Monthly Archives: November 2011

Advant Calendar


I love buying holiday decorations at Costco. When you live in a small town you don’t have much of a selection and walking into Costco is like a kid walking into a candy store. So many things, so little money. It was there a that I found a reusable advent calendar. I was familiar with the ones we sold in German club in high school where you open a window and get a little piece of chocolate. But this was nirvana, I could stick so many things into those little cubicles, my mind was racing with ideas.

One thing I have learned is to not fill them all in advance, naughty elves (some over 6 feet tall) would sneak the candy when I wasn’t looking. We have found many things in those cupboards over the years. If you don’t have an advent calendar you can do a google search and find a huge variety to make for all skill levels. Here are some easy and simple ideas to fill yours up.

I put in little bits of candy so that there are several kinds and you don’t know what you are going to get day-to-day. The Dollar Store is a good place to purchase a large variety in small amounts.

Put in slips of paper with the titles of Christmas songs. By Christmas eve you will have enough to go around to your neighbors and sing for them.

One year I had everyone write nice notes to each other and different days would have one for the person opening the door.

The year of the riddles was quite fun to watch. The kids had to figure it out in order to find the candy.

Once I found mini glass ornaments and those were put onto a mini tree I had purchased. As the season progressed the tree filled up.

Here is a list of items that bring Christmas back to the Bible. You can just print off the words, print off mini pictures or get creative and find the items around your house.

1. Crown (Have the kids make their own) – The King is coming! Christmas is a time to celebrate the coming of Christ.  Jeremiah 23:5-6

2. Fish (such as Goldfish crackers) – Surprise! Read how others were surprised at finding fish as well. Luke 5:4-7

3. Candle (birthday candle) – Be a light in the world Matthew 5:14-16

4. Bundle of sticks (toothpicks)Break 1 stick. Pretty easy huh? Try to break the rest all together. Not so easy is it? We can do amazing things when we stick together. Matthew 18:19-20

5. Peanuts – Jesus speaks of food often. John 4:31-38.

6. Rainbow (food coloring and decorate cookies, read the book Rainbow FIsh) – What promise does a rainbow remind you of? Genesis 9:8-17 and I John 2:25

7. Cross – What does this symbolize? Philippians 2:5-11

8. Fruit gum – What is the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22

9. Dove (Find the bird or just use Dove chocolate)  – What does this bird symbolize? Matthew 3:16

10. Candy kiss and Hugs – Kisses and hugs show love. Matthew 22:37-40

11. Smile sticker– If you are happy let others know about it and SMILE! Philippians 4:4-9

12. Bell – Make some beautiful music. Psalms 100:1-5

13. Candy cane – Right side up it looks like a shepherd’s staff, upside down like a J. Read about a good shepherd. John 10:11, 14-16

14. Heart (stickers or heart-shaped candy) – Who loves you? Luke 15:11-24

15. Dime – Only ten days till Christmas and lots of gifts to open!!! Read how one woman gave a very important gift. Mark 12:41-44.

16. Praying (picture)- Praying is just talking to God. I Thessalonians 5:16-18

17. Raisins – Raisins come from the grape-vine. John 15:4-5

18. Cup (one from a Barbie Doll or get their own they can decorate) – We need a cup to drink water, we need water to live. Matthew 25:35

19. Life savers – We all need to be saved. Luke 8:41-42 & 49-56

20. Favorite candy – What is the best gift you have ever received? James 1:17

21. Eraser – Have you ever wished you could go back and erase something you did or said? I John 1:9

22. Sheep (cotton balls can stand in for the wool, or get a sheep from a tiny crèche) – Who is our shepherd? Psalms 23

23. Honey (small packet from KFC) – What a sweet treat! Are the things you say just as sweet? Proverbs 16:24 & Colossians 3:17

24. Mini Bible – Read about the birth we are celebrating. Luke 2:1-20

25. Baby – Enjoy the celebration today and forever. Luke 2:8-16


Planned Leftovers


When you open the refrigerator door after a holiday meal do you think to yourself, “What am I going to do with all these leftovers?” Or do you see this as a culinary opportunity to make the next week a breeze to prepare meals? If not, perhaps I can change your perspective.

Turkey: Any recipe that calls for cooked chicken can be redone with cooked turkey. Casseroles, paninis, salads, pot pie and soup are all good ways to use the leftover meat. You can always wrap it up and freeze it to use later.

Deviled eggs: Skip trying to save them without getting mushed and just do it yourself with a fork. Have egg salad sandwiches for lunch the next couple days.

Mashed taters: Add cheese for a new flavor, or use to make shepherds pie.

Cranberry sauce: Use as a glaze for pork chops or a pork loin.

Olives: Toss into a salad, pizza, olive cheese bread or pasta dish.

Rolls: Make sliders, freeze for later use (just be sure to double bag), homemade croutons or hot open faced sandwich.

Veggies: Toss into a pot pie, veggie soup  or a shepherds pie. Even bean green casserole can work in shepherds pie depending on the recipe.

Gravy: Shepherds pie, pot pie or hot open faced sandwiches.

Egg Nog: If the container is unopened it will free, or use it up to make pancakes.

Appetizers: Depending on what they are, they might freeze and keep for a few weeks. Crudites can be chopped for veggie soup, pot pie, shepherds pie, casseroles, egg rolls or just left in the fridge for healthy snacking.

Yams: Use the leftovers for sweet potato pie or mix into a pancake batter.

Stuffing: We like to put it in sandwiches or use instead of bread crumbs on a casserole.

The same principle applies to all leftovers throughout the year. Think ahead to the next couple nights and how you can minimize the mess and effort. Planned leftovers make the week’s menu easy and simple.

Your Chocolate is in my Peanut Butter Pie


This is how I get my nephew to come over to my house. I text him that I have a pie in the freezer and he cannot resist. Here is the list of ingredients, most of which you probably keep stocked in your pantry.


1 cup cold milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 package (3.4 oz) instant chocolate pudding

8 oz whipped cream
1 ready made cookie crust
Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

For 1 pie I use half a bag of mini peanut butter cups, so either make 2 pies or try to hide the remaining peanut butter cups from your husband so he does not eat them. Place your peanut butter cups into the freezer, this makes them much easier to cut without smooshing them. Once frozen, unwrap the peanut butter cups but leave them in the brown paper. I slice them into quarters and then when I am ready to use them they slip right out. While you make the rest of the filling, place the pieces back into the freezer. Just ignore the one with a missing piece, a cook has to taste test everything, right?

Cutting the peanut butter cups

Mix the peanut butter and milk together as best you can. It won’t be really smooth but it does make added the pudding easier. Once you have added the pudding it will look like this, so do not panic.

Pudding Mix

Begin folding in your whipped cream just as you would whipped egg whites. Start with about 20% to lighten up the pudding mix. Add the remaining whipped cream by thirds, folding it in with a  spatula till there are no more white streaks. Add in the chopped peanut butter cups and fold in. Pour the filling into your pie crust. I prefer a chocolate cookie crust but vanilla works too.

Finished Pie

The pie needs to freeze for at least a couple hours but I often do it the day before I plan to serve it. If doing it the day before, once the pie has frozen place serane wrap on the top to prevent ice crystals from forming on the pie.  When you are ready to serve it needs to thaw about 10 minutes to soften enough to slice, it will depend on how long it has been in the freezer. I do slice the entire pie that way if there are leftovers, they are easy to sneak after the family has gone to bed. Since there is no such thing as too much chocolate, rve with hot fudge or caramel drizzled on each slice. For some extra crunch, sprinkle chopped peanuts on top.

An easy and simple pie your family will love, enjoy!!!

Pilgrim Hats


Here is a cute snack that the kids can help make and share with their friends.


INGREDIENTS: Chocolate wafer cookies, melted chocolate or chocolate frosting, Rolo candies, various candies for decorations

INSTRUCTIONS: Pick your favorite chocolate wafer cookie or bake your own. I used extra Thin Mints we had on hand. Unwrap your Rolo candies and spread the wide end with chocolate frosting or melted chocolate. If using melted chocolate be sure it has cooled down a bit or it will melt your Rolo candy. Place the Rolo in the center of your cookie. While the chocolate is still wet you can use it to attach your next pieces. Here is where you can be creative. We had leftover tiny heart candies from Valentines Day. However, you can use fruit leather cut into strips for the ribbon around the brim or even Twizzlers pull and peel licorice. Any tiny candy can be used as the buckle on the front. Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups may be used as the cap but so many schools request no peanut butter items that the Rolo tends to be a better choice. Let them dry overnight and they pack very easy.

Have the kiddos make this easy and simple snack this Thanksgiving.

Nature at work


Nothing can beat the art created in nature. Here is the bouquet Reina received for her performance in Jack and the Beanstalk this week.

Fall Flowers

Adding flowers to your weekly shopping list adds color to your home during these dark months of the year. Don’t forget this easy and simple, calorie free hostess gift this holiday season.