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It is that fun time of year when I get to cook Christmas food and using my Christmas bowls adds to the festive feeling.
The photo above shows my preparation to try out a new idea! I had been reading an article about gingerbread french toast on a blog called Vegging at the Shore. I loved the idea because I love french toast. As I thought about it, I wondered if it wouldn't be delicious to make the french toast out of real gingerbread. Then, to take it a step further, how about Pumpkin Gingerbread, since I had some pumpkin in my fridge? So, I went to Pinterest and searched for a recipe for Pumpkin Gingerbread and of course, I found many recipes. I settled on this one from Simply Recipes. It came out beautifully!
The recipe calls for raisins, but you can easily leave them out. Also, if you would rather use regular gingerbread instead of pumpkin gingerbread for the French Toast, that would probably taste great, too.
After I made the bread, I started wondering about what to serve it with. I love just butter and powdered sugar on my regular french toast, but I wanted to make this a little more special. I remembered that when I was a kid and my mom made us gingerbread, she would serve it with what she called "Lemon Hard Sauce." I don't know why it was called hard sauce, there was no alcohol in it. But, it was delicious over gingerbread and other cakes, so I decided that is what I would make to go over this french toast instead of a maple syrup.
Do you have one of these lemon squeezing gadgets? My son-in-law introduced me to them. I love it.
Here is the recipe for the lemon sauce. It is super easy. Kind of like a lemon curd when it cools, but I made it before I made the french toast and kept it warm to serve.
This recipe makes quite a bit, so if you have left-overs, store the sauce in a jar in the fridge for a couple of weeks and use it like a jam on toast or English muffins.
Once the lemon sauce it made, start making the french toast. I made my regular egg mixture, but added spices to it like cinnamon and ginger. Or, you could use the recipe that Marci gave on her original recipe.
Slice your bread, and carefully dip it into the batter and fry on a hot griddle. (I like my cast iron, like this one.) The bread is kind of tender, so be gentle.
Here is how I served it: I still love the idea of powdered sugar and butter, so I put that on first. Then, I spooned the lemon sauce over it all.
I think that this would be such a festive breakfast to serve on Christmas Eve morning. I love Christmas Eve, the anticipation is so high and it is fun to eat a breakfast that totally speaks of the holiday, to listen to holiday music, watch your favorite Christmas movies one last time, to look at the lights on the tree, whisper your secret surprises, read some special Christmas books, and make the day magical for your kids. To make that day happen, you have to plan ahead! You could always make the bread now and freeze it!
Remember to save your leftover lemon sauce to use later.
If you have any bread left, they are great the next day together, not even as french toast!
If you love French Toast as much as I do, you will love this recipe! Whether you serve it on Christmas Eve, or anytime, I hope you enjoy it.
I tried out a new roll recipe for Thanksgiving. It didn't turn out so well. Of all of the delicious food we ate at our feast, the rolls were not one of them. Sorry family. (My son says, "Mom! Just stick to the old family recipes!" I like to experiment, but in this case he was right.) After a few days of trying to choke these dry things down, I decided that rather than let them go to waste I would try making a bread pudding with them. Success at last!
I hadn't eaten or made bread pudding in a long time. But, we are finally getting weather down into the 50s here in Phoenix, so this warm comfort food really hit the spot. I had other things going on in the oven, so I decided to make the bread pudding in the Crock Pot. Here is an overview of what I did and then you can push the button for the printable recipe.
Now, you just serve it up. My raisins had sunk down to the bottom a bit, but that gave the pudding a nice warm sauce. The raisins were juicy and delicious, so give it a try if you like raisins.
Oh wait! We also have left over Cool Whip that we had better use up! Don't you just love the leftovers from Thanksgiving?
Now that is what I call turning lemons into lemonade! I hope you enjoy it! Here are a few of my favorite finds on Amazon.
Last night we finished decorating our tree. Here is the new view in front of the drapes I showed you how to make. I am so in love with the look.
Our tree may not be a designer tree, but it has meaningful ornaments that we love. Our children have their own ornament collections that we started for them from the time they were babies at their first Christmas. When they move out of our house and start their own homes, they take their ornaments with them so that they have a start on their own tree. They usually receive ornaments that have special meaning to the events in their lives during the past year. I gave Maddy and Jake theirs last night as we decorated the tree so that they could go ahead and use them this year. I picked these up at Hobby Lobby when everything was 50% off.
Many of the ornaments have been a part of our tree for years, and even though they may be getting a little worse for wear I wouldn't part with them. Take a look at our tree topper angel.
Back in the 80's, when we were really broke and our older kids were little, we used to get real trees. We were out searching for the perfect tree, and we found it! It was tall and shaped perfectly, but it was marked down to $10 (just in our budget) because the top was very crooked. We took it, and I went home and made this angel from a wooden spoon and some eyelet that I had in my stash. Her long skirt hid the crooked part of the tree perfectly and that was one of the most beautiful trees we had ever had. Since that time we have almost always used this angel. We tried something else a time or two, when my less sentimental children wanted a more traditional topper, but I always come back to this one.
Early in our marriage, my husband was in the Army and we lived in Germany for two years. Germany is Christmas heaven. We collected some beautiful Christmas ornaments while there. Here are a couple:
Of course, there have been a lot of homemade ornaments over the years. Here are some of my favorites.
An easy way to get your kids involved in creating some nice ornaments is to get some of the adorable kits that are available to consumers. That way you get everything you need all at once, you can personalize the ornaments and you can get kits that have enough for everyone, and even some to make as gifts. Since today is Cyber Monday, there are some great deals for you. Look at these cutegingerbread men, only $4. 98 for a dozen! Here is a nativity kit, $5. 98 per dozen. I love buttons, and I fell in love with this littlebutton wreath ornament. Since these kits come in packs of a dozen, they are perfect for families who do ornament exchanges with extended family. All 3 of these are at Oriental Trading. If you sign up for their email, you will always be getting special offers, such as free shipping on any order.
Here are some paint-your-own ornament kits from Dollar Tree that you can order on-line if you want a lot of them, or you can buy them in the store for a dollar a piece.
Some of the ornaments that my kids cherish are their Baby's First Christmas ornaments. Because of gifts from other people, they often have more than one.
Here are a couple of cute ones you might like!
Today on Amazon, the Winnie the Pooh one is only $8. 95!
My husband is a postal worker, so a number of the ornaments on our tree depict his occupation in a cute way.
We also love our hand painted ornaments that we have received as gifts over the years.
Last but not least, I love the ornaments that we have that depict the birth of the Savior. Here are just a couple.
I keep on the look-out every year to add to my nativity ornament collection. Here are a couple I have found. Today would be a good day to order them.
One last thing., Tree Skirts. Can you see mine below the tree?
It is quilted with appliqued apples on it and a big ruffle. Very country style. I love it, and I worked hard on it, so I am reluctant to change it out. But, today Minted has 20% off of everything for Cyber Monday, and they have some beautiful tree skirts if you are in the market for one. Look here at this link, there are a number of beautiful choices.
Ornaments and Christmas decor are so much fun for me. It is hard to know when to stop. Every year as our collection gets larger, I have to pick and choose which ornaments to use. I just need a bigger house so that I can have more than one tree! I would love themed trees and different styles, just for the fun of decorating them. (I just won't think about the undecorating after Christmas.) So, with that I will leave you with a small slide show of a few more ornaments I haven't shown you yet! Do you have some favorite ornaments? Tell me all about them!
Reading to my children has always been one of the things I have loved doing. I began to read to them when they were babies. Now, I love reading to my grandchildren. Because I love to read, I want them to feel that same love and enjoyment. Reading expands their horizons and develops their imaginations. In my opinion, books are one of the best gifts a person can give or receive. We always made sure that as part of our children's Christmas, they received books. Over the years we have acquired quite a collection of children's books, and as a sub-category of that collection, there are the Christmas books!
In yesterday's post, one of the ideas I shared was about wrapping up 24 books and opening one each night to read as a countdown to Christmas Eve. Finding 24 Christmas books was no problem for me. So many of them are dear to me and my children. When I mentioned writing this post about good Christmas books for kids, mine all had suggestions of their favorites, and a couple make everyone's list.
Instead of opening a book a night, you could always read a chapter a night. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson is our top pick for a family read together during the holidays. When I was in college and my roommate, Debbie, took a Children's Lit class, she introduced me to this wonderful story. It is hilarious and poignant all at the same time. It teaches us that the story of Christ's birth can touch everyone who hears it. The problem is , you may not be able to stop at one chapter per night!
Lindsey reminded me to include I Believe In Santa Claus. A lot of people have trouble reconciling believing in Santa and focusing on Jesus. I never had any problem with it. I believed in Santa as a child and I have a deep love for Jesus Christ. I never felt like my parents had lied to me, but that they were using Santa to give to me anonymously out of love. When we found out about Santa, it didn't ruin anything for me, (or for my kids) because then we got to share the magic with our younger family members. This book covers the symbols of Christmas and how they point towards Christ. It is beautifully done and will perhaps help some of you who question the practice. It doesn't destroy the tradition for little ones either, but it reminds them that Santa Claus can help them to remember Jesus Christ. It is written by Diane G. Adamson.
The Berenstain Bears have numerous Christmas stories in their line-up. They all teach great values that kids should learn. Kids love the stories! They are very good to read aloud and discuss.
This book, Room for a Little One, tells the Christmas story from the animals point of view. It is written by Martin Waddell and has beautiful illustrations by Jason Crockcroft.
Bear Stays Up For Christmas is a cute story about forest animals keeping their bear friend awake for Christmas since he has always missed it because of hibernation. Karma Williams and illustrator Jane Chapman did an adorable job on this one.
A great book to get the imagination working. The Polar Express adds to the magic of Christmas. You may have seen the movie, but read the book.
I had to include Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas.. This is a great story to memorize, and I am a strong believer in the benefits of memorization. By the time my oldest son was 3 years old, he could recite this story by heart. This is all about the magic of Christmas!
Jan Brett is one of my favorite author/illustrators. Above are some of our favorites from her myriad of Christmas themed books. They are so beautiful and make beautiful gifts. Another perk is that Jan Brett has a website with lots of activities and teaching ideas to use with your children! Look at these cute printable cards. And, here is an advent calendar to print and make. You should really check it out!
My dear friend Ruth, who used to be a school librarian, introduced me to this beautiful story, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey. It is a touching story of a wood carver who is taught to have hope again by a little boy and his mother. Madalynn says it always makes her cry in the beginning because it seems so sad, and the end also brings tears of happiness. The best way I can describe it is that Jonathan is redeemed from his sadness. I can barely type the author's name, Susan Wojciechowski, has written a beautiful story and the illustrations are gorgeous, by P. J. Lynch.
This is a beautiful story told by Thomas S. Monson. A Christmas Dress For Ellen tells the story of a family living on the prairie of Alberta, Canada who has fallen on hard times. Ellen, the oldest of their 5 children has given up hope of there being any Christmas miracles. But, the love of family and friends provides the miracle that they need. It is a sweet story and the beautiful illustrations are by Ben Sowards.
For those who love Laura Ingalls Wilder, here is a great collection of Christmas stories from that saga. There are other choices from her writings as well, they are all equally heart warming.
I am going to force myself to stop here. There is only one more story that I would add, and that is the true story of Christmas found in Luke chapter 2 of the New Testament. When I asked my son Tyler what his favorite Christmas story is, he said, "The one in Luke." I had to concur. It is a story to read more than just once a year, but all year through.
I hope these suggestions give you a start on adding to your Christmas book collection. Remember to take the time away from the hustle and bustle of the season to read and snuggle with your children and focus on what is important.
The picture above was taken by Aww Snaps! She will be at The Ugly Sweater Express on Dec. 3 with great prices on family photos!
This gallery of Alicia reading with her little 21 month old was photographed by her husband. This little guy is loving his Daniel Tiger Christmas book He is definitely a prodigy.
I hope that you will give some of these books a try. Let us know some of your favorites! We would love to try them. You can never have enough books.
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!