Monday, December 28, 2015


We had a very merry Christmas and hope you did too.  Can I just say, it is really difficult to shop for five kids AND keep it all hidden until Christmas!  But it's fun and we had a wonderful Christmas.  It is such a blessing to have little ones about you and hear their excitement!  We are so thankful for family.  We always let our kids get up whenever and look in their stockings without us.  So we woke up to the wonderful gasps of excitement and giddy laughter.  It's so fun to hear their joyful whispers as they tried to contain their excitement and not wake us.  Charlie was the cutest guy of all.
All the older boys did chores to earn money to buy gifts for their siblings and their parents too.  They did a fantastic job and were very thoughtful.  For example, Dallas knows Pat loves Count Chocula cereal so he waited until it went on sale after Halloween and bought him three boxes for Christmas.  Sam and Evan got things that were perfect for their siblings too.  I was impressed!
Here's Charles being silly and enjoying his tent and dinosaur puzzle.

...and his rescue set.
Sam and Evan constructing Star Wars Lego sets Evan got.  These guys both got new jackets too.
Dallas constructing his new tent for campouts.
Daisy and her princesses.
Mexican Train Dominoes!
Daisy got some boots that I'm totally in love with.
Sam's electricity set.
Charlie opening up his puzzle and wearing the coat he just got.  I love opening up gifts one at a time.  Everyone is so interested in everything!

Sam and Dallas congratulating Evan on getting a frisbee.

D's binoculars. He also got a video game and a BB gun that feels like a real handgun.  He's the only one we can trust to give something like that too.
Matching game.
Cat puzzle.  She got some earring stickers and cute inexpensive jewelry too.  It's so fun having a girl!
 This was one of our favorite gifts we got from Tractor Supply.  It's a fake gun, but made out of metal and it is supposed to be a replica of an old gun.  It even came with a belt and holster.  It's really fun.  Sam and Evan got Dallas a nerf gun so now they all three have one again and they have been having wars throughout the house.  Sometimes they shoot their dad and then he gets in the war too.

 Sam got this really difficult 1000 piece puzzle with old license plates.  We found all these fun puzzles at Hobby Lobby.  We got a vintage lunchbox one for Pat's parents and a vintage candy bar one for my mom.

I made tamales with friends Tera and Erin this year, so that and posole were our Christmas food all week.  I think we'll make this a tradition!  Yummmmmm.  The posole came about because I had leftover carne adovada from making the tamales, so I added it to a good broth, put in a can of Hatch enchilada sauce, a large can of hominy, and let it simmer, and we loved it.

Rolls for our big dinner.  We've all moved away from the rolls I used to make with lots of butter, sugar, and eggs, and everyone only wants me to make my french bread recipe into rolls.  I am happy to oblige since it takes only 2 hours to make as opposed to five.  'Tis a gift to be simple.

Now the opposite of simple.  Here's where I tell you the story of how Bobby Flay ruined my Christmas Eve.  Not really, but I saw him do this pumpkin bread pudding throwdown with Pioneer Woman and his dessert looked so good, so I've waited about two years to find the perfect time to make it since it takes quite a bit of work.  Christmas Eve was the day and I set out to make it with high expectations.  Shown below is the pumpkin bread, cubed, toasted, and sitting in the custard about to bake.  That was just the first two parts. 

After this I had to make three more parts: a pudding to go underneath, a caramel sauce to go over top, and a whip cream topping.  I burned the first caramel sauce but kept going.  Six cups of cream and 11 egg yolks later, we had the finished product.  And you know what?  No one liked it.  It was way too rich, and way too sweet.  I should have just stopped after the pumpkin bread and eaten that.  Lesson learned.  Big intricate recipes are rarely better.  Oh well. *smile*
We got almost 2 feet of snow in the last day or so, but the sun finally came out today. 
This was yesterday trying to get our chickens fed.
Pat's car isn't going anywhere soon.
So they cancelled church again.  We were supposed to get a new bishop, so the waiting and wondering continues.  But I'm busy at home catching up on things.

This is my new meal chart.  I have this friend who has been losing a lot of weight on some plan that's been around forever, but you have to buy their food for all meals except one, and they are really expensive.  I think I can do better than their factory made and packaged foods, but it is hard when you don't have healthy food on hand.  Sometimes I'm out of the house for the entire day and that's when bad food wins.  I always do better when I have a plan.  Plus a plan reminds me of what I need to buy or always have on hand.

I recently made a list of everything we buy at the store so everyone could put a check next to the item when we're out, and I wouldn't have to spend so much time making grocery lists.  I was considering arranging it by the layout of the store so I could shop quicker.  I think this is a good thing to do, but I have four different stores I buy all this stuff at, and the place I shop most just rearranged their entire store.  If only I could combine the Costco, with Sprouts, with Smiths, with Walmart.  The perfect store!  Actually I'd love a Trader Joe's nearby too.

I had been following that meal plan above when Christmas hit.  I figured I would stress less if I took a couple days off and ate what I wanted, and I did.  But man, for the first time I really noticed a difference in how I felt.  I was regretting my decision to make treats for the neighbors and friends because that meant for a couple days there were cookies and treats galore in my house.  Everything turned out so good and though I had no desire to eat it when I began cooking, having it all around me changed my mind like an alcoholic in a liquor store.  I make the best sugar cookies ever, thanks to recipes from friends that I copy.  And these new chocolate ones dipped in white chocolate and crushed candy canes that I showed in the last post, are amazing.  It's so hard having a love/hate relationship with treats.  One neighbor really expressed his love for us and the treats and gave us a huge bag of fireworks for New Years in return!

But for my friends who don't like sugar, I found this beautiful idea from my Word of Wisdom website.  It takes forever to peel and slice the kiwis (4 for a regular size plate, but next year I'll do smaller plates), and then you sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top, cover and put a red bow in the middle.  It takes a lot of work, but what a great idea!  And you don't feel yucky and weighed down after you eat this.  You feel light, invigorated, and more alert.  I really am believing in the Whole Foods Plant Based diet.  I do eat meat and dairy and sugar, but am always trying to eat less of those.  I thought I didn't feel the difference, but I was wrong.  Maybe I'll make this next year for everyone.  It is so cute! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Merry Christmas!!!

Today was a wonderful day.  We were at church, dressed pretty, primary kids sang, I sang in a special number and in the choir, and I got to play the part of Mary for Evan's class briefly.  Giving and receiving gifts and love from our ward family, hearing the wonderful gospel messages to center us and bring meaning to the Christmas season.  Wonderful day. 
Pretty girl, sporting a side ponytail that is quickly falling out.
We made these Christmas trees with upside down ice-cream cones, frosting, sprinkles, coconut and candy.  This is WAY easier than doing a gingerbread house, but so fun!

We went to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center on our free library pass this last week, and they had a huge display of gingerbread houses made by the pueblo Indians around New Mexico. 

I love these!  Take a look at New Mexico's interesting spin on the gingerbread house:

Some of those were by adults and some by children.  Below is a map of the pueblos around our area.

Lately Evan has been complaining because he has five (annoying) loose teeth that won't fall out.  It doesn't help that Sam has lost four teeth in the last two weeks!  I can hardly believe it each time he sets down another tooth in front of me.

My new favorite Christmas cookie.  Chocolate chocolate chip cookies, dipped in white chocolate, then crushed candy canes.

My kids be earnin' awards left and right.  The most embarrassing part is where I have to go up and get recognized and receive my pin and I have no idea what's going on.  I didn't help them one bit, nor did I even knew they were earning those awards.  Pat should be the one who gets the "Mom" pin.  But I'm so proud of them.
This last week has been busy getting ready for Christmas (surprise surprise).  Most of the gifts to family have been mailed, and most of the things for our kids ready, and most of the things for friends and neighbors here are getting ready to be ready.  We never had a chance to take family pictures this year or get Christmas cards done.  Maybe I'll do them in January.  The kids are excitedly counting down the days on the calendar and we are enjoying our Christmas traditions that I posted here.  We hope you have a wonderful Christmas too!