Archive for the ‘Ideas’ Category

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.


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!


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!





Easy Fruit Dip

8 oz cream cheese
16 oz marshmallow puff

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


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.


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.


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


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

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.

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.



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.


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 !!


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!


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.


PJ’s and Slippers


Easy Fruit Dip

8 oz cream cheese
16 oz marshmallow puff

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



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? : )


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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“Teleportation and traveling at hyperspeed would be fabulous, but even when we were children, such science-fiction staples struck us as probably, well, impossible. Still, we always imagined that someday we really could have the galactic maps that pop up at the touch of a button in shows like Star Trek. And now, thanks to the Website WikiSky, we can realize our dreams of zooming in on Betelgeuse in glorious detail just by pointing our cursor and commanding, “Make it so!”

Using images compiled from ultra-high-powered telescopes, WikiSky presents an ever-growing visual map of the universe, one that users can update and modify just as they can the more earth-centric Wikipedia. Maybe you’ll appreciate the detailed information, but if you’re like us, you’ll spend most of your time simply gaping at the site’s highlights (helpfully indicated to one side of the home page), such as a magnificent nebula that’s been aptly dubbed the Eye of God.

The Web can’t transport you to deep space (yet!), but staring at close-ups of the sublime Horsehead Nebula is the next-best thing.” – – VSL

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“Melty Beads” or Perler Beads are small beads that you can assemble, iron (hence, the term “melty beads”) and they fuse together to make lovely art. 

I got all of these lovely patterns at the Perler Bead Website – – please go check out their; it is fantastic – – I just put some of them in PDF Format for convenience.  (I will continue to add to this collection as time goes on.)

Butterfly and Sea Life

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I just found out about SwapTree, SwapSimple and TitleTrader– – a site where you can swap your books, CD’s, DVD’s, and other media materials. 

Previously, I have posted about book swap sites: BookMooch, FrugalReader, PaperbackSwap and Whatsonmybookshelf

I have absolutely LOVED using the book sites – – they have provided us with reading materials that we would not likely have had otherwise!!  : ) 

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My daughter and I have just finished listening to book 2 of 3 in the Moongobble and Me series by Bruce Coville.  It is a 3rd grade level book; however, while listening to it, I know that younger children will be able to comprehend it.  The lessons are very cool – – and worthy of additional discussion.  The three books in the series are: The Dragon of Doom, The Weeping Werewolf and The Evil Elves.  (The titles are more sinister sounding than the actual stories….so, please don’t judge these books by their titles!!!)

I hope you enjoy them as much as we are!!  HAPPY READING!!

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Gold Medal Flour (from Betty Crocker) is offering TWO different cookbooks for kids.  According to the PDF Order Form, you can only order until December 31, 2008.  Each book is only $3.99.

The Alpha-Bakery Children’s Cookbook


“The Alpha-Bakery Children’s Cookbook teaches kids the ABC’s of cooking. Inside you’ll find recipes for breads, cakes, cookies, desserts, main dishes and snacks. Fun activities, tips on measuring ingredients and kitchen safety are included, too.”

The Rainbow Bakery Children’s Cookbook


“The Rainbow Bakery Children’s Cookbook makes learning how to cook a “color-full” adventure! Just follow the rainbow through the cookbook to find recipes for breads, cookies, cakes, pies and main dishes. A Food Guide Pyramid, kitchen tips and fun activities are also included.”

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While tag-surfing, I ran across yannatopia’s blog about Book Sales.  In her blog, she included a link to a site where you can look up the Book Sales in your area. 

Here it is, Book Sale Finder Site

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As of February 14, 2008, Book It! (r) has opened it’s enrollment to Homeschoolers!!  YEAH!!  Thank You, Book It!

You can enroll NOW for the 2008/2009 school year.  All the festivities kick off ono October 1, 2008. 

I don’t wanna have to wait until then, in order to reward Boo for all her hard work.  I printed off the “Reading is Yummy” Reproducible, and will use it as our mothly goal form.  If she can read 10 books ON HER OWN TIME, I will take her out for a personal pan pizza each month. 

Anyway, if you are interested, just head on over to their site: Book It! for more details!  ENJOY!!

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I was thinking that it would be really neat to share resources, by subject. It can take HOURS and HOURS to find just that right thing. Maybe this can help to eliminate some unnecessary searching time.

Audio Books

BookPals Story Online http://www.storylineonline.net/
At this time (2.22.2008), there are 21 books that are available. Most of the books appear to be short, younger kid books.

Children’s Books On-Line http://www.childrensbooksonline.org/library-audio.htm
At this time (2.22.2008), there are 15 read-aloud books that are available. Most of the books appear to be short, younger kid books.

Curiosoft http://www.curiosoft.com/news/audiobooks.php
At this time (2.22.2008), there are 13 read-aloud books that are available. Most of the books appear to be short, younger kid books.

Librivox http://librivox.org/
This site has MANY, MANY books on-line.

Lit 2 Go http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/index.htm
This site has quite a few books on-line. Not only can you listen to the stories, but you can also read the book on-line, as well.

Story Nory http://storynory.com/
At this time (2.22.2008), there are 138 stories/poems available. Most of the books appear to be short, younger kid books.

Wired for Books http://www.wiredforbooks.org/index2.htm
At this time (2.22.2008), there are about 20 children’s stories available. There are also adult books available.


Children’s Books On-Line http://www.childrensbooksonline.org/library.htm
The books are listed in reading levels based on age/interest.

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