Category Archives: Christmas

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

Christmas time is no fun without cookies.  We have our tried and true family favorites that we make year after year, but it’s always fun to try a new recipe.  I participated in the virtual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap co-hosted by White Lights on Wednesday, {i love} my disorganized life, and Real Housemoms.  For this swap, participants were paired up, then you sent your partner a cookie recipe.  Each person makes the recipe they received and then posts the recipe and photos for everyone to salivate over.

My partner was Elizabeth, who blogs at The Law Student’s Cookbook.  She sent me the recipe for these yummy Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies.

(I modified her recipe just a bit since I don’t have a food processor and I despise rolling out cookie dough, so I’ll share my modified version.)

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp red food coloring (or if you�re using a gel food coloring, about 1 tsp or whatever looks good)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp coconut oil
1. Preheat your oven to 325. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Mix until dough forms.  Add food coloring and knead to incorporate color throughout. (Disposable gloves will keep your hands from turning pink!)
2. Roll dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Slice each cookie about 1/2 inch thick and place on cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and allow to cool.

4. In a microwave-safe container, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil for 1 minute on 50% power.  Stir.  Continue to melt in 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring after each interval, until mixture is smooth. Dip half of each cookie into the melted chocolate. Let stand on waxed paper until set (about 10 minutes in the freezer).  

Honestly, I preferred the cookies without the chocolate dipping and savoring the rich shortbread flavor, so you may want to leave them undipped. 

Check out all the other cookie swap recipes below.

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.

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!

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?

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?

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. 😉

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 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?

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

Christmas in July

I decided to participate in the Christmas in July gift exchange hosted by Adrianne at Happy Hour Projects.  I was paired with Shannon from Crafty Bliggety Blog.  Since this was not a secret exchange, we were able to get to know each other a little and even make requests beforehand.  Shannon indicated that she really liked the crocheted headbands I had on my blog, so of course, I made her one.

Then, Shannon said that she loves the color purple and has a pet rabbit, so I came up with the idea to make an amigurumi bunny. I fell in love with this pattern for a floppy-eared bunny.

I thought the bunny needed a little something more, even after adding ear bows, so I made a little necklace by tying a Celtic heart knot.

Part of why I decided to participate in this exchange is because I absolutely love getting mail.  Anything addressed to me (besides bills) makes me happy.  I especially love getting surprises in the mail. I was super-excited to see what Shannon had in store for me, so I was thrilled when my package arrived and I found this:

A fun, handmade Peter Pan card in a sheet music envelope.  I love Peter Pan, it’s one of the first movies I remember seeing on VHS. Princess is a big fan of Tinkerbell.  I’m thinking I might have to frame the card for her room.  Plus, I enjoy playing the piano, so the music was a great personal touch.

Then I found this cute little jewelry box with my name engraved and two fun necklaces.

 I had mentioned that I collect thimbles, which I’m sure was the inspiration for the thimble necklace. I love the acorn as well. It not only ties in to the Peter Pan/Tinkerbell idea, but it makes me think about my recent Woodbadge training experience. These will both be fun pieces to wear.

I can’t wait to participate in another gift exchange.

It’s Christmastime

December is finally here.  Now I can jump completely into Christmas festivities without feeling the slightest bit guilty about overshadowing other holidays.  I will admit that our tree has been up since before Thanksgiving.  I always thought I was the one to get excited about Christmas.  I lost the battle of when to put the tree up.  Apparently a week BEFORE Thanksgiving is now the proper time.  Oh well.  With the tree up, I was able to put some new goodies on it.

Aren’t these Wonder Forest ornaments adorable? These showed up in my mail a few weeks ago after I won a giveaway.  Dana’s work is exquisite.  I am thrilled to add these little beauties to my ornament collection.
Unfortunately, this year most of my ornaments remain stuck in their storage bins because our tree looks like this:


Pathetic, isn’t it?  This is our sure sign that there is a 2-year-old in residence.  Even with the lower half of the tree bare, he still figures out how to cause havoc.  Did you know that even soft ornaments heaved into the upper branches will dislodge other ornaments?  Now I do.  All movable objects that could boost said 2-year-old more than an inch off the ground will now need to be bolted to the floor.

Now, here’s a few sneak peeks of some projects I’ll be sharing in the coming days:


Christmas Elf

I know it’s a bit early to be thinking about Christmas, but as I’ve been browsing around Pinterest, I happened across a board full of ideas for a Christmas Elf. Have you seen the Christmas Elf idea?  Sometimes it is known as Elf on the Shelf.  The elf visits from the North Pole and reports back to Santa how the children have behaved.  In the meantime, the elf finds the most unlikely places to fall asleep and gets into lots of mischief.  This website explains it and links to message boards with some great ideas.

We started this tradition two years ago when Kayla was introduced to us.  (She is a Kelly doll that I found in Target’s holiday section.)

Kayla did some fun things like hang candy canes from every knob in the kitchen and even on the chandelier above the table.  She used paper plates as sleds down the stairs.  We had fun finding where she went to sleep each night.

Then, last year we added Kyle and Ashley. (Found at Hobby Lobby with the other Christmas plush.)

With more heads, they were able to cook up even more mischief.  They got into a marshmallow snowball fight, had a movie night, etc.  One morning we woke up to this sight in the office chair:

Ultimately, the elves had a grand finale a couple days before Christmas when they took the car for a joy ride and drove through a nearby drive-thru for ice cream.

Of course, now I have to come up with new ideas to top that!  So, I’m glad I’ve found some new ideas via Pinterest.  Do you have any great suggestions?