Tuesday, November 24

Christmas at the Carters

I heart Christmas.

Growing up, we had a lot of fun Christmas traditions.  We did the classic ones - Christmas light drive, visits to Santa, cookie baking, etc.  But we did some different things also.  On Christmas Eve my brother and I would make pallets on the floor at the foot of our parents bed & sleep in their room.  I don't know how they managed to sneak out for their "Santa duties," but they did.  My brother and I always had a pact to take shifts and stay awake to try & listen for Santa's reindeer.  Of course, one of us always fell asleep during our shift & was to blame when we both awoke Christmas morning and we hadn't heard those famous bells!  Oh, the magic of childhood Christmases.  

We also learned at a young age how important it was to serve others, rather than being served.  We were fortunate to grow up and not really want for anything, but I knew there were many people that were not as fortunate.  My mom always took us and a few friends down to a homeless mission between Thanksgiving and Christmas to serve lunch one day.  A few of us would help in the back with the food preparation, and the rest of us would serve.  It was definitely an eye-opening experience.  I would love to continue this tradition, or something similar, with my little family as it grows.  Right now we participate in our church's Angel Tree ministry, which is a well-known Christmas ministry.  Our church puts up various trees in different locations that have paper angels written with a child's name and one or two gifts.  These children have one, or both parents in prison...which just breaks my heart.  You choose your angel, purchase the gifts listed and turn the wrapped gift in to be delivered.  It is a wonderful program and I am excited for Dane to choose his own angels as he grows.  

Another fun (& unique!) tradition we had was started by my Dad - and is so easy!  He would "disguise" our gifts so we never knew which ones were ours.  For example, one year all of the tags that said "Abigail" were actually my brother's and vice versa.  Another year all of mine had the bow in the right corner, his in the left.  So we always had to try and find out the puzzle of whose gifts belonged to who.  So fun!  

Below is the Carter Christmas list of 2015.  Fun family activities I would love to do this holiday season.

What are your favorite family traditions for the holidays?  I am always looking for new ideas to add to the list!

Merry, Merry to you!

Monday, November 16

All-American Chili

Happy Monday!  Need a quick & cozy dinner for this week?  Try my "All-American Chili!"  It is a Carter family favorite + so easy!

All-American Chili

* 2 lbs lean ground beef (or turkey)
* 28oz can diced tomatoes
* 28oz can tomato PUREE (not tomato paste or sauce)
* 1 can light red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
* 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinced
* 1 yellow onion, diced
* 1 red pepper, diced
* 1-2 t garlic powder
* 2 T chili powder
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* salt & pepper 

Directions: Brown your ground beef (or turkey) and add in chopped onion & red pepper.  Drain.  At this point, I add everything else into a crock pot, throw in the meat, and simmer on low for a few hours.  You could also put everything in your stock pot and cook on high until it is heated through.  We always top ours with oyster crackers, cheese, sour cream & green onions!  I like to serve ours with veggies & dip + a poppyseed mozzarella bread that I make.  YUM! Enjoy!