Sunday, 25 December 2011


I am always in such a hurry to make plans for the New Year ahead.  I thought it was time to sit down and reflect on my accomplishments from the last year.  We are not always comfortable giving ourselves a pat on the back.  But doing so can be just the boost we need to feel ready to take on a new year, and new goals.

So, in the past year I have done quite a few things, most notably:

1.  Gave birth to my daughter
2.  Gave a fantastic Pirate Party for my son
3.  Embarked on a course
4.  Developed a more regular meditation and prayer practice
5.  Made some significant changes to our diet---for our health
6.  Lost some of the baby weight!
7.  Tried quite a few new foods and recipes (see the rest of this blog!)
8.  Tried out some great new craft projects including nappies, hot water bottle covers and embroidery

As I reflect on each of these in my journal I can pull out how I accomplished it, why I did it, and use these insights in making new goals.  More on those plans later!  But I can also look back to my goals from the last year.  Did I accomplish any of them?  Why or why not?  Did I actually spend time on them or other stuff?  How can I create goals which more accurately reflect me and my needs?  Do I need to change my goals to make them fit into my lifestyle or do I find ways to motivate myself to achieve more?  Lots to think about!

How to use your snow cone maker for good (instead of ...)

I have always wanted a Snoopy Snow Cone machine.  I almost always chose the Snow Cone from the ice cream van.  And I love slushies, slurpees, icees, coollattas, etc.  Except that they are usually so sickeningly sweet.  Even for me.  And believe me I have a sweet tooth.

And so in the intrerests of health I have been avoiding these products for a few years.  My son often asks for these drinks while we are out and I indulge him sometimes with a guilty conscience.  We have been eyeing up snow cone makers for a while and I finally relented when I found a Party Penguin on sale a couple of weeks ago.

They are trickier than they look!  It takes a long while to shave your ice.  Even if you chop it a bit first or leave it out for a few minutes to melt a bit.  When you have a nice little drawer of snow, pop it into your bowl and THEN: 

Now here is where snow cones move into the realm of fantastic.  Delicious.  Healthy. 

Now, you add flavour to your snow with any of the following:
fresh squeezed juice (we chose orange today)
coconut juice
coconut milk mixed with milk
Hindu lemonade

You now have a nice little snack and you have had fun with the kids and you know that you haven't had extra sugar or worse--nasty chemicals, dyes, and artificial flavours. 

The Perfect Christmas?

I think that the Christmases I grew up with were perfect.  Mom made a cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs, homemade hash browns, bacon, and she sprinkled cinnamon in the coffee maker.  We would open presents and stockings, taking turns.  Each present in the stocking was wrapped in paper, adding to the anticipation and excitement.  We then went to Mass where I sang in the choir.  Then off to Dad's house where we had mounds of presents and tons of relatives.  Food, the fire, and family games like Trivial Pursuit kept us entertained for hours. 

My family seems so very far away now that I am living in the UK and they are mostly back in the USA.  Sure, I get a phone call or two, but it isn't quite the same.  It does occur to me that even if I was there, I might not experience Christmas in quite the same way as I did back then.  Holiday treveling, especially with small children might not be so appealing anyway.  Being grown up often means a lot more cooking, cleaning, and paying the enormous bills for it all.  Oh, it is all too easy for me to fall  in the trap of negativity. 

So in planning my perfect Chrsitmas this year, I took a look at what we have.  I have me, a five year old, and an 8 month old baby.  (Daddy is working on the 24 and 25th this year).  I have a few things for our stockings, a great Christmas tree.....and two days on our own, with little interruption. (OK, this seemed a tiny bit depressing a week ago, but today it seems like a nice break from the hustle and bustle).

So here is how we are spending it:

We woke at 6.  Well, my son woke earlier and I distracted him in the kitchen with some breakfast until his father got up for work.  Then we opened our stockings.  I then took a hot bath with scented body wash.  Then I got into clean pajamas and my new slipper socks.  (OK, this is partly for the luxury of spending more time in pajamas, but mostly because I am REALLY behind with the laundry.)

We have been playing really.  Yesterday we made gingerbread and a snowflake garland.  We also tried out our new Party Penguin which makes snow cones.  And tucked into our gingerbread.  I was half intending to go to church, but I had to lend my car to the Other Half since his car wouldn't start.
Simple homemade garland is a fun activity and adds the festive touch!

He has been playing for hours---completely ignoring all of the Christmas movies on the television!

Gingerbread barn and animals

I don't have a great big meal planned.  We don't care for turkey, anyway.  And tomorrow we will have some roast lamb (raised here on the farm), with roasted winter veg.