Monday, December 31, 2012

From my kitchen

I sure missed my kitchen while we were in the states.
Furlough = lots of eating out at restaurants and fast food.
We did get some delicious home cooked meals, which we enjoyed.
We love going out to eat too...but even that gets old after awhile.
Although I'm not the greatest cook
and I definitely don't make fancy food,
my family thinks I'm the greatest cook in the world.
So I'm getting settled in my kitchen,
getting used to preparing three meals a day again,
and TRYING to keep four growing kids full.

Puff Pancakes
quick, easy, and delicious

Homemade Eggnog
I found a recipe online and since our whole family likes eggnog this time of year, I decided I would give it a try. 
Delicious...everyone loved it!
Last time I made eggnog was about 6 or 7 years ago, but I was not real pleased with the recipe.  It was too runny and had raw egg in it.
I have now found a keeper!

Some people say the kitchen is the heart of the home,
since our family spends a lot of time there,
I guess I would have to agree.
How thankful I am for my kitchen -
a refrigerator, stove, oven, running water, sink, dishwasher, counter space,...
Sometimes I forget to be thankful for these "luxuries" until I don't have them.   

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Simple Christmas

Hi....I'm back!
It has been a long time, but I'm excited to once again write in my online journal.
Although this post is current, in the near future I will be rewinding and covering our time in the states.  For now, we'll focus on the time since our return to Estonia on November 30, 2012.

The journey from Visalia, California to Johvi, Estonia took a total of almost 24 hours.  It was so wonderful to be home, but we were exhausted.  

We left sunny California and 75 degree weather and were welcomed with blizzard like conditions when we landed in Tallinn.

Thankfully the windy, blizzard like weather was not the only thing that welcomed us.  Our first Sunday back we were warmly welcomed by a dear group of people that had been waiting for our return.

For the first week or two after we arrived, it snowed almost everyday.  Gentle falling snow is so beautiful and peaceful.  I just love the view from our living room window.

view from living room
One thing that is hard to adjust to is the lack of light and sunshine during the winter.

8:00 a.m.

4:00 p.m.

Christmas preparations, celebrations, cooking, and activities started right after our return.  We didn't even have much time to get over jet lag (which Ron and I seemed to have a bad case of).  The kids didn't like the idea of not putting up the tree this year (I didn't like it either, but most days I was so tired that the idea was slightly temping).  So, we got the tree out of storage and decked our house for the holidays.

a Christmas tree lot in the parking lot of a large store
We had a simple Christmas this year.  I just didn't have time to do and prepare all that we normally do - bake lots of cookies (specifically sugar cookies), gingerbread house, pumpkin bread, etc.  But I will share some of the things we did do....

To focus more on the true meaning of Christmas, we made a paper chain and each chain had a portion of the Christmas story to read before bed.  It also had a question or two to answer and we shared a lot of thoughts about all the events concerning Jesus' birth.

our chain
 I also wrapped up books we had about winter and Christmas time.  The kids took turns choosing a book, unwrapping it, and then I read it to them.  This was fun mostly because we all did it together.

Caleb choosing his book
One of the kids' favorite activities was the ticket they found on their pillow when they went to bed  allowing them to get back up for hot chocolate and Christmas cartoons.  I was the coolest mom in the world that night!

Everyone of these activities was fun, special, and didn't cost a thing!

We were a little more creative in our gift giving this year - even the stockings.  Each person wrote a note for the other family members telling them something specific that made them special.  For example:  my note to Andrew told him what a gentleman he is to always open doors for me.  Ron really got in the spirit and made paper snowflakes to write his notes on.  We were all very impressed.
We also wanted to remember to be thankful for all the wonderful things the Lord blessed us with during our time in the states.  Many people gave us gifts, love offerings, gift cards, took us out to eat, we took a nice family vacation, etc.  So we all worked on a list of special things and activities and then read them Christmas morning.  We didn't need much under the tree to realize that the Lord blessed us abundantly in 2012.

our traditional *Christmas Day in front of the tree with a sign* picture

We had a delicious meal, but I must admit that I cheated a little by using some canned and pre-made items.  It just made my day easier :)

Sarah and I working on the pumpkin pie
 The menu:
a store bought seasoned chicken (Ron cooked it)
sweet potatoes
mashed potatoes
green bean casserole (brought canned soup from the states)
dinner rolls (made from scratch)
I forgot to make the stove top stuffing mix from the states :(  (we had it the next day with leftovers)
pumpkin pie (homemade crust, canned pumpkin from the states)
Everything was delicious!!!

ready to eat
Johvi, Estonia
We hope your Christmas celebration was as blessed as ours.  No, not with THINGS, but remembering that JESUS is the reason for the season.  He has blessed me with far more than I deserve.


Before I close this {lengthy} post, I'd like to welcome any new readers.  We met so many wonderful people as we traveled all over the United States.  I missed writing and communicating with you and look forward to catching up.  I'd love to hear from you too - leave a comment or send me an email.  
We also have a facebook page WINKLERS TO ESTONIA that you can *like*.  I keep that updated often with prayer requests, praises, and pictures.
Looking forward to keeping in touch with you!


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