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Archive for the ‘Traditions’ Category

December 23rd, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Welcoming Santa

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Our family has some special traditions for preparing for Santa’s visit. First, we make a batch of “reindeer food” to leave on the ground for Santa’s reindeer. In the evening, we sprinkle it on the ground outside so the reindeer have something to eat while Santa is inside. We don’t have a fireplace, so we know that Santa parks on the front lawn. Check out the recipe for Magic Reindeer Food below.

We also prepare a plate of cookies and a glass of milk that we leave on the table. Santa usually only leaves crumbs, since he is a big fan our our cookies.

During the evening, we check out where Santa is in the world on Norad. It truly is a great learning activity so the kids can learn the parts of the world, the time changes, and the distance from place to place.

Other families hang stockings for Santa to fill, leave a magic key outside, and more. What do you do on Christmas Eve to welcome Santa?

Magic Reindeer Food Recipe

In a small zipper sandwich bag, mix:

  • 1/4 cup uncooked oatmeal
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup red or green sugar sprinkles

 

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December 16th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Making Christmas Treats

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One of my favorite days in the month of December is the day we make our Christmas treats. The kitchen is filled with the smells of cinnamon, caramel, chocolate, and more. The tradition started with my sister-in-law’s family, and we baked cookies together as her children grew up. Her children are now all in college, so we carry on the tradition in our home.

The variety has changed over the years. Plus, sometimes we try some new things. Once we experimented with cake balls, another time was peppermint bark.  This year was white chocolate party mix. I probably gained a pound or two just taste testing, and now have to hide most of the treats from all the boys in my family, but we always make a lot of memories!

What is your favorite treat to make? Mine is Turtle Pretzels. Simple to make and yummy to eat, plus a fun activity for the kids.

turtle pretzels

Turtle Pretzels

Ingredients:

  • Square Pretzels
  • Rolo Candies
  • Pecan Halves

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a cookie tray lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Place a rolo candy in the middle of each pretzel. Bake for 4 minutes. Press a pecan half onto each candy-covered pretzel to spread. Let cool completely before packaging.

 

 

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December 8th, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Sending Holiday Cards

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In this age of Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets, people have so many more ways of staying in touch than they did years ago. It’s easier to talk to far away friends and see pictures of their kids, homes, vacations, activities, etc. Because of this, many question whether or not they should still bother to send out holiday cards.

Do we send holiday cards out of obligation or is the act something that follows the tradition of the holiday spirit of giving? Sending cards can definitely feel like a part of the stress that comes with the season.

Holiday cards are an easy way to spread cheer by connecting with people through a short note, photo, or even just the notion that you’re thinking of them. A card doesn’t have to be a perfect picture, a long newsletter, or sent out to a ton of people. Think of the feeling you get when you find a card with a short note at the end of a stressful day – it brings a smile to your face. And considering how “digital” we’ve all become, a handwritten note or piece of regular snail mail is a real change of pace. Amongst all the bills, advertisements, and catalogs, these lovely cards really shine through.

I’ll be sending out cards this year, just because the act of receiving them has such a impact on me. I know when mine go out, they impact others too. Will you be sending out holiday cards this year?

 

 

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November 25th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Everyday Gratitude

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At the Thanksgiving table we always list all the things we are grateful for. But after, the focus turns to Christmas and we tend to get sucked into the latest and greatest things, and become busy with shopping, parties, etc. It’s important for children to understand how lucky they are to have people who love them, clothes, food, shelter, clean water, etc., that other kids around the world might not have. Try to take some time in everyday life to keep the focus on gratitude.

Why only talk about the things you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving? Why can’t gratitude surround the table every night? Start by having each person in your family list three things they’re grateful for each day. It can be as simple as:

  • The sun is shining and we got to go outside and play.
  • Mom made my favorite brownies.
  • Its Taco Tuesday and that’s my favorite meal.
  • I got to stay in my pajamas a little later than usual.

If your kids are old enough, they can even start a journal. Take a simple notepad and decorate it with stickers, have them draw pictures and use it to write things they are thankful for. It gives them something to look back on and see what things they were most grateful for at certain times in their lives.

 

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November 7th, 2014 at 9:14 am

Favorite Thanksgiving Books

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My boys love to read books about holidays as they are approaching. Thanksgiving is a fun time to learn about tradition and the history of the holiday through sharing books. Here are some of my favorites:

Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks

The Berenstein Bears Thanksgiving Blessings

The Night Before Thanksgiving

10 Fat Turkeys

Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving

Pinkalicious: Thanksgiving Helper

The Story of the Pilgrims

Fancy Nancy: Our Thanksgiving Banquet

Biscuit is Thankful

The Best Thanksgiving Ever

‘Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving

The Story of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day Thanks

This is the Turkey

Take some time this month to have some family reading time with Thanksgiving books, and discussions about the meaning of Thanksgiving and why it is a part of our history.

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July 14th, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Making Summer Memories

 

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Summer is flying by way too fast! We’ve barely crossed some of our favorite things off of our summer bucket list, like going to the pool, visiting the zoo, and taking a vacation! That is what summer is all about to us – making memories.

One of my favorite summer memories is the local kite festival. We would always pack a picnic lunch and our favorite kites. They would have kite demonstrations and everyone, amateurs and professionals alike, would launch their kites at the same time! What a sight…it was just a good family event. The first year we went my youngest was only a couple weeks old so it was fun to see him grow older each year and to watch my oldest learn how to fly his own kite.

Some of my other favorite memories include:

  • Strawberry picking
  • Just watching the boys chat on the patio
  • Family basketball H-O-R-S-E tournaments
  • Sitting by the fire making s’mores

That’s the thing about summer…memories can be made in the simplest of moments.

What memories have you made this summer?

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May 1st, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Cinco de Mayo Recipes

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Cinco de Mayo is a holiday celebrated in Mexico and the United States, in remembrance of Mexico’s victory over the French army in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. The holiday is rich in Mexican heritage that everyone can appreciate, including delicious traditional dishes! Whether you’re looking for something authentic and true to the culture, or you want something more Americanized, check out these great dishes to try for Cinco de Mayo!

Pork or Beef Tamales

Chalupas Poblanas

Chicken in Mole – Puebla Style

Chiles en Nogada

Enchiladas Verdes

Enchiladas Suizas

Spicy Chicken Empanadas

Carne Asada Tacos

Churros

Tres Leches 

 

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April 18th, 2014 at 10:20 am

Making Hard Boiled Eggs for Easter Egg Decorating

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My boys’ favorite part of Easter, next to looking for their Easter baskets, is dyeing eggs. Every year we make five dozen hard boiled eggs to paint, dye, color, and shrink-wrap. The hardest part of this is learning how to effectively hard boil eggs. Here is my method:

Tip: Eggs that are several days old are easier to peel.

1. Lay the eggs in a single layer in a pan covered by at least and inch or two of cold water, which will help with cracking. Turn the heat up to high to bring the eggs to a boil.

2. Once the water starts to boil, remove the pan from the heat. Reduce the heat to low and return pan to burner. Let simmer for one minute. If you miss the eggs starting to boil then you can skip this step because they have most likely already boiled for a short while.

3. When a minute has passed, remove the pan from the heat, place a cover on top and let sit for 12 minutes. Remove the eggs and place in a bowl of ice water until the eggs are cooled. Strain the water and store the eggs in a covered container. Hard boiled eggs last about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Once the eggs are made you can use various methods to dye them. There are many different egg decorating kits available at stores that are easy to use. Last year, I covered a slew of ways to decorate your eggs. I made the egg in the picture simply by dyeing it yellow and using sharpies to make it into a chick. See what fun you can have with your eggs?

How do you like to decorate your Easter Eggs?

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April 11th, 2014 at 8:38 am

Planning an Easter Brunch

brunch

One of my favorite things about Easter is the meal. It’s the one time a year where we eat my favorite meal, breakfast, with lunch as well! There are so many different things you can do with brunch. Here are some things to consider when planning your meal.

Buffet or Served Plate?
Personally, I like to offer my brunches as a buffet. This way, everyone can choose what the foods they like best, and they can control how much they take of each. Seconds are much easier to handle as well.

Planning Your Dishes
When choosing food types, you want to consider the time it will take to make them…simpler recipes will allow you to enjoy your party more. Some things that are easy to make ahead of time are breakfast casseroles, pancakes, quiches, scrambled eggs, waffles, french toast, and fruit and vegetable platters. Also think about things like taco bars or waffle bars, where your guests or family can personalize them and put them together. I also like to include a deli meat selection, pulled pork, or shredded chicken or beef for build-your-own sandwiches. Ham, lamb, and chicken are typical Easter meats, so you can offer one of these as well…especially if brunch is the main meal you’re planning for the day. Here are some categories you can incorporate into your brunch:

  • Egg dish
  • Pancakes, French Toast, Waffles, Crepes
  • Meat Dish
  • Potato Dish
  • Bread Dish (Easter bread with dyed hard boiled eggs is a nice idea!)
  • Light Pasta Dish
  • Salad or Fruit
  • Dessert

Drinks to Serve
Have fun with the drinks – think about coffee, juices, water, and milk. You can also make fun punches or alcoholic drinks like mimosas, bellinis, and sangrias for the adults.

Brunches can be lots of fun, but portions are difficult to control, so make sure you have enough food on hand. My guests always get excited when they hear i’ll be serving brunch – the BEST of breakfast and lunch!!

 

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April 3rd, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Easter Treats

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Easter is only a few weeks away and it’s never too early to plan your holiday meals. Instead of saving the best for last, we like to start with it…DESSERT! Cakes, candy, cookies, and more, there are so many choices! You can go traditional or get creative. Do you have a special family recipe for an Easter dessert? Share your delicious creations on our Facebook page!

 

Photo Credit: www.bhg.com

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