Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well, Christmas is over. Another year approaches. How did you fare? We weathered a Christmas eve snowstorm at my parents house for the first ever holiday sleepover since my sister got married a couple years ago. Fun! We ate lots of treats, lefse included, and I have a waistline to prove it! So why in the world am I posting a recipe for more cookies? Because is is darn freezing here, and I'm a little bored and if I bake the kitchen will warm up. So there. Plus, I'm Norwegian and I'm pretty sure that a sweet tooth is a requirement to claim that heritage. Waistline is of no consequence, I guess.

So this is the recipe my mom tweaked to make it more healthy. I didn't even know chocolate chip cookies weren't supposed to have oats in them until I moved out of the house. Neither did I know that we always over baked them! Now I know you take them out BEFORE they're brown so they stay soft and chewy!
Who knew? Except everyone else, that is.....

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 c shortening
1/2 c butter
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
4 c quick oats, measured before ground (grind in food processor until powdery)
1 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c white flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips.

350 F 10-15 minutes

There. Now you can eat without guilt. 'Cause oats are good for you and so is dark chocolate! (That's how we rationalize it anyway....)

Monday, December 28, 2009


Five outtakes for you today thanks to the little contest I Heart Faces has going on this week. I have many more pictures with interesting expressions, many of them (OK, all of them) who are great friends, and I wish them to remain my friends, so I reluctantly refrain from sharing their outtakes with the general public. To bad too. Their photos could have contributed to the greater good, because laughter is good medicine and cheers the soul and it would only be at the small expense of their pride!

I thought it pretty safe to post this of my son and sisters.
I am willing to risk their wrath!
My kids are so lucky to have fun, young aunts!

Megan's expression cracks me up.
Maybe it's because I know she was a bit ticked
at having to pick up shingles,
or maybe it's because I know she's trying really hard not to smile.
Eight year old personalities rock!

This one is typical.
Madison is five here
and I was just happy to get a picture
where her two middle fingers are out of her mouth
and her pointing finger is out of her nose.
A happy face, even with a tongue,
is an accomplishment!

The boy holding the football?
Yep, he's pretty much always like that!
Such a goofball!

And my favorite of all time...
I can't take credit for taking this picture,
but I can claim some credit,
because this is me. I've written about this one before,
but can't get too much mileage out of it!

For more outtakes, check out:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

White Elephant, Pink Elephant

I've mentioned before that our family began a new tradition last year: a white elephant exchange.
Because, it's just plain fun!

This year, everyone brought awesomely funny gifts.

Grandma opened a bubble blowing Stitch, which my daughter stole from her as soon as she had the chance.

So, Grandma got the opportunity to pick a new present. She opened a fabulous llama with real llama fur.

Andrea unwrapped an antique(?) tray stand thing. It may actually be useful in her dorm room. It even folds up for handy dandy storage!

Robb had a hard time deciding if he was going to steal a cheese dome for me (because I forgot to steal it when it was my turn) or pick something unopened. He chose something unopened and got a lovely pink elephant pitcher! When we left tonight, he tried to "accidentally" leave it at my parents house! No worries, I snagged it, 'cause I have plans for that baby!

Grandma opened a mink skin(courtesy me) and promptly put it around her neck amidst uproarious laughter.
(Appropriate as she and grandpa made their living from mink ranching!)

Brad got my mom's old briefcase.Beauteous, yes?

Karren had plans for the llama grandma had opened, so she stole it, giving grandma the opportunity to choose another gift.

It was meant to be. Grandma ended up with the gift she brought to the exchange last year.

A ceramic cleaning lady that still wins the prize for most hideous!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas is all about Spankings

 Today I have a guest post by my sister Laura for you. Enjoy!

Ahh, Christmas memories... once a year they all come flooding back. I will never forget our church's Christmas Eve service the year my niece Megan was five years old. That was the year they decided to do something a little different from tradition and included a children's sermon as a part of the service. All the little kids, including Megan, were called up to sit on the stage while the pastor talked to them about Christmas. One of the first things the pastor did was ask the kids, "What is Christmas all about, anyway?" Being the talkative, uninhibited child that she has always been, Megan raised her hand and declared, "My daddy said that Christmas is all about spankings!"

Megan and Laura 2008

The congregation lost it. I don't think anyone in my family even heard the rest of the children's sermon, and I don't remember anything else about that service. The funniest part is that it was true; her dad had told her that Christmas is all about spankings. If I remember the story correctly, it happened just before they left for the service: Megan was being willful and disobedient and would not put on the proper clothing, so her dad told her, "If you don't get dressed right now, you are going to get a spanking, because that's what Christmas is all about- spankings!" Of course he said it in jest, but the words stuck.

We still laugh about Megan's statement, yet, as I think about it now, she may have been more right than we were inclined to believe. At one time we, also, were willful and disobedient. We, also, refused to clothe ourselves in righteousness, and our Heavenly Father reminded us that there would be consequences for that disobedience, consequences much greater than spankings. That's why He sent His Son. Perhaps the Holy Child received no spankings, yet He came to embrace that much greater punishment we had earned. He came that we might be clothed in His righteousness.

Christmas is not really all about spankings. But it IS about disobedient children. It IS about a loving Father. It IS about forgiveness and a punishment that has been wiped away. In this remembrance, we truly do have something to rejoice in!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lefse Making: a Norwegian Tradition

Grandma Grace,
a full blooded Norwegian,
gave me high praise today.
She exclaimed at my round, thin lefse,
"You are an expert at this!"

What are your holiday traditions? Share them over at:

Monday, December 21, 2009

My Favorite Ornament

This was my sister's and my favorite ornament growing up.  While at my parents house today making lefse, I snuck a picture of it. Can you tell the scene is nestled in a walnut shell? We were always careful to tuck it safely in a nook of the branches, directly behind a little light as if that light were a little star shining on the nativity.


Who made gifts for friends? Me.
Who actually remembered to bring them to church? Me.
Who scurried to package cookies for after the Christmas program? Me.
Who saved seats for grandparents and aunts in the fifth row for once instead of the 10th? Me again.
Who remembered the camera with a zoom? Me.
Who thought she had it all together for documenting a wonderful Christmas program? Me.

Who turned the camera on just as the program started only to discover the memory card was still at home in the printer? NOT ME.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Birthday Party with an Ornament

What a weekend! Robb and I attended a Christmas party on Friday evening and had a wonderful time, but stayed out way past our bedtime, especially considering I had a birthday party at 10am the next morning. A birthday party for my daughter, at my house, which I still needed to tidy before it was invaded by a small army of 6 and 7 year old girls. OK, that's an exaggeration. Four nicely behaved children came.

Anyway, I awoke groggy and began to clean and prep. I planned on serving mac and cheese, figuring every kid likes that, and we always have a case stashed in the basement. Of course, when I went to fetch it, there was only one box left. Humph. Not quite enough for 6 little girls. And by that time I only had an hour before they showed up, so I quickly changed the plan. Turkey soup was in the freezer. Not the expected birthday fare, but it happens to be my daughter's favorite, so I lucked out. Big sigh of relief.

The girls arrived and we painted Christmas tree ornaments. That seems to be a theme around here, lately, isn't it? (It's day 20, after all!) Here is Madison painting hers:

And now my mother knows I let her paint in her new dress. Bad mommy! It was her birthday, what can I say? (Well, I could have said no, I suppose!)

Madison had been requesting a pinata for her party since last summer. She would randomly remind me, "Mom, don't forget. I want a pinata for my birthday party."  I'd always respond, "Yes, dear, but that is months away, and I'm likely to forget before then. Can you remind me in a few months?"  (I always claim, lovingly, of course, that my children have given me brain damage.) The birthday approached, however, and I remembered all by myself. Must be some kind of minor mommy miracle.

So we bought a pinata. And a $9.00 bag of candy. Ya think that's enough candy for 6 little girls? Ya sure, you betcha!

Now we had a problem. This is December and there is snow outside and it's cold. Brrr, freezing, as my husband says. And a pinata is safest broken outside. So how is one to destroy a pinata inside without destroying a house or worse, some precious girl's head? (I've seen way too many Funniest Home Videos of people getting a bat in the head.)

So we improvised. The girls jumped on the pinata. And they just tore into it with their bare hands. I highly recommend this method. The girls seemed to enjoy it, and no one got hurt. And they got to the candy much faster! Screaching and squealing and general mayhem abounded. Until Megan took over and decided everyone should be able to go home with candy they liked. She had them all dump out their bags, organize it into piles by type and then pick what they liked. It was a very organized process. She must take after her father!

Of course we had cake too. I had planned ahead on that. It didn't quite measure up to my old standards when I was making fantasticly detailed cakes, but once again, Madison was easily pleased. Cake crumbs showing through the white frosting are of no matter to her. And easily concealed with pink sugar sprinkles. Another sigh of relief.

 Pleased as punch birthday girl. Happy 6th sweet girl!

A happy time was had by all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grandpa, An Angel and Sawdust

This ornament is one of many handcrafted gifts my grandfather has shaped from wood over the years. A dollhouse, trucks and cars of various shapes and sizes, Christmas carolers, nativity puzzles, cupboards, quilt racks, custom picture frames, trivets; you name it, it was made in his shop. The delicateness of this item amazes me.
When I was young, and we visited my grandparents' home, sometimes grandpa would help us make our own projects in his roomy workshop. It was there that I made my mom a set of heart shaped napkin rings. That immaculate shop, with every tool's spot marked on the pegboard wall,  smelled of sawdust, varnish....and love.

This is day 18, but it's never too late to join the fun of sharing
what's on your tree!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You (don't) Capture (my)Truffles, they're mine!

This is what I've been up to.
Holiday decor on truffles.
Truffles and caramels.
Baking and cooking and crafting.
I love Christmas.
A chance to pull out every.single.favorite.treat recipe and make them ALL!


And....I went shopping this afternoon. With all three kids. Needed to go to Michael's. Of course I spent way too much time browsing and gazing longingly at things I could not have. (And the kids spent just as much time touching things they couldn't have.) One of them was a wreath. Mine is ancient and needed more than just a little hotglue and loving attention. It need a whole new wardrobe. So for $3.50 I gave it one. Not too bad, though I need one more poinsettia to make it an odd number. Or maybe symmetrical is in. I don't have time to care anymore. Or time to go back to Michael's and fetch another pick. So here it is: an economical wreath leading into an imperfectly kept house. Hey, at least the shoes are all lined up against the wall...



Santa, Flowers and Butterfly Kisses

We don't have a lot of santas around here, but I let this one hang around because it reminds me of the maker and her daughter and of the time in my life when I knew them. Nana used to have a cute little gift shop in my hometown and taught painting classes. My sister and I took a class with her and enjoyed many afternoons browsing her shop.

A couple years later, when I got the job at the florist, I ended up working with Nana's daughter Jenny. This ornament came from her, though it was made my her mom. Not only did Jenny teach me to arrange fresh flowers, but she taught me to tolerate country music.

It was back in that workroom, surrounded by buckets of daisies and lilies and roses and a floor blanketed with discarded leaves and stems that I first heard the song Butterfly Kisses(lyrics).(or listen). And I cried. Because that girl was me. Just like the song, Mom and Dad tucked me in bed and prayed with me every night until the night before my wedding. And I remember butterfly kisses. I cried because I was a butterfly, trying my wings in the great big world, working my first job.

That song played many times in that flower scented workroom. Years passed, I traveled and came back, and the song played again. This time I had met someone special at Bible College and my wedding approached.  I cried again, knowing my sentimental dad would soon give me away and miss my butterfly kisses.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cinnamon Dough Star

This delicate little star was a gift from a lovely friend Laila, who led a few of the first Beth Moore studies I did. She has since moved away from our area, so it is nice to have this little reminder of her and the things we learned together.

I found a recipe for cinnamon dough in my black folder of stashed away craft ideas. Does anyone else save their favorite pages out of their favorite magazines in tabbed three ring binders in the safety of page protectors? Please tell me I'm not totally crazy! When I need inspiration, or just the comfort of beauty, I pull out these binders crammed with creativity! This recipe is from Martha Stewart Living...

1 c cinamon
1/4 c applesauce
1/2 c white glue

After mixing, let stand one hour.
Roll out 1/4 inch thick. If the dough becomes too dry, spritz with water, if it's sticking, sprinkle with cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 200 F. Bake, flipping once, until dry, about 2 hours.
Or air dry on wire rack lined with paper towels for 24 hours, turning every 6 hours to keep them flat.
When dry, decorate with beads or glitter.

Now hop on over to MamaBear's blog and check out everyone else's special ornaments they are sharing for the 25 Days of Ornaments!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Is it a Turtle Dove?

#14 of the 25 Days of Ornaments:My daughter is turning into a mini me. Some days I'm not sure I like that. If you have kids or someone you know has kids, or you've seen other people's kids at the mall, you know children are often a reflection of their parents (is that the understatement of the year?)...the good, the bad, the angry. The crafty. Well, that last one's not so bad as a couple of the others, at least. Unless the mother is somewhat of a perfectionist and wants everything home-made to be spectacular. Oh, but that's not me... ;)
So, Megan saw this pattern and absolutely insisted I help her make it. Kinda like this time. She had never sewn before, so I was pretty sure I'd end up doing most of it. I was right. But it turned out spectacular! Isn't that what counts? OK, not really! What really counts is that we worked on a project together and the result was something to be proud of and someday she will hang it on her tree and remember all her sewing projects. Just like I do.