Merry CHRISTmas! Today, we celebrated with my side of the family. Katie and Sai drove up from Charlotte to spend some time with us. We missed Andy (currently deployed to Qatar), but it was still a fun time together.
Jacob loves this book
Mr. Sai plays with Emmaline's new puppets
Bangles from India (Ellie likes to call them "shingles")
After an awesome Christmas Eve service at church and dinner at Burger King with both sides of our family (hey, it was the only place open!), we headed back to our house to do Christmas with the kids. Nathan has to work on Christmas Day, and we didn't think the kids would want to wait until he got home to open their presents.
Emmaline with her gifts
Hello Kitty Legos
A new Nerf gun
Emmaline loves to play kitchen, so this was perfect for her
We have 5 Christmas celebrations this year. Today, we spent the afternoon with Nathan's extended family at his Aunt Karen's house. It is super crowded with lots of cousins, aunts, uncles, and other family members. And, it is a great time of conversation, teasing, and fun! Nathan had to work, so he wasn't able to come until the end, but he was able to get in some visiting before we had to leave to head to the Christmas Eve service at church.
Every year at Christmas, I make some type of edible treat to pass out to friends and family. I've done hot chocolate mixes, cookie mixes, and this year, I made Lemon Thyme Bread, using a recipe I got from the November issue of Taste of Home Magazine. My kitchen smelled so good when this was baking.
Lemon Thyme Bread
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. sour cream
1 3/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Combine the flour, thyme, lemon peel, baking soda, and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk mixture, beating well after each addition.
Transfer to a greased 8x4 inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Cool completely; sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices)
For Lemon-Thyme Mini Loaves:
Use 3 greased 5 3/4x3 inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
For Lemon-Thyme Muffins (or Mini Muffins):
Make batter as directed; fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups (or mini muffin cups) two-thirds full. Bake at 400 degrees for 16-20 minutes (or for mini muffins, bake for 10-12 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean. If desired, top with your favorite frosting
Yield: 1 dozen muffins or 4 dozen mini muffins
Lemon-Thyme Icing: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 c. powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme and 3-4 tsp. lemon juice, as needed, to achieve a drizzling consistency.
Here's another of my Mom's great recipes. This is really simple and tastes so much better than anything you'll buy at a store. You'll have about 2 lbs. of fudge and I usually get 36 pieces out of an 8X8 pan. Do not double this recipe or the fudge will be runny.
Peanut Butter Fudge
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. chopped peanuts (optional)
Combine sugar, corn syrup, milk, and salt in medium saucepan.
Cook over low heat, stir constantly, until sugar dissolves.
Cover pan for 1 min. to allow steam to dissolve sugar on side of pan.
Uncover pan; cook without stirring to 236 degrees.
Remove from heat. Add butter
Add vanilla, peanut butter, and nuts.
Beat until thickened and loses its high gloss.
Turn immediately into a buttered 8x8x2" pan.
When completely cool, cut into squares.
This can be stored for 2-3 weeks in a tightly covered container with wax paper between the layers,
I've had several people on facebook ask for recipes that I'm using this Christmas, so I thought I would post them here for everyone.
These shortbread cookies are one of my favorites. I think my mom found this recipe in the local newspaper several decades ago and it has become one of our Christmas food traditions. They really do melt in your mouth, hence the name, "Melting Dreams". One recipe only makes about 2 dozen cookies, so I always make at least a triple batch.
Melting Dreams (Shortbreads)
1 1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. corn starch
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. butter (you must use salted butter for the right taste)
Mix dry ingredients together.
Cut in butter w/ pastry blender and then use your hands (The warmth of your hands helps blend the butter thoroughly, though if the butter is soft enough, I've discovered that my kitchen aid mixer does just as well.)
Shape dough into a large ball.
Use 1 Tbsp. of dough and roll into a ball.
Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Make a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie with a fork.
Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Do not let the tops brown, or the cookies will be too done.
Nathan has been wanting some sort of backyard fire pit type thing for quite some time. He went on a call this week for work and the person at the call was selling her chiminea. So, Nathan bought his own Christmas present. It's not all he's getting, but I could get used to him doing the shopping! And, this way I know he's getting something he really wants!
Nathan's Mom bought the kids' Christmas outfits this year. I wasn't too keen on the pink color of the girls' dresses at first, because it isn't the traditional Christmas red or green. They grew on me though because the girls' love their fancy dresses and they look absolutely adorable. Jacob is getting to be pretty handsome, as well...when did my baby boy get so big?
All 3 of the kids participated in the Christmas program at church tonight. Emmaline sang with the preschoolers and did a great job. She can't sing most of the words, but she know the motions that go with the songs better than most of the kids. She really stole the show and made everyone clap after each song they sang.
Jacob and Ellie both had parts in the older kids' program. Ellie sang a solo and was an angel in the nativity scene at the end of the show. Jacob played a Wise guy, sang a solo, and was a wise man in the nativity scene. Everyone did so well and we were really proud of them.
These shows bring back so many great memories from when I was growing up in the same church and singing in programs on the same stage. My friend, Emily, and I had solos and various speaking parts in every program from kindergarten through junior high. I'm hoping the kids will have as many fond memories of these programs as I do!
Instead of the regular homeschool co-op schedule, the kids had a craft day. They colored pictures, made ornaments, and had a great time with their friends. After crafts, we enjoyed a carry-in lunch with the other families. Lots of yummy food and lots of laughs equals a perfect day!