Archive | December 2012

Christmas Reflections

It has been three Christmas seasons without my mother and it is still hard to wrap my head around her absence. This year I was able to celebrate with many of mom’s relics and ornaments, making her seem closer (I picked up her things last May). I told stories of each ornament and it’s history to my children and they appreciated the tales and stories, as their memories of Nana Cat are growing faint.

One of the ways I tried to incorporate mom into the holidays this year was with Elfred, I also tried my hand at wrapping like mom. She perfected the art of seamless wrapping and created bows that Martha Stewart would envy. She owned several present wrapping technique books and even more bow wrapping books which helped in her present creations. Mine were not as glamorous, but seeing them beneath the tree warmed my heart.

Another way I tried to incorporate Mom into the season was by making my children’s Christmas dreams come true, like she did every year. Hearing their ooh’s, aah’s and giggles MADE the holiday season brighter. Seeing their delight in their presents– both in those they received and in those they gave — was awesome. My mother ALWAYS included everyone in the gift giving, even if we weren’t aware.

Now I am busy cleaning up the holiday mess and working on thank you notes (another mom tradition). My holidays will never be the same without mom, but I am blessed with a wonderful husband that makes all of my dreams come true, and three amazing children who have generous, big hearts like my mother.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your families. Hold tight to the memories you make, take lots of pictures, and always end the day with “i love you.” You never know when the last time you say something will be.

See the picture below? Do you see a crease? My mother would be so proud!



Elf on the Shelf, the (almost) final post

How sad am I to see our beloved Elfred return to his home in the North Pole. As a family it has been an exciting, daily joy for all of us. I have enjoyed watching the kids talk to him, search for him, and enjoy him. Elfred has brought additional Christmas spirit into our home.

Now, I realize that Elfred is supposed to return to the North Pole tonight. I get it. Santa drops off the toys and picks up the Elf, but I’m a sap and my kids want one more day… so since it takes an entire day to deliver all the gifts around the world, Santa can swing by and pick up his friend as he travels home. This will allow the kids one more chance to love Elfred, and the bonus of actually touching him for the few hours before he leaves.

This is the letter Elfred has left:

December 25th, 2012

Dear Riley, Lyndie and Joe,

I have had so much fun being a part of your family for the last month. You guys sure have a lot of fun around here. Sorry for any messes I made along the way. Guess I got caught up in the fun too!

Because you all have been so good to me, Santa Claus has allowed me to stay a few extra hours after all the Christmas magic has happened. He’s going to pick me up on his way back to the North Pole after his last delivery. I hope you have enjoyed all of the presents! I know there were lots of them because I told Santa what good children you are!

Lucky for us, Santa will lift my magic until he picks me up on his way back to the North Pole. Until he comes, it is okay to touch me, hug me and kiss me goodbye, just be sure to share me between all three of you and, whatever you do, don’t leave me on the floor and let Izzy and Abby eat me! When you are finished with your goodbyes put me back on the Christmas tree and I will find my way to the North Pole.

I can’t wait to see you next Christmas season. Be on the lookout for letters from me this year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Love, Elfred

Ps. Enjoy these presents that will help you keep track of the time until the next time we see each other!


Farewell, dear friend. Thank you for the joy you have brought us all.

Elf on the shelf continued

How sweet is this? Never mind the misspellings and poor punctuation (they’re kids- get over it)– this is adorable. For those that have a hard time reading this it says “Dear Elfred, Can you stay for one more day? Love, The McConaghy’s”.


Elf on the Shelf Day 26

The kiddos loved their note from Elfred yesterday which spurred many conversations today about becoming pen pals with him when he’s back at the North Pole. That’s a very clever idea, should I remember to do that. Might keep my kids on their best behavior year round if they get notes every now and then. Hmm.

Also, a word of caution from yesterday’s elf adventure, while the name is elf on the shelf, the elf requires more than a two inch base to sit securely on. So, really, his name should be elf on a large shelf because Elfred’s got back (get it? Like “baby’s got back”). I crack myself up.

So tonight Elfred decided to hang in the pantry. Not too exciting, but he insusted upon dragging toilet paper with him in case he got cold (and to help the kids find him). Not nearly as creative as my friend who wrapped her tree or had her elf go gangnam style with monster high dolls, but oh well. The big reveal will happen tomorrow.



Elf on the Shelf Day 25

30 second happy dance — I didn’t forget the elf last night! Yea me!!

Elfred decided to post his own feelings about leaving Christmas night. It’s so very sad for all of us because he has been such a joy to us all. For many, many years I can remember with great fondness that my parents would say “Santa Claus” is watching when my brothers or I would behave questionably. Elfred had turned into our warning in that they should be careful because Elfred is watching. It has been a great deal of fun… and my mother would have loved it.


Elf on the Shelf Day 24

Yesterday was the office Christmas party. While this may be commonplace for most of you, this is my first office party since starting my family 9 years ago. It was a low key affair held at a local establishment. There was a great turnout by people I’ve not had the opportunity to mingle with outside of the work space. The food was great, the drinks flowing, the hours flying by… and you have to know what this means… I came home, crawled into bed and FORGOT TO MOVE THE ELF. It’s becoming an epidemic and, quite frankly, I am wondering if this is the start of early-onset senior moments. Good grief, I hope not.

With an “OH NO” I woke up with a start at 4 am. OF COURSE I went downstairs and my eldest was already awake. He informed me that Elfred had not moved. I informed him that it was because he had not slept long enough (I’m quick on my feet sometimes). So I puttered  around in the kitchen getting some water and quietly moved the Elf before I headed back upstairs to sleep. By the time I woke up several hours later, the eldest had seemingly forgotten the mishap (WINNING).

But there was another sweet Elf moment this morning from my youngest. I caught him talking to Elfred. He was telling him how much he was going to miss him (commence collective “AWWWWWW”). I love his innocence and his heart. Mom always said he had a big, sweet heart and she was right.Elf on the Shelf Day 24

Christmas Traditions: Part Two

How is everyone? I hope y’all have made it through the holiday season without too much stress.

I cannot believe we have only few days left of Elfred!

Since both our moms have passed, Bu and I have taken to sharing family recipes–from mustard to pralines to cookies to gravy. Oh, I suppose we could go to Google. Or Pinterest. But there is something comforting about knowing that you have a family recipe that’s tried and true.

Like Bu’s mom, my mom also did a whole lot of homemade gift-giving around the holidays. Many of these gifts were family recipes: cookies, fudge, caramel corn. It is only since I decided to give  mostly homemade gifts for Christmas this year that I truly appreciate the effort that she went through–although she made it seem so effortless.

One of the treats my mom would make is the Good Luck Cookie, which is MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE COOKIE. EVER.

A Little History about the Good Luck Cookie: per my Grandmother

My grandmother spent her formative years growing up during the Great Depression. Although her family was quite poor, they fared better than most. On Saturday mornings, my great-grandmother would bake the Good Luck Cookies with help from my great-grandfather. My grandmother would always say that although her parents were not in love when they married, they grew to have a deep and abiding love for one another.

(BTW, I have NO idea where the recipe originated from. More than likely, it came from my great-great grandmother who was from Germany.)

I smile to think of my great-grandmother busting about in the kitchen with my mild-mannered great-grandfather by her side.

A Little History about the Good Luck Cookie: per my Mother

After my great-grandfather died, my great-grandmother moved in with her daughter and grandchildren (i.e., my grandmother and Mom.) According to my mother, my great-grandmother was a loving and gentle person who doted on her grandchildren.

Every year at Christmas time, she would make the cookies and given them to her grandchildren in a special Christmas tin: a roll for each of them. My mother said it was one of her favorite times of the year.

A Little History about the Good Luck Cookie: per me

Like her grandmother, my mother chose to continue the Good Luck Cookie tradition. She only made them at Christmas time, and she always put the cookies in a festive Christmas tin. Until I learned to make the recipe myself, my job was to sprinkle the colored sugar and sprinkles onto the cookies.

Mom: Make sure you sprinkle sugar onto the cookies and not onto the cookie sheet.

(I tended to use a liberal hand.)

Great-Grandmother Catherine’s Good Luck Cookies
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 lb. butter (four sticks)
3 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t cloves
1 t baking soda
pinch of salt
5 1/2 c flour
wax paper
sprinkles (optional)

Melt butter in sauce pan on low heat. Add white and brown sugar. Stir until dissolved. Let cool and add eggs one at a time. In large bowl, add the flour and other dry ingredients. Slowly add in the butter mixture. Add vanilla. Stir until smooth.

Roll out cookies into a roll using wax paper. Batch should usually yield about five rolls. Chill 2-3 hours or until dough is firm. (I usually freeze mine overnight.)

Slice cookies and sprinkle with the toppings of your choice. Bake 350 for 10-12 minutes.