Polar Express 2022

Our Polar Express Party was a huge hit thanks to all the help from our amazing family and friends! I’m so glad that we decided to give it a go even though we don’t really have our house set up the way we want it yet… its better to work with what you have right now and not keep putting things off until everything is ‘ready’ or ‘just right’ because that day may never come!

The kids had a fun time and are already making plans for next year! I’ll share some photos of the setup.

Continue reading “Polar Express 2022”

Hot Cocoa for the win!

There’s nothing like snuggling up with a cup of hot cocoa after coming in from the cold… ok, ok, I know… it doesn’t really get that COLD here in Florida but I sure can remember some cold days from my

time further north and I still enjoy a nice cup of hot cocoa every now and then.

I can remember my mom making us a pot of cocoa on the old wood cookstove. We would sip as much as we could before we had to head out the door to catch the school bus… at one time we had to walk 1/2 mile uphill to get to the bus and in another place we lived it was an even further walk downhill… not much easier if the driveway was iced over.

Here are some of our All-Time Favorite cocoa recipes:

Cocoa In A Crockpot

Hot Cocoa (Powdered)

Single-Serve Hot Cocoa

The Best Hot Cocoa

Of course, you can always use the ready-made kind at the store too but there is just something a little extra special about whipping up some cocoa from scratch and the memories you make will be cherished for a lifetime!

You can also whip up some fresh cookies to go along with your cocoa for an extra special snack!

St. Nicholas Day 2022

Yesterday afternoon I had the kiddos help me dig out the Christmas decorations and the tree. I’m so thankful that we’ve used color-coded totes (dark green for Christmas) for our seasonal decor as this makes it much easier to find the necessary items.

The kids were a little upset that we didn’t put the tree up last night but they were super excited to find some early gifts on the table this morning.

Continue reading “St. Nicholas Day 2022”

St. Nicholas Day is just around the corner!

We are trying our best to get back into some of our routines and traditions around here but it’s been tough going with one thing after another. I do plan to do a little something special for St. Nicholas Day and we hope to get our tree up then as well. I had thought about doing our Polar Express Party on St. Nicholas Day but it falls in the middle of the week so that wouldn’t work out well for anyone right now.

We won’t be doing anything really spectacular but I’m sure the kids will be excited anyway. I did manage to snag a couple of bags of chocolate coins a couple of weeks ago too so I’m hoping they won’t have melted by the time St. Nicholas Day gets here.

I just wanted to post this in case anyone else wanted to try to do something a little extra special… maybe you will have a chance to grab some things over the weekend to start a new family tradition. Maybe we can schedule a quick drive around town to look at Christmas lights or something as well.

Here are a few posts from previous years:

We usually make Santa Pancakes and I think we did something a little different last year but I can’t remember what we did for sure as it was so crazy then.

Before you think that you couldn’t possibly pull anything like this off because something always goes wrong here’s another post about how our day really went on a previous St. Nicholas Day:

Whether you celebrate or not we hope you have a great St. Nicholas Day and we pray that you are blessed beyond measure during this holiday season!

12 Days of Cookies – Day 1

Here are some of our favorite Cookie Recipes:

Day 1:

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Day 2:

No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Day 3:

Haystacks aka Noodle Cookies (2 versions here)

Day 4:

Easy Sugar Cookies (We also added some butterscotch and some white chocolate chips to a few and they were delicious.)

Continue reading “12 Days of Cookies – Day 1”

Christmas Cookie Countdown!

No matter what kind of cookie you like, I think we have you covered!

Here are some of our most favorite cookie recipes:

5 ingredient chocolate chip cookies

7 layer cookies

Blonde Brownies

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Easy Sugar Cookies (We also added some butterscotch and some white chocolate chips to a few and they were delicious.)

Granny’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Haystacks aka Noodle Cookies (2 versions here)

Hot Dog Cookies

Lazy Dazy Cookie Cake

Mudballs recipe

No-Bake Oatmeal Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cake Mix Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Wheels

Peanut Butter Cracker Cookies


Rice Krispie Treats

Rolo Cookies

Russian Tea Cakes (These are a holiday favorite here at our house.)



If you need even more ideas be sure to check out this post:

Santa’s Top 10 Favorite Cookies That Can Be Made Ahead of Time!

Celebrate With A Birth Date

We all have one and so do our kids, parents, friends, and other family members. Around here we have more than others or at least we celebrate more than others. However this is one topic I’ve failed to post a lot about… birthdays.

I recently read about the ‘new minimalist’ birthday trend called ‘Fivers’. I laughed a little as the article explained the trend and how it worked. Basically, according to the article I read, you have a birthday party and ask the guests not to buy a gift but they may give a card with $5.oo, if they like. This money can then be pooled for a larger gift of the child’s choosing, used for an ‘experience’, or saved for a later date.

Sounds great and I’m so happy to see so many people jumping on board with this idea. I just thought I’d share how we do birthdays here which is how we’ve done birthdays for a while now. Now don’t get me wrong, there is NOTHING wrong with the way anybody celebrates birthdays but we do things a bit different than most.

When my older kids were younger we did do the traditional parties… cake, ice cream, and gifts. Sometimes I would have two parties instead of four as they had birthdays close together and sometimes we would just do one big party.

Most of our parties were just for family and a few very close friends and they were never very big. The biggest one we probably ever had was in NC. We held an ice cream party for all four of my older kids. That was so much fun! We had everyone help to make homemade ice cream and then we had a variety of toppings. There was plenty of other food too but everyone always remembered the ice cream and how good it was.

There have been many times where I would plan a semi-elaborate themed party like the Sock Hop party we did several years back. It was so much fun and the kids really enjoyed it. Continue reading “Celebrate With A Birth Date”

Pumpkin Pie Filling From Scratch

I know that this time of year there are ao many pumpkin-related recipes going around but Pumpkin Pie is a big tradition around here so I wanted to share our recipe. You can put this into a store-bought pie shell or try your hand at a made scratch from pie crust as well. Continue reading “Pumpkin Pie Filling From Scratch”

Made From Scratch Hot Cocoa

My kids and I love Hot Cocoa. The weather right now is just right for sipping on a steamy cup. I have many fond memories from when we lived in Virginia and North Carolina that involve this delicious treat. It is even better after coming in from building snowmen and having snowball fights.

We haven’t seen any snow since we’ve moved to Florida several years ago but the weather still gets a bit nippy. This weekend was definitely cocoa weather. I used the Keurig to make my cocoa to take out to the woods with me. Just place the cocoa in your mug and set it under the Keurig. You don’t need a K-cup as the hot water will flow right through it, into your cup, and Voila… Hot Cocoa. Enjoy it as it is or add some marshmallows.

We also enjoy making this when we have our ‘Polar Express’ parties… hopefully, I’ll be writing a post about this soon. This is also a great treat to take camping with you to enjoy on those crisp mornings.

I have two versions of this and you can try them both to find your favorite. I often make double batches as we can go through quite a bit of this rather quickly. (You will need a large container with a tight lid to store this in.) Continue reading “Made From Scratch Hot Cocoa”

Making Memories With Family

My oldest daughter and her husband came to visit this weekend. We decided to have an impromptu cookout with hamburgers, hot dogs, deviled eggs, baked beans, and pasta salad… yum!

The best part of the whole time was not the food but the time we spent together. I wasn’t feeling really well and tried to ‘keep away’ but watching the kids all spend time together was really amazing. The little kids enjoyed having big sister around and they loved playing with their dog.

The older kids decided to get down some games… I normally have them in a big coffee table, however that coffee table is out on the porch because we have no room right now, so they had to get them down from the storage loft. (We have a big collection of board games as we would request these for Christmas gifts as the whole family can enjoy them. Board games do make great Christmas gifts!)

First came Battleship, we have the older version somewhere but couldn’t find it so they got down the Electronic version, however we couldn’t find all the pieces so I guess that will need to go on the Christmas list. I am thinking about getting this Star Wars version.

Next came the classic Monopoly. We would spend hours playing this game when they were younger. We also have the set with a speed die. DD18 is planning on getting this out later to play again with the kids. I am thinking about checking out the Junior edition too as this is a great game to teach money skills.

Last they pulled down the old Scrabble. (We have a couple version of this game too.) I love that you can buy replacement tiles for this game fairly cheap and these tiles also work great for crafts. I think my oldest daughter took the electronic version home with her to play with her husband. This is also a great game to help with reading, spelling, vocabulary, and math as you count up the scores. You could start younger kids out with this junior edition.

After they played for a while we ate dinner together and talked a bit. Big sister also passed out some bags of Halloween candy for everyone. We cleaned up and they went home as it was starting to get dark and they had to work the next morning.

DD18 wasn’t ready to put up the games though. She asked Mr. Awesome and me if we would play and we did. We played Scrabble first and she went to grab the dictionary so she could make sure my words were ‘legal’… lol. Like I would really cheat. I do pull words out of my head that I don’t even know that I knew sometimes though.

Once that game was over they decided to play Monopoly again. We had a blast playing even though they lost… again. This was definitely one of those days that we will keep in our hearts forever. It has also encouraged us to start some new traditions with the younger kids. I am hoping to start having a game night at least once week like I did when my oldest kids were younger.

All in all today was a great day. I am so thankful for these days and feel so very blessed to have such a wonderful family! I definitely feel like a winner!


Our Favorite Holiday Recipes

This idea came to me as Easter was approaching. Some of these recipes will be found in other areas of my blog but I wanted to gather them together to make it easier for others, and myself to find.

New Year’s

Black Eyed Peas

Easy Collard Greens

Hoe Cakes



Brown Sugar & Honey Glazed Ham

Chocolate Covered Eggs

Coconut Cake

Empty Tomb Rolls

Pickled Eggs



30 minute Rolls

Brown Sugar & Honey Glazed Ham


Grandma’s Mac N Cheese

Green Bean Casserole

Luscious Four-Layer Pumpkin Cake

Russian Tea Cakes

Sweet Potato Casserole

Empty Tomb Rolls (aka Resurrection Rolls)

I found this recipe on Facebook a couple of years ago and my kids love to help make these. This has become an Easter tradition in our home. Continue reading “Empty Tomb Rolls (aka Resurrection Rolls)”