Monday, December 23, 2013

I❤️ Utah--Merry Christmas

While driving through Ogden one evening,  I saw that the city hall had put up a large lighting display.  It was unlike any I'd seen in many, many years and I was immediately struck by the large "Happy Birthday Jesus!" sign.  After asking a local about it, I was informed this is an annual event in Ogden called The Christmas Village--notice it is NOT called The Holiday Village.  I remember displays in shop windows at Christmas in my hometown and how much I enjoyed the animated figures and masses of people shuffling along the sidewalk from one window to the next. This last weekend I took my own children to enjoy a wonderful local Christmas tradition.

Lil' Lamb loved all the "yights".

The village is filled with more than 60 little cottages decked out by local businesses.  This is the E.L.F. Bakery complete with animated figures decorating cookies.

Of course our kiddos had to visit the Ski Shop.

The Chapel of Hope

The ruffians with one final pose.

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Crockpot Beef Carbonnade

I was visiting a dear friend one day and she had her crockpot going and what was inside smelled absolutely delicious, I had to have the recipe.  I am not a big fan of crockpot food.  I love the idea, but very rarely do I love the results.  This recipe actually works and is definite keeper.  The recipe I'm posting today is my friend's, but I did tweak it a little for our family's particular tastes.

Beef Carbonnade Over Noodles

2 lbs lean beef stew meat cut into bite sized pieces (I did not use lean stew meat, but some nicely marbled chuck)
2 T flour 
¼ t salt
1/8 t pepper
2 T olive oil
14 oz. can beef broth
2 large onions, halved and sliced thins (I used only one red onion and that was plenty for my family)
1 clove garlic, crushed
12 oz dark beer
12 oz. egg noodles, cook and drain
Fresh parsley leaves, chopped (I forgot the parsley)

Toss well in bowl: beef, flour, salt/pepper.   Heat 1 T oil in  skillet on medium high.  Brown ½ beef  on medium high ½.  Remove and repeat with other ½ beef.  Remove beef and add 1 can broth to skillet.  Boil 1 minute.   In crockpot, stir sliced onions, garlic, and beer.  Top with beef and broth.  Cover and cook on low 8 hours.  Serve over noodles and top with parlsey.  

I love mushrooms but some of the kids don't, so I sautéed 16 oz of fresh sliced mushrooms in butter and some of the cooking liquid from the beef, and added those to individual plates.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Hibernation Mode

I know I've been quite quiet on the blog of late.  Of course, I've been somewhat busy preparing for Christmas, but there is something about this time of year and the bitter cold that puts me deep into mama bear hibernation mode.  There is plenty of house work to keep me busy, but too often I've found myself huddled up under the covers reading or watching Masterpiece Theater offerings.  My two most recent discoveries being Gunnar's Daughter by Sigrid Undset and Lark Rise to Candleford, courtesy of the BBC.  Both are quite lovely diversions from housework.  What are your favorite distractions?  I may need a few recommendations once I finish all four seasons of Lark Rise!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Is it too Much to Ask?

Is it too much to ask for cooperation with photos for the annual Christmas card?  Apparently it is.  Although this year's offering isn't nearly the fail of three years ago (see here). I had one teenager absolutely refuse to be in any photos taken by me, another child unhappy he/she had to be in photos with siblings, and two more express that the Christmas photo shoot was always so stressful.  Wow, really?  Could the stress possibly be attributed to the complete lack of cooperation? Ugh.  So it isn't what I had hoped, but this is what we put together for our Christmas card this year.  A couple were from our my planned Christmas card photo shoot while at the Japanese Gardens in Spokane. One is of number one son playing basketball (obviously he refused to cooperate at all), and the final photo was taken in Oklahoma City just before a wedding.  It's not completely horrible, but it isn't at all what I had envisioned.  Sigh.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Narcissist or Beautiful Music?

I could blog about our idiot president and the embarrassment he caused at the Mandela funeral yesterday.  Who takes selfies at a funeral???  At least Michelle looked livid.

Or I could post a video that has been making the rounds on Facebook from an incredibly talented group of a cappella musicians.

Today, beautiful music wins.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Babies

We got over a foot of snow over the weekend.  Of course, the snow blower is in the shop and Wingnut was on a trip.  I shoveled the driveway 4 times in less than 24 hours.  Posting these photos of my very cute snow babies is all the blogging I have the energy for today.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

O Root of Jesse

It has taken three years, (well really only about 3 months but then it sat for nearly three years before I finally decided to finish) but our beautiful cross stitched Jesse Tree ornaments are done and ready to be used, just in time for Advent!

I am mostly pleased with how they turned out, especially since I really am not a huge fan of handcraft projects that take months to complete.  I am also not a fan of following instructions, so I messed up the centering on a few of the finished ornaments, but only a crafter would really notice.  I recently learned from a blog follower that the company that sells this particular set's instructions is no longer in business and you can no longer find the instructions anywhere.  Thankfully, I still have my copy!

Wingnut wants us to support our local Knights of Columbus by purchasing a live Christmas tree from them each year.  Normally, we don't put up our Christmas tree until the very last week of Advent, sometimes not until Christmas Eve.  I was wracked with guilt last year as we decorated our tree the first week of Advent instead of waiting.  Just kidding, but I do like to keep with tradition and so I am thrilled to have this project ready to go.  The tree arrives this Saturday and we'll decorate it with lights and a ribbon garland that I have written upon it the lineages of Christ.  Each day, throughout the remainder of Advent, the Jesse Tree ornaments will be added to the tree and we'll read a bible story, or verse, or Psalm that is appropriate for that particular ornament. 

My stitching instructions did not advise as to which story or verse the ornaments matched up to. Some are obvious--such as the rainbow, or the apple and serpent.  Unfortunately, some are not nearly as obvious, and are in fact down right obscure.  Like the above.  Now, most might say this represents the donkey Mary rode into Bethlehem, but they would be wrong.  The title of this ornament is "Messianic Promise".  The ornaments are in chronological order and this ornament is between the Ten Commandments and The Conquest of Jericho.  I searched through the Old Testament trying to find what in the world this ornament refers to.  The only story I could find was an obscure story about  a donkey that was compelled by God to speak to his rider.  I can't even find it again.  No matter, it really said nothing about the Messianic promise.  For this ornament we'll read a Messianic prophesy from Psalms or Isaiah.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

Arches and Canyonlands

Sorry for the lack of posting, but we took a mini vacation into the wild lands of Utah for some hiking and site seeing and made it back just in time for the Thanksgiving cooking marathon.

Utah has so much to offer the outdoor lovers in our family and I'll tell you, late fall is the time to go to some of these national parks.  We missed the crowds and the heat and the brisk weather was nearly perfect.  We hiked nearly 13 miles in two days and saw some absolutely spectacular scenery and geological features.  Here are just a few photos from our adventures.

This was just one of the views on the drive.

Entrance to Arches National Park

Within Arches National Park

Balanced Rock (one of many)

Our outdoor lovers against the diverse landscape of Arches

Turret Arch

Beneath Double Arch

North Window Arch

Petroglyphs near Delicate Arch (We did not make it to the famous Delicate Arch, after hiking 2.5 of the 3 miles to the arch the sun was almost set and we had to turn back.  We had to run much of the way back to the car to beat the sunset)

The next morning we explored Canyonlands National Park.  We were above the cloud cover.  I love this shot of the clouds pouring into the canyon.

Hiking into the clouds--this is not fog, but actual clouds!

Peering into the cloud filled canyon

After several hours the clouds did finally lift and we were able to see into one side of the canyons.

Peering into the expansive depths of Canyonlands

Canyonlands seen through the Mesa Arch

Wilderness family at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands

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