Handprint Menorah Craft

When I was interviewing an interfaith family this week, the mother told me her son had made a menorah out of handprints at his preschool. I thought that was such a cute idea. It was definitely something I wanted to do for my in-laws, who are Jewish.

So, today on our way home from my sister-in-law’s house, we stopped by Hobby Lobby and grabbed some supplies. We spent around $10 after two 40% off coupons for two canvases (two pack for $3.99), 2 bottles of paint and a pack of brushes. I didn’t realize the yellow paint was more expensive but, I figure we’ll be able to use the paint and brushes for many, many other projects, so spending $10 isn’t too bad.

Lucy was psyched to paint. She talked about this the whole way home. Thankfully, it was only about a 10 minute drive. 🙂 After we cleared a space on the table, we put down some paper towels and got to work. The first step was to paint her hands. Rather than painting both and then putting them both down at the same time, we did them one at a time. I think that was much easier for a toddler. Mom tip of the day. You’re welcome.

We put her left hand down first and then the right, putting her right thumb on top of the print from her left thumb, which made a candle holder for the middle menorah candle.

While Joe washed Lucy’s hands, I painted the base for the menorah. It was fairly simple, which is saying something coming from someone who has no artistic abilities whatsoever. I just painted a line from one hand to the other, then added a thick base. Then, Joe and Lucy added the flames.

Want to see the finished product??


Seriously, how cute is that?? And the best part is that it only took about 10 minutes to make! I have plans now for a Christmas-themed painting, which we’ll do when Lucy gets back from her trip with the grandparents this weekend. Can’t wait!

Holiday Traditions

When I was a child, my family had quite a few Christmas traditions. When we lived in Maryland, there was a house we would drive by every year because the homeowners had a HUGE tree that they decorated.

After we moved to Tennessee, we started going to our church’s musical Christmas eve service, which is one of my favorites. We also had an Advent calendar, and my brothers and I would take turns hanging decorations on it every day leading up to Christmas.

We also have traditional meals that my parents still make. On Christmas eve, my parents make a huge pot of Chow Mein and a fruit salad and, after eating, we move into the living room where my late grandfather would read the Christmas story before we all opened presents (yes, we open our presents on Christmas eve). On Christmas day, we have the same meal we have for Thanksgiving – vegetarian turkey slices and stuffing, mashed potatoes, broccoli and corn casserole, etc – and I look forward to that meal all year!

Now that I have my own little family and that Lucy is old enough to really understand things like traditions, we’re starting to figure out what we want to do with her. I’m lucky enough that, even though Joe is Jewish, he is very hands-on and participates in all our Christmas activities with us. I hope he knows how much that means to me.

Here are some traditions that we do/are doing:

24 Nights of Christmas Books


I saw another blogger post about this and thought it was such a fun idea that I wanted to do it with Lucy. I bought 24 Christmas books, and every night she opens one. She LOVES it. She will ask numerous times a day if it’s time to open her book. It’s so much fun to see how excited she gets. I hope her love for reading deepens.

Family Ornament


This is a tradition that Joe and I started our first year as a married couple. Every year, we get an ornament that symbolizes our family or something big that happened to us over the year. The first year, we got a frame ornament with the date and put our wedding picture in it. The next year, we got a house to symbolize buying our first house. In 2009, we purchased an ornament to represent Lucy, the newest addition to our family. It’s so much fun to do this every year and to explain the meaning behind each of the ornaments to Lucy as we decorate our tree.

Cutting Down a Christmas Tree
Last year, we cut down our own Christmas tree for the first time at a local tree farm. It was much easier than we expected, and the trees they grow are Leyland Cypress – trees that don’t shed. That along with the fun we had picking out a tree and having Joe cut it down sold us on the idea of doing this every year. It’s so much more fun than heading to Lowe’s or Home Depot to get a tree.

Advent Calendar
I love Advent calendars, and from the beginning, this was one thing I wanted to do every year. We have one that we hang on our wall to mark each night before Christmas, and last year I got Lucy one with which she would open a door every night and get a piece of chocolate. It’s such a fun way to count down to Christmas.

Giving Gifts to Children in Need/Adopting a Child


When I was in elementary school, my family would adopt a family every year and provide them with Christmas gifts. It’s one thing that has always stood out in my mind and something that I enjoyed even as a child. And, it’s something I want to do with Lucy to remind her that it’s better to give than to receive. We were initially going to buy a gift and donate it to the United Way but tonight at our Kiwanis Club Christmas Party, we saw a tree filled with angels representing children who need someone to adopt them for Christmas. So, we picked one for this year. I am SO excited to shop for him and to help make this a Merry Christmas for another child.

Visiting the Santa House


Did you know that Santa actually lives in Georgia?? Well, he does, and his house isn’t far from here, so we took Lucy last year. He and Mrs. Claus have put up thousands of lights on their property, and it’s fun to go see them all. While we’re there, we visit with Mrs. Claus and see Santa (three years into this parenting thing and my kid STILL doesn’t like Santa). The best thing is, it’s all free. It’s such a fun thing to do, and it’s something we look forward to doing every year.

Other things we have done or would like to do include driving around to look at Christmas lights, riding the Santa train in Blue Ridge and watching Christmas movies.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

I’m linking up with Growing up Geeky.

The Thanksgiving Curse

So, Thanksgiving. Yeah. It probably ranks up there with all the other holidays I would love to forget. Which would be every other Thanksgiving when we’re scheduled to go to Joe’s parents’.

You see, we’re cursed when it comes to the Thanksgivings we spend with his family. Every time, we either get sick at his parents’ cabin or we are blessed enough to get sick before we go. Two years ago, Joe and Lucy were sick before the holiday, and I came down with what they had on Thanksgiving, spending the night throwing up with my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law watching. Yeah. It was as much fun as it sounds.

This year, as I’ve already told you in great detail, Lucy came down with the croup on Wednesday. We decided we’d wait to head to the mountains on Friday so she would have had the antibiotic in her system for 48 hours and wouldn’t be contagious. We had a really nice day with just our little family. We took Lucy to our town’s BRAND NEW Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast.

And, we watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (some of us, in a box).

Then Joe and I made lunch while Lucy played outside with the neighborhood kids.

But, then…THEN, I got sick Thanksgiving night. As in, I thought I was going to die sick. I am not even exaggerating. My temperature got up to almost 101 degrees, and fluctuated between that and 99.9 all night. I had chills. My body ached and my skin hurt. My throat hurt. I was miserable.

The next day, I was feeling OK, so Joe and Lucy headed to the cabin while I stayed home. My fever was down to 98.8. I was on the mend. Insert laughter here. I was so naive. That afternoon, my temperature spiked back up to 100.9, so I headed to our local urgent care facility. There was a four hour wait. FOUR HOURS. So, I headed to the next closest one. I was in a room in 20 minutes and, though my flu test came back negative, the doctor said it’s only 70 percent accurate, so gave me a prescription for Tamiflu. I also got an antibiotic because my white cell count was high, indicating an infection.

The next day, well, I didn’t feel like death anymore, so I consider that improvement, and I’ve continually gotten better since. Hooray.

So, that was our Thanksgiving. I wonder what will happen two years from now to keep us from the mountains.

Meatless Monday: Thanksgiving ‘Turkey’ Roll Up

Today, I’m linking up with Lamberts Lately.

My family has several dishes that we always eat for Thanksgiving and Christmas (yes, we eat the same meal for both holidays because it’s just THAT GOOD). Among those are “turkey” roll ups, wild rice with vegetarian turkey and broccoli cheese and corn casserole. Today, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m going to tell you about this great “turkey” roll up dish my mom makes with vegetarian turkey slices and stuffing. It is SO good, and she always makes a ton so we have a lot of leftovers.

This dish is really easy to make. We used to use canned vegetarian turkey slices by Worthington, but those have been discontinued. Now, we use Worthington’s frozenSmoked Turkey Roll. Make the stuffing according to the directions. Slice the vegetarian turkey, put stuffing in the middle, and roll up the sides so it makes a “U” shape.

Pour either vegetable broth or the juice from a can of Fri Chick over to keep moist while baking and add cheese on top if you like. Then, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it’s warmed well. If you add cheese, bake it until the cheese melts.

I’ll be sharing some other holiday recipes over the next few weeks. What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving vegetarian recipes? Share with us in the comments!

Worthington Smoked Turkey roll
Stove Top stuffing
Vegetable broth/Fri Chick juice

1. Make the stuffing according to the directions.

2. Slice the vegetarian turkey, put stuffing in the middle, and roll up the sides so it makes a “U” shape.

3. Pour either vegetable broth or the juice from a can of Fri Chick over to keep moist while baking and add cheese on top if you like.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it’s warmed well. If you add cheese, bake it until the cheese melts.

Let Me See That Tootsie Roll

We had a fabulous Halloween, and my little Tootsie Roll stole the show at every event. As I mentioned before, she won second place at this year’s Kiddie Day Parade, which she was SUPER excited about.


Then, there was the costume contest at our favorite Mexican place. There were 5-6 kids in the contest, and before the judging began, Lucy won over the audience by dancing along to the karaoke singers. So, it was no surprise that she won the contest by an overwhelming vote. It wasn’t close and, really, it wasn’t fair to the other kids. I mean, just look at the cuteness! Apparently, one of the older girls wasn’t happy that Lucy won, as you can see in the third photo. I didn’t realize that until now. Oh well. That’s what happens when you compete against an adorable toddler!





On Halloween, Joe left work early, and we took Lucy downtown for the annual Trick or Treat event. This may have been the last year for it so, even though I was only two days past surgery, I made a point to be there.








After downtown Trick or Treat, we stopped by Publix (where they always give out candy and have a little “haunted house”; unfortunately, they were working on the “haunted house” when we arrived so Lucy just got some candy) and then went to Chili’s for dinner to take advantage of our Kids Eat Free coupon. We normally go through the entire Publix strip mall, but I just wasn’t feeling up to it this year.

By the end of dinner, I was feeling pretty awful, so I went home to rest. Since we don’t live in a neighborhood with many houses for Trick or Treating, Joe took Lucy to a Trunk or Treat event at a local church and said that she had a blast.






When Lucy got home, she had to check out her loot.



She hasn’t eaten any of it. She doesn’t want to. She just wants to sit and look at it. She’s weird. And, of course, her attitude toward it doesn’t make it fun for us to eat for her. I did eat a mini bag of M&Ms, and she flipped out when she saw the bag I forgot to throw out. She still brings it to me and gives me her sad eyes. Nothing like a little Mom guilt.

Now, I can’t wait until next year. I’m already thinking about what Lucy will be. Maybe Strawberry Shortcake!

Father’s Day Recap

We had a BUSY Father’s Day weekend, spending a good bit of it in the car driving to visit both sides of the family.

We started off by heading to my parents’ house on Saturday for lunch. My brothers and nephews were there, and we had a great time, despite the fact that we were sad that it was the first Father’s Day without my grandpa. Hopefully all the laughter from the kids took my Dad’s mind off that for a little bit.

Lucy had SO much fun running around with her cousins. She even ran faster than them, and Joe was proud of her for beating two boys, one of whom is almost 5! We brought a train set we bought Lucy at a yard sale (for $5!), and Harrison really wanted to play with it. So, he sent Lucy in to tell Joe that she wanted to play with it. Of course, we saw Harrison’s little head peeking around the corner watching her. Lol. I just wish we had gotten some pictures of them.

After lunch, we headed through the mountains to the in-laws’ cabin. When we were pulling in, Joe’s mom was leaving to drop some things off at a friend’s house. Lucy lost her little mind, crying for Grandma to come back. Lol.

The girls had spaghetti for dinner, which was fun. We probably should have fed them BEFORE their baths!

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After we hung out on the deck (and the adults ate dinner), we took a walk. Joe and I were really proud of the girls for making it up the steep hill.

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Then, we made popcorn — one of Lucy’s favorite things. Joe’s parents buy Jiffy Pop, and Lucy loves watching it pop on the stove.


When we woke up Sunday morning, there was no power! Apparently, there was a major power outage throughout the city. Luckily, it came back on within an hour, of when I got up, that is! We had a lazy morning before my little family headed out to go home.

We stopped at Pizza Hut on the way — Daddy’s choice — and were enjoying our meal together until a group of obnoxiously loud teenagers came in. Joe says I’m being the “crotchety old lady”, but they were so loud, I couldn’t even hear Lucy when she was screaming. Everyone else in the restaurant was staring at them. Rude.

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When we got back into town, we decided to go to TCBY since there was a discount for Father’s Day. There are three frozen yogurt places in town, and Lucy pointed in the direction of the one near the Interstate. We told her we were going to a different one, and when we drove past the one located in the downtown area, she pointed wildly and said, “Here it is! Here it is!” When we drove past, she started to cry hysterically and said, “Iiiiiccccee creeeeeaaam!” We totally didn’t think that we were going to be driving by one. We told her we were going to the OTHER one, and she brightened back up when we pulled into the parking lot. Crisis averted.

It was a nice, family-filled weekend, which is what you want for a holiday like Father’s Day.