Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Preparing our Advent space

Yes, we're one of those Catholic families that put their Christmas decorations up seasonally instead of liturgically.


This year I had nothing to do with it, though. Right after Thanksgiving dinner all four boys got out all our decorations and began putting them up. I kind of watched in wonder as they fussed over the tree decorations, the Nativity figurines, the stockings and such. They know just where everything goes and the history behind our little family treasures. It was nice, actually, not to have to do all the work myself...they've taken over, and so I just lit my favorite scented candles, made a cup of hot tea, and watched from the sidelines as these young men filled our home with lights and traditions.

I wonder if they'll still be so eager when it comes time to take it all down?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Congratulations John Paul!

On this first Sunday of Advent, our sweet John Paul received his
First Holy Communion!

It was truly the most perfect day~
After receiving and going back to our pew, John Paul leaned into me and said, "I'm so happy!" and he kept that happiness in his little heart the whole day long.
We had a simple lunch at the house and Nana & Popo were able to join us as well as our dearest Father Gabriel.

So much to be thankful for and what a wonderful way to begin Advent!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Meatless Fridays

Yeah, I know we're all stuffed to the gills with Thanksgiving dinner so I thought I'd send out a wonderful side dish to eat with your leftover veggies. This recipe is great for me and my new low carb lifestyle (since being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes). It's all the comfort with none of the guilt! I'll be enjoying this with some leftover collard greens and roasted brussell sprouts. This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

Mashed Cauliflower
(a.k.a. Fauxtatoes)

1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place cauliflower florets and peeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Coat in 1-2 TBS. of olive oil and roast at 400 degrees until fork tender (about 25-30 minutes). When cauliflower and garlic is cooled to the touch, put into a food processor and add sour cream, salt, and pepper. Process until thick and creamy like potatoes and enjoy!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Maybe a big slice of pumpkin pie will get these guys to smile!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Get a whiff of this!

I'm so thankful to have today and tomorrow off from work! I'm spending the better part of the day in the kitchen preparing our Thanksgiving dinner for tomorrow. While getting spices out of the pantry, I thought a nice simmering pot of holiday smells would get us in the mood to make dressing and pies~

A handful of cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemon, and apple peels thrown into a pot of simmering water makes the house smell like everything that is good and comforting about the holidays.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My dog is nuts!

Abby is nuts for nuts!
Pecans in particular. Any given day you can see her laying out back chomping on pecans....shells and all!
This is how she stalks me when I'm cracking nuts.
It's a little freaky!

But of course, every now and then I give in and give her one.

They taste so much better without the shells, don't they Abbs?

Monday, November 22, 2010

A history lesson... Creamer style!

Saturday we headed to Hempstead for an annual Civil War reenactment
(You can find more info. HERE).
I'm usually not into such things, but Doug and the boys were really excited and I didn't want to spend a minute away from them this weekend, so I tagged along. I'm really glad I did! The trip was very educational for all of us and we had a great time, too.

I really loved the camp sites.
They were true working camps and everything in them was authentic.

It was really amazing to see how these folks lived.
I think it was a real eye opener for the boys!

The smell of the campfires and chicken and dumplings cooking over an open flame was right up my alley! I think I could rough it here for a week or so.

The battle was just amazing. There was a narrator over a loudspeaker who described everything that was going on. It really helped us to understand how these battles took place.

Kyle was shocked to see how they "took turns" shooting at each other. One line loads and fires at the other. The dead and injured fall, then the line advances and takes their turn to shoot. When the lines get close enough then it's hand to hand combat with bayonets.

The boys were also shocked to learn that young men their ages were among the soldiers there. This dedication to God, country, and willingness to die for what you believe is right is so lacking in so many Americans to day (despite age) and makes me very ashamed of what we've become today. I'm very thankful to these early Americans for their sacrifice and I hope to instill such a love for God and country in our boys.
When the battle was over we strolled through the vendor markets. There was homemade root beer, lemonade, ice cream, and candies.

A medical tent where the war injured were treated (I'll spare you the gory pictures), music from the 1860's, and blacksmith demonstrations:

They also had demonstrations on soap, broom, and furniture making.
And fiber arts such as weaving, spinning, quilting, and sewing:

The handmade clothing was my favorite.
Oh how I wish I had a little girl...

I totally squealed in delight when I came across these bonnets!

And yes, I DID buy one!

Outside "The Ladies Parlor" the ladies of the day were having a meeting complete with tea and cookies. Oh how I wanted to sit with them and discuss the topics of the day....and wear one of those FABULOUS dresses!

Instead, the boys wanted to hit the food carts. If you've ever wanted to know what a 'Tater Twister' was, here it is just seconds before it was completely devoured!

They even had the original 'General Lee' from the show 'Dukes of Hazard'. I made the boys stand in front of it for a picture even though they had no idea what it was. You see, I was a child of the 70's and I totally had a thing for Bo & Luke Duke!

We came home smelling like campfires and gunpowder and were completely exhausted! It was really a lot of fun and led to some great discussions on the way home about the true cause of the War Between the States and what it means to be true to yourself and country. I'm really hoping to make this an annual event in our family.

Maybe next year we'll see you there!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm working (12 hours!) today then I will have off a wonderful three day weekend before holiday crunch time. I'm ditching the computer and making the most of our family time together. Will be back Monday to tell you about all of our adventures over the weekend!

See ya next week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kale chips, who knew?

Who knew they could be so GOOD?
I've seen many food bloggers talk about kale chips and thought I'd give it a try. I clipped a bunch of kale from the garden, washed and dried it.

Remove the hard stems and chop into bite sized pieces. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil, some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper over the kale and toss to coat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

The "chips" come out crispy and very flavorful, not at all what I thought they would taste like!

Makes me wish I had grown more kale this year!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Big "D"

For a while now I've been feeling rotten and just last week I found out why...

Type 2 Diabetes

Yeah, it sucks!

But my ever optimistic husband says it's a blessing in disguise. Now we know why I was feeling so bad and can now do something about it! I have all my testing supplies and medication, just not sure on the motivation to change my ways!

I've really brought this all on myself, let's face it...
In my family you ate when you were happy and you ate when you were sad and then you ate in between. A good meal solved all the world's problems! And as I've aged (and had babies) my weight has steadily gone up and up and up. I also HATE to exercise. No, seriously, I'd rather chew broken glass than walk around the block once! And now it has all caught up to me in the form of this disease.

I should be very thankful it had not advanced to Type 1. Type 2 can be curable with lifestyle changes. I'm also thankful for my precious family. Doug and the boys have resolved to go along with the diet changes with me. They're foregoing their love of chips, sugar, bread, and most other refined carbs because of their love for me. Well, except for John Paul, that boy is a chip junkie! But he promises that if he eats something that I can't it doesn't mean he doesn't love me...it just means he REALLY loves chips!

Yeah, I'm truly blessed!

So please say a prayer for us as we make this transition to a new lifestyle. Working nights, trying to figure out when to test, when to eat, when to take meds will be a new adventure for me! Hopefully by this time next year I'll be a whole new (and healthier) woman. I'm giving myself a year to get completely healthy. I didn't gain this weight overnight and I certainly won't lose it overnight either.

I'm off to walk around the block now...

unless you know of where I can find a pile of broken glass to chew!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Meatless Fridays

I guess I'm on a soup kick right now due to the cooler (and rainy!) weather. In the past, Doug wasn't much of an onion fan so the only time I got to enjoy this soup was at La Madeline's or Jason's Deli. He's finally come around to seeing the health benefits of eating onion during the winter (boosts immunity and helps to stave off colds) so hopefully this goodie will be a regular around here!
This week's Meatless Friday meal is:

French Onion Soup
(Traditionally French onion soup is made with beef broth, this is a vegetarian version.)

2 quarts vegetable broth, homemade or from the store
2 pounds yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced (about 6-7 medium size, no need to be too precise)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 teaspoons sugar
Salt & pepper
Loaf of French bread cut in nice thick slices
1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded or sliced

Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onions to the hot pot and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions should become soft but not yet browned. Add the sugar, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking for about 20 minutes. Stir frequently and lower the heat if necessary to avoid burning the onions. They should be golden brown and soft. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. (The onions should be fairly sweet at this point.) Add the garlic and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 15 minutes. You can keep the soup warm on the stove until ready to broil and serve, or allow it to cool and keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
When ready to serve, heat the broiler and ladle the soup into individual oven-safe bowls. Top each bowl with a layer of bread, trimming slices if necessary to cover the entire surface. Cover the bread with the cheese. Heat under the broiler until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Giving Thanks Tree

We made a little centerpiece for the table this month. I call it the Giving Thanks tree. Little paper leaves adorn sticks from the yard. Each leaf is labeled with something we are thankful for.

Some of the things the kids wrote really warmed my heart...

Others, not so much!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bees wax candles

I've had lots of fun using up the pounds of beeswax Doug got for me from the bee keepers up the road. So far I've made homemade eucalyptus rub and lip balms. I've always wanted to make my own hand dipped candles so I melted some of the wax and gave it a try...
It is NOT as simple as it appears!

I think it's just a matter of not having the right equipment. My container for dipping was not very deep so my candles came out looking more like the letter "J" than long tapers! They have some wonderful candle making supplies at Hob Lob so I think I'll print up a coupon and get what I need.
I MUST have homemade beeswax candles for our Advent wreath this year!

Since the dipping turned out to be a bust, I cut some cotton wicks and "glued" them with a dot of wax to the bottoms of some candle holders I had. I tied up the loose ends so that the wick was straight and then poured in the hot beeswax.

They set up perfectly and smelled like honey. The wax was not refined, only strained through a sieve, and it still had bits of honey and bee "stuff" in it. I think that's what made them feel so silky and smell so rich!

Beeswax candles are smokeless, drip less, and they last much longer than paraffin based candles.

All I know is that I loved making these candles and am looking forward to many hours cuddled up with Doug and the boys enjoying their warm, cozy glow.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall garden update

Our fall garden is doing surprisingly well despite all the neglect!
This is the little jewel of the garden, it's one of a whopping two lemons on my Meyer lemon tree. A Meyer lemon is a hybrid between a lemon and orange tree. The lemons are not as tart a traditional lemons and are supposed to be delicious. I have a gallon pitcher of sweet tea with this one's name written all over it! I'm hoping for a more bountiful production next year and would like to make some lemon curd for the holidays.
Here's my brassica patch.
Cabbage, broccoli, and brussell spouts...

And the greens patch with collards, kale, and kohlrabi that is just now sprouting.

The leeks and spinach are doing well. Leeks grow extremely slow! We won't be able to harvest these until the spring.

Then there's the lettuce patch (that I've had to replant TWICE...don't ask!), swiss chard, bok choi, chives, and turnips.

This year JP and Dan have really enjoyed picking pecans and we've got a whole bucket load to shell for holiday baking!

I really love fall gardening! The garden pretty much takes care of itself with only a little weeding and watering needed. Bugs are at a minimum as well. I feel so thankful to live here in south Texas and enjoy year round gardening...our food budget and my mental health enjoy it too!