Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas 2015

I have to say that Christmas this year seemed especially relaxing.  I made sure the downstairs was spotless on Christmas Eve so that we could just focus on the celebration and not feel too stressed.  It worked!

We kept to our tradition of letting the kids open a gift each day for a week leading up to Christmas, and then the rest were opened on Christmas morning.  They love getting to choose a gift each day, and I love that each gift gets a full 24 hours of appreciation before moving on to the next surprise.  They seem to more fully enjoy their new goodies this way.

On Christmas Eve, I picked up a platter of delicious smoked turkey and cheese croissants from Kroger, a bagged bacon cheddar house salad, and a cantaloupe for dinner, and there was no mess to clean up.  Then we picked up my dear friend, Micka, and we shared a pot of honeybush tea and Cadbury treats as we drove around with Haylee and Holden looking at Christmas lights around the area.  We even took Teenie, our little dog!  She had a good time, too.  Hayden stayed home playing video games (fuddy duddy), and Steve stayed home to wrap my gifts (he always shops at the last minute, LOL).  We had a wonderful time!  I just love the stillness of Christmas Eve.  I always feel like we’re the only ones out on the road.  It’s so peaceful!

On Christmas morning, we gathered around for the opening of gifts, tossed the wrapping paper in an awaiting trash can, and went on to have a lovely Christmas brunch.  We had sausage links, bacon, fluffy biscuits with butter and apricot jam, French toast sticks, omelet with Black Forest ham and cheese, hashrowns O’Brien, and a platter of fresh fruit like cantaloupe, sliced bananas, Cara Cara navel oranges, and strawberries.  Yum!

I loaded up the dishwasher right after we ate to restore my clean kitchen, and then I felt ready to relax.  I didn’t feel the usual compulsion to pull down my Christmas tree right away.  Instead, I grabbed my new plush faux fur blanket from Steve and curled up on the couch.  That blanket was so soft and warm that I fell asleep in no time! 

After about a 2-hour nap, I got up and fixed dinner.  I cooked a 5.5-lb. pork shoulder in my rotisserie, some sweet corn, some steamed baby potatoes with butter, and some crusty French bread.  Delicious, and the house smelled so good!

DSCN0322Then we all gathered around the Christmas tree for our annual photos.  Hayden got a really nice camera from our friends at church last year, so he did the honor of taking the photos.  He even set it up on a bar stool with a timer so we could all get in the shot.  It was such a lovely day!  I gathered up the kids’ things into small boxes and took them up to their rooms, and I decided I’d take down the tree on Saturday, which worked out great.  I even had time on Saturday to sit and knit a new project while watching tv.  I made a neck warmer for myself, and I lov20151226_221023e it!

Now it’s time for the next celebration!  Today is Holden’s 8th birthday!  I can hardly believe that many years have passed by already.  I sure do miss his being a little guy.  He’s getting so big now.  It won’t be long, and he’ll catch up to Haylee’s height.  So now I need to go bake him a cake.  We recently took him to see the new Star Wars movie…his first one…so I got a Star Wars bag and filled it with Star Wars-related goodies for his birthday gift…Darth Vader blanket sleeper pjs, a Darth Vader cape and mask, a red light-saber, a Darth Vader backpack, a Kilo Ren wallet, etc.  I think he’s gonna love it!

Now its on to the new year soon enough.  In fact, my birthday is New Year’s Day, then Steve’s is Jan. 7th, and Holden’s party is Jan. 9th.  It’s a miracle we don’t gain 10 pounds this time of year with all these back-to-back celebrations!  LOL

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Christmas celebration this year, and may the new year be a blessing to you and yours.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Solution to Microsoft Live Writer Not Working with Blogger

If you use Microsoft Live Writer (MLW) to publish to Blogger, then you’ve surely noticed that sometime after the morning of December 9th, it once again ceased to work with Blogger.  That’s because Google discontinued the temporary workaround that allowed MLW to continue working with Blogger.  The new security protocols have been re-established, making them incomOpen Live Writerpatible. 

But alas, the good volunteers at Microsoft have put together a team who have converted MLW to open source, calling it Open Live Writer (OLW).  All is not lost!

Simply go here and download the new OLW.  Follow the instructions to link it to your Blogger account during installation, and you’ll be up and running in moments!  In fact, this is my first post using OLW.  It was a piece of cake, and it looks just like MLW to me!  I love that I don’t need to learn a new piece of software all over again.  I really love Live Writer, so I’m thankful for the volunteers who’ve worked to make sure this wonderful FREE product is still available to those of us in the blogging world who rely so heavily on it.

Thank you!

Happy blogging, everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

FREE and Cheap 100% Fruit for All 4-Packs

I was shopping at Dollar Tree this weekend, and I noticed they had these 4-packs of Charles & Alice 100% Fruit for All blended applesauce cups available in a variety of flavors.  These are 100% fruit with no artificial colors or sweeteners, they are non-GMO, and they have no added sugar.  Amazing!  The flavors they had were cherry-apple, blueberry-apple, mango-apple, banana-vanilla-apple, and raspberry-apple.  I understand there’s also an apricot-apple flavor, but my Dollar Tree didn’t have that one.  I bought the cherry-apple one to try, and it had whole cherries in applesauce.  It was tart because it didn't have any kind of sweetener, but I like it that way.  It was delicious, and my kids liked it, too!  And it was only 50 calories per cup.

The first bonus I discovered was that printed on the inside of the cardboard wrapper was a coupon to cut out for $1.25 of the purchase off two 4-packs.  That means my next purchase will be 75 cents for two 4-packs! 

But then the deal got even better.  I was curious about the company, which I’d never heard of, so I went to the Charles & Alice website.  There on the site was a link for a printable $1 off one 4-pack coupon, which you can print twice, giving me 2 FREE 4-packs!  As if that wasn’t great enough, then I noticed you could sign up to receive offers on the website, so I did that.  The welcome email I received right away had another link for a printable $1 off one 4-pack coupon, which you can again print twice, so now I’ll get four of the 4-packs FREE! 

So if you start out with the 4 coupons for $1 off one, you’ll get 4 FREE packs along with 4 of the $1.25/2 coupons inside the packages, so you can turn right around and buy 8 packs for $3…giving you a total of 12 4-packs for a grand total of $3!  That’s 48 fruit cups for $3, making them just 6 cents per cup!  That’s a steal of a deal for natural foods.  And each fruit cup is one serving of fruit.  I can feel good about giving these to my kids for a snack, and they’ll be great to include in my son’s lunch at school.  I love it!

So go print your coupons, and grab yours before they are gone! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Christmas Town Fun


I apologize for being a bit late with my weekly post.  I normally put it up on Sunday, but we were out in Williamsburg after church that day until very, very late, and it completely slipped my mind! 

In any case, rest assured that Hayden, Haylee, and I were off having a fabulous time at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town!

This has become somewhat of a tradition for the 3 of us over the last couple of years.  Holden stays home with Steve and gets to go have a day out with daddy.  They usually go out to eat somewhere unusual.  This year, they went to Buffalo Wild Wings and played tons of games on the handheld devices while they had lunch together.

20151206_151848Christmas Town was especially busy, and we were there from before the official opening time until closing.  Our timing was a bit off with the show schedule, so we only managed to see 2 of the shows this time.  We also rode The Battering Ram and Davinci’s Cradle one time each (Haylee panicked a bit on that one!), and to close out the night, we took a train ride all the way around the park to enjoy the thousands of Christmas lights that were on display.  It was very festive, indeed!

Rest assured, we managed to eat way too much food in the Festhaus, where we enjoyed a full Christmas dinner.  We also indulged in goodies and snacks and plenty of hot beverages like Wassail Cider and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, as well.

All in all, we had a great time, and we were very excited to see the one new show this season…the Coca-Cola ice show called “’Twas That Night.”  It was awesome!


My favorite photo of the day was this picture I took of Hayden and Haylee together on our way out of the park.  For once, they’re both smiling, looking at the camera, and not being goofy! 


Have a merry, merry Christmas!