Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nativity by Abby

Abby sketched Mary and baby Jesus one night after she was tucked into bed. I had to share.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dear Rachel (#5)

Dear Rachel,

Your sister is now officially a teenager. Thanks so much for the book you sent her. She's heard it's a great read. Of course, she also loved the crazy-fun hat from Grandma Stoker. Her friends can't decide if it's a monkey, a giraffe, or a zebra. What do you think?
These cute cupcakes were delivered to our door this week--Reindeer at the North Pole!
I can't believe it was 70 degrees in Atlanta when I called you this week. It's been so cold here in Utah that I'm breaking out all the soup recipes. I made your Stoneless Stone Soup recently--love that one. This time I used spicy sausage and it warmed are bodies from the inside out. (I even posted it on my Salads and Such blog which has been ignored a bit lately.)
Since you weren't able to come to Travis' Christmas Concert this year, I've brought it to you. Enjoy your brother and the rest of the Percussion Ensemble playing Trepak from The Nutcracker. It was my favorite.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Popcorn Balls

Making popcorn balls as a family is a tradition we TRY to keep each December.
While the syrup reaches "soft ball" stage, we pop a huge bowl of popcorn with our ancient air popper. It really is a group effort when it's time to pour the hot syrup over the popcorn and stir to coat each piece. Many hands dig in to form the balls. (Cold wet hands work best.)
Of course, the best part of the process is the eating. They are delicious!
My dad is the one who started this tradition. When he was a boy his family would make popcorn balls, wrap them in red or green cellophane and hang them on their Christmas tree. When friends or neighbors stopped by during the Holidays, they each would receive one of the homemade treats to enjoy.

We miss my dad very very much, but luckily, my kids have sweet memories of making popcorn balls with their grandpa.
Here is his recipe:

Popcorn Balls
2 c. sugar
2/3 c. white corn syrup
2/3 c. water
1/2 lb. butter
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla or maple flavoring (We actually used both.)

Cook all ingredients except the flavorings until the mixture forms a soft ball in cold water. Add vanilla and/or maple and pour over popcorn. (If you only use one type of flavoring, make it maple.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Coca-Cola Crate Advent Calendar

I acquired this Coca-Cola crate when Brian and I were first married. I really have no idea how old it is--perhaps vintage 1960s or 1970s? The crate was left alone for a couple years until a friend suggested I turn it into an Advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. I jumped on that idea since I have quite a fascination with Advent calendars.
There were, coincidentally, 24 compartments, which would take us through Christmas Eve. It was quite a fun treasure hunt finding small Christmasy knickknacks that were just right the size for the cubbyholes.  
Each trinket is concealed within a square of red or green tissue paper until it is "opened" on the appropriate day. The fat plaid ribbon has adorned the box for years. I suppose I could change it up, but my kids might rebel at the thought of altering our traditional holiday decor. 
There it is. A snapshot of Christmas at our house. Happy Holidays!


Linking to:
The Shabby Nest
Funky Junk's Saturday Nite SpecialLink PartyTip Junkie handmade projects
Home Stories A2Z

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dear Rachel (#4)

Dear Rachel,

I can't believe it's been a month since my last blog letter to you. Did you get your Christmas tree all adorned Monday night? If so, I need pictures, please. Most of our decorations are up. Travis will work on setting up the train this weekend.

What do you think of this centerpiece? I already had everything so I was pretty happy.

Now that I am finally starting to feel better, here are the pictures of Thanksgiving I promised:
It was so wonderful having BOTH grandmas with us AND Renee & Haley, AND Kirk & Beverly & kids. A rare Thanksgiving gathering indeed.
(Renee, Kirk, and Beverly)
There was lots of cousin time:
(Haley, Abby, Emmeline, Seth, and Isabelle)
(Haley and Abby straightened Emmeline's hair)
(before church)
(Abby and Isabelle)
We missed you a TON, but SO glad you were able to have Thanksgiving with Harold and Barbara. Have a good rest of the week.