Sunday, December 28, 2014

Success!

While my step mom and I set up the surprise party, Hubs took our son out for ice cream and to pick up a fruit tray (Lycan picked apples and grapes) and some potato salad.  When they came back, Lycan said, "Whoa," upon seeing all of the cars in our driveway.  Walking up to the porch, he exclaimed, "Balloons!"  Walking up to the door, Lycan was telling Hubs to be "Careful!  Careful!" all the way to the door.

Then he walked in and saw most of his favorite people, "Surprise Birthday Boy!"


Then he turned around to his party and shouted, "TROUBLE!"  (what he calls Paw Patrol).  And had the biggest grin on his face.  His reaction made this whole experience worth it.


Cake from Resch's Bakery,
combined with the Look Out Playset and two sets of Paw Patrol Racers.  Originally, I was going to place three of the cars on the cake, but they were a little too large.  Placing them around was better because Lycan wanted to play with them immediately.  As I handed him a character, he named them all off, then went to show them off to everyone.

Cheesy Chex Mix

Water Bowl

Colby Jack and Sharp Cheddar cut into bone shapes, Jack Links beef sticks, roast beef, chicken, and crackers.

Holiday cookies 

 Solo Blue Cups, plain red paper plates, white styrofoam plates, white plastic spoons--whatever we had on hand.  The napkins, paw print floor clings (on the wall), and the table cover are Paw Print Birthday Party Supplies, and "White Balloons with Black Paw Prints" all came from Amazon.

Firefighter Centerpiece and plates came from  Party City (but can be found cheaper).

Our party favors were little packs of Paw Patrol stickers (6 pk) that were found on Amazon.  And I made an "Adopt a Pup" box, having bought the stuffed dogs from Small Toys, via, you guessed it, Amazon.


This, unfortunately, is the best shot that I got of it, because I forgot to photograph the final product.  I also forgot to make popcorn, but it didn't matter, the party was a huge success.  I worked my butt off getting it together, scouring the internet for ideas and inspirations, and it all paid off.

The kids loved the favors.  Unfortunately, some people missed the party due to a stomach virus, so the kids present ended up taking home two pups.  The mom of the three sick did stop by before heading back to West Virginia, and we sent her home with a bag of party favors for my niece and nephews.  They were looking forward to coming to the party.  I made sure to save them something special.

Lycan ended up spending the rest of his birthday with his cousin, who he only gets to see a couple times a year, with their grandma and grandpa.  Which is fantastic, because mommy and daddy get to clean up, put the playroom back together after it was torn apart by the little beasts, and relax with the baby.

And a lot of people, who've been over to the house recently, really liked our playroom.  I've inspired a BIL to convert part of his basement into a playroom for his kids.  Although we haven't the draw space for Lycan's new acquired vehicle toys.  But I've learned that Lycan's not so much of a quantity gift kid as he is a quality gift kid.  Just give him that one toy that incorporates his favorite things and he's good.  He's a little overwhelmed by all of the gifts he's received over the last couple weeks!  In a few weeks/months, I'll know what toys are okay to donate.

Could'n've asked for a more awesome birthday party.  Happy Birthday, Wolfman, my special little guy!  Makes me eager to see what party themed he'll want next year and whether or not momma is up for the challenge.  But before then, I do have his little brother's party to plan in April.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Behind the Scenes Stuff

Majority of the Yule decorations are down.  Wolfman's second birthday is nearly here, and I can't wait.  We almost have everything we need for it.  Tomorrow, the fruit tray, the potato salad, and the cake will arrive, and the pawty can get started.

K. Wren, December 26th, 2014

After tomorrow is a much needed break.  No major plans until April, when Warrior turns one.

I go all out for my kids' parties.  I remember having so much fun at many of mine when I was younger (the many Lion King themed parties were my favorites!), and I want to give my kids that same experience.  Never realized how much work was involved!

I hope we have more people actually show up this year than last.  And I hope they eat the food.  Last year, I busted my butt making these TMNT cupcakes and no one ate them!  So this year, I cut out junk food...except we also got a lot of baked goods and they need a home other than our fatty thighs.  Aside from cookies, I'm also providing a cheese and meat tray, a fruit and veggie tray, chex mix, popcorn, and, of course, the cake.  I lost on the no soda thing, but won with not giving candy out in the party favor bags.

I'm just not a big fan of letting kids pig out on candy and junk food.  Obviously, I have no control at other parties, but at my house, I do, for the most part.  

Earlier, we went to Party City to pick up a Paw Patrol balloon and they didn't have them!  Back in October, I swear they did, because my son pointed them both out to us.  But today no luck.  The Manager said that we were the second people to come in and ask today.

Someone needs to phone in to corporate and get on this, because Paw Patrol is popular and needs more supplies than what's already available.  They're losing money.  If Party City had the balloons, my husband would've brought both of them, but instead settled for one Tonka Dump Truck.  Either way my son will love it, but business wise, that's money lost.

In the stores, nada about Paw Patrol.  Go online, especially on Pinterest, and you'll see a lot of Paw Patrol birthday parties.  A lot of people are sharing ideas and coming up with new ones, which is great...but be nicer if we had some more available supply.  But I guess it makes it all the more special than just purchasing a deluxe set of supplies.  Ain't cheaper, in my opinion.  But this is the behind-the-scenes parent stuff.  The kids will no doubt love it all and have a blast, regardless of how well things match and go together.

I'm so eager to get it all together now, but I have to wait until Hubs takes the birthday boy out of the house around 11 am, because I want everything to be a surprise for him when he comes home.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

So Many Bright Blessings

Had a long, but great day.  Dinner was a smash, the kids enjoyed spending time with each other...and our friends--who've been trying to have a baby for a number of years--gave birth to their first son, little CJ, today on Christmas.  He measures 8lbs 6oz and is 19.5 inches long.  Congrats to the Pyle family, that's the best gift one can receive.  I can't think of anyone more deserving.  

How are yall's holiday?


Monday, December 22, 2014

One Down, Two To Go

Had a great Yule, how bout you?

Got up, lit a candle on Odin's shrine, then one on my Kitchen altar.  I baked the Yule Stump (had to redo it, messed it up on Saturday).  Made a light breakfast of scrabbled eggs, fruit (for the men folk) and a small salad for me.  Stacked and decorated my leaning stump with cream cheese icing, almond slivers, mint leaves, raspberries, and a light dusting of powdered sugar.  I was going to do a naked cake (icing only in the layers) with a sun stenciled on the top with powdered sugar, but had a change of heart....when I couldn't find my stencil.  lol

K. Wren.  December 21, 2014

After breakfast, we surprised Wolfman with his first gift, his Want, which was a Paw Patrol toddler couch.  He literally dropped his trucks and ran for the couch.  It was awesome.  So worth it. (Warrior's first gift was a Redwings onesie.)

Wolfman and Warrior

I made lunch: Cranberry Cream Cheese Turkey sandwiches (which were really good, I was surprised; the taste was well balanced), goat cheese, almond sliver, raspberry, spinach salad; peppermint brownies, sugar cookies; and my step mom brought cheesy scalloped potatoes and cranberry BBQ meatballs.  Before my dad and step mom arrived, I lit a deliciously warm candle on Hestia's shrine, then I greeted them with Peppermint Hot Chocolate.  We lit the Yule Log, ate, then went and opened gifts.  


My gift was seeing the joy and utter excitement on my son's face when he saw his truck book, Paw Patrol shirt, and big old tractor.  The baby thoroughly enjoyed his cloth book, but the kids enjoyed playing with grandma and grandpa more.

Grandpa and Warrior

After they left, we alllllll took a nice long nap.  Then it was up for mom to finish gifts and cook dinner.  Nothing fancy, just honey BBQ chicken and some more of that yummy salad, and a slice of cake for dessert.  

Today, I'm making edible treats for the wildlife to be given as offerings to the Spirits.

Yes, one major day down, two more to go.  Half of the baked goods are done, the Christmas ham is thawing in the fridge, I have to make the peppermint white chocolate cheese cake, and...some other stuff but I took a baby break and now can't really remember my To Do List.  And our Christmas gift from my mom is arriving in a little bit: a new couch!  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Just Christmas and Lycan's birthday now.  

Belated Blessed Yule and Happy Other Holidays!


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Odin and Julbock Are Coming to Town!

K. Wren.  December 20, 2014

The Yule tree is lit, a candle on Odin's shrine is flickering.  Time to set out a shot of whiskey for Him, and a boot full of treats for Sleipnir and the Julbocken.




Friday, December 19, 2014

A Lot on my Plate

So nearly finished.  All we need for Yule and Christmas is food, and I have to make one more ornament gift.  Had something nearly done, but the final item slipped out of my hands, so now I need a plan b that's going to work with what I have.  Oh, and the baking of gifts.  How do I keep forgetting those?  Especially when they're all I can think about?

Baked Goods, this is what we've got:

  • Sugar Cookies
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Puppy Chow (holiday tradition for hub's family)
  • Peppermint Brownies
  • Cranberry-Orange Muffins

I thought I was being different with my peppermint brownies, then I got on pinterest and saw hundreds of recipes on my following feed area.  My SIL also does baked goods, so hopefully we don't make the same.  Except she's not afraid of melting chocolate and I am, lol.  I love eating it, but have problems working with it.  

I love baking.  Spells D-A-N-G-E-R for my low carb diet though.  Plus I'm making a Yule Log cake.  Well, sorta, it's probably going to be more of a naked cake, with some snow and mistletoe decorations.  A layered stump with a twist.  Eh, it started out as a Yule Log, er, stump.  See, I get an idea, then others come in and change it, then I can't decide on a final product.  Either an Almond Yule Stump or a Orange Sun Cake.

And peppermint white chocolate cheesecake and molten fudge cupcakes for Christmas.  Plus hubby's making something called Cherry Delight, that's another Christmas staple in his family.  I don't know what it is, only that's it's good.  It's like one of those weird mystery gelatins that you often find at holiday pot lucks.  The ones that often go untouched due to fear and uncertainty, but this one's actually good.  



I have a lot of baking to do tomorrow, guess we'll see tonight when we go shopping, what I'm in the mood for.  And the problem with baking new things for family, is that I haven't tried them first.  I hate to admit this, but I'm trying to impress my family.  Not too many of them have ever had my food.  

It's funny, my mom really tries to make food look pretty.  When I was younger, I was always saying, "What's the point?"  Now I get it.  Presentation is key.  Want it to look good, as well as taste good.


In other news, I finally have supplies for my son's 2nd birthday ordered.  It sucks when they don't sell the theme that you want, you just have to put something together.  Luckily, many other folks have come before me with this whole Paw Patrol theme.  I was almost to the point of just changing his theme to Bubble Guppies, John Deere Tractors, or my original idea, Things That Go, except we already have the cake ordered and some supplies, like PP stickers, paw print balloons, 2 dog bowls, toys to go on the cake, and the Look Out play set to go behind the cake.  

So basically, I ordered Firefighter plates and centerpieces; Paw-ty table cover, napkins, and paw print floor clings; and solo red and blue cups (already had).  I'm worried about it all looking like a hot mess, but to a 2-year-old it's not going to matter, because his some of his favorites will be there: vehicles, dogs, popcorn, and apple juice.  

On the day of his party, my husband's going to take Lycan out for ice cream, while my mom and I get the foil balloon, food, drinks, and set up the party.  

It's nearly time for get all of this rolling and done with.  I'm looking forward to it (trying to ignore the fact that I pulled a muscle in my upper thigh last night...or something, all i know is that it's hurts and makes it a pain to walk, and I don't even know what I did to it!  At one point last night, I wasn't able to put weight on that leg.  This morning, I woke up and still hurts  :-/  ).


I have to remember to drop off my donations, too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

DONE-ish

My tree is done for this year.  Done.  No more ornaments.  I still have to make one more ornament as a gift, but that's it.  Last night I made my "Scent of Winter" ornament after being inspired by this:


I made what I had: a glass bulb, 7 juniper berries, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, orange peel, bay leaf, orris root, rosemary, pine needles, and some fake holly berries.

K. Wren. December 15, 2014

It being in a glass ball instead of satchel, it's not as fragrant, until you're right up on it, but it's visually appealing.  I added the fake holly berries for color and for symbolism.

I also made my Yule Broomstick orna:

K. Wren.  December 15, 2014

And I put my BFF's gift box together:

K. Wren.  December 15, 2014

Polyjuice Potion, the Golden Snitch (with wrong colored wings), and a Remembral.
I included a HP journal for her quidditch notes (she's a coach), closed the box, and put a Harry Potter themed shipping label on it:

To Ms.  A. M******

The Second Bedroom on the Left
(Address)

I wanted to wrap it in brown paper bag, but we didn't have any left, so I wrapped it with twine and holiday paper.  AFTER I sealed it up, I realized that I should've made her a mini broomstick orna, too, in her team's colors.  Oh, well, next year!

Now, one more gift left, then onto baking the adults gifts, buying two more kid gifts, and making two holiday meals.  THEN LYCAN'S BIRTHDAY!  Friday my husband gets paid, we're going to focus on buying the rest of his birthday stuff, then worry about everyone else.  I wish Nickelodeon would release a Paw Patrol party pack theme already, but watch, it'll happen after.  So we have to be resourceful.  I'll let you know how after Friday.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Interesting Little Meme and the Sun

I found a bit more information, that I've cross checked (memes aren't "irrefutable proof" for me, I need sources from books and real websites of people who've actually done research not just basing things off of hearsay), that supports Odin as being a Gift Giver on Yule, but I need to do more research.


Know Thine Mythology!

I've said this many times, if this is true (which it could very well be, as the Modern St. Nick/Santa has replaced many other Gift Giving Spirits), then Santa is the PG-13 version of Odin.

Concerning the Key and Treat decoration, instead of just a sack of goat treats, I may need to make an old boot and fill it with straw for Slepnir.  Ugh, having issues here.  Odin rides his six-eight legged horse...what, is Julbocken going to follow behind?  A goat being led by a horse?  I dunno.  Hubby and I need to have a conversation.  Figure something out that makes both of us happy.

As the Julbocken is associated to Thor, we will still eat goat in some form on many Yule's to come.

I just hope we can figure this all out by the time our kids understand more.  It's ain't easy starting new family traditions and combining the different beliefs.  I want something that seems natural, like they work together, not that our kids are visited by separate Gift Givers.  They're both Scandinavian, so there's some correlation there, right?  These are problems that most people just don't have.  Most folks have Santa, St. Nick, Krampus, and I think La Befana is still around today.

Oh, and I finished my tree topper.  I'm not happy with it, I think it looks like crap, but it's photogenic.

K. Wren.  December 2014

I can't get too down on myself about the topper, it is only my second one that I've ever made.  It's a styrofoam ball, paint, feathers, and a toilet paper roll.  Nothing fancy.  It'll work until we find a metal sun.

I find it funny.  This holiday for me isn't the return of the Sun...Father Sun didn't go anywhere (I know the Wheel of the Year myth, in that the God dies and is reborn on the Solstice), for me it's the First Day of Winter.  I don't know about you, but I often seek out the warmth of the Sun when I'm outside.  The Sun is very important to me, at least, during the winter.  I like light and warmth.  I like the Sun, lit candles, tree lights, and fireplaces during the cold months.

On the Winter Solstice/Yule, I'm celebrating the season of winter, the importance of the Sun--of fire, and family bonds.  The ornaments on our tree reflect that, as it's full of Baby's Firsts, Memorials, things important to our belief systems, representations that bring us joy and memories, and the warmth of light.

All but two ornaments are handmade.  That tradition is important to me.  When I was young we used to make ornaments as a family, all the time.  Then as us kids got older, the tradition stopped.  I'm a crafter, I love doing this stuff--I've made 30-40 ornaments already!--at least, while they're young we'll be making our own.  I want to continue it, because it was one of my favorite things to do, aside from baking, hopefully my kids will enjoy it, too.  It brought a lot of good memories, even as an adult and looking at some of those old ornaments that my parents still hang every year.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A New Tradition?

I had a fun thought come to me last night, when I was making my Santa Key and Reindeer Snack decorations.  Every Christmas Eve, one is supposed to hang the key outside for Santa to use to get in, for those who don't have chimneys.  As I've said before I'm going to make one for the Julbock.  Hubby also wants Odin to be part of these traditions, so why not have Odin leading the Julbock to the house on Yule Eve?

Although I've read that the Julbock is a representation of Thor--I remember coming across Thor's goats a few years back during my research.  "The Julbock story is related to Thor's goat-pulled chariot.  The goats were named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr.  He'd ride them, slaughter them, then resurrect them" (Book of Mirrors).  I still want to do more research, find some more lore and stories, so it's more of a shared story, instead of just ours.  Less UPG, more SPG.  Maybe it'll be Thor, instead of Odin to bring the gift bearing Julbock?  Or maybe just some friendly gnomes/elves leading him?  We'll hammer out the details later.  I'm sure hubby would want to it be more accurate, since it's his pantheon.


Anyway, so a key for Odin/Thor/Gnome/Elf and a bag of Goat Treats.  Every year, along with hanging the key outside, we can fill up the bag with magical treats for the Julbock.  I like it.  Gotta get cracking on making our key and snack bag now!

Julbocken by John Bauer
John Bauer, 1912


_________________________
Sources:
A Nordic Yule (poem <3)

In a Funk, Shake It Off

Ugh, I am.  I started off really happy and excited for the holidays.  I think I'm just taking on too much, combined with an uncomfortable bed and typical depression.  It's low level right now, but it still nags me.  Bedwise, every morning, I wake up sore and tired.  I sleep throughout the night, as far as I know, but it feels like I'm not getting any.  We've even flipped the bed and switched sides.  Annoying.

In better news, since starting my low carb diet November 6th, I've lost 6 lbs, so that's clearly something to be happy for.  I'm sure if I hadn't cheated with Thanksgiving, I would've lost more, but not worth dwelling on.  Just gotta stay on track.  Just wish that I knew that those delicious carbs were my enemy years ago!  Probably would've been able to join the Air Force like I had wanted to, or even continue life in the police academy!  Things happen for a reason.  Point is that I'm losing weight now, so hopefully when I get pregnant with #3, I won't have gestational diabetes.  My plan is to get down to 245 - 200 lbs.  240lbs is my safety zone, concerning diabetes (which I don't have [despite having GD with both kids], but better to avoid it as it's in my family).

I'm still excited for the holidays, I just wish they'd get here quicker.  Let it be Yule already!  I am getting things done, just not as quickly as I'd hope.  I have so many unfinished and abandoned ornaments.  If I'm not happy with them, I have to start over.  Like I made this easy bulb wreath, but I'm not happy with it, because even though i glued the tops to the bulbs, they're popping off.


I'm want to try this again next year, only with better bulbs.

Then I tried to make pine cone ornaments, but that didn't work because the scales of whatever they're called, of the cones started falling off.  I nixed it.

I made three Santa's Magic Key's instead!  So much easier.  One's just an ornament, the second is an ornament for the tree and a decoration for outside, and the third is just an outside decoration:

 K. Wren.  December 7, 2014

The one below has a burlap bag that it hooks onto, although I think I'm going to pick a canvas bag for visual appeal.  The burlap is too rustic and the two clash.  However, for the third key, it works, I just haven't too put all together yet.  

K. Wren.  December 7, 2014

I'm going to write up the little poem and put it with the keys.  The keys will be sitting on top of the tins for their baked good gifts.  The baked goods will be chocolate chip cookies, brownies topped with peppermint crumbles, cranberry-orange muffins, and sugar cookies.  

Onto to my brother and his wife.  The wreath was originally going to be for them, but I'm unsatisfied with it.  So I think I'm going to make her a recipe box and put a stuffed goat inside of it.  My brother and I have always wanted goats, which is odd, so I may get him his own goat!  He's ridiculously hard to buy for....  I just bought my niece a book Uni the Unicorn.  That was easy.  What's my brother into?  Military, guns, goats, Bigfoot--OMG, he sounds like a crazy redneck, I assure you he's not--Martial Arts, MMA, True Blood, The Walking Dead, and OSU. 

The twins are done.  Their little brother is not.  My other nephew and niece are getting clothes.  Our kids are done.  Hubby still needs something.

...I have so much wrapping to do.  I hate wrapping.  GIFT BAGS FOR EVERYONE!  ;-)

Yule Lunch and Christmas Dinner is planned out.  My son's 2nd birthday is nearly ready to go.  Nearly all of our ornaments are done, all I need is to finish the Polyjuice Potion, the Golden Snitch, the red beaded garland, and the Sun tree topper.  

I need to go through a lot of our ever building crap for donations, already took one load to Good Will (toys, baby clothes, kitchen ware).  If we don't use it, no point in keeping it!  I've noticed that as our children's stuff grows, out crap shrinks, lol.  I'm just not a fan of stuff.  I am no hoarder...unless it's art and craft stuff, then yes, a tad, but nothing extreme.  No room and I'm more of a fan of having clean space!

I think I feel rushed to get everything done, yet it's only the 8th.  I just want to get it all done so I don't have to worry about it later.  Makes sense.  So all I'll have to do is make food and prepare for Wolfman's birthday.  I don't have that much to do, yet I feel overwhelmed.  Plus my depression is creeping and I'm having issues with being sore and tired.  

Just keep crafting....it'll all be over soon.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

What a Wonderful Gift!

My step mom bought us a tree.  Nothing huge, just a 4 foot, pre-lit, artificial tree, which I love, Wolfman likes it, too.

K. Wren, December 3, 2014
Wolfman showing Sofie the tree

I love seeing the his eyes light up when the tree's lit.  It's so innocent and magical!  So full of wonder and amazement.  Kids just make the holidays that much more exciting; nothing beats seeing many children's reactions when they see the festive decorations.  Thee anticipation building.  The joy.  I love it.

Whenever I'm finding myself feeling stressed about getting these gifts done or when artist's block rears it's ugly head, I just plug in the tree and watch my son's excitement peak, and answer his many questions.  It's a reminder of what many winter holidays are about: joy, love, and family.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kiddo Activity

Saw this on FB's Crafty Witches.  Could be a fine solitary or family craft to make:



I've been gathering up toilet paper rolls for this year, in preparation to make Yule Goat ornaments and for monster decorations for Vin's 1st birthday.  Needless to say, there's no shortage!  I might make a festive wintery Faerie House.  Why not?  Looks like fun!  See if Lycan wants to help make one, too.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two Holiday Dinners?

Now I'm also cooking dinner for my husband's family, too, on Christmas day.  Gotta another dinner to plan out.  At least, I'm taking care of one family set on Yule!

Oh, man, why didn't I think of this? Instead of a Yule dinner, we could have a lunch instead.  Thanks to Panera Bread, I've discovered and have since had many of my own, Cranberry Turkey sandwiches!  I think I may try this recipe for Yule:

  • Main Course: Cranberry Cream Cheese Turkey Sandwich
  • Salad: Spinach, Goat Cheese, Chicken or Turkey, Raspberry
  • Dessert: White, Almond Yule Stump, garnished with Raspberries and Mint Leaves
  • Beverage 1: Peppermint Hot Chocolate
  • Beverage 2: Blackberry Cider
  • Beverage 3: Wine

Awesome, Yule's planned out.  Now for Christmas.  Nothing that's not too similar, but then it's a different set family, they won't know, right?  No, we're not going to want to eat the same stuff!

Or instead of two dessert options, move one over for Christmas.  

  • Main: Ham with pineapples and cherries (maybe)
  • Sides: ...
  • Dessert: White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake, Leftover Yule Log
  • Beverages: Hot Chocolate, Moon Cider, Iced Tea (no soda)
I suck with sides....I need to look through my family recipe books for this one.  Nor am I really happy with the eat choice, but I don't want this year to be all about turkey.  Yet, I've also haven't made ham that way, but it's tradition in my family to have a Christmas Ham with pineapples and cherries.  I want a new tradition. I like it best when others cook it....not when I do.  It's like making sandwiches, often they taste better when someone else makes them! .

I just get bored with the same old foods.  I need to do something different with them.  

It's Finally December!

So excited.  November took far too long!  Course I started decorating the house and setting up our smaller tree already.  In my family, it's tradition to set up the tree the day or weekend after Thanksgiving.  The tradition is not lost on me.  Winter decorations up!

You know, in the past, I was excited for Christmas.  I was excited for Yule, but not nearly as excited as I am now that I have children.  The holidays in my family have always been centered around the kids.  For as long as I can remember.  There's not much emphasis on Christ.  My family are a mixed faith, various Christians, Roman Catholics, Agnostics, Atheists, and Pagan.  Some folks focused on the religious aspects and some didn't.  Which I think it fine.

 If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, do your thing.  After all doesn't it roughly mean the mass of Christ, or something?  It's CHRISTmas.  If you celebrate Christmas out of tradition, and it has very little to do with Christ, do your thing.  People have their own reasons--hopefully it's not an obligation that you don't really enjoy.  Do what you enjoy.  Don't celebrate it if it makes you happy.  Celebrate life and family.  Too much drama this time of year.  Too much arguing, entitlement, and ignorance.

Not in this household!

In our house, we celebrate Yule/Winter Solstice.  We have a log, a tree, much of the same universal winter decorations, Pagan symbols associated with Yule (Stag, Wolf, Robin, Wren, Pentacles, Suns, Snow, etc).  We have a small feast with seasonal foods and beverages.  I make a Yule Log--not a traditional log, as I've yet to learn how to roll sponge cake.  Although I was watching Holiday...Baking Championship, or something, on Food Network (<3 that channel!), instead of watching The Walking Dead.  Season finale and I just didn't care, which is weird because I love that show and have watched every episode this season. Nope, I wanted to watch holiday baking.  I love those shows....I love artistic cakes, cupcakes, and all that.

Anyway, according to the show, Yule Logs are a staple of many winter feasts.  They weren't in my family.  Never knew about that type of cake until I started researching Yule more.  I basically make a 2 halves of a circular-ish cake with a filling (put the two halves together), then decorate it to look like a log or a stump, depending on which I'm in the mood for (made me happy when I saw two of the competitors making stumps last night).  But the show last night, gave me inspiration for my Yule Log this year.

This year, we're inviting family to our house for Yule.  On Christmas we normally have three stops.  This year, all of that running around isn't happening.  We're having Yule at our house on Sunday, December 21st, then having Christmas at my mom's.  It ain't easy with a toddler and a baby.  Especially a toddler who loves his grandparents and hates leaving them.  Not doing that three times in one day!  Just going to do the gift exchange and dinner at our house.

I plan on making a nice dinner.  I wanted deer, but weren't lucky enough to get any meat :/  .  I don't want to make turkey, chicken, or ham.  I really want lamb, but in the books that I've read, lamb's not associated with Yule.  I kinda want to make a stew with beans, potatoes, carrots, and leeks.  But I can't figure out the meat.  Maybe I'll see if I can get boar--I know, I know, I said I didn't want ham, but it's boar.  Slightly different, right?  ;-)

Course, now I'm leaning towards a rabbit stew....

I may need to crack open the ole family recipe book for this one.  See what my hillbillies ancestors got.  I want something simple and rustic this year.  I want this meal to be associated with Artemis because in my family, it's traditional to use the meat, fruit, and vegetables that you harvested for the fall and winter holidays.  It's a tradition that's unfortunately losing steam with this modern age, but I want to try to keep it going.  For me, Artemis is an important part of that.  I'll be decorating our table a deer antlers that I associate with Her, too.

Then I'm making an almond Yule Log or Stump (make it look like birch, for the non-chocolate/peppermint lovers in the family), and White Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake.  A spinach, cranberry, raspberry, chicken, and goat cheese salad.  For the drinks, wine, peppermint hot chocolate, and blackberry cider.  Still have plenty of time to figure out this meat conundrum.


As for our tree, we weren't going to be able to afford an artificial tree, so I was going to do one of those abstract modern wall trees, made with a string of lights, some homemade ornaments, and a sun topper that Lycan was going to help me with.  Last night, my step mom surprised me with a 4 foot, prelit tree.  How awesome is that?  Effin sweet.  So we have our little 12 inch tree sitting on the kitchen table and now this 4 footer that I'm going to put on our coffee table  (it's pushed back against the wall).  I really want to put it in front of a window (tradition) but that might not happen....although I'm inspired, so maybe....  Nah, it's happening.

I'm going to get or make a beaded garland to look like red berries and make a Sun tree topper from a foam ball, feathers, and spray paint.  Already have a start on the ornaments.  Most of them are finished--just finished the 'First Yule' ornaments for Vin and Lycan last night.  Plus I have to make edible ornaments for the birds and squirrels (peanut butter seed logs; cheerio, popcorn, and dried berry garlands, etc).

For the grandparents 
Wasn't east getting these prints!  lol

The cousins are either getting toys or board books.  And everyone else are getting baked goods, which I don't really want to make.....I suck at baking cookies.  But I'm going to try tips from friends, so hopefully they'll actually be cookies this year, instead of melted puddles.  It's weird, i used to be a beast at baking cookies.  I don't know what happened?

The only thing Vin needs is his To Wear gift.  Then we're done with the boys, minus one more gift for Lycan's birthday.

After Yule and Christmas, comes Lycan's birthday, Sunday December 28th.  The big 0-2.  I'm so excited because it's going to be Paw Patrol themed!

I can understand why my mom bought us lots of gifts for Christmas now.  She's a giver.  And she loves to see our joy.  As of now, the kids are only getting 4 gifts for Yule: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.  I'm so excited to see their reaction--well mainly Lycan because to Vin it's just going to be stuff, but he might be interested in the paper.  He loves textures and sounds right now.  Kept that in mind when we got his book and toy.

Most of my excitement comes from the anticipation of the boys opening their gifts.  Lycan's getting so many vehicles this year that he's not going to know what to do with himself!

Still have lots to plan and to do though.