Sunday, December 22, 2013

Cranberry Steam Pudding and a few words from Robert Louis Stevenson

A friend just sent me this picture of our family in Dalat, Viet Nam ... probably 1966. How awesome is this. Those cool gold glasses, yup, that is me.

I have been in the kitchen making Cranberry Steam Pudding (bring me some figgy pudding style), and thought you might enjoy the recipe. 

Kae's Delicious Cranberry Steam Pudding

Cut in half: 2 cups raw cranberries

Blend: 1/2 cup molasses and 1/2 cup boiling water 

Blend: 1 1/2 cups flour with 2 teaspoons soda. Add to molasses mixture. Add cranberries. Pour into a 4 cup casserole.

In a large pan pour 2 cups water and some type of rack to keep the dish on. (I use waded up foil.) Set dish on rack. Cover and steam for one hour, keeping  the casserole on the rack, above the water. Add more water if needed.

Unmold and serve with sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream (not whipped)
1 cup sugar
Simmer for 3 minutes then add 1 teaspoon vanilla.


While your pudding is steaming, enjoy this favorite Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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.

That, dear blogging friends, is my prayer for you. Merry Christmas. 



 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Italy, I Mean, EATALY Comes To Chicago


Last week, Dave and I had a fun overnight in downtown Chicago and stumbled upon the biggest thing in town ... the opening of Eataly, a 63,000 square foot Italian market.

Eataly's bakery
It was so beautiful but crowded and overwhelming, that I came back early the next morning to take photos. I think half the population of Chicago was there.

Eataly's cheese section

Fortunately, there is a two page guide to help you find your way around the different shops and restaurants.


Mario Bitali and Lidia Bastianich, two of the backers said, "the ultimate goal of Eataly is to encourage the home cook to assemble Italian meals at home."

I do not think that this is what they had in mind, but I brought home Lidia's tomato basil sauce and Mario's Alla Vodka pasta sauce, along with a delicious rustic loaf of bread.


There was so much to choose from, but I stuck to the basics  for this first visit, plus two treats for Christmas Eve.


As you can see, things are delicious but a little pricey.

I really wanted to try their coffee shop, nutella bar, pizza restaurant, panini bar, fresh mozzarella bar ...
but I have to save something for next time.


I intentionally carried their shopping bag home on the el (rather than putting it in my suitcase), and told Dave to watch how many people noticed. Yup, people were pointing at me, I mean my cool Eataly bag.

PS. Chicagoland gave such a great welcome to Eataly that by the end of the first week they had to close their doors for a day of restocking and giving their 500 employees a chance to breathe.
 

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Decembered Grief


She was darling and tiny and friendly ... the nurse prepping me for my last (hallelujah) oral surgery. And when I asked her about her Christmas plans, she told me her mom had died one year ago and she still was not ready to celebrate Christmas.


We had the sweetest talk about that first Christmas without your loved one ... how you are in shock but you can always remember how hellish it was.  And now her second one ... still so hard.


This beautiful Advent season, it is good to remember those that are grieving. They are all around us.

          *in our homes

          *in our neighborhoods

          *in our grocery stores

          *in our churches

          *on our Facebook pages 

          *and yes, even in our oral surgery office


The year my friend, Dana, lost her husband in a plane crash and was facing her first Christmas with her three young boys, she told me that A Decembered Grief:Living with Loss while others are Celebrating was a help to her.


I love this passage from the book and I read it every December.

" 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 (Jesus Christ) 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 as our grief allows." 

Who are you missing this season? (I am missing my adorable mom, Hallie) I will be praying for you.

Linking with Jen and the sweet Soli Sisters.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It Is Not to Late to Join In ... The Lovely Advent Season

It seems like everyone is writing Advent pieces this year ... which is wonderful news.

I did not celebrate Advent growing up, but we celebrated the birth of Jesus. When my girls were little, my friend Kae, introduced me to the season before Christmas day ... the beautiful season of Advent. A season of preparing and waiting for Christmas and Jesus birth.


Advent devotional reading became a big part of the Childers family tradition and I want to share with you the book we used and loved.

Family Celebrations: Meeting Christ in Your Holidays and Special Occasions  We loved this so much.

     *It came with simple patterns for a tree and
      25 ornaments to make out of felt.

     *It was simple. Each night we lite two candles. (I   
              am a practical mom ... two daughters ... two candles ... no fighting.)

        *Each night we opened the book and read a short
       devotional and Bible reading, song and a 
       prayer. (perfect for this momma ... no preparation)


My friend, Rachael Poppino, made this construction paper version last year. It was their first time to celebrate Advent with their young kids.

Seriously ... this is so sweet and so easy. 

But, Advent is not just for kids and families. It is for all of us. Here is what I am doing this year ... for me.

1. The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp, is what I am using with my morning devotion. I have done two days so far, and have been touched by God's words to me through Ann. (Yes, I am already 2 days behind ... but that is okay.) 

And periodically, I have been checking in on a few other cool ones.
 
2. Diana Trautwein's An Advent Journey is a voice I love. She has that pastoral heart that is always a comfort to me.

3. New to me this year is Biola University's The Advent Project. Each day includes some beautiful art, Scripture, thoughts and a prayers from different Biola professors. (my alma mater) 

4. And my husband, Dave, is reading Walk Through the Bibles, 31 days with Jesus.

I would love to hear what you are reading. Please share the links in the comments.

PS. A little fun bit ... when Jenny and Daniel were dating, they discovered that the Stalker family used the same Advent devotional as the Childers family. 
  

Monday, December 2, 2013

What I Saw On The Way To Church This Morning ... That Made Me Tear Up

Sometimes living in Chicago is hard ~ the taxes, the traffic, the crime, the crowds ... and other times, it is a delight. This morning was pure delight.

At 8:30 am, Dave and I left our apartment to drive to church. It was early, cold and foggy and we do not usually see much traffic.

At first I saw just one ... a big burly guy on a motorcyle with a huge white teddy bear on the back of his motorcyle. I noticed right away that the tag was still attached. (ie. it was brand new) 



Before we even got to the freeway, we saw several other groups of cyclists all with toys attached to their back seats. 

Seriously ... it was so sweet, I teared up. 

I looked it up when I got home and today in Chicago, 10,000 motorcycles filled with brand new toys for kids  had a parade.

What a beautiful way to start the Christmas season in this sometimes frightening city.  

     
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