Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Goodies

Happy New Year!! Here are some of our favorite goodies to munch on while playing games and welcoming in the New Year:

New Year's Slush
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can crushed pineapple
  • 1 can cut grapefruit sections, drained and put through the blender
  • Sprite
Boil sugar and water together till dissolved and cool. Add pineapple and grapefruit to syrup and freeze in an 8x8 pan. Cut in chunks, put in glasses and pour Sprite over the slush.

Chex Muddy Buddies
  • 9 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
  • 1/2 bag (6 ounces) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Measure cereal into a large bowl and set aside. Microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a microwavable bowl uncovered for 1 minute; stir. Microwave 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal in bowl, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into large plastic food-storage bag; add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. 

Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kool-Aid Play Dough

Here is a recipe for homemade play dough made out of Kool-Aid to add color and make it smell good. It is really easy and turns out great!

Kool-Aid Play Dough
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 envelope of Kool-Aid
  • 1 cup flour
Add oil and salt to boiling water until salt dissolves. Add Kool-Aid and flour. Mix and then kneed with your hands when it is cool enough to handle until smooth.

Now for the fun Play-Dough Pictionary:
  • Divide into two teams (if you have enough players)
  • Each team secretly writes down 10 objects on strips of paper
  • Fold up the papers and put them in a bowl
  • One person on the opposite team picks one of the papers that the other team wrote down
  • That person has to sculpt the object on the paper using the play-dough
  • The rest of the people on his team guesses
  • If they guess right, that team gets a point
  • Now it is the other team's turn
  • The team with the most points wins
  • If there are not enough people to divide into teams, have everyone write down about 3 things and put them all in a bowl. Just take turns sculpting while everyone else guesses.

My kids LOVED it!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dream On

Here are some quotes to get us off on a great start for our New Year's Resolutions:
"The tragedy in life doesn't lie in not reaching our goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn't a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity to not dream. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is the mistake."
-Helmut Schmidt
 "Many persons have the wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness.  It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." - Helen Keller

"Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal." -Elbert Hubbard 


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Entertainment Center To Play Kitchen

Are you ready for my first homemade gift to be "unwrapped"? This is a big one, that took a lot of time, but thanks to my handy-dandy-husband, it turned out AWESOME in the end!

We converted this:

Into this:

Here's how:
First we reinforced it by adding plywood to the back.
Then we sanded and primed all of the wood.
Cut a hole where we wanted the sink (just the size for the bowl to fit)
We rotated one of the doors so that it opens top to bottom instead of from the side.
We took out the middle drawer and moved the front piece of wood up and secured it so that it would be a cover for the sink.
Cut a piece of wood for the fridge door.

Used metallic spray paint for the oven and fridge door and taped off a square and painted it for the stove top.

Found an old scenic framed picture and used it for a window.
Stapled curtains up.
Installed a cheep corded phone and faucet.
Found pictures of burners and the inside of an oven then Mod-Podged them onto the stove top and oven door.
Found silver knobs for the stove.
Attached the fridge with hinges. 

Merry Christmas Izy!

Thanks Come What May for the inspiration!

Check out more great DIY projects here
DIY Club

Monday, December 27, 2010

Twas Two Days After Christmas

Twas two days after Christmas
And all through our abode
Is scattered boxes and wrapping paper,
I fear the garbage can will explode.

The stockings are strewn 
all over the floor
I hope that I will be able 
to locate all four.

Travis sits covered in wrapping paper
From head to toe.
He won't play with his new toys -
Just the paper that people would throw.

The Christmas tree looks sad
With its row of burned out lights
The laundry can't be ignored any longer;
I guess that I will start with the whites.

"Ugggg" I shouted in a panic.
The kids came to see what I had muttered
"I can't take it any longer -
this house is so cluttered!"

"Come Kaylee, Come Aaron,
Come Nathan, and even Travis.
Grab a broom, and the vacuum,
It's time to clean up this mess!"

We cleaned up and picked up
Until the clutter was out of sight
And now I am exhausted...
I'm glad Christmas is just one night!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Light Unto the World

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know that Christmas can be a hard time for those who are lonely, sad, ill, and burdened with other trials. I know that the little baby born in a manger brought with him light, joy, and happiness to all those who believe in him. He is the light.
John 12:46 - I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

When Jesus Was Born in Bethlehem

This is the greatest story ever told. This book puts the scriptural account of the Savoir's birth together with beautiful illustrations.

Merry Christmas! May we all remember the reason for the season.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Morning Pull-Aparts

Every Christmas morning, Eric's family would make these pull-aparts; aka monkey bread or sticky buns. This was one tradition that we have continued...they are so good, how could we not? So tonight we will make them, let them rise through the night, and cook them in the morning.

Christmas Morning Pull-Aparts
  • 15-20 frozen roll dough (Rhodes dough)
  • 1 small box cook n' serve pudding - any flavor (we really like butterscotch and vanilla)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cube butter, melted
  • nuts, raisins, chocolate chips, whatever strikes your fancy
Place nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips in the bottom of a greased bundt pan. Put in frozen rolls. Sprinkle brown sugar and pudding over rolls. Pour butter over all. Cover with towel and place in oven overnight. (Put the bundt pan on top of a cookie sheet so that the gooey goodness doesn't drip into your oven.) In the morning cook at 350 for 20-30 minutes.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Checking Our List

We are checking our list, and checking it right.
Making sure everything is ready for Christmas night.

  • Aaron is home from the hospital and doing great!...check
  • Presents are wrapped and ready...check
  • Cookies have been made for Santa's visit...check
  • Enjoy being together as a family and just taking it easy...check, check, and check

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Stranger

The Stranger

At Christmas time there was a man who looked so out of place
As people rushed about him at a hurried sort of pace.
He stared at all the Christmas lights, the tinsel everywhere
The shopping center Santa Clause, with children gathered near.

The mall was packed with shoppers who were going to and fro,
Some with smiles and some with frowns and some too tired to go.
They rested on the benches or they hurried on their way,
To fight the crowd for purchases to carry home that day.

The music from a stereo was playing loud and clear
Of Santa Clause, and snowmen, and a funny nosed reindeer.
He heard the people talk about the good times on the way,
Of parties, of fun and food galore, and gifts exchanged that day.

"I'd like to know what's going on," the man was heard to say,
"There seems to be some sort of celebration on the way.
And would you tell me who this is, all dressed in red and white?
And why are children asking him about a special night?"

The answer came in disbelief, "I can't believe my ear!
I can't believe you do not know that Christmas time is here.
The time when Santa comes around with gifts for girls and boys.
When they're asleep on Christmas Eve, he leaves them books and toys."

"The man you see in red and white is Santa Clause, so sly.
The children love his joyful laugh and twinkle in his eye.
His gift packed sleigh is pulled along by very small reindeer;
As he flies quickly through the air, while darting there and here."

"The children learn of Santa Clause while they are still quite small.
When Christmas comes, he is the most important one of all."

The stranger hung his head in shame, he closed a nail-pierced hand.
His body shook in disbelief, he did not understand.
A shadow crossed his stricken face, his voice was low but clear.
After all these years, they still don't know."
And Jesus shed a tear.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Aaron's surgery is over. Yesterday he was very brave and came through the 3 1/2 hours of surgery to repair the blockage in his kidney. He couldn't keep anything down during the night so it was a very long night. But today he has turned a corner and is on his way to recovery. He still hasn't been able to eat, but he was able to get up and play, laugh and joke around, and watch lots of cartoons and movies.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Worrying in the Waiting Room

I hate waiting in line. I always seem to pick the line at the grocery store that goes the slowest - especially when my kids are screaming. I hate waiting in the never-ending line to use the Women's Room...while men zoom in and out of the Men's Room. Waiting in line at an amusement park in the hot sun with tired kids is also dreadful.
Today I have a new and far worse wait to add to my list. I am waiting in the operating waiting room. Waiting for Aaron's surgery to be over. Waiting for an update from the doctor. Waiting for any news. I can't concentrate so I apologize if this post doesn't make sense. With every phone call, every doctor who comes in with an update I lose focus.
The phone just rang and it was for update. Aaron is doing great. They are in the middle of the procedure to remove a blockage from his kidney. Relief. But still worried. I will be very glad to get out of this room!
I am excited for tomorrow to come. To have this surgery behind us and for Aaron to be on the road to recovery.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Greatest Gift

2 Corinthians 9:15 - Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoso believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I am so grateful for the gift of my Savior! He is the greatest gift that we will ever receive.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Creature Was Stirring

This is a cute book. I love to read it to my kids because they laugh and laugh. It is about one boy's adventure on the night before Christmas. "Twas the night before Christmas, and in this great house the creature who stirred was a boy, not a mouse. And while upstairs his parents were dreaming and snoring, with Santa so close, sleep seemed pretty boring."

Friday, December 17, 2010

Apricot Chicken

Here is a recipe that is great for the busy holiday season. It only requires 4 ingredients, it is super easy to put together, and it is delicious!

Apricot Chicken
- The Essential Mormon Cookbook
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup Russian salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1/2 package dry onion soup mix
Place chicken in greased 9x13 baking pan. Combine the dressing, jam, and onion soup mix and pour over chicken. Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour. Serve over rice.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Here Comes Santa Clause

Here comes Santa Clause,
Here comes Santa Clause.
Right down Santa Clause Lane.
Waiting to see him at the back of the line was definitely a pain!
Kaylee didn't know quite what to feel.
Debating whether he was fake or real.

Nathan was so thrilled, his eyes never parted
Staring at Santa until he departed.

Aaron was just there for the candy cane,
He really didn't care that it was from "Old What's His Name".

Travis thought that this guy was totally weird,
As he grabbed a handful of Santa's beard.

And so dear Santa, we hope you believe
That we really do love you and you'll come again on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Burned Out?

I love this little poem. Some days I can totally relate to the little bulb who felt burned out and just wanted to dim out of sight. But we need to let our lights shine and keep burning bright!

There once was a shining Christmas tree
Standing out where all could see.
It's brilliance captured every eye
and seemed to cheer each passer-by.

"The lights are so bright!" They would say
And hesitate to walk away.
The tree stood proud ablaze with light
For every light was burning bright.

Then one bulb was heard to say
"I'm tired of burning night and day:
I think I'll just go out and rest
For I'm too tired to do my best;
Besides, I am so very small
I doubt if I'd be missed at all."

Then a child lovingly touched the light,
"Look, Mother this one shines so very bright.
I think of all the lights upon the tree
This one looks the best to me."

"Oh, my goodness," said the light
"I almost dimmed right out of sight.
I thought perhaps no one would care
If I failed to shine my share."
With that a glorious brilliance came
For every light had felt the same.

Our families, like this Christmas Tree
Has little lights which are you and me.
We each have a space that must fill
With love, and lessons and good will.
Let's keep our tree ablaze with light
With loving kindness burning bright.

For our family is a living tree
That lights the way to Eternity.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All Wrapped Up

I am SO EXCITED for this Christmas! Eric and I have been busy painting, sewing, gluing, cutting, crafting, sawing, and computing until one or two in the morning to make our gifts this year. We had a lot of projects and I got pretty overwhelmed thinking about all that we had to do...but we are wrapping up the last little details! The last coat of paint in on, the pictures are assembled, and the games are put together. I am so excited for them to get unwrapped (I guess I better wrap them first).

What are they? Sorry, I can't say. I can't spoil the surprise. But I will "unwrap" them for you after Christmas and share them on my Tuesday's Triumphs, so stay tuned!

Monday, December 13, 2010

I Believe

The childhood fantasies of Santa Clause, Rudolf, Frosty, and the North Pole may soon be over for Kaylee who will turn 9 in January. I think that this will be the last Christmas that she believes. She has been really skeptical of Santa this year. Although we try not to put a big emphasis on Santa, it is still fun to see my children's eyes light up when they see him. I have been trying to go through in my mind what I will tell her when she comes to me and asks me if Santa is real. It goes a little something like this:

I believe that Santa is real. Not the cartoon Santa in the North Pole with 8 reindeer. I believe in the meaning of Santa; the spirit of Santa. I believe in giving and kindness, and sharing with children all over the world - which is what Santa represents. I believe that Christmas is a magical time...not because of Santa's Toy Shop or flying reindeer. Christmas is magical because it is a time to give and love and see the excitement of others and to spend time with those you love and most importantly to remember our Savior, Jesus Christ, who is very real!

Any other ideas?? Hopefully it goes well...if not, I am hiring someone else to give her the sex talk when that rolls around!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let It Be a Time

Alma 34:32For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

"There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. Let it be a time that lights the eyes of children and puts laughter on their lips. Let it be a time for lifting the lives of those who live in loneliness. Let it be a time for calling our families together, for feeling a closeness to those who are near to us and a closeness also to those who are absent.
Let it be a time of prayers for peace, for the preservation of free principles, and for the protection of those who are far from us. Let it be a time of forgetting self and finding time for others. Let it be a time for discarding the meaningless and for stressing the true values. Let it be a time of peace because we have found peace in His teachings.
Most of all, let it be a time to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the Wise Men.
My brothers and sisters, may the spirit of love which comes at Christmastime fill our homes and our lives and linger there long after the tree is down and the lights are put away for another year. This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, amen."
--President Thomas S. Monson - First Presidency Christmas Devotional

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Two Of My Favorites

After reading several more stories from our Christmas Story basket, I read a book that I bought last year and never read until today...Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle by Jason F. Wright. This is a children's book about the Christmas jar tradition that Penny's family had. This year it is Penny's turn to decide who will get the money in their Christmas jar. Her idea turns into a miracle that helps one of her friends. It is a very cute and heartwarming story.

I can't just share one story, there are not enough Saturdays in December to share all of the great Christmas stories. Here is one of my favorites, The Tale of Three Trees. It is the story of how each of the three trees fulfill their destinies by helping a remarkable man throughout his life. It is a great story!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Grandma's Chocolates

One of my favorite and long-lasting family traditions is my Grandma's homemade chocolates. 52 years ago she found a recipe and started making chocolates with her kids. That has now blossomed into a HUGE chocolate dipping production every year before Christmas. We have 4 generations of dips...errrr uhhh dippers that come together and turn Grandma's house in the Chocolate Factory. Making pounds and pounds of delectable treats to give to neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family.

I want to share the basic fondant (the center of the chocolate) recipe and a few tips to dipping chocolates:

Cream Fondant:
  • 1 cup whipping cream (1/2 pint)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp white Karo syrup
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 square butter
Put cream, milk, Karo syrup, and salt in a heavy 3 quart pan. While stirring constantly, heat until warm to the touch. Add the sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved and bring to a rolling boil.

When the sugar is dissolved, wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to prevent the candy from turning to sugar instead of creamy. Don't worry about the water getting into the candy. It may slow the cooking process down a bit, but it won't hurt the candy. The water just boils out.

At this point, turn the stove burner down to medium high, put in the candy thermometer and cook to 236 degrees. Be sure to wash down the sides of the pan several times while cooking.

Slowly, pour onto a cold, buttered marble slab. When just slightly warm to the touch, scoop up all the fondant with a wide spatula and put into the bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer. We use a Kitchen Aid. Beat the fondant on a high setting until the candy loses its gloss and becomes thick.

Add 2/3 square of softened butter into the fondant mixture. Once the fondant mixture turns color or has a different look (it looks creamy), stop the mixer and pour the fondant into a medium plastic container. Attach a lid and freeze until dipping time. This is the basic fondant recipe. Any flavor or color may be added while molding in the butter.

These are some of my favorite flavors we make while using this basic fondant recipe:
  • Wintergreen: Color the fondant green and add wintergreen extract. 
  • Orange: Color the fondant orange and add orange extract
  • Coconut: Add coconut extract to the fondant. Before you start dipping, place a package of coconut on a cookie sheet and spread out the coconut in a thin layer. Toast under the broiler until the coconut is a light brown in color. But be careful! Watch it continuously, because it can burn easily! Dip the chocolates and then roll them in the toasted coconut. It's good to have someone helping you on this; one person dips the chocolate and the other rolls it in the coconut.
  • Rum Balls: Add rum extract to fondant. When you dip the chocolates, roast some almonds, then put them in a food processor. Dip the chocolates and then roll them in the nuts. This is good for beginning chocolate dippers because the nuts cover any mistakes :) To roast the almonds, spread them on a cookie sheet and place them under the broiler, leaving the oven door open and watching every minute. When they start to pop a little and turn a little brown, take them out, turn them over and toast a little longer. It doesn't take long and they burn easily, so watch carefully! When cool, grind them up quite fine, pour them into a flat pan, ready to drop the chocolate into. It's good to have someone helping you on this; one person dips the chocolate and the other rolls it in the nuts.
When ready to dip, roll fondant into small balls. Do not use chocolate that has wax in it (chocolate chips) use dipping chocolate. Melt the chocolate and pour onto a marble slab, counter top, or a plate which is at room temperature. If the chocolate is poured onto something that is cold it will set up too fast. Work the chocolate with your hand until it is neither warm nor cold to the touch. The room should be quite cool so that the chocolate doesn't run off the fondant. Use one hand for the chocolate. With your free hand, get a rolled fondant ball and place it into your other hand covered in chocolate. Gently roll the ball around in the palm of your hand. When completely covered, place on a pan covered with wax paper.

Enjoy! These are the BEST!!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

White Elephant Game

Every year at our traditional family Christmas party we play a fun white elephant game. Everyone brings about 7 white elephant gifts...some good, and others not so desirable. We pile the gifts on a table and arrange our chairs in a circle around the unknown treasures or junk.

This is how we roll:
For the first round, we pass around several pie tins with 2 dice in them. If you roll a 7 or an 11 you can take a present from the pile and unwrap it. Once all of the presents are gone, we each take a turn showing what unwrapped.

Round 2: Set a timer for 5 minutes. Pass the tins and dice around again. This time if you roll doubles you can steal someone else's gift by exchanging it for one of yours. Once the timer goes off, you are stuck with what you have. Kaylee and Aaron got lucky this year, they ended up with candy, a gum-ball machine, and some jewelry. I, on the other hand, ended up with a hot sauce holder that attaches to your belt. It will sure come in handy when I am out and about and get a craving for some hot sauce :)