Merry Christmas!

Hi there Blog Friends–  We’re deep into tree trimming and cookie baking around here.  My smart young buddy Jenna is coming over to bake this morning and Larry is spending these days shepherding people on a “Walk through Bethlehem” every night at church.  It’s pretty much full on Christmas time for us.  And I’m counting the days until kids walk in the door!

So I’m taking a little Blog Break– to slow down the season, spend time in thankfulness to God and to have sweet time with people we love celebrating together.  At times you just have to simplify– and this is it.

I’ll still be Instagramming at “Rhonda Sittig”

But I’ll be reading along keeping up with all my Blog Buddies– and hopefully will be back posting in the New Year.  Hugs to all!!  And I hope and pray you have a blessed and beautiful Christmas.

     

     

Some Links to our Christmas Favorites:

Chocolate Cranberry “Fruitcake”

White Truffle Cake

Sugar Cookies

Swedish Lemon Hearts

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  And God’s dearest blessings to you all…

Happy Thanksgiving (and more)


Hi there– Happy Thanksgiving.  That sounds like not quite enough.  I’d also like to wish you slices of pie and Grandma’s best biscuits. 

And while we’re at it, I’m hoping the people you love the most (all your true favorites!) are sitting around the table with you.

I’m wishing you memorable conversations and the kind of laughter that leaves you gasping.

And wouldn’t it be great if sincere thank you’s were taken and given –and big hugs of appreciation were passed all around??!

I’m wishing you a prayerful thankfulness that comes in quiet moments all alone — And the deep down kind of joy that comes from Thanksgiving days with your dearest people.

And finally, God bless you Dear Readers on this Thanksgiving Day.  Truly thankful for you all.

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P.S. Thank you to Dreamstime.com for the free graphic.

Thanksgiving Around the Corner

Hi friends–  I afraid to say that I’ve been stewing a bit over Thanksgiving. For the first time in a few years, ALL our family will be together in Ojai for a Thanksgiving weekend (It warms my Mom-heart!!) and I think I’m letting the details of getting us all together overwhelm my heart and mind.   I need to back up and not lose sight of this time of Thankfulness…


Some Family together about this time last year.

So here I am– stopping to sit in quiet and thank God for a few things today:
1.  The maple trees turning in the backyard, beauty out my window.
2.  My people (especially Larry) who walk through these days with me.
3.  Food in the fridge and a fire in the fireplace.
4.  MOPS moms and young adults at church who keep me from feeling old.
5.  Our kids–scattered and settled and doing well.
6.  Grand-kids learning and blossoming– nothing dearer.
7.  My Monday ladies who listen and understand and pray with me.
8.  Books and music and mugs of tea in the quiet of our home.
9.  Our parents who know us well and keep us grounded.
10. A walk with God, who loves us more than we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3)

I’m sure you have your own list– Doesn’t it bring a calm to your soul to think through your blessings??

O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”  — William Shakespeare

 

And I wanted to send you one last pumpkin recipe (Thanksgiving breakfast??).  So quick and luscious!  Made these with two baking buddies– Jenna & Bekah.  Love those girls!!

PUMPKIN TWISTS
1 egg
2 tsp. water
2 sheets puff pastry (1 box), defrosted
1 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tab. coarse sugar

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tab. milk
1 tsp. vanilla (or maple syrup)z

In a small bowl whisk together the egg and water.  Set aside

Open out the puree pastry onto the counter.  With a rolling pin, roll both pieces into 12″ by 16″ rectangles.  Cut each piece in half to have 4 !2″x 8″ rectangles.

Mix together the pumpkin, sugar and pumpkin pie spice.  Then spread the the pumpkin mixture to cover the 4 rectangles clear to the edges.

Starting at the long side, roll each rectangle into a long cylinder.

Then with a sharp knife cut clear through the cylinder, leaving a 1″ part at the top that is not cut.  Turn the two cut halves of the cylinder around so the pumpkin layers are showing.  Then braid the two stands together, so that the cut layers of pumpkin show on top.

Then twist the braid into a circle and carefully set the circle of pastry onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Repeat until you have 4 braided circles (so pretty!)

The brush the egg mixture onto to coast the tops of the pastries and sprinkle on the coarse sugar.

Pop them all into a 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the tops are crusty and golden.

While they are baking whisk  together the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla for the glaze.

When the pastries come out, let them cool for 5 minutes and then drizzle on the glaze.  Delicious warm from the oven!!

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Thanks Bekah & Jenna fo dropping in on a Saturday morning to bake and talk and eat.  Love you two!

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“What we’re really taking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday in November, when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?”  –Erma Bombeck

 


Thankful  Heart Charts with the grand-girls 2016

And every Grandma needs a few easy tricks up her sleeve when the family gathers for Thanksgiving.
#1.  Thankful Heart Charts– Been making these every year since our boys were small.  Provide a cup full of markers and everyone draws tiny pictures of all they are thankful for (or contributes to a bigger chart to share with everyone).

#2.  Gratitude Basket –Last year Jodi had everyone write what they were thankful for on a slip of paper (keeping it a secret!) and then after dinner she pulled the slips from the basket and as she read them, we guessed who had written each one.  Some easy to guess, some hard, some hilarious.  So fun!

#3.  A to Z Thankfulness — Go around the circle and think of things to be thankful for, starting with the letters of the alphabet.

#4.  Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt– Give each grand-kid a brown paper bag with this list on the front– a turkey, a pretty rock, 3 leaves, something fuzzy, something smooth, a small pumpkin, something green, a stick, something you think is beautiful.  See what they come up with!!

     
Grand-girls in homemade turkey hats & standing by the welcome turkey at the front door.

 

“In November, people are good to each other. They carry pies to each other’s homes and talk by crackling woodstoves, sipping mellow cider. They travel very far on a special November day just to share a meal with one another and to give thanks for their many blessings – for the food on their tables and the babies in their arms.”– Cynthia Rylant,  (a favorite children’s book author)

And finally, here’s a few of our favorite Thanksgiving books to share together after the turkeys eaten and there’s time to sit cozy on the couch.
      

    
Best Thanksgiving Books   (Link to theses books & more)

 


Finally as you sit down around the table for Thanksgiving ahead, I hope for you that your heart is happy and settled and full of gratitude for your blessings great and small.  Thanksgiving Blessings to you, dear Readers.

“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.”  — Cicero

 

Birthday Girl’s Weekend– Santa Barbara!!


Hello friends– Do you have fall birthdays to celebrate in your family?? We have a big one– Maryann turned 10!!  So last weekend we trekked up to Santa Barbara for her “ten year old birthday trip.”  Let me tell you, it’s big fun to have all that time to ourselves with our bright spunky girl!

We started out referring to our Birthday Fun Map–  First stop was the Moxi Museum for kids.  Maryann was in her element.  Hands on exhibits using light, art, sound, movement.
     

     

Then we were off on the Little Toot tugboat tour of the harbor– the Captain even gave Maryann a turn at the wheel!
     

We made a Sunday morning stop at the Santa Barbara Mission–founded 1786.
     

Then dropped in to stroll through the lush Santa Barbara Zoo.

     

We picked out our favorite pieces at the SB Art Museum– and puzzled over a few we were unfamiliar with.
     

And we rounded out our day with a tour through the historic courthouse– up the tower for views across Santa Barbara.

     

The sun was about to set when we headed back to deliver Maryann home.


We’re so thankful for days exploring with this sweet girl.  Happy Birthday 10 year old Maryann!!  Here’s to a great year ahead!

Hello Autumn!!– and Pumpkin Baking


Hey there friends– It’s come!  Autumn has finally arrived.  Maple leaves are starting to cover the backyard and amazingly, we supposed to see rain tomorrow!! I wonder, are you one of those people who love autumn??  It just seems like a fresh new start after the hot lazy summer days. The best!

“Delicious Autumn!
My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking successive autumns.”
— George Eloit

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
— L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I’m with Anne– So glad for Octobers!! Looking forward to the month ahead..

 

      

HOPES FOR OCTOBER
#1.  Pumpkin Cream Puffs– Let the pumpkin baking begin!!
#2.  Pull out my Halloween kid’s books to read with the Grand-girls
#3.  Mugs of hot Caramel Apple Cider
#4.  Hang the Fall Eucalyptus wreath on the front door
#5.  Take a brisk hike through Craig Park and the fall colors
#6.  Join in the Oktoberfest at the Rockwell’s
#7.   Make pots and pots of soup (Corn Chowder, Pozole, Chili)
#8.  Pull down all the cozy sweaters from the top of the closet
#9.  Evening fires in the fireplace & mugs of apple cinnamon tea
#10. Plant the Sweet Peas (for blooms in the spring)
#11. Just sit and watch the leaves drift down from the backyard Maples
#12. Cal Football & mugs of hard cider & a huge bowl of pop corn (Go Bears!)
#13. Harvest Party with my MOPS moms & their adorable kids!
#14. Have our friends in for Sunday Supper– pumpkin pancakes
#15. San Francisco with Mom to see her great grand-kids for Halloween.
#15. Make our Thankful Heart Chart to be ready for November 1st!

 

Started in on the list this week with those Pumpkin Cream Puffs– They look tricky to make, but cream puffs are so easy– and the way they puff up in the oven to be light and hollow is like magic!


LITTLE PUMPKIN CREAM PUFFS
Puffs:
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
pinch salt
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Garnish:
powdered sugar for dusting the tops

Set oven to 425 degrees.

In a saucepan bring the water, butter and salt to a rolling boil.  Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour until it forms a big glob.  In a separate bowl whisk the eggs together and then with a fork beat the eggs into the flour mixture until it’s a sticky smooth batter (no lumps! takes a few minutes)

Drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto baking sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Leave about 2″ between each puff– they will grow!!  Pop them in the hot oven for 20 to 25 minutes until they are puffed and golden.  Let them cool completely, then slice each puff horizontally with a serrated knife.

To make the filling, beat the cream, powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice with an electric mixer until it is a stiff cream.  then gently fold in the pumpkin.

Drop a spoonfuls of filling in the bottom half of each sliced puff and then set on the top half (it’s best to not fill the puffs way ahead– they could get soggy!).   Dust with powdered sugar through a sieve.  Makes about 20. Ready to eat!!

And to my way of thinking, there’s never too many pumpkin treats this month.  Here’s a few baking ideas:

Baked Pumpkin French Toast

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Pumpkin Bran Muffins

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Maple Pumpkin Granola

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Pumpkin Pecan Rolls with Maple Glaze

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So HAPPY AUTUMN!!  Hoping you enjoy all the coziness and brisk days.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.”
–Lauren Destefano

Easter with the Family

Hello friends– Hope you have a blessed Easter.  Time to remember the depth of our faith.  And to gather together with people we hold dear.  It’s a beautiful holiday.

So after church on Sunday, family started to pour in the door– great grandparents here to see the grand-girls, my sis Luanne with her incredible hot dish of potatoes.  We all sat down to ham and all the mixings.

     

Of course, we had girls hunting for eggs in the back yard–with Gr. Honey and Gr. Lo watching on.
     

So thankful for these dear faces.  One of the greatest gifts God gives is the people he puts in our lives.  Glad for days we can spend together.

Simple Spring Salad

Hi all– This was the salad on our Easter table–bright and fruity and just right with ham and Aunt Lu’s marvelous potatoes!  It was a good day with grand-girls and their great grandparents around the table.  Hope you have a lovely Easter with people you hold dear.

SIMPLE SRPING SALAD

Salad:
6 cups greens
3 cups strawberries, sliced
2 cups blackberries
2 cups mandarine oranges, peeled and sliced
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or your favorite mild vinegar)
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the greens on a platter.  Then pile on the strawberries, blackberries and oranges.  Sprinkle on the feta.

Pour the olive oil, vinegar, honey, salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake until it’s thoroughly combined.  Drizzle over the salad.