Valentine’s Candy Trees

Valentine'sCandyTrees
Valentine’s may not typically be an occasion that you decorate for, but these Valentine’s Candy Trees are so fun and easy to make!  Little helpers can sort and beg for “just one more,” too!

I’ve posted a Conversation Heart Tree on the blog before, but sadly, he did not survive the move in one piece.  In addition to the conversation hearts, we decided to make a couple more with other candy, and we love how they turned out!  
Valentine'sCandyTrees3
Lainey and I worked on this Conversation Heart Tree over the Christmas break when it was bitterly cold and dreary outside.
Valentine'sCandyTrees1
Browse through the Valentine’s aisle at any store, and you will find so many possibilities for these adorable trees!

Valentine’s Candy Trees

Supplies:
White styrofoam cones, varying sizes.
Hot glue gun/hot glue
Assorted candy (shown are conversation hearts, gummy hearts, and peppermint marshmallows)
Ribbons (optional for top of trees)

Starting at the bottom of the cone, place a dab of hot glue on the cone and begin to arrange the candies in rows.  Lainey helped me sort the conversation hearts into colors, making it easy to grab the color needed to keep a pattern going:).  We did find that putting the glue on the cone instead of the candy worked best.

Tie small bows, if desired, and glue to the tops of the trees.
Valentine'sCandyTrees2
**Update to post: Lots of questions raised about storing these guys! I have been making these for Christmas and Valentines for years, reusing them year after year.  They are wrapped in bubble wrap and stored in big plastic storage tubs with tops.  The only tree that has needed replacing is the marshmallow one due to drying out.  Hope this helps!

Click HERE for other Valentine’s Day decorating ideas!
Valentine'sCandyTrees
Linking to:
Artsy-Fartsy Link Party, Catch as Catch Can, Tidy Mom, Craft Frenzy Friday, Freedom Fridays, The Pin Junkie, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Serenity Now, Diana Rambles, Lady Behind the Curtain, The Freshman Cook, Flamingo Toes, I Should Be Mopping the Floor, Naptime Creations

Pom Pom Heart Wreath

Pom Pom Heart Wreath
Valentine’s Day is more than a month away, but these cold, dreary days of January are perfect for making a few easy Valentine’s projects while you stay warm inside! Also, January gives you plenty of time to shop for supplies if you decide to make this adorable wreath!

This is an easy project for kids to “help” with, too!

Supplies:
Styrofoam heart wreath form (Michael’s or Hobby Lobby)
4 packages Valentine’s pom poms (The Dollar Tree)
Hot glue gun/glue sticks
Fishing line or ribbon
Pom Pom Heart Wreath 2
Glue pom poms all over wreath form, except for the back, as shown below.  You can fill out the entire wreath form, but I wanted to ensure the heart would stay flush against the door.
DSC_0081
Tie a piece of fishing line or ribbon around the top of the heart for hanging.  Fishing line you can simply tie around the top of the wreath. Ribbon probably needs to be pinned into the foam in the back to form a loop for hanging.
Pom Pom Heart Wreath

Linking to:
Tidy Mom, Weekend Bloggy Reading, Artsy-Fartsy Link Party, Catch as Catch Can, Craft Frenzy Friday, The Pin Junkie, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Diana Rambles, Lady Behind the Curtain, Flamingo Toes, I Should Be Mopping the Floor, Naptime Creations

What’s Christmas Without a Hissy Fit?

WhatsChristmasWithoutaHissyFit
It’s Christmas Eve morning here in Mississippi.  The pinnacle of the days leading up to Christmas.  Christmas week is always special, yet there is a bit of little girl left in me that longs for these “magical” days to feel the same as they did when I was 7.  But lo, we grow up. Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and even real-life people lead us to believe that Christmastime (and life in general) can be right up close to perfect if we had that house or this job or those kids or that spouse or these talents or gifts.  Liars. Christmastime can be a pressure-cooker for “creating the magic, making lasting family memories, and setting the perfect Pinterest table.”  Jesus gets thrown out with the bath water.

Our memory-making family time got interrupted pretty abruptly last night. We loaded up to go look at Christmas lights around Oxford.  Fun, Instagram-photo-opp, obligatory Christmas activity.  20 minutes in, we had stopped the car in the Tri-Delt House parking lot, taken away all electronics from the kids til they graduate, and sufficiently ruined any magical, memory-making mood we’d dreamed of an hour earlier.  Christmas Hissy Fit begins. Pulling into the driveway, slamming car doors for good measure, I felt defeated, frustrated, and like a fraud. Indeed, without Him, I am all of those things. But Christ…

I read the following just yesterday. It is out of Paul Miller’s A Praying Life and quotes John of Landsburg’s (a sixteenth-century Catholic monk), “A Letter from Jesus Christ.”  He is imagining Christ speaking personally to us:

I know those moods when you sit there utterly alone, pining, eaten up with unhappiness, in a pure state of grief.  You don’t move towards me but desperately imagine that everything you have ever done has been utterly lost and forgotten.  This near-despair and self-pity are actually a form of pride.  What you think was a state of absolute security from which you’ve fallen was really trusting too much in your own strength and ability…what really ails you is that things simply haven’t happened as you expected and wanted.

     In fact I don’t want you to rely on your own strength and abilities and plans, but to distrust them and to distrust yourself, and to trust me and no one and nothing else.  As long as you rely entirely on yourself, you are bound to come to grief.  You still have a most important lesson to learn: your own strength will no more help you to stand upright than propping yourself on a broken reed.  You must not despair of me.  You may hope and trust in me absolutely.  My mercy is infinite.”

Christ’s Truth endures the centuries and was the same for a Catholic monk in the 1400’s and a Mississippi mom in 2014.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  The reason we celebrate Christmas is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God’s mercy and love and grace and pursuit of us is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  What a relief.

As I write this post, the phrase “Not I, but Christ” floods my mind over and over. I googled it to make sure I wasn’t just making it up.  It’s from Galations 2:20. (Don’t you love how when His Truth is buried so deep in our souls that it just appears out of nowhere when we need it most?) I stumbled upon a beautiful hymn, and again, voices from long ago couldn’t say it better. Written in 1891 by a woman named Ada Whiddington.  I wonder what life circumstances led her to pen the very words that I can relate to perfectly 125 years later, raising kids and living a comfortable suburban life in Oxford, Mississippi.  The heart cries of all who love Jesus are the very same yesterday, today, and forever.

Not I, but Christ, be honored, loved, exalted;
Not I, but Christ, be seen be known, be heard;
Not I, but Christ, in every look and action,
Not I, but Christ, in every thought and word.

O to be saved from myself, dear Lord,
O to be lost in Thee,
O that it might be no more I,
But Christ, that lives in me.

Not I, but Christ, to gently soothe in sorrow,
Not I, but Christ, to wipe the falling tear;
Not I, but Christ, to lift the weary burden,
Not I, but Christ, to hush away all fear.

Not I, but Christ, in lowly silent labor;
Not I, but Christ, in humble, earnest toil;
Christ, only Christ! No show, no ostentation;
Christ, none but Christ, the gath’rer of the spoil.

Christ, only Christ! no idle words e’er falling,
Christ, only Christ; no needless bustling sound;
Christ, only Christ; no self important bearing;
Christ, only Christ; no trace of I be found.

Not I, but Christ, my every need supplying,
Not I, but Christ, my strength and health to be;
Not I, but Christ, for body, soul, and spirit,
Christ, only Christ, here and eternally.

Christ, only Christ, ere long will fill my vision;
Glory excelling soon, full soon I’ll see—
Christ, only Christ, my every wish fulfilling—
Christ, only Christ, my all in all to be.

Merry Christmas, friends.  I pray for my readers, I really do.  For whatever place you find yourself in this Christmas, I pray you will lean in to the One who we can trust and put our hope in.

Christmas Recipe Ideas!

Merry Christmas week!  If you are like me, you may feel like Christmas snuck up on you this year and blink! Exams are done, kids are home, and Santa Claus is loading his sleigh!

After a Thanksgiving table blowout, mom and I vowed that our Christmas lunch should be simple…at least simple-er.  If you are putting your final grocery list together and are still wondering “what to fix” or “what to take,” browse through this list of tried-and-true favorites and add the ingredients to your list!  There are just a few listed here, but be sure to browse the pull-down categories on my homepage for even more great recipes!

Here are a few of our Appetizer favorites…

Hot Bacon and Swiss Dip
Hot Bacon Swiss Dip

Marinated Cheese
Marinated Cheese

Seasoned Oyster Crackers (These also make wonderful happies for neighbors, and they are quick and easy to make!)
SeasonedOysterCrackersMain

Cream Cheese Sausage Balls
CreamCheeseSausageBallsMain

If you are looking for a new side dish or two, I promise these will be a favorite at your table!

Green Bean Bundles
Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans

Shoepeg Corn Casserole
ShoepegCornCass

Or perhaps you want a little something different for Christmas Eve Dinner!  These three ideas are always a hit!

Shrimp and Grits Casserole
Shrimp and Grits

Cheese Soup
Cheese Soup

White Bean Chicken Chili
white bean chicken chili
And last but not least…Dessert.  Most of us have traditional pies that have been at our table for years, but maybe you want to throw a little something different in the mix! Here are some ideas:

Chocolate Chip Pie
Chocolate Chip Pie

Double Chocolate Mocha Trifle
DoubleChocolateMochaTrifle

Almond Torte
almond torte

Minnie’s Chocolate Pie (from the movie “The Help”)
DSC_0031-001

Be sure to let me know if you give any of these recipes a try!  Merry Christmas to you and yours as we celebrate God’s gift of Jesus to the world.

Love,
Amanda