menu plan monday ~ december 8, 2014

We had a big day yesterday. About 190 people attended our annual Christmas Open House. Thanks to all who came. We so enjoyed seeing you, meeting first time guests, and enjoying the holiday spirit with everyone! Next post is about that!

Our younger son and his wife are here from Seattle, Washington. They will visit until Wednesday, then head to her parents’ home for a few days, before flying back to Seattle. Yesterday all five of our children and their families were here at the same time. I love it when we can all gather together. This evening we plan to have a gift exchange with our son and his wife while they are here. So everyone will be back again this evening. Love this time of year!

The menu has to be planned with some consideration of the week’s events. This should take care of it.

Monday
Ham or Turkey Sandwiches
Meatballs
Crackers and Cheese
Three Cheese Spread
Veggies and Beau Monde Dip
All the Christmas Cookies and Truffles you could care to eat…

Tuesday
Baked Ziti
Green Salad
Garlic Bread

fake baked ziti

Wednesday
Chicken Tortellini Soup

Chicken Tortellini Soup

Thursday
Heat Free Chili
Cornbread

Friday
Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry
Rice

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Beef Roast / Carrots / Potatoes in the Crock Pot
Green Salad
Steamed Green Beans

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

Only 17 days until Christmas!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ living room tree

DH took this picture of the tree in the living room.

living room Christmas tree

This is our family tree. It holds the kids’ ornament collections, our family ornaments, the ornaments the kids’ have made during grade school, etc. It is beaded with a double strand of red beads, decked with popcorn and cranberry strings, and finished with silver tinsel icicles.

living room tree

We make popcorn and cranberry strings because the tree my mother put up always had them. I asked my Dad last week why she always made them for the tree. He said a lot of people used popcorn and sometimes cranberries to decorate their Christmas trees when he was a child. Both his and my Mom’s parents used them on their own trees. Snow White enjoyed making them with her Great-Aunt Genny two years ago.

stringing popcorn and cranberries

The stained glass angel in the window behind the tree was made by our dear friend Gary.

stained glass angel

Our oldest daughter’s baby shoes…

DD#1's baby shoes

If you peek inside the tree, you may catch a glimpse of our wood gnome sitting on a branch. My mother gave him to me thirty-five years ago, the year our first child was born.

Wood Gnome

This tree doesn’t change much, year to year. A few new ornaments each year, but basically the same. This picture of Rose Red was taken five years ago. She was delighted with the tree! The fact that it revolved just made it that much better!

she loved the tree

It’s time to think about getting your own tree up if you haven’t yet. Only eighteen days until Christmas!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ chalkboard tree

This is the third year in a row that we have done a chalkboard tree. The chalkboard is in the room we call the “music room” because that’s where our piano lives. The chalkboard is painted on the wall with green chalkboard paint. It is a bit over eight feet tall. The ceilings are twelve feet tall.

The tree this year was going to have a Chrismon Tree theme, but I changed my mind and decided on a nativity scene instead. As I have done in the past, I googled for ideas. I searched < nativity coloring pages > and found some great inspiration there. Coloring pages make good design choices for the chalkboard tree. They are easy to reproduce and to color in. Genny does the work of transferring the ideas to the actual chalkboard. It takes hours and hours to finish, but we always love the end result.

Chalkboard tree 2013 / The Twelve Days of Christmas

Our first chalkboard tree was done in 2012. It was a Scandinavian themed tree, inspired by the blog A Legg Up.

We may consider the Chrismon theme again for next year, but I’m also already thinking about a Christmas toys theme…could be fun!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ blue and silver tree

The Christmas tree in the downstairs bedroom has been dubbed “the blue and silver tree.” It is located in the 1960 addition to the original house. This addition has 8′ ceilings, so the tree is 7′. It is decorated with mostly silver ornaments, many of them with an old-fashioned theme, and some blue ornaments. It has silver bead garlands, a sprinkle of silver tinsel icicles, and glittery picks for the topper.

You can read about my experiment in spray painting this tree at this link: thanks, hgtv!

Blue and silver Christmas tree

Many of the ornaments for this tree are thrifted. My sister Genny haunts the thrift stores this time of year, finding some great items. Here are some pictures of the tree that I took a previous year.

blue deer

church in the valley

guest room tree

pinecone ornament

I’ll tell you a funny story about the silver ornaments that started it all… One year our church had a Vacation Bible School with a camping theme. They asked for the loan of artificial Christmas trees so they could set up a “forest” for VBS. We sent quite a few trees over. When VBS was done, friends gathered our trees for us and brought them back. DH took them back up to the attic where they waited for the holidays to roll around. When they did (roll around that is), we put up the twenty-plus trees that we usually decorate. Lo and behold, there was an extra tree. We could not figure out where this tree came from. We are sometimes given trees by people who are buying themselves a new tree and know how many we have up. They figure we can always use more trees. Which is right, in my book. :) So we decided someone had given us the tree. I didn’t have any ornaments for it, so we bought a bunch of cheap silver ones and did it all in silver. We set it up in the dining room.

The first week of December, we went to church to decorate the tree there. DH and I looked all over the church for that tree. Then it dawned on both of us at the same time! The tree in our dining room was the church tree! We had a good laugh over that, then had to go home, take the deocrations off, and take the tree to church to decorate it there. That left me with a lot of silver ornaments which I didn’t use for a few years. Then, in 2008, we redecorated the addition and suddenly the room had a blue theme. When it was time to decorate the tree, the Victorian tree we had used before no longer fit the room. That’s when I pulled out those silver ornaments. Silver and blue. Perfect for the guest room. We add a few new/thrifted ornaments each year and it is filling out beautifully.

For a tree with humble beginnings, it has come a long way. Most guests pick the blue and silver tree as one of their two top favorite trees in our home. It’s one of my favorites, too!

~~Rhonda

christmas tree countdown ~ ornament tree

The ornament tree is in the craft room. We’ve had it for several years.

This year it displays 60 of the ornaments I’ve made using the pictures from Christmas cards.

Twenty-some trees to go. I’ll post another one tomorrow.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ december 2, 2014

Just a reminder of what the weather was a few days ago…kids outside without coats, windows open…didn’t last long!

Now we’re back to freezing drizzle and sleet. I don’t like that part of winter! Here’s the menu for this week. Quick and easy, keeping in mind we have a busy weekend ahead of us.

Monday
Pan-Seared Tilapia
Rice
Steamed Green Beans

Tuesday
Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Green Salad

Wednesday
Chicken Spinach Quesadillas
Avocado Sour Cream

Thursday
Tacos

Friday
Spicy Shredded Pork
Homemade Rolls

Saturday
Chicken Tortellini Soup

Sunday
Deli Sandwiches
Veggies and Dip

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

a week from today

Open House is getting closer. We’re counting down. Just a week left. Today our older son and his family came to help with decorating and cleaning. Along with our two daughters, DH, and my sister Genny, a lot was accomplished! The downstairs is almost entirely ready. Besides the kitchen, of course. Cleaning it for company has to wait until I have more baking and candy-making done. The front porch needs some decorating, too.

Hard to believe the temps reached 68 this afternoon. And will drop to 23 tonight. The twins took the opportunity to play outside for a while.

 last nice day?

Today, I made the dough for Icebox Oatmeal Cookies. Tomorrow, I will cut and bake the rolled cookie dough.

I finished the Mocha Truffles today, dipping them in dark chocolate.

Mocha Truffles

Then drizzled them with some light chocolate and some white candy coating…

Mocha Truffles

The Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread cookies are in the freezer. They will be thawed the day before the Open House and then frosted with green frosting and drizzled with dark chocolate.

I tried a new recipe today. Cranberry Orange Cookies. They have a nice orange holiday flavor, thanks to the amount of orange zest in the recipe. They are packed and ready for the freezer. I am wondering if the flavors will mellow a bit once frozen and then thawed.

Cranberry Orange Cookies

Genny worked on the chalkboard tree.

Chalkboard Christmas tree

When we got it to this point, DD told us “no more tweaking.” I think it’s done!

chalkboard

chalks

DD used a chalk marker to draw snowflakes on the dining room windows. She is going to do the top half of the window later.

snowflakes

More updates soon!

~~Rhonda

the day after the day after thanksgiving

It’s Saturday and we are now in an all out dash to finish decorating and baking for the Open House. We had a great Thanksgiving Day with our family. Our older son and his wife cooked a lot of the delicious feast, including a wonderful turkey. I really enjoy watching them work in the kitchen together.

Thanksgiving Day

My Dad and my sister Paula joined us. We were so happy to have them here!

Thanksgiving Day

Great-Pa enjoyed watching the girls make candy turkeys. We’ve been making these for years. Not sure where the idea came from originally, but it is a Thanksgiving tradition that has now been passed down to our grandchildren.

Thanksgiving Day

They made a turkey for each place setting.

Thanksgiving Day

Snow White gave a pre-feast show by climbing the ladder and singing “Ten Little Turkeys.” Before dinner she sequestered herself in our bedroom, behind closed doors, to practice.

Thanksgiving Day

During the afternoon, we worked on the living room Christmas tree. DH put on the beads, I did some of the popcorn and cranberry strings, and the twins put on a lot of ornaments. They had a great time!

Thanksgiving Day

Currently, the chalkboard tree is being chalked, the addition hall and aluminum tree are being decorated, DD#3′s tree is being decorated, and I am baking. A lot going on. I’ll post a progress report later.

~~Rhonda :)

menu plan monday ~ november 24, 2014

We have been very busy around here with Christmas decorating. My sister Genny was down again this weekend, and on Sunday, our son David and his family came to help, as well. Thanks to all of you! I feel like we made great progress! I failed to get any pictures. We’ve been so busy!

Here’s the menu for the week.

Monday
Fridge Food

Tuesday
Chicken and Dumplings
Apple Crisp and Vanilla Ice Cream

Wednesday
Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
Avocado Sour Cream

Thursday
Happy Thanksgiving!
Turkey and Stuffing
Oyster Stuffing
Ham
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans with Mushroom Sauce
Fresh Cranberry Salad
Corn Casserole
Sweet Potatoes
Homemade Rolls
Garden Salad
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Chips
Pumpkin Pie
Chocolate Pie

Friday
Fridge Food

Saturday
Smoked Ham Shank with Beans
Cornbread

Sunday
Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce
Garden Salad
Garlic Bread with Cheese

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

menu plan monday ~ november 17, 2014

Monday sure rolls around quickly. This past week, I made Date Balls (one of my personal favorites!),

Date Balls

Raspberry Truffles,

Raspberry Truffles

and Elfin Bites (shortbread)

Elfin Bites

They are stored away in the freezer, awaiting the big day! In the meantime, here’s the menu for this week.

Monday
Pork Chops
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Steamed Broccoli
Homemade Biscuits

Tuesday
Chicken and Black Bean Rice Casserole
Garden Salad

Wednesday
Cheeseburgers
Homemade Buns
Pretzels

Thursday
Heat Free Chili

Friday
Fridge Food

Saturday
Spicy Shredded Pork
Homemade Buns
Veggies and Dip

Sunday
Chicken Tortillini Soup
Cornbread

You’ll find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda