These brownie blossoms are a quick and easy treat to take for a holiday party or to give as a sweet gift.
Here's what you need: A box of brownie mix of your choice, a bag of Reese's miniature peanut butter cups, and some mini cupcake papers.
Mix up the brownies according to the directions on the box.
Fill up the mini muffin tins a little less than halfway with brownie batter.
Find some trustworthy helpers who won't eat their labor, and have them unwrap the peanut butter cups.
Place the mini peanut butter cups right on top of the batter - no need to push it in. Bake at 350 and check at 10 minutes. If they aren't quite done, add two more minutes. Take out of the oven and let cool. They will firm up as they cool.
Enjoy your brownie blossoms!
Christmas is such a fun time to display your family's favorite traditions -- but I know from experience that trying to do it "all" can make for a less than joyful season! That is not what I want for you. I want your Christmas to be memorable. If you are stressed and demanding perfection it can be memorable as well, but maybe not for the reason you want it to be. Relax and enjoy your people this year.
I asked my kids what their favorite Christmas traditions were. This is what they gave me.
1. New pajamas on Christmas Eve.
I think this is a pretty common one. I know lots of families do this, but it was on my kids' list as one of their favorites. We started this as soon as we began having children and it's always been a nice way to settle a little excitement among children eager to open presents. It is also an excellent photo op!
2. Dried bean in the cupcake on Christmas Eve to decide who opens the gift.
This tradition was born from necessity. With six children opening presents on Christmas morning I needed a fun way to control the chaos just a little. For Christmas Eve we always end our meal with "Happy Birthday Jesus cupcakes". In one cupcake I have secretly and cleverly concealed a large dried bean. The children carefully eat their cupcake and whoever gets the bean is the first person to open a present the next morning. They also get to choose which order the rest of the presents get opened in, youngest to oldest or oldest to youngest. It's a lot of fun and something they look forward to each year.
3. Jammie Drill & looking at Christmas lights
This quickly became one of our family's absolute favorite traditions! It is no longer limited to just Christmas time. We started this when our kids were pretty young. We would do the whole nighttime routine; brushing teeth, getting into their pajamas, goodnight kisses and bedtime prayers. After everyone had been tucked into bed for a few minutes, my husband and I grabbed some pan lids and wooden spoons and began pounding them yelling, "Jammie drill!! Everyone up for a jammie drill! Quick, get into the van!" I'd already placed shoes and blankets in the van, and once everyone was loaded up, we were off to the icecream shop where they could get ice cream or hot chocolate. Then we would put some Christmas music on and drive around looking at lights. The kids are older now and bedtimes are later and more staggered. We can still surprise the two littlest boys but everyone else pretty much knows what's up. But, we still wait till at least everyone is in their pajamas! I think it's the spontaneity that is so much fun with the jammie drills.
4. The four gift challenge
This technically can't be counted as a tradition because it's the first year we've done this, but if I could go back in time, I would have done this one a long time ago! With six kids to buy presents for, gift giving can get a little bit out of hand. My husband is a gift giver and he loves to bless the kids at Christmas. Sometimes though, we were just buying for the sake of buying, to keep things even, not really putting much thought into the gifts. This year we decided to do something we'd heard about a long time ago, the four gift challenge. We sat the kids down at Thanksgiving and explained it to them and they were all on board. This year the kids will get 4 gifts from us (5 including the Christmas Eve jammies): something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. It has greatly streamlined and simplified our gift giving this year. I love it! I feel like we've done a much better job of being good stewards with our resources as well as buying things that each child truly appreciates instead of getting stuck in the trap of feeling like we have to buy one more thing to keep things even. Between the kids, they draw names from a hat on our annual Thanksgiving camping trip to buy a gift for one of their siblings.
As Christmas is rapidly approaching, I pray that your Christmas is memorable and peaceful. Surrender your expectations of perfection. Enjoy your real-life, messy, loud, blessed Christmas. When Mary gave birth to her baby in a smelly, noisy barn surrounded by shepherds and animals she laid down her expectations of a perfect birth and embraced absolute perfection to her breast. Our perfect Savior. Our perfect Hope.
Awkard Wednesday on a Thursday
Today I'm sharing a video I did with two of my good friends. I encourage you to surround yourself with some good, godly friends who will sharpen you, and hold your feet to the fire when you need it, and at other times will make you laugh so hard you need to wear Depends when having coffee with them. Ahem, not that I know that first hand or anything. These are two of those friends for me. When we get together, we often talk about the most ridiculous nonsense ever! Sometimes we talk about real stuff, too, like what we wish our younger selves would have known about friendship, being a wife and mother and just life in general. We decided to share what we would tell those young whipersnappers about the Christmas season if we could travel back to visit those younger versions of ourselves. Pour yourself some coffee and visit with us for a few minutes.
My journey into the world of essential oils is just beginning. I have dabbled in the past, but recently I made the decision to jump in all the way. Now I'm up to my elbows in oils.
I just received my Young Living Premium Starter Kit in the mail last week and I couldn't be happier. I got all the oils pictured above - except for the Christmas Spirit, I added that to my order because the description sounded wonderful. I've been diffusing it every day and it smells so Christmasy! My kit also included an oil diffuser and several other goodies.
My ten year old said to me yesterday, "Mom, those families who don't use oils don't realize how many opportunities they have to use them! They're missing out." He couldn't be more right. So far we've used our oils in a coconut-oil base to rub on sore achy muscles, applied to bruised, painful knees, rubbed into temples to relieve headaches, diffused in the cat litter box area to keep it from smelling, rubbed onto little chests to relieve barking coughs, used as part of a skin care routine, added to laundry to freshen and disinfect laundry and even made into a bathroom spray to keep those particular odors down! We have used them several times a day, every day.
My journey is just beginning, but I'm looking forward to many more oily days as I learn about how beneficial adding these essential oils into our everyday lives is. If you have any questions about oils feel free to ask! I probably won't know the answer yet, but I've got some great gals in my life who probably will and who absolutely love to help others out on this journey of health!
Growing up, my home was magical at Christmas time. My mom had a real gift for hospitality and decorating, and my dad absolutely loved everything about Christmas. We always had two Christmas trees, a tall one in our living room arrayed in Victorian splendor and soft white lights, and one in my dad's study decked out in colorful lights and old-fashioned toys. One year my dad kept his toy tree up all year and lit it every single night! He loved the sights, smells and sounds of Christmas. My dad passed away ten years ago, but I can still close my eyes and hear him crooning along to Christmas songs played on the record player. They did Christmas well, and the true celebration of the birth of Christ shone through in all the family traditions that I loved so much.
One of my favorite traditions we celebrated was advent. We didn't belong to a denomination that focused on the church calendar particularly, so we did advent our own way -- using it as a time to focus our hearts on Christ and prepare us for the busy holiday season. We never had a specific scripture study that went with each candle, we just lit a new candle each Sunday leading up to the final candle, the Christ candle, when we would light it and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. I loved the simplicity of it. Our advent wreath was always one of the first decorations that was lugged down from the attic and placed in a prominent position on the dining room table. I'm not sure where my parents got our advent wreath, but it was beautiful. It was a rich wooden wreath with a place for four taper candles and a fifth candle standing a little taller in the center. Mom usually draped an evergreen garland around the middle candle. It was simple and elegant.
I wish I could say that I carried on those beautiful Christmas memories into my own home when I got married and we began having children, but for some reason I didn't. Our first couple of Christmases I tried. I really tried. But somewhere along the way I found myself frustrated with the whole Christmas gig in general. I was so busy trying to make it perfect and make sure I was establishing traditions that I forgot the simple joy. I forgot that the simplicity of pointing my children to Christ was the best tradition I could ever give them. My husband and I discussed some of my frustrations and we decided to purposely reclaim the celebration of Christ. It completely turned Christmas around for me. It added a layer of worship to our holidays that I had been missing.
Over the next three weeks I plan on highlighting some of our favorite traditions. We have some that are really fun and I can't wait to share them with you. This week is our advent wreath. Unfortunately, in one of our moves, the beautiful wooden advent wreath from my childhood, that my parents had lovingly gifted to us as our family began to grow, got broken beyond repair. I've never been able to find one that looks similar to it, so I just got some simple supplies and made our own. When I say simple, I mean very simple!! From Wal-Mart I bought an inexpensive evergreen wreath, four white pillar candles, and one red taller pillar candle. See?! I told you it was simple! I put the wreath flat on the table and on the inside of the wreath arranged the four white candles with the taller red candle standing in the middle of the white ones. Every morning over the breakfast table we light the week's candle and read a few verses. I've been using a guide from shereadstruth.com that I've really been blessed by . It's designed as a woman's Bible study, but I've enjoyed the particular scriptures they've used and the insights from the authors. At night around the dinner table we relight the candle and discuss the theme and verses of the day. It's simple and that's why I love it! The visual of the candles, flames dancing to the Word of God; the activity of lighting them, each child excited about his or her turn to light it; the sweet, airy aroma of vanilla wafting off the lit candle and the smell that comes from blowing it out, knowing with anticipation and excitement that in just a little bit that candle will be lit again.
As these next few weeks leading up to Christmas begin to rush by us, day after day, take a moment, take two maybe, and pause to reflect on this truth -- Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15). Let that truth wash over you today. Whether you use an advent wreath or not, whether you struggle with the busy holiday times or relish in them, whether you have a dozen Christmas traditions or you're striving to carve out something to be meaningful for your family, remember that Jesus came to save sinners. He came to save us.
This is the truth of advent. The hope of Christmas. The story of grace.
Hey there! I'm Pam and I'm sure glad you're here.