Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas blessings

I'm still catching up on all the Christmas activity, and it's almost the New Year! Honestly, I'm kind of sad to see another Christmas season pass by...I love Christmas! But I guess it wouldn't be so special if it were year-round. But wait...we can celebrate giving, and more importantly, the birth of our Savior...year round, right!? I believe so! Anyway, one of the greatest gifts I have is the gift of family. I have a lot of family...and I love them! I have been so blessed to grow up knowing my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings. Now the first cousins and siblings are grown up and have families and children of our own. It's kind of amazing when I think about it. This year I have especially been reminded of how short life is as we have experienced loss. I want to take advantage of every moment and not let the sun set on any anger. Time is a precious gift that I want to enjoy while I'm here on this earth! One of the special moments we had this Christmas is listening to my Grandfather (Papa) read the Christmas story. From the time I was a little girl, we have sat at Papa's feet and listened to the story. Then after that, we also get out the 35 year old wooden birthday cake for Jesus and blow out the candles. We all had to do least once...growing up. This year Sophie blew the candles out. How sweet to see my little one excited to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I'm so thankful for that tradition. Another neat thing we did that blessed me this year was a little activity at our first family party. We always have a "program" that usually consisted of someone (usually one of the grandchildren) performing in some way, or playing a game, or acting out the story of Jesus being born (some of these we have on video!). This year we were expecting a game when my aunt brought out wrapped gifts for everyone. Then she told us to open them. Each gift was a food item for a needy family. We put all the gifts back in the box and plan to give. That's what Christmas is all about. This was great to me. We have had a great time with family this year. That's the greatest present of all to me, second to celebrating Christ's birth.

God bless you this season...and Happy New Year!

Photos: my dad and Isaac; Isaac looking into the box of items to a needy family; our fam on Christmas morning; Granny and Papa with Sophie and Isaac; another Papa reading the Christmas story; Sophie blowing out the Jesus cake candles

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Christmas Experience

We were able to do something different this year that we've never done before. A family that we know offered their cabin to us for a few days. It was located at Pine Mountain, GA, very close to Callaway Gardens. We had never stayed at that cabin before, and had really never gone outside of the middle Georgia area for Christmas. So this was going to be a little getaway plus a fun adventure. We invited my parents to come as well. We had a nice drive over, all riding together in my parent's van, and everyone was relaxed. When we arrived, it was like a Christmas village! Several of the cabins and the grounds were decorated for Christmas. There was an earthen bridge that we drove over that had lights on it and a lit up toy soldier welcoming us through. Our cabin had several Christmas decorations inside and out. I really loved the Christmas tree sitting on the screened-in porch. We were able to see it through the French doors in the living room area. The grounds had all sorts of games available, from tennis, basketball, shuffleboard, and even horseshoes. Mom and I took a walk around our second day there and played some shuffleboard and horseshoes. There was a beautiful lake with swings and benches around it. We also took some time our second day to go to Callaway Gardens and see the butterfly house. Sophie enjoyed running around and seeing the beautiful flowers, butterflies, and plants. We even saw a few butterflies coming out of their cocoons. Sophie and I had talked about this before (The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of our favs). I kept saying to her, "look, Sophie, look at the cocoon!" I thought she wasn't paying attention. A few minutes later she got out her little play phone and said, "hello? Hello, cocoon!" She'll talk to anyone...or anything...on that phone! That night we ate at a great little restaurant called Cricket's and then went to see the lights at Callaway! What fun! We were so excited about the kids seeing it (and we were excited, too). The second we started driving and the lights came into view, Sophie and Isaac both fell asleep! We tried to wake Sophie up, but it was no use. She woke up right about the time when we were done. We went into the big holiday tent and Sophie saw The Gingerbread Man and a Nutcracker Man (Sophie was calling him the cracker-nut walking around. She couldn't get enough of them. She hugged them about 5 or 6 times and had her picture taken with both of them. It was so funny...and cute, of course! That night we got back to the cabin, had a fire, hot chocolate, and The Nutcracker was on PBS. It was so much fun to watch. We headed back the next day to Macon. We had a wonderful, restful time. I'm so thankful we were able to go!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas goodies

We have had a wonderful Christmas this year, even though we've been on the road a lot. We've been able to travel to several fun places, including good time with family, and a wonderful trip to Pine Mountain with my parents. It was a great getaway! I also made some goodies for some friends. I wanted to post this wonderful new recipe I got for this year. I've made it twice already (it's very easy!) and it has been enjoyed by several...including me! : )

Holiday Popcorn
12 cups of popcorn (about a bag and a half of microwave popcorn)
40 jet puffed marshmallows
1/2 tsp salt, divided
4 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate (I used the off-brand)
1 stick butter/margarine
Preheat oven to 275. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of salt on popcorn and set aside. Melt butter and chocolate in a large saucepan on low, stirring frequently. When it's melted, add marshmallows and melt completely, still stirring frequently. Take pan off of heat and stir in remaining salt. Pour over popcorn. Toss to coat (it's sticky). Spread onto greased baking sheet (I used Crisco because I was concerned about the stickiness). Cook for 15 min in oven and stir. Then put it in for another 10 min and put on wax paper to cool. It'll be delicious and crunchy in a few minutes! : )

In the oven and cooling on my countertop. Don't you just love my silver sparkly countertop? lol

One more goodie...

Chocolate Cookie Bark

2 Tbl. peanut butter

6 squares Baker's white chocolate--melted (I used the off-brand)

10 oreo cookies, crumbled, divided

8 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate--melted (off brand)

Add the peanut butter to the white chocolate. Then add half of the crushed oreos to the mixture. Add the other half of the oreos to the chocolate mixture. Drop spoonfuls on a waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Use a knife to swirl the chocolates together. Put baking sheet in the fridge for 1 hour or until firm. Break up and eat! Yum-O!

Hope you enjoy these treats! I got them off of this website: I get their recipe emails and have really enjoyed looking at them and using some of them. They even have video tutorials for some of them!

I hope all of you have had a Merry Christmas! I'll be posting more pics and adventures in the next few days!

God bless!

Monday, December 14, 2009


I love my little girl. She's so sweet and so much fun. I'm so thankful for her! Tonight while we were doing our nightly rock-rock ritual...I rock and sing songs of her choice, she decided to sing along with me to Jesus Loves Me. Sweet little voice. Then we started talking. I said,

Sophie, you know what?
I love you so much!
You know what?
What? (I'm expecting, I love YOU so much)
Rooster. (at this point I'm laughing)
You know what?
Cow. (more laughs)

Then it was night night time. She puts a smile on my face!
God bless!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Merry Christmas from the Daniel family

We hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas season. Our family loves to decorate, sing Christmas songs, and give gifts, but the most important thing that we celebrate is the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! He was born, humbly, in a stable among the animals. He grew into a man, learning the trade of a carpenter, but knowing His Father's work was His calling. He died on the cross, bearing our sin on His shoulders, died, and rose to life on the third day. He did this so we could have a relationship with a holy God. Amazing. We who are so underserving receive the most amazing gift of all for Christmas. The gift of life.
"How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He would give His only Son,
To make a wretch His treasure."
Thank you, God, for the treasure of your Son this Christmas.
God bless you and your family this Christmas!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas brew....

What would Christmas time be without good 'ole apple cider?! I know that many of you may not have an apple cider tradition over the holidays, but over the past several years, this apple cider recipe has been brewed at Christmas parties, family get togethers, and this year, Thanksgiving. It is so good! Now my mom has one of those big coffee percolators (sp?) that has the basket on the top and the spout outside on the bottom. If you don't have one of those, you could probably put your spices in a cheese cloth tied at the top and let it float at the top of your pot or crock pot that you've got your juice in. Last year I cut some orange slices and let them float on the about some good stuff! Hope you enjoy! I know I do : )

Apple Cider
  • 1/2 quart cranberry juice (I like it a little less tart, so I use the cran-apple juice instead)
  • 2 quarts apple juice (or a 1/2 gallon)
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • orange slices (optional)


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The best carrot dish!

I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I do not like sweet potato souffle. I know it's a traditional Thanksgiving dish, and also served many other times during the year, but I just don't care for it. When I was in Thailand, sweet potatoes were not available in our grocery store. I didn't really miss them. But when holidays come around, most people enjoy having sweet potatoes. One of the team members had a great recipe for carrot souffle. Carrots were readily available in Thailand. They are huge, too! But anyway, we would always have this carrot souffle at Thanksgiving and I LOVE it! It's rich and delicious (and of course, pretty fattening). But it's a great addition to the Thanksgiving/Christmas buffet. Most of the people I've made it for have said that it tastes almost just like sweet potato souffle...but not to me! :D Hope you enjoy!

Carrot Souffle (this recipe makes two servings --two pretty big servings! You can half it for just one family gathering)
  • 3 lbs carrots (I like buying the bags of the little carrots that are ready to eat...they're sold in one lb bags)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder (I used the aluminum free)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups butter (!!)

Cook carrot in boiling water, about 15 minutes. Position knife blade in food processor (I just have a works fine); add carrots, butter, and remaining ingredients (I had to mix the ingredients together in one bowl and put carrots with some mixture on top in the blender. It was so much that I had to do it in about 3 or 4 rounds. Then I would pour each batch into a big bowl just to make sure all the ingredients were mixed together well). Process until smooth. Spoon into 2 lightly greased 1 1/2 quart baking dishes. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Serve immediately.