Archive | December, 2012

Crockpot Candy

30 Dec

IMG_7490

I feel like I must give a HUGE WARNING with this recipe. BEWARE–it is highly addictive! I was introduced to Crockpot Candy 8 Christmases ago. It was Christmas 2004, and I was about 11 weeks pregnant with our first son. A good friend of my in-laws gave them a tin filled with Crockpot Candy, and it was my downfall that Christmas. I could not stop eating this stuff, and the scales didn’t lie. I gained 8 pounds when I went to my OB appointment a couple of weeks later, and my OB told me to get it together! As Eve passed the blame to Adam in the Garden of Eden, I passed the blame to the Crockpot Candy. The Crockpot Candy made me gain the weight; it wasn’t my fault at all. 🙂

I make this yummy recipe every Christmas. Three reasons why I love this recipe…

1) It’s just YUMMY–Basically, Crockpot Candy is more adequately described as chocolate covered peanuts. How can you EVER go wrong with chocolate covered ANYTHING!?!?

2) The word “CROCKPOT” is in the recipe’s title–Don’t you love your Crockpot!?!? If not, you need to make that a New Year’s Resolution for 2013. For this recipe, the Crockpot does the work–dump ingredients, come back 3 hours later, drop the mixture by spoonfuls onto wax paper and you’re done!

3) This recipe makes SO MUCH–I make this every Christmas to use as gifts for friends and family. One batch of this recipe makes anywhere from 80-100 pieces (depending on how big you spoon out each piece). It makes great gifts for school teachers, Sunday School teachers, friends, mailmen, etc. Or, you can be like I did 8 Christmases ago…and eat a whole batch by yourself!

IMG_7476

  One of my favorite parts of making this recipe is hammering the Almond Bark. I’m sure there’s some other way to break the Almond Bark, but getting a little frustration out with the kitchen hammer is amazing.IMG_7478All of the ingredients are in my Crockpot! Now, I can go take a 3 hour nap while my Crockpot does all of the hard work.IMG_7487

3 hours later, the mounds of chocolate have melted into chocolate yumminess.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Crockpot Candy

1 (16 ounce) jar salted peanuts*
1 (16 ounce) jar unsalted peanuts
1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips (or 1 1/2 cups)
1 (4 ounce) bar German chocolate, broken into pieces
3 pounds white chocolate almond bark, broken into pieces

Put ingredients into a 4 or 5 quart crockpot in the order listed above.  Cover and cook 3 hours on LOW.  Do not remove lid during the 3 hours.  Turn off and cool slightly.  Mix thorougnly and drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper.  Let cool thoroughly.

*I usually use all unsalted peanuts.

DIY-Chex Mix (BYOM–Bring your own microwave!)

30 Dec

 IMG_7482 I mentioned in my Secret Angel post that we made lots of Chex Mix and Crockpot Candy for this fun, new Christmas tradition. I had every intention of posting my Chex Mix and Crockpot Candy recipes for you before Christmas, but alas, that didn’t happen. So, as many of you are preparing for FUN New Year’s Eve gatherings tomorrow night, I thought these simple and easy recipes might be helpful for you! So, I just had to share!

I love, love, love Chex Mix, and the pre-made Chex Mix bags that you can buy at the store, well, they just don’t cut it for me. I discovered this recipe several years ago, and it’s my “go to” recipe for Chex Mix, which I make in large quantities during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. I love this recipe because, unlike most Chex Mix recipes, you aren’t waiting hours on end by the oven (and stirring every hour!) for your Chex Mix to be made. You can whip this up in about 15 minutes from start to finish. Also, this recipe feeds a crowd. I love such recipes that take little effort and feed lots of people–always a WIN-WIN for me. Here are a few tips followed by the recipe:

IMG_7479

1) A glass bowl is required–Here’s a picture of the yumminess of melted butter and spices swirled together. Since this recipe is based on cooking your Chex Mix in the microwave, you’ll need a glass bowl! 🙂 Don’t put your stainless steel mixing bowl in the microwave (unless you’d like to have a fire in your home!). A microwave safe bowl is a necessity when you use this recipe.IMG_7480

2) Stirring trick: Small circular motion at the base of the bowl–By the time you dump all of the ingredients into your bowl, it will be FULL! Your Chex Mix will only taste like Chex cereal unless you stir the yummy butter liquid over all of the ingredients. This can be a challenge with a full bowl. The best way that I’ve found to remedy this is to stir with my spatula in small circles at the bottom of the bowl. This helps to cycle all of the cereal mixture through the pool of the melted butter mixture.

IMG_74863) Chex Mix+Paper Towels=BFF–One other “ingredient” that you find in the official recipe below is a good role of paper towels. To avoid butter splatter in your microwave while this is cooking, cover your bowl with a paper towel. Also, to cool off the Chex Mix after it’s cooked, pour it onto a couple of paper towels as shown above.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Chex Mix
microwaveable!

1/4 cup butter
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. salt AND garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. sugar
7 cups Rice, Corn, or Wheat Chex (or combination)
1 cup pretzels AND peanuts (or mixed nuts)

In microwave-safe bowl, melt butter.  Stir in Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and sugar.  Gradually add cereal, peanuts, and pretzels.  Stir to coat evenly.  Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, stirring thoroughly with spatula after 2 1/2 minutes.  Make sure to scrape sides and bottom of bowl.  (Be careful not to burn!)  Spread in single layer on paper towels.  Store in airtight containers.

Christmas tradition: Secret Angel

23 Dec

templates

Several Christmases ago, a family from our church left a small sack of goodies on our porch. We discovered them there after hearing and responding to our doorbell. The sack of goodies came with a cute little poem and an Angel coloring sheet. The poem explained that this random act of kindness was done by a friend who had quietly slipped away. It was such a fun surprise, and my boys loved being on the receiving end of a FUN Christmas surprise.

My boys were 2 1/2 and 6 months old (long before son #3 entered the scene!) at the time, but I filed away the poem and coloring sheet for when they were older. I got them both out this year and thought we’d start a new tradition this year–Secret Angel! 🙂  For Secret Angel, you need the poem and coloring sheet (download here: Secret Angel Poem & Coloring Sheet), some Christmas goodies, a vehicle and running shoes. 🙂 Here’s how we pulled off Secret Angel 2012:

1) Make a route for Secret Angel-I started out by making a list of the homes that we would visit. I told my sons that we were Secret Agents for Secret Angel. They were totally pumped…anything involving “spies”makes them happy. It was important to know how many homes were were visiting so that I could appropriately follow steps 2 and 3. 🙂

2) Whip up Christmas goodies–I spent the afternoon making yummy Chex Mix and Crockpot Candy. Don’t worry, I’ll be posting those recipes soon. 🙂 Knowing, in advance, how many homes were were visiting helped me determine how much to cook.

3) Package your Christmas goodies–Buy cute “Merry Christmas” food packages like these, Christmas tins, or a plain ol’ brown paper lunch sack. Whatever suits your fancy.

4) Print The Secret Angel Poem & Coloring Sheet-You’ll need one set of the 2 pages for each house.

5) Load the family up in your vehicle…and GO!-We mapped our route around town to hit the homes on our list. We chose to go after dark so that our van could be camouflaged by the darkness.

6) Stop, Knock, Drop and Roll–Actually, that should be Drop, Knock and Roll! The plan at each house was to put the sheets & goodies on the porch, knock and run to the getaway car–aka the family van!  After the first couple of houses, we realized that the boys were only knocking, very softly, a couple of times. So, we had to coach them up to knock loudly and to knock TEN times before sprinting back to the van.

It was such a fun, fun night. I loved watching my boys do something for someone else during a season where, no matter how hard we try, so much is focused on them. They all said multiple times that they were having fun! Made this Momma’s heart happy. 🙂 It was fun riding wildly all over town, enjoying the Christmas light, and just being together. Fun, fun memories made and definitely the first year of many, many years of Secret Angel. 🙂

Merry, Merry Christmas!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (with a Christmas twist!)–freezeable!

23 Dec

One wonderful, delicious, still makes-my-mouth-water, heirloom (passed to me from my mother, who got it from her mother!) recipe that never loses its magic is my Mom’s, actually my Grandmother’s, Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I make it ALL the time, and I’ve learned how to freeze it. So, anytime I need dessert in a hurry, I pull out homemade, from scratch chocolate chip cookie dough and make cookies. The cookies are ALWAYS a hit. This is an easy, frugal, cooking from scratch recipe for homemade chocolate chip cookies. No need to buy the ‘ready-made’ dough at the store when you can make this recipe at home, freeze it and pull it out anytime!

I posted this list of 25 Ways Your Family Can Serve Together at Christmas last month and was inspired by its great ideas. One of the ways that we chose to serve others this Christmas is to make cookies and deliver them to a Police or Fire station on Christmas Day. We’re planning to do this on Tuesday. I had some extra time last week, so I took advantage of that and whipped up a batch of cookie dough. However, since it’s Christmas, I substituted Christmas M&M’s instead of chocolate chips. 🙂 I can’t wait to take these to the Police or Fire Station with my family on Tuesday. If you, too, want to do this, I’ve included the recipe below:

IMG_7298

I must confess that mixing all of the ingredients for the dough is so much easier with my KitchenAid Mixer. I saved my Christmas money 3 years ago and bought one from Costco. Why, oh why, did I wait so long to buy one?!?! I no longer break my arm mixing this by hand. Trust me, its hard.
IMG_7299 Once the chocolate chips or M&Ms are mixed in, I take the dough and form it into balls in order to freeze it.IMG_7300 One recipe makes about 2 logs of cookie dough. I wrap them individually in cling wrap.IMG_7304I put both logs of dough into a Ziploc Freezer Bag (Gallon Size)* and through them into my freezer. When I need to make cookies, I put the dough in the refrigerator 24 hours ahead, or if I’m in a hurry, I let is defrost on my kitchen counter. *I’ve found the best deal on Ziploc bags of any size is at Costco.

________________________________________________________

Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
my Grandmother’s & Mother’s recipe

1 cup brown sugar AND sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I use unbleached all purpose)
1 tsp. salt AND baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips (or M&Ms, peanut butter chips, or a mixture of all!)

1) Soften butter to room temperature.

2) Add sugars, eggs, vanilla, salt and soda to butter and mix well.

3) Add flour one cup at a time.  Stir well.

4) Fold in chips.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough overnight (or atleast 4-6 hours).

5) For cookies, bake at 350 degrees 7-10 minutes (depending on your oven) and cool on wire rack.

TO FREEZE: The dough can be frozen for up to 2 months (maybe longer! Ours rarely makes it to the 2nd month! ha!).  To freeze, spoon dough onto plastic wrap.  Form into log-shape and roll up, covering completely, with plastic wrap.  I usually make 2 logs out of 1 recipe of dough.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt

22 Dec

IMG_7445

One of my faithful readers, Lisa, told me about a Christmas Scavenger Hunt that she’d found over at Layers of Learning. She had used it with her family on a recent out-of-town. Her family was in two vehicles for the excursion. Each car had a copy of the list, and they had a competition between the two vehicles en route to the destination. Whichever vehicle had the most checked off the list when they arrived were dubbed CHAMPIONS!

I LOVED this idea because we will be keeping the roads hot during the Christmas holidays. I’m always looking for new traditions to incorporate into our family, and I thought the Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt would be a good one. We will only be taking 1 vehicle, so I brainstormed different ways to use these with our family. Alas, a wonderful epiphany! Why not have a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt involving the whole family? The alternative is to watch more and more and more TV. You know what I’m talking about! 🙂 Don’t you just love those moments over the holidays when everyone’s circled around the TV for the 3rd day in a row, just sitting, turning into the largest couch potatoes imaginable?!?!?  I don’t think my kids will remember anything about the 100th episode of Power Rangers viewed the day after Christmas. Fun, hilarious moments from a Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt, yes, these are the memories that they will keep with them for a lifetime.

We’ve been at my in-laws the last several days, and this was the test run for the Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt. Would it be fun? Would it be memorable, family-bonding time? After all, what bonds a family more than COMPETITION!?!!?!? Well, after our Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt last night, I must say that this is definitely a FUN tradition that our family will carry on for years to come! We had SO MUCH FUN–from the youngest to oldest family member! Next week when we’re at my parents, we’ll introduce it to my side of the family. So here’s what we did…

How to have your own Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt:

IMG_74441) Print the Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt sheet from Layers of Learning. I printed 3 copies of the document so that I would have enough for several teams. I even laminated mine with my favorite laminator so that we can use them year after year after year. Because I’m petrified of my children using dry erase markers in our van, I tracked down some WASHABLE dry erase markers at Wal-Mart for only $3.97! GLORIOUS! Thank you Crayola for making these! Here are some  other WASHABLE ones by Expo that are currently half price at Amazon!

2) Divide and Conquer.  There were 8 total people when we played last night, so I got a sheet of paper and wrote “1” four times and “2” four times. Everyone drew a number and filed into Team 1 and Team 2. At this point, the trash talkin’ commenced. Who says a little friendly competition isn’t good for you?!!?

3) Establish the Rules and Time Limit. The only rules that we established were that no one was to get out of the car and no “law breaking” to win (i.e. speeding, passing on a double yellow line, etc.). We set a 45 minute time limit for our game (which was perfect!). For each minute that you were late, you deducted one item off your Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt list. 1, 2, 3, and we were off!

IMG_7443The victors of the 2013 Christmas Lights Scavenger Hunt. I’m sure they somehow cheated (My team didn’t win; I’m not bitter or anything!). The fun was too much for sons #2 and #3 who fell asleep during the Scavenger Hunt.

Have fun making memories with your family this Christmas!!

Scotch Laminator-$16.99 @ Amazon!!! (today only)

14 Dec

I had a friend ask me about the laminator that I use at home. I told her about this beauty here from Scotch. I also told her that Amazon usually has it very cheap at random times throughout the year. I snagged this laminator from Amazon during one of those occasions, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

If you’ve been wanting a laminator to use at home, today’s your lucky day! It’s on sale today at  Amazon for $16.99! This is an excellent price and the cheapest I’ve ever seen it! No need to pay the $80 list price on Amazon.

I love having a laminator at home because…

1) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle–Laminating many of our games/papers and such for school make them more durable. If there are school things that I know I’ll use again, I laminate those bad boys! Instead of just using them for ONE of my sons, I can use them for all 3 since they’re laminated.

2) Wax on, Wax OffDo you know that by laminating a sheet of paper, you can write on it with a washable marker or dry erase marker and then erase it? I have loved these Preschool Packs from 1+1+1=1. I found them a couple of years ago and both son #1 and son #2 have used them. I’m saving them now for son #3; he can probably tackle them next year. How was I able to save them for all 3 sons to use? By laminating them! Many of the activities in the Preschool Packs involve tracing and writing. By laminating them, my boys could use a dry erase or washable marker, do the activity, “wax on, wax off” and do the activity again. This has saved me MUCH money in printer ink and paper! (Did you love my Karate Kid reference, by the way?!?!)

Other money saving tipThe cheapest place that I’ve found to purchase the Laminating Pouches is Sam’s–about $20 for 200 sheets. No Sam’s nearby? You can buy these from Amazon–$12.33 for 100 sheets–which is still a good deal.

Now go buy yourself a laminator! You’ll love it! I promise! Excited to SHARE this great deal and product with you today!:) By purchasing it through my link above, a portion of the sales will go to support my site; thanks in advance!

Funny Advent Calendar moment tonight (and How’s yours goin’?)

11 Dec

IMG_7095

Son #2, subject of our funny Advent Jesse moment tonight. Yes, he can touch his nose with his tongue. We’re hoping this will earn him a college scholarship in the near future.

Funny moment tonight with Son #2. We sat down to read our Advent Jesse devotion at dinner. Tonight’s story was about the 12 spies going into the land of Canaan**. When I read the passage from Numbers, here’s what happened:

Mommy: “Caleb and Joshua the son of Nun…”

Son #2: “What do you mean that Joshua didn’t have a Dad?”

Mommy: Ummm…(stalling, killing time, thinking “WHAT IN THE WORLD, son?!?!?”) I’m slow; I admit it. It finally hit me. “It’s Joshua the son of Nun, N-U-N…not Joshua the son of N-O-N-E, Son #2.” 🙂

I’ve been chuckling ever since. 🙂 What about your Advent Calendar/Calendars?!?! How’s it goin’? Would love to hear! Share your stories in the Comments below. If you have a funny moment like we did, I may feature it here! 🙂 Oh, and also, it doesn’t HAVE to be a funny moment; it can be a meaningful moment that your family has shared. Would LOVE to hear from you! 🙂

**Yes, I confess, we are behind on our Advent Jesse Tree. Reason #999,997 that you can KNOW that I don’t have it all together. There’s grace here @ Suzanne Shares, so if you’re behind, it’s okay! Just keep going!

Saint Nicholas resources

10 Dec

Saint Nicholas

I had a friend and faithful blog reader email me a couple of weeks ago asking for resources about Saint Nicholas. We read a GREAT book about him last year, but I can’t–for the life of me–remember the name of it! Well, my hubby was sent an article over the weekend that has GREAT resources about who Saint Nicholas was. You know he was a real person, right?!?!?

If Santa visits your home or if he doesn’t, this is an excellent source of information about Saint Nicholas to share with your children. And…because I want this blog to be a happy, encouraging, uplifting place, I’m bowing out on the “Santa” debate and not revealing what we do in our home. 🙂 After all, I only know what is best for my family, not yours. 🙂 There’s grace here @ Suzanne Shares. 🙂 Now, go read the article. 🙂

 

Favorite Biography: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

7 Dec

I posted earlier about another free Advent resource. It was a collection of Advent writings by Deitrich Bonhoeffer. One of the best books that I read in 2012 was a biography about him. Because I loved the book so much, I thought this would be a great time to plug this excellent biography. If you’re not familiar with Deitrich Bonhoeffer, I highly, highly, highly recommend the biography shown above written by Eric Metaxas. (As a side note, Metaxas also wrote our FAVORITE Thanksgiving book about the life of Squanto. You can read more about it here.) Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during World War II. Because of his father’s job as the leading Psychiatrist in Germany and Professor at the University of Berlin, Deitrich’s family knew about the atrocities of Hitler’s regime long before most Germans. Bonhoeffer was actually a part of one of the assassination plots against Hitler. His involvement was eventually discovered, and he was imprisoned. Deitrich, his brother and 2 brothers-in-law were all involved in the plot, imprisoned and later executed a few weeks before World War II ended. Metaxas, as with the Squanto biography, conducted extensive research on Bonhoeffer’s life, yet the book reads like a fiction novel–no snoozing biography here.

My husband read the Bonhoeffer biography earlier in the year, and he couldn’t put it down. I snatched it up as soon as he finished it; I understood why he read it so quickly. The summary, information about the events leading up to and causing World War II from the perspective of Germany was well documented; it was a fascinating read. If only I could’ve read this book in high school; I learned more about World War II from reading it than any textbook I’d previously read. This book was a significant one for me. To read of one who risked so much for the sake of Christ caused much reflection for me. What would I have done as a Christian living in Germany in World War II?

IMG_3915

Thanks to frequent flier miles that were almost a decade old my husband and I were able to travel to Germany earlier this year for our 10th anniversary. Visiting the Bonhoeffer home in Berlin was on the top of my list of places to visit. It was surreal to be in the home where so many of the events from the book took place; it was a day that I’ll never forget. If you’re ever in Berlin, you must visit it.

It’s been a Bonhoefffer year around the Mosley home. I’m excited about bringing 2012 to a close listening to his writings, reflections on Jesus, the Savior Bonhoeffer knew so intimately as a result of the life he lived for Him. You, too, can dowload his Advent audio book here for FREE.

Another FREE advent resource: God is in the Manger audio book (By Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

7 Dec

God Is in the Manger

I have another Advent resource for you! 🙂 If you’re not familiar with Christian Audio, I would recommend visiting their site! They have the largest selection of Christian Audio books on their site. My favorite feature of Christian Audio is that they offer one FREE Audio book a month! I’ve gotten some great books in the past like The Hiding Place and Trusting God.  This month’s free Audio book is God in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Deitrich Bonhoeffer. Most of the writings for this book were written while Bonhoeffer was in a Nazi prison. To download the book, click here. I hope this is another great resource to help you reflect on the beauty and glory of Christ coming to earth.

Merry Christmas!

If you’re unfamiliar with the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer, you can read a post here that I wrote summarizing his life.