12th Day Of Christmas: The Donarski Clan

20141225_104706Today was Christmas Day – the 12th day of Christmas according to my blog. We stayed at my parents last night, watched The Interview via YouTube and my mom and I wrote a poem. Christmas morning was grand. Santa came with gifts which was a delightful surprise because we thought Christmas was over and done with on my side of the family and we decided to stay overnight just the day before. Santa’s definitely on top of his game this year.

Dad made breakfast. I ordered his classic fried egg sandwich. We were low on bread so he substituted a bagel. Delish! I don’t really do breakfast but I just can’t pass up my dad’s early morning cooking.

Early afternoon we headed over to Channing’s parents house. Soon after, his sisters and their kids came. Channing has two nieces and a nephew. They’re the light of the family. There is just something about kids that makes the world keep spinning and helps all your worries fade away.

Dinner was at 5ish followed by a couple drinks. Channing’s dad makes the best mashed potatoes around. I’m a total starch junkie so anything potato I always enjoy but something about these potatoes makes them my favorite.

Next up was gift time! It’s always so nice to have everyone together and watch the kids open their presents. Jayde is a veteran, she’s been doing this for years. She’s growing into such a young woman that it’s crazy. I came into her life just after she turned 5 years old and now she’s 11 going on 30! Make-up, purses, fashion, perfume!

Duane is at that age where when he knows there’s something for him, he wants it now! And it better be Thomas! He got Thomas all right. It was a healthy mix between Thomas gear and Cars fandom. He loved it!

And lastly there is Evy, oh little Evy. It was her very first Christmas. They put her down for a nap shortly before the gift opening but somehow, some way she knew it was Christmas and woke up just in time for the action. Her mom and dad opened her gifts. She’ll be good on books and toys for awhile that’s for sure!

After a game and a little more visiting we decided to part ways and head home. Thankfully the roads were clear. We avoided any forecasted snow so that’s always a plus. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (or any other holiday you may celebrate) season!! If you’re not home yet, drive safe. When saying your goodbyes, hug a little tighter and don’t forget to say thank you for everything! Often times the hosts, cooks, and Santa’s don’t get the appropriate recognition.

Merry Christmas to all and all a good night!

 

 

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11th Day Of Christmas: ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house,
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.
But yet I heard a knock at the door..
Who could it be, a delivery for me!?
I went to see but whoever was there,
was there no more.
Was it a sound in my head
or just a spirit in the air;
something telling me it’s time to prepare.
As the man in the family had to work half a day,
I decided there was no time to play.
My crock pot was lined and ready for use.
I pulled out the carrots, potatoes, and moose.
(Just kidding it was a roast.)
As the roast was cooking and made the room warm,
what better to do than pick up my dorm?
I did the dishes and made the bed,
took the garbage out and was ready to be fed.
Dinner was served and deserved.
The leftovers preserved..
We exchanged gifts full of if’s and thrifts.
Next up was a safe travel from here to there.
Munchies were bought and lottery tickets were a thought.
I had to buy them even though not everyone wins.
For even a dollar would secure me a new set of bobby pins.
We visited Ashley and surly but not lastly
watched the end of Home Alone which was very catchy.
Christmas Vacation was up next..
but I got a text.
Dad had made Gramma Aggie bars;
they’re a family favorite of ours.
From there to here after a quick drive,
to mom and dads house we did arrive.
Thanks to Sony and Un’s bogus phony bologna,
we finally watched The Interview
and then mom and I wrote this rhyme for you.
For now ’twas the night before Christmas and all through the house,
not a kitty was stirring;
for purring they were with such delight
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!

Written by Orianah Fast & Julie Fast

10th Day Of Christmas: Traditions

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about family traditions centered around the holidays. Now that all three of us kids are grown, we’re kind of at that in between stage where a lot of our childhood, as a family, traditions have fallen by the wayside. None of us are yet married or have had children. We’re not quite….you know, established.

This, of course, got me to think about Channing and our future. Our future children, our lives, our pets, our home. I decided to start a running list of family traditions I’d like my future (and current) family to adopt. The below traditions come from various sources. Some may have been from my own childhood memories, TV shows and movies, or just things I never have done and always wanted to do. They are in no particular order of importance but I thought it’d be a fun thing to start and have as a reference down the line.

  • Dinner Wear: At the dinner table whether it be our immediate family or extended, everyone will have a special something to wear during dinner placed on their plates. It might be a nice pair of earrings, reindeer antlers, or light up glasses. Who knows. Whatever it is, it’ll be a fun and not so “stuffy” Christmas dinner.
  • ‘Tis The Night Before Christmas Box: My dad always tried to have us open our Christmas gifts on Christmas Day but every year, it seemed like we opened a lot of them on Christmas Eve (if not earlier) and then Santa’s gifts on Christmas Day. I’d like to go back to the traditional Christmas Day gift opening. However, I think it would be a memorable tradition to let everyone open a “‘Tis The Night Before Christmas Box.” Inside it would include a similar arrangement of Christmas Eve goodies each year. A new pair of jammies, slippers, a Christmas mug, hot chocolate (and marshmallows of course!), and maybe a Christmas surprise like a movie or family game.
  • Trim The Tree: I know it sounds cliche and actually most of these probably do but I want my family to trim the tree together. Anyone who’s anyone knows that decorating for Christmas can be both fun and exhausting so why not create as much joy as possible? I don’t care who helps or how it’s done but as long as our family can decorate our tree together, I’ll be happy.
  • Christmas Classics: There are too many Christmas shows and movies to name when it comes to squeezing them all in during the holiday season. A few of my favorites and some that I actually have not seen yet must make the list each year at some point between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. I’ve listed a few: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, Frosty The Snowman, It’s A Wonderful Life, Scrooge… There are so many I can’t even remember but you get the idea.
  • Skating: This is more of a winter thing and actually Channing has yet to learn how to skate but I would like to, as a family, go on a skating outing each holiday season. Maybe it’s the Lifetime movies talking but something about skating makes Christmas seem so much more magical.
  • Christmas Lights: Drive around and look at Christmas lights around the area. I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience to decorate the outside of my house as wonderful as some do so why not make it a tradition to admire someone else’s handy work?
  • Music: I love Christmas music. When I was in high school and worked at K-Mart, I would have told you a different story but now that I’m in the real grown up life of a world, Christmas music is so refreshing and comforting. It reminds me of so many things from Christmas mass to Grandmas Rita’s house.
  • And that brings me to…Midnight Mass: This one is still up in the air. I was raised Catholic and still value much of what I was taught. Being raised with religion as background noise gave me a solid moral compass and I am forever grateful. However, since being confirmed in 11th grade and going out into the world, organized religion has been put on the back-burner. Although the memories that I had were ones of great importance and the traditions my faith stood by mean a lot to me – there is far more that is hard to understand and accept. I believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit but I don’t believe that God discriminates. I won’t go further on that topic at the moment but I often wonder if I can raise my children to have a spiritual connection with God (or whoever) by not bringing them up in church. Midnight Mass was the highlight of my Christmas season when I was younger. The smells, the music, the ambiance. It was magic. Or maybe it was just the beauty of the Warroad church and it was way past my bedtime. Who knows.

This post is getting awfully lengthy. There are many more traditions I’m sure I’ve left out. I plan to send out Christmas cards every year, teach my children the importance of giving rather than receiving, and to binge watch Lifetime movies. I plan to show up and embarrass them at their Christmas school concerts and build snowmen and women outside. I plan to take a yearly trip to the Bunny Hill in Warroad and to visit family no matter how far.

If you have any fun or memorable family traditions, I’d love to hear about them!! And Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

9th Day Of Christmas: Baby’s 1st Christmas

Channing’s sister Savanna and her husband Louie welcomed a new baby girl into the family this past October. She’s such a tiny little sweetheart and she’s already brought a lot of joy into the world in the few short months we’ve known her!

Last night, Channing and I stopped over at their house to give them baby Evy’s first Christmas ornament. I searched high and low to find something that would be just perfect. Believe it or not, it’s not that easy to find a nice “Baby’s 1st Christmas” ornament around here that will last for years and years.

IMG_7976I happened to be in Grand Forks a couple weeks ago and stopped at Hallmark (praise the Lord!) and they had a pretty decent selection of 1st Christmas ornaments. I know that Savanna loves to read to Evy so I decided to get the one you see to the right. Luckily, I was able to find the matching book in town at Target too; “On the Night You Were Born.”

I had to read the book before I gave it to them. It made me a little teary-eyed reading it and thinking about when Channing and I decide to have kids and how life as we know it will change, how we will feel. How Savanna and Louie must have felt once Evy was born. How our parents felt and how their parents felt. Babies…children; they really are little miracles and once they step foot into our world, life never is the same.

“On the night you were born, the moon shone with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ Because there had never been anyone like you…ever in the world.” ~Nancy Tillman (On the Night You Were Born)

If you’d like to purchase this book or ornament for a new baby in your family or just because, both can be found on amazon.com.

7th Day Of Christmas: St. Nick’s

‘Tis the day after the Fast Family Christmas. I’m a little behind (late) with writing yesterday and today’s blog because we’ve been spending time with family and traveling. It’s okay though, I’m sure the faithful three people who read this will understand.

Crouching Nick + Katie

Crouching Nick + Katie

Yesterday my brother Nick and his girlfriend Katie hosted Christmas for the first time. It was an eventful trip up there. Our GPS took us on a pretty slippery yet scenic route. But we couldn’t get there before I got a bloody nose mid-drive and on the interstate. Talk about multi-tasking. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Nick and Katie made ham and mashed potatoes (two of my favorites) along with some chicken and lefse. My mom brought a cheese ball and crackers and we had an arrangement of different desserts including my grandmas family-famous fudge.

Logan + A Little Bit Of Tania

Logan + A Bit Of Tania

We visited, ate dinner, opened gifts, and played a couple games. Overall, we had a pretty good time. It’s really nice to be able to have everyone under one roof which sadly doesn’t happen often anymore because we’re all growing up and spreading our wings.

My favorite part of the afternoon and early evening was watching It’s A Wonderful Life headlining Jimmy Stewart. My family insists I have (but I haven’t) seen the movie; until last night. I guess if I have, my memory is just about as bad as my dads – who, by the way, doesn’t remember going to the movie Click featuring Adam Sandler or RV starring the late Robin Williams. We went to both of those films as a family!

My brother had the colorized version of IAWL. I was only half paying attention at first but towards the middle, the movie pulled me in. It was a great movie and Channing and I are planning on watching it again this week before the end of the Christmas season.

Dad + Grandma Rita

Dad + Grandma Rita

I really wish we could all be a little closer. It seems that as we grow older life moves faster. Time slips away and pretty soon you don’t quite know who is who anymore. I love my family more than anything else in the world but each time I visit with my brothers, I get a feeling that I don’t like. An awareness that makes me feel like I don’t know them like I should. We’re still very close but nowhere near as close as we were just two or three years ago seeing each other every single day.

Reflecting on our drive home this afternoon it makes me want to appreciate moments like Christmas even more than usual. I chose to let a couple small things irritate me this weekend not only at family gatherings but in regular, everyday life and I need to quit that. It’s a waste of time to get bothered by little things. I’ll still do it, probably for the rest of my life just because that’s who I am but I don’t need to let it alter my mood or attitude.

My Beautiful Mom

My Beautiful Mom

This morning my parents took Channing, Nick, and myself out to breakfast. It was a nice send off before we parted ways. I know I’ll see my mom in the next month or so but I don’t know when I’ll see Nick or Logan next. Thinking about this, it circles back to a previous post I wrote about a year or so ago – holding onto the past. I sometimes catch myself living in the past thinking that the past was so much better or so much easier then it is now. Friendships, relationships, sibling-hood, everything. Everything was so much better but life happens. We have to deal with it and evolve. Evolve into an even better past than what we thought was already the best past.

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Channing + Me

With that being said, thanks to Nick and Katie for hosting Christmas. To Grandma Rita for coming to Christmas and brining your legendary fudge. To mom and dad for breakfast, the gifts, and the unconditional love. To Logan and Tania for visiting and making me laugh. And to Channing, for getting creative when my face was gushing blood. Merry Christmas to us. I hope that whatever happens and wherever we go in the year 20-15, that we’ll always have each other and never to forget to share our best memories with each other always. ❤

 

6th Day Of Christmas: Holiday Treats

Easy peasy recipe time! Tomorrow my brother is hosting Christmas in Fargo. One of the things I was asked to bring was dessert. Well actually truffles, but I thought I’d try something different that took less time since I’ve been so busy this week. I remembered a super delicious treat that an old co-worker brought at a potluck back in Grand Forks and I thought it’d be the perfect time to try it out!

I made two variations of pretzel candies. One for a salt lover and one for a chocolate lover. Don’t worry, they both contain salt AND chocolate. Christmas must haves right?

Prep Time: 10 Minutes               Cook Time: 2-3 Minutes               Cool Down: 15 Minutes

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Hug-M’s Pretzels
Pretzels
HUGS Kisses
M&M’s

Turtle Pretzels
Pretzels
ROLO’s
Cashews

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Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Unwrap all the candies. (This is the “hardest” part 🙂 )
3. On a regular cookie or pizza sheet, lay down a piece of wax paper
4. Put as many pretzels as you can fit on the sheet. Make sure they are all whole (not broken) and don’t overlap.
5. Place a HUG or ROLO in the center of each pretzel and then carefully put the cookie sheet of pretzels and candies into the oven.
6. Depending on which candy you’re using, set your timer.
For HUGS: 2 Minutes
For ROLOS: 3 Minutes
7. Once they are semi melted, pull out of the oven and top with either M&M’s or cashews. (M&M’s for the HUGS and cashews for the ROLOS)
8. Put in the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool.
9. Every cook deserves the first bite – Enjoy!
Repeat as needed depending on how many batches you want to make.

5th Day Of Christmas: Secret Santa

IMG_8012Today was our Employee Appreciation slash Secret Santa Exchange Party. I got pretty lucky. “Santa” dropped off a few small gifts during the week which was a pleasant surprise each morning. Tonight, at our party, we snacked on some delicious food from a local grocer, played a little Tenzie, and opened our Secret Santa gifts. I received a candle (lilac, my favorite!) and beautiful Christmas ornament along with a “new to town” Paul Bunyan shot glass and magnet! An added surprise from our employer was a gift card for groceries which definitely comes in handy this time of the year!

IMG_7993And since my giftee was so excited about their Christmas gift, I decided to post it as well because it was really fun to make. I’m one of the newest employees to the office so I don’t really know anyone too well. I had to do a little “snooping” in order to find something really good. And based on my research, this was the perfect fit! I knew it was cool but I was actually surprised by his reaction and I quote: “This is kick-ass!” The photo to the right doesn’t do it justice but you’ll get the idea.

Does your employer or group of co-workers host a Secret Santa Exchange? I’d love to hear what you gifted and were given!