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Favorite Family Christmas Tradition


Feeling Sentimental

I find myself so sentimental this Christmas!

I think it is because my girls are 15, 13 & 11 years old, and now that they are teens and preteens, I am wanting to just hold on to the few years we have left with them.  I’m really feeling how old they are, as I’ve noticed there are a few family traditions that are just not as exciting as they used to be. Our girls are getting older and naturally the things that excite them change. My oldest is a cross-country runner, so making and eating a bunch of Christmas cookies is not something she wants to engage in, as eating healthy is pretty important to her.  Our puzzle tradition?  I’m stuck doing it alone, as the girls are just too busy or too cool {grin} to sit with Mom and do a puzzle.

Another tradition that has fizzled out, and the one I’m mourning the most, is our ‘Steal-the-kids-from-thier-beds-to -go-look-at-Christmas-lights’ tradition.  They now stay up way too late for us to wake them up and steal them from their beds.  They are also at the age where being crammed in a car together late at night is the perfect recipe for sister drama!

Despite being so sad to give it up, I think back fondly to the many  years we did this favorite holiday tradition of mine. They may not be interested now, all 3 girls would say that it was one of their favorite memories of the holiday season, too.


Favorite Holiday Tradition

The tradition started way before the girls were born, when Todd and I were engaged & newlyweds.  His Mom would rent a limousine and Todd, his Mom, his brother & wife and I would relax in the limo while the driver took us around to the best neighborhoods in town to look at Christmas lights.  I remember loving it, and thought it was such a loving thing for Todd’s Mom to do.

When our kids got old enough to have interest, we started a similar tradition.  We decided that some weekend night in December we would put the kids to bed a bit early, then heat the car & steal them from their beds, tell them we were going on an adventure, and throw them -footie pajamas & all- into the car.  They absolutely loved it.

I have so many vivid images of the girls holding on to their Dad, squealing in delight with eyes bright as he carried them to the car.  I was always behind them, capturing the moment with the camera.  If they were not wearing footie pajamas, we would throw on their slippers and they, of course, always grabbed their favorite snuggly blanket, as we always skipped coats.


Dad’s job was to heat the car and carry them out.  My job was to gather the Christmas music & a small snack for each girl.  I would often take a thermos of hot cocoa for Todd and I and sippie cups for the girls.  Their favorite CD’s for so long was Strawberry Shortcake Very Berry Christmas & The Chipmunks Christmas. We had another one with kids Christmas songs on it –the favorites being ‘I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause’ (which they all would say “Eww!  Gross!!” and ‘All I Want For Christmas Is My 2 Front Teeth’ which drew extra laughter when one of them actually WERE missing their 2 front teeth.

I would usually get snacks from the Dollar Store.  I’d find a fun little Christmas purse or small stocking, and load it up with a package of crackers and some Christmas candy.  They just loved it–especially the sweet treats. Hint: suckers are great.  They keep little mouths busy and the volume of the car down.

Stawberry-shortcake-Christmas-CD{Notice the glass of wine I took with me that year}

As the girls got older, we had to get smarter.  I remember running around the house setting all the clocks back so we could get them to bed earlier.  It became a guessing game every weekend in December, “I bet it is going to be tonight!” they would say…and often they were right.

The image I cannot get out of my brain is the girls being carried out by their dad. Like I said, I got the view from behind, their little legs would be wrapped around their Dad with their fuzzy slippers hanging, their little heads peaking at me from his shoulder.  Those legs kept growing longer every year and his struggle to lift them each year grew.  Even as they got older, he still carried them out so they wouldn’t get snow on their slippers.  It was so much fun!

Holiday-Christmas-Lights-2{“Slow down so I can get a clear picture!”}

The lights were always so great to look at, and we would choose our favorites as a family.  I’ve heard of families having a holiday lights tradition where they would leave a plate of cookies at the house that was voted the family favorite.  We never did this but it is a fun idea.

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Holiday Lights Contest

Do you have a favorite house in the neighborhood?   Do you know someone who goes all out? Is it you?  If so, enter USA TODAY Holiday Lights contest to be in with a chance to win a $5,000 gift card, and help choose America’s 10 best public light displays!

Participants Can:

  • Enter the USA TODAY contest by uploading a photo of your own holiday lights display on the USA TODAY website. The winner of this photo contest gets a $5,000 gift card from USA TODAY.
  • Vote for your favorite holiday lights display from a group of 10 pre-selected public organizations. Each voter will also have the chance to win one of two prizes: A $1,ooo gift card or a $1,500 gift card.


New Family Traditions

I have been thinking hard about some new traditions we can implement with our girls now that they are older.  I know that they would be into entering in the USA TODAY contest above, as a gift card of any value would be exciting, much less one in the thousands!  They also are at an age where they love giving an opinion and love a good competition.

I know any traditions that involve their friends or cousins would be super appealing to them right now.  Or, sadly, one that involves shopping!

Have any ideas for me?

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

Do you put up holiday lights each year?


Holidays/Parties/ Meals/ RECIPES/ Seasonal/ Sweets/ Thanksgiving

8 Amazing Must-Try Pumpkin Recipes


Banana Pumpkin Muffins | New Nostalgia

Super moist pumpkin muffins– you will not believe there is no oil in these muffins.  The moisture comes from applesauce and bananas.  The perfect amount of cinnamon spice and just a  bit of chocolate chips make these muffins a family fall favorite recipe.


Ancestral Pumpkin Pie | New Nostalgia

The secret ingredient of molasses makes this pie unforgettable.  It will be the only pumpkin pie recipe you will want to use once you taste it!


Roasted Pecan Pumpkin Butter | How Sweet It Is

The photo alone makes me drool.  The pecans in this spread gives your morning toast a hit of protein!


Homemade Apple Pumpkin Fruit Roll-ups | Playful Learning

What a great way to use up all those apples from the apple orchard!



Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding | Tasty Yummies

A gluten-free, sugar-free vegan dessert.  Leave it to chia to make a dessert pudding healthy!  Want to know more about chia?  Read this.


Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup | The Messy Baker

Not just for your coffee.  Use it in tea, on pancakes, in your  morning oatmeal & over vanilla ice-cream.


Raw Pumpkin ‘Cheesecake’ Bars | The Scent Of Oranges

I am on a huge raw dessert kick.  These ‘cheesecake’ bars made from pureed nuts sound amazing.


3 Ingredient Best Pumpkin Spice Chai | New Nostalgia

My favorite fall drink.  Keep an eye out for those pumpkin spice tea bags.



Want more pumpkin goodness?

Visit my ‘Pumpkin Please!’ Pinterest Board for more amazing pumpkin goodness including:

Pumpkin Pie Fudge

Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cake

Pumpkin Cranberry Ginger Parfaits

Pumpkin Roll

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin & Apple Cider Fizz

Pumpkin Fritters

Pumpkin Scotchies

Maple Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Breakfast Parfaits

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake

Pumpkin Cranberry Granola Bars

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Soap

Pumpkin Cashew Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Krispie Treats

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

Pumpkin Coffee Cake In A Mug

Pumpkin Scones

Pumpkin Spice For Toast

Pumpkin Apple Butter

Cider Glazed Pumpkin Baked Donuts

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Pumpkin Pie Toffee

Pumpkin Butter Granola

Mini Pumpkin Creme Pies

Pumpkin Shortbread

+ More!




Frugal/ HOME/ Seasonal

Handmade Gifts

Is it too early to be talking Christmas? I love getting all of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving.  I have my Mother-In-Law to thank for this.  She is always done by Thanksgiving and is always able to enjoy the beautiful Christmas season despite having a gazillion grand kids to buy for!

We have to be a bit more frugal this year due to my health expenses, so I plan to make some handmade gifts. I have been over at Pinterest getting inspired by all wonderful ideas, and thought I would share some of my favorites with you!

How about you?

Do you make any of your Christmas gifts?

Do you mind getting a handmade Christmas gift?

When do you start your Christmas shopping?

What is your favorite handmade gift above?

Do you have a Pinterest account?  If so, I’d love to know.  To follow me at Pinterest and see more of my pins,  click here.


RECIPES/ Seasonal/ Sides

Too Much Pumpkin?!?

***this post is from last fall.  I’ve been busy having fun with my girls on their fall break, too busy to write new posts!!  
If you love pumpkin, this post is for you!  I am planning on going crazy during the remainder of this fall with the whole pumpkin food theme.  I have collected a few recipes that have caught my eye, and now that it is pumpkin eatin’ season, its time to try a few!

Every year when it comes time to carve pumpkins and scoop out all those pumpkin guts, I have great intentions of saving the seeds and making them into some kind of roasted goodness.  And every year, my good intentions go right out the window after a long night of carving, and even longer time of cleaning up all those pumpkin guts. This year I am FOR SURE going to do it.  I have Old Bay Seasoning sitting in my cupboard, which is what I need to make Maryland Pumpkin Seeds.
*I made these and they were yummy!

This Creamy Pumpkin Pasta recipe is one I am very excited about. Doesn’t that sound so very comforting?
*This pasta is one we will have at least once every fall.  I made it and it was creamy goodness..

We are all about pancakes in this house, so Fluffy Light Pumpkin Pancakes are a must try!
*These are everything their name says they are.  So good!

The picture of these Soft Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies has not left my brain since I first got a glimpse of it, I really hope they taste as good as they look! (I am going to use applesauce in place of the oil and maybe some maple syrup instead of all that sugar!)
*I replaced 1/2 the oil with applesauce and used pure cane sugar (sucanat) instead of sugar.  I made them last fall and I am hoping to get the energy to make them again, seeing the picture again makes me remember how wonderful they were!

This Black Bean Pumpkin Soup I have made, and it is to die for.  It got two thumbs up from my husband, and it is very healthy.  (I used a small amount of bacon instead of the ham)

 I have yet to find a chili made with turkey that I like, maybe this one, Pumpkin Turkey Chili, will be THE one?

As you know, I am a smoothie lover. Not so sure about a Pumpkin Smoothie, but if it can make a vegetable taste like dessert, I’m all for trying it!

Thank goodness I have until the end of November to make some of these!  I have a feeling my family will have had their fill of pumpkin by then!

Kids/Family/ Seasonal

Fall Break Fun

**This is a repost from last year.  This week is my girls fall break, and we just found out I don’t have to do chemo until next week, so I get to enjoy my girls this week!!  This motivated me pull out this “Fall Break List Of Things To Do” post.  I will be eager to see what my girls want to add to it this year…

My girls have a week off of school for fall break.  Today was the first day, and after chores were done this morning, it only took about an hour until I heard the words “Mom…I’m bored!” When I think of all the awesome things my sweet but spoiled girls have to keep them busy, I was pretty surprised to hear those words so soon into our break!

I know a list helps keep me focused and on track with the flow of my day, so I thought maybe it would help them, too.  I grabbed a pen and paper, called my girls into the living room and made them pop- a- squat on the living room floor right in front of my feet.  Then I asked them to help make a list of all the fun things they can do to keep themselves busy during break.  They really got into it, and we were able to come up with a whole bunch of fun stuff to do!  As we brain- stormed, it was neat how they were able to think of things they have not done in awhile, like Lincoln Logs and making paper snowflakes.

When we were done, I copied the list onto a large piece of paper and hung it on our dining room wall.  I made a place for each of them to initial beside each idea, so they can keep track of what they have done.
They played with Play-doh for the first time in a very long time today, it kept them quite busy!  They are all excited to wake up tomorrow and decide what they are going to do next. I think we were able to come up with enough things to make this fall break very fun!

Here is what we came up with:
Legos, Art, Twister Dance, Karaoke, Sidewalk Chalk, Play-Doh, Nintendo DSi, Pop Beads, Computer, Hullabaloo, Puzzibits, KEVA Planks, Pop Beads, Beads, Paper Snowflakes, Doll House, Babies, Dress-Up, Barbies, Marker Board(Dry Erase Board), Hullabaloo, Scooters/Bikes, Lincoln Logs, Sticks, Crossword Puzzles, Piano, Basketball, Hide n Seek, Sardines, Trace Cookie Cutters, Bake/Cook, Doctor/Nurse, Beauty Shop, Lite Brit, Puppets, Puzzles, Tea Party, Tinker Toy, School, Play Food, Coloring Pages, Polish Nails/Toes, Boochie, Life, Battleship, Circus Game, Drawing Game, Parcheesi, Visit Library, Play At Park, Go For A Hike!  Whew!


3 Fun & Easy Halloween Projects For Kids

**This is a repost from last year
We have been having a ton of halloween fun here at the Bowman House.  My girls just  LOVE all things spooky, and have been creating all kinds of spooky fun.  I am not one who is creative enough to come up with a project, so I depend heavily on!  It doesn’t matter what the season, the Family Fun website always has great, simple ideas.

Here are a few that we tried recently:

Salt Dough Ghosts and Paper Bag Trees
I can’t believe we have never made anything with salt dough before!  It is a cup of flour, cup of salt and a half of a cup of water.  Mold into any shape and microwave until hardened!  So easy!  The plan was to just create ghosts, but my girls wanted to get more creative, which was great, it kept them busy the entire evening.  The paper bag tree is a cute idea, but all that twisting left my wrists tired, so we decided to make just one!  I think making mini trees with brown paper lunch bags would be much better for little fingers and wimpy wrists.

Gotta have a snack in the middle of all this creepy craziness!  Apples and Almonds, can’t get much healthier than that!

These were so much fun!  My girls spent almost 2 hours at the table creating these, and every few minutes there would be a trio of giggles drifting from the dining room.  They just loved finding silly face parts to glue on to their bags.  Aren’t they funny?

What would I do without Family Fun?  What did moms do without computers back in the day?  I am very thankful for ours, its kinda SCARY thinking about doing life without it!

FUN/DIY/ Seasonal

Mason Jars-Glowing Monster Jars

**Thought I would re-post this now that it is getting close to Halloween!  This is actually one of my most popular posts on the blog, it does really well with search engines for some reason.  Let me know if you end up making these little monsters with your little monsters!

In this previous post, I told you about my love affair with mason jars.  Well, I’m still having the affair, and I said I would post about all the great things a mason jar can do, so here we go!
Here is a super cute idea for a Halloween craft using mason jars.  I have not made them yet, but I know the minute my daughters see them they will beg me to make them.  I found them here at Not So Idle Hands and they make me love my jars even more!
Crafts…I wouldn’t say I am a person who likes making crafts.  I think it is my impatience.  I like the idea of the craft, but I just want it to be done and do not really enjoy the process.  Still, I buckle down occasionally and just do it, mostly because I have 3 very crafty girls so it is a way to spend time with them, and I have found that being crafty is a frugal way to decorate my home, so that is also motivating.
These little light up monster jars get me a bit excited because I love anything that creates atmosphere, and I know these will. Maybe I can just start simple and make three of them representing my own three lovely, little monsters.  I think these would be fun in my sunroom at night, creating a spooky fun glow!
*update:  We made them today!  I used tissue paper that we had on hand which happened to be a goldish, coppery color.  They were really fun, my girls got really into it.  They look cute lit up with a tealight!
I’m happy to be linking to these parties