Friday, December 27, 2013

Abe's Feast...

Say, "Hi!" to Abe.  He's 10 and very happy to be in "the double digits." Abe is an active kid- spending his summers swimming, riding his bike and building bases.  The winter months are a bit of a trial for him as he's stuck inside, squirming and fidgeting.  Perhaps the trial is more on our end... He loves to read and that's a blessing during these cold months.  He likes action and adventure books. Abe's a loving child who cries when I cry and is very good at the encouraging pat on the back.  He's extremely analytical.  He sees how everything is connected and likes to set your mind at ease that all is as it should be.  He's calm, cool and collected and doesn't talk overly much. But when he chooses to say something... well, it's usually rather interesting... He was riding home from the wedding with his older brother, Dan, and made this statement:
Abe- "Today was a very good day!" 
Dan- "Why?" 
Abe- "Because Paul got married, today." 
Dan- "Why does that make it a good day?" 
Abe-"Because now he won't be the desperate man I always thought he would be."
Alrighty then.
Abe had a "science man" feast.  As you can see from his table, he had lots of "chemicals" and scientific concoctions decorating his table- laid with a "sterile" white tablecloth.  He had the kind of great time only a 10 year old could have mixing all the different food colorings into the jars of water.  For his appetizer, he made red jello in solo cups and then inverted them onto plates.  There were green grapes suspended in the jello to creep people out.  Everyone agreed we should have jello more often. His main course was a build-your-own-taco bar.  A big hit. He made the beverage in front of everyone, laughing maniacally as he poured together pineapple juice and lemon lime soda in a stainless steel bowl- lots of fizzing and foaming and such. His dessert was hanging from the ceiling.  Every year, Abe makes rice crispy treats. This year, he shaped them into planets and pushed the sticks of lollipops into them for satellite moons. He had them hanging from thin threads so they spun in circles when you touched them.  He made three batches so that everyone could have plenty.  For his gifts, he found some very fun spinning tops at the dollar store that light up in different colors when they're spinning.  It was a very good- and colorful- evening!      

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Wedding accomplished!

I just wanted to share a few of my favorite pictures from the wedding of our son, Paul, and his new bride, Kim.  They were married Monday and, as you can see, they're very happy.  We all are.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eva, age 14y
Eva's Feast...

This is Evabeth and she's 14y.  Where does the time go?  She was six months old when we moved into this old farm house and now she is a young lady.  Eva is very friendly.  If she doesn't know you, she will as soon as she claps eyes on you!  I love watching her when she processes- "Hey, this is someone new..." and then the inevitable, "Hi!  I'm Eva!"  Never knew a stranger and she is just one of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. She is an amazing artist, truly gifted when it comes to a piece of paper and a pencil.  She draws beautiful fairies and gruesome beasts.  She loves reading her Kindle that her big brother and sister-in-law recently bought for her.  She is also a budding author.  Bekah loves to hear her stories when they go to bed.  She is a sweet and loving sister and tries her best to please her brothers and sister.  And that's not always an easy task.  She works harder than any kid her age I know. She's emotional and sensitive- and because she is so sweet, her brothers freak out when she cries- they start consoling/scolding her - anything to make her stop! John even did her chore for her the other night.  She stresses and then she stresses about stressing. It's amazing how hard a good person works to be "gooder."  She's a blessing to all who meet her.  She's absolutely precious and for those of you who don't know her, personally, I really hope that some day you will.

She had a "book" theme for her feast.  Eva does love her books.  She set her table with stacks of old books and put candles in clear glass punch cups and tissue paper wrapped stemware.  We were running a bit late for her feast... yeah, she was stressing.  It wasn't a big deal.  She got her appetizers of different filled puff pastry- spinach, garlic butter, pimento cheese and orange marmalade- cooked up and sent out early to pacify the hungry guests.  The puff pastry is kinda like thin sheets of paper, right?  Books.  Get it?  She set "wocky" sticks on their plates because they were like pencils... Her main course was stir fry with angel hair pasta, BBQ chicken, and plain chicken.  She made coffee punch for her beverage.  Jacob said that the combination of food was a bit unexpected but contrasted rather nicely.  Her dessert was a holiday favorite of chocolate mousse or peach crepes.  As her gifts, she bought different books for all of her guests from the thrift shop.  Each book was chosen with care to suit the one receiving it.  As Abe said of his book, "The Call of the Wild"- "This stuff is intense!"
Silly Eva
We finished up by being typically rowdy.  John has a large mouth- it's a fact.  And so he accepted the challenge of fitting the rim of one of the stemware into his mouth.  Turns out, you can't do that while laughing.  And if you get most of the rim into your mouth and under your lips, blowing a big puff of air out will allow your lips to stretch even further and fit around the cup... Such a silly activity, but hilariously funny.  By the way, Jacob was able to accomplish that feat, also- although with a slightly smaller glass.  Our friend, Gary, tried and I realized that his mouth is really, really small and my boys' are really, really large!  And then there was the whole trying to break a glass by screaming at it- good thing we live a half mile from the nearest neighbor.  And we're not even gonna talk about the crepe food fight...Eva's feast was just a blast!     

Coffee Punch: 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, 2-3 Tablespoons of instant coffee crystals- cook and stir until sugar melts and begins to thicken. Cool. 30 minutes before serving, in a punch bowl mix coffee syrup, 1/2 gallon of milk, 1/2 gallon of chocolate ice cream and 1/2 gallon of vanilla ice cream. Serve.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Picture taken by son, Daniel, in his hometown of Boston, MA

Feast days!!!

(Sorry I'm a little late in posting this friends!  I won't bore you with my sob story of trying to break into my own blog-  a feat worthy of the most adept hacker, I'm thinking. (different IP address and a forgotten password- not a good combination.)  But, suddenly, the tides turned and I'm back in business!  Wish I could say what I did, but like with most technology, it's still a mystery! 

The moment we've all been waiting for has arrived.  How thrilling!  For those of you who may not be familiar with our feast day tradition...

Quite a few years ago we decided that the season was filled with too much "Give me, Give me!"  So we came up with the Feast Days as a way to encourage the "Serve you, serve you!" that needs to be in all our hearts.  We drew upon the example of Queen Ester and how, by serving meals to her King and also her enemy, she changed the fate of an entire nation.

At the end of each November, the children draw a number from a bowl to determine the order of their feast- we have about two feasts per week leading up to Christmas.  Each child meets with me, individually, and we secretly plan a special meal to serve to the family.  They give special attention in choosing foods they know the other children love. On the day prior to their feast, the two of us go out for lunch together and then shop for their feast ingredients.  They choose simple, inexpensive gifts and decorations- spending no more than $12, usually. Everything is hidden and, on their big day, the kitchen and dining room is curtained off and the cooking and decorating begins.  (The children tend to choose a theme for their feast to simplify the meal planning and the decorating.)  When all is ready, they invite their guests into the feast with great ceremony.  Will reads some scripture and after a prayer, the child goes around serving each person the meal. Clean-up is their responsibility, also.  It's a real treat for all of us. So without more ado...

Bekah, age 12y
Bekah's Feast...

This is Bekah and she's 12 years old.  Isn't she beautiful?  As my children hit the age of about 12, I find that describing them becomes more of a challenge. That might have something to do with them figuring out who they are, who they want to be and all that, I don't know. She's an unusual child.  A mixture of conflicting behavior.  She's shy but I don't think that bothers her.  She is content to not know you. She picks who she wants to know after a time of observation. She's very smart.  Very creative.  She hates housework, but likes to cook and is one of the most efficient cooks I know.  She can multi-task in there like a pro. She needs a good cuddle at least once a day, will say so and then tell you how much she enjoyed that kiss on her forehead.  She loves to sleep in and read.  She gets a inordinate amount of pleasure from her flannel jammie pants. She is a fun kid to spend time with- a child and a grown-up all rolled into one. LOVE that girl!

Bekah loves the movie, "Tangled."  Her brother, Paul, has spoiled her with a life-size cut out of Rapunzel, and a comforter and several posters.  She designed her feast around the movie and every detail was considered carefully.  Seeing as how an iron skillet was Rapunzel's weapon of choice, she set her table with a large collection of iron skillets(of which, I had more than I thought!) and filled them with lots of little candles.  In the words of Abe, "Who knew iron skillets could look so romantic?"  Purple table cloth.  But the true genius came in the lanterns hanging from the ceiling- she used two Styrofoam plates joined by a sheet of tissue paper with a little battery operated candle inside.  They looked amazing... 

Iron skillet candles and floating lanterns
She also painted some pictures like those in Rapunzel's tower.  Her appetizers were adorable stacks of fruit. 
pineapple, orange, apples, kiwi, banana, grape
Her main course was a savory venison stew served in a cast iron Dutch oven along with rustic artisan bread which had everyone groaning in pleasure.  Her beverage was root beer served over frozen root beer in chilled tankards- a tribute to the ruffians in the movie.  Her dessert was a peach (iron)skillet cake and vanilla ice cream.  Bekah's gifts for her guests were little hair-bedecked head bands.  So funny to see the guys wear them as beards. 

L-R Mr. Jim, Mary, Jacob, Bekah, Abe, Eva, Rapunzel, John, William
We had such a good time.

Iron Skillet Cake: Place a 9" iron skillet in oven and preheat to 375*.  Melt 6 Tablespoons of butter in hot skillet.  In a bowl, mix: 1 cup self-rising flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk.  Pour batter into hot skillet.  Do not stir.  Place 1 large can of drained, sliced peaches evenly on top of batter.  Do not stir.   Bake for 35-45 minutes until dark brown around edges.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.