Friday, November 30, 2012

It's the Start of Preparing for Christmas!

So Thanksgiving is over!  How was mine?  It was good, depends on how you look at it.  As you're aware my in-laws came over for dinner.  They said they enjoyed the meal and appreciated everything I did for them.  The turkey was done early (earlier than expected) and was falling off of the tasted a little dry to me, and hubby agreed, but the gravy made it taste just fine.  The potatoes were a first for me and I added a little too much salt, but they tasted quite fine.  Everything else was delicious, although I felt stressed and overwhelmed.  My mother-in-law made an apple pie and they brought a bottle of wine that they loved and is very hard to find here in New Hampshire.  This wine is one that my father-in-law wanted for my wedding to his son after we had it at my mother-in-law's parents 50th wedding anniversary in 2007 in Florida.  I didn't have any because I haven't had alcohol in over 3 years, so I figured I've gone this long without it, why drink it if I don't want to.  I didn't have any in Florida either since I was driving a rental car.  Anyways, the kids loved seeing my in-laws and it was a nice evening.

On "Black Friday", I stayed home and didn't do anything since hubby had to work and to be honest I didn't feel like going out with both my kids in tow to all the stores.  But Friday night hubby was flustered with the kids and I was on the phone with my mom and she heard him in the background and offered to come over with my sister and watch the kids for a couple of hours.  We agreed to it and while she and my sister watched the kids, we went Christmas shopping, with what little money we had to at least buy them some gifts.  While we were gone, my mom and sister cleaned the kids' closet out and got rid of a lot of things that we didn't need nor wanted.  She put all the "baby stuff" (swing, pack-n-play, etc.) in the closet and the kids toys were put throughout their room.  They also cleaned out the kids' toy box and cleaned up my kitchen, and did some dishes.  They also put the kids to bed for us.  After being out for 3 hours and going to 2 stores we bought all that we could for gifts.  We arrived home and showed my mom and sister what we purchased because I wanted to be sure that we didn't get any duplicates.  Out of everything we purchased we only got 1 item that my mom had purchased and neither one of us are returning it because the one we bought will be for here at home and the one my mom got will be kept at her house.

Now am I done shopping, yes and no.  I am done as far as I can tell, but we are taking it paycheck by paycheck to see if we have any extra money to buy some stocking stuffers for us (both hubby and me).  The kids and I have also started to make presents for family.  Which is the purpose of this post.  Next Sunday, the 2nd of December, is the First Sunday of Advent.  I asked Little Man if he was ready for Advent.  Now he's almost 3 and I know he really doesn't understand the term Advent, so I re-phrased it by asking him if he wanted to start preparing for Baby Jesus' birth.  Right after I said Baby Jesus' his eyes lit up and he told me in his own way yes.  It brings tears to my eyes when he lights up over Jesus.  At church on Sunday mornings, he loves seeing Jesus and waves at him.  I'm so grateful, but at the same time so sad because hubby isn't there sharing in this special time.  He hates going to church and makes it seem like I drag him when we attend on Christmas Eve, that's the only time he goes.  I worry that as my children grow older they will use the excuse if daddy doesn't have to go, then why should I.  I worry about it, but hope that my son and daughter will always want to go with me to church, besides they get to see my parents for extra time when they go.  

Yesterday started the homemade gifts and crafts for Christmas in our house.  We made salt dough hand prints for family members.  To make enough salt dough for 24 hand prints I used:
  1. 8 Cups of All-Purpose Flour
  2. 3 1/4 Cups of HOT Water
  3. 2 Cups of regular table Salt
I took all the ingredients and mixed them in a mixing bowl with a spoon, once most of the water was absorbed and started to form a dough, I then used my hands and continued to mix it until it was a complete ball of dough.  I noticed that after adding the extra 1/4 Cup of Water that it was a little sticky so I just added a little more flour (like an 1/8 of a Cup) to make it less sticky.  After kneading it for a few minutes, I started to roll it out in small batches and used a cereal bowl to make the circle shapes for the kids to put their hand prints in.  Then one child at a time I did their hand prints.  Little man was very cooperative, however, Precious Butterfly was more difficult and I had to re-roll many of them because she dug her fingers into the dough causing holes.  But once I got them all pressed, there was leftover dough (I needed to make a total of 22 hand prints) I was planning on making salt dough ornaments for our tree, but I ran out of time.

I put all the hand prints on Reynolds Non-Stick Foil on top of my cookie sheets.  I then pricked, using a toothpick, some little holes in them to help avoid additional bubbling, I pricked the kids' names and the year.  I left them to start drying overnight and this morning I baked them in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes.  I let them sit overnight because most of the comments I read from other people that used different salt dough recipes was that they cracked and bubbled and weren't dry after cooking in the oven.  So I figured give them a head start on drying and then bake them in the oven.  I can say that they're looking great!  They are dry and cooling right now on the stove.  Here's what they look like after coming out of the oven:
So that's what they look like after hardening overnight and cooking in the oven for 20 minutes.  There was a little bubbling here and there, but they look great.  I'm planning on painting them and putting the kids' names and the year on them.  Once they're dry, we'll be sending 2 of the sets to Florida to hubby's grandparents as gifts from the kids.  I won't go into who's getting them, just in case they read know who you are!!!
Anyways, this is just the start of activities for us and it certainly won't be the last!

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