Monday, December 15, 2014

Glimmer Lights Create Christmas Magic

 While out doing some last minute shopping I ran across a bit of Christmas magic!  Glimmer Strings.  Beautiful magical, battery-powered LED string lights.

Pier 1 sells both white and amber colored lights.

They make a somewhat ordinary lantern...

Extraordinary and...


May the magic of Christmas surround you and yours.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Amy's Cheese Ball


I promised to share a few of my recipes from the appetizers I served at the Baby It's Cold Outside baby shower last week.  Here is your first installment.

Amy and I have have been friends for several years now and I'm a much better person for knowing her!  She whips together parties, play groups and all types of other fun in just minutes.  Don't know how she does all that she does but I'm grateful to be along for the ride!

Amy is also the founder of  My Story Matters.  I attended a board meeting recently where she served a plate of goodness.  This fabulous cheeseball with crackers, fruit and other dipping type edibles.

Don't you just love this moose!  Reminds me of my nephew serving a mission in Canada.  Do they call them Canucks?

Back to the cheeseball...I served it with crackers and a Hickory Farms Beef log.  Instead of rolling the cheeseball in nuts we framed the ball with pomegranates.  
So fresh and festive.

Amy’s Cheese Ball

1-8 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp. mayo
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Chopped green onion
Diced ham

Mix and chill.  Roll in nuts or pomegranates (if desired).  Can make a double batch and take as needed for holiday parties.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Cheer! Peanut Butter Swirl & Peppermint Bark-MMMmmm Monday

Are we having fun yet!  
SIMPLIFY has been a word that keeps running through my thoughts this year.  I've always disliked that word because it often becomes an excuse to do nothing.
I'm beginning to see-the-light!  

As I pulled out the Christmas boxes laden with all kinds of bulbs, bows and beautiful, sparkly fun I decided to make a decision right then and simplify.

What was most important in those boxes of Christmas fluff?  Well, there were a lot of important, meaningful, wonderful things that have created beautiful Christmas memories through the years.  I kept those items.

The other things...It was a nice feeling to donate those to a couple of  local charities.  

We've all heard the phrase, Less is More. 
That was the first gift of Christmas I gave myself this year.

In keeping with simplicity I wanted to share two recipes that have been around my holiday kitchen for many years.  

A fast holiday treat to give away or just to eat!

P-Nut Butter Swirl
2 large pkgs. of white chocolate chips-(Guittard or Girradelli)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 regular size Hershey bar

Melt vanilla chips on stove top or microwave.  Add peanut butter to melted mixture.  Pour onto greased (or parchments paper) 9X13 jelly roll pan.  Drizzle choc. bar across top of mixture in pan.  Run knife lengthwise then widthwise to score.  Refrigerate for 20 min.  Can be cut into bars/bite size pieces.

Peppermint Bark
2 large pkgs. white chocolate chips
candy canes
peppermint flavoring
red food coloring

Melt white chocolate on stove top or microwave oven.  Add ground up canes and peppermint flavoring (to taste) and pink tinge of food coloring.  Pour onto wax paper or cookie sheet.  Cool and Break into pieces.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Peppermint Chocolate Caramel Dipped Marshmallows

One of my favorite (and I have many) homemade treats during the holidays are these scrumptious dipped marshmallows.

They are not hard to make, just a bit of a process. 

Don't these look like toadstools!

The finished product looks festive and fabulous.  
Good enough to eat!

Serve them in little candy cups, on a sleigh!  Or packaged for neighbor gifts.

Prepare Caramel sauce and cool slightly.  Dip 3/4 of a large marshmallow into caramel sauce, being careful not to burn fingers and place on parchment paper until set.  

Melt in microwave 1 bag of Guittard milk chocolate chips.  (Guittard seems to be the best for dipping).  Once caramel marshmallow is “dry” dip 1/2 the marshmallow into melted choc. chips then place on parchment paper.  While still “wet” sprinkle a light smattering of crushed peppermint
on top. 

Makes about 20-25 marshmallows.

Caramel for Dipping
½ cup butter
½ cup & 2 Tsp. Brown sugar
½ cup corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
dash of salt
½ tsp. Vanilla

Melt butter in  sauce pan-add brown sugar, stir until dissolved.  Stir in corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk and salt.  Stir constantly on med. heat until a soft ball forms (15 – 20 min).  

When reaches soft ball stage (I use a candy thermometer) remove from heat, add vanilla.  Let cool slightly.  

Dip marshmallows, pretzel rods, cookies, etc.  Place in refrigerator until set.

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Baby It's Cold Outside-Baby Shower for Kendall

This week we gathered together to celebrate sweet baby Kendall's arrival with a "Baby It's Cold Outside" baby shower.

Lots of yummy appetizers and sweet somethings were served.

And I promise to share some of these fabulous recipes in an upcoming blog post.  

Katherine created the beautiful cupcakes.

The Cocoa bar was a warm addition.

Wonderful, generous friends and family brought beautiful gifts of love.

While at the shower we created a little book of 
"Mommy-Baby Advice" and sent it home with Kendall and her mom.  It was the closest thing we could get to a New Baby Girl How-to-Manual.  Some great advice, even for an "experienced" mom like me!

OH BABY!  A "Sweet Somethings" thank you for coming.

Congratulations to Bianca and our sweet baby Kendall.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas

My kids school has a little holiday boutique for the kids every year that is really special. Parents donate items for the boutique and then on each class' designated day the kids bring a few dollars in and "shop" for their families. All the money that is received is donated to families at our school that are in need. It's a really great way to give back to our school community as well as fun for the kids to shop for their family members. They even wrap the gifts in class so everyone can be surprised. One of my favorite gifts that one of my kids got for his grandpa were these "tootsie roll socks" it was great and he was so proud when grandpa put them on!
This year our school asked us to be creative and do some homemade gifts instead of just hitting up the dollar store.  I decided to take on the challenge. My kids and I made 3 types of gifts to donate.
The first are these cute mustache hot chocolate mugs. I got a mug from the dollar store, cut out a vinyl mustache on my silhouette, and put a little baggie of hot chocolate, mini marshmallows and candy canes. I tied it all together with this cute "Staching through the snow" tag. I love how it turned out.
The second item we made were these cute little scrapbooked journals. My 12 year old daughter did these pretty much all by herself. I got the idea from one of my favorite blogs, Lil Luna. She has all the dimensions and directions laid out for you.
The third idea was from this website. These cute dinosaur handle cups. They were super simple. I bought the cups and the dinosaurs from the dollar store and glued them on with E6000. You do need to hold them in place while the glue sets but once it's on, it's nice and strong. I decided to make it more of a gift by putting bottled water with a little fruit punch packet tied on.
I really enjoyed making these crafts this year. I tried to make as many of each as I could. Hopefully this will be a new tradition that I can share with my kids so they can feel a part of giving every Christmas season.
Here is my "staching through the snow tag" if you would like to print one for yourself! Just click on the image and save.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ham and Cheese Sliders-MMMmmm Monday

I haven't eaten something this extraordinary in a long time! 

 Our PTA has some of the greatest ladies I know serving on our Executive Board.  One of these ladies has been serving as our SEOP Dinner Chair for almost ten years.  She makes the greatest food!  Just recently she served these ham and cheese sliders (along with equally delicious side dishes) to our teachers right before they conducted their parent/teacher conferences.

Dianne said the sliders are super easy to make and always get rave reviews.  Our teachers came back for seconds and thirds, until everything was gone.

Ham and Cheese Sliders
24 white dinner rolls
24 pieces honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 TB Dijon mustard

Poppy seed sauce:
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and mustard. Spread onto both sides of the center of each roll. Place a slice of ham and a slice of Swiss inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish or heavy cookie sheet. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the poppy seed sauce ingredients. Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. You do not have to use all of the sauce! Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm. Note: Sandwiches can be assembled a day ahead and kept in the fridge ready to bake.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Old Time Hearty Beef Stew-MMMmmm Monday

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When the weather turns cold don't you just crave some of your favorite comfort foods?  This week it started to look like winter outside and it definitely felt like winter inside.  I pulled on a sweater and sat down with a bunch of my  favorite cookbooks.  The Better Homes and Gardens is one of my favorites from many years might have even been my mom's cookbook!

I was looking for a soup or stew recipe that reminded me of Mom's.  I found it!  This recipe has an ingredient that most stews do not...cloves (or Allspice)!  It is exactly what a fall recipe needs, and exactly what I was looking for.

Along with the stew, I baked up some biscuits and steamed cups of hot cocoa.  Dinner that night felt warm and cozy inside and out!

Old-Time Hearty Beef Stew
(Better Homes and Gardens NEW Cook Book)

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in 1 ½ inch cubes
2 tablespoons shortening (I used cooking oil)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic
1 medium onion, sliced
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon pepper
Dash ground allspice or cloves
6 carrots, pared and quartered
4 potatoes, pared and quartered
1 pound small white onions
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

In Dutch oven, thoroughly brown meat in 2 tbsp. hot shortening, turning often.  Add 2 cups hot water and next 9 ingredients.   Cover; simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking.  Remove bay leaves and garlic.  Add vegetables.  Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, or till vegetables are tender.
Slowly blend 1/3 cup cold water into 3 tablespoons flour.  Stir slowly into hot stew mixture.  Cook and still till bubbly.  Cook and stir 3 minutes longer.  Serve stew in bowls.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

(I thought I might trying adding kale or spinach leaves next time-just for a little added yumminess!)

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanks & Giving Activity (Turkey Toss)

Thanks & Giving Activity (Turkey Toss)
Primary Singing Time

I have been serving as the Chorister in our congregation's Primary, an organization like Sunday School, for children.  Today we learned a bit about how important it is to be mindful of our blessings and to remember to be thankful for them.

I explained to the children that I brought some fine feathered friends with me to help each of us with our THANKS and GIVING singing activity and then asked them to think about these two questions:

1.      What blessings has Heavenly Father given me?
(Almost every child raised their hand to share a blessing they had been given from Heavenly Father)
2.    How can I show my thanks to Him?

·        Toss the bean bag and see which turkey you throw closest to. 
·        Read one of the blessings on the back feathers.
·        How do I show thanks to Heavenly Father for…
·        Sing the corresponding song.        

Heavenly Father -I Need My Heavenly Father-pg. 18 CSB          
The Savior-I Have Two Little Hands-pg. 272 CSB                 
Scriptures-Scripture Power-sheet music                  
Prayer-A Child’s Prayer-pg. 12 CSB
Our Prophet-Follow the Prophet-pg. 110 CSB        
Temples-I Love to see the Temple-pg. 95 CSB
Families-Families Can Be Together-pg. 188 CSB   

The "Rafter of Turkeys" instruction came from Primarily Singing
and I have to express my thanks for making it so easy to re-create these adorable turkeys.  I love it when I see a picture of what I want and then when I create it, it looks pretty much the same!

The children enjoyed trying to "tag" the turkey with a little hacky sack (bean bag).

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Thursday, October 30, 2014


Need a super easy, super SWEEET Halloween treat?

Pick up some bakery bags at your local party store (Zurchers, Gigis, Partyland, Party City), choose something to go inside the bag and then download this great (free) tag from Bloom Designs.
It's really THAT EASY.

I chose SWIG cookies for the treat inside my bag...because I LOVE Swig cookies.  Make sure you wrap with saran wrap (the good kind) before tucking inside the bag.  We don't want the frosting seeping through the bag.

Jen made Monster Magic Cookie Bars for her treat...

Monster Magic Cookie Bars

 9 full graham crackers
  4 tbsp. butter
 1 can sweetened condensed milk
 approximately 3/4 c. oats
 approximately 3/4 c. M&Ms
 approximately 3/4 c. chocolate chips

1.                   In a zip top bag, crush the graham crackers using a rolling pin.
2.                  Once crushed, add the 4 tbsp. butter to the bag.
3.                  Place in the microwave and heat up for about 30 seconds.
4.                  Remove from microwave, let out the air and make sure the bag is sealed (maybe let it cool for a second or two!), and "mush" the butter and graham crackers together until fully incorporated.
5.                  Press the graham cracker crumbs into a well-greased and parchment lined 9x13 baking dish.
6.                  Evenly pour the sweetened condensed milk over the graham cracker layer.
7.                  Sprinkle the oats, M&Ms, and chocolate chips evenly over the sweetened condensed milk and gently press in a little.
8.                 Bake at 350ยบ for 30 minutes or until browned and pulling away from the edges.
9.                  Let cool and serve.

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