Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Benner Christmas ringing in the New Year!

After our aforementioned low key Christmas at home, it was time to turn our attention towards preparing to host Jason's family for our holiday gathering. It was fun to anticipate having all our beds utilized for three nights (also including, of course, the fun-filled days together). I would say we made good use of almost every square foot of our quarters and the in-law quarters.

It would be hard to give the run down of everything packed into those few days but I'll give a list of my highlights and some photos to go along with them:

  • having the girls eager anticipation wear off on me - it's contagious when they are standing by the door practically quivering with excitement for the fun to begin!
  • being surprised by a small snow fall overnight that transformed the landscape
  • watching cousins getting to enjoy playing together (most of the time) - we had 6 little ones 4 and under
  • seeing the enthusiasm and fun had running Dad's train
  • adoring the littlest one in our midst - I even got a few stints of baby holding in, for which I was very grateful!
  • reading stories, playing games, putting puzzles together and especially time getting to know the two newest members of our family
  • a cold invigorating hike to the lake, giving an opportunity for more in depth conversations that I always cherish
  • the new year's eve party complete with new year's predictions reviewed from last year and new ones made, and having our wax fortunes told
  • seeing our girls have enough time to "warm up" with family they don't see often as we'd all like
  • Kali and Alida's enthusiasm for all the fun and silliness and how much they soak up the time all together and much much more...

Here they are...EAGER!

Surprise - none of us had been paying much attention to the forecast

Terah was found without many clothes on much of the time - we had the woodstove going much more than we do just for us so it was toasty

Terah was thrilled to get her hands on her baby cousin again...

She also enjoyed being verbal enough to be conversant with other relatives!

Alida and Kali assisted in preparations when Miss Eleanor Rosebottom once again wasn't able to come to our party at the last minute (it's amazing how she always has a good excuse at the last minute!)

We debated taking this down before the house was full of little people but we are SO GLAD we didn't!
The lake was covered in ice and snow and made some cool sounds. I was able to get that and part of a little impromptu dance off for you to enjoy:
Due to others making the trip and the fact that many families have little people to attend to, we offered to do more of the cooking this year. It felt good to share from our abundant supply of delicious food! I tried to do as much ahead of time so that I could also enjoy visiting while folks were here. It worked pretty well (though I have been grateful for leftovers since I haven't felt very inspired to do cooking this week!). We once again attempted to have our main holiday feast be a taste of Tangly Woods! While it was similar to last year's there were a few modifications so I'll give a quick run down of the menu here:

  • Salt-cured ham from one of our three pigs - boiled then oven-browned.
  • Roasted chickens, lightly seasoned, with gravy
  • Pinto beans (we grew!), with sauteed onions and garlic and homemade mozzarella from our local milk share.
  • Homemade ricotta and farmer's cheese from the same milk source for anyone that wished for more cheese!
  • Mashed potatoes (from our garden)
  • Steamed turnips (from our garden)
  • Steamed green beans (from our garden)
  • Corn (gleaned from a local organic farm and frozen)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes with garlic (both from our garden)
  • Sorghum bread (made with sorghum we gleaned next door and ground into flour, and barley flour from barley we grew, along with yogurt from our local milk share and our eggs)
  • Butter we made from our local milk and jam from our fruits
  • Red beet eggs (eggs from our chickens and beets from our garden)
  • And the non-local dish: Cranberry relish (but it passed the screening process because we picked them ourselves on a visit to my folks' place in West Virginia!)
I'll end here with one picture showing proof that I wasn't in the kitchen the entire time - which was mostly thanks to folks taking turns helping with the dishes. Terah even let me have a turn with her baby cousin. She was a little less possessive this time, which was nice for me (and others). I think it was probably more than there were so many distractions and plenty of exciting things to do!
Before folks starting packing up to go back to their respective abodes, there was the annual reading of the candy book. I got my pictures before some kids got restless and it became difficult to read the book, for the little hands eager to get their hands on the book! But it was a lovely peaceful scene for a few moments anyway!

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