Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Candy Free Easter Basket Ideas

On my Facebook, I asked for ideas for candy-free Easter basket fillers–just for myself.  The ideas from my friends were so good, I am passing them on to you!

stickers

pencils

water bottles

games

seeds

puzzles

books

lotions

soaps

jewelry

disposable cameras

journals

bubbles

coloring books

fruit

a small toy

yo-yos

jump ropes

marbles

jacks

nail polish

sidewalk chalk

play doh

nuts

laughing cow cheeses

goldfish crackers

fruit leather

change in different amounts

bug boxes

devotional

movies

art supplies

a kite

beach towels and swim suits

silly putty

slinky

Don’t I have smart friends?


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Dairy Free Sugar Free Fluffy Chocolate Mousse

I’m such a sucker for creamy, fluffy desserts.  It’s the thing I miss most since we don’t keep dairy products in the house any more.  So this one thrilled me!

I found this recipe on Pinterest and now it seems to no longer be linked to the original blog.  I wish I could give credit to the recipe inventor, who called these “frosting shots.”  (Edit: In the comments, Leah pointed  me to Chocolate Covered Katie as the inventor.  Thanks, Leah!) It would make good icing, but it makes a really great mousse!

Basically, it’s this.

Put  cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator so the coconut cream will rise to the top and get thick.  (I use Golden Star, which is the cheapest and doesn’t contain emulsifiers that prevent the milk from separating.)

Open the cans and scoop out the cream, leaving the liquid in the can.

Place cream in mixer bowl and whip until fluffy, just like whipped cream.  Along the way, add cocoa powder and liquid stevia to taste.  (I use GNC liquid stevia.  I have heard that it has the least offensive aftertaste.  I think it tastes nice.)

My proportions were 4 cans of coconut milk, approximately 2 t. of cocoa powder and around 60 drops of stevia, give or take.

Spoon into dessert cups and refrigerate awhile longer.  It will get very thick.

So decadent and delicious!  Just in time for Valentine’s Day!


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Read Aloud Thursday: The Newborn King, Frosty, and Rudolph

Linking up this week with Three Thinking Mothers for their Christmas book roundup.  I wish I had time to write about all my favorites!

Beautiful, pictures, simple text, clear message.  And you can find it cheap on Amazon.  I have the board book version which is great for little hands.

We got oversized versions of these classic Golden books at a library book sale a few years ago.  I’m a sucker for vintage illustrations, as evidenced by the many I use on my blog!  These just make me happy.


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Newlyweds and Holiday Expectations

When I first got married, I expected the holidays to be just like they were when I was at home, with some minor modifications, of course.  Growing up, one of my mom’s greatest strengths is that she made wonderful holiday memories through consistent family traditions.  I loved each one.

Fast forward a few years to married life.  Each year I ended up feeling frustrated and a little sad because so many of these traditions just didn’t happen.  It’s not that we didn’t try.  They just didn’t fit well with my new life, our new schedule, and the personalities of different family members as they came along.

And of course, in my plans I had failed to remember that I was marrying someone from a totally different background with some ideas of his own about some traditions.  Hanging stockings, for instance.  I knew that OF COURSE you hang them on Christmas Eve.  And for the children, you take a picture of them hanging their stocking in the same pose every year.  OF COURSE.  What?  You don’t know that?  Well, my new husband didn’t either.  He knew that OF COURSE you hang them when you put up the tree so that you can enjoy them all month.  It’s silly to have conflict about things like this, but I bet I am not the only one with a similar newlywed story.

My problem is that I naively had expectations about the holidays that were completely unrealistic.  If I could give a bit of advice to newlyweds at Christmas, it would be this.  Let go of all your expectations.  Decorating, activities, food, gifts, all of it.  Consider your new family a clean slate, a new, autonomous entity.  Prepare for the holidays to be not just a little different than you are used to, but radically transformed.  And above all, communicate with your husband.  What family traditions and expectations does he have?  Would he like to incorporate any of these into your new family?  Are there any that he would like to let go?  How much does he want to be involved in shopping, wrapping, cooking?   Tell him the same things about you.  Decide together how you will celebrate, just you and him.

Treasure memories and traditions.  Make a photo album, write about them, enjoy the memories. Keep the traditions that work for you and your new little family, but don’t be a slave to them.  Don’t let your happiness depend on them.  Realize that you are a new and separate family, and the holidays at your house might look a lot like they did when you were at home, or they might look completely and totally different.  If they change, embrace different.  Understand that you are establishing your own home and your own traditions.  Sometimes traditions are made intentionally, and sometimes they evolve.  It’s OK if the family traditions of the past don’t work for you.  Let those expectations go and you will be free to celebrate in the way that fits you and your husband the best.  Enjoy Jesus.  Enjoy each other.  And however you decide to celebrate, enjoy the season!


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Social Media, Behave! and Make an Easy Advent Calendar

On day 1 of her “Social Media, Behave!” series, Laura talks about pitfalls of social media (trying to achieve fame or other wrong motives), and what each of us might expect from social media.   On day 2, she explores our “online presence,” our avatar, or how we portray ourselves online.  Additionally, she encourages us to write a one-sentence purpose statement.  Here’s what I came up with for me:

I exist online to share the love and grace of Christ with others; to learn from other, especially older, women; and to share what I learn in order to encourage others in their journeys of faith, womanhood, and mothering.

**********

Bonus!  Here is something little that I learned online–not from an older woman, and not something profound!  The kids wanted to do some kind of advent calendar or Christmas countdown but I struggled to find ideas that didn’t take too much time.  Either they were too arty and hard to make, or they involved activities that we may or may not have time to do during the month of December.  (Watching a Christmas movie, for example, is great, but how do I know if it will be convenient to do that on December 9?  Seriously!)

Finally I ran across a super fast idea–fast to make, and easy to do.  I don’t remember where I saw it, but I modified it to fit my needs.

I cut 25 rectangular pieces of paper.  Folded them in half like a card.  The kids stamped a snowflake on the front of each one and I numbered them from 1 to 25.

We are all about fostering communication and conversation at our house, so instead of an activity,  I wrote a question inside each one.  “What is your favorite Christmas memory?”  “What do you think it would have been like to be a shepherd on the first Christmas?”  “What is something we could do for someone else this Christmas?”  “Do you know of any Christmas traditions from other countries?”  “Ask mom/dad to tell you a Christmas story from when they were little.”

And then I hung them up with clothespins like the picture above.

How easy is that?  You even have time to do it before December 1!


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Christmas Before Thanksgiving?

I’ve seen a lot of buzz where people are bemoaning the fact that stores are already decorated for Christmas.  Seems Thanksgiving is almost becoming a non-holiday that gets lost between Halloween and Ho ho ho.  Hobby Lobby had Christmas stuff up in August, for crying out loud.  And I think it’s important to make a lot of Thanksgiving, this wonderful season of gratitude.

That said, the Christmas spirit struck me really early this year.  Like giddy, little-kid excited.  Since that feeling has actually passed me by for a lot of recent years (thanks to rush and stress), I’m going with it.  I have realized something.  I’m so tired and foggy-brained these days, I actually have to allot about twice as much time as I think I need for any given activity.  If I think it takes me one hour to get everyone ready for church, I better give myself two.  So it stands to reason that I really need more than a month to get ready for Christmas.

It’s simple at our house.  We don’t do a huge amount of cooking and baking and we don’t go overboard on gifts.  I put up a tree and a wreath and if I get to anything else, it’s lagniappe.  But still.  All this seems to take a lot of energy when my typical mode of operations is half speed.

So…We focus on giving thanks.  We’re doing Thanksgiving crafts and leafy activities.  I’m loving fall, my favorite season.  But I’m getting ready for Christmas too.  Our tree is up.  Gifts are on order, and I’m making sure I have what I need to wrap them.  Mulling over which cookies I’ll make and what the menu will be.  Noting ideas on Pinterest.  Preparing early is going to make it easier to relax and enjoy December.

This month, I’m thankful for early Christmas preparations.  I’m even thankful that the stores have Christmas stuff out already.  And I’m thankful that it’s still autumn and the turkey is yet to be consumed.

How about you?  How do you balance the holidays and not lose Thanksgiving in the Christmas hullaballoo?


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Bargain Shopping: Holiday Clearance Edition

One of my favorite times to get bargains is post-holiday clearance sales!  Holiday items quickly go down to 75-90% off and you can get amazing deals.  Sometimes I buy holiday items to use the following year.  But truthfully, my favorite post-holiday shopping is when I find items that can be re-purposed to use all year long.

A few recent examples:

A fuzzy white throw for the living room–$5.  It came with a snowman pillow which I didn’t like, but I’ve been on the hunt for a white throw for awhile.  I recovered the pillow and used it in another room.

Bedroom curtains. They weren’t really curtains.  They were cranberry-colored Christmas tablecloths.  But with ring clips and tie-backs, they are now curtains.  $2.99 a panel.

Gift bags and wrapping paper. Valentine’s Day sales are great for these, especially if you have little girls who get invited to birthday parties.  Hearts are just for Valentine’s Day, seriously?  I got some adorable pink heart bags with pink polka dots for 50 cents at Target.  (I would post a pic but I don’t know how to load pictures from my new camera yet.)  Actually, anything hearts is on clearance after Valentine’s Day–so cute with so many uses!

 

The applications are truly endless!  What are your favorite post-holiday bargains?