Friday, December 25, 2009



December 24, 2009, Christmas Eve

Twelve years have passed since that first Christmas here. Much has changed, we have suffered the loss of many of the characters, both human and animal, since then. As the sleet falls heavily outside I think of them.

Gone are Aunt Evelyn, Grandma Felicia, my father in law Alvin, and both the beloved granddoggers Katie and Mr. Erik they are all sorely missed. My mother in law now lives with my sister in law and the bad roads will keep us from seeing her for a few days. Her gift is purchased, but I have yet to wrap it. I’ll do that tonight when I am wrapping the homemade gifts for my husband and son.

On that Christmas 12 years ago the house was heavily decorated both inside and out. We’ve not done that this year, none of us had the time or the mind set to do it. The lack of decoration is not a new thing, slowly as time has progressed over this dozen years we’ve put less and less into our decorating. Often not returning home from a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida until just before Christmas, so it was just a rush partial put up of the tree. We had discussed doing it tonight, but the idea of chancing the icy walk to and from the garage to get it seems too dangerous. We do not need a tree to celebrate Christmas, all we need is each other.

This Christmas things are even more different, we agreed back in November that all gifts had to be homemade from things we already had on hand, the only exception to the rule were two gifts I had purchased earlier in the year, that totaled less than $15. Finances are tight, but our faith and family are strong.

I set a budget for Christmas to total less than $50 including the meal and the two gifts already purchased. I have came in under budget because of a very good deal on both the turkey and the ham. The two of them total less than $15 and I already had all the makings for the rest of the meal in my food storage. I’m pretty proud of how well we’ve been doing up to this point with Gary’s early “retirement”. So far we are still current on all the bills, that has been a true blessing, something to celebrate at Christmas.

In the kitchen the dishwasher is humming, on a half load of dishes. Murphy has visited yet again and for some reason anything put on the top shelf of the dishwasher does not come clean. So we don’t even bother to load that part right now. Gary and Sean will tear the dishwasher apart soon to see what the problem is and hopefully fix it.

Gary has the house warm and toasty with the last of the firewood he cut before Murphy took the big chainsaw away. Hopefully this sleet/snow storm will not knock the power out because any firewood cutting we have to do must be done with the tiny limb cutting chain saw until the big one is repaired. Gary thinks it’s a fuel line that will need replaced and the roads are bad, so that will have to wait. Thanks Murphy, you've been so generous this last few months.

Outside the new sump pump is working, after Murphy pulled another trick earlier this week and killed the old one. This seems to be a recurring Christmas theme. The water only got to 1” this time before it was discovered and the pump replaced.

Murphy, the old Grinch, has been trying hard to steal our Christmas this year, but we Patterson’s are not quitters.

We’ve kept the computers and printers humming to create one of a kind Christmas gifts for each other. As I type Gary is finishing up a super-imposed collage photo for Sean. It is an 8 X 10 photo of his cat Murray Mugillacuty “dreaming” about the other pets on the ranch. I’ll add a copy to the blog when I post this. It will probably be hard for you to see because there is so much on it, but I’ll tell you who is who anyway.

Of course the center figure is my grandkitty, Murray. Starting at the top left and moving clockwise is Lizzie, Magellan Goose with Mama Amy Kitty under him, grandkitty Gypsy Skeeter, Drifter Moon, Jolie Marie, Greystoke Goose, Jellybean and last but not least Misty Georgia. Gary is framing it for Sean’s desk at work. Sean is very fond of all the critters so I think he’ll like it. He’s been mentioning he needed to take photos of the critters to work for his desk.

With the help of a “must purchase” full reimbursement mystery shop I spent no cash to purchase Sean a battery for his X box controller. It was kind of a cheat, but the deal was we could spend no cash and technically I didn’t. He has not been able to use that controller for more than a few minutes for at a time because its battery is worn out. He’s been grumbling about that, so it should bring him some enjoyment.

Sean and I are working together on a gift for Gary, who is trying to teach himself to play bluegrass music on his acoustic guitar. I located free sheet music and companion mp3 files on the internet as well as how to instructions and downloaded those at the library. I’ve printed all the sheet music and will bind it in a decorated 3 ring notebook from my stash of scrounged notebooks. The cover is “scraps” of torn sheet music done in a random way with the words “BLUE GRASS” cut out of card stock on it.

Sean is burning the mp3s and lessons to cds and dvds for me. He’s designing the cover for the the jewel cases and printing those as well. He found some how to videos on line that he is putting into format for Gary’s Ipod from him. He is also giving him his hand exerciser and music stand to have as his. It’s a re-gift of sorts, but a good gift. Before finances got tight Gary had talked about purchasing these items for himself.

Along with these gifts we’ll be giving Gary the $10 guitar stand I caught on a great sale in the late fall. That was one of the two things I had caught on sale.

The two men will share the long cuffed fireplace gloves I caught on another sale before the agreement. They are both always getting soot on their clothes or worse yet burned because their work gloves are too short cuffed for the job.

We’ll see what their imaginations have came up with for me, tomorrow. Both have been working very secretly today.

These are all simple gifts, but they are gifts from the heart, which is what we all wanted this year.

For the dogs I have pigs feet from a butchering thawing for them for a Christmas gift. A couple of minutes with fabric scraps at the sewing machine and there will be five new catnip toys for the cats.

Tonight’s supper will be our traditional Christmas Eve We started this a few years before my father in law passed. Alvin always said that by Christmas he was tired of traditional holiday meals of turkey and ham, that he’d much rather have Mexican food. So we had started having him and my mother in law over for an enchilada dinner on Christmas Eve each year so they could visit on Christmas day with some of the other kids.
Tonight’s supper menu is: (recipes to follow)

Cheese and Onion/Dairy-free Chicken and “Sour Cream” Enchiladas

Refried Beans

Mexican Rice

Tossed Salad

Iced Tea

Sopapillas and Honey

Please note that I do use canned enchilada sauce because I simply have not developed a good homemade one that can be made as cheaply as purchasing a can YET. If you have a good enchilada sauce recipe please post it in the comments section below.

I am sorry but this is a meal I basically cook by feel, so all measurements are sort of guess work.


Corn tortillas

Cheddar Cheese, grated (you can use dairy free cheese for these if desired

Onion, finely chopped

1 can Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce

Cooking Spray

Cooking oil, optional.

Before you start have all your ingredients ready. I set them up in the order I will be using them.

1. A plate to nuke the tortilla on

2. A shallow flat dish (I use a pie plate) in which I have poured the can of enchilada sauce. This needs to be big enough you can put the tortilla in flat and then turn it over to coat the tortilla

3. A plate to lay the tortilla on to fill it and roll it up with the cheese and onion sitting next to it.

4. The baking dish.

Spray the baking dish on both bottom and sides. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

To soften the corn tortillas you have two choices. You can either heat the optional cooking oil in a  skillet and then dip the tortilla in quickly to soften it to continue to the next step. OR you can simply microwave the corn tortillas approximately 15 seconds to soften it. Either way you need the corn tortilla to be pliable. It is best to do the tortillas one at a time.

Cook the tortillas by the method of your choice (I nuke ours to help cut the calories).

Place the soft tortilla in the enchilada sauce then turn it over quickly to coat both sides of the tortilla.

Place the tortilla on the next plate and place the desired amount of cheese slightly off center (remember you are going to roll these up and you want to capture the filling inside) sprinkle a little of the chopped onion on top of the cheese. Then roll the tortilla up to where the cheese and onion are captured inside the tortilla. Place seam side down in the baking dish.

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top of the pan of enchilada, top with more grated cheese and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until all the cheese is melted.


Using the same method to do the tortillas as above I fill them with a combination of the onion, dairy-free sour cream (I use Tofutti brand), shredded cooked chicken and onions, sometimes with a little chopped black olive) then continue as with the cheese/onion ones either omitting the grated cheese on top or using dairy-free cheddar or pepper jack cheese.

JP NOTE: ds does not care for onions so I leave those out of his and mark his by sticking a tooth pick in the no onion ones for him to eat.


4 C cooked pinto beans, mashed with a small amount of the bean soup liquid

Cumin, Chili seasoning/powder, garlic (either powder or finely minced) onion (either powder or finely minced) all to taste

Enough cooking oil to coat the bottom of the cooking skillet to about 1/8 inch.

Heat the oil to “sizzle” in a skillet.

While heating mix the remaining ingredients together well in a bowl.

Once the oil is hot (375 F) place all the bean mixture in the skillet at once and “fry”, stirring constantly stirring the oil into the bean mixture. Cook until the desired consistency.


4 C cooked cold rice (I usually have cooked “leftover” rice in my freezer just for this purpose—well and for fried rice meals too)

Cumin, Chili seasoning/powder, garlic (either powder or finely minced) onion (either powder or finely minced) all to taste

Corn if desired

Chopped bell pepper if desired

Enough cooking oil to coat the bottom of the cooking skillet to about 1/8 inch.

Heat the oil to “sizzle” (375 F)  in a skillet.

While heating mix the remaining ingredients together well in a bowl.

Once the oil is hot place all the rice mixture in the skillet and stir fry until hot.


7 C all purpose flour

4 tablespoons sugar

8 teaspoons baking powder

4 teaspoons salt

¼ c shortening.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. I use a wire whisk for this job. Cut in the shortening until it is well mixed in. Store in a labeled and dated airtight container in a cool dry place. Best if used within 10-12 weeks.


¼ c butter

2 c sopapilla mix

1 ½ tsp baking powder

Approximately 2/3 c milk

Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 450 F Melt butter in an 8 inch square baking pan while preheating the oven. Watch closely so it doesn’t burn, remove from oven as soon as the butter melts.

In a medium bowl mix the mix and baking powder together well. Stir in just enough milk to form a soft ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knewad 8-10 times. Roll out dough to an 8 inch square, which should make it about ½ inch thick.

Cut in half. Cut each half into 4” x 1” strips. Dip each strip into the melted butter. Place in the pan with strips slightly touching. Sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.


2 c sopapilla mix

2/3 c water

Oil for frying

In a medium bowl combine the mix and water to form a ball. Adjust water or mix as needed to make the dough ball easy to work with. On a lightly floured surface knead the dough 8-10 times. Divide into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece to a 6 inch circle. Set aside. Cover with a cloth to keep from drying out to much. If using for a taco you may want to form the dough to a slight bowl shape before frying. You could to this by forming it over an upside down bowl.

Heat frying oil to 375. Fry the totada/taco bowl until golden brown on both sides.

For tostada top with heated refried beans, grated cheese, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, black olives or topping of choice.

For tacos use your favorite taco fillings, we use the Moo-Gurgle filling I’ve previously posted.


2 c sopapilla mix

About 2/3 c water

Oil for frying

Powdered sugar for garnish

Honey if desired.

In a medium bowl, combine mix and water. Mix until dough clings together, adjust water mix ratio if needed. Knead dough 8-10 times on a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Roll the dough out very thin then cut into 3 -4 inch squares. Heat 2-3 inch deep oil in a frying pan or use a deep fat fryer to 375 F. Fry until golden brown on one side, then using tongs turn over the sopapilla and continue frying until golden brown on that side as well. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve hot with honey if desired. Makes about 20.

Christmas Day:

We slept in, with no little ones in the house and over a foot of snow outside we all decided this was the thing we wanted to do. We slept quite late. Then exchanged our gifts. The guys did quite well by me.

Dh remembered I had a large collage frame that I purchased a couple of years ago that I had been wanting to fill with various photos and hang over the tv. He found all the photos, printed and mounted them for me. It was a big job. He promises to hang it this next week. I’m thrilled with it!!

Ds gathered how to videos and sheet music to match up for me to learn to play the Dulcimer that I traded for many years ago but never learned how to play. He would like for us to start a new family tradition of the three of us playing music together on the holiday. So I have 1 year to learn at least some basic Christmas tunes. LOL! He says he’ll tune it for me. I think it will be fun to learn.

After a very late traditional breakfast of biscuits and gravy we realized that by the time I cooked the turkey that was not quite thawed it would be very, very late in the evening. So a vote was taken and we all decided we wanted to be total bums for at least one day. The turkey went back in the refrigerator to cook tomorrow.

We’ve had a very relaxing day of the guys playing video games together, me cheering them on while working on my garden plans for next year. A very unique Christmas I know, but it was so nice to just relax and not stress.

Outside over a foot of snow lays on top of 2 inches of ice, inside the fireplace is warm and cozy and we are all content. Snacking and relaxing as Christmas movies play on the tv in the evening hours.

It’s been a very good holiday.

Jan who thinks this non-commercial Christmas was a very good idea in OK

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