Caroling & Hot Cocoa “Bar”

I didn’t want to throw a “real” party.  It’s Christmastime and who, really, has time for all that extra cooking, cleaning and prep?  Not me.  So I decided that I wanted to start a new tradition:  caroling around the neighborhood and then serving hot cocoa afterward.  It was so simple and so much fun!  I’m not sure which was more fun:  watching the kids have a blast or singing the carols (which I love!).  I think watching the kids has the edge, though.  They were so excited but tired easily.

Next year we’ll limit it to one chosen street instead of trying to go around the block.  We were able to sing 10 to 12 times.  I used the collection of sheet music that good ‘ol Martha Stewart put together.  It was a nice mix of Christian and more secular Christmas music (e.g. Up on the Housetop and Jingle Bells in amidst The First Noel and Silent Night).  I was smiling about it for days afterward and hope that those who went with us had as much fun as we did.

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Afterward, I made Crockpot Hot Cocoa (this filled my 7 qt crock pot!):

  • 2 c. heavy whipping cream (not whipped!)
  • 2 – 14 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 gallon of milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla powder (or regular vanilla, I used Thrive’s vanilla powder)
  • 4 c. chocolate chips (I used Hershey’s dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 c. powdered sugar

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I also made White Hot Chocolate:

  • 4 c. heavy whipping cream (not whipped!)
  • 4 c. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground cardamom (removed from pods)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 T. vanilla powder (or regular vanilla, I used Thrive’s vanilla powder)
  • 16 oz white chocolate (I used the melting wafers from Hobby Lobby)

The White Hot Chocolate was the bomb.  Seriously.  I did not know it would be so good or I would have doubled the recipe.  Three or four people asked for the recipe!

Here’s the selection of marshmallows and additions including maraschino cherry skewers, spray cream cinnamon and chips of almost every kind:

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Before everyone showed up (we had two more families come after this shot!).

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The teenage girls who participated just INSISTED that “Let it Go!” was a Christmas song.  Ahem.  I disagree but they sang it with gusto (along with a few parents!).

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The best part?  Everyone seemed genuinely welcoming and happy to see us!  It’s definitely a new tradition.  Next year, I’ll make the boys bring their drums and bells from percussion.

Knitted Neon Mary Janes

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Knitted Neon Mary Janes. Could they get any cuter?! I packaged them up for a baby shower in a plain kraft box, printed a label, and added a ribbon. JUST MY LUCK — I forgot the shower was for a boy. That’s okay, though, because I actually had made these for another baby girl and was using them in a pinch because the shower is today! I might have to just do booties just to keep up with baby shower gifts for church. If you click on the template for the label, it should take you to Flickr where you can download the file as a free printable. If you like these, please give them a “like” on Ravelry.

Television Watching – 7 yr old style!

I wish I could still fit on an end table comfortably!

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More Stupid Husband Tricks

Many of you remember my original post in 2008 here with the ladder. Welll, it was about time for another round. This time with scaffolding, bailing wire, and rocks.

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First Day of School 2013-2014

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The boys started school this week.  It’s Cole’s senior year.  That’s all I have to say about that.

I Love Family History: The Eymann Family in Nebraska

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While I was at my parent’s home in celebration of their 60th wedding anniversary, we took the time to go through some old photos that are treasures! I will be posting many but wanted to get one of my favorites on here as I know many people have contacted me through this blog when researching the Eymann line (Torsten, are you out there?!). This is my grandmother on my mother’s side as a child, Lillie Della Eymann, standing. Seated child is Robert E. Eymann her brother. My great grandparents are Ernest Gottfried Eymann and Lottie Ollie Thornton. I love family history!!!

Photography for Christmas Lights

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So our neighborhood is having a Christmas lights contest and, since ours is relatively tasteful, one can be assured we will not win. At any rate, I thought it would be a good time to learn how to use my Nikon D90 and get some pictures of the lights. My hubby is a very experienced photographer so he tried patiently to explain ISO and shutter speed to me. It still doesn’t quite make sense but here goes: ISO goes as high as your camera will go – I set mine at 3200. Interestingly enough, the shutter speed varied – some pictures came out good at 1/10, some at 1/8 and some at 1/25 and lastly, be sure that the camera is in manual mode and the flash is off. We found the interior tree pictures came out best if surrounding lights were turned off, too. It was fun to change the speed and see what happened. Now if I could only figure out how to get the dang camera on and off the tripod…I’m pretty much hopeless when it comes to photography! If composition were the only factor, I’d have it made.

Rocks and Raising Boys

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Anybody else’s kids come home with this many pebbles in their shoes? It doesn’t matter what KIND of shoes Ben wears, either. He’s managed this with his tennis shoes as well. On another note, I had a wonderful phone conversation with a very good friend from Houston and she told me that her 9 year old girl refuses to get rid of a stick that my boys carved for her (we moved 7 months ago now). I think that’s pretty cute. Rocks. Sticks. {Sigh} Boys.

A Small Thanksgiving

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So while I was sick (and clearly not in my right mind), I volunteered to cook turkey and make gravy for the Kindergarten classes. It was worth it to see all those pilgrims and Indians enjoying their meal.

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The kitchen looks so nice when it’s clean. I quickly sewed a couple of muslin slipcovers to go over our blue chairs since only two of the new kitchen chairs that I ordered had arrived by Thanksgiving! Gotta make do, right…they have unfinished hems but I have a fantastic idea for hemming them. Info and pics to come. Also, I need to share the tape method Cole helped me with to make the custom pattern for them – it helped so much when it came to sewing them from scratch. And if the resident sewing newbie (me) can do it, anybody can!

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Our island could fit 6 to 8 places comfortably but since we already had one bench and one stool from another home we lived in, I gave up my idea for new seating completely and just ordered another small stool to flank the bench. I think it looks pretty good for using what we’ve got!

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I never thought I’d say this but I love that stupid freezer on the bottom that I resisted for so long. Now if I could just remember to not kick and shove it to close the thing!

While we were grateful for a small Thanksgiving gathering this year with new friends, we did miss being with family. We are kind of travel-ed out so I think for the holidays this year we will be staying put. Never fear, though, we ate like kings. Today (the day AFTER Thanksgiving), we all had pie for breakfast. What more could signify a successful holiday? We are thankful for many things: the gospel of Jesus Christ, jobs, home, family and friends…and technology.

Meadowville, Bear Lake, Laketown, Woodruff and the ’64 MGB Convertible

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Hubby drove it into this barn 20 years ago — the summer before we were married. It’s about time it was rescued! Lost cattle got into the barn and used it as toilet paper and added a few dings to the body but otherwise, it’s in great condition, except for the interior. I don’t envy Don this restoration job but he sure seems to be excited by it and I hope the boys will get lots of quality time with their dad.

Staining the Fence: Round 2

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The boys have stain in their newly acquired, adorable haircuts. I timed that wrong! Well, I hope they learned some sort of life-enhancing lesson through all that work! The interior of the fence is done. Hooray!

Door Ditchin’ Halloween Style

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So we got “poo-ed” by a couple of skittish ghosts running from our front porch. So cute! The bag included all sorts of poo: vampire poo (hot tamales), skeleton poo (skeleton bones: mini marshmallows on pretzel sticks dipped in white bark), bat poo (chocolate covered raisins), spider poo (cotton candy), and clown poo (skittles). Very clever! A fun idea to pass along a church group and/or neighborhood.

Write It On Your Heart

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Another favorite quote sign that I have hanging in my home (a Goodwill find!): “Write it on your heart that the ones you love are life’s most precious gifts.”

Trunk-or-Treat Decoration for Halloween

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We created a cute vampire-fang-monster-mouth car decoration for the open back of a car at our trunk or treat. This was in 2009 – weren’t those boys so cute? They look so small to me when looking back just two years later. We had just moved to Houston in this picture and it was HOT for Halloween. The fangs were easy to create – a quick tip to make it even easier: we used an old, giant sticky note presentation board so they just stuck and we didn’t even have to tape them on anywhere to the car! Easy! Cute!