Monday, December 31, 2012

Ultimate Blog Angel Reveal

When I got the email from Rosie that it was time to link up our reveal posts for the Ultimate Blog Angel edition I couldn't believe it.  Where did December go?  Ready or not, the big reveal day is here.  As a reminder, this edition was different from past editions because we got to choose our own blog to follow rather than being assigned.  So, who have I been "angelling" for the past month?
I chose Megan from Chaos Served Daily.  I first discovered her blog when I was partnered with her for an ornament exchange.  She created this beautiful hand-stamped ornament:
Like most of my blog angel experiences, I think I probably get more out of this than my angelee.  My support primarily lies in commenting and hopefully Megan felt that comment love this month.  Megan posts a variety of DIY ideas and projects.  Here are some of my favorite posts from the past month:

I'd love for you to stop by and show her some comment love!

If you want to participate in the next round of Blog Angels (for February), Rosie will be taking sign-ups on January 15.  Maybe I'll be your angel next time.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

7 Things Challenge 2013

I'm back to blogging after taking a short break.  It's that time of year when I always reflect on the goals I'd like to set for the new year.  Lena is hosting a link up for a unique version of new year's resolutions.  It's the 7 things challenge.  Here's mine:
Learn how to mold chocolate 
Start weekly meal planning 
Stop avoiding laundry 
Take a vacation to Hawaii 
Find a place for everything 
Try hosting a party 
Be more patient with myself

What's on your list?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The end of the world, elf-style

Our elves celebrated the end of the world . . .
with Oreos.  Nice to see their priorities in the right place.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Christ-Centered Christmas - Shepherd and Sheep

Today I thought I'd tie in two nativity characters discussed in A Christ-Centered Christmas, the shepherd and the sheep.  After the shepherds heard the news of Jesus' birth, they told others and spread the glorious news.  This can be likened to us sharing our testimonies with others.  One fun activity we like to do is make Candy Cane Cookies.
They may not be perfect and they may not look like Martha Stewart made them, but we always have fun as a family and they taste delicious.

The figure of the sheep in the nativity represents a true follower of Christ.  Prior to reading this book, I hadn't ever really thought much about Simeon or Anna in relation to the Christmas story.  However, I discovered a couple things that incorporate them in with the traditional nativity.  One is an advent calendar from Chocolate on my Cranium.  I also found a beautiful video clip of Simeon and the Christ Child in the temple.

Younger children may not understand the significance of the tender mercies for Simeon and Anna in finally seeing the Christ Child after sharing their testimonies of his divinity.  For them, you could do a fun craft that was part of our 12 Days of Christmas last year.
 We started with a simple cloud shaped outline on a piece of paper, then glued cotton balls over the shape, even adding a second layer, if desired.  Add small strips of paper for legs and small beads for the eyes.
I encourage you to spend a few minutes pondering the meaning of the shepherd and the sheep this year.  Maybe you'd like to incorporate these activities in your celebrations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christ-Centered Christmas: Angel

When did most of December disappear from the calendar?  I can't believe Christmas is less than a week away.  Being my usual procrastinating self, I still have 5 more sections of A Christ-Centered Christmas to share and 6 days in which to share them with you.  That's cutting it a bit close.  Anyway, today's section is focused on the angel.

The angels brought the shepherds news of the Savior's birth.  They didn't just whisper this news to one or two and expect the message to eventually get passed along to all.  They proclaimed the news with glory.  As part of your Christmas celebration, make some time to enjoy some carols, either listening or singing.  I have happy memories of the few years when we had a big extended family sing-along at my grandparents' house.  Several of my dad's cousins and their families all gathered together and we spent the evening singing Christmas music as well as munching on treats and visiting.  More recently, I remember the Christmas we spent with almost all of my siblings and their families after one brother's wedding.  It was great fun to be together on Christmas Eve singing and reminiscing until we were surprised by a visit from Santa.

A great way to finish off your night of music (in whatever form) is with a hot, steamy mug of hot cocoa.  Did you know you can make flavored hot cocoa with Kool-Aid?  Add 1 packet of raspberry or cherry Kool-Aid to about 4 cups of hot cocoa powder.  Mix well.  Use 2-3 tablespoons and 6-8 ounces of hot water.  Stir together and enjoy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christ-Centered Christmas - Joseph

I've fallen off-track with my posts about the different sections in A Christ-Centered Christmas.  The next section is about Joseph.  To me, Joseph is an example of service.  He didn't have a lot of money and means to provide for his wife.  Their journey to Bethlehem probably wasn't easily affordable.  He couldn't afford to rent affordable accommodations for Mary.

There's another book I like that goes along with Joseph and remembering that allowing others to serve you is just as important as the need to serve others. 

This story is a fictional account of Hannah, the innkeeper's wife that acted as midwife to help Mary during her delivery.  I think it's a very touching story of service.

I contemplated service on Saturday as Mr. Adventure and I volunteered for a shift as bell ringers for the Salvation Army.  I've tried to earnestly look for opportunities to serve over the past year or so.  Plus, I've tried to include my children in my desires to give to others to help instill that spirit of service in them.

Have you done anything service-oriented this holiday season?  What's the best service you've given or received recently?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Elf Adventures 2012

One again, we've been able to have elves visit from the North Pole.  (You may notice that these are not your typical Elf on the Shelf dolls.  Those creep me out, so we improvised with a Kelly doll {Kayla} and then added two plush dolls from Hobby Lobby {Kyle and Ashley}.  The basic idea is still the same.)  Here's some of our adventures so far this month:
The elves arrived along with a beautiful subway art print from Colette at My Computer is my Canvas.  They shared the nativity story with the Little People and Veggietales characters.

 Another night, they acted out a nativity.  Who knew paper towels were so versatile?

Apparently they rode on Rudolph's back from the North Pole.  They really liked those paper towel head scarves.

So far, they'd been pretty well-behaved.  Knowing our mischievous little elves, we knew that good behavior couldn't last too long.  Sure enough, we woke up to find them like this one morning:
Holding a dry-erase marker and looking at the kids' photos on the opposite wall.
We had a Boise State fan (she's very pro-Husker), a kitty and a polka-dotted clown.
Plus, a pirate, shark attack and an evil villain.  I wonder what adventures we have in store for the next few days.

Do you have an elf at your house?  What have they been up to lately?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December Blog Angel halfway post

Can you believe that December is half over?  Christmas is just around the corner.  Where did the month go?  Or 2012, for that matter?

If you've been visiting the schoolhouse for a while, you know that I'm a participant in the Blog Angels effort.
This month had a different twist.  Instead of being assigned a blog to follow and help, we got to choose our own.  I hope I've been able to spread a little bit of Christmas cheer to my chosen blogger through my comments.  The blog I selected is new to me and not part of my daily read routine.  She doesn't have the option of following via GFC, so I have to remember to visit on a regular basis.  So, for now I'll just continue what I'm doing and see if I can come up with any fun ideas for the second half of the month.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hot Cocoa Cookies - A Virtual Cookie Swap

I love Christmas cookies and other goodies, but I generally don't enjoy baking the cookies.  I leave that to other family members that actually enjoy it.  However, a few weeks ago I happened across a virtual cookie swap coordinated by Julie of White Lights on Wednesday.  The premise was simple: write out your favorite holiday cookie recipe and mail a copy to one person.  They make your recipe and blog about it, then everyone links up for one big virtual recipe exchange.  I received a recipe for Hot Cocoa Cookies from Susan at Adventures in My Kitchen.
 Don't they look yummy?  Susan's original recipe on her blog called for raspberry soda pop base or extract, so I thought that would be a yummy choice.  I popped in to a local grocery store to pick up some extract, but THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY!!!!!  I almost settled for orange since that was the only hot chocolate-compatible flavor they had.  Then I spotted my secret ingredient:
Duncan Hines Frosting Creations flavor mix.  I figured I had nothing to lose, and actually, it worked wonderfully.  The cookies were devoured that night and the next day.  This will definitely be a repeat recipe.
Here's my version of Susan's recipe:

Raspberry Hot Cocoa Cookies
1 stick + 2 Tbsp room temperature butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 packet Duncan Hines Frosting Creations flavor mix in White Chocolate Raspberry
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. flour
2 packets (or a heaping 1/4 cup) hot cocoa mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
mini marshmallows

Cream together butter and sugars.  Add egg and frosting flavor mix.
Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Mix with wet ingredients. (Batter will be very thick.)
Scoop onto baking sheet.
Bate at 350 for 8-11 minutes.  Immediately after removing from oven, top with three mini marshmallows.  Allow to cool, then enjoy!

Be sure to check out the other recipes included in this blog hop!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tuesday 10 - My Christmas Wishlist


This week's prompt for Tuesday 10 with Lena B, Actually is your Christmas wishlist.  I am horrible at coming up with gift suggestions for myself, so I might have to fill in with a few of the kids' wishes.
Kitchen-Aid mixer
I've been told Bosch machines are better than Kitchen-Aids, so I'll just wish for both!
This tiny cookie scoop.  See, I told you I run out of ideas fast.
Pampered Chef can opener

Guess it's time to resort to the kids now:
For The Artist, River Song's TARDIS journal
For The Author, a laptop
For Mr. Adventure, Nerf Double Sword
For Little Miss Sunshine, a Husker Pillow Pet
For Princess, a purple Sock Monkey (to join last year's pink Sock Monkey)
Finally, for Bugaboo, anything Angry Birds

Hopefully Santa reads my blog. ;)

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Christ-Centered Christmas winner

Congratulations to Marlene Acevedo-Cannon! 

You have been emailed.  
Thanks to everyone that entered and helped to make my first giveaway a success!

Secret Santa gift exchange

Secret Santa for Bloggers, brought to you by Boys Oh Boys Reviews, Giveaways and More
I participated in the Secret Santa for Bloggers gift exchange coordinated by Jessica at Boys Oh Boys.  For this exchange, you sent a small gift to someone and also received a small gift from another blogger.  I opened my mailbox one day to find this package from Amanda at Dragonflight Dreams.
Amanda did her research well and sent me an apple ornament to add to my apple collection, a Texas Bluebonnets thimble to add to my thimble collection, a tiny little penguin pin that The Author immediately adopted for her penguin collection, and one of her big recipes since  I "have a lot of mouths to feed."  Oh, and I can't forget the lovely hand-stitched card (I'm guessing this was created by Torrie of Free Spirit Reigns, from the identifier on the back.)

Thanks so much, Amanda! I loved discovering a new blogger.  You must check out Amanda's shop.  She creates her own screen prints.  I know my older girls would love several of her designs.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Christ-Centered Christmas: Mary

As promised in my giveaway post highlighting A Christ-Centered Christmas, I'm sharing ways you can incorporate the gist of the ideas into your Christmas celebrations.  Today's focus is on Mary.

The first time I ever remember really pondering Mary and her role as the mother of the Savior was 12 years ago.  Mr. Adventure was only a few months old and we spent many hours during the middle of the night, just the two of us bathed in the lights from our tree.  This certainly wasn't the first Christmas I had had a baby in my arms, but I think I related much more to Mary while holding my first son.
 Last year we were given this book as part of our pondering of Mary.  The text is simply the wording of the popular song with stunning artwork to accompany each phrase.
I continued my pondering on my own and wondered if Mary had any inkling of the greatness and good her son would do in his lifetime and throughout all time as Savior of the World?  Did her mother's intuition give her any grasp of the influence her tiny baby would have in his community and the world?  She had been told that He would be the Son of God, but i wonder if she truly understood exactly what this entailed?  What was her day to day life like?  What did she do to teach her son about his divine role?

Have you ever take time to ponder Mary?  I'd love to hear any insights or thoughts you might have.  Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win your own copy of A Christ-Centered Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tuesday 10 - Favorite Christmas songs


I love Christmas music.  I love tuning into the radio each morning on my drive home from dropping The Artist at school and getting in the spirit of the season.  So, this week's Tuesday 10 prompt from Lena is right up my alley.  Here, in no particular order, are 10 of my favorite Christmas songs:

White Christmas - the best version is sung by Bing Crosby

O Holy Night - my first piano teacher gave me a simplified version as a gift, I've loved it ever since

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth - this is Princess's theme song this year

Thistlehair the Christmas Bear - by Alabama, I have many memories of singing this with my siblings when we would go caroling to our neighbors.  My aunt provided accompaniment on her guitar and/or harmonica.

Silver Bells - no particular reason, I just like it

Angels We Have Heard on High - I love singing the soprano line in the chorus.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - again, no particular reason, just a favorite

The Canon Carol - I can't seem to find a professional version.  I've heard it done by church choirs and love it.  Then again, it could be because I love Pachelbel's Canon in D.

The Twelve Days of Christmas  - for a few years, we had a big extended family sing-along.  We would divide up into groups with each group singing a stanza of the song.  One year the first stanza turned into "a cartridge in a bear tree" mid-song.  We then did a version with each group changing their stanza to something silly.  It was great fun.

Christmas Pipes - by Celtic Woman

What are your favorite Christmas songs?

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Christ-Centered Christmas: Giveaway

Since I recently hit 50 followers here on my little blog, I thought it was high-time I did a giveaway.
I discovered that I have two copies of this book, so I'm sharing one with one of you.  My mom introduced us to this book last year when she used it as the base for their 12 Days of Christmas gifts.  The book is broken up into seven sections, each one highlighting a different piece of the Nativity with a devotional idea and activity to focus on that piece.  Over the next few weeks, I'll share some of the ideas we did.

To enter, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below.  Both entries are mandatory.  Giveaway is only open to residents of the U.S.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ornament exchange

I had the opportunity to participate in the first ornament exchange sponsored by One Artsy Mama.  I was paired with Megan from Chaos Served Daily.  We were able to contact each other and get to know interests, color schemes for decorating, etc.  Megan sent me this beautiful hand-stamped ornament:
It will work well on "my" tree.  However, this year it's hanging out with all the family ornaments to provide less temptation for a certain 3-year-old boy.  (We're already at one "pull tree over on top of himself" incident this year.  I suppose it could be worse.)

For my part in the exchange, I thought and thought and changed my mind and finally settled on inventing a crocheted wreath.  I added some beads for holly berries and topped it off with a big rickrack bow. (my apologies for a blurry photo, I was in a hurry to get it mailed)
I hope Megan loves my creation.

What's your favorite holiday decorating color scheme or theme?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tuesday 10 - Favorite Holiday Movies

Linking up with Lena for another week of Tuesday 10.
This week's prompt is 10 favorite holiday movies.  Not sure if I'll get to 10, but here goes:

Now my all-time favorite Christmas movie, I hadn't ever seen it until I was in college.

Animated classics, love 'em.
Two staples that I watched at church every year.
Love the entire trilogy.
Another classic.  The holidays wouldn't be complete without it.
This always brings memories of watching with my oldest daughter at a local pre-release preview.  No one seemed to know whether it was being shown in the IMAX theater or the regular screen.  We ran back and forth across the parking lot and were seated in the IMAX when employees came and said it was actually in the other building.  A lot of hassle, but worth seeing it on the big screen.

 I far prefer this classic over the live-action version.

And unless my counting skills are shot, that should be 10.  How about you, what are your favorites?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Family photos

We recently had family photos done to update various walls at our house and grandparents' houses.  Our yearly photo shoot is the bane of my existence when it comes to choosing clothes for everyone.  It used to be that I could find similar outfits for the girls and coordinate the rest of us.  Nowadays, I have to run between the Juniors, Girls, Boys, and Toddler sections.  And don't forget a quick trip through mens and womens.  Finding similar color tones between sections is almost impossible.  I browse through several stores, then finally decide on what I want, only to find out that the colors won't coordinate after all.  So I start over and find a couple ideas, then go to another section and change my mind, going back to previous sections.  Repeat several times until finally giving up and/or finding a workable combination.  This year I decided on navy blue and gray for our overall palette.  Thankfully it worked.
 As I was looking through everyone's photos, I laughed at the many facial expressions from Princess.  She's very animated in her face, so many of these are ones we see on a regular basis.
Choosing a favorite from our family photos was tricky.  Bugaboo didn't want to hold still for too many, and just trying to get 8 people all smiling and looking at the camera at the same time is a feat in and of itself.  Here's some of my favorites:

 Bugaboo decided he was done sitting at this point.  At least he was looking at the camera.
 Most of our photos looked like this:
A last few attempts at getting everyone all together.
We finished with everyone walking down the hill. This might be my absolute favorite shot.
I'm thinking about enlarging this one to go on our wall.  I don't think grandparents would appreciate it like I do, so they'll probably get one of the other family shots where you can see all our faces.  Which one is your favorite?