12/17/14

Snowdrop Cookie Recipe

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Snowdropcookies

The other day I made Wyatt and Gwen some Christmas cookies, and appropriately the song "Christmas Cookies" came on the radio.  That is one of those songs that always gets stuck in my head.  The rest of the afternoon I was singing "I sure do like those Christmas cookies, Sugar.  I sure do like those Christmas cookies, Babe" to Wyatt.

After Wyatt's nap that day, he came out of his room, climbed up on the couch, and said "Can I have some Christmas cookies babe?"  So apparently Christmas cookies in general are now called "Christmas cookies babe"!  He is just so cute.

One of my favorite kinds of Christmas cookies ever is Snowdrop cookies.  They are kind of like a meringue cookie, but they aren't just crumbly, they are actually a little chewy too,  It's hard to explain, but they are so good.  I have a horrible time making them because I don't have enough patience to beat them long enough, but Derek always makes them perfectly - so now I just make him make them every December, naturally.  If they look familiar, you might recognize them from our Christmas gender reveal party last year.

This is the recipe - we have been making it since I was a girl, so I don't know where it came from originally, or if it was just passed down through the family.  If anyone has seen this recipe before, I would love to know the original source.  One big bonus to this recipe for all of you who are gluten intolerant is that it is already mostly gluten-free.  As long as you use chocolate chips that do not have gluten, you are good to go.

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Snowdrop Cookies

2 egg whites
¾ tsp. cream of tartar
¾ c. sugar
1 c. chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Take out the oven racks and place foil over them before heating the oven. Leave the racks out of the oven.

2.  Beat egg whites with hand mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar; beat until stiff. Slowly beat in sugar; beat until stiff (the mixture will form little soupy peaks). Add chocolate chips and stir to mix them in.

3. Place by teaspoon on foil-covered racks and put racks in oven. Turn oven OFF. Leave overnight.

4.  Wake up in the morning and enjoy!

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On a sidenote - the kids are getting to the age where I have to start thinking about how to handle Santa as a Christian mom. Do you have any thoughts?  You can read what I think about the Santa question on the Tommy Nelson blog!

12/16/14

Things To Love About Christmas

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I know I am not alone in loving this time of year!  Christmas time is just full of fun, cozy events with family and friends, and I love it.  I am trying to make a big deal of all of the Christmas festivities this year, so the kids can learn to enjoy Christmas for other things beside just the presents.  I want them to enjoy all aspects of this season, not just getting things.  If you want to instill some gratitude in your kids for non-present yuletide blessings, here is a list of Christmas things to be grateful for.

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Christmas Music.  I know there is many a Christmas music grinch out there, but all I can say is - it's one month of the year. Humor those of us who love it!  I have so many favorite Christmas albums, and a lot of them are from my childhood.  My family had a tradition of going on a  shopping day every year, and we would always get a new Christmas CD, so we developed quite a collection.  One of my old favorites is Alabama's first Christmas album, and one of my new favorites is Sidewalk Prophet's Christmas album.

Christmas Food.  We have a lot of goodies that we just make at Christmas time, and I look forward to them all year long.  My favorite has always been snowdrop cookies, but ironically, I always mess them up when I make them.  Derek has become our official snowdrop cookie maker.

Snow.  At no other time of the year is snow welcomed by the majority.  I happen to be one of those people that thinks if it's winter time, it should be snowing, but snow at Christmas is extra special.

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Christmas Movies.  We have a lot of favorites that we bring out each year, and I also love those cheesy Christmas movies that the Hallmark channel puts out every year.  I hope they never stop!

Christmas Parades.  Derek and I started going to the Christmas parade in a town near us several years ago, and I think it is safe to say it is a tradition now.  It's just a small, old-fashioned parade, with local groups walking and driving down the street.  They always have people on these big bikes, a fire engine, Clydesdale horses, and Santa in a red convertible.  It's just fun.

Christmas Jammies.  This is a new tradition to me, because we never did Christmas pajamas growing up - but I couldn't resist buying the kids three sets of matching Christmas jammies this year.  I can't wait to see them on Christmas morning wearing their new pajamas!

Chrismtas Cards.  Can I get a cheer for snail mail?  It's a dying art form that lots of people revive at Christmas time.  Nothing cheers me up like a big old stack of Christmas cards.

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Christmas Lights.  Why don't we put up twinkly lights all year 'round anyway?  They are so pretty.

Christmas Gatherings.  It can make the season a little crazy, but I love all the Christmas gatherings with family and friends!  I am a pretty social person, so parties just add so much to the fun for me.

Christmas Books.  Once again, we had a lot of Christmas books growing up that we would just bring out in December.  I have a collection started for my kids, and I was thrilled to be able to add "God Bless Our Christmas" to it this year!  Tommy Nelson gave us this sweet book.  It is written in a poem format, and cute little winter woodland characters participate in lots of Christmas activities - but the greatest gift of all is Jesus, and the book conveys that wonderfully.  The illustrations are adorable, and the kids love it!  It reminds me of a book we had growing up that I loved, and I think this will be one of our favorites for Christmas time.  I also thought it was appropriate to mention it in this post, because the first part of the book lists a bunch of fun, Christmas-y things too!

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The Excitement Of The Kids.  Amidst all the craziness that this season brings, sometimes we adults need a reminder of things to love about Christmas too, don't we?  And one of my favorite things about Christmas as an adult is watching how excited my kids get about everything this season brings - presents included.

The Focus On Jesus's Birth.  Even though some secular institutions may try to ignore it, it can't be avoided that in the end, Christmas is all about celebrating the birth of our Savior.  It's not just about love and family - it is about God's love in giving us His Son, so that we can be a part of His family!  That is ultimately what makes Christmas so special to me.  None of the other activities would be as wonderful to me without that true meaning of Christmas behind them (which is another reason I love Christmas books like the one above that point out the true meaning of Christmas!).

What did I miss guys?  What are some reasons that you love Christmas time?

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Note: I received a copy of "God Bless Our Christmas" from Tommy Nelson for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.

12/15/14

Clyde At Eight Months

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Clyde is 8 months old!  He is officially an older baby.  It makes me kind of sad.


This month was a big month for Clyde - he learned to get up on his hands and knees on his seven month birthday, and since then he has gotten more and more comfortable with it.  He has moved his legs forward and his arms forward, but just not all at once yet.  He is so close to learning to crawl!  He loves being on his hands and knees and looks so proud of himself as he rocks back and forth.  He also does this little hop sometimes to get his knees underneath him, and it is so cute.

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Clyde also got his lower two front teeth!  He got the first one on November 29th, and the second on December 3rd.  He seems to be proud of his two front teeth, and he grins and runs his tongue over them all the time.



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Clyde is still loving his solid food, and he eats more than either Wyatt or Gwen did at this age.  He especially enjoys his baby food, and he gets upset if we forget to feed him.  We've got him up to three meals a day.  The other day we decided to see how much he would eat before he was done, and we counted three bowls of oatmeal and a baby food jar of apples!  He is also on formula, and takes probably 5-6 8 oz. bottles a day. We gave him his first Mum Mum "cookie" on Thanksgiving, and he enjoyed it - but instead of gumming it and letting it dissolve, he kept chomping down on it and breaking off big chunks, so I think we're going to have to find a more sturdy cookie for him.



Sleep is a little all over the place - he usually goes a 7-8 hour stretch, but it might be from 7-2, and then we still have to wake up in the night to feed him.  I am working on weaning him off his 2:00 feeding, because he is old enough that he could probably drop it.  I think he wakes up at that time more for snuggles than anything.  Which I kind of love, but it would be nice to sleep a little longer too.





I've been working more since Derek has been unemployed, and I can tell Clyde doesn't like not seeing me as much during the day.  Some days he just won't be pleased until I pick him up and spend a little time with him.  He goes to sleep quicker at night if I lay him down.


His personality is just adorable!  He is always so happy, and he smiles so quickly.  His new smile with his two little teeth just melts my heart! Sometimes if you pay attention to him he'll give you this grin and lift his eyebrow at you - it is the cutest little expression.  He still sticks his tongue out sometimes when he smiles, and I love it.


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My Sweet Clyde,

I cannot believe how old you are getting!  It seems like just yesterday that you were born.  You are such a sweetheart, my boy, and everyone loves your little personality.  I would call you social, but a little bashful too.  When I am holding you and people talk to you, you lay your head against my shoulder and give a big grin.  I can tell when you are in a playful mood, because I'll say hi to you and you'll grin, stick out your tongue, and raise your little eyebrows - it is such a mischievous little look.  When you are tired at night, or before your nap, I can tell because you will relax against me, and then your little fingers will grab my arm or collarbone, and you just gently pinch and need my skin with your little hand.  It's the cutest thing, and my signal that it is time to lay you down.  Every now and then you will still fall asleep in my arms, and as I look at your little face I can see the hints of the toddler to come, but I can also see my tiny little newborn hidden in your face.  It's happy and sad to me, because I know we have so many fun times ahead, but I also know that the baby will fade out of you all too quick.  I'm glad you are still my baby for a while longer.

I love you more than all the snowflakes in all the winters.

Love, 
Your Mama

12/12/14

Christmas Printables And Updates

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When I was a girl, one of my favorite Christmas songs was "Silver Bells".  Now I'm not exactly sure why, but it just seemed to usher in the Christmas season for me.

Last year I put together these lyrics to Silver Bells with the intention of using the lettering to create a painted Christmas sign - but the sign never got finished, and I lost my motivation.  So this year, I changed up the file a bit and made printables instead!  I think they look pretty cute with my poinsettia flowers that Derek got me a few years ago, my little snowmen figurines that were a gift from my sister, and some Walmart sparkly ornaments stringed up on my wall.

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Lately I've been working on getting a blog newsletter going - my plan is to send out a newsletter once a month or so, and I'll include personal updates and pictures, links to some of my more popular posts that month, links to other articles that I've liked, and the occasional freebie.  I am excited about this new project!

And you are in luck, because if you sign up for my newsletter before the end of December, I'll send give you this set of printables!  Consider it a thank-you-for-reading-and-signing-up-and-merry-Christmas gift.  You can sign up below, and then keep an eye out for the printables in your inbox!  You can either sign up for the monthly version, or you can sign up to get a weekly roundup of posts from the blog instead.



Speaking of personal updates, I think I might have some good news on the job front for Derek - I don't want to say too much yet just in case it doesn't work out, but things are looking promising - keep us in your prayers, and I'll post an update (if there is anything to tell) next week!


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Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

12/9/14

The Wishing Season Review

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In The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter, PJ McKinley is excited to finally make her dream of running a restaurant a reality by entering a competition to win The Wishing House, a historic house that is up for grabs through a competition held by it's eccentric owner, Mrs Simmons.  But Cole Evans also wants to Wishing House to open a transitional home for foster kids that have aged out of the system.  Mrs. Simmons decides that they will share the house for a year before she decides who will finally win the contest, but as PJ and Cole get to know each other, they find themselves attracted to each other and unsure of how their relationship will work out as the year comes to a close.

I enjoyed this book.  I feel like the characters and their issues were believable, even if a contest for a historical home is not something that is likely to happen in real life.  I think Hunter struck a good balance with describing the tension between Cole and PJ's conflicting goals while still making you like both characters.  I wasn't sure who to root for throughout the book.

I realized after I started the book that this is part of The Chapel Hill romance series, and so characters from the other two books in this series make appearances (I wrote about the second book, Dancing With Fireflies, here).  I always like when books tie in well with the other books in the series and let us catch up with all the characters.  Hunter also talked quite a bit about PJ's brother and his problems in this book, so I'm hoping she writes one more story about him!

Hunter's books are always quick, easy reads, and they keep me interested throughout the story.  Part of this book takes place at Christmastime, but the book spans an entire year, so contrary to my first impression, I wouldn't say this is exclusively a Christmas book.  It's perfect for Christmas time, but it would be good to read any time of the year!

I was lucky enough to get an advance copy - but lucky for you, The Wishing Season came out today!  Check it out!

Note: I received a digital copy of this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

12/8/14

Pecan Coconut Orange Fudge

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I was in an experimenting mood the other day, and I came up with a new fudge recipe!  Making Fudge is so fun to me, because as long as you have a good base, you can change it up in so many different ways.  I basically searched in my cupboards for stuff to add to this fudge, and it turned out really well!

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Pecan Coconut Orange Fudge

2 1/2 c. sugar
2/3 c. milk
1/2 stick butter (1/4 c.)
1 1/2 c. white chocolate chips
1/4 c. pecans chopped
1/4 c. coconut
1 tsp. orange extract

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1.  Prepare a pan by lining with tin foil and greasing foil.

2. Mix together sugar, milk, and butter in saucepan.  Heat over medium-high heat.

3.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.  Once mixture is boiling, let it boil untouched for five minutes.

4.  Take mixture off stove and beat mixture.  Add in white chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans, and stir until chips melt and are well blended.

5.  Add orange extract last.  Extract may partially evaporate when it hits the hot fudge, just stir into mixture quickly.

6.  Spread fudge into prepared pan.  Fudge should set in about 10 minutes.

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I made this fudge twice and we really liked it!  I think it is especially good with a cup of hot coffee (of course, I think anything is that much better with coffee).  Enjoy!

12/4/14

Gift Ideas For Little Boys

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I thought I would share Wyatt's Christmas gift list today.  I don't know about you guys, but I have a terrible time picking out gifts for the kids.  I think part of the struggle is just trying to find boy and girl gifts that are similar (because Wyatt and Gwen always want what the other one has).  Thankfully, I think I have finished all my Christmas shopping, so I don't have to worry about it anymore this month!  Now just to get everything wrapped.  Anyway, these are the things I got Wyatt.

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Tricycle - We were in Goodwill a couple months ago, and Wyatt went straight for a little tricycle, climbed on, and started trying to work the peddles.  I was surprised, because we don't have a tricycle yet, and I didn't think he knew how to work one!  Gwen was dying to get down and try it out too.  I ended up getting Wyatt a cute little Roadmaster trike for $3 at the thrift store!  I have no qualms about getting pre-owned gifts this year.


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Remote Control Car - Technically, the car is recommended for kids over 8 years old, but I know Wyatt is going to love it.  We took the kids to Toys-R-Us to scout things out a couple months ago, and he went straight for the cars.  I think he is going to be so surprised to have a car that he can control by himself.

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(We got a car similar to this one.)


Dump Truck Toy - Derek couldn't help himself, and he bought the kids some toys several months ago.  Unfortunately Wyatt caught a glimpse of his "present", and he has been constantly talking about it ever since.  One thing I find so delightful about little boys in general is their obsession with anything mechanical.  Even when Wyatt was a baby, if we gave him something with wheels, he was fascinated, and the trend has held.  At least we know he'll like it, right?  We've been able to keep the other gifts a secret.


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Construction Character Books - I was excited to see that Tommy Nelson has come out with a "Building God's Kingdom" series, with construction vehicle characters, who learn about good character while doing their construction duties.  These books are so cute, and I love books that also teach a lesson.

In "Tipper Tells A Lie", Tipper learns the consequences of not telling the truth - and what I liked about this story was that the lie that Tipper tells is what someone might consider a "small" lie - it wasn't told to hurt anyone or hide a wrong, but it still had consequences.  I want my kids to know that there are no "small" lies, that every lie is wrong and can have consequences, and I thought the book got that point across really well.

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In "Diggit Saves The Day", Diggit starts out with letting his to-do list get in the way of helping others, and he realizes that his attitude was unkind.  I felt convicted reading this book myself - who hasn't been tempted to treat the to-do's as more important than people?  The message of this book was good, and it was probably my favorite because the story was so cute.

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I have been going back and forth on whether to give Wyatt these books now, or wait until Christmas, because these would make a great Christmas gift!  I know he is going to be so excited to read these books, whenever I give them to him - they are just his style.  And bonus - they are board books!  Pages still get ripped around here, so I love board books.  If you have a little boy who also likes mechanical things, check these books out!

And finally, for the stocking . . .

Nativity Rubber Duck Set - I don't know why, but both my kids are obsessed with rubber ducks.  We probably have 6-8 of them already, but some of them are getting . . . slimy?  There is water trapped inside some of them that I can't get out.  I have been sneakily throwing some of the old ducks out when the kids aren't looking, and now I can replace them with this cute little set!

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And I had a couple ideas that we may use for his birthday instead of Christmas.

Clubhouse Jr. Magazine Subscription - I love that Focus On The Family still puts out Clubhouse magazine for kids, and I think Wyatt is getting to the age where he might appreciate Clubhouse Jr.




Craft Supplies/Craft Kit -Wyatt is so into crafts right now - it is so cute.  I know he would love more craft supplies!



All you moms of toddler boys out there, any other gift ideas?

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If you are still needing some Christmas gifts for your kids, you have come to the right place!  Tommy Nelson has offered to give one of my readers copies of "Tipper Tells A Lie" and "Digger Saves The Day"!  These books really were perfect for little boys.




Fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter!



This giveaway is only open to U.S. Residents.

Note: I received copies of "Tipper Tells A Lie" and "Diggit Saves The Day" for free in exchange for a review.  This is my honest opinion.  
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