Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas to you

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This is our Christmas card photo for 2013.  

It was sure a joyous year! In May, we celebrated Drew and Stephanie's wedding, 
and then very soon thereafter, we began to plan Emma and Nick's for January.  

We are so thankful for the incredible blessing these new family members are.  

Rich and I truly love Stephanie and Nick like our own children.  
Our children couldn't have chosen better spouses!
Truly, they bring out the best in Drew and Emma.

Rich and I are so excited for these four who have founded their relationship on Christ and are beginning their new lives together.  We can't think of anything better than seeing our children follow Him and marry the ones they love! We feel so very blessed.

So from our family to yours, we wish you the merriest of Christmases.  
May the joy of the Lord be yours this Christmas and for all time.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

It's time for Hanukkah and latkes!

Since I was raised in a Jewish home, I grew up not with Christmas, but with Hanukkah.   It was a cherished time of family. As children, my sister and I lit the menorah candles, said the prayer in Hebrew, and received a gift from our parents for eight consecutive nights!   My parents always invited grandparents to come celebrate with us at least one night and we'd have a big dinner. When I married Rich and we started having kids, we continued to share the tradition with my family.  Therefore, our kids grew up with all the traditions as well and love Hanukkah.  Nowadays, I host and my sister and her family come, as well as a cousin of my mom's.

Now, the crown jewel of our Hanukkah meal is the latkes.  Latkes are basically potato pancakes which are deep fried.  Though they are made with shredded potatoes, they actually bear little resemblance to breakfast hashed browns.  They are more like the texture of (flat) dumplings, as they are made with flour, eggs, and grated onion as well.  Making them is a laborious process so we don't have them but once a year.  They are absolutely delicious! Everyone in our family loves them. My favorite way to eat them is with sour cream and a little sugar sprinkled on.  Applesauce is also a traditional topping.  However...some people in our family (who shall remain nameless) put KETCHUP on theirs, which is such a gentile thing to do (and so very WRONG). I do not allow the ketchup to be on the table, so the bottle is usually smuggled in by a certain person and clandestinely shared with others also in the wrong.  :-)

We have always had a tradition that everyone gathered must "rub" some of the potatoes.  We do them by hand and the method is more of ricing than grating, as we rub the potatoes over an old rectangular cooling rack!  Kind of funny, but the small grid of the cooling rack gives the mixture the best texture. One by one, each person goes to the kitchen to rub, and then my dad mixes in the rest of the ingredients to just the right consistency.   He then frys them in oil over the stove, which takes over an hour.

This year, Dad handed the tradition over to his oldest grandson, Drew.  Dad taught Drew how to make the batter just right, and then Drew fried all the latkes on his own.  I must say he did a great job!  I was so proud of him, and my dad was literally beaming that his grandson was now fit to carry on our family tradition.  Drew was very enthusiastic and loved the experience, too!  He even had Hanukkah music playing in the kitchen and was quite into it.  He is the best.  :-)


Drew showed up sporting his yarmulke (that he got from his semester in Israel).


My nephew Luke doing his "rub."


Other nephew Vance got a little tired of rubbing (and poor Stephanie looks a little freaky here).


A much more flattering pic of my lovely daughter-in-love, as she puts in her time.


Steadman doing his part. :-)


Dad and his girls.
One thing I realized recently is that my dad and I have EXACTLY the same teeth.   That probably isn't interesting to anyone but me, but I thought I'd throw it in anyways (you must admit that you went back and looked -- didn't you?) :-)


The soon-to-be-married couple!


Proud Grandpa moment!


Drew hard at work frying the latkes to perfection!

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy Birthday to someone very special

I wanted to wish one of my most faithful blog readers a very happy birthday today!

I thought it would be a fun surprise to wish him a happy birthday right here on my little blog.  It will probably embarrass him and make him smile all at the same time.

This guy is very special.

He loves the Lord and is others oriented.
He possesses many gifts and talents, and he uses them for the glory of God.
He is thoughtful, kind, and a gentle leader.
He is REALLY fun to be with!
He is most certainly not bad looking.  :-)

... and he is MARRYING my daughter in 39 days!!

photo cred:  logan cole photography

Happy 21st Birthday Nick!
Mr. H. & I love you!

P.S.  Don't forget to scroll down for my Way Delicious Wednesday post today as well  :-)

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WDW - the BEST Christmas cookies!


Yes, that's a pretty bold title.   But I stand by it.

Over the years, I've had several favorite Christmas cookie recipes --frosted sugar cookies, Russian tea cakes, etc. but the perfect ginger cookie was always elusive to me.  Dry, crunchy ginger cookies are just not my thing.  And, I'm a HUGE ginger fan -- I'm even one of those who likes the wicked spicy ginger Altoids. 

At Emma's final bridal shower last week, her maid of honor, Kaitlyn, made these simple but perfect little ginger cookies.  Moist, chewy, decadent, and with an over the top lemon glaze... I fell in love!  As we were packing up, I not-so-discreetly packed myself a sizeable to-go bag of these little gems.  

As my supply was dwindling, I panicked a bit. I began texting Kait every day until she finally gave up the recipe.

Last night, Kait was over and I made up a batch of these.  I even made her do most of the work to ensure they would be as good as hers.  :-)  Man are these good.   You gotta make them.

P.S. the recipe is from Sunset magazine, which always publishes the most amazing cookie recipes!


1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling cookies
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 egg
3 tablespoons molasses
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

2 cups powdered sugar
lemon juice to desired consistency (about 2 lemons, I 

       like the glaze on the thick side)

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup granulated sugar with butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and molasses.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and spices. Add to butter mixture and blend well.

3. Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar. Break off walnut-size pieces of dough and roll into balls; roll balls in sugar. Arrange on greased cookie sheets and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to cooling racks.

4. Meanwhile, make glaze: Combine powdered sugar with lemon juice to desired consistency. Drizzle glaze over cookies.  Let glaze harden before packaging cookies.

Makes about 50-60 cookies.

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Kicking off the Christmas Season

Last Saturday, Emma did a family shoot at a tree farm in Santa Paula.   The family wanted photos of themselves cutting down their Christmas tree -- isn't that the cutest idea?  While they were there, Emma texted and asked if we would like a tree, too - they had room for two!  Since we were planning on going to Lowe's that afternoon to get our tree, we gladly answered YES!   She brought us home a big, beautiful tree -- fresh and fragrant.  

The next evening, some elves came and decorated.  We gave each of the kids an ornament, which has been our custom every year as the kids were growing up (you're never too old - I plan to continue the tradition). Nick and Emma put theirs on our tree, while Drew and Stephanie took theirs home to place on their own very first tree. :-) 

I made our traditional "tree decorating" dinner of chili and cornbread, plus pear crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert.  It was a delightful evening!  Everything is always way more fun with these four.  :-)