Christmas Halleluiah

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Prince Of Peace

Photocredit: InCourage

Wishing you a blessed Christmas with your precious ones!  See you in the New Year!

Little Drummer Boy

Conversation Starters for Holiday Dinners

Conversation Starters

Last night we were invited over to my parents’ house for dessert and a few gifts.  While we were visiting, my dad asked everyone to tell about a favorite gift they’d gotten a different year.  It turned out to be really fun going around the table and hearing what was most memorable to all the various people.

My mom and dad both have memories of getting Christmas bikes that were joint gifts to them and a sibling or two or more. One of our kids declared gummy bears to be the best gift ever. :)Of course my fingerprint Christmas was my very favorite, but I also remembered getting the gift of piano lessons one year as a child, with a prelude of dozens of cryptic clues smilingly supplied by my mom, none of which helped me guess a bit. John remembered the lengths to which his dad went to ‘prove’ to the kids that Santa did exist.  (Tape recordings of the jolly elf saying ‘ho, ho, ho’ and rattling packages pretty much seal the deal, right? :) )

Anyway, the conversation was so delightful that it got me thinking about other conversation starters that a family could employ at a holiday meal that would provide interesting conversation and leave everyone knowing a little more about each other.  So I did some thinking and some looking at similar lists and compiled one of my own:

1. Tell us about a favorite gift from a different Christmas.

2.  If you could eat only three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

3. What was a job you hated when you were younger?  One that you like now?

4. What is one thing you wish had more time to do during the next year?

5. What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done in your life?

6.  What is one adventure you’d like to have in the future?

7. What is the hardest thing about your current age?  The best thing?

8. What is your earliest Christmas memory?  Your best?

9. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever gotten?

10.What’s one thing you got better at this year?  What would you like to get better at next year?

Have any questions you would add to this list?  I’d love to hear them.  And here’s hoping holidays with your family will be treasured memories!



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Time to make Christmas goodies!

Most of the year I am quite happy leaving the baking to my daughters, but around this time of year I usually spend a few afternoons in the kitchen making goodies.  Here are some of the ones we tend to make year after year.  To be favorites at our house they have to come together quickly, because I just don’t have the patience for long involved recipes.
Jam Thumbprint Cookies mix up in five minutes flat and are very easy to do with little children.

Quick Christmas Goodies


Candied Almonds are another super-easy recipe.  I like to put these in pretty containers and given them to Sunday School teachers.
Candied Almonds


Mrs. Tigani’s Cookies have been a favorite at our house since our big kids were tiny.  I was surprised to find this video showing how to make them.


Peppermint Bark is another uber-easy recipe.  The only tricky part is finding a good way to break the (rather-hard) mints.  We tried the food processor, but it sounded like it was going to break apart, so we ended up putting the mints in a heavy zip-top bag and hitting the bag with a hammer.
Peppermint Bark



Almond Bark is another easy thing to do with almonds.  (I have a brother in law who is an almond farmer, so we get these babies a dab cheaper than at Winco.  :)
Almond Bark Haystacks

And here’s a treat from a friend that my daughter insists we NEED to make for ourselves very soon:  Monkey Mocha Smoothies

Monkey Mochas

And finally, here’s a link to a new treat I want to try this year:  Gumdrop Fudge.












What have you found that’s easy and fun to make with little children?  I’d love a link to a recipe in comments if you have one.

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Angels we have heard…

Ways to honor loved ones this Christmas

If you’re like most people, a few people on your Christmas list are extra-hard to shop for, either because they already have so much, or because you want to give them something extra-wonderful, extra-meaningful, extra-special. Compassion International is one of my favorite causes year in and year out, and is a great way to honor a loved one while helping a vulnerable child.

But here are a few other absolutely FABULOUS causes begun by folks I am proud to call friends.  ( I honestly believe I have some of THE most interesting friends in the world!) I hope that you will consider honoring someone on your Christmas list by supporting these causes in their name.  Adoption is only ONE small part of the solution to the orphan crisis.  These folks are on the ground, living in the countries they are serving, providing vital support to families on the edge of calamity, allowing them to KEEP their children.  THAT is what we need more of in this world!

Maybe you’d like to sponsor BringLove.In’s Great Big Dreams to provide families for widows and orphans and to support vulnerable families in Ethiopia.

Bring Love In – Uniting widows and orphans to create new families in Ethiopia .Donate here.

Or perhaps the Charis project to create an (eventually) self-sustaining orphanage in Thailand is more to your interest. (video is NEAT!)

Click here to donate and get a handmade doll tree ornament to give the person you are honoring.

Or maybe you’d like to support my very own sister Sophie, who is currently working in the Wollaitta area of Ethiopia doing medical mission work with the focus of providing medical care with pregnant women.  Keep those mommas alive and there will be fewer orphans in the world!  Exciting stuff!Sophie at work in Ethiopia

You can make a donation on her behalf with her sending agency Equip Ministries.

I would be so honored if you would consider honoring loved ones by supporting one or all of these ministries.  I can personally vouch for the heart and integrity of the folks doing this work in the name of Jesus.  And whether or not you have the means to contribute, I hope you might consider sharing a link (or a tweet or a pin) to this post so that more people can know about the awesome work these folks are doing. Thank you so much!

Christmas table runner

Table runner

I told you that the table runner ideas below inspired me to make a table runner of my own.
In considering both of the ideas, I really liked the overlapping ‘forest’  in the one on the left, but since I was planning on using it on the dining table, I didn’t really like the idea of the trees being upside down to half the people at the table.  The idea on the right does solve that problem, but as cute as it is, it was just a little too symmetrical for me.  I also tend to put candles or some other type of display in the middle of my table, so I wanted to leave that center section plain.


Thinking through it, I decided to make my runner with applique on the ends. I still may add some sparkle on the trees for a little Christmas spirit.

This project was really pretty simple.  The cutouts consist of six green triangles for the trees and 6 brown rectangles for the trunks. I repeated the same three-tree design at both ends.  Before sewing, I ironed the shapes in place with a fusible craft interfacing called Wonder Under.  Basically it is a double-stick interfacing that you iron on in two stages, first onto your shape, then after peeling off a layer of paper and placing the shapes where you need them, ironing again.

This isn’t essential– you can pin the shapes in place– but the interfacing fastens it down nice and securely so you can then easily zig-zag stitch around the edges of the design. The interfacing also adds a nice weight to the design so that it lays nice and flat. I went around the design 3 times to fully cover the edges and prevent fraying.  You could do it with a decorative stitch if you want.

Table Runner

Below is a closer view of the trees.  I was especially happy with the fabric I used for the trunk.  I bought it to make a computer bag several years ago.  I found the fabric at WalMart.  It is designed  to look(kinda) like tooled leather.  I wasn’t sure how well it would last, and in fact suspected that the brown would wear off quickly– it kind of looks like flocking.Table Runner closeup

Well, I’ve had that bag for years, and have dragged it ALL over the place and the fabric is still in perfect condition.  I liked it so much that I just grabbed a couple more yards to make a Christmas gift.  It is only $8 a yard, and just has a really nice design and feel.  There are several designs available, actually.  Anyway, end of WalMart commercial.  But if you’re feeling crafty and looking for something fun to sew with, you might check it out.

I ended up being pleased with my table runner too.  I might still add some bling– stars or maybe some little red birds here and there.  Not sure.  But this is as much energy as I had for it yesterday, and I am really enjoying it on the table already!  This final picture shows the color most truly.  Don’t you think the center tree at least needs a star on top?



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Christmas Crafts

I am ALREADY fantasizing about the blessed beauteousness of three weeks with NOOO school over Christmas.  If you’re a homeschool mom, you’re probably right there with me, right?  Every year over Christmas break I try to make time to do some crafts with the kids. Sometimes they’re things that would make a good gift.  Other times it’s a new Christmas decoration or an ornament for the tree. Here are a few things I have earmarked to try this December.


Isn’t this Peppermint Monogram Wreath adorable?  I’m sure I’d have at least a couple kids volunteer to help me with this project, since it involves candy. They might even like to make a smaller version for their bedrooms.

Peppermint Wreath



These duct tape notebooks would be a good friend-gift, or just a fun thing to make for yourself.

Duct Tape Notebook

These patterns for making snowflake shapes look like a lot of fun. Click on the photo for more ideas.

Snowflake Patterns

I found the photos for this final project on Pinterest, but then when I clicked through, the links turned out not to be good.  But I’m thinking we’ll try this with a fine point paint pen, and some matte-finish ornaments. I’ll be checking the thrift store first, since sometimes you can find ball-ornaments there.

painted ornaments

Planning any crafts this holiday season with your kids?

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Our Christmas

Here are some pictures from our Christmas, in no particular order. You might notice an Ipad in a picture or two, featuring my sister Sophie. She’s currently doing medical mission work in Africa, and was able to Skype in to our celebration. Not as good as having her here, but much better than not seeing her at all. I’m afraid we might have given her motion sickness carrying her all around the room, trying to bring her into the midst of the party. We had a really good past few days. I hope you did too! (As usual, you can click on each photo to see it in a larger size.)