We do Christmas gifts fairly simply in our family. It has prompted some quiet conversation with the kids regarding the differences in how other families handle it. It's no better or worse; it's just how we decided to do it when they were babies, and it still works for us.

Our kids each get three gifts + stockings. Santa fills their stockings with goodies and brings one (unwrapped) gift for each of them. The last few years they have gone in together and asked Santa for something big (ie: iPad, xbox). Then we get them one smaller thing, and I make them something. There's never been that mad rush of scrambling and unwrapping and mayhem on Christmas morning. Of course they also get gifts from their grandparents and aunts and uncles too, so they're not deprived- that's for sure. They get plenty of loot!

So... on to their handmade gifts. J once again asked for warm pajamas. I love that boy. A quick pair of gray fleece p.j. bottoms and a thrifted thermal shirt and he was good to go. And I made N a new travel pillow. She's had one I made on her bed for years, and it was worn out and pretty gross- the pillow itself and the pillowcase. In my usual style, I waited until the day before the kids and I left on the train on our holiday trip to put these gifts together. Master Procrastinator strikes again! I take my title very seriously.

the last of them

It's a little cooler and getting dark earlier now. Gone are the spring rolls and grilled chicken salads on the patio, and here are the soups and warm, one-dish meals at the kitchen table. I made dirty rice (with ground turkey, no livers or sausage) the other night. Everyone gobbled it right up. And apple pie. Fall is for apple pie. Good thing we've had so many apples.

We've made three apple pies, two were for our new neighbors. (We have two sets of new neighbors. Can I say how much I love having friendly neighbors?) I wing the filling and buy the crusts. And try to keep vanilla ice cream on hand. J and I also made two big batches of crock pot apple sauce, loosely using this recipe. I added the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a pinch of salt and subbed brown for regular sugar. The first batch was so sweet. The second we barely added any brown sugar, maybe a scant 1/4 cup. It was better. I'm wondering if the sugar is even necessary.

This is the last of the free apples. The kids are begging for hand pies. Evenings are crazy this week, so maybe this weekend. Fall photoshoots start in earnest Saturday, so even as things ease up for the kids, I'll be swamped next week. But good swamped.

It's raining today. I wish I knew of a free pear tree. 

. . . . . . .

I've been at habit this month and last. As my friend Eren, who is there with me, says, habit is such a gift.