Microwave Caramels

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Our Mom makes these caramels every year.  They are pure sugar and butter and absolutely horrible for your health.  But they are addicting!

The best thing about these caramels is that they are extremely easy to make!

Microwave Caramels

1 Cup Butter

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Cup White Sugar

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup light Karo syrup

Directions

Place all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave, uncovered, for approximately 16 minutes (according to your microwave…mine are usually done in 12 minutes).  Remove from the microwave and stir every 3 minutes.  After it has been cooking for 10 minutes, check to see if it’s done.  I do this by dropping a tiny bit of it into a glass of ice cold water.  If, after dropping it into the water, the caramel hardens up and becomes the consistency of chewy caramel, then it’s done!  If it’s too soft, then continue to cook the caramel.

After it’s done cooking, pour the mixture (careful, it’s HOT) into a greased 9 X 13 pan.  Cool completely (you can put it in the fridge for quicker cooling) before cutting into small rectangles and wrapping in waxed paper.

Enjoy!

And you’ll want to give most of these away…because you’ll eat too many of them and make yourself sick if you don’t! 🙂

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More Christmas Crafts for Kids

Christmas is almost here!

Here are a few more ideas for simple Christmas crafts and activities to do with your kids!

1.  Ice cream cone Christmas trees.  Cover a sugar cone with green frosting and then decorate with Christmas M&M’s.  My kids loved it!

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2:  Creative Nativities.  Using Popsicle sticks, I hot-glued a stable shape onto a piece of cardboard.  Then I told the kids to do whatever they wanted to create their own special Nativity scene.  Lizzie did hers all by herself and I love it!  She had a hard time cutting a star our of construction paper so she made one out of yarn.  Then she put a moon in the sky (and, of course, drew a smile on it).  🙂  I also love how she wrote her name with yarn pieces.

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I helped with Bryce’s.  He chose all of the colors, however, and placed all of the paper and other materials on top of the glue.

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3.  Glitter and Glue Gingerbread Men.  This craft was super easy.  I found these foam gingerbread pieces in the dollar spot at Target.  They just sprinkled glitter onto glue.  You could also decorate it with yarn, buttons, or even candy.

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4.  Hand and Foot-print Reindeer.  We have made these cute little reindeer for the past few years.  They look kind of funny this year because I didn’t have any brown construction paper!

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This was a failed craft! 🙂  It was supposed to be an easy Santa craft.  Obviously, it looks nothing like Santa!  But it’s kind of cute, anyway. 🙂

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5.  Paper Snowflakes.  Lizzie made these, not Bryce.

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Lizzie also made a bunch of these mitten “crafts” all by herself.  She traced her hand with her fingers together so that it would look like a mitten.  And then she colored them and glued peoples names on them.  If you click on the following picture, you can see that it says “Mommy Over”.  Ha!

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6.  Cookie-cutter Stamping:  I mixed Elmer’s glue with glitter and then had the kids dip Christmas cookie-cutters into the glue and stamp them on paper.

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7.  Drink Hot Chocolate!  I don’t really like hot chocolate.  I don’t know why, but I can only stand a few sips before it starts making me sick!  But the kids have been wanting some for a while, so I made some and they used straws to drink it out of Christmas cups.  Not much of it was actually consumed (they mainly enjoyed blowing bubbles!), but they loved it!

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8.  Construction paper Nutcrackers.  We love Nutcrackers around our house!  We have nearly 30 of them that we use for Christmas decorations every year.  I also LOVE the ballet.  I used to go a lot growing up, and now Lizzie and I go.  I took her for her second time a few weeks ago and she loved it!  It was the late showing, so she ended up falling asleep and missing the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.  She was pretty disappointed in herself for falling asleep! 🙂  I just love the music and the dancing…I could seriously watch it again and again!

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9.  Elf Craft.  I saw this idea somewhere a while ago (can’t remember where) and I wanted to try it.  It didn’t end up looking anything like what I remember it looking like!  Especially because Lizzie refused to glue the shirt on “correctly” and wanted to make it a dress instead. 🙂  The kids thought that it was cool, though, that they got to glue their faces on the construction paper!

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This is what Mason does the entire time that I’m trying to do a craft with the older kids. 🙂

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And then when they are done being crafty, they all play together like loving siblings.  They never argue, fight, or harm each other in any way.

HA!  If only that were true! 🙂

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Happy Holidays Neighbor!

This holiday season, instead of just opting for our usual plate of cookies, I branched out a little bit and put my cookies in something different. 🙂

I save my Pringles cans from the year (okay, I admit, this is only from a couple of months) and washed them out really well.  

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Then I got some wrapping paper, wrapped them up, and fit the lids back on them.  Simple as that!

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Then all you have to do is fill them with treats that are the same size as the opening (pretty important).  I made Christmas M&M cookies and Muffin Tin Brownies.

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This is one of those great projects if December has really gotten away from you and you want to whip something together pretty quickly that makes it look like you have it all together.  Happy Holiday Neighbor!

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Posted in DIY

No Regrets

It seems as if recent events have forced me to realize that no one is truly immune to any experience, even small children.  I simply can’t get over the fact that twenty sweet and completely innocent young children were taken from this Earth in such a brutal  manner.  It just sickens me.  My heart aches for the families affected by the recent school shooting.  Having a child in Kindergarten myself, it seems to have made this tragedy all the more horrid.

I just returned from watching Lizzie’s Kindergarten Christmas program at her school.  I had to stop myself from crying as I was watching the adorable 5 and 6-year-olds perform their songs.  It saddens me so much to realize that these sweet innocent children are the same age of the victims in Connecticut.  So small.  So completely innocent.  So full of life and anticipation for Christmas.

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I keep telling myself to stop watching and reading the emotionally evoking news reports regarding the tragedy, yet I am continually drawn to them.  It’s truly heartbreaking to realize that many of the surviving children may never feel  completely comfortable inside of a classroom again.  I am sure that the horrifying images that they were unfortunately exposed to have been forever imprinted upon their hearts and souls.

I have been extra observant this past week as I have been dropping Lizzie off at school in the morning.  I have noticed a lot more lingering hugs from parents to children.  Perhaps a slight, nearly imperceptible moment of hesitation before they bravely place their faith in the public school system and release their children into the safe care of its dedicated teachers and staff.  Truly, I have no doubt that the majority of teachers in every single school in the county would do anything to protect their students, as those brave teachers and administrators proved with their lives in Connecticut last week.

Jon’s a high school teacher.  I asked him what he would do if there was a shooting at his school.  He would, of course, do everything in his power to protect the students placed in his care.  I imagine that any self-respecting adult would do the same.  The only problem with that scenario, however, is that when a teacher doesn’t have a gun (or another method of defending themselves against the perpetrator), then it may be a lost cause.

Statistically, school shootings are extremely rare.  At least, that’s what I keep trying to convince myself of.  Jon claims that we are more likely to have our house robbed in mid-daylight than to have a child involved in a school shooting.  I suppose that I’ll have to try to find some comfort and reassurance in that fact.

At any rate, I have come to the simple conclusion that nothing in life is absolutely certain.  Every decision that we make puts as at risk for one thing or another.

Tomorrow is not guaranteed.  For anyone.

Having come to that realization, I have made up my mind to put forth an honest effort to enjoy today.  I don’t know about any of you, but I really don’t want to have any regrets should something completely unexpected happen.

I’m going to love my family more fully.  I’m going to be more patient and not care as much about the menial things (like the clutter…everywhere).  I’m going to give more hugs and kisses.  I’m going to forget the mess (for now) and play and play and play.  I’m going to allow my kids the opportunity of helping me cook and clean (even though it takes a lot longer).  I’m simply going to enjoy.

I don’t want to end a single day on a bad note.

Focusing on what matters most seems to have been the principal lesson that I have learned from the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy.  The families of the victims are in my thoughts and prayers.  I hope and pray that each of the family members don’t have any regrets and that they ended their time with their child (or spouse, etc.) on a good note.

If we live today to the best of our abilities, we’ll have no regrets tomorrow! 🙂

That’s my goal.

Christmas Enchiladas

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I’ve shared my love for enchiladas on here before, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I have a version that goes perfect for the December holidays!  It’s red, green, and tasty-tasty!

Ingredients:

18 corn tortillas

2 cooked chicken breasts (shredded)

1.5 cups of cooked rice

4 oz light cream cheese

1 can Rotel tomatoes/green chiles

28 ounces green enchilada sauce

2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese

Grease a 9x 13 pan and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix your chicken, cream cheese, Rotel and 1 cup of pepper jack cheese in a bowl.  Lay 6 tortillas in the bottom of the pan.  Spoon a layer of the chicken mixture on top of the tortillas and then drizzle with enchilada sauce.  Repeat process until you use all the tortillas, filling, and sauce, then top with the last cup of shredded cheese.  Bake for 30-45 min or until brown and bubbly on top.

Christmas Movies Without the Kids

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These are the movies that we, for now, since our kids are 5 and under, watch without our kids.  We are pretty much lazy for over a month to fit it all in, but it’s worth it!

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

White Christmas

Deck The Halls

Miracle on 34th Street

Christmas Episodes of The Office

Christmas Episodes of Friends

Family Stone

The Holiday

It’s A Wonderful Life

Nightmare Before Christmas

DIY Chalkboard (For Under $5!)

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This year had to get creative with my Christmas present budget because we sold our house and are buying a new one.  I am happy to say that I found the perfect gift that was easy on the pocketbook and a hit with cousins and Mikey’s Kindergarten teacher.

Supply list:

8′ 1 x 12 board from hardware store (I had them cut them in 14″ sections for me 🙂 )

Your choice of wood stain

Chalkboard paint (pint or spray)

You choice of colored acrylic paint

Painters tape

I started out staining the boards.  You don’t have to paint all the way to the middle because that section will be covered with the chalkboard paint.

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Then I turned the wood over and painted the backs.  I wanted to have each cousin differentiate their own chalkboard from their siblings.

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When that was dry I taped the front and painted two coats of chalkboard paint on the front.

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Remove the tape when dry and you have a present that is around $5 each and totally easy to make!

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Posted in DIY

12 Days of Christmas for the Husband

Confession:  I can never think of anything good to buy my husband for Christmas (not to mention his birthday or our anniversary).  It has proven to be the most difficult part of our marriage.  🙂  I just have no creative juices inside of my brain when it comes to conjuring up unique ideas that will both surprise and benefit him.

That being said, I decided to make it easy on myself this year.  Rather than come up with one or two big presents to give him on Christmas Day, I chose to come up with 12 simple things.  They aren’t that great, but I suppose it’s the thought that counts, right?  Besides, Jon loves me no matter what I give him for Christmas. 🙂

I’m going to start giving him one gift per day, beginning on December 13th (you know, the 12 Days of Christmas theme).

This website provided free cute little printable cards that I am going to put with each gift.

SO, without further ado, here is what I’ll be giving Jon for Christmas this year!

(I’m hoping that Jon won’t see this…I don’t think that he ever looks at this blog.  But if you’re reading this Honey, STOP!!). 🙂

Day 1:  One Organized Dresser (His dresser is a complete mess.  I’m planning on organizing and folding his G’s, his socks, and getting rid of a bunch of shirts that he never wears or that don’t fit him anymore.).

Day 2:  Two sticks of Chap-stick (We are constantly losing our chap-stick!).

Day 3:  Three Mod-podged Children (I totally thought that this would look better than it ended up as.  Oh well!  He can put this on his desk at work.).

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Day 4: Four pairs of socks.

Day 5:  Five Giant Kisses (I’m going to make rice-crispy treats, shape them into chocolate kiss shapes, and then wrap them in tinfoil.)

Day 6:  Six Engagement Pictures (Something else to take to work!  Or, I suppose we can hang it in our bedroom.  We were lucky enough to have someone hide and take pictures of our actual proposal.  We already had the temple date set, however, I wasn’t planning on getting an actual ring anytime soon!  By the way, I just printed off the photos at Wal-mart, painted some scrap wood black, and then mod-podged the photos on the wood.  Easy!  I loved making this.  Although our physical appearances have changed a bit — we are still madly in love with each other!) 🙂

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Day 7:  Seven special features with a movie (okay…this was a big stretch!).

Day 8:  Eight Back Massages (I got the coupons for these here).

Day 9:  Nine Codes to Crack (I picked a random book off of our shelf and I’m going to come up with 9 different codes that he has to crack.  I’m planning on giving him 9 lists of numbers that will create sentences.  He has to turn to a certain page, paragraph, line, and word.  Or something.  I’m still working on it!).

Day 10:  Ten Reasons I Love You (I printed them off on a small wallet-sized card and laminated it.  That way he can keep it in his wallet!  I should have had this be the last day…it was hard stopping at ten!).

Day 11:  Eleven Slim Jim Snacks (These sausages are disgusting but he loves them).

Day 12:  Twelve Oreo Cookies (What?  Did you expect something big on the last day?  Hopefully he doesn’t!  We hardly ever have store-bought cookies…so this will be a treat for him!). 🙂

Anyway, that’s what I’m doing for Jon this year!

If it works out, then I may end up making it a tradition!

Christmas Crafts

I’m surprised it’s only December 11th!

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It has been a pretty busy month so far.  I have been trying to focus on enjoying every single day of this Christmas season and I’m pleased to realize that my efforts have not been in vain.  I am genuinely enjoying myself.  My kids are enjoying themselves.

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I’m happy! 🙂

And I’m so glad that we still have half of a  month to continue our celebration.

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So far, we have been reading scripture verses and being crafty.

The crafts that we have done so far have been incredibly simple.

I haven’t even had to buy any supplies for them (always a plus)!

Here are the crafts that we have made so far!

We made these cute little Angels out of paper plates, glitter, and gold pipe cleaner.

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We made these Christmas trees by gluing together paper scraps and pom-poms.  By the way, these are Bryce’s favorite types of crafts.

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These are super simple Santa hats that we made using construction paper and cotton balls.

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Lizzie made our Christmas cards this year (for family).  She dipped q-tips in paint to make the tree and ornaments.  She put a star sticker on top of the tree and used crayon to draw the tree trunk.  I thought that they turned out so cute!

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We made these candy cane ornaments out of felt and buttons.

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I traced Lizzie and Bryce’s hand prints, cut them out, and then they glued them on this paper plate to make a hand-print wreath.

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The kids really enjoyed making these paper plate peppermint candies.

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Can you tell which one is Bryce’s? 🙂

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We made these Christmas trees by gluing together different sized hearts (one small, medium, and large).  I found these sparkly stickers left over from another craft that Lizzie did months ago.  They made perfect ornaments!

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The kids colored Popsicle sticks green (and Bryce insisted on making one of his black).  Then they glued pom-poms on top of the sticks.  Can you tell which one is Lizzie’s? 🙂  These huge things are now hanging on our tree.

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We made and played with GingerbreadPlaydough!  It smells so good! 🙂

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For some reason, Bryce thinks that candy canes are guns.  I did not teach him this.  I think that boys are simply born with the innate ability to see everything as weapons.  As a side note, he thinks that it’s funny to pick his nose and wipe his boogers on people.  So gross.  Seriously…where in the world did he learn these types of behaviors!

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And Lizzie is truly just as sweet as can be. 🙂

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Lizzie kept sniffing it! 🙂

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I saw this idea for a cute little Nativity that I really wanted to try.  I looked at the scrap wood in our garage and was only able to find extremely huge pieces.  I looked a bit harder and finally found 2 small pieces of oak.  They worked perfectly!  The kids love their own little Nativities! 🙂

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Little adorable Mason, getting into mischief!

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I displayed all of their artwork in our front entryway for all of our guests (because we have so many…ha!) to see.  Lizzie and Bryce always want me to hang their artwork on our walls!

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That’s it, for now!

I’ll update later on and include any additional crafts and activities that we do.

Oh, one more thing.

This is our Christmas splurge this year:

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It’s a 450 piece set of solid wood Lincoln logs!

Jon and I (I mean…our kids) are really going to love it!

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And I just now realized that all of these tiny little logs are going to be spread all over my house.

Oh well.

May as well add the logs to the play food, the legos, the blocks, the Mr. Potato head pieces, the tinker toys, the balls, the match cars, etc., etc., etc.,

Have a great day!