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Monday, December 30, 2013

Peace On Earth: Sloppy Chicken

Before the year ends, I wanted to give you one more of my Peace On Earth Recipes. This post could have easily been titled "The Easiest Recipe Ever" instead. It's  SO easy in fact, that there's really no recipe and I didn't take a photo of the ingredients to help you out.

Pull out your crock pot because you'll need it again for this one.

Here you go....

1 bag frozen chicken tenders (you know how much I love those!)
1 bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce

Put the chicken in the crockpot and pour the sauce over the top. Cook on high for 4 hours. Shred chicken with fork and return to sauce to warm. Serve on buns. 

BOOM! That's it!

Hopefully this recipe will help you out while the Christmas craziness winds down. It's simple food.....which I always feel is what we need after a big holiday of eating. It would be good too if you still have one more gathering to host. It also happens to be a great dinner in the Summer when you don't want to heat up your kitchen.

There you have it....Sloppy Chicken.

(You'll have to forgive this aweful photo. I was trying to get a picture in decent light. But in the process, I made the sandwich look like it was floating in mid-air. So if you decide to call this recipe "Floating Chicken Sandwiches" instead, I'll understand. I don't think I will ever be a food photographer!)

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Four Things For Friday 12.27.13

Hi Everybody! I hope you all had the merriest of Christmases!

I've dug out from the wrappings, gifts, candy, and cookies long enough to bring you todays Four Things.

Honestly, I didn't take a whole lot of photos of our Christmas, so today I'm sharing some outtakes from our Christmas card photo shoot.

1.) To start off with, we had a wonderful Christmas Eve. Our Christmas Eve church service centered on the GLORY of Christ at His birth. After church we always have a houseful of family and friends over. Each year we have such a great time. And we always end the evening singing Christmas carols together.

Most years by the time it's time to head to church, I'm feeling a little stressed out from preparing for a house full of guests. But this year I felt very calm and just didn't let myself go there. My family greatly appreciated that! 

2.) Christmas Morning we woke up and opened gifts here at home. We've never had a big traditional Christmas breakfast at home because it isn't usually too long before we need to head out the door to start our Christmas "tour"....first with Hubster's family and then mine.

What a blessing to be able to share Christmas with all our family!

3.) File this under "Didn't See THAT Coming!".....Hubster cashed in all those frequent flyer miles he's accumulated this year and surprised me for Christmas with a trip to Florida....with my sister! Later in the day, I got to surprise HER! It was such fun. I would share the photos of that, but we both did the "ugly cry" as Oprah calls it.

So we will be heading to Florida for a week sometime in January. The two of us haven't been on a Girl's Trip together in YEARS, so it's' going to be so much fun!

4.) I was kind of surprised yesterday by several of my Facebook friends saying that they were in the process of taking down their Christmas trees. Seriously? To me, the Holiday season isn't over until after New Years. We usually start taking ours down on New Years Day. This year it will probably be a couple days later because of the New Years plans we have and because Hubster heads back to work on the 2nd.

I have to admit I'm ready for a little simplicity around the house. But I can't imagine not having my tree up for New Years.

So what do YOU do? When does your Christmas tree come down?

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas celebrating with family and friends. Here is the final photo we chose for our Christmas cards. It'll never be perfect....but it will be US.

Have a great weekend!
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Friends!

Joy to the world! The Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room.
And Heaven and nature sing.
And Heaven and nature sing.
And Heaven, and Heaven and nature sing! 

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable Gift,
2 Corinthians 9:15

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Four Things For Friday 12.20.13

Happy Friday!!

I guess this willl kind of be a "Four Things" Christmas Edition.

1.)  Today is my kid's last day of school. Also known as "the day they get to watch movies and eat snacks all day." And it still counts as a school day. Yay! They were excited to head out the door today.

2.) Forgive me while I have a bragging Mom moment. My son received straight A's for the first grading period at school. He was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers to receive two tickets to a game in their "Straight A Superstars" program. He and Hubster will be going to tonight's game. I'm so excited for him since he's never been.

3.) Yesterday I went grocery shopping. And I'm hoping I don't have to set foot in there again until after Christmas. It wasn't actually that busy yesterday, which was nice. I just really hope that there are no emergency runs to the store for anything I forgot between now and Christmas because all the people who didn't plan ahead will be there this weekend.

4.) Today is the day that I began tackling all the gift wrapping that needs to be done. I've already spent part of this morning sorting everything out. Are you like me and make sure that everything is very even between your kids? I try to spend as close as I can for each child. The funny thing is, if I told my kids "I spent $X on you, $XX on you, and $XXX on you," they wouldn't care. But if they don't have the same number of gifts to open, somebody will probably say something. (And it would probably be my son who is a natural born bean counter. Ha!)

This will most likely be my last blog post until after Christmas. I have SO enjoyed sharing this season with you all. Thank you for stopping by and showing interest in the little things I have to share. I hope you have enjoyed hearing about my family's Christmas traditions as much as I have enjoyed sharing them. 

Please join me again after Christmas. I have one more Peace On Earth Recipe to share next week (you can find the other recipes HERE. ) And I'm sure there will be Christmas stories to tell. Plus we have a New Year to get ready for!


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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Traditions At Our House: The Lights

Another Christmas tradition at our house is putting up Christmas lights, both outside and inside.

I haven't shown you our back door all decked out for Christmas yet, have I? 

This is the door that guests enter when they come to our house, so it gets the most attention with the decorating. I like the look of classic white lights. I think decorating the outside of your house at Christmas sets a festive Christmas mood before people even enter your house. It's very warm and welcoming.

I use lights inside too. For years I've hung lighted garland around the French doors in our living room. What is it about lights at Christmas? The soft glow is just kind of relaxing, I guess.

I didn't realize the lights inside were such a tradition until last year. I happen to be one of those people who are so excited to put up the lights each year that I usually don't think to check and see if the lights are working before I put them up. That's what happened last year. (And this year too. But we don't really need to talk about how 3/4 of my outdoor lights had to be redone because they didn't work. Oy!) Anywho.....last year, the garlands for around the doors didn't work. And I had kind of procrastinated in putting them up anyways so there was really no time to go out and get new ones.

My son was watching me go through all this and when I told them I just wasn't going to put them up for that year he said, "You HAVE to Mom! It's tradition!"

I had no idea it meant so much to him. So I scrounged around in all my decorations and found one good strand of garland with lights and was able to put it across the mantel (which, by the way, I didn't like nearly as much.) And I promised my son that I would make sure we had new lights for around the doors for this year.

I learned a lesson. What my kids see as a tradition may be different than what I consider to be one. If you're struggling with trying to do so much during this season, maybe it would be a good idea to sit your family down and ask each person what tradition is most important to them and do your best to accomplish that. You can spend your energy doing the things that are most important to your family and not stress out about everything else that you just thought was important.

And hopefully next year I will finally learn my lesson about testing the lights before I put them up. But I wouldn't count on it!
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

She's Making A List And Checking It Twice

Have they hit yet? The Christmas Crazies?

You KNOW what I mean, right?

That point in the Christmas season where you think you might lose your mind. When one more thing to do or remember that is forced into your brain might just make your head explode.

For me it usually hits when I realize that my kids only have a couple more days of school and all the things I wanted to accomplish BEFORE they are home on Christmas break haven't been completed.

Bottom line.....STRESS!

I really think that no matter how hard we try to keep the true meaning of Christmas, the coming of Christ, at the forefront, there is still bound to be some stress.

* Parties to attend
* Gifts to buy
* Cards to send out
* Goodies to bake
* Church events and responsibilities

And all of this on top of all the other things we normally do that keep our home running grocery shopping, laundry, homework, etc.

So this is the point where I start making lists. Gifts lists, shopping lists, Christmas card lists, daily menus, "To Do" lists. It's what keeps me sane. And then of course there's that feeling of accomplishment when I can check something off one of my lists. Sometimes that's the biggest benefit!

So if you're starting to feel stressed, stop, take a breath, and try making some lists to help you feel better organized.

There also comes a point for me every year, when I realize that there are going to be some things that I would like to do that just aren't going to happen. Sometimes we just have to lower our expectations. Maybe that one last new cookie recipe that we wanted to try just isn't going to get made. Or that one craft we really wanted to try with the kids just isn't going to happen.

It's time to think about those things that, realistically, just aren't going to get done. And what on my list of things to do, doesn't really matter in the long run or isn't worth stressing over to try and check off my list.

One thing I've done over the years is to have a couple pre-determined things that are the first thing to go off my list. For me that's Christmas cards. Some years they get sent, and some they don't. This year, I just so happened to get a decent picture of the kids over Thanksgiving weekend so I quickly ordered cards online and got them sent out. But if I don't, I don't. And I'm not going to beat myself up over it.

The other conscious decision I've made is to not bake cookies.

 I know.....GASP!

 The first couple years we were married, I baked a lot. I still get teased by my family a little because I used to make Martha Stewart's homemade marshmallows. But it all started to feel like just a job that had to be done. And quite honestly....if I made the cookies, I ATE the cookies! So for several years I didn't make anything and now we just make the Almond Toffee that we mostly give away.

So if YOU'RE starting to feel the Christmas Crazies, try making some lists to help you feel more organized. But maybe more importantly, cut yourself some slack. Think about what is most important for you and your family to have a memorable, yet peaceful Christmas. And MOST importantly, be reminded about what we are truly celebrating....the birth of our Savior.

Which reminds me of some of the words of the Steven Curtis Chapman song, "Christmas Is All In The Heart"....

No, it's not in the snow
That may or may not fall
And it's not in the gifts
Around the tree
It's in the love heaven gave
The night our Savior came
And that same love
Can still be found where ever you are
'Cause Christmas is all in the heart
It's all in the heart

Have a great day!
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Traditions At Our House: Almond Toffee

Good Monday morning everyone!

It's time for another one of our family's Christmas traditions. And this one just happened to take place over the weekend.

For about the last eight years, we've made Almond Toffee to give away to teachers, bus drivers, neighbors, friends, and family. (And we eat a little bit ourselves too!)

Saturday was the perfect day to stay home and make it because this is what it looked like outside.

 The recipe we use is from and you can find it HERE.

This "project" is really Hubster's thing. And it really is a batches were made this year. He did all the actual candy-making. I was in charge of the chocolate and almond coating. Then, he broke up all the toffee into peices and I packaged it all up. It definitely was a team effort.

Hubster's printout of the recipe is rather tattered, stained and scribbled upon. But after making it so many times, he doesn't even refer to the recipe any more.

Our house always smells heavenly when the toffee is being made.

After the  toffee cools a bit melted chocolate is spread on each side and ground almonds are spread on top.

And.....the finished product. It really is delicious and makes a nice hostess or teacher gift.

The kids love passing it out to all their teachers.

So if you're looking for something different to make this year, try some Almond Toffee!

You can read about our other Christmas Tradition too!

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Peace On Earth: Our Favorite Chicken Taco Soup

I'm back with another  "Peace On Earth" recipe....yummy and easy recipes to help keep peace at your dinner table this time of year.

Today we have one of our most favorite recipes....Chicken Taco Soup! I basically adapted this recipe for us from others I had seen. It is so easy because it involves my crock pot (can you tell mine is well used?) and dumping ingredients in it.

So here's what you need.....

(Yep, that's it!)

I use the frozen chicken tenders. They cook quicker, and are easier to shred at the end. And well.....they're more tender! You can use as little or as much as you like. We like a lot of chicken in ours so I generally use the whole bag.

So dump it all in!

Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. I admit, I cook most things in the crockpot on high....mostly because I usually don't have my act together until about noon.

Then just shred the chicken with a couple forks and return to the pot.

I serve the soup with cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips. You could add whatever toppings you like.

I also dream someday (maybe after The Pickys move out) of adding black beans and corn to this soup. I think that would be yummy.

So that's it! Super easy.

I'll actually be taking this soup to a Christmas party this weekend where we'll be having different soups and salad. Can't wait! This annual party always has a particularly raucus white elephant gift exchange and is loads of fun.

I normally would give you a nice printable copy of the recipe. But we have been experiencing some Internet problems the last couple days and now my computer is acting wonky too. So before everything blows up in my face, I'm just going to give you the un-fancy version and get out of here right quick.

48 oz. chicken broth
1- 16oz jar salsa 
1 envelope taco seasoning
Frozen chicken tenders
tortilla chips
shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream

Place chicken in crock pot.
Sprinkle taco seasoning on top and pour salsa and broth over chicken. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Shred chicken with forks and return to pot. Serve with cheese, sour cream, and chips.

I hope you try it and enjoy it!

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Four Things For Friday 12.13.13

Happy Friday and welcome to this week's edition of Four Things For Friday!

 1.)  As of today, I should be officially done with my Christmas shopping (YEAH!) with the exception of a couple gift cards I plan to pick up early next week. The wrapping will also commence next week.

2.)  This weekend starts off our Christmas social season. We have a party on Saturday night, as well as two next week. I have to admit I'm kind of excited. I mean, it's not very often that I get to have three dates with the Hubster in one month! I'm ready to have some fun! (And I'm trying very hard to ignore the tingling sensation in my sinuses and little ache in my neck. Zinc and Airborne! I will not get sick! I will not get sick! Did you hear me? I. WILL. NOT. GET. SICK!)

3.) Yesterday, my kids school unexpectedly released early due to a minor emergency. Every parent or guardian had to be called to see if their child could be sent home early on the bus or would be picked up by the parent. What an undertaking! I'm sure a lot of decisions had to be made very quickly. Overall, I was impressed with how well it was all handled. And the kids were excited to come home early!

4.) I was excited to make some New Year's Eve plans yesterday with some dear friends. It's yet ANOTHER tradition in our family. I'll share more details when it gets closer.

One more thing....

The following photo is in memory of the six little Veggies who tragically lost their lives this past weekend by flushing. (Yes, things like that still happen in "our world.")

We were all....well, most of us....shocked by their untimely death and we will miss these little Veggie Nativity troupe members. Their little smiles brought joy to us for many Christmases. Rest in peace little Veggies.

Junior Asparagus Shepherd,  French Pea Sheep, Jimmy Gourd (who, I must say very humbly played the part of the backside of a cow) and Larry, Grandpa Grape, and Mr. Lunt, the Wise Men (who don't do anything)....we will miss you all!

Have a great weekend everybody!
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Traditions At Our House: The Decorations

                                       Jennifer Rizzo's holiday housewalk link party.

Today I'm linking up my post to the Holiday House Walk link party at, The Nesting Place, and Like A Saturday.

One of my favorite parts of preparing for Christmas has always been decorating the house. I have fond memories as a child of unboxing the same decorations every year....the ceramic Santa and Nativity that my Gramma made....the glass candy dish that my sister had glued a felt Santa face to in Kindergarten....the little plastic wreaths that had a tiny manger scene dangling in the center that we got to hang in the windows in our bedrooms....the Santa pillows that my sister and I each had....and the Nativity set. And my Mom would place all the pretty things on freshly pressed Christmas linens and add red or plaid bows and fresh greens cut from our yard here and there. It was magical!

These days I love to decorate my own home and I hope that my kids will grow up with fond memories of a house decorated to celebrate Christmas.

I've had a lot of fun this year decking the halls. C'mon in and I'll show you around. If you're here for the first time..."Welcome!" 

And if you've visited before, I'm so glad that you have stopped back today.

So c'mon into the Mudroom. This room has had a little bit of a Wintry vibe all year. In fact, last Christmas I decorated this cup shelf with a bit of a cardinal theme. I like it so much (I kind of have a thing for birds) that I left it that way all year.

So this year, I added the wooden "Merry Christmas" and a couple mini trees.

A couple of cute snowmen are hanging out in the mudroom too!

Let's move on into the living room. You'll see that I go for a very traditional look.

This is where most of the Christmas action is. You can read more about our tree HERE.

Here is the top of my Singer sewing machine. The music under the glass is the hymn "Whiter Than Snow."  I got this idea from Pinterest last year. The little snowman is just a dollar store ornament and back in the Fall, I found this ceramic sleigh at a thrift store.

A little vignette in the corner....

I'm really proud of these no-sew pillows. I found this set of four cloth napkins at TJMaxx for $6.99 and was able to cover a couple old throw pillows that we were no longer using. I just used fusible hemming tape to iron two napkins together, stuffed the pillow in and then fused the last side together. Cha-Ching! I was so happy with myself.


On the top of our TV cabinet, I have a bowl full of ornaments which includes a few vintage ones that belonged to my great grandparents.

And on our piano is the most important decoration....our Nativity set, which reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas.

Before you go I want to show you a couple things in the kitchen. The lighting in the kitchen is horrible so it's hard for me to get a great photo of the whole room. So I will just show you a couple Christmas touches that I've added.

The jumping-off point for this shelf were the green transferware sugar and creamer that i found at Homegoods back in November.

You can find a tutorial for this NOEL banner  that I did last year over at Sal's blog.

And of course the December calendar is gracing our chalkboard wall in the kitchen.

Well, I think that ends this little tour. I'm so glad you stopped by and that you will return again!

Merry Christmas to all of you!

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