Saturday, January 13, 2018

Remembering December {7QT}

1. I love how excited the kids get every year the night before the Feast of St. Nicholas. After dinner, we read about St. Nicholas in the Loyola Kids Book of Saints. Then we read The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale. Before bed, they leave their shoes by the front door in anticipation of a small gift, candy, and possibly a gold coin or two.

2. On December 9th, Mary Rose played in the snow for the first time! She loved it, at first. She walked all over our front and back yards. Then she fell three times, landing with her face in the cold snow, and she was done. Ralph played outside on the trampoline while Mary Rose explored the yard. 

3. I usually make a photo card to send to our friends and family for Christmas. This year I had the kids pictures taken at J.C.Penney. I think they turned out well. I had to buy paper cards for the first time in many years. I was happy to see that The Dollar Tree had such lovely cards to choose! I enjoy sending and receiving Christmas cards, but every year I send fewer cards than the previous year. I am okay with that because relationships change, or sadly we lose a dear friend or family member, but I hope that the tradition of sending cards never dies. Every card my family receives brightens our day and makes us smile, and with each card I address I pray that it brings the recipient a bit of joy, too.  

4 A family member asked for an old-fashioned apple cake as his Christmas present. I searched the house for my grandmother's recipe which is the only apple cake recipe that I have ever used. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it, so I looked up several recipes for apple cakes online and in my cookbooks. I knew he wanted the cake to be full of chunky apples and no nuts. I combined several recipes hoping to bake an apple cake to satisfy his craving. He told me to keep the recipe because it was the best apple cake that he has ever eaten! I am posting my recipe here so that I know where to find it next time I need to make it. 

Old Fashioned Apple Cake

3 cups peeled and chopped fresh apples 
1 1/2 cups oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan. Prepare the apples and set aside. Beat the wet ingredients and the sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Combine the dry ingredients in a smaller bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, but do not over mix. Add the chopped apples to the batter, and stir until all ingredients are just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake in the oven for 60 to 75 minutes or until golden in color. 

The apple cake in the 9x13 pan was given to a family member. The smaller apple cake and the ginger cake were kept for Christmas dessert. 

5. Christmas Eve was a busy day for us. We went to the 11:00 Mass to celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent in the morning. After Mass, we went home and had a quick lunch. Then Mary Rose took a nap while the rest of us laid around the house, anticipating the rest of the day. At 3:00, I woke Mary Rose up from her nap, gave her a quick snack, and put her Christmas dress on her. Then we left for the 4:15 Christmas Mass. We usually go to morning Mass on Christmas Day, but since Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday this year, it meant that Chris had the day off from work, so we were able to attend an evening Mass. After Mass, we went to my cousin's home for the annual Christmas Eve dinner with my mother's side of the family. We stayed for about an hour and a half. Then we visited Chris' parents for their Christmas Eve celebration. We were home by 10:00, and all of the kids went to bed shortly after we arrived home. On Christmas Day, we stayed home (the way Chris likes it). I made breakfast (quiche and cinnamon buns), we opened presents, and then I started cooking for Christmas dinner. I made pot roast, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, green beans with bacon and onions, and dinner rolls. For dessert, we had a variety of sweets from cheesecake to gingerbread to Rolo pretzels and cupcakes to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It was a nice, relaxing day, spent with the kids and our oldest son's girlfriend.

In our Christmas Eve morning Mass attire. 

6. We use an artificial tree in our home. Chris prefers an artificial tree because it is less messy. I prefer a fake tree because it means that we can keep our tree up for a long time. It is our tradition to put our tree up on or close to the feast of St. Lucy. Just the tree and the lights. Then we slowly add ornaments until Christmas Eve. Candy Canes are the last decorations to be added to our tree. Then we keep our tree up until Candlemas (February 2nd), slowly removing the ornaments after celebrating the Epiphany. This year we put the tree up in our office because Mary Rose does not have access to that room thanks to two well-placed baby gates. Since we put the Christmas tree next to the whiteboard, we used it to count down the days until Christmas. As I was going to bed on Christmas Eve, I decided to write Merry Christmas on the whiteboard and draw a picture of Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. I am no artist, but I was happy with how my drawing turned out. On Christmas morning, Chris complimented me on my drawing, saying he could not have drawn the Holy family so well. The boys playfully made fun of my drawing. Later that day I noticed that someone had erased St. Joseph's head! After interrogating the members of my family, Ralph finally confessed to it. I think he was jealous of my crazy good drawing skills!

7. In December, I used Jen Fulwiler's Saint's Name Generator to pick my saints for 2018. Usually, I only choose one saint to be my saint for the year, but this year I felt the need to pick two saints. The first saint that I got was St. Conrad of Piacenza. He is the patron against hernias. The next saint I got was St. Scholastica. She is the patron saint against rain, against storms, of convulsive children, and of nuns. On January 1st, I met two of my friends for breakfast. One of them has a hernia and is contemplating surgery for it this year. My other friend's youngest son was just diagnosed with epilepsy. I am glad that I have these two saints as my patrons this year and to be able to ask for their intercession on behalf of my friends. I also used Jen's Word of the Year Generator to help me decide on my word for 2018. You can read about how I ended up with three words for the year here

Please visit Kelly at her blog This Ain't the Lyceum for more 7 Quick Takes
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