Another List

It's been almost a full two weeks since I was in this space last.  I looked at my post history and had two unpublished posts that I thought I had sent out into the blogosphere, only to realize that I never did push that button.  Oops.  Regardless, here I am now.  My boy and my man are right behind me playing FIFA on our ancient Wii.  And by ancient I mean that we've had it for more than five years, which in technology speak means it's practically prehistoric.  The girl Things are downstairs and upstairs, taking care of their homework and such and here I am.  Attempting to break back into writing.  If I must be honest with you, and I must, right?  For the sake of authenticity and all that matters.  I have much sloshing around in this brain of mine.  Not necessarily any formative thoughts.  Nothing world saving or game changing.  At least not yet.  I thought for tonight, we'd keep it light and simple my friends.  Yes, that's the way.  There is a square of Trader Joe's dark chocolate hazelnut candy bar sitting next to me and tonight is a good night.  If you have not yet tasted the deliciousness I highly recommend it.  A sure bet to satisfy any chocolate craving you might have.  In case your curious, or maybe if you are on the hunt for said treat it is wrapped in orange packaging, near the cash registers, usually. 
 
Alright, moving on.  Maybe for tonight we could do another list.  Those always seem like the most concise way to escape from writing actual paragraphs of substance.  This time, in theme with the holiday season, let's have a list of favorite gifts to give, or decorations, or maybe just seasonal favorites, which could actually encompass, food, treats, beverages, traditions, etc.  I think you catch my drift.  Here we go.  I won't put a limit or minimum on this list, we'll just see where it takes us.  Or rather, me.  That is since I am the one doing the writing here. 
 
1. Twinkly lights, need I say more?  The glow, the ambiance, the delight they bring me, it's unreal when I stop to think about it.  There is something just plain magical about walking into a room that is lit by the glow of white lights.  Little light bulbs, strung together.  Maybe hanging sporadically.  Maybe strung through a festive garland.  Or maybe hanging from one ceiling corner to the other.   Anyway you slice it, I say WIN for the white twinkly lights.  Always and forever. 
 
2. Hazelnuts.  We had a dinner guest last night and said dinner guest had never before tasted a hazelnut, let alone heard of them.  I was aghast.  They are a favorite in this house.  Anything hazelnut.  Coffee creamer.  The nuts by themselves.  Sometimes toasted and always in chocolate.  Which is how we were eating them last night.  I roasted them.  Skinned them.  Chopped them.  Then I sprinkled them over a dark chocolate mousse topped with homemade whip cream.  Salivating?  I am.  Anyhow, hazelnuts.  Try them if you haven't.  Put them in pancakes.  Try them plain as a snack.  Bake with them.  Sprinkle them over yogurt, of the Greek variety of course.  Then, let me know what you think.  They are better than walnuts if you ask me.   
 
3.  My new book that I'm reading, "A Million Little Ways", by Emily Freeman.  I'm only about 15 pages in and already.  Piercing my soul.  Taking all the jumbled mess inside me right now and making sense of it.  The thoughts, the chaos, the desperateness.  It's there.  Plain as day on those pages.  I highly recommend this one.  Can I do that if I haven't read the entire book yet?  Well, given that this is my blog I suppose I can.  I am almost certain that this book won't disappoint.  It hasn't as of yet.  Let me just tease you with a quote that I not only underlined but starred and affirmed in so many ways, "I can't imagine anything more dangerous to the enemy of our hearts than people who know who they are".  Yes, and amen to that.  I want to know who I am.  And sometimes, if I'm honest, which we already declared on this here blog, I forget who I am.  I mean forget that I am a daughter of The One True King.  Created in His image.  For His glory.  And so much more.  I mean more, like more than I could even imagine.  And now to believe that and claim it as truth.  There is some power friends.  So this book, if you decide to give it a go, let me know what you think.  Could be a grand discussion happening here.  Or maybe, a great gift for an aspiring artist you know.  We all know one, and we all are one. 
 
4.  While we're on the subject of books, Pioneer Woman's newest cookbook for the holidays has recently released.  It is an entire cook book dedicated to the plethora of holidays that grace our calendar year in and year out.  Everything from Valentine's day to Christmas to super bowl favorites.  Alright, I almost gagged a little typing "super bowl".  That is most definitely not a holiday in this  house, but Boxing Day might be.  Wink, wink.  I'm not certain if that one made the cut or not, since technically it is an English holiday.  I suppose I'll have to get my own copy of the book to say for sure.  To say that I L-O-V-E her cookbooks would be such a drastic understatement that I just can't.  Really.  The first two are staples in my kitchen.  As in several of the recipes from each are on the menu rotation at our family dinner table.  Some I can make without even looking at the recipe now.  Others the Things request for special occasions.  Like her fried chicken, Thing 1 and Thing 2 have both been known to have this for their birthday dinners.  The Spanish rice from book #2 makes an appearance at all Mexican food nights here.  And that is often my friends.  Her spicy pulled pork, let's just say that is a recipe I share with everyone.  So versatile.  So scrumptious.   Ditto on the plug above.  If you know of her, go grab one for yourself, if you know of someone else who might benefit from some fresh ideas to celebrate the holidays purchase one for them.  I warn you though, once you have a look at the photos of the food, life on her ranch and the ease of the recipes you might just want one for yourself too.  Trust me. 
 
5.  Christmas cards.  They bring me such joy.  Creating them.  Sending them.  Receiving them.  I love the creativity behind them.  The thought of addressing them to family and friends near and far.  Opening my mailbox and seeing all the holiday stamps.  The ones that say "Merry Christmas".  Ones with photos.  Ones with poems.  Others with elaborate designs and props and sets.  Joy.  Nothing but.  And when we do find cards in our mailbox we open them as a family around the table.  Huddled together.  Commenting on how so and so has grown.  How different they look, oh, they moved, wow, they have a new baby.  Did you see where they went on holiday this past year?  And so it goes.  The Things are just as thrilled as I am as this season descends upon us.  Then my favorite part.  We place the cards in the center of the table and we pray.  Pray for that family.  For those children.  For our friends.  Sometimes with candles lit.  Sometimes on the fly.  As the dinner hour passes us by.  But always together.  Words lifted up on behalf of someone else that thought of our six. 
 
6.  Christmas music.  Do you have any favorites?  Around here we listen to Pandora quite a bit so our most common Christmas stations are listed on there. Some of our favs include Bing Crosby. Because, classic.  Frank Sinatra of course.  Jimmy Buffet's Christmas CD, and other random artists' collections.  Charlie Brown's Christmas is always on replay.  But for Thanksgiving time, well the Christmas music doesn't make it's debut until the Friday after.  Then, all the time.  In the car, on the speaker dock at home.  Everywhere.  All day.  Everyday.  That last statement was said with the most Southern of twangs, possibly even leaving out a few syllables.  Don't judge. 
 
7.  Our thankful tank.  This year we, and when I say we, we all know I mean me, mixed up the usual tradition around here.  For the past several years we have had a thankful tank.  Some sort of jar, box, etc. to collect small notes of gratitude we all write down throughout the month of November, leading up to Thanksgiving.  We deposit these papers and then when we are all gathered around the table on Thanksgiving day we read them aloud.  For all to hear.  After reading about altars created in the Old Testament to mark and remember significant acts of God or other events I had the idea to write on small stones our gratitude.  Nothing fancy.  Just a sharpie and some pebbles from the yard.  An old tray to place them in and our thoughts.  Thus far we have expressed thanks for everything from coffee to dinner guests to pancakes and bacon to family movie nights.  I do hope this tradition seeps into our everyday living outside the "holiday" season. 
 
8.  Baking and cooking are as much a part of our traditions as anything else.  The specialties we concoct in the kitchen this time of year are near and dear to me.  I have a collection of recipe cards particular to the season.  This box I have had since before Husband Jared and I were married.  I remember cooking gifts in the kitchen with my Mom and I do hope that the Things have that memory as well.  I mean with me, of course.  Handmade/homemade gifts are the best in my book.  Every year the Things and I have a few special recipes marked for the season that we make.  Our meal menus may change based on the company and the circumstances but we are always in the kitchen together.  Everyone chopping, measuring, pouring and singing together.  I love this.  The wrapping and delivering of said creations are just as much a part of the process.  And in this case, the memory making.  The one homemade recipe that we are all left out of is Husband Jared's jalapeno jelly.  This was his Mom's recipe and although he has tweaked it to suit his tastes he owns this.  My only contribution to this process is purchasing his supplies.  Truth.  Oh and clean up of course.  I am definitely a clean as you go and he is a mess maker.  And that is being quite lenient.  Regardless, I love watching him make this jelly year after year.  It is tradition.  As is lefse.  Thankfully my mother in law has shared this tradition with me and now with the Things.  If you are not familiar with lefse, you must find a way to try.  Your taste buds will be so happy.  We like ours with cream cheese and jalapeno jelly.  Yes, the jelly mentioned above.  Others prefer butter and a sprinkling of sugar.  Either way, this light potato like tortilla, or crepe if your French, is delectable.  And a Thanksgiving and Christmas staple at our table. 

I thought I had a list of 10 in me for once and then at the end of 8 I am done.  DONE.  As in anything I attempt to write now sounds clich√©. (9. ) Like the mentioning of the Christmas movie season.  There might be people in my household counting down the days until Elf is played daily here.  Hint, I am one of those people!  Where Christmas Story is on while presents are being wrapped and White Christmas is requested along with Miracle on 34th Street.  Yes, we are that house. 

OK, so maybe I do have a list of 10 in me.  Shall we mark the above as 9?  OK, yes, we will.  And then we'll just move right into 10.  Thank you for bearing with me. 

10.  Lastly, how about Christmas jammies.  Pajamas.  I do love some soft, cozy lounge wear and never more than on Christmas day.  Ever since the Things were littles, actually dating back to when my Brother and I were youngens, Christmas pajamas have been a tradition.  We would open them on Christmas Eve and we may have worn those same pajamas right on through to New Years.  Mom might have washed them in between but you catch my drift.  With that nostalgia how could I not pass that on to my Things?  Right?  So we did.  When they were too young to  know any differently those pajamas were matching of course.  Then when Thing 4 came along we coordinated the four of them, girls matching, Thing 4 same color scheme, etc.  My Mom has carried this tradition on even to this day with all her grandchildren.  Only now the Things shop online, they click and send Nani a picture so she can purchase the right ones.  Sadly, they are usually not matching.  Although this year, all the girl Things have chosen various patterns of footie pajamas.  Silly as it seems the Things must comply every year with a pajama picture in front of our tree.  Just a side note, my Mom and I still choose matching jammies for her and I.  Even when we're not together on Christmas!

That about does it. Ten it is. 

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