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Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Photo Books

Clutter! It isn’t always junk, right? Sentimental piles of things can grow faster than children!

What do you do with the special painting you purchased on your honeymoon that no longer matches your décor? How about the medal you earned for completing your first marathon or the years-of-service plaques from your place of employment?

What if you could display one tidy little book instead of all the stuff? Enter today’s helpful little hack of the hour.

Photo Books

Many of you know I recently moved. I had to fit everything I kept in a single 26′ moving truck. If I wanted my furniture, and I did, I didn’t have room for much else. I really needed a helpful hack!

I decided to take photos of the special things I couldn’t keep. I photographed art, medals, certificates, plaques, trophies, and trinkets. I expressed my gratefulness to God for each memory that came to mind as I sorted the items for trash or donation.

If you want to know how God brought immense joy in the journey, read The Amazing News I’m Really Excited to Share – Part 6

“How abundant are the good things
    that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
    on those who take refuge in you.”

Psalm 31:19

I created a digital album in my phone where all these items now live. It takes no physical space and I can view each item whenever I want. Someday soon, I will make a photo book with the pictures. When I do, I will have paired the piles and collections of clutter down to 8″x8″, which I can hold, display, and share.

A photo book with a measuring tape to show the dimensions of 8"x8".
A photo book I made in 2012

I was shocked when I counted how many photos were printed in the photo book above. 168! What would be different if you eliminated 168 dusty items from your storage and living spaces into one compact little book?

I recently discovered Chatbooks while working on another project. I created and ordered a photo book right from my phone. It seemed fairly intuitive and their turn-around time was impressive. There are also several other sites through which you can design and print photo books.

Clutter can be contained with the help of this little hack of the hour. What are you storing that you and your loved ones could just as easily (or perhaps more easily because of accessibility) enjoy in a photo book? Have you made photo books before?

Wondering why am I publishing these helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.

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Celebrations Conversations

Stunning Valentines from God – Photo Challenge!

Friends, do you know what next week brings? February! I love February. It is the month which contains both my wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day. And I propose a photo challenge!

Whether you prefer Valentines (celebration of love), Palentines (in appreciation of pals and friends), or Nilentines (anti-Valentines but still a reason to get together), I know one thing to be true. God loves us all! He loves us with a stunning, unconditional, and everlasting love.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

Jeremiah 31:3

The other day I read a post by Windsofchange18 called Signs, Moments, Smiling. She posted a photo and described how she noticed hearts formed by the knots on the tree in her yard. I commented that it was like a Valentine from God.

Shortly after, I went for a walk and found this.

A heart shaped leaf stuck on a rock wall: Stunning Valentines from God - Photo Challenge!
My own Valentine from God

God sent me my own Valentine! I felt so personally romanced. And I’ll bet, if you look around, you’ll find one He has set out for you too! My mind immediately said, “Photo challenge!”

Will you be on the watch for hearts from God? When you see one in the clouds, in the shadows, in the trees or anywhere, snap a quick photo and share it! Be sure to link back to this post so we can all soak in the love!

God makes the most stunning Valentines! I can’t wait to see what He shows to you. Thank you for participating in this photo challenge.

“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”

Psalm 33:5
Categories
Celebrations

Surprise! This is a Back Porch Happy Birthday Social!

You’re here! I’ve been waiting for you – Surprise! This is a Back Porch Happy Birthday Social and you’re a guest of honor!

This weekend, the Back Porch Blog turns 1! And because of you (yes, YOU!), my cherished reader and friend, this is something to celebrate.

Mama Lava’s Back Porch has become a special place. I always look forward to meeting with you on this site, enjoying social connection, and sharing both the heaviness and happiness of our lives. I pray you’ve been blessed here as much as I have!

I want to publicly thank
God for giving me the motivation to write,
You for spending your time reading and conversing with me,
and WordPress for providing the planks upon which the Porch is built.

Happy Birthday written on a chalk board
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
This celebration is because of YOU!

The other day, someone asked me to name the best thing that happened in my life last year. I had to give two. The first was my daughter’s wedding. The second was the birth and growth of the Back Porch.

Those were big things, but in all honesty, every day has contained happiness. Since the Back Porch was designed as a place to be encouraged, I thought it would be fitting to celebrate with 12 happy things, one for each month of the year.

And Surprise! This is a participatory party. I’m counting on you to help me emphasize the happy in this birthday. Here is a list of 11 things that make me happy. I want to hear yours for number 12. As you read, be thinking about what you would add. Don’t be nervous, there are no wrong answers!

My List of Happy Things
(in Alphabetical Order)

  1. Activity – dancing, sleeping, hiking, playing, the ability to both move and rest
  2. Fragrance – cookies baking, fresh laundry, country flowers, ocean air, newborn skin, the wafting aroma from a barbecue
  3. Humor – creative chuckles, finding the funny, belly laughs with tears of joy, the art of being silly
  4. Lights – sunlight, firelight, twinkly lights, city lights, the miraculous beauty of illumination
  5. Love – The unconditional love of God, romance, friendship, familial ties, the discovery of a kindred spirit
  6. Salvation – the free and unmerited gift from God. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8, 9
  7. Scripture – encouragement, admonition, the instruction it contains. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
  8. Solutions – immediately given or finally found
  9. The Sky – the glow of dawn, the colorful burst of sunrises and sunsets, the moon, sun and stars, billowy, feathery, and fluffy clouds, birds, airplanes, the expanse of blue
  10. Unique Creation – the colors, sizes shapes, contrast, depth, and dimension of people, animals, plants, bugs, and topography
  11. Vibration and Sound – music, laughter, chirping birds, a heartbeat, pounding surf, dripping rain, the song of a cricket

Now it is your turn! What happiness would you add next? If you wholeheartedly agree (or disagree) with one or more of mine, let me know. With all of the negativity threatening to pull us down, it is good to remember all that we have to smile about.

Thank you so much for helping me put the happy in this surprise Back Porch Happy Birthday social, and for all you’ve done to make this first year so fun!

Colorful, helium filled balloons: Surprise Back Porch Happy Birthday Social
Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash
“Together” is how we put the Happy in Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Back Porch… and here’s to many more!

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Recommendations Reflections

9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas

For Christians, Christmas is a sacred season. It is the time we set aside each year to celebrate the birth of our Savior. We believe that Jesus, Son of God and Creator of everything, gave up His throne for 33 years. He left the worship and honor He received in Heaven, choosing instead to be born as a helpless human baby, and raised in a humble Jewish family. He served the people He’d created and they despised Him. Eventually, they tortured and killed Him, all of which He knew would happen before He agreed to come.

And if He hadn’t come, we would not be saved. We would have no alternative to eternity in Hell. Without the events that transpired that first Christmas, we would have no hope, no reason for joy. The birth of baby Jesus changed literally everything! This is why we celebrate. Jesus is the whole reason for the season. In my family, we try to be deliberate, to make certain He is the center of our celebration. We have at least 9 traditions which have characterized our Christian Christmas.

Advent Candle: 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas
Photo by Nubia Navarro (nubikini) on Pexels.com The season of Advent is often celebrated by the lighting of commemorative candles.

Advent

ad·vent/ˈadˌvent/noun

  1. the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.
    • the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

The word “Advent” has become as much a secular idea as it is a Christian one. My daughter received an “Advent Calendar”, which has tiny doors in a box shaped like a Christmas tree. Behind each door are skin care samples. It was a nice gift from her friend, but it has nothing to do with the Advent of our Savior.

We have found wonderful tools, over the years, which have helped to direct our focus through the season of Advent. The important thing is to keep the important thing the important thing. The important thing is Jesus!

Moving nativity pieces

When we put out our Nativity set, we put the shepherds a small distance from the stable, as if ‘in the fields’. The wise men are placed further away, and baby Jesus is not in the mix. When the kids wake up on Christmas morning, baby Jesus is in the manger, the shepherds are up close, and the wise men are on the move! This is one way we remember all that happened on that first Christmas Eve. Even though my kids are adults now, they make a big deal about Jesus not appearing in the manger until Christmas morning!

Nativity sans baby Jesus: 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas
No baby Jesus because He isn’t born yet. In this Nativity set, Jesus and the manger are one piece, so there is no manger either. My kids would simply not stand for it!

Avoidance of Santa

Santa does not appear in our Christmas. He does not come on Christmas Eve, his likeness is not on our wrapping, and we do not include him at all. We have had discussions about who St. Nick was and the good that he did, but for the most part, we avoid all of that and direct our focus on Jesus.

I’m not saying a Christian cannot include Santa in Christmas. If you do, I’m not trying to shame you. For us, it was simpler not to divide our attention.

My granddaughter spent the night somewhere else this past weekend. When she came home, she told me that Santa could see and hear everything we do. I said, “That sounds like Jesus!” She said, “But the best presents come from Santa, so it is important not to disappoint him.” It broke my heart that, even though we don’t give Santa any room in our traditions, he rose to the level of Jesus, in her regard, in just one evening away. Attributes belonging to the King of Kings are His alone. A heart cannot serve two masters.

No Elf on the Shelf

As with Santa, we steer away from Elf on the Shelf. Elves are part of the Santa tradition, and we have no desire to make that story come alive. A focus on the Advent of Jesus is more productive and makes the season more meaningful.

Sign which says "in Christ alone my hope is found": 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas
Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash
Without Christ, we have no Hope and no reason for Joy

Christmas pageants

Whether it is a full stage production or just carols being sung at home, there is always some performance of the Christmas story. It is just who we are as a family. Singing, playing instruments, acting, directing… God gave us many means of expression to use for His glory and opportunities abound at Christmastime.

Christmas Eve services

We have spent many Christmas Eves at church. Sometimes the pageants mentioned above took place the day before Christmas. Other times, we went to worship and learn. And there have also been years where we stayed home and did our own service. This year, we will be home. I look forward to singing and praying together and having my husband share from God’s Word. I was hoping to go caroling as well, but I think there is heavy rain in the forecast. We shall see!

The reading of Luke 2 on Christmas morning

Luke 2:1-21 contains the Christmas story. We usually read to the end of the chapter, which takes us approximately 12 years into Jesus’ life. It is our way of keeping Christ in CHRISTmas, even while we are opening gifts, eating our favorite quiche, and doing the things which might tend to distract us from our true focus on Christmas morning.

Luke 2: 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
Luke 2 has been repeated in our Christmas traditions so often, many of us can practically recite it by heart.

Birthday cake for Jesus/Singing Happy Birthday

We bake a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day. We put candles on it and sing Happy Birthday to Him. I’ll be honest – sometimes we have so many desserts around that baking a cake seems like a crazy idea. But we are celebrating the birth of our Savior and His birthday cake is a tangible reminder. The other sweets can be put in the freezer for another time.

More Away in a Manger and less Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

We love Christmas music! My husband gets tired of it and will not let us play it all year ’round, or we definitely would. Even so, we must be intentional about singing more “Away in a Manger” and “O Come Let Us Adore Him” and less “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Baby”.

O Come Let Us Adore Him Signboard: 9 Traditions Which have Characterized Our Christian Christmas
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Let us focus our adoration on One who is worthy

I googled Christmas Carols and noticed that half of what came up was called “Christmas Songs” or “Christmas Classics”. Those largely leave Jesus out. The search results which were called “Christmas Carols” were mostly about Jesus. But I thought it was telling that both came up equally when I requested carols. The line has gotten very blurred.


So there we have 9 traditions which have characterized our Christian Christmas. I’d love to hear from you. If you celebrate a Christian Christmas, what traditions help you to keep Jesus in the center? If you do not celebrate a Christian Christmas, I’d enjoy hearing one of your traditions and the meaning behind it.

Thank you so much for being here, for reading, and for celebrating this most wonderful season with me. I adore the gift of your friendship and appreciate you so much! Merry Christmas!

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Recommendations

Six Simple and Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Gatherings This Year

We are in full-swing holiday mode at our house. How about you? Are you having a large family get-together or are you looking forward to a more intimate celebration this season?

In Part 2 of An Illusion of Joy or an Infusion of Joy?, I said I’d get back to you with some ideas to pull everybody in without adding more stress to your schedule. The pressure of the promise has stuck with me and I’m here to make good on it with six simple and fun Christmas games to try at your gatherings this year.

Silly games bring laughter and make for merry memories. With just a small bit of preparation, these games have gone over huge for me. Most of them are available on the internet, but here you have them in one spot, tried and true and highly recommended.

Paper plate overhead draw

What you need: Pens and cheap paper plates (1 of each per participant. They don’t have to be cheap plates, but since they aren’t holding food, they can be!)

How to play: Each person puts the plate on their head. You lead them through drawing something simple. The plate stays on their heads until the end. We most recently did a snowman. It went something like this. I said:
“Your snowman is made of 3 circles.” I paused while they drew 3 circles on the plate, on top of their heads. Then I continued, pausing between each instruction.
“There is a top-hat on his head”.
“He has 3 buttons down the middle circle.”
“He has 2 eyes.”
“He has 2 stick-like arms.”
“He has a carrot nose.”
“He has 3 fingers at the end of his left arm.”
“He has a scarf around his neck.”
“He has 4 fingers at the end of his right arm.”
“He has a crooked smile.”
“There is holly on his hat.”
The jumping around is intentional. It is difficult to re-find a place when you cannot see it. That is the fun. When your instructions are done, everyone gets to take their plate off their head and see their masterpiece. Pass the plates around and have everyone vote on the best, the most impressionistic, the most realistic face, or whatever categories you want to include.

Behind the back paper rip

What you need: One piece of paper per person

How to play: Each person stands holding a piece of paper behind their back. The instructions are simply to keep the paper behind their back and rip it into a Christmas tree. You may want to set a timer for added pressure, but it isn’t necessary. It is harder than it seems. (You may, or may not, want to add the caveat that folding the paper and ripping symmetrically, which makes it significantly easier, is not allowed.) At the end, have everyone show their masterpiece and take votes on best, most unique, smallest, etc.

Christmas Cell-fie

What you need: One copy of the Item List for each participant. (Click the picture below for a ‘copy & paste’ printable version of the Item List. Feel free to change it up to suit your group!)

Person holding a phone with bokeh lights in the background: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
(Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com)
What’s in your phone?

How to play: This is a Scavenger hunt each person conducts in their phone. The list assigns points per item and participants tally their score for whatever they can find. Examples might be ‘a contact named Mary’, or ‘a Christmas song ring tone’. Whoever has the most points is the winner. You can decide whether to make it a timed exercise or not, depending on the savvy of the crowd you have. You can also pick a few items and require the winner ‘show and tell’ to prove their win.

Snowball Toss

What you need: A bag or two of marshmallows

How to play: Divide up into pairs and have partners stand across from each other. This is run just like a water balloon toss, but when one partner tosses a marshmallow, the other must catch it in his/her mouth. We have done this many ways:
~ Large marshmallows are worth 2 points and small ones worth 1 point. Partners strategize how they can reach 14 points the quickest. (Go for small and easy, or risk the harder catch for a chance to earn more quickly?) The team with 14 points in the shortest amount of time wins.
~ Set a timer for 30 seconds and the team with the most overall catches in the allotted time is the winner.
~ Start with the partners close to each other for the first toss. Each team who makes the catch takes a step back while those who do not sit down. Each successful catch requires a step back, enlarging the distance between teammates. The last team standing wins.

The Left / Right Game

This is one of my favorites. There are two versions here. The first one is short, sweet and secular. It is good for an office party, or for a gathering where religious content is not allowed. But I prefer the Nativity version, which is the second picture. It is a fantastic way to share the Christmas story with everyone at your gathering. (Click on the pictures below for copy & paste printable versions).

The Short and Secular Left / Right Game story:
The Short and Secular Version of the Left / Right Christmas Game
The Nativity Story for the Left / Right Game: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
The Nativity Version of the Left / Right Christmas Game

What you need: At least 1 wrapped gift. I would suggest 1 gift per 5 participants. It does not have to be expensive.

How to play: Everyone sits in a circle, close enough to pass the gifts. You read the story. Every time you say the words “Right” or “Left”, the present(s) get passed to the person to the “Right” or “Left” of whoever is in possession. When the story ends, the person or people holding the gift(s) wins it.

This can be a fun way to do a gift exchange. We had a party where everyone brought a Christmas mug. Everyone carried the one they’d brought to the circle and left with the one they were holding at the end of the story.

Reindeer Ring-Toss

What you need: Antler headbands, rings, Rudolph noses (optional)

This one might take a bit of preparation if you don’t have Reindeer Antlers on hand. I found mine at Party City for $1. If you have a crafty teen in your life, I’m sure they could rig some up for you. Some people can work wonders with pipe cleaners and others can make anything with duct tape!

How to play: I have 2 pairs of reindeer antlers, so we play this game with 2 teams. Each team picks one of their members to be the reindeer, who wears the antlers and stands at least 5 feet from the rest of the team. Their teammates take turns trying to toss rings onto the antlers. The team with the most wins. (The reindeer is ABSOLUTELY allowed to duck and dive to try to catch the rings!)

Each participant can make their own ring by cutting the middle out of the plate they used in game 1 (Paper Plate Overhead Draw). Or the rings can be made in advance with pipe cleaners. I upped the ante this year by purchasing blinking Rudolph noses from the dollar store and using glow sticks as rings. We turned out the lights and played by the Christmas tree.

Reindeer Ring Toss Winners: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
Winners!

Our family has been doing Christmas game night for several years now. My husband and I purchase an array of small denomination gift cards as prizes and organize the games. This is our Christmas gift to everyone. It is low stress, and we avoid the mall and the dreaded pressure of shopping for perfect presents all around.

Everybody always shows up, and with 5 adult kids and their significant others, all with jobs and some living hours away, that says something. We enjoy the experience of playing together. In fact, we held this year’s gathering a couple weeks ago because it was the only night on the calendar everyone could make it and no one wanted to be left out. It is one of our favorite nights of the year!

These games I have listed are our favorites. We also play a Christmas version of Bingo, do word games, relays, Family Feud, and others. The competition is surpassed only by laughter and our face muscles are always sore the next day from smiling so hard.

Christmas Bingo: Some Fun Christmas Games to Try at your Get-Together this Year
Christmas Bingo with Red and Green M&M Markers.

My parents recently had a family party and we played games there too. Some of our winnings were translated to a dollar amount, which will be donated to charity in our names. I thought that was a great idea!

What do you think? Will you introduce any of these six simple and fun Christmas games to try at your gatherings this year? Do you have any other favorites you’d like to share?

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Recommendations

How My Cookie Crisis Could Become a Bountiful Blessing from My Family to Yours

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away… Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but this story played out a long time ago. My kids were small, my husband’s job required him to take long trips, and I was desperate thankful for adult interaction. I was beyond excited for the annual cookie exchange in which my friends and I participated every holiday season.

I was downright giddy about the opportunity to get into the car by myself, listen to grownup music on the radio, talk to women in multi-syllable words, and sample cookies of all kinds. I had my recipe with the ingredients required and all that stood between me, and my dream afternoon, was the chore of baking 13 dozen cookies.

My plan was to make the dough and begin baking the day before the event. That way, my cookies would be fresh and delectable, and I could finish up the morning of, if something came up unforeseen. Well, come up unforeseen, something did! I went to preheat my oven and… nothing. No heat. No heat at all.

I may have panicked a little and I might have even cried. If I couldn’t make cookies, I didn’t see how I could attend the cookie exchange. Store bought cookies were unthinkable. The whole purpose of the cookie exchange was to trade homemade delicacies.

Are you familiar with the concept of a cookie exchange? I think they are an amazing idea! They can be organized in several ways, but my friends and I did it the same way each year, taking turns organizing and hosting. Maybe you’d like to put one together? Here is the format we used:

  • Twelve people participated. It was important to have twelve. If you confirmed your spot, you were committed.
  • Each person baked 13 dozen cookies of one recipe (cleared with the organizer in advance to avoid duplicates) and packaged them by the dozen. They could be in bags, tins or covered plates, as long as each package contained 12 cookies.
  • Each person copied, printed or handwrote 11 copies of their recipe.
  • We all met up for one glorious afternoon. The hostess provided a huge table where we each stacked 12 of our cookie packages and our recipes.
  • On a separate table, we each opened and placed our 13th package. Also on this table, the hostess provided plates, napkins and beverages. This is where we got to sample each other’s cookies.
  • After a sweet afternoon of cookies and conversation, we went back to the first table and took one package of each kind of cookie, including our own. We took one of each recipe, excluding our own. This is the exchange by which a cookie exchange gets its name.
  • Where each baker arrived with 12 packages of 1 kind of cookie, they went home with 12 packages of different kinds of cookies.

Personally, my tradition immediately following the cookie exchange, was to pack 12 tins, each with 1 cookie from each package. My kids loved taking these grand assortments to the neighbors and their teachers. It appeared like I’d done much more work than I had, since I gifted an amazing assortment, but only baked a single recipe. All of that was looking impossible this year.

God to the rescue!

Even, no – ESPECIALLY for busy moms, the cookie exchange was a lifeline. It was a simplified and fun way to get a giant check mark on a long holiday to-do list. Not only was I looking forward to it, but I was also committed. My oven breaking had me at my breaking point too. This was a crisis.

But God. That is all I remember about how what transpired next came about. Somehow, I found a recipe. God brought it to mind. Honestly, I don’t remember if I went to the computer or if it is one I had tucked in my recipe binder prior. All I know is that I had never made “Crock Pot Candy” before that day. But boy have I made it many times since!

Crock Pot Candy: How My Cookie Crisis Could Become a Bountiful Blessing, from My Family to Yours
Crock Pot Candy with Sea Salt Topping

God and Crock Pot Candy to the rescue. This recipe did not require an oven. I pulled out my slow cooker, raced to the store for the short list of ingredients, and this blessing came together in a fraction of the time it takes to bake 13 dozen cookies.

You know what else? These were the star of the afternoon. Everyone raved! And it was such a nice touch to have a decadent piece of candy on each plate of cookies.

My own family liked them so much that they have become one of our signature family dishes. My 25 year-old daughter, who was in preschool the first time I made them, called them “Nut Chocolates” and that is what they are to this day, in our house. She and I make them every October because that is her birthday month, and it takes us almost a whole month to eat them all. This recipe makes a bountiful plenty!

Nut Chocolates; How My Cookie Crisis Could Become a Bountiful Blessing, from My Family to Yours
Nut Chocolates for Days!

I have not been to a cookie exchange in years. But that is ok. People love getting a whole bag of “nut chocolates” and I enjoy the simplicity of giving them. If you have an army to feed, or several people to gift, or a birthday month to enjoy, let my cookie crisis become a bountiful blessing, from my family to yours!

What you will need:

  • 1 pound lightly salted, dry roasted almonds
  • 1 pound unsalted, dry roasted almonds
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 12 ounces white chocolate chips
  • 1 pound vanilla bark
  • 9+ feet of waxed paper

Instructions

  1. Pour nuts into large crock pot. Add chips and bark. Cover and turn on low setting.
  2. Now go shower, fold your laundry, or write a blog. Come back in about an hour.
  3. Lay out the waxed paper. (You may have to weigh down the corners if the paper is too curly to lay flat.)
  4. With a large spoon, stir the now-melted chocolate into the nuts until the chocolates are combined and the nuts are well coated.
  5. Spoon the mixture onto waxed paper according to the size you want.
  6. Keep spooning – this is a bountiful recipe.
  7. Keep the crock pot on the low setting until all its contents have been spooned out.
  8. Once everything has been scooped out, unplug your crock pot and walk away again. Go back to your blog, play with your dog, or read a book.
  9. Let the candy cool until the chocolate hardens and it peels easily from the waxed paper.
  10. It will keep fresh in a plastic bag or airtight container for several weeks. But you might not be able to keep it around for that long. My family loves to share it as much as we love to eat it.

Notes:

  • The original recipe calls for peanuts instead of almonds. I’ve done it both ways and, seriously, you can’t go wrong. My family just prefers almonds. I’m sure you could use other nuts too, if you have a different favorite.
  • In the photos I’m posting, you see sea salt sprinkled on top. This is the way my October birthday girl prefers her birthday treat. We have also experimented with toffee, sprinkles, and coconut. They are all amazing! I think the simplicity of the recipe is perfect and I prefer no toppings.
  • I adore dark chocolate. If I am making these according to my taste, I substitute some of the chocolates called for in the recipe and darken it up a bit. If the measurements of nuts and chocolates are the same as the recipe, you can change them out any way you like.
  • I have never had a batch not turn out. These are 99.9% fool proof. The reason I reserve that extra .1% is because you can overcook them. If you forget all about them and leave the ingredients in the crockpot for hours, the chocolate will burn around the edges. (Don’t ask me how I know!) Even still, you can use what is deliciously melted in the middle of the pot.
  • If you make these on a hot day, you may need to refrigerate them to encourage the cooling process. The best way I have found to do this is to cut the waxed paper into cookie-sheet sized rectangles and slide them onto the cookie sheets to place in the refrigerator or freezer (wherever you have room).

There you have it. That is how my cookie crisis could become a bountiful blessing from my family to yours. I hope this recipe comes in handy for you this holiday season and beyond.


Do you bake or home-make gifts? Do you have a preference between white, milk or dark chocolate? Does anyone do cookie exchanges anymore?