Friday, December 28, 2012

Chili Cheese Dip

This is an easy appetizer to make - and a good way to use leftover chili, too!  And 100% fool-proof.

1 to 2 cups of leftover chili OR 1 can chili 
1 block of cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Spread softened cream cheese on the bottom of a pie pan.  Spread chili on top of cream cheese.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Cheese should be melted on top.  Serve with frito chips and don't think about the calories.  

For other ways to use up leftovers...
Pizza Rolls (made with leftover tomato meat sauce).
Mexican Rice (made with leftover rice). 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

O come let us adore Him...


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Card Photos...

I only got 4 pictures before Ellen they were done with the whole ordeal...

This was the best I managed to get...she'll laugh at it one day, too. 

Merry Christmas to you!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Social

Sunday Social

Linking up with Ashley for some Sunday sisterhood...

1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Anything chocolate or coffee flavored.  

2. What is your favorite smell?
Newborn baby.

3. What is your favorite TV commercial? (Past or present)
Since I really only watch things on the DVR, nothing is really standing out for me...I'm sure Ryan has a better answer!

4. What is your favorite day of the week?
Sunday - Ryan gets up with the kids on Sunday mornings (I get up with them on Saturdays).  Mass with the fam.  Donuts.  Lazy or productive afternoon.  Dinner with the in-laws.  And Sundays are the one day of the week that the beds usually don't get made around here.  

5. What is your favorite way to waste time?
Probably stalking, facebook stalking, or on pinterest.  
Or making lists of things I should be doing.  

6. What is your favorite article of clothing?
Right now it's pajama pants or any kind of sweats!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Favorite Christmas Treats

Talking all about sugar of my favorite food groups!  

Every year my sisters, mom, and grandma spend a day baking Christmas cookies.  Clare has always enjoyed the years we have been in town on this day!  Here are some of our family favorites...

OK, now I'm hungry!  Go forth and bake!  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Peppermint Hot Cocoa

I pinned this idea last year and made it this year for Christmas gifts.  
(Is it just me or do mason jars make everything look sweet?)  

Peppermint Hot Cocoa
(**for 1 pint jars**)
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
1/4 cup crushed peppermint (I used starmints, could also use actual candy canes.)

Layer ingredients as you wish in a pint size jar.  To make hot chocolate, mix all ingredients in a bowl, add 1/3 cup of cocoa mixture to warm milk (we tested it with water and milk was much better...yes, even though powdered milk is an ingredient).

Sip and enjoy!

PS - Last year my sister-in-law gifted us with homemade vanilla, similar idea can be found here.

PSS - And last year I made up these "cupcake socks" for gifts.  

Linking here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Easy Homemade Fudge

This fudge has been a classic Christmas recipe in my family for a long time.  It was always our gift to grade school teachers every Christmas.  And made with 3 ingredients it couldn't be any easier, or (according to my kids) more delicious!  :)

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Very lightly grease a 9x9 inch baking dish.  Melt chocolate chips over low heat, stirring and watching constantly and stirring occasionally.  Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Stir until all ingredients are well combined and fully melted.  

Pour into pan and refrigerate until fudge has hardened.  Cut and enjoy!   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Social Sunday

Linking up with Ashley for a little social life on a Sunday night...

1. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone?
A picture of a little girl I love.  :)

2. What do you keep beside your bed?

Alarm clock, hand lotion, lamp, phone.
3. What is your least favorite chore?
Dusting the blinds that cover every.single.window in our house.
4. If you could eliminate one thing from your daily routine, what would it be?
The tantrums from my 2 year-old, although thankfully they are not usually an every day thing.
5. What do you do to vent anger?
Talk to Ryan...or eat chocolate.  
6. What is your favorite holiday of the year and why?
Christmas!  Family!  Road trip!  Mass on Christmas morning!  Surprises for the kids!  
And another reason to eat chocolate!

Hope you had a great weekend!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Fireplace

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care...

I bought picture frame stocking holders for Clare and Jude's stockings 3 years ago at Target. But was not able to find more in my price range (2 for $15, not $30 each) until Target had them again this year - hooray!  

Each frame holds a picture of the stocking's namesake on their first Christmas.  

I'm also loving the lanterns filled with ornaments on the fireplace hearth.  My mother-in-law gifted them to me (one this summer and one at the office Christmas party - my husband works for the family business).  And I'm very excited that this year Ellen is old enough not to mess with them and has completely ignored them!  Hooray again! 
(Originally found this idea here.)   

And our basket of Christmas books rounds things out.

Have a great weekend!  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Favorite Homemade Ornaments

Today I'm sharing some of our beloved homemade ornaments from years past...
(Click on the caption on each picture to see how to make your own.)  

Jude and I made this Santa ornament together last year from a small paintbrush.  Cute and easy for a 3 year-old boy to make with some assistance.  

We have made these ornaments for each of the kids after their first trip to the beach.  Jude and Clare's are made with sand from Virginia Beach.  Ellen's is from the Outer Banks.  

My sister made these cinnamon ornaments as a bridal shower favor.  The kids love smelling these throughout the week day hour. 

I made these ornaments last year for both of my sisters who were brides in 2011 and gave them as Christmas gifts.  I think they turned out pretty neat.  And that I need to make one for myself!   

These homemade ornaments are some of our favorites!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What She Does Every Day

In the 3:30 hustle around here, Ellen can usually be found at the kitchen island finishing off the remains of Clare's lunch, including drinking out of the coveted Hello Kitty thermos...

I'm going to bet that she pulls a deja vu on me again today.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Turtle Brownies

I had a bit of a problem...we had more than half of a container of caramel apple dip sitting in our fridge leftover from October.  I couldn't throw out perfectly good caramel.  (It didn't expire until April.)

So I found this recipe for turtle brownies and modified it a bit.

The result was a-mazing!!!  I shared these with friends at Advent by Candlelight last week and they all raved that they were delicious! 

Here's my modified recipe:

1 box of brownie mix
Leftover caramel dip (I used about half a 16 oz. container)
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Make brownie batter per directions on box.  Spread half of the batter in a greased 8x11 inch pan.  Bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees.

Heat caramel in 15 second increments so it is a pourable consistency.  Pour on top of baked brownies.  Sprinkle 2/3 cup of the chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of the pecans.  Spread remaining brownie batter on top of the chocolate chips and pecans.  Sprinkle remaining 2/3 cup chocolate chips and 1/3 cup of pecans on top.

Bake 35 minutes at 350.  Cool 1 hour at room temperature.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before cutting and serving and devouring.   


Friday, December 7, 2012

Felt Wreath

My friend recently hosted a craft night and we all made these lovely felt wreaths.  

They were very easy and inexpensive to make.

To make your own you need:
foam wreath form
small pins
20 rectangle pieces of felt

First you need to cut the felt pieces into smaller squares.  One piece of felt will give you 12 - 2 inch squares.  

My friend showed us how to cut your squares quickly...demonstrated here with a piece of paper.

Hold your felt horizontal. 

Fold in half.

Fold in half again.

Cut the edges of each side.

Then cut the strips in thirds.  


Next take one square and fold the bottom up as shown.

Then fold the right corner up.  

And the left corner back.  You will have this "S-like" shape.  
Take a pin and push it in the bottom point and pin onto the wreath form.  

Make a star/pinwheel by putting several of these petal shapes together with all bottom points together.  

Add more petals underneath the original pinwheel.  This will make it nice and full.  Fill in around and on the sides as needed.  Continue this pattern and procedure around the entire wreath.  

Pin a ribbon to the back to hang and enjoy!

I love the red on our front door!  
I think it is a nice compliment to the wreaths with red bows we have on our front windows.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Linking here.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

5 Things I'm Loving - December Edition

Joining Julie today at to share Five Things I'm loving right now...

1. Christmas gifts!  Delivered to your door!  Love me some online shopping!  My favorite way to shop for Christmas gifts!

2. The jar of jingle bells that I put on my bathroom shelf.  Last year I went on a holiday home tour at Christmas time and one house had decorated in a similar way with jingle bells.  So I copied.  And sometimes it's the little things like this that make you happy.

3.  Jude singing "Must Be Santa" in preparation for his Christmas program next week at school.  He takes it very seriously and  Maybe I'm bias, though.  :)

4.  Scents of the season.  Especially the smell of a pine Christmas tree.  Although since our's is of the permanent kind, candles help pretend it's real.  (This candle is amazing!)  


5.  Girl time.  Even though I'm miles away from my family and hometown, I have been blessed to have met some wonderful women.  I'm looking forward to having our monthly "girls' night" tonight with a great group of girls and then attending Advent by Candlelight tomorrow night at our parish with another group of awesome ladies.  (And thankful to my husband for manning the ship while I'm out with friends.  There were days I never thought I would have my very own friends to hang with here!)

What are you loving right now?  


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent: Repost and Humor

 Since Advent began this past Sunday, today I'm reposting our favorite Advent traditions.  
{ Click here. }  

We have been talking about Advent and ways to prepare for Jesus to be born on Christmas.  
So when Jude asked to watch a movie in the car on a short trip yesterday, I told him that we could listen to a Vacation Bible CD instead.  I said, "Remember since it is Advent and whose birthday are we getting ready for?" 
His response: "Um, mine?"  (Um, no.)

Then when we sat down to read from our Advent book last night and I was explaining, "This is a special book because Jesus's birthday is on..."
His response was: "Wednesday?"  (Um, no again.) 

Thankfully we have 21 more days to get the message through to him...

Have a Blessed Advent!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Visit to Bethlehem

Jude's preschool hosted a "Journey to Bethlehem" event over the weekend.  The kids were very excited about taking part in this activity!

There were lots of little "shops" set up in the city of Bethlehem and craft stations in each "store."  Clare and Jude really enjoyed all of the hands on activities!    

We made potpourri bags in the spice shop and made wind chimes in the music store.    

And created mosaics in the tile shop.

Sampled bread and cheese in the market place while seeing all of the foods that were common in Jesus' time.

Clare really liked giving (fake) coins to the town beggers.  
(Later she told me she would be happy to volunteer to be a begger if they need help for next year...)  

There were lots of animals to see that would have been in the stable on Christmas Day.  

Clare brushing the goats.  

Jude thought the llama was pretty funny.

Ellen enjoyed petting the animals using one finger and then enjoyed running around...

Clare feeding the baby camel.  

This was a fun way to learn hands-on all about Jesus' birthplace!

Hope you had a fun weekend, too!