Monday, December 26, 2011

Heart-felt Christmas

I struggle with Christmas.. Not Christmas the way it should be but Christmas the way we have made it.
 I hate it when I have settled it in my heart what each child is receiving from us, and then I hear what other parents are getting for their children and I start second guessing myself. Start to feel like I don't love my Children because we decided not to spend those amounts of money on them.
I HATE the thought of buying something plastic that will get a few weeks worth of play and then be forgotten and by next Christmas will have been dropped off at the local Goodwill.
I want to give gifts that will: create meaningful memories, Develop life skills, enrich lives.

I struggle with buying gifts for my friends.
I don't want to hastily buy something that has no meaning just for the sake of giving.
I want something that will be meaningful and heartfelt and will say, I KNOW you and LOVE you.
Therefore, I often over think the gift and end up with buying nothing. :( So if you're my friend and didn't receive a gift from me now you know why.

So here is a Glimpse at our Christmas as we tried to find that balance between plastic and heartfelt.

Haircuts for the 2 older Girls..  ANY HAIRCUT THEY WANTED!! (because they've been begging me for haircuts for a long time!)

Staci sporting her new cut. ADORABLE shoulder length hair. 8 inches shorter than before.

 Kristina, Sporting her CUTE new bob.

Which brings me the their favorite gift of all: Fashion scrapbooks. a sketch book, modge podge and a stack of catalogs. They then create a fashion scrapbook by cutting and pasting outfits, make up, and other things they like. then covering each page in modge podge for safe keeping. (bonding time for mom and daughters, creating opportunities for 'thats not modest' talks.)

 Staci even created a page of  'What NOT to wear.'

This fashion scrapbook was so much fun even for me and I am sure we are going to make many wonderful memories and develop a healthy sense of style over the next few years as we work on these scrapbooks.

Kristina, hard at work on her Fashion design book from Amazon. (life skills)

Mitchell and his TOYS! One for Mitch and one for daddy! (not sure about this one, but I know he and his Daddy sure bonded over these trucks!)

We had sooo much fun watching him with his Radio Control trucks. and then we laughed even harder as we watched the video of him later.

 Staci hard at work on her knitting loom. (life skills) as I write this she is all but done with a head warmer!!

Hadassah hard at work cooking with her new kitchen. (life skills) (role play)

Usborne books have never let us down. (books= life skills)

I'll leave you with this pic of Miss Haditude after her appointment at her big sis's beauty salon.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How to make your own Snicker Bars

Tis the time of year when Making homemade Candy actually sounds like fun. IF you don't think about it for too long and just DO it. When My sister called last week and said "lets make candy" I started salivating at the thought of my favorite Christmas candy and I said, "Yes, let's".
Chocolate Carmel Candy or as my family calls it, Snicker Candy.

Here you go:
Layer 1:
  • 1 cup milk Choc chips
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
Melt together until creamy and smooth, pour into bottom of 9x13 pan and chill until set.

Layer 2:
  • 1/4cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup marshmallow creme
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1&1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter in heavy sauce pan over medium heat, add sugar and milk and bring to a boil. boil and stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in marshmallow creme, peanut butter, vanilla and nuts. Spread over first layer and refrigerate until set.

Layer 3:
  • 1 14oz package carmels
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Combine in sauce pan over medium heat until melted and smooth, spread over cream filling and refrigerate till set.

Layer 4:
  • 1 cup milk choc chips
  • 1/4 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
Melt together until smooth and spread over top of other 3 layers and refrigerate until set.
Cut into 1 inch squares and serve.
 Or if you want to dip them in Chocolate:
cut into 1 inch squares and put the pan of squares in freezer for approx 30 min.
melt your almond bark and dip each square into the melted chocolate and put on wax paper until set. ENJOY!!

My elves unwrapping carmel's.

A few more shots from our candy making day:

Buckeye candies drying

 White Chocolate peppermint coated pretzels drizzled with milk chocolate.

 Beautiful array if hershey kisses for pretzel candies.

The little cousins dipping pretzels.


 Our large bowls of finished candy..  Oh Dear, Someone hid this from me!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Alligator Skin be-gone

Winter = Dry skin in our house, Especially with the 2 younger children. Dry skin because I am either not putting any lotion on because I HATE slathering on all those ingredients that I have no idea how to pronounce or what they'll do to my babies. Or, I have spent an outrageous amount of money on some lotion that SAYS organic or all natural and use it so sparingly that the soft baby skin I want to see on them is just a dream.

Until I found this recipe on pinterest. Now I SLATHER it on those babies and their skin is silky soft like baby skin should be. The best part for me is that I KNOW exactly what 4 ingredients are used for making it. We have used almost a whole pint of it in the last few weeks and I have made a batch for gifts too!

Like my labels??  You can make your own using card stock, felt and your sewing machine. OR you can purchase them here.

One of the things that make the Christmas season so precious is togetherness.
Here is Hadassah enjoying a story with her Grandma who is visiting from 1100 miles away. Hadassah is finally starting to recognize grandma as someone who is safe and part of the family. Warms my heart!

 Here is another Family member that warms my heart. My 18 mo old niece, Sandra.
Some nieces and nephews are born knowing that I am their aunt and am a safe person to be with. Others take a while to warm up to the idea that I want to cuddle them and get plenty of hugs from them. Sandra has been one of those hard to win nieces. All the more reason to count it as a victory when she allows me to hug her, Says my mane or gives me the chance to take her ADORABLE little picture. She hasn't yet voluntarily come and given me a hug but I know it's JUST around the corner!

This week my goal is to finish all my Christmas orders and.... WRAP PRESENTS!!!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Chocolate + Peppermint =Delish!!

Peppermint Hot Chocolate, One of my Family's favorite cold weather drinks.
It's not only delicious but fun to make too!

Here's your recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa  
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered milk
  • 1 cup candy cane , crushed

  •  Enlist your Elves to help unwrap the candy canes ( 1 package of 10 = approx  1 cup crushed)

    Blend the candy canes in the blender until they are fine and powdery. Watch the little Elf fingers that are just waiting for mom to get behind the camera for their chance at a swipe of sugary sweetness!
     Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl. (mine was a double recipe)

     Add 1-2 Tablespoons of mix to a mug of HOT water and ENJOY! 

    Store mixture in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks!

    On another note:

    Since I bought my new camera I have been reading alot on Photography. Not because I want to pursue it as a business but because suddenly I have a tool that helps me take great pictures! And I Love Great pictures, Especially great pictures of my kids! I wish I could find the blog (that I found on Pinterest) that had a GREAT article on capturing the light in eyes. After reading her blog I was off to see if my model would co-operate with me.. We got a few good shots and I was HAPPY with what I learned!!   

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    Ice Road Mama

    It snowed!! It snowed yesterday, a few inches that started out as rain/sleet/slush but ended in a beautiful fluffy flakes falling gently from a night sky. The kind of snow that makes the whole world seem magical!

    However, What happens when you get a full inch of slush on a gravel road and then  a dozen cars drive on it an smash it flat and then the temp drops to below freezing??  ICE ROADS!!  Yes! you DO NOT want to hit the brakes, and you pray really hard that no deer want to cross the road! And I become "Ice Road Mama" for  a few stressful minutes each morning as I take the girls to school and again in the afternoon when I bring them home. The Kids all sit on the edge of there seat praying hard that we stay out of the ditch.
     But don't worry, by the time March comes around I will be a pro at these I roads! I might even win the prize for most loads hauled!

    Hadassah doesn't remember snow from last winter, That's why we headed outside into the snow at 7am!
    In this part of the country you DO NOT waste a 25 degree/fresh snow morning by staying inside. There are WAY to many below zero, blizzard like mornings.

     Wind tears

    And then we headed inside for a brakfast of scrambled eggs and plain yogurt with honey and we still made it to Sunday School on time!

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    All in a Days Work

    Too many birthdays.. Every year we breeze calmly through the summer and then suddenly as the word Christmas starts getting mentioned around the beginning of November the words BIRTHDAY starts getting mentioned too. The one being my soon to be 9 yr old Daughter on Nov 27th. And my soon to be 4yr old son has now picked up on the Birthday Hubaloo and is sooo excited about is birthday on Dec 9th.. And suddenly my Calender starts filling up until it's bursting at the seams, Thanksgiving parties, Birthday parties, Christmas... and then last but not least, My baby girl's 2nd birthday on Dec 29th..

    You see it happened like this, My first Daughter was born on July 9th. And me being an outdoor lover, Gardener, lets just say I love everything about summer and the outdoors was forced to stay indoors with a colicky baby, Operating on very few hours of sleep and being 1,000 plus Miles from family and friends, resulting in Postpartum depression. I promised myself that I would try my best to have my next baby in the fall so that all winter I could sit indoors and cuddle my new baby without mourning the fact that I was missing out on sunshine filled summer days. Well it worked, my next three babies were late fall/early winter babies and that's what I did, I sat around all winter cuddling my new baby.. AHHHH such sweet memories, I can still smell their sweet breast milk breath...  and that's the way we passed each winter day until beautiful summer returned! However, I am now second guessing my decision as these three get older and understand the fact that Birthdays are about celebrating THEM!!! 

    Here are the birthday treats we made tonight for Staci to take to school for her classmates.

    If you've ever tried to make these in the way the directions on the cone box says you know that the cones get extremely soggy when you bake the batter in the cone.
    After seeing these on Pinterest (don't introduce your birthday girl to Pintrest-food to find ideas for birthday treats if you just want to do something quick and easy)

    I decided to try them this way:
    Bake and cool the cakes
    cut them into cone size pieces and put them into the cones
    frost them and sprinkle them

    Really the project would have been delightfully easy had it not been for an almost 2yr old's sneaky fingers!

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    My Model is on Strike

    My model is on Strike.. She has decided that she no longer enjoys having me walk after her snapping pictures. I know enough about 'almost 2yr olds' that I know asking her to stand in a certain spot in  a certain way is going to result in exactly the opposite of what I want. So I usually just let her do her thing, and always get a few pictures that I can use. However, lately as soon as I get my camera out she turns NAUGHTY!  Yes, she knows what I want and she is determined to control the situation by not being cute! What she doesn't know is that even when she's trying to be 'Not Cute' she is adorable!

    Attempting to get pictures for our family Christmas cards.

    Not in the Mood!!
     Always running away or toward me!

    And then... add a 3 yrd old and 2 preteens and you have enough footage for a complete episode!!

     Here are a few of the successful shots of that day.
    Staci Jane

    Kristina Ann

    Mitchell Alan

    Here are the poses I got out of her today! The crossed arms is a new form of her 'Not being cute'. (Don't tell her how cute it is!)

     Finally figured out that if I bring Brother into the picture she will compete with him to be in front of the lens! It works!!

     Don't let that Angel face fool you. She is almost 2 and as full of personality as all the other 'almost 2yr olds' out there!
    Love her with all my heart!! My Baby!!