Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Countdown

Do you remember those paper chains you made when you were a kid to count down the days til Christmas? This is a grown-up version of that. I saw this idea on Pinterest and I knew immediately that I wanted to do it for Jim. December ends up being so busy that sometimes we don't spend enough time appreciating each other in all the hustle and bustle. This countdown is just a daily reminder of how much I love my husband.

I took scrapbooking paper and made a card for December 1 through December 25. Then I took the calendar and and started planning my notes for the backs. Two-thirds of the cards have compliments on them. The remaining one third are either fun holiday activities or small things I can do for him. I made sure that I knew which days were weekend days, so that I could put activities on days when we could stay up later or when we had more time.

I can't show you any of the card backs, because he hasn't seen them yet, but I will give you some ideas that I didn't use. For compliments, you could say something like I love the way you look in that blue sweater. It really brings out the color of your eyes or I love that you always make time to have a tea party with our daughter/niece/godchild. Some examples of activities are a date to go ice skating or have an epic snowball fight. Making the dinner/dessert of his choice or doing a chore that he normally does would be great ideas, too.

The idea originally came from the blog The Dating Divas. The cards are hanging on the dining room wall and I think they add a cheerful decoration to an otherwise blank space. I hope Jim enjoys his Christmas countdown.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Rice Soup

My Mom always made turkey rice soup with the leftover turkey bones from Thanksgiving. I used to complain about this soup when I was growing up, but this year I decided I wanted it. I called my sister and asked her to look through Mom's recipe boxes and see if she could find it. No luck. Add this to the long list of little things that I wish I had asked Mom for or about.

I could remember that it started with the carcass and had tomatoes, rice, carrots and probably onion, because everything did, so I started with that and asked Google for some recipes. I found one that looked close, so I started there. I think I got pretty close.

Turkey Rice Soup

9-10 lbs turkey (bones and trimmings)
2 1/2 qts chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper (fresh)
1 cup converted rice (regular) - I used a bag of boil in the bag rice
3 carrots (thinly sliced)
1/2 medium onion (diced)
1 bay leaf
14 oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)

Break up turkey to fit in a 5 quart Dutch oven; add the water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove bones and meat from broth and cool until you can handle it, then remove the meat from the bones and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

Skim the fat from the broth, then add the meat, tomatoes, rice, carrots, onions and bay leaf to the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until the rice, carrots, and onions are tender.

Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

This project has been my official kick-off to the holiday season for the last ten years or so and I really love it. Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan's Purse International Relief, an organization run by Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son.

Here is how you pack a shoe box. First, decide if your box is for a boy or a girl and what age - 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Next, get an empty shoe box. You can use a regular cardboard box, but I like to use a plastic one, because it can be used for something else later.

Then you fill the box with school supplies (I like to get these during back-to-school sales),

hygiene items, and

then the fun stuff (toys, small flashlights, batteries, hard candies)

I need pencil sharpeners, combs, maybe playing cards and some more candy, and then these boxes are ready to go. There are a few rules for what goes in a box. They don't want you to seen war toys because these kids see enough of that, so no army men, cowboy pistols or any of that stuff. They don't want you to send chocolate, liquids or breakable items (for obvious reasons).

Once your box is packed, label it and take it to a drop off location, along with a check for $7 to offset the cost of shipping them. This year OCC is doing something new. If you donate your fee on line, they send you a special label with a bar code that will let you track where you box goes. I'm very excited to try this out.

If you want to pack a box, you still have time. Drop off continues until Monday, November 21.