Mom’s Christmas Sweets

Christmas has a way of stimulating all the senses. The sound of Christmas music; the sight of colourful lights; the smell of fresh cut trees; the cool, moist touch of snow; and the taste of delectable treats.

For this week’s post, I asked my Mom to share recipes for two delectable Christmas treats she has made  every year since my childhood.

Taffy Tarts

1/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
12 tart shells (frozen or homemade)

Mix all the ingredients together. Pour mixture into tart shells. Bake for 10 mins at 375 degrees F. Lower temperature to 300 degrees F and bake for 15 more minutes. Enjoy!

Sweet Marie Bars

1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups rice krispies
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Melt first three ingredients together in a saucepan. Remove from stove and add rice krispies. Put in an 8 inch square baking pan. Melt chocolate chips in a separate saucepan. Pour chocolate over the top of rice krispie mixture. Cool until chocolate hardens. Serve!

Why not add these recipes to your Christmas baking traditions. Remember sweets make good gifts! Put them on a decorative plate, cover with plastic wrap, and add a bow.

Happy baking and Merry Christmas!


15 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness

It’s the season of giving. It’s the season of goodwill. It’s the season to remember Christ’s birth, and His love for all humankind. In this post, I am excited to share with you one of the most rewarding “activities” I have participated in over the last couple of years – Random Acts of Kindness (R.A.K.).

Christmas is a busy time and often a season that is hard on the budget, but I encourage you to share the Christmas spirit of love and joy by choosing even a couple R.A.K. If you have children, this would be a great activity in which to enlist their help. In doing these simple acts, we embody the true reason for the season. The very first Christmas was the greatest act of kindness ever performed. God sent His only Son to a sad, angry, and hateful world that we might be redeemed from our sin. During His life on earth, Jesus performed many acts of kindness when He healed the sick and fed the hungry crowds. Matthew 14:14 says, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” This is just one of the many times His heart was moved with kindness.

While I strongly believe in developing a spirit of kindness throughout the entire year, Christmas is the perfect opportunity to start the habit. So here are 15 of my favourite R.A.K.:

  1. Leave a small gift in your mailbox for your mail carrier.
  2. Tape some money to a vending machine.
  3. Leave a “Thank You” note taped to the bathroom mirror for the janitor at work or school.
  4. Leave small amounts of money around a dollar store.
  5. Do a family member’s chore without telling them it was you.
  6. Tape some money to a parking meter.
  7. Give compliments to at least 5 people in one day.
  8. Leave a positive note in a library book.
  9. Leave a coffee shop gift card in a hospital waiting room.
  10. Let someone go ahead of you in line.
  11. Give a larger tip to a waitress/waiter.
  12. Send flowers to someone unexpectedly.
  13. Buy coffee for all your co-workers.
  14. Tape money to the wash machine in a laundromat.
  15. Leave a note of encouragement somewhere in a friends house (and don’t sign your name).

I have prepared for you printable cards to include with your R.A.K. (or R.A.C.K. as they are typically called at Christmas). Just click on the image below to download the PDF file:

Be sure to share your favourite R.A.K. ideas in the comments.

Merry Christmas!


10 Family Christmas Traditions

For most of us, our favourite memories of Christmas are tied to a special tradition that was practiced by our family each Christmas. While it is fun to do new and different things each Christmas, it is also fun to have something familiar to look forward to throughout the year. Today I am sharing with you ten of my favourite family traditions.

  1. Light an Advent Wreath. If you attend a church that does not participate in this seasonal type of worship, this is a great idea to do with your own family at home. There are many resources online that can assist with the preparation. I found to be helpful. For four Sundays before Christmas a different candle around the wreath is lit to represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace. The candle in the middle of the wreath is lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in celebration of Christ’s birth.
  2. Visit a Nursing Home. Many seniors have no family members in their local vicinity. Christmas can be a difficult time for these people. Many seniors love seeing and talking to children. Maybe plan on the children singing or helping with some sort of Christmas program. The best thing to do is contact your local nursing home and speak to the Program Director. She/he will be able to direct you appropriately.
  3. Make an Activity Calendar. This is something my family always did when I was a child. On December 1, we gathered a large poster board, markers, tape, old magazines/catalogues, and scissors. First, Mom would mark out the grid of the calendar for December and add the dates. Then we would assign an activity for each day of the month. This might include putting up the Christmas tree, baking sugar cookies, or wrapping gifts. For each activity we either found a photo in an old magazine/catalogue or drew a picture that represented that activity and taped it on the day assigned to it on calendar. For instance, if we went Christmas dinner grocery shopping on Dec 21, we taped on a picture of a shopping cart on the square of Dec 21. On a day that didn’t have a specific activity, we took turns drawing a picture of something that represented Christmas.This calendar also acted as a countdown to Christmas since we each took turns crossing off the days as they were completed.
  4. Buy a New Ornament Every Christmas. Throughout the year, be thinking about what ornament you want to purchase. It could be a souvenir that represents a family vacation or a set of house keeps from the house you recently sold. It’s exciting to think about something that represents the previous year and incorporate that into your Christmas tree décor.
  5. Dress up for Christmas Dinner. In the past, it wasn’t considered Christmas if the family members did not put on their best formal wear. This was done to set apart the holiday as a special day. Of course, this can be difficult to do with little children but might be something to consider as the children get older. If you are having a formal Christmas dinner with your best dish set and glassware, why not dress for the occasion.
  6. Have Outside Fun on Christmas Afternoon. Some of my fondest memories as a child are spending the afternoon sledding or skating with the whole family. The whole family could include grandparents, aunts, uncles, moms, dads, and cousins. You might even invite the neighbours or close friends. If it is a mild winter or you live somewhere warm, then go for a walk or play some sort of outside game. Remember to have the hot chocolate set out and ready to be made when everyone returns inside.
  7. Invite Someone (Other than Family) for Dinner. This is another tradition my family always had when growing up. We had an elderly friend who had nowhere to go for Christmas, so he always came to our house. He came for Christmas dinner for many years. When he got sick and unable to attend, we felt a great sadness. We might not have been related to him, but he definitely felt like a part of our family. Just remember that most people don’t want to be pitied, so you might allow the person to participate in the meal by bringing some sort of food dish or gifts. I still have a blue teddy bear that was given to me by our family friend one Christmas.
  8. Read a Christmas Book. For small children, you might decide to read a different picture book each night in December leading up to Christmas. For older children, it can be fun to read one chapter each night of a chapter book. The book does not have to be completely about Christmas. When I was a child, we often chose books such as Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
  9. Have the Children Plan Christmas Eve. Let the kids plan a skit, a song, a craft, or a special activity for Christmas Eve evening. This is better for older children, but you would be amazed how creative children can be when asked to plan something. While Christmas movies can be fun, encourage them to do something that is a little more creative for this special evening. Remember to have some special treats to wrap of the festivities.
  10. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life. My sister and I have a long running tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas. This is a great tradition to start with teenagers and/or adults. The message of this timeless classic never grows old. Some people find the movie depressing, but I find it very encouraging. It reminds us what the important things in life truly are – living honestly, giving to others, and celebrating family and friends.

I hope you found these 10 traditions inspiring, and that you will choose to create positive, uplifting memories for your family this Christmas and in the years to come. Be sure to share your favourite family traditions in the comments below.

Merry Christmas!


15 Fun Fall Activities

Does anyone else love fall as much as I do? If you do, I’m sure you’ll find the following list super exciting!

15 fun fall activities

1. Rake leaves and jump in the pile

Kids will love this, and you are never too old to experience this old-time pleasure. Just be careful at how hard you hit the ground!

2. Have an informal fall photo session

Ask a friend to take pictures or just set your camera on a makeshift tripod        and set the timer. No need to hire a professional photographer unless you      want to.

3. Make candy apples

Use melted caramel, melted chocolate, nuts, candy corn, or anything that          sounds delicious to you.

4. Build a scarecrow

Or maybe build two!

build a scarecrow

5. Have a picnic in the woods among the fallen leaves

Don’t forget to pack a festive blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate along  with your other favourite goodies.

6. Walk through a corn maze

Just wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty!

walk through a corn maze

7. Collect acorns and pine cones

This  might require another fun walk in the woods!

8. Make pumpkin, chocolate chip cookies

Keep tuned for my post next Saturday on my favourite fall recipes.

9. Decorate for fall

Make your own decorations or have your kids make some. A lot of dollar stores have a nice, affordable assortment of fall decor.

10. Take a fall drive through the countryside

Admire the many colours of leaves along the way.

take a fall drive

11. Wear fall coloured clothes

Break out your orange, mustard yellows, burnt reds, and browns.

12. Bake an apple pie

Keep tuned for my post next Saturday on my favourite fall recipes.

13. Have a final bonfire

Make s’mores and hot chocolate and wrap up in a festive blanket.

have a final bonfire

14. Make a craft with fallen leaves

Let your kids make “pictures” with leaves, glue, and paper.

15. Go on a hay ride

If you don’t have a tractor and wagon and neither does your neighbour, many corn maze farms and apple orchards will give rides around the farm. Some of my favourite fall memories is going on hayrides after its dark. Just don’t get spooked by the weird night sounds!

I hope you found this list inspiring. Now go out and have some fun!

You can download a free copy of this list here by clicking on the thumbnail.


Happy Fall!