All posts by Life of Joy

Christmas Time 2018

It amazes me that so much can happen in such little time! After church on the 23rd, we came home, had some lunch, and Tiffany made the cookies for cookie decorating, which I talked about last week. Brian and Lauren got her early in the afternoon and we painted cookies before dinner. It was fun to see Liam join in this year. :)

Afterwards, I made San Francisco Chicken with some Dreamfields angel hair spaghetti. I modified it so we could eat it as an S meal on Trim Healthy Mama. It wasn’t that difficult to do and I’ll try to share how I do it now in a Tuesday post soon. ;)

We played some Quip Lash 2 on together. (I think it is Jackbox Party Pack 3 that we actually have on Sean’s xbox 1 but I think there are other platforms available.) That’s always fun. We like it because it supports large groups of players. family game ~
Be sure to use the “family friendly” setting. :)

Christmas Eve morning I’m the one that rouses the troups. We rise on Christmas Eve morning as if it were Christmas Day. We’ve done this since the boys were about 2 and 3. I’d gotten them some of those large Fisher Price or Little Tyke play sets and was not going to tote them to my parents’ house; so we just pretended it was Christmas on Christmas Eve so they could get up, open gifts, and play with them as much as they wanted without having to leave them to go somewhere. We’ve done it ever since. Of course that means that we get the bulk of our gifts on Christmas Eve but that is fine because Christmas Day is about Jesus, family, fellowship, and fun times.

Making Xmas Breakfast ~
Xmas Breakfast '18 ~
Tiff wasn’t thrilled with my Kodak moment but humored me anyway.
Brian helped too ~

We put breakfast in the oven and then pray and open presents. By the time we’re done with stockings and presents, breakfast is ready. We eat and chill for a little bit before getting dressed and getting together with my little sister and her family. When the kids were little she’d come over to see what they got for Christmas from us. After she got married, they both came. After she had children and they got big enough, we started going over to their house, toting our portable gifts and pictures of anything too big or bulky. When Brian married Lauren, we simply added another to our tradition. Family is big to us! I’m looking forward to adding more to our numbers in the coming year(s) with spouses and more grandkids. :)

Xmas Eve snuggles ~
Xmas eve morning ~

I love to stuff the stockings. That is the place where I just buy little things I think they will like. My mother always did stockings so great. She’d go to garage sales throughout the year and pick up things she thought we’d like . . . many times we were with her but would forget about it by the time Christmas rolled around. Between garage sales and Dollar Tree :) our stockings were usually pretty full, rather inexpensively. It’s gotten harder as the kids have gotten older.

A few years ago I upped the amount I spend on the stocking stuffers, as we call them. It was great because instead of getting about 10 one dollar items, I can now get a good mix of things. I spend only between twenty and twenty-five dollars per stocking but am able to get each person at least about five things.

On Christmas morning we gather with parents and siblings with their families. Of course now it is fewer than in years past, as my middle sister and her family (kids and grandkids) lives in another state and don’t make it for Christmas. After coming in and eating some breakfast goody, we join together in the living room. Mom started reading a nativity pop-up story to the kids, when they were young. (I think it is called The Good News because it says that phrase on over page . . . over the years, we started saying that phrase every time it comes up in the story . . . kind of corny but a cherished memory now.)

Bubble Bread Xmas morning ~
Nativity pop-up book ~
The youngest two of our clan up close for the story. :

Then Daddy usually reads the nativity account from Luke chapter two. We are soooo glad that he is still here with us. However, since he’d had open heart surgery less than a month prior to Christmas, his voice was a bit too weak to read it this year, so I had the honor of reading it. :)

Reading the Xmas story ~
My Dad is always so moved with the things of God. :)

Years and years ago, when my mom’s parents were still alive and they were with us for a Christmas, after the reading of the story and a prayer, my grandpa started singing the song Jesus, Name Above All Names. Of course, we all joined in with him. It is now a tradition that my mom starts every year. :)

After this, we all get up and hug each other and then pass out the stockings. :) Then each gift giver passes out his/her gifts in turn, so that we can all enjoy the joy on the receivers’ faces. :) We do not rush through our Christmas festivities. :D

After all of this, we clean up and check on dinner and play games. :) This year we revived an old favorite game, Dutch Blitz. :) We use regular cards and just remove the jacks, queens, and kings, leaving the 40 cards needed to play per person. It was great fun to have Tracie’s girls and my Sean and Tiffany play with Mom, Tracie and I this year. :) And we also played a bit of Quip Lash 2. It’s good because my dad can still join in by voting on his favorite answer supplied by the players even though he doesn’t prefer to supply answers himself. I think we had 8 players and 4 in the audience. :)

Well, I’ve rambled on about our Christmas. I hope yours was good too. Have a great weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Winter Nature Study

Winter nature Study ~

People tend to think of nature study in spring because there is so much to see. But the winter can be a good time to study nature too. Put out some seeds or nuts for the birds and then you can see what kind of birds are still around your house in the winter.

Of course, if you like squirrels, you could put out food for them too. My parents used to feed squirrels years ago and then they started feeding birds. Then they saw the greedy squirrels stealing the birds’ food. Now days my retired father will shoot squirrels that come around. :D

During the winter you can also talk about what kinds of trees lose their leaves and which don’t, the phases of the moon, stars and constellations.

Here are three websites I’ve shared before and they are still active and have some good ideas, so I thought I’d share them again today.

Taking Your Homeschool Outdoors

Simply Charlotte Mason: Winter Nature Study

Ten Ways to Study Nature in Winter

I hope these ideas help you and your children engage in some wonderful nature study this season.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Art Plans for the Year

Picture art ~

One of the things I’m trying out this year is to take and share more pictures. I was looking for some kind of monthly list. Okay, truth be told Tiffany was sharing a fantasy instachallenge that she is going to participate in this month on instagram and I thought it looked interesting but since I’m not a fantasy writer, I started looking for something different.

Enter the Little Moments app. Well to be honest, I found a list of prompts by FatMumSlim; yeah, I didn’t know about that name either but finally realized it was what this lady from Australia uses for her website url. There is a list of photo prompts for the whole month. This list of prompts is where I found about the app she has available for free. Well, it is available on iOS but you can still get the prompts from the website if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad.

Any way, the app can be set to remind you of the daily prompt and will add the hashtag automatically when you upload it, or so I’ve read. I haven’t actually used it yet but it does look cool.

Then as I was creating this post I remembered about Doodlewash daily art prompts back during Inktober and decided to see if they happen to have a list of prompts for January. Guess what? :) They do! Check it out here. So I may combine or just use these sometimes. I like having options.

Of course I still have the daily tangle prompts over on and the weekly focus tangle on Square One: Purely Zentangle facebook group, as well as the almost weekly Diva Challenge by Laure Harms that I will continue to peruse and use as I feel moved. ;)

I’m also already thinking about the Valentangle prompts that may be coming up this February. I hope I can find them early enough to join in on the fun this year.

Well that’s what I’m planning to do. Tiffany and I are doing an art day a week, so I’m looking forward to playing with art this year, more intensely than I have in the past. I hope you have good art plans for the year. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Taco Bites ~

Taco Bites

I really missed making my taco bites last year, since we were low carb and couldn’t have the wonton wrappers that I had used to make them before in this recipe. So this year I decided to look for some low carb ones. I figured as a worst case scenario, I’d use low carb whole wheat tortillas.

I was thrilled to find this recipe. It is really quite simple. Unfortunately I forgot to take two of the pictures but I think you can get the idea. ;)

Start by placing about a tablespoon of cheese in a flattened pile on a silpat on a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan. I fit 12 piles on my large tray. Leave about 2 inches between piles. (So sorry I forgot to take a picture of this step. :( )

Brown your meat. We used ground turkey. Drain well and season as you like for tacos. (The other step I forgot to take a picture of. :( )

You bake the cheese on 350º for about 5-7 minutes. You want the edges to be slightly browned and the center melted. Let them cool for about a minute, so you can handle them without burning yourself. The arrange them into mini muffin pans.

mini Taco "shells" ~

Add the seasoned cooked ground meat.

undressed taco bites ~

Add toppings of choice. No more cheese is needed but some avocado, tomato, lettuce, and/or sour cream are good options.

Taco bite with avocado, tomato, and lettuce ~

These were super simple and good. Makes sure your meat is not wet or it will seep out the cracks and holes of the cheese. We didn’t eat ours right away and they were a tad bit cold. I’ll wait to fix them until the last thing next time so they are hotter.

Hope you enjoy them. Go here to for the full recipe.

I hope you have a great New Year’s Day. We are having a nice, laid back day full of rest, relaxation, and gaming (probably individually on different electronic devices as we played board games together last night).

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Every Little Thing

Little Things ~

It is New Year’s Eve. I don’t know what your plans are but I plan to be at my parents’ home playing games and ringing in the new year together and then home and in bed before one in the morning.

I’ve spent some time this month thinking about how I want to change in the new year and what steps I will take to accomplish these changes.

As I’ve written before, it’s important for me to be intentional in my marriage, otherwise I just float along and before long things aren’t running as smoothly as they once were. So I have to make a point to do things for Michael, even if it is just to make him a special snack he likes or leave him a note. Every little thing builds our relationship, just as every negative words tears it down.

So on this, the last day of 2018, I hope you will give some thought to how you will build your marriage in 2019. I’ll share some websites I like that are a marriage encouragement to me in the month ahead. :) (No promises that it will be next week. ;) )

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Painting Christmas Cookies ~

Painting Christmas Cookies

THM Sugar Cookies ~

Tiffany and I did so much baking before the weekend even arrived. :) Saturday she made the THM “sugar” cookies while I was doing something else. She was so warm it kept heating up the dough and causing them to fall apart, so she had to keep putting the dough in the refrigerator or freezer to chill back up so she could cut them out.

I don’t know how thick they make theirs but we got a bit more from the recipe than it says you should get. We like ours on the thin side, although we might change our mind. We rolled them to 1/6″ thickness. I know because i have an awesome rolling pin that has rings on it to ensure that the dough is rolled out to the correct thickness over the entire piece of dough. It is really a nice gadget. :)

Brian, Lauren, and Liam came after their morning church services on Sunday morning. After a little visiting we pulled out the cookies, whipped up some frosting, and let the painting begin.

It was fun to see Liam participating this year. :)

Liam cookie decorating ~

If you saw my post last Thursday, it will not surprise you that we had some unusual cookies show up this Christmas. ;) First here are some of the more normal ones:

Star and Tree Cookies ~
Tree cookie ~
Snowman cookie ~

We had fun . . . at least I think we did. I’ll have to check with everyone next time we are together and see if it is something we want to do again.

Painting Cookies ~

Here’s Sean with his uniquely colored candy cane with Brian and Liam in the background. The little one sure does love his daddy. :)

Sean and cookie ~

I believe this was the year of the Gingerbread Ninjas. Here’s Michael’s. I’m not sure what Tiffany is creating in the background here.

Michael and Tiff ~

I believe this ninja is by Brian. He frequently has maimed cookies. :D Don’t know if it fell apart or if it was eaten. ;)

another ninja ~

Near the end, cookies end up a bit more impressionistic than realistic where our menfolk are concerned. Here you can see one more normal cookie: Mitten and someone’s stained glass candy cane and something else. :D

Last normal one ~

Sean’s is a gun, he said. And mine is a blue wrapped candy.

Gun and Candy Cookie ~

Lauren took one of the broken candy piece cookies and created a blue fish. :)

Fish Christmas cookie ~

Sean turned a bell into a Pac Man ghost, :)

pac man ghost cookie ~

while Tiffany made hers into a bumble bee.

bumble bee cookie ~
Ornament gal cookie ~

Well, that was our cookie painting night. Afterwards, I made dinner and we all enjoyed San Francisco Chops and Chicken with dreamfields spaghetti for noodles. I don’t even remember if we cooked anything else with it; we didn’t need anything more with all those cookies to be had.

It was a busy weekend. Way too busy for one post so I’ll share more about Christmas next week. I hope you had a good one and have plans to ring in the new year memorably.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Getting Ready for a New Year

Plan for the New Year ~

I believe that we should always trying to better ourselves. The beginning of a new year is a good time to decide what area I want to focus on this year. Children can (and should) do this too. I found some good printables to help.

This first one is from 2014 but it is a good one. So, I recommend printing it out and putting a number sticker over the wrong year or using some correction fluid or correction tape, to erase it, unless you are one of those that can easily edit it before printing. ;) Here is the page describing this printable. The original link went 404 on me but I persevered! :D

This one is a little different but it goes along with what a lot of people do, creating a word for the year. It also has the individual write down a want, a need, something to share, and something in which to succeed. It’s a nice contemporary printable. At the same link is a New Year’s Eve bingo printable as well.

The same site also has a really cute Year in Review. I have shared this one before, I think but she updates it every year. It is really a nice printable and colorful, although you could definitely print it out in greyscale to conserve on colored ink, if you so desire.

This one is similar to the last. It too is a year in review printable. The author shares her family history with this and it sounds like a very sweet tradition that is a great memory maker. :) Like the previous one, it has you list some of your favorite things, which could be really interesting to look back on after several years and see what changed and what stayed the same.

Then there were a few game ideas that looked interesting as well. This memory game looked really cute! And here is a page with a lot of New Year’s Eve ideas to include children. The idea on the last link for glow stick games was so cute that I’m including a link to that one as well. With the days shorter, winter is a good time to try some of these games, if you happen to live in an area that gets some warmer weather this time of year. ;)

Finally there was a really cute idea for a decoration for a New Year’s party. If you happen to be one that takes their Christmas decorations down by the first, this could work for you. I, however, am not only not home as we go to my sister’s home, but keep my decorations up until Epiphany on January 6th. But it really is a cute idea. You could get a jump on some of the decoration clean-up by taking the ornaments off the tree and changing it over to a New Year celebration tree. Check it out here. :)

Well, I believe I have rambled on quite long enough for today. I hope you have a great New Year’s celebration with your family, whether it be at noon on December 31st, midnight of the first, or some other time. (I knew a lady that changed her clocks and celebrated the new year with her young children at 8pm, so they still got into bed on time. But you could just make it a thing, there are lots of ideas out there and listed above as well.)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Artsy Christmas

Most of what I wanted and received for Christmas was artsy things. I got a lot of washi tape. (I’ll update with pictures in a bit.) I received a bin to hold some washi tape but I have too much so I dug around in my craft room and found two more similar bins and they are now full too. :)

I also got some gel pens . . . 180 of them . . . with refills. I got this really nice case for them but am a bit concerned. I’m going to have to find a way to mark the pens so that I know which row they came from for when I need to replace the ink barrel. I have not yet written with them to see how I like them.

I also got some gellyroll metalic pens and some gellyroll stardust galaxy pens, as well as some uniball eye pens and even some fine point pens for writing in my bullet journal. Speaking of which, I got a new one for 2019 for Christmas as well. I’m looking forward to getting it all set up over the next several days. :) I have a good enough supply of washi tape that this one will be much prettier from the start. :)

I also got some nice colored distress spray stains. Then there was a nice glass dip pen I got in my stocking with a little sample of some glitter ink that I’m looking forward to playing with too.

Yeah, I was blessed with a good art stash for Christmas and am looking forward to being very creative this coming year.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas full of great memories and relaxation. ;)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Christmas Food

Nativity Merry Christmas ~

So much food today and the past couple of days! :) Tiffany and I prep as much as we can several days in advance to make things go smoother. I’ll have to let you know later how it actually went since as I type this we are in the midst of the preparation.

We have baked the bacon and browned the chicken sausage ahead of time for our breakfast casserole. We pattied up the burgers for our Christmas Eve lunch and made low carb buns for said burgers.

I made some Pay Off Day Candies to give as gifts to a few people. :) And then there was the pecan pie, cinnamon butter bundt cake (low carb/THM), and apple pie for today. We made a double batch of breakfast casserole on Christmas Eve morning for breakfast so we’d have some to take for Christmas morning breakfast.

As I write this, I have not yet recreated the family nut roll in a low carb way but I hope it will be a smashing success. :) I knew I’d be way too busy to think about writing a blog post on Christmas day this year, so I hope this gives you some yummy food ideas for Christmas and I hope I’ll remember to take enough pictures to share some of the yumminess with you in the near future.

Until next time, Merry Christmas and God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Christmas Eve Thoughtfulness

Yukon wreath and Us ~

It is so easy to get caught up in all the things that need to be done yet and hubby can feel he is an after thought.

Take a moment to look into your hubby’s eyes and tell him you love, appreciate, and respect him for all he does for you.

In our house, we wake up on Christmas Eve morning and pretend it is Christmas day. We’ve done this for about 24 years now. :) Brian, Lauren, and Liam even spend the night so they are here first thing in the morning. We started doing this because we’d gotten the boys some gifts that were just too large to take to my parents’ home for them to open and we’ve continued because I liked letting them have the whole day to play with their new toys rather than having to wait some more. And now, it is just what we do.

So as so many are getting ready for Christmas tomorrow, wrapping those last gifts, we are spending a joyous Christmas part one and looking forward to Christmas part two tomorrow at my sister and her family’s place with them and my parents. We’re so thankful Daddy has recovered so well from his open heart surgery.

Merry Christmas Eve ~

But I too, am making sure my hubby knows, he’s the most important person in my life. It’s been fun to surprise him with different things throughout the month be it some of his favorite homemade candy, a new ice scraper/snow brush, floss, or something intimate. :) It’s been a great holiday season so far. (And yes, I said holiday because it is the holidays starting the week before Thanksgiving and goes through Epiphany on January 6th.) I intend to continue onward and keep enjoying this beautiful season with my family. I hope you are making wonderful memories with your hubby and the rest of your family.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº