Sunday, November 29, 2009


Today is the beginning of the Advent season. As this season tends to be so busy and filled with distractions, we as a family are trying to make a concerted effort to focus on Christ.

Advent calendars and wreaths are very popular in Austria, so for our evening family worship times we are going to use a combination of the two. We will light our wreath at dinner and then for our devotions, I printed out scripture verses that remind us of the real reason of Christmas and put it in our little tree with boxes. You could also just break down the Christmas story taken from Luke 1-2. (I adapted this from an Advent chain idea found HERE and HERE)

Then after worship, the kids will get to have a small treat from the numbered stockings, counting down the days until Christmas.

Our family also has really enjoyed reading Mary's First Christmas, by Walter Wangerin Jr. and The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski in years past.

What are some of the things your family does to celebrate the Christmas season?

Saturday, November 28, 2009


*Our turkey was stuffed to the gills with garlic, carrots, celery root and herbs

*Our bellies were significantly stuffed with delicious desserts

*and our living room was "stuffed" with a table full of dear friends!

We indeed are blessed and thankful!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


We have lived in Austria for 2 1/2 years now and this Thanksgiving feels the most like previous Thanksgivings in America. Although we are missing our family, we have developed a sweet American community who we can share this tradition with! Our feast will actually be on Friday evening, as our kiddos have school, but the preparations have already begun.

Preparing the turkey...
Of course we are thankful for the ability to find turkeys in the bigger grocery stores (although they are smaller than in America, about 9 pounds was the biggest I could find)- still my oven is not too big, so I will be cooking one bird tomorrow and one on Friday. We will eat the one fresh out of the oven first and then if need be, will dive into the already carved one. This is my first attempt at brining.

I used my friend Heather's recipe of:
1 gallon of water
1 cup of salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
10 cloves of garlic (I used about 6 instead)
black peppercorns
and a few bay leaves

I pureed the herbs, onion and garlic with some water and then added the brown sugar, the salt and the rest of the water and poured it over my turkey. Because I don't have a lot of fridge space either, I put the bird in a small cooler and put it up on our terrace (lid closed) to hang out. We will see if this does the trick for a moist, delicious turkey! :)

Levi is preparing to look handsome with a fresh haircut...

And Milka is preparing to descend on all of the crumbs that make their way to the floor!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving Favorites

I love Thanksgiving and all of the food that goes along with the special day! Tonight I am getting my grocery list started and thought I would pass along some of my favorite recipes...

Here is the recipe for the Sweet Potato Casserole-taken from the Congressional Club Cookbook

3 cups sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Boil potatoes until tender, then peel and mash ( i would often just use canned)
Mix in sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and milk. Pour into 9X13 baking dish.
For topping, melt the butter and mix in remaining ingredients. Sprinkle on top of potato mixture. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

And here is Brad's Aunt Cheryl's recipe for the cranberry jello:

Aunt Cheryl's Wine Cranberry Mold
1 lg. pkg. sugar free raspberry jello
2 C. boiling water
16 oz. can whole cranberries
8 oz. crushed pineapple
3/4 cup good quality port wine or tawny port
1/4 C. chopped pecans
Dissolve jello in boiling water. Stir in cranberries, undrained pineapple and the wine. Chill until partially set. Fold in nuts. Pour into 6 1/2 C. mold and chill until firm (make day before).

And Chocolate-Pecan Pie
1/2 (15 ounce) package of refrigerated pie crust (or make from scratch)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Fit piecrust into 9 inch pie-plate

Sprinkle chopped pecans and chocolate chips evenly on piecrust- set aside.

Combine sugars, corn syrup and bourbon in a large saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Whisk together eggs and remaining ingredients. Gradually stir about 1/4 of the hot mixture into the egg mixture; add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly. Pour filling into piecrust. Bake at 325 for 55 minutes.

Taken from Southern Living


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Ready...

*We are getting ready to have company this weekend, so I think I will make this Savory Croissant breakfast pudding

*Abby is getting ready to go to a birthday party HERE tomorrow

*I am getting ready to make these for Christmas gifts

*And Levi is getting ready to be a future his latest affinity is going around the house without a shirt and flexing for anyone who asks :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009 me

All of these random photos were taken over the last 48 hours. As I was uploading them, I was reminded by how many beautiful people, places and things I am surrounded by...and I am very thankful to be so blessed!

*A little brother trying to be like his big brother

*A father and a daughter making sweet music together

*My girls enjoying one last Fall day

*My friend's baby, Isaiah sleeping soundly

*candied apples


*Milka pooch

*ornaments at the Rathaus Christmas Market

Psalm 100:1-5

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Favorites-Christkindlmarkts

They're back...beginning tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This week: A few words and pictures

This week:

*it has been raining a lot

*a boy in Abby's class told her he "loved her" and she responded "good for you" Ha!

*Luke has been making himself eggs for breakfast (while we sleep) and leaving notes like this behind...too sweet

*we rejoiced when Lindsay put an offer in on an apartment within walking distance from us

*I have been listening to this

*I had a good German lesson

*This man reminded me that I am living in Austria afterall... :)

*Brad started taking a Religious Sociology "block" class this week...meaning he has class all day for several days

*Abby decided she likes playing the guitar

*Levi has gone 4 days without any tears at school and if he goes 5, he can pick something from here

*I am hosting a breakfast and I will be making these cinnamon rolls featured in Bon Appetit, by Molly Wizenberg

*Brad was asked to speak at a "Pray Day" at Luke's public, Austrian bi-lingual school

*We have been memorizing the verse "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For his Mercy endures forever"...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Scenes from Reiten

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

It's picture day!

Remember "picture day" at school? Well, this morning in our house there was all sorts of braiding, curling and overall primping in preparation for the big day :)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Feelin' all Festive...

I don't know if it is the snow that is falling or the fact that Lindsay let me borrow her copy of the November RealSimple issue...but I am feelin' all festive.

I just signed up for this

I wish I would have ordered my Christmas cards from here
but I ordered them from here

this is certainly on my want list (hint hint)

and this Kate Rusby Christmas CD will definitely get you in the spirit of the Holidays...


Fall is trying hard to stick around...but winter keeps unexpectedly appearing. This morning we woke up to snow again. This always makes the kiddos happy, and I myself thought it would be the perfect day to stay warm and dry inside and re-group.

I don't even know if "re-group" is an official word, but after a crazy weekend like we had, I find it necessary to dig through the piles of clothes that accumulated over the weekend, catch up on e-mails that got neglected and just sort of get things about our house back in order.

On Thursday, Lindsay arrived and Abby and I also went to the theater. On Friday, some friends from our former life in Florida, came to visit Vienna and spent the day with us. It was great to catch up and have our kids meet each other. On Saturday we had an impromptu Halloween party and our neighbors obliged us and let us do some Trick or Treating. The kids just pulled costumes from our dress-up box and kiddos from our building came and played and watched some Halloween movies. So low-key and fun. Sunday was rest and church. Monday the kiddos didn't have school, so we spent the day at Bogi park with friends. It was a full, fun and long weekend!

So today was our first team meeting with Lindsay, and then mostly re-grouping, in between 2 trips to pick up the kiddos from school.

Along with sticking around the house today, I made cookies and ate them for breakfast and lunch. :) (We all need days like this right?) They were the perfect energy boost, when all I really wanted to do was crawl back under the covers and watch the snow fall!