Archive | January 2017

My Belly Runnith Over…

It’s that time of year again. Starting to think about eating better, being healthier and of course, losing weight. I had great success for the amount of work I put in last summer. I lost between 15-20 pounds by dieting alone. It’s amazing how being aware of what you eat can make a difference!

During the Fall and Winter I tend to stray away from dieting. We call it “enjoying” the season. The pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, cookies and my favorite… peppermint chocolate! I enjoyed the holidays a little too much, gaining back 11 pounds- yep- ELEVEN- since September. Do I have regrets? Nope, that pie was amazing! But it is time to get back on track… my completion is dull, my energy is down and my belly runnith over.

SO here is the goal… I would like to lose 10 pounds 2 months. January 25 – March 25. I plan to do my Isagenix shakes in the morning, a shake, string cheese and popcorn or salad for lunch and a light healthy dinner with protein and veggies.  I would also like to add in some working out too. Some cardio and ab workouts (which are my least favorite).  I just have to get over the initial feeling of hunger, getting my body used to eating less.

So I am starting out at 141 and would like to get to 131 pounds. Let’s see how it goes. I mostly want to bring health and wellness back into my body.  I need to get my mindset back on track. That is the hardest part for me. Once I am there mentally, I can do the rest.

So here is to the next 2 months, health and (probably most importantly) keeping me occupied until Spring!

Christmas Baking and Painting

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is such a busy time of year.  There are so many fun things to do! At the end of last year, I started a new job and worked for two part time jobs for the majority of the season! It made the days seem even busier. We still managed to bake and do crafts many times this Season. We hosted our family Christmas party, went to an ugly sweater party and had many fun days with our family.

The kids enjoyed many days of baking and cookie decorating for our family cookie exchange. I baked most cookies ahead of time and froze them until the night before. I mostly did cookies that did not need frosting with the exception of 2 batches of gingerbread for my kids to get to decorate. For them, I used the divided kid’s plates and put all the fun sprinkles and decorations on the plates. I used zip top baggies to put the frosting in for the kids to squeeze and decorate. My 4 year old did an excellent job with this. She was so proud of herself for the gingerbread people she created. Her cookies were voted #1 Best Gingerbread Cookies at the cookie contest at our family party this year!

One of the projects that I am post proud of from the Christmas season was some of the painted cans I  made for both decorations and game props. I had my family keep and collect cans for many months. I had the large size cans (that you get Nacho Cheese or Tomato sauce in) which I decorated for snowman which stood 3 cans high plus small one for the hat.

I also made 3 different cans: a reindeer (painted brown with a face and felt for the antlers and ears and a pom-pom for the nose). A Santa (painted red with a painted black belt and gold bended pipe cleaners for the belt buckle). The gingerbread girl is my favorite (got to have at least one girl). She was painted brown with a super cute face and a little brown bow. I also used some “puffy” fabric  paint to decorate her.

After making each of the big cans, I made corresponding matching clothes pins. I used matching paint, felt (for the antlers) and gold glitter puffy paint for the belt and colored puffy paint for the gingerbread decoration.

I also painted 36 smaller cans into snowman. These were stacks of 3 and I used egg cartons cut apart for the hats that I painted black. I painted faces on the smallest 12 cans, 3 buttons  on 12 cans and kept the last 12 all white.

I hot glued felt for the scarves and the hat décor. I think of the best things to do when painting faces is to make each one different and to add little white specks in their eyes.  I love that each snowman has their own personalities.

See what games we played with the cans here:

I really love painting. After the party, I kept the large cans and 5 small can snowman- I used them for décor for the table at Christmas for my 5 family. Each person had their own snowman and they loved seeing which face I chose for them. My daughter really wanted a girl.

Painting is defiantly a passion of mine and I am thankful to use it for decoration and fun that others can enjoy.



Family Christmas Party Fun- for all ages!

We were able to host our family Christmas party this year which always a fun time.  Usually the turn out is between 30-60 people, depending who can make it during this busy season. We hold the party at my grandmother’s retirement community’s party room.

Hosting a family party for that many people of so many different ages (6 months-91 years old!) requires a lot of different types of activities. This year we had a manager scene with our children, a hot chocolate bar, rely race games and a photo setup for pictures with “Gram”.  We also had a cookie contest and exchange.

About once a decade we have a manager reenactment.  Last time we did this was the year 2000; I was 15 and was one of the angels. This year is was exciting to see my children be a part of this beautiful tradition. My daughter was the angel that spoke to Mary and my son was one of the Wiseman. My aunt narrated the story and led us all in many beautiful Christmas songs that tell about our Savor’s birth. We had a backdrop against the wall (with the blue starry night and the empty stable (purchased from Oriental Trading). Then we picked up costumes of animals, kings, angels and old time cloth at second hand stores after Halloween when they had 50% off. Most clothing items were $1-3.

After we ate a beautiful feast of  our “Childhood Favorite Dishes” we enjoyed a hot chocolate bar. We ordered festive hot travel mugs with lids (found ours at Oriental Trading). We made hot chocolate out of condensed milk (2x 14 oz cans), 2 cups chocolate chips, 1 Quart Whipping Cream and milk (we used almost a half gallon). This made a medium Crock pot full and about enough for 20 people.  I suggest making one crock pot then refilling it if needed.

We used Christmas mugs for the toppings- everyone gets at least one new Christmas mug each year as a gift- so put them to good use. We had 3 kinds of marshmallows- small fruit flavored, regular small and large coconut covered. We had tiny red and green M&Ms and peppermint chips (found in the baking aisle). We also had crushed candy canes, red and green sprinkles and 2 bottles of spray whipped cream. This gave everyone a good variety of options to chose from. Word of experience- put this on the highest table possible so the little (and not so little kids) don’t snitch too many marshmallows.

The games were super fun!  I wanted to have something that involved everyone of all ages.   I made the games into 3 teams (Rudolph, Santa and Gingerbread girl). T0 divide the team I had everyone chose a painted clothes pin as they came in. Then when it was time, they divided up into teams. This mixed up the group a bit- so each team had adults, teens and kids. It was a rely race game to there were 3 “stations”. It was a close call to see who would win, all teams were pretty close.

The first group used pantyhose, either on there head or around there waist filled will jingle bells to knock over the stacked snowman cans. The next person in line had to rebuild each of the 4 snowman in their group, for the next person in line to go through and use their pantyhose to knock them over again. Once everyone in that group had gone- the next group can go.

Station two: each member in this group got 2-3 gigantic S’more Marshmallows to toss in painted containers. There was a line that they stood behind to toss. The goal is to get all of the team’s marshmallows in the bucket and they can work together. Once each member of the team goes and the marshmallows are in the cans, the final group can start.

The last station, each team member gets to unwrap a box with over mitts on. The box will have 5-6 smaller wrapped boxes inside (or however the most amount of people to be in each team will be).  Each person will unwrap the present, then pass the box and oven mitts to the next person in there team. Once they get to the smallest box, there will be festive holiday candy inside (that way everyone gets a treat for playing- I am big on participation). The first team to complete all 3 games wins. I got $1 or less fancy or fun candies for each member of the winning team. I got these from Wal-Mart or the Dollar Tree. The games were fun, it was so cute to see my 91 year old grandmother and 4 year daughter unwrapping the gift with oven mitts on.

We had a cookie contest, where we had participants take a paper with a number on it, and write their names and type of cookie on the back. This way as people came to vote on the cookies, they voted by numbers and did not know who the cookies belonged to. We had ribbons (also found at Oriental Trading) for the Cutest, Best Decorated, Most Awesome, Best Gingerbread and over all Best Cookie. The biggest thing to consider for a cookie contest is if you re going to have awards for taste or not. We decided not to so everyone would have more cookies to take home. After ribbons (and “Winner Gifts”) were given out, everyone could come get their boxes and start by taking 1-2 of each cookie. They can always come back with another box if there are extra. We had a great time baking this year and my little daughter won Best Gingerbread cookie.

Lastly, we had a Family Photo set up. I chose not to use  a tree or Christmas theme as the backdrop, in hopes that these are pictures we can cherish and enjoy all year long, not just at Christmas. Backdrop was purchased at… you guessed it, Oriental Trading. We used a plastic bench from our yard, covered it with a nice blanket and each family got pictures with “Gram”. It was a great way to get some pictures of everyone together.

For the favors, I used little boxes and stockings (got at the Dollar Store) and filled them up with themed candy, airplane gliders and Christmas tattoos (from Oriental Trading). I used boxes for adults and stockings for kids.

Overall, it was a good time, filled with plenty of fun the whole family. If only the weather would have cooperated- it snowed about 8 inches the night before and was freezing (a high of 3 degrees for the day).  I am thankful to have had the opportunity to plan an event for my lovely family!

Santa- Spoiler Alert

One of the biggest decisions a parent will make around Christmas is whether or not they are going to participate in the tradition of Santa. Most parent, including us, tell their children about Santa and the presents and reindeer. I certainly have nothing against Santa- who doesn’t love that jolly old man? BUT I have had a real eye opener this year when my 4 year old daughter  was decorating the tree then said that her and her brother were “praying to Santa, thanking him for coming with presents”. WHAT?!?!

I defiantly have some work to do to help my children understand that we only pray to Jesus. We read many many stories about the manager and Jesus’ birth, but still Aimlee was so excited about Santa, like most children. We did the whole Santa thing for Christmas- presents wrapped in special paper with different handwriting and stockings. Aimlee looks up to the ceiling and says “Thank you Santa”!

SO, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to take the Holly Jolly Santa away from my kids! It’s fun, its tradition, but is it terrible that I want to let my little kids know that Santa is not real, but rather just a holiday character, like Frosty the snowman? We can still get presents from Santa and stockings and sing “Santa Clause is coming to town” but I want them to know that the REAL reason for the season is Jesus and His birth- and THAT is real!!

So this is not a decision made, but rather just an expression of my thoughts. Who knows what will happen next Christmas. Just a really important reminder to me to help them understand the realness and importance of Jesus!