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I have been asking friends for their Christmas traditions, ’cause we want to start some basic traditions….or at least do some basic things each Christmas that the family will enjoy without getting too complicated or too expensive.  Here are some of the ideas that I found while searching on-line and talking to friends.  Enjoy!!  

Also, feel free to add YOUR ideas!!

Christmas Tree Dip

4 Large Avacodo’s
1 Cup of Ranch Dressing (Buttermilk)
1 Cup of Medium Salsa
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Crushed Garlic
1 Small Roma Tomato
1 Tablespoon of Fresh Parsley
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

In a blender, put Avacodo (shelled and seeded of course), Ranch Dressing, Salsa and Garlic. Blend to a smooth consistency. Salt and Pepper to taste then pour in to Christmas Tree Shaped Dish and Garnish with a few chopped tomato’s and chopped Parsley.

Serve with Tortilla Chips and mostly ENJOY this wonderful treat.

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Christmas Wreaths

Using the traditional “Rice Krispie Treats” recipe, substitute corn flakes for Rice Krispies, add 2 tablespoons of green food coloring and mix thoroughly.

Place tablespoon sized portions of your “wreaths” on waxed paper. Sprinkle with red sprinkles OR cinnamon candies. Chill for 1 hour and they’re ready to serve!

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Matching Pajama Family

Everyone in the family gets matching pajamas for Christmas Eve. It doesn’t matter if you are 6 months old or 60 years old, the tradition continues every year. You may feel silly or sheepish, but when the time comes, everyone has to participate. We tend to hide these pictures in strict confidence, but I will include a picture (just don’t tell the family!) It is a great fun family tradition that brings the family closer and makes the holidays even more enjoyable!

MyahandMe.com

http://www.FootstepsClothing.com

http://www.nikkiknits.com

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Easy Fruit Dip

8 oz cream cheese
16 oz marshmallow puff

Soften cream cheese, add marshmallow puff, and mix well. Serve with fruit !!!!

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Peanut Ritz Crackers

1 sleve of Ritz crackers
1 jar of Creamy Peanut Butter
A few blocks of Almond Bark chocolate (white or dark or even both)

First spread the peanut butter on the crackers and make a sandwich. Continue that with the whole sleve. Next, melt your chocolate over a pan of boiling water, or you can just microwave it. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE CHOCOLATE!
After melting the chocolate, dip your premade sandwiches in the chocolate. If you want to, you may sprinkle some sprinkles on the drying sandwiches, or you may take the other flavor of chocolate and drizzle that on top.

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Grandmoms Best Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups white all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter or margarine together, add both sugars, eggs, vanilla and peanut butter.
Mix well and blend in all dry ingredients.
Roll into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets one inch apart.
Flatten in criss-cross shape with fork dipped in flour.
Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, they cook quickly.
Remove cookies with spatula after 5 minutes to cooking rack to cool completly.
Makes 6 dozen fabulous cookies.

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Christmas Auction Santa Bucks

Instead of getting gifts for each other, all of the adults in my family participate in our Christmas Auction.
Each person brings a few
small gifts or handmade items. We lay all of the items out and number them.
Everyone gets the same amount of
“Santa Bucks” – usually 20 or 30 depending on how many items there are to bid on.
We take about 30 minutes to check out all of the items and write down what we want to bid on each one. When everyone has their bids ready, my mom
“auctions” off each item.
It is so much fun to see what item will be “hot” every year. We usually have a
mystery gift (wrapped) to bid on. Some years it is a gift certificate  and some years it is a gag gift.
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the
auction!

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Chocolate Cherry Cake

So easy, no mixer, and the frosting makes this cake extra special..so no cheating with the can stuff!

1 Package Pillsbury Devils Food Cake Mix
21 oz. Can Cherry Pie Filling
1 teaspoon Almond Extract
2 eggs, beaten

FROSTING
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons Butter or Margarine, softened
1/3 cup milk
6-oz. Package (1 Cup) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan bottom and sides well and shake off excess flour. Can dust with cocoa or a little cake mix instead of flour.

In a large bowl, combine all cake ingredients. Mix by hand; stir until well mixed. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Take cake out of oven and let cool on rack for 5 minutes and begin to make frosting.

Frosting:
In small saucepan, combine Sugar, Butter and Milk. Over medium heat, bring to a Boil, stirring
Constantly, about 1 minute or little longer. Remove from heat. Stir in Chocolate Chips until smooth.
Pour over partially cooled cake. Smooth frosting evenly if needed. Let cool completely. When cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap.

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Bunco

We play a version of a dice game called Bunco. We all wrap up any strange christmas gifts we’ve received or found at the dollar store along with a few nice prizes and place them at the center of a huge table because the game can be played by all ages (which is why it’s so special). Starting with the head of the family everyone takes turns rolling the dice. Anyone who rolls doubles gets to take a package from the pile.

Once all the prizes are gone a timer is set for 10-15 minutes depending on the number of prizes/peole playing. During this period, if someone rolls doubles, they get to steal a present from anyone who won one in the previous now. Since no one knows what is in the packages, the choice is based on size or wrapping paper. Sometimes the person who donated the prize gives obscure hints or even says “you reeallllyy don’t want that one! Trust me!”

Once time expires everyone gets to open what they’re left with. The kids really love this game and the whole family looks forward to bunco. Sometimes it seems like the kids like the bunco prizes better than all the Christmas presents.

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Oreo Balls

1 package regular size Oreo cookies, crushed
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 package white almond bark
1 package chocolate almond bark

Using a blender or hand held mixer, mix Oreos and cream cheese together.
Roll into walnut size balls.
Chill for an hour.
Melt approximately 3/4 package of white almond bark.
Stick a toothpick in an Oreo ball and dip it in the melted white almond bark.
Allow to harden on wax paper. Takes about 15 minutes.
While waiting, melt about 1/4 package of chocolate almond bark.
When Oreo balls are no longer sticky to the touch, decorate with drizzles of chocolate and white almond bark. Yummy !!

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Pumpkin Fudge

2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. pumpkin
1/4 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. carnation milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cook together sugar, pumpkin, cornstarch, spice and Carnation milk in a broiler. Stir constantly until mxture forms a soft ball when dropped in cold water. Add vanilla and let cool. Beat until creamy. Pour into a lightly greased 8×8 pan and refrigerate for two hours. Cut into small squares and enjoy!

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Gift Exchange “Roast”

Usually we are all together at thanksgiving, so we do a one person Christmas gift exchange draw. All adults who want to participate agree to one rule. On Christmas day, when it is your time to name your secret family member you should try to be loving, amusing, and yet “roast” your person a little. One can also deliver a tall tale about the gift, like you went all the way to China to get it, because Walmart was out of it. WE have a month to prepare these little speeches and they are usually very funny. Plus the one person gift exchange is so popular that our children say they cannot wait until they are old enough to partcipate.

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PJ’s and Slippers

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Easy Fruit Dip

8 oz cream cheese
16 oz marshmallow puff

Soften cream cheese, add marshmallow puff, and mix well. Serve with fruit !!!!

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 Puzzle

For years, I had a tradition with my family–we got a new jigsaw puzzle and put it together over the Christmas break. It usually ended up being my mother and me that did most of it. Now my parents live in FL. Since I live in Phoenix, I think attending the Electric Light Parade is a good tradition! Where else can you see people wearing Santa hats and shorts? : )

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Welcome the Sun

I like the Yule tradition of staying up to welcome the sun. Not for Cernunnos or any other reason, simply for longer hours… of sunlight finally coming.

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1…….2………2½ …….. 2 ¾ …….. 2 7/8 ……..look, knock it off, already.

Does that sound familiar?

How about: “You are grounded until you are 30!” Two days later, “Mom, can I go to so-and-so’s house” “Yeah, sure, have a good time.”

Or perhaps: “The reason you can’t do that, is……..**Twenty minutes later**….do you understand?”

We all have our parenting issues…whether learned from our parents, from well meaning parenting classes or even the University of Hard Knocks. Regardless of the differences, there is one thing that I hear from almost every parent: “I wish there was a manual that came with this kid.” The closest thing I have ever found is 1-2-3 Magic.

The 1-2-3 Magic concept is actually pretty easy to understand and implement. The biggest problems I can see with implementation is using it too much, not using it enough and following through with whatever discipline is chosen. It will also probably work best if whomever is caring for the children on a regular basis, also uses the program….or at the very least doesn’t undermine your use of it. There are books and movies available to illustrate the concepts much better than I could ever describe in a quick blog post. While I suggest trying to find a more frugal method of reading the books or watching the movies, you can certainly purchase the entire set of books/DVD’s/CD’s from the website: http://www.parentmagic.com/

According to the book by Dr. Phelan, you will use the 1-2-3, or counting method to deal with obnoxious behavior (like arguing, fighting, whining, etc.) not things like getting a child up in the morning, doing homework or practicing an instrument. The “magic” is not in the counting, but in the “No-Talking and No-Emotion Rules,” which makes the kids think and take responsibility for their own behaviors. The other main ingredient is short and sweet punishments. For example: If you choose to use the ‘time out’ method, you may want to use the formula: 1 minute for each of the child’s years on Earth (a 10 yr. Old gets 10 minutes of time out). So, when you count, you would say “Junior, that’s one.” Wait five seconds to see if he has taken control of his behavior….if not, you say, “Junior, that’s two.” In many cases, this is all you need; however, if your child continues, you say, “Junior, that’s three…take ten” (Meaning take ten minutes in the designated ‘time out’ location.) Dr. Phelan describes some tough situations like discipline in public and dealing with testing and manipulation.

As a veteran parent, I could see (even just in my own family) some of the problems that may come up. My husband, in wanting to remember to use this program may use it too much and it won’t be as effective…..or he might forget and not use it enough. He is also a “people pleaser” and might have a hard time following through with the punishment. All of that, though, can’t hold a candle to the offenses that I would do to make it ineffective, namely showing WAY too much emotion AND talking too damn much!

If you are able to work through the possible problems in your own parenting/home situation, the program itself is really much easier to implement/follow than all of the other parenting programs I have been a part of, thus far….particularly Love and Logic. This program will work best if it is used as consistently as possible….which shouldn’t be a shocker; however, it may be tough to get all of the folks who co-parent or care for the children on board….not to worry, though, it will still be effective if you are the only person who chooses to use it. 🙂

I borrowed the DVD and book from CASA. When I checked them out, the only reason I was interested in watching/reading about the program was to get in-service credit; however, within minutes of watching the DVD, I was hooked….and interestingly enough, so were the kids. (I was watching it while we were eating dinner.) I think they liked it ’cause it promised that Mom wouldn’t lecture AND that the punishments would be over with very quickly!! James watched it with me the next night and he liked it as well. We have only “counted the kids” three times (two of which were the night we watched the movie….I think, ’cause they wanted to “try it out.”) and not once did it require time out!! We also avoided all of the other unpleasantries!! All-in-all, I think it is a fantastic program…it is easy to use, easy to implement and easy to maintain….what more can you ask for?

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Meal Plans

Typically, when making a “meal plan” people will assign certain meals to certain days; however, I found that for me, this just didn’t work. What HAS worked for me is to plan certain meals between runs to town and then make whatever happens to “trip my trigger” for the day.

I like to have several “types” of meals available: super easy, pretty easy, a little challenging and then a couple absolute new meals (which may be really challenging.) Since we are also on a budget, I tend to shy away from too many desserts; however, I will try to serve at least one per week.

Since my “go to town” trips are typically planned when we either deposit my husband’s check or have doctors appointments, the “plan” can be from 4 or so days to 9 or 10 days. (I do try to shop about once a week, if I can, ’cause I do use quite a bit of fresh ingredients.)

In any case, this is my current plan…..and provided that I remember, I will have photos and recipes to share as the days go by.
I hope this helps some of you who are also vegetarian/vegan, on a budget or just wanting to try something new. If you try something out, let me know how you liked it!! 🙂

Bean Burgers, Roasted Potatoes, Salad, Fruit

Leek and Potato Soup, French Bread, Fruit

Creole Black-Eyed Peas, Rice, Corn Bread, Fruit

Spaghetti with Red Sauce, Salad, Fruit

Black Bean Tacos, Mexican Quinoa Salad, Fruit

Brown Rice Pizza, Salad, Fruit

Fried Rice, Salad, Fruit

Roasted Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Fruit

Desserts: Brownies (on my son’s birthday, per his request) and Pumpkin Spice Cake

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Vegan Dinner for September 28, 2010

Clockwise from top: Fresh Pineapple, Mango and (Unsweetened) Coconut Mix, Salad, Rice Island Casserole* and Celery with Peanut Butter.

Maddie liked the Casserole a lot…Kyle and I thought it was okay.  We all LOVED the fruit mix!!!

* Recipe from the book: Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson

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Zuppa Toscana

2 Cans Vegetable Broth, divided 
1/2 C. TVP
1/4 to 1/2 t. Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tbl. Liquid Smoke

1 T. EVOO
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. garlic, minced (I used the garlic in the glass jar)

8.5 Cups Water
1 Vegetable Bullion Cube
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 potatoes diced (I used golden)
1/2 cup vegan creamer or half and half/soy milk (I used regular heavy cream…making it vegetarian)
Spices (to taste): garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt, salt and pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 C. dry white wine (optional)
2 cups kale, chopped

Directions:

Open one of the vege broth cans and measure 1/2 Cup…put into small pot…add the Liquid Smoke and bring to a boil.  Add TVP, stir and remove from the heat.  Cover until ready to use.

Saute onion over medium heat until translucent; add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add broth, water and spices and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium high and add potatoes and cook until fork tender.

In a pan, add oil, wine and kale, cook until just barely wilted.

Reduce heat to medium low and add TVP and kale and cook until heated through.  Make any adjustments with spices at this time.

Just before serving, add the cream and allow it to heat through. 

Great with a green salad and some crusty bread, or as a meal on its own!

Serves 4 to 6

This is a vegetarianized version of Olive Garden’s a sausage and potato soup.

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So, obviously I haven’t been on here in a long time…..but, especially, I haven’t blogged about homeschool and our related adventures. Well, it is kinda complex and yet, really simple. After the Winter break, Boo basically decided not to do the work that was assigned…..which she did kinda gradually. From January until mid-March, she SLOWED WAY down on her out-put and then added arguing with me….and finally just flat refused to do the work. None of my kids seem to be really scared of me…but, they are of my Honey…LOL. (And really, he is just a big Shrek….all bark…no bite.) Problem is, for whatever reason, they listen to him….so, I told him that he was in charge of her now, as I was tired of the fighting…and I really wasn’t getting that much support from him, I guess he felt like all I needed to do was put down the law and POOF….it would all get better. I finally got so frustrated with the both of them that I told him that HE was in charge now….and I stepped back. No more arguing or fighting…just waited until he got home and said: “Now, deal with her.” This frustrated him after a while, too, as she did START listening but, then went the way of poo-pooing him, too. Finally, we all sat down and agreed on a list of things that she needed to get done daily and then would be allowed privledges: 1) Clean her room; 2) Clean the kitchen and 3) Do school work. This lasted about two days…and she has since NOT completed a day. The bad part is that I have other responsibilities; therefore, there are days where she goes to the sitter and they do lots of fun things (which feel like privileges.) So, basically I have decided to put her back in PS as of August and will. For the remainder of the summer, keep the rule as it is.

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I’m needing advice on how to handle a situation. I have gotten some thoughts from my sister – – thanks, Kat!! – – but, I would like to get thoughts/ideas from sources that both know what’s going on (and have an emotional investment) and those who don’t have a clue – – other than what I tell ’em, of course (and are NOT emotionally invested.) I kinda have a couple “options” that I have come up with – – and will list them at the bottom; however, I am open to other possible solutions – – so don’t hold back.

 

Alrighty then…..
We spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my family…and thank goodness my sister is the bomb, ’cause she may have literally saved a life this weekend….again, thanks, Kat!! The weekend prior to Thanksgiving, Madd and I were at my sister’s for business and a birthday (wow, I like how that sounded….anyway) – – and I asked her if she had a problem with my family staying at her house over the holiday, as my parents had already made arrangements to keep Cousin Toto* and his family. She agreed – – THANKSgiving, R’Amen!! (Now, just so we are crystal clear going into this story…I also asked her ’cause 1) I have had a really great time hangin’ out and getting to know her and 2) I would prefer hanging out with my bitchin’ sister than with Obnoxious, Rude, and Immature Cousin Toto. AND, I realize that I am on the offensive when dealing with Toto – – and have in the past over-compensated/acted socially inappropriately when dealing with him, et. al.)
We arrive on Wednesday evening – – stopping by my folks house, on the way to Kat’s, to drop off some sausage for my boy-child. Toto and the clan were already there – – and at the greeting, I am on-guard, AGAIN. Toto has this thing where he likes to kiss and hug at greeting/departure times and the kiss is full-on mouth kisses. When he came to kiss me, I averted my face and he (and I) did the cheek smooch. There was some obnoxious, light-hearted banter and then we left.
At about noon on Thanksgiving, we trekked over to my folks house – – food was excellent, as always – – and Toto was the same obnoxious schmuck. He had, apparently been giving the small boys (4 year olds) wedgies – – and my brother, retaliating for his boy getting said wedgie, punched Toto in the leg. Toto went after my brother and the revenge issues started. He saw nothing wrong with giving the boys wedgies and thought that my brother should buck-up.
We ate dinner…..had yummy, yummy food…..and then Toto’s wife and I cleaned up. After clean-up, I was sitting in one of the kitchen chairs and Toto came up behind/beside me on the left, grabbed my face, forcing it back and kissed me full on the mouth and THEN licked both of the lenses on my glasses. Just prior to actually kissing me, but still while holding my head in that position, he made a comment or asked why both me and my youngest didn’t like getting kissed on the mouth and avoided it! Of course I was spewing mad and told him that he was gonna get his ass kicked for that – – and proceeded to clean my glasses. I also told him that getting kissed on the mouth, for me, was personal and the only one who got that was James. Luckily, he spent most of the day upstairs watching football. The next day, we were picking up Toto’s wife for Black Friday shopping – – and really, we were almost not looking forward to spending the day with her – – I mean I wouldn’t want to spend the day with Toto and if she was anything like him (alone), it might be a long and painful day.
We arrived earlier than planned, so were the only ones in the kitchen. My Dad came down to start the coffee – – which James had already taken care of – – then Toto and his wife trickled down and they (my Dad and Toto) were yacking a bit. When the topic got a bit racially slurry, I stepped in to put a stop to it and the arguments began. I spent about a half-hour listening to him spew his twisted thoughts – – and then we left. On the way to the medium sized city, his wife, James and I talked a bit about the argument and life in general – – and we all found common ground, with no arguments. (I’m not sure if this is because she is just a good defuser or if she really meant what she said. Either way, it made for the start of a good/fun shopping day!!)
THANKSgiving, R’Amen!, we didn’t have to deal with him the rest of the day – – the “boys” were gone all day. On Saturday, we had a fairly decent day – – until he made a comment about how Athiest’s don’t have a name they can call out during sex. I laughed and said, “Well, I say ‘James!’” Couple more comments were made – – and then he said, “Well, if I am wrong, I’m worm food and if you’re wrong, you go to Hell.” I said, “Excuse me, where do you come up with that?” He hemmed and hawed – – and finally I said, “Biblically speaking, that is just not accurate.” I probably should have said “I haven’t found that Biblically speaking it is accurate – – so, why are you assuming to know what will or will not happen to either one of us.” (But, I was a little irritated at his pompus ass – – and my social ineptness kicked in once again – – and another argument ensued.) We argued about that for a while – – and in the end, he couldn’t find anything in the Bible that supported his argument – – but, he also didn’t budge on his position…..it was like talking to my Dad. UGH!! Anywho, then, on our way to my sisters house for a night of games, James informed me that Toto had said to him (both were sitting together and I was within visual but not auditory distance), “You know, those clothes should be standing on their own soon, as your wife hasn’t showered or changed clothes in three days.” My husband gently explained that I had a PJ pant and T-Shirt wardrobe in mostly blue colors and I had worn three separate outfits in as many days. When he arrived at my sister’s house, my freshly laundered (thanks, Kat!) clothing was sitting on her table and I said, “Check it, Toto, my clean clothes that I wore the last couple of days.” He looks to James and saya, “I guess you told her I said that.” No shame and certainly no apology.

**I am needing to head to town for shopping so I will make this last bit as short as possible….

 

Then, downstairs, he is sitting next to me while two teams are playing pool. I tie my shoe, ’cause it was a little loose, put my foot down on the chair leg and he reaches down and unties my shoe. I look at him and say, “You know, you are an asshole.” He makes a couple comments, one being something about sucking it up and then I say, “Seriously, Toto, you are about the biggest asshole I know.” Then he says something about me not being fair in that assessment and I say “Actually, I was gonna call you a prick but thought that would be a little rude. I am sticking with asshole.”
Shortly thereafter, he and his wife left. It actually didn’t occur to me until my hubby pointed it out that he may have left early ’cause I hurt his feelings. I just thought that since he could dish it out and had no shame with his obnoxiousness, it wouldn’t matter.
On Sunday, he pretty much didn’t say anything to me – – and I was HYPER-AGITATED and my behavior reflected it. I was totally socially inappropriate. I called my Mom to apologize for my inappropriate behavior and asked that she pass the apology on to my Dad.


What do you think I should do about Toto?

 

*Name has been changed to keep the peace.

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