Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas traditions and thanks

Most of our traditions involve our church family, such as the hanging of the greens on Friday night before the beginning of Advent. Every Sunday of Advent we enjoy an hour of fellowship before church complete with yummy, homemade goodies. This year Advent snuck up on us because of the late Thanksgiving, while checking the signup sheet for volunteers, I saw there was no one for November 30. So I decided that was a sign from God that I should do it. Usually two sign up for duty but it looked like I was flying solo.

So Saturday morning I rose bright and early, early being open to interpretation by those who know me, and set out to create some special goodies for the next morning. By nightfall I was exhausted, sticky, floury, the kitchen looked like a chocolate bomb went off, I had dirtied every spatula I owned, the dishwasher was on overtime, I hugged and kissed my dishwasher, and I was sick to death of cooking and baking.

Sunday morning Bruce was pressed into service helping haul the bounty to the church, make coffee and spiced apple cider and he took this photo of me looking quite refreshed at the table.

I made my new favorite danish rolls by Sally's Baking Addiction, really you have to try these, right now, shoo! The red tin is full of my homemade turtles made with homemade caramel, honestly, you would spurn the mass produced one after eating one of these. The left tray are chocolate dipped chocolate cookies with sprinkles and the center tray are homemade Snickers bars. I'd made these once, last year, it took all day and they were good but not worth the time. Enter Pinterest, a new recipe by Roxanna's Home Baking, 30 Minute Snickers! "Eureka!!", I thought, "I can do that!!" 

She lied!

 I don't know anyone who could make these in 30 minutes, they were still good but not worth the mess. Next time I want a Snickers, I'll just go buy one.

After that I got to sit back and enjoy the rest of the Advent fellowship Sundays, everyone who participates takes pleasure in providing treats that have not already served. I heard one parishioner bemoan the fact that SHE had planned to serve the chocolate crackle cookies that were presently on a plate. Dang it!

Another Christmas tradition that we always participate in is the annual caroling party, last year I learned the lesson in why it matters and was looking forward to this year. But it was not to be, the flu closed the two nursing homes to visitors so we found ourselves at home on Sunday evening. We got a call from a friend that the Oakdale church, just a few miles away, was having their Christmas concert and Bruce's cousin, Mark, son Zach and his wife, Lisa were all participating. It was wonderful, the men's quartet sang 'Oh Holy Night' that brought tears to my eyes and a tiny little boy stole the show while onstage with his family. The evening ended with food and drink in their fellowship hall and we were greeted warmly by everyone. But that is the game, you try to steal people away from another church!

Christmas Eve day was always spent at the Wilcox's with as many cousins and family that show up. This year, alas, Bruce went alone, I was laid out on the couch, a victim of a combination of chemo effects and the flu. The cats kept me company and I had a back log of Christmas shows on the DVR to watch. Bruce also went alone to church services, I missed not being there to sing Silent Night to candlelight. 

Our Christmas Day was also very quiet, I was still sacked out on the couch in pj's, enjoying my new Samsung tablet. Now even if I can't get to the library, I have thousands of books at my fingertips. I had a lot of time to think of all the thanks we have this Christmas season. By far we are most thankful for the continuing recovery of Bruce's cousin and fishing partner, Dennis, who suffered a heart attack in December. It was a real shock since Dennis and Bruce are the same age. This picture was taken a couple of years ago in MN with his lovely wife, Debbie. Bruce is already looking forward to being back in MN with Dennis, fishing rods and the boat.

The fish are very afraid!

I have been very thankful for all the loving support Bruce and I have both received from family and friends throughout my illness and treatment. Elizabeth showed up at our door on Tuesday with a bulging bag of goodies that she spent hours creating in her kitchen. I didn't realize how much stuff was in there until I was finally able to eat again this weekend. I have no idea what most of it is called but I highly suspect they have Swedish origins and the little powered sugar things are to die for, they melt in my mouth!

Bruce and I were thankful to be a recipient of our friend and church organist, Bernice's, special holiday pickles. The fact that she still takes the effort to make the pickles, wrap them in colored tissue paper and package in gift bags at the age of 92 is amazing! It shows her love of everyone who is fortunate enough to receive this gift. Bruce did have to help out when she couldn't get her jars of pimentos open. Yeah for Bruce!

We didn't think there was going to be a Sunday School Christmas program this year because of lack of children. But Jen Huff refused to break tradition, wrote a program and did a great job with the little ones she could round up. Thank you, Jen!

Wednesday, two ham dinners, cooked with love by Minnie and delivered by Dave, or as we affectionately call him, 'Bonger'. That certainly took care of Christmas dinner and just in time as Bruce was running out of leftovers in the fridge.

And I'm thankful for the effort of my two pullets, Blue and Lucky, one of them has started laying a little brown egg!

I read on Pinterest how to tell which of your hens are actively laying but I would not subject either of my ladies to it.

I know how much I look forward to my annual physical.

I hope you all were able to enjoy your own Christmas traditions and have plenty to be thankful for.

Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year!!!


  1. What a joy to read this! I need to find that recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction, but I doubt I would ever make that much stuff in one day! You looked amazing after that ordeal--must have mostly agreed with you. You are so right, we have so much to be grateful for.

  2. INdeed, I too today thought of all the things, mostly so many who have had serious illnesses in this past year who have miraculously come through, for the most part. Who says miracles no longer happen? You just have to stop, be silent and look, they are everywhere. I have recipe called "snickers fudge" that is to die for...tastes MUCH better than the namessake candy bar! Its not too bad to make, but it does take a few minutes to set up each layer. I think its worth it as I'm not having to stir, or cook anything, the longest time is for it to set up! Remind me and I'll share that recipe. I need to look back in the blogs here to see the actual name of those rolls, I love Sally's Baking addiction page, I get lots of recipes from there too! But I saw a lot of cinnamon rolls, am very curious to find the "new Danish roll" recipe to try. Maybe Bluejeanchristine and I can try a baking day together and check it out! Glad to see you looking so chipper and relaxed! Nice spread of goods for the church! Yum! We love to do that too, and I must say when others find out we are bringin the goods, they line right up................Happy Healthy New Years to you and Brucie both!

  3. At the Sally's Baking Addiction page, look under breakfast, there you will find the Danish. She has a separate page for the dough, I just love it as is the easiest Danish recipe I have ever found! I love the braid but it makes great rolls also.

  4. Hey, sisters: Julie brought some of these Danish to our place for Thanksgiving, and I will say it again (as I already told her that day), they are even better than Mom's, and that is the truth. Absolutely did melt in your mouth........

    I also have a recipe for Snickers that isn't hard, just takes time for each layer to set up. I'll bet we have the same one, Shirley! It is a time to reflect and give thanks, we have been so blessed in so many ways. Enjoy your holidays, loved ones, and may the good Lord bless and keep you, each and every one. Love you guys! Janet

  5. well I'm a tad bit late in reading this but I'll chip in my few cents worth..Julie, you were highly commendable in making all the goodies. Good grief, even the home made caramels?? and there you are, smiling even the day after; good for you! (You look great, by the way...) I wondered if you had made it to Mark's on the 24th. How wonderful to go to Oakdale, those beautiful Wilcox voices must have been something to hear!! Happy New year to all of you, my sisters and brother. Much love, CG