What a treat! We got to have Niko with us for Christmas eve and Christmas morning! Woo hoo!
We are still trying to avoid the crazy over done Christmas present thing. This year we opted for practical gifts for everyone . . . monogrammed towels and sleeping bags. Todd and I also tied new, big fleece blankets for everyone. Aunt Teresa had made all of the kids blankets about 10 years ago. They have been well used but now are a little small and worn with age.
We also got a new 8 person tent, a one minute tent, literally. With a stop watch in my hand, Todd and Thomas put it up for the first time in one minute. In the house.
We have had the same foods for our big Christmas Eve celebration for as long as I can remember. Why? I don't know. So this year we decided to try something new. We went with an Asian theme.
These take out boxes, filled with Asian candies, were our place cards. This is Brian, my brother in-law and head chef for any holiday feast. We never would have pulled off the evening if it were not for him.
Red chargers with white plates were topped with napkins and chopsticks. The centerpieces were Thomas' idea. Yes, those are fish. I should not take him with me when I go shopping. He has this Jedi power where he talks me into things.
My favorite Christmas visitor . . .
And then we dig in! I have no pictures of the food because I was so tired from working in the kitchen that it didn't even cross my mind. Woops! We had pork and seeds, pot stickers, egg rolls, and California rolls for appetizers. Then bowls of eggs drop soup. The meal consisted of steamed white rice, stir fried vegetables, sesame noodles, almond chicken, orange chicken, and schezwan shrimp. It was delicious. And we had a LOT of left overs.
The traditional nativity . . .
Karen and Paul joined us for the first time this year. Karen was our pianist for our Christmas Carol sing-a-long.
I have an Christmas obsession. Christmas Trees. I don't have a ton of Christmas decorations, except for trees. This year we had 4 large and 3 smaller trees. There is just something about those small twinkling lights that just make any room feel like Christmas.
My brother, Larry, came to visit for a few days. Can you believe I didn't take a single picture at all?! Me either. We had a great week visiting, eating, and checking out some of my favorite stores and stores I have always wanted to visit. My brother and I seem to share many similar ideas and love for many of the same things. Love spending time with him!
One of my new birthday gifts was a a large enamel coated dutch oven. Something I have always wanted but never wanted to pay for. Yes, I am totally spoiled. The first meal I made in it was Chicken and dumplings. So delicious. I have had this recipe for years but haven't made it for quite some time. I got the recipe here. It is always a favorite. I usually double the dumplings and leave out the thyme.
We had some friends who had 2 chickens. When one died, they worried the other was lonely. They asked if she could come join our chickens. Of course! It's a little of a "trick" to get her accepted in, but happens quite quickly. The kids have enjoyed holding, petting, and loving her already.
scrapped the caps off of the honeycomb with a hot knife,
spun the comb really fast to release the honey,
and then filtered the honey, twice.
There it is . . . our beautiful raw honey.
We got 18 pounds from our first harvest! We are hoping to get more next year as the bees will not have to work at building all the honeycomb because we left it for them to use again. Also, Todd is thinking about getting some more hives. What a successful project!