Saturday, December 17, 2011

24 Christmas Gifts for under $8!?

This year has been filled with many things that have literally drained my family's bank account.  From multiple surgeries that my husband has had to undergo, to growing children that eat more food than I ever imagined possible, household and car repairs, to ever-increasing medical expenses, this year was definitely one of "pinching pennies." Yet, I am deeply thankful for the financially unstable year that my family has endured.  A crazy thing to be thankful for?  It may sound that way on the surface, but thinking back over the last year, God has shown me so many new things about Himself that I definitely would not have been able to see if more money had been in my bank account.

I also love the creativity that comes from these seasons in our life.  In our house, things have been fixed, not replaced.  We've learned to grab a sweater or blanket, rather than heating the house a couple of degrees more.  My children have re-discovered things they forgot they had, like Legos, Play-Doh, Nerf guns, and model car kits.  And we're happy. :)

When thinking about Christmas gifts for our extended family, we knew giving gifts to everyone this year was going to be impossible.  But, after doing some browsing of craft web sites, I came up with a few ideas for things we could make inexpensively to give as gifts.  As a family, we decided on painted Christmas ornaments, using our fingerprints.  I already had paint that we could use and I found clear glass ornaments and frosted glass ornaments at Hobby Lobby for 50% off.  Total cost to make 24 gifts: $7.42.  God had provided us with an affordable way to give gifts!

As I dipped my daughter's little fingers in paint and then my sons', it became clear that these were not going to be just cute, they would be ADORABLE!  All five of us chose a character to create from our fingerprints and decorated each ornament.  Doug made a Santa Claus, I made a wreath, Ian made a penguin, Brodie made a snowman, and Ellery made a reindeer.  I then wrote our names and the date along the bottom and these little masterpieces are ready for gift-giving!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Favorite Christmas Cookies

Each of my boys has their favorite cookies that they love to bake or decorate with me at Christmastime.  We made Brodie's favorite cookies---Green Holly Cookies.  They probably have a fancier, official name.  My mom called them wreath cookies, as they are supposed to be shaped into little wreaths.  (This takes far too much time and effort to be worth it since they will be gobbled up quickly!  They are just as pretty and yummy as holly leaves.) 

This recipe was given to my mother by my dear preschool teacher, Miss Jean, when I was three years old.  My mom made them every year after that and my boys and I do the same.  Ellery will join in the fun some day, but this year she was much more interested in sneaking Red Hot candies to share with her Daddy, than actually helping with the cookies.


Green Holly Cookies

1 Package Marshmallows
4 Tablespoons of Butter
6 Cups of Corn Flakes
Green Food Coloring
Red Hot Candies

Melt marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan over low-medium heat.  When completely melted, add enough green food coloring to tint the mixture a deep green color.  Remove from heat and stir in the Corn Flakes.  Mix and stir until the flakes are completely covered in green goo.  

Work quickly to prevent the mixture from hardening and drop by teaspoonfuls onto waxed paper.  Place three Red Hot Candies on each clump to resemble a holly leaf (this part is great for kids to help with and my boys' favorite step).  Allow to cool and harden slightly before enjoying. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Because Baking Bread Takes A Long Time...

I like baking bread.  My family likes eating bread.  The problem, however, is that baking bread takes a long time.  I begin my day reading God's Word, having coffee with my husband, homeschooling my children, reading emails, loading the dishwasher, wiping up muddy paw prints from my dear Golden Retriever, changing diapers, vacuuming up muffin crumbs, and sorting laundry.  By the time my brain catches up and I think about baking bread to go with our dinner, it's late afternoon and by the time I finish mixing, letting dough rise, shaping and baking, it will be bedtime before our bread is done.

Which is why I am thankful to have found the "60-Minute Dinner Rolls" recipe from Phyllis Pellman Good's book, Fix-It and Enjoy-It Cookbook.  As promised, these dinner rolls bake up quickly and easily, even when a two-year-old, dough-tasting little girl is my co-chef.  They aren't the most wonderful dinner rolls I've ever tasted, but on a Thursday night when I've had the kind of day that makes me question whether or not I'm really awake or if I'm dreaming, they will do.  My husband and 2/3 of my children like them, which is success in my opinion!  

Here is the recipe:

60-Minute Dinner Rolls (Makes 2 dozen)

2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, add yeast and sugar to warm milk.  Stir to dissolve.  Let stand 15 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Mix well.  Cover and let stand in a warm place for 15-20 minutes, or until double in size.  Form 24 rolls, each the size of an egg.  Place on greased cookie sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This hat turned out a lot cuter than I pictured in my mind!  I like how it curves in at the top perfectly and the sparkly, pink flower adds just the right amount of adorable to it. 

I have begun knitting hats just recently.  I know most people start out with knitting hats when learning to knit, but I jumped right in making stuffed animals!  I missed out on the rewarding feeling that knitting a hat brings.  I can usually complete one, start to finish within three evenings. This depends on how long it takes my husband to say something like,  "How many more rows until you can turn out the light!?".  He's not fond of my knitting-in-bed habit when it carries on after he's ready to sleep.  Before you feel too sorry for him, know that he has his own set of annoying habits. ;)

Now that the aqua-colored hat is finished, I'm ready to start a new one!  I haven't yet decided what the next one will be, but I am sure it will be just as exciting to finish.

If you'd like to purchase this hat, check out the link below:

A Yarn Called, "Cranberry-Red" Must Be Knitted Into A Christmas Sweater!

I finally finished the cranberry-red, Christmas sweater that I've been working on for what seems like forever!  I started this sweater in September and kept making smaller, easy-to-finish projects instead of working on it.  Originally, this was supposed to be for Ellery (my adorable two-year-old daughter!) but it is a bit too big for her.  And I'm afraid it will be too small by next winter, so you can find it in my Etsy Shop! Here is a link: