Archive | November, 2013

Christmas Books that Our Family Loves

30 Nov

These are some of our favorite Christmas books, as well as a few new ones that we’re trying this year.  What I love about the books below is that they focus on the true meaning of Christmas–Jesus! With all of the competing voices SCREAMING at us during Christmas, my husband and I want to focus our family on Christ at Christmas, and these books have helped us with that. I hope these are helpful.

Christmas Came For Easter (Sharon Brunner)- As a parent, I desire for my boys to truly celebrate Jesus at Christmas. However, I feel like I’m leaving out half the story if I don’t tell them the importance of why Christ had to come to earth. He came to earth to live a perfect life so that those who put faith in Christ could take on His perfect life and be justified before God. Without Christ’s perfect life and death, salvation for humanity would not be a reality. So, if we only speak of Christmas, we are teaching only a portion of the story. Christmas came for Easter; it’s true. This short, beautiful book helps the children understand the bridge between Christmas and Easter. As a parent, I LOVE having this book to read with my boys. It is so wonderful to celebrate Christ becoming flesh, living among us, coming to earth. The greatest celebration, though, is His perfect life lived and sacrifice as the penalty for our sins.  This is a wonderful, kid-friendly way to delve into this wonderful reality with your children.

The Crippled Lamb (Max Lucado)-Is it safe for me to confess that last year was the first time I had read this book (and, consequently, my sons?!?!) Well, shame on me! It is a treasure, treasure, treasure! I had heard of it for years, but we’ve never read it! I know, I know, how tragic! I found it last year at Goodwill (score!), so I snatched it up. It’s the best $0.99 I’ve ever spent! You must read it this year!

One Shining Star: A Christmas Counting Book (Anne Kennedy)-Between 18 and 24 months, my oldest son had 3 books that he wanted read to him every day before naptime. This book was one of them. No, he didn’t care if it was before or after Christmas. The story goes from 1 to 10 with different elements of the Christmas story. I have this book memorized.  There are such sweet memories attached to it.

Who is Coming to Our House? (Joseph Slate)-This book is a delight! It’s written from the perspective of the animals in the stable.  They’re wondering who’s coming to their house…and what a joy when it’s Jesus!

Come and See: A Christmas Story (Monica Mayper)I love the simplicity of this book. I love that each character is repeating the refrain, “Come and See!” Can you imagine beholding Jesus?!?!? Wow!

“The Legend Of” books (The Legend of the Candy CaneChristmas TreeSt. Nicholas)-I love this series of books! As with most things, the origin of objects, traditions, etc. are usually lost over time. I love that these books do an excellent job of unearthing where certain Christmas “staples” originate. Did you know that St. Nicholas was a real person!?!? Do you know what the colors of the candy cane represent? Do you know where the tradition of the Christmas tree started? If not, you should read these books!

The Best Thing About Christmas (Christine Tangvald)-If you’ve never read any of the Happy Day books, I encourage you to check them out! They’re written from a Christian perspective. They have some GREAT books on the various holidays (We love their Halloween book, Let’s Shine Jesus Light on Halloween). This book is wonderful as it focuses on the greatest thing about Christmas–Jesus!

Pine Tree Parable (Liz Curtis Higgs)-If you haven’t read any of the 4 books in Liz Curtis Higgs’ Parable Series, you should!  This one is set on a Christmas tree farm and has a beautiful Christmas message.

Jesus, Me, and My Christmas Tree (Crystal Bowman)-I love all of Crystal Bowman’s books! This is another fun book that unearths the origin of the Christmas tree…in a fun, fun way!

A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)-Focus on the Family Radio Theater Series We LOVE the Focus on the Family Radio Theater audiobooks. (The Chronicles of Narnia is our favorite!!!) These audiobooks are not someone reading the book–BORING! They are fully, dramatized versions of the book; each character has a different actor/actress. It’s amazing! If you’re audiobook fans, check out this version of the Dickens classic.

I’m a little bit obsessed with A Christmas Carol, so we also read the children’s version of the book and watch it on DVD each year. We read the Little Creatures version above of the Dickens classic the past 2 years. I loved that the story and message was clearly conveyed, but it was also in a concise form so that I could read it to the boys in one sitting. We also have a tradition of watching The Muppet Christmas Carol on DVD during December as well.

Song of the Stars (Sally Lloyd-Jones)- This book is written by the author of one of our favorite Children’s Bibles (click here to read my post about our favorite Children’s Bibles!), The Jesus Storybook Bible. I love her writing! We read this last year, and it was a hit!

The Little Drummer Boy (Ezra Jack Keats)-I love this story AND I love Ezra Jack Keats. Last year was our first year to read this classic, and we all enjoyed this book. Ezra Jack Keats is a timeless author, and this is a timeless story. Add it to your reading list this year!

New books that we hope to read this Christmas

Jotham’s Journey (Arnold Ytreeide)A friend suggested this book to us last year, and I never got around to buying it. Our library didn’t have it. 😦 I broke down and bought it this year. We are DEFINITELY reading it this year! I also bought the other two Advent books by the same author, Tabitha’s Travels and Bartholomew’s Passage as well. I can’t wait to dive into these books!

What are your favorite Christmas books?!?!? I am always looking for new books to read with my boys!

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

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Bethlehem Was Just Set Up On Our Table (20% off Little Peoples)

30 Nov

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“We just set up Bethlehem!” our almost 4 year old screamed this morning! That only means one thing around our home. We have just opened our Little Peoples Nativity Set. This is probably one of our family’s favorite Christmas decorations. Our boys are 8, 6, and almost 4, and they squeal and scream when we get this out each year. “Oh, I remember this!” was their reaction when we opened the box containing it this morning. That’s one thing that I love about traditions; children come to expect them. Traditions give them a place and identity in a family. For our sons, being a “Mosley” means Little Peoples Nativity Set, and their faces light up each year when we unveil it.

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highly, highly, highly recommend the Little Peoples Nativity Set for your family. For those of you who participated in the Suzanne Shares Book Club in October, you will remember that Noel Piper mentions in her book, Treasuring God in Our Traditions, is the idea of having Nativity Sets all over your home, including some “play” ones that children are allowed to touch. We have taken that approach and actually keep 2 Nativity Sets that are from other countries out all year. We have enjoyed the Fisher Price Little Peoples Set as a set that our boys can touch and play with. One of my favorite memories when our oldest son was 2 was getting out the set and having him act out the Christmas story with the appropriate Little People as we read it from his favorite Children’s Bible. This was at age 2 1/2. No, my husband and I aren’t superstars or anything; we are just firm believers that little kiddos can soak in, understand and comprehend much more than is assumed. Surrounding our boys and our family with Nativity Sets at Christmas make it hard to ignore or forget the reason for Christmas. 🙂

This makes a great Christmas gift for a newborn or a young child. Our oldest son got this for his first Christmas (age 6 months). What a helpful tool it will be for you to use with your children to tell them the story of Jesus.

You can buy the set from Fisher-Price. It has been out of stock, so I’m excited to see that today they have it! Currently, you can also get 20% off your order and FREE SHIPPING with an order of $25 (which would be the case with this set) when you use the codeSUPERSALE. (Expiration is 12/1)

Enjoy Christmas, and enjoy teaching your children (and reminding yourself) of Christ coming to earth!

My 3 Favorite Christmas Albums

29 Nov

Behold the Lamb of God (Andrew Peterson)-This album beautifully walks you through Scripture from Genesis to the birth of Jesus. After all, Jesus was God’s plan, our Rescuer (thank you for that marvelous imagery, Sally Lloyd-Jones) since sin entered humanity with Adam and Eve. Do you know the story? If not, follow the journey with Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. Also, go buy a ticket and go to the Behold the Lamb of God concert while you’re at it! You’ll love Peterson’s clever song to connect the Old Testament to the New Testament (or buy the book to read along as you sing it), and you Mommas will resonate with “Labor of Love.” Also, there is a book with 25 readings for Advent bearing the same title as the album which goes along with the CD and can be used daily during Advent to focus your heart and mind on Christ this season.

Advent Songs (Sojourn Church)These familiar Christmas carols are given a musical, folk-inspired face lift. I can not stop listening to this album. I even find myself listening to it throughout the year. These songs have deep meaning to me having enjoyed them since childhood, but the updated musical score is inspiring, heart-stirring, worshipful. Love, love, love, love this. It was put together by Sojourn Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Handel’s Messiah- I don’t remember when I was first introduced to Handel’s Messiah-maybe it was high school. I don’t exactly recall. It’s rather ironic that as a a teenager and young adult I embraced this classical work; I was not a classical music fan. However, the words pulled me in, and even today, I marvel at the words from Isaiah 53. This text was the inspiration and basis of Handel’s Messiah, and they tell exactly, specifically, prophetically of Jesus hundreds of years before He arrived in a stable in Bethlehem. Our 8 year old son has been memorizing Isaiah 53 in his Sunday School class this year, and I can hardly hear the words without tears streaming down my face. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Thank you, God, for this beautiful gift, wrapped in a babe, the One who would take on my sin and whose sinless perfection would be transferred to me. Awestruck, dumbfounded am I. Celebrate Christ this year (and all throughout the year) with Handel’s Messiah. Hallelujah!

What are your favorite Christmas albums? May the gift of music stir your heart, soul and mind to worship Christ this season.

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Is your Advent Calendar ready?!?! If not, huddle up–here’s your PEP TALK!

29 Nov

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My sons are cheering for you! This is the year to celebrate Advent! 1-2-3 GO!

I’m pulling this out of last year’s archives. Christmas snuck  has sneaked up on me, hasn’t it you?!?! I’m still full from my Thanksgiving meal yesterday, but I’ve quickly gotta shift out of “Thanksgiving” mode and focus on Christmas. My 2 Advent Calendars are starting in 48 hours. Whew! Ready, set, Christmas here we come!

Last year I wrote a PEP TALK for my readers a few days before Advent commenced. I wanted to share it with you again this year. Pretend I’m sitting right beside you, pom poms and megaphone in hand, cheering you on as you gear up for Advent! As a Perfectionist-in-recovery, I write often for the other Perfectionists who read my blog. No worries if you don’t have all 25 ornaments made before December 1. Keep reading and see how you can tackle a few ornaments at a time. You can do it! I’m cheering for you and supporting you from afar! Just pick what you’re going to do for Advent and 1-2-3 GO! You’ll be so glad you did! Without further adieu, “Come on, Suzanne Shares Readers, you can do it, put a little power to it.”

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Have you been googling “Advent Calendars” or perusing everyone’s ideas on Pinterest because you were wanting to start one this year? You may be thinking, “Well, it’s November 28, which means I have 2 more days to get this Advent Calendar made. In other words, that is too daunting of a task. I’ll do it next year.” Let me guess, last year you said, “I’ll do it next year,” and you haven’t made one yet. Or, are you’re lamenting the fact that you didn’t get to make your Advent Calendar made over the Thanksgiving holidays? No, I’m not a mind reader or psychic. I just know these things…because that’s how my mind works. So, lament no longer; it’s not too late! Here are simple steps to get your Advent Calendar made for this year! 

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DIY: YOU CAN DO IT!

There is still time! You can do it!

DIY: Noel Piper Advent Calendar-You can make the Noel Piper Advent Calendar in a few easy steps:

1) First, download the script from the Noel Piper Advent Calendar on her blog here. In the script you will learn what objects/images you’ll need for your calendar.

2) Second, decide how you’ll layout your calendar and your images/objects for your Advent Calendar.

  • Option A: You can download the patterns from the HeartFELT version of the Noel Piper calendar on her site. Isn’t that so awesome of her to have her felt patterns for the Advent Calendar available FREE?!?!?Or, you can buy her complete Advent Calendar on her Etsy shop.
  • Option B: Make your own. THINK SIMPLE! If you’re not up for making the felt set, you can print images of each needed item on Google Images. Use a poster board, divide the board into a stable scene on the top 2/3 of the posterboard with 25 different sections on the bottom 1/3 of the poster board. Or, get your kiddos involved! Have them help you make the different 25 ornaments needed. Look at my picture of our Noel Piper Advent Calendar above to get an idea of how you can lay it out on a poster board, burlap, etc.

Advent Jesse 6-10

DIY: The Advent Jesse Tree-You can make the Advent Jesse Tree in a few easy steps:

1) First, buy the The Advent Jesse Tree book now so that you’ll have it shipped to you by Monday. 🙂 (Yes, it’s okay to start Day 1 on December 2. You can catch up by doing two nights in one!)

2) Second, download my document: Advent Jesse Tree ornaments, which lists all of the ornaments that you’ll need for your Advent Jesse Tree.

3) Make your ornaments! You have several options:

  • Option A: Go to this post and see pictures of my 25 ornaments and let them inspire your creative juices to make your own.
  • Option B: Use Google Images, old magazines, have your children draw pictures, get creative!

4) Find something to hang your ornaments on. We use a mini Christmas tree. I have friends who use a tree limb in a jar/flower pot. Again, get creative!

Our Advent Jesse Tree…waiting patiently to be adorned with ornaments!

FINAL TIPS: GO FOR IT

Question: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. This old adage is true of a DIY Advent Calendar. Take it one ornament at a time. 🙂 Here are some practical steps that you can take to be well on your way to having your own Advent Calendar this year!

1) Set small goals-I have 3 small children at home, so I know that I would NEVER START making 25 ornaments if I knew I had to get it done in the next 48 hours. That task seems too overwhelming. The good news is that you DON’T have to make 25 ornaments in 48 hours. You really only need to make one! Why not just try to make the first 6 ornaments between now and Friday? After all, you only need ornament #1 by Sunday! Once you get the first 6 done, set your goal to make the next 6 before December 6, the following 6 by December 12, and the last 7 by December 18. Or, if that’s too overwhelming, you simply only have to stay ONE DAY ahead! Do ornament #2 on Saturday before you’ll need it Sunday. Or, have your kids have “Advent Craft Time” each day starting Saturday. Have them make the ornament the morning that you’ll need it,  and then it’s ready to use that night! YOU CAN DO IT! YOU CAN DO IT!

2) Involve your children-My sons LOVE art projects! If I gave them the types of ornaments needed and gave them a half hour each day over the next 72 hours, they would have all 25 ornaments made! They wouldn’t be perfectly neat and tidy ornaments. They may not even look anything LIKE the object they’re supposed to be. However, you would have your 25 ornaments done, and you would have children who are EAGER to do the Advent Calendar each night because they have a stake, a vested interest in it. After all, they made the ornaments!

3) Just do it! No, this is not a Nike commercial! I’m still talking about the Advent calendars! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Advent Calendars. They are used by God in my own heart to focus me DAILY on the meaning of Christmas. As I said earlier, so many other competing voices vie for my attention during the Christmas season (and many of them GOOD things!). I love that the Advent Calendars in our home re-focus my heart, mind, soul on Christ. My heart is prone to wander; I need our Advent Calendars at Christmas. So, if you’ve been toying with the idea of starting this wonderful tradition in your home this year–JUST DO IT! Your calendar doesn’t have to be cute, perfect and beautiful BEFORE  YOU or IN ORDER TO start. Just start!! You won’t regret it! You won’t regret the time you spend together as a family at Christmas. You won’t regret the time you spend together around God’s Word at Christmas. (Have I convinced you yet?!?!) I see the difference, the eternal fruit of Advent Calendars in our home; you will too! Go for it!

Come back and let me know how you’re enjoying your Advent Calendar!

If an Advent Calendar isn’t going to work for you, go to this post to see a schedule of Advent Readings with the Jesus Storybook Bible (one of our favorites!). Our check out this post with several book recommendations with daily Advent Readings. No matter what you do, celebrate Christ this Christmas by centering your heart, soul, mind and calendar around the Word each day of Advent! Come back and let me hear how it’s going!

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Yummy Sugar Cookies= “Decorate, Decorate” Christmas tradition is nigh!

29 Nov

IMG_6912We have a tradition that we stumbled upon over the last few years. Yes, I would like to admit that it was masterfully orchestrated and that I always think through the creation of such traditions. However, several years ago while putting up the Christmas tree, our sons asked where the cookies were and when we would decorate them. It was only then that I remembered that we had previously baked and decorated sugar cookies the same day we decorated our Christmas tree. At that moment, I quickly whipped up some sugar cookies and icing. A tradition was born. To read more about this marvelous adventure, read this post from last year’s archives.

Tonight, there is sugar cookie dough being made in my Kitchen Aid Mixer, which means only one thing this time of year…”Decorate, Decorate” day at the Mosleys will soon take place. On “Decorate, Decorate” day, we decorate our Christmas tree and follow with a sugar fest decoration fest involving sugar cookies and icing! Thanks to my 2 friends, Julie and Julie, for these wonderful recipes that I’ll share with you now. So, tomorrow we will unwrap boxes containing a tree and ornaments, crank up Behold the Lamb of God, make fun memories and try to actively put up our tree (so that I can burn off come calories from Thanksgiving. Whoazees!)

Yummy Sugar Cookies

my dear friend, Julie’s great-grandmother’s recipe

3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 T milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter*
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

 *Julie’s original recipe calls for 1 cup shortening. I didn’t have any, so I used 1 cup butter instead. The substitution worked fine.

1) Mix flour, powder, soda and salt.

2) Cut in butter/shortening.

3) Beat eggs, add sugar, vanilla and milk and add this all into the flour mix. (It works best to refrigerate the dough minimally for several hours. I make my dough one day ahead and chill overnight. After chilling for several hours to overnight, I remove dough and let chill slightly. This makes step #4 a little easier.)

4) Roll out dough and use your favorite cookie cutters!

5) Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 min.

6) Ice and decorate to your heart’s content. (Icing recipe below.)

Sugar Cookie Icing
You can use store bought or make your own! It’s basically just a mixture of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. If you’re like me, you need exact measurements. :) Here’s an exact one from my other friend, Julie:

3 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. milk (approximately)
1 tsp. almond OR lemon OR vanilla extract

You basically just play with these 3 ingredients until you get the consistency that you want. If glaze is too runny, add more powdered sugar. If glaze is too stiff, add more milk. After I get the consistency I want, I divide into smaller bowls and add food coloring. I like Wilton’s the best! I used a 40% off coupon @ Michael’s to buy the Wilton set. :)

Long Story Short: A Great Way to Start Reading the Word Together As A Family (FREE Kindle download today

25 Nov

For those of you who read Treasuring God in Our Traditions with the Book Club in October, you’ll remember that Noel Piper calls Bible reading and prayer and “Everyday” tradition. One example that she gave to incorporate this “Everyday” tradition is a family devotion. If this is something that you’ve been wanting to do–having a structured time where your family reads the Bible together-here’s your chance! Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God is a family devotional that takes 10 minutes–that’s it. We can all do 10 minutes a day, centering around the Word as a family, right?!?! We have friends who have this and have raved about it. In particular, my friend’s love with this family devotion book is that it reveals how God has woven His purposes through the actions and stories of the Old Testament. The connection between the Old and New Testament was something that I learned as an adult, so this has been of importance to me to pass along to my children, which is part of the reason we use the Advent Jesse Tree at Christmas Advent. I’ve been stalking this book for a while and have yet to purchase it, so I’m excited to get it today–FREE!

Download the Kindle edition FREE today through Amazon. NO WORRIES if you don’t have a Kindle. Download the Kindle App from the App store, and you can read it on your iPhone or iPad. Now, go download the book! That’s where I’m heading now…

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls-in your bread maker (or NOT in your bread maker if you don’t have one!)

22 Nov

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If you’ve been following the conversations going on over at the Suzanne Shares Facebook Page, you’ll remember that I promised to post my Pumpkin Rolls recipe. These rolls have become a Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition in our home. This week I have been making lots of these as I gear up to host my family and my in laws for Thanksgiving. I thought I would share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes with you while I’m cooking!

I love these Pumpkin Dinner Rolls for a multitude of reasons! First and foremost, these rolls are scrumptious! You can’t eat just one. (You’ve been forewarned!) Plus, the pumpkin gives the rolls a brilliant golden color.  Any time that I make these rolls, I have requests for the recipe. (That’s always a good sign!) Another perk with this recipe is that it’s a great “make ahead” or “freezer” recipe. You can easily make them ahead of time, bake them, and freeze them. When reheating and serving them at a later date, you are not sacrificing taste. They come out of the oven tasting like you made them that day! The final reason for my adoration of this recipe is that it can be made in your bread maker using the Dough cycle! My bread maker (this one by Sunbeam) is one of my top 5 “must haves” in the kitchen appliance category. No, I’m not an amazing, I-should-have-my-own-show-on-Food-Network kind of cook, particularly when it comes to bread. However, thanks to my bread maker people think that I am–wink, wink. Let’s keep this as our little secret. 🙂

The original recipe is from Tammy’s Recipes blog. You’ll note in the comments that someone posted about using the recipe in a bread maker. This inspired me to try it in my bread maker, and it worked! I didn’t follow the instructions per the Comments section exactly, so I wanted to post my bread maker adaptation of the recipe.  Don’t forget to pin this recipe because you will definitely want to make it over Thanksgiving or Christmas! I have included an abundance of pictures for those of you who are new to making rolls from scratch. Again, the bread maker takes all of the hardship and guess work out of bread making, which is why I’m a huge fan of bread makers! (I have a gargantuan fear of recipes with yeast, so if I can do this, you can too!) First, I’ll list the recipe, and the step-by-step picture montage will follow.

Pumpkin Rolls (for your bread maker)
Yields 30-36 rolls
1 cup warm milk (warm to the touch, not HOT. Extremely hot water will kill the yeast, FYI)
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp. butter
1 cup pumpkin (I love this kind, and yes, I buy it a case at a time. No, I’m not weird.)
5 cups All Purpose or Bread flour (King Arthur is my favorite, and the price shown here on Amazon is HIGH. Wowzers. Just posting for reference! You can definitely find it cheaper elsewhere.)
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tsp. yeast (I buy yeast in bulk @ Costco. I keep it refrigerated to keep the large quantity preserved.)

Add the ingredients to your bread maker in the order listed above. Set to “DOUGH” cycle and start your engines machine. At the end of your DOUGH cycle, just know that the dough may slightly rise out of the container. (See picture below. HA!) After forming the rolls and placing on a baking sheet, let rise 30 minutes. After rising, bake @ 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes. Top with butter and serve immediately.

To freeze: cool completely and place inside freezer bag. Throw in your freezer.

To reheat and serve: Thaw completely. I usually pull them out of the freezer 24 hours in advance. Wrap in aluminum foil or place on a baking sheet, covered with foil. Reheat @ 350 degrees 8-10 minutes, or until warmed. Brush the tops with butter and serve immediately.

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This is what the dough looked like at the end of the DOUGH cycle.

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I dumped the dough onto my Silpat mat to start the task of making rolls. The dough does not stick to the Silpat mat. Oh, what a delight and joy my Silpat is! (Thanks for recommending the Silpat, Annie Laurie!)

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Next, I form the dough into a rectangle as shown here.

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I use my dough knife to cut the dough into four sections. No dough knife? Use a pizza cutter. I try to make them “equal,” but I’m not as gifted at that as I would like to be. 🙂

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I work with the four sections one at a time. I cut one section in half as shown above.

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I take the two halves and cut them into 7-9 rolls. Therefore, each of the 4 sections yields about 30-36 rolls, which is always my goal with this recipe.

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I roll the rolls between my hands in a circular motion to form them into smooth round shapes. I place them side by side, slightly touching on a baking pan. I use this pan.
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Here are the rolls all beautiful and ready to rise! I’m still working on my technique for forming the rolls. Mine are always a million different sizes, but no one eating them seems to mind. 🙂

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Here’s what these beauties look like after 30 minutes of rising.

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Here’s what they look like fresh out of the oven. Yes, you are correct. There are 4 missing rolls between the previous picture and this one above. I know not [SWALLOW] why.imageTo freeze, I break the rolls apart into 1 dozen sections. I place them in a 2.5 gallon freezer bag, leaving space between each dozen, and throw in the freezer. When I’m ready to serve these, I thaw 24 hours in advance, wrap them in aluminum foil and heat @ 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until warmed. Top with butter, and enjoy!

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Earn $ while Christmas shopping in your pjs

19 Nov

imageI got this check in the mail last month from Shop at Home–$30! Yay! Do you know you can make some cha-ching while you’re shopping online this Christmas (and the rest of the year?!?!?)

ShopAtHome Banner

SHOP AT HOMEI love Shop at Home because it allows me to do shopping at home while in my pjs and wearing no make up if I’d like. And, while I’m shopping away, I earn money for each purchase made through Shop at Home. Do you want to get paid to shop? Yes! Me, too! Shop at Home has partnerships with different retailers. By going through the Shop at Home website to a partnering retailer you earn a percentage back based on the total of your purchase. I like free money! 🙂 I am doing 95% of my Christmas shopping online because it’s convenient and I can wear my pjs and no make up, but also I do so in order to earn part of my money back from Shop at Home.

Ready to sign up for Shop at Home?!?!? If you sign up for Shop at Home through my referral link, you and I both get $5 added to our account if you make a qualifying purchase within 30 days of signing up. :) So, go sign up and refer your friends and earn more money! You will receive a check once you accumulate $20 in rewards. I love that on “My Account” page I can always see how much I’ve earned and how much more is needed to receive my $20 reward. It also clearly states when you will receive your check, so there’s no guessing.


SWAGBUCKS-I also love SwagBucks for earning money while shopping online in my pjs with no make up. 🙂 Swagbucks, essentially, is a search engine (think Google, Bing, Yahoo). When you sign up for Swagbucks, you download a Swagbucks toolbar for your internet browser. You, then, use the toolbar as your regular search engine, and you are rewarded with Swagbucks randomly as you search. On the toolbar, it shows your total number of Swagbucks. You can use your Swagbucks to purchase items in the Swag Store. They have almost any gift card imaginable in the Swag Store. My favorite gift card to buy is the $5 Amazon.com gift card, which requires 450 Swagbucks. Since I signed up for Swagbucks about 3 years ago, I’ve probably earned the $5 Amazon.com gift card 12-15 times. There are multiple ways on their website to earn more Swagbucks rapidly. If I had more time, I’d attempt some of those. However, just by my usual internet searching online–not going out of my way to do anything extra–I’m earning the Amazon gift card 4 or 5 times per year. I love free money. 🙂 Thank you, Swagbucks. 🙂 AND, once you sign up for Swagbucks, you can refer your friends and you’ll both earn Swagbucks! (See, I’m referring you, so that means I’ll earn Swagbucks based off of my referral to you.  Thanks!)

So, if you’re like me this Christmas season and doing lots of online shopping, earn part of your money back while you shop. Don’t worry–spit-up-stained, ‘holy’ t-shirts, and “au natural” make up are all acceptable wear when you Shop at Home or search via Swagbucks. 🙂

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Favorite Thanksgiving books–What are yours?!?!

19 Nov

If you’re looking for some fun books to read this Thanksgiving, here are a few that we enjoy! I would LOVE for you to comment below and share YOUR favorite Thanksgiving books! I’m always looking for quality literature, so share, share, share, please, please, please. 🙂 Of course, don’t forget about my other favorite Thanksgiving book. Hopefully, you’ve ordered it by now! 🙂 If you want to know how to make traditions in your home using books, read this post from last year’s archives.

If you want another great list of Thanksgiving books, I highly recommend this blog, Orange Marmalade. This is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite, favorite blogs to discover quality children’s literature. For each book recommended, she details and beautifully describes the narrative (without revealing TOO much and spoiling the book!) and includes copies of pages from the book to show its illustrations. I always appreciate the “visual” preview as well. Just this week she posted her favorite Thanksgiving books. Thanks to her we will be reading Thank You, Sarah, which is the story of the woman who petitioned for Thanksgiving to become an official holiday. Do you know this story?!?!?! I don’t, and I can’t wait to share it with my boys!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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If a stranger offers to take your picture while on vacation, make sure they count…

18 Nov

mosleys_fall2013-10So, I’m working tonight on my annual Christmas gift to our family–the good ol’ photo calendar. First and foremost, I have to hold back tears EACH YEAR when I put these together. I pull pictures from the previous year, and it just tears me up to see how much my boys have grown in the past year. sniff, sniff, sniff. Does anyone know the secret to making time slow down?!?!

Thankfully, tonight there is a little laughter mixed in with the tears. We got our photos taken back in October, see photo above (thank you, Lane!! Thanks also for working your magic with Photoshop to make my ‘silver’ not show too much. ha!). This picture will be of service to you later in the post, so take a “mental picture” of it and keep reading.

Well, my laughter was birthed after looking back at our pictures from vacation in May, a glorious vacation that I still hope I’ll get around to writing about! (We were inspired by Half A Hundred Acre Wood’s “50 States Before They Graduate” and ventured through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.) We spent some time in Chicago, and like most tourists, we visited the Sky Deck of the Sears Tower (aka the “Willis Tower” now). On our way over, we decided to stop in front of the “Willis Tower” sign for a photo op. Some sweet, kind, eager gentleman offered to take our family photo  after observing that I was shooting a picture of my husband and the boys. “Gee,” I thought, “these native Chicagoans are sooooooooooo nice, friendly, and thoughtful.”

Here’s the shots he took. IMG_8931

Notice anything?? Hmmmm… Here’s another. It will reveal another clue in case you can’t find the root of my hysterics.

IMG_8930Do you notice what my husband is holding on to in this picture? Yes, that would be a stroller.

How many sons do we have? Scroll to the top of the page to see the family photo. Count–one, two, three. Correct–3. How many sons did our sweet, kind, eager gentleman capture in the photo? Count–one, two. BAHHHHHHHH!!! 🙂 🙂 can’t.stop.laughing.

The moral of the story is this: If ever in the future a stranger offers kindly, generously, graciously to photograph your family while vacationing, make sure he/she gets the entire family in the photo. Of, if you offer to “shoot” a family who are clearly tourists, make sure to count and “shoot” appropriately. 🙂