Worst. Winter. Weather. Ever.

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Sub.zero.temps. Snow. Wind. Snow. Brrr.

As you can tell by the lack of posts in January and February, this winter has been really difficult. In my part of Pennsylvania, February is now the snowiest winter on record. It is definitely not fun, trying to shovel our long driveway without the help of a snowblower. Luckily, my mother-in-law lent us hers (since they have a plow). Most mornings started with subzero temps or subzero windchill temps.

So Much Snow!!!

So Much Snow!!!

-10°F and snow!

-10°F and snow!

-1°F, but feels like -20°F!!!

-1°F, but feels like -20°F!!!

-6°F temps, with -19°F windchill

-6°F temps, with -19°F windchill

-8°F at 8am

-8°F at 8am

Two hour delays, early dismissals, and snow-days have become the norm. There’s no time for crafting or blogging about recipes when your free-time is devoured by snow removal and feeding the coal stove…

Yet, the weeping willows show a tinge of yellow, and the bluebirds have returned. The 18″ of snow originally forecasted for today and tomorrow has now been downgraded to >8″.

Bluebirds Return

Bluebirds Return

As March comes in like a lion, let’s hope it really does go out like a lamb.

What has your winter weather been like?

A Christmas Miracle

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Mid-November, I was ready for Christmas movies and Christmas music. I got the Christmas tree up with lights on it. Throughout the remainder of November and December, Hubster & I received a plethora of bad news.

I didn’t finish my Christmas cookies. I didn’t mail out Christmas cards, let alone order them. Our Christmas tree didn’t even have ornaments on it. Most of the Christmas shopping wasn’t done. My classroom was better decorated for the holidays than our home. I even quit after shoveling 1/2 the driveway free from 9″ of snow. I didn’t even take any pictures!!! For the first time in my life, I had unintentionally become a Scrooge/Grinch.

Sunday night, before Christmas, my mom got a phone call from her kidney transplant coordinator. We were hoping this was the miracle for which we’ve prayed for five years. As Hubster and I packed our bags the next morning, another phone call came. After inspecting the kidney, the surgeon rejected the kidney. Even though you try not to get your hopes up when you get a call like this, it is always a disappointment. Especially before Christmas…

On Christmas Eve, Hubster and I received more bad news and all feelings of Christmas joy had almost completely vanished.

The same day, Gift of Life Donor Program posted this Trivia Tuesday question on their FB page: Today, on Christmas Eve, how many Pennsylvanians are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant?
A. 7,854    B. 6,764    C. 5,376    D. 6,198
The correct answer?  B: 6,764

Keep reading… it gets better!

Christmas morning didn’t feel like Christmas. As we were getting ready to head to my eldest sister’s house, my parents’ telephone rang. It was the kidney transplant coordinator again. There was another kidney match. Tears immediately poured down my mother and my faces as we were filled with mixed emotions. This! Is! It! I felt like this was the Christmas miracle for which we’ve waited. I was thrilled. I was scared that it might not go through. I was also heartbroken for the family that lost a loved one on Christmas morning. We said many prayers for him and his family.

The rest of the day we were all on edge while we waited for more information from the transplant coordinator. It was almost bedtime and fearing only bad news, we decided to try to get some sleep and see what the night would bring. No sooner than I rested my head down, I heard my parents’ phone ring. I sprung out of bed. Listening for long enough to know we were headed to the hospital. They were giving her BOTH kidneys! That almost never happens! Before my dad was off the phone with the coordinator, Momma was out of the house and already had the car running.

Our family spent Christmas night and Boxing Day in the hospital waiting room on edge. Happiness.     Nervousness.     Joy.     Stress.     Relief.   Now my mom is at the hospital, focusing on healing.

Thank you to the Gift of Life Donor Program.   Thank you to the donor and his incredibly thoughtful gift he has given our family.   Thank you to the donor’s family for this gift which you may never truly know the magnitude.   Thank you to the amazing surgeon for sharing his gifted hands and spending Christmas Day & Boxing Day flying to harvest the kidneys and back to perform a rare double kidney transplant!   Thank you to the doctors, nurses, and technicians who are taking care of my mother and answer all of our questions.   Thank you to the hospital receptionists and security guard who answered my sisters’ and my questions.   Thank you to our friends, family, and neighbors for the outpouring of kindness, well wishes, and prayers.    Thank you to my sisters, for holding my hand this week.   Thank you to our dad for being such a great husband to our mom.

This incredible gift wasn’t only given to an amazing woman. It was also given to her family and friends. Her Boy Scouts. Her Girl Scouts. Her students. Her church choir. Her interns. An entire community.

And now, there’s 6,763

Also Read These Related Posts:
Polycystic Kidney Disease Awareness
Bilateral Nephrectomy
Looking for a Living Donor
Heart, Mind & Body
Riotflower’s Best Gift Ever

Third Day of Christmas – Pecan Sugar Cookies

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On the third day of Christmas Young Wifey shared with me: Nanny’s Florida’s pecan sugar cookies, shortbread squares, and chippers recipes.

Nanny Florida's Pecan Sugar Cookies

Nanny Florida’s Pecan Sugar Cookies

Ingredients: 
1 c. butter, 1 3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 tsp. almond extract, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. cream of tartar, 1 c. chopped pecans

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cream together butter and sugar, and beat until fluffy. Blend in eggs and extracts. Mix the dry ingredients together and add to wet ingredients. Mix throughly. Stir in pecans. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until barely colored. Allow to cook slightly before moving them to a cooling rack.

XOXO,
Young Wifey

Second Day of Christmas – Nanny Florida’s Shortbread Squares

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On the second day of Christmas, Young Wifey shared with me: Nanny’s Florida’s shortbread and chippers recipes.

Nanny Florida's Shortbread Squares

Nanny Florida’s Shortbread Squares

Ingredients:
1 lb. butter, 1 1/2 c. sugar, 2 egg yolks, 5 c. unsifted flour

Directions:
Preheat oven 325°F. Cream butter until soft and smooth, gradually beat in sugar, until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks, Gradually add flour, working it in until throughly blended. Knead in the bowl for 1 minute. Divide and pat dough into four 9″x13″x1/2″ baking pans. The dough should be 1/4 inch thick. Cut each pan of dough into 24 squares. Prick with fork (or use your favorite attachment on your pastry wheel to create fancy patterns). Bake for 20-30 minutes. Do not let brown, they should be pale yellow. Cut into squares again while hot, cool.

XOXO,
Young Wifey

First Day of Christmas – Nanny Florida’s Chippers Recipe

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On the first day of Christmas, Young Wifey shared with me: Nanny Florida’s Chippers Recipe…

Nanny Florida's Chippers

Nanny Florida’s Chippers

Usually, when I make chocolate chip cookies (even a double batch), Hubster & Pumpkin chow down and make them all disappear. They love Nanny Florida’s Chippers recipe, but surprisingly it only takes a few chippers to fill the cookie void in their bellies. She would’ve been so thrilled! ♥

Ingredients:
1 egg, 2/3 c. butter, 1 3/4 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 c. chopped nuts, 1 c. semisweet chocolate pieces (I use mini chocolate chips)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix together all ingredients throughly. Press dough into 13″x9″x2″ pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cut into bars while still warm.

*Can be drizzle with chocolate glaze or frosting as desired.
*Make about 42 bars.

We like to make these with walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, and/or cashews!

XOXO,
Young Wifey

12 Days of Christmas

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I knew I missed my 12 Days of Christmas Countdown in 2012… but what I hadn’t realized is that I missed 2011 also! 

In the past, I’ve avoided a Christmas cookie countdown, since so many other bloggers have already used that idea. This year, I decided that I would use that idea, but with a twist. I’ll be using Nanny Florida’s cookie recipes! I may not be posting recipes daily, but I plan to have 12 of her cookie recipes posted before Christmas Eve! Check in tomorrow for the First Day of Christmas…

Nanny Florida's Christmas Cookie Countdown

Nanny Florida’s Christmas Cookie Countdown

2010′s Christmas CountdownOn the twelfth day of Christmas Young Wifey shared with me her Espresso Jar Candle, Gingerbread Man Ornaments, Fleece Blankets,Bottle Cap MagnetsFleece Sphere OrnamentButton Wreath Ornament,Christmas Mouse Cat ToyMelted Frosty OrnamentCrocheted Fan BookmarksCrocheted Snowflake OrnamentsWine Glass Charms, and Glass Globe Ornaments


2009′s Christmas CountdownOn the twelfth day of Christmas Young Wifey shared with me her chocolate Christmas fudgechocolate bonbonscoconut clusterscranberry almond barkchocolate amaretto cherriespecan turtlesraspberry chocolate trufflesgingerbread fudgepeppermint barkdark chocolate peanut butter ballscracked glass candy, and her peanut butter fudge recipe…

What type of Christmas Countdown would you like to see next year?

XOXO,
Young Wifey

Advent Calendar of Kindness

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In anticipation of Christmas, many families are setting up their advent calendars tonight. As a child, I loved opening the daily boxes to reveal a piece of chocolate, ornament, book, or other small trinket. Although, with more and more of today’s children feeling entitled, a month of receiving presents may not be sending the right message.

Since 2005, a growing number of families have turned to their elf on the shelf to make sure their child is behaving. It’s a wonderful idea, and I really love seeing the daily photos my friends share of their naughty and nice elves on Facebook. While it reinforces positive behavior, we should be teaching our children to be more like St. Nick himself. By undertaking a month of character development, children may just become a little more jolly while demonstrating their kind behavior. My advent calendar focuses on community service and giving back to those in need.

Please do not tell your children they “have to” complete one of these tasks, instead they “get to” complete an act of kindness.

ADVENT CALENDAR OF KINDNESS

24) Go through all of your toys and make a pile of toys that another child would love. Mom or Dad will take them to the local homeless shelter or orphanage. 
23) Do something nice for someone else in the house. This could be doing a sibling’s chore without them knowing or doing an extra chore for Mom or Dad.
22) Make and deliver holidays cards for the neighbor.
21) Compliment 5 people today, make sure your words are genuine.
20) Bake your favorite type of cookies and deliver them to the local police department.
19) Do a chore to help an elderly neighbor.
18) Help serve dinner at the local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
17) Go door-to-door singing Christmas carols for your neighbors.
16) Tell your favorite teacher that you learn a lot at school and thank them for being an excellent teacher.
15) Make cards and deliver them to children in the local children’s hospital.
14) Make something special and send it to a family member or friend who lives far away.
13) Compliment 10 people today, make sure your words are genuine.
12) Bake your favorite type of cookies and deliver them to the local fire department.
11) Go to a local animal shelter and play with the dogs and/or cats.
10) Write a list of 10 things you love about each family member and share them at dinner.
9) Take a special treat (snack, pencil, or ornament) in to school to share with your classmates.
8) Make cards and deliver them to the elderly in the local nursing home.
7) Leave a special treat for your garbage men.
6) Donate old children’s books and magazines to a local dentist or doctor office.
5) Make a meal and deliver it to a family in need (recent birth, illness, loss, or unemployment).
4) Play fetch with or walk the neighbor’s dog.
3) Leave a special treat for your mail carrier.
2) Call someone far away and tell them 5 things you love about them.
1) Make a pot of hot cocoa and deliver it to a neighbor.

These are my 24 favorite acts. There are many other acts you could include in your advent calendar, depending on your local weather and age of your children.

What other acts of kindness would you include in your advent calendar?

XOXO,
Young Wifey