28 December 2010

The Morn of the Eve

On December 24, we woke up to lots more snow.

So much snow that our church's "crib service" was cancelled, so we didn't go to church on Christmas Eve, which felt very strange.

(About the term "crib service": Again, Anglican church. I'm not totally clear on this, but I think it's because all the kids are invited to come dressed up as a figure from the nativity.)

This day we made a lot of things.

1. Words (kind of).

Clara loves to "write." (Quotation marks suggest mocking; I only mean to clarify that she is not, at age two, actually writing words yet.) Here she was writing "my name, your name, your name," etc.

2. A robot.

We repurposed* a box that had held six liters of milk. He spelled and wrote "robot" himself!

*This word conveys so much: craftyness, economy, and, somehow, pretentiousness, when used in the context of home crafts (do you agree?). Thus I use it ironically, until you tell me it doesn't convey being quite pleased with oneself: "I didn't just use it, or reuse it -- I repurposed it!" I don't feel like I had seen it much until the past couple years (m-w.com tells me it was first used in 1984). Do I read too much into this word?

Then again, I am quite pleased with us for making this robot head, and so perhaps repurpose fits the bill.

3. These waffles (which I wrote about here), for the first time, finally.

They are super tasty. I thought I had to let them sit overnight, but it's just about an hour of rising.

I had bought what I thought was pearl sugar a long time ago but it turns out it was lumpy non-uniform sugar cubes (aww, rustic!), so I put my food processor to the test and chopped them up. You can see some little bits of sugar in the photo above.

Despite eating them many times here in Belgium, I had never noticed that they have cinnamon in them. YUM-O!

One note on the recipe: She says to top with powdered sugar. I say no! In Belgium when you get a waffle like this it is handed to you wrapped in a napkin, and you eat with no forks, no cutting, and no extra sugar on top, what with all those morsels inside.

In conclusion, I must congratulate myself on how I repurposed* flour and yeast, etc., to make these.

[*If you will concede my sketchy premise that the original purpose of flour and yeast is plain boring old bread.]

4. Snow angels.

Out of the kitchen (out of the house, even), the rest of the family played in the snow.

5. A sledding jump for Clara.

Matthew did pause to wipe the snow from her face in between runs.

She seemed to love it, actually -- big grins afterward.


25 December 2010

Away in a manger

A few weeks ago, the kids surprised us by building a manger scene in our bedroom.

Mary and Joseph are the large bears on the left.

They had opened their Bibles to the Christmas stories,

written some special notes,

collected gifts from wise men,

left us a cheerful note,

and wrapped little Baby Bear Jesus in a sash from our drapes.

We have several manger scenes we bring out every year but this impromptu creation is the one I'll treasure most.

Merry Christmas to you!

24 December 2010

Choirs of angels, etc.

The children's Christmas program at our church took place a couple weeks ago.

Clara went as an angel. (Like any good angel she's reading her Bible in her down time.)

She was not an angel you have heard on high, though. She kept quiet throughout her Sunday school class's "Away in a Manger."

Here's a video of Lily and Soren's class singing. We go to an Anglican church, and there are lots of Christmas songs we don't know, or songs we think we know but then set to a different melody. So this may be a beloved English Christmas song, but it was new to our family.

Soren's down in front on the left, and Lily's playing the maraca on the right.

Merry Christmas!

23 December 2010

Annual Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet Distress

St. Nicholas/Sinterklaas day was December 6, and Matthew's office hosted its annual celebration a week earlier. Zwarte Piet seemed nicer this year, with the high fives and candy throwing. They served pizza and mini hamburgers and pannekoeken and hot chocolate and frites. We formed St. Nicholas figures out of colored marzipan. And the kids got a gift from St. Nicholas.

(I'm posting this despite my embarrassment at the awkward grunty half-laugh noises I make while recording our kids sitting on St. Nicholas's lap. )

18 December 2010

Chestnut soup

I thought I'd write about an interesting Belgian dish the kids and I made: chestnut soup.

Then I flipped through a recent Cooking Light and saw a recipe for it!

So, slightly less exotic, but still quite delicious.

Can you buy jarred (soft) whole chestnuts in the U.S.?

Can you buy chestnut puree?

If so, you should try a chestnut soup. This one has diced potatoes, onions, and celery, and lots of sage. It's very fallish and reminiscent of stuffing (mmm, did I mention sage?). You've got two more days of autumn: find a recipe and get to it!

08 December 2010

One lovely fruit

I am honored to present to you what may be my favorite food discovery of our time in Belgium: the Doyenne pear.

The smell of them alone is magical: like roses. They have pleasant, yielding skin and smooth, creamy flesh.

And they are huge!

They are not leathery, too easily bruised, or boring, as some pears can be.

Beer isn't my thing (I enjoy a Hoegaarden now and then, but that's pretty easy to come by in the U.S.); I love chocolate but you can find delicious versions of that in America, too. But these pears make me want to smuggle a tree and plant an orchard.

06 December 2010

One more from our tree spree

Snow, snow, SNOW!

SNOW! We felt like we were back in Minnesota this past week with lots of snow -- enough to make big snowballs, encourage snow pants wearing, and disrupt driving. It was only a few inches, but lots for Belgium, and delightful to these three Minnesotans-at-heart.

We sang this song a lot, or at least the three lines we can remember. And we bought our Christmas tree!