Monthly Archives: December 2014

Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce

Peppermint hot fudge sauce. This sauce is the PERFECT addition to ice cream this time of year. I could eat it with a spoon.

Peppermint hot fudge sauce. It’s no secret I love ice cream. I have no problems eating it year round but in case there are crazy people in your family who think you shouldn’t eat it this time of year, make this hot fudge sauce! Anything with peppermint is meant to be eaten in the winter, right?

Drizzle it over a bowl of vanilla ice cream or add a brownie and make a peppermint brownie fudge sundae. This would be the perfect, easy dessert to finish off your holiday meals. We are already spending so much time in the kitchen cooking up elaborate feasts, keep dessert simple and delicious.

I’ve tried making hot fudge sauce with sucanat. The first time it turned out great. I made it again and it was a complete flop. Thought it was a fluke and made it again a few months later. It bombed on me again. I gave up at that point. If you have an amazing (and fool proof) recipe using unrefined sweeteners pass it on! In the meantime, I’m using the not as good stuff. But I make it using no corn syrup, so I figure it’s a little better.

You could also drizzle this into your cup of coffee or hot chocolate for a yummy peppermint twist.

Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce
Serves: 1¼ cups
 
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup half and half
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 squares semisweet baking chocolate
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon peppermint oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan add half and half, butter, chocolate, and sugar.
  2. Cook over medium low heat until everything is melted.
  3. Increase heat to bring to a simmer/soft boil and cook 4-7 minutes, stirring with a whisk, until sugar dissolves and sauce thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in salt, peppermint oil, and vanilla extract.
  5. Cool slightly and serve over ice cream (or mix into coffee or hot chocolate).

 

Peppermint hot fudge sauce. This sauce is the PERFECT addition to ice cream this time of year. I could eat it with a spoon.

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes aka snowballs or Mexican Wedding Cakes (or Dust Balls as we called them. These are my favorite Christmas cookies. Super easy and they melt in your mouth.

Who doesn’t love a Christmas Cookie Exchange?

Find several great Christmas cookie recipes and link up your  own Christmas cookie recipe!

We would like to share with you some of our favorite Christmas cookies!  We can’t give you the actual cookie, but we can give you the recipes!  You can see one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes below, and then find links to several other great Christmas cookie recipes at the bottom of this post.   We have also provided a linky on the bottom for you to link up your favorite Christmas cookies!  Come participate in our Online Christmas Cookie Exchange!

Here’s my recipe:

So only the recipe card says Russian Tea Cakes. The name we actually growing up calling this fabulous little cookies by? No, not snowball cookies like the rest of the world. Our name was a little more unique. We called them Dust Balls. That’s actually the name I still call them. But for some reason, I don’t think a cookie recipe called Dust Balls would go over well to the rest of the world so I’m calling them Russian Tea Cakes once again for the sake of this post.  What name do you use for these cookies? I know others who call them Mexican Wedding Cakes too.

Now that we got the name out of the way, let me tell you that I LOVE these cookies. They are easily in my top 3 Christmas cookies to make each year. They are delicate – like little balls of shortbread rolled in powdered sugar. I also love that they aren’t overly sweet.

Do yourself a favor and make a double batch while you are at it! The 24 cookies will be gone in no time – they are that addicting. They keep well in the freezer as well.

The nuts in this recipe are optional in my book. We do it both ways. Growing up, a lot of us kids didn’t like nuts messing with our desserts but now walnuts and pecans are some of my favorite things. Do what will make your family happy.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Russian Tea Cakes
Serves: 24 cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2¼ cups flour
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts
  • additional powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Sift flour and salt. Add to butter mixture.
  3. Blend in vanilla and nuts.
  4. Form in 1 inch balls.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes.
  6. While warm roll in powdered sugar.

 

Russian Tea Cakes aka snowballs or Mexican Wedding Cakes (or Dust Balls as we called them. These are my favorite Christmas cookies. Super easy and they melt in your mouth.

You can go to the following blogs to see their Christmas cookie recipes.  These recipes are also first on the linky below.  

Creative K Kids — Santa’s Surprises
Simple Hacks Living — Candy Cane Snowballs
Gypsy Road — Incense & Peppermint
My Life Abundant — My Favorite Cookie with Ernest T. Bass
Home Garden Joy — Christmas Cookie Recipe Fudge Ecstasy Cookies
Barbara Vogelgesang — 12 Days of Christmas Cookies – Rainbow Cookies
From this Kitchen Table — Russian Tea Cakes – The Best Christmas Cookie Ever
Baking With Mom — Christmas Cut Out Sugar Cookies
Back Home Again — Nutella Cookies
Surviving Toddlerhood — Almond Joy Cookie Bites {Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Egg Free}
Creative Pink Butterfly — Coconut Macaroon Recipe
The Southern Fried Bride — Peppermint Wonderland Bars
One Hoolie Mama — 5 Ingredient Christmas Cookies
Snapshots and Snippets — Snowmen Cookies

You can also follow our Online Exchange Christmas Cookie Pinterest Board HERE to see all the  posts that are linked up below plus some other great Christmas posts that we find!

Follow our Online Christmas Cookie Exchange Board on Pinterest!

We would love it if you grabbed our button so that others can find this linky!

Creative K Kids

Link up your Christmas cookie recipes, and they will be seen on all the hosts’ blogs!

Linking up to these fun parties!

Gift Ideas for Preschoolers

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

My daughter is almost 4 this Christmas and I’m finding this age such a fun one to shop for. They have vivid imaginations, love to try new things, and do what grown ups do. They are getting more independent and will play the same thing for long periods of time. It’s wonderful!

Presents that encourage kids to play, use their imaginations, and stretch them to learn new things are my type of gift over more gimmicky or electronic ones. One of my other key points when it comes to gift shopping is quality over quantity!

Most of these my daughter has and a few more she’s getting for Christmas this year. I love that brother will be able to grow into them in the next year.

Gift Ideas for Preschoolers:

Play Tunnel

We’ve had one of these for over a year now, and in the last month my daughter has been playing with this constantly! It’s a “slide”, part of a fort, tornado, and whatever else she comes up with.

Play Tent

This is one thing our daughter is getting for Christmas this year. I think she’s going to love it! A little house, reading nook, fort, castle. I see it getting lots of use!

Floor Puzzles

Some kids don’t enjoy puzzles, but if yours do these giant floor puzzles are a lot of fun. We have several of them and they are frequently put together on the kitchen floor (and then are treated as a dance floor by little brother).

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Dress Up Clothes

You can find themed dress up clothes on Amazon or check out the local thrift stores for fancy dresses, shawls, bow ties, top hats etc. But together a bin full of dress up clothes and it will be something they will use for years to come (especially if you buy real clothes from the thrift store)! We had dress up clothes growing up and they got used to shreds!

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Sheets and Clothespins

Not for their beds, but rather for some epic fort building. We spent countless hours building forts inside and out growing up and at least once a week my daughter is building forts in our house. She makes little ones with the coffee table or asks me for help making ones that take up a good portion of the living room.

Sheets

Flashlight

Kids are obsessed with flashlights and they are the perfect accessory to a fort or for exploring.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Building Blocks

Some kids do the block thing and other don’t, but they are a classic toy to have around. They can build cities and roads or towers to knock over.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Lego Duplo Blocks

These are more stable for little hands (but not as fun to topple over :-) ) We have a couple of sets of these that the kids cycle through playing.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Painting Supplies

Painting. Kids like anything kind-of messy in my experience. Having their own supplies is a lot of fun. They’ll sit and paint away. Having it be a present makes them ruining the paint and going through countless sheets of paper not quite so painful.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

 

Workbooks

My daughter is obsessed with these things. She goes through them so quickly I’d be broke trying to keep up with her. She loves them, and views them as fun not school so they make a great present. I won’t have to limit how many pages she does a day when it’s a gift either.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Grocery Cart

Both of my kids push their little grocery cart around the house. They go grocery shopping, use it to move clothes from the dyer, or carry around toys and books.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Doll Stroller

Again, I think things with wheels are fun. Put a doll, stuffed animal, or other object in there and they have a blast. Getting to push it down the sidewalk is even better.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Baking Supplies

My daughter LOVES to help in the kitchen. When she turned three, one of her presents was a little silicone spatula, some recipes she could make, and the ingredients to make them. She loved it! Purchase real products they can actually use and the ingredients you don’t normally buy. They will feel pretty cool whipping up there own batch of mini muffins or cupcakes or decorating cookies they made with their stuff. My daughter still asks for “her spatula”.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time. Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

 

Books

Reading. We love books in our house and spend lots of time on the couch reading a lot. Find good books to add to your stash. These are just a few of the many books we have, but my daughter seems to bring these out frequently to read.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

Play-Doh

Something else my daughter loves to get out and spend long periods of time playing with. Colors get mixed, my rolling pin and cookie cutters get brought out along with plastic animals so they can make foot prints. Play-Doh dries out so they will always need new stuff! You can even make your own.

Great Gift Ideas for Preschoolers! Love these ideas - they all encourage their imagination and they'll use for a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your favorite gift ideas for preschoolers?

Linking up to these fun parties!

Menu Plan and Goals

The whirlwind time of year is here! Our third craft show of the year was Saturday and was the best one! It definitely helped make a long day more worth it. We had a prime location and some new products that sold really well. The craft shows really have been a lot of fun, but they are tiring, especially juggling the kids during the day. They did quite well though, until the very end. Sunday afternoon was spent picking up the house and grocery shopping, both or which desperately needed to happen.

Menu plan and goals for our family of 4! This week, leftovers are rocking it!

I had no intentions of making sugar cookies this year, but when my daughter said she want to make “sock cookies like on Curious George’s Christmas” I decided to go for it. She helped mix up half a batch of dough and learned how to roll and cut out the cookies. The decorating she did all on her own and I attempted to keep brother from destroying everything. :-)

This week and next are going to be busy ones once again. I think things will maybe slow down the actual week of Christmas. (But I probably shouldn’t say that too loudly or that won’t even happen.) I talked about this some on my Facebook page last week. Why does everything have to happen in the month of December? Can’t we have fall parties or New Year’s parties instead of Christmas ones? I, for one, would find those much more enjoyable! This time of year ends up being so busy that there isn’t time to slow down and truly enjoy it.

Menu plan and goals for our family of 4! This week, leftovers are rocking it!

Homemade vanilla ice cream with Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce! It turned out yummy. The sauce recipe will be getting posted soon.

Breakfasts:

  • Eggs
  • Smoothies
  • Pancakes from freezer
  • Granola

Lunches:

  • Baked Potatoes/Sweet Potatoes with carrots and pineapple
  • Pancakes from freezer
  • Or leftovers

Suppers:

  • Small Groups – Italian theme – brought bread sticks and dessert
  • Tomato Soup/Ladies’ Bible Study
  • Leftovers x 2 (or more) Our small group leaders sent us home with noodles, sauce, and bread that will make at least two meals!
  • Snack supper

Goals:

  • Etsy shop. . . Yep, didn’t happen again last week.
  • Get ready for a mini trip
  • Write two more posts (life was crazy last week and only 1 happened)
  • Put away craft show items
  • 18 month check up (he’s not a baby anymore)
  • Sleep. I’m at that point of exhaustion where I feel like I’m practically sleep walking. I can’t control whether the kids sleep through the night, but I can’t control what time I go to sleep at. Getting to bed earlier often means leaving more things undone on my list than I would like. Even a couple nights in bed early would help, I think! But my list of things that   have to get done is too long so we’ll see. . .What’s on your menu this week? Any Christmas events going on?

    Linking up to Menu Plan Monday

Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Finding the perfect gift for someone isn’t easy. Then you hit certain ages and it’s near impossible. Teenage years are tough and boys might just be harder to buy for than girls.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Affiliate Links Used

My sisters already helped me out putting together a  great gift guide for teenage girls  and today we are tackling the guys. My brother and his friend gave their input as to what they would actually enjoy receiving and we put together a great list of gift ideas for teenage boys.

Gift giving all comes down to knowing the recipient, especially as they get older and have more specific likes and dislikes. Use this list as a guideline and if you want a little extra guidance ask a parent, friend, or sibling who would know their tastes! And don’t forget, make sure you stick to your budget!

Gift Cards to places like:

Target, Game Stop, i-tunes, or  Amazon

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Gift Cards to Sporting Stores.

Zumiez for skateboarders, Academy, Sport’s Authority, and specialty stores for bowling, skating, hockey and other sports.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

A Box Full of Edibles.

Put candy, snacks, and junk food into a box and wrap it up! They’ll love having a stash of goodies to dig into. Favorite beverages, chips, candy, energy or protein bars, nuts, chocolates. (Okay, even I would like this one. :-) )

Restaurant Gift Cards.

Continuing with the last theme of food, gift cards to the teens favorite restaurants, coffee shops, cafes. Sometimes it’s nice to hang out with your friends and get a bite to eat without spending your own money. The caveat to this idea is that if the teens parents take them out to eat all the time and give them money for eating out with friends, this gift would be a little lame.

Logo Items of Favorite Sports Teams.

Think of their favorite pro sports teams (baseball, football, basketball, soccer, hockey etc), college and even high schools teams.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Sporting Accessories.

A lot of teens have sports they love to participate in. Give them the gear that they might still need. Gloves for the skateboarder, new bearings, new glove or batting gloves for the baseball player. Ski goggles or gloves for the skier. Whatever sport they are into, they most likely need (or want) some new gear.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

New Game for Their Gaming System

Once again, you’ll need to know their tastes (and even more importantly what gaming system they have). You can ask a parent or sibling what games they already have.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Pet Supplies.

If the guy is an animal lover, buy food, toys, habitat accessories etc for their animal. Or even give them money for a new pet.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Books.

If he’s a book lover, give him something  new to read. The consensus is to be sure you know if they like to read. I love reading and spent many hours growing up with my nose in a book. Neither my brother or his friend would like getting books though.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Music.

If he’s a music lover, you can buy cds, mp3 files or music accessories such as  speaker docks or  arm band. Are you seeing a common thread here? First you have to know if the teenager even likes music and then you have to know their taste in music. If you don’t know the guy well enough, once again enlist the parent’s help.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

No Clothes (except Sport’s Gear).

As a rule, avoid clothes! Those aren’t things most teenage guys are going to be interested in, unless, of course, it’s a jersey from their favorite sports team.

Great gift ideas for all the teenage boys on your shopping list! Give them something they'll actually appreciate. | Gift Ideas for Teenage Boys

Hopefully these ideas will help your shopping this year and at least give you a few gift ideas for the teenage boys in your life!

What gift ideas do you have for the teenage guys in your life?

Don’t forget to check out the  gift guide for teenage girls and gift ideas for a 2 year old!

And I have 11 Tips for Christmas Presents on a Budget and a post on De-Emphasizing Gifts this Christmas you might want to read!

Linking up to these fun parties!

Healthy and Easy Menu Plan and Goals

I can’t believe it’s already December. I’m scared I’m going to blink and it will be 2015! Time needs to slow down just a little so we can enjoy the season. This post from Hands Free Mama is a great reminder to slow down and be fully present this month.

We spent the weekend before Thanksgiving with my husband’s family doing a craft show. The stomach bug started hitting our family while were were there. That’s always miserable. Thankfully, it was pretty much a 24 hour bug and nobody had it during the car ride. :-) We were staying in town for Thanksgiving this year, and that ordeal made us thankful! We decided to forgo the traditional turkey dinner and had chicken fajitas instead. Way easier and still yummy. I loved not having to spending hours cooking and cleaning. We might as well save a meal that time intensive for when everyone would actually enjoy it.

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for our family of 4! It's been a crazy week, so we are keeping things pretty simple! | Great ideas to add to our menu

Everyone was feeling better Friday and we went to get our Christmas tree. I think the holidays are going to be pretty fun with a 3 1/2 year old. She had a blast!

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for our family of 4! It's been a crazy week, so we are keeping things pretty simple! | Great ideas to add to our menu

We also brought out holiday baking! These are in my top 3 Christmas Cookies. We all love them. But then again, how can you go wrong with lots of butter? This recipe will be coming in another week!

This weekend we have a small, local craft show we are taking part in – the last one for the year. I have it high on my priority list to open up an Etsy shop. I was hoping it would happen this weekend, but maybe early this week!

Easy and Healthy Menu Plan for our family of 4! It's been a crazy week, so we are keeping things pretty simple! | Great ideas to add to our menu

Homemade mayo is pretty tasty! This was also my first time to purchase (or even eat, I believe) arugula! I found it marked down and decided  to branch out. :-)

Suppers:

  • BLTs
  • Leftovers
  • Chili x 2
  • Salad and Baked Potatoes
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Crock pot Tomato Soup

Lunches:

  • Pancakes
  • Chicken Salad over arugula
  • Salads for Shaun and myself
  • Leftovers and sweet potatoes for the kids

Breakfasts:

  • Homemade Bagels
  • Leftover Pancakes
  • Smoothies
  • Eggs

Goals:

  • Open Etsy shop
  • Write 2 more posts
  • Keep kitchen clean
  • Exercise

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday