york swirls

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all of our friends and family! Christmas at our house is always exciting! We started on Friday with all of the girls home. Nathan was here too. (He always seems to be hanging around. I can't understand why...he must like my cooking.)

What would Christmas be without children? Gift-giving at our house is always fun. This year the gifts ranged from 2 pennies, a prized rock, a beloved stuffed animal, coasters made from bathroom tiles, and a hand-painted sign to carhartt coats, clothes, a cash register, Lincoln logs, and bean bag chairs. It was so cute to see the recipient open her gift of two pennies. I was the recipient of the prized rock and the hand-painted sign. Erin modge podged pictures on bathroom tiles & glued felt on the bottoms to make coasters for everyone. Very creative!

We had Christmas with my family on Saturday and will have Christmas with Gary's family on Tuesday. We had our traditional cinnamon rolls and chocolate milk before we left for church this morning. We had a very good crowd at church today. After having Stauffer's lasagna for dinner, we finished opening our presents.

My favorite part of Christmas is, first of all, watching the girls open their presents and then the period of time after they've opened their presents and everyone goes off to try out their gifts. This afternoon some of them went to the schoolroom to start their new paint-by-number projects, some started construction on a stable made of Lincoln logs, some went to the kitchen to try out their new apron and baking tools, and some of us sneaked a few minutes of rest.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Friends Forever

No pictures with this post, but I wanted to journal about my lunch date today. I met my friends, Vicki & Jayne, at the Whistle Stop restaurant in Monon. The occasion was a belated...very belated...birthday celebration. All three of us have April birthdays. We celebrated together last year and decided to make it a tradition, but things got a little crazy this year.
Vicki & I have been friends since kindergarten...such good friends that Vicki's mom made us matching dresses. We used to stand at the top of Vicki's stairs with our guitar & tamborine while we sang the Carpenter's song, "I'm on the top of the world lookin' down on creation...." We rode our bikes together in the 4th of July parade with streamers woven through our spokes. Our moms even say Vicki got off the bus at my house after school one day without permission from either of our moms. I don't remember that, but as I can imagine, Betty was pretty upset when Vicki didn't get off the bus that afternoon.
Jayne grew up in Kentland, but we ended up together at South Newton High School. We sat next to each other in co-op class before we left school for the day to go to our respective jobs. Jayne was always the life of the party, and she usually had a snack in her purse to share.
Vicki, Jayne, & I graduated together from South Newton in 1985. We celebrated our 44th birthdays today. We had a great time today reminiscing about the many years we've been friends. No matter where our lives have taken us, we've remained friends for these many years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Preparations

Cookie Cutter Fudge

Spritz Cookies

We worked on Christmas goodies this afternoon. We made the fudge in Christmas tree cookie cutters, angels, and gingerbread men. They turned out so cute. I took them to the ladies at the bank this afternoon, and they were delighted! Wait until our mailman opens the mailbox tomorrow afternoon! He loves it when I leave treats in there for him.
Erin, with the help of the younger ones, used our Pampered Chef cookie press for the first time and made some pretty cookies. They were so yummy that she made a single batch yesterday afternoon that was gone by bedtime, so she made a double batch today. We made two plates to give away, and they've been eating on the rest of them all afternoon. There's still a small bowl of them left....for a little while.

Here's the recipe for the fudge:

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup peanut butter chips

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

Decorator icing or candies, if desired

1. Place each of six 3x1/2-inch mitten-shaped cookie cutters, or other cookie cutters in a simple shape, on 5-inch square of foil. Seal foil tightly around outside of each cookie cutter. Place on cookie sheet. Lightly spray cookie cutters with cooking spray.

2. In 4-cup microwaveable measuring cup, mix chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, milk and butter. Microwave uncovered on high 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until chips are almost melted. Stir in vanilla.

3. Pour mixture into cookie cutter molds, filling to tops of molds. Refrigerate uncovered about 2 hours or until firm. Decorate with icing and candies. Carefully remove foil before giving as a gift.

I found that the fudge was very thick and was a little challenging to pour and spread in the cookie cutters. Just use your spoon and keep smoothing. I also found that a tiny bit leaked out of the bottom, but it peeled right off after they were set up. Very easy and very cute!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Traditions

The beads in the headliner at the top of the blog have been on our Christmas tree for 25 Christmases. They belonged to Gary's Grandpa Wilbert & Grandma Esther before us. I don't know how old they are, but they hold an honored place on our tree every year.

A Blanket for Lainey

After reading my post about a grave blanket, my mom and dad went out and made one. We went to the cemetery Tuesday afternoon and put it in place. There were quite a few tears. One of the little girls said, "We just wanted her here with us for Christmas."

I sat down a couple of weeks ago with the basket of cards we received before & after we lost Lainey. I read through every one of them again...all 118 of them...so many kind and loving words. I've packed them away in a box. Someday I'd like to send a reply to everyone, but I think that will come after bridal shower, baby shower, and wedding invitations are made and sent, after a wedding, and after a grandson has arrived.

A Trip to North Carolina


We made a trip to Morganton, North Carolina, last weekend where we visited our friends, the Whisnants. We drove straight through Thursday...12 1/2 hours. On Friday, we went out for lunch at Pizza Hut and then bowling. Several of the girls had never been bowling, and the rest of us hadn't been bowling for several years. We had a great time! We didn't record any scores!

On Saturday, we went to visit the Biltmore House. We weren't allowed to use our cameras there, so I don't have any pictures to post here. It was absolutely amazing! The house was built between 1889 and 1895. It is 175,000 square feet with 240 rooms, 34 bedrooms, and 43 bathrooms. Now, that would be plenty of room for us!

On Sunday, we went to church with the Whisnants. We enjoyed dinner at a little country restaurant. Then we went shopping at the Dillards outlet. Talk about bargains! We got $450 worth of clothing for $95!

We drove home Monday. It wasn't a long vacation, but one of the most relaxing we've had in a long time. Gary's phone hardly rang at all. He went three days without charging it! That has to be a record!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Lainey's Tree

Before we got our real tree last Friday, the little girls--Erin, Heather, Laura, Kara, Leah, & Nanna--put up the pencil tree and decorated it. I was busy with other things and didn't know what they were up to. They made a sign that says, "In Loving Memory of Lainey Grace," with 6 little hearts under the words with each of their names in the hearts. They took a little wooden sled we use as a decoration and put the teddy bears that the funeral director gave each of them at Lainey's funeral on the sled. Many of you were at the graveside service when he presented them with the teddy bears.

Some of the girls and I went to the cemetery yesterday and put poinsettias on Lainey's grave. I almost bought a grave blanket when we went to get our Christmas tree. It just seems so bare and cold out there...... I know she's not there. She's warm and safe in Jesus' arms...but it just seems so bare and cold out there.....

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Perfect Christmas Tree

We went to get our Christmas tree on Friday afternoon. We have gone to Miller's Tree Farm near Idaville for several years now to get our tree. Autumn had to work, but the rest of us piled in for our annual adventure. Autumn was waiting for us when we got home to help us decorate it. Nanna wanted this little tree pictured below. It was just her size.

But the rest of us were more inclined to get a taller tree. We ended up with a 7 1/2-foot Canaan fir this year. We usually alternate between a white pine and a fir each year.
Mom & Krissy put on the lights while Meagan popped corn to string.

We've strung popcorn two years in a row. The little ones seem to enjoy it and the birds enjoy it when we put the tree outside after Christmas.

For many years, we have watched the Statler Brothers' Christmas DVD while we decorate the tree. Last night, we watched it through twice. It's a fun tradition we all hold dear. I remember listening to Gene Autry's Christmas record every year when I was a kid. My girls have done the same...only in CD form. Gene Autry is a guest on the Statler Brothers Christmas show, so that makes it even more special. I think when all of the girls are all grown they'll associate Gene Autry, the Statler Brothers, and Bing Crosby with Christmas.


Now for some presents.....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Trip to the Museum

Gary, Nanna, & Leah in the combine simulator.
Kara & Laura trying their hand at the combine simulator.

Krissy showing the girls how to pull the rope. This was to show us how much strength it would take to pull someone out of a bin of corn if they were trapped.

Nanna playing with one of the interactive exhibits.

We went to Indianapolis Tuesday to the Indiana State Museum. The above pictures are from the Amazing Maize exhibit. We enjoyed our first visit to this museum. We also enjoyed an Imax movie presentation of "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure." What an amazing story!!!! This was several of the girls' first experience at an Imax theater. They all loved it.