Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Break

I am taking a short blogging break in order to enjoy Christmas and New Year's with my family and friends. I might have an update or two along the way but regular features will not return until after the new year. I pray you all have a wonderful Christmas and that you remember Jesus is the reason why we celebrate.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Last Minute Gift: White Chocolate Popcorn

If you are looking for a last minute Christmas gift, white chocolate popcorn is about as easy as they come. I made packages of these for my son's Sunday School teachers and his babysitter. I put them in cellophane bags that can be bought at craft stores for about $1 for 50. Christmas tins work great too. To make them even more festive, feel free to add M&M's, red hots, or other colorful candies.

White Chocolate Popcorn

1 bag microwave popcorn, popped
1/2 lb white chocolate melting wafers (found at most craft stores)

Once popcorn has cooled, remove any unpopped kernels. Place in a large bowl. Melt chocolate in microwave, 10 seconds at a time. Be careful not to burn chocolate. Pour chocolate over popcorn, seal bowl, and shake until popcorn is cooled. Pour out onto waxed paper and let cool for about 30 minutes. Once cooled, break up large pieces and package.

* This works with almond bark too but the wafers melt better and have a stronger chocolate flavor.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Food Friday: Pizza Crust

It is pizza night in our house so I thought I would share our pizza crust recipe I use. This is for the bread machine and I found the recipe off of Recipezaar.com. This freezes beautifully so I make up several when I have time to keep in the freezer.

Pizza Crust

1 cup water, room temperature
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

Layer in bread pan according to manufacturer's recommendations. Select 'dough' setting. When dough cycle is done, pat dough into greased 12x15 inch jelly roll pan. Prick dough with fork. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and add desired toppings. Baste crust edges with butter. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is done.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Keeping Christ in Christmas

Every since our child was born, we have talked about the importance of keeping Christmas focused on Christ. I feel we have done a pretty good job but our child is just 2 1/2 so I think it is a bit early to tell. How have we done this?

Gifts. We've taken the focus off of gifts. The first thing he hears each season is about baby Jesus, not about what does he want on his wishlist. He still receives gifts and enjoys helping mommy shop for gifts, but that isn't the main focus.

Santa. Our child barely knows who Santa is and I'm ok with that. When he sees a picture of Santa he always asks who it is. When we went to visit Santa, he was scared to death even though we had talked about it ahead of time. We've tried to associate Santa with giving gifts and making people happy, not on receiving a bunch of gifts.

Books. Our child loves books so we bought him several Christmas books from the Christian book store. They all point back to the birth of Jesus. The best time to get books is after Christmas and they are usually 50-75% off. I buy a few each year so that he has new books the next time Christmas comes around.

We eventually want to add an advent calendar too but he doesn't quite get it yet. We know that as he gets older and has more worldly influences, Santa and other things will creep in more, but we hope having the early influence will help him keep Christ in Christmas.

Let me close with a cute story of the conversation my child and I had while reading the Christmas story this week:

We open to the page with Mary and Joseph in the stable holding baby Jesus

Me: Who is that?

S: Mommy, daddy, and me

Me: I thought that was Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus

S: No, mommy, daddy, and me - and Papaw's cow

We then turn the page and there is one angel on the page - he proceeds to say that is daddy. I turn the next page and there are five angels. He informs me they are all mommy.

I think we have some work to do on setting him straight but it makes for a great story to tell him when he is older.

What are you doing to keep Christ in Christmas? Feel free to share in the comments section or leave a link to your blog post on this topic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Waste Less Wednesday: Christmas Cards

Ever wonder what to do with Christmas cards once the season is over? I turn them into gift tags. Simply cut around the pretty pictures and you have a unique gift tag. You can tape them onto packages or punch a hole and tie them onto gift bags.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dave Ramsey Sale

Dave Ramsey has his books and CD's on sale for $10 through Sunday. To find some great Christmas presents for friends and family, click here. I'm a huge Dave Ramsey fan and can thank him for my emergency fund that has gotten us through this past year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Food Friday: Baked Eggs

Sorry for the delay in getting Food Friday up - it has been a crazy day around here as I'm babysitting my nieces at the last minute. It has been fun to play with them though so no complaints here.

Today's recipe came from a friend many years ago who is a Weight Watchers leader. I always look forward to her recipes because I know they will be healthy and delicious. This recipe serves one, but feel free to make it as large as you need it. My husband does not like veggies so I usually make this when I know he will not be home for dinner. I make at least enough for two though so I can have leftovers the next day. The options are endless for this recipe but my favorites are to use cabbage, broccoli, and onions and I prefer the cottage cheese over the ricotta.

Nancy's Baked Eggs

1 cup cut up vegetables - ex. zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomato, cabbage, etc.
1 large egg, beaten slightly
2 Tbsp fat-free ricotta or cottage cheese
2 Tbsp mozzarella cheese

Prepare baking dish with Pam, use a small dish for 1-2 servings and an 8x8 or 11x7 for 3-4 servings. Slice and cut up vegetables, spread in bottom of baking dish. Mix egg and ricotta or cottage cheese together, pour over vegetables. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake another 5 minutes or until egg is done. Top with salsa for added flavor. This makes a great meal with light toast, fat free hashbrowns made in a nonstick skillet, and fresh fruit.

Points for casserole only: 3.5 per serving

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Waste Less Wednesday: Christmas Decorations

Looking for a new idea for Christmas decorations? I love the wreath above that is made using old ties. This idea and picture came from the latest edition of Good Housekeeping and can be found online also. What a great way to use up old ties and have a unique decoration too.

Another idea for Christmas decorations is to find a large vase or bowl and fill it with bulb ornaments. It looks expensive but costs pennies when using items you have around the house. For added flair, add some pine swags to the table or in the vase. I've been told you can pick these up for free from places that sell live Christmas trees. My mom bought bulbs that cannot break and keeps them in a bowl on her coffee table. It looks nice for company and then when the grandkids come, it makes a fun toy. They spend quite a bit of time taking the bulbs in and out of the bowl.

What are some fun ideas you have seen or used to create inexpensive Christmas decorations? Feel free to share your idea or blog link in the comments section.

Book Review: Success is a Given

Many of us are undergoing change in our life due to many factors such as layoffs, children, aging parents, etc. This book is a great example of how to be successful while reinventing yourself. Marlene is a friend I met through a professional organization I attend. She started out working the line at Kraft Foods and left to be a successful motivational speaker. Her story is inspiring. This book would make a great Christmas present for anyone going through a change in their life. It also is a good book to help with those New Year's resolutions so many of us make. Visit Successisagiven.com to purchase this book today.

Marlene is hosting her national launch today and if you buy today, you will receive over $10,000 worth of free bonus downloads to help inspire you during your reinvention. Her site is linked with Amazon.com so your purchase is secure.

Monday, December 8, 2008


I apologize for being absent for the past week or so. Life got in the way while I was dealing with morning sickness and way too many commitments (most not holiday related). I realized a few things while feeling stressed out last week though and that is the need to simplify life. In the blogging world, I'm trying not to get stressed out if I can't post as often as I want, don't have time to drop Entrecards everyday, or find myself staying away from Twitter because I know it will eat my time. I've also learned a lot over the past year about simplifying my everyday life but I will share some of that in a later post. Today, I'm going to talk about simplifying Christmas.

Be realistic. Do not try to take on more than you can chew at the holidays and realize it is ok to say no. I've had years I was so busy I could hardly see straight and that was just not fun. It may be too late to get out of a few commitments this year but make a mental list of how you can change things next year.

Cut down on the decorations. I love to decorate my house for Christmas but it has gotten out of hand. I always put up my decorations the weekend after Thanksgiving. I got my upstairs tree up and a few other things this year and then came down with two migraines in two days. Having a horribly busy week last week meant I was never able to touch the decorations again. My plan today is to finish putting them up but only the items I really like. I'm not going to stress about getting every single item up.

Keep presents within reason.
So many parents have gotten out of hand with gifts for their kids. Children do not need a ton of items, many are happy with a simple cardboard box. Our child is only getting 3-4 gifts this year from us and I think that is plenty. I'm also not worrying about getting a gift for every person I have ever met.

Bake less. I love to bake and look forward to it every holiday but I always take on more than I have time for. This year, I can hardly stand to be near a kitchen thanks to morning sickness. I miss my baking but I'm also learning life goes on without it. My child has asked to cut out sugar cookies so I will probably buy some pre-made dough and make Christmas cookies with him sometime this week. If I can stomach it, I will make a few loaves of pumpkin bread, but that is probably the extent of my cooking this holiday season.

What are some practical ways you can simplfy the Christmas season? Trust me when I say, you will enjoy the holidays so much more when you simplify.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Food Friday: Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

These are super easy to make and are great because you assemble them ahead of time. I made these when I had company over for Black Friday. When I got up at the crack of dawn, I turned the oven on and by the time I was ready for the morning, breakfast was done. This recipe comes from a friend at MOPS who brought this one day and we all thought she had spent hours making us homemade cinnamon rolls.

Overnight Cinnamon Rolls

1 package Rhoades frozen cinnamon rolls (12 count)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1 stick butter
1 cup vanilla ice cream

Place frozen rolls in a 13x9 pan. Combine brown sugar, white sugar, butter, and ice cream in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Pour sauce over frozen rolls and place in oven overnight (no heat). Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Frost with icing that comes with cinnamon rolls.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Waste Less Wednesday: Paper Sacks

Need quick and cheap wrapping paper this holiday season? Use paper grocery sacks instead of buying paper. Simply cut open the sack and wrap your gift using the non-printed side. You can tie with a nice bow or decorate the paper. If you have kids, have them color the paper. If you are in to crafting, stamp or use scrapbook leftovers to embellish the paper. You will have unique wrapping paper and it didn't cost a dime.

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