A blog where grandparents will be inspired to have fun with their grand-kids, and be the best grandparent possible via my many resources, humorous stories, ideas, information, activities, crafts, recipes and much more!
Well, now that I have my bathroom re-model behind me, I can focus on my Christmas baking. I love gingerbread cookies. I love all the spices…ginger, cinnamon, cloves and of course molasses. Even though I like gingerbread, most gingerbread cookies I have tasted have always been too hard and crispy for my taste. I tend to lean toward the soft and chewy type cookies.
In 2007 I attended a Christmas party where the hostess served gingerbread cookies. They were the best gingerbread cookies I have ever had. They were flavorful and soft and chewy! I did not leave the party without asking her for the recipe. She said she would e-mail it to me. After 3 or 4 requests she still never sent me the recipe, so I assumed that was her polite way of telling me she did not really want to share her recipe.
It took me awhile but I finally experimented until I came up with a recipe that gave me all those flavors I love, plus one bonus flavor…and they are definitely soft and chewy! And even better than that original recipe I was requesting. Today, I am going to share my recipe with you. So get out your ginger, cinnamon and cloves and let’s get started. Oh, and you will need to keep reading to find out my secret ingredient…
Sugar -n- Spice and Everything Nice Gingerbread Cookies
I made these late last night because I wanted to get my blog completed for today because I have a long day tomorrow. I am going to go visit my parents and then do a ton of shopping, so I knew I would not have time to get a blog post together. But that is why these are decorated very simply because it was late and I needed to get to bed. #notimeforfancytoday But, I think you get the idea.
I almost said “Happy Hump Day”. All day I have thought it is Wednesday. Thank goodness it is only Monday because that means I have an extra two days to get done everything I need to do this week.
And if planning our church Christmas party was not enough, crazy Grammy decided to throw in one more project into the mix. Sometimes I question my own sanity. But, it’s one of those things that when your in the middle of it you think, “What was I thinking?” But then when you are finished you are so happy that you did it! And I am one happy Grammy today!
Years ago when my girls were still at home I used to take them to the mountains near Breckenridge during Labor Day weekends. The first time we went I remember relaxing in the living room in front of the cozy fireplace and just feeling so completely relaxed. On the drive home I remember not wanting to go home. I just wanted to stay in our cozy little vacation place forever. I had a very stressful job at that time and I remember thinking, “If I could come home to this cozy mountain home environment every night, I would be a lot less stressed.”
And that is when it happened.
That is when I got the idea to decorate my home like you would decorate a vacation home. Most of us like to vacation to the mountains or the beach. We love that cozy, relaxing feeling of a rustic, woodsy mountain cabin or the light and airy feel of a beach home. We feel relaxed at these vacation spots because we have left the stress of real life behind. But, also (at least for me) we can feel more relaxed because of the cozy environment.
So back in 1994 about a week after our Labor Day weekend in the mountains I had my home looking like a mountain cabin. And I have to admit, it was a lot more relaxing to come home to after a long day at work. I was sold on making my home look like a vacation home…and it has been decorated in my mountain home style ever since…wow, that’s 25 years!
So when hubby and I moved into our current home 3 1/2 years ago I quickly decorated the entire house in my classic mountain home style. Well, except for one room. One room did not fit in with the rest of the house.
A few years ago hubby and I lived on a lake so I had a lake/beach themed bathroom. So that was the same bathroom decor I used in one of the bathrooms in our new house. Although it was cute and fun, it stood out like a sore thumb amidst all the mountain decor. I always knew I would redecorate it but I had just never gotten around to it…until this week.
I decided I wanted it to look Christmassy for the holiday season. My goal was to do it in a few hours so you could see how fast and easy it is to transform a bathroom. My original plan was to just change out shower curtain and towels and paint the cabinet. But of course I got carried away and did more, but even with doing more I still transformed my beachy bathroom into a mountain bathroom very quickly. Want to see it?
Keep reading…to see the BEFORE & AFTER PHOTOS!
First, I took everything out of the bathroom to paint the cabinet. I just happened to have some black chalk paint so I got started.
While I waited for the cabinet to dry I decided to paint my shower rod, shower hooks and a metal trash can. I was determined to make this a frugal project…after all it is December and the last thing I need to do is spend more money! Plus, I live too far to run to town just for these things. I could have easily used my existing shower rod and hooks and trash can, but I think these newly painted ones will look even better with the vision I have for my new bathroom.
While waiting for everything to dry I began collecting various mountain/cabin decorations around my house. It was like shopping, but shopping in my own home. I then arranged and rearranged the selected items into the bathroom until I was satisfied with the look.
So what do you think of my simple bathroom make-over? I liked the beachy look too but my new cabin look matches the rest of my house…and now everything feels cohesive.
The great thing about this little make-over is that it was basically done with things I already had. The only things I bought for it were new hand towels, new shower curtain and bath mat. That was it!
Even though I was quite happy with my new woodsy bathroom, I felt like something was missing….
So…Today, I did this…
That definitely made it better. What is more woodsy than wood? Now, I absolutely love it! Even with adding the wood, this was still only about an 8-10 hour job. Just think, in a day you can transform a room in your house too…just in time for Christmas!
And remember, don’t be afraid to make your home more vacay worthy. I LOVE that my home has this vibe. Hardly a visitor leaves our home without saying, “I love being here. Your home is so comfy and relaxing.” To me that is the highest compliment. Please share photos of any room make-overs you decide to do.
And also remember to get creative and shop in your own home. You’ll be surprised by what you can find.
And a big thank you to hubby, who helped me with all the hard parts on this project. #gottaloveahandyman #gottaloveahandywomanwhotries
Happy Sunday! Only 17 days until Christmas! Oh my goodness, can that be right? I need to get busy! Yikes! So much to do in the next 17 days…goodies to bake, Christmas shopping, a church Christmas party to put on, wrapping gifts, hosting 7 extra people in our home, filling stockings and more.
There is a lot to do at Christmas time…not just for me, but for all of us. This is a reminder to each of us to just pause and remember what the Christmas celebration is really about. It is to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
So remember through all the Christmas crazy to just pause and take the time to celebrate and adore Him. #iadorehim #keepthefocusonjesus
I love to bake. I especially love to bake at Christmas time. I have my arsenal of treats that I typically only bake at Christmas time. My kids, my grand-kids, and hubby and I look forward to these treats every December. Last Christmas season I shared the recipes to four of my favorite Christmas treats. In case you missed them, they are too good not to share again. If you did not try them last year, it is not too late. You will be glad that you tried any one of these recipes. Whenever I serve any of these, they all quickly disappear!
Last year on November 30th I posted a very personal story about an unforgettable Christmas many moons ago. I have many new readers and followers since last year so I think this story is worth repeating. It exemplifies the true spirit of Christmas. I hope reading this story will get you in the Christmas spirit and encourage you to reach out to someone this Christmas season. Below is the story I shared last year, ‘My Christmas Miracle’. Even if you read it last year, I think it is definitely worth reading again.
My Christmas Miracle
Good morning! One of the things I love about the Christmas season is that overall people seem to be in a better mood. They seem kinder. They seem more helpful and giving. The Christmas spirit seems to bring the best out of people. Well except maybe on Black Friday…LOL!
Just in case you’re not in the Christmas Spirit, I am going to share one of my best stories, one of my favorite and most touching Christmas memories, and one of the best things that ever happened to me…my Christmas miracle. If this doesn’t get you in the Christmas Spirit you might have a little too much ‘bah hum bug’ going on. Just sayin’…
So, about 30 years ago I was going through a divorce. I was experiencing my low point in life. I was struggling financially and barely able to make ends meet. It was a really hard time. And then Christmas hit. Let me tell you, when you are trying to support two kiddos and you already don’t have enough for the essentials…Christmas becomes a stress and a burden rather than the joy I would normally feel.
I was dreading this particular Christmas because I was really stretching my monthly budget to include a meager Christmas budget of sixty dollars. No, that was not $60 per kid. That was my TOTAL budget. It had to include a gift from me to each of my daughters, plus a gift from Santa for each of them, filling the stockings, the Christmas tree, and any Christmas baking I planned to do. Now I am pretty darn good with money but how could I possibly purchase all of that with a measly sixty dollars?
And to make matters worse two major things were happening that made it even more impossible. First, for whatever reasons Christmas trees were double the price they were the year before. The year before I bought a tree for twenty dollars, but this year the cheapest I could buy a tree was for forty dollars. That would leave me with only $20 left for everything else. There was absolutely no way I could make that work. I had no idea what I was going to do. It kept me awake at night.
Secondly, my youngest daughter Brandess wanted a scooter really bad. I mean really bad. She wrote a letter to Santa that looked something like this;
As a mama, I was in pain. I had to get her a scooter. How could I not? How could I explain to her that Santa did not bring her a scooter? She would interpret it as she had not been good enough. And she had been very good. I could not break her six year-old heart. I just had to figure out how to make this happen. But how?
At night, I prayed to God that he would provide a way I could give my girls a wonderful Christmas, that would somehow include a scooter. Fortunately, Sara was not asking for a specific gift this year so I had a little more flexibility with her. Thank you Sara!
Then came my Christmas miracle. Two or three weeks before Christmas, my miracle arrived via a knock at my door one Sunday afternoon. It was about 4 o’clock and I was not expecting anyone. When I opened the door I was surprised to see Greg, a guy I knew from work. He quickly explained that he and his wife had applied for a tree cutting permit and had just got back from cutting down their Christmas tree. He said that the permit allowed them to cut down two trees (not sure if this was true or not). He then said that he and his wife thought about who they knew who might be able to use a Christmas tree this year. Then he said that he wondered if I might be able to use one. I quickly said, “Well, I was going to get one this weekend, but I would be very happy to take this one. That would really save me a lot of money.” I thanked him profusely and then he left.
After my generous friend left, I wept with joy and relief! Hallelujah! I was going to be able to give my kids a wonderful Christmas after all! I was beyond excited! His simple and kind act just saved me $40 dollars by giving me a Christmas tree. And that meant I could now spend my entire budget on my kids! I already had all the supplies needed to make my yummy Christmas sugar cookies…and that is all I would bake that year. I literally bought each of my daughters two gifts each spending $25 on each of them. Then I used $5 each for their stockings, to total my $60 budget, with not a penny to spare! I spent $60 but the value was at least double that because I used my limited funds wisely and got everything at sale prices. And you know what? My kids were happy and I don’t think they had any clue how hard that Christmas really was. And yes, Brandess even got her scooter! God provided me with a $60 scooter for twenty dollars! Huge sigh of relief!
I do not tell you this story for sympathy…and PLEASE don’t pity me. I tell you this story because it was my Christmas miracle…born of a couple’s generous Christmas spirit. I share my Christmas miracle to encourage you to be someone else’s Christmas miracle, this Christmas. There are always people going through hard times. There are always people in need. There are always people who are lonely. If you do not know any of these people then you are not looking hard enough because they are your neighbors, they are your friends, they are your relatives, they are your co-workers. You really don’t have to look far to find someone you can give a Christmas miracle to this year.
They will forever be grateful to you as long as you give them a miracle that allows them to still hang onto their dignity. They will remember you forever…thirty years and counting! Please do not let this season go by without blessing someone with a Christmas miracle! And, not all miracles take money. Simply inviting someone to spend Christmas with you can be the biggest blessing to a person who is alone. Be a Christmas miracle! And please share any stories of how someone has blessed you with a Christmas miracle.
And that is my Christmas miracle that I shared last year. Please SHARE with others to help ignite and encourage the Christmas spirit this year. Go out of your way to be a blessing to someone this Christmas season. #tistheseasontobejolly
Last year on December 1st I posted about a fun family tradition that my daughter Sara does with her family. The title is based on the movie, ‘The Polar Express’. They call it, ‘The Mini Van Express’. It is such a fun idea. If you want to read all about it and try it out on your family this year, click on the link below.
This year I have a little something to add to the ‘Mini Van Express’. While you are out and about you can incorporate my ‘Holly Jolly Scavenger Hunt’ for added fun! It is super simple. Just make a list of Christmas items you might see and have each person mark off any that they do see. At the end of the evening the person who checked off the most items wins! You can even offer a small prize if you’d like.
Here is my list if you would like to print it off and use it.
I hope you will try the ‘Mini Van Express’ and the ‘Holly Jolly Scavenger Hunt’. I think your friends and family would enjoy both. Please share these ideas with anyone you think might like to try them. What a great way to usher in the Christmas spirit!
Happy Sunday and Happy December everyone. I hope you all are having a great day. I have two brothers-in-law and a nephew with birthdays today. Happy birthday to these three special guys, Chris, Reed and Talon! I hope each of you has an amazing day!
Birthday wishes aside, here is a great quote for the rest of you! I love this quote by General Norman Schwarzkopf. He has so many great quotes.
I know for all Americans today is BLACK FRIDAY. But for me last Friday was my Black Friday. That is when hubby and I got stuck in a bad snowstorm and missed our flight to Houston to spend Thanksgiving with our sons and grand-kids. Still grieving that it did not happen. But had a nice Thanksgiving in Denver with my family. I am still stuffed!
So, I don’t really do Black Friday’s. I did it once back around 1996. That was when you actually had to go into the stores. I remember I got up while it was still dark outside. I was standing outside Target’s doors waiting for them to open at 5:00 a.m. The doors opened and people began running like it was the ‘running of the bulls’. So what did I do? Of course I began running too! LOL I don’t even know where I was running to but I thought I’d better hurry before all the other runners got all the good stuff.
In my opinion the running of the bulls and shopping at a store on Black Friday are pretty much the same thing! LOL I have zero desire to do either one…ever!
Back to 1996…I went to several stores and I did manage to find about $500 worth of ‘good stuff’. I was home by 8:00 a.m. with my car as full as Santa’s sleigh. As I transported ‘my haul’ into my house I began having buyer’s remorse. I hated the crowds of people. I hated that I spent $500 because I’d better buy it before someone else gets it. I didn’t love getting up so early. Needless to say, I swore I would NEVER do that again…and I haven’t.
But now 23 years later I know that Black Friday is different. I can actually spend $500 without leaving my home and running around like a psychotic maniac. I can go psycho all in the comfort of my own home! Don’t you just love progress? LOL
So, I know that Black Friday online exists but I have never done it. But, I need a few things this year so I am going to give it a try. But, I have no idea what I am doing. I need help! Yesterday during our Thanksgiving gathering my brother-in-law told me that my nephew Kyle is a Black Friday guru. So please, Kyle or any other gurus out there I need your help! Please share any tips for this not so tech savvy Grammy so my Black Friday will be as painless as possible. #ireallydontlikeshopping
I will be eagerly waiting for any of you to share your tips and knowledge with me. Have a great Black Friday y’all! Enjoy your shopping and try not to get run over by the bulls!
Colorado is having major snowstorms right now and it is crazy cold…even for this Colorado girl! So what better way to warm up than with a tasty bowl of hot soup?
If you have ever ordered the Zuppa Toscana Soup at Olive Garden then you are going to love this soup, because it tastes just like it. If you have not ever ordered it you should still try this because I think this is by far their best soup. If you do not know what Zuppa Toscana Soup is…basically it is a creamy potato and sausage soup with a lot of yummy spices and a surprise and healthy ingredient…Kale!
If you have never eaten kale or used it in a recipe don’t be afraid, neither had I until this recipe. It adds a whole lot of taste, texture and a handful of healthy! Trust me on this one. I have adapted this recipe from the original recipe I received. Besides being delicious and full of flavor, my Zuppa Soupa is fast and easy to make. Ready to give it a shot?
Zuppa Soupa Recipe
You will need:
1- lb. Italian Sausage, mild or hot
8 Bacon Slices
1 Large Sweet Onion, diced
1/4 tsp. Salt (can omit because the stock is pretty salty)
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 T. Minced Garlic from jar or 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
4 c. Russet Baking Potatoes, cubed
6 c. Chicken Broth
1 Heaping T. of Cornstarch mixed with enough water to make a slurry
2 c. Kale, chopped
1 can of Evaporated Milk or 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
Within an hour you too can be warming up with this delicious ZUPPA SOUPA! Let me know how yours turns out. I promise this will become a new family favorite. I have made it for several different guests or have taken it to a function. It is always a hit and I always return home with an empty pot!