Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh the weather outside

Oh the weather outside is frightful normal for December in Minnesota!

We all had a great time out in the snow this morning and we're watching a bit more come down at this moment.

We have a crab apple tree in our front yard that attracts many bird during the wintertime. I saw several robins in the tree and attempted to get pictures of them. I so need a better camera!!!!
So you see it in there?!?! Eating the berries?!?!
So, on this snowy winter day, enjoy the ones you are stuck with blessed to have at home with you, sip some hot chocolate, and let it snow!!!

THE BEST ham and cheese sandwiches

Seriously, my friends, I found the best recipe for ham and cheese sandwiches using leftover Christmas ham. Mmmmmm. The recipe (along with a few pictures) is posted below!

In a small pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons flour over the melted butter and cook for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1 cup milk and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Season it with some nutmeg, salt, pepper and cook until it thickens up.

Spread some sauce onto each slice of bread, then lay down ham and Swiss cheese, then top each sandwich with remaining piece of bread.

Place a skillet over medium-high heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter. In a bowl, whisk up 2 eggs. Dip sandwiches in the egg.
Take sandwiches from the egg mixture to the hot pan. Cook until golden brown.
Let the sandwiches cool for a couple minutes on a plate -- if your family can leave them alone that long -- and watch them disappear! ENJOY!!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Our Christmas letter

This year we are trying to conserve our resources, save trees, become more "green"........ahem, who am I kidding.......we're simply trying to save money by not spending it on pictures and stamps so I'm posting our Christmas letter here.

I, for one, am happy to see 2009 go. I know that's not a typical thing to see in a Christmas letter. Usually it's all about being thankful, being blessed, etc etc. While I know we are blessed, I'd rather not go through 2009 again. It was a tough year. Plain and simple. Jeff and I went through some serious relationship struggles (if you want to read more about that click here), an extended job loss (Jeff's still looking), serious depression, and possible foreclosure. It has been easy to feel sorry for myself and ask God "why us?". But that isn't the kind of person I want to be and it isn't what I want to teach the kids either.

This Christmas I have taken time to stop and really think about that very first Christmas.

I have been through labor and delivery 4 times....3 of those times were fast, painful, and drug-free. But I was in the hospital with constant supervision from nurses, very competent doctors, a nursing student, whoever else might have walked in, and most importantly my husband. I was also 26 years old when I gave birth to my first child.

But what about Mary??? Here is a young teenage unmarried girl, pregnant, traveling on an animal for miles, uncomfortable, possibly with swollen ankles and contractions, going into labor and only being able to find shelter in a barn -- with the animals making all their noises, pooping, regurgitating....ok, so I don't know for sure if that was going on but it was a barn with animals in it -- going through the pain and agony of an unmedicated birth with only her teenage fiance to help her! And there she gave birth to the most influential baby of all time....Jesus! The thought of that brings tears to my eyes. When Mary kissed her little baby, she was kissing the face of God! Wow!

Then my thoughts turn to Joseph. What must he have been thinking?!?! His young fiance just gave birth to a baby that wasn't his! I'm sure the birth was a scary thing for him to experience as well. And what about the unbelieveable pressure to be the earthly father to the Son of God!

Those are just a couple of the things I've been pondering over the past month. I can honestly say that regardless of the difficulties we've had we are an extremely blessed family. We have been blessed financially when we felt like there was no hope. We have been blessed by friendships when we desperately needed friends. We have been blessed by prayer support from people we know and people we've never met before. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to those blessings.

Onto the updates!
Noah is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. For the most part he enjoys school. He is doing work that is beyond me....already! I knew the day would come when I would not be able to help him with his homework but I didn't think it would come in 3rd grade! Thank goodness one of Jeff's favorite subjects is math so he can help Noah with his algebra! Yes, you read that right. Algebra in 3rd grade. I'm just thankful our school has the resources to continue challenging students like Noah.

Abby is 8 years old and in 2nd grade. She is definitely our "social butterfly" and loves to be at school to see all her friends. Hmm...doesn't sound like anyone I know! (hehehehe) She has the same teacher Noah had last year which is really fun. She does enjoy science, math, and art. She wasn't able to participate in dance this year since we couldn't afford it. But she's looking forward to getting back into it someday. She has been helping lead singing at church on the Kids Worship Team before Sunday School and loving every minute of it.

Joey is 6 years old and in 1st grade. He adjusted very well to his first year of "all day" school and really likes his teacher. Joey has the same teacher Abby had last year. It's been so much fun to see him progress with his reading and his math skills. He just started helping lead singing on the Kids Worship Team before Sunday School at church. He is the first boy to help out and he's loving it!

Eli is 2 years old -- turning 3 in January! He is a bundle of energy and misses his brothers and sister so much while they're at school. His favorite thing to do is greet them at the front door when they get off the bus every afternoon. He squeals with delight when he sees them. It warms a mommy's heart. He still doesn't talk much but definitely finds ways to get his point across. He's also had his share of accidents over the last couple months. The beginning of Nov he burned the palm of his hand on a hot burner on our stove which sent us to the ER. It was a very bad 2nd degree burn which we kept wrapped for over a month. Praise God it has healed completely with no lasting scars.
Jeff and I are looking forward to 2010 with hopeful anticipation. Like I said earlier, Jeff has been without a job since May and suffered through a deep depression this summer. The end of August he went back to school for some art classes which he dearly loved! He is now looking for full-time work but still planning to take a couple classes this next semester (1 online and 1 on Saturday mornings).
I am still at home with Eli and trying to maintain the house...and everything that goes with that. It's definitely busy but I love every minute of it.
I pray that all of you have a very Merry Christmas and take time to think about the reason we matter what the situation you find yourself in.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A picuture is worth 1000 words

But Mommy, grocery shopping is exhausting!

Just an FYI....the purple marks on Eli's cheek is his attempt at face painting.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Crockpot lasagna recipe

Ok.....I promised to post this recipe so here it is! (I have no photos to go along with it. Sorry!)

1 lb ground beef
1 jr (26 oz) spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 container (15 oz) Ricotta cheese
1 pkg shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 egg
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
lasagna noodles, uncooked

Brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in spaghetti sauce and water.

Mix ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese, egg and parsley in another bowl.

Spoon 1 cup meat sauce into slow cooker; top with layers of half each of the noodles, broken to fit, and cheese mixture. Cover with 2 cups meat sauce. Top with noodles, broken to fit, cheese mixture and meat sauce. Cover.

Cook on LOW 4-6 hours or until liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with remaining cheese; let stand, covered, 10 min or until melted. *for best results do NOT cook on high*

Serve to very hungry family members and watch as they devour it! hahahaha At least mine did.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cookie making/Christmas tree getting day

It's been quite a day at the Mattfield house today. The kids did not have school (teacher workshop) so it was really busy. And FUN!!! I had the privledge of making homemade sugar cookies with my kids, using the same recipe my mom used making cookies with me. Brought back memories of creaming the sugar and butter together by hand (no Kitchenaid mixer!), using the old wooden rolling pin to roll out the dough, using the little metal Christmas cookie cutters....I pray my children will look back with as much fondness on our time together as I do on my time with my mom.

Plus, this is the best sugar cookie recipe I've ever had! I made sure I hand-wrote it on a sheet of paper before I got married just so I'd have the exact same recipe as my mom. Here it is.....
Sift -- very important to sift -- 1 1/2 cups confectioner sugar into a bowl with 1 cup of butter.

Mix in 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/2 tsp almond extract.

In a separate bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp creme of tartar. *On a side note, the creme of tartar is very important. I learned that the hard way!* Add 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture at a time to the wet ingredients, mixing well.

Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in saran wrap, and place in the refrigerator for 3 hours. Take it out and let it stand 15 minutes before rolling out the dough.

Find a few children who are excited about rolling out dough and cutting out cookies to help you! Worked well for me today! Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.

You should have cookies that look something like this. Place them on a cooling rack to cool before trying to frost them. *Again, spoken from experience! (ahem)*

When cookies are cooled, get "said children" plus 1 to come back and have a frosting party. Be prepared to clean up lots and lots of frosting and sprinkles off the table and floor. But seeing their "art work" and huge smiles is well worth it!
TA DA!!!!! Finished product. Yummmmmmmm. Please let me know what you think if you try the recipe.

Then our day took us to going to look for a real Christmas tree for the basement. Of course we chose the coldest evening so far to go looking. 20 degrees with a cold wind --- BRRRR!!!!

But, we were successful! *Doesn't Joey (standing in the front in the red jacket) look freezing?!?!?! He ran right to the van as soon as this picture was taken.*

Jeff did the cold work of getting the tree tied down to the roof of the van while the kids warmed up inside. We are extremely thankful for a roof rack to tie it to! hahahaha Then it was home to eat the yummiest (is that a word?) lasagna I have ever made.....and it was in the crockpot! I will post that recipe another time. Trust will be well worth the wait!