Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year 2014! Remember, Reflect, Renew!

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It's here - the end of 2013. 

This is just about the time when I start to get sappy. I start to feel a lot of emotion and realize that the end of 2013 is really here, and it is time to start a new year.

It is profound when you really think about it.

A full year of doings has taken place.
A full year of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
A full year of God carrying me over and over again.

And now... it's time to start a whole new year of events, emotions, hopes, dreams, goals, projects, relationships, recipes...

As you think about the past year, remember all that God has done. Remember that the past is in the past, and the future holds good things.

Reflect upon the good that happened, and what you should work hard at maintaining.

Also, think about where your life is lacking and where you hope to see improvement. Renew your mind, your schedule, your goals … your life.

Don't overwhelm yourself with too many goals at once. Make a list and start somewhere. As you check things off your list, you will feel good.

Remember. Reflect. Renew!

Happy New Year to all of you!

May the Lord bless you and keep you
and may His face shine upon you.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas is Over. Now What?

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Do you ever feel that letdown, as Christmas ends? It feels like the feeling you feel after planning a wedding or some other big event. You pour so much time and energy into something, and then… it’s over.

I love Christmas. I really do. It is always sad to see the celebration has ended.

However, there’s still plenty to do!

  • Write out thank you notes for the people who gave you gifts.
  • Give to the poor and needy. Give to a charity or to someone you know personally.
  • Make Christmas cookies! Yes, even though the holiday is “technically” over, there are still plenty of cookie recipes that fit the winter season quite well.
  • Listen to Christmas music! Who said you have to stop?
  • If you weren’t able to send out Christmas cards, you can still send a letter or a note to someone.
  • You can always give someone a present! If there were people you forgot or just didn’t get around to shopping a lot, it is never too late to show someone you care, even with something simple.
  • Of course, with the New Year approaching, you can start preparing for that!
    • Do some cleaning and organizing in your home.
    • Prepare a celebration with friends or family.
    • Reflect upon the past year and plan for the year ahead.

Keep celebrating. Keep giving.
Keep moving forward with God!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas, from our home to yours!

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace,
good will toward men!”
Luke 2:14

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Inexpensive, Thoughtful Gifts

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Christmas is not about the amount of money you spend. It is possible to give to someone this season without spending a lot of money. Some people choose not to give because they think they can not do so when they don’t have money. Not true! There are ways we can give that are inexpensive (sometimes free, or close to it!) and thoughtful.


Heartfelt Tokens
Create a picture collage or book.
Write a letter of appreciation and thanks.
Write a poem, possibly about the recipient.
Use your talents: write a story, record a piece of music or play a live concert for someone in your home, paint a picture …
Give coupons for chores, errands, or projects.

Homemade goodies
Bread.
Flavored popcorn.
Christmas cookies.
Homemade creamer.
Instant mixes for hot cocoa, pancakes, muffins …
Granola.

Gift of time
Give a coupon for a lunch at your house.
Provide a free babysitting night for someone’s children.
Invite the person over for tea and cookies.

Gift cards
Coffee shop.
Ice cream spot.
Accessory store.

Grocery store items
Tea, cocoa, or instant coffee.
A box of the recipient’s favorite cookies or other favorite grocery store food.
Candle.

Regifting
Perhaps you have something at home that has not been used at all and may even still be in its original packaging!
Perhaps you have something that has been used, but it is in “like new” condition – a book, household d├ęcor, household item …

Books and Magazines
You could purchase one brand new, or you could search through your own home. Do you have back issues of a magazine your friend or relative would love? Wrap them in a bundle with some ribbon!

I am sure there are a lot more ideas! This is just to get your brain going!

Remember, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give something to someone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Candy-coated Rice Krispy Balls

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These rice krispy balls are a beautiful addition to a holiday spread.

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The basic gist:

  • Make Rice Krispy balls.
  • Stick a peppermint stick inside.
  • Dip into melted candy coating.
  • Decorate with sprinkles.

drizzled krispy balls

 

If you do not want to go through the hassle of dipping the balls, you can actually drizzle the candy coating on top of the balls and decorate them with sprinkles. This is quite a bit easier.

The original recipe mixed in crushed candy canes. I did not do that, to keep the taste more simple, particularly because I was making them for a large group of girls.

PC110215-001Here’s a big tip: If you want to put mini candy canes inside the balls, buy the candy canes that are wrapped in the cellophane packages, NOT the ones that are wrapped with the plastic adhering to the candy cane itself. It was impossible for us to unwrap the candy canes without them breaking, as you can see from this photo of my workspace.

Candy-coated Rice Krispy Balls
Original recipe found here.
Printable version.

  • ¼ Cup Butter
  • 1 10 Oz. Package Marshmallows
  • ⅓ Cup Crushed Candy Canes, optional
  • 6 Cups Rice Krispies Cereal
  • 2 12 Oz. Bags White Candy Melts
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat.
  2. Add marshmallows to the pan and stir continually until marshmallows are melted completely.
  3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the Rice Krispies and candy canes, if desired.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool for a minute.
  5. Form heaping tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls with your hands. Add a candy cane into the center of each ball.
  6. Place the balls in the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool.
  7. Melt the candy melts according to package directions. Then add in the vegetable oil to thin the mixture.
  8. Dip your cooled treats into the chocolate, decorate, and set aside to cool and harden completely.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Simple Gift Ideas

My husband and I coordinate the boys’ and girls’ groups at our church. I put together these simple gifts for our leaders.

Put a box of holiday or specially-flavored tea inside a clear bag. Tie with a decorative ribbon. Attach a simple gift tag. (I made this one with free snowflake clip art).

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For the men, I bought large candy bars and attached a decorative ribbon and gift tag.

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Both of these gifts were a hit!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Merry Christmas ornament

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas" …

We wish each other a "merry" Christmas but how often are we trying to experience that ourselves? Oftentimes our frantic, hectic schedules and plans make us feel frazzled and grumpy, like the Grinch who stole Christmas.

How can we strive to have more of a merry, little Christmas?

1) Plan and prioritize. Think now about what you really want to fit in this season.

2) Simplify where possible. Let go of things that aren't as important or valuable or that stress you out too much. You may even have to say "no" to good things.

3) Enjoy the season. Take a deep breath and try to enjoy the busyness. Stay positive. Look on the bright side. Remember how blessed you really are.

4) Stay calm. Peace brings joy, really. When we are not at peace, it is hard to feel "merry". Try to keep a calm spirit, focusing on each day, one at a time.

5) Be sure to get enough rest and strive to have white space on your calendar. Burnout never feels good, even if it is for a “good cause”.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight” …

Let’s enjoy the season as best as we can
and push those troubles aside!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pioneer Woman’s Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

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Maybe you have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in your freezer.
Maybe you will have leftover turkey after Christmas.
Maybe you want something different to make for Christmas.
Maybe you just want to eat turkey pot pie!

Regardless of your reason, this is a great dish to make and eat!

It's creamy, savory, and pure delicious!

Leftover Turkey Pot Pie
Original Recipe found here
printable version

1 pie crust (I used a single crust from my chicken pot pie recipe). 
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced carrot
1/2 cup finely diced celery
2 cups leftover turkey
1/4 cup flour
2 to 3 cups chicken or turkey broth
3/4 cup heavy cream
Frozen peas (optional)
Fresh or dried thyme, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a skillet or dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and cook until translucent (a couple of minutes.)
Add turkey and stir. Sprinkle flour over mixture and stir. Cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly.
Pour in chicken or turkey broth. Stir continually and add cream. Stir, just to mix. (Add approximately 8 ounces of frozen peas to the pan at this point, if desired.)
Bring to a slow boil and allow mixture to cook and thicken for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add salt and pepper to taste and fresh or dried thyme to taste.
Pour mixture into a casserole dish, deep pie pan, or cast-iron skillet.
Roll out crust so that it’s about 1 inch larger than the pan you’re using.
Place the crust on top of the pot pie mixture, and press crust into the sides of the dish. Cut vents in the top of the crust.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until very golden and bubbly and the crust is done.
Allow to cool for a little bit before serving.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Delicious, buttery, flaky, crunchy cookies with a sweet strawberry zing. Yep, that’s jam thumbprint cookies for you!

If you haven’t tried making these delights, you should.

We piped our jam into the thumbprint holes. You can snip the corner of a plastic sandwich or quart-size bag, fill it with desired amount of jelly, and pipe from there!

Our recipe only made about three dozen because we made them larger. I do think the smaller size (made with a melon ball-sized scooper) works well, and looks adorable!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies
original recipe found here
printable version

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 cups sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • strawberry or raspberry jam
Preparation:

Cream butter and sugar together.

Add egg yolks, flour and vanilla; mix well.

If dough is too soft to handle, add a little more flour. Roll dough into little balls.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Make a thumb print in the center of each. Fill thumbprint with jam. You can use a spoon or you can pipe it.

Bake at 400° for 8 to 10 minutes, until light brown around edges.
Makes 8-10 dozen cookies.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hot Chocolate Buffet

Hot Chocolate Buffet

A hot chocolate buffet is a great idea for entertaining during the holidays or just for spending time with your family.

Serve up some hot chocolate with some yummy fixings on the side.

  • a splash of coffee
  • red hot candies
  • mini chocolate chips
  • mini marshmallows
  • crushed peppermint candies or candy canes
  • whipped cream

You choose!

For a delicious crockpot hot chocolate recipe, try Mrs. Happy Homemaker’s recipe.