Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of Year

It is the most wonderful time of the year.  And as far as I know it is the same all over the world.  I spent a Christmas on the other side of the hemisphere where it was the middle of summer and there was still the same Christmasy feeling.  The spirit of Christmas.  The spirit of Christ, the light of the world.  How grateful I am for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Born into the most humble of circumstances but King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  I love Handel's Messiah- our Christmas wouldn't be complete without (attempting) to sing the Hallelujah Chorus.

I think there is so much I have yet to learn about the story of Christ's birth.  But I have been thinking about a lesson I learned one Christmas when my oldest was a baby.  As part of a church activity for the women we watched a special program that featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a portrayal of the nativity story. I have forgotten the particulars of the video but hopefully someday I will come across it again.  (If this sounds familiar to anyone please let me know.)  We were watching it in someone's theater room and when they turned out the lights it was pitch dark.  I felt like I was the only one in the room and all I could see was the story of the nativity unfolding before me.  I felt like I was right there, witnessing it first hand, with the singing angels around me.  And maybe partly because of that, it became so real, so true to me.  More than just a story that we repeat and read every year. 

I realized that Mary and Joseph were human beings like us that were given an awesome responsibility.  But life went on.  Everything didn't automatically start going perfectly even though they were bringing the Savior into the world.  They still had to deal with ordinary inconveniences like paying taxes despite the fact that they were righteous and fulfilling a very important prophecy and commandment.  A prophecy of such eternal significance.  Things didn't just work out perfectly and fall into place. 

I wondered how Mary must have felt at 10 months pregnant having to travel so far to pay taxes.  Traveling away from her family and this her first experience with pregnancy!  What horrible timing!  And then once they got there they couldn't even find a room to stay in.  How they must have worried!   Or maybe not- I'm sure they had more faith than I do.  I just think about how I feel when I am about to go into labor- the feelings of nesting and wanting everything to be prepared and clean and ready.  I am overly worried about germs and sicknesses.  And they knew who this special baby was.  Did they feel like they were already failing as parents? 

Often times when I feel like I'm being taught spiritual things I can't describe what I learn in words.  And a lot of what I learend that night I can only explain as an understanding.  I felt like I understood things that I thought I'd already known but realized I didn't really know.  Does that make any sense?  And at that time one of the biggest lessons for me was that even when we are doing what's right and what we know we should be doing, even when we are doing our very best, things don't always happen as planned or how we would like them to.  But maybe the things we think should matter so much aren't so very important.  We just keep trusting in God and keep trying our best.  And as a good friend of mine once said, "Even if everything is not okay right now, in the end we know it will be."  Thanks to that wonderful baby who's birthday is the most wonderful time of the year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Healthy Snowmen Snack

Meet a warmer, more health-conscious Frosty....

With all the junk goodies we've been eating lately I started craving something healthier. I remembered an idea from FamilyFun years ago where they made snowmen out of banana slices and pretzels. I didn't want to take the time to hunt down the whole recipe so we used what we had and created our own edible snowmen.

My boys had these for after school snacks and they kept wanting to make more!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pizza

Now this is my kind of pizza!!  

We are big chocolate paired with peanut butter fans around here and we tried a new recipe over the weekend that was a huge hit!  I got this recipe from a booklet of Christmas recipes that my mother-in-law gave me years ago.  Now you can find the recipe at  Betty  I'll include it as well...

Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy Pizza
Makes 16 servings

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 1/4 c flour
1/4 c baking cocoa
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
Peanut Butter Pizza Sauce (see below)
1/4 c Spanish peanuts
1 bag (1.63 oz) M&Ms
1 package (1.6 oz) Reeses peanut butter cups (2 candies), cut up
1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix brown sugar, butter and egg in medium bowl with spoon.  Stir in flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Pat dough in ungreased 12-inch pizza pan.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until edge is set.  Cool at least 30 minutes.  Make Peanut Butter Pizza Sauce.  Spread over cookie pizza.  Top with peanuts and candies.  Drizzle with melted chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Pizza Sauce
1 bag (10 oz) peanut butter chips
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk

Heat ingredients in 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rudolph Cookies

As a Cubscout leader at church I get to come up with fun ideas for about twelve 9 year-old boys.  For the Bear achievement 9f they needed to make a dessert for their family.  I couldn't picture us making a cake or something like that without envisioning a chaotic mess so I adapted an idea from Pillsbury.  And it was a fun, yummy and easy dessert.

(Side note:  Later I laughed as I told my husband the scene in the kitchen at church when we first arrived: one scout was scouring the drawers for knives, some were trying to "skateboard" on the pushable carts for serving, another couple were pushing buttons on the microwave and a few were turning on the fan and blowing things around.  This was IMMEDIATELY as we walked in the door.  These guys are busy!)

These would be fun to make with any group of kids!

All you need for ingredients are:  Oreos (or similar cookie), almond bark, cherry sours, mini-chocolate chips and pretzels.

First, melt the almond bark according to package directions. Then dip the cookies in the melted bark until completely covered in white gooey yum.  Fish them out with a spoon and set them on a plate or wax paper.  Stick on a cherry sour for a nose, mini chips for eyes and pretzels for antlers.  (You can break the pretzels if you like.)

You may need to let them harden before eating or handling. (If you can wait that long!)

Watch out reindeers!  We're mass producing Rudolphs! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Quilts

 It may not be warm enough for snuggling up under a Christmas quilt right now but that won't keep us from trying! Sometimes we turn our ceiling fan up high just so we can justify snuggling under the quilt and reading Christmas stories!
 I've made a couple of quilts throughout the years and have one that I'm ready to get started on. My first quilt is a lap-size one from a pattern I got from the magazine McCall's Quilting. I love the poinsettia fabrics in this! 

 The next one I made I love partly because it's a scrappy quilt. I used scraps from Christmas quilts and crafts I'd made throughout the years. I love that with quilts you can take a bunch of small little scraps of fabric and make something as beautiful and whole as a quilt.  I can't think of the name of the pattern- can anyone help me out, please?
With my Mom's help, I used her quilting machine to quilt poinsettias throughout, which looks especially nice on the white fabric. 

It's great for playing peek-a-boo under, too!

 And now I'm ready to get going with this gorgeous fabric! It's by Kate Spain for Moda and it's called flurry. I found it on a year or so ago in July. They were having a great sale on it.  
I have wanted to use this great pattern featured on modabakeshop by Angela from Fussy Cut.  
 I'm hoping to a get some free time at night to start working on it and hopefully I'll have pictures to share before too long!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quilts and Pillows For My Boys

Last Christmas I made quilts and pillows  for my boys.  We had gotten them bunk beds earlier in the year and painted their room the color of their choice so I thought they needed some matching bedding.  I usually like Pottery Barn stuff so I got some ideas from this set.  I also had some really cute fabric from Joanne's with a Route 66 theme and since my boys love the Cars movies and anything related to cars, I thought I could incorporate that into their decor.  To top it all off, my Mom had an embroidery pattern for classic cars that fit right in with the fabric.  So I put it all together and got this:

I mixed in about 4 or 5 of the embroidered cars.  My boys thought they were really cool!  I got the pattern from Hobby Lobby.

Then I used the Route 66 fabric for the extra pillow.  I didn't get the second pillow done in time for Christmas so I told them I would finish the second soon.  Well...I just finished them this week.  I know, pretty pathetic.  But at least I finished them before this Christmas!  

My Mom taught me how to make pillows by covering piping with fabric and sewing it around the edges of the pillow.  It's really pretty simple and there are a million tutorials online about how to do it, like this one, so I won't go into much detail.  I also knew that I would need to wash the pillowcase every now and then so I used a pillow form and made the outside like a pillowcase with an envelope back.  The two pieces connect with velcro.

When they opened the boxes on Christmas morning they were so excited!!  It kind of surprised me.  But I love sewing for my boys when they like it so much!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Puppets

Before we had children, my husband and I were nursery leaders at church for the 18 month old children.  
We had about eight 18 month to 24 month old children.  They were adorable but it was quite a challenge to keep them happy for 2 hours and try to teach them a lesson and sing songs when most of them couldn't talk. My Mom made me these wonderful puppets to use with them at Christmastime and they are still a favorite at our house.  

 I've said it before and I'll say it again, I LOVE FELT!  
It is so easy to create with and great for things like this!  

I love the details on each one- yet they are so simple.

We use them to act out the nativity story or the boys just like to play with them around the house.  Thanks, Nana, for making these for us!