Easy Peppermint Bark Recipe

first posted on Dec 18, 2011

Easy Peppermint Bark Recipe

I love peppermint bark.  It is one of my favorite Christmas recipes and the fact that it is super simple to make doesn't hurt.  My children helped with this week's batch and they all had a fabulous time crushing the peppermints and spreading them about. 

Peppermint Bark Reipe

There are so many peppermint bark recipes out there, but I just go the simple route. I prefer to use both dark chocolate and white chocolate because I think it looks a bit more festive and really tastes better as well. If you are looking for gifts for teachers or neighbors or the post man or simply to have on hand for those last minute guests this is a great recipe to keep on hand. Peppermint bark freezes well too. 

Easy Peppermint Bark Reicpe

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy!

Peppermint Bark Recipe

1 bag of chocolate chips

1 bag of white chocolate chips

mini candy canes, crushed*  place candy canes in a zip lock bag and use a hammer to crush into small pieces *perfect for the kiddos

DIRECTIONS:    Line the bottom of a pan with waxed paper.  Pour chocolate chips in a glass bowl.  Heat over a double broiler stirring the chips until chocolate chips have completed melted and mixture is smooth.  Spread melted chocolate  as evenly as possibly onto the lined pan.  Place pan into the fridge for 20 minutes.  Repeat the same melting process with the white chips.    Remove pan from fridge and spread white chocolate mixture on top of the chocolate layer.  *Spread white chocolate as quickly as possible because it will start to melt your layered chocolate.  Top off with the crushed candy cane.  Return pan to fridge for 20 minutes.  Remove from fridge, remove the waxed paper and cut into pieces.

Pretty Persimmon

The Persimmon, if you've never had one, hails from Asia, usually China and Japan these days. I first had one whilst we were living in Beijing(China) when I was not able to locate any Western (that would be USA) fruit to my liking. Fruit was a bit different in China, not quite as sweet and succulent and shaped oddly.

A friend of mine encouraged me to try a Persimmon, telling me I should love it since I really gobbled up tomatoes. They seem to be of the same textures. However, they do not taste the same.

I'm a Westerner at heart . . . used to being spoiled by the best organic fruits the farmer's markets have to offer. But I was adventurous and wanted to try a Persimmon. Let's just say it was not a pleasant experience and I mustered up the strength to swallow a big juicy mouthful of the fleshy fruit that left the most unpleasant furry film of yuck in my mouth.

My girls spied a Pretty Persimmon in the market last week and requested I purchase some for them to try. I'm up for kids trying all sorts of new food even though I did not have a pleasant experience with this pretty fruit. We waited for the Persimmon to ripen and I served it t them for lunch the other day.

My girls gobbled up one slice each and chewed and bit and them both took off out of their seats running at full speed to the trash bin. Sadly, they had the same odd experience as myself when I had attempted to eat a Persimmon myself so many years ago. A Persimmon will leave an odd astringency flavor in your mouth that somewhat dries your throat, and tastes a bit like and an unripe banana

They sure are Pretty though.

How to Eat A Persimmon

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life & Animal Crossing: New Leaf

#PlayNintendoCG #TomodachiLife #ACNL
Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life & Animal Crossing: New Leaf #PlayNintendoCG
I recently received a couple of download codes and downloaded Tomodachi Life and Animal Crossing™: New Leaf onto my daughter's Nintendo 3DS . I surprised them both and they were so excited to view the little presents on their screen one morning last week. They had never heard of Tomodachi Life OR Animal Crossing™: New Leaf and were so excited to begin playing.
Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life #PlayNintendoCG

I am constantly on the lookout for age-appropriate games for my children to engage with as my children are all still young at ages 13, 11 and 8. With three children's busy schedules, we are in the car quite often transporting back and forth from schools and activities. We are also sitting around waiting for a sibling during a lesson or activity. It's not easy trying to entertain my children quietly during these times because my kids get bored just sitting around waiting for their siblings.

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life #PlayNintendoCG

Tomodachi Life

Enter into my life . . . Tomodachi Life . . . the universally appealing life simulation game that allows the gamer to create Mii (me) characters who live in their own apartments in a complex on an island. Everyday since I downloaded Tomodachi Life, my girls have been creating new characters, checking on their characters, interacting with their characters, watching their Miis interact, eat, fight and fall in love. The more they interact with their Miis, which are basically our family of five with numerous other characters in the mix, the more areas of the island open up for discovery.

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life #PlayNintendoCG

The girls are watching the Miis go to the cafe, the amusement park; they are selling their "stuff" at the pawn shop and heading to concerts in the concert hall. My daughters, age 8 and 11 are enamored with  Tomodachi Life; they created my husband and I, hoping we would fall in love and have babies Miis. However, that did not happen.

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life #PlayNintendoCG

My Mii husband didn't like me and we actually had a little scuffle, tossing our belongings about in his apartment. It was quite hilarious! My girls deleted 'old Daddy Mii' and created a 'new Daddy Mii' and we are falling in love and hopefully will live happily ever after. The girls are encouraging their Mii parents in every way to make babies. They can't wait to have a Mii baby!

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life #PlayNintendoCG

My girls are playing Tomodachi Life smartly and didn't rush to fill the apartment complex with numerous Mii characters. They each created a few Miis and are busy ensuring their Miis flourish in Tomodachi Life. Their Miis need to be fed, clothed and stimulated; they even have dreams and wishes. The girls are the leader in deciding how their community interacts and flourishes. They love to show me how happy my Mii character is . . . except when my husband Mii failed to fall in love with me!

Making a NEW Mii Character on Tomodachi Life: #TomodachiLife

My son created a Mii character who they named Creepy Bob and Creepy Bob is the most popular character in their apartment complex. My son customized Creepy Bob's appearance, voice, hair, eyes and personality. I was also able to import some celebrity Miis on the Nintendo DS simply by scanning a QR code from the official Tomodachi Life website

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life #PlayNintendoCG

My daughters(and son) love to purchase items, give it to their Miis, earn more money, and buy more items to give to their other Mii characters. Their Miis are unpredictable and they never know what to expect. I hear peals of laughter whenever they are interacting with their Miis. They have only been playing for one week and have so many ore discoveries to uncover.

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life #PlayNintendoCG

There really is so much to inspire your children on Tomodachi Life, and the best aspect is this game is age appropriate, delightfully hilarious, engaging to various ages and FUN! Tomodachi Life is available for digital download from the 3DS eShop on all Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS devices or in stores $34.99.

Play Nintendo: Animal Crossing:New Leaf #PlayNintendoCG

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Every day is a new day in Animal Crossing: New Leaf as you begin your day as the mayor of a town that is constantly changing. In this Nintendo downloadable game, the gamer is the mayor of a town and the mayor needs to make the money. The mayor needs to make the money in order to build up his town.

My daughters love Animal Crossing: New Leaf because all your friends are animals. I think my daughters could actually live in a world like this in real life. That is good because Animal Crossing: New Leaf is actually played in real time.

Play Nintendo: Tomodachi Life & Animal Crossing: New Leaf

The girls get to dig up fossils, plant trees, catch fish and search for bugs . . .  seriously this game couldn't be any closer to my girls real life. If they could do these activities all day long in the real world, they would be static. Once when my daughter caught a fish whilst playing Animal Crossing: new Life, a statement came across the bottom as her character was speaking stating: "I caught a carp. I really seized the diem." She! (and yes, she totally knows it is Carpe Diem, but it is little joke in our house as my kids take Latin lessons). Needless to say, she really connects with this game.

Play Nintendo: Animal Crossing: New Life #PlayNintendoCG

My two daughters, ages 8 and 11, work together to build a new home for their mayor and are working hard to improve it. They were so excited to set a limit on how late the shops could stay open at night. Because, if they have to go to bed early, so do the shop owners!

Presently the girls have only been playing Animal Crossing: New Leaf for a week and they are working hard on building up their little town. There are a number of projects they will be able to undertake as they progress in the game. Their new home and town is quite "pretty" and definitely geared towards the girly side. I love that they are able to vamp it all out in the manner they love. 

They are discovering as they log on to play at various times of the day that there are different activities and functions all the time. I don't think they have caught the same insect twice. There is always something new to delight and surprise my girls.

I personally think their favorite aspect of Animal Crossing: New Leaf is visiting the old mayor, Tortimer, on his tropical island, where he has retired. They get to swim in the ocean  and catch underwater seas creatures. This reminds them so much of the time they spent doing this exact activity on our last vacation.

Waiting in Line for Santa is the Perfect Time to Play a Little Bit of Animal Crossing: New Leaf: #ACNL

Play Nintendo: Animal Crossing: New Life #PlayNintendoCG

Today we visited Santa and my youngest daughter asked Santa for a Nintendo 3DS of her very own. She specifically asked for very own Nintendo 3DS so she would be able to become best friends with her sister and play Animal Crossing : New Life together.

Play Nintendo: Animal Crossing: New Life #PlayNintendoCG
Play Nintendo: Animal Crossing: New Life #PlayNintendoCG

My girls love that Animal Crossing: New Leaf is downloaded digitally to their shared Nintendo 3DS and available at all times, so it’s easy to play for a few minutes no matter where we are (like waiting in line for Santa) and what ever game may already be popped in the 3DS.

Tomodachi Lie and Animal Crossing: New Leaf are two engaging Nintendo games that I happily allow my daughters to play. Both of these games are age-appropriate, fun and engaging and I don't have to fret about my girls learning or seeing something that I would not approve. I love that they were able to incorporate our own family into their new game and they love that they can involve us in their games.

Giggling With Tomodachi Life Characters

Tomodachi Life is available for digital download from the 3DS eShop on all Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS devices or in stores $34.99. Animal Crossing: New Leaf is available for digital download from the 3DS eShop on all Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL and Nintendo 2DS devices or in stores $34.99.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

10 Best TV Shows to Stream on Netflix this Holiday

Thank everything--it’s finally Winter Break! Recitals, papers, textbooks, and tests are behind us! We have a few weeks of glorious freedom ahead of us. Most families would be happy to use this time to visit museums or take a mini vacation. However, families like mine are taking the time to sleep late, stay up late, eat loads of holiday treats, and watch Netflix.

Best christmas gift for children and Families NetFlix #StreamTeam

Yep, you read me correctly. If you have not heard of it, Netflix is the a video streaming service that allows you to watch movies and television programs from your beautiful home, for only $7.99 a month. It fits perfectly in with my busy family of five. I can sit in my favorite chair and watch an entire season of one show in one night! I LOVE this! I don't have to ever wait a week for one episode!

If you are still searching for the perfect gift for loved ones this year, I have the gift for you! Netflix gift cards are the perfect way to give the gift of unlimited movies and TV shows! NetFlix gift cards are available in increments of $30 and $60, and your recipients can choose the subscription plan that works best for them. Best of all, your gift can be personalized.

Best christmas gift for children and Families NetFlix #StreamTeam

I love the casual days of the holidays when we can relax from all the stresses of school and activities. Netflix has a treasure trove of amazing programs that you may not have seen or even heard of before. So many suggestions are available. I can't wait to dive in. Did you know Netflix creates personal recommendations based on the movies and shows each of us watches.

All Hail King Julien NetFlix Screening Party #StreamTeam
All Hail King Julien NetFlix Screening Party #StreamTeam

My kids are getting ready to dance--with King Julien. Last weekend we were invited to a screening of All Hail King Julien in Chicago. My family had a first look at two all-new episodes of the Netflix original, All Hail King Julien. My girls created crowns fit for a king, learned King Julien’s signature dance and posed Hollywood style with the King himself. It was so much fun!

All Hail King Julien NetFlix #StreamTeam

On December 19th, the first five episodes of All Hail King Julien, a totally original, totally hilarious and totally insane new series, will arrive on Netflix. A favorite character from the Madagascar franchise, King Julien will take on the jungle's craziest adventures in the new comedy series, along with his loyal sidekicks Maurice and Mort plus a whole new cast of colorful animals

If you can't wait for December 19th, here are a few of King Julien's friends you can catch up on:

All Hail King Julien NetFlix Madagascar #StreamTeam

1. Merry Madagascar
2. Madly Madagascar
3. The Madagascar Penguins: A Christmas Caper

...or snuggle up with a few holiday favorites with your children

1. Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas
2. Mumfie's White Christmas
3. In Search of Santa
4. VeggieTales: Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

Below, I’ve rounded up my favorite TV shows that you can stream on Netflix during your holiday and winter break. Check them out:

My Top 10 TV Shows to Stream on Netflix (in no particular order)

1. The Inbetweeners
2. Bitten
3. Being Human
4. Helix

5. Hell on Wheels
6. Fringe
7. Farscape
8. The Killing
9. Rectify
10. Peaky Blunders

So go forth and Netflix away this holiday season, my friends!

Have you seen any of these? What are your favorite shows and movies on Netflix right now? Tell me in the comments below!

Netflix gift cards are available at major retailers including Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Gamestop, Krogers, 7-Eleven, Safeway, Speedway, Albertsons, Lowes, Staples, Price Chopper, Food Lion, Ahold, WinnDixie, Meijer, Giant Eagle, Supervalu SVU, Albertsons, Staples and Dollar General.

Disclosure: This post is part of my involvement as a Netflix #StreamTeam Member. All opinions are my own. #NetflixKids

Christmas Home Tour 2014

The silly season is in full swing these days . . . we are in full on planning mode for gatherings and parties and recitals and get togethers . . . I always try to get our Christmas tree up the weekend of Thanksgiving . . . but since we were traveling that weekend . . . the tree didn't quite make it . . . although, I should say that I was not able to do my part in the tree . . . my husband was able to get the tree up with the lights on (which is usually my job, the light part, not the assembling of the tree part and Miss Picky Pants here was not too happy with Handsome Hubbies version off light decorating) . . . I didn't have time to decorate our Christmas Tree . . . but I really wanted to attempt to correct the light situation . . . which I was totally not able to do since i have so very little time for anything these days . . . but the girls and I did scramble some time together and put up some decorations . . . I was so sick and tired of all my old decorations . .  does that happen to anyone else?? . . . I have been using them for the past 15 years and I was just SO OVER THEM ALL! I took my girls shopping and we searched and scoured for some new ornaments  to freshen up the look of our very old tree.

Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014

I am quite pleased with this toned down version this year! The girls were ecstatic!

Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014

The butterfly and the birds I have been collecting for years and these are our old favorites.

My daughters really love reindeer and over the years, they have amassed quite a collection of them . . . this is the first year I let them put them all on the BIG tree!

The burlap and white wrappings are from Hobby Lobby. The fabric Christmas tree ornaments, musical notes, musical note wrapped birds and burlap stars are from Hobby Lobby as well.

The owls and other various animals are from The Land of Nod.

All the stars are from Walmart. The feather ornaments are from Macy's.

Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014
Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014

The only decoration I was not able to replace was the tree topped! I was looking for something, but didn't really know what I was looking for? I'm sure once I see the "thing" I will know it. I'm still looking . . . you know, in all my spare time!

Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014
Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014

My JOY sign I created last year from Teresa Collins Christmas paper and other various trimmings. I still love it!

Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014

I was even able to get all my nativity sets out this year. I so wish I had an entire table full of different nativities from various countries! I try to locate them when we travel, but it is hard when you are traveling during the seasons that are not even close to the holidays!

Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014
Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014
Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014

The Nutcrackers is one tradition in our holiday decorating that I don't think I could ever part with. I adore them, my kids adore them, so I think they shall stay. My girls want more each and every time we come across one more lovely nutcracker, but I have not let them purchase any new ones in a few years . . . there just is simply no place to put them!

Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014
Tiaras & Tantrums Christmas Home Tour 2014

This is my Mananzita potted branch that I adore! I decorate it for various holidays . . . as you can see, it still has the wrappings from Easter that I never took off! Oh well! Anyway, I clipped on my peacock feather ornaments and I LOVE it! It looks like the Tuttle Tuttle Tree from Dr Seuss!

Mananzita potted branch

How is your home looking this Holiday season?

Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NorthpoleFun #CollectiveBias

Our Elf on the Shelf tradition is one of my most favorite things I've done for my children. It has inspired within them a love of everything full of magic, whimsy and fun. However, after so many years of Elf antics, I am running out of ideas! This year in anticipation of the NorthPole movie on the Hallmark Channel, Hallmark has released some amazing NorthPole toys at Walmart that will aide our Elf's antics this year. But more than that, our Elf is creating memories surrounding our family traditions!

Operation Tradition: Magic Snowball Fight with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark

Elf on the Shelf Traditions

Traditions are really important in my family and I really try to foster these along with the importance of fun.  The Elf on the Shelf is the magical part of our Christmas festivities.  Our elf has actually aided my children in not being so singularly focused of what "stuff" they are going to receive. The magic of Christmas is not about Santa and presents and our Elf helps my children understand this more with his whimsical nature. Each morning, my girls bolt out of bed to search for our elf, they speak with him, write him letters to bring to Santa and really look forward to what little joke he may play tomorrow. They are less focused on presents, which is what I want.

Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark

Childhood is so very fleeting I need to make sure my kids are having fun while theirs is here.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” - Roald Dahl

Northpole Magic Snowballs

Operation Tradition: Magic Snowball Fight with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark

I picked up these adorable fluffy magical snowballs for our elf this year at Walmart. The kids found him having a magical snowball fight with an alien creature my daughter had created. I have discovered over the years to incorporate some of my children's toys. My kids love it when their elf plays with their toys. We think he must have the best time in our home!

Operation Tradition: Magic Snowball Fight with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Magic Snowball Fight with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Magic Snowball Fight with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Magic Snowball Fight with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Magic Snowball Fight with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark

Northpole Bake Like an Elf Baking Kit

While I was shopping at Walmart, I found the most adorable magical baking set. Do you know elves make magic? The Bake Like an Elf Baking Kit was perfect for a baking antic by our elf. My girls loved the sounds-like-something-sweet measuring jingle bell, the properly calibrated elf measuring mitten and the elf measuring shoe. The baking kit includes elfin measuring techniques to aide little kiddos like mine the next time they bake a sacred elf recipe, also included in the kit.
Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark
Operation Tradition: Baking with Elf on the Shelf & Hallmark

Our elf even left us some delicious cookies which we are sure were baked in his cozy kitchen and brought to ours. My kids are enjoying this bit of sweet magic. All this holiday fun and magic can be found on Hallmark's Facebook and Twitter.

Which Northpole Toys do you want your elf to bring?

What are your favorite Magical Holiday Traditions?

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OwnTheGalaxy #CollectiveBias

I have survived the terrible twos and the first years of school just fine, but the teenage years are about to bring entirely new and alien creatures into my home. I officially have a teenager in my house and life will never quite be the same.

Each year on my son's birthday we have hosted a themed birthday party for him and he was ever so elated. This year, I knew that I would  receive academy award winning eye rolling if I even suggested a themed birthday party to my son.What is a mom to do?

Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party

But that does not mean I can't give him theme related gifts that he will still love. I was able to pick up some Guardians of the Galaxy alien creatures toys, music and T-shirts for my son's birthday gifts at my local Walmart. Even though he is officially a teenager now, he still loves his action figures. Disney sure knows how to get kids to love their franchise . . . with their amazing toys and you can find them at Walmart!

Guardians of the Galaxy Walmart toys

Guardians of the Galaxy

When the movie Guardians of the Galaxy was released in the theaters, we were among the first families in line. The movie was fantastic! My girls were dancing for months after the movie like the baby tree Groot. He's so adorable. Check out Baby Groot's moves:

Guardians of the Galaxy Music

My son really likes to listen to music these days and if I were to ever suggest to my son to listen to some music that I enjoyed, I would surely receive one of those award winning eye rolls. However, I gave him the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack because this is the music I grew up listening to and I wanted to introduce another genre of music to him. I knew he would really like the 'Awesome Songs' from the Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack because they are "Awesome Songs"! My girls are dancing like baby Groot again whilst blasting the soundtrack.

Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party
Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party

Guardians of the Galaxy DVD

The Guardians of the Galaxy DVD is set to release on December 9, the day after my son's birthday. I have gifted him with an IOU for the DVD. I know as soon as I pick up my son from school on December 9th, he will be presenting me with his IOU in exchange for the DVD. The DVD is available at Walmart will include exclusive character o-sleeve and music zinepack. In addition, when you purchase the Guardians of the Galaxy DVD you will receive a 64-page magazine with cast and crew interviews, exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and trivia. PLUS a custom “cassette" laptop decal and some hilarious outtakes such as this:

Guardians of the Galaxy Toys

Currently, from December 7 - December 13, when you purchase an Infinity 2.0 figure of Groot, Drax or Rocket Raccoon at Walmart , you will receive a $5.00 Walmart gift card. If you were not aware, when you purchase a Marvel Guardians Of The Galaxy Platinum Series action figure, you will receive a part of Groot. For example, if you purchase Drax, you get the lower torso of Groot; if you purchase Rocket Raccoon, you will receive the head and upper torso of Groot; if you purchase Star Lord, you will receive Groot's left arm and if you purchase Gamora, you will receive Groot's right leg.

Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Cake

Guardians of the Galaxy Teenager Birthday Party

I know my life will never be the same with a new teenager in my home. But my son can still be guaranteed a better than ever themed birthday from me. The fate of my galaxy now rests in the paws of my little like-minded misfits!

What are your favorite themed birthday parties?
What are some of your birthday traditions?

Thanksgiving Traditions

Does your family have a unique Thanksgiving Day tradition?

When I was growing up, we went to my grandmother's house every year for Thanksgiving. She immigrated to the United States from German through Ellis Island and her German roots remained with her in her cooking. We never had the typical American Thanksgiving meal, so I really didn't ever know what a typical meal was until I got married.

My grandmother was quite literally the best cook . . . ever. My mouth is watering now just thinking of her Thanksgiving meal. She had sausages, roast duck, creamed cabbage and the most amazing stuffing in the world. I have yet to figure out how she made it and NO ONE can tell me!! It's horrifying to me that I will quite possibly never have that stuffing ever again in my life.

The first decade of my marriage, we always went to my husband's family because he insisted . . . they insisted . . . feeling were greatly hurt if I would even suggest to travel to my birth state and spend the holiday with my extended family.

But last year, I decided that my children needed (really needed) to be surrounded with my side of the family . . . their mother, ME. My children needed to see my family traditions, they needed to be part of something else as well. It is healthy for children to see both sides of families . . .  to see other traditions and to be a part of both sides of their parents families.

Last year, we traveled to my home state and had a delicious family Thanksgiving with my brothers and their families and my wonderful aunts . .  my late father's sisters, whom I adore to the ends of the earth. We created new traditions. We laughed and reminisced and literally I smiled so much that afternoon, my face hurt. The most important thing at our table was my family.

My children were filled with joy, playing with cousins who live too, too far from us. They saw a different side of me, one they had not been exposed to as my family lives far away.  They saw their mother relaxed, laughing freely, hugging joyfully, talking without caution, enjoying time spent with her brothers . . . and I wanted that again this year.

 . . . and I got it!

What holiday traditions surrounded your table this year?

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