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Friday, October 31, 2014

Пятница Ponderings: Halloween...Yay or Nay?

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian
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What are your thoughts on celebrating Halloween? Is it fun? Is it your favorite holiday? Is it evil and devilish? Should Christians celebrate it or not?

I have no issues with Halloween although it has never been a favorite holiday. I have fond memories of going to costume parties and dances and trick or treating when I was young. As an adult, my holiday decorations have always been more fall related than Halloween specific, but that wasn't deliberate, it was just personal taste.


My personal opinion is that Halloween in no way conflicts with my Christian beliefs. We don't celebrate the occult or the macabre. We celebrate and enjoy the fun activities with family and friends.

Say what you want about the origins of Halloween. But when you really, honestly look into it, many of the theories and ideas behind the origins of our modern Halloween traditions have both Christian and Pagan roots. Much like our Christmas traditions.

Someone once told my kids that Halloween is the Devil's birthday and they were pretty critical toward our children about the whole Halloween thing. While they are certainly entitled to their thoughts and beliefs, their behavior was quite upsetting to my boys at the time and one of those situations where I thought it could have been handled so differently and the differences of opinion or belief could have been shared kindly rather than so disagreeably.

If someone doesn't like Halloween or doesn't celebrate it or participate in Halloween activities, that is their right. They shouldn't be mean or critical of those who do and those who do, shouldn't be mean or critical of those who don't. Period. I am so amazed sometimes at the criticism and judgment that Christians level toward one another and the manner of self-righteousness displayed.


When my boys were little, Halloween was fun. They could dress up and in our California hometown, the city had a big downtown celebration. The main streets were blocked off, the merchants handed out candy, there were bounce houses and activities and it was great fun. We went every year. Those costumes ended up in our dress up box and were used year round for play time.


When we moved to Idaho, we didn't find the same city celebration, but we'd go trick or treating and it was fun. Usually really cold, but fun, although one parent would stay home and hand out candy or if we both went with the boys then no one would hand out candy.

Our church usually has a ward dinner and trunk or treat activity and we always participate in that. I don't mind handing out candy to the cute church kids!

A couple of years ago, finances were tighter and I just wasn't feeling the Halloween love. The boys were older and on a whim, I said, "What would you say if I offered you each $10 and a bag of candy to not go trick or treating or hand out candy?" They both said, "Awesome!" That year, we turned off all the lights and watched a family movie. People still knocked on the door, but it was nice to not deal with it all.

The next year, we went to the dollar theater instead and have done it each year since. The Boy has been asking for a week what movie we are going to see tonight! The money I spend at the theater and that I "bribe" them with is significantly less than I'd spend on candy to hand out or buy/prepare costumes.

Do I feel guilty for not handing out candy to strangers? No. Do I feel like I'm cheating my kids? No. They had a lot of fun years trick or treating and getting candy. Do I hate Halloween? No.

Now, we are making fun memories doing something different.

What about you?




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Christmas Recipe Exchange

A twist on the traditional Christmas Card Exchange! This time we’ll be sending recipes (in the mail) instead of just cards. Recipes that are old favorites, or special to your family. Maybe one you’ve seen and thought looked amazing but haven’t had a chance to try yet. Snacks, main dishes, side dishes or desserts… 

They can be on recipe cards, in handwriting or typed out, decorated or left plain and simple. Include notes on why you love it or just go for the straight recipe. It’s really up to yall however you’d like to make it special for your recipient. You can include a Christmas card as well or just send the recipe. 

**Feel free to invite your friends or blog followers! If you’d like to post about it or add the button to your side boards please do!**

I stumbled into Anna's blog at Herding Cats & Burning Soup (such a great name, by the way) and she's hosting a Christmas Recipe Exchange. I'm not normally one for card exchanges or those dish towel exchanges you get in the mail, etc., but I love the idea of a recipe exchange and this one is open internationally.

You have until November 10th to sign up. This link will take you to the sign up page.

Join me!

Holiday Gifts from Chocolate.com

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blogging: Profile and Privacy

For those of you who have blogger profiles and like to leave comments but don't include your email as part of your profile or even have your profile made public, I have this question?

Why?

Do you think the anonymity is important? Are you concerned about privacy? Please, enlighten me...

It's impossible to get to know people when you don't let yourself be known. I have met some absolutely delightful women from blogging. Some I've now met in real life and I am very grateful for their friendship. That only happened because we let ourselves be known. We have email addresses as part of our profiles and our profiles are viewable. I've had some terrific discussions about reviewing books on my book blog with other book bloggers because our emails are part of our profiles and our profiles are public.

You can still maintain your privacy and protect your family by the way you blog. I have an email address that is only used for blogging and separate from my personal one. I choose to keep Facebook personal, but my Twitter and Pinterest accounts are not. I don't have a lot of identifying information on my blogs.

So often, people will ask questions in a comment, but there is no way to reply to a comment via email and so I have to respond in the comments themselves. But, how many of us have time to subscribe to comments every single time we comment on a post? That is a ton of notifications and I don't have time to go back and forth, especially when it is so much easier to respond via emails. Who really goes back to visit a post and see if there is a response?

So tell me, if you haven't made your profile and email public, why not? Just curious...

Post has been edited.


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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Weekend Reflections 10/25

Looking outside....it's cold and foggy. The fireplace is going this morning.

Listening...The Boy is watching Scrubs and laughing. The Brother is still asleep.

Loving...that fall is here. This makes me happy.

Thinking...about the things I need to do.

In my kitchen...a cup of hot chocolate and Chili & Rice for dinner.

Wearing...red penguin pajamas and a black turtleneck.

Needing...to get the dryer fixed and the garage tidied up.

Reading...The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

Today...the corn maze and zombie shooting with the extended family.

Hoping...this lingering cold will go away.

Planning...for the week.  

Gratitude...essential oil diffusers that work wonders when you are congested and heating pads that help when your back hurts from coughing.

From my world...technology. Isn't technology amazing? I have a love/hate relationship with it most of the time, but I'm still in awe sometimes.



What about you?  What are you reflecting on today?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

You know you're in Idaho when...

You know you're in Idaho when...you're driving into town and you realize that the big, lumbering truck ahead of you is full of freshly skinned cowhides from the beef processing plant down the road. Now, I'm no vegetarian, give me a steak any day. But...ick.

Thank me for not taking a picture and posting it.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Cut your pumpkin in half and toss the stem section and stringy pulp. Save the seeds to dry and roast if that's your thing.

If your pumpkin is small to medium, place the two halves face down in a shallow baking dish, add some water to keep it all moist and cover with foil.  If your pumpkin is larger, cut it in half and then cut it into smaller pieces to place on your baking sheet.


Bake at 375 about 1½ hours for a medium-sized pumpkin, or until tender.  Mine was almost translucent and some parts were almost caramelized when I turned them over so they could cool.  Smaller pieces cook better and get a deeper color.


Once the baked pumpkin has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it.  Put it in freezer bags and store flat, in the freezer.

Holly's Note:
I have used jelly roll pans, but my glass baking dishes work better.  They're deeper and the water doesn't evaporate as quickly. Covering them with foil is optional.

Once the pumpkins are cool enough to handle, I scrape out the puree and put it in my mixer.  It doesn't always get smooth enough, so then I put it in my blender, a little at a time to puree it.  (I really need to get a food processor.)

I strain it all to get more water out.  I put ~2 cups of puree in each freezer bag and just lay them flat in the freezer.

This is a bit labor intensive and messy, but it is worth it.  I love knowing that I use our bounty, rather than just throwing it all away after Halloween.

I've seen a lot online about using sugar or pie pumpkins, rather than "jack-o-lantern" pumpkins.  I always just have regular pumpkins from my aunt's garden, so I have no idea what kind they actually are.  We never actually get around to carving them. However, they are just fine for pumpkin bread. I don't like pumpkin pie, but I really like pumpkin bread.

Shop Taste of Home

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Пятница Ponderings: My Loves and Hates of Motherhood

Ponder: to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate 
Пятница (PYAHT-nee-tsuh): Friday in Russian
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Like you, I often have thoughts I ponder over and that mull about in my head. They ruminate and sometimes coalesce into something concrete. I thought that I might occasionally post those thoughts and Friday here on the blog seemed to be good place to do that. I don't speak a foreign language, but I did take Russian classes in college (not that I remember a lot of it) and since Friday in Russian is Пятница and starts with a P like ponder, it worked. Perhaps Пятница Ponderings could be come a regular thing here. Who knows?
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There are many things about motherhood that I love and a few that I hate. I think that's normal.

I love child snuggles.
I hate homework. It was horrible when I was in school, but it's truly heinous to deal with as a grown woman.
I love watching my children grow and mature.
I hate the life lessons they need to learn that cause them pain, but I know those lessons are necessary.
I love family dinners when everyone is around the table.
I didn't love pregnancy because I was sick for the entire 9 months each time and on bed rest with The Brother. But, I loved feeling my babies move and I loved it when my boys finally arrived.
I hate the worry that accompanies parenthood.
I love seeing my boys laugh together.
I hate the doubts and feelings of failure and inadequacy.
I love teenage hugs.

And the list goes on...

I wasn't sure how I would deal with teenagers. But, honestly? This is my favorite stage. I love my teenagers. Oh, they have their moments. Definitely. There is teenage attitude and a lot of eye rolling and mood swings that sway like a pendulum. The big brother likes to annoy and pester the little brother. The little brother then laments that sometimes he wishes he didn't have a brother. But, 15 minutes later, they will be playing a game together and I hear the laughter and cooperation as they each sit at a computer on opposite sides of the living room.

Oh, and I hate the word, "Fine!".  I get that a lot.

But, I also get great conversations. I love it when the boys get home from school and they want to tell me about their days. I love seeing their personalities develop. I love the independence they start gaining. I love the spontaneous hugs I get in the middle of the kitchen from a teenage boy who now towers over me. I love watching the boys with their dad. They laugh a lot together and they share the same sense of humor. I just have to shake my head sometimes at the three of them, but I love that they have such a good relationship with their dad. I love that they are relentless in trying to convince me that we need a puppy.

I love the conversations we have where skills are taught and knowledge shared and difficult topics discussed. I love that they are developing their own thought processes and opinions. I love that they will ask questions. I love that The Boy looks out for his brother and when The Artist had a recent bullying issue at school, The Boy gave him some good counsel to help with the still fluid situation (while Mom called the teacher). I love that they talked it all over with their dad when he got home.

One of my new favorite loves?  Texts.

I managed most of my life without a cell phone. Largely because they didn't exist. We made very conscious decisions when we gave our boys cell phones. They don't have smart phones or data. Just basic talk and text.

And I love it. I can know where they are without hovering. I can tell them dinner is ready and to come home. I can remind. I can tease.

I love the random texts I receive. I always get one from The Artist saying, "On the bus. Love you. Bye!" I get a lot from The Boy saying, "Fine!". I also get random texts during the day from The Boy asking what's for dinner or telling me something funny that happened at school. I can send a quick text to tell The Artist if I'm going to be a minute late picking him up or he can send me one if he's staying after school to work on something.

I have a love/hate relationship with technology most of the time, but texts?  I love texts. I love the boys who send them to me. I love that they want to share things with me.

My loves about motherhood far outweigh the hates.

What about you?

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014

Cookbooks and Recipes


I have two shelves of cookbooks on the baker's rack in my kitchen.  I have another shelf in my living room bookcase that has cookbooks which are not used as often, but I just can't get rid of all of them.

I've received cookbooks for review, I've purchased some on my own.  I have church cookbooks and family cookbooks. I have had food magazine subscriptions and I have a couple of recipe boxes, one of which has well used recipes and one of which hold recipes I'd like to try.

I have a browser full of cooking bookmarks and Pinterest files full of recipes.

What about you?  Do you have lots of cookbooks that you use regularly use or don't use?  Where do you find new recipes to try?




Friday, October 3, 2014

Family Favorite Friday: Homemade Pizza

We love pizza at our house and while I love a run to Little Caesar's or calling Domino's, sometimes it's fun to make your own.

Printable Recipe
~1 large pizza or 6 small



Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 T yeast
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t Italian seasoning
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 1/3-3 cups flour
  • pizza sauce
  • mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • cheddar cheese, shredded
  • your choice of toppings
Cooking Directions
  1. Stir sugar into water, add yeast and proof for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in salt, seasoning and oil.
  3. Add about 2 cups flour and mix, forming a small ball.
  4. Add flour as needed and knead until smooth and elastic--about 10 minutes. (I put it in my mixer with a dough hook.)
  5. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled--about 45 minutes.
  6. Roll it out and top with sauce, cheeses and toppings.
  7. It will make 1 normal size pizza or about 6 smaller ones.
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Holly's Note:
My boys like making their own individual pizzas. You can also do calzones instead of pizzas. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.