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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ornament Traditons, Guest Post: Mary M. (Shannon's Mom)

         During the years when we raised our children, one of my favorite Christmas traditions was collecting ornaments for trimming the tree.  When our children were very small, each year we bought each of them an inexpensive ornament. We have a Mother Goose from Shannon's first Christmas and a small Santa from Darren's. When I unwrap those ornaments, I recall, sometimes with tears in my eyes, those sweet babies I once held and small toddlers lifted to marvel at the lighted tree.
         As they grew, we began crafting.  One year we made dough ornaments.  Those did not hold up, but sadly had to be tossed the next year.  Once I sewed simple cloth ones in bell and tree shapes which the children enjoyed stuffing.  Those lasted.  When the children were teenagers, they helped their Dad make stained glass ornaments of bells and gifts.  Shannon's tree now boasts the stained glass cat with gift she and her Dad made almost 20 years ago.
         Of course our collection includes a  Styrofoam tree with glitter and other ornaments made  in school.  But, one of my favorites is a scarecrow decoration saved from a first birthday present package for my son, Darren.   
         Gifts from friends added to our trove.  For many years, my friend, Nancy employed her potting skills to make ornament gifts of clay.  We have her angel, a white cat, and a small package.  I think of her as I hang these.  When I see the small Hallmark puppy, secretary and friend, Mary Beth gave me the year before she was killed in an accident, I remember her and our dog Justin.  And on and on the memories go.   
         Our collecting phase of the tradition took place throughout the years.  Whenever we traveled, we looked for an inexpensive souvenir that we could save and use as a tree decoration.  For instance, when we were at an apple festival in North Carolina, we bought a little red wooden apple.  In Italy, we bought a small wooden Pinocchio figure.  Our Vancouver remembrance is a clay owl.  We have a blue and white porcelain sheep from Savannah and a tiny wooden spinning wheel from Asheville. 
         The collecting was always fun, but it was and still is the remembering each year as we trim the tree that makes the tradition a meaningful ritual.  Each ornament has a story . Sharing those as a family deepens and strengthens our bonds.  I believe that roots are an important gift we can provide our children.  A tradition like this waters those roots.

Mary M (Shannon's Mom)
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Winner of Giveaway #8: "We Believe" Santa Board

The winner is....
#33 wrote:
33. Amy Roper said...
I subscribe & get my daily fix of crafty ideas!
Please contact us at oursevendwarfs@gmail.com with your address.  Congrats, Amy!

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Baked Spaghetti Recipe

Do you need a tried and true recipe to take to someone in need? I have one for you.  It's easy and delicious.  

Shannon had a very stressful day last week.  I wanted to help her by taking care of dinner. Hopefully, not worrying about dinner helped ease the stresses of the day.  

I made Baked Spaghetti, Caesar salad, French bread and Chocolate Gooey Butter Cookies (see Cookie Swap for recipe).

Baked Spaghetti is my stand-by, along with a few other recipes.  Don't worry, I will share more of them.   Here's a picture.  My sauce bubbled up a bit and the heart shape was completely unintentional, but made me happy nonetheless.

Baked Spaghetti Recipe
1         package (8 oz.) spaghetti, cooked and drained
2         tablespoons butter
1         cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1         container (24 oz.) cottage cheese
1         pound ground beef
1         jar or can (about 20 oz.) pasta sauce 
          (for my cincy friends, please use LaRosas, it is the best!)
1         package (8 oz.) shredded Mozzarella cheese

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Spray a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with  with Pam cooking spray.

COMBINE hot cooked spaghetti with butter; stir until butter melts and coats spaghetti. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; stir to coat. Arrange spaghetti in an even layer in pan. Spread cottage cheese over spaghetti. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Brown ground beef, drain; add pasta sauce and heat until bubbly. Spoon over cheeses. Top with Mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese.

COVER with non-stick foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil cover and continue baking 15 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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My Many Christmas Trees

Shannon has a beautiful story of going to the tree farm and picking out their tree as a family.  I, on the other hand, lug mine up from the basement.  I've never had a real tree and have only heard the horrors of dealing with the cleaning and keeping a tree thriving.  Maybe one day I will have the nice story to tell like Shannon does!

I will stick to my fake pre-lit tree.  Oh, wait make that trees.  Three to be exact.  I am sure once Anna gets older it will be at least four.  I love Christmas and I love decorating for Christmas.  I have 12 huge bins of Christmas decorations in my basement.  I've begged people to stop giving me decorations as I have no where to put it or store it!

I recently heard a commercial on HGTV mentioning that if Santa would like living at your house, you might be overdoing it.  Oh well, come on home Santa!

My main Christmas tree is in our living room.  It has red and silver ribbon wrapped around it, red ornaments of different shapes and silver picture frames of my little ones. (I plan to add more picture frames when I make it to the store to print pictures). I am also particular and try to match my wrapping paper to the tree, thus only red wrapped presents underneath.  I have more presents for the tree, but one child is earning his back as he was put on the "naughty" list.

This year we added a train for the kids to play with.  I thought it would be a wonderful addition and something that would give the kids fond memories.  So far it is a headache for my husband and  I, as it derails frequently and the track is larger than the tree area.  Oh, well the boys love it. That is what matters.  Here is a picture of that tree, with a closeup of the train area.
My second tree is in my dining room.  I collect cobalt glass and I am a huge UK fan (luckily it is the same color).  Therefore, my tree has cobalt blue ornaments.  It is also my snowman tree.  I have accumulated quite a collection of snowmen over the years.  Here is that tree:
Our third tree is in the boys' bedroom.  They love anything sports related.  I didn't want to spend a fortune on sports ornaments, so I got creative last year.  I went to Party City and got small basketballs, footballs and baseballs from their favor section.  Unfortunately, they were out of soccer balls.  I will have to add those next year.  I took yarn and a needle and made a loop for each one.  The boys decorated the tree themselves this year and I don't have to worry about any loose hooks.  I am still working on a tree topper for this tree and some added decorations. (Share your ideas if you have any!) For now, they love the simplicity of it and that they have a tree in their room.
I would love to hear about your Christmas tree or trees.  Do you prefer real or fake?  Are you a one tree family or do you have multiples?

No matter how you decorate, remember to enjoy this time with your family, slow down and snuggle in front of the tree!

Merry Christmas!

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