Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

I am taking a blogging break, and am going to just enjoy the holidays and my family for the next week-n-a-half! Have a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year, from my family to yours! See you on Monday, January 5, 2009! Be safe and God bless. XOXO
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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas

"The true Chirstmas spirit is never found in a surfeit of things. It is less obvious in arrival and more lasting in impact."

-Thomas S. Monson

"Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thyself."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Dinner Recipes

Ang's Ham Sauce

2 Tbsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 envelope Knox gellatin (soaked in 1/3 c. warm water)
1/3 c. cider vinegar
4 well-beaten eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 pt. whipping cream

Directions: Mix dry ingredients in a small saucepan or double boiler. Add vinegar, then eggs and gelliton. Cook on stove until thick. (If you don't have a double boiler, use a saucepan and heat on low, stirring to avoid scortching). Mix in sugar and cool. Whip cream. Fold into cooled mustard mixture. Pour into a bowl or jello mold and chill. Serve over ham.
This ham sauce recipe was from my aunt. She can't remember who she got it from long ago. It's very original, because I've never seen it in any other cookbook or website, unless I was the contributer!

Holiday Potatoes

6 large potatoes (baked, cooled, peeled and shredded)
Add to potatoes:
1 c. sour cream
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 c. melted butter or margarine

Mix all together and put in 9x13 pan. Top with 1/2 to 3/4 c. more cheese. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 min.

New Improved Green Bean Casserole

White sauce:
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. milk
1/2 tsp. finely chopped onion
1/2 c. sour cream
2 cans green beans, drained
1 1/2 c. swiss cheese, shredded
Top with:
1/3 c. crushed corn flake
1 Tbsp. butter

Directions: Make white sauce over stove. Stir in sour cream, onions, green beans and cheese. Put into baking dish. Brown corn flake crumbs in butter and sprinkle over bean dish. Bake uncovered at 400 for 20 minutes. Pin It

Christmas Cheer

I keep forgetting to post about another elf website I found out about recently. It's called Elf on the Shelf! Go check it out- it looks really cute.

This year has been really crazy and a bit more stressful for me than usual, so I'm barely managing to get teacher gifts sent to school with my kids. I didn't send cards this year, nor goodie plates or friend gifts either. It's just not in the cards for me this year!

But I do have plenty of quick gift-giving ideas to share with you anyway! Some cute ones I have found on some other blogs are:
Neighbor Treats, Reindeer Noses, Slippers- (a funny gag) and a Snowman Kit at It's All in My Head.
Peppermint Patties and Scrabble frames over at Bizzy Bee.
Neighbor gifts at Life Frosing.
Last minute teacher gifts from Skip to My Lou.

Here are a few of the ones I have done in years passed. (I don't know how to put them on here in .pdf form, so if you want a copy of any of these you will have to copy/paste the .jpg image onto your computer and manipulate it to fit the page for printing. I lost all of these on my hard drive when my computer crashed a couple years ago, so these are just scanned copies. Sorry. :(

I also just made this cute treat for my son to take to his Secret Santa exchange tomorrow. In case you can't read it very well, here is the quote for the Whoppers candy. "Christmas is coming and so are the deer. Listen closely and bells you will hear. Along with them come special treats. Reindeer droppings for you to eat!"

Finally, every Christmas I say the same thing- "I'm never doing homemade gifts again!" They are SO time consuming. But they are also very special. So what do I do every year still? I end up making some homemade gifts. This year I made my sis-in-law a bunch of bows, headbands, and flower clips for her new baby girl. I am aslo making tu-tu's for my two girls and my two nieces. I found the tu-tu tute on Viola, my new fave blog! Pin It

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Warmth in a Mug

The weather has been FREEZING in my town the last few days!! It was only 12 degrees just a few hours ago (according to my van). BURRRR!! So what's a cold wintery day without a nice warm mug of hot cocoa and a good book? (Yeah right, like I have time for that right now.) I found a couple of yummy-looking recipes for homemade hot chocolate on two other blogs. Go to over to Inspired Living for Angie's and A Feathered Nest for Abby's.

Now if you're not into chocolate, here's a delightful recipe for

Hot Cinnamon Milk Mix:
2 c. powdered milk
1 c. powdered coffee creamer
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Add 1/3 c. mix to 1 c. hot water in a mug. Add a few drops of vanilla for extra flavor. Mmmmm! (You can buy powdered milk and dry coffee creamer in bulk at certain stores!)

Now, to top it off right... I found a recipe while blog-surfing last year for Pink Peppermint Cool Whip. I can't remember who's blog this idea came from, so if it was yours please let me know!

All you do is unwrap and put the mints into the blender and blend them into a pink powder. (It's VERY loud, so don't do it at nap time!) Sometimes one will get caught in the blades, so don't be alarmed. Just turn off, loosen it and keep going.

Now mix the peppermint powder into the Cool Whip (to taste) and it's ready for dolloping!

Save the unused peppermint powder in an air-tight baggy or container to sprinkle on cookies or other things.

I found the cutest idea for a Hot Chocolate Bar at Homemaking Fun.

*Another hot chocolate tip- Try spicing up your hot chocolate for unsuspecting guests with a little cinnamon and nutmeg. There are also lots of flavored powdered coffee creamers for people to mix in their own added flavor. Be creative! Pin It

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Tute- Glass Ball Ornaments

I love clear glass ornaments. There are endless possibilities for easy crafts with these suckers. Above is one with a picture of my late mother-in-law. (My husband's aunt had made these for him and his sisters the Christmas after his mom passed away.)
These are some other ones that I have gotten. They are made with transparencies.
All you do is photocopy an image onto tranparencies (at an office store, using the photo setting). Black-n-white sketches are best on transparencies. (Colored photos are best on paper, or you can't really see them very well.)

Then you use a circle cutter and template (like this one above) and cut out the image. Then roll it up and feed it through the hole on top of the ornament. Put the lid back on the ornament and tie on some ribbon or whatever. You can also put confetti inside, like in the picture.
For images, I like the clear glass ornaments that are slightly flat, like the one in the last picture. You can find those at any craft store.

Here is an "I Spy" one.

The only thing is that you have to glue down some of the ribbon to close off the hole on the top, or all the stuff will come out.

For more clever ideas for glass ornaments, I found some on Bizzy Bee Creations, Alpha Mom via Skip to My Lou and It's All in My Head. The possibilities are endless! Be creative! Pin It

Monday, December 15, 2008

The BEST Christmas Cookies!!

Here are my two most favorite sugar cookie recipes. If you can top these, I want to know about it! This first one is from my sister, Amanda that she got from her friend, Chrissy. They are SO soft and perfect.

Soft Sugar Cookies

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 1/2 c. to 5 1/2 c. flour (sifted is best)

Directions: Cream butter, sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients. Mix just until combined. Chill in fridge at least 1 hour.
Roll to 1/2" thick on floured surface (the thicker, the softer, the less flour, the more flavor)
Bake @ 325 for about 11 minutes. (cookies will look barely done)-DO NOT OVER BAKE!

This other is the one I grew up with. These are the very BEST, in my opinion. But I'm not sure if it's just because I grew up on them or if they really are the best.

Butter Cookies

2 c. butter (softened)
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. lemon extract
6 c. four
1 tsp. baking powder

Directions: Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and lemon ext. Mix in flour and baking powder. Chill dough for several hours (I don't). Roll thin and cut into desired shapes. Bake at 425 for 5-6 minutes, (until barely done). Do not overbake!! Cool and frost. Makes 12-14 doz.

Now there IS a difference between these two cookie recipes. The sugar cookies come out puffier and the butter cookies hold the cookie-cutter's form. I love the hint of lemon flavor in the butter cookies, and the way they crumble and almost melt in your mouth. They even taste good plain (without frosting), but I like them best frosted. Sugar cookies are not my fave unfrosted, but with frosting and sprinkles I love the texture. Tasting the two recipes side-by-side and frosted, it's hard to decide which one is my most fave.
(Click on image for closer examination)

For another wonderful sugar cookie recipe, go to Picky Palate. Her sugar cookie recipe is very similar to mine. I have yet to try hers out. She also introduces us to "fondant" which is something else that looks fun to try! (Maybe I'll try it for Valentine's.)

Lastly, here are a few important sugar cookie tips:
1. Never overbake! (or they will not be soft)
2. You can freeze UNfrosted sugar/butter cookies in air-tight containers for several months. (I don't know about you, but rolling out these suckers can get pretty tedious! so why not make a bunch one time and freeze!)
3. Homemade frosting is the best on sugar/butter cookies, in my opinion. Be creative and try using different flavorings in your frosting. Some good ones to try are almond and peppermint. (Not at the same time of course). :)

And here is my favorite frosting recipe:

Butter Frosting (from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

1/3 c. butter or margarine
4 1/2 - 5 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cream together with a mixer or beaters.

There you go! Now have fun making the most fabulous Christmas cookies for friends and family! Let me know how it goes!!

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Christmas Fun for the Kiddos

My friend, Gina just emailed me a link for Santa to send a personalized video to your kids. I tried it and it's super easy, and really cute!

Gina also reminded me of the cutest website where you can make a virtual gingerbread house. This is a good one for a bored child in need of some entertainment while you're doing laundry or wrapping gifts or something. Be careful though... YOU may end up being the one making the virtual gingerbread house. It's actually quite fun!

Okay... Check back later today for my next post. I'll be posting my 2 fave sugar cookie recipes- yes TWO recipes! (I create my posts before I go to bed the night before they post, and right now it is extremely late and I'm exhausted.) I'm behind a day on my posts because Thursday night there was something wrong with Blogger and it wouldn't let me do my post (or did I do something wrong?). I will stack some posts together to get it all in before Christmas. Stay tuned for some fabulous holiday recipes from my own kitchen, and some more holiday inspiration! Pin It

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Tradition- Twelve Days of Christmas

Some girlfriends told me about this book, The Twelve Days of Christmas by Betty Van Orden. A few of them are following the ideas in this book for a more meaningful Christmas. I don't have a copy, but I did read through it pretty good recently while at Seagull Book. It's awesome!! Betty Van Orden wrote this book after her kids were grown and raising their own families. These are the things she does for her kids to share with her grandchildren. She has different themes to choose from inside the book. You'll just have to go and check it out. It is found at Seugull Book, Deseret Book, Amazon.com, and I'm sure it's probably also at Barnes and Noble and Borders. Pin It

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Giving to Our Neighbors

For the first time ever we got "jingled" the other night. We've been "Boo'd" several times (for Halloween) but never jingled. It was fun, and yummy too! Now we get to jingle 2 of our neighbors if we want to keep it going. Go to this website to print out the poem and go jungle your neighbors tonight!!

Something I did last year for our neighbors was the Giving Basket. I filled this pretty basket with all kinds of holiday stuff and attached a note with instructions and our Christmas greeting to our neighbors.

Here's a closer look at what I put in.

Here's the little note that I had attached to the basket. (click on picture to enlarge)

And on the back I made a little map and schedule to help make it easier.

And it worked! It came back with different stuff in it and greeting cards from all my neighbors. It was a neat tradition that my friend, Debbie shared with me. Her neighbors look forward to the giving basket every year!
Go here and here to see my posts on this from last year.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Friday Faves on Tuesday- Christmas Books

are just a handful
of the books that
we keep under our Christmas tree
to be read during "Around the Christmas Tree"
and all throughout Christmas time.
This last one by Glenn Beck is new this year. Glenn was here in my town last night, and we got to go to his Christmas Sweater concert! It was incredible. This book is so moving and inspirational!

There are many more Christmas books and stories that are so wonderful. What are your faves? Pin It

Monday, December 8, 2008

My Town Monday- The "Real" Santa

Who's your favorite Santa? We think the best one is at the Karcher Mall in Nampa! We tell our kids that he is the REAL Santa. We love him because he has a real beard and is so tender and personable with the kids. We also love going to Karcher Mall for 2 other reasons: It's never crowded, and the Victoria Secret store is not right next to him with women in lingerie covering the window for the kids to look at while waiting in line.

We took our kids to visit the "real" Santa at Karcher this last weekend, and there happened to be no one else waiting in line. So Santa spent time talking with each of the kids, and even told a couple of stories about the reindeer and how Rudolf's nose became red, and about things going on at the North Pole. He made the kids laugh by calling them made-up names at the end so they would tell him their real names again. Just a warm, sweet man! You can tell that he enjoys being there.
We are very impressed.

Now for a scary story. I just got an email from my sis-in-law last night about something that happened in my safe lil' town this last week...
"I just got a call from a co-worker who had a frightening experience at the corner of Orchard and Fairview on Monday night. She was sitting at the light when a man walked up to her car and reached for the door. Luckily she saw him coming and quickly locked the car because just as the locks clicked he jiggled the door handle! He kept trying to get in the car until she drove off!!! We don't think of these things happening here in Boise but now I know someone that had it happen to her!!! PLEASE be sure to drive with your doors locked and be aware of what's going on around you. He wasn't grossly dressed or anything; just looked like a regular guy until he was trying to open her car door and pounding on the window!!! She contacted the police as soon as she got home and found out that there are more and more of these cases happening here. I think it's only going to get worse with the economy taking a nosedive. Girls......please be careful, cautious and safe out there and please please take this seriously and pass it along to anyone that you care about! This happened not too far from where I live and at an intersection that I drive EVERY day!!! SCARY!"

That was copy/pasted from the email I received. Pin It

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Fave Christmas Tradition- "Around the Christmas Tree"

Another one of my favorite Christmas traditions is called Around the Christmas Tree. Every night before family prayer and bed, we gather around the Christmas tree with our blankies to read a Christmas story together. We turn off all other lights in the house so the Christmas tree is the only one shining. Sometimes we share a scripture and sing a Christmas song along with it. I know some families who also have a little treat (like a piece of chocolate or warm cocoa). Not us, because teeth are already brushed by then! I like this tradition because it brings the family in and keeps the spirit of Christmas strong in our home.

Speaking of a little piece of chocolate...

My husband makes the best Christmas fudge ever! Here's our special recipe:

3 c sugar
3/4 c margarine
2/3 c evaporated milk
1 (12oz) pkg milk chocolate chips
1 jar marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped nuts (optional)

Combine sugar, marg. and ev. milk. Bring to boil. Stir 5 min. over medium heat. (238 degrees) Remove from heat and stir in choc. chips. Add marshmallow cream, vanilla and nuts. Mix well. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Cool. Cute into squares and try really hard not to eat the whole pan yourself. There are probably others who'd like some too! Pin It

My Town- Saturday's Big Sale!

For those of you in my town... Just a reminder about that huge Shade seconds sale TOMORROW, Saturday the 6th from 9 am to 4 pm at Mountain View High School's cafeteria. I got to briefly see the merchandise yesterday- and let me tell you... You do NOT want to miss this sale!! It's going to be HOT!! See you there!! Pin It

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Begin Christmas with Reflections of Christ

I want to introduce us to an amazing photographer, Mark Mabry who brought to life scenes from the New Testament with some incredible images depicting our Savior, Jesus Christ. I fell in love with his work the moment I saw it. Here is a little slide show of it to enjoy...

Mark Mabry's work, "Reflections of Christ has much to offer in the realm of beauty and presentation. At the same time, it captures the peace and joy of this Christmas season!" (review by Jaymie R)It was recently published and on shelves at Deseret Book, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and many other places that inspirational products are sold. Go check out Mark's website for more info! Merry Christmas! Pin It

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New Christmas Book

Every year we get a new Christmas book to add to our collection. This year things are a bit tight, so I went looking for a cute book that didn't cost too much. I found this one at Seagull Book here in town for $1.99!! And it's a very cute one too! The story is really sweet and the illustrations are beautiful. It was a great find! I wrapped it up and put it under the tree so the kids could unwrap their new book and we could read it for "Around the Christmas Tree" (a tradition I'll tell about on Friday). Pin It

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Tutes and Tips- Deck the Halls-Christmas and The Giving Star

Brenda over at Deck the Halls Christmas is sharing all of her fun, festive Christmas inspiration. Her whole blog is devoted to the magic of Christmas. I love it! She has a yummy-looking ch-chip cookie recipe that I want to try, along with lots of ideas and inspiration to put us in the Christmas spirit! This mother of 6 really knows her stuff, so let's go get inspired by Brenda!

*Do you have a neat family Christmas tradition you would love to share? If so, please leave a comment; or email me with your link and I will plug it in with one of my posts!

**Also, what do YOU do to bring the true meaning of Christmas into your home? I want my kids to really "get it" this year and not dwell SO much on the gifts and goodies. Is it really possible?? Please share!

I'm working on just that, and so far so good. We focused a lot on gratitude last month. This month I am trying to emphasize service- giving of ourselves, not of things.

Last night I implemented a new tradition that I read about on a PYP (Pinching Your Pennies) forum. I got a wooden star and helped the kids work together to paint and decorate it. We call it our "Giving Star". I read them a short Christmas story (about giving and service) and we discussed what it all meant.

How the Giving Star works: The "gift" giver secretly does something nice for a family member and leaves behind the star, then that person has to think of someone else to do something for, and it goes around and around until Christmas. I'm excited to give this a try!

Okay, there's one of my ideas (via another creative mom on PYP), now it's your turn to share... Pin It


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