Merry Christmas from the Rowlands!

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Sending Christmas Cards might just be my favorite Christmas tradition. I love getting them in the mail from our family and friends and I love looking back at our past Christmas cards and seeing how much we’ve changed over the last few years. Ours this year includes our sweet little Violet. It also includes my hand-lettering again! See last year’s card, here.

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Here are all the Christmas cards since we’ve been married! 2012, 2013, and 2014! All washi taped to our French doors along with the other cards we’ve been receiving. We’ve gotten several more since I took this picture and now almost the entire door is covered up.

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Our tree looks pretty similar to last year, with just silver, gold, and white ornaments. I love using the beads we’ve caught at Mardi Gras parades here in New Orleans on our tree.

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My favorite part of our simple Christmas decor is the sparkly, white, metal snowflakes we hang from the curtain rods in here. The closest thing to real snow we see here in New Orleans!

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This year I also added some homemade Crochet Snowflakes to our tree.

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I also finally bought a tree skirt as well! (The last few year’s I’ve just bunched up a quilt under the tree.) I bought this metallic gold fabric one while shopping with my sister and mother-in-law the day after Thanksgiving.

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We also have a sweet little wooden nativity scene out this year. It was a Christmas gift last year from my mother-in-law.

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Love my Lindsay Letters print of one of my favorite Christmas songs.

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Of course, the most difficult part of this Christmas has been keeping this little kitty out of the tree! I’ve hung lemon slices along the bottom of the tree and we daily spray it down with orange citrus spray which helps, but she still gets in there. I didn’t put breakable ornaments on the tree this year, so I’m less worried about the tree and more worried about her unwrapping all the gifts. Eating paper is her favorite. So far, most of the gifts have a few bite marks and a few straightened bows, but only one gift has had the paper ripped off. Hopefully it stays that way!

Past Christmas Posts:

Merry Christmas 2010! (the Christmas we got engaged) and Christmas Eve that year

Christmas Shortbread Cookies (from before I was Gluten-free)

Christmas Decorating (our first year in this apartment)

Doily Christmas Wrapping

Our First Rowland Family Christmas Card

Our Second Rowland Family Christmas Card

Last Year’s Christmas Decor

Scenes from Last Christmas

Christmas Memories, Heartache, and Peace

Crochet Snowflake Ornaments

 

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This is a very special recipe. It was my family’s favorite food growing up, one that was often requested for birthdays or served on special occasions like Christmas Eve (I mentioned it here). I hadn’t had it in several years (since going gluten-free), so a few weeks ago I tried working on a gluten-free version. It is just as delicious gluten-free and surprisingly simple to make for such a special recipe. Spaetzle is a type of German dumpling, if you’ve never had or heard of it before. This dish is similar to chicken and dumplings, except that these dumplings are a little more firm than your standard American dumplings.

Spaetzle
makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:
-3 cups flour (I use my GF All-Purpose Flour mix)
-1 tsp salt
-6 Tbsp melted butter
-4 Tbsp water
-4 eggs
-8 cups chicken stock/broth
-2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
-1-2 cups frozen peas
-salt, pepper, herbs/Italian seasoning, to taste

Directions:
1. In large stockpot, bring 8 cups chicken broth to a boil.
2. In medium bowl, mix together flour and salt.
3. In small bowl, beat together melted butter, water, and eggs.
4. Pour liquid mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and mix with wooden spoon until smooth.
5. Turn chicken broth down to a low simmer.
6. Press spaetzle dough through spaetzle maker or potato ricer into broth, cutting off every inch or so.
7. Stir gently so spaetzles do not stick. Spaetzle is done when it floats.
8. Scoop floating spaetzles out into a bowl. Continue process until all spaetzles are cooked.
9. Once all spaetzles are cooked, add back into chicken broth.
10. Add chicken and peas.
11. Add salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning (or herbs/spices of your choice) as desired.
12. Serve when peas are cooked and chicken is heated through.

Enjoy!

A few notes:

If the spaetzles absorb too much broth while cooking, feel free to add in more before serving. You can also thicken the broth with cornstarch or add in a can of cream of chicken soup (not gluten-free), if you want thicker broth. The first time I made this gluten-free, I also added 1/8 tsp xanthan gum, but forgot to add it the second time I made it and didn’t notice a difference between the two. If you are making this gluten-free, feel free to add it or not.

The original recipe calls for half of this one [1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 Tbsp melted butter, 2 Tbsp water, 2 eggs], but I wouldn’t recommend making that little, unless there is only one person eating. If you want to make it for more than 6 people, you might triple this recipe, instead of doubling the one above. Up to you. At family gatherings we’ve been known to quadruple this recipe. :)

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Last Christmas I started crocheting these little white snowflakes to put on our Christmas tree. I only did a few last year (you can see a shot of me working on them here), so this year I made a few more and turned them into ornaments for our tree. I love the way they turned out!

Crochet Snowflakes
Pattern adapted from this one.
Hook: 3.75 mm [US F-5]
Yarn: I used white cotton yarn, but any normal thickness yarn will work.

To start: Ch 5; join with a slip st to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 1, [2 sc in ring, ch 3] 6 times; join with a slip st
in first sc – 6 ch-3 loops.
Round 2: Slip st in next sc, ch 1, [(2 sc, ch 3, 2 sc) all in ch-3
loop] 6 times; join.
Round 3: Slip st in next sc, ch 1, [(sc, ch 3, sc, ch 5, sc, ch 3,
sc) all in ch-3 loop, ch 2] 6 times; join. Fasten off.
Finish: Weave in ends.

ABBREVIATIONS: Ch = chain; mm = millimeters; sc = single crochet; st(s) = stitch (es); [ ] = work directions in brackets the number of times specified.

To turn into ornaments, lay them out on cardboard and pin the six points out with straight pins. Spray them with a couple coats of fabric stiffener/spray starch (according to bottle directions) to help them hold their shape. Once dry, loop an ornament hook through one of the points and hang them on the tree!

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One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to put together the Advent devotional book that the church I work at produces every year. It is a really amazing resource filled with devotions written by members of the congregation. This year, I was asked to write a devotional for one of the days, one that I thought I would also share with you here. It echos a similar holiday sentiment to what I wrote about on this blog four years ago, here.

As a child, Christmas Eve was magical. My sisters and I would spend the day being the honorary “present wrappers” for anyone who needed last-minute gifts wrapped. There would be a fire in the fireplace, Christmas music on the radio, and my mom would be in the kitchen cooking up our favorite spaetzle recipe. Once our bellies were full and all presents were wrapped, we would pile in the car to head up the road to my Mamaw and Papaw’s house, where homemade sweets, warm hugs, and piles of presents my shopping-loving grandmother had carefully chosen were waiting for us. Still to this day I have never met a better shopper than my Mamaw – she had an amazing ability to pick out things you never knew you wanted, but ended up loving and treasuring for years.

When I was fifteen, my Mamaw unexpectedly passed away in her sleep one September night. Since then, Christmases just haven’t been the same. My family has grown up, grown apart, and formed individual families of our own. Christmas has lost a bit of its sparkle. I know the real reason to celebrate is one of joy – the wonderful birth of our Lord and Savior – but no matter what, every Christmas Eve, a tinge of sadness still comes over me, not at the loss of the enchantment that Mamaw’s gifts used to bring, but because it is another Christmas Eve to put childhood memories behind me and move on without my Mamaw.

Prayer: Lord, today we pray for those who are going through tough times during this Christmas season- dealing with the loss of a loved one, changes in family or traditions, or for any other reasons for experiencing grief during this otherwise joyful time. Help us to find the joy and peace that only You can bring. Amen.

Christmas is generally a wonderful and joyous time. But it can also be a time of hurt and heartache. Many are struggling through difficult times during this season. Dealing with health issues, family dramas, financial problems, the loss of a loved one, endless sources of stress and sadness.

But we also have hope. We have the ability to have peace. I ask that this Christmas season, amidst all the hustle and bustle and joy and merry-making, you say a prayer for those who might be struggling for whatever reason. Pray that we all find the joy and peace that only God can bring.

“I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.” -John 14:27

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Click to check out June, July, AugustSeptember, and October.

Right now in life, I am:

MAKING updates to my blog design! Hoping to unveil a new design in the New Year!
COOKING lots of family recipes (and making them gluten-free)! I made my family’s spaetzle recipe gluten free for the first time, I made my favorite Sawdust Pie (recipe here), and I’ve made gluten-free Angel Biscuits too using this new All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour. Drew got a smoker this month, so he has been smoking pork butts, chickens, and brisket.
DRINKING hot chocolate!
READING  Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design. I actually bought this book from a cute little design shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire when Drew and I were there on our honeymoon. It has only taken me nearly three years to start reading it!
WANTING to go Christmas caroling next month!
PLAYING Taylor Swift’s new 1989 album. And this.
SEWING nothing this month, but I have a sewing project that I want to tackle in December! It involves these gold cloth napkins from West Elm.
CROCHETING a grey throw for our living room.
WISHING for a restful weekend. Last weekend was a busy, wonderful Thanksgiving weekend spent with family in Nashville (see photo below), but I’m looking forward to some downtime and relaxing this weekend. (In other words, I really want to lay on my couch and crochet and watch Christmas movies and do nothing else. But I have a lot of projects I’m working on, so I probably will be busy too.)

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ENJOYING shopping with my older sister, Blair, and mother-in-law, Susie, on Black Friday. We skipped the early morning crowds and went shopping together Friday afternoon at the mall. It was a great time and I got some things I needed (on major sale!).
WAITING until Christmas! So excited to see everyone open the gifts I’ve picked out for them.
LIKING this apron I picked up from an antique/thrift store.
WONDERING what this little cat thinks of us. She did so great on the long car ride to and from Nashville last weekend (see photo below). Although she must think we are crazy for all the chaos in her life lately!
LOVING how Drew’s childhood dresser makeover turned out!
HOPING for a wonderful Christmas season for everyone! I love this time of year!
MARVELING at THE PATTERNS I MADE this month! I’ve wanted to learn repeatable pattern design for so long! Some photos of the process: working, illustrations, my first pattern!, experimenting, my favorite so far.
NEEDING to slow down and enjoy this Advent season. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle.
SMELLING Sweet Olive trees, roses, more roses, and lots of delicious foods this month.

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WEARING this outfit for our Christmas pictures this year. I’ll post about our cards soon.
FOLLOWING in my childhood footsteps by breaking out the watercolors.
NOTICING this fortune I found tucked inside my Moleskine notebook.
KNOWING that dreams take hard work.
THINKING about how much I love our living room gallery wall! So great to finally have it finished!
BOOKMARKING this newsletter from Braid Creative. As she says, “if you feel like your gift isn’t special or unique that’s okay – because it’s not your special gift that really matters – it’s the consistent and persistent way in which you show up, do the thing, and put it out there.”
CELEBRATING a wonderful Thanksgiving. Lots of food, kiddos, relaxing, swaddling, playing, and crafting.
OPENING the door to our house and reveling in how clean and organized it is! After nearly a month of having plumbing work done in our house, we deep cleaned and organized every room. It is more put together than it has ever been.
LAUGHING at Violet’s little pawprint.
FEELING thankful! For Drew, for Violet, for work, for family, for our home, for creativity.

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