Christmas Traditions


Happy Friday! I’m linking up with Kelly to share some of our Christmas traditions. I love creating new traditions in our family (and continuing some from my childhood) and it’s even more fun with kiddos!

For the past several years (I’ve lost track but it was before Will was born, so over four years), we have participated in an annual cookie day at our neighbor’s mom’s house. Nana, our neighbor’s mom, is also our babysitter, and her husband, Pops, are like a third set of grandparents to our kiddos.

Anyway, each year, we head to Nana’s for a day of cookie baking and decorating. Nana begins baking by eight each morning and we usually don’t finish until after five. We make cookie dough and bake it there, but a lot of us make dough ahead of time. This year, I made three batches of a family recipe called Sandies, a shortbread chocolate chip cookie. I also made a triple batch of brown butter snickerdoodles, one of my favorite cookies! The brown butter gives the cookie such a unique taste. It’s much easier for me to make the dough ahead of time, especially since Will and Harper come with me.

Will loved decorating the cookies this year and was so excited that we had orange colored frosting, his favorite color!


Here’s a small sampling of the cookies we made. A few years back, we kept track of how many cookies we baked…it was over 1,700!!


When I was little, my parents took us out driving to look at Christmas lights. My husband and I have continued this tradition with Will and Harper. The other evening, I put Will and Harper in their Christmas pajamas and we drove to a local park, which has a fun display of lights each year. Miss H. fell asleep a few minutes into the drive but Will loved seeing all the cool light displays! One of my favorites was this hay bale teddy bear.


For my son’s first Christmas, I bought a personalized ornament from Lisa Leonard Designs. I love her jewelry and decorations and decided to continue buying a special ornament every year for each kiddo. This is a new tradition for us since my husband and I didn’t have an ornament each year when we were young. Now Will has four ornaments (yikes, he’s getting so big!) and Harper has two. The gingerbread ornaments were last year’s selection.


Since I grew up on a Christmas tree farm, it was a given that we headed outside to select a tree each year. My husband used to go to a tree farm as a kid but his parents eventually got an artificial tree. This is one of my favorite traditions! We go to a local farm that is owned by one of my former co-worker’s family.


I buy Will and Harper Christmas jammies each year. Here they are sporting this year’s pajamas:) In order to get as much wear out of the pajamas as possible, they start wearing them right after Thanksgiving.


In addition to our cookie day, we help my dad make sand tarts each year. Sand tarts are a family recipe-a thin sugar cookie that you brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar or red and green sprinkles. For the past several years, Will has helped us decorate the cookies.

My husband and I were discussing our family holiday traditions the other evening. He grew up with the presents under the tree prior to Christmas. In my family, none of the gifts were under the tree until that morning. His stocking gifts were unwrapped; mine were always wrapped. It’s so fun to learn what types of traditions we had growing up and merge the two with our own family. What are some of your favorite traditions?


Favorite Christmas Cookies


Happy Friday! I’m linking up with Kelly’s Korner for a favorite holiday recipes link-up!

Growing up, my family made a variety of Christmas cookies to send to relatives and share with neighbors. My parents have continue this tradition, and over Thanksgiving we made a batch of sand tarts with Will and Harper.

I participate in a new tradition with my neighbors and kiddos-Cookie Day! Our babysitter, Nana, and her family hosts a cookie day each year. It’s kind of like a cookie exchange but everyone brings cookie dough and we spend the day baking cookies! For the past several years, I have made a family recipe called sandies. They are a round, shortbread cookie with chocolate chips. Here’s our family recipe:


1 1/2 c butter
1/4 c water
4 c flour
3/4 c white sugar
1tsp vanilla
1bag chocolate chips

-mix softened butter, sugar, and vanilla
-add water and flour (dough will be very thick and hard to mix)
-roll into small balls and bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees
Note: these cookies do not really rise so you can put them very close together on the cookie sheet

I like to try a new recipe each year, and last year’s new cookie was a browned butter snickerdoodle cookie from Tasty Kitchen. They were a huge hit and nominated the best cookie of 2012! How will I be able to top that this year?! The pressure is on, ha! Any suggestions?


Five on Friday!


Hello! Happy Friday!  I’m so glad I only have to work a half-day today:)  Last night, we had to work late for parent/teacher conferences, and we have parent/teacher conferences this morning.  I’m going to spend the afternoon at home with my kiddos:)  I’m linking up again with Darci and friends for my favorite link-up!

{1} It’s getting cold and finally seems more like fall here in Virginia!  I bought these hats for Miss Harper on Etsy from KT and the Squid.  I love all the different color combos you can use to create these hats!  Just for fun, here’s a comparison of Harper last fall and this fall.  How much she has grown!  She’s no longer my baby:(

Oct collage

{2} I realized that I didn’t have many fall themed books, so I visited our local toy store, Pufferbellies, the other day and picked up two fun fall books!  I’m enjoying reading these books to Harper and Will.  Pretty soon, we will be reading Christmas books! Oh, my, the time flies by!

fall books

{3}  Will and I went to a friend’s house last Saturday for a fall harvest party.  Here’s a pic of us at the party. Ignore the fact that Will isn’t wearing any shoes-he had been jumping in the bouncy house. My friend has her own inflatable bounce house-how cool is that?! We had a great time doing cute pumpkin themed crafts and eating yummy fall desserts inspired by Pinterest. We came home with a bag of goodies, including pumpkin pie play-dough.  It smelled so yummy and was fun to play with!  My friend shared this website full of play-dough recipes.  I’m thinking about trying the gingerbread play-dough with Will closer to Christmas!

fall harvest party

{4} I have seen this quotation from Anne of Green Gables recently and just love it!  I.Love.October!  It’s one of my favorite months! So many fun activities to do in the fall!  It’s a great time to create new traditions with your family.  Here’s Miss H. enjoying fall at my parents.  Anne of Green Gables quote

{5} Last Saturday, I went to a baby shower for (one of) my babysitter’s daughter, Susan.  Here is a little background of our wonderful babysitting arrangement.  Anyway, my friend hosted the most adorable woodland themed baby shower for Susan, who is expecting her first child (a boy) in December.  I had passed on to Susan several big baby items that Harper and Will no longer used, so she told me the only gift she wanted from me at her shower was a batch of these brown butter snickerdoodle cookies.  I first made these last year for our annual cookie day at Nana’s (our other babysitter), and Susan and the rest of the cookie day crew gave the snickerdoodles the 2012 cookie of the year award!  Sidenote: the pressure is now on to find a new cookie that wins the award this year…any recommendations?  Last Friday evening, I made the batter and baked them Saturday before the shower.  They were still warm when I arrived at the shower!  How fitting is it that she’s due around cookie day this year!  I also bought her two of our favorite board books, Gossie and The Going to Bed Book.  baby shower

Weekly Menu Monday Link-Up!

I’m linking up with Rachel from In No Simple Language for menu Monday:)

Here’s what’s on the menu this week!

Sunday: spinach quiche with hash brown crust and fresh fruit. I modify this slightly by using Trader Joe’s frozen hash browns. I love making quiche and enjoy the different taste of the potato crust instead of the typical pastry crust. I’ve also made a yummy quiche with a brown rice crust.


Monday: tomato basil pizza from the Pioneer Woman, veggies and hummus. Love her recipes! As an aside, the Pioneer Woman recently posted about freezer cooking. It’s a great post-check it out!

Tuesday: Trader Joe’s orange chicken with sugar peas and mushrooms (from Rachel).

Wednesday: Spaghetti with pesto and roasted zucchini

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday: leftovers, out to eat, possibly grill (as you can tell, by the end of the week I’m done with cooking! Ha!)

For dessert, I made these monster cookies from Recipe Girl.  They were delicious! Full of peanut butter, oats, and chocolate!