Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a neighborhood tradition

We live in a very close knit neighborhood and love it. A few years ago, some of the neighbors—Hollie, Jen and Rachelle—approached everyone with an idea. Instead of spending a lot of time and money creating neighbor gifts, they suggested we each use the funds instead to buy toys and food for needy families. They wanted to “ditch our aprons and creativity.” I was all over it.

On Monday night we all gathered for the third year in a row to mingle, eat cookies, drink hot chocolate and drop off our gifts. Because the occasion is held outside--in the middle of winter in Utah--there were fire pits set up in the street. It’s a fun night and a great tradition.

Ella was old enough this year to choose the gifts. I told her there were little girls--just like her--who might not get any gifts for Christmas. And because we’re so blessed, she could choose some gifts to give them. I could tell her little heart was touched because she kept wanting to make sure all the little girls would get a special toy.


She reasoned that if she chose toys that she wanted for Christmas, another little girl would want them too. She’s a little smarty pants.

We donated our toys to Santa’s Workshop at the Family Support and Treatment Center in Orem. They have helped Ella tremendously in dealing with the trauma she experienced in her earlier years. We are forever grateful to them.

I took both Ella and Madi with me to buy the dolls. That was a mistake! Never. Again. I remember getting up to the checkout and laughing. I know the checker thought I was nuts. I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?” I had visions of this wonderful, sweet teaching moment for the girls and it bombed—big time. You win some, you lose some.

Speaking of bombs, my kids think these cookies are da bomb. Elles and I made a batch on Sunday and we kept some to bring to the Service Night last night. They are soft and so yummy! And they’re fluffy, not flat. I tasted them at a bake sale and had to have the recipe. It’s from Debbie Gibbons.


Da Bomb Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cream together:
1 c. butter flavored Crisco or butter
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. dark brown sugar

1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. liquid butter flavoring
2 eggs

Mix, then add:
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Mix until blended, but don’t overdo it. Add a bag of chocolate chips or chunks. (I tried 1/2 chocolate chips and 1/2 butterscotch chips—delightful!)

Bake at 325 degrees for 12-13 minutes. Take out of oven before they look completely done. Remove from baking sheet so they don’t continue to bake.

*I used 1/2 c. Crisco and 1/2 c. butter this last batch and they turned out great.

Enjoy! Thanks, Debbie. :)


  1. What a wonderful tradition. I can't wait to make the cookies. They're going to be on this Grandma's table at our Christmas Eve family party.

  2. Hello. I found your blog today and fell in love with your wonderful creativity and desire to be down to earth, and family oriented! Breath of fresh air! I loved you Christmas advent idea about the "doing together" great! May I ask where u got the advent tree? Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! Makes me feel so good.:) My son got me the advent calendar at Pottery Barn Kids. It was discontinued for awhile and they recently brought it back. (Not the exact one, but it's very similar.) Here's the link: