Monthly Archives: December 2018

Family Traditions for New Years

With New Years fast approaching, what are some of your family traditions that you have in your house? What are some that your parents or grandparents did with you?

Here are a few of ours:

New Year’s Eve: We make and “graze” on finger foods all day. On the menu, this year is mozzarella cheese sticks, flauntas, jalapeno poppers, spanikopita/filled pastries, meatballs, nachos, etc. We play board games and stay in comfy clothes all day long. When the ball drops, we head outside with pots and pans and spoons and ring in the new year. The inside for some “kid” champagne (sparkling apple cider).

Yea, real party animals in my house. But, I have to say, my kids love it and know that we always do this. My oldest daughter was disappointed that she had to work overnight tonight and miss some of the game time.

We have been doing ours for year after year

French Butter Cakes – Madeleines


  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar for decoration


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Butter and flour 12 (3 inch) madeleine molds; set aside.
  2. Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs, vanilla and salt at high speed until light.
  4. Beating constantly, gradually add sugar; and continue beating at high speed until mixture is thick and pale and ribbons form in bowl when beaters are lifted, 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Sift flour into egg mixture 1/3 at a time, gently folding after each addition.
  6. Add lemon zest and pour melted butter around edge of batter. Quickly but gently fold butter into batter. Spoon batter into molds; it will mound slightly above tops.
  7. Bake 14 to 17 minutes, or until cakes are golden and the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertip.
  8. Use the tip of the knife to loosen madeleines from pan; invert onto rack. Immediately sprinkle warm cookies with granulated sugar. Madeleines are best eaten the day they’re baked. Leftover madeleines are wonderful when dunked into coffee or tea.
  9. Variation: Chocolate Madeleines: Omit lemon zest. Increase sugar to 1/2 cup. Substitute 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for 2 tablespoons of the flour; sift into batter with flour.

I love Staycations!

The best part about after Christmas in our house is that my husband, Larry, always takes off 2 weeks from work (He works for a local school district and is a 12-month employee which means that he works summers and breaks.) Not all people who work for the schools get summers off. 🙂 We try not to make any real plans. (We are visiting Trystan down at his facility in Scottsdale for a day – For those that didn’t know, we enrolled Trystan in a psychiatric facility for kids to help him with some of his ongoing issues to help him heal. Trauma in foster/adopted kids who were previously abused is a difficult thing to overcome and heal from with many of these kids. )

We always do a staycation during this time. And get caught up on everything around the house. Today, I am painting my living room. I want to redecorate. I am hoping to find a buffet or other cabinet to refinish and put in the living room. I saw some really great ones at hobby lobby yesterday, but I have a much smaller budget than those were.

Berlyn took an online class to learn the basics for the Ukulele. This was one of Breckin’s favorite things in the entire world. I am so thrilled that Berlyn wanted to take a class on it. And used Breckin’s Ukulele too. 

My teaching schedule hasn’t changed any and I did teach 6 ESL online classes this morning before the kids even got out of bed. (Although, I did take off Dec 24th and Dec 25th) . I also took off the 31st and the 1st so that my family could celebrate the holiday with our family traditions. 

So, my goals for this week are to get the living room painted and make a few more farm signs to put up around the fireplace/stove. I want to get the backsplash for the kitchen ordered. (Some old barn wood that is already cut thin.) And I want to start figuring out what I want to update in the kids’ bathroom. 

I hope that all of you had a GREAT Christmas holiday.  God bless each of you. 

2018 Advent, Day 23 – Christmas Eve Services

Luke 2:16, 21 – So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger… he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.

We have had the honor to be a part of the Heights Christmas Eve (and Eve Eve) Services with our animals. This year was no exception. So, enjoy a few photos below and if you get a chance, stop by the Heights church for their amazing services tonight.

If you are not in the Prescott area, visit one of your local churches.

2018 Advent, Day 22 – Go Caroling

Luke 2:12 – This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. —

Since my children were little, Larry and I have been teaching our children about giving (year round) rather than receiving.

Tonight we hosted a Christmas caroling evening with some of our homeschool peeps. What a blast that we had, even if we couldn’t sing in key!

2018 Christmas – Advent, Day 21, Be a Family

December 21: Luke 2:8 – And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

So many times we get caught up in the race that we call Christmas. There are parties and events, we are constantly on the go, We are exhausted. I love to just sit still and be a family. Every once in a while, everyone is home ( not often with some of the kids working and driving!) We turn off the TV and just sit together as a family.

Last night we opened up a MUNCHPak – This is a box filled with international snacks that we receive monthly. We just have a good time, sitting around and being together – No place to go, nothing to do but being family!

If you get a chance, check out MunchPak at this link:

2018 Christmas – Advent, Day 20, Thankful for time spent together

December 20: Luke 2:11 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. —

After changing up how we give gifts and for the fact that we only give 4 total, we have made more time for one of our favorite past times – Playing board or Cards Games. (A Want, a Need, a Wear and a READ – check out the blog post and free tag download to go along with this simplified Christmas – (Each child in our home receives 4 gifts – a WANT, a NEED,  a WEAR and a READ.  We made some tags to print up. (2 sets per sheet)   wantneedwearread-tags.pdf (179 downloads) )

Some of the favorites in our house right now are the following:

2018 Christmas – Advent, Day 19, Mason Jar Lid Ornaments

December 19: Luke 2:9-10 – An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. —

For those that do not know me, I am big on “making it myself.” I like my farm style, homemade decorations. And this includes my Christmas decorations.  I was recently going through the Cricut online ideas to see what I wanted to make and saw some ornaments with old trucks on mason jar lids….. I didn’t want old trucks, so here is what I came up with. 

I found a scrap of country Christmas fabric in my fabric stash. No, I am not a seamstress or a quilter (although I would love to learn)… I am a crafter only.  And that is mostly paper crafts! But I do have a little bit of fabric. 🙂 

I used my Cricut Explore to cut my iron-on. However, you can easily cut snowflakes and trees out of iron-on or even out of stickers and use scrapbook paper instead. 🙂 I used the white glitter iron-on (This was a scrap edge from another project. I only needed it 2-1/2 inches tall.

Here is what I used: (Remember to use what you have on hand first! 🙂 )

  • Mason Jar Lids (Older, used, clean ones are fine for this)
  • Scraps of fabric (or paper) to fit on top of lid flat
  • Iron on design or stickers if using paper
  • Hot glue gun.
  • Jute or ribbon
  • iron if using iron on 










2018 Christmas – Advent, Day 18, Meals from Scratch – Swedish Meatballs over pasta or rice

December 18: Luke 2:13 – Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, —

This has to be one of my favorite “Not so healthy” dishes. This dish can use homemade meatballs (That recipe will be linked next week for New Years or even pre-made meatballs.

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 
  1. In a skillet or saute pan to medium-low heat, melt butter and whisk in flour until it has turned golden brown.
  2. Slowly whisk in beef broth and cook until thickened, then add in milk or cream (heavy cream makes a GREAT sauce), Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt. Continue to stir until well-combined.
  3. Add meatballs back into the skillet, turning to coat well. Add fresh parsley, if using.
  4. Serve over Rice or wide egg noodles (The fav in this family!)