The busy Christmas season is upon us. May everyone enjoy the Christmas season but also remember God's amazing love showing through his son, Jesus.  Christmas week has brought us frigid temperatures, with the mercury staying right on the zero mark most of the day. We've also had some cold strong winds, which has caused the snow to drift.  It makes the house seem cozy with the warm coalstove going.


The busy Christmas season is upon us. May everyone enjoy the Christmas season but also remember God's amazing love showing through his son, Jesus.  Christmas week has brought us frigid temperatures, with the mercury staying right on the zero mark most of the day. We've also had some cold strong winds, which has caused the snow to drift.  It makes the house seem cozy with the warm coalstove going.
    This has been a busy week of Christmas activities and dodging snowstorms.  The children's Christmas program was held at their school on Tuesday evening.  The snowy conditions gave the event an added Christmas atmosphere.  The children acted out the 12 days of Christmas in a different version.  It was very cute and they sang really nice songs.  Our four year daughter, Lovina, kept asking me "will I be helping them sing next year?"  She is so excited about going to school next year.  It is cute to hear her and three-year-old Kevin trying to sing Jingle Bells together. 
    The snow didn't cancel Tuesday night activities, but Friday the snow was too bad. School was cancelled on Friday due to icy road conditions. This also cancelled all the kids Christmas parties.  They will have their parties and gift exchange when they go back in two weeks.  We had some very disappointed children as they had looked forward to this day for so long.   One event that did not get cancelled:  Friday evening's Amish home-school Christmas party which was held at one of daughter Elizabeth's friends.  Instead of a gift exchange this year they decided to take the children on horse-drawn sled rides.  The children all bundled up and enjoyed the evening riding through the snow.  We adults spent the evening playing games and visiting.  Son Benjamin keeps asking when we can go back there to go sledding again.  He really enjoyed the fast sled rides through the fields.  Although with the colder temperatures now I am sure it would not be quite as fun. 
    Saturday we had a brunch at Joe's sister's house for their annual gathering.  Nine out of the 12 siblings attended.  The brunch was held at 10 a.m. and there was plenty of food brought in.  The menu consisted of biscuits, sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, a baked wild turkey roast, homemade bread and spreads, hot pepper relish, cinnamon rolls, pies, coffee and orange juice.  Afterwards singing, visiting and games were played, while enjoying the many, many Christmas snacks everyone brought.  The turkey was caught and brought by one of Joe's brother-in-laws. It was really good tasting with lots of dark meat.
      Joe's Dad, age 70, went home for a rest in the afternoon.  He is still very week from his recent hospital stay. He has lost so much weight and doesn't seem to have an appetite.  Doctors plan to do more tests this coming week.  He has been a widower for almost 14 years now and has many lonely days since he is unable to work. 
    This morning, Joe and some of the children attended Sunday church services and the annual Christmas potluck afterwards.  Due to some sickness we couldn't all go.  On their way home from church they had to go through two foot drifts of hard snow.  In one place a car was stuck but they went around it.  Our good horse, our old faithful horse named "Diamond" made the trip home in the harsh conditions.  She was ready to take a break by eating some grain and hay by the time they got back.
    We will make some more "Christmas cut out cookies".  The children really enjoy making and frosting these.  We wish you all God's blessings through this holiday season!

SOUR CREAM CUT-OUT CHRISTMAS COOKIES
    Recipe from: The Amish Cook at Home, by Lovina Eicher (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
Food coloring (optional)
Colored sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
Chocolate chips, for decorating (optional)
    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until a soft, firm dough is formed. Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface. Use your favorite shaped cookie cutters to cut out the dough. Place the shapes on the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown around the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
    To make the frosting: Cream the shortening with the vanilla and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Gradually add the milk and the rest of the powdered sugar, beating constantly. More powdered sugar can be added to give you your desired thickness. Food coloring can also be added if you like. Spread the frosting on the cookies and decorate with colored sprinkles or chocolate chips. Let the frosting set before storing.
    For more information about Amish cooking, culture or about Lovina Eicher and family visit the editor's webpage at amishcookonline.com