Sounds of Nativity

Merry Christmas, friends!

Christmas brings a lot of different associations with it. As we celebrate our Savior’s birth, many people think of cute Nativity scenes, a cozy manger, a “silent night.” But a few years ago it hit me – the reality wasn’t very cute or cozy or silent. Some of my ideas about the amazing paradox of Christ’s birth came out in this poem. I hope that you enjoy it, and that we can all take some time to be amazed at how much our God did for us when He became one of us. <3

Sounds of Nativity

(By Hannah Romero)

Listen to the Word
becoming flesh,
the night God broke the silence
with a baby’s cry.
Listen to sounds
of Nativity.

Earth did not stop to listen that night.
The tiny town was bursting at the seams,
Sons of David reluctantly answering
the call of Rome,
soldiers yelling orders,
families scrambling for room to sleep,
crowds pushing, doors slamming.
Too busy to notice a pregnant woman.
Too loud to hear her new baby cry.

Earth offered no calm that night.
A young girl, not yet married,
gave birth for the first time,
her fiancé struggling to help.
Pain, anxiety, and a baby’s gasping shrieks
echoed against cold stone and hard packed dirt,
rose over the clamor and stench of a barn.

Earth paid no attention to
the Baby wrapped in rags.
Heaven paid attention to
nothing else.

Glory was not silent,
worship was not calm.
Living creatures ceaselessly crying “holy”
round the throne
joined by armies of angels
shouting praise.
Eternity watched the eternal One
step into time,
beginning the culmination of eternity’s plans.
Every spirit shouted
glory to God
for infinite love and mercy.

Heaven burst with worship,
and God allowed eternity
to spill over
into a dark night outside Bethlehem.
Have heaven and earth
ever come so close?
Has the line between
infinity and history
ever been so blurred?

Heaven praised,
earth ignored,
but the Word echoed throughout.
The lack of silence and lack of calm
stated simply that
He did not come to be cozy.
He came to serve,
to get dirty,
to be one of us,
to suffer, to feel,
finally to die
and to conquer death.

On that first night,
uncomfortable reality
encased reality far deeper.
Physical darkness surrounded
Love’s pure Light.
Busy-ness, noise, and panic encircled
the Prince of Peace
Whose peace transcends circumstances.
Discomfort cradled
the first Comforter.
Helpless omnipotence,
Creator born,
God in flesh.
In such eternal paradox
coziness is not an option.
Superficial silence and calm
were overwhelmed
in the dawn of redeeming grace.

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Fun and Easy Christmas Eve Traditions

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Christmas Eve is THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW!!!!

I feel like it tiptoed up behind me and yelled “BOO!!!!” This month has rushed by in a blurry whirlwind of fun and not-so-fun mashed in all together like life so often does.

My crazy busy work rush is tapering off now, both hubby and the kids are out on Christmas vacation, and we’re eagerly looking forward to the next few days of celebrating!

As I mentioned recently, growing up Christmas Eve was my very favorite part of Christmas each year. Because it was, I’ve tried hard to create new, amazing traditions we can do each year to make it just as special and magical for my kids.

Because we’ve moved so very often each year how and where we celebrate Christmas has changed dramatically each year. I quickly learned that if I wanted to celebrate Christmas Eve it needed to be in ways that I could do easily and anywhere.

Here is the list of our new cherished traditions that we look forward to every year. I hope that your family is able to use them as a springboard into creating a day that is magical and creates cherished memories for a lifetime!

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Baking & Decorating Christmas Sugar Cookies

While we had our cherished holiday recipes of Seven Layer Cookie Bars and Fantasy Fudge growing up it wasn’t until I started dating hubby that I discovered these amazing Christmas Cookies. Every year since then I’ve been able to enjoy them! In 2011 (when this picture was taken) I decided it would be super fun to start a new yearly tradition of making them each year on Christmas Eve. It’s a super fun activity and since the icing has to set up overnight it is perfect because then you serve them as the best dessert ever for Christmas Day! These sugar cookies are light and soft (be sure you don’t roll them out too thin so they do bake up that way) and I absolutely adore them!

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Making & Decorating Gingerbread Houses

Two Christmases ago the #1 thing on Amber’s Wish List was a Gingerbread Village, of course, that was followed by Tyler wanting a Gingerbread Train. They had so much fun with these that a new Christmas tradition was born. Since they’re inexpensive ( I spent around $7 each for these complete kits) I’ve decided to throw them into our yearly Christmas Eve traditions on years we’re not traveling (or you could do it even if you are traveling if the kids want to eat them up quickly and/or don’t mind leaving them).

Don’t want to run to the store to fight the holiday masses? I don’t blame you! Try making this healthier version of Santa’s Village using items you most likely already have in your pantry!

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Watch How The Grinch Stole Christmas & The Nativity Story

I’m not exactly sure when the tradition of watching  Dr. Suess’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas each Christmas Eve started. I do know, however, that’s it’s been one I’ve been doing since before Amber was born, and also from her very first Christmas as evidenced by this photo! Since the majority of this short classic flick takes place on Christmas Eve (“tomorrow is Christmas, it’s practically here!!” is a line we now shout along with the Grinch) it makes perfect sense why this has become our first and favorite easy tradition!

I went to see The Nativity Story in theaters the year it came out and fell instantly in love with their portrayal of the Christmas Story. Now I love watching it every year with the kids, and there’s no better time to enjoy it than to watch it on Christmas Eve to help get our minds back on the true meaning of Christmas!

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Eating Delicious Treats

Of course, it would be sheer torture to bake up those cookies and make the gingerbread goodies and then NOT have any special treats to actually eat ON Christmas Eve, especially during the movies! I’ll make a confession that one reason I pick up special goodies for the kiddos to nosh on is so that I can keep my oh-so-special mommy Christmas treats all.to.myself!!!! Oh yes mommies, fly that Mom Guilt right out the door! You’ve bent over backward to make this season magical and now it’s time for you to put your feet up, snuggle in with them in a cozy blanket, and eat scrumptious treats to your heart’s content!! My veeerrryyy favorite way to indulge at Christmas time is with decadent truffles and this mix from Shari’s Berries is my jam!! If you still feel guilty gifting it to yourself for Christmas Eve (which you *shouldn’t*!!) You can always add it on to your Christmas wish list or drop a link hint via email to your sweetie for Valentine’s Day 😉 Truffles not your thing (which, you must be crazy, but no judging!) They actually have a huge assortment of delicious Christmas Chocolates to choose from or an even bigger assortment of deliciousness for Valentine’s Day.

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Reading The Christmas Story from The Bible

By now you’ve had a full day of fun and magical activities and it’s time to wind things down and prepare for the evening! A wonderful way to wind the day down is by reading The Christmas Story out of the Bible. Now, you might think that since you watched The Nativity Story you don’t need to, but there really is just something magical about reading it out of the Bible aloud as a family! Here are the passages that my family has always read aloud, and I even have it in the post there so you could even print it out or read right from your tablet if you don’t feel like flipping!

If your kiddos are still wee ones a great alternative is to read the story out of a Baby Bible–all of them have a version of The Christmas Story in the “just right” length even for toddlers!

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Gifting a Christmas Eve Present

One of the most fun parts of Christmas Eve as a child, of course, were the presents. Since we celebrated over at my Grandparent’s House we always got to open our gift from them, and any from the Aunts and Uncles. It always felt a little like breaking the rules, which was absolutely delicious!

I wanted to continue this somehow for my children, and over the years I added bits and pieces until this simple Christmas Eve Present has become a treasure of Christmas Eve Traditions all it’s own!

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Special Yearly Christmas Ornament

It started out when we got married and our first Christmas together I discovered my mom-in-law’s tradition of gifting my hubby one ornament every single year since he was born. Imagine my delight when instead of a sparse Christmas tree with the few meager ornaments were able to afford as newlyweds we were able to decorate our tree with mementos and symbols from each year of his life! There was a McDonald’s ornament from his first job there, an Alaska Totem Pole from his summer missions trip there, and several Coast Guard ornaments to represents his years of service.

I was so in love with this idea that I’ve continued it every year for our children. Each year I try to find something that was the most important, or the most special, about that year and gift them an ornament about it. The year that we took a family vacation to Carlsbad Caverns we got ornaments from there, for last year I got them awesome ornaments from Personalized Ornaments For You for both the kids to represent their first soccer seasons, I loved that I was even able to get their actual jersey numbers and team colors! Then this year I scored big when I found this *adorable* Baby Murloc from the Etsy shop The Tall Grass. I’ve mentioned before that our family loves the game World of Warcraft. This year hubby, Amber, and I actually created a group and leveled all the way up to 110 together! It was so much fun and to commemorate the hours and hours of questing together I thought that this was the perfect ornament for her this year! I can’t wait to see her reaction this  Christmas Eve!

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Christmas Jammies

I had heard about this tradition through friends online and loved it! Their parents bought and gifted them new Christmas jammies each Christmas Eve so that they could wear them that night and have adorable jammies for all those Christmas pictures next day. I always make sure to buy mine a little big and then let the kids wear them all year long. Where I buy them each year varies depending on where has the cutest sets for the best deals. This year I saw a blogger tweet that Crazy8 was having a great deal on these way too cute sets so I nabbed them up! You can see Amber’s but since I didn’t want to unwrap Tyler’s his say “Bah Hum Bug” which is way too perfect since he’s been going around and saying that (as a joke) all month long!

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Christmas Book & Toys

Another Christmas tradition I found out about online that I absolutely loved was the Christmas Book A Day tradition. You gather 24 Christmas books then each year you wrap them up and then the kids get to open one book a day at bedtime for their daily story as a countdown to Christmas. We’ve done it for the past several years. To get to that point, however, I had to first *gather* the 25 Christmas books. To help with that I started a different tradition of gifting them each a Christmas Book (or two or three) with their Christmas Eve package. If you’d like to get a peek at my favorites you can check out the Best Christmas Books For Kids Here

Another fun item to place in the package is Christmas specific toys. Although my kids have long outgrown Fischer Price toys they still squeal with delight when I pull out their Fisher-Price Little People Nativity Set each year. Other favorites are this Rudolph beanie baby I picked up at a garage sale that is one of Amber’s all time favorites, and Snowby, the beyond adorable polar bear who shivers and who the kids still fight over whose turn it is to sleep with. Having toys that you only pull out at Christmas time make them super magical. For new toys I leave them out for the first year that I gift them, then after that, they get put away each year with the decor, it’s worked great for us!

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Driving Around To Look At Lights

There is something so perfect about driving around to see Christmas lights, and it doesn’t get better timing than to do it on Christmas Eve! Here in Texas, we have several local places that set up amazing and fantastic light displays! If you’re willing to fight hours worth of wait your patience will be rewarded both at Santa Land  and The North Pole of Texas

If you don’t want to battle the crowds, however, you can still go look at lights! Pour some hot cocoa in some mugs, bundle everyone up in those new Christmas jammies, and go to the nicest neighborhood in your town! Usually, the “mansions” have gorgeous Christmas lighting. I remember growing up we’d always drive around the fancy neighborhoods in Rock Springs. There was one house that always went ALL OUT and was simply breathtaking each year as the finale for the evening!

No matter how you celebrate from our family to yours we wish you a beautiful and magical Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Praising Him for the greatest gift of all time!

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Gournay Chicken Appetizer Recipe

This shop for Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese to make this delicious and easy Gournay Chicken Appetizer Recipe has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BoursinCheese #CollectiveBias

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Christmastime growing up was magical.

It all started out on Christmas Eve. The daytime was just a fun lazy one, brimming with anticipation for what was to come. After dinner the house was a flurry of activity, putting on our Christmas best and piling into the car to head to the candlelight service. A truly candlelight service. I am always a little disappointed when I attend them now, and by “candlelight service” they mean one song with candles that you hold. Our entire service was done only by the light of flickering Christmas candles, and it was beautiful.

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Christmas Eve photo with my youngest siblings in our “Christmas Best” from 2005

After the service, we would pile back into the car and merry go “over the creek and through the sagebrush to Grandmother’s house!” (Southwest Wyoming has a lack of both river and trees). There we would spend my favorite part of Christmas. It was full of extended family packed elbow to elbow laughing and shouting. It meant the Christmas Story, Christmas Carols, and early presents. And, of course, it meant food. Lots and lots of delicious appetizers and sweets!

Now immediate families have expanded into extended families, my sweet Grandpa has gone to spend Christmas with the reason for it, and we celebrated Christmas Eve “In Grandmother’s House” for the last time 2 years ago, as shortly after she had to be moved to a nursing home. I will always treasure that one last chance to show my kids what a magical Christmas tradition it was.

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Now those sweet traditions have past and it’s time for me to focus on making new but just as special traditions for my own family. Ones that they can look back on and treasure. Ones full of Christmas magic. Full of presents and stories and delicious appetizers of our own. The one appetizer that is sure to make an appearance from now on will be this amazingly delicious but oh-so-easy Gournay Chicken Appetizer Recipe

If you’ve never put together a cheese plate or a cheese plate appetizer before don’t run off! It seems super complicated and sophisticated, but in reality, they’re all the rage right now because they’re as easy as they are delicious! I took a twist on the trending cheese plate and turn it into bite-sized finger food appetizers that are perfect for a huge Christmas party like the ones we always have had. I’ll be making it again to bring to our new Christmas tradition–the Christmas Party family reunion with my mother-in-law’s side of the family this year!

Here are the details on how you can make this smooth and savory appetizer part of your family’s yearly traditions too!

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First, you’ll need to go to–you guessed it, Walmart! It’s no surprise that if you see me post a recipe all the ingredients most likely came from my store, which is oh-too-conveniently located literally 2 minutes from my doorstep. What you might not have known is that they carry cheese plate worthy cheeses! They really do! I found this beyond delicious Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese in the little-refrigerated section of my store near the deli. This was the perfect flavor combo for my recipe, but if you’d like to mix things up you can also find it in these delicious flavors!

If you’ve never tried this creamy, crumbly cheese you absolutely must! It’s made to wow and is pretty and versatile enough that it goes wonderfully with lovely decor, accessories, and pairings!

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Here’s the whole shopping list you’ll need:

  • 2 Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese (there is even an iBotta offer for it right now so be sure to check that out!)
  • 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning for meat
  • Sturdy Crackers in flavor of choice
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Fresh Red Onion
  • Pomegranate seeds & Fresh Rosemary for plating and added tang (optional)

Squeeze lemon juice over chicken breasts. Season chicken breasts liberally with Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning. If desired leave in fridge to marinate in season for a few hours.

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Roughly chop both fresh mushrooms and red onion. You may add in 1 cup of each or adjust measurements to taste. Set aside.

When ready to begin cooking slice chicken into thin strips.

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Over medium-high heat combine and melt enough olive oil and butter to cover bottom of large skillet. When the oil and butter are melted and hot add chicken and saute until nearly cooked through.

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When chicken is white on the outside, add additional butter and olive oil if needed and then add in the chopped mushrooms and onions.

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Saute until both mushrooms and onions have caramelized and chicken is cooked through.

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Display on platter with Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese and crackers.

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To serve spread Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese onto a cracker, then top with one piece of chicken and some caramelized mushrooms and onions.

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It is sooooo delicious you guys!! Each bite is an explosion of savory sensations. Everyone is going to be raving at your holiday party so be sure to make enough! The beauty of this recipe is that it’s easy to tweak the amounts!

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What’s your favorite Christmas Tradition or Recipe — past or present? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Also, don’t forget to pin this post–you don’t want to miss out on this delicious cheese for all your platters and for this amazing appetizer!

If you’d like the recipe right now, here is a printable version!

Gournay Chicken Appetizer Recipe
Recipe Type: Appetiser
Author: Nicole
These bite sized appetisers explode with savory sensations and are the perfect answer to a cheese plate inspired serving that can work for a large crowd.
Ingredients
  • 2 Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese
  • 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning for meat
  • Sturdy Crackers in flavor of choice
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Fresh Mushrooms
  • Fresh Red Onion
  • Pomegranate seeds & Fresh Rosemary for plating and added tang (optional)
Instructions
  1. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken breasts.
  2. Season chicken breasts liberally with Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning. If desired leave in fridge to marinate in season for a few hours.
  3. Roughly chop both fresh mushrooms and red onion. You may add in 1 cup of each or adjust measurements to taste. Set aside.
  4. When ready to begin cooking slice chicken into thin strips.
  5. Over medium-high heat combine and melt enough olive oil and butter to cover bottom of large skillet. When the oil and butter are melted and hot add chicken and saute until nearly cooked through.
  6. When chicken is white on the outside, add additional butter and olive oil if needed and then add in the chopped mushrooms and onions.
  7. Saute until both mushrooms and onions have caramelized and chicken is cooked through.
  8. Display on platter with Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese and crackers.
  9. To serve spread Boursin® Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese onto a cracker, then top with one piece of chicken and some caramelized mushrooms and onions.

 

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How To Say Thank You To Police Officers This Holiday Season

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias

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The twinkling lights, the darling snowmen, the sweet music, the sparkle in your children’s eyes.

There are so many things to love about this time of year. One of the things I love the most, though, is the giving. I usually Christmas shop year round, seeking out the perfect and “just right” gifts for everyone on our list. I try to get something I know that person will love and cherish. Every year we also try to expand our giving beyond our tight group of family and friends. While this season can rapidly spiral downward into selfishness, I want our kids and us as a family to never get our eyes off the true meaning of the season. It’s the perfect time of year to remember those around us who are less fortunate, and also to remember those who serve us selflessly and behind the scenes day in and day out.

Every year we participate in buying presents for children who are right around the kid’s ages. They are always excited to help pick out items to send and it’s a huge reminder to be thankful when they come out to that overflowing mound of presents on Christmas day, to remember that for one child across  the world the only Christmas they get is what we sent in a small shoe box.

This year in addition to that I wanted to say thank you and give back to those who serve our community, as well. My father-in-law was in law enforcement for many, many years in both Texas and Wyoming, and my uncle has served on the police force in Wyoming ever since he got out of the Army, so long ago it’s a time I can’t remember. Because of my close connection to law enforcement, I know just what kind of sacrifices these amazing men in my life have had to make over the years, though neither would be quick to mention them. Because of the nature of their job police officers often only get to see even the best of humanity at their very worst, and on their very worst days. It’s extremely disheartening for them at times, and they don’t get told thank you nearly enough.

When we moved to our new hometown a few months ago one of the first things I noticed was the police presence everywhere. We moved in next door to a fine man who serves on the Sheriff’s department, and every time I take the kids to school I don’t dare go 1 mile over the speed limit, especially in those 20 mph school zones as there is almost always a faithful police officer running radar. I am so very, very thankful for this. I feel so much better sending my children to school each day knowing that each campus has a designated police officer sitting right inside the door, as well as faithful men and women protecting the streets around each campus. I wanted to help my children realize what a privilege this is, too, and so we came up with this idea to say thank you to our local police officers.

Although this printable was designed with law enforcement officials in mind, it can actually be used for any public servant from firefighters to the military. You could even use it to thank nurses at the local hospital or the people who work in the nursing home that your grandparent is in. There are so many faithful people serving our country and communities quietly and faithfully behind the scenes. Let’s go out of our way with a simple act of kindness to let them know …

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For this act of thankfulness and paying it forward you’ll just need a few fun things! Your first stop, of course, will be Walmart!

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Right now you can find these adorable and convenient Rubbermaid Holiday TakeAlongs in limited edition red, green and prints for the holidays right now through Christmas Eve! Look for them in your store on an end cap like the one I found above. With their Quik Clik Seal™ that keeps food secure inside and how easy they are to stack, they are the perfect items for gifting treats to your local community servants! Best of all Rubbermaid TakeAlongs are microwavable, top rack dishwasher and freezer safe, so once they finish their treats they can keep and continue to use them for themselves!

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I grabbed both the deep squares and the rectangles since I knew each would be perfect for all the different food storage solutions I need this Christmas from parties to gifting!

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While at Walmart you’ll also want to pick up all the ingredients you need to make your favorite holiday treats for gifting! Need some inspiration? Check out my Pinterest Board of the Best Desserts Ever. These are all tried-and-true recipes that I have made over and over again and can guarantee will bring a smile to everyone’s face! You also *have* to check out these amazing Holiday Recipes — they’re all family favorites created by super talented bloggers and are specifically designed for holiday sharing!

You will also want to grab some high-quality cardstock and a frame. This printable is standard paper size, or if you’d like to go with a smaller frame you can pick up a 5×7 frame and I’ll show you how to use it!

Once you’re home and you’ve got your goodies baking away it’s time to get your printable ready for gifting!

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First, you’ll need to get the printable, you can Download It Here

Print it off using your nice quality cardstock and get your photo frame. If you purchased a paper size photo frame place it inside and you’re all done! Easy-peasy.

I wanted something a little smaller that they’d be able to display at the department, so I opted to go with a 5×7 frame.

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Take the glass out of the frame and place it around the words until you have the positioning correct.

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Next take the outside of the frame and place it on top. Often this will cover up quite a bit more than the glass, so move both around until you can see all the words.

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Remove the outside of the frame and trace around the glass.

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Cut out the printable and place in your frame. Doesn’t it look amazing?! I just love how it turned out! Big props to my amazing sister-in-law Brianne who did the gorgeous hand-lettered piece for me! It’s truly unique!

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Now it’s just time to finish baking up your delicious treats and packing them up in your Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. You can go with cookies, brownies, candy canes, or a little bit of everything!

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Add some beautiful bow ribbons and you’re all set for gifting!

We dropped ours off at the station to the dispatcher since all our officers were out in the field serving. We were excited to leave them a surprise for when they returned from their shifts!

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Looking for more amazing Holiday Gifting Ideas and Delicious Recipes to Share? Check out all the amazing ideas here!

Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, MARS Incorporated. All opinions are mine alone. #BakeInTheFun #CollectiveBias

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The tree is up and decorated, Christmas music fills my office as I sit clicking away at the keyboard, and I’m currently in full–on festive scheming and planning mode. It’s officially the most wonderful time of the year!!

As much as I love everything about Christmas and all the many traditions we have that go along with it, if I would be hard pressed into picking a favorite it would end up being baking. Making our special once-a-year recipes is something I’ve always treasured and loved! It’s the tradition that gives back twofold — once with the gift of family time as I bake and create the delicious treat, and then once again with giving the gift of a sweet treat to someone we love! Our family has classic holiday recipes that come out each year, but every year I also try to add new, fun things to our baking bucket list as well.

We get to see my  brother-in-law’s family just once a year, so we always squeeze every bit of fun out of the time we have together, even if it’s just a few days. I always try to make something delicious to gift them with while they’re visiting us as well. Since he’s in the military they’re often in transition, and this year his entire family is actually in the middle of living in a motel for 6 months for a school he’s attending. During times like this, we don’t want to be burdening them down with a bunch of gifts to try to take back and figure out what to do with once they get there. Instead, we opt for clutter-free gifts like delicious treats and experiences we can all enjoy together.

This year I decided to whip up a batch of Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites as the sweet part of their gift. You already know how obsessed I am with brownies, and you can never go wrong with bite size, creamy, and M&M’S®!

Were they a hit? Well let’s just say that my sister-in-law was raving about how my brother-in-law loved them so much and, get this, he doesn’t even like sweets!!! I knew right then and there I had created a masterpiece, especially when she asked for the recipe. (Here you go, Lindsey! 😉 ) This was confirmed when my mother-in-law admitted sneaking the second container I brought down for sharing into her room so that she could keep it to enjoy for herself throughout the holiday season!

Can’t wait to make these so you’ll be the star of the show at your next friends or family gathering this season? Here’s what you’ll need–you’ll be amazed at just how easy they are to re-create!

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You’ll be shopping at Walmart, of course! I love using them for all my holiday cooking and baking! You can find the Pillsbury™ items in the baking aisle. I also found a fun and convenient center aisle display with holiday baking goodies. It included the special M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits that I needed as well!

Here’s your shopping list for this recipe:

  • Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix (and items to make brownies as listed on back of packaging)
  • Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting
  • M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits (be sure to look for the special holiday packaging so you can get the Green & Red only!)
  • CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray

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Best of all? Right now you can get the Ibotta offer listed above! Just click on the photo to go check out the details!

Items also needed:

  • Mini Muffin Baking Pan
  • Cake Decorating/Piping set or large plastic bag for piping frosting
  • Mini Tart Shaper or small rounded object for pressing down brownies into cups

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Now it’s time for the fun part–baking! First, preheat your oven to 325.

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Next, follow the directions on the back of the Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix Box to create brownie batter.

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Spray your mini muffin pan well with CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray. This step is vital as you’ll be scooping out the brownies once cooled, and if it is not well sprayed they will break apart.

Spoon brownie batter into cups until nearly full, you’ll want them to get all lovely and puffed up because you’ll be pressing the middles down and you need those good “cups” for holding the M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits.

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Bake for 14 Minutes or until the brownies have puffed up and no longer look wet. Keep a close eye because you do not want these to over bake! Allow them to cool for only a moment, and then press down the middles firmly to create a bowl. I use a mini-tart shaper, but any round object that’s the right size will work.

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Once the brownies have cooled completely use a butter knife to trace around the edges and get them out of the pan. Place on a cooling rack & fill with M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits. This recipe will actually fill your pan full twice (perfect so there’s some for your family to enjoy and some to share!) Once you have the first batch out get your second batch cooking in the oven as you begin to decorate.

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Using either a cake decorating kit or a plastic bag with the tip snipped off, pipe the Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting on top of the brownie and over the M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits. I wanted to create what looked like little snow-covered trees, so I piped it with a wide base coming to a pointed top. You could also use Pillsbury™ Funfetti® Green Vanilla Flavored Frosting to create green “trees” if desired.

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Allow the frosting to sit for about 5-10 minute until it just begins to set. The take additional M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits and stick into the frosting, to decorate your little mini “trees” with “ornaments”.

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How adorable and delicious looking are these?!?! The next step is to sneak taste test at least a few, you know, just to make sure they turned out well.

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Once you’ve finished the gift of family time of baking and eating these for yourself, it’s time to spread the love! Pack them up in a sturdy container with plenty of room for the tops. These containers were the perfect height and width and I’ll be sharing more about them in a blog post tomorrow with another delicious recipe plus a fun printable and idea to pay it forward, so be sure not to miss that!

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Complete your sweet treat with a simple bow and you’re ready to continue the holiday magic through gifting these delicious Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites to all your family, friends, and neighbors!

Looking for even more amazing recipes to bake this year (of course, you are!!) Check out all the jaw-dropping and amazing recipes for your family to make here!

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Don’t forget to Pin This Post so you don’t lose it!

Want it right now? Here’s a printable recipe:

Creamy M&M’S® Brownie Bites Recipe
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Nicole Elliott
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 24 Brownies
These delicious Brownie Bites look impressive but are so simple to put together and sure to become a new family holiday tradition!
Ingredients
  • Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix (and items to make brownies as listed on back of packaging)
  • Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting
  • M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits
  • CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. Follow the directions on the back of the Pillsbury™ Family Size Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix Box to create brownie batter.
  3. Spray mini muffin pan well with CRISCO® No-Stick Cooking Spray.
  4. Spoon brownie batter into cups until nearly full.
  5. Bake for 14 Minutes or until the brownies have puffed up and no longer look wet
  6. Allow them to cool for 1-2 minutes and then press down the middles firmly to create a bowl using mini-tart shaper.
  7. Once the brownies have cooled completely use a butter knife to trace around the edges and get them out of the pan.
  8. Place on a cooling rack & fill with M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits.
  9. Repeat with 2nd batch of Brownies
  10. Pipe Pillsbury™ Creamy Supreme® Vanilla Flavored Frosting on top of the brownie and over the M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits to form peak
  11. Allow the frosting to sit for about 5-10 minute until it just begins to set. The take additional M&M’S® Brand Minis Milk Chocolate Baking Bits and stick into the frosting.
  12. Allow frosting to set completely & store in a lidded container until ready to serve or gift.
  13. Enjoy!

 

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The Christmas Story

 A cherished tradition in our family is to read the Christmas Story aloud from the biblical passages on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I pray that you will do this  today and reflect on the amazing, all inspiring gift of a Almighty God who sent his Son to die for you and me.


Luke 1:26-38

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.
Luke 2:1-20
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Matthew 2:1-15
Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
Merry Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edible DIY Christmas Craft — Santa’s Winter Village

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HoneyMaidHouse #CollectiveBias

Edible DIY Christmas Craft -- Santa's Winter Village

Happy Week of Christmas! How on earth did that happen? This month has whirled by for us in a fun and crazy blur and I can hardly believe that Christmas is practically here! Since we’ve been so busy I’m packing many of our yearly traditions into one fun, festive marathon this week.

One thing that the kids have always loved doing is making a holiday village that’s edible. This time of year is jam-packed with so many treats, however, that added one more extra load of sugar just never feels like a good idea, and we often ended up throwing most of it away. I didn’t want to spoil the fun, but I knew that there had to be a better option that giving them one that was loaded down with sugar.

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How To Make a Christmas Gift Budget Guide Spreadsheet

Christmas-Gift-Budget-Guide

‘Tis the season–for spending! And while I hope that you find a bunch of awesome, splendid and fun things to purchase this year I also hope that you have and are sticking to a Christmas Gift Budget!

For the past several years now I’ve used a spreadsheet to help me keep track of all the gifts I purchase, how much I’m spending, how much I’m saving, if they’re wrapped, etc etc. I’ve found that this really helps me keep everything organized and keeps me within my holiday budget! I love to have all my Christmas shopping done by December 1st (and yes–all my shopping IS done for the year already!) But if you haven’t started it isn’t too late–and even if you have it’s still not to late to keep track.

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The Perfect Gift For Him (That Hard To Buy for Guy)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GiftingAMemory #CollectiveBias

Not to toot my own horn…

(don’t you just love it when statements start like that, you know the person is about to do whatever they claim they’re not doing? But back to what I was saying)

Continue reading “The Perfect Gift For Him (That Hard To Buy for Guy)”

Simple Ways To Make Special Christmas Memories

This shop for ice cream has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HolidayMadeSimple #CollectiveBias

I absolutely LOVE traditions and festive happenings this time of year!!! My favorites, however, are the ones that are simple enough to do each and every year, no matter where we are as a family! This has been super important since we have spent Christmases in a variety of situations since having kids. Some we’ve spent at home with just the 3 or 4 of us, some I’ve been in Wyoming with my family and the kids, but without Bob; still others we’ve spent with just his parents or all his family together. With unpredictability and traveling it’s important to have easy, flexible traditions that can be done anywhere.

Just because traditions or things that you do together are simple, doesn’t mean that they won’t be special! In fact I think most often the simple things are the ones that become precious memories! Here are some of the sweet, simple things we do each year so that you can get inspired!

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