Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Adventures of Elf on the Shelf (The Last Week)

It is a very sad day in this house for today marks the last official day of our visit from Elfie Scout! Well, the kids were sad, but then they also realized this meant it was Christmas Eve. My son talked about the presents that they would get tomorrow. He also remembered that tonight would be the Christmas pageant at our church. All three of my kids will be participating. My seven-year old will be the "light child" who lights the room in the beginning of the pageant. She then hands the light over to the Angel Gabriel. (A very important part!) My son will be a Shepard. He looks so cute in his costume by the way. He was very happy with this role because this meant he would be taking care of my three-year old daughter. She is an adorable sheep :)

Anyway, today it is good-bye to Elfie. He will be back next year I am sure! Here is what he was up to in our final week with him.

Elfie on top of a tree of photo albums.

He found the Christmas pictures in one of the albums.

Elfie and his army vs. the enemy army.

Elfie hiding on the rocking chair and surrounded by lovies and stuffed animals.

Elfie on his last day with us. He built a "Bye" sign with legos.

Good-bye, Elfie Scout! We will see you in 2014!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Adventures of Elf on the Shelf (Week 3)

 This is our last full week with our Elf on the Shelf. It has been eventful, and fun! As I said before this is our first year with Elfie, and I have found that his time with us has really flown by!

Sunday was the day I hosted my annual Cookie Exchange Party. My daughter was convinced that Elfie Scout would do something with cookies on this day. We woke up that morning to find that he had left each child a container of "elf-sized" chocolate chip/mini M&M cookies. He had taken a bite of his own cookie and was sitting on the TV stand with a "Will Work For Cookies" sign.
On Monday, he made it to mommy's Christmas village. He was sitting on top of one of the houses and holding onto the chimney.

On Tuesday, he borrowed a bike from the dollhouse and rode through some of my son's mini construction cones. Apparently, he took a bad fall. We found him on that morning with a bandage on his arm and two tiny Band-Aids. Poor Elfie!

On Wednesday, he took the time to recall the "reason for the season." He found his way to my dresser and knelt before Baby Jesus.
On Thursday, he was quite naughty. He got into my flour in the kitchen. We found him that morning lying on his back where he had made "snow angels" in the flour. The counter and Elfie were a floured mess!
On Friday, he was found in the domino's tin can. He set up the dominos in a swirl or an "e" as my daughter pointed out.
Oh, how this elf has kept my kids on their toes! Just a few more days of his wild and silly ways!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Peppermint Gift Basket


I bought the gifts that would go into my children's teacher's gift baskets awhile back. But, it took me forever to purchase the stuff I would need to put it all together. So three days before school I make a quick run to pick up the fixings for the gift basket. The good thing about this gift is it can be whipped out in no time. In other words, if you are looking for a last minute teacher gift then here is an easy DIY gift basket.

I found these adorable reindeer hot/cold insulated cups with matching green and white reusable straws last Christmas. I thought they would be a perfect teacher gift. I put some hot cocoa packets inside the cups for those cold days. Then, I added a bag of  Ghiradelli Peppermint Bark candy. Yum! (I wouldn't mind getting some of that sweetness!)

Hobby Lobby had some cute peppermint patterned tin cans. I filled these with some of our favorite hot cocoa toppings (marshmallows, peppermint candies, caramel candies, and chocolate chips.) I divided those into mini zipper close baggies that I also found at Hobby Lobby.

I lined an open gift box container (also peppermint themed) with red tissue paper and filled the box with all the sweet goodies. I sprinkled more peppermint candies for fillers. I bought some gift basket wrapping and tied it all up together with a pretty ribbon.

I was short on time so I quickly wrote a tag that read, "You were 'Mint' to be my teacher!"

I like homemade gift baskets because you can fill it with the stuff that you love! You know exactly what is going in there...and, they just look so darn pretty! I put two of these baskets together for my two school-aged children to give to their teachers. But, I think just about anybody would enjoy this sweet and delicious gift basket!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Adventures of Elf on the Shelf (Week 2)

Another week has passed with our special houseguest. My family is loving this new tradition. This week we have found him in some fun places again, and one day he even showed us a bit of his naughty side.

Here is Elfie Scout during Week 2:

I know. Darn those night pictures with my camera phone...and the less creative nights when Elfie only flies to the top of our kitchen cabinets. Oh, well. The kids liked it ;)
The kids know better than to play on the laptop. But, maybe Elfie didn't get the memo. Or, maybe he was just trying to fix that old thing!
This is where Elfie showed his true colors. He tied up the bus driver and hijacked his bus.

The bus driver was tied up and his mouth was taped shut. I don't know about you, but I think Elfie Scout looks pretty proud of himself.
Restoring peace with a dinner party?
Elfie borrowed my son's rocket to fly to the North Pole.

Elfie Scout has gone fishing..for our pet fish.
After his long flight to the North Pole, our Elf on the Shelf needed a little midnight snack. Here is Elfie eating cereal in the pantry.
Only about 10 more days till we have to say good-bye to Elfie Scout. He sure is keeping the kids entertained. They can hardly contain their excitement each morning!


Friday, December 13, 2013

Egg Nog Cookies- Recipe Swap

I was very excited to sign up for a Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap with Julie from White Lights on Wednesday. She and her co-hosts from I Love My Disorganized Life and Real Housemoms organized the swap so that cookie lovers everywhere can exchange cookie recipes online. Everyone that signed up for the swap was assigned a partner. I was partnered with a fellow blogger, Amy from Whipped. I sent her my recipe for Fudge Ecstasies and she sent me a favorite recipe for Egg Nog Cookies. I made them for the first time this week! They turned out great, and I will be making more of these this weekend for my Cookie Exchange party that I will be hosting on Sunday.

Here is the recipe for all to indulge in!

Egg Nog Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup SALTED butter, softened
1/2 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together.
  4. Add in the eggnog, vanilla, and egg yolks.
  5. Mix well until smooth.
  6. Slowly add in the dry ingredients until everything is combined.
  7. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until the bottoms turn light brown.
  8. Remove and allow to cool before frosting.

Frosting ingredients:
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup UNSALTED butter, softened
1/3 cup eggnog

  1. Beat powdered sugar and butter until combined.
  2. Slowly mix in eggnog until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Ice the cookies and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.

Love to bake cookies for Christmas? Want to see more recipes?
Links open at 8 am Central.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DIY Gift Bags with Cookie Cutters

If you're looking for an easy way to dress up a plain gift bag or paper sack this is the way to do it! When I was teaching Kindergarten the children would make gifts (usually like an ornament) for their parents around Christmastime. Then, the children would decorate bags to wrap up their gifts. After all, there is nothing like a homemade gift from a child!

  • Plain gift bag or paper lunch sack
  • Acrylic or Tempera paint (tempera or washable paint works best for a children's craft)
  • Cookie cutters (metal or plastic cutters in different shapes and sizes)
  • Paper plate
  • glitter or glitter glue (optional)

  1. Pour a small amount of paint on the paper plate.
  2. Dip your cookie cutter in the paint. Make sure the bottom edges are well-coated.
  3. Stamp your paper bag with the painted cookie cutter. Slowly lift the cookie cutter upward. (If the shape of the stamp has a void you can slowly reapply the cookie cutter to the paper and try again or you can leave it like that. I think leaving it alone makes it more authentic and homemade looking.)
  4. Continue to stamp with remaining cookie cutters or until your bag is covered with prints. Sprinkle glitter on the paint and dust off for a sparkly look or use glitter glue to add more designs.
  5. Allow to dry completely.
  6. Place your gift in the bag with tissue paper and tie with a cute ribbon.
*This method also works well with craft paper and plain wrapping paper if you want to wrap a box or gift.

This is a quick and simple way to make your own gift bag or wrapping paper. It's also a great way to get your children involved in the presentation of a gift for a loved one!

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Adventures of Elf on the Shelf (Week 1)

We have survived the first week of having our new guest, Elfie Scout, in our home. The kids have followed the number one rule of "no touching," and he has made it to and from the North Pole each night. Thank goodness he has not forgotten. ;)

I have been documenting the places he has been showing up, and I will continue to do so until Christmas Eve. He has not done anything too crazy yet, but only time will tell. I showed you his arrival last Friday, and these are the rest of the places we have found him.

Elfie on our mantel. Maybe Santa doesn't let him ride the reindeer back home.


Elfie on our chandelier. (Not my best picture, but you get the idea.)


Elfie was found roasting marshmallows by the fireplace on this morning. (He had stuck a mini marshmallow, just his size, onto a stick from outside.) He even left each kid a bag of mini marshmallows! They loved that!


Elfie was found on our Christmas tree. His arms were hooked on our gold ribbon, and he used the ribbon to climb up the tree.


Elfie left a clue on the refrigerator. He had spelled out "Brrr" with magnetic letters.



The kids opened up the fridge to find Elfie wrapped up in a scarf!


Elf found my son's blanket and pillow that I had made for his stuffed animal. He tucked himself right in and took a nap on my son's little couch. He was also wearing an eye mask for sleeping. (He used felt and yarn to make his mask.)


This time Elfie made his way to my daughter's stroller. I think he's been wanting someone to take him on a stroll.

The kids wake up each morning and immediately go hunting for Elfie Scout. They have thought his hiding places have been hilarious so far. Come back next week to see what other adventures Elfie has been on!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Best Christmas Books for Kids

The Christmas season has arrived...and, so have the Christmas books in our home. I will start off by telling you that my family has a bit of an obsession with books. Bring out seasonal ones like our huge collection of Christmas books and the level of excitement doubles! That's exactly what happened this past weekend when I pulled out my collection of our favorite Christmas books. My children started jumping up and down with excitement. I know a lot of other parents are trying to choose good Christmas books for their kids right now, too.


There are a lot of Christmas books out there that you don't want to miss!

 Here are 25 of our Christmas favorites!

  1. Elf on the Shelf  (Author unknown)
  2. The Gingerbread Man  by Karen Schmidt
  3. Gingerbread Baby  by Jan Brett
  4. I've Seen Santa by  David Bedford
  5. A Special Place for Santa  by Jeanne Pieper
  6. Too Many Tamales  by Gary Soto
  7. The Night Before Christmas  by Clement C. Moore
  8. The Jolly Christmas Postman  by Janet & Allan Ahlberg
  9. The Polar Express  by Chris Van Allsburg
  10. Clopper- The Christmas Donkey  by Emily King
  11. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies  by Laura Numeroff
  12. Bear Stays Up for Christmas  by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman
  13. Merry Christmas, Curious George  by Margret and H.A. Rey
  14. The Legend of the Poinsettia  by Tomie dePaola
  15. The Wild Christmas Reindeer  by Jan Brett
  16. Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad  by Mercer Mayer
  17. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  18. It's Christmas, David  by David Shannon
  19. Clifford's Christmas  by Norman Bridwell
  20. Pinkalicious Merry Pinkmas!  by Victoria Kann
  21. Fancy Nancy- Splendiferous Christmas  by Jane O'Connor
  22. How Do Dinosaurs say Merry Christmas?  by Jane Yolen
  23. Peanut's A Charlie Brown Christmas  by Charles M. Schulz
  24. The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear  by Stan & Jan Berenstain
  25. Froggy's Best Christmas  by Jonathon London
These are just a few of our favorites, but I hope this booklist will help you on your trips to the library or bookstore! I know that reading good Christmas books in December makes for a great snuggle time with my family. What are your kid's favorite books to read during the Christmas season? What are some Christmas classics that you pull out every year?


Saturday, November 30, 2013

A St. Nicholas Tradition

I love traditions, and a favorite family tradition of ours is one centered around Saint Nicholas! 

Our Tradition
Each year my husband’s family took part in a German tradition that celebrated St. Nicholas. All over the world people celebrate St. Nicholas’ Day on the 6th of December. Now my husband and I carry on this same tradition with our own children. Our family is Catholic so this is also a good time to learn about saints. The night before St. Nicholas’ Day we like to read the story about this favorite saint. Then the kids create their Christmas lists. The children put their letters to St. Nick in their shoes or boots. They leave them by the front door and hope that St. Nicholas will fill them with fruit, nuts, candy, and treats that night. In the morning, the kids are overjoyed to find their shoes stuffed with some delicious and fun treats.

Who was Saint Nicholas?
St. Nicholas was a real person and a very generous one, too! His parents were rich and when they died, he inherited their wealth. Because he was a devout Christian he  knew that God wanted him to help people in need. A famous story about St. Nicholas is  one where he helped a poor man with three daughters. The family did not have enough money to pay a dowry for the daughters to get married. St. Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down their chimney to help them out. A sock was hung by their fire to dry. When the bag of gold was dropped, it fell into that “stocking.” (Hence, the tradition of stockings hung by the fireplace.) He continued to drop money down the chimney each night to help the family. The father waited up one night to see who was leaving the gold. He discovered it to be St. Nicholas, who quickly became known for his generosity!

Image Source: To Europe With Kids
If you are looking for a tradition to start with your family this one may be the one for you. It is a tradition of fun mixed in with a little history.