Tuesday, 29 December 2015

An Interruption

I'm going to go ahead and interrupt our regular scheduled Blogmas post for this announcement: I've been sick this Christmas. Sick enough that yesterday, when I was supposed to be writing today's and tomorrow's post I ended up sleeping all day instead. But fear not!  Once I'm better... Which will hopefully be really, REALLY soon I shall complete these last 2 posts (psst... It's on what I got for Christmas and New Year plans). But for now, it's back to sleeping. 

What I Gave This Christmas

Day 29
What I Gave For Christmas

First, with John's family the kids all drew names... I got his sister's name that lives up North so I bought her present forever ago it seems so that John's mom could bring it to her when she visited.  She got a rectangular pizza stone (which I found at Home Outfitters for a reasonable prince - trust me it wasn't easy to find it!) and a Sephora gift card.

I gave John part of his present early because his favourite NHL team was here at the beginning of December.  His present was 2 tickets to the game (and he picked me to go with him!)

But then I figured he needed something to open Christmas as well.  I was going to sneak the little Lego man (the middle item) into his stocking here but I didn't think we would be here at on Christmas so I just put all the items in a gift bag and brought it to his parents place.

What is everything?
Well, from left to right we have...
1.  An Ovechkin Christmas tree ornament.  The guy at the store told me it didn't look anything like Ovechkin and I told him that didn't matter.  What matters is that now John will have an ornament on his tree from this girl (because he has a bunch of different ornaments on his tree from different girls - his mom, his piano teacher, his Sunday school teacher.... he needed one from me!)
2.  Ovechkin Lego man.  John likes Lego.  John likes the Capitals.  John likes Ovechkin.
3.  This was the first thing I bought him... just a travel mug.  Why?  Because he doesn't have one.

Can you tell what the theme was?

I would like to think I really did well with his present... and I didn't even have to ask him what he wanted!

For my parents I bought them a gift card for ticket master.  I find them so hard to buy for so I usually end up getting them tickets to something.  Originally I was going to send them to a hockey game with my aunt and uncle but that kind of fell through when I needed to have the item purchased before I left on Christmas Eve.  So, now they can pick something that they actually want to see.

These were pretty much it... there were a few smaller ones and I think John put my name on his present to his parents (and I put his name on my present to my parents).  

Monday, 28 December 2015

How I Spent Christmas

Day 28
How I Spent Christmas

This year for Christmas I spent it with John's family (because my family was getting together on Boxing Day).  We spent it opening presents, eating, celebrating, and remembering why we celebrate Christmas

I hope that however you spent Christmas this year that it was festive and great and perfect for you!

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Hot Cocoa Cookies

Day 27

Hot Cocoa Cookies

52 Weeks of Cookies:  Week 26

The halfway point has arrived!

And what better way to celebrate the halfway point than with something to make all this snow a little more bearable.

I feel like over the last week we've gotten snow every.single.day... it's so much!
I mean it was great because who wouldn't love a white Christmas (to be honest... it just wouldn't be Christmas without it.. to me at least).

Anyways, this week (which I know, I know, I'm posting this one day late) I made some Hot Cocoa Cookies because well, one needs something to eat with their hot cocoa!

These were pretty easy to make.  But I did make some adjustments.

First, I used chocolate chips instead of chocolate bars.  I looked up how many ounces in a chocolate bar to determine how much to use... I don't even really recall how much I used (I halved the recipe and I want to say about 5 handfuls?  So precise... I know).  Then I used 4 chocolate chips under each marshmallow.  The grating part is where it got a little complicated.  I put some chocolate chips in a food processor in hopes to turn it into more of a powder at least... it only half worked.  You can kind of tell that wherever a larger chunk of chocolate chip landed on the marshmallow that it caused the marshmallow to cave in a bit.  But I'm judging these on taste... not on how they look!  I guess I could have also just sprinkled a little cocoa powder on top instead... ah well.


I was worried that these were going to taste way too chocolaty for me (if that were the case I knew John would love them though)... but they actually aren't (too chocolaty that is).   So, I'm going to give these a 9/10 (because I think they are pretty good).  My only concern is will they still be pretty good when they aren't fresh out of the oven?

Last week I made some Chocolate Mint Sandwiches

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day

Day 26
Boxing Day

Boxing Day... The day after Christmas... December 26th.

I'm not sure if it is like this everywhere but where I'm from there are a lot of pretty good deals to be had the day after Christmas.  I only started taking part in Boxing Day festivities in recent years... because I finally had extra money to spend, I needed furniture, and because I wasn't having a family gathering so I had more time to get out and go shopping.  I've still never waited in a long line at like 2am though... because that just isn't for me when it's this cold outside!

Anyways, this year I'm planning to get a new cell phone because I'm still using an iPhone 4s... which means I'll also be hunting around for a new plan.

I also really want these shoes but I've been looking (online) for them in my size and it's starting to look like they are all sold out (at least at places that will deliver to Canada)... I'm a little sad about this but I could have gotten them a while ago.  So I guess I only have myself to blame?

Last year I got a new winter jacket from North Face (online).  It took a while to find the one I wanted, in my size, from a store that would ship to Canada but I was so SO so happy when I did find it.  I had my eye on this jacket for a loong time (even trying them on in the store here so that I knew my correct size)... so I was super excited when I found it and I was even more happy when I got it within a couple days.  If you live somewhere that it gets COLD in the winter (I'm talking like -30's and colder) then do yourself a favour and get yourself a really good winter jacket!

I also got new black boots last year.  There is nothing special about these black boots except that they are leather and will hopefully last a long, long time.

The year previous (so 2013) I had just moved into my place so I was in the market for some furniture.  I picked up my bedroom furniture and mattress on Boxing Day.  The furniture I got from a discount furniture place and I don't recall if it was discounted more because of Boxing Day... but I'm still liking it so I'm going to go ahead and say it was a good purchase.

I've always considered buying a new tv on Boxing Day because mine is pretty ancient... but I don't watch enough tv to make that seem worthwhile.... at least not yet.

What has been your most successful Boxing Day purchase?

Friday, 25 December 2015

Outfit Of The Day

Day 25
Christmas Outfit Of The Day
Just a little #OOTD for all of you

Confession: I took this picture a while ago and planned to wear this on Christmas so that it wouldn't be a complete lie.  Is this what I'm currently wearing?  Well, if you are reading this at 7am then probably not....  but I am planning to wear this today!

You may remember the sweater from My Christmas Wish List... I caved and bought it for myself (and people are complimenting it and I'm loving it - it was cozy!).  Otherwise, I'm wearing a white shirt that I've had forever (in this photo I'm wearing it at least... that may be the one thing I change about this outfit and wear a t-shirt instead... just in case I get too warm... the t-shirt will look better I think.), and jeans.  Since this sweater has such a big collar I always wear my hair up with it... we'll see if that's what I decide to do on Christmas.

Hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas Day!

In case you missed... here is my post on What Christmas Means to Me

Thursday, 24 December 2015

What Christmas Means to Me

Day 24
What Christmas Means to Me

Christmas to me means a bunch of things... but when I first started thinking about this post I thought of this quote from our good friend... The Grinch

I like it, because for myself, it's true

A few days ago John called me requesting a Christmas Wishlist for his mom and I really struggled thinking of what I needed.  I knew I didn't really NEED anything so obviously I eventually put together a list of things I wanted.... 

For me, Christmas isn't about getting presents

I mean, it's lovely to get presents and I appreciate them all... I might even be a little disappointed if one year I didn't get any.  But presents are definitely not the most important part of Christmas and I don't want to ever think that I have to get presents because it's Christmas.

So the question remains, what does Christmas mean to me?

It means spending time with family and friends

It means giving to others before yourself

It means going to at least one Christmas themed church service

It means having a bunch of fun with a bunch of different people

It means good food and great company

It means seeing people you haven't seen in a while

But most importantly it means remembering why we celebrate this day and remembering Jesus' birth and all that he did for us.
God sent his son to Earth to save us all from our sins.  God sent Jesus to Earth so that one day he would die... for all of us!  Which really, is the best present of all... because think about it.... if someone stepped in front of a bullet that was heading straight for you wouldn't you be forever grateful for that person?

This video is a few years old but is still very much applicable.  It tells the story of Christmas through social media

This past Sunday my church did their children's Christmas concert and play... they played this song during it which I feel like tells a good part of the Christmas story and a bunch of things that Jesus would do in his life time.

Hope you have a very blessed Christmas this year!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas Drinks

Day 23
Christmas Beverages

Today for Blogmas lets talk drinks.  To be more specific let's talk delicious hot drinks because it is getting cold up here!

When considering what drinks to add to this post I said to myself "Now Christine, everyone knows how to crush up a candy cane and put it in hot chocolate"... so needless to say I didn't include that one (just kidding I changed my mind and included a hot chocolate recipe - that does not include a hot chocolate mix).

Confession: I'm not big into the alcohol but if you wanted to make these a little more alcoholic I would suggest some Bailey's or Kaluha.

Confession #2:  I took pictures of each and every single one of these drinks (I really did make them all.. I promise!) but then they pretty well all looked exactly the same.  So enjoy the few pictures I included.

Up first we have one of my absolute favourites to make!
Pumpkin Spice Latte
I LOVE to make this for a few reasons

1) It gets made in my crockpot which means I can turn it on before church, head out to church for a couple of hours and come back to something warm and delicious...  There is just something nice about a warm cup of pumpkin spice latte after coming back from church on a chilly morning.
2) It's pumpkin spice (need I say more)
3) It's pumpkin spice without the price tag of having to go to Starbucks.

Now, I have a REALLY small crockpot so I have to cut this recipe at least in half (when it is just John and I though I'll cut it down to a quarter recipe.

I make my own pumpkin pie spice instead of buying it in the store you can find a recipe for some here.  I've also never purchased allspice before but one can make it using some spices that you likely already have in your cupboard (equal amounts of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg) .

I don't have espresso (I don't even know if you need a fancy special espresso machine to make the stuff) so I just make strong coffee... no one has ever complained.

I've been making this for years and it has never done me wrong.  So you should definitely try it this holiday season and maybe try it with these Pumpkin Cookies

This next recipe will go great with my Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Cookies because well..
Cookies and Cream Hot Chocolate

Bonus: This one is seriously easy to make.

I'm a big fan of the coconut frappachino at Starbucks during the summer time.... so I set my sights on a hot beverage that might compare... which I came across one that involved both caramel and coconut I knew it would be good.

Caramel Coconut Hot Chocolate

We don't have those Nestle chocolates where I am (that I'm aware of) so instead of using caramel chocolates (which I guess I probably could have found something more comparable) I just added a bunch of caramel sauce that I would put on ice cream.  It turned out great... I actually like this one just as much as I liked the pumpkin one.  Just watch the coconut that you're toasting (I put mine in the toaster oven)... it seems like it is taking forever and then you go to respond to one text message and BAM it's burnt.

You can enjoy this beverage with my Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finally, I thought this post needed another coffee option PLUS I was missing out on doing anything with eggnog and that just isn't right.

Eggnog Latte

Much like with the Pumpkin Spice Latte I used strong coffee instead of espresso for this one.  I didn't think I would enjoy this one too much because I know that I don't like the eggnog option at Starbucks with their holiday drinks... well, I much preferred my version of it!

Don't forget to enjoy this with my Eggnog Cookies... the perfect pairing!

Hot Chocolate
Ok, I know I said I wasn't going to but for those of who are too afraid to try something new and exciting John came over a while ago and told me he was looking up where the best hot chocolate was in the city... he had a couple of options but then we decided to make it ourselves.

In case you are only wanting to try a couple of these lovely drinks my favouites are the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Caramel Coconut Hot Chocolate.

Now it's your turn... have you tried any of these?
Considering to try one of these?
Which one sounds the best to you?

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Christmas Stockings

Day 22
Christmas Stocking Stuffers For EVERYONE!

Today I'm talking stockings... Christmas stockings (and what we're all putting in them)... except I don't think I'm putting anything in any Christmas stockings so well... I would say this is all a lie BUT if I needed to fill some stockings this is what I might include (or maybe I'll look back on this in a few years for ideas).

I can't imagine me spending more than $20 on Christmas stocking stuffers.... can you imagine if you have more than a few kids... just the stockings could end up costing a bunch!  So, shop smart folks.. Walmart has a $5 movie bin with many great movies in it... Michaels has 40% off coupons all the time... and well the Dollar Store has rows upon rows of stuff for under a few dollars.

Kids Stockings

- movies
- little stuffies
- travel sized games or card games
-  books
-  little toys
-  colouring books
-  stickers
-  headbands
-  socks, mitts, toque, scarf
-  candy, chocolate

Teen Stockings

-  make up, nail polish
-  movies
-  gift cards
-  books, magazine subscription
-  electronic game (I don't play any of these... but I'm thinking like Nintendo which is probably SO not in).
-  socks, mitts, toque, scarf
-  hair elastics
-  candy, chocolate

Adult Stockings

-  books, magazine subscriptions
-  socks, mitts, toque, scarf
-  movie
- gift cards
-  nail polish
-  small kitchen gadgets of some kind, coasters
-  ornaments
-  sunglasses
-  small notebook, pens
-  candles
-  tea
-  coffee

Monday, 21 December 2015

DIY Chistmas Framed Art

Day 21
Christmas Frame Art

Folks, this one is so simple to do (and you barely need any supplies to make them!)... it shouldn't cost you more than $10 (but hopefully it will be even less because, like myself, you'll be able to re purpose some of the things you have at home.

Here's what you'll need

Some picture frames.
I already had these (pretty sure they come from Ikea in a package of 2).  I was lucky and mine were red but I think a lot of different colours and styles of frames would work for this.  I actually considered removing some of the artwork from some of the frames I currently have up around my place and making them into Christmas frames just for this season and then putting all the proper pictures back in them... but I didn't... but you could!

(my apologies for the sideways picture)

Wrapping Paper.
Any kind will do.  Here's my collection of Christmas wrapping paper that I had to choose from

Christmas wrapping paper

Tape, Scissors, and Glue 

(you may not need both glue and tape... I used both but it isn't necessary)


I cut up a cracker box so that it would fit inside my frames (I figured out the size by tracing the back part of the frame... no measuring for me!)


The steps are simple enough... in fact the first step you can already see done above

Glue or Tape wrapping paper onto cardboard.
You can see that when you glue the wrapping paper on the cardboard kind of bends... this is why it might be a better idea to use tape BUT.. keep in mind that you are putting it in a frame anyways so it will lay flat in there.

Glue or tape the wrapping paper on the back of the cardboard.
I just wanted it to be on there nice and secure.  I also wanted to make sure my wrapping paper covered the entire front... this was just easiest.

Put wrapping paper covered cardboard back into frames

But frames up around the house

I told you it was easy.

Psst... in one of these photos you can spy My Advent Calendar (just click on that link to learn about what I did for one this year).

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Presents for Everyone!

Day 20
Shopping For That Hard to Buy For Person

Confession:  I've got A LOT of gatherings over the next couple of weeks (just check out my Christmas Gatherings post!) and so I'm prewriting a lot of these last few days (my goal is actually to extend this right until the end of December... we'll see how that goes).  Not that I haven't been prewriting most of what I've already done... I just feel like these next few days might be obviously prewritten.... so you've been warned!

Anyways, this post is all about what to get for that person that has everything (or is just really hard to get a present for).  

Let me tell you folks, you are making it too hard!  This person is actually the easiest person to buy for... chances are you can get your shopping for this person done within minutes... possibly while you are doing your grocery shopping or from the comfort of your own home!

And here it is... the present that is sure to please that person that already has everything they could need:  
Tickets to ANYTHING!

Here is a list of tickets that you could get:

- Concert Tickets
-  Ballet Tickets
-  Comedy Show Tickets
-  A special event Tickets (like if Cirque du Soleil was coming or something)
-  Dinner Theater Tickets
-  Sporting Event Tickets
-  A Family Show 
-  Tickets to a play

OR... get them tickets and a hotel stay for somewhere outside of the city you live in if you want to be extra generous (or a bunch of people are contributing to the present).

Now, some of you are going to be all "but they already have season tickets to every sporting event, or "they hate the arts", or "what if they are busy the date that I get the tickets for".  

Well fine then.
(chances are if they really wanted to see whatever it is you got them tickets for they would change their plans though)

Go out and get them a gift card to a restaurant.  They can go out to dinner which means they don't have to cook it... everyone is still happy.
(psst,... this the one you could probably accomplish while grocery shopping... just check out their gift card section)

In a week or 2 I'll be (hopefully) doing a post about what I got others for Christmas and I think this ticket/gift card idea is going to work with 3 people that I'm buying presents for.

I'm sure there are other things and ideas of what you could get that person that already has everything though... so leave your ideas in the comment section below!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

Day 19
Mint Cookies!

52 Weeks of Cookies:  Week 25

I'm almost halfway done with my one cookie/week posts!  If I'm being completely honest with you all (and I would like to think I always am)... it has been a bit of a challenge.  But I WILL finish what I've started... and I WILL still fit into all my current pants at the end of it.

Now that that's out of the way.... this week I made some Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies that I found on Taste of Home.

You may remember my last attempt at Thin Mint Cookies and how I didn't enjoy them too much (I mean... the taste wasn't bad but the cookie part... that was just so hard!).  Anyways, these ones are a little better (although,I still think there is room for improvement).

I didn't do anything differently from what the recipe said to do (as far as I'm aware at least).  I left the cookie dough in the fridge for probably close to 24 hours before cutting the dough and baking it.  As per usual I halved the recipe.... and then decided there wasn't enough icing so I left the icing recipe as the usual amount for a full recipe.

I found the recipe to not "fluff up" as much as I was hoping for.  Going off the picture on Taste of Home.... it does seem like they either tripled the icing recipe or used a different recipe altogether... oh Taste of Home... you failed me on the icing!  So, I was finding the recipe to be a little too runny... especially when you put the other cookie on top.  To solve this I just stuck them all in the freezer for a little bit and then stuck them together... then I stuck them back in the freezer because that is where I store my cookies!

My other qualm with these cookies is that the cookie part is a little dry... I wish it were most moist.  I think I could improve on these quite a bit for next time... I'm thinking one of those homemade Oreo recipes and just add some mint and green food colouring the icing (and not adding in vanilla to the icing).

My rating for these cookies?  7/10... what can I say... there is room for improvement!

Last week I made some Sugar Cookies that are always delicious!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Christmas Gatherings

Day 18

John and I just counted all the Christmas gatherings that we have and get this... we have 9.  Some are a lot smaller than others but still... 9.  I also had 1 other Christmas party without him.  It's a lot... especially considering there are 5 days straight and a total of 9 between the 16-28 (never more than one on any date though).

BUT, here are a few of my Christmas Gatherings (and some of the traditions we have)

1)  I always get together with these girls

just a bunch of sisters and cousins
We usually do a scarf exchange but this year we just did a $5 gift exchange.

2) Both sides of my parents family

We used to do one gathering on Christmas and the other on boxing day (and then alternating which family we'd see on which day every year).  For the record, my parents are still very much together... it's just getting together with some extended family.

Now that we've grown up and become a little more busy (with many of us getting married) it doesn't work out to organize it for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.  So we just find a day that most of us are free and choose it!

On my dad's side we do a $10 gift exchange.  The rule used to be that the present had to be purchased from Canadian Tire and the goal was to save the most money (receipts had to be included) but this year it has morphed into any $10 present.

On my mom's side we don't do presents.

But we will: listen (and possibly have a role in) the Christmas story, sing Christmas carols, eat, play games, visit... or well I'm assuming we will do all of this based on how it is from other years.

3)  Both sides of John's parents family.

I don't know what his traditions are or what it will be like... maybe I'll have it figured out in a few years.

4) Life group Christmas party

Last year we went to one member's place in the country but alas, he is in Germany this year.... 
So this year... I'm hosting it!  Well... technically I already hosted it (it was on the 16th).

We are putting together a Christmas hamper for a family in need and delivering it this day as well.

5)  My immediate family

this would be my parents and sisters and all our significant others.

When we were kids we always had our Christmas on Christmas eve (because we were always busy on Christmas and boxing day) and would go out to eat and to look at Christmas lights.

6)  John's immediate family

We are with them on Christmas day this year (and Christmas eve... because they want to see a lot of me... yes, I'm assuming it is me they want to see).

7) Work parties

This year, I didn't have one and usually bigger corporations get theirs out of the way earlier on but because of Grey Cup festivities everything got bumped back a little later so this year we are attending John's on the 19th.  It's a fancier event.  Dresses will be worn and corsages will be offered (by his work... not by him).

And I think this pretty much covers it!

If I were teaching this year... I think I might feel that a 2 week break was not nearly long enough!

Here's to still being able to fit into all my clothes in the New Year!

How many Christmas gatherings and parties do you have this year?

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Classroom Christmas Parties

Day 17

One last time during Blogmas I'm sending your over to my other blog: Confessions of a Modern Day Substitute Teacher. This time to learn how to throw a successful Classroom Christmas Party (even if you are only starting to think of it this morning).  So, grab your coffee, relax, and head over there!

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

DIY: Christmas Ornament Wreaths

Day 16
DIY Ornament Wreath

Welcome to Day 16 of Blogmas everyone!  Only 9 more days until Christmas!
I'm glad you're here!

Last week I took you on a little tour of my condo and some of the Christmas decorations I've put up (but not the stuff on my Christmas Tree) and I mentioned how my friend Jessica and I made Ornament Wreaths.  Well, today I'm here to walk you through that process.

First, Jessica and I planned to make these a year in advance.  Yes, I said a year.  But that's because we are Mennonite and didn't want to pay full price for ornaments.  If you don't mind paying full price for ornaments there is still plenty of time for you to make your ornament wreath this season.  If you want to save a few dollars than read on to find out what you will need and you can gather it all up at the end of this Christmas season.

Now that we both knew we would be making these lovely ornament wreaths it was time to get inspired.  A quick image search on google turns up TONS of pictures.

After my perusal of what other people had done I was originally thinking of doing a very colourful one that would include pinks and purples and well... every colour!  So I was buying lots of ornaments in all kinds of colours.

After a little more searching and thinking about what I already have in the living room (my plan was always to put this above my fireplace and my Christmas tree is right beside it) I started to think that a silver and gold ornament wreath would look elegant there

Then I thought about my love for turquoise... and even if it doesn't go with the tree decorations I likely won't be living in this condo for forever.  And so I considered a blue, turquoise, and silver one
For the record, when looking up turquoise wreaths I did stumble on a peacock one that I did consider making... but then I thought maybe Christmas was a season that I didn't need a peacock thing in my living room.

I think Jessica and I ended up making ours around mid November 2014.  After being inspired online I knew that I wanted a blue, turquoise, silver, and green one.  I didn't care that it wasn't matchy matchy with my tree.  I cared that I would love it when it was done (and I do).

This meant that I had to go out and get more ornaments now that I knew exactly what colours I wanted.
Some I found at Goodwill 
But most of the "new" ones (the ones that I got during Christmas season 2014 and not end of the previous Christmas season) came on sale from either Target or Walmart (this was back in the day when we still had Target up here in Canada... *sigh* those were the days)

I knew I wanted a variety of looks and sizes and my friend and I had agreed that we would swap ornaments with each other for different colours (so remember those pink ones that I got at the end of the previous Christmas season.. my friend used them and I used some of her extra silver and white ones).

Get LOTS of ornaments.  You're going to think you have enough but you need LOTS... I'm willing to bet I have about 100 on mine or so (but I also wanted mine to be loaded with them).

Other than the ornaments you'll also need a foam wreath.  I got mine from Michaels because they always have those 40% off coupons and I made sure mine was white (not green) so that it would blend more if you saw it through the gaps in the ornaments. I believe I purchased the largest size they had.

Then get yourself a glue gun if you don't already have one.  I bought mine at Michaels a long time ago when I was doing some crayon art) and it was the cheapest one they sold... it works fine (most of the time).

You can find the glue sticks for glue guns at dollar stores (you can also often find the glue guns there too).

I had my friend bring over some newspapers and we spread them out over the table.  We plugged in an extension cord and power bar and heated up our glue guns.

My friend wrapped some sparkly garland around her ornament wreath and I left mine plain.

When putting on the ornaments you need to take out the metal thing at the top that you would put a hook or string through to put it on your tree.  Well... I guess you don't have to but we did.  I also tried to put that part of the ornament away from the front so that you would see the round ball part.  Use whatever you need to in order to yank that metal thing out... we used some precision screw drivers and pliers.

The first thing I started with was to put ornaments around the outside of the wreath... trying to make sure that the ornaments would sit flat for when I put up on the wall.  Then I did the inside ring.  I didn't want there to being any pattern to my wreath... I just wanted it to be random.  After I finished both of those I used some more of my bigger ornaments in the middle sections and then started filling in spaces with some of the smaller ones.  I think it likely took an hour or 2 but my friend and I are both happy with how ours turned out (she even has other people asking her to make them... maybe we can start up a little business).

My finished product:

Make sure you have LOTS of ornaments... I can't stress this enough.  You'll be sad and frustrated and possibly never get back to it if you have to go out and get more midway through.  If you are worried that you'll have lots of extra ornaments you can do what I did and put them in a basket for some Christmas Decor or in a large vase.

Make sure you have LOTS of glue for your glue gun.

Don't buy glass ornaments... we ended up breaking at least a couple.

Start by pulling lots of those metal things off the tops of your ornaments... I just think it might go a little quicker.

If you want to wrap a ribbon around the wreath so that you are able to hang it with that later on you need to do that before you put the ornaments on.  I didn't think of this... so I just hang mine without one... it still works but I do worry that one day I will come home to find it on the floor because it just isn't as stable.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas Breakfast

Day 15
Christmas Breakfast Options

Welcome to Blogmas Day 15 (only 10 more days until Christmas!!)

Picture this
It is Christmas morning and you have a fancy Christmas beverage in your hand (that you are you going to learn all about on Day 24).  The tree is decorated and loaded with presents under it and the stockings by the chimney are ready to be ripped into (just don't rip the stocking!).  And what's that you smell?  Why it's Christmas breakfast warming in the oven!

Here are some options to make for Christmas breakfast (or, if you are like me you and your boyfriend ate them for dinner every Sunday in November so that you would have the pictures for this blog)... did we also enjoy these dinners with our special Christmas beverages?  Well... one day that worked out.
French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole
I've made this a ton and it is delicious!  Trust me... you won't be disappointed!

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes
I don't know how many times I've just wanted to eat a cinnamon bun for dinner (because breakfast for dinner is alive and well at my place) but alas, I've never had the proper ingredients.  Well, not anymore with a cinnamon bun pancake! I didn't get a picture of these but know this... they are delicious!  I think the recipe is perfect for 2 people (only I would half the icing recipe).
Pumpkin Pancakes

For another version of pancakes...
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
Pancakes are super easy and don't require you to do much prepping (or even thinking) ahead of time.  Just make sure you go out and buy some pumpkin!

These ones don't have chocolate chips in them... I made the last 2 pancakes with chocolate chips though and we made them into dessert pancakes.  But since it's Christmas and we are already eating unhealthy... may as well just toss the chocolate chips in with the whole batch!

pumpkin waffles
Pumpkin Waffles
maybe you can go all out and eat these with a Pumpkin Spice Latte (coming soon)?

Where's the meat?
John and I cooked up some sausage or bacon to add to these (along with some fruit salad) but in this humble bloggers opinion we eat so much at Christmas and so it is okay to not have meat at one of the meals for the day.

I asked John which of these breakfasts (for dinner) he liked best and he said the French Toast Casserole.  I was stuck between the casserole and the cinnamon bun pancakes but in the end I chose the pancakes... they were really, really good!... so good that I think I'm going to make them again today!

Now it's your turn...
Which of these are you going to make sure you have ingredients for this Christmas?
Do you have a different tradition that you follow for a Christmas morning breakfast? 
 Fill this girl in using the comment section below!

Monday, 14 December 2015

Christmas Decor in the Classroom

Day 14
Classroom Christmas Decor

Once again, for today's Blogmas I'm sending you over to my teaching blog:  Confessions of a Modern Day Substitute Teacher to read about different ideas for how you can Decorate Your Classroom For Christmas!


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Volunteering at Christmas

Day 13
Volunteering (and giving) At Christmas
Things are getting a little serious today for Blogmas.  Many of us are very blessed and live in a world of some sort of privilege.  BUT, at the same time many people do not live in this same privileged world.  It's wonderful to receive presents and eat lots of delicious food at Christmas time and I just think we should all be a little more willing to help those in need.  This year, I spent my time and money helping one local family and 2 kids overseas.

Not to guilt you into doing anything but you could consider giving up your morning coffee for a couple months (or find a cheaper alternative) in order to do something.  My old pastor would always tell us that if we owned a car we were in the top 10% (or so) of the richest people in the world.  He would often direct us to Global Rich List so that you could see just how rich you are in comparison to others.

Every year some friends and I sign up to do a Christmas hamper for a family in need in our city.  I usually spearhead the project and it usually works out quite nicely.  Basically, you sign up for a family of a size that you are willing to help (since it isn't just me and a couple friends I've requested a family of 8 or more the last couple years) and you buy groceries for the family (for a Christmas dinner and other stuff to last them a little while) as well as presents for any children.  When I spoke with the mom of the family she told me she was trying to implement a family game night and the kids loved books so this year we went above and beyond and put together a little collection of games and books for the family as well.

I think that it is important to note that no matter where people live they could still be struggling at Christmas.  It isn't for us to judge how well off a person is because of the car they drive or the house they live.  Things could be gifts, maybe they bought their house before they ran into trouble and have it all paid off.  Anyone could be struggling financially this Christmas.

Anyways, I would like to think, that is is super easy to do... what I always do is print off (or write out) a list of all the items we have to get and get my friends to sign up for different ones.  Then I take a collection for the presents and go out and buy them.  

Here is our collection of presents!

hamper presents
 and here they are all wrapped under my Christmas tree!

The project I help with for overseas is Operation Christmas Child.  John and I put together these boxes a month or two ago and dropped them off at our church.

Super easy to do... just a trip to the Dollar Store and Shoppers Drugmart and it was done!

Don't have money but still want to give something back?
Consider giving your time.  There are lots of organizations that need volunteers.  It could be anything from a nursing home to a soup kitchen to a pet shelter.
Shovel your neighbours walk
Organize a neighbourhood clean up
Bring cookies to your neighbour.

and I'm sure there are so many others.

I've been reading a book about paying it forward... I think that is the kind of attitude more people need to have... to do something nice for another and not expect anything in return.
Then today I heard a story on the news about a person giving someone money to call a lock smith for no reason whatsoever... with the extra money that wasn't spent this person that needed the lock smith bought and donated some toys to a local charity.  This is awesome.

Are you going to volunteer this Christmas season?
What are you going to do to give back?