Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas: A Holiday with one spelling

My munchkins were so cute this year crafting away.  Logan made chocolate covered pretzels that he added to some...um....special trail mix (3 kids of marshmallows, banana chips, almonds, peppermint pieces, it was odd).  He was very proud.  Riley helped me scan his artwork and make a calendar on snapfish.  It turned out so awesome! Savannah Lynn made tie-dyed soap.  All three made candy necklaces and cookie mix in a jar for various friends and family.  It was cute and it was fun.  I tried to cut back on the number of presents.  It didn't work.  I forget they have 2 insane grandmothers who love buying stuff.

Yeah.  That's our "downsized" room of junk.

But, before we got to that, there was Christmas Eve.  Despite knowing better, I agreed to have Christmas Eve in Springfield.  6 Flags Over Jesus (my loving knickname for our mega-church) was "sold" out of free tickets, so I gave ours back so someone else could have a seat.  I just have come to embrace the fact that my crazy self gets angry when I'm stressed, and I knew that I would be stressed Christmas eve.  Anyway, driving up to get to Springfield I was freaking out and crying, we got to the Lutheran Church of Silence at 6:45 to be sure we'd get seats and Service didn't start until 7:30 (not 7 like we originally thought), the kids were exhausted by 8, service didn't end until 9:15, Savannah was crying in the car and fell asleep, Austin insisted on going back to my brother's house for dessert, so Savannah and I stayed out in the car while they went in- it wasn't great.

As a funny aside, on Tuesday, Austin met another new VP at his work who happened to be sitting behind us at Christmas Eve Service! Wheee!! It's always good when you have to ask your work superior "Did our overtired children drive you nuts?"

Christmas morning (is it morning if the sun isn't up?) started with lighting our Advent Candles and singing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus.
Yeah, it's still dark outside.  When I was little I hated that I had to wait until 6:30 for Kevin to be allowed to wake my parents up because that meant he just drove me nuts until then.  (True story- Kevin woke me up every 15 minutes on Christmas Eve until he was 14 and started OD-ing on NyQuil.)

Grammy and Papa were on time, but we had to wait for Uncle Kevin and Lauren, so we got a few pictures:
(Still dark.  Very very dark.) Check out my special snowflakes on the windows, btw.  Anne (the nice MIL) sent them to me early so I could have them up with my decorations.  They're very beautiful and quite delicate! So far the kids haven't ripped them to shreds, though, so I have hope!

Breakfast was Blueberry French Toast Bake with Cream Cheese.  It was phenomenal.
-2 loaves egg challah, chunked.  Yes, chunked is a technical term.
-12 eggs, beaten
-1 cup heavy cream (I did not call this diet French Toast)
-1 cup milk
-1/3 cup maple syrup
-2 8oz blocks of cream cheese, frozen and chunked.  Yup, we're chunking again.
-1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries.
Mix eggs, cream, milk, syrup.  Add blueberries, cream cheese, and challah chunks.  No challah? You could use panetonne, brioche, or another sturdy, slightly dry bread.  Or, you could stop hating and find some challah.  Put it in the fridge overnight.

Grease a 13x9 pan.  Dump in the purple mess you think looks horrible and unedible.  It'll bake up toasty and gorgeous, so don't worry. While it bakes for 1 hour at 350, mix the following in a sauce pan and bring to a boil until syrupy:
-1 cup water
-1 cup frozen blueberries
-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
-3T butter

In an hour, your French Toast will have baked up and gotten super tall like a freaking souffle.  It's okay, you used 12 eggs.  When you take it out of the oven, it'll collapse and fall down, like a souffle.  Let it set for 10 minutes so the cream cheese isn't like liquid lava, and then serve with the blueberry syrup.  I think this would easily make 2 slightly less packed 13x9's if you're concerned about the amount you're cramming into the baking dish.  We ate every last bite over the course of the day, with people shunning lunch to have more.  This will definitely be made again soon!

Dinner was pretty standard, prime rib cooked in rosemary, dijon, and red wine, served with horseradish cream (2 parts sour cream to 1 part mayo to as much horseradish as your peeps happen to like.  We like ours spicy.) and garlic mash.  I tried something new this year and poached the sliced potatoes and garlic in enough cream (I used 1/2 a cup) and chicken stock (I used a box of low sodium) to just cover them.  You scoop out the soft veggies and mash them, using any remaining liquid if you need it (I didn't).  These were the BEST mashed potatoes ever.  EVER EVER.  So creamy and flavorful!  There were orange glazed string beans with candied pecans, spinach salad with winter fruit, fresh rolls, and red velvet cake.  It was tasty :) I have to admit, though, after Hannukah dinner, a dinner for friends, and Christmas dinner all in one week, even I am a little cooked out!!

This year was good for me as we made a conscious effort to focus more on Jesus and less on anything that typically frustrates mommy (like ZOMG SANTA! for an entire month. They know, they're okay.) and it was so beautiful for me.  I loved our devotional this year and we'll definitely use it again, and I especially loved that my reader and beginning reader could help share the message with us.

These flowers were purchased for our Friday night dinner with friends and lasted until Christmas, which is really good for tulips! They're gorgeous and it turns out that one of my presents from Austin was a year of once a month flower delivery from my favorite local florist.  I've always said that if I won the lottery I'd buy a house with a yard, a minivan, and weekly flowers and then I'd stick the rest in savings and investments....apparently he was listening!
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