Starting Fresh with Hodgepodge…

1. Share one favorite moment/memory from your Christmas holiday.
 15747502_10211510518384524_8505381520756214670_nOur Nutcracker Christmas Crackers had little whistle/flutes in them and instructions to toot some Christmas songs together. It was so much fun with us laughing so much we snorted and maybe drooled a bit while trying to toot our whistles upon demand. Each whistle was numbered to created the right tone/note. Oye…it was fun!
2. What was the best thing you ate over the holidays? Was it homemade or store bought? If it was homemade did you make it?
swedishSwedish pancakes on Christmas morning are the best. 1st because Dear cooks them. 2nd because we all love them. A tradition that will not be broken.

3. What was one of the most beautiful things you saw over the holidays?

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People, people, people are the most beautiful things we saw over the holidays. A very beautiful thing was that our oldest flew to eastern Washington to help his brother and sister in law move into their new home in frigid temperatures. Our boys have a way of being able to motivate and help each other in good and tough times and it’s a beautiful thing to see and hear about.

4. What does fresh start mean to you?

Fresh Start was the name of my home cleaning business that I started in the late 80’s and early 90’s and that’s the first thing that came to mind with this question. Dear was in Pharmacy School for a mid-life change in his profession and I cleaned toilets to make money in several homes and at a medical and dental clinic. Of course I cleaned more than toilets but you get the idea. The work was so aerobic and I was so skinny.

5. On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being very positive and 1 being not so great) how would you rate 2016 in terms of personal achievement and well being? Explain.

If I take my fluff out of the equation I’d give myself an 8!

van 2 035I’m still fluffy but besides that my health and outlook are good. I am not taking any medications. An IT Band Syndrome is still plaguing me even though I’m not a runner by any stretch of the imagination. Exercises to strengthen my core and take the strain off my IT band are helping. It generally takes a lot to get me down and I’m thankful for that. So…I’ll stick with an 8!

6. Every January 1st since 1976 Lake Superior University has published a list of words they’d like to see banished from the Queen’s English. Words may be banished due to misuse, overuse, or just general uselessness. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen or, if you’re like me, to find out what in the world the word or phrase even means or the context in which it’s used. There were quite a few on this year’s list I’d never heard before. Here’s the 2017 list of banished words-You, Sir-focus-Bete Noire-Town Hall Meeting-Post Truth-guesstimate-831-historic-manicured-echo chamber-on fleek-bigly-ghost-Dadbod-listicle-get your dander up-selfie drone-frankenfruit-disruption. Which word on the list would you most like to see banished in 2017? What word or phrase would you add to the list?

I’m tired of hearing about Town Hall Meetings. Another one I’d like to not hear again is “Gun Control”.

7. Large or small, light or deep, share with us one goal you have for the new year.
misc-stuff-028I got this fitbit for Christmas and I’d like to add the light goal of moving more.
My deep goal is to pray more.
 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18:
Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
I’ve got a recipe for Crock Pot Potato soup inspired from bj’s blog and Paula Deen up on the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog. It was easy and satisfying. Click on over to see it.
The illustration at the top of this post is Russian and the words translate Happy New Year. I wish you all a very Happy New Year!
Linking up with Joyce at From This Side of the Pond. She provides the questions and we provide the answers.

So Very Merry…

15741187_10211822772990622_5530026256367300875_nMy sister took this photo of my dear old Pop with his youngest great granddaughter on Christmas Eve in California. Christmas Eve happens to be her birthday, too. Happy first birthday dear one!

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These are Pop’s grandchildren and great grandchildren that were able to gather together this year 1200 miles from us.

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Our kids from Eastern Washington made it over the pass and to our home in time to attend a Christmas Eve service with us.

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Katie treated us to a whole lot of laughs when we woke up to see her donned like this for our Christmas morning festivities.

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We checked out what Santa had left in our stockings and then had Dear’s Swedish Pancakes for Breakfast. When breakfast was done we crossed hands to pull apart our Christmas Crackers. Our nutcracker themed crackers had whistles in them and instructions to make music together. Katie directed us and we laughed so hard as we each blew our different toned whistles to create some popular Christmas Carols.

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We had our annual after Christmas walk and yes Katie was still in her wild cat onesie. Some of us wore our crowns.

15747385_10211510518224520_1859000651677937365_nI have not uploaded any of my regular camera photos. These were all taken with other peoples phones. We are still celebrating together and it will be awhile before I recuperate from all the fun. The girls are thinking about doing a little Boxing Day shopping today.

Oh What Fun…

On Christmas Eve day we woke up to hear that Snoqualmie Pass, the main route from Western Washington to Eastern Washington was closed due to avalanche danger and trees over the roadway. That was the route that our son Dan and daughter in law Jamie were planning to drive to get to our house for our Christmas celebrations. Soon the DOT was announcing that they did not plan to open up the pass at all this day. Yikes! Our son Josh came to the rescue and was able to book flights for Dan and Jamie to fly from Spokane to Seattle and arrive at 4:30 on Christmas Eve Day. He used miles and we were all so grateful that we would still be all together and that Dan and Jamie didn’t have to miss out on our time together.

Katie got an ugly Christmas sweater to wear to work on Christmas Eve. When she got home from work early she and I headed to the airport to pick up the precious cargo.

We had an exciting text on Christmas Eve morning letting us know that our nephew and his wife had their first little baby, a sweet little girl. My brother and sister-in-law became grandparents for the first time with her arrival.

After we had some of Dear’s famous soup for a quick meal we all headed to a 6:30 Christmas Eve service at church. It was a beautiful service with lots of carols and candlelight and a great gospel message. We came home and enjoyed each others company and then off to bed to wait for Santa to come fill our stockings.

As you can see Santa was very generous!

So much silly fun around the breakfast table and then we opened presents. We decided to take a walk so that we could make room for dinner!

We tried out Laura’s new selfie stick! Some of us wore our Christmas Cracker Crowns!

We started on Christmas dinner preparations when we got back from our walk.

Our centerpiece…O com let us adore Him!

Prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, creamed corn, and roasted vegetables.

Delicious pies made by our new daughter in law, Jamie! She even carried them through security and on the plane.

Apple pie with apples from their trees and pecan pie!

My side of the family enjoyed a Christmas Eve celebration at my sister Kathy’s house in Southern California and here are a few photos I stole to share.

My dear old Pop praying before their meal.

My sisters and one of my brothers. My brother Steve was preoccupied with his very new granddaughter across town!

My pop with two of his great grands!

Time for Vareniki!

Today is Boxing day and the girls are headed for tea at the Queen Mary Tea room for an early birthday celebration for our Katie.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Without the Guests…

…the preparations are in vain. It’s because of the long-awaited guests that the preparations were completed. This time of year as we remember our long awaited Savior who came to earth on that first Christmas, the preparations for my guests had more significance.  Most of my guest photos were taken by Anneliese and Lovella. Thank you for sharing girls!

Lovella brought this very cute flower arrangement as a hostess gift and I found the perfect spot for it next to my sign that Katie wrote on. It was time for the party to begin and for everyone to eat, drink and be merry!

Kathy and Lovella prepared an Antipasti Platter for us all to enjoy before we sat down to dinner.

Our daughter Katie came to help with the serving.

It was time to find our places at the table.

When everyone found their spot we sang Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow. This has become a tradition for our gatherings.

Katie made sure the soup was hot before she served each person their cup.

Between the courses we sang Christmas Carols. O Tannenbaum and Silent Night were the two chosen and sung in English and German. I wasn’t surprised by the choices my “German” guests made.

It was time to get the dessert plates ready.

After dessert we had fun popping our Christmas poppers and wearing our crowns.

Before the girls retreated to another room to open the little gifts purchased for each other, Judy handed the guys their gift for the evening.

They each got their very own apron…

I’ll add the shout out to the young man who makes these to sell once I get the information from Judy. Since we let him use our logo he gifted us with the aprons for our “boys”.

By this time my eyes were drooping but my heart was full. I’ll leave you with a few closeups and cameos…

I got a kick out of this wine bag that Bev and her guy brought us a bottle of wine in.

What a wonderful world God opened up to us “Girls” over these past several years. I’m so thankful that God brought us together and has deepened our “love for one another”.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2: 1-4)

More Xmas 006Praying you are feeling the Joy this Christmas!

The Preparations…

On Sunday December 14th our long awaited Christmas Party with the British Columbia Mennonite Girls and their husbands began at three in the afternoon. My preparations had been going on for a while.

2014-12-11 More XmasJoy was the theme and red and gold were the color choices I picked. I had red glassware but only had a total of 10 pieces so I was on the hunt for 6 more goblets or glasses to fill the 16 place settings we would need for our party. When we traveled to our son’s home in eastern Washington in early November we shopped at some thrift stores and found a set of 8 red goblets for a real good price. Yippee!

We do not have an open concept home by any means and to be able to fit 16 around tables we had to get creative. We decided to empty out some of the furniture from our living room so we could fit two round tables that would each be set with eight place settings.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. I saw a package of red and gold Christmas Crackers at Costco and knew they’d be a fun addition to the table. The red and gold sparkly chargers came from HomeGoods. I already had a stash of cloth napkins in red and gold tones and napkin rings that worked nicely with the color theme. I found flat Christmas wreaths and red candle holders for my center pieces.

Here’s a photo the day of our gathering with all the last minute touches added to the table. This photo was taken by Lovella. The next couple of  photos were taken by Anneliese.

Our front porch was transformed with a fake little Christmas tree that we had in our condo when we lived in Southern California for a few years. The vintage red step stool was a fun piece to put some of my lanterns on. The cedar branches and all the greenery with red berries, rosemary, and holly came from my yard. I had the large glass jars that I filled with the greenery and added a candle in to warm up the entry to our home.

I’m enjoying our new 3D star that we purchased this year that adds it’s light to welcome you to our front door.

My next post will show the people that made all these preparations worthwhile. Here’s the sneak peek of the girls and the guys.

More to come soon with some great photos from Anneliese and Lovella who clicked away while Dear and I worked on getting the food ready for everyone.

Since I finally set a table and took some photos I’m going to link this post to Cuisine Kathleen’s Let’s Dish for this week. If you’d like to see my guests seated at these tables click here.

Boxing Day Favorites

Boy was I wiped out after a wonderful full day of celebrating with our kids yesterday. My kids are all adults so I can only imagine how much more wiped out I’d be if there were little ones to chase about the house and entertain…

Xmas Eve & morning 012The favorite new tradition were our Christmas Crackers/Poppers. We got such a kick out of the cheesy little gifts and jokes that popped out and we all wore our tissue crowns through breakfast. Josh and Katie pretty much wore their crowns all day long…fun times.

Santa really loaded up our stockings this year…

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It would be great if in the U.S.A. Boxing day was a holiday, too, like Great Britain and Canada or St. Stephens Day in Ireland. Dear has been at work for many hours already. Dan will be hitting the road to cross the Cascade Mountain range later this morning. He should make it home in 5 or so hours.

I read up about Boxing Day online and it’s interesting to read some of the history. Here’s a little view of all our Christmas Boxes. This year was a banner year for boxes.

Xmas Eve & morning 003When Katie and I were in Vancouver B.C. I bought one thing at the Christmas Market, this pretty little bird.

Christmas Eve 004Another new ornament that is perfect on my tree is this next one from Lovella. Joy really is fulfilled in Christmas.

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This year my Wee Forest Folk Nativity is now complete. The last piece needed was the Wise Man in a Turban. He was under the tree this year…

2013-12-26 Christmas Day

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I know lots of you are celebrating with your loved ones today. When your family expands you need to be flexible and go with the flow. Are you a Boxing day shopper? Do you rush out the day after to add to your Christmas stash from the clearance sales?  For the rest of you I hope you have time to reflect and relax on this Boxing Day 2013.