Friday, December 26, 2014

Post Christmas 2014

I love, love, love Christmas! But do you know what I like even better than Christmas? The day after Christmas! Actually, I love the whole week between New Year's Day and Christmas.

My whole house is still asleep (well, Matt is at work but only for a half day), so I am really enjoying the peace and quiet. I got up relatively early, tidied the kitchen a bit, started some laundry, fed the chickens, played with the dogs in the yard, and now I'm perusing the internet sales while drinking some tea. I even lit a candle for a little ambiance.

My plans for the day are pretty relaxed... slowly continue to recover the house from the festivities, go to the gym for a nice post-Christmas workout, get the snow tires put on my car, and clean up my bathroom (of all the rooms in the house, this one suffered the most over Christmas!).

I always like to do a what worked/what didn't work Christmas review after each holiday. Usually I do it in writing and keep it in my holiday folder, but I thought I might do it on the blog this year. First up? The good!

What worked over the holidays this year:

  • Advent calendars. I have a log cabin calendar that I can fill with activities for each day, and the kids really loved this even if they often had to remind me to put in the day's note. They especially loved when I made it into a scavenger hunt. Activities worked well, but they kids also really enjoyed little crafts like decorating cheapy ornaments. Each child also had a toy Advent calendar (Lego and Playmobil) that they enjoyed opening every day. (**Note to self: Order toy Advent calendars early! Like in September!)
  • Holiday performances. I did a good job of researching performances and purchasing tickets in November, but I'm also happy that I limited the performances we attended. We went to Simpich puppet theater's Heidi, the Polar Express train ride, and to the Youth Ballet's Nutcracker (which was a perfect, shortened version). We were also supposed to go to The Grinch, but there was a mess up with seats so I just asked for a refund.
  • Holiday decorations. Matt has been asking for a big, lighted wreath for the house, so I got him one on clearance last year. It looked great on the house. I also like how I changed up my mantel decor plus the greenery/decorations on top of my new bookshelves. For next year, I'd like a little pedestal for my mini nativity scene that I have under glass cloches. I also want to spray paint my mantel nutcrackers so they match and look new & shiny.
  • Christmas cookies. Hibernating turtles, fudge, molasses spice cookies, marshmallow wreathes (getting red hots from candy store worked well!), and lemon pistachio trees were a nice combo this year.
  • Food in the week leading up to Christmas. Pork loin with cranberry sauce with mashed potatoes was awesome and can be eaten for days. Still love cranberry upside cake. Cranberry sauce muffins.
  • Shopping on Christmas Eve day. Sounds silly, but I had to run an errand on Christmas Eve, and it was so lovely to walk the streets of downtown with so many people bustling around. Plus with all my shopping done and no stress to find gifts, I really enjoyed browsing around a few stores on my own. I might plan to do that again next year.
  • Christmas Eve. My new oyster stew recipe was fabulous! It was a little more of a chowder with lots of potatoes. Yum. Doing the gingerbread house actually on Christmas Eve afternoon worked well to keep kids busy but together with me while I cooked in the kitchen. Receiving a family game to play in front of the tree after we ate was fun. Also Trader Joe's nonalcoholic, sparkling "Chardonnay" was really, really good. I think I might like it better than regular champagne!
  • Christmas morning. Swedish tea ring and OJ was perfect. Thought about doing an egg dish but I'm not sure we needed it.
  • Christmas Day get together. Overall I loved having friends over with everyone helping in the kitchen. The kids had fun with friends. We played Pictionary on an easel - boys vs girls (girls won, of course!). Lots of food and drinks and conversation and fun. I might actually like more people for next year. A Honeybaked ham was easy, potatoes with 2 veggie sides was good, sage drop biscuits were a good flavor with ham. I liked having a variety of mustards.
  • Basket of Christmas books.
  • Lefse making. Yum. I'm going to be so good at lefse making by the time I'm a grandma! Maybe do it a little earlier in the season.
What could be improved:
  • Getting gifts sent off. I've done pretty well in the past, so this year I relaxed a bit. Didn't work. It was a constant stress, and I still didn't get some things in the mail. Next year I'm back to getting it all done by Thanksgiving and in the mail the next week.
  • Christmas cards. I had this vision of sitting around during the month of December, sipping tea, and writing out our cards. Nope! I still haven't sent everything off. Next year I'm going back to slapping on labels and putting them in the mail the first week of December.
  • Advent wreath with daily readings. We've enjoyed this so much in the past, but I just didn't have my act together. And I can't find the topper to my wreath...
  • Popovers didn't pop on Christmas Eve. Not so much I can about that at this altitude. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I wonder if I used a bit too much butter this year.
  • Swedish tea ring was bit doughy inside but dark on outside. Need to bake at a lower temperature.
  • Christmas dinner dish prep was very poorly timed! I need to do much more ahead of time.  With people over, I need 2 pans of Hoosier potatoes plus they can cook early and covered. Maybe I didn't need SO many green beans. I usually make great sage biscuits, but apparently not when I'm in a rush. Need to cook them all in one batch. Also I need some nicer, plain, white serving bowls.
  • My first chicken died last night. I have no control over that, and she was "old" at just shy of 4 years. But it was really a bummer way to end the day. I'm kinda sad about that today.
  • Wrap presents before Christmas Eve!!
  • Leave only veggies and meats to be purchased on Christmas Eve day. Have everything else already on hand. I know this but somehow didn't get it done this year.
  • St. Lucia Day celebration. Since there was NONE this year, it can only improve! The holiday fell over the weekend that Kate & I were out of town for a swim meet. I was going to celebrate on a different day, but it just didn't happen. Will plan ahead better next year.
  • Holiday crafting. I really like making gifts and doing projects with the kids. Since I felt behind all month, we really didn't do much.
  • Get a remote for the camera
  • Trip to IKEA for decorations and ligonberry jam
I didn't take many photos this year, but I'll post a few in a bit.

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