The Gift of Christmas

Christmas

Wishing you and yours a Christmas that is merry, bright, and filled with the gift of Jesus.

~ Katie

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Bulletin Board Wreaths: Christmas Card Display

This project actually happened for the first time last year, and it was such a success that I knew I had to share it with you.  I thought it would make more sense to wait until Christmas rolled around again, so that it would be a bit more relevant than if I shared it sometime in mid-February!

Near the beginning of the holiday season, I was flipping through one of those Christmas catalogs ~ you know, the ones that stores send en masse around this time of year?  The same catalog that inspired me to make these.

As I was turning pages, I came across this picture:

I don’t even think this was an ad for anything; I’m pretty sure it was just background.  But it got my creative juices flowing, and I decided that instead of my usual basket, I wanted to display my Christmas cards on a bulletin board wreath this year.

So, I supplied up:

It turned out that the biggest bulletin board squares I could find were really not that big, so I decided to make two wreaths instead of one.

I had a perfectly sized wooden wreath to trace that I had bought for another project ~ score!  After tracing and cutting, I set about to wrapping my wreaths in ribbon.

Yes, I sometimes craft on my living room floor!

Then a sad, sad situation occured: I underestimated the amount of ribbon I would need for each wreath.

So after a quick run to the store, I was able to finish up!  Add some bows, and they’re ready to hang!  For hooks, I used plain metal key rings.

Photo Source

I hung them on our wall that transitions between our living room and kitchen.

They’re a perfect decoration because they were beautiful on their own,

And they look awesome as they fill up with holiday greetings from our friends and families.

Enjoy!

Christmas Weekend at Mom & Dad’s

Our Christmas celebrations have finally come to an end today, after a weekend spent across the state at my parents’ house.  My parents moved to the La Crosse area about seven years ago, and every year since then my sister and my niece along with myself and Terry have been heading to their house the weekend after Christmas for our Christmas celebration.  It’s fun to spend the entire weekend together, and over the years we’ve developed quite an arsenal of special traditions!

There were tons of presents, of course ~ I think this year everyone really outdid themselves; there was just so much piled up under the tree and everyone picked out really thoughtful gifts.  This year, we also added a new tradition ~ a white elephant gift exchange!  We picked the letter Z as a theme, which meant that all gifts had to start with the letter Z.  Since there are only five of us adults, we had to be sneaky so that no one would know who brought which gift.  Terry and I had to be especially so since we brought our gifts together on a four hour drive!  There were some great ideas, including zinnia seeds, ziplocs, and a bug zapper, and check out my Dad’s creative Z wrapping!

We always have tons of fun, playing games and even having contests!  This year, Terry and I got Jenga for our 7-year-old niece Hailey, and it was a big hit with the whole family.  Dad and Terry find time to head out into my parents’ yard and play wiffle golf every time that Terry and I visit; usually at Christmas their course is covered in snowy obstacles, but this year it was green!  This year we also had an Elf trivia contest, put together by Terry, and the goof put 100 questions on it!!  It was an intense battle between me and Jaime, and I kicked her butt!

Terry and I got my Dad the game Blokus this year, and we had to bust it out and play a couple rounds.  Last year, Jaime and Hailey brought their Wii along, and it was such a hit that they brought it again this year!  There were many, many rounds of bowling, and some Just Dance happening as well.  Our longstanding tradition at my parents house is to play hours of cards after dinner each night, and I was much too busy kicking butt to get any pictures of that!

We also had tons of incredible food, and that deserves a whole post of its own!

The weekend flew by way too fast; we usually spend four nights there for Christmas, but we stayed home this year for Dan and Nicki’s wedding, so we were only there for two nights instead.  On top of that, we had to get up super early this morning to hit the road, because Terry went to the Packer game at noon!

I don’t know what I was thinking, but it really didn’t occur to me that we would be leaving while it was still dark out…  It was SO early!

Caribou Coffee is our traditional stop on our way out of town when we leave Mom and Dad’s, and it was especially welcome needed this morning!  Guess which one is mine?

Even with all the rushing, we still managed to squeeze in tons of fun!  I’m incredibly blessed to have a family that chooses to spend time together, and that really enjoys it.  I treasure the memories that we’ve made each year, and look forward to tons of new ones!

Words of Worth: Christmas

View all “Words of Worth” posts.

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” ~ Luke 2:10

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Chocolate Hugs

This may be a bold statement, but I think this just might be my personal favorite cookie for the Christmas season.  These cookies are cakey and fudgey, and so delicious, and I love the hug on top!  I like to eat all the way around and save the hug for last…  Who’s with me??

The very best part about this recipe is that it includes a few simple modifications from this recipe, which I also make every holiday season, and a whole new and very different cookie is born.  I live for stuff like that!

Sadly, baking powder and salt did not show up for the picture…  Divas!

Chocolate Hugs

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Baking Cocoa
  • 2 Cups White, Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • Sugar (for rolling)
  • 72 Unwrapped Hershey’s Hugs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cocoa powder, white sugar, and canola oil and stir with a wooden spoon until mixed well.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then stir in the vanilla.  The batter will be dark and very glossy at this point.
  4. Stir in baking powder and salt, and then add flour, about 1/2 cup at a time.  The mixture will get very hard to mix; I always ending up mixing by hand.
  5. At this point, put the dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  This is an important step because the dough is extremely sticky; you’ll want it frozen so that you can easily form the dough into balls!
  6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into small balls, about 1 inch, and roll them thoroughly in granulated sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes.  As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, gently push a Hug into the center of each cookie.

Yield: Approximately 5 Dozen Cookies

Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprints

I’m not sure that there is any better combination out there than chocolate and peanut butter; it’s simply a classic.  This recipe is a favorite of my sister, and I think this actually the first time that these little treats have been made in over 10 years!  Poor Jaime…!  They popped into my head this year, and I decided they had to be on my Christmas baking list this year.

I love these cookies because they are not too intensely sweet; the chocolate flavor is a bit lighter than the other cookies I make around this time of year.  The ingredients are simple too, which is always a plus!  This is balanced out with the sweetness of the peanut butter filling ~ yum!  I like to make them small, so they’re the perfect bite sized 2-bite treat.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Thumbprints

Cookie Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, Room Temperature
  • 1/2 Cup White, Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Milk*
  • 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg Yolk
  • 1, 1-oz. Square Unsweetened Chocolate, Melted and Cooled
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1/4 Tsp. Salt
Peanut Butter Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/3 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. Milk*
  • 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
*I used almond milk because I happened to have it on hand, but regular dairy milk has typically been used and works great!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and egg yolk, and beat mixture until well blended.
  3. Add melted chocolate and mix well.
  4. Add flour and salt to mixture, and mix until well combined.
  5. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Form dough into balls, approximately 1 inch in size, and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Using your thumb or the back of a spoon, press gently into the center of each cookie.
  6. Bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  Repress centers immediately after removing the cookies from the oven.
  7. While cookies bake, prepare peanut butter filling by combining all ingredients until smooth.  I spooned my filling into a zipper plastic bag and then cut the corner tip off to make filling the cookies easier, but this isn’t necessary.
  8. Wait until cookies are completely cooled, and then fill the centers with peanut butter filling.

Yield: approximately 22 cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles

This cookie is a fan favorite at our house.  I stumbled upon this gem of a recipe a couple of years ago, and with a several tweaks and modifications, it turned out perfect!  It really is Christmas in a cookie ~ dark and chocolately, a burst of peppermint flavor, and a dusting of powdered sugar.  They’re cakey and fudgey, and simply delicious!

The best part of this recipe is that they were an instant hit with Terry!  That automatically puts them at the top of my baking list each holiday season.  I send a big container of them to work with him for his birthday treat.

Sadly, baking powder and salt did not show up for the picture…  Divas!

Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Baking Cocoa
  • 2 Cups White, Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Canola Oil
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 Tsp. Peppermint Extract
  • 2 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
  • Powdered Sugar (for rolling)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cocoa powder, white sugar, and canola oil and stir with a wooden spoon until mixed well.
  3. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then stir in the peppermint.  The batter will be dark and very glossy at this point.
  4. Stir in baking powder and salt, and then add flour, about 1/2 cup at a time.  The mixture will get very hard to mix; I always ending up mixing by hand.
  5. Mix in chocolate chips.
  6. At this point, put the dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.  This is an important step because the dough is extremely sticky; you’ll want it frozen so that you can easily form the dough into balls!
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough into small balls, about 1 inch, and roll them thoroughly in powdered sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes.  The key here is to bake them very close to the top of the oven; this will cause the cookies to “crinkle” so beautifully!

Yield: approximately 5 dozen cookies