Think Outside the Box

Help your children be creative and imagine what the normal cookie cutouts could be. It is a good creative exercise and besides, it’s a great memory maker.

I recently saw a picture on facebook where someone had taken a gingerbread man cookie shape turned upside down and decorated as a reindeer. This reminded me of how my children decorate cookies.

Here are a few examples of what my crazy gang comes up with.

Poinsettia turned into a snowflake:

snowflake cookie ~ LIfeofjoy.me

Ornament turned watch:

Clock cookie ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Candy in wrapper turned drummer:

Drummer Cookie ~ Lifeofjoy.me

If you look closely, you can see a mitten turned fish:

Mitten fish ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Here are some others:

Alien cookie ~ Lifeojfoy.me
cat cookie ~ Lifeofjoy.me
more cookies ~ Lifeofjoy.me
cookies too ~ Lifeofjoy.me
yet more cookies ~ Lifeofjoy.me

I hope this inspires you to help your kids think outside of the box and be creative with Christmas cookies this year. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

More #DC379 Holidaze

Each year when Laura takes her holiday break, I continue to do tiles. This year it goes with her challenge so I thought I’d go ahead and keep including my new links on the Mr. Linky. :)

I really liked the white Cosmic Flower on  the black tile last week and then it occurred to me that I had a silver metallic pen that might show up as a shadow on the black tile. Here’s what I came up with.

#cosmicflower ~ Lifeofjoy.me

I promise you, some of that is silver metallic ink. :D

Here’s a picture I took of it outside in natural light but it was an overcast day.

Natural light #cosmicflower ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Yeah, it’s hard to see. I did half of that cane shape and even some of the orbs with the silver and the other half with the white gel pen.

Then yesterday I realized I also have a gold and reddish color metallic pens. So I decided to give the gold a try on a new tangle. I’d seen Sampson on the 12 Days of Zentangle this past week and thought it’d make a nice snowflake type shape. I did it from memory and having just looked it up to ensure I was spelling it correctly, I realized that I did even more of a variation than I intended and will probably give it another try with the “v” shapes added later (maybe even next week) ;)

snowflake attempt ~ Lifeofjoy.me

See I thought the goldish/coppery color would look like a shadow but it didn’t work out too good in practice. I’m also very new to adding highlights and tried to add a bit of a white sparkle-ish highlight but it didn’t go well either. I really think this would look a lot better with those “v” shapes on the lines . . . sure wish I hadn’t forgotten them. :(

Here is the same tile outside in natural but overcast light.

sampson variation ~ Lifeofjoy.me
snowflake? ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Then I decided to add the pinkish metallic ink.

Sampson snowflakes ~ Lifeofjoy.me

I added some shapes on the ends of the lines (because I completely forgot about those “v” shapes) and it seemed to need something uhhhh, like the rest of the tangle maybe.

Here it is in natural light.

sampson variation ~ Lifeofjoy.me

After all of that I decided to go ahead and give the standard black on white tile a try. Here’s what I ended up with, before shading.

pre-shaded black snowflake ~ Lifeofjoy.me

And here it is after some shading. Once again I tried to add some white sparkle to it but I just don’t have the knack of that yet. But I shall keep trying, that’s how I get better. :)

shaded snowflakes ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Smaller is kinder to my line work. ;)

shaded snowflakes ~ Lifeofjoy.me

And here it is in natural light.

snowflake ~ Lifeofjoy.me
sampson variation snowflake ~ Lifeofjoy.me

I’ll probably try this again with the v shapes for next week. But if you have any other hints/tips for me, I’d love to read them.

Thanks for stopping by and for leaving comments, hints, or tips.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Peanut Caramel Candy ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Pay Off Day Candies

Michael loves Payday candy bars. So every now and then I make him these candies. The first several times I made them I followed the directions and tried to spoon it out into circular candies, which did not turn out well for me. However they tasted delicious. So I got creative and decided to let laziness take over. ;) I put the candy mixture into a loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper to make it easier to remove. Then I just cut it into pieces/bars. :)

So here’s how you do it.

Put the butter, gentle sweet, and stevia into a pan and begin stirring as it melts.


butter to melt ~ Lifeofjoy.me
melt butter and sweetener ~ Lifeofjoy.me
Sweeteners ~ Lifeofjoy.me

While it is just starting to heat up get your other ingredients ready to go: nuts, peanut butter, heavy cream and caramel extract.

Add caramel extract to heavy cream ~ Lifeofjoy.me

When the butter and sweeteners are melted, add in the heavy cream and caramel extract.


melted butter and sweetener ~ Lifeofjoy.me
Add cream and caramel ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Whisk as it slowly boils.


Whisk away ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Keep whisking until it becomes a nice caramel color.


Nearly caramel colored ~ LIfeofjoy.me

Watch it carefully once it begins to brown because it goes from that to this in just a few seconds, it seems.


Right colored caramel ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Now we add in the tiny bit of natural peanut butter and the slightly chopped peanuts and combine.


Adding peanuts and pb ~ Lifeofjoy.me
pay off day candy ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Here’s where I cheat and just put it in a parchment lined loaf pan. Since I made a double batch today, I’m putting it in a parchment lined 8×8 pan.


Put in pan ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Then I put it in the refrigerator and let it harden up. I’ll cut this in half and then each half into 8 strips/bars. The recipe is supposed to make 16 pieces, so I reckon each of our bars are two pieces. ;) It doesn’t last long around here.

DIY Payday Candy ~ Lifeofjoy.me

The full recipe is on page 381 of the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook and can be found online if you search for it, especially if you have a THM membership.

I hope this helps you make this delectable candy.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Making it Special

Input ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Christmas is next week! I’m so excited! I love the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and Day. These are fun family times for me. We play games at this time of year that we forget to play the entire rest of the year. We don’t eat any other meals, with the exception of pizza on Super Bowl Sunday sometimes, with my family (parents and any other family members that can be here, kids, siblings, and such) any other time either.

I’ve learned that I want to bless my hubby and attempt to make the holidays as fun for him as it is for me. So, I like to ask him about what kinds of things he’d like to have to eat, both to nibble on and to have for meals.

We eat lunch with my youngest sister and her family on Christmas Eve. In years past, we would get pizza or chicken or fish from a local restaurant to make our lives easy. But since they moved to the country too last year, we aren’t exactly close to very many eating establishments. (And with our family on the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle of eating, there are fewer options, although we can find something to eat at most places.)

Last year we just did burgers and “fries“. This is a favorite meal of my hubby so I think that this year I will go all out and make him the buns and sides he likes to go with it as well. If we decide to have something different at my sister’s place then we will have this meal for dinner later that evening.

I asked hubby and kids what they’d like for the special meals coming up and will try to accommodate them, doing as much ahead of time as possible to make the days still enjoyable and not just a workfest for me as well. ;)

I’m also blessing my hubby with some treats that I know he likes but doesn’t get very often.

I encourage you to get your family’s input (especially your hubby’s) on what meals they’d like this holiday season. You may be surprised and get off with a lot less work than you would have put on yourself. ;) Be open to new traditions and even just try something just this once.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Blog Difficulties and Fun Weekend Ahead

Wordpress Updated ~ Lifeofjoy.me

It’s been a tough week with the blog. WordPress updated and while I do want to use the new editor, it is making my normal blogging a bit frustrating. That wouldn’t be such a big deal if it weren’t CHRISTMAS! I mean really! Couldn’t they wait until after Christmas to do the update.

I don’t prep my posts weeks in advance. I generally prepare them the night before they go live the next morning at five a.m. central time. The first day I couldn’t even figure out how to assign my post a category. Thankfully I don’t give up easily. I hoped that I could still do it in the posts quick view and gratefully, that area was still working as before. :)

Busy and Fun Weekend Ahead

It rained incredibly yesterday. It was so sad that it wasn’t colder or we’d have had a lot of snow. We already missed out on some snow once this week. They were saying that we were supposed to get upwards of six inches Monday and then we got nothing. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Not even any rain. It was so disappointing but what made it even worse was that Virginia, where I used to live, got THIRTEEN inches!!! I’m so envious. Then yesterday it poured down rain . . . if only it had been colder, it would have been snow. Of course it probably wouldn’t have been much snow, even with as much as it rained.

Our church has a Christmas  party tonight. It should be fun. Lia did all the prep work before talking to me about it since I my mind was occupied with my dad’s open heart surgery, from which he is doing great! Doctors are amazed how well he is healing. He just can’t wait until the four week mark when he can lift twenty pounds and thus not have to protect his chest as much, allowing him to sleep better–he has always slept on his side and is not sleeping well since he can’t right now.

So I’ll be the emcee for the evening and singing some carols with some of the ladies. Last night we had practice, which Michael tried to get me to opt out of because of the rain. :D I’ve got a couple of fun games to play, the children will sing some songs, and we have a few door prizes. Of course, we have desserts too. I’m taking a sugar free, gluten free, keto, low carb, thm, pecan pie. YUM!!! I also talked a great guy at church into bringing some thm, etc., brownies, and another gal to bring some simliar cookies. :) They are great people!

Then another day this weekend we are going to go see Christmas lights with Brian, Lauren, and Liam. They couldn’t come to us for viewing lights this year, so we decided to go to them. :)

We will round the weekend out visiting with the rest of my family (sans my middle sister’s kids) at my parents’ home. It’ll be good to check up on my dad in person and see how my mom and sister are holding up. I’m so glad Sondra was able to come and help Mom out. My mom is 73 and is planning to have knee replacement surgery in January, so I’m glad she has help, helping Dad. :)

Well, I’ve got lots to do, so I’m going to run for now. I hope you have a fun and memorable weekend.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Nostalgic Christmas Shows

My daughter was missing some of the old cartoons we had on VHS. So I looked for them online and found them on youtube. So, if you have a show you liked years ago, you may be able to find it on there too.

One Tiffany wanted me to find was one we had seen on television years and years ago and I had recorded it on VHS but didn’t get all of it. :D It is called Olive the Other Reindeer. Here is the It is called Olive the Other Reindeer. Here is the link to it on youtube. It is about a a dog that is a bit off and think ends up helping Santa solve a mystery and deliver packages. It's an odd diddy but they liked it. (opens in a new tab)"> link to it on youtube. It is about a a dog that is a bit off and think ends up helping Santa solve a mystery and deliver packages. It’s an odd diddy but they liked it.

Another one she liked and wanted me to find is one that I think most of you can appreciate. It is called Francesco’s Friendly World: The Gifts of Christmas. This one is a story about giving gifts and giving of yourself. It is a very sweet story. If your kids like music then they will love it.

Another one the kids liked and watched most years was Veggie Tales: The Toy that Saved Christmas. Red Boots for Christmas is another animated show that taught a good lesson and I found the link for it as well.

Well, that is enough. I hope you enjoy some of these videos. Please excuse the crazy link on Olive up there; I tried numerous times and numerous ways to get it to behave but I was unsuccessful. These were fond memories for my kids and me. I hope you will make some good memories with your family this holiday season.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

#DC379 Holidaze

This week’s diva challenge is the last for the year. Laura challenges us to do a holiday tile.

Recently I saw a neat tangle on Pattern-collections.com called ChristmasLights. I really liked it and decided to give it a go. When I looked for the step-out on their site, I found that they had a whole page of Christmas tangles. It is a really nice collection of patterns. They probably don’t all meet “Zentangle” standards of a tangle but I like them.

I also chose Anglop. It was a simple and fun little tangle.

So here is the tile before shading.

#DC379 ~ Lifeofjoy.me

And here it is shaded.

#DC379 Shaded ~ Lifeofjoy.me

I added a bit too many loops and twists in the strand for the ChristmasLights tangle but I think it turned out decently. Here it is a bit smaller. :)

#DC379 Shaded ~ Lifeofjoy.me

I also did a black tile. I really liked Cosmic Flower and thought it’d be pretty on a black tile but I don’t think I’ve done it justice. ;)


Black Tile Cosmic Flower ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Of course, seeing it here, makes me wish I’d have used the white pencil on that border to give it a bit of a shadowy whispiness but I was afraid of messing it up more. ;)

Here it is a bit smaller as well.

Black Tile Cosmic Flower ~ Lifeofjoy.me

You can find all three of these tangles and several others that are really nice on Pattern-collections.com Christmas patterns page.

I hope you have a very merry Christmas! I’m so excited. I’ve gotten all of my gifts wrapped and under the tree. I’m just waiting on a few stragglers for stockings to arrive yet and then bake a few things as gifts.

Well, I’ve got a very busy weekend coming up . . . rehearsal for church party, church party, trip to my son’s to see Christmas lights, and church Sunday followed by visiting with family. I’ve got lots of errands to run today, so I’ll run for now.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Breakfast pancake sandwiches ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Pancake Sausage Egg Sandwiches

Breakfast sandwiches made from pancakes, egg, and sausage (inspired by McGriddles)


This is a little bit involved but very easy. You start by making a batch of my maple chips.

Maple Butter Bits ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Then make a batch of pancake batter. I use the bring on da buttah pancakes (family batch). Add the maple butter chips.


add maple chips ~ lifeofjoy.me

Now, I put this in two muffin top pans. If you don’t have muffin top pans, you could just pour it into a jelly roll plan and cut it into squares when you are done. Square breakfast sandwiches taste as good as round ones. ;)


Muffin top pancakes ~ Lifeofjoy.me

While this is baking (375º for about 10-15 minutes), take a roll of sausage, make into twelve patties, and cook on the stove.

Then when the pancakes are done and have cooled down enough to get them out of the pan, pour the beaten eggs (8) into the pan and bake for about 10 minutes.


baked pancake muffin tops ~ Lifeofjoy.me
See those dark bits? That is the yumminess of the maple butter chips.
bake scrambled eggs ~ lifeofjoy.me

Assemble: one pancake, one egg, one sausage, and another pancake.

sandwich assembly ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Then wrap the ones you aren’t ready to eat, in foil and store either in the refrigerator or freezer. Heat in a oven or toaster oven when ready to eat. If you are going to microwave them, wrap them in parchment or butcher paper.


wrap in foil ~ Lifeofjoy.me

I hope you enjoy them like we do.

Until next time, God bless

Michele ºÜº

Taking a Another Look

Hubby and Grandson ~ Lifeofjoy.me

Yesterday on the way to church, I turned and looked at my hubby. I was once again, struck with how blessed I am. He’s as handsome as he ever was, if not more so. He is committed to me and loves me deeply.

Sitting there in the car, looking at him, brought tears to my eyes.

I took a moment to tell him what I was thinking, squeezed his hand, and wiped the tears from my eyes. I don’t know, maybe I’m hormonal. :D But I think it is a good thing to do.

I encourage you today, to take a moment, and really look at the man you married. See him for who he really is, not for the things that drive you bonkers. ;) Think on his good points and let him know at least one. It feels good.

It is easy to get caught up in all the things you have to do on a daily and weekly basis and even all the frustrations of life. But it is good to pull yourself from the midst of all that and appreciate what you have.

(I will admit that there are some relationships that are toxic and those are ones that need professional help. But for the majority of us, we just need to stop and find something in our spouse to appreciate and give some slack for those areas that are frustrating. Odds are that we do things that frustrate them as well. ;) )

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


A Few of My Favorite Things

I just love this towel!

Christmas Towel ~ Lifeofjoy.meMy  mom bought it for me when we had our fun day at Hobby Lobby. :)

This dishwasher magnet is another favorite thing. The strand of lights around it glow in the dark. :)

Dishwasher magnet ~ Lifeofjoy.meOne day this week, Sean and Michael were home from work and Sean decided to make some brownies. :) A double batch! So we have had brownies most every night this week. :)

Baking Brownies ~ Lifeofjoy.meTiff was working on her bujo, I believe.

Michael decided it was a good time to go through some piles he had and get rid of some things.

Michael with Oregon duck hat ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt was a bit cold that day and all of us were dressed rather warmly. :)

My grandson was in his first Christmas play. :) He was a sheep and didn’t have any lines but got to get up and dance around with the bigger littles. :)

grandson dancing ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen the shepherds came up to the microphone to say their lines, the sheep came up with them and gathered around. They didn’t have any lines but got to have a turn up front.

kids play ~ Lifeofjoy.meHe was having so much fun! He’d heard some of the kids say something about the star, so when there was a lull, waiting on another child to say her part, he ad libbed and said, “Star.” It was so cute.

Kids Christmas play ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’m so glad that they streamed this so that I could see him, even though I live a couple hours away.

Embrassing the chaos ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt’s been a good week. Tiffany and I decided yesterday that it was time for a holiday movie day and did the few things we had to do and had a good relaxing day enjoying feel good movies. :)

I hope you have a good weekend. We are anticipating some wintry weather this weekend. I love it.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº