Mom-ing

What is Christmas?

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What is Christmas to you? Is it the hustle and bustle? Is it finding that perfect gift and wrapping it up for under your tree? Is it church and candles and the blessings of God? Is it family and food and gatherings after gatherings? Is it cringing and wishing it was January? Is it loneliness and heartache? Is it cinnamon and pine? Shopping lists and concerts?  Is it snowflakes and hot chocolate? Children laughing and counting down till Santa? Is it just another day?

Here’s the thing…This year has given me a rude awakening.  I’ve been thrust into a realm of self-analysis.  I have been left questioning myself, my worth, my life and my why in ways I haven’t had to in a long time.  I cracked, I broke, I cried, I lost some faith, I healed, I grew, I learned, I studied, I laughed, I loved and I changed.  With all that change and growth came a new sort of Christmas for me.

This year I’ve really tried to make the moments matter.  The day to day events as well as the bigger occasions have brought forth new meaning.  We truly are here for such a short amount of time and every second is important.  I want to breathe in every last drop of E and his childhood.  He grows so fast.  Time is always a bit of a villain.  I don’t want to waste anything where he is concerned.  I want him to grow up with so much love he pukes on it!  Memories Matter!  They matter so much.  I reflect on happy times a lot more these days (perhaps that’s the meds talking but either way I do!) and cherish my own childhood memories even more.

This holiday season, in a world of so much chaos, I especially wanted to put more effort into spreading cheer and kindness and love and less effort on ‘the perfect holiday’ and the commercialism of Christmas.  Within this effort I’ve let my house get messy.  I’ve danced in the kitchen to jingle bells a million times a day with E.  We’ve covered our windows with home-made santas, angels, reindeer and snowflakes.  We’ve made snowmen, foraged for greenery, sipped on cider and hot chocolate, made dozens of cookies, visited with friends and loved ones and created crazy chaotic memories.  I wanted to spend more time and less money! In an effort to do this I created a tradition I hope to carry forward for many years…Cousin Christmas!

Right now I have 6 nieces and nephews…they range in ages and interests alike…I wanted to have a day with each of them individually to do some sort of Christmas activity so that they’d get to spend more time with E and to give them a bit of a treat. (Little did I know that I would in fact be given the best gift.). We made an array of projects…bath bombs, grinch cookies, birdseed ornaments, Christmas tree sugar cookies decorated with Christmas light sprinkles, tractor track wrapping paper, and apple cinnamon garlands.  (The youngest of said cousins will hopefully get to partake in these memories next year once he’s a bit older plus I’ll have a brand new niece or nephew to spoil next year too!!!). E loved these days…having kids over to play with him is always a highlight and he really likes project days! Perhaps the kids got a wee bit spoiled…more sugary treats than normal and less rules than usual…(shh don’t tell) but I hope more than anything they had as much fun as we did.  These days were action packed and filled to the brim with a lot of excitement and some chaos.  I’m not gonna lie, they definitely tired me out! But they also gave me a serious dose of reality.  Of learning what Christmas in fact means to me.  It’s the moments.  It’s being IN THE MOMENTS.  It’s taking time for each other.  It’s letting some of that OCD slide and falling into childhood again. It’s family. It’s kids and creations.  It’s anticipation. And it’s Love.

I’m encouraging you all to find YOUR meaning of christmas.  Get inspired by random acts of friendship and love.  Take time for each other.  Don’t waste what little moments we have here and now worrying about perfection.  Be Christmas.  Be Love. And be what you can when you can.  Giving memories and giving of yourself is so much more than anything that you can buy and wrap in sparkling paper with ribbons and bows. Once again it has hit me that simple really is the best.

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Nosh

Ginger Cookies with a Split Twist

I’ve waited patiently for the beginning of December to let myself truly explode Christmas!! (Ok that’s a lie, I haven’t waited patiently…I haven’t even exactly waited as we’ve already done some Christmas activities including decorating the tree…oops!)  I just honestly can’t hold in the excitement! This time of year makes me feel closest to the magic of childhood!  If unlike me you are just letting yourself get into the spirit I hope to give you some easy inspiration to take your traditions to the next level this Christmas or inspire you to bring in some new traditions!

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In this post I’m showing you how to elevate an already favourite ginger cookie recipe (or use mine) into something super decadent and fun.  This is an easy decorating technique that your kids or grandkids (or nieces or nephews or even the neighbor’s kid) can get involved in easily as well.  Share the gift of baking with your loved ones!

Ginger Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Cream the butter and sugar then add the molasses, spices and vanilla.
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  • Drop by scoopful on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375* for 10-12 mins (rotate your pans if you are baking them together on convection.)

For the decorating:

  • Melt 3/4 cup white chocolate discs over a double boiler.
  • Dip each cooled cookie into the melted chocolate to cover half and then lay on waxed paper.
  • Sprinkle with your favourite decorations!  We used gingerbread man sprinkles and Christmas coloured little ball sprinkles.
  • Let cool to set the chocolate then share!
Nosh

Caramel Corn Craziness

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I’m a theme fanatic and I live for traditions. Halloween is one of my favourite holidays for getting full-on themed and I love that it’s all for the kids!

On E’s first halloween I dressed him up like a bucket of popcorn and hubby and I sported fancy bow-ties as the concession workers.  Of course we had to make caramel corn for our treats to give out on halloween night.  And we made oodles and oodles of caramel corn… (three batches to be precise)…caramel corn craziness!

 

 

I had a deep craving and perhaps a bit of nostalgia so I whipped up a batch today so we can munch on it and share on halloween (if there’s any left!!)

Here’s the recipe so you can partake in the feasting too!

  • 16 cups popped corn
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • sprinkling of salt (optional for that salted caramel hit!)
  • Pop your popcorn and lay it out on parchment paper on cookie sheets (I use 3)
  • In a large sauce pan bring the butter, syrup and sugar to a boil and let bubble for 5 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Take the caramel off the heat and add vanilla. (Be careful as it may splatter)
  • Divide the caramel over the pans of popcorn and stir to coat the popcorn as best as you can.  Put the sheet pans of caramel corn into a 250 degree oven and every 15 mins for 1 hour remove the pans and stir to coat the popcorn.
  • Once baked for 1 hr sprinkle with salt and let the popcorn cool.  I like to go through it and remove any of the kernels that didn’t pop.  Store in air tight containers or bags.
  • You can also add nuts to the popped corn before coating with the caramel sauce or finish with sprinkles for a fancy flair!
Create

Fall Foliage…

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Here’s some rainy day fun to do with your littles this fall.  It’s an easy craft that lets them explore texture and color (and make a bit of a mess too!).  I find that E and I are constantly talking about the scenery whenever we’re in the truck together and as the seasons change we are both captivated by the beauty of nature and all the colours in our valley.  Next time you’re out and about stop and take in the fall display (I know that far too soon it’s going to be covered in white!) and then gather up some on-hand supplies to make your own snapshot art of the season!

All you need is some paint, paper, markers and then whatever interesting forms of texture you can come up with.  We used q-tips bundled up with an elastic, corks, and bunched up tin-foil.  Let your little draw a tree trunk with marker and then dip your “paintbrushes” in an array of fall coloured paint to create the leaves! So easy and so fun to see the colours mix and the textures blend.  E has his artwork tagged to go to his Noma  & Bubba and Grandma & Grandpa Stew (and I’m hoping one for me too!!).  I can see this being a fun project to complete in every season!  I’ve always had an adoration for the simplicity of a lone tree and love my little’s spin on it!

Nosh

Squash Ravioli and Summer’s End

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The colder weather is making me dig out my cozy sweaters and dream of steaming bowls of pasta, fresh sauce and yummy cheeses.  This recipe takes advantage of the fall squash that are abundant this time of year.  It’s easy to make and freezes great.  Think about serving it for your next harvest dinner party to celebrate the crops and the end of a season.

You can use your favourite pasta dough recipe or search my blog for my healthier whole wheat pasta recipe (search ‘pasta’ or ‘Friday feasting’) or this one here:

  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • Water to bring it all together
  • Put everything (except the water) in a food processor and blitz it up while gradually adding enough water to form a ball.  Cover the dough in wrap and chill in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 

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For the filling I used buttercup squash because that’s what’s most plentiful in my garden but butternut squash would work just as well.  To roast the squash cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and place cut side down on a baking sheet with parchment paper.  I tucked a clove of garlic underneath each half as well.  Roast until the squash is soft and comes away from the skin easily.  Scoop out all the flesh and reserve for later or cool to use immediately.

Filling:

  • 2 cups roasted squash
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove roasted garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp (or to taste) grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • Mix all the ingredients well to combine.

Roll out your prepared pasta dough (by hand like me or with a pasta roller).  Drop filling by teaspoonfuls onto the base dough, leaving ample space to seal the borders.  Lightly brush the edges around the filling with water.  Place the top sheet of pasta over and press out air bubbles while you seal the edges.  Using a knife or roller (or even cookie cutters) cut around each mound of filling.  Place on lightly floured parchment paper to freeze or cook immediately in a large pot of salted boiling water.  Let ravioli float to the top of the boiling water and cook for another minute or so before removing gently with a slotted spoon and placing into serving platter or bowl. Do not overcrowd your pot, boil in batches as needed.

Browned Butter Sage Sauce

  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup butter
  • fresh sage leaves (6-8)
  • salt and pepper
  • In a saute pan melt the butter at a gentle medium heat.  Let the milk solids separate and cook to a golden brown.  While the butter is browning, crisp up the sage leaves in the pan as well.  Let them cook until they darken and start to curl.  Let drain on a paper towel and reserve to gently crumble over the dressed pasta.  Drizzle the browned butter over the hot pasta season with salt and pepper and enjoy!  (Optional: add some grated parmesan over top as well!)

 

I shared my bounty with my parents and brother and my mom made giant meatballs with fresh garden tomato sauce and a caprese panzanella salad.  It was so yummy…and the company wasn’t bad either!  Just another reason to make fall your favourite season!