Simply Noel: December 6 – A Clutter-Free Christmas

Simply Noel:

December 6 – A Clutter-Free Christmas

Part of why I decided to start this devotional was simply because the “muchness” of Christmas had gotten to be too much. Between the pressures of normal life and the added stress of the holiday to-do lists, I was mentally bursting at the seams before Thanksgiving even came to pass. I knew in my soul that it was all too much. So, I sat down one night and the words just came to me:

A holiday devotional for the heart that longs for less, so it can be more.

Isn’t that something we could all use? Less? Less of the stress, the constant running, the feelings of inadequacy, the countless distractions… Our lives are usually full and crowded and then we are suddenly drowning in packages, bills, lists, and obligations. Add in normal housework, schedules, and responsibilities to that, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for contempt, guilt, and regret come December 26th.

Awhile back, I began following a funny and honest mom, Allie Casazza, on Instagram. I fell for her delivery of truth so quickly that I soon became a subscriber to her blog. I looked forward to her advice to find its way to my inbox. I then started signing up for her free webinars and would occasionally catch her on Periscope. You wanna know know what she told me? I have enough time – I own time, not the other way around, and that letting go of all the clutter in my home would actually make me a better mother and wife. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but you know what? She was right, and I’m only halfway through our home.

So much of my stress comes from the house and its contents. How much of your day is consumed by the needs around you in the form of housework or meal prepping/making and other mundane tasks? Wouldn’t you love to love on your kids more often than you nag them to clean up those seven piles of toys? Wouldn’t it be nice to save those extra ten minutes wasted looking for that elusive piece of mail, because you have a simple system in place? Wouldn’t it be nothing short of a miracle to be caught up on laundry?

Maybe your trouble areas have nothing to do with the ones that I mentioned, but I bet we all have clutter somewhere in some form. It’s time to let it go and bless it as it travels out the door…

Whittle it down, friend. We don’t need all of this stuff, only so that we can pile more stuff on top of it in two weeks. Less is more. Less gives us room for more and to be more. Less gives us more time, and especially at Christmas, more time is more precious than gold.

Give freely and enrich your life. Bring blessing and be refreshed by His Spirit. Trust in Him, value what Heaven values and watch your life flourish.

xo,

Kristi

picmonkey-image

Klover House Christmas:

Tomorrow, our schedule is pretty free, and I already have several bags and large items waiting in the basement, so I am going to make a final trip to our local mission, and then, I want to walk around the house and do a quick sweep. If you haven’t even started de-cluttering, don’t become overwhelmed. Simply, take a box or bag and walk around, room by room, and remove any items that catch your eye. Mail piles? Just pitch them. Are you really going to use all of those coupons? Be honest with yourself. Are you really going to order something from those sixteen magazines? No? Pitch ’em.

God tells us that earthly possessions pass away. Our treasures are stored in heaven. You won’t be able to take a single thing with you, so let it go. Bless others with your earthly treasures, and commit to a life of less. Less stuff translates to more money and more time to spend on that which is far more valuable.

Simply Noel: December 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

Simply Noel:

Day 5 – Keeping a Christmas Perspective

As I was looking over our holiday calendar today, feeling overwhelmed, I caught myself doing something so predictable, and I realized just how important perspective is at Christmastime.

Last week, I was consumed with my firstborn’s birthday activities. This week, we have the girls’ school program and the Christmas Shoppe at school. Next week, we have what seems to be a break, followed by a third week packed with a field trip, school Christmas parties, and a luncheon for my daughters’ amazing teachers. Then, BAM! Christmas is upon us in all of its glorious splendor. Somewhere in there, we have church activities and Christmas parties, too, but I haven’t gotten myself that organized yet to know where they fall on the calendar.

As I was looking at each week, I found myself using certain events as milestones and had to stop myself. If I keep doing that – looking so far ahead and just focusing on the main events of each week, then the rest of the days of month will simply look like non-essential filler days. Do you do that, too? It’s like I have a dozen days that are highlighted and “special”, but it automatically makes the rest of the days look kind of gray.

God has given us twenty-four gifts a day. Twenty-four hours in which to live, not just fill up time and space, but to live! It’s time to stop living on the special days and for the special days only. If we keep seeing the rest of our days as merely days leading up to x,y,z, then, we unknowingly forfeit them. Time is precious. Even if one hour of the day is spent reading stories and snuggling, let’s make sure that we give it the same mental space as that holiday party prep. I have a feeling that when eternity knocks on my door, I will be more grateful for the cuddles than the cocktails, and I personally don’t want to have anymore regrets when it comes to feeling like my days are squandered.

Each day is a main event. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “business as usual” day, a birthday, a cookie baking day, a shopping day, a driving around in pjs to see lights day, or an ordering pizza and catching up on DVR shows day… Let’s practice having a new Christmas perspective everyday, starting today.

xo,

Kristi

perspective

Klover House Christmas:

Tonight I plan on revisiting that calendar that had me all worked up this morning. It occurred to me that I spend a little chunk of time twice a month meal-planning for my family. I then spend another chunk prepping food ahead for an easier time when dinner rolls around. I also feel more prepared and efficient when I grocery shop, because I take this time in preparation seriously. So, why not put a little extra effort into prepping ahead for a very busy month? Are there things that I can group together, like errands or meals, that will inevitably make life easier in a couple of weeks? Any days that look really good for a final shopping trip? What about a coffee date with a friend? Is there a day that looks convenient for that?

Yes, I want to have an easier and less busy month, but if I don’t prep and plan carefully and intentionally, even the least busy day can be quickly wasted.

Lord, help us to plan wisely and make the most of each day. Help us to be quick-thinking, slow-speaking, and easy-going. Father, guide us with your Spirit, so that each day is fully lived. Let even the days that seem insignificant feel like days well-spent. Help us to shift our perspectives, so that we don’t just profess that each day is a gift, but so that we truly feel and see each day as a gift – each hour as a gift. And lastly, please give us the wisdom and grace to make the most of our time, so that our families are blessed and we ourselves are less stressed and stretched this holiday season. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.

Simply Noel: December 4 – He Comes

Simply Noel:

December 4 – He Comes

Yesterday was a very busy day for our family, complete with crashing early. As I drifted to sleep last night, the words, “He is coming” rolled around in my head. He is coming. The Lord is coming.

 

Are you facing something in your life right now? Maybe a diagnosis? A loved one passing? A dream that seems to be on hold? A relationship on the rocks? A child who is suffering and your hands seem tied?

Are you hurting? Longing? Feeling lost?

Do you wish a situation was different?

Are you in a place of discontent?

He comes, for you and to you.

Did you know that the first two weeks of Advent, which we are in right now, focus on the second coming of Jesus? So, not only are we reminded this week that the Lord is coming once again for His people, but we are reminded that He comes to us daily to meet our weary souls, our troubled minds, our wounded hearts, and our broken bodies.

He’s coming, friend. He comes for His beloved, leaping over mountains, bounding over hills.

He’s coming to you, beautiful one, with a message of hope – “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.”

He calls to your heart and invites you to come to Him. Tuck yourself away in Him during your troubles, your unrest, and lean on His faithfulness. He wants you to know that you are not alone in your loneliness, and your battles are won in Him. He goes before you and fights for you.

Immanuel, “God with us” comes.

When you feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or like there’s no hope left for joy…remember the scriptures. He is the one that comes running, He is the one that comes knocking, He is the one with the invitation, He is the one with the offers, He is the one who brings hope, and joy, and life to every situation.

Rejoice in His promise to you that He has come and will always come to you.

I imagine the stillness that night He was born. The shepherds in the fields… The Magi gazing at the night sky… The world lay still in waiting for this promise to come, and then, the star appeared and angels announced His arrival. Can you imagine that moment? Those centuries of waiting, and suddenly, He came. Imagine the joy that also came with His coming. Regardless of what was taking place in their personal stories, the news of His birth overshadowed all troubles and brought hope to the world.

So, as you go about your day today, do not be troubled. He’s walking through this day right next to you. Lean on Him and find rest for your soul. Let Him revive your spirit and renew your hope. No matter what you face, He’s here.

xo,

Kristi

 

comes

Klover House Christmas:

Today, we are going to set up our nativity and talk about the coming of Christ. Reading from Matthew chapters 1 and 2, I will share the story of Jesus’s birth and the significance of each character included in our nativity scene. We currently use this kid-friendly Fisher-Price nativity (aff.). Something I would like to incorporate into our Christmas traditions is this “Good Deeds Manger” (aff.) that friends of our’s use. I’m sure you could easily create your own, as well.

As someone who wishes to keep Christmas centered upon Jesus, I believe that setting up the nativity together as a family and discussing it, using the Word of God, can be really helpful in building a firm foundation for our little ones. Even if you have older children, you can set up a more sophisticated nativity scene and tailor the conversation to an older audience. After all, the nativity was originally introduced by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 to help people of all ages better understand and relate to the birth story of our savior. Let’s never assume that the nativity is only effective in moving the spirits of the young.

Simply Noel: December 3 – The Heart of Giving

Just a few days into December and we’re already halfway finished with our Christmas shopping. Usually, we are part of the Christmas-Eve-Scramble crowd, but I decided that this year, we were going to keep it simple and knock it out early.

As I was chatting on the phone with my sister-in-law about gifts the other day, something struck me. We were talking about going in on a gift for our grandmother, and the ideas came so effortlessly. It didn’t matter that one of the things we had decided to buy her costs less than ten dollars on Amazon. We knew what she needed and what she liked, because we know her. Like really know.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but, I only know my grandparents’ likes and dislikes so well, because of how much time we spent together growing up, not because I’m a stellar grandchild now. Before social media and cell phones, when we had this magical thing called “free time,” we sat and hung out at their houses for hours, multiple times a week. We talked about life and family and current events. I know what kind of lotion my grandmother used, because I saw it faithfully in her bathroom and smelled it with each hug. I know the brand of coffee my other grandmother preferred, because I would sit and sip it with her as we played cards together. I know all of their favorite TV shows, where they like to shop, and what kind of music they enjoy. I know them. And even though I talk with other family members daily on Facebook and see them at every family function, I can hardly say I know them as well. Like really know.

So, my heart this year is to give gifts that attempt to say, “I know you.” In the past, I was so concerned with dollar amounts and allowing them to translate to value. The value of the item correlated to the value of the person, so by December 25th, we were miserably broke and somewhat still dissatisfied with our gifts. This year, however, I know that my grandmother loves Elvis, so it doesn’t matter that his gospel CD is just around five dollars on Amazon. I know my one nephew loves tractors. It doesn’t matter that he probably already owns twenty, and the one we liked for him wasn’t the most expensive in the store… This year, dollar signs aren’t going to determine value for us – we are going to show our loved ones their value, by getting to know them better and letting our gifts reflect that more intentionally.

Imagine that you walk into a room full of gifts, none of them have price tags… what would you give? Maybe the best gift in the room is the priceless one we call “time.” For that sibling, to whom you always give a Starbucks card – what if you randomly showed up at their house with their favorite drink in hand? That grandparent that loves puzzles – could you spare an hour to sit and do one together?

As God is working on my heart and mind in regards to gift-giving, I started thinking about His gift to us. It cost him no amount of silver or gold, but it was everything – His Son. The creator of the universe could have given his children all of the riches and material possessions the world had to offer. He could have given us unimaginable treasures, but instead, He gave us a baby in a manger – a small, innocent child, who would grow up to lay down his own life for our’s.

No amount of money can say, “I love you.” The best gifts have no price tag. The best gifts say, “I know you.”

gift

Klover House Christmas:

I realize that the greatest gift I can give my children is my undivided attention. As a mom of four, I feel like there isn’t enough of me to go around. My hope today is to spend an extra chunk of time with each of my girls – time to sit, talk, listen and observe. Time to get to know them better. Is her favorite color still orange? What’s her favorite book? Are those flecks of green or gold in her eyes?

How often do you give yourself a chance to just sit and get to know someone these days? I’m with these people all day, every day, serving them and loving them. Time to put the to-do lists aside and give priority to knowing them.

 

Simply Noel: December 2 – Know and Be Known

Simply Noel

December 2 – Know and Be Known

I literally opened this screen with the intention of writing on a completely different topic, and my heart tugged, “Not yet.” And the sentence came to mind, “Know your triggers.”

Know your triggers?

As I sat to ponder this statement, I remembered the bit that I shared yesterday about the tree-trimming fiasco. So many triggers. So many mistakes. So many emotions.

Looking back, I can see where I had made a beautiful moment far more difficult for myself and my sweet kids.

We had put the tree up several days earlier and had made a choice to leave it barren. Decorating has always been a family affair. We throw a Christmas movie or music on in the background, and we get to work.

In previous years, the kids were so small, and, believe it or not, actually more helpful in a sense. No one had an opinion. No small person had a plan. They toddled and flitted about, just happy to be surrounded by magical items and loving parents. They sported jolly Santa hats and elf ears and smiles as wide as the moon. In hindsight, it was giddy and glorious.

But things have changed. Now, we have two school-aged children, who are quite opinionated and headstrong (imagine mini Martha Stewarts in thought, Amelia Bedelias in deed). Our smaller two are comparable to wrecking balls…endearing, but still. Life has shifted, and I, apparently, resisted shifting with it – all in the name of tradition.

As I sat and reflected on the disaster, I could easily pinpoint specific “triggers” that had caused my unraveling. I just had to take the time to realize them – to know. And not just know, but be patient enough to take those few moments of reflection and visualize my place in, not the ideal scenario but rather, the reality.

As much as I have loved the idea of the whole start-to-finish decorating tradition, it just isn’t the best choice during these wrecking ball years. So, I made the decision that, until the children are older and we’ve crossed into a calmer chaos of sorts, I will simply put the lights and garland on the tree the night before. The girls really love the ornaments most anyway and barely give the other stuff a glance. Trying to explain to them why we had to dress the tree in layers only confused them and frustrated me. It’s a trigger that I can very easily eliminate. Changing my course of action doesn’t tear apart our tradition, and it still grants them the joy of ogling every shiny, dangly, blingy thing. Next year, I will breathe a deep sigh of OCD relief, knowing that I can just go along with the fun and leave the incessant arguing and complaining in the past.

Knowing myself, knowing my children, knowing our family dynamic, along with each of our limits, allows me to navigate these Christmas waters much easier. By eliminating stress-triggers, I can encourage, and even cultivate, joy-triggers. A small, practical, and even simple adjustment can make a huge impact on any experience. By impacting the experience, you can’t help but impact the memories, too.

Are your routines or traditions in need of any adjustments this Christmas? It’s okay if your reality doesn’t line up with your expectations. Maybe it’s not your tree trimming; it’s the feast, or the Christmas card, or *enter your stressor here*. God knows your hopes, and he also knows your limits. He knows your shortcomings and your strengths. If what you’re doing isn’t full of joy…love…that’s not Jesus. Wanting something magical…dreaming of peaceful, beautiful outcomes…God is in those hopes, but the forcing part – that’s all us.

He knows you. Let Him show you how well. Quiet yourself today – or any day that you find yourself faced with discouragement or disappointment – and ask Him, “Lord, what do you see? How can this be different? Be better? How can this honor my family and glorify You?”

I believe that, sometimes, He will show you a solution, an easy fix, an adjustment… Other times, He may give your heart the green light to just eliminate it altogether…

And that is okay, friend.

Today and every day, let’s build our homes, not tear them down. Know your triggers, and then ask Jesus what it is He wants you to do with them.

xo,

Kristi

know

Klover House Christmas:

I love making lists. I’m kind of old-fashioned that way. So today, as they come to me, I am going to jot down those holiday family traditions that I love and look forward to year after year. As I go about my tasks today, I will let my wandering thoughts find purpose, and I will wander there – to that list. What can I adjust? What can I eliminate? Even if it’s just for a season, what just isn’t working for us right now? Is there something that I have been wanting to implement, but just never took the time to actually consider it? Our schedules don’t have to be packed to be impactful. Our days don’t have to be full of doing, but they can be full of being. So, today, I am going to be and not do. Today, I am going to ask my husband and my kids what they love most about our usual Christmas activities and really take their responses to heart. Many of you have Bucket Lists, I’m sure. I’ve been wanting to jump on that train for years! But, the more I think about it now, the more I know that my Holiday Bucket List wouldn’t need to be 25 days long… My Bucket List would most-likely be a five-liner, and that is nothing to feel pitiful over. Knowing what you want is great, but more importantly, let Him reveal what it is that you need.

Simply Noel: December 1 – Put on Hope

 

Welcome, Friend!

Since today is our first day together, I’d like to take a moment to explain the format of the entries you’ll find each day (December 1 – January 6). The devotion will be at the beginning, and then, you will see an image with a scripture that correlates with the message. Beneath the image, you will find the section I will be calling “Klover House Christmas”. This is where I will share something tangible for us to take away from the message that I believe God has placed on my heart. It may be a recipe, an activity, or it may be a simple prayer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining in. I’m so glad to have you along on this special journey.

Simply Noel: A Holiday Devotional

December 1st – Put on Hope

As I prayed to God today, “Where do I start Lord? What do I even say?,” I felt a light bulb go off in my spirit. And not the “Ah-Ha!” kind, but rather, the soft, small kind of light bulb, like the ones you see in every other window at Christmastime. Those little candlelights. I love the way they sit there – so simply, their light so gentle and steady, yet noninvasive to our gaze… Peaceful. I had a peaceful light bulb moment delivered in a single word:

Hope.

Hope is what is going to get us through, friends. It may surprise you that I would say such a thing on the very first day of this devotional, but it’s true. No matter our holiday plans, be they spontaneous or perfectly plotted out, no matter our intentions…if the Spirit is not in Christmas, our labor will be in vain, our activities will feel empty, and our hearts will become quickly exhausted. The flame inside of us may smolder before it’s even been given a chance to shine.

As we decorated our tree this year, all of my perfect plans dangled in front of me in complete disarray. Broken glass… busted ornaments… bickering children…whiny toddlers… mess after mess after mess…

At one point I broke down and asked myself out loud, “What are we doing wrong?! Why can’t we even have fun doing the fun stuff?!” And that answer came quickly to my heart.

It doesn’t matter what you do. If the Spirit is not in it… If the Spirit is not in YOU… even the most enjoyable thing will lack the joy due to it.

I could’ve thrown in the towel. Said things to myself like, “Christmas is over before it even stood a chance! I blew it. This didn’t go how it was supposed to go…”

But I have Hope.

So here’s what we are going to do, friend. We are going to put on Hope today and everyday this holiday season. Like an apron, we are going to gently drape it around our necks. We are going to tie it snugly around our waists. We are going to tuck our plans and desires deep into its pockets, and we are going to let it catch the mess that bubbles up and splatters on us out of nowhere. We are going to pull this wonderful time called Christmas off with some amazing gifts called Faith, Hope, and Love. And today – everyday – we’re going to start with Hope.

Do me a favor. Place your hand over your heart. This is your faith in action, friend. No matter what you are going through, no matter what today has in store, take a moment with me and place your hand on your heart. Do you feel that heartbeat? You have a big, beating, loving heart. I know that, because you’re here, wanting to grow it and make the most of this season. I think that speaks volumes about you. So with your hand over your heart, say these three simple words: “I have Hope.”

Put on your Hope today, friend. It only gets better from here.

xoxo,

Kristi

hope

Klover House Christmas:

Today, let’s keep life simple. Wish your loved ones a happy first day of December. A new month, like each new morning, is a fresh start. If you have little ones, I’m sure they’ve been waiting eagerly for this month to come. Break out the Advent Calendars, if you have/do them, and just take a few minutes talking with the people you love most.  Reflect on last year.  Maybe you’re missing someone, and you’re feeling a pang of sadness. Maybe things were messy and disappointing far too often, and you can’t seem to remember a peaceful moment from this time a year ago. Maybe you are just as giddy as a child, and you can’t wait to repeat the joyful festivities… Whatever you’re remembering – whatever emotions are evoked…remember your Hope, and share that with someone today. For me it may look like this, “Kids, I’m so excited for Christmastime. I love the joy that it brings to you and to our home. My hope for this year is that we spend each day loving each other well. What are some things that you are hoping?” And it may be a Santa Wishlist that you get in return, but hey, at least you are sharing about hope, and you are putting your own hopes out into the atmosphere, and that is a powerful thing. God’s word doesn’t return void, and I believe that when you speak life-giving, hope-giving words they won’t return void, either. xo

Seeking the Simple Life

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends.  Can you believe 2016 is just days away?  Our schedules are packed, wallets are emptied, bellies are full…  And yet, something is missing for this mama.  It became painfully obvious this morning.  All the kiddos are home from school today, and while they played in their pajamas, this mama stepped outside in her’s.  My pajamas, that is, and a big, fluffy, pink robe.  I had to throw a piece of mail into the mailbox, and I didn’t care who saw me on my quick trip to the street and back again.

simple

But as I took that first step out of our front door, I was greeted with the chimes of church bells in the distance, and the thoughts rushed in like a gust of wintry truth.  I long for simple.  For simpler times.  For crisp, clear moments, like that one.  In this season in which life-moments are fleeting, like fast-falling snowflakes, I am finding myself wanting to linger.  To catch some on my tongue.  To examine a few on my gloves.  To laugh as they rest peacefully atop my child’s head.  And I’m not talking about literal snowflakes, well, not entirely, anyway.  I mean those life moments.  They are melted and forgotten before I’ve even taken the chance to examine them in their rawness and beauty.

 

Where are you going, life?  Will I ever catch up to you?  Or should I be slowing down and force you to stop for a breath yourself once in a while?

 

With each step, a bell chimed.  It was so serene.  I couldn’t tell if it made me feel nostalgic – almost transporting me back in my mind to what I imagine a winter morning at Christmastime felt like before cell phones, and deadlines, and social media…  Before too many appointments and activities…  What would it be like?  To walk outside your door in the morning and just take a little walk, listening to the church bells chime as you delivered cookies to an elderly neighbor?  Wouldn’t that be something?  To “digress”?  To live, and breathe, and just be once in awhile.

 

Or maybe it made me feel lonely.  Maybe those somber, deliberate steps taken in the stillness on a quiet street reminded me of how full my life is but how empty it feels most days.  Sure, we laugh.  I play with my kids, and we enjoy afternoon movies and snuggles on the couch.  I’m not all there, though.  I’m somewhere else much of the time.  I’m making mental checklists and contemplating craft ideas and designing imaginary dresses and considering business deals and dreaming up ministry opportunities and remembering to-do lists…  I’m not there, breathing in their sweet little smell, taking in their quirky little mispronunciations, or answering their innocent questions with more than two brain cells and in a decent tone.

 

The comparison of the simplicity of the moment against the cluttered space that was once my life and mind left me feeling lonely.  Even though they’re right in front of me, I miss my family.  Even though it’s all around me, I miss Christmas.  I miss waking up and being present.

 

It’s hard, isn’t it?  I feel like the modern woman longs for superhuman abilities.  We want to cook well, work well, take care of our family and home well…because we are the ultimate homemakers.  We want solid relationships and calendars full of events and play dates…because we are the ultimate friend.  We want successful businesses and accolades…because we are the ultimate entrepreneur.  We want quiet times and Bible studies…because we are the ultimate, faithful Christian.  We want book clubs and girls’ nights and birthday parties and potlucks…because we are able to just do.it.all.   And so we try.  We try to do it all and we find ourselves lonely.

Longing for less.

Feeling like we’re aiming at all the targets, but missing all the marks.

Is it just me?

 

I don’t know what 2016 holds for me, for our family, our plans and dreams, but I do know that change is coming.  I heard the bells ring this morning, and I can’t “unhear” them.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear friends.  Go, enjoy your loved ones.  Find someone or a whole bunch of someones and love them like crazy this week and every week from here, on…

xo,

Kristi

Cream Cheese Pumpkin Bread

Last night, as I burned the late-night oil watching Cake Wars on Food Network, I caught the #BakeItForward challenge presented at the close of the show.  I am a huge fan of the #PayItForward lifestyle, so this seemed like a lot of fun coupled with a wonderful cause – fighting child hunger. Food Network is donating $1 for each original post on social media using the hashtag #BakeItForward.

As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and sipping my morning cup of coffee, I came across the video below, featuring banana bread with a cream cheese filling.  I was all out of bananas, but I remembered that I had a can of Organic Pumpkin Puree from Trader Joe’s, so I immediately decided that a swap was in order, since I had everything else I needed to make the bread.

 

Cream Cheese-Filled Banana BreadPIN IT FOR LATER: http://bit.ly/bnnabrad

Posted by Tasty on Sunday, November 8, 2015

 

I followed the recipe shown in the video:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • pinch of salt

I used the following additions:

  • 1 tsp. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie spice
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • HALF of a 15oz. can of TJ’s Organic Pumpkin Puree

and the following variations:

  • 1/4 c. Coconut oil (in place of butter)
  • 1/2 c. half n half (in place of sour cream)

I followed the Cream Cheese Filling recipe as given:

  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 TBSP flour

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

So that was it!  It turned out well (I think, anyway), but I kept having to remind myself with each bite, “This is NOT a Pumpkin Roll…this is NOT a Pumpkin Roll.” LOL  Because it isn’t nearly as sweet, although it resembles one!  It DID however, make me feel a whole lot better about having three slices!  :)  Enjoy and please jump on the #BakeItForward train!  It is such a great cause!  We are all baking during the holidays at one point or another, and the challenge is running until December 31st, so as you bake and gift your goodies to others, tag your photos with the #BakeItForward #NoKidHungry hashtags and keep the goodness going!  Tag me too, on Twitter and Instagram, if you heard about it here, because I would be so thrilled to see what you are baking and to see that the love is spreading!

Happy Baking and Giving, Friends! xoxo

bakeitforward

Easter Baskets: Keeping it Frugal and Fun!

Just a few days until Easter! Are your Easter Baskets ready? Mine aren’t assembled yet, but I do have everything purchased and ready to go. Because time is running out, I put a little video together for you showing what I have chosen to give our little girls this year (and other family members as well). I hope you find it helpful and feel free to leave your ideas and links on the comments! After all, it’s never to early to start ticking away great ideas for next year! Thanks for watching!

xo, 
Kristi 
Find the video {here}.

simple “sweetheart” valentines

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, and for the first time we have a student in our home! Our preschooler will be taking her little treats to school next Friday, and since her new baby sister is due just 6 days afterwards…I thought it best to get a jump on it.

 So, my goals were to keep them:

  • easy and super budget-friendly
  • tasty / attractive
  • using age-appropriate wording
  • freezer-friendly
  • easy for “Mr. Kloverhouse” to assemble should I be in the hospital with a newborn

My first thought was to order each child a book through Scholastic at just $1 a piece, but that would have been $30, so let’s see if this option kept me under that mark…

 

Supplies needed (non-food items):

  • treat bags (two 20 count) Target dollar section = $2
  • ties that come with the bag or ribbon (I chose ribbon b/c I had it on-hand.  Pics show ties.) = Free
  • heart stickers or cut-outs (I had a heart diecut, so I chose that option over purchasing stickers.) = Free
  • hole punch = Free
  • Washi tape (optional) Target dollar section = $1
  • Blank Valentine cards (Target dollar section) = $3
Supplies needed (food items):
  • heart-shaped strawberry/vanilla marshmallows (I bought 3 bags at $.99 each.) = $2.98
  • 1 bag of baking chocolate (I already had a bag of pink on-hand, so mine was free, but for estimating cost sake, I’ll add it in as a purchase.) = $4.99 (Price listed on Amazon)
  • Valentine sprinkles (Wilton Micro Hearts) = $4.49
  • Dove chocolate hearts = $3.49

Grand total: $21.95  (My actual total, subtracting the baking chocolate: $16.96)

So, not bad!  Definitely a little more work than the books, but the girls helped me out and we got to exercise our creativity.

Steps:

  1. Place marshmallows on parchment paper (in pairs of pink and white)
  2. Melt baking chocolate and unwrap Dove chocolate hearts
  3. Using a spoon, spread baking chocolate on the marshmallows
  4. Sprinkle each white marshmallow with the sprinkles, and place a Dove heart on each pink marshmallow (b/c chocolate on a strawberry marshmallow is just the right thing to do, right?!)
  5. Repeat until all marshmallows are decorated
  6. Place in a freezer-safe container and freeze until needed

  1. In the meantime…create cards
  2. Pair cards according to color combos desired
  3. Cut cards in half (I love my Martha Stewart paper trimmer)
  4. Punch heart-shaped hole in each card or affix a heart sticker to each front
  5. Affix the cutout of another color inside the card so that it’s visible through the opening (I used “Quick Dry” Tacky Glue)
  6. Write the words: “You are a Sweet” allowing the cutout or sticker to say “heart” for you
  7. Help your little sign the inside of the card or fill it out for them

  1. Once ready to assemble, place a pair of marshmallow hearts in each treat bag
  2. Punch a hole in the corner of both the bag a card
  3. Attach the card to the bag using either the ties or strings
  4. Secure bag’s seal with a piece of decorative Washi tape (optional)
  5. Done!

 

(Also an option…Rice Krispie Treat hearts (using a cookie cutter).  Simply prepare the Rice Krispie Treats, adding the sprinkles in while mixing.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, spread the treats out onto the pan, cover with another sheet of parchment paper, roll flat, and refrigerate until firm.  Using the cookie cutter, cut out hearts, place in bags, tie and done!  That would be an even cheaper option, but I liked that the mini marshmallows were different and could freeze well for a few days.)

 

 

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