Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Christmas Cranberry Cake

Christmas Cranberry Cake - Simple and Delicious 6 Ingredient, Made-from-Scratch Holiday Cake Recipe -

Tis the season for baking, desserts, and...cranberries! 

When I saw this 6 ingredient, made-from-scratch cake, I knew that I had to try it.  It is so simple to make and the end result is the perfect combination of sweet and tart.

Christmas Cranberry Cake - Simple and Delicious 6 Ingredient, Made-from-Scratch Holiday Cake Recipe -

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Christmas Cranberry Cake
(Original recipe from Barefeet In The Kitchen)


3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups all purpose flour (or 100% whole wheat pastry flour - Bob's Red Mill is my favorite)
12 oz. fresh cranberries


1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter.

2.  Beat eggs and sugar for 5-7 minutes on low.  Mixture will thicken slightly and close to double in size.

3.  Add butter and vanilla; beat for 2 minutes.  Add flour and mix until just combined.  Stir in cranberries.

4.  Place batter evenly into greased 9x13 baking dish.  Bake for 40-50 minutes until edges are golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

5.  Cool completely before cutting and serving.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Note:  If you want to be able to make this amazing cake throughout the year, buy several bags during the holiday season and freeze them. 

Christmas Cranberry Cake - Simple and Delicious 6 Ingredient, Made-from-Scratch Holiday Cake Recipe -

I made this especially for my husband because he loves cranberries so much.  Well, he took one bite and wanted to eat the whole cake.  I'll admit that the kids and I felt the same way!  I'll definitely be taking this to our family's Thanksgiving...and probably Christmas too.

It's the perfect holiday treat - sweet, simple, and everyone loves it!  Happy baking and Happy Thanksgiving!

And now for a Christmas gift for my subscribers!

These Christmas beauties are going out to email subscribers on Thursday morning, December 22, 2016!

Email subscribers will receive a Buffalo Plaid Merry Christmas printable (8x10 and 5x7) and a Red Buffalo Plaid Reindeer printable (8x10 and 5x7).

Subscribers will receive hand-lettered Merry & Bright, Joy to the World, and Merry Christmas gift tags - all 3 come in solid black, red buffalo plaid, and green buffalo plaid (business card size - 3.5x2).

Sign up for my newsletter to get these Christmas printables and gift tags this month!  As a subscriber you'll get exclusive blog updates and Sweet Little Ones Shop discounts and freebies one to two times every month!

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Advent Wreath Craft

Family Advent Wreath Craft - Celebrate and prepare for Advent and Christmas together as a family by making this fun craft with your kids (complete with retractable flames!).  Links to daily prayers and devotions included! -

Advent starts on this Sunday!

Advent is a time to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls for Christ coming as a Baby at Christmas and for His Second Coming at the end of time.  So Advent is a great time of joy and penitence, which is represented in the Advent Wreath.  (The purple candles symbolize penitence and the pink one joy.) 

I believe getting your kids involved in the details, like making your Advent Wreath together, will help them to remember, learn, and get excited about growing closer to God as a family.

So here is a fun Advent Wreath craft I created that you can all make and use together (since it has retractable flames!).  Then, below I have listed a great resource of daily devotions and prayers to go along with your Advent Wreath!

Family Advent Wreath Craft - Celebrate and prepare for Advent and Christmas together as a family by making this fun craft with your kids (complete with retractable flames!).  Links to daily prayers and devotions included! -

Below I have posted some affiliate links, which means that I may make a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase after clicking on those links. Please see the disclosure page for more info!

Family Advent Wreath Craft

Time needed:  30-45 minutes (1-2 adults with toddler/preschooler/kid assistance)

Materials needed:

Green tissue paper (2 sheets) - they do not have to be the same shade of green!
Green construction paper (1 sheet)
Purple construction paper (2 sheets)
Pink construction paper (1 sheet)  (You can get all three colors you need in this pack)
4 long yellow pipe cleaners (12 inches long, like these ones)
4 empty cardboard toilet paper rolls (or 2 empty cardboard paper towel rolls cut in half)
Masking tape
Stapler (optional)

Wreath Directions:

1.  Fold the green construction paper in half lengthwise.  Cut in a straight line along the fold. You will only need 1 of these pieces.

2.  Take that piece of green construction paper and fold in half lengthwise again.  Cut in a straight line along the fold.  You should now have two long, thin pieces of green construction paper.

3.  Take both pieces of paper and glue or staple the ends together so you have one very long, skinny piece of green construction paper.  This is the base of the wreath.  Set aside to dry.

4.  Take the green tissue paper, and fold in half twice so it is close to the shape of a square.  Cut along all of the folds.  You should have 4 squares.  Cut each square into thirds.  Then, cut each third into thirds.  (I placed each of the 4 large squares on top of each other and then cut them all at together - this saves a lot of time!)  Repeat for the second piece of tissue paper.  You should yield 36 squares per sheet of tissue paper so 72 squares total.  (Don't worry about the cuts being even or straight - it does not need to be perfect!)

Family Advent Wreath Craft - Celebrate and prepare for Advent and Christmas together as a family by making this fun craft with your kids (complete with retractable flames!).  Links to daily prayers and devotions included! -

5.  Gently crinkle all of the tissue paper squares.  It worked best for us by pinching the middle and then crinkling the edges (so it kind of looked like a flower).  But you really can't go wrong!

Family Advent Wreath Craft - Celebrate and prepare for Advent and Christmas together as a family by making this fun craft with your kids (complete with retractable flames!).  Links to daily prayers and devotions included! -

6.  Lay out the long green construction paper.  Starting about one half inch from one end, vertically draw a line of glue, and set 3 of the crinkled tissue paper squares on it.  Continue doing this all the way down the green construction paper, keeping the crinkled paper squares tight together, until you get to about one half inch from the other end.  Save 3 crinkled tissue paper squares.

7.  Staple or glue together the ends of the construction paper to form a circle.  Once dry, draw a line of glue over the seam and use your 3 saved pieces of crinkled construction paper to cover it.  Let the wreath dry.

Candle Directions:

1.  Fold each pipe cleaner in half and twist the folded end. 

2.  Place a piece of masking tape over the opening of each toilet paper roll.

3.  Using the wire end of the piper cleaners, poke two holes fairly close together in the center of the masking tape on the toilet paper rolls.  Stick one end of each pipe cleaner in each hole.  Gently move the pipe cleaner up and down in the tape til it moves fairly easily.  (It should look like the picture below - except I twisted my pipe cleaner later!)  Set aside.

Family Advent Wreath Craft - Celebrate and prepare for Advent and Christmas together as a family by making this fun craft with your kids (complete with retractable flames!).  Links to daily prayers and devotions included! -

4.  Fold the pink and purple construction paper sheets in half.  Cut in a straight line along the folds.  (See the piece of pink construction paper in the picture above for the approximate size.)  You will only need 1 of the pink rectangles and 3 of the purple ones.

5.  Wrap one piece around the toilet paper roll so the bottom of the construction paper and the bottom of the toilet paper roll line up (the twisted pipe cleaner end is the top).  The construction paper will be significantly taller than the toilet paper roll.  This is what you want - then you will not be able to see the cardboard!

6.  However, there was quite a bit of excess of construction paper vertically so I trimmed mine.  (Feel free to leave the excess if you want.)  Then, draw a line of glue along the long, trimmed edge of the construction paper and glue the ends together forming a cylindrical candle around the toilet paper roll.  (You do not have to actually glue it to the toilet paper roll.)  Hold until dry.  Repeat for each candle.

7.  Push each yellow pipe cleaner down into the candle so that it can't be seen (but you can still easily reach it!).

Family Advent Wreath Craft - Celebrate and prepare for Advent and Christmas together as a family by making this fun craft with your kids (complete with retractable flames!).  Links to daily prayers and devotions included! -

Your Advent Wreath:

Now, you're ready!  Place the candles freely and evenly along the inside edge of the wreath in a place of prominence in your house, like your dining room table.  Every week, you light one candle by pulling up the yellow pipe cleaner.

The candles are lit in this order: purple, purple, pink, purple (on Nov. 29th, Dec. 6th, 13th, and 20th).

Family Advent Wreath Craft - Celebrate and prepare for Advent and Christmas together as a family by making this fun craft with your kids (complete with retractable flames!).  Links to daily prayers and devotions included! -

Daily Advent Reflections and Prayers for:

Week 1  -  Week 2  -  Week 3  -  Week 4  

We are very excited to celebrate this Advent by growing closer to Jesus through prayer, fasting, and good works together as a family!  

May God bless us and draw us all closer to Him this Advent and Christmas Season!

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You may also like:

Printable Advent Wreath Banner
DIY Felt Nativity Scene for Kids

Are you looking to link up with Tuesday Talk?

Head on over the next post...
It features several posts on how to 
celebrate and prepare for Advent as a family! 
Today, I'm linking up with 
my link party Tuesday Talk along with my 12 other awesome hosts
and with these awesome parties :)

Celebrating Advent with Your Family Features (Tuesday Talk #47)

Welcome to Tuesday Talk!

Advent begins this Sunday, November 29th!  

Advent is a time of quiet preparation in our hearts and minds for the coming of the Son of Man at the end of time and also as a Child on Christmas Day.  We are very excited to use this time as a family to grow closer to Jesus through prayer, fasting, and good works!

This past weekend, we got an early start by making our own kid-friendly Advent Wreath (with retractable flames!).  We have an actual Advent Wreath, but I really wanted to make one with the kids too.  I think that the more they get to be involved in the details, the more they'll remember, learn, grow, and have fun this Christmas season.  (Here is how we made ours!)

We're planning on having a Jesse Tree together as a family as well.  We got this awesome book Our Family's Jesse Tree that has a devotion, activity, and ornament each day.  It's simple, inexpensive, and very family-oriented.  This is something new for us, so I know we're going to learn a lot!

We will also be celebrating saint's feast days, such as St. Nicholas Day on December 6th.  These holy men and women loved Jesus with all their hearts, minds, and souls.  So their love-filled words and actions point us towards Him whom they loved so deeply - Christ. 

I'm very excited to begin this Advent season - I know it will deepen our Faith as a family!

Now, for the Tuesday Talk features!

There were several great posts relating to the spirit of Advent from last week's link up.  So here are my favorites to help you and your family prepare your hearts and minds for Christ's Nativity in just a few short weeks:

Preparing for Advent with Kids by Keri at Living In This Season

Keri has some great tips on how to be prepared for this upcoming Advent.  I think my favorite one is to be realistic and give yourself grace in the moment.  Remember what this season is all about: preparing for Christ!

It's too late to participate in Operation Christmas Child for this year, but she lays out great tips on getting ahead for next year.  But I also think these are great tips for buying for anyone in need, such as families at homeless shelters.  And that is something that would be wonderful to do not just at Christmas, but year-round.

Five Favorite Acts of Kindness by Holly at While I'm Waiting

Holly talks about several fun, easy, and cheap (or free!) ways to spread love and kindness around.  The best part is that they are all things you can do with your kids.  What a great way to involve your whole family in cultivating hearts of generosity and charity this Advent!

So what do you and your family do during Advent to prepare for Christ's Nativity?  

Happy Thanksgiving and have a blessed start to Advent!

Ok, on to the Link Up!

One thing before you link up - if you want the opportunity to be featured, please make sure there is a link back to at least one of the hosts in your post, sidebar, or party page.  (You can grab the button below!)  Your lovely blog is being presented on our 13 blogs - we would love it if you would return the favor and link back to us!  Thank you!!!

Check out the Tuesday Talk guidelines here,
and check out the features from every week here!

Delicious Dessert Recipes – Buckeye Brownie Cookies, Buckeye Cocktails, Pumpkin Coffee Cake, Chocolate and Oats Muffins, Snickers Poke Cake, and Fluffy Pumpkin Spice Cookies –Tuesday Talk Features –
(Starting from the upper left:)
Beth - Our Pretty Little Girls ~ Michelle - Grammie Time
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Emily - Morning Motivated Mom

Sweet Little Ones - Tuesday Talk Link Up and Party

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Friday, November 20, 2015

High Five for Friday: November Highlights

This has been a week of excitement and preparation!  And none of it has to do with Thanksgiving...

World Adoption Day 2015
Did you know November is National Adoption Month?  We celebrated earlier this month on World Adoption Day with our smiley face hands.  This weekend, we have a prayer service and potluck dinner with other adoptive families in honor of this special month.  And next week, we're having a get together with one of children's birthparents.

Last year's World Adoption Day

Wow, what can happen in just one year...  Last year at this time, we were matched with twins...for the first time.  Little did we know that we'd end up losing two sets of twins in a two month span and then be blessed with our son L only 14 short hours after receiving the first phone call about him!  Adoption is quite the roller coaster of emotions...yet all worth it in the end!

Adoption is such a hard road but full of miracles too.  So will you please keep all of the waiting families and children, birthmothers and fathers, adoption agencies and lawyers, and adoptive families in your thoughts and prayers especially this month?  I can tell you from experience that your prayers truly matter to every single one of us!

I'm in the midst of a ton of "firsts".  In the past few weeks, L has started rolling to get where he wants, sitting up steadily, really babbling and saying "Da-da", and getting the hang of swallowing/eating real food.  L also started to pick up those little food puffs on his own and is actually put them in his own mouth.  Every day, he's learning something new!  This is my favorite baby stage - I just love when you can really see the wheels turning and things clicking together!

Spices and veggies ready!  Well, all except one...
This week I prepared for a freezer swap with my friends.  I made 6 Sausage and White Bean Chilis (one for myself, of course!), and I'll swap them at my book club tonight, so I'll come home with 5 different freezer meals.

Have you ever done this with your friends?  It's a great way to get some great new recipes and several ready-to-go home cooked meals!

Here's a tip if you do: make sure to check ALL of the ingredients before starting...not just the main ingredients!  I thought I was so well prepared!  Well, I ended up running out of a spice when I only needed 1 more teaspoon.  So I had to emergency text my husband a grocery list of...oregano!  Organization fail.

The kids love playing with their felt Nativity scene
We are so ready for Advent.  Although we're still preparing for it!  It begins Thanksgiving weekend!  This year, we're planning on focusing more on the true meaning of Christmas, having lots of saint celebrations, and doing acts of service for each other and those around us.

J loved cradling the felt Baby Jesus <3

I can't wait to get out the felt Nativity I made for the kids again - it was such a hit last year!  And along with our regular traditions like that one, we're going to be doing a couple of new things, like having a Jesse Tree and celebrating more feast days.  I'm looking forward to sharing all of our activities with you in my posts throughout December!

How do you and your family celebrate Advent?

Katie and I are so excited to be featured by the HF4F ladies this week!

So if you're new here, hello and welcome!

I'm Jess, a Catholic, crafty, book-loving adoptive mom of three kids 4 years old and under living this amazing, loving, and wild adventure alongside my husband Jim.  Oh yeah, and I'm a little crazy about hobbits, Switchfoot, Mexican food, and Notre Dame football too.  (Go Irish!  We're #4 in the playoff rankings!  Let's keep this up, boys!)  Here's a little more about me ;)

And here's all about my sister Katie and her lovely family!

So how about you?  Please introduce yourself in the comments below - we'd love to get to know you!

Hope you have a wonderful Friday and weekend!


Come join us and our 12 lovely co-hosts
every Tuesday at 8am EST for our Tuesday Talk link party!

Today, I'm linking up with these awesome parties!
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