About chelsea

Chelsea Rotunno is the author of Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, a novel about life as a Christian teen searching for true love.

Author Archive | chelsea

2 Chicken Soup Toppings That Will Change Your Life

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Have you been eating lots of chicken soup on these rainy January days? I have! I am a big soup person. I just love homemade soup. The recipe I use is the basic Chicken Noodle Soup recipe from the big red and white checkered Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I have the recipe memorized.

For awhile my kids would say, “We are having chicken noodle soup again?” because I make a really big pot with a double recipe so it will last for a few meals. But now, with these toppings, my kids don’t complain about eating more soup.

Our Latvian friends over at Gleanings for the Hungry introduced us to the most AMAZING combination of ingredients that you can put on top of almost any soup.

It’s so simple, but so delicious. My kids don’t get excited about having soup until I mention that I have . . .

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L E M O N

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and  S O U R  C R E A M !

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Suddenly, everyone wants to eat chicken soup!

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I just realized that my pic shows the lemon in the soup, but you will want to squeeze the lemon juice in your soup. Just in case you needed me to clarify that.

One more topping we learned from our friend is chopped black olives. You like black olives? Put some on top of your lemon and sour cream.

What is your favorite soup to eat on these beautiful rainy days? Do you already put lemon and sour cream on your soup or do you put another topping that I need to know about? Please share!

P.S. I haven’t announced this yet on the blog, but we are moving to Gleanings for the Hungry in a few weeks! You can find out more about our decision to become full-time missionaries with this amazing organization here.

I hope you enjoy some nice hot soup with your loved ones soon. And let me know what you think of the lemon and sour cream.

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Christmas Sunday — Church?

Christmas Sunday Nope

Did you take your kids to church on Christmas Sunday?

When I checked the calendar and saw that Christmas was on a Sunday this year, I told Andy, “Well, I’m not planning to go to church on Christmas. We are going the night before, on Christmas Eve, right?”

He said, “I want to go on Christmas too.”

I was stunned. I had to think for a bit about what it was that made me anxious about it … about dragging the kids out of the house when all they want to do is eat a nice breakfast, do a short, sweet Bible time, and play with their new toys–just like every other Christmas morning.

I want to think that Christmas morning at home is sacred as well.

Does Christmas morning have to happen in a church sanctuary just because it’s Sunday? Can Christmas morning at home be sacred too? Am I being … selfish?

Andy didn’t understand why I got all nervous. I didn’t understand why, either, until I thought about it for a few minutes.

IDEALLY, CHRISTMAS MORNING SHOULD NOT BE STRESSFUL … Right?

You see, my sisters and I will tell you that we do not have good memories of getting to church, especially on holidays. It wasn’t CHURCH that was the problem, it was the anxiety of getting ready and getting to church on time.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I know my mom and dad had the best intentions. I love that they love Jesus and wanted to be at church every Sunday. They were trying to do the right thing and bring honor and glory to God by having us attend church as a family.

But it was stressful.

What will your kids remember?

I wanted to honor Andy and what he wanted to do. I really did.

So we attended church on Christmas Eve … but on Christmas morning, I just couldn’t do it after getting only a few hours of sleep.

Andy ended up taking our oldest child to church Christmas morning. He said it was a lovely service, and that I really missed out. That made me sad.

He was definitely OK with my decision to stay home with the other four kids, even though he wished we came too.

But you know what? I am a bit precarious right now, and I really didn’t need to stress over going to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to choose either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day to attend church. I don’t think it’s necessary to do both. What do you think? Should I feel bad for not going?

What did you do this year? Did you attend church on Christmas Eve and Christmas Sunday morning, even if you have young kids? Do you have good or bad memories of going to church on Christmas morning when you were younger?

Please share!

Christmas Sunday

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7 Fun, Simple Christmas Traditions to Enjoy with Your Family

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#1 READING CHRISTMAS BOOKS OUT LOUD

#2 PUTTING TOGETHER A 1000 PIECE CHRISTMAS PUZZLE

#3 ROLLING CHANGE FOR CHARITY

#4 WRITING CHRISTMAS LETTERS TO EACH CHILD

#5 MAKING CRAFTS WITH ELDERLY NEIGHBORS

#6 MAKING HANDMADE CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

#7 BAKING ANDY’S FAVORITE ITALIAN COCOA COOKIES

WHEN IT COMES TO CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS, stick to what you love! What did you love about Christmas when you were growing up? What made you feel safe, connected, and cherished? Here are my favorite Christmas memories that turned into fun, simple Christmas traditions for my own family:

#1 READING CHRISTMAS BOOKS OUT LOUD

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One of my most favorite memories from my childhood is sitting in the living room listening to my dad read out loud. I loved listening to fun, happy stories around Christmastime, and my kids do too.

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This year, I found a new favorite read-aloud book that is perfect for kids of all ages: The Children of Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren. What a sweet and funny book! Each chapter is about the holiday customs of six Swedish children living in the countryside.

From the chapter titled “Christmas in Noisy Village” …

I don’t know when Christmas starts in other places, but in Noisy Village it starts the day we bake ginger snaps. We have almost as much fun that day as on Christmas Eve. Karl Bill and I each get a big chunk of gingersnap dough, and we can bake it in the shape of anything we want. The last time we were to bake ginger snaps, Karl forgot all about it and went to the forest with Daddy to get wood. Right in the middle of the forest he remembered what day it was and rushed home so fast that the snow whirled around him, Daddy said.

(If you need a ginger cookie recipe, here is one of our favorites!)

For years, Andy and I have been reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to our kids every Christmas. We just love that book! It is still one of our favorites. But now my kids are asking me to read The Children of Noisy Village!

#2 PUTTING TOGETHER A 1000-PIECE CHRISTMAS PUZZLE

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When I was little, my sisters would start the 1000-piece Santa Clause puzzle every December. I wasn’t allowed to touch the puzzle until I was old enough to not break it! So just imagine how excited I was to finally get to work on the Santa Claus puzzle. A few years ago, I went looking for a similar puzzle to start with my own kids. I thought this puzzle looked fun and delicious.

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This year, we found out that we have one piece missing.

We finished the puzzle early this year, so I think I will put it away and bring out more puzzles to keep our hands busy on rainy days.

#3 ROLLING CHANGE FOR CHARITY

Andy’s mom gave the kids a jar that counts change and told them to save up their change all year so they could give a donation to charity the following Christmas.

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This became a fun and meaningful Christmas tradition for the kids. The first few years we gave our donation to Smile Train and World Vision. This year we will give it to a friend in need.

#4 WRITING CHRISTMAS LETTERS TO EACH CHILD

The best part about writing a letter to each child this time of year is that it helps me remember their stage of life, the funny things they say and do, and how they interact with each other–the little things that photos and videos cannot capture.

I keep the letters in a special book that holds our family photos and/or Christmas cards as well. It might mean more to me than it does to them, but as they get older they appreciate the memories more and more.

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#5 MAKING CRAFTS WITH ELDERLY NEIGHBORS

Our lovely neighbor made crafts with her grandchildren every year and gave them to their parents for Christmas. Soon after we moved in, she decided she would adopt our kids as her grandchildren and carry on the same tradition to surprise Andy and me with the projects our kids completed at her house. The crafts are really nice, sometimes quite complicated projects that take a few months. I can’t wait to see what they have been working on this year!

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Angelina made this beaded bell decoration last Christmas.

#6 MAKING HANDMADE CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

After I saw a magazine article picturing a tree with all handmade, natural ornaments: orange slices that had been dried in the oven, cinnamon stick stars, simple decorative paper that was hole-punched and strung, and simple cutouts of white, baked dough, I decided that I wanted to decorate my tree that way. I love how the natural items look on real tree branches!

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I added a few more things over the years: baked cinnamon dough cutouts, rosemary wreaths, white and red bean patterns glued to cardboard shapes, and white yarn pom-poms. It is fun for me to come up with a new, handmade, natural item to add to the tree each year. Of course, the kids make all kinds of handmade ornaments at preschool and church, and we hang those on the tree, along with candy canes and framed photo ornaments of the kids.

#7 BAKING ANDY’S FAVORITE ITALIAN COCOA COOKIES

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Because Andy’s birthday is in December, and his favorite cookies are the Italian Cocoa Cookies his great great grandmother used to make, these cookies have become a Christmas tradition in our family. They are made with flour, butter, milk, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and spices, and topped with chocolate icing. He prefers it when I bake them with a maraschino cherry in the middle–like his grandmother did!

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Looking over this post, I notice that my traditions are not super spiritual or focused on the birth of Jesus. We have those traditions too! But for this list, I included some things that I find simple, meaningful, and fun. I see these traditions and all of the traditions of Christmas as part of the tremendous gift that Jesus offers us in this life. I thank him for letting me live in a time of peace in my country, so I can enjoy these blessings with my family. As my elderly neighbor, who grew up during war, always reminds me: “You young people have no idea how lucky you are. You have no idea.”

For many of us, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without our special family traditions. What is one of your family traditions that you want to pass along? Please share!

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