Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

   My kids love to watch the ball drop in Times Square at midnight--it's become a tradition that they look forward to each year.  We will start the evening off with a special supper and a special dessert (creme brulee,) and then we'll watch a classic movie.  My kids are all night owls, so they have no problem staying up, but it will be a challenge to get them to go to bed after the new year rolls in tonight.
   I'd love to hear what you do to celebrate the new year with your kids.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wonder-full Wednesday {Storm Clouds Rolling in}

  We watched the sky as the storm blew in, until the clouds met the mountain-tops.  It felt like a huge blanket being pulled over us.  Living up high on a hill gives us the coolest views of the sky.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Party Food

  My kids love to help in the kitchen, especially at holiday time.  These recipes are kid-friendly and yummy, and we're making them for our Christmas party:

Pepperoni Pinwheels

1 package crescent rolls
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup shredded Italian/4 cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 package pepperoni

Use two crescent roll triangles to form a rectangle, and make 4 rectangles. Flatten out the dough.  Mix the cheeses, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning together and spread onto the dough.  Layer with pepperoni, then roll up the dough rectangles and cut into slices with serrated knife.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.
(You can store the dough in the freezer and bake them later.)

Ginger Snaps and Pumpkin Dip

1 8oz. package cream cheese
1 can pumpkin
4 oz. cool whip
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp.  pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Store covered in fridge until ready to serve.  Serve with ginger snaps or teddy grahams.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Keeping Kids Entertained in the Car: Guess the State

   We traveled to visit family last weekend, and the kids were getting squirrely after riding "forever," so we invented a game on the fly.  All the grown-ups in the car pooled our quarters and I picked out all the "state" ones.  I would cover the state name with my thumb and hold the quarter up so the kids could get a peek at it, and then I would read them clues from the quarter:  "sailboat," "bridge," "ocean," etc.  If nobody guessed it, I would give them more hints, like "northeast" or "New England."  The first one to name the state got the quarter.   We kept on until we ran out of change and found ourselves thirty minutes further down the road.  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

DIY: Recycled Gift Bags

Easy 5-Minute Craft

Have you seen how much gift bags cost? If you save shopping bags, it's really easy to gussie them up and turn them into "homemade" gift bags. Just pull out some acrylic paint or ink pads, stamps or stencils, and your imagination. Add some brightly colored tissue paper inside, and you're ready to wrap. And think of how much money you'll save on wrapping!

Even young kids can handle this project. Recycling fun!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Homemade Christmas: Sea Salt Scrub

   This is easy to make, and much less expensive than the cosmetic counter brands.  It's an easy gift that kids can mix up.   We sniff-tested lots of different essential oils, and our choices came down to both what we thought smelled the best and what was the most reasonably priced.  We found our oils at Whole Foods, but they are also sold at health-food stores.  We had some dried lavender that we saved from the garden, but it is totally optional.  This recipe made three large jars.  You can use this in the tub, or put it beside the sink to use on your hands to sooth dry skin. 

Lavender Rose Sea Salt Scrub

Mix in large bowl:  4 oz. almond oil
                             8 oz. grapeseed oil
                             24 oz. coarse sea salt
                             26 oz. fine sea salt
                             1/2 cup dried lavender
                             several drops lavender oil
                             several drops rose oil
Scoop into jars and add a pretty ribbon and tag. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Homemade Christmas: Russian Tea

I don't know why Russian Tea is called "Russian" Tea. There is a vast history of tea in Russia, but I haven't been able to find out how this recipe got its name. My sister-in-law always made this for Christmas gifts, and her recipe makes a yummy cold weather treat. 

Angie's Russian Tea 

2 cups unsweetened instant tea mix
2 cups Tang drink mix
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (optional--don't buy it if you don't have it on hand)

Mix all ingredients in large bowl and portion out into jars.  Combine 1 Tblsp. mix with 1 cup boiling water and stir until dissolved. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giveaway: New Living Translation

Tyndale is hosting a great giveaway on their New Living Translation Facebook page.  This generous prize package includes the following:   
One random person each day will win a Life Application Study Bible Family Pack (Guys Life Application Study Bible hc, Girls Life Application Study Bible hc, Student's Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible hc, Life Application Study Bible Large Print hc).

One Random person each week will win an Apple iPad 2!

Everyone that signs up gets a free download copy of the Life Application Bible Study – Book of Luke!

Head over to enter and win!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Homemade Christmas: Peppermint Bark


Peppermint bark is delicious, and it is my favorite holiday treat! Unfortunately, Williams Sonoma thinks it is worth a fortune! I have a simple recipe that the kids can help make, and even though we won't have the cute designer tin, the end result is yummy.

  You need:
  • one bag chocolate chips
  • one bag white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • crushed peppermint candy (use all those broken candy canes)

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and line a casserole dish with parchment paper coated with cooking spray (leave ends of parchment overlapping the ends of the dish.)   
  2. Pour chocolate chips into prepared dish and turn down oven to 250 degrees. Heat chocolate chips for about 5 minutes, but check halfway and remove as soon as they are melted.  
  3. Smooth top with rubber spatula, then put in refrigerator for about 20 minutes or until set.  
  4. Melt white chocolate chips in double boiler or in a bowl in the microwave. 
  5. Remove from heat, add peppermint extract, and stir until smooth.  
  6. Pour over cooled chocolate and smooth with spatula.  
  7. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy (put some candy canes in a zipper bag and whack them with a rolling pin) and chill in fridge for another 20 minutes or until set.  
  8. Remove from dish by lifting parchment paper ends. Place another piece of parchment on top and break candy into pieces by snapping it with your hands or whacking it on the counter. It's good!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Photo

   This garden visitor blended in well with all the crunchy leaves, but it still managed to find a flower amongst all the frost.