Advent Book Count-Down

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One of the things that we are doing to count-down the days until Christmas is an Advent book count-down. I saw this idea all over various blogs and Pinterest, and I knew that it would be perfect for our family, too.

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I wrapped 24 Christmas books.  We already had most of them, and I purchased the remainder at Half Price Books.  I numbered each of the books 1-24.

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Each night, the littles will open the package that corresponds to that day, and we will read that book before they go to bed.

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We opened and read our first one tonight, and they loved it.  It is a very simple, fun way to start counting down the days until Christmas.  Simple + fun = memories in the making.

Indulgence – Recipe: Cranberry Bruschetta

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Happy 1st day of December!

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I have been busily preparing everything for Advent and Christmas, trying my best to get everything done so that I can just rest, relax, and enjoy the season with my family.  But, at the same time, I have already been trying to just sit back and breathe in the days a little more.  Because of the memories and moments that we try to create, I believe that my littles will always cherish the holidays, but I also know that they will experience it through different eyes as they get older.  So, for now, I am just enjoying every second of experiencing it all through their eyes, enjoying the innocence and beauty of it all as we answer questions like, “What if Santa won’t fit down the chimney this year?”

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My littles became even more attached over the Thanksgiving break, with all of them experiencing some separation anxiety.  As a mom, I am always conflicted between just enjoying these moments of having my babies really, truly need me and wanting them to be independent.  Honestly, though, loving the extra cuddles, hugs, and playtime inevitably wins out.  There is time for independence later.  Right?  I love that they want to play games with us, sit beside us during movie night, and ask to be tucked in extra tight each night.  It is the moments that I cherish, and if we are keeping them young and innocent just a little bit longer by allowing them to cling to us just a little bit longer, I am okay with that.

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Another thing that I am okay with is all of the food that I allow my littles to consume during December.  There is a time and a season for all things, and I believe that there is really no better time to indulge in old, new, simple, or complex food than the holidays.

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This Cranberry Bruschetta provided a little bit of something for everyone.  Since I added jalapenos, we had sweet, tart, and spicy all combined into one delicious appetizer.  I also made some without the jalapenos and some with just bread.  It is the holidays, after all, so there is no better time to indulge…even if the indulgence comes in the form of allowing my littles to stay just that….little….for just a bit longer.

Cranberry Bruschetta

Cranberry Bruschetta

Ingredients

Cranberry Sauce

12 ounce bag of cranberries

3/4 cups orange juice

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Brushetta Toppings

2 loaves of baguettes, sliced into 1 inch slices

Olive oil

1 container of cream cheese

1 can of diced jalapenos or 1 fresh jalapeno, diced

Instructions

    Preparing the Cranberry Sauce
  1. Add the cranberries and orange juice to a sauce pan, and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle in the sugar, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Preparing the Bruschetta
  6. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. Brush olive oil onto each piece of bread.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
  10. Spread about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese onto each piece of bread.
  11. Top with about 1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce.
  12. Sprinkle with canned or fresh jalapenos, optional.
  13. Bake for another 10 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven and serve warm.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/12/01/indulgence-recipe-cranberry-bruschetta/

Enjoy your December!

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Edgeware.

Challenges – Recipe: Jalapeno Popper Dip

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I am not going to lie.  It has been a challenging semester.  I texted my mom yesterday and said, “I do see the unicorns and rainbows, but, man, it has been a rough semester at times.”

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The fact that Ethan has been so sick and has had so many appointments has been difficult.  Not knowing what was going on with his little tummy was stressful.  Now that we are starting to receive some answers, we are starting to see that rainbow in the clouds.  And, wow, it is beautiful, one that is very fitting for my handsome, amazingly awesome little boy who is truly beautiful both inside and out.

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The other rainbows have come in the form of amazing teachers for my boys.  Honestly, I do not know if I could have made it through this semester without them.  Because….I will be honest…there have been times when I have wanted to just keep them at home, try my hand at homeschooling, and never let them out of my sight again.  But, each time I had that thought, I would picture the amazing women who teach my angel boys, and I would feel total peace about their education, their safety, and their happiness at school.

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I know that it might seem hard to believe since I have a personal blog.  But, Sean and I have always been very private people.  And, we have protected our children quite fiercely.  We have done everything in our power to make sure that nothing has been written in any of Ethan’s files that we were not comfortable with, and even when we have had to back down, at times, we never did so without making our opinions/our views clearly stated.  So, deciding to start this blog was definitely not a decision that I took lightly.  There are still times when I question how much information to disclose, but, at the end of the day, my decisions have been driven by two things.  First and foremost, I want people to know our story because I truly believe that it is a beautiful one.  And, secondly, I believe that the more people who know our story equals more people who are thinking about and praying for my sweet Ethan and our family.  Those are both huge positives that seem to balance out any negatives at this point.

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And, while I would not consider myself a “blogger”, I do believe that I am more in that world than I was 4 months ago.  It is an interesting one because, especially at this time of the year, it is hard not to get caught up in the fact that there are bloggers doing give-aways, winning sponsored vacations, or signing book deals.  And, it is often hard not to think, “Wow, I wish that was me.”  Well…guess what?  That is where the unicorns and rainbows come in.  How amazing is it that normal people, people who one day just decided to start a blog, are now enjoying the sweet success of their hard work and dedication.  Many of those bloggers made the commitment to stay at home with their children, and, I believe, they are now being rewarded for their dedication to their family.  Totally unicorns, rainbows, and maybe even some fairies in there somewhere, too.

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One of my favorite blogs, both for its recipes and for the two ladies who run it is Our Best Bites.  When I am looking for a last-minute recipe, I know that I can go there because they have a little bit of everything, and it is all perfectly organized.  So, when I was trying to come up with one more Thanksgiving appetizer, I jumped over to their blog, and, as always, I was not disappointed.  I found this Jalapeno Popper Dip, and I knew that it would be good and perfect in every way.  And, it was.  If you are looking for just one more Christmas gift for someone, check out their calendar.  When I looked at it and thought of their success, I could not help but smile.  Yes, there are challenges in life, but there are also unicorns and rainbows all around us, too.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jalapeno Popper Dip

This recipe is by Our Best Bites. They recommended using 1/2 of a 4 ounce can of jalapenos. Since I wanted to make something that the littles would be able to eat, I took that recommendation. The spiciness level was perfect, and everyone enjoyed it.

Ingredients

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened

1 c. mayonnaise

1 c. Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced

1 4-oz. can fire roasted green chilies

1/2 4-oz. can diced jalapeno peppers, drained

1-2 sourdough baguettes, sliced and crackers

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, and garlic, stirring until smooth. Add jalapenons and green chilies.
  3. Spread dip into a 9? pie plate or a small baking dish.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until dip is bubbly and golden brown.
  5. Serve with baguettes and/or crackers.
http://cookingformykids.com/2011/11/30/challenges-recipe-jalapeno-popper-dip/

Enjoy!

I have shared this recipe at This Chick Cooks, My Sweet and Savory, Blue Cricket Design and The King’s Court.