Want to make homemade vanilla extract and get an amazing deal on vanilla beans? Olive Nation has discounted all of their baking supplies, which includes their vanilla beans. Receive 20% off select baking products when you use the code HOLBAKA at check-out. When you order only vanilla beans, you’ll also receive free shipping! (Read here about how to make homemade vanilla extract.)
Don’t forget that the 20% discount will also work for Olive Nation’s baking chocolates. These are by far the best chocolates I’ve ever worked with! I’ve experimented so far with their milk chocolate, white chocolate, and blond chocolate. These melt down wonderfully, making perfect Christmas treats! Free shipping does not apply to chocolates.
This code is only valid through Friday, December 6 – so don’t wait! Happy vanilla extracting, and chocolate treat making!
This post contains affiliate links.
As I stated on Facebook yesterday:
I feel a tiny bit silly (but not silly enough to keep it to myself, apparently). Growing up, my mom and I always listened to the Muppets Christmas cassette, which featured John Denver. I loved it SO much. So I just bought the album for myself. I couldn’t hold back. I mean, if you haven’t heard Miss Piggy singing the 12 days of Christmas, you’ve really missed out. (Ah, the memories…)
I have played the songs over and over within the last 24 hours. All I can think about while I listen to this is hanging out with my mom while we wrapped presents and made Christmas crafts together during the month of December.
I had all but forgotten the album existed until my sister-in-law texted something about it yesterday. Memories flooded back. Now I can’t stop listening to it. And I can’t stop smiling. You would think that after over 9 years of being without her, I would realize that calling to talk to my mom isn’t an option. But as I listen to this music, I have had to stop myself several times from picking up the phone to dial her number. “Mom!” I want to shout, “Remember our winter nights together? Remember Miss Piggy singing ‘ba-dum-pum-pum’ in the 12 Days of Christmas? Remember how much fun we had? I just got the John Denver Muppets album on CD and I’m listening to it now with the boys, and they love it as much as we did!”
So since I can’t tell her, I’m sharing this with you. Of all my Christmas memories, I have to say listening to this music while preparing for Christmas with my mom might be my favorite memory of all. I really can’t stop smiling. And crying. And laughing (“mee-mee-mee-mee-mee-mee” – you have to know Miss Piggy to get that one).
Here’s a little blast from the past for ya that I found on youtube:
This morning, I turned on the Christmas lights, cranked up the Muppets, and tried a new recipe. These muffins are simple, full of cinnamon, delicious, and perfect for Christmas time. My family and I had breakfast with Miss Piggy, Kermit, and John Denver.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
2 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Stir together flour, sucanat, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add egg, butter, sour cream, and milk – stirring until mixture is well combined. Scoop batter into 10-12 paper lined muffin tins. Stir together the sucanat/cinnamon topping. Sprinkle about a 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture onto each muffin. Bake in a 400° oven for 15-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.
Here’s to tasty Christmas goodies, relishing wonderful Christmas memories, and creating new memories with our own families now.
Please tell me if you remember this Muppet Christmas album with John Denver so that we can talk about Piggy Pudding together! What are your favorite Christmas music memories?
I just learned that Amazon has many Melissa and Doug Toys marked down half off! From what I can tell, these prices are only good through today, December 4 – so you’ll want to hurry.
Melissa and Doug Toys were our favorites when the boys were little. They have high quality, fun, educational items that we used for years and year. I still pull some out from time to time when little ones visit.
I’m so excited that you can get such great prices on these wonderful toys. Have fun!
It’s the question everybody is asking this time of year: What is your favorite holiday vegetable? Well don’t everyone speak up at once. Celery? Broccoli? Ahhhh, I am simply overwhelmed with magical Christmas warm fuzzies every time I think about cauliflower.
Oh, for real. Who gets excited about Christmas vegetables? Unless it’s a jalapeno stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. Now we’re talking.
I giggle a little bit when I read magazine articles with encouragement about how to eat healthy during the holiday season. “At holiday parties,” they say, “fill your plate with raw veggies and nuts.” Spendid! Let’s party! Fill me a plate of festive Christmas cucumbers!
It’s not that I disagree with that advice. It’s a very good idea actually – to fill up on the good stuff so that you don’t over-indulge on the bad stuff. But when I think about my favorite Christmas-time foods, the relish tray isn’t at the top of my list. I eat those foods all the time, and praise God for vegetables. But at Christmas parties? Please pass the chocolate covered chocolate with a bowl full of chocolate for dipping purposes.
I kid. I mean, obviously there needs to be some cream cheese with that chocolate. And some chips. With dip. Okay then.
So what is reality, what can we do to stay healthy, and how do we maintain a good balance during this fun filled, food filled season? Here is my chocolate-covered advice:
Save the Treats for Parties
You’ll likely be at plenty of events during the next several weeks that will offer tables laden with sugar. Knowing this, avoid having lots of sugary foods in your own kitchen. Instead, focus on eating plenty of healthy foods at home – yes, I’m talking about vegetables here. Eat salads, eat good protein, blend spinach into your smoothies, eat all kinds of nourishing foods. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll enjoy the party treats so much more.
Sugar is Made to Be Shared
But wait. What if you have goodies in your kitchen because you’re having fun making treats to share with others? Awesome, that’s part of the joy of this season! This gives you the opportunity to take a nibble or two of some of your favorite holiday treats, then package up the rest to give to others.
Make the Sugar Consumption Count
I say, if we’re going to have something sweet and a little bit naughty - for goodness sake we’d better swoon while we’re eating it. Pass over the crumbly boxed cookies, and go for the gooey, decadent, dish of amazingness. Why waste our indulgences on something that is just so-so?
Stop Eating When You’re Full
I think somehow many of us equate holiday time with over-eating. What? So we’re just planning on being gluttonous while throwing reason and self-control out the frosty window? That’s silly. Take small amounts of food, savor each bite, then when you are full, put down your plate. Christmas is more merry when you don’t have indigestion. (<– Someone should totally turn that sentence into a Christmas carol.)
Drink Lots of Water
Do I really need to elaborate on this one? We always need to be sipping on water. Even at Christmas. Just do it.
May each of us enjoy a holiday season that is healthy, balanced, moderate, delicious, and topped with a caramel truffle. I mean artichoke. No, no. I mean truffle. It is Christmas, after all.
What is one of your biggest struggles with staying healthy during Christmas? What would you add to this list as an encouragement to stay healthy and balanced during the holiday season?
Here’s what I’m learning: It doesn’t matter that they’re all growing up. It doesn’t matter that they are all boys who are no longer interested in making cute Christmas crafts. It doesn’t matter that there won’t be shiny new blocks or tricycles under the Christmas tree anymore. Even without little ones, there’s still something magical about the Christmas season.
I love Christmas with my family during this fun new season we’re in that involves voices changing, acquiring drivers licenses, and growing taller than the Christmas tree. But hah! I figured out how to beat the system: I got a taller tree this year. Seven feet five inches, so there. :)
Having teens and pre-teens simply means that our Christmas season can be even more meaningful. It means that we can play games around the fireplace that all six of us now enjoy. It means that the boys themselves are coming up with ways to serve others that involve little or no help from me. It means there won’t be many more years of Christmases like these at our house before boys start leaving home but I refuse to think of that (if I can help it).
I’m so excited that Christmas time is here and that my family is enjoying celebrating it together. Let the family traditions and time of making memories begin!
Now your turn. Share what you’re thankful for! Leave a comment on this post letting us know how God is working in your life. If you’ve written a blog post about what you’re thankful for, leave the link in the comments so we can visit your blog to read about it. We love sharing and reading about God’s blessings!
It seems we often think of January as a time of new beginnings, a time to start fresh, and a time to become healthier. But December? From much of what I see and hear, this month seems to revolve around sugar, chocolate, and chips and dip. ;)
I love treats, I love balance, and I love to have fun. Chocolate and special desserts are part of what makes holiday time exciting. I have an entire post written (in my head) that I’ll share (as soon as the words make it through my fingertips) on the subject of keeping a balance this Christmas season. Can we be healthy and enjoy holiday parties and festivities? Why yes, I believe we can.
But for now, I wanted to suggest that with all the fun and excitement going on this month, let’s continue to focus on taking good care of ourselves. Enjoy treats without over indulging, but don’t throw all caution to the wind. And start preparing now for that time after the holidays are over and we begin to focus again on making a fresh start. What are your healthy living goals for the upcoming year? What is your healthy vision for your family? Hoping to learn to eat better? Want to get rid of toxic cleaning supplies and start cleaning green? Want to become better about menu planning? Hoping to begin exercising to become more fit? Want to learn how to replace items in your medicine cabinet with natural remedies?
Need some guidance? Feel overwhelmed by all of it? Take a deep breath. These things take time, baby steps, and a little expertise from others.
That’s why I love all that is offered in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle. It’s such a wonderful mix of incredible information, wonderful recipes, personal guidance from experts, and actual hold-in-your-hands-items that will benefit your family (like skin care products, laundry detergent, and culture starters). There is a free fitness membership for you, free menu planning subscriptions, and free organizational resources. The price for this package is incredible. With all the deals going on this Cyber Monday, I have yet to see another one that is 97% off! :)
What I especially love is how this bundle is organized. All of the eBooks come already placed in categorized folders, so that you can work your way through them on your own time, little by little, as you are ready. This Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is perfect really – packaging up neatly everything each of us desires as we look toward a new year and new beginnings.
We’ve talked quite a bit about this bundle over the last few weeks – and now I have to tell you: TODAY is the FINAL day to purchase this wonderful package. This particular bundle, with all of these individual resources will not be offered again after today, Monday, December 2. This is it, everyone!
Would you like to read a detailed list of every item you’ll receive in this bundle? I don’t blame you. You’ll see a list of $800 worth of eBooks, $150 worth of bonus items, plus details on the free conference – just click here to look through!
My very own 40 Real Food Weekly Menu Plan Ideas Packet is included in this bundle deal. So as one of the authors, I receive a commission on each package sold through my links. What I’m more excited about is that this time around, 25% of the purchase price is being donated to Shelter Box (specifically for Philippines relief aid), Compassion International, Hope for Women, and Love146!
Healthy living – even in the middle of the holiday season. Yes, it is possible!
It’s too easy to get caught up in the hype of a commercialized Christmas. This year, our family decided to work a little harder at working less hard. We’re drop-kicking the stress of Christmas time. We figured the best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to do what He did on earth. He served. He loved people. He cared. He took time to be still and pray.
Together, we sat down and made a list of how we could really make Christmas count this year. Here are just a few of our ideas:
We continue to add ideas as we think of them. In fact, our page is almost full now. Will we get them all done? No, and that’s not the point anyway. We’re working hard at not working hard, remember? Our list is a brainstorm. We’ll pray about how God can use us during this season, and we’ll let the rest go.
We’d love for you to join us this year in Making Christmas Count! We made a free printable to share with you so that you and your family can make a list of your own. Let’s enjoy serving others this holiday season, remembering and appreciating the One who came to serve.
Twas the night before Thanksgiving and Mama was tired.
I’d been cooking off and on for several days, preparing for our big feast. We’d just arrived home after our Wednesday night devotional time with our church family. I was ready to do one final round of dishes and call it a night. Malachi headed to the sink to wash his hands saying, “Now can we finally make my special treats for tomorrow?”
Ah yes, we still needed to make Malachi’s treats. He’d been waiting so patiently. After all, our big box of baking chocolates had come in the mail weeks ago and Mom still hadn’t done anything with it. Imagine the torture everyone had gone through, staring at all the incredible bags of chocolates and not being allowed to do anything with them. (I know, you’re all shocked that I would actually have chocolates in my house and not eat them for weeks. What can I say? I’ve been busy.)
Olive Nation, my favorite source for Vanilla Beans, had sent us a big variety of their baking chocolate disks. I’ve never worked with such high quality chocolate before. Each variety is super wonderful! We simply melted about a cup of disks with a tablespoon of butter on the stovetop, then worked quickly to dip pretzels. The melted chocolate was super smooth and easy to work with.
Malachi and I had so much fun together making this simple treat. It didn’t take long at all, and the final results were yummy and fun. Malachi was so excited about his treats that he got up bright and early with me on Thanksgiving morning so he could arrange them on a tray to put on the dessert table. They ended up being a perfect treat a few hours after our meal while everyone was playing games.
Malachi and I made three varieties of chocolate dipped pretzels: White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, and Blond Chocolate. I was excited that making these treats didn’t even make a dent in my chocolate supply – a little goes a long way! I think these will be fun to make again, then bag up to deliver to friends at Christmas. I’m also thinking about making some truffles for gifts.
I was excited to get an email yesterday stating that Olive Nation baking supplies (including chocolates!) are 20% off through December 6. Use the code HOLBAKA at check-out for the discount.
Wow, I love this time of year – and all the great food involved!
Some of the links in the post are my referral links.