Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Signing Off Until The New Year...

(This is one of my favorite Christmas photos - found via Tumblr)

Our house is filled with the sounds of Christmas music, little voices, laughter, its fair share of chaos and arguing (from those same little voices), and through it all, I hear happiness and love.

My kids are on Winter Break, my heart is full, and Christmas is almost here.

These days, at any given moment, our home looks like this...

...the coffee table pushed up against the couch to make room for sleeping bags and pillows, three kids and a dog in full rest-and-relaxation mode, and an assortment of toys, remote controls and princess dresses scattered around the floor.

On a daily basis we mix and sift and crack eggs and measure spices, and make a big, huge mess in the kitchen. While the cookies bake and I clean up (in preparation for the next batch), the kids take a break, and Classic Christmas movies play on the television. I can't help but think that these days, and these memories that we're making, are the kind that my kids will reminisce about when they are older. The same way that days just like these became my memories when I was little...

I want nothing more than to remember these moments with them, for the rest of my life.

I am so thankful that I get to call these little ones mine.
And so very thankful for their Daddy

We've spent hours and hours in the kitchen creating all kinds of Christmas treats...

Our annual Gingerbread House decorating has taken place and the kids are quite proud of their work. We gave them carte blanche - the gingerbread house was theirs to become whatever their little 9, 7 and 4 year old hearts desired...

Our family's holiday festivities begin the morning of Christmas Eve and carry through into the following week. It will be a busy, fun-filled stretch of days that are going to fly by...

The goal this year: to be fully present and enjoy the moments as they happen.

After all, these kids of ours are growing up way too fast.

And they're only little for so long.

Which leads me to this - a post from Clover Lane called:

Just A Reminder: Don't Miss The Sparkly Eyes

I'm going to make sure that I don't miss any of it.

And if you haven't seen this, it is definitely worth reading:

My Heart Grew Three Sizes And Now I Have An Enlarged Heart. WORTH IT.

from The Bloggess

An incredible act of kindness that resulted in strangers helping strangers.

All I can say is, the tears were flowing! And that people are good.


This holiday season,

from our home to yours,

we wish you a very Merry Christmas

and a Happy New Year!

~ See you in 2011 ~

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Gift Exchange For The Little Ones...

December 22nd is Ellison's last day of preschool before Christmas, and all of the kids in her class are bringing in presents to have their own little gift exchange.

Cute, right!

The guidelines for us parents were simple:

One small gift for each of the other 17 children in the class - cookies, a candy cane, a little something from the dollar store...

Just nothing expensive, and most importantly (and emphasized), something small.

So, off to the Target Dollar Bins we went,

and found these...

Little stocking caps in turquoise and lime green.

Love them.

And for only $1.00 a piece.

Love them even more!

Yes, the tag says "boy hat", but to that I say "whatever".

For boys or for girls, I think they're super cute. I love the color combo and, in my opinion, stripes are always adorable on kids!

Luckily, they had more than enough of them, so I grabbed our 17 hats and we high-tailed it out of there (it's crazy at Target right now).

When we got home, I dug through my stash of Christmas and birthday gift wrap supplies and had just enough bags and ribbon to make it work without having to spend anymore money...

I used self-adhesive labels that I was able to customize online and print here at home, then attached them to blank 2" x 4" gift tags. Since the gift inside is a stocking cap, I decided to have the tags say "Baby, it's cold outside!" on one side, and "Hoping you stay warm and cozy this winter" on the other side...

I tied the tag on with red and white ribbon...
(I love turquoise and red together, so any excuse to marry the two, works for me!)

...and 17 bags later, called it a day!

I'm hoping the parents will appreciate the practically of a stocking cap (and its lack of sugar content), and I'm really hoping that the kids will get a kick out of seeing themselves all wearing the same hat!


And it only cost me $17.00, plus a little tax.

Perfect for this Preschool Gift Exchange!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Cookie Monster...

Chocolate Crinkles...


Peanut Butter Blossoms...


Pecan Puffs...


The kids are officially on Winter Break and Christmas is a mere 7 days away!

Are you ready?

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Gift Of Peppermint Hot Chocolate...

Every October when it starts to get cold outside, I make our family a big batch of "homemade" Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Or maybe I should call it, semi-homemade, because all of the ingredients are readily available and take minimal effort to put together. But combined, they create a cup of yummy, warm, chocolatey deliciousness!

I simply combine regular and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, mini marshmallows, and peppermints (or candy canes) that I unwrap, put into a big zip-lock bag and crush with the flat side of our metal meat tenderizer. Unwrapping all of the peppermints is the most time consuming step of this whole process, so if you have time for that, then you're good to go!

There isn't much of a recipe to follow here. You just want to make sure that you have enough peppermint and chocolate chips in there that you get a good amount in every scoop...

I put it all in the jar and then add powdered hot chocolate mix. Nothing fancy or gourmet necessary. When you mix it all with hot water or warm milk, the chocolate chips and marshmallows melt to make a rich taste, and the peppermint adds the perfect hit of flavor...

When it's all mixed and ready to enjoy, just make it the same way that you make instant hot cocoa. Fill the mug up 1/4 to 1/2 way with the mix (depending on what your sweet tooth prefers) and then fill the mug with boiling water or warm milk. Stir until all of the marshmallows and chocolate chips are melted. When you get to the bottom of the mug, you'll be left with some chunks of melting peppermint - my kids' favorite part!

I made a big jar for my best friend and her family this year, tied it with a bright red ribbon and hung a few jingle bells on it...

And this year, the kids and I decided that this would make the perfect gift for our teacher's and their families over Winter Break and all season long...

For a prettier presentation, I added more crushed peppermint and chocolate chips on top...

I love how it looks when you open the jar!

My kids are obsessed with this hot chocolate, and if I am being totally honest,
so am I!

*For the adults, a dash of Amaretto is really yummy, and Peppermint Schnapps does the trick as well!*

The kids delivered the gifts to their teacher's yesterday and I am told that they received rave reviews. Hopefully, along with their families, they enjoyed a cup last night!

This also makes a wonderful gift for friends and neighbors, as a hostess gift, and even as a gift from your child to their friends.

Easy, inexpensive, and so, so yummy!

~ Enjoy ~

P.S. I bought the jars at Fred Meyer, but I know that Target sells them as well. I was able to buy them for $5 a piece, on sale. Not bad, if you ask me!


P.S.S. I am posting this at:
Tatertots and Jello, Remodelaholic, Finding Fabulous, The Shabby Nest, Beyond The Picket Fence, Funky Junk Interiors, Be Different...Act Normal, The Girl Creative, Blue Cricket Design, The Thrifty Home,

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Cookies...

I cannot wait to start making Christmas Cookies!

Which is kind of odd, because as I have said before, I am not the baker in the family.

But how can a girl resist when there are so many great recipes and beautiful cookies to be made!

All of these came from Taste Of Home and I want to try my hand at all of them!

And even though this recipe isn't for a cookie, or require baking (score!), I want to try this one too...

Frozen Hot Chocolate


I have promised myself (and Will) that I won't start any new projects (baking is definitely a project for me and the kitchen bears the brunt of it) until I am finished decorating for Christmas and all of the empty bins are out of the garage (ie: the workshop) and back under the house.

I am thiiiiis close to being done, and then the baking is on!

Have you started your Christmas Cookie baking yet?