The Joy of Friendship

Christmas time is a great time to reflect on the blessings and joys in our lives. One of my greatest joys the past few years has been the joy of friendship.

A little over three years ago, I became a mom for the first time. It was the best and scariest time of my life being responsible for a tiny little person. Since then we have added two more little blessings to our family and I just don’t know where I would be without the support and love of my friends.

Many of my friends and I met 3 years ago at a breastfeeding support group at our local hospital. We bonded over love for our children and the sheer craziness of our new responsibilities. Over the years I have added friends to my little circle through common interest groups and my Stroller Strides fitness group.

As fun as it is to have play dates and meet ups at parks for the kids, we realize how important it is to just have some MOM time. That is why I am so happy to open my home each year at Christmas for my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange. It is a super fun way to hang out, drink hot chocolate, and eat cookies of course.

So as you enjoy this season of giving and receiving remember to thank the amazing people in your life and the lives of your children for all their support and friendship!

Thank you to my friends and family. I am so blessed!

IMG_5771Rach Signature48

Grace Based

This past Sunday at church, our pastor spoke on Santa.  What?  What pastor devotes a whole Sunday to Santa?  Well, ours did. But it opened my eyes and my heart to new thinking. It was a change in perspective in the focus of Christmas, the attitude of my heart, and the way I spend my time this season. Now I am not going to give an opinion of believing in Santa or not, that is not what this is about.  I just want to help us focus on the true and full meaning of Christmas.

I know the season is crazy, and the time to sit down and read a recap of a whole sermon is hard to come by.  So let’s quickly compare the Christmas season according to Santa and according to Jesus in just one category.  Santa Claus is works based Jesus is grace based. Santa is all about recording all the things we have done to put us on the naughty or nice list.  Jesus is all about loving us for who we are, right where we are. Santa gives us things we earn.  Jesus gives us undeserved grace. Santa gives us stuff if we are good. Jesus saves our life regardless. Santa comes to bring things. Jesus came to sacrifice himself. Santa gives us coal if we mess up. Jesus puts his hand out to pick us up and gives us an extra big hug. Santa brings stuff that does not last. Jesus gives us eternal life that lasts forever.

Don’t you want to live a grace based life?  Don’t you want to focus your time on things that bring hope, peace, and purpose rather than things that remind us we are never good enough.  Basing your life on grace means you understand you are a sinner and you need Jesus.  Basing your life on works means you are trying to take the control into your own hands and living for yourself.  Works based looks to success, money, pleasure, and is never fully satisfied or at peak achievement. There is always more.  The grace of Jesus covers all, saves all, and frees all. Living in the grace of Christ allows us to find purpose in something bigger than ourselves and this world and live with purpose. Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived a holy life, and died for me.  Not because I deserved it, but because he loved me. In reality, I don’t deserve things, clothes, gadgets, or gifts.  So if Santa’s giving was a matter of reality of how good we are, we are all sinners, so we would all get nothing.  But Christ has given us everything, in him, based on his glory, not my worth.  And because of Christ, I am saved and I can live a full life.

But here’s the thing, you don’t have to choose between Santa and Jesus. You can enjoy the fun of a big jolly generous man. You can enjoy the imagination of flying reindeer. It’s up to you.  Or you can also learn about the story of St. Nick.  But don’t let Santa take the place of Jesus.  Keep Jesus in His rightful place in your heart, your time spent, your actions, and your conversations. He is the reason for Christmas.  It was His birth that changed the world, and changed our lives forever. Let’s live that way this season. Share the love of Christ with others. Merry Christmas.

Bethany Signature48

The Joy of Giving through Serving

The joy of giving through serving came alive for us tonight as we volunteered at a wonderful Christmas event at Christ Church of the Valley in San Dimas. The event is called CCV Toy Store and this year, “Love All Serve All” was the theme. Mark 10:45 says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” We showed up and received our assignment for where they needed our help. We were on the children’s activities/craft team where we helped the kids make a fun Christmas tree collage with paper, glue, sequins, glitter paint and stickers.image

 

We set up the crafting tables and cut out shapes, filled paper cups with sequins and got everything organized for the kids. image

The Toy Store event was created by a team of awesome people who saw a need in the community and decided to reach out and lend a helping hand. With the guidance of the local schools and recommendations of families who had financial needs, a list was created of families that could be blessed by this event. The families were treated to an evening of a live nativity with animals to pet, a visit to the “Toy Store” where each child was able to pick a toy, a delicious dinner with scrumptious dessert treats, crafts and a visit to Santa.

The fun began as the children began to make their way over to our table and began to join in the crafting fun. The delight and wonder in their eyes and the smiles on their faces brought joy to our hearts. We had fun giving them encouragement and watching them design unique personal creations. We had the blessing of meeting some of their parents and we were able to invite them to the upcoming events at the church.image

All in all, this has been one of the most rewarding activities of the season and a precious reminder about the true spirit of the Christmas for it is truly more blessed to give than to receive. We hope you have an opportunity to be a part of something like this to experience the joy of giving through serving,  image

God bless you this holiday season. Go out and serve and you too can join in the true spirit of Christmas.

The Growing Weisser Girls

 

 

Christmas Fabric Garland

Christmas crafts abound during the month of December. I used to make it a hobby to attend many different holiday craft boutiques to gather ideas for ornament making and for decorating our home during the holidays. Now you do not even need to leave your home because of awesome websites like Pinterest where the creative ideas are everywhere to be found. My daughter, Bethany, just hosted a cookie exchange and we decided to try our hands at making a fabric garland to decorate for the party. She found the idea on a Pinterest site and we modified it to meet our needs.IMG_5662

Here is how we made our fabric garland. We actually have enough fabric to make 5 garlands total so I will be making one for each of her sisters as well as one for my house.
Supplies needed…
Assortment of christmas fabrics-(I bought one yard of 5 different Christmas fabrics)IMG_5659
twine or rope
2 inch wide burlap ribbon
2 inch wide assortment of christmas colored ribbon (optional)
fabric scissorsIMG_5661

Cut selvages off fabric. Lay fabric out so that you are cutting or ripping the fabric into 2 inch strips lengthwise. We ripped 6 (36 inch length) strips of each fabric. We decided we wanted our garland strips to hang 18 inches so we needed each strip to be 36 inches long. For a longer garland you can cut or rip the fabric width-wise to whatever length you choose. You will have 5 piles of fabric with 6 (2 inch by 36 inch) strips in each pile.

Cut your burlap ribbon into 36 inch lengths. Cut any wide Christmassy ribbon you have chosen into 36 inch lengths.IMG_5701

Measure the area where you would like to hang your garland, remembering that it looks best to have it hang with a bit of a sag for a decorative effect. For hanging purposes, you will need a length of twine on each end of the garland so we added 1 yard on each side for flexibility in hanging. Therefore, add 2 yards to your original measurement of how long you want your garland. Cut your twine and tie a knot 1 yard from the end.

Fold over each fabric strip or burlap or ribbon and tie onto the twine with a loose slip knot. You can tie the fabrics in a random order or develop a pattern that you like. We did 2 fabric strips, one burlap with “Merry Christmas” written on it, then 4 fabric strips, then a thinner burlap strip and repeated this pattern until we reached the end of the length we had originally measure for our garland. IMG_5702IMG_5703IMG_5704Tie a knot at the end of the garland. Hang with push pins, or tie in place. You will have a lovely decoration to hang in your home for years to come.IMG_5668Have you tried a new craft project for this Christmas season?

Kerry Signature48

Shopify Store is Up and Running

Christmas is 10 days away and many people are dashing out the door to get their shopping done! Dash no more! We have a great gift idea ready and waiting for you and those you love! The Growing Weisser Store is open for business. This holiday season we are featuring the Baby Bear Stew; A Family Heritage Cookbook in our store. Simply sign into the store and you can purchase right from the comfort of your home. Order in the next day or two and we will get your cookbooks to you before Christmas, otherwise they will arrive ASAP. Over the past two weeks we have been featuring the story of Baby Bear Stew and some of the unique recipes inside this treasured cookbook, so go back and read all about it. To order, click here or use the “our online store button” on the sidebar of the blog?

Merry Christmas and blessings to you this holiday season!

 

Love from all the Growing Weisser girls!IMG_5596

Crafting With Old Christmas Cards

Do you love getting and sending Christmas cards in the mail? It is one of my favorite parts of the Christmas season. I love it so much I leave mine up all year.

My Christmas card display that hangs over the dining room table.

My Christmas card display that hangs over the dining room table.

I love looking at the cards all year long and Ellie and Hanna love to look at the pictures while they eat. It is a fun way to talk about our friends and family and keep them in our thoughts and prayers even after the Christmas season.

Each year as Christmas approaches I get excited for new cards to hang on my display, but it makes me so sad to get rid of the old ones. This is how I came up with the idea for a Christmas Card Book.

Supplies:

One-hole punch

Old Christmas Cards

Reinforcers

3″ multipurpose book ring

Step 1: Collect your cards

IMG_5682Step 2: Arrange your cards by size and shape

IMG_5684Step 3: Punch a hold in the left corner of each card Continue reading

Blessed by Family and Baby Bear Stew

It has been a really great experience reflecting on the legacy of my family this past week through the posts about Baby Bear Stew. Not just reflecting with amazing food and recipes, but the legacy of tradition, togetherness, and love. It is a joy to have the privilege to be in a family that enjoys being together, loves caring for one another in unique and creative ways, and loves to carry on family traditions.

It only makes sense if my first reflection is the way my family was always prepared to have a few extra people at the table. And I know that this tradition was not just a result of an excess of food (which was usually the reality at every meal), but an overflow of love.  Now when I cook, I have the same problem of preparing more than enough and can’t seem to figure out how to just cook for two. And we seem to always have an abundance of cookies and treats as well, just in case someone stops by or we have to go to someone’s house. Continue reading

Xmas Tree Bread Recipe-Winner Announced-Shopify

And the winner is…

Laura Payne!!

You will be receiving an email soon to claim your prize!! :D

As promised, here is the Xmas Tree Bread recipe….

Ingredients

1 box Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup flour
3/4 cup additional flour for kneading
½ cup melted butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup powdered sugar
⅛ cup milk
colorful sprinkles
green and red candied cherries

Make Hot Roll Mix according to directions on box adding ¼  cup sugar, ⅓ cup flour and 1 egg. Mix until smooth dough forms kneading in the extra ¾ cups flour as needed to form a soft but NOT sticky ball of dough. Continue reading

Baking Day with Baby Bear Stew Cookbook

Today was a day set aside for baking, and baking day it was!!! I made 6 loaves of Armenian Bread/Choreg (on page 152 in the Baby Bear Stew Cookbook) and 5 Xmas Tree Breads (on page 159 in the Baby Bear Stew Cookbook). We began a tradition in our family long long ago to have Xmas Tree Bread on Christmas morning while we open our stocking gifts. We have passed this tradition on for 4 almost 5 generations now. I did realize, with all my girls living away from our town in their own homes that I would be making the Xmas Tree Breads by myself this year. I actually want to have a hands on baking day with them and any interested grandchildren to make sure they know the special secrets of making Choreg and Xmas Tree Bread, so I need to schedule that someday soon. In the meantime-get yourself a copy of the Baby Bear Stew; Family Heritage Cookbook and if you want me to set up a baking day with you give me a call or send me an email. Hands on baking lessons are the BEST!!!

You may have a family traditional recipe that you like to make during the holidays. Why not get together with your kids or grandkids or friends and have a baking day. It is a great time for food fun and fellowship. Continue reading

Baby Bear Stew Cookbook Inspired Christmas Traditions

The inspiration for the Baby Bear Stew: A Family Heritage Cookbook was built on a long standing family tradition of gourmet food made by all the great cooks in our family and shared with others during the holidays; and when you have a BIG family…that means any time of year. During the Christmas season, my mom, Roz (aka Grammie Rozzie to my kids) gathered her 30-40 favorite girl friends for her annual Cookie Exchange. I understand that the idea of a cookie party around the holidays is a common festive tradition and may no longer seem like the politically correct thing to do (all that SUGAR!!!!!) but my mom began her tradition in the 60s and it was a wonderful yearly highly anticipated event. My mom’s friends LOVED to cook and LOVED to share their recipes. Rozzie’s Cookie Exchange party was such a fantastic event and such a long standing tradition in our town that an article about it was written up in Sunset Magazine. Not only did we feature many of the cookie recipes in the original Baby Bear Stew; Family Heritage Cookbook that my mom, my aunt Nancy and my Gram created back in the day, I am the proud recipient of ALL of those incredible cookie recipes from over 50 years of Cookie Exchange Parties. That priceless box of vintage cookie recipes is just waiting to be shared, soooooo….another project on my bucket list is to write a Cookie Exchange Cookbook- 50 Years of Family Tradition. Today I am going to share a recipe with you that my mom created years ago. The original name of the recipe (on page 212 of the Baby Bear Stew Cookbook) is Oriental Brittle Cookies (not sure how politically correct that name is in today’s world). It is a crisp brittle like cookie that is easy to make and delicious. The secret ingredient will surprise you. I tweaked the recipe a bit to modernize it but still keep the original flavor and brittle-like appearance and texture. ENJOY!!! Continue reading