Going Nuts Over Traditions

Kim made some great points in her last post on making family traditions.  Sometimes, traditions only last for a season or two and that is fine.  If you live in Michigan, you might be going out sledding on New Year’s Day.  If you live in Florida, you might be headed to the beach instead.  You just have to be flexible!

As I was thinking through this post, I started thinking about some of our family traditions and realized I may need to offer an apology to my husband.  Looking back, I was rather inflexible on the traditions front at the beginning of our marriage and when our kids were first born.  We discussed how we wanted to do certain things based on what we did as kids, and I’m fairly certain that we adopted everything I wanted from my childhood.  You know, the earth shattering decisions like….Santa/No Santa, wrapped/unwrapped presents under the tree, and opening stockings before or after other gifts.  Some things I bulldozed my way through and others just worked out.  For example, growing up, Steve and his brothers were allowed to open their stocking first thing even before their parents were up on Christmas Morning.  However, I always opened my stocking up last.  For some reason, this was really important for me to keep the same.


One thing that we did agree on was that we didn’t want to travel on Christmas Day.  We definitely wanted our kids to wake up in their own beds and spend Christmas at home.  We even make everyone wear pjs all day long on Christmas since we don’t plan to leave the house.  My parents divorced when I was a young kid, and I hated being shuttled around on all the holidays.  We would open gifts, have a bit to eat then head off to another place for another gift session and meal.  I appreciate how sensitive Steve was to this area of my life and how he helped me set a new standard for our family.  So as new parents, we told all the grandparents that they were welcome to come to us, but we were not traveling.  I’ll be honest though, we have relented and traveled twice on Christmas day for vacations.  But we did it as a family.

Another tradition that I was inflexible on was what we served for Christmas breakfast.  My mom always made (still does actually) absolutely best scrambled cheesy eggs.  But as our family became a blended family and grew with spouses and nieces and nephews, she had to switch to a baked egg dish so she could prepare it ahead to feed such a large crowd.  I couldn’t wait to make this same egg dish for Steve when we were married.  And so I did make it….year after year.  Finally after being married for at least 12 years, I noticed that Steve didn’t really eat much of it.  So I asked him about it and he admitted that he didn’t like it and never did!  Guess what?  My kids didn’t like it either!  Here I was getting up early to prepare this silly baked egg dish that no one even liked.  We now eat biscuits and sausage gravy every Christmas morning.  My oldest daughter loves biscuits and gravy and requested it once and I’ve been making it every Christmas since.  And if you asked her, she would probably say that its a tradition.  She doesn’t remember the baked egg dish and that’s fine with me.  I learned that its ok to let some traditions go when they don’t work for your family.

You know one thing I love about moving?  Being introduced to new foods that are either regional, or just favorites of new friends.  Each place we have lived, we have had a least one neighbor bring us a traditional yummy  treat each Christmas.  In Louisville, our neighbors made the most delicious pound cake and would deliver it the week before Christmas with their daughters.  In Fort Wayne, my friend Tracey brought us a tin of spiced pecans.  Here in Texas, my friend Stacee brings us homemade snack mix.  Guess what I do?  I now buy Texas grown pecans from the local 4H club and I make Tracey’s spiced pecans to give out.  (crazy side story…Tracey and I became close friends when she moved to Fort Wayne and her childhood friend Jane introduced us.  Kim and I knew Jane from Louisville and consider her one of our dearest friends even though we haven’t lived in the same place for 7 years.  Tracey has since moved to Kanas City and Jane has moved back to Ohio.)

Aren't these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

Aren’t these personalized tins cute? I plan to order for next year!

So maybe now is a good time to evaluate your traditions.  Are you and your family enjoying your traditions?  Or are you holding on to traditions for the wrong reasons?

Here is the recipe for Tracey’s spiced nuts…Enjoy!





Spiced Pecans


Cook 1 hr 30 mins


  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 2-3 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cloves (I use allspice instead)
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg


Beat egg white until frothy. Add the water and pecans. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cloves & nutmeg. Add dry ingredients to egg white & pecans. Stir to coat well. Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 degrees for 1.5 hours. Stir 3 times while baking.


I usually triple recipe

Teacher “Happies” – Back to School Ideas

crazyIt’s the most wonderful time of the year – Back to School time!  I kid.  Ok, not really.  By August, we are done with summer.  My boys need the structure and honestly I need the peace.  All three of my boys will be in elementary school this year.  And wow – the school supply list is CRAZY.  I mean we only need to buy 45 glue sticks and 144 pencils (sharpened mind you – won’t that be a fun chore for the boys one afternoon). My kindergartener alone needs 15 glue sticks.  You may think that number sounds absurd but any mom knows how much glue a 5yr old can use in a week.  So I totally get it and will gladly contribute.

Along with school supplies, I love to add in a little something for the teachers.  As you get to know me and this blog, you will realize that I love to appreciate teachers.  They don’t get enough credit.  These people are with my children more during waking hours  during the school year than I am and they don’t get paid enough.  Plus most of them use their own funds to help stock their classroom with supplies.  When it comes to the new year, I like to wait until the end of the first week to give my teachers a little “happy” (I had a friend in college who referred to little unexpected gifts as “happies” and that’s the term I love to use).  I wait till the end of the week because, well I don’t want my kids to appear as a “brown noser” the first day of school.  HAHA!  No really, that first week is  a long week for everyone!  Waiting until the end of it really gives the teacher a little pick me up.  A little smile is just what they need.  Here’s some examples of what I’ve done in the past.

Have a Ball
I spray painted Mason jars and then scratched off on the raised up lettering on the jar.  The free tag printable can be found over at lil’ luna

Smart Cookie
I bought a fortune cookie box at the Dollar tree and filled it with homemade cookies.  Then attached a tag printed on patterned cardstock. Little Happy for the Teacher - cookies! The tag says Angeline played on the cookie theme that same year but she had a local bakery that made apple shaped iced sugar cookies.  She put in cellphane bags with this same tag.  It was super cute but I can’t find the picture.

Bright Year
This idea was fun but it did cost a little more.  I bought several neon colored school supplies and fun things and put into a neon bag.  The tag read “looking forward to a bright year”.  A free printable of the tag can be found over at Surfin’ Through Second.1409270061656

Another Bright Year Idea
I love this idea and plan to use it in the near future.  What teacher couldn’t use more highlighters or bright sharpies?  You can find the printable tags at the TomKat Studio
bright school year

Pencil Jar
I guess I love a jar of pencils because here’s another version (clearly 144 just isn’t enough for me to buy).  Target had these great jars in their dollar spot this year.  I took a paint pen and wrote the teachers name.  Then added a free printable tag from iheartnaptime.  Apparently, I was not the only blogger out there that saw these great finds at Target.

My friend from Vegas (and my partner in crime for PTA stuff) always has great ideas that don’t cost a lot of money.  Our PTA there did a little dollar something for each teacher for their birthdays throughout the year.  Here’s her idea for this year which could totally be changed to the new school year.  Tag could read “Hope you have a tea-riffic school year”
Teachers aren’t the only ones who need encouragement at the new school year.  So do administrators, parents and your own kids!  The best way to provide that for all these people is to pray for them.  AND that doesn’t cost you a dime!  I found this cool idea over at Faith Along The Way.  She provides a list with specific things you can pray for each day.School supplies bottom border on a chalkboard background

It doesn’t take much to appreciate or encourage a teacher.  I will gladly spend the extra time and the $3, in addition to the 45 glue sticks and 144 pencils, to put a smile on 3 very deserving teachers’ faces!

Give a little thanks

I love giving thank you gifts.  I think it’s my Southern nature.  But it’s just fun to think of different ways to say thank you than the boring old note or gift card.  I’m not saying those are bad (my southern manners say it’s a must), but it’s just fun to see the recipient’s face when it’s totally unexpected happiness.

My neighbor watched my kids an entire day recently.  I wanted to say thanks even though she didn’t expect it at all.  But I wanted something fun and useful for her.  She’s a busy mom with 4 boys and works out of her home.  I decided making her dinner was the winner.  However, with her busy schedule I didn’t know when she would need it.  So….I found this cool idea from The Kitchn….A TACO BOX!  Who doesn’t love tacos??  Here’s my version.
tacobox2Not quite as cute as The Kitchn’s version but it’s still fun.  I found the cute crate at Michaels for $6 (using coupon).  I filled it with chicken carnita, corn tortillas, my favorite pico de gallo, my fav black beans, cheese, an avocado, chips and root beer.  I also included a Dairy Queen giftcard because what goes better with tacos than ice cream?  All of it can be used immediately or wait a day or two.  And speaking of tacos, I saw this shirt at Target this week and it made my 10 yr old crack up laughing.
tacocatHere’s some more cute things I have found on Pinterest and some I have used in the past:

Movie Night at Home
movie night
You can buy these popcorn tubs at the dollar store.  You can also purchase RedBox credits online at RedBox.com.  Here’s my cute free printable for a RedBox giftcard
Sunshine Box from Fantabulosity
box of sunshine

Here’s a fabulous summertime thank you:  Strawberry Shortcake Basket from Eighteen25:
Ice cream Basket from Love The Day:
ice cream
Fun girlfriend thank you from Tidbits & Twine:
fun basket
And if you are super crafty, I loved this idea from All Things with Purpose.  It’s meant for a realtor (great idea!) but think of the possibilities!
cutting board

Stay tuned….once school gets started I have a TON of ideas for teacher “happies”.  Like I said, I love to say thank you!