Merry Christmas from Our Family to Yours

To family and friends
Far and near
We wish you could be with us here!
Wherever you may be
May you have Good Times and Good Cheer
Throughout the Holidays
and the New Year


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An American Girl Christmas Greeting

Merry Christmas to one and all, including (and especially) all you American Girls!

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Holiday Muppet Memories

I think I learned the words to the Twelve Days of Christmas from watching John Denver sing it with The Muppets in their 1979 holiday special.  Those were in the days when The Muppet Show aired on TV every week, and we watched it the way kids watch Phineas and Ferb today.  My aunt had the holiday special taped on videocassette (anyone remember Sony Betamax?)  so we could, and did, watch it again and again, year after year.   My cousins and I would sing it incessantly, aping (or should I say piggying?) Miss Piggy's part to perfection:  "Five.... Gooooooolden Riiiiiiiings!........ PADAM-PAM!!!"   Christmas just isn't complete for me without singing this song:

What's for lunch this week? Cookies!

Okay, not really.  I've just decided to give myself a break from posting lunch photos since this is the last week of school before the winter break.  So instead of a nutritious, well-balanced meal I'm treating everyone to a photo of two sugar cookie snowmen that we made recently (note to self: never use Nerds for snowman eyes or mouth because they will melt in the oven and the snowman will come out looking like a zombie snowman).

I'll resume my lunch photo posts when school returns in January.  Until then, happy holidays and happy feasting!

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Ten reasons to support your local student Nutcracker performance

All around the country, Nutcracker ballet performances are springing up like daisies.  From world reknowned New York City Ballet to the smallest dance studio, there's bound to be a Nutcracker near you.  Although you can't beat the grand sets and sheer perfection of the artists at professional ballet companies, there's something to be said for patronizing a Nutcracker performance from a local dance school, particularly  if you have a young child in tow and it will be his or her first Nutcracker.  I'm not saying that just because I happen to have a daughter who performs in her dance school's Nutcracker every year, I'm saying it as a parent who has been watching Nutcrackers, large and small.  Here are some great reasons to take your child to a small Nutcracker performance:

How to Make a Holiday Card Wreath

This year I've been looking for creative ways to display the holiday cards that we receive every year.  We usually string them over our doorways and windows, but I'm ready for a change.  Last week I wrote a post about how to make a holiday card holder to hang on your wall for the holidays.   Here's an alternative way to display your cards:  a card wreath.  It displays only 8 cards, so it's a great way to showcase your prettiest cards, or the cards that mean the most to you.  Here's how to make one:

What's for lunch this week?

Brie & cranberry panini, cucumbers with ranch dressing, blueberries

For our wedding anniversary this year, Alfie got me a panini press.  I know, it doesn't sound very romantic, but whenever I use it, it brings back memories of our lovely trip to Bruges this summer, eating panini and sipping espresso at a sidewalk cafe, so it's actually quite a romantic present.  Plus, it makes awesome panini.  Our poor grilled cheese sandwich maker is sitting in a cupboard, gathering dust!

Swedish Julbord celebration at IKEA

All I know about Swedish food, I've discovered at IKEA: lingonberries, Swedish meatballs, gravlax, crisp bread, herring with cream, Daim chocolate. I've always wondered whether the food at IKEA is truly representative of Swedish food, or whether it's as authentic as fortune cookies and sweet & sour pork are to Chinese food.  According to the internet (which is always right, isn't it?), those dishes really are traditional Swedish food, so when I found out about IKEA's annual Julbord last year, I decided to try it out and assume we were would be enjoying an authentic Swedish dining experience.

Julbord (pronounced "yuleboard") is the traditional Swedish Chrismastime smorgasbord, and once a year IKEA closes their restaurant early and has an all-you-can-eat feast.  Tickets to the feast are just $9.99 for adults and $2.50 for kids, so I figured that even if the kids just stuck to the usual Swedish meatballs, it would be totally worth it.

What's for lunch this week?

Burrito (I forgot what was inside it), extra lettuce, tortilla chips, strawberries & blueberries

The crazy holiday season is already starting to wreak havoc on my stress levels -- mail holiday cards!  decorate home!  supply cookies for class holiday party!  volunteer for Nutcracker!  shop for presents!  prepare for trip! lose sanity!   -- but so far I'm still managing to pack lunch every day.  I almost caved in one day and asked The Pea to buy a hot lunch at school instead, but she told me, "No, mom, the school lunches are so disgusting and unhealthy, I'd much rather have a packed lunch!".  With that kind of praise, how could I not pack her a lunch?!

How to make a holiday card holder

In England, giving, receiving and displaying holiday cards is a Big Deal, and it's a tradition I've come to look forward to every year.  Even in this age of Skype and Facebook updates, I still love receiving cards from friends and family, checking out the holiday photos, reading about what they've been up to, seeing how the kids have grown.  What's more, they look so pretty and festive -- hang them up, and they become instant holiday decor!