We are 7 sisters (well, 6 sisters and one in-law who we think of as a sister). We have always been close to each other and so now in order for us to stay close, even though we are far away, we have a blog, which we like to share fun finds, recipes, date ideas, crafts, and anything else we think the others will like. :)
So, I am back and I know it is a little longer than 30 days, but I have good excuses. I was out for 2 weeks with a back injury and then got sick a week later. Long story short I have only been doing the second challenge for 9 days straight again, but I am happy to say, I have lost another 2 inches. It has been 10 inches total since my first 30 day Challenge about 2 months ago! I am so excited. I have also lost 2 more pounds since my last report. Happy day. I hope you all are having as much success with these as I have. Please share with me so I can be encouraged by you too.
I am so excited to share this fitness challenge with anyone willing to try read it and possibly try it too. Michelle introduced me to this 32 days ago and I am really thrilled with the results from the first challenge. Out of all of the sisters, I feel like (and look like) I have had the hardest time losing baby weight after each of my 3 children. I am usually able to lose about 1/2 of what I gained in the pregnancy and then it just stops and piles on again after the next child. I just experienced this AGAIN with my 3rd child and FINALLY after 8 long months, I am starting to see a change again. I know I am not the only one who has this difficulty even though it feels like it sometimes, so I hope this will give someone else out there hope and support as I have needed it!
So, 32 days ago, I started the 30 day ab and 30 day squat challenge found at the 30 Day Fitness Challenge site. They have 18 different challenges to choose from, basically for any part of the body that might be a problem. They start out small and by day 30, you are doing crazy amounts of things. When I first looked at it and saw the day 30 challenge, I thought, good luck. It actually was quite manageable and I was able to finish it no problem! A piece of advice is to measure yourself on day 1, day 15, and again on the final day so you really can see where you are. I tell you, my day 15 measurement got me very motivated as I had already lost 2 inches at my waist, and another 2 inches between my legs! My final measurements were 3 inches off my waist, 1 inch off my hips, and 3 3/4 inches off my legs. Grand total 7 3/4 inches!!! I only lost 3 pounds, but I am not letting that defeat me. Muscle burns fat, right, so it should show in the pounds shortly. I will be happy to report when that happens too! I also have gotten comments (really good ones) about 4 times in the last 2 weeks about my legs and how I am looking so YAY!!!
So here is the chart, directly from the 30 Day Fitness website for the ab/squat challenge:
If you have an android or iphone, you can also download their apps for each challenge. I also added 2 things to my routine. First, when I did my squats, I would also do 30-60 calf raises. I have 3 positions for it. 1. First is just with toes pointing forward. 2. Next, toes pointing in toward each other. 3. Finally, heels touching and toes pointing out. I would do either 10, 15, or 20 in each position. If the squat day was light, I would do 10, after 2-3 days, I would do 15, and the last 2-3 days I would do 20. You can either do these all in a row, or space them out in between squats. For instance, on day 12, it calls for 60 squats. I would do 20 squats, then 15 calf raises, 20 more squats, 15 more calf raises, etc. It worked awesome!
The next thing I added was leg lift ab crunches. I would just do as many as it said to do with the sit-ups. This is the one where you lie on your back with legs out straight. Lift your toes straight up toward the sky so your body makes an L.
This month, I am definitely continuing to do a 30 day challenge. I am using their push up challenge, found below.
I am also going to continue doing 20-40 squats everyday with 10-15 calf raises in-between each group of squats. I am also going to continue doing about 20 sit-ups and 30-40 crunches every day. I am also adding a butt and hamstrings challenge and it is one I have created on my own. I will explain the exercises and then give the plan at the end.
Hamstrings: If you have an 8-12 pound hand weight you will hold it horizontal with each hand holding one end. You simply bend over until your hands touch the ground, and then stand back up, squeezing your buttock. If you want to make it more challenging, stand on the edge of a stair or chair or bench and allow your hands to go BELOW your feet. It will add more resistance and you will feel it more the next day!
Buttock: This one I am using from an old tae bo workout I used to do. There are 4 steps, each one building on the last and getting a little harder. You will do a set on each leg, so alternate from one leg to the next so your bottom has time to relax a minute in between! You will be down on hands and knees for all of these.
1. Lift your leg (bent knee) straight up in the air, and heading to your head, then back down to the ground.
2. Lift your bent leg up to the side like a male dog would to a tree. Your leg should be straight with your back at it's highest.
3. Lift your leg like in step 2 and hold this position while you stretch and straighten your leg back and then pull back to the bent position.
4. Lift you leg (like in step 1) up in the air, curve your leg into the bent knee position as in step 2, and continue rotating down until your knee is on the ground again. You will be making a circle with your leg.
I really don't like pictures of myself right now, but I will post video clips to help explain these steps a little better as soon as I can see Michelle to tape them! I just wanted to post this now because I am so excited about it.
Here is my flow chart for this month incorporating the push-ups, hamstrings, and buttock.
Day 1: Push ups- 15 / Hamstrings- 25 / Butt-10 Each Leg/ X 4 positions (see above)
Day 2: Push ups- 16 / Hamstrings- 30 /Butt- 11 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 3: Push ups- 17 / Hamstrings- 35 / Butt- 12 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 4: Push ups- 18 / Hamstrings- 40 / Butt- 13 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 5: Push ups- 19 / Hamstrings- 45 / Butt- 14 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 6: Push ups- 20 / Hamstrings- 50 / Butt- 15 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 7: Push ups- 21 / Hamstrings- 55/ Butt- 16 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 8: Rest
Day 9: Push ups- 22 / Hamstrings- 20 / Butt- 17 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 10: Push ups- 23 / Hamstrings- 30 / Butt- 18 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 11: Push ups- 23 / Hamstrings- 40 / Butt- 19 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 12: Push ups- 24 / Hamstrings- 50 / Butt- 20 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 13: Push ups- 25 / Hamstrings- 55 / Butt- 21 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 14: Push ups- 26 / Hamstrings- 60 / Butt- 22 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 15: Rest
Day 16: Push ups- 27 / Hamstrings- 25 / Butt- 23 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 17: Push ups- 28 / Hamstrings- 35 / Butt- 24 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 18: Push ups- 29 / Hamstrings- 45 / Butt- 25 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 19: Push ups- 30 / Hamstrings- 55 / Butt- 26 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 20: Push ups- 31 / Hamstrings- 60 / Butt- 27 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 21: Push ups- 32 / Hamstrings- 65 / Butt- 28 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 22: Rest
Day 23: Push ups- 33 / Hamstrings- 25 / Butt- 29 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 24: Push ups- 34 / Hamstrings- 35 / Butt- 30 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 25: Push ups- 35 / Hamstrings- 45 / Butt- 31 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 26: Push ups- 36 / Hamstrings- 55 / Butt- 32 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 27: Push ups- 37 / Hamstrings- 60 / Butt- 33 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 28: Push ups- 38 / Hamstrings- 65 / Butt- 34 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 29: Push ups- 39 / Hamstrings- 70 / Butt- 35 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Day 30: Push ups- 40 / Hamstrings- 75 / Butt- 36 Each Leg/ X 4 positions
Good luck and please send a comment back if you do this. I'd like to hear how others do! Thanks for reading.
I will start this out by saying, I have gotten really frustrated grocery shopping Walmart over the past few years because they are always saying they have the lowest prices around and if they don't, they will match any other store. I won't go into all of the price matching policies right now, (I'll post it at the end in case you don't already know them) but I will say, you really have to go to the right checker for them to really honor what Walmart claims. That being said, there really are things you just have to buy at Walmart because either no one else carries that item, or their price is just way lower than even the sale price + a coupon of other stores.
In the recent months, Walmart has introduced another money saving feature to try and intice you into shopping at their store. I have just tried it twice within the past week and I will say I am pleased with it and will continue to use this any time I do shop at Walmart. This is called their "Savings Catcher". You can either download the app to your iPhone smart phone (sorry Blackberry users like me, once again it is not supported for us and for once the Android based phones are also outed), or you can manually go in on a computer and add the information. It only takes about a minute and they will have your savings back to you in 2-3 days! Follow this link to download the app to your smart phone Savings Catcher App.
It is actually a pretty cool concept. They will compare the items on your receipts with the ads in the area and if the items you purchased are on sale for a lower price, they will give you the amount back on an e-gift card for you to use on future purchases. My first receipt I purchased Treseme Heat Serum for $4.98 and they found it cheaper ($4.00) at Kmart so I got back $0.98! Now, the information they sent back to me said they compared it at 5 different stores but it doesn't show which 5. I know I also bought Challenge Cream cheese there for $2.27, knowing I had an ibotta coupon for $0.75. I bought the same cream cheese at Fry's grocery store the next day, also with a coupon and their price was $1.00, so it obviously did not compare the prices with Fry's. I understand everything will have it's flaws and obviously will not catch EVERYTHING, but hey, if you even get back some of the extra money you are paying, it's a start, right? I will say, I will continue to price match as best as I can through the local ads I recieve, but I will also submit all of my future receipts for review as well. You never know what you will miss too! Hope this help save you some money sometime too.
Just in case you have NEVER used the Walmart price guarantee or maybe don't know exactly what to do, here are the rules, right from Walmart's home page. Don't hesitate to argue with them on some of the policies. I do it all of the time if they are not honoring the information they are advertizing, which actually happens about 9 out of the 10 times I try it--just a little frustrating! You may even want to keep a copy of this right in your purse so if they tell you they don't do it, you can pull it out and prove that they are supposed too!
"We're so confident in our low prices, we guarantee them.*Walmart lowers thousands of prices every week, on average. If you happen to find a lower price, we'll match it right at the register.
We’re committed to providing low prices every day. On everything. So if you find a lower advertised price on an identical product, tell us and we’ll match it. Right at the register.
We gladly match the price in the following types of ads:*
Buy one, get one free ads with a specified price
Example: Buy one for $2.49, get one free (BOGO) (this is the one they most often WILL NOT honor, so make sure to point out the price and this paper!! Stacy)
Competitors' ads that feature a specific item for a specified price
Preferred shopping card prices for specific items that are in a printed ad
For fresh produce and meat items when the price is offered in the same unit type (lb. for lb.; each for each) (This one is probably the 2nd most often not honored)
*The following are guidelines and limitations:
We will match any local competitor's advertised price.
We do not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor's ad. (Bring your ads in if you can because most cashiers will not do it if you don't have it)
Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.)
We do not match the price in the following types of competitor ads:
Items that require a separate purchase to get the ad price
example: "Buy [item A] to get [item B] for $C"
Items with no actual price that require a purchase to get free product
example: "Buy both [items A & B] to get [item C] for free"
Items that require a purchase to get a competitors' gift card
example: "Buy [item A] to get a $B gift card
Buy one, get one free (BOGO) ads with no actual price given
Going out of business or closeout prices
example: "All mascara, 40% off"
Competitors' private label price promotions
We do not honor:
Ads when the actual price for items cannot be determined
Misprinted ad prices of other retailers
"Going out of business" sales or "closeout" prices"
I hope these guidelines plus the Savings Catcher can help you get some really awesome deals at Walmart!
I know this seems like a strange thing to comment on, but I am finding more and more people who have NEVER tried Oxi Clean for the clothes or other purposes yet. I thought I would share this now because I have a new baby now and quite frankly, babies are messy and are pros at staining clothes. This is my first and probably only girl so of course I want to get the most out of the cute clothes she has. Oxi Clean has been AMAZING, not just on her stuff, but all of our clothes.
I first started using it about 6 years ago. I purchased my first container of powder to help with stains we had in our carpet. I worked SO WELL, I bought the spray to try on laundry. I first tried it on a blood stain I had gotten while at work (I am a nurse). It fascinated me when it bubbled up on the blood which vanished almost immediately. I could literally see it working. I started using it on every stain I could see and also threw in some with every load of laundry (I use about 1/4 scoop each time). We moved to Alabama which has red, horribly staining dirt. I could not get it out with anything else, but it came out with Oxi Clean every time. Now with my beautiful baby girl, it has saved so many outfits, I can't even count it.
We were out of town for almost 2 weeks and I forgot to bring any spray with me so her clothes and stains sat there for many days. I even washed them along the way using things like Shout or Zout that were available. The stains did not come out with those. When we got home, I sprayed all of the clothes and let them sit for about 30 minutes and threw them into the wash. I was nervous that the stains would not come out since they had sat for so long and had already been washed and dried, but EVERY SINGLE stain came out. I just had to share it.
It has also worked on the stains I have always had trouble getting out: chocolate, pizza sauce, grape juice. It has worked for all of them. If you haven't tried it already, take a small challenge and buy a bottle of the
spray or a container of the powder and just see how it goes. You can often find coupons to help save money on it! You can also find it in many of the laundry detergents now too! Hope you love it like I have!
I had an idea last April to try to help my kids stay tuned in to our church's General Conference that is held every April and October. Here we get to listen to all of our church's leaders as a congregation throughout the world. It is actually pretty cool as an adult, but it is hard to pay attention as a kid. I know because I was there as a kid myself. It was really hard to listen to them even though they were telling us all kinds of important information. They always have good stories that help bring the concepts home, but if you can't concentrate long enough to hear the story, it doesn't do much good, right?
I have tried using the activity sheets that can usually be found around April and October that basically have this same concept, however, they don't really hold my children's attention for long. They might listen to 1 talk or 2 and then they are done. That makes it difficult for the parents to be able to listen to much more either. Anyhow, I tried my idea this time and it worked AWESOME!!! They stayed in the living room with me the entire conference and were actually paying attention. For those who do not know what this is, it is 4 segments, 2 hours each, in which our highest leaders talk to all of the members of our church. It is held on one Saturday (2 sessions) and Sunday (2 sessions). We were only able to watch the Sunday sessions because of games and stuff, but that is still 4 hours of attention from a 9 and 6 year old!
So, all that I did was have the kids go shopping with me to pick out 7 treats. We got things like M&M's, Jelly beans, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, Rolo's, Skittles, and Gummy Bears. The important thing was to get things they enjoy, or it kind of defeats the purpose. Once at home, we picked out 7 jars to put the candies in, and picked 7 words we thought the speakers would use frequently during the conference. I gave some suggestions, but the kids came up with most of them. I will list the ones we used and a few other suggestions to choose from that I actually did hear a lot this time.
What you do is have the kids pick out a candy from the jar whenever they hear that particular word. For the littler things like Skittles and Jelly Beans, I let them choose 2 or 3, but everything else, just 1. I would also suggest having the smaller candies for the words you think they will use the very most. They will get less of a sugar rush but to them, it will still feel like a lot because the get to choose 2 or 3! It worked out great. They got to a point they were tired of candy so they each went in the kitchen and got a sandwich bag and started putting the candy in there to save for later, but they didn't stop listening to the talks. I was really happy and really impressed with how well it worked! Hope it will work well for your family too!
Over the summer, while visiting my sister-in-law, I was introduced to the art of chalk paint refinishes. My sister-in-law had done several pieces in her home and they were simply gorgeous! She walked my through the steps and encouraged me to give it a try. We visited a shop there that specializes in refinishing furniture for people and selling pieces. The cost difference in purchasing a finished product and finishing your own is at least 4X's less DIY. It is a little time consuming, but definitely worth every minute.
My oldest son had this small dresser that was my husband's when he was a kid. My son liked it but asked if we could paint it blue. We found the perfect color at the shop in Colorado and purchased the other supplies needed.
The items you'll need are:
Chalk Paint (Annie Sloan is the brand we used. It is about $40 a quart, but it goes a long way. There are also several tutorials on making your own if you google it, but I haven't tried this so can't give any tips!)
Light or Dark soft wax (depends on the finish you are wanting. You can purchase a dark Finishing Wax from Home Depot or Lowe's for about $10.00. The light wax can be found from any Annie Sloan distributors.)
A large stippling brush
Regular size paint brush
Small paint brush
Fine sand paper
Something to refinish
Here is the dresser my son wanted to have painted blue. It has nice markings on the drawers and lots of scratches and dings to give it lots of character.
1. Remove all of the hardware.
2. This next step can just be skipped if you like the wood color and that is the color you want exposed. If you would like a lighter or darker choose an acrylic paint to suit your taste. Use a smaller paint brush to apply the acrylic paint to anywhere you think you might want to expose off after the chalk paint is applied. Good places would be the edges, gouges and scratches, and carvings. Remember, just because you put the acrylic paint there, it doesn't mean you will be exposing all of it, only some will come through with the sanding. You will want to apply 2-3 coats of the acrylic paint to make sure it is covered well enough.
3. After you have all of the acrylic paint on, use the petroleum jelly and apply a layer on each area you want exposed. You don't want this very think but thick enough that it will allow the chalk paint to come off. If you put it on too thick, it will strip much more of the chalk paint than you want off.
4. Apply a layer of the chalk paint. Let the paint dry and then apply a second coat. Let it set for about 12-24 hours.
5. Once the paint is completely dry, use your sand paper to remove some of the paint distressing it a bit. You will be able to see glossy areas where the vaseline areas are. Focus the sand paper on these to show the color underneath. Expose as much or as little as you like, just don't make it uniform.
6. Once everything is exposed you want, use your stippling brush to apply the soft wax back and forth over the painted areas until everything is covered. Let it sit for about 30 minutes then use about 12 inches of the cheese cloth to rub the wax until smooth. Apply a second coat of the wax and repeat with the cheese cloth.
My mother-in-law was here helping my family out with the new baby over Valentines week and she and my boys brought my husband and me a slice of the Hershey Sunday Pie from Burger King for a Valentines Day treat. It was amazing! Talk about a mouth-watering dessert. I instantly became obsessed with it! My son asked me if we could make our own for everyone. I had no objections about that one! It was really easy and my kids think it was "the best pie" I've ever made.
Option 1: Package of oreo's crushed and pressed around the pie pan.
Option 2: Buy a pre-made oreo pie crust
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 C. Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Cool Whip
1 tsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Cup Milk
1 (3.5 oz) Chocolate Pudding
1 Cup Cool Whip
Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
Mini Chocolate Chips
1. For layer 1, cream all ingredients together and pour into the pie crust.
2. Next, mix the milk with the chocolate pudding mix for 2-3 minutes. When it thickens up, fold cool whip into the pudding. Pour this mixture on top of the first layer.
3. Decorate the top with cool whip around the edge of the pie. Squeeze the Hershey syrup over the top of the pie in a criss-cross pattern. Finally, sprinkle some mini chocolate chips over the top of every thing.
4. Refridgerate for 3-4 hours before serving to allow pie to set up. Enjoy!
Our dear friends from Alabama had us over for dinner one night and she had cooked this amazing Chicken Pot Pie. She is a really good cook to begin with but my mouth watered with this dish! I always assumed it was a difficult dish to make because I had never attempted it and it just seemed like a lot of work. This is not the case though. It is simple to make and so delicious! You will only need a few ingredients for this dinner. I don't even add a side dish with it because it includes your vegetables, protein, and starch making it a complete meal!
You will need:
Vegetables of choice:
Or any other veggie you want add or eliminate from the above list. Birds Eye brand vegetables have a frozen packet of mixed veggies with everything included but onions and celery. This is a really easy substitute requiring no chopping!
2 Pie Crusts (refrigerated 2 pack is what I have used)
Cream of Chicken soup
Salt and Pepper
1. You will preheat the oven to 375°.
2. Grease pie pan and spread 1st pie crust into the pan.
3. Sauté the vegetables until tender.
4. Add chicken, cream of chicken soup, and chicken broth to the consistency you would like. Once warmed, pour into the first pie crust.
5. Spread second pie crust over the top, sealing the edges. Cut about 5-6 holes in the top and cook for 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
It is as simple as that! Hope you enjoy this meal too!
I am absolutely thrilled that I get to decorate a room for a little girl! I have loved having my 2 boys and they are so fun, but girls stuff is so darn cute! I didn't know if I would get this opportunity, so now that I am pregnant with a girl, I am going to make it as fun as I can! She is just a week away from joining our family and I have FINALLY gotten the room finished.
I have fallen in love with the pink and grey color scheme and these are the ideas I am pulling together, hopefully for a room she will LOVE!!
Here are a couple of the room broken down. The only thing not shown is the cute pink curtains because a temporary bed was in front. I'll post them later once the initial sleepless nights are over and the bed is moved out!
I plan on posting directions for what I did, but it will be at later time. I'll link them once I do for anyone interested in using any of the ideas!
I came across this Christmas quote given by a previous leader of our church, and was very touched by it. What if each of us just did one thing one this list this Christmas season, or one a week, or even better...one a day. The world would be such a brighter and happier place. I know it wouldn't solve all of our everyday problems, but it sure would make our day a little happier, I think. Anyway....
Please remember: "This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again."
The Gifts of Christmas, President Howard W. Hunter
I hope this holiday season is a wonderful time for you!
For our final post of "The 12 Days of Christmas," we wanted to just talk about the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas has become the most commercialized holiday of any, which all of us can see. Stores start putting their Christmas items out before Halloween has even come! It is definitely fun to give and to receive gifts. I would encourage everyone to take a minute and discuss or think about WHY we give gifts to each other. When we think back to the Nativity story of when Christ was born, we remember the 3 wise men and the gifts of their finest riches which they brought to the baby Jesus. The shepherds may not have brought physical gifts, but they dropped everything the minute they saw the star of David and the angel come to them. They brought Christ their presence, support, and love. As "the Little Drummer Boy" song says, he came with the gift of song and played his best for him. The gifts we give do not have to cost a bunch of money or be the most glamorous, and especially we don't have to give EVERYTHING on each others lists! Think about why you are giving what you are giving and what would be especially nice or helpful to those those we give to. Put thought into what you do.
If you are able to, try to give to people less fortunate than you. Ask your local schools or churches which families could use some help this season, have something (maybe a can of soup and crackers) in your car you can just hand to someone on the street asking for help. They will probably never know who were but will be ever grateful for that little meal you helped provide. The giving of gifts during this time began with Christ's birth and we should remember the gifts he would ask from us are to be kind to one another, help a neighbor in need or someone less fortunate, be compassionate. So let us do more of this kind of giving than the physical gifts this time of year and throughout the other 11 months of next year!
Here is one more little video we want to share about the true meaning of Christmas. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Years. We hope everyone has a blessed season!
Over the past few years we have tried to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas. We don't do big huge Christmas gifts, or tons of gifts, we all have 4-5 presents under the tree and then a santa gift or two. Now don't get me wrong, there are years when the kids get a bike, one year we "Santa" got the kids an outdoor basketball hoop, but we try to not spoil our kids. We try to instill in them that it is more fun to give than to receive. Every year around Thanksgiving we go through all our clothes and toys and find things that we can donate to those less fortunate than we are. I have never heard a complain from my children, usually it is from me (Really! You don't want this..... I thought you loved it!!)
We also do a Christmas Jar all year long, where we just put our extra change throughout the year. Everyone is always excited about this, even my 5 year old son. Then together as a family, we choose a family or person to give our jar to right before before Christmas. On Christmas Eve we go out and deliver our jar. There is always so much excitement in the air, or car. :) We all have butterflies in our tummies wondering if the family will be home? Will they see us as we run away to hide? What will they say or do when they see the jar? As we drive away we talk about what their reaction was like, and wonder if they feel the love we put into our jar. Within minutes of being home the kids always have a new jar sitting on our counter waiting to be filled.
I know that none of us are perfect, but I have tried very hard to instill in my family that giving really is the best gift at Christmas (and anytime of the year) I love to see the joy on my childrens' faces as they give gifts to others during this season. I think that it makes us all a little happier and better people.
I hope that through the next few weeks we can all focus a little more on giving rather than giving.
Another one of the traditions we had as a family growing up was our Christmas Breakfast. We always knew what we were having and that was fine with us because it was good! We all just called it "Breakfast Casserole" and the name stuck. Once we got up, we all got to check out our gifts from Santa Clause and then would take a few minutes break and Mom would pop it in the oven while we finished unwrapping the rest of the gifts. The casserole was ready once we were finished with the unwrapping. One set of our Grandparents would often come over to eat with us. Along with the casserole, mom would make her hot chocolate and we would have bananas and orange slices.
Here is the recipe for the casserole:
8 Slices of White Bread, crusts removed
Enough Butter to spread on all of the bread
1/2 lb Sharp grated Cheese
1 1/2 lb Bulk Italian Sausage
6 Eggs, beaten
2 Cups Milk
2 Tbsp Prepared Mustard
1 tsp. Salt
1 bunch sliced Green Onions
16 oz. Sour Cream
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 lb White Mushrooms (optional)
Grease a 9X13 inch pan. Butter one side of the bread and arrange the bread in the pan, butter side down covering the bottom of the pan. Brown and crumble sausage, drain, and spread over the bread slices. Cover the bread and sausage with the shredded cheese. Beat eggs, milk, mustard, and sliced green onions together and pour over the bread, sausage, and cheese. Whisk together the mushroom soup and sour cream and spread on top of the casserole. Generously spread the mushrooms over the top of the casserole. Bake at 325° for 40-45 minutes until firm.
This recipe is best to prepare the night before and keep in the refrigerator. It is very convenient to just pop it in the oven in the morning
Nothing is better than having hot chocolate on a cold night, especially on Christmas Eve. Try changing it up just a bit, making it even better this Christmas Eve by adding in one of the many candy candy canes you are sure to have around your home. Add 2-3 large marshmallows or a handful of small ones to make it a little creamier.
The packets of hot chocolate are wonderful and easy, but my favorite has always been the hot chocolate my mom makes from scratch. It is also very easy and so delicious.
1/2 C. Sugar 1/4 C. Cocoa
1/3 C. Hot Water Dash of Salt (I don't ever add)
3/4 tsp Vanilla 4 Cups Milk
Combine all of these in a large cooking pot and bring to a boil. Stir and keep boiling for 2 minutes. Add 4 C. Milk and 3/4 tsp. Vanilla. Heat it through and serve when hot. Spice it up by adding marshmallows, whipping cream, or a candy cane. If you are serving more than 4 people, you will want to double or triple this and add more like a gallon of milk.
**Suggestion for leftover hot chocolate if you use a gallon of milk. Just put the remaining hot chocolate back into the gallon, refrigerate, and you will be able to warm it up and have it again in the morning. It stores and reheats really nicely.
Teacher gifts for Christmas and end of the year can sometimes be stressful. Do you get them something or not, how much to spend, what would they like or need, is it something the kids can help make? Most schools now have a policy limiting the amount you can spend on a teacher per year so make sure to check the policy before getting the gifts! Below are some of the best teacher gift ideas on Pintrest right now.
1. A Coffee/Hot Cocoa Mug with all of the "Class Reindeers" on it. This would be fun in you help volunteer in the classroom or are planning on being there for the class Christmas party. Just get all of the students finger print with some brown paint. Draw on the eye's, nose, and antlers with a sharpie marker after the paint is dried. If you can do it before the Christmas party, have the students present it at the party. If not, just leave it with the teacher at the end of the party. You can also use this same idea on ornaments.
2. These next ones are gifts the kids can help in making. The first one is a snowman with 3 glass bottles with different ingredients in them. You can find these bottles at any craft store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby. Top jar, marshmallows, 2nd one, Hot Chocolate mix, bottom one is peppermints. Of course you can choose other items if you want. Decorate them like the snowman with a material scarf and a felt hat. Paint on the eyes, buttons and carrot nose.
3. This one is a mason jar with dry cookie ingredients layered in the jar. You can really do it in any order, just make sure to put all of that ingredient in that layer before moving to the next one. This picture shows scrapbook paper on the top but you can also use Christmas material to cover the top and tie with a ribbon. Attach the directions for adding the wet ingredients and cooking the cookies.
4. This cute set of jars are the jelly size jars dressed as Santa, and Elf, and a Snowman. They have cinnamon circles for Santa. You could also use peppermints. The snowman is the silver hershey kisses. The elf is the green wrapped hershey kisses. You could also use the mint hershey's.
5. Make some cookie cutter ornaments. Your teacher can use them as decorations in the classroom until Christmas break and then take them home to make cookies for themselves!
6. These ornaments are really easy to make. Use either glass ball ornaments or the plastic ones (plastic are probably preferred for the classroom). If you have access to vinyl, you can make letters from them, but writing on them with permanent markers are very easy too. Spell out something like "Merry Christmas", "Peace", "Seasons Greetings", "Joy", or "Noel".
7. Use the fudge recipe from our "Neighborhood Gift" posts to make the fudge. After you get the fudge into the pan, use your cookie cutters and push them into the fudge. Decorate the little shapes while the chocolate is still soft. Once the fudge is set, pull the cookie cutters out and your gift is ready!
8. Find a cute Santa to give as a gift and them make these adorable elf stockings. Make the shoe part out of construction or Christmas Scrapbook paper. Add the little bags with the red centered oreos and there you have it!
9. These are cute glass blocks that are easy and cheap to make. You can buy the glass blocks at a Michael's or Hobby Lobby that have a hole in the bottom. I would suggest packing a set of 35-50 lights depending on the size of block you choose. Wrap a ribbon around the block and either paint the teachers name or a christmas saying or shape on the front. You can use vinyl if you have access to it or can find it somewhere.
10. Finally, a more practical gift is to make something cute out of paper towels, crayons and glue, Kleenex's, pencils, or other supplies you know your classroom is in need of. Shape them into a tree or wreath.