Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Craftiness and a yummy recipe

I don't feel like I've finished up Christmas yet!  I still have lots of Christmas pics and fun things we did to blog about, but alas, I feel the need to wrap it up and move on to the new year.  *sigh*  I wish Christmas lasted longer!  I did want to share a few crafty things we did over the holidays.  First of all, let me just say I am LOVING Pinterest.  If you're unfamiliar with it, it's basically and online bulletin board of amazing ideas, crafts, pics, recipes and more.  Such a great resource!  So I got this bleach pen shirt idea from Pinterest.  I wanted to do something fun for the cousins this year, but due to schedule issues and our kids being sick, I just had to go ahead and experiment on my own.  I did the green one with a flower stencil for Sophie and the navy rocket one for Isaac.  It's interesting that different shirt colors sort of produce different bleach colors.  Basically what I did was put a paper grocery sack inside the shirt, drew out the design using the bleach pen, let it sit for about 15-20 min, and rinsed quickly in the sink.  The bleach comes out from the pen kind of gel-like but after it sits a while it's more pasty, so it doesn't run all over the shirt and ruin the design.  I think doing a design that has bolder lines (the rocket) and not lines that are close together works better.  The stencil I used worked pretty good, but I noticed that the bleach ran together a little and got under the plastic of the stencil some, so the picture is not as defined.  I thought it still looked cute, though.  After rinsing off the bleach, I hand washed the shirts in the sink with some detergent and then threw them in the dryer.  I got the shirts at the Dollar Tree, so it was fun and inexpensive!  Bigger kids could probably do this with assistance.  I noticed on another blog that she let her kids draw out the design with chalk first (on the shirt).  I thought that was a good idea.  I did these for my kids because 1) the were a little young...well, Sophie might've been able to do it..and 2) they weren't really interested in doing it that particular day.  I had fun, though : ).

Our last day of school we made "gingerbread" nativities (I used graham crackers).  Another idea I got off of Pinterest.  I was so excited about doing this because I had never made a gingerbread house before, and to turn the focus onto Christ was exactly what I wanted for the kids.  I glanced at the tutorial for it, but really thought it wouldn't be that big of a deal to just wing it.  I also didn't really want to use a lot of gumdrops and licorice (a personal ugh in the taste department), so I bought other candies I found on sale and decided to improvise.  Well...without going into all the details...we did manage to put the nativity together but it was not easy!  It was messy.  Our stables barely stayed upright.  But it was fun, the girls had a good time, and we got to eat some candy.  I say it was a win : ).
And last, but not least, I had to share this wonderfully delicious recipe that a girl in our Sunday School class from church made for our class Christmas party.  It's easy and so good!!  This gal sells Celebrating Home stuff, so she cooked hers in her "bean pot" for 7 min. and it was done.  I don't have a bean pot, so I threw all of my ingredients into a crockpot and turned it on for about an hour or so and..mmmm..yummy goodness.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Chicken Enchilada Dip
2 cans cooked chicken, drained
8 oz of sour cream; 8 oz. of cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup milk
2 small cans diced chiles
2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder; 1/2 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper
*I used 1 larger can of the chiles and it worked fine.
Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas to all!!

Merry Christmas, everyone!  It was a joy to watch my kids and their cousins reading and acting out the story of Christmas.  My Sophie girl got to play Mary (there she is holding baby Jesus : )), which was the role I had when I was a little girl.  Some of her cousins were angels, Isaac was a shepherd, and another little cousin was a shepherd, too.  We've been emphasizing the "true" meaning of Christmas much more this year now that our children are getting older and understand a little more.  What a privilege it is to share what Jesus did for us so many years ago in that humble stable with those we love.

Another family tradition is blowing out the candles on Jesus' birthday cake and singing Happy Birthday.  I did this when I was a child and, again, it's so neat to see this tradition passed on to my children.

And last, but not least, we wanted to send our love and blessings to all of you this Christmas.  The Lord has blessed us beyond measure and we look forward to many more blessings in the coming year.  We pray for His blessings on you and your family as well.  Merry Christmas and God bless!
The Daniel family 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Princess and the Kiss

My good friend, Jennifer, gave my Sophie girl a little gift last night.  I am so grateful for people who will do special things like that for my children!  Jennifer had this book for her little girl and when I told her I had never heard of it, she told me she was going to get it for her.  I had kind of forgotten about it, but remembered when Sophie opened it up last night. 

This book is titled, "The Princess and the Kiss".  It is a beautiful story with the theme of purity.  If any of you have a special girl in your life...even a big girl...I highly recommend it!  In this story, three days after the Princess is born, she is given a special gift from God: her first kiss.  Her parents tell her to treasure it and not give it away until she meets a man she will marry who is worthy of it.  When the princess gets older, she looks at the glass-covered kiss, and her joy in keeping it protected grows.  The time comes when suitors begin to come to the palace to court the princess.  Prince Peacock is first, but the Princess sees that he is too consumed with his looks and would never treasure her gift of the kiss.  Prince Romance follows, along with Prince Treasurechest, and many more.  She recognizes that none are worthy of her kiss.  Then the poor, humble farmer from nearby comes.  He does not have any wealth or promises to take her to exciting places around the world, but he has watched her from a distance and admired her.  He does offer her his treasure...his own first kiss that he's been saving for her.  They marry and exchanged their first kiss with one another.

Oh, this book is precious.  I love the message in this story and I'm so glad that I can begin imparting this kind of wisdom to my daughter in this way.  When we read it together last night she was totally into it.  Again, I would definitely recommend it!
God bless~Stacey

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas traditions...old and new

Well, Blogger has changed a bit, it seems, so my pics are in backwards order....ooops!  I'm just too lazy to try and rearrange them.  Forgive this tired mama.  But let's get down to the heart of this post...celebrating this wonderful time of the year.  It is definitely my favorite.  I love Christmas!  We have so many fun traditions and as the title says, we're also starting some new ones.  I guess it is appropriate that we started with the most important part of Christmas: celebrating the birth of Jesus.  In fact, today during our school time I told the girls that this week our focus was going to be on the true meaning of Christmas...Jesus' birth.  Last night our church had the annual children's musical and Sophie's 3 and 4 yr old choir class sang.  I loved this little song they did about Jesus being born.
 Friday night we had our annual Christmas night at the Nutcracker!  I LOVE going to this performance every year.  It doesn't matter that I've seen it so many's so neat just to be there.  This year was special because I was able to take Sophie for the first time.  She had a hard time with the sitting still part, but it was still great to make this memory with her.  Afterwards she and her cousin, Layla, got a picture with their Mimi.
 I took this before it all started.  These two just love spending time with each other.  It's so sweet.  I hope they'll always be close little cousins.  After the performance one of the dancers I knew from years ago took us backstage and let us see some of the props and walk out onto the stage.  As we were walking out, Layla said, "Guys....this was awesome!"  : )
 Last Thursday we also did another somewhat new tradition.  We made Christmas ornaments at school and included Isaac and his little friend, Julia.  We made the cutest little snowmen (thank you, Pinterest!).  All the kids did a great job with their ornament!  Isaac is really proud of his ; ).
 Here's Julia...apparently she wanted to call her brother and tell him what we were up to : ).
 The girls with theirs.  I think I must've traumatized Sophie when she was a baby with all the pics I took of her with a flash. Now she will hardly ever look at the camera when I take a picture.  Look up, Sophie girl : ).
 All of our completed snowmen.  Apparently red was the popular color that day.  I chose the green just to add a little something different.  But don't they look cute?!
To continue the theme of our focus this week on Jesus, our special activity will be to make a gingerbread Nativity instead of a gingerbread house.  I'm excited....I just need to put on my thinking cap and make sure I get the ingredients we need.  I look forward to seeing how this little craft will turn out! 
God bless you this Christmas season!

Monday, December 5, 2011

*Christmas fun!*

We have three weeks of school in December before we're out for the holidays, so I thought we would do a fun "Christmasy" thing each week. Last week, week 1, I thought we could make Christmas cookies. I love making Christmas cookies and honestly, it's so much more fun doing it with kids than it is doing it by myself!

Bethany is always more than willing to get her hands dirty when we cook! I love it! Once again, I asked Sophie if she wanted to mix some with her hands, too. Her reply, "Um, no thanks." : )
BUT...she did want to get her hands a little dirty so she could help cut out the cookies. They did such a great job! I let them cut them all out and put them on the cookie sheets.

Mmmmm...yummy sugar cookies! And to make them even better, we mixed up some simple powdered sugar icing to put on top (just 1 cup of powdered sugar and some milk). I added 1/4 tsp of peppermint flavoring to one and colored it red, almond flavoring to another and colored it green, and squeezed some fresh lemon into another and colored it yellow. With fresh lemon juice, you definitely have to add a lot more than 1/4 tsp and more powered sugar to make it a little thicker. It tasted awesome, though!

I let the girls decorate and add some sprinkles. They got tired out after a while, so they stopped and played outside while I finished them up.

The finished product! They were so pretty and tasted so good! They were gone in a day!

On a family note, we also decorated our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I was so excited that the kids are now both old enough to help me decorate. They did a great job and made our tree look so pretty : ). I love the crazy variety of ornaments...some homemade, some bought...all with special memories! It's truly a celebration of life and our family.

Isaac is really getting into all things Christmas this year. Any time we see a tree, Christmas lights around town, etc., he says, "Look at the Christmas!" I love that expression. We're planning on going to see the lights at Callaway Gardens again this year and I can't wait to see his reaction!

We love all the lights, trees, decorations and other fun things at Christmas time, but we're also trying to teach our children that Jesus is to be the focus of this special holiday. I've told Sophie several times that it's Jesus' birthday that we're celebrating at Christmas. When we were decorating the tree, I asked Sophie what the true meaning of Christmas was. She said, "Santa Clause". I was stunned. We have never taught her that, but it just shows that it's the message taught on tv, in the stores we sometimes shop at, and basically everywhere. We stopped right there and told her that, no, Christmas is not about Santa. It took a while for her to be convinced. I'm seeing even at this young age how proactive we have to be to teach our children that Jesus is the most important part of this season.

On a lighter are two of the funnest, sweetest little girlies posing by the tree! I'm so thankful for them and for the privilege to teach them!

This week our special activity will be to make Christmas tree ornaments. I can't wait!

God bless~Stacey