Wednesday, December 25, 2013

  Just wanted to wish you all a very, Merry Christmas!  I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating Christ's birth!  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Card Ornaments {tutorial}

It's Christmas Eve and my house is almost ready for our Christmas Eve celebration with my inlaws.  We are hosting this year, and I think everything is in order.  Cookies are in the oven as I write, and I only have one other chili to make for our Chili Bar.  So, I am taking a deserved break and blogging before I forget.  Because you might just want to do this as you unwind from Christmas. . . before you put your Christmas decorations away until next year.  
This is a really easy paper ornament that you can use with your favorite card-stock (variety or all the same) or your Christmas cards.  I chose to do one with my Christmas cards from this year and last year.  It will probably take about 2 cards to get all  6 circles punched.  You can use a circle or a scallop punch.  But, if you don't have a punch or a circle cutter, find a lid in the size you like and trace them and then cut it out.  It's a bit more work, but it works.  You will also need some glue, bakers twine (or some sort of string), and two buttons per ornament.

  Step 1: Punch out circles where you want them.  I made sure I got one with the year on it.

 Step 2: Cut a piece of string about 3 times the length of your circles (enough to fold in half, and still be enough for a loop to hang on the tree).  Thread it through the button.  Set aside for now.

 Step 3: Fold each circle in half and glue sides together.  Don't use a ton of glue because it will leak out the sides.  Before you glue the first side and the last side, put your sting in the middle of the folds.  Pull string up, so button lies flesh with the bottom of the ornament.  Glue it shut.  Thread the last button through the string, tie to button and then tie towards the end of the string to make a loop, for hanging.
 Ta-da!  You have an ornament!!!
 It looks so pretty hanging from the tree!!! (this one was last years').

I hope you have a Merry Christmas!!!!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

5 days until Christmas {And a freebie!}

Christmas is 5 (dare I say short?) days away!  Part of me feels very bittersweet, because I love how my house is decorated, I love the traditions, I love family time.  I do not look forward to packing everything back up into boxes. . . I dread that.  Anybody else feel that way, too?

I have been spending a lot of time creating for Christmas this year.  The teachers gifts are finished and have already been given.  (are you following me on instagram?)

I made these.  Twice.

I have gone to 2 craft nights and a third, that I just had to turn down because I needed to slow down a bit.  It was a good choice.  I am getting really good at saying no.  This year has been really good for me.

I caught a cold.  I secretly  blame the TK'er.  He had a cold and snuggled with me.  It's only natural that I should catch it, right?  Thankfully, it was short lived and am almost 100 percent better.

I have drank far too many gingerbread lattes this season. . . my body might go into shock after Christmas when all my favorite drinks dissapear.

I worked on an awesome tutorial for you to do with this year's Christmas card before you throw them away.  I hope to have that up for you in the next couple of days.

Tonight we started a new tradition.  My 5 year old has been asking to go on a scavenger hunt and then I found all these links to Christmas Light Scavenger Hunts!  What a great idea!  I totally thank Pinterest for the inspiration.  And, I can completely see this tradition lasting for years accompanied by hot cocoa and fresh baked cookies. . . when the kids are older and can handle that before heading to bed.  For the first year, we had a blast!  The kids had fun. . . the parents had fun.  It was a win-win.  Did I mention, this new tradition doesn't cost a dime.  

This year, I just printed out one I found on Pinterest, but added to it as we walked around.  I made this one when we got back, so I would have it for next year, but thought maybe you might want to do it, too.  I think next year, we might count how many reindeer we can find and see who can find the most. . . maybe even a prize for the winner?

So, here's another Christmas gift, from me to you. . . click here to get the Scavenger Hunt and start your own family fun night now.

What family traditions do you and your family do?  Did you try this one?  How did it go?  I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spreading Christmas Cheer {freebie}

It's the week before Christmas and we've got a Christmas program and then a Christmas party. . . having a kid in school is keeping me very busy!  For his party, we made Smores kits with Peeps Christmas trees. . . festive, right?  I think that everyone needs an excuse to have some S'mores. . . it's fun!  I whipped up a quick treat topper for the tops of the snack bags that I put the treat in.

I uploaded my file to Office Max's website and picked up my copies this morning!  Super easy.  I had them printed on cardstock, for a sturdier fold.  I am super excited about how they turned out!  Ethan was so excited. . . mostly for the S'mores. . . but he's 5.  :)  These treat toppers were made to match the width of a sandwich bag or snack bag, so you could really just fill them up with any treat you wanted.  

I am super happy with the end product!  I can't wait to give them away. . . If I can just keep Ethan out of the peeps!  

Here's the link to the topper.  Please download and use for your own personal use.  Thanks! Enjoy the last few days before Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A yummy treat without all the work: Cinnamon Roll Muffins

My family loves cinnamon rolls.  When I say love, it really should be in all caps, bold, and maybe up the size a bit.  Sunday mornings are always Pillsbury or previously homemade so my husband can get them in the oven and I don't have to worry about it.  Ethan gets very concerned as Sunday draws near if we don't have any in the fridge.  We all aren't that big on breakfast, but know we need to eat, so muffins, scones, and quick bread usually around, but often the biggest hit when it resembles a cinnamon roll of some sort.  I think that's why this recipe caught my eye.
mmmm.  cream cheese frosting.  cinnamon and brown sugar.   NO YEAST.  


these babies don't take hours to make.  You can wait to the last minute and in about 30 minutes (start to finish) you can have a wonderful breakfast. . . or dessert.  Or even a treat for your Christmas brunch at Bible Study (totally speaking from experience here!).  

I took a huge risk making these last night and not trying them until I got to Bible Study.  But, they were good.  Even better this afternoon when I had one for an afternoon snack and heated it in the microwave. . . warm cinnamon rolls are always the best!  
Are you ready to run to your pantry and check your pantry for the ingredients?  No worries. . . they are all things that you can easily find in your pantry.  

Cinnamon Roll Muffins
adapted from Recipegirl

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 lg. egg beaten slightly
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Note:  I didn't measure this part at all.  

2 oz cream cheese, at room temp
3/4 tbsp butter, room temp
splash of milk (to get desired consistency)
3/4 tbsp powdered sugar (I didn't measure this either)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your favorite muffin tin.  I used mini muffins.  

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients .  Slowly add milk and egg, butter and vanilla.  Stir until just combined.  Mix in swirl ingredients and gently stir them into the batter. . . remember not to over stir your mix.  

Bake for about 20-30 minutes (less for mini, more for regular sized muffins).  

Mix together frosting and spread over your muffins once they have cooled.  

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

In honor of National Cookie Day

I was completely ready to take on part 3 in my Advent/Christmas Traditions series until I opened my Bloglovin' Feed and saw that today is National Cookie Day.  Of course, everything must be put on hold, because. . . well, because it's COOKIES!  You know me and cookies!  (and if you are new to the blog and haven't figured out, I love cookies!).  In fact, I have a whole page designated to cookies and it's cookie relative, the bar.  So, in honor of National Cookie Day. . . because cookies really are that Awesome, I give you my favorites (as of now).

Favorite Chocolate Chip: Smitten Kitchen Favorite recipe.  I make these all.the.time.  It has become my go-to recipe and I keep them stocked in the freezer ready to go on a moments notice.  They are that good! They also have a controversial history. . . you will have to read it on the smitten kitchen post.

Favorite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip:  These cookies have just a hint of orange zest that make the flavor unique, as well as addicting.

Favorite Snickerdoodle: The Chewy one. This one just melts in your mouth with it's soft and chewy bite.  Also, very addictive!

Favorite White Chocolate Chip: Cranberry Hooty Creeks.  This recipe takes me back to my first year of MOPS with every bite!  These are great to do gifts in a jar because you know they are going to be awesome!

Favorite Peanut Butter: Snickers Peanut Butter.  Because anything with Snickers in it is just that much better!

Favorite Bar Cookie: My go-to!  Sometimes you just aren't in the mood for the effort and time of a good cookie.  These are super quick, just a few ingredients, and taste heavenly! 

What's your favorite recipe?  And What recipe would you like to see me make next?

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

It's Advent time {Christmas Traditions, part 2}

I love seeing all my friend's posts on Facebook of their Elf doing all sorts of mischievously, creative things.  I love the creative excitement that it brings to each of their households.

Since at our house, we are striving to put the focus on Christ and not on Santa, his elves, or his reindeer.  I wanted to do something that when other kids are talking about their Elves, they will have a tradition to share.  Plus, it's a lot of fun and the kids get sooo excited!

At the beginning of Advent, we pull out our Little People Nativity and quickly hide Jesus. . . he doesn't show up until his birthday.  We are waiting on Jesus' arrival and we can't wait!  

We also hide Mary and Joseph and each morning, they can be found in different areas of the house until they finally make it to the stable on Christmas Eve.  Ethan is finally getting to the age when he remembers what we did the year before and reminds me. . . or wants to do it himself. 

In fact, last night I spent 20 minutes searching the house for our dear Mary and Joseph and could not find them to hide.  Ethan beat me to it and hid them for us!  I have some fun plans for tonight. . . and I'm pretty sure I made sure Mary and Joseph were kept unhidden when the kids went to bed. . .  I think. . . 

Monday, December 02, 2013

It's Advent Time!!!! {Chrsitmas Traditions, part 1}

I can't begin to describe the excitement that mounted as I was preparing for our family's celebration of Advent.  Seriously, I was just giddy!  It might have been that I got organized this year and had everything prepped before hand.  But, I think it mostly had to do with the fact that I absolutely LOVE the Christmas season.  
This year, I searched the pins on Pinterest for a fun way to display our advent calendar.  I wanted to make it appealing to the eye, but also bring some anticipation into the upcoming 24 days.  My first idea flopped, but I'm glad that it flopped because this happened (paper lunch bags are super cheap!).  We are on our third year of Truth in the Tinsel and really love it.  The paper bags were a super easy way to keep all my supplies together in one spot as well as add some decorations on my walls.  I'm not sure what I will do when I figure out what to hang above my dining room buffet, but for not this works great!
Inside each bag, I put a small chocolate for each of the boys, a clue card, and a ziplock with the ornament pieces that go with the theme for the day.  For example, yesterday was Jesus is the Light of the World, so the clue card had a candle on it, and the ornament template, tissue paper, and contact paper were put in the bag.  When we are done with our ornaments, they go on our little advent tree for display.
I love that the boys loved looking at their ornaments through the lights.  It was great!  We really enjoy the Truth in the Tinsel ebook. (obviously since we have been doing it for 3 years!).  Ethan is really into it this year.  Weston paid attention here and there, and may or may not have ran laps around the room while we did this (he was excited!).  Night 2 went way better.  I don't plan every night to be a labor intensive craft, like the ones above.  Partly, because my boys are almost 3 and 5 and some of the ornaments are more difficult.  Last year, they added printable ornaments that you can just color.  That took off a lot of the stress.  I do adapt some of ornaments to fit the ability of my boys.  But, we only do 2-3 crafty ones and the rest are printables that they will just cut out and color.  Sometimes, we may add extras to them, like on the day we do the sheep, they will color the printable ornament and then, we will glue pieces of cotton balls to make him fluffier.  

Weston had a blast painting the toilet paper tube for his crown.  We will be finishing this one up tomorrow.  If you'd like to follow us on instagram, you can see our journey through the advent.  My username is jolieklassen, come follow me.  (that just sounds weird. . . ).  
  If you are wondering if it is too late to start Truth in the Tinsel. . . it's not!  There's a plan for doing 10 days or you can just jump in and start where you want.  Don't let starting late hold you back from sharing advent with your family.  

Another really cool tradition is we give the boys 1 gift to share to kick off our advent season.  (sorry about the crooked picture. . . I want to get to bed).  This year, we gave them the book Santa are you for Real? by Harold Myra.  It is a cute story that talks about the real Santa Claus.  We strive to Christmas focused on Christ as much as possible, and so we don't really do the whole Santa thing.   I can't wait to share with you all about what we do instead of Elf on the Shelf!  Stay tuned!

Do you do Advent?  What are some of your family Christmas traditions?


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