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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday prep

7 jars of hot cocoa mix, and a hidden jar of vanilla sugar
 I love Christmas.  I love it more now as an adult than I did as a child.  Now that I'm a parent, I love watching my children growing increasingly more excited with each passing day.  For example, this year Alexander is 5 and it's my personal opinion that Christmas is never better than it is when you're 5-years old.  He's finally old enough to appreciate all the festivities and to really participate.  This year, we've colored wooden ornaments, colored and cut out paper ornaments to hang on the wall, put together a foam gingerbread house and hung it on the wall, and in a few days we'll put together an actual gingerbread Christmas tree and decorate it with white and green icing. 

One of the other things I've really enjoyed is being able to establish my own Christmas traditions in addition to those that my mom and I shared.  The last few years, I've let the boys hang all the decorations on the tree on their own, and left them where ever they landed (lopsided or not).  I also wait until Christmas Eve to put any presents under the tree.  My boys are just too impulsive and impatient to have to stare at those gifts every day, and it's hard on them and stressful on us to police them all the time.  Plus...isn't Santa supposed to bring the gifts?  So if you're going with Santa in your house, it makes logical sense that gifts wouldn't show up until the night before, when he brings them. 

Another Christmas tradition that I've started with my family (three whole years running, lol) is that I spend all day Christmas Eve in the kitchen baking cookies.  I make 2-3 different varieties and they all have their favs so it works out.  One year, I had 11 dozen cookies!  I've scaled it back quite a bit since then.  I also make various holiday treats to give to friends and family during the holiday season.  One year it was cookies.  Another year it was peach butter and apple butter.  This year, it'll be the hot chocolate mix that you see in the photo above.  This is one way that I can show my love and appreciation to those close to us, and still keep my holiday budget reasonable.  I can also show my boys that meaningful gifts don't always come from a major retailer. 

My favorite new traditions...socks in the stockings on Christmas morning.  I knit Dante a pair of socks a few years ago, and when Alex saw them, he wanted a pair too.  The next year, I knit them both ties and I have to admit that the socks were a bigger hit than the ties (although they wore the ties most of this year).  This year, all three of my guys are getting socks (although only Alex's are done because I've had commissioned work and design samples competing for my knitting time). 

And finally, my second-favorite new tradition is making pasta with Sicilian meatballs for dinner on Christmas Eve.  We go over to my In-Laws for Christmas dinner so I don't have to worry about cooking, and frankly, the guys are turkey-ed out by the time Christmas rolls around.  I always thought that it was silly to make what was essentially a second Thanksgiving dinner on Christmas, and I always thought that Christmas should get something special, but my family were turkey people.  Now that I'm in charge of the food, I make meatballs.  It's fast, easy, about five ingredients, and the guys eat it every single time.  No dinner disasters (and I've had my fair share).  Dinner is ready in 30 minutes, and I can actually eat it too (cause I have the sauce without the meatballs, on my pasta). 

one of two commissioned stockings, drying.
What will not be included in my Christmas traditions, you ask??  Intarsia!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Putting up the tree

 We put up the tree this weekend, after a lot of urging from Alex.  Dante was at Nana's, so he's absent from these photos.
 Alex handled all the wooden ornaments, and Aaron handled all things breakable...except for the glass gingerbread ornament that he let Alex put up...which crashed to the floor and shattered into a million pieces.  We bought that set the year we got married, so I guess we're lucky that this is the only one to be broken.
The "tree skirt" is really the yoke off of a giant pullover, that my buddy Lisa cut off and couldn't bring herself to toss out, so she gave it to me.  I never got a chance to finish the edges, but we were in a bind and needed to get it on there so we went for it.  Looks great on the tree, and the boys all like it.  

If you want to see all of the photos (as I only put up three), then follow the link to my facebook photo album.