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  • Holiday

    My Family’s Christmas Traditions

    My Family’s Christmas Traditions

    I have a large family, so part of my immediate family’s holiday tradition is juggling houses on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If we pull out the microscope and dive into my mother’s side of the family’s tradition, we’ll find BBQ sandwich platters and two rounds of Dirty Santa.

    Dirty Santa, for those of you who have that quizzical look, is traditionally a game where people bring a gag gift wrapped (or in a bag) to a Christmas party. At first my family went along with this, until people began to get upset with the dollar amount they spent on their gag gift versus the dollar amount spent on the one they ended up with. It’s not like there would have been a melt down if we had continued to do it the first way, but during this season of giving, we upped the stakes.

    Instead of gag gifts, there would be actual secret presents. Each person would bring a $10 present(s) and put it in a pile in the center of the room. This would lead to everyone drawing a number out of whatever bowl, hat, or bucket was available that year, and would begin playing. The rules are simple for our household:

    1. Place hidden (wrapped or bagged) gift in center of the room with other presents
    2. Count how many people are playing and put individual strips of paper in a hat with numbers representing the amount of people on them
    3. Everyone draws a number
    4. # 1 gets to pick a present first
    5. # 1 opens their present and shows it to the room
    6. # 2 picks a present and shows it to the room
    7. # 2 can then decide to keep their gift or “steal” # 1’s gift

    This continues with each number thereafter. A gift can only be “stolen” 3 times before it is stuck with someone. The person that is # 1 will get a chance to “steal” someone’s gift after the last number has gone. It’s all fun and games until a 10 years-old is crying over not getting what she wanted because cousin Tony wanted it, too.

    In the end, everyone leaves happy with a single present and the fun of hanging out with family.

    My dad’s side of the family is a little different. We actually cook food for this one. If you’re anything like me and are not a seasoned Chef, then I have some good news for you. I could easily burn a packaged sheet of cookies with the directions listed plainly in front of me, but I never go wrong with these two family recipes: French Potatoes and Chicken Dumplings.

    French Potatoes are identical to some Scalloped Potatoes recipes but sound fancier. You start off by peeling, washing, and cutting potatoes into chip-like slices. The preparation for both recipes is the only bad part.

    Then, heat up equal parts mustard and butter in a pot. Add in some salt. I’m not giving you specific amounts, because it really just depends on how many calories you’re feeling like eating that day. Give it about an estimated cup-cup and a half of each, minus the salt (that’d be a lot of salt, but there is never enough butter). The next step is to layer some potato slices onto a lightly greased pan. Cover the first layer with the butter, salt, mustard mixture. Add some parmesan cheese from those little bottles, next. And continue this process until all your potatoes are covered in heaps of sauce and cheese. Sounds healthy, right?

    Here’s a plain list of ingredients:

    Butter (to your heart’s content)

    Mustard

    Parmesan Cheese

    Salt

    Potatoes (of course!)

    Heat your oven to 350 degrees or 400 degrees if you’re impatient like me. I’m sure there’s some cooking logic somewhere that argues changing the temperature does not work the same just faster.

    Leave in for 45 minutes (or 30), and voila!

    The next recipe, the Chicken and Dumplings, are a favorite with my family. I even make these throughout the year if I’m feeling particularly culinary. You just need a little patience or some extra hands for this one.

    Grab two cans of regular (or large) size biscuits from your local grocer. I’m sure you could make them from scratch, but I’m just not at that point in my life right now.

    Roll out some parchment paper or clean your counter space. Cover the area with some Self-Rising flour. Make sure to have extra flour because the rolling process for these biscuits can get pretty needy (I definitely could have made a pun here, but I’ll spare you).

    Break open the cans, place a single biscuit onto the floured surface. Cover it with a little bit of flour and use either a roller or plastic cup to flatten it out. Then take a knife and slice the flattened pieces into long, thin strips. Continue this process until both cans of biscuits are now heaps of thin dough.

    Take two cans of Cream of Chicken soup (Campbell’s or off-brand both work) and place them into a large pot on the stove. Add in a cup of water for each can and toss some pepper and salt for taste. Let boil on medium heat for thirty minutes. Then, toss in the dough strips. Let cook for fifteen-twenty minutes until dough is cooked. You may need to stir a lot near the end of the time to keep it from sticking to your pot.

    If you’re not begging for more after your first taste, then I’m not sure you’re a real person.

    Here is a list of ingredients:

    2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup

    2 cans of ready to make biscuits

    Salt

    Pepper

    Self-rising flour

    I hope that you enjoy some of my family’s holiday traditions, and feel free to comment your own down below!

  • Gifts, Holiday

    Great Gift Ideas for Family

    With Christmas coming up fast, it’s always a good idea to get a head start on shopping for your loved ones. We know that it’s hard to show everyone how much they mean to you in a creative way, while also not breaking the bank, so we have compiled a list of some ideas for just some of the important people in your life. Let them know how much you love them this holiday season with these ideas!

    For Your Brother

    Socks are a necessity for every boy, and you can make them individual to your brother by customizing them to fit his personality. Does he favorite football team or food? You can find socks with either! You can find all kind of funky socks especially for your brother at Happy Socks in Birmingham.

    For Your Sister

    Shopping for sisters can either go extremely right or extremely wrong, depending on how well you can judge your sister’s taste. However, a simple but powerful gift that is sure to please any sister are the Giving Key necklaces. There is a plethora of different words that you can find imprinted on the different jewelry pieces. There are necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and more all emblazoned with words like “create”, “love”, and “strength”. Pick the perfect word for your sis and watch her smile. You can find these online, or at boutiques in Birmingham, like Lizard Thicket.

    For Your Mom

    Your mom finally learned to FaceTime, and now she won’t forget to have her charger on her always with the Lightning Cable Key Ring. It fits right on her keys and you’ll be so thankful she’ll be able to FaceTime you all the time! These are easy to find online to purchase.

    For Your Dad

    Do your parents like to entertain a lot? Then a perfect gift idea for dad is a serving board in the shape of his home state. Whether that be Alabama, Michigan, or any state in between, your dad could serve up his favorite cheeses and other snacks on his favorite state. If your dad happens to be extremely patriotic, you could choose a serving board in the shape of the United States instead. These are also easily found on Etsy, or a similar website.

    Have fun shopping for your loved ones this holiday season!

  • Cooking, Food, Health, Holiday

    How to Have a Gluten Free Christmas

    How to Have a Gluten Free Christmas

    Recently, I got tested by my doctor and found out that I was gluten intolerant.

    Do I ignore this diagnosis most days? Yes. If I didn’t, would I feel a whole lot better? Absolutely. Around the holidays, it seems impossible to avoid gluten. The holiday season tempts me at every family get together or holiday celebration. I want to eat every bread, cookie, and a piece of cake at holiday parties.

    For starters, a lot of people don’t know what gluten is or what types of foods have gluten.

    According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, “Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye.” Gluten helps food maintain their shape. It acts as “a glue that holds food together.” Basically, gluten is found in basically anything made with dough or batter. Gluten appears most often in bread, cakes, cookies, etc. What does NOT have gluten, however, are foods made with rice, corn, or oats. This means corn chips and corn tortillas, rice-based cereal, rice noodles, and oatmeal are safe to eat as long as they don’t have any wheat flour added.

    It’s safe and healthy for anyone to avoid foods with gluten. To an extent.

    Those with Celiac Disease (an autoimmune disorder diagnosed by a doctor) must avoid gluten every day. As a result, people prevent painful symptoms. Learn more about Celiac symptoms and treatments at the Celiac Disease Foundation website: https://celiac.org/

    Those who don’t have Celiac, but have gluten intolerance or sensitivity (like me!) should still avoid gluten. You can still consume a small amount of gluten. However, you may experience problems such as migraines, anxiety, depression, upset stomach, fatigue, abdominal pain, and iron deficiency.

    Before you make any diet changes, consult a dietician or medical professional.

    For me, an extremely food-motivated person.

    That means I have a hard time practicing self-control around foods I want to eat. Especially bread, cookies, cakes, and biscuits. Even though I know that I’ll feel better if I cut them out of my diet completely. If you feel like you may have any form of gluten intolerance, stay gluten-free for this holiday season. In January, see if you feel any different at the beginning of next year.

    Here are some recipes that will help you accomplish this without feeling left out from all the delicious holiday food:

    Grape and Cheese Board:

    Find the recipe here: https://pin.it/jkk3az5okpjrcu

     

    Popcorn Snowballs:

    Find the recipe here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/141793088243731373/

     

    Cream Cheese Cranberry Dip (serve with gluten-free crackers/pretzels):

    Find the recipe here: https://www.julieseatsandtreats.com/cream-cheese-cranberry-dip/2/#wprm-recipe-container-44418

     

    Cornflake Butterscotch Crunchies:

    Find the recipe here: https://www.greatgrubdelicioustreats.com/butterscotch-crunchies/

     

    White Chocolate Candy Cane Heart Pops:

    Find the recipe here: https://onelittleproject.com/how-to-make-candy-cane-hearts/

     

    Cranberry Barbeque Meatballs:

    Find the recipe here: https://pin.it/tecyljqkzlrpin

     

    Peppermint Popcorn:

    Find the recipe here: https://pin.it/ssbkacz7k7emnj

     

  • Articles, Holiday, Tips

    Holiday Gift Giving on a Budget

    As a teen, it can be tough to shop for friends and family, especially when income is low. Here are some tips for gift givers who are on a budget:

    • Find a way to make some extra money. Reach out to parents who may be in need of a night out so you can do some babysitting. Dog walking, pet sitting, or selling handmade greeting cards are also other options for some money you might need to buy gifts.
    • Make a budget. Set aside an amount of money you will be willing to use for gifts. Write this number down. Next, make a list of the people you want to give gifts to. Consider a dollar amount you will want to spend for each person and write it below the name of each person. For example, you might put a larger number by a family member than by a teacher or friend. Then, add up the numbers. If you find that you are over budget, see the next bullet point.
    •  Make gifts. You can make gifts for everyone on your list or just a few in order to save money. Some homemade gift ideas include bath salts, baked goods, potholders, sachets, or art. Use your talents to your advantage. Many people love homemade gifts because they are so unique and cannot be found at a store.
    • Split the cost of a gift with a friend or family member. This option is great if you want to buy someone a gift you might not be able to afford otherwise. It is also beneficial to the person you split the cost with because you both get to give the gift for less money.

     

    Remember, the fact that you are giving someone a gift means that you care about them a lot, and the thought is always what counts the most! Have confidence in yourself and your gift-giving abilities. You’ve got this!

  • GirlSpring.com, Holiday, Tips, TRENDING

    Friendsgiving

    A Guideline for a Successful Friendsgiving:

    Hold on…what’s Friendsgiving? Friendsgiving is basically recreating Thanksgiving with just your friends. AKA another excuse to hang out and gorge on some deliciousness.

    How:
    Instead of putting the burden on one or two people to provide for everyone else, make it a potluck. Everyone is in charge of a certain dish they need to bring. Sometimes, a friend might need to borrow a serving dish or your oven. If you’re the host, make sure you know this information ahead of time so everyone’s not waiting on a certain dish to finish cooking.

    Also, don’t feel the need to make everything from scratch. That can sometimes be frustrating and not turn out well. Unless you’re a baller in the kitchen with mad Chef Ramsay skills…then by all means go for it. There’s nothing wrong with getting a little help from the prepared foods section.

    When:
    It’s a good idea to do Friendsgiving before Thanksgiving. Why? Let’s be real here, once Thanksgiving is over people ditch pumpkins and spice for sleigh bells, snow and Santa.

    What You’ll Need:
    It’s important to remember a few key items you will need to pull off a good Friendsgiving.
    -Platters and big serving dishes
    -Ice
    -Enough cups/utensils for everyone
    -A good thanksgiving playlist
    -An empty belly because it’s about to go down in chow town

    Where:
    It’s a good idea for the friend with the biggest space or most seats to host Friendsgiving.

    Why:
    Uhh…why not. Good food, good friends not to mention it makes for an aesthetic instagram story.

    Final Note:

    If you’re not the host, please help clean up. It’s a nice thing to do and the host graciously let people destroy their kitchen / dinning area for the sake of Friendsgiving.

    More Do’s and Don’ts for Friendsgiving

     

  • DIY, Fun, Holiday

    12 Cheap and Easy Ugly Christmas Sweater DIYs

    1. Advent Calendar

    An Advent calendar sweater will give your holiday ensemble some more glitz and glam.

    2. Upcycled Old Sweaters

    Upcycle old sweaters and make them go from drab to Christmas fab with this sweater DIY.

    2. Christmas Present and Tree

    Make your tree sweater creation complete with a present counterpart.

    4. Bow Sweater

    Just find the absolute biggest bow that exists and stick it on your sweater. Add a string of lights for an even more eye-catching effect.

    5. Chimney Sweater

    The chimney plays a pretty important role in Santa Claus’s Christmas duties, so build one out of cardboard or paper and deck out your sweater.

    6. Bow Sweater

    If you are short on time (or cash!), then simply stick some holiday-colored bows on a sweater you already own.

    7. Illuminated Sweaters

    Light up the room (or blind your friends and family) with Christmas sweaters completely decked out in multicolored twinkle lights.

    8. Abominable Snowman Sweater

    When in doubt, sew on holiday-themed characters from movies to your ugly Christmas sweater.

    9. Present Sweaters

    One of the easiest ways to DIY an ugly Christmas sweater is with some wrapping ribbon. Make yourself the present!

    10. Christmas Cat

    Plaster your beloved pet’s face on your sweater this year. The uglier, the better.

    11. Ugly Christmas Dress

    Make your tacky ensemble more fancy with an ugly Christmas dress DIY.

    12. Bottle-Cap Sweater

    Don’t get rid of your old bottle tops! DIY a Christmas tree or wreath out of your extras.


    Click Here for more DIY Ugly Sweater Ideas