One of the best things about the holiday season is all of the time you get to spend with your family and loved ones, creating memories and carrying out traditions. As you bring children into your yearly Christmas traditions, it’s natural for some of your traditions and plans to change as your life does. Adding and omitting traditions and holiday trends through the years is normal. But there are also fun ways to incorporate your children into your Christmas decorating traditions this holiday season.decorate


Gingerbread houses


Gingerbread houses are a family friendly way to decorate and have fun. You can purchase gingerbread house kits or make the gingerbread materials yourself. A fun way to let your children express themselves is to let them each decorate their own houses, and maybe even host a little gingerbread house decoration contest. Bonus to gingerbread houses? They’re a pretty delicious decoration.


Holiday wreaths


Having a holiday wreath on your front door to welcome guests in is a great way to show your guests your festive holiday spirit. There are a lot of different ways that you can make a wreath. The great thing about making your own wreath is that it’s entirely customizable, a lot easier than you’d think, and very kid friendly. The first thing you’ll need is a material for the base. Fronds and branches are great for this. And then, from there, it’s just a matter of decorations. You can use things like burlap, christmas ornaments, monogram letters, or even christmas lights, to really make your holiday wreath special, unique, and festive. Read here to get more ideas for wreaths you can make yourself.


Other yard decor


Making a holiday wreath is just the beginning of your potential home exterior christmas decorations. DIY yard decor can be as simple or extravagant as you want it to be. Have your kids help your string colorful lights around a few bushes or shrubs. Another fun decoration idea is to make homemade lumineers. Cut designs into the sides of brown paper lunch sacks, and then fill the bottom of the sacks with sand. Place artificial tea lights in the sand, and then use these homemade lumineers to decorate! A great way to use them is to line your walkway with them.


Make your own ornaments


Ornaments tend to break pretty easily once you have children running around. A great way to cut the cost of having to constantly replace your Christmas ornaments every year, is to have the whole family participate in ornament making activities. Not only will the whole family have fun, but you’ll save money. And your children will give the Christmas tree a little wider berth as they run around, because they’ll be proud of the ornaments that they made and won’t want to break them. A few fun homemade ornaments to make with your family include: salt dough ornaments, no cook cinnamon ornaments, pom-pom ornaments made from old t shirts, ribbons, and ornaments that are made from felt.decorate


Paper snowflakes to hang in the window


There are few things that fill a child with wonder as much as realizing something that they helped create is beautiful and can serve a purpose. One of the least expensive Christmas decorations that you and your children can make, is paper snowflakes. Distribute safe, kid-friendly scissors to your children, and let them cut designs into paper triangles. Once unfolded, they’ll be beautiful paper snowflakes. One of the best way to create these snowflakes, is to start with a square piece of paper. Fold that square in half diagonally, to create a triangle. Repeat this step two more times, and then begin cutting designs into the paper! After the snowflakes are finished, you can tape them up onto walls or windows. Or, you can tape/glue them onto fishing wire, and then hang the fishing wire from the ceiling. This will create an illusion of falling snow.


Keep it simple


The key to including your kids in your Christmas decorations, is to keep it simple. You don’t have to have your entire home decked out with Christmas lights that will make your electricity bill skyrocket, in order to be festive and spread the holiday spirit. Do-It-Yourself decor projects are fun, and will give you a chance to bring the whole family together to create something beautiful and festive.decorate

Spicy cashew chicken stir-fryLooking for a quick weekday dinner? I’ve made this meal often. Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry is one of those stir-fry recipes that is not only delicious but can come together in under ½ hour. There is about ten minutes of prep work and ten minutes of cooking. This Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry comes together so quickly you better start the rice before you do anything else!Spicy cashew chicken stir-fry


Spicy Cashew Chicken Stir-Fry





¾ cup chicken broth

3 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. dry sherry

3 Tbsp. Soy sauce

1 Tbsp. Plus 2 tsp. Cornstarch

2 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. chili garlic paste (depending on how spicy you want it)

3 Tbsp. Peanut oil

1 pound chicken tenders

1 onion, chopped

1 Tbsp. Peeled, chopped ginger

3 cups Broccoli, cut into florets (Can also use any other vegetable you have on hand.)

¼ cup water

¼ cup cashews, chopped




Whisk together the chicken broth, sherry, soy sauce, cornstarch and chili garlic sauce in a bowl. Set aside


Heat a large non-stick pan or wok over medium high heat. Add 2 tsp. Of the oil then add the chicken. Stir-fry the chicken until iit is cooked through. This should take 4-5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.


Heat the remaining 1 tsp. oil in the same skillet. Add the onion and ginger and stir fry about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli or other vegetables and stir-fry until crisp tender, about two minutes. Add the broth mixture and the water and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture bubbles and thickens, about one minute. Add the chicken and cook until heated through. Serve over rice and garnish with cashews.Spicy cashew chicken stir-fry


This spicy cashew chicken stir-fry serves four. If you don’t eat it in one meal the leftovers are delicious for lunch!Spicy cashew chicken stir-fry

Welcome to the Simple Homestead Blog Hop!

We are so glad that you have stopped by for a visit! We encourage you to look through some of the great posts shared by our readers and then take the time to read those that interest you. If you are adding to our list, thank you for sharing your homesteading, homemaking, and homeschooling posts with us. It’s so much fun to read your hints, tips, and happenings. We hope you have fun exploring all the great ideas everyone has shared with us.

Meet Our Great Co-hosts

Kathi at Oak Hill HomesteadFacebookPinterestInstagram Dash at Bloom Where You’re PlantedFacebookInstagram Sandra at Clearwater Farm – Facebook – Pinterest – Instagram Leah at Busy Gals Homestead and Leah’s Lovely LopsFacebook PinterestTwitter Nancy at On the HomefrontFacebookTwitterPinterest

Featured Posts

Each week we’ll feature the most-viewed post from last week’s hop. Each host also features her own picks from the posts linked the previous week. Visit each of our blogs to see if you were featured this week.

Our most-visited post from last week’s hop:
Foods To Can During the Winter

 My Favorite Post:
Sustainable Strategies For Combatting Food Waste


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Fall is the time of year that you can find cranberries in your local market. Cranberries may be tart but there are all sorts of ways to use cranberries in cooking to satisfy those cranberry cravings. Here are my top five recipes for using cranberries.


Cranberry Vanilla Muffins
What better way to celebrate a special day than with a delicious muffin? In this recipe half a vanilla bean is ground right into the sugar to dominate the flavor of the muffin. Use fresh cranberries or those frozen cranberries in the freezer or even try dried cranberries to whip up a batch of these delicious Cranberry Vanilla Muffins.Cranberry cravings


Cranberry Orange Scones
Still celebrating?  What better way to celebrate than with these feathery light scones. Enjoy the wonderful tart contrast of cranberries and orange zest. I cut the scones into heart shapes for a Valentine’s Day treat! Plus I got to use up some of the frozen cranberries in my freezer!Cranberry cravings


Cranberry Apple Pie
I will forever be grateful for my (ex) brother-in-law for introducing me to this delicious pie. Whenever we spend Thanksgiving with family I make this pie. After all these years when I think of Thanksgiving I think of a Cranberry Apple Pie.Cranberry cravings


Cranberry Orange Marmalade
This is a wonderful recipe to make when cranberries are at their peak between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The scarlet cranberry lends a tartness to compliment the orange of this marmalade. Beside satisfying your cranberry cravings this marmalade makes an excellent gift in your next gift basket!cranberry cravings


Cranberry Apple Pear Relish
My supply of apples and pears seems to be endless this year! I was looking for something different to make and found this recipe. Not only did it use apples and pears but I was even able to use up some frozen cranberries I had. This relish is perfect to serve with poultry or to serve as an appetizer with crackers and cheese.cranberry cravings



The holidays are a joyful time, full of traditions, special time with loved ones, and that special feeling in the air. However, for most of us it can also be a time of incredible stress and worry. We might not be in a financial situation to give our family the holiday that we wish we could. We might feel overwhelmed by the pressure to look perfect during family-photo season. We might find ourselves getting into arguments over petty things with people that we love, simply because we feel inadequate during the expected question sessions about how our life is going and what we plan to do next.


I’ve found that during the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to practice self-love and self-care. Why?Self Care during Holidays


It Enables Better Connections with Others


Hopefully, your holiday season is full of quality time with loved ones. However, even if it’s not, self-love is important to cultivate because it helps you become able to nurture connections with others. Once you are able to acknowledge and own your own worth, others are more likely to recognize and appreciate it themselves. This frees us from the bravado or people-pleasing behavior that comes when we’re not sure what value we bring to the table. It’s the best prevention for unhealthy codependent relationships. Instead, we can actually establish healthy, loving bonds with others.Self Care during Holidays


It Prevents Self-Punishment


The holidays are a great time to fall into the trap of self-punishment. We all know the feeling of indulging too much. For example, we might find ourselves stress eating way too much because we feel that we don’t deserve to get out of our old patterns and come closer to our ideal selves. This can come in many forms, from drinking too much to buying too much.


It Fosters Long-Term Goals


Along the same line, self-love can help us to look beyond immediate self-gratification and instead look ahead to long-term goals. You can have faith both that (1) you deserve to reach your personal goals and plans, and (2) you have the capability to reach those goals. This can help you turn aside from unhealthy behaviors, whether that’s falling into a romantic relationship that you know isn’t what you really want, or further procrastinating taking a professional risk, like asking for a promotion.


4 Steps to Self Love Over the Holidays


Alright, so you recognize the benefits of self-love. But putting it into action can feel like a different story. “Self-Love” sounds great, but it’s also so vague! Most of the time, it seems that it only has as much power to change our lives as a coin tossed into a fountain; it’s a mere wish. Well, I beg to differ. Here are three things to do this holiday season to practice self-love.Self Care during Holidays


  1. Practice gratitude in this moment: We’re wired to look ahead and behind. For the most part, this is good! It’s what makes us human. However, it can sometimes also be the reason that on January 2, we look back and wonder what ever happened to December? You don’t remember having any fun at all. This year, instead of constantly stressing about what else is on your to-do list, take a moment here and there throughout the day to be grateful for that moment. Even if that moment consists of a long stretch of work that you wish would just end, or if you’re waiting in line at the store, or if your children are whining… there’s always something to feel grateful for. Stop waiting to be happy when this or that is done. Appreciate right now! Smile at the person next to you in line. Remember that you’re grateful for your family. Appreciate the fact that in your office, you are comfortable and well in a heated building. In order to practice this more, you might want to set an alarm on your watch or phone once or twice a day. When the alarm goes off, take three quiet breaths and then say a prayer of gratitude.
  2. Avoid arbitrary, materialistic expectations: It’s so easy to play the comparison game during the holidays. Are your children getting as nice of gifts as their friends are? Is your holiday bonus as good as last year? Are your holiday decorations as good as your neighbors’? Is your family Christmas card and accompanying progress report something to be proud of? Well, maybe it’s time to stop worrying about all that. In fact, you’ll find yourself amazingly free once you realize that this Christmas, you don’t HAVE to bake cinnamon bread for everyone who comes to visit. You don’t NEED to host a party, or attend each one that you’re invited to. You won’t really lose much if you miss that sale. Re-evaluate your holiday goals; those things that are the most important to you. These things might be quality time with your family, a walk in the snow, kind words to a stranger. Your holiday doesn’t have to look like all those commercials!
  3. Indulge in moderation: One mistake we make when trying to avoid unhealthy decisions over the holidays is to deprive ourselves. We forbid ourselves to eat any sweets, or to buy anything new for ourselves. And then we feel so guilty and ashamed when we break one of those harsh rules. Often, that shame and disappointment in ourselves leads to the MOST unhealthy behavior. Instead, come to terms with the idea that you should be able to treat yourself this holiday season, as well as others. Give yourself permission to buy one thing for yourself when you go out to do holiday shopping. Allow yourself your favorite dessert at a holiday party. Just set goals for moderation!






visiting Mystic SeaportRecently my son and his wife were visiting from the Pacific Northwest. Since we were going to be in Connecticut visiting family over Thanksgiving we decided to plan a day trip and visit Mystic Seaport.visiting Mystic Seaport


Mystic Seaport has so many things to see. After checking out their website they mentioned the following highlights that you wouldn’t want to miss. There are boats to visit, the seafaring village and many exhibits to look at when visiting Mystic Seaport.visiting Mystic Seaport


The first stop was the visitor reception center. Here we would find everything we would need to make the most of our day. They have maps and schedules and details of the daily events, performances and demonstrations.visiting Mystic Seaport


The Seaport exhibits are open from 10-4 and there are various activities going on all day. Since my husband’s family has a strong whaling background we didn’t want to miss the whaleboat presentation.visiting Mystic Seaport


The Henry B. DuPont Preservation Shipyard gives you an awe-inspiring opportunity to watch skilled craftspeople perform skills made nearly extinct by steel and fiberglass.


Wondering what the Mystic River area looked like in 1870? There is a spectacular Mystic River scale Model which is over 50 feet long and features more than 250 detailed dwellings, shops, barns and lofts as well as five local shipyards.visiting Mystic Seaport


James Driggs Shipsmith Shop, this shipsmith shop was built in New Bedford, Mass, by James D. Driggs in 1885. It is the only manufactory of ironwork for the whaling industry know to have survived from the 29th century.


The highlight of the Mystic Seaport is the Charles W. Morgan whaleship. The Morgan has outlived all others of her kind. Built in 1841 in New Bedford, MA, the Morgan is America’s last surviving wooden whaleship and a precious piece of maritime history.visiting Mystic Seaport


These are just a few of the highlights of Mystic Seaport but there are many other building and exhibits to view. If you ever find yourself in Connecticut take time to visit this wonderful museum of America and the Sea.



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