How to Make a Christmas Wreath (or really any kind of wreath)

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Merry Christmas to you all! Here we are smack dab in the middle of the Holiday season and I’m just now getting this tutorial to you. Sorry for my absence, to say that the Holidays have been busy would be an understatement. But I’m so happy to be back on here, with my coffee by my side, writing to you all!

Now for this wreath. Once I learned how to make wreaths from my lovely friend Abby, I have never looked back. Wreaths can be astronomically expensive! My goodness, that money could go to groceries for heavens sake. I will add, there is something really therapeutic about making wreaths. Searching for just the right clippings and hunting in my back yard is fun (maybe not the part where I slipped down the hill and almost seriously ate it!)  But this is a very enjoyable activity.

Step 1

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Here are the tools you’ll need. Not included in this picture are some sort of sheers for clipping your pine branches or whatever it is you’re using. Get some good wire clippers, some green wire and a metal wreath frame. You can find these materials at Walmart and sometimes I’ve scored them at the Dollar Store.

Step 2

Cut your clippings into lengths where you can bunch them. You might need gloves for this part. The holly is beautiful, but ouch!

Step 3

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Save yourself time, by cutting lots of wire at long lengths so that you when you get a bundle of branches together, you can quickly grab the right length of wire and wrap your bunches.

You’re going to want to make several bunches that look like this…

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You may even score with special branches that have their own charm and beauty. This is my score..

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Also, you can add whatever extras you’d like. I usually get something red, gold, glittery, shiny from the Dollar Store. But the goal is not spending crazy amounts of money, so use judgement. I included fake red berries and red poinsettias in mine.

Step 4

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Start wrapping your first bundle with wire around the wreath frame. Wrap it a few times to make sure it’s not going anywhere. You’re going to stagger your next bundle and keep wrapping.

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Keep adding each bundle and wrapping with metal wire until you have made it all the way around.IMG-0234

You can give the wreath a few safety wraps to make sure it’s not going anywhere, but that’s it. Very easy, simple, inexpensive and oh so lovely!

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I’m praying that this Season is a blessed one for your family. That you grow in Christ, and look to Him for your every breath, your every word, your every hope.

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Love, Mama J.

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Slowing Down for Summer

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery. Air, mountains, tree, people. I thought: this is what it is to be happy.”

I promise I’m not gone forever, just enjoying the slower pace of Summer, the camping trips, the Poolside sunburns, watermelon dripping down my chin, the smell of campfire in my clothing, the taste of s’mores still in my mouth. I have come to adore Summer (something I never did living elsewhere, but PNW summers are blissful!)

And though I have a head full of topics and posts, I’m waiting til school loops back around and we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming to post more. For now though, here are some recent pictures of our camping trip to Dworshak Reservoir!

A Prayer for Myself

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“Lord…

That Christ would increase my patience and decrease my irritability.

That Christ would increase my self control and decrease my anger.

That Christ would increase my love, gentleness, and kindness and decrease my selfishness and self centeredness.

That my hands, thoughts, words and actions would not be idle or foolish, but fruitful, profitable and glorifying to God.

That Christ would increase my wisdom and decrease my foolishness.

That I would be kind, warm, tender, and gentle even when everyone around me is not.

That Christ would increase my thankfulness and decrease my bitterness. That forgiveness would reign.

That I would be filled with Christ’s beauty, joy, laughter, gladness and peace.

Make me a woman of Prayer and of Your Word.

Amen.”

Breakfasts for Busy Moms

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The School year is winding down, but it’s not done yet! Here are some breakfast ideas that I use weekly in my home that might give you a little extra inspiration. Maybe you’re a stressed out college student, a super busy mom, or you just need to change up the repertoire in the morning. These are (somewhat) healthy recipes and ideas that my children absolutely love and I think yours will too!

Peanut Butter Toast

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Start with a good piece of bread (my favorite will always be sourdough!) Spread on a good nut butter. Almond butter is my personal favorite, but peanut butter or even cashew butter are delicious too.

Top with anything you’d like. Here are some ideas:

dried blueberries, cherries, cranberries, golden raisins

cashews, slivered almonds, crushed walnuts

toasted or sweetened coconut, ground flax seed, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds

This is fast and easy, delicious, and also filling!

Avocado Toast

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We love these on Whole Wheat English muffins, but any toast will do. Mash up a good bit of avocado, add some sea salt and any veg of your choosing. Some of my children pile theirs high with red onions, kale, bell pepper, tomatoes, sprouts, etc. Other kids like theirs with just avocado (a certain five year old to be exact) The great thing about this breakfast is that it’s easy to use any leftover veggies you have in your fridge that you need to use up! For extra protein you can add an egg or slice of bacon on top!

Mama’s Mueslix

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This is my favorite and most used recipe! It fills up my children beautifully and keeps them full a long time. Wanna know the secret? Rolled oats! I like this recipe more than oatmeal just because I have certain children who never want to look at a bowl of oatmeal again and this uses little to no sugar.

What I use in mine:

Lots of rolled oats (about 4-5cups)

Rice Crispies (4 cups). You could also use puffed barley, or any other grain.

Any kind of flake (there’s a joke somewhere there!) Corn flakes, bran flakes, etc. (approx 4 cups)

Whatever kind of dried fruit you’d like: I have blueberries and cranberries pictured here. (1 cup)

Dried unsweetened coconut (1 cup)

Any sort of nut you’d like: almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc (1-2 cups)

I put everything into one of those 2 gallon ziploc bags and shake away until everything is combined. *this is very easy to make gluten free!

You can make this recipe as simple or complex as you want. But with the oats, nuts, coconut and dried fruit, this goes a whole lot farther than any other cereal, has much less sugar, and tastes delicious! My kids prefer it over cereal and on those nutty mornings when you have to be somewhere at 7:30am, THIS is your salvation!

Sheet Pan Pancakes

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I usually take my favorite pancake recipe, whip it up. Spray/butter a pan (18×13) and pour in the batter and top with any fruit you’d like. Here I grabbed hand-fulls of a frozen fruit mix from the freezer: bananas, blueberries and pomegranate seeds. Bake it for 15 minutes at 425, then cut into squares and serve with maple syrup. It’s so much faster than flipping pancakes for a solid hour!

Here’s my pancake recipe in case you want it:

4 1/2 cups flour

2 T. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

3 T. sugar

Stick (1/2 cup) butter melted

5 eggs

Once that is mixed, start pouring milk (about 3 cups) til you get the right consistency. You may need more or less depending on how thick you like the batter. If using my recipe, you will need to use two pans! I concocted this recipe to fit my large family’s needs, so this may make way more than you’d like, but did you know you can freeze extra pancakes? Game changer!

A shout out to make aheads

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If you do have a free morning in there somewhere, Make ahead breakfasts are always a smart option. Breakfast burritos are our family’s favorite!

Ideas for breakfast burritos:

Sausage or bacon

Lots of scrambled eggs

Leftover potatoes (roasted or homemade fries?)

Bell peppers

tomatoes

cheese

Fill that sucker to your hearts content and serve with some yummy salsa. I make a huge batch so that I can usually get two breakfasts out of it.

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(as soon as you pull waffles out of the waffle iron, dip them in melted butter and then into a mix of sugar and cinnamon for “Churro Waffles”. They are incredibly delicious!)

Other ideas that you can freeze and pull out to microwave quickly include:

Waffles

Pancakes

Banana or Zucchini bread

Scones or biscuits

mini quiches in muffin pans

The possibilities are endless!

May your mornings be filled with blessings and in the words of my favorite chef, Jacques Pepin (and in the best french accent possible!)…

Happy Cooking!

Love,

Mama J, the Hygge Homemaker

 

Having a Toolbelt of Knowledge

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When I was first married, I was slightly clueless about all of life. I knew how to cook a few meals (although I did burn the very first meal I made for my husband… and I cried and said I missed my mom. Oh my!), I had never heard of a budget, I had messy habits and cleaning wasn’t a priority. After I had our first baby I was completely clueless about all things baby and parenting minded,  I did read a few books, but what’s on paper and what is reality are two different things entirely. That first diaper change with a tiny, fragile newborn had me full of fear and trepidation. I felt overwhelmed the first time she had a temper tantrum. I started homeschooling completely unprepared and nervous.

Fast forward to life now. I have in no-way “arrived”, but cooking three meals a day for 8 people is no big deal. And feeding four family’s on a Sunday no longer scares me. I love cleaning my home and making it shine and have extended that to now being the cleaning lady for our church (a job I relish!). I can meal plan on a small budget with the best of them. Budgets no longer frighten or confuse me, in fact I geek out on them. I don’t think you can ever feel totally with it in parenting, but now there are a lot more eye rolls, sighs and just getting up to take care of it rather than overthinking it and running to the latest parenting book and wondering if I’m doing the right thing. Kids with croup in the middle of the night is always nerve wracking. Homeschooling still scares me.

But how did I get here? God put A LOT of women in my life. Women, I saw as tools in a tool belt. I watched the way they handled situations with their children, I asked them how they kept their homes so clean and was interested in how diligently they kept it beautiful (Dawn N!), they let me come over with my babies in the middle of their home-school day and I watched their interactions with their children and their natural teaching styles. (Deb G!) They showed me the different craft projects they worked on, quilts they made, beautiful art they painted, even wool they had spun (Sarah H!) I saw the way they responded to their husbands, the way they respected their husbands and spoke highly of them, and prioritized their marriage (Denise N!). I saw how zestfully, passionately and like an artisan they were about cooking. They made meals for a crowd in the most personal, special and delicious ways possible (Luma S!). I saw how they would drop everything in order to house us when our Air Conditioning went out in the Summer in Phoenix. Their gift of hospitality spur of the moment was amazing (Denise M!). How colorful and cheerful they keep their homes, and always make things lovely with a fresh coat of pain, a bouquet of flowers, tea towels they’ve knitted and some art they’ve painted to make everything go together (Rachel J!) Their hunger and passion for God’s word and how they crave it! They are dependable prayer warriors I know will pray for me, they give godly advice that challenge me to grow in the Lord. (Becki P. and my Mother)

These women taught me to sew, taught me to cook, how to be passionate, how to serve others, how to love my family, showed me how to live and survive and what it looks like to be a beautiful human being. I’m sure there are women in your life that comes instantly to mind.

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Add them to your toolbelt…

Take them out for coffee, invite them over to your house, ask them questions after church on Sundays. Get to know them, observe them, be willing to change your mode and adopt theirs. Be willing to change and grow.

Maybe you want to know how to become a good cook, how to balance the budget and stay on track with bills. Maybe you want to learn how to knit, crochet or sew. Maybe interior decorating on a dime. Maybe you want to learn flower arranging or vegetable gardening or taking care of chickens.  It might be training and teaching your children or disciplining them. Perhaps being a godly wife. Or being world focused in your heart for bringing God’s word to the hearts of your friends and family.

Whatever it is… seek it out. Observe and look for it in the lives of the women God has placed in your life. Watch your toolbelt grow year after year, tool after tool.

Faithful in the Little Things

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I was blessed to be able to attend a beautiful, small bible school in Sweden called Holsbybrunn. It was a bubble of kids from all over the world, who learned about in-depth theological and biblical subjects and the classes were taught by bible teachers worldwide. They taught us to think, question, be impassioned for Christ and to reach the world around us.

One of the teachers, Rick Schoon, spoke on something I had never heard before and it has made a lasting impression on me. It will always stick in my brain and the question comes up daily for me. Are you faithful in the little things? It refers to the verse in Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (NIV)

Our teacher asked us a question “Are you faithful in the little things? If you see a piece of trash on the ground, do you pick it up? Do you throw your gum on the ground or in a trash can?” As a just-out-of-highschool student, this concept, that was outside my selfish center, was a foreign one. But as an adult, I still see the lack of this idea all around me. So let me ask you a few questions.

  • If you are at a place of employment (an office) or if you are a college student, do you leave your mug or dish in the sink and assume someone else will wash it for you? Or even worse, do you leave half drunk, cold coffee cups at your desk and leave it for the cleaning crew to take care of?
  • Do you take out your own trash or let it pile up and assume the janitor will get it?
  • Do you return your shopping cart or leave it in the parking lot?
  • If you are at church and your child leaves crayon peels all over the floor, do you pick it up and throw it away for leave it?
  • Do you turn off lights when you leave a room or are you too lazy?
  • When you are in someone’s home and your children make a mess with the toys, do you tell your children to clean up at the end of the night or do you assume your host will manage it? (I have to remember this one!!)
  • when you are at a party, do you throw away your plastic cups, beer bottles or soda cans or do you leave it out for your host to clean? Do you throw away your child’s paper plates?
  • When in a restaurant, do you leave a giant mess for the waitress, or clean up for her, especially when your children have made a huge disaster?
  • Do you teach your children to clean up after themselves?
  • Is your car a place of trash and old food that could feed a raccoon for a month? Do you neglect and destroy your vehicle or do you take care of the car God has given you?
  • After your dog uses the bathroom outside, do you pick it up?
  • When you wash your clothes, do you let it sit in the washing machine to sour for a few days?
  • How often do you clean your fridge and are you constantly throwing away food or using it up?
  • Do you drop popcorn all over the floor of the movie theater, or sunflower seed shells or peanut shells all over the floor of the stadium game?
  • Do you leave dirty dishes in the sink for days on end and make yourself more work by having things turn into cement or do you take care of it right away?
  • Do you pay your bills on time?
  • Do you budget the money God has given you?
  • Do you take back Library books on time or do you nickel and dime yourself with fees?
  • Do you throw gum on the sidewalk?
  • Are you faithful in the little things?

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We all fall short in these questions. We’ve all been forgetful and neglectful. But if we want to be given much in this life, we need to be faithful in the small things. I’m sure you can think of your own examples in life.

I think for many of us, we just don’t think about it and when we do, it falls under the category of “I just don’t feel like doing that, maybe someone else will.” It’s laziness. I’ve noticed something about my generation and younger. We’ve been told to facilitate.

In a world of facilitators, many of us don’t just roll up our sleeves and do the work or menial task ourselves. We expect someone else to.

We think much too highly of ourselves, and don’t think much about anyone else. Especially those in the cleaning/janitorial industry. We mentally leave those tasks to them. And we think we are so much better than that. We do a disservice to ourselves and we leave a terrible example to our children.

It’s time to be alert, it’s time to stop being selfish, or lazy or just not notice. It’s time to take care of the world around you. Your world. It’s time to be faithful in the little things.

Love,

Mama J, the Hygge Homemaker

 

 

Tis’ the Season: How we celebrate Advent and Christmas!

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I am an absolute sap for all things Christmas. It is my all-time favorite season of the year. I love to see the delight on everyone’s faces as each year we get out the decorations, make special recipes and get covered in powdered sugar, sing beloved carols, snuggle up to the fire and read cherished books. It’s a time to love on one another, play in the snow, experience the joy and exhilaration of giving a gift. It’s a time to read the Christmas story, to read of a young mother, who knew she carried the savior of the world. Oh the broken hearted-ness and despair as she knew He would sacrifice Himself for us all, oh the humility that she should be chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. Oh the incredible JOY to know that Her savior came for her and for us all.

I was asked from a dear friend to share some of our traditions that we celebrate year after year. I included recipes, book lists, events, etc. Every town has different events: find out what is in your area (especially the free ones!) and make the most of it!

Dec 6th: we celebrate St. Nicholas Day. The night before, we read the book Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend  and we set out the children’s shoes underneath the Christmas Tree. I find chocolate coins at my local Winco and place them in bags for the children. Sometimes I’ll also add a Clementine or apple. They wake up to a special surprise in their shoe and remember what St. Nicholas did for the people of Myra so long ago.

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Dec 13th: We celebrate St. Lucia Day! After living in Sweden, this holiday is near and dear to my heart as I got to dress up like St. Lucia and go door to door singing in the wee hours of the morning in a tiny town called Holsbybrunn! We usually read this book and this book. And then we make Lucia Buns (Lussekatter) and Ginger Snaps (Pepparkakor).

This year, I saw in a Sunset magazine the idea of making paper St. Lucia wreaths, which I’d like to try out.

*We like to drive to a nearby town and go to their drive-thru Nativity scene. They serve hot chocolate and candy canes. And the participation level is epic. You drive through a “Market place”, you have to give gold coins to Roman soldiers on horseback, you talk to the wise men and their camels. It is amazing!

*Our church has a Lessons and Carols service that is always breathtaking. We wouldn’t miss it for the world.

*We love to go in the forest with our pass and chop down a Christmas tree. It’s $5 for the pass, we drive out in the middle of nowhere, and the entire experience is magical! I think it’s funny how tall it ends up looking once you get the tree inside. I think this one must have been 15 feet high!

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*Each year I give the kids ornaments. Yes, it is adding up quickly and it’s a good thing we get tall trees. But once they get married, they’ll have a good little collection to take with them and start their own Christmas traditions.

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*We always have an advent wreath and each week we light it! The first purple candle is called Prophecy or Hope. The second purple candle is called Bethlehem or Peace. The third candle is the pink one: the Shepherd’s candle or Joy. The fourth candle is purple and is called Angel or Love. The white candle in the middle is called the Christ candle and it is to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

*We go to our church’s Christmas Eve service. It always blesses us, always challenges us, always helps us grow. Every single year, I cry when we light candles and sing “Silent Night”. My heart wants to burst as my sweet church family, my brothers and sisters, sing in the beauty of dark and candles.

*We celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. We try to have over as many families as possible and enjoy the season with them. We go sledding and have hot chocolate and popcorn. We sit by the fire and have lovely conversations or play a board game. I love being with people and enjoying their company in my warm, cozy home.

*We burn lots of good smelling candles (I love Pine!), we cut lots of greenery, make lots of wreaths, hang cinnamon ornaments all over the house and keep things festive!

*We have Christmas movie nights: The Nativity, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, the Christmas Story, Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Home Alone…We love it all!

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Here is a book list of my favorite Christmas books. I usually keep these up high for the rest of the year, so it’s a special delight when we bring them down and re-read these treasures!

Letters from Father Christmas- by J.R.R Tolkein

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger- by Karma Wilson

The ADVENTure of Christmas-by Lisa Whelchel (really a neat and informative book and perfect for lots of fun ideas to do with kiddos)

The Crippled Lamb-by Max Lucado

A gift from the Lonely Doll- by Dare Wright (a favorite among the girls of the family!)

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Unwrapping the Greatest Gift- by Ann Voskamp (an advent reading book, every single day, I find myself crying over the preciousness of the words!)

The Legend of the Candy Cane- by Lori Walburg

The First Christmas- by Jan Pienkowski ( gorgeous illustrations!)

A Redwall Winter’s Tale- by Brian Jacques (a precious gem of a book!)

The Story of Christmas-King James Bible, Illustrations by Pamela Dalton (really beautiful book!)

The Birds of Bethlehem & The Friendly Beasts- both by Tomie dePaola

The Tale of the Three Trees- a folktale retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

The Snowy Day- by Ezra Jack Keats

Christmas!-by Peter Spier (no words, just delightful cartoons)

Bear Stays up for Christmas- by Karma Wilson (I may have this one memorized as my children adore it and beg me to read it over and over again!)

Christmas in Noisy Village-by Astrid Lindgren

And my absolute favorite:

Good King Wenceslas- by John M. Neale and Tim Ladwig

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I could go on for hours and hours about what my favorite Christmas music is, but I’ll just give my top 10. Everyone has different tastes. But here are mine!

  1. Folkjul (I literally have this playing non-stop. It is amazingly gorgeous!)
  2. Anuna Christmas Songs (The Wexford Carol is particularly beautiful)
  3. Sufjan Stevens Songs for Christmas
  4. Charlie Brown Christmas
  5. Future of Forestry Advent Anthology 
  6. Mannheim Steamroller (I mean, come on…)
  7. Choir of King’s College, Cambridge Christmas
  8. John Rutter’s Christmas Star. (Really anything by John Rutter is my favorite)
  9. Sting’s If on a Winter’s Night
  10. And last but not least. A song from my childhood… Christmas for Cowboys: John Denver.

 

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Les Truffles Au Chocolate (I make these french truffles every year and they are delish!)

6 oz. semi sweet Chocolate chips (1 cup)

6 oz. milk chocolate chips

1 Tb Water

5 Tb butter

Melt above ingredients in a double boiler over medium heat. Stir until melted and smooth.

Remove from burner and add:

1 1/8 cups powdered sugar

3 Tb. cream

3 Tb concentrated orange juice

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix well and refrigerate for 3 hours. Then shape into balls. “Truffles” are very rich so shape into small balls, rolling chocolate between the palms of your hands. Work quickly as chocolate will soften. Roll balls in 3 Tb cocoa powder combined with 1 Tb. powdered sugar. Makes 36-40 balls. Keep truffles refrigerated.

 

Land of Nod Buns ( I make this every year for Christmas morning and we usually eat it with a good lot of sticky bacon!)

20 frozen dough rolls

1 c. brown sugar

1 package vanilla instant pudding powder

2 t. cinnamon

1 cup raisins, or dried cranberries, any desired dried fruit.

1/2 cup melted butter (or 1 stick)

Before you turn out the lights.. grease a 10′ bundt pan or a 9×13 dish and add frozen rolls. Sprinkle with brown sugar, pudding powder, cinnamon and fruit. Pour melted butter over all. Cover with a clean, damp cloth. Leave out at room temp over night. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25-30 minutes. Let sit for 5 mins and eat.

 

Lussekatter (Lucia buns)

1 pkg active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp saffron

4 cup flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. Warm milk, add butter to melt. Place all above ingredients in a mixing bowl using 2 cups of the flour. Mix for 3 minutes with a mixer. Add rest of flour and beat with dough hook or wooden spoon. Knead dough, adding a little flour for easy handling. Put in a bowl and let rise to double. Turn out on floured board and shape into an S shape. Let rise on a cookie sheet and brush with a mixture of egg and water and sprinkle with sugar before baking. Put a raisin in each curl and bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Make about 3 dozen rolls.

 

Ginger Snaps (Pepparkakor)

3 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 T. powdered ginger

2 t. ground cloves

2 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

Mix flour, soda and spices. Heat syrup in sauce pan. Melt butter and Sugar in syrup. Add the egg slowly. Add dry ingredients to this mixture. Put in a cool place over night. Roll out onto board and cut into desired shapes. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

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May you have a delightful Holiday Season full of spiced wine, good friends, sweet treats, laughter and love and most of all…Jesus!

Love,

theHyggeHomemaker

 

 

 

She Strengthens Her Arms: Being a Healthy Mama

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My body has birthed six children. It has endured long, long labors and difficult pregnancies. My body has chased children through the years: up and down stairs, carried sleeping six year old boys to bed, rocked children to sleep, even helped hold up a teenage girl who was weak with the flu. My body in many ways is worn out. But the tasks keep coming and with those tasks, I want to be able to be strong enough to endure the work load.

Proverbs 31 talks about an amazing woman who it seems, does so many things, not just well, but excellently. In verse 17 it reads “She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms.” She has been savvy with her business and financial affairs and as a result, she purchases a field. Then, she rolls up her sleeves and plants a vineyard. That is incredibly hard work. That takes a lot of guts, but it also takes a ton of strength and energy.

I want to be remembered as a mother and grandmother who worked and played with her children. I want to chase my grandkids and play with them. To snatch them up in my hands and tickle them, take them to the park and push them on the swings or go save a kid stuck up at the top of the playground. I want to take them on hikes and teach them photography or the names of the plants. Listen to birds and figure out what kind it is. I want to give my daughters a break from their busy mama-hood lives and take the kids for a weekend. I also need to do things like rake leaves or shovel snow and clean up after a ton of people come over. Also plant, not a vineyard (a few would be nice though!), but garden veggies for the Summer.

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But how can I accomplish any of these goals if I am weak and frail? If I haven’t taken care of my body and there are no muscles or strong bones to hold me up?

How can we energize and strengthen ourselves to be able to take on the tasks of womanhood? Here is what I do. It’s not perfect, I don’t possess the body of a fitness instructor, I don’t wear small sized jeans. But… I workout. I lift weights, I do cardio, or ballet, or anything I can do to keep my blood pumping and my body performing.

Weights

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I don’t go to a gym because I don’t have the time nor do I have the finances to do so. I workout at home. I have slowly invested in some good weights, kettlebells, a workout ball, a weighted ball, and bands. You could find these on Craigslist, or Walmart, and if you have Amazon Prime, then you don’t have to pay for shipping for those heavy items! Purchasing these items one time is cheaper than a monthly gym fee.

I try to lift weights 2-3 times a week. I find ideas off of Pinterest. I sit down and plan out the weight workout I’m going to do. I make a list that I can look at while working out. Most of the time I try to work my arms, then my abs, then glutes or legs and then back to arms. My list looks something like this…

Bicep Curl, Mountain Climbers, Deadlifts

Tricep Extension, Oblique crunches, Lunges

Upright Row, Russian Twist, Calf raises

Chest Press, Alternating Sumo Crunch, Squats

Shoulder Press, Wood chops, Donkey Kicks

I’ll do 2-3 rounds of anywhere from 15-20 reps

Make sure to Warm up properly and cool down and stretch well. It’s the times I don’t do this well that I injure myself.

Cardio and beyond

On the other days, I go for a walk, or do a walking workout or ballet workout online. On Fridays I like to do a stretch or yoga day. Weekends I take off or I do hiking, or playing tennis with my family.

Know your body! For me personally, Adrenal Fatigue does not like HIIT workouts, Intense Crossfit workouts or long, marathon runs. It just exhausts me too much and I literally can’t move for the rest of the day. I can’t afford to do that. I have dishes and laundry to wash, papers to grade and seven other people to think of! But for other women, these workouts do them wonders, so don’t let me stop you. You know your body, you know your limits. You know what is going to benefit you!

**Drink lots of water.**

Have a good playlist of music to listen to that keeps you motivated. I’m not going to tell you what to listen to. My music tastes are a bit strange. But listen to YOUR music that keeps YOU going. I don’t use someone else’s playlists because I’m picky about my music and I abhor the occasion F-bomb thrown into songs.

If creating your own workout list seems a little overwhelming, then here are some suggestions for great workouts you can get on You-Tube that are free and terrific. These people don’t know I exist, this is just my opinion that they are awesome!

Anything from Jessicasmithtv is really, the BEST! But here are a few of my favorites

Weights: Here And Here And this one!

Cardio: This is a good one. And I adore this one.

Ballet: My all time favorite workout.

I also like FitnessBlender and usually play my music on another device so that it’s a bit more peppy. All of their videos are fantastic.

For Stretching and Yoga: I try to stay away from anything too spiritual. So I tend to do this one, this one or this one. And this yoga is great.

I started a Facebook Accountability group a few years ago. Each day the first person to check in that day makes a post and then we all comment under that post. It will say something like this…

“Ran 2 miles, felt good! Check in here!”

Everyone posts what they have done or they share a link to a YouTube video they did. We are encouraging one another and keeping each other accountable. Feel free to start your own group with your own friends! It’s not a time to one-up each other, but rather iron sharpening iron (or lifting it in this case!)

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Much love,

The Hygge Homemaker,

Mama J

 

Being a Romantic Wife

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The first time he held my hand, I felt a lightning bolt shoot straight through my arm. I couldn’t believe this handsome, funny, intelligent, different than all the other guys (in the most refreshing way possible) man had feelings for me.  I was head over heels for him. I still am.

But life can totally and completely get in the way. When we fell in love with each other, we were working at a Kid’s camp as counselors. We had very few responsibilities. No pressures, no real work, no bills to pay, and the only tough decisions were how we were going to spend our weekends. Would we meet up at the Cheesecake Factory with our friends, or go to a movie.

Fast forward a decade to lots and LOTS of poopy diapers, too many bills to count, credit card debt, family issues, fighting children, messy bedrooms, having to work several jobs just to make it. It can feel oh so unromantic when you are in the thick of it. Being a skinny, flirty, happy-go-lucky, care-free 18 year old seemed like planets away. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by it all, to be discouraged by the stretchmarks, to not feel pretty or romantic, to let all interest in sex or being sexy go by the wayside and let the romance fizzle out.

You may have given up. Your candle has been snuffed out. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s this…

Jesus is really good at bringing things back from the dead. It’s His specialty.

First of all: make a commitment. Time to lose the inhibitions, time to laugh and be joyful (in spite of your circumstances), to be content (with the body you have, the husband you have, the house you have, the situation you are in), time to make an effort to romance your husband and let him romance you.

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The Biggest and Best Beauty Secret!

You can spend hundreds of dollars on the best makeup, the best facial serums, the hottest trends. But if you carry around a sour disposition, you wreck the whole package. What is free and your most gorgeous feature? Your smile. There have been times when I’ve caught myself in the mirror and realized that just by thinking about something negative or worrisome, it has made me look stern and haggard.  Smile Ladies!!! Especially when your husband comes home from work. Especially when you greet him in the morning. Be happy to see him!

If the barn needs painting….

*Wise words that my mother taught me: If the barn needs painting..paint it. Or if the Lilly needs gilding.. gild it! There are top models who can pull off any look, including no makeup. But it is really hard to pull off that look when we’ve been up all night with a kiddo. It doesn’t take much, and I’m not asking you to start looking like an ULTA representative. But a little blush, eye shadow, mascara and my favorite hero the eyebrow pencil, make you look fresh and happy. Even if you’re feeling worn out.

*Some of us like being super comfortable. Comfortable shoes, comfortable clothing, comfortable…underwear. I am a huge proponent of being comfortable, but ladies… some of us need to update what we wear underneath. It doesn’t take much to get a new bra and panties and spruce things up so to speak.

*Find a new way to wear your hair, find out what colors look good for your skin color (I’m currently obsessed with dark purple) Wear some new perfume, find a cute pair of booties to wear with a pencil skirt and cozy sweater. Do whatever it takes, but sometimes we just need to hit the “Re-fresh” button on our look.

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Is your bedroom a Sanctuary?

I recently gave my bedroom a makeover and it is so lovely to come into that room and just relax. It’s important to have your bedroom not be the “dumpzone”. Nix the laundry piles, paper and bill piles, shoe piles, dirty clothes pile. Whatever seems to be taking over your bedroom, get it out of there and make it a place of refuge for the two of you. Have nice smelling candles, clean surfaces, make it a romantic place that you both crave to be in.

Make an effort to be his best friend.

Date each other.. a lot! Put your phones down. Hold hands, be flirty, text him something romantic or a funny GIF that will stop his day and make him laugh or blush. Slap him in the butt when he walks by you. (yes, I just said that!) When he wants to show you the final play of the football game and the incredible pass that “so-and-so” made, watch it and enjoy it with him. Go to a concert he wants to hear, go fishing with him, surprise him with a date night in, go salsa dancing, sit with him while he changes the oil, come up behind him and give him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, give him a back massage, tickle him, tell him a funny joke, grab him in the kitchen and dance with him, sing the lyrics to the song and look him in the eyes, give him a big whopping kiss when he leaves for work.

BE A FUN PERSON TO BE AROUND!

Don’t be unsexy

*Stop complaining about everything: things are what they are. Be at peace with it.

*Stop correcting and mothering him: have you ever been a part of a conversation where someone corrected the other person? “No it was Thursday, not Wednesday” “No it was Barbara who said that, I don’t think it was Sally.” “No, you’re wrong, I’m pretty sure it rained 5 inches, not 4”. WHO CARES??? Stop doing that! Bite your lip woman!

*Don’t be so consumed with not being in the mood that you destroy his. Pray and ask God to help you get past your walls, and let your husband romance you. Yes, you may have extra weight, stretchmarks, low energy, etc. But your husband thinks you are beautiful, so let him enjoy you.

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Can you imagine how much good you can do for the entire world by making your marriage a great one, not just a good one? You are divorce-proofing your marriage, you are showing the world that marriage is a blessing, it is beautiful. You are instilling that in the hearts of your children as they see you. You are giving hope to the next generation who worry that marriage will only end in divorce. You are creating a lifelong friendship and marriage with the person God has chosen for you to become one with. So do it, have fun doing it, do it passionately and beautifully.

Love always,

the Hyggehomemaker,

Mama J

October Happenings: Bedroom Makeover and One Helpful Tip!

I love my bedroom. It’s my little sanctuary. It’s my escape at the end of the day with my husband. Typically it also involves something to watch or read while he grades papers and a hot cup of herbal tea! We are side by side enjoying one another’s company even though grading papers is not always easy or fun.

I’ve always “made do” with what we had in our bedroom. All of my furniture was hand me downs, including the bedding which was either given to me or I got from the thrift store. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I’ve always tried to use my artistic panache to make it still feel homey and romantic. But I really wanted to turn my bedroom into a calming oasis of sorts, but stick to a limited budget.

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(before)

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It’s funny when God hears your hearts desire and pulls little things along into your life and provides you with just what you need, when you need it.  Groupon had a deal with a pretty comforter, I found several yards of different colored grey linen (real linen!!) at Goodwill for $3. A can of flat grey paint was $9. Ross had a great laundry hamper for a good price.

It involved sanding, and painting, it involved Pinterest ideas and moving furniture around the room with my strong son (after my daughter helped me figure out what furniture should go where).

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And low and behold, we have a new room. It took some work and definitely more panache, but I love the outcome and we love our new “oasis”!

The grey linen I painted: I made white and metallic crosses on the dark grey linen and painted “Mr and Mrs” along with tiny metallic crosses for the light grey linen.

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I painted all three pieces of furniture with the same one can of flat grey paint. Mad props goes to my son, who helped me move all this furniture to the back deck so I could sand and paint it! (this was, after all, a surprise for my husband. He loved the surprise!)

I’ve found grey to be quite calming and peaceful, which is just what I wanted!

This was a really fun project!

I’d love to see some of your bedroom makeover ideas!

Now for my hot tip!

This may seem like a no-brainer, but when I came up with this idea, it was definitely a life saver and time saver for me. I have a wardrobe system: I look at the weeks weather forecast. I go onto pinterest for outfits that go well with that day’s weather and I search “black jeans outfit” or “chambray shirt outfit” and I usually have something in my closet that matches the outfit idea. I then compile a weeks worth of outfits starting with Monday and going all the way to Sunday with outfits I know will fit me and that I already have in my closet. It really helps me on the busy days when I can grab an outfit and go. I also don’t have to think about if it looks good, because somebody on Pinterest did the work for me. I hang the weeks worth of outfits on a hook on my closet door and each day, it’s there waiting for me! Voila!

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Hope your October is wonderfully lovely. I can’t believe how beautiful Fall always seems to be. Especially at Hygge House!

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Love,

The Hygge Homemaker

Mama J