Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My home made Advent Calendar

Tomorrow is December 1 and for those of you who use an advent calendar, tomorrow would be the day that you would open the first door. When I was young, we always had an advent calendar that was full of glitter and had a pretty picture on it, sometimes Santa and his sleigh, sometimes Jesus in the manger. Behind each door there would be a cute little picture having something to do with Christmas. My mom always hung it on a window so the light would shine through the little windows as I opened them.
When my girls were little, we had that same kind of advent calendar until we discovered the ones with chocolate behind the little doors. These sweet ones quickly took over the plain ones.
Well, last year, while reading a favorite blog I read about an advent calendar that emphasized sharing with others as one got ready for Christmas. It took the emphasis off of the secular part of Christmas and put it back to where it belonged on Jesus and his birthday and to helping others.
There idea used small blocks for the numbers, but I used some of my scrapbook materials and created this advent calendar for Tizita. Each day she will turn over one of the numbers and follow the instructions on the back. Some days she will listen to the Christmas story from the Bible, some days she will make a present for someone and give it anonymously to them, some days she will sing Christmas carols with her family, some days she will help a neighbor with a chore, some days she will donate a toy to a needy child, donate food to a food pantry, or donate some of her clothing to St. Vinney's, one day she will say a prayer for our servicemen and send a letter of thanks to a veteran.
I did get many of the general ideas from the other blog, but I added some of my own ideas, too. I thought it was something that Courtney and Paul would like because of the emphasis it puts on helping others and spreading Christmas cheer. As Tiz turns over each number, she will find a sticker on the other side which will tell her what her task is for that day.

On the flip side of number 1 she will find holly and an ornament which tells her to put up some decorations in or outside of her house. On number 2 there is a Bible and on that day she will listen to her mama or papa read the Christmas story from the Bible.

My mom still bought her the traditional chocolate calendar and Courtney says she will be rewarded with one of those if she has performed the task of the day.

I am hoping that Tiz and Courtney and Paul will enjoy the calendar and use it for many years to come.

Happy Advent to all of you reading this. Make your hearts ready for the Savior's birth.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A New Toy for John

When John and I were first married, we purchased a nice camera. Back in those days you had to use film and get it developed, imagine... But anyway, John had quite a photographer's eye and he enjoyed taking pictures. He was very seldom on any of the photos since I could not use the camera, too fancy for me. When that camera broke, we chose not to fix it and instead bought an inexpensive point and shoot. I began to take on the role of photographer and ten cheap cameras later, some film, some digital, I asked John if he would be interested in purchasing another "nice" camera and taking up his hobby again. He said, "Yes," and the rest is history. Here he is with his new toy. It has two really cool lenses and lots of fun settings. He is enjoying the task of learning how to operate the new toy and has decided he did, indeed miss the old fancy camera. It is actually a gift from his dad, since he used some money given to us by Jack, so thanks, Jack for the wonderful gift.
I was quickly reminded of my job of holding the lens cap. Funny how things that I thought were long forgotten come back. I have again become holder of the lens as he switches them out.

We took a long walk on Saturday with the new camera in hand. John enjoyed taking lots of shots along the way. Here we are in Oak Hill Cemetery. Notice that he has a beautiful model for his photos.

We found this marriage proposal on two trees on Tivoli Island. It says, "Ash, will you marry me?" Not sure if she said, "Yes." Hope so.

The beautiful model again.

Check out this little branch that looks like a heart. We were pleased with how nicely the camera focused on this heart.

And, finally, look at this great water shot by the dam.

All in all, it was a great photography walk. I know we are both going to enjoy this new hobby, me as the lens holder and model and John behind the camera.

Merry Christmas from Heaven

As you know, John's mom died this past September. Yesterday, John's sister gave us a gift that MaryAnn had given her at least five years ago to give to us at Christmas of the year she died.
The gift was beautifully wrapped just the way that all of MaryAnn's gifts for us were wrapped. John and I could hardly wait to open it, wondering what she had wanted us to have.
Well, here is what we found!

What a wonderful reminder of her love and the fact that she will be with us as we celebrate Christmas this year in spirit as she enjoys the holiday in the best place ever!

We will miss her this Christmas, but we will have this beautiful reminder of her with us forever!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving part dos

We just celebrated our second Thanksgiving of the season. This one was on the actual day of Thanksgiving and included no turkey, stuffing, or pumpkin pie. It was a great two day celebration full of family, friends, and fun. I think we just may have found a new tradition for this otherwise boring holiday. Courtney, Paul, and Tizita arrived late on Tuesday night so we could be up and ready for a play date with Sinai and Aquila on Wednesday. Courtney and I took the three girls to Flabbergast in Sussex. Our first visit to the place and it will not be our last. The girls had a blast.

There were huge inflatables with giant slides, big bouncy houses, an arcade area, and an indoor playland. It was a kid's dreamland. Courtney and I could just sit back and let them run and play.

I think the three of them climbed up this huge slide no less than thirty times. All three of these girls are made up of the same spunk. They are tough little ladies that do not stop. They play hard and they do not whine and complain which made for a nice day for Courtney and I, too.

We did stop for a short lunch break. Flabbergast had a very nice snack bar with pizza, hot dogs, nachos, and all the usual semi healthy treats as well as a few good choices. The girls chose to take the semi healthy route as did Courtney and I.

After dropping the twins off at their home, we went to On the Rock for our pre Thanksgiving beers and dinner.

Here are the lovely ladies of Thanksgiving eve.

There was a small dance off between Alissa and Tizita.

Paul ordered the All you can eat chicken and he got all he could eat! Actually this is what he got when he asked for a second helping. It took at least 15 minutes, I think they had to go out and kill the chicken.

Alissa made her big announcement about landing the job in Peoria, so as of December 19, she will be a FIB who still bleeds green and gold. We are so excited for both her and Nathan who can now get on with their lives together. And we look forward to many weekends in Bloomington, a city we learned to love while Alissa was in school there.

Grunkle Kev has stepped into his role nicely. He now takes Tizita to the machines in the bar just like I used to do with Mallory when she was little. Some things never change, you just switch positions in the game.

On Sunday, we all went to church together. Then we enjoyed our bbq pork and beef sandwiches along with Alissa's signature coleslaw, lemon jello which resembles a big bowl of butter, taco dip, and undercooked bars for dessert. It was a meal for which to be thankful!

Tizita and Uncle Cheddah had to get some quality snuggle time in before everyone left for home. Those two have quite the thing going. Tiz loves her some Cheddah!

Note to Natnael: Today we are so thankful for the nannies who are loving on you and taking care of you until your mama, papa, and sister can bring you home. You are always in our thoughts and our hearts. When you get home, we will be taking you to Flabbergast because I have a feeling you will love it! God bless you with good health and happy times until you are home with all of us.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our family Thanksgiving celebration

This was our second annual early Thanksgiving celebration in Oshkosh. Courtney takes part in a holiday craft show on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, so last year we decided to have our family Thanksgiving after her show. It worked so well and we all enjoyed it so now we hope to make it an annual event. It also allows us to have a Thanksgiving even when the Van Aukens or the Hunters travel to other places for the actual Thanksgiving Day. Tizita certainly enjoyed hanging out with Lissa and Nathan. They participated in much foolishness over the weekend.

Tizita just could not wait to have a few cinnamon donuts, so she climbed up on the cupboard and helped herself to a few before dinner. The evidence was all over her face.

I enjoyed a pedicure courtesy of Tizita. Notice that Alissa has the important job of stocking the fridge with the beer.

Alissa had the pleasure of a manicure, too.

We used this very special tablecloth for our dinner. This is the tablecloth that people decorated at our Celebration before Tizita came home. It was wonderful to read all the messages again. What a blessing Tizita has been in our lives, what a reason to be thankful.

Here Tizita is writing a message for Natnael on the tablecloth, too.

Our little family all ready to eat the feast together.

Our thanksgiving dinner is always the same. We like it simple and easy. We have the turkey, of course, boxed mashed potatoes which we all prefer to real ones, boxed stuffing, canned corn, our only and preferred veggie, canned gravy, and cranberries. It just doesn't get any tastier or easier than this meal.

Tiz did not know what to do with this big drumstick.

We had the most amazing desserts brought by Alissa and Nathan from Simma's bakery. This is just a sampling of the yummy treats. We all enjoyed those sweets.

After John and I went to bed, there was some type of dance party going on and my two sons in law posed for this picture. I am not sure what was going on here, but I sure am glad they get along so well.

Sharing a brownie with Uncle Cheddah before he and Alissa head out on Sunday afternoon.

Paul and John enjoy the Packer game together. It was a sloppy game, but they did pull out a victory.

Tizita and I set up her Fisher Price Nativity figures which she gets out each Christmas.

It was a most perfect family Thanksgiving celebration. We all have much for which to be thankful.

Note to Natnael - we talked about you often at our Thanksgiving celebration. We miss having you here with us and we pray the wait will be short. We do know that next year you will be here eating turkey with us and our family will be complete because you will be here with us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Big Sister, Little Brother

A few weeks ago, I found this sweet "Big Sister" shirt on a website called Keisha's Kids which has many items specific to African American kids. When it arrived I was so excited with it. There are such cute little embellishments on it like the cute pink polka dotted ribbon. I started to think that maybe Natnael needed a "Little Brother" shirt from the same site, so today that shirt arrived. This time it is embellished with a red train button. So cute.

I cannot wait to see both of my grandchildren in these awesome shirts. I am thinking they can take them along to Ethiopia when they bring Natnael home and he and Tizita can wear them together for the first time! What a moment that will be!

I also have Christmas items bought and wrapped for Natnael. I know he will not be here to open them, but his big sister will be happy to do the honor and I wanted him to be a part of our celebration because he will certainly be on our minds and he is already in our hearts.

Friday, November 11, 2011

John's Mom's Cheese cake

Here is the recipe that I found in John's mom's collection of recipes. It is a cheese cake recipe that MaryAnn made for many occasions. It was one of John's favorites, I, on the other hand, do not enjoy cheese cake unless it includes lots of chocolate or other goodies.
Anyway, I decided to attempt to make the cheese cake for John's dad's birthday. My first challenge was to find dried cottage cheese. I had never even heard of it, much less know where to find it. I googled it and that was not much help.
In the end, I located it at Festival Foods in Oshkosh. After finding the dried cottage cheese I was ready to give it a whirl. Started with some eggs, sugar, lemon, and a little salt. Easy enough so far.

Here is the whipping cream and the dried cottage cheese which gets added next.

The recipe said nothing about doing anything to the cottage cheese, so I just added it as is, but I am thinking that maybe I should have blended it up or something to get rid of the chunks. I am anxious to see what John has to say about the texture.

You can see how chunky it is with the cottage cheese and cream just added.

Here is the cheese cake as I put it in the oven. No turning back now. Recipe said bake it for one hour at 350. At this point I have no clue as to how it should look or how to judge when it is done.

And I just accidentally deleted my last photo of the finished product. It came out to the pan without incident. It looks okay, so I will have to update when John tries it for me. That will decide if it will be good enough to take to John's dad tomorrow.

My biggest advice here is to ask people about their recipes before it is too late. I cannot recreate my Grandma's chicken and dumpling soup or her schaumtorte no matter how hard I attempt it because her recipes are very vague. I am hoping that MaryAnn did not leave any important details out of her recipe or John may be disappointed when he tries the cake.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Celebrating my mom's 83rd birthday

We just got back from a wonderful weekend in Oshkosh celebrating my mom's 83rd birthday. This is our fourth year celebrating in Oshkosh and each year seems to bring its own unique memories. This one, like the others was filled with laughs, love, and lots of food and drink. Here is the birthday girl with her large piece of birthday cake at Beckett's. And yes, it was every bit as good as it looked! We all shared it.

We had lunch at the Van Auken's, had cake, and opened presents before heading out to dinner at Beckett's. Here are Vikki and Kev with mom.

And John and I with mom.

Here she is with her three granddaughters, Alissa, Mallory, and Courtney and her sweet little great granddaughter, Tizita.

Here is the very pretty and yummy cake that courtesy of the Van Aukens. The large flaming candle was one of many treasures we found at John's mom's. I know she was happy looking down on us and seeing how much we enjoyed that candle. It was quite the fire and then it all opened up into a big flower.

Before dinner, the girls under the direction of Tizita all took a "nap" in Tizita's bed. I don't think much sleeping went on, but there sure were lots of laughs. Even Vikki joined in on the craziness.

Kev and me with mom.

Tiz and I having so much fun during dinner.

Courtney was not able to join us for dinner because she was part of the Gallery Art walk. She was the featured artist at one of the stores. Here is the Van Auken family in front of her display.

Kev, Vikki, mom, John, me, and Tizita stayed at a hotel. Here is Tizita taking care of the luggage for us.

It was indeed a very fun celebration. We are blessed to have mom still be so healthy and active in our lives. We look forward to many more birthday celebrations with her.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Related Posts with Thumbnails