Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Freezing Bread Dough is the Way to Go!

Today I wanted to share with you all a little bit more info about how my whole bread-making process works because there is a key point I think I have been leaving out.  You all know that I have been making all of my families bread from scratch using a Nutrimill and BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer from Marmee's Bread Market, since the middle of August.  I keep telling you all that it is easy and completely doable, and it really is because those machines are so amazing and take a ton of the work out of the whole bread-making ordeal.

HOWEVER, the biggest advantage that my BOSCH affords me is the ability to make in bulk!  If it weren't for bulk bread-making I know I wouldn't do it- there simply wouldn't be the time.  Many of my favorite recipes from Marmee's Bread Basket Cookbook have a yield of 4-5 loaves of bread though, which is much more practical than 1 or 2 at a time!  Typically I will bake one (or two if I am giving one as a gift) and then wrap the rest of the pre-risen loaves of dough in freezer paper, through them in the deep freeze (or side-by-side freezer if I'm being lazy) and I'm good to go!

When we are getting low on bread (every 2-3 days) I just grab a frozen loaf in the morning, let it thaw slightly, pop it in a greased bread pan and then let it continue to thaw and rise the rest of the afternoon (or however long that particular bread tends to take).  This usually gives us fresh bread just in time for dinner and the aroma is so welcoming to usher my husband in the door to after a long day of work!

ALSO- I couldn't wrap up this post without mentioning Marmee's dinner rolls and soft buns!  Both of these rolls are soooooo yummy (seriously- like, the most delicate, airy rolls you have ever graced your mouth with!) and are wonderful to make a large batch of and freeze the rest (once again, pre-rising.  Just line them up on a cookie sheet for initial freezing and then transfer them to a food storage bag).  Get them out of the fridge a couple of hours before you are going to serve dinner and you will have piping hot dinner rolls by the time you all sit down at the table (well, if you throw them in the oven at some point, that is ;-).  And, I mean, what is really better than a nice juicy hamburger on a homemade bun!  Yeah Buddy!

And an aside on Marmee's dinner rolls- you end up rolling them into crescent rolls to bake, but if you freeze them pre-rolling (flat) between two pieces of freezer paper and then throw them in a baggie, you can use them for all sorts of recipes (like pigs in a blanket or whatever!).

I am just so in love with the ability to make all this wonderful fresh and wholesome bread for my family and am so grateful for the opportunity that Marmee gave me to own such a wonderful machine!  Thank you Marmee!!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Monday, November 29, 2010

CSN Giveaway coming!

As a preferred blogger with CSN I have once again been given the opportunity to partner with them, and this time I thought I would spread the holiday cheer on to you all!  Later this week I will be hosting a giveaway for a really nice sized gift card to their over 200 stores, just in time for you all to do a little Christmas shopping!  You might even want to pick up one of their nice new TV tables (do you remember me mentioning this awesome TV table before- ya know, the one that I really want and would be the perfect thing to replace my husband's old, hideous, plastic, bachelor pad TV stand!), or some new toys for the kiddos!

Hop on over and give CSN a gander, cause after all, you could be winning a gift card there very soon!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My BIg Fat Wonderful News!!!

So, last Friday I was contacted by Lorrie Flem of TEACH Magazine.  As you may remember, I am participating in her 6 month Step Up- Attitude is Everything program right now, and I had emailed to ask her if there was any work I could do for TEACH to work off my membership fee instead of paying through Paypal.  Well, as it just so happened, she had been thinking of me, but couldn't remember my name, and had been wanting to get ahold of me to do just that- work for TEACH! 

Doing what?  Well, TEACH is launching a brand new blogging program and she not only wants me to head it up but design and create the whole thing right along side her!  I am still a little in shock!  The Lord is so good to have worked out this whole thing and put me in a position that just fits me like a glove!

I have been working on the program the last few days, since accepting the position on Sunday, and the more I work on it the more ideas keep popping into my head!  This program is going to be unlike any other blogger program out there and I couldn't be more thrilled to be the Head Mama (as I am being called)!  It is a huge responsibility but it has also been a huge motivator to get out of bed  earlier in the morning and get the rest of my life organized too!

Plus, getting to work directly with Lorrie is a dream!!!  Ever since attending the homeschool conference that I heard her speak at last March (remember when I LIVE blogged about her?) I have dreamed that she would be my mentor someday!  I have already gotten to talk to her on the phone three times and she is such a joy to speak with!  She is just about the best boss in the world- giving me lots of free reign to make decisions and really take ownership of this project!  Can you tell I'm excited?!

Want to get involved?

So, I am sure you will be hearing lots more about this program in the future!  And, if by chance you think it is something that you might be interested in getting involved in then run over to TEACH, see if it is a ministry you think you could get behind, ask me any questions you might have about the program and send me your info (address, blog link, etc...)!  We have approximately 40 spots left to fill, so don't hesitate to spread the word!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Recipes from Marmee for Thanksgiving!

Hey Ladies!

Well a couple of weeks ago we talked about some of the gadgets you might want to pick up from Marmee's Bread Market to make your Thanksgiving and the rest of your holidays a little bit easier, but today I wanted to share some of Marmee's recipes with you to make your Turkey day a little bit yummier!

Did you know that Marmee has some AWESOME recipes on her site for FREE?!  Wouldn't some fresh, homemade French Rolls sound good next to your stuffing and green bean casserole?!  Ooo- or wouldn't a nice Herbed Pull-Apart Bread make everyone drool as you set in on the table with steam rising and carrying the aroma all throughout the house?

What about Thanksgiving morning?  What are you going to serve your family so that they stay sufficiently full for that early dinner?  How about some Green Acres Famous Muffins or Mornin' Banana Bread?  There are so many other great options over on Marmee's site- you should really go give it a peruse!  Your family will thank you!

If you like what you see there, you also might consider getting one of Marmee's fantastic cookbooks!  I am still in shock by how many recipes she packed into The Bread Basket Cookbook for such a low price!  You just can't go wrong!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh what a beautiful morning!

You all are aware of my struggle to get up earlier in the morning if you have followed my blog for any length of time.  You might remember that it was one of my New Years resolutions this year, and her I am, mid-November, still struggling.

Well, today, I had a breakthrough!  Seriously!  Some things happened over the weekend that were positively life-changing (I will soon be sharing them with you, but they are of a different subject completely, so I will reserve them to their own post!) and this morning I finally managed to get my booty out of bed at an earlier hour.  It still wasn't as early as I would like, but it was earlier, which is a step in the right direction.

A lot of it has come down to changing my perspective.  I have had to decide that getting up earlier is a reward rather than a punishment- not easy for a night owl from birth!  I have had decide to limit myself, make the conscious choice every evening, to save the things that I would normally stay up till all hours of the night, joyfully accomplishing, and wait to do them in the morning.  That way I actually want to get up in the morning- those awaiting tasks, that I enjoy, give me the motivation to get out of bed.

The view from my front window
I feel like I have a new lease on life.  As I look out my window and see the snow swirling around and accumulating all around, the rest of the world is heading into winter as I am finally coming out of it.  The spring I have so long awaited is here at last.  I feel refreshed and truly joyful, full of peace for the first time since I can really remember.

I awoke, made a cup of tea, read The Word, nursed my toddler back to sleep as I prayed and then was able to sit with my legs crossed on my couch, computer on my lap and just write/blog/email- it was precious and quiet!  It was time all my own and it was productive!  Just knowing that I had accomplished some of the things on my list for the day gave me the drive to make a better breakfast for my kids and got me cleaning prior to the last 10 rushed minutes before my husband arrives home from work.

This can work!  Jesus can help me- He promises He will!

Who knows, maybe tomorrow I will get up another half hour earlier!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to puff up your lips for FREE!!

You all know how I like to pass along little tips and tricks to you as I find them in life, and, well, this one is not to be missed!

Have you been wanting to enlarge your lips?  

Considering collagen injections?  


Save your money!  

All you have to do is stand in front of an open cupboard door, place a nice thick glass up to your lips (as if taking a drink), then quickly try to close said cupboard door while in process slamming it into the end of your glass, hence smashing the edge of the glass into your top lip and your top lip into your eyeteeth.  Ta-Da!!  The swelling and canker sores that will surely ensue eliminate all need for a visit to your local med-spa!

Ok- but seriously- I AM IN PAIN!  Holy Moly!  You really shouldn't do what I outlined above because it HURTS and has long-lasting effects!!  I am like, 4 or 5 days into this now!  I can hardly talk or eat because my mouth hurts so badly!

I saw a friend last night for the first time in a year and she thought I had had dental work done judging by the swelling and way I was talking trying not to move my lips!  "Oh No! "  I told her.  "Just slammed a glass into my face with a cupboard door!"  How embarassing! 

I was quite happy with my lips just the way they were!  I never had any desire to plump them up like a morphed California soap opera actress!  So- any great ideas for getting rid of mouth swelling and canker sores?  I'm in need!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eco Store Review- No Nasty Chemicals!

You all know how hard it is to find quality body care products that aren't filled with toxic junk, don't you?  I have had the darndest time over the last 4 years since I ditched all my Bath and Body Works goodies in favor of things that didn't have the potential of giving me and my family cancer!  While I have found a few gems in the rough here and there, none have quite lived up to all my expectations- until I found Eco Store!

Can I get a Wuh-Wuh?!  They are AWESOME!!

I mean- seriously!  Want awesome scents?  They've got 'em!

Want lots of suds in your body wash?  They've got 'em!

Want your body wash to be smooth and wash off without residue?  Yes, Mam!

Want your lotion to be dreamily silky and moisturizing?  They wouldn't have it any other way!

Want toxic, artificial chemicals to slather all over your body?  Well. if you answered "yes" I have all sorts of other reasons to worry about you, but, to get to the point, you aren't going to find any of that stuff in any of Eco Store's plant-based goodness!

I was so thrilled to be sent both their Vanilla Coconut Body Wash 

and their Baby Moisturizer 

(which of course, I actually used on yours truly!  Oh, and sometimes on my boys too- when I can catch them!).  Both products were honestly the best I have found in organic body care.  As Eco Store puts is- No Nasty Chemicals!  I love that I can use them on not only myself but my kiddos too, and never have to worry about a thing!

Oh, and did I mention that they recently dropped almost all of their prices by 30%?!?!  HOLY COW!!  That is some serious savings people!  Now they are really affordable!  And if you order is over $25 you get free shipping!  You just can't go wrong here!  I mean, can you say "Christmas Gifts?!" (go ahead, say it- you know you want to!)

Alright- that's all.  Just thought you might want to know.

Eco Store provided me with their products for honest review in this post.  Thank you to Eco Store for their generosity and manufacturing of an excellent line of products!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

NanoWrimo Progress

I went in November realizing full well that my blogging time would most likely be sidelined for the most part.  Aside from a few posts I knew that I needed to get done for product and book reviews (some of which are still forth coming) I was well aware that most of my writing time would need to be devoted to my novel for NanoWrimo.

Little did I know that even more of my time in general this month would be devoted to my dear friends Christa and Erik and their two boys, as they battle for their beautiful daughter, Ella, to live.  Even in the moments that I am not directly helping them or lifting them all up in prayer, I have found it difficult to get back into that writing space in my head.  In fact, at times the thought of working on my book has almost felt selfish.  I have felt very nearly that I shouldn't be enjoying anything or getting lost in any fantasy story-line while people I am so very close to are being constantly bombarded with harsh and sobering realities.

We have had many of our own realities to deal with ourselves also.  My husband's transmission went out this week- a fix that would cost more than the truck is worth.  And, well, when you are a finish carpenter who needs to transport a tool trailer to and from jobs in order to make a living, being without a heavy duty truck is quite the predicament.  He has been able to borrow a truck from a friend, but even it is in desperate need of serious electrical work which we are also not in the place to fix.

So, we put our house on Craigslist- hoping that it would catch someone's eye, or at least get a nibble.  If we could sell and downsize (an impossible sounding word to anyone who has actually seen my home) to some property we have been eying, pay off our debt and get a new truck- if everything played out the way we hoped.  But do you have any idea how quickly your listing gets pushed down the list in the real estate section on Craigslist?  Well, if you don't know- it's fast!  In less than 16 hours we were already on the second page.  Bummer.  Not even a nibble.  We'll try again tomorrow.

I have started teaching childbirthing classes with some fellow doulas in my community.  Next Tuesday I will meet with the three other women I will be working with and dearly hoping that this can be one small way that I can help provide for my family.  I did a few classes last month with one of the women to see if it was a good fit and if my teaching skills were up to par.  I really enjoyed the experience and am looking forward to where this journey will take me.  It's something.

And believe it or not- this brings me back to NanoWrimo.  Before the absolute craziness of last week came crashing down, I had written over 12,000 words and was into the 6th chapter of my book.  While it is just a rough first draft I actually don't think it is half bad!  I am really enjoying my characters and my plot and look forward to getting back into working on it.  In many ways I think I need to start to look at this as a career opportunity.  I have always wanted to be a writer and if I am able to devote a chunk of my time to this venture it could be yet another way for me to stay at home yet help provide for my family.

I have been doing a lot of reading about becoming an author- especially the advice that my favorite authors have to offer.  Something Robin Jones Gunn said in one of her interviews really struck a chord with me.  She said that she knew that writing would have to be a sacrifice but that she knew it had to be her own and not her family's.  For years she said she would get up at 3:00am so that she could write without taking time away from serving her family!  Now that is dedication!  While I don't plan on getting up anywhere near 3:00am anytime soon, it is one more probe in my side (among many as of late- most likely from the Lord) that getting up earlier would, indeed, be a good idea for me. (arg)

So there you have it- what is up.  What's been on my mind.  While I don't expect that I will be able to recover from the serious loss of time I have accumulated on my novel, I do plan to finish it.  And if by some crazy chance I manage to do it in the next 11 days- well call me Sally and paint my face green!  But hey, crazier things have happened!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Top Ten Reasons to as for a BOSCH Universal Mixer for Christmas!

Alright, well you all know that I am completely in love with my BOSCH and am fairly certain that it would change all of your lives if you owned one, but just in case I still don't have you convinced, I thought I would count down my Top 10 Reasons to ask for a BOSCH Mixer for Christmas this year!  Ready?

10.  It's easy to clean!  I find that especially in comparison to my other stand mixer, the BOSCH is incredibly easy to clean!  Everything pops right in the dishwasher and the simplistic design if the base unit lends itself well to being easily wiped off.

9.  You will save money!  Once you get past the initial investment you will save oodles on all the confectionary goods that you would have otherwise bought at the store!  Seriously!  Now only are we eating better, we are saving a boat load of cash!

8.  It promotes a healthy diet!  It is so easy to make whole wheat bread in a BOSCH that you will always have healthy fresh baked bread for your family.  You will also easily find ways to slip whole grains into the other baked goods you can simply make with your BOSCH!

7.  You will save time by baking in bulk and having your machine do all the work!  Who would ever dream of kneading 5 loaves worth of bread by hand, at one time, on a weekly basis?!  Not me!  But with a BOSCH it is simple and fast!

6.  Have I mentioned the cinnamon rolls yet?  These babies are reason enough to ask for a BOSCH!

5.  Having a BOSCH makes it easy and practical to bless others with fresh bakes goods.  Because you are able to make things in bulk you can very easily spare one out of your five loaves of bread to give to a friend!  Baked goods also make lovely impromptu gifts for birthdays, housewarming parties, or any event really!

4.  Fresh bread is a powerful bargaining tool!  Seriously!!  I have even been able to trade bread for massages!  You'd be surprised what people will do for a nice loaf of Marmee's Buttermilk Oat Bread!

3.  If you can manage to convince the gift-giver to bless you with your BOSCH early, you could greatly simplify your holiday baking!  Get yourself some cookie paddles and go to town!

2.  Cinnamon rolls!  Oh wait, did I already say that?!  Well, fine then!  I guess I'll just have to mention how simple it is to whip up all sort of other delightful breakfasty treats (popovers, biscuits, pie crust for quiche, the list goes on...) in advance and with very little effort!

1.  BOSCH Universal Plus Mixers have so many different accessories that it's uses go FAR beyond baking!  You could get the food processor (which is on special fro a GREAT price with the purchase of a BOSCH through the end of the year) and do all your chopping, shredding and mincing in a jiffy!  You could get the blender and whip up not only your favorite smoothies but sauces and purees too!  You could even get the meat grinder and make your very own hamburgers!!  It doesn't get any fresher than that!   The possibilities are endless!

So there ya have it!  Now go ahead and just forward this post to your husband, you parents, your in-laws, your grandmother or whoever else just might want to pitch in to get you one of these extraordinary machines, and don't wait cause Christmas will be here before we know it!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Please Keep Praying!

Sweet baby Ella still needs your prayers!  Erik and Christa are headed home from the hospital today- a very hard step without their baby girl.

I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Christa last night at the hospital.  We cried together, looked through pictures of her precious daughter and even laughed a little.  We continue to hope and plead with the Lord for a miracle for Ella.  He is the great physician and I know He CAN heal her.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Please Keep Praying!

Sweet baby Ella still needs your prayers!  Erik and Christa are headed home from the hospital today- a very hard step without their baby girl.

I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Christa last night at the hospital.  We cried together, looked through pictures of her precious daughter and even laughed a little.  We continue to hope and plead with the Lord for a miracle for Ella.  He is the great physician and I know He CAN heal her.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ella needs a miracle!

I am writing for you all to keep praying.  My heart is breaking for my dear friends tonight as they received some bleak news that things don't look as promising as hoped for their precious daughter, Ella.  PLEASE be praying for them and her!  PLEASE!  You can visit the blog they started for Ella today to see pictures and get the latest updates.  If any of you can pour out your love to this family it would be amazing- they need all the prayers and encouragement they can possibly get.

Dear Jesus- we know you have the power to heal.  You have the power to make Ella whole and strengthen her beyond the doctor's wildest dreams.  We pray the your would make her healing a testimony to the doctors and nurses that are working with her.  Take the hurt from this dear family Jesus and please let their daughter live a long and full life.

In your powerful Name Jesus we pray,

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Prayers needed for Sweet Baby Ella!!

One of my best friends in the whole wide world had an ultrasound this morning that caused her to go in for an emergency c-section at just 31 weeks.  Baby Ella was born this afternoon and has a heart defect that prevents her from converting oxygen to CO2.  They still do not know if she will make it and prayers are greatly needed for this baby and family!

Erik and Christa have 2 older sons that I am taking care of and they do not yet know about their sister.  There is an extreme amount of shock and stress for this family who wasn't expecting their precious babe until January and had no idea of any complications until this morning.

Please just pray!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Ooo La La Baking!

Yesterday I made a cheesy chicken and vegetable soup for dinner and I thought that a nice loaf of French bread would be the perfect addition to the meal.  So I whipped up a batch of Marmee's Easy French Bread and it was just that- easy!  There were very few ingredients and I had it kneading in my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer in just minutes!  Really the only thing that took considerable time was all the rising- three hours in the bowl and another 45 in the loaf) and the baking (another 45 minutes).  And aside from my little miscalculation on how long that would all take in total we would have really enjoyed our bread with dinner.  Instead we ate it about 30 minutes after dinner (oops!) but it was delicious!

(A picture will be coming!)

I also wanted to mention that Marmee is running a special on a Homemaking Bundle for just 48 more hours!  It is over 80 pages (a $40 value) for only $7.99!  So head on over there to check it out and purchase it!

I'm so sorry about the lateness and shortness of this post- a big round of sickness and teething in our family, along with a situation that came up to day with one of my best friends (which I will be blogging on later today) prevented me from getting it up on time.  My deepest apologies!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My recent guest post!

Hey everybody!  I forgot to mention that I recently did a guest review over at Heart of the Matter for an awesome preschool curriculum!  You can read it here!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Advent Book- Review

We're on a Christmas roll folks!  After all, it is next month!  Ahhh!  Can you believe it?!  So, yeah- we should probably start planning what we are going to do for the most wonderful time of the year!  If you want to spice things up a bit and add some fun new traditions, then this book is just the thing.  It is small, concise and packed with lots of fun ideas.  Definitely worth the $5.99 you spend on it!  Enjoy!

The following is the standard post from FIRST Wild Card Tours- scroll to the bottom to see an excerpt from the book!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Liguori Publications (July 1, 2010)
***Special thanks to Rebecca Molen of Liguori Publications for sending me a review copy.***


Kathleen Basi is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer, flute and voice teacher, composer, choir director, natural family planning teacher, scrapbooker, sometime-chef and budding disability rights activist. She puts her juggling skills on display on her website (see below).

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.99
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Liguori Publications (July 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0764819372
ISBN-13: 978-0764819377




Call it December madness: On the day after Thanksgiving 2008, a seasonal worker was trampled to death by shoppers swarming a department store at opening time. In mid-America, two women got into a fist fight over a toy, and the store personnel had to pull them off each other.

 At this time of year, it’s hardly possible to escape feeling rushed, harried, and overwhelmed. It seems like every year the Christmas decorations at the mall go up a little earlier, and all the news reports dwell on how much money retailers are (or aren’t) going to make. The ad inserts get fatter and the TV shouts: “No need to wait! Zero down! No interest for thirteen months! Hurry, hurry, hurry!”

 Just about everyone gripes about it, but no one seems to know what to do about it. Some families throw out the whole secular celebration in an attempt to prevent materialism from overwhelming both Advent and Christmas. But most families feel—rightly so—that they shouldn’t have to choose one over the other. It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” but often families feel stressed as the calendar fills up with recitals, shopping, parties, and housecleaning. In this atmosphere filled with distractions, the idea of Advent as a season in its own right has been overwhelmed. How can we wait for Christmas when we never have to wait for anything else?

 Christmas is not about children, gifts, cookies, or trees. It’s about a love so powerful that God came to earth to dwell among us: human and divine intertwining—a holy union of wills that reaches its apex not in birth, but in crucifixion and resurrection. In salvation.

 And we spend December fighting over Blu-ray discs and toys?

 It’s time to reclaim Advent—that season of holy hush, of waiting, of light and anticipation—that season that helps make Christmas so special. We can’t withdraw from the world, but we can take the trappings of the season and infuse them with a deeper meaning. Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family outlines a way to reconcile the secular with the sacred—to celebrate them side-by-side, to mold them into a single, month-long “liturgy,” and in so doing, to enrich both celebrations.

 Chapter 1 presents a brief overview of Advent and why it is important. Chapter 2 introduces the three parts of the Advent Reclamation Project, which are explained more fully in Chapters 3 through 5. Chapter 6 offers suggestions for other traditions that families or parish communities might choose to adopt as their own, and in the appendices, you will find resources to flesh out the earlier chapters.

 Early childhood is the ideal time to start developing family traditions, so this book is aimed at young families. Each chapter contains a short italicized section to be read directly to children, explaining some part of the celebration. As your family grows, you can adapt the traditions to fit your own circumstances. Many of the ideas will also translate to the classroom. Remember that Advent, like Sabbath, was not created for God’s sake, but for ours (see Mark 2:27). God doesn’t need it. We do.



The Case
For Advent

Advent holds a unique place in the Christian calendar. For Catholics, it is the beginning of the liturgical year. It is a season in which the church is decked out in purple—a sign of penitence—yet the Scriptures also speak of joy, hope, and light.

 The word “Advent” comes from a Latin word meaning arrival or coming. In the earliest days of the Church, all of life focused on the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. After all, the Apostles expected the Second Coming during their lifetimes.

 At this time, the ancient pagan cultures structured their seasonal celebrations on nature. The celebration of the winter solstice was the biggest festival of the year in ancient times. It centered upon the shortest day of the year—the day when the “unconquered” sun began slowly to take back the days. Gift-giving, feasting, lights, and greenery all originated in these pagan celebrations. As Christianity expanded into these lands, the Church adopted many of these traditions, infusing them with Christian meaning in order to ease the transition for its new members. Thus, sometime in the fourth century ad, Christmas—and Advent—made their appearances.

 Originally, Advent was a forty-day period of fasting and penitence—a parallel to Lent. In the early centuries, the Church focused on preparing for the Second Coming. Not until the middle ages did Advent begin to point toward the birth of Christ. Over the centuries, many traditions cropped up surrounding the season. The Advent wreath grew out of a Pagan tradition of lighting candles to signify the hope of spring. The Jesse tree probably originated in Northern Europe, where lineage and genealogy determined one’s place in society. The Jesse tree taught the faithful about Jesus’ royal lineage. Over time, these customs (and the meanings associated with them) have evolved. Some grew more important, others less so.

 Nowadays, the secular culture and many Protestant denominations make no distinction between Advent and Christmas. The Sundays of December are filled with the story of the Christ Child, and the Christmas celebration is over and done around New Year’s. But in Catholic tradition, the season of Advent focuses on the two “comings” of Christ—the Incarnation, when God came to Earth as human child, and the glorious Second Coming at the end of time. In fact, the readings for the first two weeks of Advent speak of John the Baptist “preparing the way” for Jesus, the grown man who turned the world upside down. Only in the later part of Advent does our focus zero in on Bethlehem.

 This duality is something we experience even with our senses. Catholic churches are hung with violet for these four weeks—the color traditionally associated with penitence. But the purple we use at this time of year is different from the purple of Lent; it is meant to be a richer, royal purple, reminding us also that Christ is King.

Advent gives us a chance to meditate on:

Hope—for deliverance;

Expectation—for the coming of one who will bring justice to an unjust world;

Preparation—so that we may prepare our hearts to receive Christ, who is

Light—the light of the world.

 These are beautiful themes. Why should Advent be shoved into a corner, nothing more than four weeks of filler before Christmas? Advent can be a magical time, if we approach it the right way.

 Advent does not need to become a “second Lent,” but the violet hangings and vestments remind us that penitence remains an important part of the season. Advent gives us the chance to examine our hearts and “defrag” our scattered souls. To reorder our thinking and our priorities. To point our lives, for four weeks, toward Christmas, so that when we reach the holiday, it has meaning and beauty that is distinct from the four preceding weeks.

 Nor is Christmas the end of the journey. Without Holy Week and the resurrection, the manger in Bethlehem would be unremarkable: just one more baby born in poverty. For Christians, the destination is Easter. Glorious as it is, Christmas is a stop along the way.

For the children:

Even though all the advertisements on TV are about Christmas, right now we are actually in the season of Advent. During Advent, our job is to get ready for Jesus to come and live in our hearts. At Christmas, we will celebrate Jesus being born as a baby—but he has promised us that he will come back again someday, and we need to be ready. One way we do this is by remembering our sins and trying to do better. This is called penitence, and it is why the church is decorated in purple. But Advent is also about looking forward to Jesus coming. We are excited because Jesus is the light of the world, and when he comes, he will make the world fair for everyone.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Everything Christmas Book Review

This is my first book tour with Wild Card Tours and I am thrilled to be a part of it!  I really enjoyed receiving Everything Christmas.  It is filled with fun Christmas trivia, lyrics to your favorite Christmas carols, recipes, stories, history, tradition ideas and much more!  The book is broken down into short chapters for every calendar day in December leading up to Christmas and I very much look forward to using it with my family this Advent season.  I think this book would make a fun addition to your family's festivities and would also make a lovely gift!

The rest of this post is a standard post for the Wild Card Tour- be sure to scroll to the end to read the first chapter of Everything Christmas.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion / Waterbrook Multnomah, Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***


David Bordon and Tom Winters are partners in Bordon-Winters, LLC, a book concept and packaging company that produces successful books and gift products. Their previous titles include the 101 Things You Should Do series, especially the popular 101 Things You Should Do Before Going to Heaven.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 030772929X
ISBN-13: 978-0307729293


December 1

Let Us Keep Christmas

Grace Noll Crowell

Whatever else be lost among the years,

Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;

Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,

Let us hold close one day, remembering

It’s poignant meaning for the hearts of men.

Let us get back our childlike faith again.

The History of Christmas

     Many of our Christmas traditions were celebrated centuries before the Christ child was born. The twelve days of Christmas, the bright fires, the yule log, gift giving, carnivals, carolers going from house to house, holiday feasts, even church processions can all be traced back to the early Mesopotamians. These traditions were passed down throughout the known world and were popular in Rome long before the birth of Christ.

     Most historians say that some three centuries after the birth of Christ, Christianity was spreading rapidly. Church leaders were alarmed that their converts continued to honor the ancient celebrations honoring pagan gods. Early Christians had chosen to keep the birth of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, without merriment. For centuries they had forbidden their members to take part in those ancient celebrations. But now it seemed it was a losing battle. As a compromise, they agreed to allow their members to partake in a demure and respectful celebration of the birth of Christ. Thus, the Christian celebration we know as Christmas was born in Rome, near the date 336 AD.

     The actual date of Christ’s birth is unknown, so the early Christians chose December 25, probably to compete with the wildly popular Roman festival of Saturnalia. Eventually, most of the customs from the festival of Saturnalia were adopted into the celebration of Christmas and given new and sacred meanings.

     Today, Christmas is both a holiday and a holy day. In America, it is the biggest event of the year, celebrated by people of all ages.

Christmas Every Day

William Dean Howells

     The little girl came into her papa’s study, as she always did Saturday morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he began:

     “Well, once there was a little pig—”

     She stopped him at the word. She said she had heard little pig stories till she was perfectly sick of them.

     “Well, what kind of story shall I tell, then?”

     “About Christmas. It’s getting to be the season.”

     “Well!” Her papa roused himself. “Then I’ll tell you about the little girl that wanted it Christmas every day in the year. How would you like that?”

     “First-rate!” said the little girl; and she nestled into comfortable shape in his lap, ready for listening.

     “Very well, then, this little pig—Oh, what are you pounding me for?”

     “Because you said little pig instead of little girl.”

     “I should like to know what’s the difference between a little pig and a little girl that wanted Christmas every day!”

     “Papa!” said the little girl warningly. At this her papa began to tell the story.

     Once there was a little girl who liked Christmas so much that she wanted it to be Christmas every day in the year, and as soon as Thanksgiving was over she began to send postcards to the old Christmas Fairy to ask if she mightn’t have it. But the old Fairy never answered, and after a while the little girl found out that the Fairy wouldn’t notice anything but real letters sealed outside with a monogram—or your initial, anyway. So, then, she began to send letters, and just the day before Christmas, she got a letter from the Fairy, saying she might have it Christmas every day for a year, and then they would see about having it longer.

     The little girl was excited already, preparing for the old-fashioned, once-a-year Christmas that was coming the next day. So she resolved to keep the Fairy’s promise to herself and surprise everybody with it as it kept coming true, but then it slipped out of her mind altogether.

     She had a splendid Christmas. She went to bed early, so as to let Santa Claus fill the stockings, and in the morning she was up the first of anybody and found hers all lumpy with packages of candy, and oranges and grapes, and rubber balls, and all kinds of small presents. Then she waited until the rest of the family was up, and she burst into the library to look at the large presents laid out on the library table—books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and little stoves, and dozens of handkerchiefs, and inkstands, and skates, and photograph frames, and boxes of watercolors, and dolls’ houses—and the big Christmas tree, lighted and standing in the middle.

     She had a splendid Christmas all day. She ate so much candy that she did not want any breakfast, and the whole forenoon the presents kept pouring in that had not been delivered the night before, and she went round giving the presents she had got for other people, and came home and ate turkey and cranberry for dinner, and plum pudding and nuts and raisins and oranges, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache crying, and her papa said he would see if his house was turned into that sort of fool’s paradise another year, and they had a light supper, and pretty early everybody went to bed cross.

     The little girl slept very heavily and very late, but she was wakened at last by the other children dancing around her bed with their stockings full of presents in their hands. “Christmas! Christmas! Christmas!” they all shouted.

     “Nonsense! It was Christmas yesterday,” said the little girl, rubbing her eyes sleepily.

     Her brothers and sisters just laughed. “We don’t know about that. It’s Christmas today, anyway. You come into the library and see.”

     Then all at once it flashed on the little girl that the Fairy was keeping her promise, and her year of Christmases was beginning. She was dreadfully sleepy, but she sprang up and darted into the library. There it was again! Books, and boxes of stationery, and dolls, and so on.

     There was the Christmas tree blazing away, and the family picking out their presents, and her father looking perfectly puzzled, and her mother ready to cry. “I’m sure I don’t see how I’m to dispose of all these things,” said her mother, and her father said it seemed to him they had had something just like it the day before, but he supposed he must have dreamed it. This struck the little girl as the best kind of a joke, and so she ate so much candy she didn’t want any breakfast, and went round carrying presents, and had turkey and cranberry for dinner, and then went out and coasted, and came in with a stomachache, crying.

     Now, the next day, it was the same thing over again, but everybody getting crosser, and at the end of a week’s time so many people had lost their tempers that you could pick up lost tempers anywhere, they perfectly strewed the ground. Even when people tried to recover their tempers they usually got somebody else’s, and it made the most dreadful mix.

     The little girl began to get frightened, keeping the secret all to herself, she wanted to tell her mother, but she didn’t dare to, and she was ashamed to ask the Fairy to take back her gift, it seemed ungrateful and ill-bred. So it went on and on, and it was Christmas on St. Valentine’s Day and Washington’s Birthday, just the same as any day, and it didn’t skip even the First of April, though everything was counterfeit that day, and that was some little relief.

     After a while turkeys got to be awfully scarce, selling for about a thousand dollars apiece. They got to passing off almost anything for turkeys—even half-grown hummingbirds. And cranberries—well they asked a diamond apiece for cranberries. All the woods and orchards were cut down for Christmas trees. After a while they had to make Christmas trees out of rags. But there were plenty of rags, because people got so poor, buying presents for one another, that they couldn’t get any new clothes, and they just wore their old ones to tatters. They got so poor that everybody had to go to the poorhouse, except the confectioners, and the storekeepers, and the book sellers, and they all got so rich and proud that they would hardly wait upon a person when he came to buy. It was perfectly shameful!

     After it had gone on about three or four months, the little girl, whenever she came into the room in the morning and saw those great ugly, lumpy stockings dangling at the fireplace, and the disgusting presents around everywhere, used to sit down and burst out crying. In six months she was perfectly exhausted, she couldn’t even cry anymore.

     And now it was on the Fourth of July! On the Fourth of July, the first boy in the United States woke up and found out that his firecrackers and toy pistol and two-dollar collection of fireworks were nothing but sugar and candy painted up to look like fireworks. Before ten o’clock every boy in the United States discovered that his July Fourth things had turned into Christmas things and was so mad. The Fourth of July orations all turned into Christmas carols, and when anybody tried to read the Declaration of Independence, instead of saying, “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary,” he was sure to sing, “God rest you merry gentlemen.” It was perfectly awful.

     About the beginning of October the little girl took to sitting down on dolls wherever she found them—she hated the sight of them so, and by Thanksgiving she just slammed her presents across the room. By that time people didn’t carry presents around nicely anymore. They flung them over the fence or through the window, and, instead of taking great pains to write “For dear Papa,” or “Mama “ or “Brother,” or “Sister,” they used to write, “Take it, you horrid old thing!” and then go and bang it against the front door.

     Nearly everybody had built barns to hold their presents, but pretty soon the barns overflowed, and then they used to let them lie out in the rain, or anywhere. Sometimes the police used to come and tell them to shovel their presents off the sidewalk or they would arrest them.

     Before Thanksgiving came it had leaked out who had caused all these Christmases. The little girl had suffered so much that she had talked about it in her sleep, and after that hardly anybody would play with her, because if it had not been for her greediness it wouldn’t have happened. And now, when it came Thanksgiving, and she wanted them to go to church, and have turkey, and show their gratitude, they said that all the turkeys had been eaten for her old Christmas dinners and if she would stop the Christmases, they would see about the gratitude. And the very next day the little girl began sending letters to the Christmas Fairy, and then telegrams, to stop it. But it didn’t do any good, and then she got to calling at the Fairy’s house, but the girl that came to the door always said, “Not at home,” or “Engaged,” or something like that, and so it went on till it came to the old once-a-year Christmas Eve. The little girl fell asleep, and when she woke up in the morning—

     “She found it was all nothing but a dream,” suggested the little girl.

     “No indeed!” said her papa. “It was all every bit true!”

     “What did she find out, then?”

     “Why, that it wasn’t Christmas at last, and wasn’t ever going to be, anymore. Now it’s time for breakfast.”

     The little girl held her papa fast around the neck.

     “You shan’t go if you’re going to leave it so!”

     “How do you want it left?”

       “Christmas once a year.”

     “All right,” said her papa, and he went on again.

     Well, with no Christmas ever again, there was the greatest rejoicing all over the country. People met together everywhere and kissed and cried for joy. Carts went around and gathered up all the candy and raisins and nuts, and dumped them into the river, and it made the fish perfectly sick. And the whole United States, as far out as Alaska, was one blaze of bonfires, where the children were burning up their presents of all kinds. They had the greatest time!

     The little girl went to thank the old Fairy because she had stopped its being Christmas, and she said she hoped the Fairy would keep her promise and see that Christmas never, never came again. Then the Fairy frowned, and said that now the little girl was behaving just as greedily as ever, and she’d better look out. This made the little girl think it all over carefully again, and she said she would be willing to have it Christmas about once in a thousand years, and then she said a hundred, and then she said ten, and at last she got down to one. Then the Fairy said that was the good old way that had pleased people ever since Christmas began, and she was agreed. Then the little girl said, “What’re your shoes made of?” And the Fairy said, “Leather.” And the little girl said, “Bargain’s done forever,” and skipped off, and hippity-hopped the whole way home, she was so glad.

     “How will that do?” asked the papa.

     “First-rate!” said the little girl, but she hated to have the story stop, and was rather sober. However, her mama put her head in at the door and asked her papa:

     “Are you never coming to breakfast? What have you been telling that child?”

     “Oh, just a tale with a moral.”

     The little girl caught him around the neck again.

     “We know! Don’t you tell what, papa! Don’t you tell what!”

William Dean Howells (1837—1920) Best known as an editor and critic, this American fiction writer produced more than forty novels and story collections. He challenged American authors to choose American subjects, portray them honestly, and create characters who use native-American speech. As a critic, he helped to introduce writers like Mark Twain, Hamlin Garland, and Stephen Crane to American readers.

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past,

courage for the present, hope for the future.

It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow

with blessings rich and eternal, and that

every path may lead to peace.

Agnes M. Pharo

Scented Applesauce-Cinnamon


3 cups applesauce

3 cups ground cinnamon

     Mix applesauce and cinnamon together until it is thick enough to hold a form. Flatten the mixture on a flat surface and cut into cookie-cutter shapes.

     Place cookie shapes on a cookie sheet to dry for 3 to 4 days depending on the size and thickness of the cookies. If using as a hanging ornament, make a hole with a toothpick before drying.

Makes 15 ornaments.

Chestnut Dressing

8 Tbsp. butter

3 ribs celery with leaves, chopped

16 ounces chestnuts

1 large chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 pound sourdough bread, cubed

3 cups turkey stock

     Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut a deep X into the flattest side of each chestnut and place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until outer skin of chestnut splits. Wrap roasted chestnuts in a towel to keep warm. Peel off the tough outer skin of the chestnut and thinner inner skin with a sharp knife. Chop the chestnuts coarsely and set aside.

     Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Empty skillet contents into a large bowl. Add cubed bread, parsley, and enough stock to moisten the mix, about 2 1/2 cups. Stir in chestnuts and add salt and pepper to taste.

     Use to stuff poultry or place in a buttered baking dish, drizzle with 1/2 cup more stock, and bake 30 minutes to an hour.

Makes 10–11 cups.

Roasted Goose

1 goose, 10–12 pounds

1 orange, halved

kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For giblet stock (used in gravy):

2 onions, quartered

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 pints of water

2 sprigs of sage

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. cornstarch (to thicken)

     The goose should be defrosted and left at room temperature for at least 2 or 3 hours before cooking to bring it to equilibrium. This will improve the overall texture of the finished product. Remove the giblets from the goose and set aside. Wash the bird thoroughly inside and out with cool water and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut away any loose pieces of fat. Then rub the orange inside and outside of the bird. Mix the salt and pepper and rub into the skin and inside the cavity of the bird to season it.

     Preheat the oven to 425°F.

     Truss the bird by folding the wings back under the body. Then tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. Lightly prick the skin of the bird several times with a fork to allow the fat to adequately render during the cooking process. It is important not to pierce the flesh of the bird. Place the goose breast-side up on a rack in the roasting pan, and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes to develop some initial color. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue cooking for approximately 3 hours.

     Make a simple giblet stock to fortify and enrich the gravy while the goose is roasting by placing the giblets in a saucepan with some goose fat and cooking over low heat until browned. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, herbs, and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for about one hour. Strain and cool until needed.

     The goose is done when the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 175°F. For a visual test to see if the goose is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. If the juices run clear, then it is ready. If not, then return to the oven for additional roasting time.

     Once the goose is cooked, allow it to rest for 20–30 minutes. This will allow the meat to firm up and will help retain the juiciness of the bird. Remove all of the drippings from the roasting pan, strain, and remove the fat. Add these defatted drippings to the giblet broth and season to taste. To thicken the gravy, combine 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. of water and add to the gravy. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1–2 minutes or until thickened.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Phillips Brooks

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;

The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,

While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.

O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,

And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;

So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heav’n.

No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,

Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

Where children pure and happy pray to the blessed Child,

Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;

Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,

The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;

Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;

O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

Historical Note:

On Christmas Eve, 1865, Phillips Brooks was in Jerusalem, a trip intended to inspire spiritual rebirth after the horrors of the Civil War. Just a few months earlier, he had spoken at the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln. That clear night as he walked the streets of the Holy City, he had a sudden inspiration. Renting a horse, he set out for Bethlehem. After a solitary journey under the clear night sky, Brooks reached the tiny, remote village and was surrounded by the spirit of the first Christmas. His impoverished soul was refreshed as he considered what had happened there so many years before. Three years later on Christmas Eve, 1868, as he sat alone in his study preparing his sermon for the next day, he felt inspired to pen the words to this beautiful carol.

I, the Lord All-Powerful,

will send my messenger

to prepare the way for me.

Then suddenly the Lord

you are looking for

will appear in his temple.

The messenger you desire

is coming with my promise,

and he is on his way.

(Malachi 3:1, cev)

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Beautiful Christmas Cards with little work for you!

Every year I love figuring out my Christmas cards, and most years I design them myself.  However, this year, since I seem to have my hands so full with the boys and I am in the middle of writing a novel, I thought it might be nice to have someone else do all the work.

I have always had my hesitancy about pre-made card templates, though, because they typically all look the same and don't have any place to add a little annual update letter, which I always like to include.  With all of that in mind, I was very pleasantly surprised by Shutterfly's Folded Christmas Photo Cards!  They actually have a plethora of unique designs with lots of space to write, which is just perfect for our little family!  I am so over joyed to take out so much of the work!

My favorite design is this one.  Or wait- maybe it's this one.  Scratch that- this one is the coolest!  Or... I don't know!  There are so many choices!

While I am over there I just might pick up a couple of their desk calendars as gifts for the grandparents.  These calendars are sweet and, once again, unlike others I've seen, and of course Nana and Grandma would adore them!

We were hoping to be moved by the holidays and through a big winter bash at our new place in the woods, but since that doesn't look like it is happening quite as soon as we thought we might still be able to have our party come January.  If that is the case, I would love to send out some of these cute invitations!

What are you planning for your Christmas Cards this year?

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Prepare for Thanksgiving with Marmee!

This week I wanted to feature some of the wonderful products that my sponsor Marmee sells that can make your Thanksgiving holiday not only easier but genuinely more special!  Since Marmee's products centralize around homemaking, I believe that the holidays are a time of the year when what she has to offer especially shines!
The first, and most obvious, suggestion I have for making your Thanksgiving a little smoother and a little more homemade is.... a BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer of course!  Wouldn't your family be impressed and blessed with homemade rolls, breads and pastries throughout the holiday weekend?

Then, as long as you've got your BOSCH, why not grab some cookie paddles to help whip up some pie crust or even cookies for dessert (and of course you will want to get these stainless steel scoops to make sure all your confections are the same size for even baking!).

Wouldn't this Turnover Dough Press be fun for a nice, light, pre-prepped Thanksgiving morning breakfast of apple turnovers?  It would also be a fast grab if you are going to be headed out the door bright and early the next morning to hit the sales (but wouldn't it be more fun to just hit the sales on your computer in your PJs?!).

How about getting a Bible Journal just to make sure you are keeping your heart thankful and focused on the Lord during this holiday season?  Sounds like a good idea to me!

And finally, wouldn't this neat Family Recipe Keeper be nice to put all your holiday recipes in and build on over the years to pass on to your children someday (and keep you nice and ready for the holidays all the years in between!).

Get your orders in soon so you can be sure to be all ready when November 25 rolls around- it's coming fast than any of us think!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!