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Category Archives: Winter

Merry Christmas!

train tracks family photo

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Much love, the Muffs

Reindeer Games {and Candy Canes}

This is turning into a rather crafty Advent and I’m not one bit sad about that. On my own, I’ve been knitting whenever I have two hands free {which isn’t too often}, but what I’m really enjoying this year is getting Evelyn involved with making things. And I believe she takes after her mama on this one.

cousins

E rolling out dough

R cutting out

cutting cookies

My mom invited the girls and their cousins over for a little hands-on Christmas fun. We started out with some roll-out sugar cookies, taking turns with the rolling pin, then frantically trying to cover every space possible with cut-out snowmen, stars, and trees. We found out quickly who was fastest on the draw.

O cutting out

O rolling out dough

quick cutting

baking cookies

Candy cane reindeer is a long-time favorite in my family. We’ve been making them as long as I can remember. We would make them by the dozens and use them to fill out a mug of Kisses for our teachers that we would gift during the holiday season. Some might make it to the tree but they would never hang there for long.

candy cane reindeer

candy cane reindeer 2

candy cane reindeer 3

The easiest way to do these is with a squirt from the glue gun but that’s not a good idea with little hands around. This year we used tacky glue, and it did the trick. {Although, for some reason, the nose of mine kept sliding off. No one else seemed to be having this problem….}

candy cane reindeer 4

candy cane reindeer 5

The intricacy of the craft really stepped up when my brother, Seth, got in on the game and began creating superhero reindeer. {Can you guess which one is which?}

Green lantern reindeer

batman reindeer

superman reindeer

I can’t even.

green lantern protection

A Visit to Santa ~ 2014

The town we live in has some great Christmas celebrations, increasing the holiday cheer around these parts. A family favorite is the Country Christmas where local craftsmen and women come to sell their wares and the carolers and music-makers come out by the dozens. Two of our favorite things to support! Also, Santa makes an annual visit and it’s a lot cheaper {free!} and quicker than the mall Santa. {Two excellent points in my book.}

We showed up downtown early to snag a spot in the local brewery/restaurant for dinner. Despite our early arrival of 4 o’clock, there was a 45 minute wait. Fortunately, they have a new system where you give them your phone number and they text you when your table is ready. Genius, I’m telling you. So we leisurely strolled through shops and snagged an adorable pilot-snowman-flying-an- airplane for Evey’s Christmas ornament, as she’s in love with the snowmen this year. Lights up like a Christmas tree when she spots one.

snug as a bug

Steve’s parents came just in the nick of time as our table opened for dinner. We got settled in to enjoy a brew and brat {well, I did} when Lucie literally broke down. This kid is one of the happiest, jolliest people I know but she just lost it in the din that filled that space. I have to admit, I thought it was rather noisy myself, but, as an adult, it is a little easier to cope with. Steve and I took turns eating and holding her outside, but she was nearly inconsolable, poor thing.

Which leads me to the next stop of the evening. Even THAT jolly, old man didn’t help her. In fact, I’m pretty sure he made it worse.

santa visit

Evey was hamming it up for camera. {At least she didn’t react like last year.}

hamming it up with santa

Presenting~ the whole family and Santa. Lucie still wasn’t having any of it and, I think, Evey was bored at this point. At least mama and daddy are enjoying themselves. {Although, I’m about to lose my phone.}

family and santa

And that’s a wrap! {Note: Evey’s little poodle that quickly turned into a weiner dog in about 5.6 seconds flat.}

ready to go

{A big thanks to my mother-in-law for the photos, that just wouldn’t have happened without her.} 🙂

Toddler-Friendly Gingerbread House Alternative : Christmas Tree Cones

We enjoyed some quiet time this morning constructing cone Christmas trees. This is a fabulous way to do holiday frosting and sprinkles with toddlers. Because unless you have a gingerbread house that is as sturdy as bricks, I can see it becoming very frustrating for little hands. Those things make me frustrated, for heaven sakes.

cone tree decor

detail cone tree

I won’t include a tutorial on these because that would be silly. I will, however, suggest that you place a small amount of sprinkles in a separate container from what they came in if you don’t want the entire thing on the tree {or floor}. A small muffin tin worked perfectly for this.

muffin tin use!

cone trees

I don’t think she enjoyed herself one bit. 😉

cheesey!

Ever since her daddy told her that choo-choo was inside her birthday hat, anything that is conical has the potential for becoming a train tunnel. This was no exception.

choo choo cone

She’s telling me there’s a ‘choo-choo!’ here. 🙂

choo choo

Finished it off with a little gingerbread star that she happily decorated and munched on for her morning snack.

cookie decorating

gingerbread star

Christkindlmarkt & German holiday traditions

Germany has bequeathed many Christmas traditions to Americans.

Christmas tree & L

Fir trees were first used as decoration in Germany during the Middle Ages when they would bring the only living greenery into their cold homes during the winter months to brighten things up a bit. The first Christmas tree was set up in the 15th century by bakers in a German town square with little breads and fruit for the children to be eaten on New Year’s Day.

advent calendar

Source

Advent calendars were first made by German Lutherans in the 19th century. Originally, they simply marked with a chalk line on the wall. Eventually, they began using paper calendars with little windows to open, and then large boxes with smaller boxes that had little treats nestled inside became part of the anticipation of Christmas Day.

first santa claus

Source

The image we have now of Santa Claus was illustrated by a German cartoonist by the name of Thomas Nast. {Before his image was rather frightening to young children!} The jolly round man was featured in Harper’s Weekly, giving us the modern image of Santa Claus. Although it is typically the Christkind {Christ Child} who brings the gifts, he also visits little children on Christmas Eve. {Martin Luther changed this tradition in the 16th century so that Christ would be honored with having brought gifts rather than St. Nicholas.}

stille nacht

 Source

The hymn Silent Night was composed by a German man, Franz Gruber (actually an ancestor of mine!). It is one we all love to sing come Christmastime.

nutcrackers

 Source

And the hand-carved, wooden nutcrackers {nussnackers} that come in various shapes and sizes started in Germany. Not originally Christmas themed, they were often found in toy shops with carved toys and puzzles and given as gifts. It is not exactly known when they took on a seasonal significance but Tchaikosvky’s Nutcracker certainly had an influence. They gained in popularity in the U.S. after World War II when GIs brought them back to the States.

Zimsterne 4

And, of course, the cookies! Gingerbread, pfeffernusse, zimsterne….yum!!

 

Christmas market in Heidelberg

Come late November, Germany is dotted with Christkindlmarkts. These are quaint markets filled with artisanal shops found in town squares. You can find there a variety of glass-blown, wooden, and cloth ornaments, Christmas pyramids that spin by the heat of candles, and other delightful handmade trinkets. Scents of spiced wine and apple cider permeate the air surrounding it, as well as baked goods, such as gingerbread and stollen, all for sale at the markets.

Also, very long sausages.

huge sausage

I was privileged to attend one while I was studying abroad in Rome. It is one of my fondest memories from my semester abroad.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg castle

inside the warming hut

It was SOOOOO cold there. They had these warming huts you could jump in for a few minutes to get the feeling back in your fingers.

studying in Germany

And I’m so glad I chose to go rather than stay in Rome and study for Finals!! Okay, we did a little of that too in our little German gable. 😉

 

Turn Verein

The near-to-us city of Sacramento has a replica Christkindlmarkt that they hold every year at the home of the German club, the Turn Verein. We went there this past weekend to enjoy a taste of our German heritage.

They had stalls set up with many of the things you would find at a market in Germany, including baked goods, smoked sausages, gingerbread cakes, handmade nutcrackers and other Christmas gifts. It made me a bit nostalgic for the time I spent in Germany.

visit with St. NickEvelyn was fascinated by St. Nicholas. {She did a little better with him than she did with Santa last year.}

selfies

We enjoyed some of those long Nuremberger sausages for lunch while Gram and Evey worked on their selfie shots.

ceiling fan

And Daddy and Lucie checked out the cool ceiling fans.

model train

model train2

The biggest hit was the model trains they had set up in one room. They were erected by the Sacramento chapter of European Train Enthusiasts.

model train3

model train4

Evey made a stop before we left to draw a few holiday pictures with Gram and Pumpkin in the children’s room.

sticking stickers

look at what I made!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Moments {Vol. 5}

I was a bit MIA this past week with all the holiday festivities….here’s a bit of what was happening.

mommy-daughter date
Evey and I snuck away for a mimi-daughter date last weekend. It’s very important to me that she doesn’t feel neglected despite all the attention that I must give Lucie these days. She loves going out for little treats at “the mermaid” {Starbucks}. Fills my heart up too. <3

royal selfie

Lucie got some special mommy time this past week too {thanks to my awesome brothers and wonderful MIL!}. We went down to San Francisco to see the Houghton Hall exhibit at the Legion of Honor. There were beautiful artifacts on display from an English manor house Ă  la Downton Abbey. We snapped a photo in this gorgeous mirror in honor of all the lords and ladies who had viewed themselves within it.

do you want to build a snowman

Evelyn has been rather obsessed with snowmen lately. I think I mentioned that she was heartbroken after reading The Snowman and finding that he melted at the end. We’re doing our darndest to fix this childhood trauma. Steve’s latest attempt was to build her this snowman out of paper towels, tape and a popsicle stick. She’s been bringing it to bed ever since. 🙂

grilling the turkey 1

grilling the turkey 2

Turkey Day was wonderful in every way. We had a quiet evening at home. Steve cooked the bird on the grill which fantastically  left the oven free for me to cook the other additions.  We had a wonderful array of foods we feasted on…and will be for the next week or so. 😉

listening to carolers

The evening after Thanksgiving we went up to Grass Valley for the opening night of the Cornish Christmas festival. We feasted on Cornish pasties and hot chocolate (with whipped cream, of course!). Evey enjoyed the carolers and is still talking about them.

Lucie goosie

Lucie, our outgoing, little extrovert, refused to be fed as she preferred to engage with the passerby.

whipped cream in the mouth

And speaking of hot chocolate and whipped cream, we enjoyed some again {not complaining} this weekend as we watched our newest Christmas film. One of our Christmas traditions is watching a new (to us) Christmas movie while wearing our new Christmas pajamas. Hot chocolate while viewing just heightened the experience. It will have to be added on in the future.

new kitchen!

Christmas came a wee bit early for Evey this year. A friend of mine was selling this kitchen set for a song as her daughter has outgrown it, and we jumped on it! This girl loves to bake so hopefully this will fulfill some of her need to be in the kitchen when it is difficult for me to involve her in what I’m doing.

sleep striking

And this one. She used to be such a good sleeper but has now thrown me for a loop. Ever since she began to discover the world around her, no longer is she interested in sleeping at night. We have regular conversation (loud squuuuuealing!) every morning sometime starting between 2 and 4, and she usually goes back to sleep once everyone else begins to get up. Needless to say, I’m a bit blurry-eyed and fuzzy brained-right now. Tips for ending this madness??

Time for a Hearty Stew!

We’re finally feeling some fall weather around here. This afternoon, the clouds rolled in and we are enjoying listening to the rain outside the window.

In honor of the glorious rain, I have a delicious crockpot beef stew for you over on the food blog. Check it out!

Kid approved!! {She ate every last drop…and then some!}

beef stew kid

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