Monday Musings

Happy Monday beautiful people! It’s really Sunday evening as I write this, and I’m  finally finding a moment to sit down after a long busy day and catch my breath.

Football has been on all day and of course all my men must keep the sound at a level that resembles being at the actual football game.

When the games are over, the sound comes down, it’s then I’m reminded how nice a quieter house is.

With everyone here I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family…. even if they do have the football games ridiculously loud 😉

Family.

It’s hard to not reflect on how blessed I am with my family. I have an amazing, wonderful husband, great kids, my sons wives, grandkids ( another on the way arriving in the spring!) and my daughters boyfriend who after 2 years of putting up with her 😉 is also family.

I’m grateful for who we are as a group. For the love, laughter, silliness and uniqueness of each person.  I guess I’ve become even more appreciative in a world where so many families aren’t like that, who are mean spirited and cut throat to one another, where jealousy and petty things take place over the value of relationships. These behaviors are so sad to me.

It just makes me want to hold closer those I love and what we have. I don’t mean “perfection” because not one single person or family is “perfect”… that also is an illusion many try to present…. just learn to love perfectly with not perfect people.

But really though, if you don’t take care of your family, at the end of the day what do you have? The world is a rough place, love those who are yours, over look faults, be patient with weaknesses, set loving boundaries, speak truth, love fiercely and  value the uniqueness of those who are your tribe.

Ok I’m gonna get off my soapbox now 😉

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Speaking of family… for me Christmas and family are closely tied together.

This past week I’ve gotten all my Christmas decorating done and my massive tree all decorated.

All 13 feet of it.

It’s got over 400 lights, 180 feet of silver beaded garland, and 100’s of ornaments. It took pretty much every ornament I have and my 6’0 body hanging precariously off the very top of a 6’0 ladder… but it’s done.

It is really, I think, the most spectacular tree we’ve ever had.

I love turning all the lights off at night and just sitting in the quiet house before I go to bed and just looking at it.

I find those times peaceful as it lets my mind unwind and wander and reflect on so many things. It’s a practice I’ve enjoyed for years and I find simple joy in it.

Here… I’ll let you have a sneak peak at it all….

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All of the glass ornaments that were my grandmothers and moms go at the top for safe keeping 🙂

 

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How beautiful is this?

Long before you young whippersnappers had that crazy little Elf on a shelf thing going on, I had this little guy be a part of all my Christmases…which are getting up there now 😉

According to what I was told a long time ago, these little guys came on dish soap bottles back in the dark ages.

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My grandmother was the one who got them ( a green and a red one) the green I retrieved from an old tub of my mom’s where Christmas decorations go to die. Although faded and more worn looking I dragged him out and he has a spot on my primitive toy tree ( I’ll show you later )

The red one comes out every year to quietly perch among the branches of my tree.

I don’t have to do anything with him, move him around or pose him in a bowl of cereal.

He’s just a quiet sentinel marking another Christmas in his family.

I love having things from my childhood past to share with my kids and grandkids. Those things evoke feelings and memories of Christmases long ago and the people I loved who I shared them with.

I hope these traditions continue a long time in my family.

 

But on the topic of trees….

I somehow, in the past few years, have managed to have more than one tree. I’ve got little theme trees that I haven’t been able to resist doing.

A primitive toy tree surrounded by my old rocking horse obsession. A cool black and silver tree that holds all my kids ornaments they lovingly brought home from school projects years ago, a silver tree that holds tons of little glass ornaments that date back to my great grandmother. It’s so vintage looking… I love it.

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This tiny tree is only about 2 feet tall. In a old wood crate it’s surrounded by old glass  ornaments who are “wounded” and can’t hang on the tree anymore.

A few years ago I got a pink one. Sorry, I’m a girl and pink is like one of my favorite colors. It’s in my kitchen and it’s all gingerbread and candy themed and my granddaughters adore looking at it.  It’s full of whimsical sparkly play candy and garland although I do buy various colored candy canes to add to it.

I think I’ve got like five theme trees around my home… but hey! It’s better than being a crazy cat lady, right??

In other news….

in a busy month with not only usual life activities, but holiday preparations as well it might be tempting to skip your workouts.

May I suggest something short and sweet that also brings a punch ? HIIT (high intensity interval training) is hard work in a short amount of time.

Got 20 minutes?

Here’s an example of one I did last week.

10 push ups

10 burpees

10 jumping squats

20 jumping jacks

20 mountain climbers

30 sit ups

30 second plank hold

Do as may sets as you can in 20 minutes.

It was a cold morning when I did this. I was sweating at the end. I managed to get 5 sets done. I was thinking that didn’t seem like…a lot.. until I realized I had done 150 sit ups in those 5 sets. I do butterfly sit ups with a 25 lb weight plate to make it a little harder.  I do a longer hold on my plank as well.

It’s important to remember that you can always modify a workout to your current physical abilities.  If you’re stronger, add some weight or push a little harder.

If you are just starting out, reduce reps if you need to and go at an easy pace.

Short, powerful workouts are very effective and if you are limited on time, they offer a high energy boost and get you on your way.

Visit me on Pinterest and find more short workouts on my fitness boards.

Ok and you know I need to leave you with something tasty….

I will also encourage you to maintain healthy eating habits during the festive season of Christmas and all that goes with it however there are going to be tasty treats to eat as well…..

My daughter in law found this recipe and suggested we should try it. We are quite the dessert lab rats around here haha

These are delicious and will probably be added to our list of favorites. Don’t take my word for it, go make it and see what you think.

My cookie baking and candy making will be getting going soon so I’ll share some of my favorites with you in an up coming post 🙂

So tell me… are you ready for Christmas? How goes the decorating? Are you done shopping yet? Do you have a favorite Christmas item or recipe?

 

 

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Holidays, Traditions And Memories

It’s that time of year when I find myself in my pantry taking inventory. No, I’m not  extremely obsessed with what’s in there or making sure no one has found my hidden stash of chocolate ( admit it, you have a stash too 😉

It’s honestly to check out what baking ingredients I have or still need before I get ready to start all of my Christmas baking and candy making for the season.

We just wrapped up Thanksgiving where I  made a variety of pies and an amazing Pecan Pumpkin cheesecake.

Christmas will be all kinds of cookies, some new recipes, but mostly old, tried and true ones that have been in my family for awhile that everyone looks forward to.

For me, the traditions of the season mean as much as anything else to me. I love that my kids have been raised with certain things that as adults, are now traditions to them. My son is now interested in carrying on similar traditions with his children.

Last week I was whipping up some pumpkin pies, using a batter bowl that had been my grandmothers. She has been gone since 1994, but I know that piece from my childhood, remember her using it.

 

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When she passed away, my mom naturally inherited all of her things. She stashed the “old” dishes away saying she had seen them her entire life and wanted to use different  dishes.

When my mom passed away two years ago, the task fell on me to begin sorting through items in her house. Of course the first things I brought home were some of my grandmothers now “old” dishes.

Now long worn with wear, sporting some chips and an occasional crack, to me they reflect life, use, and the service to family. They reflect a time gone by. Family who is no longer with me today. Memories. Traditions. Shared experiences. Life.

Using these items somehow makes me feel more connected to my mom and grandmother.

I will admit, this time of year, from about October thru the New Year is hard for me since my Mom loved the entire “holiday” season. She loved the baking and freely shared her talents with so many people. She worked so hard to make the holidays enjoyable not just for her family, but those she encountered in her daily life.  I miss her plotting and planning with me for our big family meals, her festively wrapped packages, and childlike enthusiasm for the season.

Being in the kitchen is just a way I feel connected to her during this time. Using dishes that have been passed along are just a soft touch for me to keep my Mom, grandmother, and memories alive in my mind.

It’s my hope to share, teach and inspire the young women in my family to carry on the traditions for upcoming years and generations for their families.

What traditions do you have in your family during the holidays? Have you started new ones or do you carry on ones that have been in your family for a long time?

Below you’ll find the traditional pumpkin pie recipe I use each year.  Enjoy!

(1) 9 inch pie crust. ( homemade or a defrosted all ready crust)

2 eggs, lightly beaten, (1) can 15oz. Solid packed pumpkin, 3/4 c sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, (1) can 12 oz. undiluted evaporated milk

Prepare pie crust, mix filling ingredients in order listed. Pour into crust. Bake in preheated 425 oven for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350. Bake an additional 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. If necessary cover edge of crust with foil to prevent burning.

Cool and garnish as desired.