This time of year is so very busy. Decorating, presents and parties. But sometimes thing stop in an instant and attention must be refocused. That’s where we are at now. I’ll pick back up here when I can.
Month: December 2022
I love Christmas songs, and I love singing them all through the holiday season. But I’m not a big fan of caroling, at least not when it’s just our family singing to others, although I do enjoy singing around the piano with just our family. We do have a large family that comes caroling to our house every year, and it’s been super fun to see them grow to a huge extended family. I love music especially Christmas music. Music has a tendency to change the mood or feel of any situation. Christmas carols, to me, feel like peace, happy, joy, comfort, love.
This time of year, I tend to play the piano more frequently for people. This year I have the opportunity to play for the Elementary school. I haven’t done that for about 3 years. I got to the point where I was needing a break, but this year I decided to go back and play. I haven’t practiced as much, but as I played, I remembered how much fun it is to listen to children sing Christmas songs. They’re also funny to watch as they try their best to stand up and sing without too much fidgeting or messing around. It adds a whole different dimension to the Christmas carols when sung in a school concert associated with the animation of the kids who really get into the songs.
I play the piano for the Primary each Sunday, and the last few weeks have been all Christmas type songs. Today the song was about the Nativity, and it was fun to watch each child pick a piece of the Nativity to sing about. Each one had a little part in the song, and they were so excited to help and sing together. They didn’t know the words very well, but the adults did pretty well filling in the blanks, and the kids loved hearing the Christmas story in song. It was a fun singing time. I also have had, and will have on Christmas day, several more opportunities to accompany adults singing or playing instruments. Each one of these gives me opportunity often to learn a new song, always practice more, which is great, and opportunity to hear the different Christmas carols in unique arrangements that give the songs added beauty.
I love going to listen to Christmas music being sung and played as well, and one of the things my girls and I have enjoyed doing is going to our communities Messiah performance. This happens most years the beginning of December, and it’s a fun opportunity to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and the Savior of this fallen and broken world. We can look to Him for healing and help, not just at Christmas, but all year long. This Messiah concert was a little bit unique, however. They have 2 performances each year, and the first, 4 hours earlier, went on without any trouble. But the 7:00 performance was delayed. Something had happened in between the two sessions and the sound system had stopped working.
The sound technicians worked frantically trying to troubleshoot as well as set up temporary equipment so they could start. Moments after we were updated that it would take some time to get things fixed/changed, the choir started to sing a Christmas carol. The audience joined in and for the next 15 or so minutes as they set up temporary speakers and microphones, we sang together many of the timeless, beloved songs of Christmas. Those beautiful carols brought such a sweet spirit to the whole group, and if we had only done that, I would have left feeling lighter and happy that we had come. They did get things working, and the performance was inspiring as always, but the caroling is what I will remember from this year.
This season is magical, and the music is part of what makes it magical. I hope you take time to listen and even sing the songs of the season, and remember above all, that Jesus is the reason this season is so magical. This little video clip is from my Instagram page. It’s a short clip of the singing that happened before the Messiah began.
When I was a kid, my mom taught us about our family history through food. At least, if I remember correctly, that is where this particular dish came into our lives. Danish Aebleskivers are a fun little round pancake type food with an applesauce center, or at least the ones that we had. I loved these growing up but had forgotten about them as an adult until one day while walking through a local store during the holidays, I found an aebleskiver pan! I was so excited to share this fun breakfast treat with my family!
For quite a number of years I made aebleskivers for Christmas breakfast. Over the years I started to change how I made them. I simplified to using a pancake or waffle batter. I started with applesauce like I had remembered, for the filling, but then I started to branch out and put jams and jellies from our summer harvest in the center. These turned out fantastic and is the way my kids prefer to eat them. I tried putting a whole chunk of fruit one year. That didn’t work very well as the fruit never even got warm in the middle because of how quickly they cook, and the batter never really cooked around the fruit. I think there was just too much liquid around the fruit. I switched back to the jams and jellies because they seem to work the best.
As the years past, and our kids got older and hungrier, I had to start making an increasing number of these little balls, and then we reached one Christmas where I couldn’t make them fast enough. The kids ate every batch as it came out of the pan, and I don’t believe I got more than one or two that year. I decided that was it. It took over an hour to make enough for the kids, and that wasn’t how I wanted to spend my Christmas morning. I told them I was done making aebleskivers for Christmas breakfast.
My kids, however, have never forgotten how much they loved them, and every year at least one, if not all of them, request aebleskivers to be put back on the Christmas morning menu. This year as I was pondering on how to make this more efficient, I decided that maybe I could make them earlier in the month and then freeze them. This is what I have settled on doing, assuming we don’t get super busy next week with other Christmas activities.
I don’t have a great recipe to share with you today. I will be scouring the internet looking for one that looks like I want to try. But I do have a few tips for you. First off, you can buy an aebleskiver pan online, and if you’re really lucky, you might be able to find one at a local shop or good kitchenware store. When you are ready with your batter and chosen center filling, make sure you grease the pan well. I use butter and make sure there is a puddle in the bottom of each cup. Then, fill about 1/2 full of batter, use a small dollop of filling in the center, and then fill the cup almost to the top with more batter, encapsulating the filling in dough. Usually by the time I get the batter in, filling in, and batter over the top, they’re ready to flip. Make sure you go in order with each item so that you can begin at the beginning flipping. My pan is cast iron, so I use a metal spoon to flip them over. The first couple are always messed up, but after that it’s a pretty quick process to get them all flipped. Timing is really a feel thing. I always have a few uncooked centers in the first batch, but after that they’re usually all cooked through.
This was such a fun Christmas breakfast tradition, and I think that if I cook ahead that it can be a fun Christmas breakfast item again. I enjoy Christmas traditions, and this year I remember that even the ones that are a bit harder or more time consuming are still great traditions. One day my kids may not be here for Christmas morning breakfast, until then I think these traditions need to be kept or renewed as the case may be. And just maybe, when they have their own families and Christmas morning breakfasts, they’ll have Danish Aebleskivers at their houses too!
When I was in middle school one of the field trips, they did was a ski trip to Brian Head Ski Resort. I went when I was in 6th grade and kind of learned to ski. The next year they did it for the school, and then again for kids on the school honor society, so I got to go twice. I learned a little bit more, but still not great. In eighth grade I got to go twice again. In high school I had a friend who loved to downhill ski, and her family had a small cabin near one of the slopes at Brian Head, so I went with her a couple of times. I have decided however that I never went skiing near enough. I never became super comfortable with much more than the bunny hill. However, I did enjoy getting out and trying, knowing that I was skiing for the enjoyment of others as I sped down the hills and crashed, most often under the chairlift for all to see! But I always enjoyed going, and fortunately never got seriously injured.
When I came to Alaska I learned about a different kind of skiing, cross country skiing. This seemed to be more my speed as there was no speed involved. My husband bought me skis when I first arrived here, and I tried it out a couple of times but never really got the intricacies of how to cross country ski efficiently but did enjoy the little bit I did. But when my kids were in Elementary School, they had an afterschool cross country ski club. This is where I also learned to cross country ski. Several winters in a row I had the opportunity to ski as it was open to any parents who wanted to help out. Even when the ski club was over a bunch of us would get together and ski with our kids. I learned to really enjoy cross country skiing.
We have had a good covering of snow this year so far, and today it is snowing heavily. I thought it looked like it might finally be deep enough to cover all the little bushes in our swamp so that we could easily ski around our swamp. I asked my older son if he wanted to, and he excitedly said yes! At that point however I got apprehensive. It had been a year since I skied last, and I only skied a couple of times last year, so I felt out of practice. But my son wouldn’t let me back out, so we headed out with my daughter’s dog bouncing all around, excited that we were outside playing in the snow with her!
Once we got going, I was so glad he had insisted I not back out. I love being outside and this was just what I needed today. Looking out the window at the snow falling, drinking hot chocolate is always nice, and having a day or two like that once in a while is great. But once in a while it’s great to get out and enjoy the snow as well. I came back in this afternoon feeling refreshed and exhilarated, and I got to enjoy my cup of hot chocolate as well! I am grateful for the beauty that each season brings, and grateful for the beautiful place I have to enjoy every day! I am also grateful to enjoy different outdoor activities, even when I’m not super comfortable with my abilities to participate. Sometimes it’s better to just get out, make mistakes, and enjoy yourself anyway.
A couple of posts ago I shared that one of my favorite parts of winter, of the holidays specifically, was Hot Cocoa or Hot Chocolate. I am not sure the difference, but we call it Hot Chocolate at our house. I said that I would share the recipe at some point. Last night we got about 12 inches of snow and we have been out shoveling for some time this afternoon, so I think today is a great day to make some hot chocolate for my family!
Steph’s Hot Chocolate – makes 6 cups
1/3 C Cocoa Powder
3/4 C Granulated Sugar
1/3 C water
Pinch of Salt
6 C Whole Milk
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
Extras: Peppermint sticks, whipped cream, marshmallows, etc
In a 2-quart saucepan mix together the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, salt, and water until smooth. Whisk in the milk and heat on medium low heat. Do not boil! Heat and stir until it is the temperature you enjoy drinking hot chocolate at. If you have smaller kids, make sure it’s not too hot. Remove from heat, whisk in the vanilla. Pour into cups and add your extras. Enjoy!
I love hot chocolate almost any time of the year, but especially during the holidays or right after shoveling snow. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and if you make it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!