Browsing Tag:


Brunch/ Holidays/Parties/ RECIPES/ Sweets

Cinnamon Roll Wreath Christmas Tradition


The holidays are upon us and I am determined to enjoy every moment of them! One of the ways our family makes the holidays special is by using traditions to make memories from year to year.  We have found some of those traditions changing. As the age of our 3 girls (12, 14 & 16 years) change, so do their interests. We used to put them to bed early, then grab them from their beds, pajamas blankies and all, and throw them into our heated car to go look at Christmas lights.  They LOVED it.  I remember the giggles, their ringlets & curls bouncing as Daddy carried them out to the car, & the sound of Christmas music streaming out from the car every time he would open the car door to throw another girl in! Oh what fun memories! Now we can’t imagine lifting our grown girls, or that they would enjoy being in public in their jammies.  Yes, traditions sometimes have to change.

Continue Reading…

Christmas/ FAMILY/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ Kids/Family/ Seasonal

Favorite Family Christmas Tradition


Feeling Sentimental

I find myself so sentimental this Christmas!

I think it is because my girls are 15, 13 & 11 years old, and now that they are teens and preteens, I am wanting to just hold on to the few years we have left with them.  I’m really feeling how old they are, as I’ve noticed there are a few family traditions that are just not as exciting as they used to be. Our girls are getting older and naturally the things that excite them change. My oldest is a cross-country runner, so making and eating a bunch of Christmas cookies is not something she wants to engage in, as eating healthy is pretty important to her.  Our puzzle tradition?  I’m stuck doing it alone, as the girls are just too busy or too cool {grin} to sit with Mom and do a puzzle.

Another tradition that has fizzled out, and the one I’m mourning the most, is our ‘Steal-the-kids-from-thier-beds-to -go-look-at-Christmas-lights’ tradition.  They now stay up way too late for us to wake them up and steal them from their beds.  They are also at the age where being crammed in a car together late at night is the perfect recipe for sister drama!

Despite being so sad to give it up, I think back fondly to the many  years we did this favorite holiday tradition of mine. They may not be interested now, all 3 girls would say that it was one of their favorite memories of the holiday season, too.


Favorite Holiday Tradition

The tradition started way before the girls were born, when Todd and I were engaged & newlyweds.  His Mom would rent a limousine and Todd, his Mom, his brother & wife and I would relax in the limo while the driver took us around to the best neighborhoods in town to look at Christmas lights.  I remember loving it, and thought it was such a loving thing for Todd’s Mom to do.

When our kids got old enough to have interest, we started a similar tradition.  We decided that some weekend night in December we would put the kids to bed a bit early, then heat the car & steal them from their beds, tell them we were going on an adventure, and throw them -footie pajamas & all- into the car.  They absolutely loved it.

I have so many vivid images of the girls holding on to their Dad, squealing in delight with eyes bright as he carried them to the car.  I was always behind them, capturing the moment with the camera.  If they were not wearing footie pajamas, we would throw on their slippers and they, of course, always grabbed their favorite snuggly blanket, as we always skipped coats.


Dad’s job was to heat the car and carry them out.  My job was to gather the Christmas music & a small snack for each girl.  I would often take a thermos of hot cocoa for Todd and I and sippie cups for the girls.  Their favorite CD’s for so long was Strawberry Shortcake Very Berry Christmas & The Chipmunks Christmas. We had another one with kids Christmas songs on it –the favorites being ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause’ (which they all would say “Eww!  Gross!!” and ‘All I Want For Christmas Is My 2 Front Teeth’ which drew extra laughter when one of them actually WERE missing their 2 front teeth.

I would usually get snacks from the Dollar Store.  I’d find a fun little Christmas purse or small stocking, and load it up with a package of crackers and some Christmas candy.  They just loved it–especially the sweet treats. Hint: suckers are great.  They keep little mouths busy and the volume of the car down.

Stawberry-shortcake-Christmas-CD{Notice the glass of wine I took with me that year}

As the girls got older, we had to get smarter.  I remember running around the house setting all the clocks back so we could get them to bed earlier.  It became a guessing game every weekend in December, “I bet it is going to be tonight!” they would say…and often they were right.

The image I cannot get out of my brain is the girls being carried out by their dad. Like I said, I got the view from behind, their little legs would be wrapped around their Dad with their fuzzy slippers hanging, their little heads peaking at me from his shoulder.  Those legs kept growing longer every year and his struggle to lift them each year grew.  Even as they got older, he still carried them out so they wouldn’t get snow on their slippers.  It was so much fun!

Holiday-Christmas-Lights-2{“Slow down so I can get a clear picture!”}

The lights were always so great to look at, and we would choose our favorites as a family.  I’ve heard of families having a holiday lights tradition where they would leave a plate of cookies at the house that was voted the family favorite.  We never did this but it is a fun idea.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 1.29.07 PM

Holiday Lights Contest

Do you have a favorite house in the neighborhood?   Do you know someone who goes all out? Is it you?  If so, to be in with a chance to win a $5,000 gift card, and help choose America’s 10 best public light displays!

Participants Can:

  • Enter the by uploading a photo of your own holiday lights display on the USA TODAY website. The winner of this photo contest gets a $5,000 gift card from USA TODAY.
  • Vote for your favorite holiday lights display from a group of 10 pre-selected public organizations. Each voter will also have the chance to win one of two prizes: A $1,ooo gift card or a $1,500 gift card.


New Family Traditions

I have been thinking hard about some new traditions we can implement with our girls now that they are older.  I know that they would be into entering in the USA TODAY contest above, as a gift card of any value would be exciting, much less one in the thousands!  They also are at an age where they love giving an opinion and love a good competition.

I know any traditions that involve their friends or cousins would be super appealing to them right now.  Or, sadly, one that involves shopping!

Have any ideas for me?

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Do you put up holiday lights each year?


FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties

New Years Kid Crafts/New Year’s Eve Traditions

We made these goofy glasses today. Head over to Make and Takes for directions. While you are there, at the end of the post is a link for homemade New Year’s Eve Noise Makers made out of toilet paper rolls. They make the sound of a kazoo while blowing into them. I get a little jeebed out thinking about putting my mouth on something that spent so much time in a bathroom, so I will let my girls do the noise making.
We also made these Noisemaker Shakers out of ribbon spools. (go to Family for directions) The girls decorated them with their brand new glitter glues the got from Santa. They turned out pretty cute, no picture for ya, though.
I plan on making these cute pancakes for breakfast, using this recipe, on New Year’s Day. (Picture and idea from I will sprinkle dried cranberries as the confetti since it is what we have on hand. (gotta stick to the challenge!)
I bought some poppers that have little toy surprises in them when you pull the string, and some silly New Year’s Day hats. We have a countdown in our kitchen using our kitchen timer, well before midnight, so we can put the kids to bed and enjoy the new year alone as a couple. We usually do the kids countdown around 10:00 so they still feel like they get to stay up “late.”
One of these years I may feel motivated to have a party and invite lots of friends over. Usually, we are just getting over all the family Christmas celebrations, so we are partied out by New Year’s Eve.

The kids really get into the kitchen countdown tradition, we have done it the last 3 years. After we put them to bed, I love snugglin’ up to my husband to watch a movie, and pushing pause around midnight to watch the ball drop. After our New Year’s smooch, we push “Play” and finish up the movie. We are old…and boring(except that smooch)…and… I LOVE IT!

Holidays/Parties/ RECIPES/ Sides

Frosted Grapes/New Year’s Eve Tradition

I found a box of jello looking very lonely in the very back of my pantry while I was organizing yesterday. It made me happy because it is an ingredient we use for one of our New Year’s Eve traditions. We sit at the table with a bowl of frosted grapes, and pass it around. Each person has to take a grape, name a favorite memory that happened during the year, eat it, and pass the bowl to the next person. We do this 12 times. It is just fun and silly, the girls love it.
I have grapes on hand, leftover from Chicken Salad that I made a few days ago,
so we are set for our tradition!
Click here for the recipe!!

**I recommend NOT using red jello on green grapes, unless it is close to Halloween and you want to feel like you are eating some type of alien food. Not very pretty. Stick with white/light colored jello or use red grapes.


Our Family Christmas Traditions

The number of traditions our family does seems to be growing.  I guess I’m a sucker for traditions! 

Christmas Lights In P. J.’s

We have to be sneaky for this one.  We change the clocks and make sure we get our girls into bed by “8:00” (really 7:00).  After prayers and kisses, we wait a few minutes, then kidnap them from their beds, slip on their robes and slippers, wrap them in a blanket and carry them to the heated car.  They just love it, we fool them every time!!:)  They know there will be bags of treats and merry Christmas music waiting for them in the car.  We hit our favorite, “most lit” neighborhoods.  After an hour and a half of Christmas light bliss, we head home.   It never fails, on the ride home they are full of sugar, tired, grumpy, and have had enough of each other and of Christmas lights!

New Christmas Music
Every year we get a new CD.  This year I downloaded the Surfjan Steven’s Christmas album from itunes.  I love me a banjo!

Christmas Story Book
It’s fun to see our collection growing, we get a new one every year.  “The Nativity” is by far the most unique, but their favorite is “If This Were A Fairy Tale”

Popcorn Tin & Sparkling Grape Juice
We eat popcorn from the tin and drink the juice in fancy glasses while we put up the Christmas tree.  My girls fight for the cheese popcorn, Todd and I are usually stuck with the butter and caramel popcorn.  I love using the tins to store Christmas lights and decorations, we have about 10 of them and they stack nicely.

My cousin, Keeli, has a cookie exchange every year.  At least 8 yrs ago, she had us bring over 15 dozen cookies!  That was the first time I made Andes Mint Cookies, and have been making them every year, ever since!  Click here for the recipe.

This tradition is one Todd started when we were dating.  He suggested we buy an ornament every year to remind us of that particular year.  At the time, he lived in Chicago and I lived in Nebraska, so when we found an ornament with a little mouse sitting on a compass with the words “Across The Miles,” we knew it was the one.  It was so much fun shopping together, we found a tiny little tree for my apartment and it had one little ornament on it.  Looking at our memory tree today, it is amazing how many ornaments we now have!  The girls love choosing their own ornament and I love being reminded of what each girl was “into” that year.  *Hint..if you go 2 days after Christmas, they are all 50% off!

Santa Pic

We eat at the mall food court and then go visit Santa for a picture.  My girls have never believed in Santa, but they (at least the younger two) like pretending that he exists.  I love comparing the pictures from year to year.  This year, Santa was in some CRAZY pajama’s.  I’m not sure where his suit was, maybe he couldn’t afford it due to the economy..

Stockings and Santa gifts
My girls wake up on Christmas morning to 3 piles of presents with a full stocking in front of each pile.  They find their pile, plop down by it, and pretty much don’t move until we are done opening all the presents. (well, maybe to get a cinnamon roll and juice.)  The presents all say “from Santa,” but as they get older they make sure to let me know I’m not fooling them.  My parents always did it this way with us so I guess that is why I do it, too!

Sugar Cookies
We make them every year– it used to be gingerbread houses, but I like simple, so now we are sticking to sugar cookies.  This year it was so easy!  They rolled, cut, frosted, and sprinkled all by themselves.  I just organized it all and had oven duty.  They are getting so big!

The Nativity Movie
This is a new tradition.  We started it last year.  My girls REALLY got into it this year and loved every minute of it.  It was so great!  We had to keep pausing the movie to talk about what was going on, answer their questions, and explain details to them. (there are some intense scenes that were important to talk through)  I really feel like they learned a lot of details that can get missed in our story books.  When it ended, my middle girl said “Mom, I just loved that.  It is my favorite movie.

We have a bunch of extended family traditions, but I thought I’d stick to what my own little family does together.  Christmas is such a wonderful time to spend time together and teach our girls what all this celebrating is REALLY about…the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christmas/ Seasonal

Memory Tree

We have a tradition where each family member gets to choose a new ornament every year.  Todd started the tradition when we were dating, and we have done it every year.  It is my favorite family tradition, it is so much fun to take them out of their boxes, reminiscing about years past.  

We make sure we get the Hallmark brand ornaments.  They come with the date on each ornament, they are well made to last throughout the years, and the boxes they come in are great for keeping them protected when being stored.  We shop for them a day or two after Christmas, when they are half off.

Come with me on a tour of our memory tree!

This was the first ornament we purchased together.  Todd lived in Chicago and I lived in Nebraska, so “Across The Miles” was very appropriate.
We were newly weds when we got this one.
My Aunt Linda gave this one to us.  I love it.
Baby’s 1st Christmas–another one from my Aunt Linda
That is our now 10 yr old!  Where did all that
chub-a-lub go?
This one is from my dad.  He thinks I’m the world’s greatest hair stylist.:)  Not sure if he is right, he is judging me based on the few hairs he has left to cut.  (Ha Ha.  Love ya, dad!)
This is another favorite of mine.
My 10 yr. old picked it out when she was 7.  That was back in the day when she loved dance and tutus.  Now she rolls her eyes when taking it out of the box and says “ugh, I hate tutus!”
This one makes me smile.  I bought it the year my youngest was 2.  She had green “feetie” pajamas just like this, short blond curls, and was into everything!
This one is priceless.  My mom made these when we were young.  We sold them at craft fairs and even door to door.  My parents used the money to buy a piano so that we could start piano lessons.
Poor guy lost an eye!
I love, love this one.  I picked it out when my girls were 5, 4 and 2.  My youngest really loved her pacifier, we let her keep it way to long!  These stack into each other and closes into one snowman.
This one is from Todd’s childhood.
My mom gave me this one.  It is beautiful with the light shining through it.
This is from my Great Grandma Jewel.  It is VERY special to me.
She is now in Heaven, she was one of the most amazing people I have ever met.
Give you one guess who picked this one out…
…and this one.  The sports center tv above has a button to push to hear the
sports center theme song.  Todd enjoys pushing it over and over, just to annoy me.
My youngest chose this one last year.  Much of her day is spent coloring.
Once upon a time, there were Dora fans in this house.  No more. (sniff)
My choice for last year.  I really, REALLY enjoy lattes and my cell phone.
The decorating begins!
I can’t believe my baby can reach that high! (is it me or does
that tree look tipsy?)
Hanging out with dad after a long night of tree decorating.
Kids tucked in bed, tree finished, another memory made.
It’s a good life.
Christmas/ Kids/Family/ Seasonal

The Nativity Story /Family Movie Night

Above is a preview of the movie “The Nativity Story.” We watched this as a family (minus our youngest who was 5 last year, because of the “murder of all firstborn sons” scene) last December.  It is a beautiful movie, and it really made an impression on my older girls (they were 7 and 9), they are both so visual, it really helped bring the story to life for them.  I would like to make a tradition of watching it every year, so I plan on making some homemade popcorn and some fudgy buttons so we can snack, snuggle and watch it together on a near- future family movie night!

Most Friday nights you will find us at home, in the basement with popped corn, cozying up on the couch and watching either recored tv or a movie as a family.

During the summer months and during the month of December, (summer break and winter break) we buy the Blockbuster Monthly Movie pass. (it is called the Blockbuster total access in-store subscription)  It allows 2 movies out at a time, unlimited amount of time, for 30 days, one fee.  This is our little family splurge, it replaces going to the movie theatre as a family, so really, it is quite inexpensive comparably.  We usually get the deal that allows us to rent wii games, too, so that is super fun when the cousins are over for summer/winter break sleepovers.  The best part is NO late fees!!

I love it.  We are able to catch up on the movies we missed throughout the year.  Todd and I have had many fun date nights watching a movie in our basement once the kids go to bed.  Who needs a movie theater?

When we don’t have the pass, we watch recorded tv as a family, like “Amazing Race” or “American Idol,” on the weekends.  As you can tell, we are a family who likes our tv!