Tag Archives: holidays

An Intentional, Quiet Easter

You may have gathered that life has been a bit hectic around the Hacienda lately. I am guessing that is really not surprising as life these days is hectic for most of us. We understand over-committed, over-taxed, way too busy, spread too thin, wearing way too many hats, just hangin’ on. And somehow, we just keep piling it on.

Doing, doing, doing, to the point of exhaustion.

Going, going, going to the point of gone.

The craziest part is, we do it to ourselves.

We do it with the best of intentions. We say yes before we even take a moment to think or breathe or be realistic. Before we sit quietly with the Lord and ask Him, “is this what you have for me?”

Yes.

Yes, I can do that. Yes, I’d love to help. Yes, I can write that, make that, bake that, decorate that, plant that, plan that, chair that. Give it to me, I’ll do it.

I have done it. And I have done it to myself. No one expects or demands it of me, it does not happen without my permission. It is all me and I just keep heaping commitment on top of commitment. All good, important, worthy things.

But at the expense of what?

Quiet, still time with my maker and savior and sustainer?

Peace of mind and rest and perspective.

Patience and focus and stillness.

He has given me a servants heart and that is a good thing. But I have weak boundaries and that is a bad thing.

And all of the “yeses” have left me undone or overdone – as in stick a fork in me ’cause I’m done.

So what does all of this have to do with Easter? Well, pretty much everything.

Easter-Decor-7

Normally at Easter we have a house full of loved ones; those born to us and those gifted and chosen. We prepare for weeks and then we gather together, serve a huge meal, hide dozens of eggs for a dozen (or so) kids and I truly love it. Every bit of it.

But this year, I must be honest, this year I just wasn’t feelin’ it. And it kind of caught me off guard. All of the “yeses” finally caught up with me.

I’m weary and spent. So this year, I said to my husband “do you think it’s okay if it is just us”.

“Just us”, as if that were inconceivable, unthinkable, unimaginable. As if there were something wrong with “just us”. As if “just us” weren’t enough. He immediately said YES! But I had to give it some time to sink in. It is hard to let go of self-imposed expectations.

Easter is a celebration that matters deeply to me and while I am not feeling the big production, I am feeling something that means more. I am feeling the need to renew, reflect and be still. And I’m feeling okay with that.

So this year, it is going to be just us. Enjoying a very intentional, very quiet Easter.

The house is decorated, but it is just for us.

I have menus planned. But this year, they are just for us.

For Good Friday …

  • Rack of Lamb Persillade
  • Roasted Baby Red Potatoes
  • Greek Salad
  • Steamed Haricot Vert
  • Grandma Ibby’s French Strawberry Pie (I will share this recipe with you tomorrow)

And the “agenda” …

Well, this afternoon, Nathan and I will head to the market to pick up our groceries. And there will be no rush or stress, we will enjoy our time together. This evening, we will sit down to a wonderful meal together and bow our heads to thank our savior for the blessing of His sacrifice. This morning I asked Nathan what “Good Friday” means and his sweet simple answer was “God wants us.” And so He does. He wants us so much that He bore all of our sin on that cross that we would be washed clean, forgiven and redeemed.

And while Easter isn’t about baskets and bunnies and eggs, there is value in the joy of these family traditions.

Easter-Decor-6

So, tomorrow, we will color eggs together and attend Easter Services (yes on Saturday – our church is big so we will save five seats Sunday for the many visitors we are sure to welcome). After the kids go to bed, Gary and I will sit together and stuff plastic eggs with scripture, hand written love notes, candy and coins for Sunday’s Easter Egg Hunt.

And Sunday, we will hide those eggs and breathe easy, relaxed and happy as our kids hunt excitedly for their tiny treasures. The day will come all too soon when their enthusiasm for such things wanes. We must put the bustle aside once in a while and take the time to enjoy it now. And so we will.

A bit later, we will sit down to brunch together at the picnic table under the Palo Verde tree. Just us. And we will linger, the rest of the day ahead to be still.

Easter Brunch …

  • Ham with and Orange/Fig Glaze
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Asparagus with Hollandaise
  • Coffee Cake

Yes, this Easter, I hear him calling me to slow down and to proceed with intention.

There will always be big gatherings at the Hacienda, big Easter. We are encouraged to gather and it is wonderful. But there must also be “just us”.

And so it is of our relationship with the Savior who draws our hearts to seek Him. To find time with Him. To make time for Him. Just us. He and I.

Easter-Decor-11

On this Good Friday, may you find that time with Him. May you be reminded of what has been done for you. May you hear Him whisper “it is done and you are worth it. Let us be, just us.”

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-16

 

 

 

 

 

Catching Up

Nathan-Calendar-1

Nathan’s 2014 Calendar – I love these calendars the kids make at school and will be so sad when the year comes that they are all too big to make them anymore.

I’d say it’s about time we do a little catching up.

No, I have not given up blogging.

No, I was not kidnapped by Aliens.

No, I did not move to the south of France to hide away from the world. Although some days, that is still on the table.

We have had a pretty challenging couple of months with some big losses in our family and my heart has been processing it all. Throw in a couple big holidays and a birthday and this unprepared lady just had no time to write or visit my favorite blogs.

I’ve missed you guys.

In early November, we received a call that my father-in-law, who had been battling cancer for last 10 years, was being moved to Hospice care with only a few days to a week before it would be his time. My husband immediately hopped on a plane to be by his dad’s side. Proving that he is absolutely the toughest guy I know, dad fought to live for another three weeks. I am so thankful my husband was able to spend most of that time by his dad’s side. After dad’s passing, our whole family flew out to say goodbye to grandpa. Well, goodbye for now anyway. We know he’s saving us a place at the best fishing hole around.

We stayed with our family in Indiana for a bittersweet but very blessed Thanksgiving.

While in Indiana, we were also able to squeeze in a trip to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis…

Sara was off with her cousins so I only have boy pictures and boy did they have a great time! True to their nature, David loved the history and “fact” finding opportunities and Nathan was all hands on energy. We only lost him once. He knew where we were and was evading. Nearly every gray hair I have is his doing. Nearly. They aren’t all his fault but I’m still sending him the cumulative salon bill someday anyway.

It was hard to leave grandma Judy and the family, the big blue Victorian house, the crisp fall air, the falling leaves, the warm fire and the quiet time.

We love you grandpa and we will miss you everyday. Until we meet again.

After getting home from Indiana, there was not a moment to waste getting ready for Christmas. Christmas cards and letters, decorating, shopping, baking, teacher, neighbor and co-worker gifts, brunch, parties and even a Women’s Ministry event thrown in for good measure! Thankfully, my trusty staff was on hand to help – see picture below., way below.

Oh, and a Birthday to celebrate too!

Happy Birthday, Sara!! One year from now,  we’ll have a teenager. Actually, less than a year from NOW.  Gulp.

Sara's-Birthday-2

We try very hard to keep her birthday separate from Christmas and just celebrate her. With all that had gone on and all of the “Christmas catch-up” I had to do, Sara was very gracious about having a simple, low-key celebration this year. Low-key was officially supposed to come next year as the last of the “big” parties is sixth grade; says the parental management team. With the exception of Sweet 16 of course.

Instead of a big party, we decided it would be just as much fun to take her and as many friends as I could safely fit in the van to Jump Street where they could trampoline themselves to their hearts content.

Fun. Did I say fun? Oh my will I have to tell you all about it some time. For now, I will just let you imagine a half an hour in a car with six 11-12 year old girls, too many cell phones, too much perfume, lip-gloss and nail polish (all of which were opened, sprayed, dripped and gooped in my car at least once) and far too many pre-teen hormones. They are fun in groups of three or less. Anymore than that and a pack mentality seems to set in. A half an hour EACH WAY. Did I mention that.

Sara's-Birthday-1

We do have a special birthday tradition just for her that we never miss. Every year, on her birthday, we take her out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and give her all of her gifts from the family. It is always a special evening and she loves it.  This year’s coveted birthday items – crazy knee socks, floral combat boots and anything with a moustache print on it.

Sara's-Birthday-3

Nope, I wasn’t kidding. Don’t ask me?? If it is safe, appropriate and makes her happy, I don’t question.

One day soon, I will do a series of posts on some of the kids’ past parties. We’ve had some fun ones! For now you can check out the two I have posted; David’s Duck Dynasty Bash and Nathan’s Despicable Me Party.

In other news, Noodles the Elf on the Shelf was back for the Christmas Season so there was much Elf Management to be done …

The Elf Management team wasn’t quite as creative as last year but we got the job done. Mostly. When you have a six year old who misses nothing and wakes up instantly hyper-focused on a mission to find the elf, it can be complicated if the elf has not in fact been moved because management was dragging into bed at 1am and … gasp … forgot. “Oh, no someone must have touched the elf” came in handy more than once.

And then, all too soon, it was Christmas …

I love Christmas. Everything about it. Next year, my goal is to have posts ready ahead of time so I don’t miss sharing this wonderful season with my blogging friends. Unless you are prepared in advance, It is just too hard to write and keep up with all of the “busy” while desperately trying maintain focus on what truly matters. Lesson learned.

Desperately busy. Which leads me to December 26th and hibernation. I am an extrovert who becomes an introvert for about two weeks a year; December 26th until the day the kids go back to school.  I’m done. Finished. Spent. Turtle in her introverted shell. I may stay in my PJs all day. I may watch movies with the kids all day. In my PJs. ALL DAY. For many days.

Needless to say, I am not a New Year’s party girl. Well, I’m not really a party girl at all (anymore – for any of my college friends who might be reading) unless it is a dinner party or a birthday party or there’s cake. You know what I mean.

New Year’s Day consisted of bike riding and a picnic out back oh, and we did share the week with one very special and adorable house guest “Buster” or “Sassy McNoodle” as we like to call him.

And New Year’s Eve?

Nathan-Chillin'

Well this is about as exciting as it gets around here folks! H.I.B.E.R.N.A.T.I.O.N. Only one kid made it to midnight. I’ll give you one guess. Yup. The youngest. Party animal – just look at that face.

JanuaryAnd so, here it is the middle of January and sadly, 2014 has not had an easy start. We just returned from Oklahoma after saying goodbye to Gary’s incredible cousin Mike who passed away just after the New Year. I will tell you about Mike sometime as I will tell you about dad. For now, I will just share this from a card that was sent to us by Gary’s uncle Chuck after dad’s passing …

My prayer for you is a little light in the midst of this darkness. “We will never be the same as we were before this loss, but are ever so much better for having had something so great to lose.” – Leigh

Cousin-Mike-1

Indeed we are. And we are grateful to the God who loves and sustains us and we praise Him in all things. We trust in Him an look to Him for comfort even when we can’t find understanding.

Boomer-Sooner!

This one’s for you cousin Mike – Boomer Sooner!

Yes, it has been a difficult and busy few months for our family but we are moving forward and I am so glad you and I are finally catching up. Thank you for hanging in there with me and for your readership and friendship. A special welcome to the new visitors who have stopped by and the readers who have so graciously followed Welcome Company. I have a long list of recipes, ideas, plans for the Hacienda, stories to share and adventures to come.

I am looking forward to all that 2014 will bring.

I hope each and everyone of you had a wonderful holiday and got some time of your own to “hibernate” with those you love most. May 2014 be a year of blessing, adventure, friendship, family and fun. And may we be thankful to the God who loves us in all that may come.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Blessings my friends!

 

A St. Patrick’s Day Menu of Irish Pub Food

Top o’ the mornin’ to you!

I hope you had a fun, safe and festive St. Patrick’s Day filled with good times and great Irish food. I am always up for a little festive fun and of course a dinner guest or two, so for us St. Patrick’s Day is all about the food.

Normally, I make shepherd’s pie for dinner. Technically, an English dish, but my husband (who is of Irish descent) doesn’t like the traditional corned beef and cabbage. Weird, I know, but he doesn’t. He does like Guiness though, so he gets to keep his “Irish Card”.

SPD-7

My three “Irishmen”.

This year, however, I decided to put to use the “Irish Pub Cooking” cook book that I picked up a while back. The plan, every dish on the menu would come from this book. Appetizer, entrée, bread, sides and dessert. Fun!

SPD-1

So many of the recipes looked and sounded tasty but ultimately I decided on Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets for the appetizer, Beef in Stout with Herb Dumplings for the entrée, Colcannon and Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage for the sides, a bread called Barm Brack and Apple Cake for dessert.

SPD-6

The pictures. Perfectly styled food pictures. They are why I have about a thousand cookbooks. They get me every time!

SPD-2

And inspire me to play with my food.

So, how did the Irish Pub Cooking project turn out?

Delicious. Mostly.

SPD-12

The Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets were incredible. My favorite recipe of the day.

SPD-10

The Beef in Stout and Colcannon were great but the star of the dinner plate for me was the Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage (my second favorite dish of the day). It was absolutely wonderful and will be a side dish I make again, and again and again.

Well, the kids didn’t like it.

But I’m still going to make it again, and again and again.

SPD-15

The apple cake was good. Not change your life epic but not disappointing. And it looks pretty.

The Barm Brack

SPD-16

This is different from Irish Soda Bread. It is a yeast bread. Yeast bread is my kryptonite. In fact, this bread was like trying to eat kryptonite. The flavor was good. The texture? Kryptonite.

Moving on. Did I mention we had company?

My Uncle George and Aunt Marilyn are “snow birds” and live only a few miles from us during the winter months when it is just too darn cold in the Pacific Northwest. It had been a long time since we’d seen them, too long – which is so silly since they are so close by. We were happy to welcome them to dinner. I am kicking myself now though for not taking their picture, I’ll have to get one next time.

Uncle George brough his specialty, “Pistachio Jello Salad“. It was a much bigger hit with the kids than the cabbage.

In fact, Nathan was only too happy to start his day with a little left over jello salad for breakfast (I promise, he had an egg and an apple too).

SPD-13

Yes, courtesy of daddy, my boy has a mohawk. A crazy, crooked mohawk. Mommy agreed for spring break only. But now, he loves it. He loves it so much that he didn’t want me to wash his hair because he thought the mohawk wouldn’t stick up anymore. I am actually not sure he is going to let me shave it off  before he has to go to school tomorrow. So, he maybe going to school with a crazy crooked – freshly washed – mohawk. I have learned to pick my battles.

I will share all of these Irish Pub recipes (even the Barm Brack) with you all week so be sure to come back tomorrow for the Smoked Salmon, Dill & Horseradish Tartlets recipe. For now, I’ll leave you with a big cheesy smile and an old Irish Blessing …

SPD-14

May the blessing of God’s soft rain be on you,
Falling gently on your head, refreshing your soul
With the sweetness of little flowers newly blooming.
May the strength of the winds of Heaven bless you,
Carrying the rain to wash your spirit clean
Sparkling after in the sunlight.
May the blessing of God’s earth be on you,
And as you walk the roads,
May you always have a kind word
for those you meet.

Noodles’ Christmas 2012 Final Report

This is Noodles the Scout Elf reporting in from the North Pole where I am enjoying a little R & R after a very busy Christmas at the Brewer house. I had so much fun with my family this year and I miss them so much since my departure on Christmas Eve. There was so much to do, so much to explore and so many fun things to play with – I can hardly wait until next year! But for now, here is my final report for 2012 and a few highlights from some of my most memorable moments and favorite adventures.

Advent-Candy-1

Advent is a wonderful tradition, I loved hearing the “Christmas Story” and getting to enjoy a piece of candy from behind the little red door each night. My kids like it too!

Advent-Candy-2

Candy is by far my favorite elven food group!

Defending-the-Castle-1

One of my favorite and most daring adventures was defending the castle and the princess from the fire-breathing dragon. Yes, you heard right the FIRE BREATHING DRAGON.

Defending-the-Castle-2

There he is … The FIRE BREATHING DRAGON! And you thought I wasn’t serious. Later, I was even knighted by the queen (she’s the one there in the purple and yellow gown) for my bravery. So I guess that officially makes me “Sir Noodles”. Santa was so proud!

Decorating

I did a little decorating. Elves are known for their tree trimming skills.

Boy, I was having so much fun and then, on Friday, December 14th, something really terrible happened and a lot of little kids and their teachers died. And my heart was broken.

I-Love-You

And all I could think about was how much my kids mean to me and how I needed to let them know I love them and am watching out for them. My family prayed a lot for those families in Connecticut and I don’t know if they know it but I was praying too.

The next night was hard too. My family was gone for a Christmas Party and sleep overs. I missed them so much but did a little tidying up to keep myself busy. I tell you, that sweet “little one” must have re-arranged the “Merry Christmas” blocks a thousand times. Fixing-Blocks

But I put things back in order, and he left me a little piece of his cookie as he rushed by to play the Wii. Funny, after I fixed them, he never touched the blocks again. I sure do love him.

The next night, I was eager to make a new friend so I paid a visit to this really cool house I saw while I was busy defending the castle from the FIRE BREATHING DRAGON – remember that? I did tell you about the FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON, didn’t I?

Barbie-1

Anyway, about the really cool house, turns out there’s this girl who lives there, her name is Barbie. She said I could drive her car so we could go look at Christmas lights but the elevator in her house was broken so she couldn’t get down. Luckily, the “Rescue Heroes” were near by and were happy to give us a hand. And then we were off …

Barbie-2

to enjoy the Christmas lights and share a candy cane.

Barbie-3

And then I returned her home, safe and sound. She let me keep the car a little longer.

Marshmallow-Bath

Did you know Barbie’s Dream House has the best bath tub EVER! Barbie was kind enough to let me borrow it. We elves love to take marshmallow baths you know. You really should try it sometime, Marshmallow baths are the best!

The next night was Sara’s 11th Birthday.

Scarf-for-Sara

Elves LOVE birthdays, after all Christmas is Jesus’ Birthday and He is the reason we celebrate. I gave Sara a beautiful scarf that I brough back from the North Pole. She LOVED it and wore it out to her birthday dinner at the Cheesecake Factory that night. Here’s the best part, my family came home with leftover cheesecake (those pieces are huge) and one of them was Peppermint Bark – MY FAVORITE! How did they know?

Helicopter

I told you a was going to take that helicopter for a spin. It was soooo much fun!! That chicken on top of the ledge in the kitchen was pretty interesting too, he has some good ideas on solar energy and clean fuel.

Village-Visit

I did a lot of visiting this Christmas and stopped by this quaint little village to chat with the very tiny but oh, so friendly people who live there. I still can’t figure out how Santa does the whole chimney thing though.

At-the-Movies

One night, I watched my favorite move of ALL TIME! I love popcorn!

Oh, I can’t forget! Remember that FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON, I think I might have mentioned him …

Dragon-Rider

well, I trained him and am now a certified Dragon Rider. Here we are with our friend Griffin just hangin’ out on the chandelier.

Before I knew it, it was Christmas Eve and time for me to say goodbye.

Good-Bye-for-now-1

My kids aren’t perfect but they sure do try hard and are so funny and I love them so much. I want to be sure they remember me, a year is a long time after all, so I left each of them a little something special.

Believe

Well, until next year, this is Noodles the Elf, or Sir Noodles the Dragon Rider – whichever you prefer, signing off!

May you have a blessed and wonderful 2013.

And Keep Believing!

White Chocolate Dipped Gingersnaps

ready-to-serveThese are my favorite “go to” Christmas Cookies. Versatile, delicious, easy and one batch makes a lot of cookies. I found this recipe several years ago in one of those little “Best Christmas Cookies Ever” type mini-magazine cookbooks that you pick up on impulse at the checkout stand. You know just in case you didn’t already have the “Best Christmas Cookie Ever Recipe” amongst the hundreds of recipes you already have and actually might just find it in this particular little magazine so you buy it because you can’t take the chance you’ll miss out on the best thing that has ever happened to you. As it turns out, this little magazine did actually have the recipe for the “Best Christmas Cookie Ever”.

Over the years, I have happily shared this recipe with countless friends and now I am going to share it with you too!

White Chocolate Dipped Gingersnaps

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Molasses – I use “Full Flavor” Molasses
  • 4 Cups Flour
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • Additional sugar to roll cookies.

White Chocolate Dip:

  • 2 – 12 ounce Packages Vanilla Baking Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Shortening (Crisco)

Directions

In a mixing blow, combine sugar and oil; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Sugar-and-OilAdd molasses and mix well.

MolassesHere is a little trick that may or may not be life changing for you …Measuring-Molasseswhen you add the molasses use the same measuring cup that you used for the oil and the molasses with slip right out without sticking to the sides. Yes, I do watch entirely too much Food Network.BatterGorgeous!

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition.Adding-MolassesKeep going, you’re almost there.DoughPerfect, such a beautiful dough.

Now, shape the dough into 3/4 inch balls using a small scoop for uniform size.scoopAnd then roll the cookie balls in sugar.A-roll-in-the-sugarAhhhhh, there’s my sweet boy.Nathan-helping-2You didn’t think I could post a recipe without pictures of my helper did you? The sugar rolling step is perfect for little helpers. Here we are experimenting with a roll in Turbinado Sugar which turned out to be a little much. We recommend sticking with the plain old granulated stuff.Nathan-helpingNext, place the sugar rolled balls 2 inches apart on a baking sheet (mine is lined with a Silpat mat to prevent sticking but parchment paper works just fine too).Ready-for-the-ovenBake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until cookie springs backward when touched lightly. A little less time will give you softer, chewier cookies and a little more crispy and crunchy.bakedFresh from the oven and smelling fantastic. Remove to wire racks and cool.

What to do next? These cookies are so beautiful and delicious just as they are (go ahead, try one) which brings up the question to dip or not to dip? This is entirely up to you but you really must try the white chocolate dip at least once. The white chocolate dresses them up and puts them over the top but the gingersnap really is wonderful on its own too. ready-to-dip

If you decide to dip (which really is a good decision), melt the chips with shortening in a microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each until not quite melted as to not scorch the chocolate. Keep stirring until the heat of the mixture fully melts the chocolate.

Melting-chocolateYes, my picture shows the chips in a pan that clearly can not go in the microwave and is obviously on its way to the stove top. This is the way the original recipe says to melt the chips. I did it this way. I should not have. I know better. Melt them in the microwave, unless you can properly care for your melting chocolate and are not likely to be distracted by a five-year-old, a dog, the phone or the doorbell or all at the same time. Trust me, unless you use a double boiler, this can go wrong quickly and will only end in heartbreak. Use the microwave.ready-to-dip-2Okay, now that your chocolate is perfectly melted, dip the cookies halfway and shake off the excess. Place on waxed paper or parchment paper to harden for about an hour. dipped-and-dryingIf you want to get festive, right after dipping (before the chocolate hardens) decorate with colored sugar or sprinkles.sprinkledNow, here is where it get’s interesting. If you are a ginger lover and can take a pretty big flavor punch, sprinkle your cookies with a little bit of chopped crystallized ginger.Crystallized-GingerHeavenly!ginger-toppedThese are the cookies that we leave out for Santa. I hope you love them too and that they become a part of your Christmas traditions! Thanks for reading, I’d love to know if you try them and what you think!

My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe

My Grandmother’s Ice Box Cookie Recipe

Click here to read the story behind the cookies.

Finished-Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 pound butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, dissolved in 1 Tablespoon of cold water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt (less – about half – if you use table salt)

Directions

Shape into a small “log” roll. Refrigerate several hours, slice and bake at 350 degrees 10 minutes.

WAIT, WAIT, WAIT! Okay, so those were my grandmother’s instructions, written back in the day when knowledge and technique were assumed.

I have added slightly to the “how to” of the recipe:

Cream the butter and sugars together in a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

Creaming-Sugar-and-Butter

Add and incorporated the eggs, one at a time.

One-Egg-at-a-Time

Add and incorporate the vanilla and the soda dissolved in water.

Mix salt into the six cups of flour and mix into butter mixture one cup at a time.

Flour

Mix in the roughly chopped walnuts (or the nut of your choice).

Walnuts

Add-in-Nuts

If you have a dreamy little brown-eyed boy, let him lick the beater.

Nathan-Beater

Nathan-Beater-2

Shape the dough into three rectangular log rolls by placing the dough in thirds onto sheets of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to help you shape the dough.

Wrapping

Log

Logs

Seal it up and refrigerate for several hours, otherwise, it will be impossible to slice – also, this is why they are called “Ice Box” cookies.

After the dough has chilled, remove the plastic wrap and slice the cookies 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.

Sliced

Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

Just-out-of-the-Oven

Cool and store in an airtight container or freeze.

Enjoy!

Noodles’ Weekly Elf on the Shelf Update

I can’t believe I met my family just a week ago, it seems like I’ve known them forever – I already love them so much! I have three kids; Sara, she’ll be 11 soon and I can hardly wait for her birthday party, David is 8 and is so clever and funny like me and Nathan is 5 and is so lovable and full of energy, hey, he’s like me too! And of course, mom and dad and Gracie the Dog too.

I have had great fun keeping them all guessing, getting into things and watching over them. On Monday night, after I reported to Santa at the North Pole, I flew back and went fishing for Swedish Fish in this cool pond right below the shelf I first landed on to introduce myself.

Noodles-Fishing

Did you know that candy canes are not just one of the four food groups? They make great fishing poles too! And then you can eat them when you are done fishing, which is awesome.

Noodles-Fishing-2

Noodles-Fishing-3

Boy did the kids think I was funny and clever when they found me the next morning. Funny though, the dog seemed a little confused and kept sniffing around the pond. Maybe she likes Swedish Fish too.

Noodles-ReminderThat first day, the kids had a little trouble being nice to each other and listening to their mom so I thought a little fun and friendly reminder of what Santa expects was in order. I even sat on a cool silver sled so that mom could move me easily in case anyone seemed eager to touch me.

Noodles-sneaks-a-cookie

Night number three. I could not longer resist the cookies mom had been baking (after all, I am an elf and for us the four food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup) and I was just sure she wouldn’t mind if I helped myself to just one. Boy am I so glad I did!

Noodles-Advent-ConspiracyI’ve heard my family talking a lot about something their church does at Christmas time. It is called Advent Conspiracy. The boys came home on Sunday with cups and the family has been putting coins and dollars into them to collect money to feed orphans and vulnerable children in Africa. I knew the kids would love it if I helped out. What I didn’t know is how good it would make me feel too. Now I understand why my family wants to celebrate what Christmas is really about and Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All. I can’t wait to tell Santa all about it and about how generous the hearts of my kids are.Noodles-in-Spidey-MobileSince I arrived, I have been eyeballing all of the fast cars around here and finally, the need for speed got the best of me and I had to take one out for a spin. The Spidey Mobile was AWESOME!! I remember seeing a helicopter around here somewhere, but I was going so fast I can’t remember where. I’ll have to look for it because I’m definitely going to need to try that!Noodles-and-Baby-Jesus

My reports back to Santa have been mostly good. I’ve had to tell him of a little bit of bickering and fighting, back talk and messy rooms but I’ve also gotten to tell him of how much love my kids have and about their big hearts for Jesus. About how they pray and say they are sorry and try hard to do what is right. I love my kids and am so happy I get to be their elf.

Be sure to stop back by and see what crazy antics I come up with next week! I have heard rumors that I might be getting some “work done”, a little velcro to my hands, some wire in my arms and legs for increased flexibilty. I’ll be like a bionic elf or Wolverine. I like that, WOLVERINE, it has a nice ring to it.

Love,

Noodles, Elf on the Shelf