Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ah! on Thanksgiving day....
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?

~John Greenleaf Whittier

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Teaching Love & Charity

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. ~Edward Sandford Martin

During these weeks before Christmas adults and children are bombarded with advertising on television, radio, the internet and in print. It's everywhere and it can become overwhelming. How can we combat all the emphasis on spending money and materialism to bring a true sense of the holidays to our homes? I have a few simple ideas to help you teach love and charity during this special time of year.

A kindness jar: Have each family member write down four acts of kindness that can be done for someone during the month of December. Place all the papers in a jar. On each Sunday during the month have family members pick a slip out of the jar. They will need to complete their act privately, without bragging or asking for help. You'll want to make sure everyone has fairly simple ideas. On Christmas Eve have everyone bring their slips to one room and together discuss what they did, what they learned and how they feel about the experiences.

Help Baby Jesus: Take pieces of straw (or cut up raffia if you don't have straw) and place them in a container. Using a ceramic baby Jesus, or your own homemade version, and a "manger" set up a little "station" where you can place the manger and a bowl or container with the straw. Set aside the baby Jesus until Christmas Eve. The object of this activity is to place a piece of straw in the manger every time someone does or says something nice for someone during December. Parents should stress that the more the kids do that is helpful and kind, the more bedding the baby will have on Christmas Eve to make his bed soft and comfortable. On Christmas Eve gather together and place the baby in the manger and discuss if it was hard or easy to remember to do nice things. This is a neat way to make kids think about how often they are polite, nice or helpful.

Helping Others: Sit down as a family and plan what you can do for those around you in need. It may include helping an elderly person in your neighborhood, donating food, toys or clothing to a mission, sponsoring a family or child through the Salvation Army Angel Tree or other similar projects, or making holiday cards for the local nursing home. Doing a few of these things doesn't cost much and really does make a difference to a family or a person in need. It's important to involve that kids as much as possible. Ask them what they would like to do, have them sort through their own toys, and let them see you doing the same thing. Each year try to do different things.

It is always better to teach our children by example and by our actions. What better way to take the focus off material wealth and the superficial commercialism of the holidays then to give to others.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hodge Podge Day

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action. ~W.J. Cameron

Today I have readers tips and a question that was sent in recently. Perfect for the holiday week!

The pistachio quick bread sounds wonderful, but I'm wondering if the pudding is the cooking type or the instant. Thank-you.
Linda E.

Sorry I left that out Linda, it's instant pudding. You can use brand name or store brand. I noticed there are some cool new Jell-o flavors I'm going to have to try this year with the breads:)

Wanita shares two neat ornament ideas and a bread tip!

Crush a large shredded wheat biscuit. Add 1/4 cup white glue and coat the shredded wheat. Color with food coloring as desired and shape ornaments on plastic to dry. Paper clips may be inserted while wet for hangers. Let air dry, peel off plastic and decorate as desired. A small plastic lid from a margarine tub is great for wreath. The food coloring can stain hands so one might want to use gloves.

One year we had a "sweet" Christmas tree. I purchased miniature ice cream cones from McDonald's (like they use for their kiddie sample cones) and little satin ball ornaments. I hot glued the balls on the cones. After they were dry, I sprayed them with clear acrylic spray paint. We used candy canes, bows and gingerbread people with them. The ice cream cones lasted several years!

Adding some chopped marchino cherries to the pistachio bread makes it very Christmas-y and festive. ~Wanita

A reader also sent in this dishwasher tip:
I also have a front loading washer... The idea of running vinegar and bleach (on different cycles) is great, but she might also want to pick up a product in the dishwashing isle called Limi Shine..(this is also great for using in your dish washer for build up). I have had a problem in the past with smells on not only towels~used some Limi Shine (I used the delayed wash cycle) and it cleared right up...

Thanks everyone! ~Brenda

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Beverage Tips

I have always looked at life as a voyage, mostly wonderful, sometimes rightening. In my family and friends I have discovered treasure more valuable than gold. ~Jimmy Buffet

Tammy, one of our visitors sent me this punch recipe to share. I made it for one of my daughter's birthday parties but it would also work for any party or open house.

When I give a party or shower everyone loves the punch I serve. Most of my friends request that I make this. ~Tammy

1 - can of strawberry soda
1 - 2 liter bottle 7-Up
1 - 2 liter bottle gingerale
1 large tub of pineapple sherbet

Put the entire tub of sherbet in a punch bowl, adding the bottle of 7-Up, about 1/2 of the gingerale, and 1 can of strawberry soda. You need to prepare this about 1/2 hour before serving to give the sherbet time to start melting into the punch. The punch should end up a light pink color you can add more 7-Up or gingerale to suit your taste.

Denirae, one of our community moderators shared this:
I have a great party punch too! Start with 1 bottle of white grape juice and 1 bottle of gingerale. Cut up fruit in tiny pieces, leaving the peel on. Use oranges, limes, apples (red & green), strawberries, blueberries, and grapes. Make a pretty ice ring ahead of time. Pour the grape juice and gingerale into the punch bowl add ice ring and then fruit. This is a very pretty and refreshing punch. I get a lot of requests for the recipe.

MSJODI shared this tip for serving beverages:
To keep beverages from being watered down by ice cubes: fill a small Ziploc bag with ice cubes, drop it in the pitcher to cool down the beverage. Remove when necessary or replace ice cubes in the bag when they melt and return to the pitcher.

We have more festive drink recipes for the holidays on OFL: