Monday, March 31, 2014

General Conference Ideas for Kids

   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.

Prophet
Holy Ghost
Temples
Jesus Christ
Heavenly Father
Joseph Smith
Prayer
Testimony
Rejoice
Eternal
Mission (Missionary)
Tithing
Priesthood
Pioneer
Baptism
Sacrament
Faith
Savior
The Lord

   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!

Here is what ours looked like!

~Stacy~

Friday, March 7, 2014

Chalk Paint Refinishes

    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
  • Cheese cloth
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Petroleum Jelly
  • 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.

7.  Reapply the hardware and display proudly.

~Stacy~




Monday, March 3, 2014

Hershey Sunday Pie

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.  




Crust
Option 1:  Package of oreo's crushed and pressed around the pie pan.
Option 2:  Buy a pre-made oreo pie crust

Layer 1:
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 C. Powdered Sugar
1 Cup Cool Whip
1 tsp Vanilla

Layer 2:
1 1/2 Cup Milk
1 (3.5 oz) Chocolate Pudding
1 Cup Cool Whip

Layer 3:
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!

~Stacy~

Friday, February 28, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

   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:
Carrots
Peas
Green Beans
Onions
Celery Corn
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
Chicken Broth
Sage (optional)
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!
~Stacy~

Friday, January 17, 2014

My Baby Girls Nursery!!!

     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!
~Stacy~

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Christmas Quote

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!  
Love,
The Sissies!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Real Meaning of Christmas


   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!
Love, 
The Sissies 

  


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Gift of Giving



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.




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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Morning Breakfast


Breakfast Casserole
   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

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Peppermint Hot Chocolate




  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.


Hot Chocolate

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.


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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Teacher Gifts for Christmas Courtesy of Pintrest



   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. 





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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Christmas Party Ideas


  Are you one who likes to throw Christmas parties?  They can be so fun to host but sometimes the ideas are lacking a bit.  Here are a few ideas to do at your party to make it really fun!

The Ugly Sweater Party

   You have to admit, there are a lot of REALLY, UGLY sweaters out there for Christmas.  Why not have everyone come to your party wearing one?  This should be just a chill, let loose kind of party.

Have things like "Hi, my name is. . ." name tags; a karaoke machine/contest; ugly decorations or decorate with even more ugly sweaters!

Have disposable cameras for people to snap lots of silly pictures of everyone.  Make sure you take pictures of everyone there too!  It would be fun to have one of the whole group as well.  Make sure to share it with everyone after the party too!

Play a goofy game like "Name that Tune", "Musical Chairs", or "Charades" that will help everyone loosen up.

Before everyone leaves, have an awards show and give prizes for the best/worst sweaters, best pair, loudest, scariest and so forth.

You can shop for your ugly sweater at various thrift stores like Goodwill, Deseret Industries, and America's Thrift Store.  There are lots of online sites too on google or amazon.

Dirty Santa (or White Elephant)

    Depending on where you live, this can be called either "Dirty Santa" or a "White Elephant Exchange", but they are the same thing.  The basic idea is to have everyone bring a present for a little gift exchange.  Set your limit to what you feel is a comfortable amount for your guests to spend.  (If you have a large budget yourself, you can purchase the gifts yourself).  The guests can purchase nice gifts or gag gifts.  If you plan on making this an annual thing, you might even opt to get something NO ONE will want but can recirculate each year.  (My husbands office did this and had a pair of size 10, Neon Green High Heels that was passed on from year to year.  It had been going on for several years and of course my husband got the shoes.  He proudly displayed the shoes on his desk during the year he held possession of it.  Everyone thought is was so funny!).

    If you plan on hosting a party where kids are welcome, have a separate game going on for them.

  The rules of the game are to have everyone pick a number, 1 through however many guests you have.  The first person selects a present from the pile and unwraps it.  He or she will have to hold onto it since they were the first person, however, each person after that has the option to either pick that present or select from the pile.  If someone selects your gift instead of the pile, you get to select another present from the pile or someone else, then continue down the numbers.  Keep going like this until the final person gets a present.  They are in the best position because they can choose from ANY of the gifts left others have opened or the final one in the pile.  Set a number like 2 or 3 times that a gift can be stolen.  Once it has reached that number, it stays with that person and can no longer be stolen.  This is a really fun game, especially when you do have a few crazy presents in the pile.

Christmas Eve Party

   Just some ideas if you don't already have a Christmas Eve tradition in place with family or friends.  Whether it is family or friends, you could do the same things with each other.  Most of our family has family around and they typically spend the evening together, however half of us sisters have been away from home and our immediate family.  For some or most of our married lives so we have had to adopt traditions with our friends.

   Have everyone come over for an evening of finger food snacks (save the big dinner for the next night!).

Christmas Shaped Platters 

Little Weenies wrapped in crescents (you can do a fun display if you have time, like a wreath, or a Christmas Tree shape)

You could really make any of your platters into a tree, star, or Christmas wreath.  
Layer your cracker or cheese variations, layer different kinds of fruits, just make them a little out of the ordinary! 



If you have the time and ambition, here are a couple of fun ideas your kids could help you make.

Strawberry and oreo Santa Hats


Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Reindeers


Cheese and Salsa Dips

*Velveta cheese and a can of rotel- Classic Queso Dip (throw it in the crockpot about an hour before the party and it will be ready to serve).
*A Can of Chili and an 8 oz Cream Cheese (just put in microwave safe bowl and cook for 2-5 minutes until smooth and warm)
*Brie with a Berry Jam, Jalapeno Jelly and crackers


Photo Booth for Pictures with Santa

This would be a really fun idea to keep the memory of the night if you are able to get a Santa to come visit that night.  If not, you can always just take pictures of the families, couples, and kids who come to your party.  My in-laws have a Santa costume and one of the brother-in-laws always makes an appearance Christmas Eve.  He will deliver all of the kids a gift, usually a set of pajamas.  They all love it and will get to wear their new pajamas that night.


Stocking Silverware Holders

These stocking silverware holders are a super cute idea and would be a cheap investment.  You could have them for your Christmas Eve Party or wait until the Christmas Dinner the next day which might be a little more formal and have fewer guests.


Christmas Movie and Popcorn

The past few years, we have been having a Christmas Story, followed by a Christmas Movie with our kids after the fun of food and presents.  Here is a fun, simple twist on popcorn for the movie.

This is Michelle's White Chocolate Popcorn with M&M's and peppermint candy cane bits added.  You can also add red and green sprinkles for more festiveness!

Gift Exchange
If you are having families over or having a gift exchange among friends, go ahead and do this Christmas Eve.  We have always done a gift exchange with siblings, which turned into our families exchanging with each other as we have gotten married.  If you don't want to have each child open a gift (like your pajamas), just do the family exchange and each family can open one gift.  It is still fun for the kids and is a fun time to see what all of your siblings (or friends) got for each other!

Santa Map
One final suggestion if you have young children.  Before everyone starts to leave, get onto "Noradsanta.org" to track Santa's progress.  The kids will love to see where Santa is and are more inclined to go straight to bed because they know Santa  is close.

We hope these ideas will help you have a great Christmas party!
Love the Sissies!!


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Friday, December 6, 2013

Neighbor Christmas Gift Ideas



     Doing nice things for neighbors at Christmastime is something we learned from our mom.  The was an awesome example of serving other people including our neighbors. She would really go out of her way to say thank you to them and our family friends at this time.  We would usually spend days baking and cooking a large amount of treats to put together for this project.  Among them was almond roca, fudge, peanut brittle, carmel corn, chocolate dipped pretzels.  These always turned out so delicious and us kids were always so sad we weren't the ones getting all of the goodies, but we still had fun delivering them to our various friends and neighbors.

Below you will find the various recipes!

Almond Roca

2 Cups Sugar
1 lb. Butter
1/4 tsp Salt
3/4 Cup Chopped, Blanched, Almonds
1/2 lb. Chocolate, melted
1 Cup Finely Ground Almonds

1.  Put sugar in a skillet first, then add butter and salt.  Cut butter into small pieces coating well with sugar.  2.
    Turn control to HIGH, stirring constantly.  When butter is melted and well blended with the sugar, turn
    burner to MEDIUM.   Cook mixture until it is a deep amber.  Be sure to keep the mixture from the sides
    of the pan.
3.  When the mixture is at the brittle stage (it will spin a thread when you hold the spoon up, or it will be rock
    hard if you drop some in a cup of cold water), pour onto an ungreased tray or cookie sheet.
4.  When set, brush with melted chocolate and sprinkle with the finely ground nut meats, pressing firmly in the
    chocolate.
5.  When this has set, turn over and do the other side.
6.  Break into irregular pieces.

** This recipe stores well in an air-tight container!

Fudge




2 1/2 C. Sugar
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Stick Butter or margarine
1- 5 oz can of Evaporated Milk (approx. 2/3 C)
1- 7 oz Jar Marshmallow Fluff
3/4 tsp Vanilla
1- 12 oz package of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 C. Chopped Walnuts (optional)

1.  You will use a 9X13" pan for this, so grease it and set it aside.
2.  In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk, and marshmallow fluff on low.  Once it is all mixed well, increase your heat to medium until you have a full rolling boil.  Boil and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
3.  Remove from heat and add your chocolate chips and vanilla.
4.  Once the chocolate chips have melted, if you are going to add walnuts, add them now.
5.  Pour into your greased pan and let it cool.
6.  Cut into approximately 1" squares to share!

  
Peanut Brittle


1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Corn Syrup
Dash of Salt
1 to 1 1/2 Cups Shelled Raw Peanuts
1 Tbsp Margarine
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Vanilla

1.  Grease your cookie sheet heavily.
2.  Combine sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a 3 quart casserole dish.  Stir in peanuts.
3.  Microwave on high until the mixture is light brown (about 8- 10 minutes).  Stir once or twice during this
     period.
4.  Stir in remaining ingredients until light and foamy.
5. Quickly spread onto the greased baking sheet.  Spread as thin as possible for brittle candy.
6.  Cool and break into pieces and eat.

Carmel Corn

A LARGE bowl of air popped popcorn  (I also really like to use the puffed corn now so you don't have to deal with kernels)

1 Cup Butter or margarine
1 Cup of Sugar (you can also use 1/2 Granulated and 1/2 Brown to make it lighter)
1 Cup Karo Syrup
1 tsp Baking Soda
1-2 Tbsp Milk (only if you want to make it sticky)

1.  After you have popped your popcorn, it is a good idea to sift it into another big bowl so you can minimize how many seeds are left.  Set it aside.
2.  In a medium to saucepan, melt the butter.  Add in your karo syrup and sugar.  Mix pretty constantly until you have a rapid boil.  The mixture will start rising in the pan just a little bit.  Continue stirring for about 1 minute or until you are sure the sugar has dissolved.  Take off the hot burner.
3.  Add the baking soda and stir in well until it is mixed completely.  Again, your mixture will rise even more, that is why you want a larger saucepan.
4.  Add your milk if you want the end result to be a sticky carmel corn.  If you want the crunchier type, do not add the milk.  I really don't even measure this anymore.  I just tip the jug for a second or two and that is the perfect amount.
5.  Start pouring this over the popped corn until it is evenly coated.  If you want the sticky carmel corn, stop here.
6.  If you want a crunchy carmel corn, preheat your oven to 200.  Spread the popcorn out onto a cookie sheet, into a 9X13" glass pan, or if you mixed this in a metal bowl, you can use this, it will just take a little longer to finish.  Stick this in the oven and cook in 15 minute intervals, stirring each time until it reaches the crunchiness you want.  Let it cool before putting onto your goody plate!

Almond Joys

This was also a favorite of us kids during Christmas time.  I don't recall making these at any other time of the year!

2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups White Karo Syrup
1/2 Cup Water

Boil to 225° (soft ball in cold water), remove from stove and add:

1 1/2 Lbs. Coconut
1 Cup Chopped Almonds
1/4 tsp Almond Extract

1.  Stir well.
2.  Pour into a buttered pan.
3.  When cool, cut into small squares and dip in chocolate.

**If you would rather make Mounds Bars, just leave out the almonds!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels




    These are so easy and just delicious.  All you need is a bag of pretzels and some chocolate or white  chocolate almond bark.  Melt the almond bark in either a double boiler saucepan or a microwave safe bowl (on 50% heat) until the chocolate is melted.  Add a little bit of oil or vegetable oil to the chocolate to make it smooth.  Once it is melted, take a handful of pretzels into the chocolate.  Use a fork to scoop them out one at a time, tap the chocolate off into the pan, and place the pretzel onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or wax paper.

    After they have dried, you can either leave them like that, or take the opposite flavor of almond bark and lightly drizzle that flavor over the top.  You can also add green or red sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet.


Snow Stacks

This was something our mom used to make to add to the plate and they were always so good.  They are also REALLY easy.  All you need for this is white almond bark and chow mein noodles.  Melt the chocolate as above with the chocolate covered pretzels.  Once the chocolate is melted, pour the bag of chow mein noodles in the chocolate.  Mix around until they are all covered and start scooping them onto a cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper in little mounds.  Let them dry completely before moving them.  They take a little longer than the chocolate covered pretzels.  You can add peanuts or cashews or something if you  would like.



12 Days of Christmas Gifts

    We did this as a family a few times and then had it done to us too.  It was really fun on both ends.  Being the one to give the gift, you really had to start coming up with creative ways to deliver the gifts because after the first day or two, the families would start keeping an eye out for you to see who their secret family was.  We would do the same thing.  It was fun to have to try and hide while making the delivery, or sitting at the window to try to catch whoever was delivering to you.  I can't remember what criteria we used to pick our families other than just friends, but one suggestion would be to pick a family you know may be struggling or needing a little extra help around the holidays.

Some of the gift suggestions are:

  • A pie
  • A goody platter (you could count each different treat as a different day.  Example: 4 different types of treats could be given on day 4)
  • Christmas Pillowcases (1 for each member of the family and again, just assign it to the day that coordinates with the number)
  • A Christmas mug with either candy or Hot Chocolate packets inside.
  • These hot coco packets were just made out of the icing decorating bags.  Just add 2 packets of hot coco, mini marshmallows, and some sprinkles for flare!
  • A Christmas music CD
  • A Christmas movie or a movie night packet (basket, pop, chips, popcorn, movie theater style candy, Christmas movie).  
    • Polar Express
    • Elf
    • How the Grinch Stole Christmas
    • Miracle on 34th Street
    • Home Alone
  • An ornament for each member of the family (or just the days-  this could be a good 12th day idea)
    • You could spell a word, multiple words, decorate with a reindeer or Christmas Tree
  • Candy canes
  • A bag of Reindeer food (full of bird seed and glitter)
    • You can attach a card with this little saying on it
      • "Sprinkle on the lawn at night
      • The moon will make it sparkle bright
      • As Santa's Reindeer fly and roam,
      • This food will guide them to you home!
  • Apple Cider Packets
  • A cute container long chocolate dipped Pretzel Sticks (12)
  • Christmas Cake Pops
  • Decorate an empty jar like a snowman.  Fill it with the dry ingredients for cookie dough.
  • If finances or not a problem, may a gift of 2 for each family member on the final day.
  • Possibly fixings for Christmas dinner: Ham or Turkey, potatoes or mashed potato mix, vegetable, rolls, stuffing, salad (or whatever else you might have for a Christmas dinner.  I am sure everyone is different!)
  • A popcorn Tin
  • A nativity Set (here is a link for an idea)
  • 6 pack of IBC Rootbeer or Cream Soda (or other 6 pack pop) dressed up like Reindeer (idea here)
  • A Christmas Decoration
  • If you can find a Christmas jello mold, give that and green or red jello
  • Christmas cookie cutters and a package of cookie dough mix



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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

More FUN Christmas Decorations



    There are just so many adorable Christmas Decorations out there, it is a shame not to be able to put all of them into one post.  We have just a few of our favorites for this year we wanted to share.

Fabric Trees




   The first one is something our mom made for us a few years back.  They are so cute and can go anywhere so of course they go out every year.  They are really simple and inexpensive to make too.
   For this little project all you need are 2X4's cut about 4 inches long, dowels in 3 different sizes, 3 different colors of fabrics, raffia and a drill and wood glue.

** For the fabric, we would suggest Christmasy colors, but not necessarily Christmas patterned material.  Example, reds, greens, golds, blues.    You can choose solids or something with a mild print like a star or plaid.  If you get about 1/2 yard per color, you should have plenty to cover your tree.

** For the dowels, you really can choose how long you want to cut them (or have them cut when you purchase them if they offer that service--Home Depot or Lowe's would).  Ours are 13", 16" and 19" and that seems to be a perfect length.

1.  You will start by drilling a hole in the center of the 2X4" piece (sitting flat, it will be a 4X4" by 2" height).  Drill it about 1/2 to 3/4" down.  Add a little wood glue and stick your dowel into it.  Allow this to dry.

2.  Next,  cut several strips of the fabric into 1" strips.  The length of these will vary, depending on which tree they are for.  The smaller ones will be about 6-7 inches long, the medium tree 7-8 inches, and the larger tree 8-10 inches.  Cut one strip the length you think will work and actually tie it on to see if that is how long you want it before cutting all of them!

3.  After you have the strips cut into the lengths you desire, start at the bottom of the dowel and just start tying the strips onto the dowel, one by one.  You will want to tie them at different spots (rotating the dowel around) so the loose edges go all around the tree.  Continue until you get to the top.  The final 4-5 pieces you will tie just a little differently.  Lay one or two over the top of the dowel, then tie 2-3 more around the dowel, over the top of the material you just laid down.  This will cover the end of the dowel and finish it off.

4.  Final step is to tie a long raffia ribbon around the top with the long ends touching the ground and maybe +2 inches!


Shop More Sister Stuff!


We have worked really hard this year to get a BUNCH of Christmas decorations into our shop for this season.  We decorate our homes with these fun items and hopefully you will find something you want in your home too!  Some of the things we have available in our shop this year are also linked below and you should be able to see the rest from there!





Ho Ho Ho
Merry Christmas







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