I've Fallen In Love Many Times...

...always with you

Six years ago we walked down the aisle at Packer Chapel and said our I do's.

Packer Chapel

I knew then that I was marrying the love of my life; my best friend and confidant. What I did not know was how greatly my love for you would grow with each passing year.

Sayre Mansion

Thank you for being such a loving husband to me and caring father to EJ. I look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries with you.

Bethlehem Ice House

Here is a video 007 made for us that superbly captures all the little moments that led up to the big one!

Let It Snow

We had our first snow today. Out came the sleds, winter clothes and boots. We were excited to take EJ out on the hill and see if she had any Alaskan blood in her.

Despite being bundled up like Randy in A Christmas Story, EJ enjoyed every bit of it. We took her for a couple runs down the hill in the toboggan and let her taste first snowflakes. This was the kind of snow they sing about in the Christmas carols.

It has been snowing for the last ten hours and if the weather forecast is correct we should have another ten hours of accumulation to enjoy tomorrow. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Christmas Goose

What traditions will be a part of our holiday celebrations for years to come? This is a question we ask ourselves more now that we have a little one and her holiday memories are being created.

We remember with much fondness all the wonderful things we did each year with our families. If any of those traditions had been omitted or changed, the holiday just would not have been the same. Going to a candlelit Christmas Eve service, cutting down a tree, and baking Christmas cookies are just some of the traditions we have carried over. There is still room for more traditions to be made and the Christmas Goose is one we would like to continue!

Avia picked up a ten pound goose from the local butcher and DaddyO picked out this recipe. There was a flurry of activity in the kitchen as we prepared our Christmas dinner feast. There was fresh baked bread, pomegranate spinach salad, green beans, and goose fat fried potatoes.

frying the potatoes

tossing the salad

and setting the table

Looking back again at how the Cratchit's enjoyed their Christmas dinner so many years ago, it is amazing how little things change...

Master Peter, and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course -- and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped.

At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah!

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate it all at last. Yet every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows

This was just the beginning of another Christmas tradition!

Plum Pudding

Plum pudding was one of the Christmas Eve traditions I enjoyed with my family when I was young. I remember my mom picking up suet from the butcher, the dried and candied fruit from the grocer, and the rum from the liquor store the week before Christmas.


She would mix the ingredients Christmas Eve morning and then steam the pudding just before we left for our candlelight church service.


When we returned home the house had a wonderful smell of cinnamon and spices. We sat in the living room by the light of the Christmas tree, waiting for my mom to bring the flaming cake into the room.

My mom decided we needed to bring this tradition back, and I think it will be one we continue for years to come with EJ.

Here is a wonderful passage in Dicken's A Christmas Carole that brilliantly describes the plum pudding tradition...

Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone – too nervous to bear witnesses – to take the pudding up and bring it in.

Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose – a supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.

Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered – flushed, but smiling proudly – with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage.

Koziar's Christmas Village

How far do you have to travel to see the "Best Christmas Display in the World"? If you live in Pennsylvania, not very far.

This was our first time visiting this Christmas wonderland, and what a treat it was! We have seen some beautiful Christmas displays in our travels but nothing has compared to the amount of lights and displays we enjoyed at at Koziar's.

The drive down the hill towards the farm is magical. I have heard that the traffic to get into Koziars can be a couple hours long, but we were able to get in right away and there were not any long lines. It might have been the fact that the temperature was in the thirties. The majority of the things to see are outside but fortunately my mom had been warned about going in the cold and we were well prepared. We did have to make a few stops in the outlying building to warm up with some apple cider, but that just added to the fun of the winter night.

This will be even more enjoyable for EJ as she gets older!

Allentown Fairground Farmers Market

The Lehigh Valley is heavily influenced by the "Pennsylvania Dutch" who immigrated here from Germany before the Revolution War. A visit to my parent's local farmers market reminded us of how strong that influence still is.

DaddyO was excited to discover Mr. Bill's Poultry Market.

What an incredible selection of sausage,
all natural chicken sausage no less!

It was difficult picking just a few to try for dinner, but here are the ones we decided on: artichoke calamata olive, apricot jalapeno, spinach feta, and wild mushroom asiago cheese chicken sausages. I am looking forward to trying more the next time we visit.

We could not leave without picking up some peppers and onions to go with the sausage...

Rosette Cookie Recipe

Rosettes bring a wonderful Christmas market smell to the air and are delicious to eat hot out of the pan. I grew up in Minnesota which probably explains why my family would make this Norwegian cookie at Christmas time.

It is probably easier to enjoy Rosettes without seeing how they are made, but if you have a rosette iron and want to try a fun and unusual cookie, here is the recipe!

Beat until blended:
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

stir alternately into the egg mixture:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk

beat until smooth

If you are using a thin 3/4-inch high rosette mild, the Crisco/oil needs to be about 2 1/2 inches deep. Heat the fat to between 325 to 350 degrees.

prepare the iron by dipping first in the hot fat;

then dip in the batter, but do not let it run over the top of the iron.

Hold the batter-coated iron over the fat a moment before completely immersing 20 to 30 seconds, or golden brown.

Remove the rosette with a fork. Reheat the iron in the deep fat and repeat the process. Drain the rosettes on paper towels and dust with confectioners' sugar.

These tasty little cookies are ready to be enjoyed!

Silver Bells, Silver Bells...

...it's Christmas time in the city.

We made our annual Christmas trek into Manhattan to enjoy all the excitement the city brings to the holiday. There are too many "musts" to fit into one day, but here is our list for this year!

#1 Time Square Church Christmas Play

balcony seats

This is our favorite church to visit when in NYC. Times Square Church is located in an old Broadway theater in the heart of Times Square. Its pastor, David Wilkerson, braved the meanest streets of New York thirty years ago to tell desperate and drug crazed youth that there was a better way. His message of Christ transformed the life of the notorious gang leader Nicki Cruz. Both of their stories were made famous in the book and then movie called "The Cross and the Switchblade" starring Pat Boone and Erik Estrada. I highly recommend the book and movie.

Times Square Church's Christmas productions are always top notch. This year was "Christmas Around the World". Admission is free but you need to get there a couple hours early to reserve your seats, they go fast!

#2 Times Square

#3 Rockafeller Christmas Tree

Just a short walk north is the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. It was as beautiful as ever!

#4 FAO Schwartz
And a few more blocks north is my favorite toy store. It was a treat to get to show EJ it for the first time. The classics are always there as well as some new and innovated toys.
front door service

is it alive Grandpa?

checking out the baby dolls

can't leave without seeing the teddy bears

#5 Central Park
Nativity Scene

#6 Union Square Christmas Market

A car ride south down Park Avenue, past Grand Central Station and the Empire State Building, brings you to a German style Christmas market on the edge of Union Square. This was a first for us and we enjoyed it. The vendors sold handcrafted items from around the world and there were some tasty desserts and drinks to try.

teas and spices

warmed up with the hot chocolate

#7 Venieros

Christmas or not, we always end our time in the city with a stop at this amazing pasticceria and cafe on E. 11th Street. We usually get a slice of rum cake or cannoli and coffee in the cafe but this year we got a box of delicious pastries to go. It was difficult waiting till we got home to sample the desserts, but, as always, it was totally worth the wait. Thank you Juliet for introducing us to this little gem so many years ago!

Next year is Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes!

Oh Christmas Tree

On the search for the tree

We headed to the country to find the perfect Christmas tree. Normally this family tradition takes a long trek around the tree farm and much discussion and debate before the perfect tree is found.

choices, choices

This year the search was much shorter. My three brothers could not make it, my parents had already put up their main tree, and we were more aware of the freezing cold now that we had an eleven month old. We still found the perfect tree, or at least what we thought was the perfect tree, and EJ had a blast petting the farm animals and riding the hay wagon.

cutting it down
ready to take home

petting the sheep and goats
girl scout bake sale

Little Sack of Sugar

I love watching EJ and Capri play. When I hear a giggle or a bark I know they have found something to play with together. Usually it is one of EJ’s stuffed toys; in this case it was a sock.

Advent Christmas Tree

This was the first Christmas gift I gave DaddyO when he was a flight student in Pensacola. He was living in an apartment and didn't have any decorations up. I could not let him get away without having a tree so I found this little evergreen and made it into an advent calendar. It now is one of the decorations that we put up every year and has become part of our Christmas traditions. When EJ is older I will start filling the boxes with presents that she can open each day.

The presents under the tree are matchboxes covered in origami paper. They are and numbered on the bottom from 1 to 25.

"Little Aviator" Dolls

What more could a child want than their very own "Little Aviator" doll? At least that is what I hope EJ thinks when she finds one of these under the tree on Christmas morning.

These little guys (and gal) are inspired by the kokeshi dolls I collected while living in Japan.

EJ loves playing with the Japanese dolls but since most of them were found at shrine sales and thrift shops I'm not sure how child safe they are. I thought it would also be fun for her to have some of her own that she can pretend with as she gets older. Who better to start with than her daddy!

I started with bare wood

then painted them

and finished!

EJ can imagine any expression she wants on the face and she will finally have someone to pilot her wooden airplane and helicopter!

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