Holiday Delights

We celebrated Christmas with Sackett Man’s family. In total we had thirteen people in our home over the weekend before Christmas (fourteen if one counts my soon-to-come baby boy), and I couldn’t have had a nicer time.

I LOVE playing the hostess. I love getting the house ready. I love putting the air fresheners in various rooms (apple cinnamon is the best scent). I love making up the beds with fresh, crisp sheets and warm blankets, setting out clean soft towels in the bathrooms, putting up the finishing touches of Christmas decoration so that the atmosphere is warm and full of the holidays. Most of all, I love to cook. Molasses cookies. Fudge. Artisan bread. Bowls of dried fruit and almonds and cashews for snacking. Scrumptious beef roast with gravy, mushrooms, and onions, roasted in garlic and rosemary and red wine. Mashed potatoes made creamy with milk, sour cream, and butter. Green beans cooked to bright green al dente and tossed with chopped, crispy bacon.

My mother-in-law brought her own delicacies. She made a ton of Christmas cookies, and brought her delicious caramel rolls. My sister-in-laws brought cranberry fluff, homemade punch, english toffee pudding, vegetable trays, ham-and-pickle roll-ups, pecan pie, pickled herring, cheese and crackers, lefse… I’m sure I’m forgetting something… Needless to say, we did not go hungry!

A huge thanks to my wonderful In-Law Family, for coming to visit us and celebrating Christmas in such a special way. 🙂

One thing I tried making this year that I’ve never, ever attempted before, was good old fashioned candy (yes, that you need a thermometer for as you carefully cook the sugar). I made Turkish Delight.

I wasn’t sure about it. I and my family love the Narnia series; our young boys really enjoy the original BBC Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe movie. There’s been curious interest regarding the sweet that was Edmund’s favorite for a while now, so I finally researched and found a recipe and tried my hand at it. Turkish Delight can be made in many, many flavors (lemon, orange, pistachio, chocolate, etc) but the most common is Rose. Yes, Rose flavored candy. I assume this is the flavor Edmund enjoyed, because in every single movie the candy is a soft pink color. To that end I ordered my rose water (Rose Flower Water by Cortas), and— because some reviews said it was a very strong brand— I sampled a teaspoon of it in a glass of water (the recommended amount is 1-2 Tablespoons in a glass of water), and I couldn’t drink it. It was so strong! The scent was like putting my nose smack dab into the middle of the strongest bouquet of roses ever. And then drinking that bouquet. So that made me concerned that the flavor of the Turkish Delight was going to be too much.

I forged ahead anyway.

I used the recipe from this lady’s blog: http://titlisbusykitchen.com/recipe/turkish-delight. Not only does she have the recipe written out, but she has a step-by-step video to go with it. It made the whole experience so much better; there’s nothing that takes the fear out of an new recipe than watching someone with a sense of humor show you how it’s done!

The ingredients are:

  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • Few drops of food coloring
For the dusting
  • 1 cup powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • Extra powdered sugar (on hand if needed)

The only modification I made to the recipe, at all, was I halved the amount of rose water. I put in 1½ tsp instead of 1 tbsp. For our American tastebuds, unused to the taste of roses, it made all the difference! It flavored the Turkish Delight delicately, without overpowering it.

My husband and I, used to the scent of roses as being connected to bouquets, soaps, or face wash, like the flavor but are still getting used to attaching it to a food. Our kids, on the other hand, have no such preconceived ideas, and love it!

January Note: One thing to keep in mind: this is an old fashioned candy, made the old fashioned way. There are no preservatives or additives to keep it in perfect form for weeks (*cough cough* months YEARS *cough cough*) on end, so it will sweat and the powdered sugar it rests in will turn into a glaze around it. For the best results, eat the candy within the first five days. If the sweating really bothers you, switch out the powdered sugar/cornstarch every 2-3 days.

Another side note: the recipe says it will keep for a week. That doesn’t mean you have to throw it out on the eve of day seven. It just means that the texture will become softer and less candy-chewy, and it will sweat more and more. I’m nearing the end of week two, beginning week three, and I’ve taken to using a fork to separate the pieces (the best I can) and eating it that way.

My prep for candy making.

My prep for candy making.

Mixing, mixing, mixing as the sugar SLOWLY rises in temperature.

Mixing, mixing, mixing as the sugar SLOWLY rises in temperature.

You can't see it here (sorry), but it has reached temp: 240˚F.  * note: turn off the heat immediately when it reaches temp!!!

You can’t see it here (sorry), but it has reached temp: 240˚F.
* note: turn off the heat immediately when it reaches temp!!!

This is the water/cornstarch mixture. Once this has cooked you add the sugar syrup and cook low and slow to a glowing gold color. KEEP THE HEAT ON LOW! AND MIX CONSTANTLY!

This is the water/cornstarch mixture. Once this has cooked you add the sugar syrup and cook low and slow to a glowing gold color. KEEP THE HEAT ON LOW! AND MIX CONSTANTLY!

After adding the three drops of red food coloring and the Rose Water, I poured (scooped) the mixture into the wax lined/oiled pan. I used this handy icing spatula to spread it out even.

After adding the three drops of red food coloring and the Rose Water, I poured (scooped) the mixture into the wax lined/oiled pan. I used this handy icing spatula to spread it out even.

This is what you will need to finish the Turkish Delight: a cutting board sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. you turn the Delight out onto the board and cut it. 1"x1" is the perfect size.

This is what you will need to finish the Turkish Delight: a cutting board sprinkled generously with powdered sugar. you turn the Delight out onto the board and cut it. 1″x1″ is the perfect size.

So sorry I don’t have a picture of the finished product, all cut and dusted. Just imagine your favorite picture of Turkish Delight from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe… it really is just that pretty!

Family Roast

Who doesn’t love a good beef roast? That’s what I made yesterday, throwing it into the crock-pot at eight-thirty in the morning in preparation for the fifteen family members that were going to descend upon our home that afternoon. My mom brought a fantastic potato salad and a fruit salad with crunchy, candied pretzel pieces in it. My two sister-in-laws brought hot, creamy spinach dip and delicious cranberry-white chocolate bars. There was also salad and homemade biscuits-n-butter. Yum!

Sackett Man camped out in his recliner, resting and icing his knee (which is doing well), though he did rise up and, crutch in hand, venture outside to try out his new turbo flashlight. No animal is safe from detection in our woods anymore.

We opened presents; we shared good company and good food.

That’s why I like the roast. I had a TON on my plate (pun intended) that only grew larger when it snowed and I had to spend two hours yesterday morning plowing our driveway. Yet I was able to do so without stress, because I knew that in the house it was starting to smell wonderful as the feast cooked and grew delicious all on its own.

I don’t really have an exact recipe, because I tend to eyeball it. But it’s a very forgiving recipe; you can adjust all of it to your taste.

1 Beef Roast (any kind)

Crockpot Roast with: onion, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, red wine, mushroom soup

Crockpot Roast with: onion, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, red wine, mushroom soup

2 onions, quartered

2 packages of sliced mushrooms

1 T minced garlic

1 T rosemary, dried (I would do less if you’re using fresh)

1/2 – 1 Cup red wine

1 can cream of mushroom soup

s/p to taste

Set your crock-pot on High for 6 hours.

Now, I usually like to start cooking my roast around nine or ten o’clock and let it cook (first on High, then on Low for the remaining time) all day for a five or six pm supper. The meat is literally spoon-tender at that point and moist and succulent. Yesterday we ate at two-thirty, so the meat wasn’t quite as falling-apart as I prefer, but it was still tender and moist and fantastic!

This makes for, honestly, one of the easiest decadent meals I’ve ever made. All you need to do that night is steam a veggie and put out some delicious bread. Mashed potatoes are good with this, too.

Enjoy!

 

A Fudgy Christmas

Christmas Eve was magical… in a snowy, swirling, hold-your-breath kind of way. We were traveling to visit the Grandparents, and it began to snow. It was dark, and in the dark the wind swirled the falling snow all around us. The highway was eerie; we were the only car that we could see for most of the drive. Once in a while other cars would appear, their red taillights glowing hazily around us, and then in a swirl they would disappear, coming and going in the gusts and flurries like ghosts.

As I said, magically eerie.

We made it, and spent a wonderful Christmas with the inlaws. Good company, delicious food, talk and games and laughter. We video-chatted with some relatives living oversees right now, and loved and missed them all the more.

Now the cleanup begins.

My house is a mess; it always is in the aftermath of packing for a trip. But that’s okay. Refreshed from the holiday and nourished with a large mug of steaming coffee I am ready and armed to tackle the house and the gremlins that messed it up!

For those of you that don’t know, I am fully convinced that every house has gremlins. They’re the ones that take and hide things you put in a ‘safe’ place, and they like to collect socks. Just one of each pair, because they have no sense of decency or polite manners.

Hawkeye & BurstThe boys have been reading their comic book constantly since they got it. My eldest, who likes to tell me he has ‘super eyes’ when I ask him to look for something (and then he goes around the house, bug-eyed, looking for it) was thrilled to find that his hero-self had the power of Super Sight. And my second son (who runs around the house as fast as possible saying “I’m Fast Man!”) likes the fact that his hero has Super Speed. He now has an excuse to run like crazy through the living room and the hall!

I have made two large batches of fudge. One was enjoyed at the inlaws’, and the second is waiting to be enjoyed with my side of the family. It really is the best recipe ever, and it’s SO easy.

You can do any flavor extract you like, but my favorite is the almond. It pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate!

First, put a piece of wax paper or tin foil in your 8×8 pan, enough so you have some coming up over the two sides. This will be how you get your fudge out of the pan.

Next line it all with plastic wrap.

Dark Fudge — Recipe Dark Fudge

1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk

3 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)

1 1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Put all the ingredients into a double boiler (or a pot, as I do) and over low heat. Take a wooden spoon and mix, mix, mix. Stir constantly to keep the chocolate melting evenly and not sticking to the bottom. It will be somewhat stiff. Once it is mostly melted turn off the heat and then mix like crazy to get the last few pieces of chocolate to melt.

Pour into your prepared pan. Put it in the fridge to cool. After two hours, grab hold of the foil/wax paper and lift it out of the pan. Remove the plastic wrap, cut into square, bite-sized pieces, and thoroughly enjoy!

I did. 🙂

“Let Hope Rise and Darkness Tremble”

“The world was black. It was the only way they had ever known it; dark, black, and cold. Evil pressed in on all sides, and people clung to their traditions to save them from it. But even these, once so full of meaning and power, were growing cold. Silence filled their hearts where once, long ago and beyond memory, He had spoken in low tones, His voice full of warmth and light.

The people were afraid. The Dark One seemed everywhere, and wherever he went and whatever he touched was tainted and poisoned. His poison killed the spirit and damned the soul to eternal isolation, where the pained cries could not be heard and hatred and bitterness and self-idolatry flourished. Long ago they had foolishly listened to the Dark One, when he’d first come to the world, and believed a lie, and acted upon that lie, ignorant that their actions were severing the connection He had with them.

They committed a terrible atrocity, as a people, and when they realized what it was they had done it was too late. The Dark One had claim to their souls, and only a payment of pure, innocent blood would release them.

Only there was no more purity. No more innocence.

They were lost.

Those who still remembered — those who clung to the stories they’d been told and the promise of a hero to save them — waited with fading hope, wondering Why? Why do you not come? Have you forgotten us? As the years rolled by and generations fell and died, the rest ailed and despaired. Still they remembered the promise: that a hero would save them. A hero would rise up among them, somewhere, pure enough and innocent, and he would — to save his people — offer himself as a sacrifice, to break the Dark One’s claim, and bring the light back.

They were tired of crawling through the dark, blind to the beauty they could no longer see, huddled together in groups of shadows.

Sometimes they raised their eyes and looked around, hoping to see someone — anyone — wondering if the person passing by was the hero, wondering if the man plowing his field would one day give up his life. Wondering which face in the crowd was the face of their savior.

He would be strong. He would be pure. He would have a heart of fire, and a will of adamantine. His words would be truth, and he would bring an end to the suffering. Nothing could undo the damage done, but his sacrifice would create a bridge. A bridge of escape, a way out, a door where there used to be a solid wall. His death and the spilling of his blood would break the Dark One’s power and a crack would appear, and light would spill through and shine down on them once again.

Once the hero came, it would be the end of the dark.

No matter what happened after his sacrifice, how darkness fought back, what wars would be fought — the light would win.

Once the hero came.

More people died. Souls disappeared, snuffed out, the cries of the doomed echoing in their ears.

It will be over soon the old ones would say, rocking the children. And they would grow up, and have their own small ones, and grow still older, hiding from the destruction and suffering around them, and then they were rocking their own grandchildren, and telling them It will be over soon.

The stars shone down on them, the only light in their dark world. Distant and cold and white they shone, and people began to look at them with bitterness. What good was their light? What good was their beauty? They were far, far away, and cared nothing for the dark world.

And then three of them began to move.

The three brightest lights in the heavens began to draw closer and closer together, till there was no telling them apart, till their light shone almost blindingly down, dazzling the eyes of the people.

What is happening? the people whispered.

A king. others answered. It is the King Star.

Rulers of the world, serfs of the Dark One, began to search hungrily for this ‘king’. People were bribed; children were slaughtered. The Dark One turned his eye on the world, angry and fearful.

What was this light?

What was happening in his kingdom?

Some of the very wise, who had studied and remembered and kept their memory clear, remembered the old stories. They quietly packed their bags and slipped out into the dead of night. They followed the movement of the three stars, stealing along, until they came to a faraway place. A small place, a poor place. And there they found… nothing. No brave youth to step forward. No strong man to stand tall. They found a man and a woman, hunkering down in the shadows, young and wary, with their first child.

The men quaked as they looked upon the child. The light of the Star was in his eyes, and they were clear, and strong. His heart of fire burned in his small gaze.

The men trembled.

It was His fire.

He had not set the burden on the shoulders of one of theirs. He had come. Himself. Stolen into the world of Darkness in the unassuming form of a small, mewling baby, to a family poor.

He had come.

He was their hero.

The time was here, at last.

The men fell to their knees, heads weak and spinning. Laughter, an echo of the laughter from ancient days, filled their chests and brought tears to their eyes.

It did not matter that He had not saved them yet. They knew now they need only wait a little while longer; no more wondering When. No more endless waiting. No more unknown.

The Hero had come.

And the darkness began to tremble. ”

In the Light of the Dawn—Close Up

 

by J.R.R. Castle

It’s a Wonderful Life

We’ve had a crazy, busy, relaxed week here. I know, a study of contrasts, right? And yet it’s true. Sackett Man got the upstairs (torn apart to take care of an old bat infestation; no bats now, but evidence of their residence remained—yuck) into a state of usability. The last of the cleanup happened a while ago, and he’s been slowly putting things back together. We still need to sheetrock the upper half of the walls and put up the lights, but one thing at a time. The point is, the plywood over the door from the kitchen to the upstairs/pantry came down! The boys can now use the upstairs as ‘running space’ to burn off energy, and I have my pantry back! WHOOP!

The rest of the Christmas presents were bought. We’re all set.

I finished the comic book for my two boys. Three days of nonstop drawing/coloring/inking makes for one cramped hand, but it was worth it… it got done in time for our ‘at home’ Christmas, and that’s what matters.

We are traveling and visiting family over Christmas Eve/Christmas Day, so we decided to have an early Christmas, just us, in our new home. I made chocolate fudge (it’s seriously the best ever), snickerdoodles (the frozen kind, because I ran out of time), and finished the comic book while Sackett Man took the boys out shopping for the last few Christmas items (aka: my present). We had popcorn and watched the Veggie Tales “The Star of Christmas”. Sackett Man read some Dr. Seuss and then ‘The Night Before Christmas’ to the boys before bed. The poem was done as a gorgeously illustrated book by Christian Birmingham. Look him up; the man is a phenomenal artist!

We put out cookies and milk for Santa, and the boys scurried off to bed, Roman urging James to hurry because “Santa won’t come if we’re awake!”

And then the Christmas miracle: they let us sleep in the next morning.

IMG_4310There were stockings, and a gift for each of us from Santa, and then a gift for each person that we gave personally. You know times have changed when your kids are excited for socks in their stockings and a couple of books, your baby gets a $2 sippy cup and your husband is thrilled to get a rain gauge for the garden (when warm weather returns someday). Me? I got pajamas! Comfy soft, smooth, warm WINTER pajamas with long sleeves and fuzzy pants and… Okay, I’ll stop. But

seriously, they’re awesome.

The boys got a ride in a sled; it was pulled along behind their Daddy’s four-wheeler all over the yard and back field.

Rose hung out in the kitchen in her high chair, listening to an audio book with me and banging around her new spoon and a plastic bowl.

I roasted a turkey, made gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, and a new Christmas Pudding recipe where you BAKE the pudding instead of boiling it. It was a fantastic time saver! I love Christmas Pudding. I grew up with it, every single Christmas. There is no dessert that says definitively ‘Christmas’ like a pudding. The recipe I used this year called for figs, but I didn’t have any, so I substituted chopped dates and dried cranberries instead. Delicious!

Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

It was a great day. And simple; we put out cookies for Santa. We opened presents the next day. We had a great Christmas supper.

We celebrated Christ’s birth, and it was wonderful.

___________________________________________________

The Christmas Pudding recipe I used can be found here: http://cooking.lovetoknow.com/figgy-christmas-pudding-recipe

Being a Parent…Even In a Store

Yesterday was a great day. It really was. We found more Christmas decorations, I finalized my shopping list, and we all left on time to head to Rosemary’s doctor appointment. The whole thing was fun. Except for the shots. But I digress.

The point of this post is to go over what happened in the late afternoon, while shopping. The boys understood that they had to be good, or else they wouldn’t get the special treat I had in store for them when we got home, which they would get during the great Tree Decoration. Unfortunately, barely a quarter of the way through my list, my second son got tired AND hungry at the same time, and decided to run wild. He’s normally a fantastic child: obedient, sweet, loving. But this was anything but.

Now don’t hear me wrong, he wasn’t a monster, he just QUIT LISTENING. He pulled things off of shelves (which meant I spent more time telling him to put things back than I did checking things off of my list), climbed out of the cart (he has no fear of falling), and bawled every time I told him “No.” He opened a box of crackers and was ready to open the bag within the box when I caught him. Thankfully we were getting crackers anyway, and it was a kind I like. That went into the cart. The last straw, and the end of the shopping trip, was when I went down the chocolate aisle to get a couple small treats for stockings. I was going to get a dark chocolate orange to put in the boys’ stocking, when my son saw the gold-wrapped, hollow chocolate bears. I took the one he had grabbed and put it back on the shelf, only to have him snatch another one. This snatching race went on for only about ten seconds, during which I rescued about four bears, but in his disobedience he then knocked one down and I heard it shatter within its gold wrappings.

There went my money for chocolate stocking stuffers. And there ended the shopping trip.

I explained to him that the treats he had been looking forward to in his stocking would no longer happen, because of his disobedience. He would have to make do with some broken pieces of chocolate, which would be shared with his older brother, who was NOT happy with him.

The cashier was sweet and dear, and tried to convince me that I really didn’t want a broken chocolate bear, that they wouldn’t hold me responsible for the broken treat and make me buy it. And I didn’t explain to her, although I should have (nicely of course) that I wasn’t just holding to the “You break it, You buy it” rule (though I do follow that, and my kids are quickly learning it too).

I was parenting.

I don’t believe in laughing off bad behavior for the sake of the parent. No matter how embarrassing it is to have your child act poorly in public, no matter what they have done, don’t laugh it off in front of people and then deal with it secretly at home. Don’t make a public deal of it, either. Simply deal with it.

I was teaching my son the rule of Consequences. His behavior and loss of temper had lost him stocking treats and earned him instead a broken bear. If he had sat in the cart, as he had been told, and patiently let me do the Christmas shopping, he would not have gotten in the trouble he did (per his behavior during the entire trip, not just in the candy aisle, Sackett Man took him in hand when we got home) and he would have had some wonderful surprises waiting for him.

Now I know he’s little. So I didn’t go into this long-winded and adult-oriented explanation to him. For him it was more like: “You DON’T disobey. When I say stay in the cart, you stay in the cart. When we’re in a store, you DON’T take things off of shelves, and you DON’T open things in the store. Ever. Now you broke something. That was naughty!”

He got the message.

We ended the day on a good note. We put up the gold garland on the tree and wrapped it all in Christmas lights, and then our two boys, with chocolate on their faces, ran around and turned off lights and then stood, mouths gaping and eyes wide with wonder, at the magically glowing lights. They stretched out their arms wide, and Roman said “It’s beautiful!” and James said “Wow! It beafuful!” and then they readied for bed and heard a story about Christmas Reindeer.

And they went to bed with smiles on their faces and the glow of the Christmas lights in their eyes.

Christmas Fennel

Pasta with Fennel Cream Sauce

Pasta with Fennel Cream Sauce

Two nights ago I made roasted chicken legs and colcannon. One of my favorite meals. Last night I made something new: pasta and chicken with a fennel cream sauce. It was good; the fennel sauce wasn’t quite what I wanted… so I figure I’ll have to play around with the recipe a little bit. Otherwise it was quite enjoyable. James certainly thought the wheel pasta was awesome!

After supper my Sackett Man went out to his truck, and when he returned through the front door he was bearing a big, beautiful seven-foot Christmas Tree. We set it up in our living room (Sackett Man held the tree while I became flattened beneath it trying to wrestle it into submission within the stand; my son took a photo) and Roman, our eldest, helped me water it for the first time. James fell asleep on the couch, and Rosemary followed soon after. Roman, our night owl, ventured into the basement with us two adults and looked through a selection of boxes with us, trying to find the lights and garland. We found our Christmas wreath, but alas, no tree trimmings. Hopefully we’ll have better luck tomorrow, so we can decorate in the evening. 2013 Christmas Tree

In the meantime we’ll be putting up the last of the Christmas paper chains, the wreath, and unpacking the Christmas dishes.

And the house smells amazing.

You have to love pine trees.

~ Mary

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

So this Christmas is a cheaper one, primarily because we had a lot to fix on the house this year after we moved in, and Sackett Man needs surgery on his knee. One of the hazards of being a plumber; so many years spent kneeling and crouching to fix sinks, tubs, toilets, broken pipes, etc. takes its toll.

With all of this in mind, we knew we had to tighten up our financial belts and soldier forward. However, I am an avid gift-giver. I LOVE giving gifts. I love shopping for them, I love making them, I love finding them, I love discovering the perfect gift for that perfect someone… so I was determined that, money or no money, Christmas was NOT going to suffer. Amazon has been my friend. Pinterest has been inspiring. And with the crazy mix of wonderful people in our immediate and extended families, there has been an unlimited amount of ideas to ponder and sift through.

One of these ideas is the gift of Chai. Perishables are a great gift idea for adults, because let’s face it… at a certain point, how much more ‘stuff’ do you really need? I personally always have things I would love, but I also adore food. Cooking it, eating it, looking at it. Food is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind; otherwise He would have just given us broccoli and beans and water and called it good.

I am so very, very glad He didn’t.

So again, on to Chai. There are many tea drinkers in my family. (And if any of them are reading this post, no, don’t try to guess who’s getting this for Christmas. My lips are sealed.) So I thought, what about a homemade Chai mix? I started doing some research, but there are TONS of recipes out there. Most of them require powdered milk, powdered creamers, etc., but I don’t stock those things in my cupboard and was looking for something I wouldn’t have to go buy special ingredients for. So I looked at the spices and the different amounts, and then I started experimenting with a creamer free, dairy free, sugar free Chai Spice Mix. After two days and many, many cups of Chai Tea, I have found what I think to be a very yummy blend.

The best part? It’s SO easy.

Chai Spice Mix

Chai Spice Mix

Chai Spice Mix

2 tsp Ground Ginger

2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Ground Cloves

3/4 tsp Ground Cardamom

1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg

Thoroughly mix all of the spices together into a container with a lid (for easy storage).

Serving size: 1/2 tsp

When you want a delicious cup, put a bag of your favorite black tea and 1/2 tsp of Chai Spice Mix into your cup. Add the boiling water and let steep for 4 minutes. Remove the tea bag, then sweeten to taste (if you want) and add your milk or cream. It is fantastic!

If you are not a black tea fan, you can just make your cup the same as above, but without the tea bag. You won’t suffer any lack of deliciousness, I promise. (I would still let the spice mix steep for 4 minutes to get the full flavor.)

Try it and let me know what you think!

~ Mary

Next in the Adventures Of…

I know I’ve mentioned that I’m an artist, and this week I get to fully indulge, to my great joy and excitement! (The laundry and dishes can wait, right?) I love homemade gifts, and a tradition I set with my own siblings is carrying over to my own children and nephews. Thrillsville! I love it! I make personalized superhero comic books. Each boy has a super hero created just for him, and then, either for a birthday or Christmas, they get a comic book adventure about “them”.

Comic_Book_RoughSo this year I’m making some combo comic books (since they’re for siblings), and all the great heroes will get to adventure together!

No, this photo is not the finished product. This is the Final Rough, before I do the final book.

Some Christmas adventures are in store for this year’s installment. Watch out, winter baddies!

 

Rosemary_Eating_BreadMy daughter is (somewhat) content to watch me while she gnaws on a piece of bread. As long as I have a camera for her to smile for. (What did I tell you about her blue eyes?)

So that is my plan for the week. Creating two superhero adventures. And putting up the last of the decorations before we put up the tree; I even found my Christmas dishes! (Thank you, Sackett Man, for organizing the boxes I haven’t unpacked yet into something completely neat and tidy and navigable.)

Also making some extremely yummy suppers, which means I need to dive into my recipe box today, too.

Stay tuned!

~ Mary

Clean Laundry Soup

My boys got to go outside today for the first time this week, bundled up like the little boy in ‘A Christmas Story’. My youngest boy, James, was in within five minutes, his little fingers so cold that his nails hurt, so I peeled him out of his winter wear and wrapped him in a blanket, curled him up on my lap, and put his fingers under my arm to warm them up. Within a few minutes he was better. Then Roman came in.

Those winter adventures sure didn’t last long!

Popcorn and hot chocolate and “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” is the perfect antidote for cold fingers and toes.

I put up some Christmas decorations, and folded laundry… and folded laundry… and folded laundry… I’ll get it all done, eventually. And then my kids will wear something and it will start all over again.

My favorite parts of the day? I have three. The first: making and putting up colored paper chains with Roman and James. The second: being called downstairs by my Sackett Man to be shown the amazing cleanup he did down there today. Boxes and bins from the move are arranged and organized, the floor vacuumed and bleached, much of the laundry washed… He’s amazing. Third: providing a delicious supper for my tired, hardworking family, while Rosemary sat in her highchair and indulged in a saltine cracker.

Winter Squash Soup

Squash soup. I use any winter squash I have on hand, cream cheese, minced garlic, thyme, butter, and s/p to taste. Everything gets mashed with my potato masher. Then I add enough of the liquid I cooked the squash in to make it the consistency I like, and voila!

This is great with bread and butter.

Of course, I think ANYTHING is great with bread and butter… but that could just be because I love bread. And butter.