Betty Crocker Wannabe has MOVED! I am now blogging solely at A Simply Klassic Home. I am still sharing printables, party ideas, and other inspiration. It's much more streamlined and clean. I hope you will stop by and say follow along there! I have lots of ideas for new printables coming this holiday season!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas You Guys

I'm busy getting ready for Christmas, baking cheesecake (by request), Sugar Cookies (by request), making Rice Krispie treats, and just getting our house ready for the big day. In the midst of that, I wanted to post a few pictures of what's been going on in our house this holiday season, and I'm going to cram it all into one post!

~ Christmas At Disneyland ~

First up, our annual Christmas trip to Disneyland, and our annual photo in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

Next stop ~ SANTA!

(Santa liked Cooper's hat)

Disneyland has the best Santa, and they don't shoo you out if you want to take extra pictures.
Cooper told Santa he wants a trash can for Christmas.

He meant a trash truck - Stinky, actually. I have it on good authority that Santa has one of these in his sleigh on it's way to our house.

We watched the Very Merry Christmas Parade.

Toy Soldiers are one of my favorite parts of this parade.

After the parade, we made our way to the castle to watch it light up, and then to Main Street for the fireworks and snow.

Disneyland really is one of the best places to be at Christmastime. It's truly magical.

And exhausting.

~ Christmas at Home ~

This month, I've cut back on the blogging, in an effort to spend more time with my family, and we've been having lots of fun!

We played Santa.

He asked his stuffed animals what they wanted for Christmas, 
then told them to say cheese, while I took their picture.

We donated a toy to Spark of Love Toy Drive at our local Fire Station, and Cooper got a tour of the garage where they keep the big trucks. The fireman and paramedic who showed us around were AWESOME!

We watched Cooper sing in his first Christmas Program,

He's the curly haired blonde in the middle :)

baked cookies,

and posed for photos in our new jammies.

Cooper & Gracie (Rick's daughter) in their new matching jammies.

By the way, when you're finished reading this post, head over to Gracie's Mommy's blog Salvage Dior, and wish her a Merry Christmas. Take a moment to look around and read her story. She's an amazingly strong lady, and I'm blessed to call her friend.

~ Christmas Traditions ~

We started some new traditions this year, like Christmas Countdown Books, and opening up a new ornament on the day after Thanksgiving, so we can enjoy it for the whole season. We're continuing the tradition of fish on Christmas Eve, and Prim Rib & Twice Baked Potatoes on Christmas Day (YUM!).

One of my favorite Christmas traditions from my childhood was when my mom and I would bake cookies and watch the John Denver & The Muppets Christmas special.

I will leave you with my favorite scene from the special ~ "Stille Nacht." It's absolutely beautiful, and they sing it in German, which is the way I learned it when I was very young. I remember attending Christmas Eve services with my grandparents, and, being the good Germans that they are, when it came to the part of the service where we sang Silent Night, they always sang in German. Quietly, but nonetheless in their native language. Anytime, I hear the song, I can't help but sing in German as well.

(be sure to turn off the music at the bottom of the page)

May your Christmas be a magical time of year, full of friends, family, good food, and wonderful traditions. May you feel the wonder and joy of that first Christmas day, and may the blessings of peace, love and health be yours in the New Year. We'll see you in 2011!

Merry Christmas you guys!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's Because I Love You...

That I set aside some time to share some A.MA.ZING cookie recipes with you. It's Christmas cookie time at the Betty Crocker Wannabe house.

Now, before we begin, I have to warn you this is kind of a long post. BUT, instead of making you come back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, I have included four incredible cookie recipes. Aren't I nice? And of course there are some pretty tempting photos as well. So there's that.

I've already packaged all of the cookies up and will be delivering them to friends and neighbors tomorrow.

Along with some yummy chocolate covered marshmallows.

You wanna know what's in the tin? Ok, here we go!

~ Cookie #1: Apricot Shortbread Cookies ~

I found the base recipe here. I knew when I saw it, that the author was right - these ARE dangerous, because as she states, there are only four ingredients in the base recipe: butter, sugar, cream cheese and flour.

I know, right?

I had actually been looking for a good shortbread cookie recipe that I could make with apricot jam, because after I tried the ones at Corner Bakery, I couldn't stop thinking about them.

Unfortunately,all of the recipes I found had almond extract, and if you been reading this blog for a while, you know that we are now a NO NUT family. So, when I saw this recipe, I knew that it could work.

The recipe is just a basic one, and calls for add-ins, but I decided to make them thumbprint style instead.

Apricot Shortbread Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1-8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups flour
Apricot preserves
Powdered Sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Cream butter and sugar together; add cream cheese and mix until well incorporated.

3. Add flour (2 cups for a more delicate cookie, 2 1/2 cups for a firmer, chewier cookie)

4. Shape into one inch balls and place on your cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.

5. Using the end of a wooden spoon, or your finger, make an indentation about halfway into the dough.

6. Fill the holes with preserves.

7. Bake for around 20 minutes, until just beginning to brown.

8. Remove to wire rack to cool, and dust with powdered sugar.

I think it makes about three or four dozen, but I can't be sure, since Rick ate quite a bit of the dough. Yes, it's THAT good.

This is just a basic recipe, you can experiment with any add-ins you wish - I'm thinking white chocolate chips and cranberries.

Oh, wait, here they are:

To the base recipe I just added one cup of white chocolate chips, and one cup of dried cranberries.

~ Cookie #2: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies ~

I found a recipe last year for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies that I wanted to try. Only, I couldn't find Mexican Hot Chocolate tablets at my local grocery store, and I really didn't feel like dragging my toddler around to Mexican markets to find them.

So instead, I modified the recipe. I added 1/3 cup of cocoa and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1 egg
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup white sugar

1. Stir cocoa powder and 1 tsp cinnamon into melted butter. 

2. Add sugar cookie mix and egg and mix well.

3. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

4. In a separate bowl, combine sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon.

5. Shape dough into one inch balls, and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.

6. Place 1-2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets, pressing down slightly with the palm of your hand.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven, careful not to overbake (I mean really careful. A minute too long and they will be hard as a rock by the next day).

8. Remove to wire rack to cool.

~ Cookie #3: Rich and Creamy Fudge ~

Ok, so it's really not a cookie recipe, but it's a Christmas classic and a must-make at my house. I haven't had much luck with the true candy recipes (mostly because I don't want to buy a candy thermometer), and this recipe gets pretty close, even though it uses marshmallow creme.

Rich & Creamy Fudge
1 (7 ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Line an 8x8 inch pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt. Bring to a full boil, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 
(the key here really is to keep stirring the entire time you are bringing it to a a boil and after it boils. And watch for splatters - don't ask me how I know).

3. Remove from heat and pour in semisweet chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or until firm. 

(Have I mentioned how happy I am to have my oven working again???)


Monday, December 13, 2010

Recently Heard At Our House...

I went to the salon the other day, just like I do every six weeks (I know, I know; but seriously, one of the very few things I do to treat myself) for my regular color and cut (wait, I don't color my hair. really, I don't).

Anyway, the woman before me was going to a fancy Christmas party and wanted a cute hairdo so my stylist, Linda, curled her hair in these big beautiful ringlets. It looked gorgeous and I was envious since I've always wanted curls in my straight as a board super fine hair.

Then later, when Linda was blow drying my hair, I said "think you could curl my hair like you did so-and-so's?" She said "Of course!"

So she did. After I saw it, I was wishing I had talked Rick into a date night that night, since all I was going to be doing was going home. What a shame!

When I walked through the door, the boys were on the couch. Cooper was excited that I was home, but when he jumped up to greet me, he stopped and started to laugh. Not just a little giggle, but big 'ol belly laughs.

"Mommy, you look funny!"

Way to pop that bubble, Coop.

Rick just kind of looked at me and said, "I've never seen you with curly hair before." I gave him the "stupid" look.

Two hours later we were sitting on the couch watching a movie, and Rick turns to me and says, "You know, it's kind of growing on me." I said, "The curly hair?" He said, "Yes, I just thought you should know."


Well, I LOVED the curls, so I managed to get a couple of Christmas pics in. What do you think?

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In desperate need...

of a blogging break.

I've had grand ideas about posting photos of our Christmas tree, ...but I just don't have the energy right now. Between broken appliances (three to be exact), preparing for a remodel of our enclosed patio, and hosting two parties this week alone, I'm wiped out! I promise I will be back soon...with more decorations, a few crafts, maybe a printable or two, and some new recipes.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the comment love on my Christmas Word Tree printable!!! I'm blown away by the response, and by the near 50 new followers that seem to have appeared overnight! Welcome, and thank you for sharing in my little piece of the internet.

See you reeeal soon!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cranberry Limeade Spritzer

One of my favorite seasonal drinks is Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash. It's only available in the winter, so I usually stock up on it.

Another favorite drink in our house is Minute Maid Light Lemonade. Only, this week my grocery store was out of it, and I was stuck with Light LIMEade. (It's actually pretty good.)

Then today I was thirsty, so I opened the refrigerator and was greeted with a choice...

I couldn't decide, so I decided to mix them and came up with YUM!

I thought this would be a great party drink for the holidays, and plan to make it for my holiday staff party that we are hosting.

Here's the recipe:
1 part Minute Maid Light Limeade
1 part Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash

Pretty easy, huh?

I think I may have used a bit more Cranberry Splash, but you can adjust to your liking.

Don't have Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash?

I'm sorry.

Linking up to these great parties.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Guest Posting at Gwenny Penny

I've made some new friends since I've been blogging, and Gwen is one of the sweetest. I'm so impressed with her craftiness, especially when it comes to sewing.

Gwen is hosting:

Haul out the Holly,Gwenny Penny,Christmas craft tutorials

Swing by today and check out my Christmas Ornament Swag tutorial, and while you're there, take a look at some of Gwen's creations. I promise, you won't be disappointed!

If you're visiting from Gwenny Penny, welcome! Take a look around, and let me know if you like what you see.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas Scripture Word Tree Printable

I've seen a lot of these in blogland, but I was really looking for one that spoke to the true meaning of Christmas. I couldn't find it, so I decided to create my own.

You can find the full post and printable download at my current blog, Simply Klassic Home.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas Books Countdown

I had high hopes for creating an advent calendar this year. Yeah, that didn't happen. When I saw this idea popping up on a few blogs, I knew this was the project for me (probably because it was the easiest for me to do). 

I taught preschool for about six years, and my favorite thing to splurge on was books for my classroom. I realized I have about 200 books, 40 of which are Christmas books, that I had collected over those six years! I always knew that my kids would get good use of these books one day.

When I saw this idea for a Christmas countdown, a lightbulb came on and I pulled out all my Christmas books, wrapped 24 of them, stuck them in a box and under the tree. What little one doesn't enjoy opening presents? It's a great way to countdown to Christmas, and to share some of the Christmas story and classic Christmas tales every night.


Starting tonight, it will become part of our regular evening routine for the next 24 days.

How do you countdown to Christmas?

We're off to Disneyland tonight to visit Santa and his reindeer, watch the Christmas Fantasy parade and see snow!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue Christmas

The past few Christmas's have had a bit of a learning curve for my little family. When my father and  grandmother both died following Christmas of 2007, the holidays changed for us. The first Christmas without them was the hardest, as we really just didn't know what to do. Many of the traditions we had, sort of revolved around the two of them. So, what now?

I remember opening up a box of my grandmother's Christmas decorations, and just starting to cry. Yes, right there in my garage at 10:00 at night, I stood there, tears streaming down my face, wishing I was there just helping her take down her decorations from the attic, like I had done for the past 20 years. I kept several of her ornaments, and my favorite are the ice skates she crotcheted many years ago. They are among of the first ornaments to go up every year.

After my dad died, I inherited Rodney Reindeer. It was a long standing joke between us, that it really belonged, not him. So when he died, I took it home with me (that night, in fact). It's one of the ways that I keep him with us. He sits high atop our TV armoire, and Cooper knows it's Grandpa's.

Last Christmas was a little better, as we started to make our own traditions, and to choose which traditions we would carry on. This year, I'm focusing on making new traditions and creating new memories.

The holidays seem to be the hardest when you've lost loved ones. This time of year is about family, and celebrating together, and without them, everything changed. But time does heal wounds, and the grief becomes just a little less each year. They are still missed, very much, but with each passing year, it gets easier.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Christmas Mantel

We spent this Thanksgiving weekend like we always do...decorating for Christmas!!

I have never liked my fireplace, but I am absolutely in love with how my Christmas mantel turned out this year! Everything seems to flow, and it just makes me happy looking at it!

We've recently found out that Cooper has many allergies including many trees and grasses, so didn't want to take the chance with a real tree, or having any pine branches in the house. I used faux lighted greenery, but I love the little twinkle it adds, even during daylight.

I used the winning combination of mason jar/epsom salt/candles again, and added some small gold mercury glass tealight holders on different candle holders for some height. The bronze stars all came from Michaels.

These beautiful, large (and heavy) glass ornaments came from Marshalls last year.

I have a pretty porcelain Nativity that will probably not see the light of day for several more years, since I really don't trust my three year old around it. So, we have this super cute Little People Nativity from Fisher Price.

I made this banner in Photoshop, just like the Peace on Earth banner. I was going to be offering these as printables, so as soon as I have the time to figure out how to do that, I will let you know!

So there's my mantel. I just love how it looks at night, too!

I will be sharing my tree later this week, as well as my favorite ornaments, once I'm certain it's finished, that is! AND hopefully later this week my oven will be fixed so I can start sharing my favorite cookie recipes!!!

Thanks for visiting today, and I hope you'll be back soon! Make sure to stop by Gwenny Penny all this week and next for Haul Out the Holly. Gwen will be featuring different bloggers each day, and I'm one of them!!

I'm linking my mantel up with Layla over at The Lettered Cottage, and I'm looking forward to see what others have done with their mantels as well.

Also linking up to these great parties.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Handmade Christmas Gift Idea

What do you get when you put this:

together with this:


Root Beer Reindeer!

When I saw these on Fingerprints on the Fridge, I knew I had to make them. I have been trying to come up with something clever to give to Cooper's preschool teachers, and since there is a staff of nine who all work with each class, I knew it had to be something cute and on the cheap!

Total cost for this project:
$3.60 per six pack (on sale at Ralphs)
Packs of pipe cleaner, google eyes, and pom-poms (about 100 each): $10
Total cost was a little $40 for nine six-packs, or about $4.70 per six pack. 

Less than $5  per person and I have a super adorable treat for each of the wonderful teachers to show them our appreciation. It would be a great activity for the kids too!

Linking up to some of these great parties.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Was a Dollar Store Snob

My name is Kristin, and I am a Dollar Store snob. Or I was, at least, until I started blogging.

I have found such great inspiration on so many blogs with items found at the Goodwill or purchased at the Dollar Store, that I have turned my loathing of the Dollar Tree into love. Well, "like" at least...I'm still in recovery.

***WARNING, if you are one of those people who do not believe in putting up your Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, please avert your eyes.***

I am aiming to have a simpler Christmas this year, with decorations as well as gifts. I would also like to have a little bit of Christmas in the majority of the rooms in our house. I have a very small budget this year, so I'm spreading out decor I already have or re-purposing items I have on hand.

 (looking at the photo, I should probably have taken the pictures down, but I was too lazy to go back and shoot more photos)

When I saw this sweet little tinsel tree in the Dollar Spot at Target, I knew exactly what I would do with it.

I fluffed it up, and straightened the branches. I place it in a burlap covered flower pot (stuffed some newspaper on the bottom), and covered the styrofoam with a little shredded brown crinkle paper and some silver tinsel. For the finishing touch, I tied a red gingham ribbon around the pot.

They also had tubes of ornaments for a dollar. I bought seven tubes, in various sizes and textures, and used three and a half of them here in a glass vase.

I read a post on The Inspired Room the other day about decorating with mason jars. I love mason jars, and this is something I've been wanting to do.

I filled the jars with Epsom salt and stuck a votive candle in - instant sparkle! I wanted to tie something around the jars, but haven't yet decided what that should be...ribbon, or twine, or just leave them as is...what do you think?

I created the "Peace on Earth" banner in Photoshop. I have a Joy to the World version that will be displayed on my mantle.

So there it is, a little bit of Christmas decor on the cheap.

  (He reeeeally wanted to be in a picture. He does make a great model, doesn't he?)

Cost breakdown:
Tinsel tree: $2.50 at Target
Ornaments: $1 a tube at Target
Flower pot with burlap: on hand
Ribbon: leftover from the Grandma-to-be-Party
Epsom salt: $3 for a large bag
Votives: 50 cents a piece
Banner: made by me in Photoshop

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I have an awesome, cheap, and easy gift idea coming this week. Can you guess what it is?

Today is National Adoption Day

Today also happens to be our own personal adoption day, or "Gotcha Day." It was the day I held my son in my arms for the first time. It was the first time I was called "Mom." The first time I felt there was something in this world that was bigger than me. The first time my life truly revolved around another human being. It was the first time I could say I was truly living the life I was destined to live.

I thought it fitting that I share a post I wrote a while back, about this very day, three years ago...


I've shared various parts of my adoption story; how I came to choose adoption, our finalization day and choosing the date, and some of the steps along the way. Today, I'd like to share the most precious story of our journey.

The day we met.

November, 2007

I was waiting for the phone call, the one that said my baby was ready for me.

At birth, my son had been placed with a wonderful foster mother who had taken great care of him for the first nine weeks of his life. I had already had the presentation, received photos, and waited on pins and needles while a judge decided my child's fate.

I received the call from my Social Worker on November 19, saying that we were clear, and I could finally meet my baby. The plan was for me to go and visit with him the next day, on a Tuesday evening, and come back to pick him up and take him home the following day.

Monday night was filled with much preparation and anticipation. I washed bedding, set up the nursery, and bought an infant car seat and a few outfits, including a "Baby's First Thanksgiving" outfit, since the holiday was just three days away. My purchases were still in my car when I went to visit the foster mom's house the next day.

I barely slept that night, and just plowed through work the next day, as it was really NOT where I wanted to be. I even agonized over what to wear, because, you know, first impressions and all.

The thirty minute car ride to the foster mother's house, I just kept telling myself to breathe. I was about to meet my child for the first time.

When I pulled up, I realized my Social Worker wasn't there yet, and I was 20 minutes early. My heart was racing as I walked up the pathway to the front door and rang the bell.

A child answered, and went to get her mother, who came down the hall with an infant wrapped in a soft blue and white striped blanket. Tears filled my eyes as she placed the baby in my arms. 

"Here's your baby," she said, smiling; and to my son, "Meet your Mama."

I just held him and looked at him for the next 30 minutes until the Social Workers arrived. Like I mentioned, the plan was that this would be just a visit and I would come back and pick him up the next evening. The foster mom questioned the Social worker, "Why can't she just take him home tonight?"

I don't think I took a breath for the next minute while the Social Workers pondered her suggestion.

"I guess that would be ok." That's when my mind started racing. Could I really do this alone? "Do you have a car seat?"

I told the Social Worker I had purchased the car seat, but hadn't even taken it out of the box yet. That had been on tonight's agenda! They set it all up for me while I just got to hold my baby.

I signed the paperwork, gathered up his belongings, said goodbye to the Social Workers and hugged the foster mom. We were off to start our lives together.

I remember praying in my heart as I secured him in the car, asking God for guidance, and above all thanking him for the most precious gift of my life.