‘Tis the Season: My favorite Christmas crafts

My kids and I did a ton of crafting and baking this holiday season and I thought I should share some of our favorites with you…

These are ritz cracker PB sandwiches dipped in chocolate.  Awesomeness AND festive – double bonus!

We made rainbow cupcakes for the girls’ birthday 🙂  These have turned into a family favorite!

A glittery Christmas tree popsicle stick ornament.  This picture doesn’t do it justice!  They look WAY cool on the tree.

Glittery snowflake ornament – made from a toilet paper core!  These were super fun and really pretty!

Minty chocolate chip cookies… yummmm….

Glitter hand print ornaments.  Very tough to do with a 10-month old!

Christmas-tree shaped rice crispie treats

My 5-year old surprised me and made me a Bible… Which I will treasure forever ❤

Gingerbread play-doh… we found that after a week the play-doh would get a little “wet” so I had to throw it in a pan and heat it up and add some additional flour and salt!  Problem solved!

Mini-cupcakes with strawberries decorated like Santa hats… these were YUMMY!

My girls did this one with very little assistance from me and my mom… our family recipe for sugar cookies with my home-made icing.  Treats made with love are even more delicious!

We did a few others but these were my favorites!  If you would like to do any of these crafts or recipes and/or have any questions, comment and I’ll be sure to respond!

Merry Christmas and have a safe, happy and blessed New Year!

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Jingle Bell Rock

Holidays are mixed emotions for many. Some of us are super-excited to spend the day with family we love yet rarely see and happily travel miles and miles to spend the day together. But many look at holiday visiting as a chore, a time in which we are forced to sit around with people we didn’t choose to have in our lives: aunts, uncles, in-laws, etc, and find ourselves praying for their visit to be over as soon as humanly possible so we can resume activities we deem more important and/or exciting than their company.

I recently found myself in an interesting conversation — in speaking with my husband, I mentioned a certain trait someone possesses that really gets under my skin. My husband, (at times) much wiser than I, lovingly reminded me that just because I don’t share that persons particular shortcoming doesn’t mean I’m not apt to my own sins, mistakes and annoying habits. He reminded me that the only perfection is Jesus and that perhaps I should be more forgiving. I knew he was right.

Matthew 7:3-5 says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

With Christmas quickly approaching many of us will be spending time with friends and family that may not be our particular “cup of tea.” Remember that Jesus is the “reason for the season” – find patience and love in your heart for your company and give thanks for the awesome ways He has made us special and unique. Love one another for our differences, just as Jesus loves us – hopeless and completely undeserving sinners, and appreciate them – if only just for one day.

Run by faith,
Lindsay

How To: Cake Pop

Okay so my adventures into cake popping all started a few months ago when my girls and I discovered them at Starbucks.  I’d never heard of them before and they were yummy and SO adorable!  Then about a month ago I joined Pinterest and lo and behold, cake pops re-emerged in their various “food” queries!

After reviewing several recipes, I blended them into my own and it goes as follows:

You can pretty much get everything you need at WalMart either down the baking aisle and/or in the fancy-schmancy cake decorating aisle, located near scrapbooking and kids crafts.  To make cake pops you need:

  • Almond Bark
  • Lollipop sticks
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup icing/frosting*
  • 1 baked cake
  • sprinkles or other toppings
  • plastic 3’x5′ bags w/ twist-ties
  1. First you need to prepare your cake.  Whatever flavor, doesn’t matter, you choose.  I made 2 cakes, one funfetti and one chocolate, both Pillsbury (they’re my favorite boxed cakes because they’re so moist).  You can make a cake from scratch as well!  I didn’t have the time or I would have made mine from scratch. Also as you follow the pics below you will see they jump from funfetti to chocolate – I didn’t get a pic of every step with either one so I apologize I had to mix them throughout my instructions to show the steps!
  2. Once your cake has cooled, crumble it into a large bowl.  Then crumble it some more.  Make mincemeat out of it!!! Drop in 4oz cream cheese along with 1/3 cup icing/frosting*  (I have my own recipe for quick homemade frosting I’ll post at the end – it made just enough for both batches of cake pops!).
  3. Mix the frosting and cream cheese with the crumbled cake.  I did this step by hand.  You want to keep mixing and mixing until it’s super moist and sticky so you can form it into balls.  You may need to add more frosting if it doesn’t seem sticky enough.
  4. Roll into 1-inch balls on a baking sheet.  Cover the sheet with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight. 
  5. Melt almond bark as directed on package.  I did mine in the microwave and that worked just fine!  While it’s melting, set out your lollipop sticks, a spoon, a baking sheet lined with wax paper and/or a cake pop stand**, and any sprinkles or decorations you may need.
  6. Dip your lollipop stick in the melted almond bark. Insert into cake ball.
  7. Move stick & cake ball into bowl of melted coating.  When I had a freshly melted bowl of almond bark I could easily roll the cake ball around to coat. When the bowl had been sitting a few minutes I’d spoon the melted almond bark over my cake ball to coat.  Gently tap the stick on the edge of the bowl to allow excess coating to drip off.
  8. Remove from bowl.  Sprinkle or decorate as desired.  Place on wax paper or in cake pop stand until coating firms up. 

**When in WalMart I saw cake-pop stands but didn’t buy one.  Online I saw people using foam flower arrangement blocks that they’d wrap in saran and use for drying the cake pops upright.  The advantage to drying upright is you don’t get that frankenstein flat spot on the top of your pop.

My professional taste-testing self declares the chocolate pop to be superior, however the chocolate almond bark and cake was considerably more difficult to work with.  It could have been that my cake wasn’t as moist as it was in the fridge half a day longer than the funfetti.  But the chocolate coating on a few pops cracked and I had zero coating issues with vanilla.

I thought using funfetti would make my cake pop have cool sprinkles throughout it’s inside, but honestly I don’t even notice them.  It all costs the same from the box but I didn’t get the cool funfetti-cake effect I was hoping for.

Also I had read about and experienced a phenomenon in which some pops “leak” a clear liquid.  I don’t know if it’s water or oil but if you don’t get a nice thick coating around a pop when it dries a clear liquid will leak out.  Evidently it’s harmless and I’ve stolen the moniker “schweddy balls” to describe it 🙂Once I had all my cake balls coated I refrigerated until the coating set (about half an hour).  Then I placed each in a plastic pouch and re-refrigerated until serving.  I have read online that cake pops are freezable but I’m really not sure how long they stay good  out in the open or just being refrigerated.  I am serving mine day after tomorrow.


*Super Easy Frosting Recipe:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP milk

Mix it all together.  If it’s too thick add a little more milk.  Too thin a little more powdered sugar.  Mine came out perfect as-is.

Run (and bake) by faith,

Lindsay

What Love Really Means

Luke 15:11-32 says,

11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

I look at my newly-turned 5-year old and wonder where the time has gone. I’m proud of who she’s become in 5 short years, yet realize all I can do is show her love unconditionally and pray that she grows up to make good, Christian decisions for herself.  You can raise two people exactly the same (well, obviously there’s some differences due to personalities, etc) – same rules, same morals and family values – and that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to make the same decisions as adults.  We don’t all digest life the same.  Some of us learn through reading.  Some learn through observation.  Some learn through personal experience.  And, unfortunately, some of us never learn.  Obviously the “bad” son in the passage above had to learn through experience.  Maybe the “good” son learned through observation and was able to steer clear of more sinful choices, to which I’m sure made his parents very proud.  The parents knew that the “good” son would continue to be on the right path and would eventually inherit all that they had, which he didn’t seem to realize or appreciate until his father pointed it out (in verse 31).  He was safe and would be taken care of.  The “bad” son… they didn’t know where he was, didn’t know what he was to become and I’m sure they worried about him daily.  When he returned, as a parent I can only imagine how overjoyed they were!  Their son had learned his lesson – yes he took a longer and harder path but he learned it – and was ready to permanently rejoin the family and make their unit whole again. And they welcomed him and praised his decision with open arms.

If you are toying around with the idea of becoming a Christian know that God is already looking for you.  You are the son who is lost.  He is the father trying to find your heart – you have to let Him in.  There is no cookie-cutter way to finding your way to Christ – you can come from a relatively normal Christian upbringing or you can come from a sinful past – He and the Christian family will celebrate your return to Him all the same!  And once you have joined His family, as it says in verse 31, you are always with Him, and everything He has is yours.

Run by faith,

Lindsay

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