, you won't regret it!

    Annie is the story of an orphan who gets to spend the holidays with a rich man, and winds up stealing his heart! My favorite version is 1999 Disney. The 2015 version is wonderful too, but it's not Christmas.

5: Elf
    Not many people can go through December without watching this one. Everyone wants to be able to use a etch-a-sketch like Buddy!!

6: Frosty the Snowman
    Yes, it's animated. No, that doesn't mean it's just for kids.

7: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    Burl Ives sings on this one. That's all the encouragement I need to watch it. I love to hear him sing.

8: How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    Animated or live-action, both versions of this Seuss classic will warm your heart!

Did I miss a favorite of yours? Share it in the comments. Happy Blogmas Guys!!!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent Calendars (Blogmas 5)

Today is the 5th day of Blogmas and I thought I'd share one of my favorite Christmas traditions ever. The Advent Calendar! Every year my grandmother buys my siblings and I an Advent Calendar. This is a little cardboard box(???) that has hidden windows with the numbers 1 through 25 (sometimes 24 depending on the calendar) on them. Every day of December until Christmas you get to open the window with the corresponding number on it ( or you can use it as a count down to Christmas sort of thing, your choice) and eat the piece of chocolate found there! It's delicious and exciting!

There are other kinds, such as calendars with numbered pockets, or any number of home made advent calendars.

Do you do advent calendars? What kind do you use? Have another countdown tradition? Comment below and share! Thanks for reading and Happy Blogmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Review: Pony Express Christmas Bride by Rhonda Gibson (Blogmas 4)

Hey guys! It's December 4th and here is my first Christmas book review!!

In Pony Express Christmas Bride Josephine runs away from her uncle who is trying to marry her off to an old drunkard gambler as debt payment. She answers a mail-order bride ad and joins the Pony Express to get west. Once she arrives, Josephine is dismayed to learn that Thomas did not place the ad. It was his brother Phillip who posed as Thomas. Now Jo must convince Thomas to marry her before her uncle, or the man he owes, shows up to claim her, since she has a couple of months before her 21st birthday.

This book was SO good! It gets 5 stars!

1: The plot itself was just so sweet and the characters were deep, with pasts that scared them and kept them from moving forward. The changes that came over them as the story went on was realistic and beautiful!

2: The book was filled with a lot of teasing between characters, and a lot of humor in general. Examples include shoving snow down someone's neck, getting back at Phillip in a million different ways for his trickery, and all around banter.

3: It was definitely not a book you could just put down and come back to later. This one pretty much screams "Read Me" from the beautiful cover to the magical Christmas story inside.

4: This story had a lot of emphasis on adoption and family of the heart, a subject that fascinates me a lot. I will read just about any story that has to do with adoption. Rebecca's interaction with her adopted children and with her new daughter-in-law are priceless.

5: I love the way they fight it, this feeling of love. As if they could resist when they are sooo perfect for each other!! And then the epilogue....aaaaaauuuugh!!!! So perfect!
Happy Blogmas!!!