Sunday, December 6, 2015

Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly

Two Things I am Grateful For:

1)  Modern technology and the many blessings we receive because of that.  I recently received emails with several things I can use for Christmas Gifts and I didn't have to leave my home.  Not to mention the ability to connect with our missionary weekly and twice a year when we get to see his happy face.  What great blessings!  Love that. 

2)  Game nights spent with my family.  We have a lot of fun playing the games and spending time together and that is priceless.  

From the Camera:

This is one of the Nativities Kyle brought home from his mission.  He collected several.  

From the Craft Room & Other Cool Things:

Melted Snowman Ornament Tutorial

Hot glue and glue gun
Tiny plastic top hats
Black seed beads
Orange oblong beads
Red ribbon
Twigs (I used the stem of a leaf)

A couple of words about the supplies. I had a horrible time finding tiny plastic top hats. I looked everywhere, in all the craft stores. I finally found a little bag of cheap snowmen ornaments that were wearing top hats and we just cut the hats off. My recommendation is to try and find the hats first, because everything else is easy to find, including the noses which were just oblong orange beads.

Start by assembling your supplies in little containers. I used prep bowls (yet another use for that Pampered Chef party purchase) but I think muffin tins are the way to go if you're making a bunch. Toothpicks will be really helpful for attaching all the tiny pieces to the hot glue.

We quickly found that it was easiest to attach the scarf to the hat and let that dry before pressing it into the snowman. Otherwise you're going to spend too much time making sure the scarf is right and your snowman will set before you stick on the rest of the body parts.

Pull out a sheet of foil about the size of a piece of typing paper. You will need to make these in small batches because the glue will dry rather quickly. Using your hot glue gun, draw out the shape of your melted snowman and then fill it in with hot glue.

Make sure you place your snowman on a smooth spot on the foil or it will be harder to peel off. I'm thinking you could use wax paper for this too, but I didn't have any on hand. If you do try the wax paper, just do one and see if the paper peels off easily.

While the glue is still hot, press in the hat/scarf, eyes, nose and arms.

I put my snowmen in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set and the foil backing pealed right off.

Finally attach your hook to the back with another dab of hot glue. I used ribbon but you could also eliminate this step by creating the snowman on top of an ornament hook.

Then hang your cutie up on the tree or give them away to all your family and friends!
From the Heart and Spirit:

From President Uchtdorf: Christmas Is about the Christ

Commenting on the pressure and anxiety often felt by those who focus on the temporal side of the Christmas season, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said, “We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be—the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events. … [But] sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs … and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us.”
However, if we focus our hearts and minds on the true spirit of Christmas, President Uchtdorf said, “we will recognize wonderful things happening around us.”

See Christmas for What It Truly Is

He continued, “It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture, we hear a sacred carol and really listen to its words, or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life [that] we too often use to adorn it.
“We realize in these precious moments what we feel and know in our heart—that Christmas is about the Christ.”

What We Can Give

President Uchtdorf said that we, “like the Wise Men of old, should seek the Christ and lay before Him the most precious of gifts: a broken heart and a contrite spirit. We should offer Him our love. We should give Him our willingness to take upon ourselves His name and walk in the path of discipleship. We should promise to remember Him always, to emulate His example, and to go about doing good.”
We cannot offer perfection, and the Savior does not expect it, President Uchtdorf said. “But He does require that we bring as gifts our best efforts to move ourselves, one foot in front of the other, walking in the ways He has prepared and taught.”

The Savior’s Gifts to Us

“The Savior’s gifts to us are breathtaking,” President Uchtdorf said. He explained that through the Atonement, the Savior offers us immortality, forgiveness, and eternal life.
Though some of Christ’s gifts to us will be given only when our time on earth ends, President Uchtdorf emphasized the many gifts that the Savior gives every day. “He promises to be with us, to come to us when we need comfort, to lift us when we stumble, to carry us if need be, to cry, laugh, mourn, and rejoice with us. Every day He offers to take us by the hand and help transform ordinary life into extraordinary spiritual experiences.”

Christ the King Has Come

President Uchtdorf concluded, “Of course, we do not need a Christmas holiday or Christmas traditions to remember Jesus Christ, the Savior. … May each Christmas season remind us to lift up our voices and fill our hearts with joy and gratitude that Christ the King has come! Christ lives! He is real. He is our Redeemer at Christmas and always.”
From the Kitchen:

Peppermint Bark
This is one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever thrown together. Which is incredibly dangerous because not much work is between me, you, and this extremely festive peppermint bark. Just warning you now.
You’ll need a few ingredients including white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, candy canes or peppermint hard candies, and peppermint extract. Since there are so few ingredients, it’s important use quality ingredients. Chocolate chips and white chocolate baking morsels do not live up to the real thing! Each contain stabilizers, preventing them from melting completely silky smooth. That’s why chocolate chips don’t melt into a pool of chocolate in your chocolate chip cookies. Not only that, you’ll taste the difference between high quality chocolate and a $3 bag of chocolate chips. I recommend Ghirardelli, Lundt, or Baker’s brand chocolate when making bark of any variety.
Peppermint Bark Ingredients
Chop up the chocolate separately, melt them separately, and layer them on top of one another. Make sure you let the layers cool completely in between layering or else you’ll wind up swirling the two chocolates together. There are three layers of chocolate; a top and bottom layer of white chocolate. Feel free to switch them around and sandwich the white chocolate in between two semi-sweet layers.
Top with crushed candy canes. A lot of recipes for peppermint bark that I stumbled upon call for sifting the crushed candy canes to rid any of the candy cane powder. I don’t do that; I really didn’t want to dirty my sifter with candy cane bits.
After it sets, break the peppermint bark into pieces, make a complete mess, taste test, taste test again. DONE. I no longer have a hungry swim team to share this stuff with, so I passed our leftovers to my friend Molly the other night. She said her family gobbled it up.
From the Schmidt's:

Today was an eventful day at church.  Two members of our bishopric were changed.  Our bishop received new counselors.  One of the men use to be the Young Men's President over Curtis.  Curtis use to come home and share all kinds of stories about this guy.  He loved him!  The other man use to be Ward Mission leader, and was recently serving as Ward Clerk for our Bishop.  Kyle said the man that use to serve in Young Men's with Curtis is only two years older than Kyle.  That blew my mind!  He is a newly wed and just his wife just had their first child.  Wow!  He is really young, but he did a great job with the young men.  It will be good.  It will be strange not seeing the other two men in various places from now on too, but they both have young families who need their dad's.  I feel for our Bishop and his family too.  It can't be easy to make these changes at any time.  Again, it will be good for everyone.

Kevin's Aunt is still in the hospital.  They moved her to ICU because she kept passing out.  Last we heard she was up to 7 units of blood and has lost a lot of weight.  Kevin has been having to stick close to home, so we haven't been able to make it up to the hospital to see her.  I talked to her on the phone and to his other Aunt a couple of times, as well as texting back and forth with my SIL.  I guess Kevin's Aunt has a very large ulcer that is bleeding.  They had to place three clamps to try to stop the bleeding and that was the last we have heard.  

I talked to my Mom yesterday.  We are trying to make some plans for Christmas Eve.  Kyle wants to do have a contest decorating Gingerbread houses which might be a gun activity.  We are still finalizing all the details and the location.  It all depends on Kevin and how he feels.  We usually have it at our house, but that may need to change.  A lot has changed since Kevin came home from the hospital.  We took the door off of our bedroom and we changed the hinges on the main bathroom door so Kevin could get in to the room when he needs to.  Since the hinges are super big it makes it so we cannot close the door all the way.  It still closes so you cannot see someone in there, it just cannot close tight to lock the door.  Since we rent our home, we didn't want to make any major changes to the door opening because we will have to change things back if we move.  The door thing is okay for our family, but if someone else has to use that bathroom it may not be okay for them, if you know what I mean??  Hence the reason we may need to change the location.  Danielle has offered her place, but then if Kevin needs to use the bathroom there he will not be able to get into it.  The door is too narrow.  So, what do we do??  Decisions, decisions.

My knee is feeling a little better today.  It's still tender and sore, but I'm not limping as bad as I was and I can bend it a little too.  Thank goodness.  I drove myself to the grocery store for the first time last night for a couple of things.  It hurt to put pressure on it, but I did it.  Tomorrow should be interesting going to work.  Kyle may need to take me.  That poor kid!  

It's time to answer one of those holiday questions.....

Do you have a nativity displayed through the holidays?

Of course we do!  In fact, I have several.  One large nativity that my SIL from Utah gave us several years ago and several smaller ones I've collected as well.  I even have a very special Christmas ornament that I display with our other nativities and not on our tree from a dear friend that lost her fight with breast cancer.  She gave the ornament to me one year as a gift.  It spells out the word Christmas and in the letter "C" is a nativity scene.  I wish I knew where she found it because it is one of my favorite things to get our each year.  More importantly, I wish we still had my friend here with us.  Kyle displays all of his nativities too.  It's fun to collect them and display them.  One of these years I want to add this nativity to my collection...Isn't it cute??

Love it!!

Here are a few other things I love about Christmas...

The wonderful music you hear wherever you the car, in the stores, at church, in our home from time to time.  

The scents of apple spice, baked cinnamon, bread, cookies and other goodies in the house.  

The lights throughout the house and outside.  I could sit for hours in December just looking at the lights.  

The nativities that have become a part of our December each year now for twenty-eight years.  

Snow, snow, snow.  Oh wait!  We don't have snow here in Arizona, but I can dream about a white Christmas.  

Getting together with family and friends, old and new in our home and at others.  

The smells from the kitchen and having friends and sharing those cooking moments with my children.  

Shopping for weeks and months in advance for the perfect gift for the people I love the most.  (I have a friend that was done shopping back in September/October.  I wish I could be that person/)  

The kindness and goodness that comes out in most everyone for the season and the awareness and recognition of just how blessed we really are. 

 Hot chocolate and whipped cream and bread and treats brought by friends.

  Memories of perfect Christmases past.  

The compelling need that most everyone feels to reach out to others who have less or different. 

 Hearing the Christmas music played during our special Sacrament meeting in December.  

Long chats with my husband in front of the tree at night. 
Watching the kids study the gifts under the tree, hearing their conversations and anticipation, seeing their faces on Christmas morning as it all comes to pass.

  The acknowledgement of the birth and beginning of life of the greatest man to ever walk the earth, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  

What do you love about Christmas? 
I hope your Christmas is shaping up to be what you want it to be and that you have the Christmas spirit in your home.  Take care my friends and we will talk again soon.  

From the Missionary:

Curtis sent us this message....
I'm staying in Darien and getting Elder Nutall as my new companion.  He was one of my roommates in the Bronx.  He's really cool.  It's just weird because he use to be a Spanish speaking missionary, but he is changing to English.  

Quote of the Day:

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