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The Real of Holiday Survival

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I am going to reveal the “reality” of my not so perfect holiday season with the hope if your holiday season was not all you wanted it to be, that this will encouraged you to know you are not the only one who struggled to get through a less than perfect Christmas season.

“Revelation and reality gives us the strength to conquer the messiness of life. ” HD Benson

We often times find ourselves comparing our lives to the perfection of the lives we see around us. When we watch Hallmark movies, we see everything is perfectly decorated and all the homemade Christmas treats are perfectly made and decorated. Then there is the perfection we see on FaceBook and on Instagram posts.

My Friend, this is not a reality. Do not compare your life to what you see in others. They only show you what they want you to see. They do not show you what is real and messy.

Now, I am going to show you my real and my messy with the hopes of encouraging you if yours looked anything like mine, it is okay because we all survived and got through another holiday season.

This week has been a week where I found myself in need of rest from an incredibly exhausting past few weeks and a grueling holiday season.

Once we finished with Thanksgiving, I decided to help my daughter who was extremely sick, finish her college semester in school. As her mom, who knows all she had gone through with her health and watched her struggle with pain and sickness for two straight months, I could not watch her fall into a pit of darkness and failure.

Instead, I put on my cheerleading clothes and drug out the pompoms and went to town. She was in desperate need of encouragement and strength and “mom” support, which I did for her. I stopped everything Christmas, stayed up late with her, got up early and she finished. She not only finished, but she finished with amazing grades. I am super proud of her for what she achieved in her first semester of college. I am praying for her health becomes better managed and her semester to come, is a much better one for her.

Once she finished her last class, it was time to jump back into Christmas mode, which I had avoided to give her everything she needed to get through this semester. I avoided the calendar to see how close we were getting to Christmas. I did everything possible to remain stress-free to keep my family happy and grounded during this crazy holiday season. However, when it was all done and I looked at the calendar, it was not pretty. I had one week to get five weeks worth of work done. I had to shop (as I had not bought one gift for anyone). I had to make the gifts we were giving away and I had not baked my first Christmas dessert yet. I told myself I had to do all of this with the minimalist amount of stress to keep the holiday cheer in my house.

What I have not mentioned was the really bad cold my daughter had, went through all of us. I had to take her to the doctor twice, my husband twice and the night of his first Emergency Room visit, I ran a fever that night and I ended up catching it as well and became extremely sick, but I fought my way through it to make Christmas happen.

With the strength God gave me and with His guidance to get through it all, I finished everything at 11:40 on Christmas Eve. It was all done and I could breathe again.

I wish I could say this all happened with no stress, but I can not. I did, however, make every effort of minimalizing it and that I feel like I accomplished it. I also have to confess that I was only able to pull off the first five days because my doctor put me on steroids as well as a steroid injection and an inhaler which enabled me to get a lot done because I do not handle steroids and sleep.

As a result of the steroids, I did begin to feel better and they gave me the extra energy that I needed to finish Christmas in time, but the exhausted crash that came afterward has been horrible. I needed this week to just rest and sleep to get caught back up.

This is the “real” and the raw of how my holidays went this year. I am, however, extremely thankful to hear back from not only my family but from my mom as well, that this was one of our best Christmas’s we have had in a long time.

Despite the sacrifices I made early on to help my daughter, they paid off in the end. It was not a traditional holiday season for me, but it came together in the very end and thankfully it all turned out well.

My friend, it does not matter how yours looked, whether it was wrought with challenges or it went smoothly, all that matters is that you tried and it is all done now for another year.

Now I will wish you all Happy New Year. It is my prayer this coming year will be one of peace and joy, changes if you are in need of them and the grace to accept everything that comes your way.

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Merry Christmas

Christmas Note of Encouragement

Merry Christmas from my family to yours.

It is my prayer you will be encouraged by this quote,

“When we remember a special Christmas, it is not the presents that made it special, but the laughter, the feeling of love, and the togetherness of friends and family that made that Christmas special.”  Catherine Pulsifer 

Now today is here, savor every moment while embracing it for the special day it is. If you are celebrating with your family and friends, forget about all the hard work, the frustrations, and the exhaustion it took to get here. Instead, be present enough to make new memories that will last a life time.

If you are celebrating alone, it is my prayer you will not get lost in the feeling of loneliness, instead that it will be a day of reflection on your memories of the past. I am also wishing you a quiet day of peacefulness and rest. Take some time to snuggle up with your favorite book and some hot cocoa or your favorite Christmas movie and enjoy the quietness of the day.

To my friends who are celebrating a difficult Christmas this year because you are experiencing the loss of a loved one, you especially will be in my thoughts and prayers. It is often times hard to break through the sadness in order to celebrate joyous occasions such as these. I have seen first hand how the darkness of grief can rob you of your joy during the holidays, but it is my hope this Christmas Day you will be able to see past the grief, pain, and loneliness and embrace your cherished memories of the past.

Christmas is a Holiday that brings many unpredictable emotions out of people, some are joyous while others are not, but because everyone’s life is so different, it is hard to place everyone in the same category.

Not everyone is married to the perfect spouse and has a loving family with multiple children and therefore celebrate the stereotypical perfect Christmas. Christmas is not always the “Hallmark TV” perfect Christmas because it comes with so many variations of life experiences that not everyone’s Christmas is a happy one. If you can relate to this, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers today as well.

No matter what your life experiences are and no matter if today is an easy one or a difficult one, I want you to know there is someone who can empathize with how you are feeling today. I have experienced my share of joyous and not so joyous Holidays.

In conclusion, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! To those who are truly celebrating, have a happy day filled with lots of opportunities to make memories you will cherish in the years to come. If you are experiencing one of grief, sadness, or darkness, it is my prayer you will find peace in your memories of the past.

Merry Christmas!
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Seize The Moment To Make A Memory

Christmas Note of Encouragement

I want to share this inspiration with you this Christmas Eve Day,

”You are amazing, you are brave, you are strong.” 

Unknown Author

As you start this day, the last one before Christmas and you are feeling worn out, exhausted, grouchy, and maybe a little emotional, I want you to remember this quote, “You are amazing, brave, and strong.”

You did a great job this Christmas Season to get to here. Many of us may not be ready yet because we may still have a little shopping left to do, or a last minute gift to make or gifts to wrap, but my suggestion today is to make some time to slow down and quietly sit still and bask in the lights of your tree, enjoy some soft sounds of the season, or put on a favorite Christmas movie and just enjoy a little bit of time with your family or even maybe just all by yourself because once tomorrow arrives, it will be all done. Today my is the last day to enjoy the build-up and the magic of the season.

Slow down, my friend, and enjoy your family today!

You will not regret it. Let that moment be the memory you make for the years to come. Seize the day, seize the moment to cherish what you have.

25 Day Christmas Treat Countdown, Baking, Breakfast, Christmas, Holiday, Home, Recipes

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

25 Day Christmas Countdown

Day 24

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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

This is a Christmas morning recipe to make for your family so you are not feeling stuck in the kitchen cooking while the family is enjoying the festivities of Christmas.

My picture doesn’t make them look pretty, but they are delicious. One thing with my baking, cooking, and blogging, what you see is what you get. I am what I call raw and honest. I do not just post what looks pretty or what looks or sounds good all the time. Life as well as baking and cooking is sometimes messy. You will get what is real and if this is not so pretty or down right ugly, this is what you see as you continue to follow me.

Ingredients

2 apples (peeled and diced)

Pie Dough

2 1/2 c flour

1/2 c shortening (coconut oil works too)

1 Tbsp flaxseed

dash salt

3/4 cup Cashew milk (any milk of your choice) (add enough milk to make dough sticky)

Cinnamon Sugar

1 c sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 c flour

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk for white wash

1/2 tsp water

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and dice apples.

Make you cinnamon sugar by mixing sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 cup of flour together and set to the side.

Mix all remaining dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening until flakey, add milk a little at a time until dough is sticky.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch in thickness. White wash with egg mixture and add cinnamon sugar mixture on top of egg wash. Gently roll the dough into a log. Cut into 1 inch rolls and place on parchment paper. If you have any remaining egg wash brush on to each individual roll.

Place in preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack and enjoy.

I’m very sorry I didn’t get this posted in time to use it Christmas morning, but it can be used any morning or New Year’s morning as well.

Happy Baking!

25 Day Christmas Treat Countdown, Baking, Christmas, Cookies, Easy Recipe, Holiday, Home, Recipes

Gingerbread House

25 Day Christmas Countdown

Day 23

Amazing Gingerbread Houses 
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I didn’t get one made this year, but we made this one last year. My daughter and a sweet adopted family friend made an amazing one that I am very proud of. I will add the directions to make it from scratch, The directions I will share will give you the recipe (which I will add as always), the house template, the supplies, and a royal icing recipe.

Happy baking and constructing! I hope the memories you make while doing this will be wonderful and happy in the years to come.

When you see my picture you will see it constructed in the shape of a log cabin. This was done on purpose. If you wish to do the same then roll your dough out in the form of a square or rectangle and when before baking use a ruler and pizza cutter and cut into blocks.

Ingredients

Note: This is a double batch to make an amazing house from.

1 c butter, softened

1 c brown sugar

1 1/3 c molasses

4 eggs

8 c all-purpose flour (divided)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

Frosting

2 lbs confectioners sugar

1 tsp cream of tarter

6 egg whites

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth. Stir in the molasses and eggs. Combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, baking soda, salt, all spice, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger; beat into the molasses mixture. Gradually stir in the remaining flour by hand to form a stiff dough. Divide dough into 2 pieces.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes (if you want bricks, cut with your ruler and pizza cutter now. Place pieces 1 inch apart onto parchment lined cookie sheets.  Refrigerate for 15 mins.

Bake for 8-10 mins in a preheated oven. Cool on a baking sheet for 5 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Icing

In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners sugar and cream of tartar . Blend in egg whites. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick and stiff. Keep covered with a moist cloth and plastic wrap until ready to decorate.

Enjoy the fun of baking and making this amazing Gingerbread house!

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Slow Down, Breathe, and Find Rest

Christmas Note of Encouragement

This is your gentle Christmas Reminder.

Find some time today to rest your mind, body and soul from the hustle and bustle of the crazy busy of the season. If you do, God will bless you with the time to get everything done.

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Take Time To Rest Your Mind And Your Body

Christmas Note of Encouragement

Dear Tired Mom,

Do you feel like you are running around in a circle with no end in sight?

Do you still have presents to buy or presents to wrap?

Are your kids going to the kitchen looking for a snack and you cringe at the question that is coming next. “Mom, where are the Christmas cookies?” Then your response is, “I haven’t made them yet.”

My sweet tired mom, at this point it is okay to readjust your list and start removing things from it. It is okay to not get everything done.

If you were to ask your family they would rather have you engaged with them in an activity together then have you running around with your head cut off.

It is also okay to sit back and relax with a good book, blanket, cocoa, and popcorn. It is okay to turn on a movie and sit back and relax or take a nap.

The key is to make the time to breathe, my friend. If you do, God will bless you with the time to get everything done. 

You can only push your body so far before it shuts down.  I promise this happens because it happens to me all the time. I am not good at taking my own advice.

God wants you to take care of yourself as much as you to want be there for your family. He created you and He knows what you can handle. He also knows there is strength in rest. This is why He commands us to do it.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

My friend, truly examine what you have left to be ready for Christmas and allow yourself the ability to enjoy the next three days. It will go by quickly. Then before you know it, December 26th will be here and it will be over. Breathe, my friend, breathe and make the time to rest today.

25 Day Christmas Treat Countdown, Baking, Christmas, Comfort Food, Holiday, Recipes

Chocolate Trifle

25 Day Christmas Countdown

Day 22

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Here is a really easy recipe if you need to take a light and airy desert to someone’s Christmas Eve party today.

Ingredients

1 batch of pre-baked brownies

2 large boxes of chocolate pudding

4 cups milk (do not use soy or alternative milks as the pudding doesn’t set properly)

1 large tub whipping cream

Flavored candy of your choice (chocolate chips, peppermint chocolate chips, ground Butterfingers , ground Reese’s peanut butter cups…. anything you want)

Directions

If you haven’t done so already, bake a batch of brownies (I have an easy brownie recipe posted under recipes already if you need one.

Mix the pudding and the milk and chill in the refrigerator. Crumble your cooled brownie.

A large clear bowl works beautifully for this recipe so you can visibly show off your layers.

Begin constructing your trifle. Layer your crumbled brownie, pudding, whip cream, candy, then begin the layers over and over until the bowl is full.

Disclaimer – I do not have my own picture as I have not made this yet, but when I do I will post my picture.

25 Day Christmas Treat Countdown, Baking, Christmas, Cookies, Holiday, Home, Recipes

Christmas Snowballs

25 Day Christmas Countdown

Day 21

Day 22

Snowy Coconut Balls

This is an amazingly easy recipe with few ingredients but strong in flavor.

My family expects this simple cookie to be made every Christmas. It is also an easy cookie to add to a cookie platter.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Land O Lakes® Butter softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar

Directions

Heat oven to 325°F.
Combine all ingredients except powdered sugar in bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well mixed.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 18-25 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes; roll in powdered sugar while still warm and again when cool.

Disclaimer, I use Land O’ Lakes . Click the link to access the recipe website.

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Wrap A Loving Gift of Kindness

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Christmas Note of Encouragement

I am sharing warm words of encouragement today to inspire you as we get closer to Christmas and we feel the stress of trying to finish our shopping and begin wrapping the gifts we have bought, to instead of tackling what is left with angst and anxiety, let us instead, pray over the person whom we are buying or wrapping for.

If you do this, God will not only bless the person who you are praying for, but He will bless you with a peace that is louder than your anxiety and a comfort that will be stronger than any pressure you are feeling.

“Let us wrap each gift we give with kind, loving thoughts about all those who have helped to make the gift possible and the person who will receive the gift.” Barbara Benson

My friend, I know many of us are feeling the pressure of trying to finish everything in time for Christmas. It is my prayer for you, who has taken the time to read this today, that you will be empowered with a peace that passes all understanding and that you will not be robbed of the joy of the season as exhaustion sets in.

We can and will do this! We will be done and ready for Christmas!