Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Oscar for best Christmas Wrap goes to . . . DAVE

On Christmas Eve morning, Dave had not yet wrapped his Christmas gifts. When the girls arrived for our holiday weekend, we girls were oohing and aahing over a creative idea from the blog, A Creative Mint. Leslie, who was co-teacher of the Blogging Your Way e.course I took earlier this year, is a beautiful and creative artist. On December 21, her post Trader Joe's & A Little Red caught our attention.

Dave was working that afternoon, busy on his computer and we didn't even know he was listening to us. But he is a smart guy, and knows how to make points with his three girls. Imagine our surprise, when later that night, he appears from the bedroom with his presents all wrapped in . . . Trader Joe's bags.


Three presents marked "Trader Glenda's", "Trader Christy's" and "Trader Jenny's". To make it even more fun, when we opened those huge perfectly made cubes, the present inside was tiny (in size.)

To find out what Trader Joe's bags, complaining less and expressing more gratitude have to do with each other, check here.

First three photos: from A Creative Mint (used with permission)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Raindrops on Roses and . . . these are a few of my Favorite Christmas Memories 2010

Christmas memories 2010

  • being with the girls without spending hundreds of dollars on airline tickets
  • receiving 76 Christmas cards at our new address (and they are still coming)
  • ordering Christmas gifts on Etsy (a first for me)
  • on Christmas morning, enjoying a beautiful "white Christmas" while shoveling the front walk and a neighbor asking if I needed help
  • Christmas lunch in Oak Park with Dave's fellow WorldVenture staff
  • hosting old ministry partners for dinner in our festive apartment
  • a lovely lunch at a WorldVenture missionaries home, with their daughters and adorable grandson (new friends ~ YEAH)
  • receiving a lovely packet in the mail with a "fa la la la la" handmade pot holder
  • listening to TONS of Christmas music with Dave
  • relaxed time of laughter, eating, deep conversation, reading . . . it is what the Childers do best
  • Christmas Eve candlelight service at Jenny's church (one of the musicians had just given birth to a son one week earlier ~bet she felt like Mary)
  • watching A Christmas Story on Christmas afternoon . . . a tradition with lots of laughter
  • watching several episodes of the first season of 24 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (really!) I like to be slightly distracted when watching intense shows, so I measured, cut and hemmed my kitchen curtains.
  • Dave's fun gift wrapping in Trader Joes bags (details in a future blog)
  • opening my present from the girls . . . a beautiful quilt made from my mom's fabrics, (variations of blue and green) in a gorgeous Amy Butler quilt pattern. The girls did an old fashioned quilting bee ~ with two big hoops . . . quilting every night while watching favorite Christmas movies. (In January, I am hosting a tour of our new home . . . room by room . . . you will see the quilt then.)
  • receiving a surprise "Made in Washington" package in the mail - salmon, market spice tea, space noodles (noodles shaped like the space needle), etc. We still don't know who sent this lovely gift.
  • finally making "Hot Corn Dip", a recipe I received years ago when I was speaking at a women's retreat in El Paso, Texas. I have carted it around for years. It was my favorite food on Christmas Eve.
  • making "Mom's Pecan Dream Bars" from "Pam's Midwest Kitchen Korner" Delicious!
  • reading aloud "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" to Jenny one night when she wasn't feeling well.
  • super enjoying our big Christmas tree and all of our ornaments . . . after two fun years at the lakehouse and our tiny tree
  • making new memories with all the Christmas decorations I purchased last year, to replace 75% of our Christmas treasures that were stolen from our storage unit
  • remembering everyday God's goodness to us in sending His Son . . . for me!
Here is a little after Christmas present:

HOT CORN DIP
1 can (15 1/4 oz) whole corn, drained
2 cans (4 oz) chopped green chilies, drained
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup grated parmeson cheese
4 tablespoons chopped olives.

Mix ingredients. Bake in 2 quart dish (covered) at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with warm tortilla chips.

Friday, December 24, 2010

THE Light of the World



Walk in the light, the beautiful light.
Come where the dewdrops of mercy shine
       bright.
Shine all around us by day and by night.
Jesus, the light of the world.

Credit: verse is from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals,  photo is from crypticart.com


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas


One thing I love about the process of moving, is the opportunity to sort through all my "stuff." I get a little high from getting organized and downsizing. But sometimes in the midst of some crazy box, I find a gem - a keeper! I am guessing I am about two in this photo. I framed several Christmas photos of me as a young girl and have added them to my Christmas collection. Very sweet. My great aunt Jean sewed amazing outfits, like this dress,  for me and my brother and sisters. . .  can you imagine it? 

Well, tomorrow is Christmas Eve eve. A verse has been running through my mind all week, as I do my last minute preparations. It is from II Corinthians 9:15.

"Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift."

Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Confetti Coleslaw, renamed Christmas Coleslaw


Because I love my new kitchen and because I have more time on my hands then I am used to . . . I have been doing a lot of cooking. This is one of my favorite salads and I have made it twice already. Both times we had company and I served it with chili. YUM.

Confetti Coleslaw, renamed Christmas Coleslaw

Dressing:
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt (I use Greek yogurt.)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dill, fresh or dried (I have been using basil and about 4 tablespoons, because I love basil.)

Mix dressing and set aside.

Salad:
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced (I do not peel it.)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 cups cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins (I like dried cranberries.)
1/2 cup chopped celery
2/3 cup thinly sliced red onion (1/3 cup, for me.)
1 carrot, shredded
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted (I had almonds.)

Toss apples with lemon juice. Add rest of salad ingredients. Toss with dressing. Refrigerate. Can be made one day ahead.

During the holidays, I am always looking for recipes that can be made ahead. I don't enjoy too much last minute cooking. I want to be a guest at my own party.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and enjoy this recipe.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A little Marriage Advice . . . at Christmastime

Dave and I have been married for 33 years. We have had our share of ups. We have had our share of downs. But one thing I can count on, even when I am tired or sad, hungry or cold (or in my case, I should say hot), busy or stressed ~ Dave can always make me laugh. He got all three of us when the girls were here for birthday weekend . . .

Because my name is Glenda, and my former newsletter called Gg was recently reborn as a blog, also called Gg . . . I have a small collection of monogrammed pieces. I love things with G or g on them.

Last week, I took a break from settling into our new home and got out into civilization (ie. beautiful Chicago stores.) Look what I found at one of my favorite stores, Pottery Barn.


And look what I found at West Elm (a new to me store, that will be added to my list of favorite places to window shop for inspiration.)


Of course, I came home and added both G ornaments to our Christmas tree.

Here is where Dave's fun sense of humor comes in. Without saying anything and with his own two hands, he crafted his very own "D ornament".

Step one: rip a piece of paper towel into a circle

Step two: using a sharpie, carefully monogram said ornament

Step three: when no one is looking, hang monogrammed ornament prominently on the front of the Christmas tree

Step four: wait for the laughing to begin.



The girls and I did not notice it until the next afternoon . . . and yes, Virginia, we laughed loud and long.

So on this day, six days before Christmas, here is my little marriage tip . . . marry someone who can make you laugh!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Three Fun Things to do with your Kids at Christmas aka Childers Christmas Classics - project #3

I had many goals for our family each December as we prepared for Christmas. Just one of them, was to have our kids be more excited about giving presents, than receiving presents. I was very intentional about this, and one of the ways I did this, was to spent time with the girls making fun projects . . . that they could not wait to give to Grandparents, their aunts, Sunday School teacher etc.

Project #3 - Decorated Christmas Soaps is so easy and fun. It is also inexpensive, so your kids can make one for lots of friends.

You will need:

*bar(s) of soap - The first time I made these we used little bars like you would find in a hotel. But usually we used a full sized bar (anything on sale.) Thanks, Mary D. for teaching me this fun craft so many years ago.

*Christmas stickers, wrapping paper, school pictures etc.

*melted parafin wax (usually found near canning supplies at the grocery store). Melt wax carefully in a double boiler.

Unwrap bars of soap. Use a vegetable peeler to gently remove any of the logo that will show. Add desired photo, school picture, sticker, Christmas wrap etc. (Just put a dot of water on the soap and anything will stick to it.) Carefully, dip top of soap into melted parafin to cover the decorated side. Let dry.

Last year as a joke, I made soaps for our adult daughters with my picture on them and put them in their Christmas stocking.

Have fun!

Drawing by my friend, Rainy. Decorative soap photo credit - puddlesofpaint.com

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Three Fun Things to do with your Kids at Christmas aka Childers Christmas Classics - project #2


Welcome back, to this little series on Christmas projects. When my kids were growing up, nothing got them more excited than the words, "Do you want to do a project?" And if you do the same projects each holiday season . . . a wonderful tradition is born.

Project #2 - Ice Candles

For each candle you will need:

*a clean paper and wax milk carton - we usually made bigger candles and used a quart container, but you can also use smaller cartons (pint or half pint)

*a white taper candle about the same size as your milk carton. (You could also buy candle wicks, but I found this much easier.)

*old crayons to use to dye the wax

*paraffin wax - usually found near canning supplies in the grocery store

*ice chips (I found it easiest to just purchase a bag of ice.)

Anchor the taper candle in a clean quart sized milk carton, using chipped ice. Make sure the ice comes all the way to the top of the carton.

Carefully, melt the wax in a double boiler. (Stay close by, as wax that gets too hot can be trouble.) Drop in bits of crayon until you get the desired color.

Again, carefully, pour the wax into the carton, right over the ice and the taper.

Let the candle set up for a couple of hours. When all the ice has melted, tear off the cardboard milk carton. Make sure you are over a sink, to catch all the now melted ice.

If your taper is a little too big, just light it and let it burn until it is even with the top of your candle.

 Make sure it is on a fireproof plate when you use it, as melted wax can easily spill out the lacey parts of the candle.



Have fun making these candles and come back tomorrow for . . . Christmas soaps.

Drawing by my friend, Rainy. Ice candle photo credit: curbly.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Three Fun Things to do with your Kids at Christmas aka Childers Christmas Classics - project #1


One of the fun things about children is, they love repetition. So, as a parent, you don't need hundreds of fun ideas. You just need a few . . . and then you do those ideas over and over again. This is also how traditions start.

We had three projects we did every Christmas . . . yes,  over and over again.

Project #1 -  Easy Gingerbread Houses:

For each house you need:

* 6 graham cracker squares (4 for the base of the house and 2 for the roof). You can cut a small triangle, to cover the gap in the front of the house, if you want.

*small piece of cardboard, shaped in a rectangle, and covered with foil to hold your house

*Fun candy - our favorites are Christmas m and m's, red hots and mini-marshmallows to cover the roof.

*Royal Icing. Beat 3 egg whites and 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar. While beating, slowly add 1 pound of powdered sugar. Beat until it is fluffy and shiny. Use this as glue to assemble the house and for snow. (Because of the raw eggs, it is best to not eat this frosting.)

The first time we made these was at the King County Library in Renton. Some years, we invited the girl's classmates over to make them. We have also made them with college students. Our favorite though, is to invite another family to join us. When the dads get involved . . . these simple houses can become magical.



Have fun and come back tomorrow for . . . ice candles.



Drawing by my friend, Rainy. Gingerbread house photo credit: quickstep.com



Monday, December 13, 2010

I did it!


It has been a number of years since Jenski and I have been together on our birthdays. She was born just three days before my birthday. Sometime I will have to tell you the story of many of my friends, joining me in prayer that Jenny would be born . . . on the exact day that she was born.

Jenny has food issues . . . not the - she eats unhealthy kind of food issues, but the food allergies galore issues. So, I really wanted to surprise her this year and make a dessert that she could enjoy with not one single item she was allergic, too.

So, I started by googling "gluten free desserts." Most of them had sugar (NO) and lots of ground nuts, instead of flour (NO), or chocolate (NO), or a list of ingredients that would break the bank.

Just as I was about to give up, I found cheesecake cupcakes . . . and with a little tweaking from sugar to truvia . . . voila . . . a birthday treat for Jenny. She and I were both very happy with my find. If it was summer, I would have added a fresh strawberry to the top.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my favorite food issue girl.



P.S. Look at that adorable plate . . . a present from my friend, Cathie.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baby, it's COLD outside


We are in the midst of our first Chicago winter storm. Instead of "Dreaming of a White Christmas", I am dreaming of having these two coffees delivered to my front door. Any takers?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Birthday weekend . . . breakfast

The birthday weekend has begun. We celebrated Jenny last night and now we are enjoying a great time together . . . all four of us here at our new home . . . for the rest of the weekend. And a huge blizzard is coming . . . how FUN.

This morning was a relaxed breakfast.


Delicious coffee. Our current favorite is Starbucks breakfast blend and we save a bundle by purchasing it at Costco. Dave and I drink tea in the morning and save coffee for our dates at different coffee shops. The girls drink coffee in the morning and then tea THE REST OF THE DAY. When we are together, we all enjoy coffee in the morning.


One of my favorite breakfasts . . . steel cut oats. We purchase this from the bulk food section at Winco, super cheap. Next trip to Seattle, we will be bringing back a few zip lock bags of steel cut oats and some Adam's peanut butter.



Breakfast was cooked in my new pots (Costco again.) Not sure why I waited two years to replace my old ones . . . but I love these.



Our favorite toppings . . . toasted almonds, dried cranberries and organic brown sugar (all purchased at Trader Joes). The canister with the etched star is from IKEA. The blue ramikins are from Crate and Barrel (purchased years ago in an early morning day after Christmas sale.) They have a little surprise inside . . . a red heart.



The Peter Rabbit milk jug was purchased in England, during one of our summers with Royal Servants. I am enjoying using all of my fun dishes that have been in storage for two and a half years.

I hope you enjoyed your Saturday morning breakfast, too!

" This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it," or my shorter version, "Love the moment." Happy Saturday.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Birthday Explorations

It is a big weekend at our house. Our baby girl is turning 26 tomorrow, followed shortly by me turning 58. (A small "yikes" can be heard, as that is mighty close to 60.) How wonderfully fun that we can all be together to celebrate. The girls are coming over for the weekend and it will be party time.

Part of the weekend is to celebrate JENNY and her list includes: some time at home, coffee, seeing the just released Narnia movie, some crafting and sewing time etc. Relaxing and fun.

For the GLENDA part of the weekend . . . I want to do a little exploring. (Maybe I have had just a little too much time working on house projects.)

First on my list, is a local Logan Square Christmas Market. (Logan Square is our new neighborhood.)




"Delectable treats and gourmet gift items from local, small-batch artisans." Doesn't that sound delicious!

Next, is the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. This will be our third year, and it is especially fun for our family as it reminds us much of our many visits to Rothenburg, Germany. Amazing authentic bratwurst and mulled wine . . . here we come!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JENNY AND ME!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Decembered Grief

I love this quote from A Decembered Grief: Living with Loss While Others are Celebrating by Harold Smith.


"After experiencing grief, loss and death. I have come to believe in a Christmas that cannot be limited to 24 hours on the 25th of December. I have come to believe in a future Christmas when all God's children will be home. I have come to believe that in our first moments in heaven we will realize how much He gave up to spend those years among us, to invite us to spend forever with Him. I believe that His coming locked this world into a loving embrace and that this December season He will be as close to us as our grief allows."


Please, join me in praying for friends that are spending their first Christmas without one of their loved ones.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Christmas Prayer


Loving Father, help us remember the
 birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song
of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds,
and the worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door
 of love all over the world. Let kindness come
with every gift and good desires with
every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the
 blessing which Christ brings, and teach us
 to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning make us happy
to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening
bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,for Jesus' sake. Amen.


~Robert Louis Stevenson


photo credit: illustration by Tasha Tudor @ Antique Trading

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh, Tannenbaum (part three)

  We are tea drinkers at our house. My husband brings me a cup every morning, before I am even out of bed. He also makes a pot every night. So of course, this beverage family has several tea pot ornaments.
  I simply adore being a mom.

This darling village girl was found in a market in Moldova.
Our rocking chair ornament was also a wedding gift. It represents having a quiet time each day to read the Bible and spend time talking to God and listening.


Do you have ornaments from special friends that are now in heaven? My dear friend, Peggy, gave this to me.

Friends that are missionaries in Russia, sent this darling ornament.


Another favorite nativity ornament.

This years new Starbucks ornament.


Well, that is the end of my little tour. It is just a few of our many ornaments that I cherish. How about you? Do you add to your collection each year? Do you have an all time favorite? Do you have themes? I would love to hear about your ornaments.

Merry Christmas from our new home in Chicago.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Oh, Tannenbaum (part two)

This beautiful glass ornament was
hand carried home from Germany . . .
by Dave. . . for me.


I have collected all of the
Starbucks ornaments.

Love, love the markets in Prague,
which is my favorite city.


Yup, more beverage ornaments.

A glass ornament in my favorite color.
(Christmas Market, Chicago)

We received this ornament as
a wedding gift
33 years ago.

From a trip to the Netherlands.
Amsterdam is another city I love.


Have you ever brought an ornament home from a trip?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oh, Tannebaum (part one)

It is that most wonderful time of the year . . . time to put up the Christmas tree. It is especially sweet for me this year, for two reasons:

1. While we were at the lake house the past two Christmas seasons, there was only space for a tiny Christmas tree. We loved our tiny tree, but it is so fun to have all of our Christmas ornaments this year.

2. I love discovering the perfect spot for the Christmas tree in a new home. It is one of the first things I do when I move.

Unwrapping each ornament was like its own little Christmas present . . . I was so happy to see them again.

Here are a few of my favorites . . .

I purchased this little darling girl in
Budapest, Hungary.

Couldn't resist getting this for Dave . . . he loves
travel and loves "the world."

She was a going away gift years ago
from my MOPS girls.

We are called the "beverage family" by many friends.
I love our beverage ornaments. Last year my
whole tree was beverages.


I love Nativity ornaments. I bought this one
last year at the Christmas Market in Chicago.

A favorite Christmas book
in minature.

Doesn't everyone have a camel ornament
from Morocco? (Thanks, Christy)

Stay tuned for more ornaments . . . What are your favorites?
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