Holiday Wrap 2016

As this Holiday comes to a wrap, here’s our toast to the Christmas season. Filled with a LOT of work by mom, plenty of homemade gifts and a double dose of running! We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. (in pictures)


Following my stint as 4-H helper, my boys kept requesting gingerbread houses of their own. I ended up hosting a house making event at our house for our boys and their cousins who also live in Redding. It was an interesting social experiment and fun filled day, wait hour.


The boys and their houses. Brendon was really into doing a nice house and yard. Only after this did he decide to hold the frosting bag to his lips. Oh my! they had so much sugar. John had lots of help by dad, but also refrained from over ingestion of candy until after his house was finished.


Aaaannndddd, the girls….well, let’s just say, Sugar is king for them and they had a hard time getting their houses to stand or stay decorated with all the **candy** about


Pretty much sums it up.


Brendon’s class put no their own Christmas concert and his teacher let him play Up on the Housetop, which he had learned as his special music for piano lessons this December. He is loving his new school!


As part of the whole school Winter Elective Showcase, the boys sang with their choir group. I was pleasantly surprised by how much they knew, despite them NEVER singing for us. They have opted of choir next semester and I might also mention, I completely embarrassed myself at said event. Completely by accident. #longlivegrandpaharley


The Cardenas/Galvin Christmas was supposed to be “handmade” and these were my offerings. The ornaments (left) were for my nieces and nephews. The remainder of my gifts were store bought and some didn’t even follow the Handmade rule at all *cough, Carmen, cough*. Regardless the food was delicious and the many, many boys stayed outside. Adult bliss.


The boys received these mustaches. John promptly put this on and said, “Moostachio” Me: Is that a character? John: You know, the nuts I can’t eat. Me: Oh, Pistachio. Haha.


As rare as a unicorn, we traveled to Chico ON Christmas Day. I know!! I can’t believe this happened, against my strict stay at home in jammies all day Christmas policy. Buuuuttt, Hubby’s cousin I haven’t seen in likely 15 years, newish bride and new baby were there. Plus, we had a lot to discuss as the very top secret name of the newest McNulty set to arrive this Spring was accidentally leaked the day prior.


One thing I’ve made my boys do is hand written thank yous. I felt it necessary when we lived far from family. Although, I slacked a bit last year, I put the boys right on it after Christmas this year. There is just nothing like a hand written note in this digital age. Brendon wrote these all on his own, from a list of gifts he needed to thank people for and John dutifully signed his name and colored the hearts. May they always be thankful.


The Cardenas girls are about to embark on a new New Years Eve tradition. Making oodles and oodles of tamales. This photo is roughly one quarter of the amount made. All under the supervision of my grandmother. I may have also built a fire from scratch after several years lacking in practice. I was pretty proud of myself.


Last but not least. HAPPY NEW YEARS!!! With a toast from our favorite local winery and 15+ year old wine glasses. Here’s to 2017!

Sugar Sunday

If you’re from a rural area, you likely know about the club called 4-H. It’s a great program for school aged children, centered on character, stewardship and responsibility. Much of it is skill building – cake decorating, sewing, cooking, leatherwork, sugar beets, wood working (these are all the ones I took when I was in it in short stint in the program years ago). There is also a heavy animal focus – showing of market animals and a very popular dairy program in the Bowman area, where we get our milk.

Are my boys in 4-H? Well, no. In full disclosure, my hubby told me “You can kiss your 4-H dreams good bye” on one occasion, after overhearing me talk with one of my sisters about it for the third time in the same week. So, what can I say to that? Hmmm.

Two of my four sisters have kiddos in the program and one is the leader of the cooking group. If you know me at all, I’m FULL of ideas. Some practical and some spendy (Duarte Kitchen Remodel), but all full of enthusiasm. As a little background side story – Last year for our family Christmas gathering, I had the kiddos build gingerbread houses. I really wanted to judge them, but Vance talked me out of it saying I would probably end up making the kids cry. What?! Me????. Anyhow, fast forward to this year where above mentioned sister told me she wanted to do a Gingerbread house making event for her 4-H cooking group. Right on!!! We brainstormed and she was all set for Sunday’s meeting.


She also needed a little management support as word has clearly gotten out at how awesome she is and her group went from 4 last year to 15 this year. Oy vey! Another fun fact is that I will most definitely help if asked and my schedule allows. Plus, gingerbread houses?! Bring on the candy! Today was the day and there was a great turnout. 12 houses (13 if you count the 2yr old who had a two adult assist), one mixer in the trash, two stand in mixers rushed in midway through prep – one of which may not make another batch of anything after the royal icing beating it took today, and an overall well organized and orchestrated event.


The meeting was held at the old fire station. Did she mention I would have to climb these 23 severely angled stairs, carrying supplies in heeled boots, the day after running 18 miles? She did NOT. I very slowly made it to the top after a very audible sigh when my nephew opened the door.


My Station

I stayed in the kitchen for most of it, dubbed the “frosting slave”, pumping out the royal icing and keeping the after event clean-up to a minimum, by ongoing dish washing and tidying. One of my sister’s SILs also came in for an assist and one of her besties is in the cooking group, so we were well manned.

And some of the houses:


Top Row: (L) Tornado Christmas; (R) Christmas on a Budget …. Middle Row: (L) Tidy and festive; (R) Overflowing Spirit …….. Bottom Row: (L) Candy Village (R) Pathway to Christmas