Friday, December 31, 2010

Kissing Cousins . . . How about Just Cousins

If you asked my kids how many cousins they have, they would tell you 7, soon-to-be 9, and would argue with you until you were blue in the face because they FIRMLY believe that is true.   Among the 7 cousins, they count Claire and Margaret Ann (my sister-in-law's nieces) as their cousins.  Carter and LB were thrilled to hear that they were going to get to spend some time with their "cousins" when we went to Montgomery.  I think all four enjoyed their time together.
 These two were hilarious together.  Sweet Claire followed Carter around asking him all kinds of questions about princess.  One of my favorites:

Claire:  Carter, which princesses are your favorites?
Mine are Belle and Tiana.
Carter:  I don't like princesses.
Claire:  Who's in your favorite prince?
Do you like Prince Charming?
Carter: I like Prince Caspian.

Later they were racing outside and Claire kept falling to the ground while Carter kept running.  We asked Carter what the deal was and his reply, 
She wants to hold my hand. . . and I DON'T!

 Margaret Ann and LB kept things a bit calmer by reading together . . . 

until they went outside and found the wagon . . .

I am so thankful that the kids love their family and extended family! I count it an amazing blessing that they can be surrounded by so many who love them!

Christmas in Auburn

The day after Christmas who knew what to do . . .
we flew down to Auburn for a day or two.

We celebrated Christmas with the ones that we love . . .

and kept each other company  . . . 

We learned how to cook fudge . . .

and had crazy times with Uncle Chuck!

We took time to play . . .

and time to snuggle . . .

We cooked some more . . .
(and are ready to see Aunt Amy's cooking blog!)

and played 50 million games of Skip Bo Junior!

Though crazy it was at times . . .
Though we were all so very tired . . .
I think we can all say we had a very
Merry Christmas
down on the plains!

Love it . . . One Tired Boy!

a bunch of cousins . . .

a first Christmas . . . 

traveling . . .

what do you get?

one oh so sleepy little baby Walker!

Book Review: Voices of the Faithful

I recently read Voices of the Faithful for Thomas Nelson review team BookSneeze.  Beth Moore has teamed up with missionaries all over the world to provide us with daily devotionals looking at different themes each month.  Each day begins with a scripture and then a missionary's thoughts on that scripture as it pertains to the mission world and God's word.  At the end of the devotional thought, a prayer is given to help lead your thoughts in what was just studied.  With topics such as God's character, God's word, prayer, God's grace, witnessing, presecution, God working, contentment and other "hot" topics, it reminds us as individuals of what our missionaries are experiencing as well as reminding us that we are not the only ones fighting the battle against the evil one.  I especially enjoyed being reminded that all of God's children fight the same fights no matter where we are in the world. It was a wonderful devotional book that I look forward to reading daily starting tomorrow.  I got so much from this book and I know I will gleam more from it than I did reading quickly to review it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Review: Amy Inspired

Thanks to my friends at Bethany House for another book to review!!  This time I branched WAY out of my normal reading to read Amy Inspired by  Bethany Pierce.  It is a book about a young woman named Amy who is wrestling with her faith in God, faith in others and faith in her work.  Amy struggles to live out her dream of writing a novel as she struggles with living her life now as an adjunct creative writing teacher at a college.  She sees others living out their dreams while her dreams just become stopped along the way.  She does not know how to handle the many things that come her way - including falling in love with her non-traditional prince charming.  I had a hard time beginning this book, but, once I got into it, it was an easier read.  It was also not your traditional Christian fiction book.  It was not as enriched with Christian principles as some but there was an underlying theme of God and ones faith in Him.  I would recommend this book to anyone as an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Morning

We waited for Santa and he came.  Everyone was at the house Christmas morning . . . .
 The kids were up about 7:30 and just waiting patiently for not Santa to arrive, but  . . . .
 Papa Whittle to arrive . . . .  He finally did and the party could begin!

 Carter was thrilled with his Elvis Andrus jersey!
 LB LOVED her Harry Potter Lego sets Santa brought
 Even Chuck was awake for the festivities!
 Grandad, LB, Gran and Carter
 Grandad and LB putting Legos together
 Chuck with this t-shirt quilt Mom made for him.

And, of course, the big moment - the call from Santa that has come each Christmas morning.  The kids were so thoughtful and thanked Santa for all he had brought them.

We spent the rest of the day in our pajamas, playing games and putting Legos together! It was a great Christmas day!

A Table Set for Christmas Brunch

I love having people over - especially my family.  I want my kids to enjoy people and what it takes to get ready for people to come to the house.  So, Christmas Eve the kids and I got the table ready for our Christmas brunch.  They had so much more fun than I thought they would have had!  To begin, we set out a holiday tablecloth I picked up half off one year after Christmas along with the Santa table runner.
I used my everyday plates as a charger for my Old Time Santa salad plates.  I got these after Christmas either the year we got married or the year we got engaged (I can't remember at all) from Target.  Along the sides of the plates, went the silverware that matches the salad plates.  My mother-in-law gave me these as a Christmas present (the same year I got the plates).
 The place setting was complete with my Heritage coffee mugs and winter scene ice tea glasses (which we got from Arby's - yes, Arby's - the year we got married).  Carter thought Grandma's cloth napkins would look best tucked into the glasses, and what a great choice he made!

 I am a Santa girl!! I love Santas!  So, of course, the centerpiece of the table was one of my old time Santa figurines.  My grandmother or my mother gave me this and I just LOVE it!!  We set it on top of my crystal cake stand.  Around it, we placed a pine wreath wrapped with gold ribbon just for that extra touch.
I loved my table and once it was filled with family it was perfect! However, I think I loved my help even more!
We were ready for a wonderful brunch of muffins, breakfast tacos, fruit, coffee and hot apple cider!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve Traditions

We have always been full of tradition when it comes to Christmas.  I think it is one reason I love Christmas the way I do.  The night begins with some kind of family meal.  This has evolved over the years from desserts with the Wilcoxsin clan, to finger foods with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents, to the big Christmas meal with family.  This is what we did this year - our full blown out Christmas dinner and it was wonderful as always!

Sweet LB is ready for dinner

Uncle Chuck is getting Carter ready for dinner.
Chuck made Carter this vest and it was a HUGE hit!!!
Games of all kinds are ALWAYS a part of the evening. 
After dinner and games, we headed back to our house to get ready for the jolly old man himself to come.  We had been tracking him all day and did one last look to see that he was getting closer and closer to us! So, the kids put out cake mix cookies they had made along with a Christmas Tree cake and a Dr. Thunder - for a little caffeine rush after all the milk!  The kids each wrote Santa something (which will be posted later) . . . .

hung up their stockings . . .

and read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas with Daddy.

Carter has been MOST enthusiastic about Christmas since Thanksgiving, so needless to say, he was a bit wound up Christmas Eve.  Santa obviously had gotten that message and called Carter that night.  He told Carter he better go to bed so he could come!  Whatever else was said, must have worked because Carter went straight to bed and was asleep in 10 minutes!!

Santa kept his word and came!  What loot he brought for Carter!  He wants everyone to see the Elvis Andrus jersey hanging! Santa's elves went to MUCH trouble to get this jersey!!! Thank you, Dallas, TX, elves for pulling through!!!

Laura Beth's loot . . . .  Mom and Dad want to say a special thank you to some secret elves who helped add to the kids' stash!  You helped make our Christmas especially bright this year and we will be forever grateful!

More proof that Santa did come . . . everything was gone from his plate and he left the sweetest note to the kids telling them how proud he was of them!  We really are beyond blessed with such amazing kids!

Merry Christmas to all,
and to all a
Good Night!

Christmas Cooking Day

I had just mentioned that I had not done much Christmas cooking with the kids - well, we made up for that Christmas Eve!!!  Laura Beth spent the night at Gran and Grandad's the night before and woke up to help Grandad make Nana Willis' tea cakes.

Old Fashioned Tea Cakes
(Nana Willis via Mrs. Dixon)

Beat together: 3 eggs
2 c. sugar
4 T buttermilk
1 c. shortening
1 t. vanilla

Sift together and add to first mixture. Add more flour if needed.
4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt

Refrigerate about 30 minutes for easier handling.

Roll out on lightly floured baord, cut and space far apart on greased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in 400 degree oven until lightly brown for 10-12 minutes.

I was not able to get any pictures of this cookie expedition but I know the outcome was great! So glad the third generation of the family is making these special cookies!  We all think of Nana when we think of these cookies!

After lunch, LB came back with us to the house and we made our first Kisses Pie (see the following post for the easy recipe)!  Then, Carter was ready to make his cookies.  He had been patiently waiting to make his chocolate chocolate chip cake mix  cookies.  He did it all by himself, too! I was super proud of him and his efforts!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

1 chocolate cake mix
2 eggs
1/2 c. oil
1 c. chocolate chips

Mix all the ingredients together.  Place on cookie sheets.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

We added a bit of crushed peppermints to the tops of some of the cookies to make them more festive!

Carter and his cookie creations!

Then, Chuck (my youngest brother) is in from LA.  He picked up some pomegranates and we made my dear friend's, Kristen, recipe for Chocolate Chip Pomegranate Cookies. The kids were a huge help and really did a great job with the cooking process of these cookies.

Chocolate Fudge Pomegranate Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

1 c. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. pomegranate juice (or pomegranate/blueberry juice, which was all I could find. Delicious, but EXPENSIVE)
1 c. milk chocolate chips
1/2 c. pomegranate arils

Cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until fluffy. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt - combine dry mixture and wet mixture. Add pomegranate juice and mix once more. Fold in chocolate chips; fold in pomegranate arils last. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours - but the longer, the better.

When dough is ready to be baked, gently scoop dough out and onto a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Some arils will burst in the process, but it all ends up O.K. =) Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool a bit before eating.

These cookies are best eaten right after baking. After about a day, the pomegranate arils start to shrink and aren't juicy anymore.

Mixing up part of the recipe
My great help!
LB is an amazing cook for being 8 years old!
Pomegranate seeds with the dough in the background!
Adding them in!
The final product was wonderful!!! So wonderful I don't have pictures to prove it!  Go to Kristen's blog to see her final product - they obviously have more will power than we do!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Kisses Pie

I love spending time with the family - no matter which part of the family it is.  I was blessed to be able to spend a little time in the kitchen with my niece, Addison, this year.  She taught me how to make her speciality - Kisses Pie!!

Kisses Pie
(makes 2 pies)

2 pie crusts
1 bag of Hershey Kisses or Silver Bells
2 containers of Cool Whip
Whipped Cream
Chocolate toppings of your choice

Bake the pie crusts according to the directions.
Unwrap the kisses into a microwave safe bowl.
Heat until the chocolate is melted. 
Stir till smooth.
Add Cool Whip.
Mix till well blended.
Pour into pie crusts and chill.
Top as you desire.

Here's my head chef, Addison, with her pie.
My kids and I plan on making this for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Thank you, Addison!
I love you!

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