Tastes of Christmas

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One of the things we always did as a kid was bake cookies for Christmas. I can remember sitting at the kitchen table unwrapping what seemed like countless Hershey’s Kisses for Peanut Butter Blossoms and making endless rounds of cookies.

In reality, we probably only made a batch or two of each type, but it felt like we made a ton.

Now I know that I can make cookies any time of the year, but I always make a batch or two of our favorites this time of the year, and it doesn’t seem like the holidays without them.

Baking with a baby is tricky, but I managed to get three types of cookies made just in time for a small Christmas gathering.

I made M&M cookies (which, of course, HAVE to be made with red and green Christmas M&Ms), Peanut Butter Blossoms, and chocolate chip cookies.

If anyone out there has a stellar chocolate chip cookie recipe, please let me know. They are one of those things that no matter how many times I make them, I’m never really pleased with the outcome. They always tend to spread and come out flat.

The Fellow really enjoys Oatmeal Scotchies, and I may try to work a batch in before Christmas.

If I had more time and was having a larger gathering, I’d make some white chocolate gingerbread cookies. They’re one of my favorites. They’re easy to work up. I get to use some of the dozens of cookie cutters I – for some reason – own, and once dipped in white chocolate look so appealing. They also really taste like Christmas with all of the warm spices.

What are your family’s favorite Christmas dessert recipes? What tastes like Christmas to you? Let me know in the comments below!

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Christmas Tree Souvenirs

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It’s that time of the year again! Time to decorate the Christmas tree.

A new tree is something that’s been on my list for a year or two now, and will probably stay on that list for another year or so. Eventually, I’d like a taller tree as the one we have now is pretty short. We have it up on a crate for some height.

What I do love about our tree is the decorations.

It’s something that I borrowed from my mother when The Fellow and I got together – getting ornaments as souvenirs when we travel. Her tree is huge, and now it’s becoming hard to squeeze in any more ornaments!

They’re the perfect way to bring back memories from vacations and not clutter the house.

They’re small, and you can find some really neat ones. Then, once a year, you have this wonderful road map of your lives together.

We have a Canadian flag ornament from when we got engaged, a Guinness cup from our honeymoon, and this year we are also adding a few different ornaments for Little Bit’s first Christmas.

One of my favorite things to do is to get a clear ornament from the Dollar Tree and fill it myself. That way you can make your own keepsakes. For example, one of Little Bit’s ornaments has one of her newborn hats and a hospital band.

I love seeing how far we’ve come, and eventually it will be as full as my parents!

What are your favorite ornaments and the stories that go with them? I’d love to hear about them!

Nina Mary Jane

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For those of you who know me in real life, you will likely have heard this, for those of you who don’t, one of the fun facts about me is that I once raised a mountain goat – inside.

One year my brother went hunting on a friend’s farm. Up on this mountain are a bunch of mountain goats. While wandering the trails, they found a little kid which had been abandoned by its mother. My brother tucked the sad, little thing down in his coveralls to keep it warm and brought her home to my mother and me.

At the time, we were in the middle of building my parent’s house and all that there was inside was a concrete floor. Since we didn’t have any outbuildings and it was winter, we decided we would keep her inside!

We named her Nina Mary Jane, and she was the sweetest little thing. We would give her baths in the kitchen sink, and she would sit and watch TV with us all wrapped up in a towel. Kids are absolutely adorable, how they jump and play, and she was no exception. She had a little pen in the common area, but we would also let her out and she’d run along the top of the couch and jump off and just hop everywhere!

She still lives down at my folks’ house (outside), and we love her!

My mother has actually written a children’s book with Nina as the main character, and I did the illustrations.

It’s a sweet book for ages 2-5 and teaches children opposites by following Nina around the farm.

We’re hoping to have it published, so that everyone can experience the adorableness that is that fluffy little goat!

Escanaba in da Moonlight

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Y’all, it’s deer season!

That means it’s time for a bizarre family tradition.

Every year at the beginning of deer season, our family hosts a showing of one of my father’s favorite movies – Escanaba in da Moonlight.

Now, if you’re racking your brain and coming up blank, it’s fine. Most of you will have never heard of it before, and for good reason.

Escanaba is a movie written, starred in and directed by Jeff Daniels. It’s pretty location specific too – the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and that’s basically the only place that people have heard of it.

However, somehow my father caught wind of it and thought it was the best thing since Albert Sodie’s sweet sap whiskey.

I really can’t share much about the movie; you really need to experience it, but I will share the IMDB synopsis which about sums it up: A family of hunters in Michigan deals with the eldest son (Jeff Daniels) who has never shot his own buck.

You should also know that Escanaba in da Moonlight is pretty heavy on the UP slang and dialect, which if you’re not expecting it (or aren’t good with accents) can be a bit hard to follow.

It started with just our family and now each year we have some friends over for the annual viewing. It’s kinda like a redneck Rocky Horror Picture Show night. We wear the same style of hats as Reuben does in the film, eat the same foods, and have a great time!

It’s especially fun when we have (to use a RHPS term) virgins with us who have never experienced the film before. Their reactions are priceless. For those of us who can quote whole chunks of the movie, it’s fun to revisit and find some other amusing line or background scene that we’ve missed before. This year I surprised my father by bringing along the littlest Yooper in a full out Reuben costume! Her Pawpaw was tickled!

It was such a fun night and a great way to send the guys off to deer camp.

If you’re looking for a unique comedy to watch, ( **Full disclosure, it’s occasionally a bit coarse and definitely bizarre. ) you should check out Escanaba in da Moonlight!

Strangers’ Support

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Since Little Bit arrived, I haven’t strayed much from the house. I’ve only gone out with her by myself maybe 3 or 4 times to someplace that wasn’t a doctor’s office. In today’s world of Instacart and Amazon Prime, I can get away with staying home mostly.

The other day though I needed to go to Staples to have some papers printed for a meeting and had to take Little Bit with me.

She hates being put in or taken out of the car seat She does okay when we have her in the car, but only if it’s running. You also only really get one stop. If you have to put her back into the car seat, she’s just going to scream.

So in an attempt to make a quick run in and out, I left her in the car seat while I went in to get my papers printed.

I was trying to type the pin into the printer, juggle my phone with the number on it, and swing her car seat so she wouldn’t start screaming. I could hear the whimpering starting, when the lady at the next printer looked over at me struggling and asked, “Would you like me to swing your baby while you do that?”

I was so grateful, and I let her. She stood right next to me and swung the carrier while I hurried up and got my papers printed. Then she handed her back to me and said, “In case you need to hear it, you’re a great mom and you’re doing everything right.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this. A few other women have told me this, not because they know me or know that I’m trying so hard, but because at some point they needed to hear those words and they know how much they mean. They want to make sure that another mother struggling to be everything and do everything and make sure that everything is okay gives themselves a little grace. And I love it.

I love that people reach out to uplift and help other people. It’s a beautiful human experience, and I’m so grateful for each one of the women who have reached out to me to reassure me as a new mama that I’m doing my best and my little girl is going to be okay.

That’s what life is for. To help and comfort. They’re doing it right, and I love them for it.

Lullabies

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I’ve mentioned a few times here that I love sad songs. The sadder or more melancholy the better!

However, I didn’t realize that ALL I knew were sad songs until the baby was crying, and I was racking my brain for a song to soothe her.

You really can’t sing terribly sad songs to an infant. They’re just so sweet and fresh and perfect; it feels so wrong!

So, after the one or two lullabies I know, I’ve been singing to Little Bit the only not-sad songs that I know all of the words to which are ones that I learned in 4-H.

My favorite song to sing her and one that has become one of our regular lullabies is “Tell Me Why.”

This has always been one of my favorites, and I love it so much more now as a lullaby.

Tell me why the stars do shine,
Tell me why the ivy twines,
Tell me why the oceans blue,
And I will tell you just why I love you.

Because God made the stars to shine,
Because God made the ivy twine,
Because God made the oceans blue,
Because God made you, that’s why I love you.

I do believe that God above
Created you for me to love.
He picked you out from all the rest
Because God made you, I love you best.

I’ve also been listening to the national 4-H girls’ song “Dreaming” a ton since Little Bit’s arrival.

What non-traditional lullabies did you sing with your little ones? Let me know in the comments!

Fall Snow

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We got a little pre-winter treat of some snow flurries this week! I took Little Bit out to see her first snow. (She has this adorable, super fuzzy teddy bear coat thing that we joke she looks like an Ewok in.) She wasn’t terribly impressed by the wet, white, falling things.

I, on the other hand, was so excited!

For someone who didn’t Christmas for nearly a decade, I’ve been getting more and more into the holidays the last few years, and this year I’m SO excited for Christmas!

I want to do all of the Christmas things with Little Bit, although I know she won’t remember it.

I can’t wait to watch Christmas movies, hang her stocking, take her to see Santa, wrap her presents, and enjoy our first snowy day snuggled up.

You know how you wake up to the peaceful quiet of the world on a snow day? You pull back the curtain to see everything clean and clear.

I’m a bit like Lorelie Gilmore when it comes to snow, and I can’t wait to share those magical moments with Little Bit!

What about you? Love snow or hate it? Let me know!

Pumpkin Dessert

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It’s the height of pumpkin spice season, and I’m loving it. All things pumpkin at this time of year makes me happy.

When I was in elementary school, we always had a Thanksgiving feast celebration in November. We would bring in ingredients and make our dishes at school together. When I was in fourth grade, we had a delicious pumpkin dessert. It was such a hit that I brought the recipe home, and it’s been in my mother’s recipe box every since.

Recently, my parents were invited to a pumpkin-carving party. She decided to pull out the old recipe one more time. Again, it was a hit with a new crowd.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and yummy recipe for upcoming harvest parties, here it is . . .

There are 3 layers.

Bottom layer –

1 package dry yellow cake mix (reserve 1 cup for later) 1/2 cup softened butter or margarine 1 egg

Mix together and spread on the bottom of a 13 x 9 lightly greased/sprayed cake pan.

Middle layer

1 can Libby pumpkin pie mix 2 eggs 2/3 cups milk

Mix together and spoon on top of bottom layer.

Top layer

1 cup reserved cake mix 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup softened butter or margarine 1 tsp. cinnamon

Mix until crumbly and sprinkle over middle layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 or until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Little Bit Update

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It’s been a whirlwind of a month. I can’t believe that October is over!

Since we brought Little Bit home, things have been more than a little bit stressful. They want babies to be back to their birth weight by the two-week mark, and we just couldn’t get Little Bit back there.

She was jaundiced which we knew was contributing to the weight issue, but both the midwives and the pediatrician didn’t think it looked that severe until we got her bilirubin levels tested

We made an urgent trip to the hospital (on my birthday) for an overnight stay where she had phototherapy and got her levels more where they should be.

Finally, her weight started to increase and the doc said she’s on the right track. We’re so relieved!

I wanted to thank everyone who has reached out and offered their good wishes and support in regards to Little Bit’s arrival. We appreciate you all!

What I’m Listening to Wednesday: The Music Man

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You know how you just get a song stuck in your head and wind up listening to it on repeat?

I’ve had Marian the Librarian from the original 1962 movie, The Music Man, stuck in my head for two weeks now.

As much as I love Kristen Chenowith, her Marian in the 2003 version doesn’t make up for Matthew Broderick’s Harold Hill. Nothing compares to Robert Preston. His inflection and mannerisms absolutely make the character.

If you’ve never seen it, you really should. This movie musical is a classic! I love the entire thing although Marian the Librarian is the song that typically gets stuck in my head.

Harold Hill:

What can I say, my dear, to catch your ear I love you madly, madly
Madam Librarian…Marian

Heaven help us if the library caught on fire
And the Volunteer Hose Brigademen. Had to whisper the news to Marian…Madam Librarian

What can I say, my dear, to make it clear I need you badly, badly,
Madam Librarian…Marian

If I stumbled and I busted my what-you-may-call-it
I could lie on your floor unnoticed’
Till my body had turned to carrion…Madam Librarian.

Now in the moonlight, a man could sing it
In the moonlight
And a fellow would know that his darling
Had heard ev’ry word of his song
With the moonlight helping along.

But when I try in here to tell you, dear
I love you madly, madly,
Madam Librarian…Marian!


It’s a long lost cause I can never win
For the civilized world accepts as unforgivable sin
Any talking out loud with any librarian
Such as Marian…Madam Librarian.