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Keeping Christmas
Friday 31st of December 2010 09:08 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Decking the halls always seems to be such a big job. Though I love the end result, I dread the mess of pulling the plastic tubs of Christmas decorations from their hiding place in the basement storage room.

And, for a few days now, I've dreaded taking them all down. It doesn't have a thing to do with the mess or the work.

I waited a few days to do it. I know there are organized people who promptly pull out their Christmas decor the day after Thanksgiving and then pack it away on the day after Christmas.

But I'm not one of those people.

After several weeks of twinkling lights decorating the living room, I'm never quite ready to give up the multicolored dreamland.

Even as a kid, I remember the letdown after Christmas. It didn't have anything to do with whether I'd gotten everything on my wish list. It was just that slight feeling of melancholy, a sadness at saying goodbye to that "hap-happiest season of all," as the song goes.

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle-belling
And everyone telling you
Be of good cheer
It's the most wonderful time of the year

It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings
And great happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap-happiest season of all

It's the most wonderful time of the year
There be much mistletoe-ing
And hearts will be glowing
When loved ones are near
It's the most wonderful time of the year.
So, as I pack away the Christmas angel tree topper ...

and say goodbye once again to the Santa who counts down the days to Christmas Eve, I need to remember not to let go of the spirit of Christmas.

Even if I must take down the twinkle of lights in my living room, I can let the Light of the World continue to shine in my heart, mind and soul as we enter a new year.

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6



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Thursday 30th of December 2010 08:20 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Maybe you have more exciting plans than we do for New Year's Eve. We will be loading a U-Haul with Brent's worldly possessions in preparation for a cross-country trip to South Carolina. He'll begin working on his master's in sports administration at the University of South Carolina on January 10.

But if you're looking for something a little different to make for a New Year's Eve celebration, I have a contender.

I made it for a Nu Lambda-Beta Sigma Phi potluck before Christmas. It was a blast from the past. I made it years ago after it was a third-place winner in
The Hutchinson News' Holiday Recipe contest back in 1988. I guess that recipe is as old as Brent.

It's a great dip for fruit, and I served it with some apples and pears for the party. But the original recipe used sweet tortilla chips: I also gave snackers that option.

In the original recipe, you make your own chips from flour tortillas. This time, I purchased already-made flour tortilla chips from Anchor Inn, a Mexican restaurant, in Hutchinson. After I got them home, I heated them briefly in the microwave and then sprinkled them with cinnamon-sugar while they were warm so the cinnamon-sugar would stick.

Whether you serve it with fruit or tortilla chips or both, it could be a pretty and tasty addition to a New Year's Eve table ... and good for leftovers when you watch football the next day. And it's super easy, too ... especially if you cheat and buy the chips. (And really, it's not cheating: It's just being efficient. Who needs more of a mess in the kitchen?)


Double Delight Strawberry Dip
1 pkg. (10 tortillas) flour tortillas, cut into 8 wedges each
1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
2 cups whipped topping, thawed
1/2 cup powdered sugar (or to taste)
2 10-oz. pkg. frozen strawberries, thawed

Deep fry tortillas and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Store in airtight container until ready to use.

Mix together all the other ingredients until smooth. Chill well.

To serve, put dip in glass bowl in the middle of a serving tray. (Garnish with a whole, fanned strawberry, if you have one available. I didn't.) Surround with tortilla chips or fruit.


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A Bowl Game Snack Riddle
Wednesday 29th of December 2010 08:43 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

What's black and white and purple all over?

It's a snack that's perfect for K-State's appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Eat 'em up! Eat 'em up! K-S-U!

We won't be making the trip to this bowl. We did drive down to Dallas for K-State's two different appearances in the Cotton Bowl. But this time, Jill and Eric, and my sister, Darci, will have to do the cheering for the rest of us. They'll be the only ones from our family making the trip to New York City and watching in person as the K-State Wildcats take on Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl game on Thursday.

They may wish they had a few of these snacks tucked in their pockets, since it still looks like negotiating New York City airports and streets may be a challenging as breaking through the K-State offensive line.

But that doesn't mean we won't cheer on our 'Cats from afar. If you're looking for a couple of snacks to offer your K-State football fans at a bowl watch party on Thursday, here are a couple of ideas.

I made them for Brent's graduation party earlier this month. But they would be perfect finger foods for bowl viewing, too. (I didn't realize how perfect until I looked at the photo and realized the Hugs stripes look like pinstripes!)

I realize a few misguided people in this world don't cheer for the K-State Wildcats. You could adapt these recipes for any school color scheme. For our Stafford Trojans, I could use red, black and white instead of purple and white. You can develop your own game plan when it comes to honoring your favorite team - whether that's high school, college or pro. Enjoy!

Pretzel Snacks
Square pretzels
Hugs candies, unwrapped
Colored candy discs
Colored M & Ms

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Line up square pretzels in rows on parchment-covered cookie sheets. Top each pretzel with either an unwrapped Hugs candy or a colored candy disc (in this case, purple!) I purchased the candy discs at a party store.

Put the cookie sheets in the oven for about 2 minutes. Test to see if the Hugs or the candy discs have started to melt. If they haven't, put them in for another minute or so. If they have started to melt sufficiently, remove from oven and top each with an M & M, pressing it in. (For Brent's graduation party, I topped each Hugs with a purple M & M and each purple disc with a white M & M. I bought the specialty colors at the party store.)

For Christmas, I used this same recipe. I topped each Hugs candy with a green M & M. I purchased green discs at the party store and topped each of those with a red M & M. I used these for our family Christmas gatherings, as well as giving them away with cookie and snack trays for the mailman, neighbors, etc.

You could adapt this recipe to any holiday, too. Use red and white M & Ms for Valentine's Day. Use pastel discs and M & Ms for Easter. And so on and so forth!

(The Powercat in the middle was made by melting purple candy coating and pouring into a mold.)


Toffee Snack Mix

12 cups cereal, pretzels, nuts
2/3 cup butter (no substitutes)
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup

This time, I used Chocolate Chex and mini pretzels. I sometimes have trouble finding Chocolate Chex. You can use Rice Chex or Crispix. I have also used fancy mixed nuts - just any combination of 12 cups of dry ingredients. Combine in large bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan. After mixture begins to boil, time boiling for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour over cereal mixture, mixing well. Pour out onto waxed or parchment paper. Break snack mix apart periodically while it cools. Store in airtight container.

Optional: The original recipe didn't call for chocolate. When I do the mix using chocolate, I make the mix as directed above. Then, I melt about 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (use the kind of chocolate you like: You can use milk chocolate or white chocolate). Pour it over the snack mix. I have tried to drizzle it, but I find it works just as well to spread over the snack mix and then lightly mix it or spread it.

Usually, if I add the chocolate, I put the snack mix on parchment-lined cookie sheets and then put it in the fridge to get it to set up faster.

For Brent's graduation party, I didn't melt the chocolate. Instead, after the snack mix was completely cool, I added purple and white M & Ms that I'd gotten at the party store. Use the colored M & Ms of your choice for holidays or cheering on your favorite team!

Bring on the 'Cats!


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Frosty Morning
Tuesday 28th of December 2010 09:18 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

Frosty branches outside the Stafford 1st United Methodist Church
December 26, 2010

The last two Sunday mornings, I've been tempted.

No, I wasn't tempted to sleep in. I wasn't tempted to skip church.

But I was tempted to be a little late.

The last two Sunday mornings have been frosted more carefully than any meticulously prepared Christmas cookie.

Oh, the fleeting beauty is hard to ignore!

But our church now starts at 9 AM. I have Sunday School materials to run off ahead of time, and a choir run-through to attend.

I know if I don't pull my camera from my purse, the moment will be gone yet again. The sun has been a sleepyhead these past two Sundays, but he's sure to awaken soon and melt away the moment.

The first week, I just gazed wistfully out the window. But this Sunday, as we motored past the old barn on the Zenith Road, I just couldn't resist. (Much like I'm having trouble resisting the leftover Christmas goodies still in my kitchen.)

"Could you back up?" I asked my chauffeur.

These days, my ever-patient husband doesn't even have to ask why. He knows there must be a photo op around somewhere.

Painter Andrew Wyeth once said about his work:

It's a moment that I'm after, a fleeting moment,
but not a frozen moment.

Actually, Andrew, it
was a frozen moment that I was after.


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All Grown Up
Monday 27th of December 2010 09:56 AM

By Kim L. Fritzemeier

KFRM Central Kansas Reporter

Farm Wife along the Stafford/Reno County Line

You know your baby is an adult when he insists he'll take care of his own grab bag gift for the extended family Christmas.

This year, instead of buying a gift for a specific person at the Moore family Christmas, we brought a grab bag gift.

I offered to buy Brent's for him. But he said he could handle it.

I offered to wrap it for him.

He said he could handle it.

You know all the sayings:

Well, we now have a variation on those proverbs.
Or maybe you should judge a gift by its wrapping - in a way the proverb writer never intended.

Brent's wrapping job was ... well ... very Brent.

Even if no one saw him come through the door at Grandma's and Grandpa's, they would have known it was his contribution to the day.

He used wrapping paper. But he used the non-snowman side.

He used tape. But it was duct tape.

He then went through newspapers and made his own decorations.

(I give this present one thumb's up!)

(This present is a real touchdown!)

(Boy, I sure wish we would have brought Jesus this gift instead of all that stupid frankincense.)

It sat amid the beautifully wrapped gifts brought by all the siblings and the cousins. Before it even started, Brent looked confident in his gift choice.

And it turned out that his gift won the prize for the most "stolen" gift of the night. As you might imagine in a room filled with purple-blooded people, there were a multitude of K-State-themed gifts, especially since the grab bag was supposed to be unisex.

But Brent's framed and matted and
autographed photo of Jacob Pullen's Sports Illustrated cover was the hit of the grab bag party.

(Sorry I didn't get a photo of the actual gift.)

Even though, as Brent intoned, the gift was worth more "a couple of days ago."

But even with Mr. Pullen's problems with the NCAA, Brent's gift was a winner.

I wish I'd gotten a photo of the proud new owner of the Jacob Pullen cover. Brent's cousin, Brian, who was among the last people to choose gifts, got to walk out the door with Jacob.

And it turns out after multiple passes around the room that Brent's present illustration turned out to be the most prophetic:

(I'm devastated I didn't get this present!)


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