Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Merry Christmas, y'all!

We're taking a break from Tasty Tuesday to say:

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Great Recipe Post!

Ok, folks, here we go... the Great Recipe Post!

I've been trying to figure out a more user-friendly way to do this, & honestly, I haven't come across the perfect solution just yet. So meanwhile, here's a giant post that will hopefully work for now! :)

 No-Bake Cookies
(contributed by Kristy E.)

The Ingredients: 

  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 tsp vanilla flavoring

The Directions:

Boil the top four ingredients for 4 minutes. Add other ingredients one at a time, stirring constantly. You can either drop these by spoonfuls onto wax paper & let them harden, or you can grease a glass pan & pour, let harden & cut into cookies. 


Buffalo Chicken Dip
(contributed by Margaret B.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup wing sauce
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing (or bleu cheese dressing)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (monterey jack or cheddar)

The Directions:

Mix well until blended. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 10-25 mins. Serve with corn chips, tortillas, celery &/or carrots... or just eat it out of the bowl! :)


Bacon Tomato Cups
(contributed by Melissa C.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 can of biscuits (make sure they are the "layered" ones, not the twisted croissant ones)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4-5 green onions, diced
  • 5 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • 12 oz shredded cheese (swiss is best)
  • 3-4 tbsp mayonnaise

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray mini muffin or cupcake tin.

Combine tomato, onion, bacon & cheese in bowl. Add mayo until mixture is wet. Separate each layered biscuit into 3 pieces. Press each biscuit piece into a muffin/cupcake cup & fill with mixture.

Bake until biscuits are golden. 


MOPS Holiday Punch
(contributed by Meagan G.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 can frozen grape juice
  • 1 bottle apple juice
  • 1 2-liter ginger ale

The Directions:

Mix & serve cold.


Slow Cooker Apple Cider
(contributed by Jennifer H.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate

The Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cover & simmer on low for 2-4 hours. Strain before serving hot. Makes approximately 8 servings.


Burrito Bites
(contributed by Jill K.)

The Ingredients:

  • 2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese
  • 2 (4 oz) cans chopped green chilies
  • 1 package 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 packet taco seasoning

The Directions:

Mix cream cheese, chopped green chilies & taco seasoning together. Microwave tortillas for 30 seconds to make them easier to work with.

Spread mixture on tortillas. Roll tortillas & cut into bite-size pieces.

**Tip: it's sometimes easier to cut the rolls if you put them in the refrigerator to chill first


Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding
(contributed by Tiffany T.)

The Ingredients:

  • 9 regular glazed, day-old KK doughnuts
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups whole milk

The Directions:

Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Cut doughnuts into 1/2-inch cubes & spread in dish. Whisk together remainder of ingredients & pour over doughnuts.

Let rest one hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place dish in a shallow pan & fill with water. Bake for 70-75 mins. Center should be firm.


Cream Cheese Pie
(contributed by Kristy E.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 9-inch pie crust, baked as directed
  • 1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 can sweetened, condensed milk. 

The Directions:

Beat cream cheese until softened. Add condensed milk & mix until smooth. Slowly add lemon juice to cream cheese mixture & mix well. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust & chill for at least 30 minutes.


Easy Key Lime Pie
(contributed by Heather K.)

The Ingredients:

  • 3 (14 oz) cans condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice
  • 1 (9 oz) graham or chocolate pie crust

The Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cans of Eagle Brand with milk & lime juice using a whisk until well-blended. Pour mixture into crust & smooth. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, then enjoy!

**Tip: for best results, do not substitute Nellie & Joe's lime juice. This brand is sold at Bilo & Publix.
**Tip: eat as is or add chocolate, strawberry or any other topping


Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Bars
(contributed by Abbey G.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips

The Directions:

Combine ingredients & press into a 9x13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let cool & cut into bars.


Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie
(contributed by Alisha M.)

The Ingredients for pie:

  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp grated lemon rind
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cream or milk
  • 2-3 cups ripe blueberries
  • 1 pie shell, baked (graham cracker crust is good!)

The Ingredients for blueberry glaze:

  • 3 cups blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

The Directions:

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, lemon rind & juice, & cream or milk. Cream until it's whipped cream consistency. Line the pie shell with cheese mixture. Fill with fresh whole berries & cover with blueberry glaze (see instructions below).

To make blueberry glaze, mash berries with sugar & let stand for 30 mins. Mix with cornstarch & cook over medium heat until thick & clear. Let cool & pour over pie. Refrigerate.


Apple Dumplings
(contributed by Kelly A.)

The Ingredients:

  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled & cored
  • 2 (10 oz) can refrigerated crescent roll dough
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 (12 oz) can or bottle of Mountain Dew

The Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.

Cut each apple into 8 wedges & set aside Separate the crescent roll dough into triangles. Roll each apple wedge in dough starting at the smallest end. Pinch to seal & place in baking dish.

Melt butter in a small saucepan & stir in the sugar & cinnamon. Pour over the apple dumplings. Pour Mountain Dew over the dumplings.

Bake for 35-45 mins, or until golden brown.  


Sausage Balls
(contributed by Kristi B.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. pork sausage
  • 2 1/2 cups Bisquick
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

The Directions:

Work ingredients together well until they form a large ball. Pinch off small bits & roll into small balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 mins, until golden brown. Makes approximately 100 sausage balls.


Pumpkin Crisp
(contributed by Jeanie H.)

The Ingredients:

  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 package butter yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • whipped cream

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg. Pour into 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle cake mix over pumpkin mixture in an even layer.

Arrange pecans on cake mix. Pour butter evenly over pecans, moistening all the cake mix.

Bake for 70-80 mins, or until golden brown. Allow to cool & top with whipped cream. Serve warm. Makes 9-10 servings.


Hot Corn Dip
(contributed by Ansley H.)

The Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 4 ears of fresh white or yellow corn)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions (green & white parts)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded & minced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 oz monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 1 tbsp of butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels turn deep golden brown, about 5 mins. Transfer to a bowl.

Melt remaining tbsp of butter in the skillet. Add yellow onions & bell peppers & cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted, about 2 mins. Add green onions, jalapeno & garlic & cook, stirring, for 2 mins or until vegetables are softened. Transfer to bowl with the corn.

Add mayonnaise, 1/2 of the monterey jack, 1/2 of the cheddar & cayenne & mix well. Pour into 8-inch square baking dish & sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Bake until bubbly & golden brown, about 10-12 mins. Serve hot with tortilla chips.


Buckeye (Peanut Butter) Balls
(contributed by Pamela S.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 lb. confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 bar of paraffin wax (Gulf wax) or 1 1/2 tbsp Crisco shortening, butter or vegetable oil

The Directions:

Melt butter in large bowl. Stir in peanut butter, sugar & vanilla. Put pecans & shredded coconut in food processor to chop finely, about 30 seconds. Crush graham crackers in plastic bag. Add graham cracker crumbs, pecans & coconut mixture in bowl with butter & combine well.

Shape into balls using a tablespoon. Place a toothpick in each ball & refrigerate at least 1 hour to harden.

Melt 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips & 1/3 bar of paraffin wax (or Crisco, butter or oil) in double boiler over low heat. Dip each ball in chocolate & place on wax or parchment paper until cool. Remove toothpicks. Place cooled balls between wax or parchment paper in plastic container to store. 

**This recipe is from the kitchen of Pamela's grandmother, Barbara


Buckeye (Peanut Butter) Balls
(contributed by Tara T.)

The Ingredients:

  • 4 oz butter, melted
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 18 oz crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 cups rice krispies
  • chocolate for melting & dipping

The Directions:

Mix butter, sugar, peanut butter & rice krispies. Shape into balls. Melt chocolate for dipping. Dip peanut butter balls in chocolate. Refrigerate to allow chocolate to set. Enjoy!


Jalapeno Poppers
(contributed by Sarah R.)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 can of crescent roll dough
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 fresh jalapenos
  • 3-5 strips of bacon

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice open jalapenos & clean out seeds, then chop. Cook bacon until it's crispy, then break into small pieces.

Roll out crescent dough & cut each roll in half (this makes bite-size poppers. If you want big poppers, don't cut the rolls in half). Each piece of dough should be vaguely triangle-shaped.

Place a dollop of cream cheese (approximately a smallish tbsp) in the center of each piece of dough. Press 1 or more pieces of jalapeno into the cream cheese, depending on how hot you want your poppers to be. Then place 1-2 small pieces of bacon on top of the jalapeno.

Fold the three corners of your dough up & pinch the top & sides together to prevent your cream cheese from leaking out.

Bake 10-15 mins or until golden brown. 


Peppermint Fudge
(contributed by Christina A.)

The Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (about 4 cups) white chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups peppermint candies, coarsely crushed

The Directions:

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment or wax paper, letting the paper hang over the sides.

In a medium bowl, stir together white chocolate chips, condensed milk & salt. Melt mixture according to white chocolate package instructions. Once chocolate is melted, stir in vanilla extract & 1 cup of crushed peppermints.

Pour fudge into prepared pan & use a spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the remaining crushed peppermints on top. Chill in refrigerator until it's firm & set, about 2 hours. Use overhanging flaps of paper to lift the fudge from the pan, then cut it into 1-inch squares.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

getting crafty: glitter ornaments

At our meeting last week, we made glittery ornaments... perfect for the Christmas season!

Here's the tutorial if you'd like to make these little lovelies at home:

What you need:

  • Clear glass ornaments
  • Glitter (extra-fine is recommended)
  • Floor cleaner such as Mop-N-Glow or Favor
  • Stickers, vinyl cut-outs, paint pens or Sharpies for decorating (optional)
  • Ribbon for hanging (optional)


  1. Remove cap from ornament and pour a small amount of floor cleaner inside... a tablespoon or two should do it. You may need a funnel for this step, or you can just wing it.
  2. Swish the cleaner around until the inside of the ornament is completely coated. Then pour the excess cleaner out. (Try to avoid bubbles if possible.)
  3. Pour your glitter into the ornament & shake it all around until the entire inside is coated in sparkly beauty. Just put a bunch of glitter, cover the opening with your finger & shake... you can always add more glitter if needed. Then dump your excess glitter back into the glitter container, taking care to swivel the ornament around so that you get all the extra glitter out... you don't want a layer of glitter sitting in the bottom of the ornament while it's hanging on the tree.
  4. Replace the ornament cap & decorate as desired, or not at all. If you'd like, you can tie a ribbon around the ornament cap &/or loop it through the wire to hang your glitter ornament. Enjoy!

One of our MOPS mamas has already made a few of these at home... she used a square ornament instead the classic round & I love it! Thanks for sharing, Jeanie!

December meeting recap!

Well, a week later, I guess I'll actually get the meeting recap written! Whew, the holidays are cuh-razy!

So last Thursday, Dec 13th, was our December meeting... aka Recipe Swap & Spa Day! So, so fun!

First of all, let's talk about the food. YUM. We had an amazing spread & it was all delicious (& I know this because I may have sampled everything :)  I'll be posting all the recipes soon... stay tuned!

And the craft was super-cute, as always... Abbey had everything we needed to make personalized glittery ornaments for the Christmas season. The tutorial will be posted in the next few days...

For our Spa Day, we had four stations:
  1. Paraffin hand-waxing -- a great thing for scratchy, dry winter hands!
  2. Foot soak -- ahhhh, who doesn't love to soak their toes every once in a while?
  3. Mary Kay -- a huge thanks to Elizabeth, one of our MOPS moms & a Mary Kay consultant!
  4. Hair stylists -- three stylists, Rachel, Danae & Ashley, were kind enough to donate their time to MOPS to make us mamas look fabulous! Be sure to pay these ladies a visit the next time you need to be spruced up... check our facebook page for their contact information.
A few of the MOPS mamas get a trim from our wonderful stylists!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: peppermint obsession, anyone?

Here's a compilation of all things peppermint for this Tasty Tuesday!

First up, the old faithful peppermint bark. So. stinkin'. good. And easy too... 

The Ingredients:

  • 1 package (12 oz) of white chocolate chips
  • 24 peppermint candies
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil (optional)

The Directions:

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. 

Unwrap candies & put them in a ziplock bag. Wrap in a towel & smash repeatedly until candies are crushed (this is a great way to relieve holiday stress, by the way :). Or you can put them in a food processor, but that's not as much fun.

Microwave white chocolate chips for 45 seconds. Stir. Continue microwaving & stirring at 15-second intervals until completely melted & smooth.

Pour the crushed candies into a strainer while holding it over the melted chocolate. Shake the stainer until you've sifted out the larger pieces. Put the larger peppermint pieces aside. Add a few drops of peppermint extract or oil if desired. Stir chocolate. 

Spread chocolate into baking pan. Sprinkle with reserved larger candy pieces & press lightly. Let it stand for about 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container at room temperature.


And while you're making peppermint bark, you could just go ahead & do a batch of peppermint popcorn...

The Ingredients:

  • Same as above (white chocolate chips & peppermint candies)
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil
  • 2 bags of microwave popcorn, popped

The Directions:

Follow the instructions for peppermint bark above to melt chocolate & stir in crushed peppermint. Add oil or extract. Pour chocolate/peppermint over popcorn & stir until well-coated. Spread on wax paper until hardened.


Or you might want to give these peppermint sugar cookie bars a try... 

The Ingredients for the cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup crushed or chopped after-dinner butter mints

The Ingredients for the frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
2 to 4 tbsp milk
Red food coloring, if desired
1/2 cup crushed peppermints or candy canes

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a large 11x17 pan. Line with parchment paper & grease paper as well. Set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt & baking soda. 

With an electric mixer, cream butter & sugar until light & fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in vanilla. Add in flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in butter mints.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until light golden brown & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 20-25 minutes). Transfer to wire rack to cool completely. 

While cookie is cooling, make frosting. With an electric mixer, beat butter until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add peppermint extract & salt. Add powdered sugar, a little at a time, beating until well-combined. Add milk a tablespoon at a time until frosting is smooth & fluffy. Add a few drops of food coloring if desired. 

Spread frosting over cooled cookie & sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Cut into bars (makes 32 bars).

(Click here for source). 


And finally, we have peppermint eggnog... 

The Ingredients:

  • eggnog
  • peppermint candies, finely crushed
  • peppermint sticks
  • peppermint extract or oil

The Directions:

Wet the edge of your mug & dip in crushed peppermints. Pour eggnog & add a few drops of extract or oil (remember that oil is MUCH stronger tasting than extract). Sprinkle peppermint on top & add a peppermint stick.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

getting crafty: clothespin wreath card holder

This past Monday was our Moms Night Out for December... our first official Craft Night! We had craft kits available, & several ladies chose to make a super-cute clothespin wreath card holder.

If you couldn't make it to Craft Night & would like to make a clothespin wreath at home, here's the tutorial:

What you need:

  • wire clothes hanger
  • 36 wooden clothespins
  • 72 pony beads
  • duct tape
  • glue gun
  • 4 feet of ribbon


  1. Cut the hook off your hanger, discard & bend hanger into a circle.
  2. Thread a clothespin onto the hanger (put the wire through the spring coil of the pin) & then add two pony beads.
  3. Continue threading materials onto the hanger in this repeating order: clothespin, two beads, clothespin, two beads until you have them all on the wire. If you come across an "ugly" clothespin, just flip it over so the pretty side is facing the front of the wreath.
  4. Put a bead on each side of your first & last clothespins, so you have a bead nearest the opening of the wire circle on both ends of your wreath.
  5. Overlap the loose ends of the wire & secure with duct tape. You can hot glue or twist the wires to "close" your wreath as well. You only want about a 1.5 inch gap between your beads after the wreath is enclosed, so you may need to trim off a bit of the wire depending on your hanger length. 
  6. Use one foot of ribbon to form a loop from which to hang your wreath. Use the glue gun to attach the ribbon loop to your wreath, using the ribbon to cover the duct tape.
  7. Tie a bow with the remaining 3 feet of ribbon & use the glue gun to attach the bow to the base of your ribbon loop.
  8. Add all your Christmas cards & enjoy!
There's all sorts of variations for this wreath... here are a few ideas if you want to jazz yours up a bit:

You can paint your clothespins:

Or use mod-podge or glue or double-sided tape to add colorful scrapbook paper  &/or glitter to your clothespins:

Or scratch the Christmas card holder idea entirely & make a wreath just because they look snazzy. Valentine's Day, Easter, 4th of July... the clothespin wreath possibilities are endless!

(from left to right: source, source, source)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Surprise Treats

What's better than biting into a brownie or cupcake? Biting into a brownie or cupcake & there being a tasty surprise inside! :)

Here are two recipes for surprise treats that the kiddos (& adults) will love!

This first recipe is for Surprise Brownie Bites with Caramel Cream Cheese Icing. Yes, that's brownie, caramel, cream cheese & candy all in one delicious bite... you're welcome.

On the left is Rolo; on the right is Ferrero Rocher

The Ingredients:

  • brownie mix, with eggs, oil & water needed to prepare
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp caramel sauce (store-bought, or boil a small can of condensed milk for 10 mins, stirring constantly until it turns to caramel)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 24 candies of your choice... pictured above are Rolo (on the left) & Ferrero Rocher (on the right)

The Directions:

Unwrap all candies & put them in the fridge. Preheat oven & prepare brownie mix as directed on box. Grease  24-cup mini muffin tin. Fill each cup 3/4 full with batter. Bake according to directions.

When brownies are done, remove them from oven. Immediately press a candy into each warm brownie. Wait a few minutes for brownies to cool slightly, then remove from pan to allow brownies to cool completely on wire rack. 

To make icing, mix cream cheese & butter until smooth. Stir in caramel. Add powdered sugar gradually  & whip until creamy.

Once brownies are completely cool, put a small dollop of the leftover caramel on each brownie bite (this is optional... it just adds a little more gooey goodness). Using a plastic bag & piping tip, pipe the icing onto each brownie bite. Refrigerate for a while until icing is set before serving.


Or check out this recipe shared by Emily... she makes these Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes for her family every year during the Christmas season!

The Ingredients (for the batter):

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

The Ingredients (for the filling):

  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill cupcake tin with liners.

To prepare batter, melt together butter, chocolate & vanilla. Beat eggs & sugar together until combined. Beat flour into egg mixture. Fold in chocolate mixture. Spoon into cupcake tins until approximately 3/4 full.

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg & salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop a rounded teaspoonful into cupcake batter.

Bake at 350 for 30 mins. 

Makes 20-22 cupcakes. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

random acts of kindness

It's so easy to get swept up in the frenzied joy & wonder of Christmas... the shopping, the tree, the lights, the gifts, the parties, the baking, the music. What's not to love?!?

Maggie & Sadie are amazed...

But it can be difficult sometimes to help our young children understand... especially preschool-age... what Christmas really means. With all the hustle & bustle, it's easy to see how it could be confusing for littles... that it's actually NOT all about getting presents or Santa. That Christmas is actually about celebrating the birth of Jesus & understanding what Jesus means to us on a daily basis.

This Christmas, what if we decided to share the light of Christmas here in Anderson, SC? It could be amazing. It really could. Not only for our individual children, but on a much larger scale.

So do something random & nice. And talk to your kids about why it's fun....
  • Take a festive holiday treat to your pediatrician's office for the staff
  • Tape a dollar with a note saying  "Merry Christmas" to a vending machine
  • Pay for the car behind you at Starbucks.... maybe they'll do the same & keep the kindness going!
  • Take cookies & thank you notes to our local fire department & police departments

Or you can participate in this wonderful (& well-organized) idea from Courtney at Lil Light O' Mine. She calls it:

And she's provided tons of Light 'Em Up ideas & freebies... a list of 100 random acts of kindness, a planning sheet to help you implement, & even printable gift tags telling someone how much your family appreciates them...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Creamy Mac & Cheese

With all the holiday bustle, sometimes it's nice to just get back to a basic comfort food... & it's even nicer if it can be thrown in a slow cooker & forgotten about until dinner time. This recipe for creamy macaroni & cheese is one of our family's favorites!

The Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (8 oz) elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 can cheddar cheese condensed soup
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

The Directions:

Boil macaroni until tender. Drain. In medium saucepan, mix butter & cheese. Stir until cheese melts. 

In slow cooker, combine cheese mixture, eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard & pepper. Stir well. Add drained macaroni & stir again. 

Turn slow cooker on "low" setting & cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Monday, December 3, 2012

y'all come to Craft Night!

Do you have a project that you just can't seem to get done?

Christmas cards to address? 

A cute craft that you pinned on Pinterest, but probably won't actually do? 

Or are you creatively challenged?... you WANT to be crafty, but you're just not sure where to start?

You should come to Craft Night next Monday, Dec 10th! It will definitely be worth finding a babysitter or getting the husband to keep the kiddos...  it's a dedicated time to knock out one of those projects or make something fun & visit with other moms while you're doing it! 

Next Monday, you can bring your own craft or project that you want to work on. Or if you want to try something new, you can purchase one of our kits. And what are these kits, you ask? Abbey, Crafter Extraordinaire has lined up some ridiculously cute options for us.

**If you want a kit, please let us know... we'll reserve one for you! 

kit #1: clothespin wreath

This is a perfect addition to your holiday decor as Christmas cards start arriving... just clip your cards to display all season! This little kit will have all the supplies to make this clothespin wreath!
(kit price: $3)

kit #2: bird nest necklace

The super-popular bird nest necklace is making a reappearance... we made these during one of our meetings & I've gotten so many compliments! Would be perfect for a gift or keeping for yourself...
(kit price: $2)

kit #3: homemade hot cocoa gift set

Who doesn't love a warm cup of hot cocoa? This kit will have everything you need to put together a pretty little cocoa gift set similar to the ones pictured here.
(kit price: $2)