Favourite Family Christmas Traditions

Hey, Readers!

The patchwork of colour of fall leaves has made way for a brilliant blanket of snow. This is one of the signs that the Christmas season is in its way in my neck of the woods. It has always been one of my favourite times of the year, and it is made that much more magical with the addition of The Bosses. My Other Half and I scramble to make each Christmas special for our family with some of the traditions we incorporated from our childhood. They make the holiday season more festive and fun for all of us. Here are just a few of things we do at this time of year that gets us into the Christmas spirit.

Letters to Santa

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This activity serves three purposes for us parental units:

  1. It adds to the magic of Santa Claus for The Bosses
  2. We get a better idea of what to give them for their “fun” gifts; and
  3. Allows for more sibling bonding to happen.

Since The Bosses are still too young to write a complete letter to the Man in Red, my eldest helps them compile their lists and writes the letter on their behalf. We love hearing about some of the things our kids wants to receive for Christmas each year. My eldest has been in on “The Santa Secret” for a few years now, so we just ask her for a list of things she would like to see under the tree with her name on it. They also love placing the letter in the mailbox and receiving a letter back from Santa thanking them for their letter. My kids have a great time writing this annual letter and learning a bit more about one another.

Advent Calendars

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The Bosses LOVE the sweet surprises they find behind every door of their advent calendars! Each of my kids has their own calendar to open to discover the chocolaty Christmas shape waiting for them up until December 24th. They also love comparing their chocolates to one another and showing them to us before they pop them into their mouths. It also helps them count down the days until Santa makes his big ride.

Watching Holiday Specials

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This tradition is one I look forward to every year more than anyone else in my family. Once Thanksgiving is over, I wait on pins and needles for televisions stations to show their holiday specials to watch over and over again. I have been this way since my childhood, and my sister and I still call each other if a favourite one will be showing soon. I have shared this love with my kids, and they have their own favourites to watch, and it is a great opportunity to unplug for a while and plan a family movie night out of these television specials or holiday movies. My Other Half and I will even watch holiday films for bigger kids once the kids go to bed to unwind after a long day of Christmas prep.

Holiday Treats

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Whether it is sweet or savoury, our family loves to munch on holiday treats! We tend to wait to bake the cupcakes, brownies, and tarts until the week of Christmas, but there is always some form of holiday-themed snack to indulge in at this time of the year in our cupboards. When we do get down to baking for the holidays, everyone wants to roll up their sleeves to help. On Christmas Eve, we end up with a pile of snacks and treats we’re continually nibbling on past Boxing Day. These treats also add to our holiday special watching on Christmas Eve, making this night even more special.

Tree Trimming

The holiday season does not feel right in our home with having our tree up and decorated. The whole process is highly anticipated. Once it has been completed, lets the rest of the season fall into place for us. We have had both artificial and real trees in our home, but we prefer to get a real one in our home. The smell of a pine tree alone puts us in the Christmas spirit.

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Once the star and the lights have been placed around the tree, we all set to work putting golden horns, holiday characters and sparkly white snowflakes on our tree’s branches. The Bosses take great pride in helping with this tradition, only asking for help when they are unsure where to place an ornament.

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When this task is complete, the seat of choice in our living room is on the couch right beside the tree. We were able to bask in its awesomeness and its scent all evening long.

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Christmas is easily a fun time around our home. We are always looking for fun new ways to enjoy this time of the year together to become closer as a family. These family Christmas traditions are only a few that we enjoy, but are hands-down favourites for us to do each year. I hope that when our kids get older that they have fond memories of the activities we did together to get ready for Christmas and help us come up with new ones as they get older.

Dish with me: What are some of your some of your favourite family holiday traditions?

Until my next post, Readers,

Reese.

Cute Cookie Cutter Pancakes

Breakfast. It is the most important meal of the day, yet many of us do not get to enjoy it most of the week. We are always hustling and bustling, trying to get out the door to get to work or school, and are satisfied with shoving food and gulping some form of liquid in our mouths to hold us over for a few hours. Since breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, I thought I would share a family favourite breakfast at our home: Pancakes!

On the rare occasions I make breakfast (my other half is usually at the helm for meals), I like using cookie cutters to make eating pancakes just a little more fun. I started making these for my family this past Canada Day. I bought maple leaf-shaped cookie cutters to make sugar cookies to celebrate Canada’s birthday, but then I got the idea to make something fun for my kids to kick off the festivities with pancakes.

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Here is what I did to make these cute and tasty breakfast treats:

Cookie Cutter Pancakes 

Ingredients:

2 Cups Flour

4 Teaspoons Baking Powder

2 Tablespoons Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1 Egg

1 Cup Milk

2 Tablespoons Oil

Directions:

Mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together.

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Pour the batter into the center of the cooking area so that it is a bit larger than the cookie cutter(s) being used.

Heat a frying pan or skillet to medium and lightly grease with butter.

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Preheat oven to 200°F or to the Keep Warm feature.

Once the second side is cooked, remove the pancake from the the cooking area and place on a hard, smooth surface. Use your chosen cookie cutter(s) to cut out the shape you desire.

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Cook the remainder of the batter until the bowl is empty.

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And for a closer look…

 

You’re probably asking what I did with the unused pancake. I ate them, of course! Just because a pancake has a hole in it, does not mean that it is less delicious. I enjoyed these pieces as well as the shapes I cut out! We do not like for pancakes to go to waste at our home.

Maple leaves were the perfect way to start our Canada Day this year! My kids smiled when they saw my creation, and loved eating pancakes in the shape of maple leaves. Since this was a great success, I made other Cute Cookie Cutter Pancakes for my kids with some of our favourite cookie cutter shapes such as trains, dinosaurs, butterflies and daises. They liked them even more!

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I love how this idea is so versatile. It can be used any time of the year, so breakfast with these tasty treats can start off occasions (such as Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, etc.) on a fun note!

So if you want to put a smile on the faces of your family’s face the next time you gather around the breakfast table, try making making these Cute Cookie Cutter Pancakes!

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Vanilla Cupcakes, Part 1

Hey Readers!

I alluded to this attempt at baking  in my Reese’s Christmas Holidays Wrap-Up, 2013 post.  I was not too happy with the results of this recipe.  Since I’m far from being Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines, I like to try recipes my friends who have the natural gift of baking or the Internet have to offer.  I found this recipe on Spoonful.com.  It was a simple recipe, but I found a few things a little troubling about the amounts they were asking for where the ingredients were  concerned.

Here are the Ingredients and Directions:

2-1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Milk

3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil

4 Eggs

2-1/4 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 9-inch round cake pans or one 9×13-inch rectangular pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper and the sides of the pan well. (Since I made cupcakes, I greased the sides of the cupcake tin.  You ca also use paper cupcake liners as well.).

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2. In a large mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs together until slightly thickened, about one minute. Add flour, milk, oil baking powder and vanilla and beat for another minute, just until the batter is smooth and creamy.  Don’t overheat. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan(s).

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3. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick poked into the center of the layer comes out clean (A single rectangular pan will take longer to bake than two round ones.). Loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a knife, then turn out onto a rack ad peel off the paper (Since I made cupcakes, I baked them for about 16 minutes, using the toothpick method).

 

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Let it cool completely before covering with frosting, if desired.

 

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I found that, when I followed the directions for the amount of sugar and vanilla, the batter tasted very sweet, and nothing like vanilla.  While the first batch was baking away in the oven, I added more vanilla to the remainder of the batter.  It tasted a bit better.  When the first batch came out of the oven, the cupcakes were indeed too sweet.  They were still edible, though.

I was figuratively crossing my fingers as the second batch came out of the oven.  I waited a minute or two,then took a nibble out of one of these cupcakes. They did taste better than the first batch!  They were even tastier when I put frosting (store bought) on them.  It was a great NYE. I had a sugar rush, then passed out after 2 AM.

I will have to try another vanilla cake recipe, so I can learn how to bake more goodies from scratch.  I know it’s kind of boring of me, but I really love a good vanilla cake.  I will be trying a new recipe I found in the near future.  Look out for my post on the continuation of this saga!

Until my next post, Readers!

Reese.