The Letter Revival Project

I’m writing letters to friends and family and it has had an amazing effect. Learn more all about the letter revival project.

the letter revival project
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

It all started with seeing the Social Dilemma. If you haven’t seen that, I highly recommend watching it. The interview-style documentary, details how BIG TECH (Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, What’s App, and Twitter), are all data mining us, literally tracking our every move and every personal detail of our life. To make matters worse, their surveillance suppresses any opposing views, manipulates what you see in your feeds and is actually designed to create divisiveness. Why? So you can stay on their platforms longer, arguing with friends and family, and so they can present more ads to you and then sell your data to other companies.

Not long after watching The Social Dilemma, I actually watched numerous hours of the hearings on Capitol hill. It is really shocking to hear social media employees testify about the weaponizing of social media. It doesn’t matter if you are on the right or the left, one fact remains: social media giants are invading our privacy and pitting us against each other so they can sell our data and sell ads.

Because of that, I took an extended break from social media. Even though I had to use social media to promote this blog, I automated a lot of things so that I wouldn’t have to actually be on it. Then in November, I decided to pick up a pen and write some letters. What happened was something really wonderful. And now, I want to share it with you. Join me in The Letter Revival Project.

The Lost Art of Writing

Getting Reacquainted With the Art of Writing

While on my break from social media, I thumbed through some old books in my personal library. I have a book on the Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln. Aside from some of his speeches, the book contains much of his personal correspondence which I found to be very intriguing. Then I read the entirety of the book Our Sacred Honor. This is an amazing book of correspondence from the founding fathers of America.

One of the most fascinating things in this book is their language. Their prose is so polished even for formally uneducated men like Washington. Their vocabulary and articulation are not only beautiful, but expressive, poignant, and dignified. Honestly, it was this book that really encouraged me to pick up a pen and revolutionize how I communicate with friends. I also read through my book on Jane Austen’s letters.

Jane, was so ahead of her time and her letters to friends and family are absolutely divine. Her language is as beautiful as her writing in her books. How awesome would it have been to have these amazing people as pen pals?

letter writing books

Starting to Write

I opened up my dusty address book and decided to pick a handful of people at random. People I had not talked to in some time. I took some time to share the most recent happenings with our family and expressed interest in the things going on in their life. First, I noticed that I had been out of practice with writing for a long period of time. I found that writing actually forced me to rebuild dexterity and strength in my hands. It is amazing that you use different muscle groups to type or text. I also found that my handwriting had become sloppy and careless, something that writing letters has improved in just a few short months.

Secondly, I found it incredibly relaxing. I put on some non-distracting music, like classical music. Lit some warm candles and sat by our roaring fireplace and began to pen letters. Just yesterday, I sat beside the window while it was raining and wrote by candlelight. It was so wonderful and soothing. It was actually a stress reliever and I found that I am far more intimate in a letter than I am in a text message. I found my “voice” is more eloquent and my vocabulary seems to broaden when I write.

The Supplies

Something that can not be overstated is that a personal letter these days is so rare that it is a gift in and of itself. Sure, I could have opted for the loose-leaf paper that I have stacked in our schoolroom. However, I decided that I would make correspondence exceedingly special with some vintage stationery. It is interesting to note that letter writing sets are becoming harder to find. Still, I bought a few and I dusted my box of sealing wax that has gone mostly unused these past few years.

I lovingly wrote out five letters on beautiful paper and for some, I sealed the letters with sealing wax. You should note that sealing wax requires extra postage because it cannot go through the machines and needs to be hand canceled. The U.S. post office sells stamps for non-machinable envelopes. Do not let the need for stamps discourage you from mailing letters. You don’t even need to go to the post office. The U.S. post office offers stamps for online ordering. You can have them shipped directly to your house.

sealing wax

The Letter Revival Project

I was very surprised to hear the reactions of the recipients. For starters, each one of them was deeply touched. In a day and age, where people can’t even bother to call (don’t we all just text now?) There is something fabulously special about the idea of someone taking the time to buy stamps, sit down, painstakingly write a letter, and mail it. Each person mentioned how thoughtful it was but perhaps more to the point, refreshing.

It was exciting to receive something in the mail that wasn’t a bill. It was personal, thoughtful, and intimate – something we are grossly lacking in today’s society. Many asked if we could continue writing letters. Still, others heard that I was writing and sheepishly asked if I wouldn’t mind writing them as well. It has become contagious and sadly, I don’t think we realize how much we need this. That’s why I’m starting the letter revival project. I want to inspire others to step away from social media and write to each other the way we used to.

the letter revival project
I found this beautiful stationery set at Victoria Trading Company

As it turns out, it has been incredibly fulfilling and stress relieving for me while at the same time, a blessing to those who have received it. That got me thinking. Why aren’t more of us doing this? Social media has done the exact opposite of its original intention. It has divided us, made us into voyeurs instead of participants. I dare say it has even incited feelings of inadequacy when we see only the highlights of someone’s life. Because of it, we have grown unintentionally lazy in all our relationships and we’ve surrounded ourselves with hundreds of acquaintances instead of building and investing in life-long friendships. Friend, reconsider your relationship with social media.

Join Me In Writing

Friend, I hope you consider, taking some time away from social media. Take some time for yourself to recalibrate and unwind. Why not start with just a thirty-day break. If you want some help, take a look at my post, 30- Day Social Media Detox. In that post, I give you some ideas that you can do when you aren’t on social media. Or perhaps, you limit social media, while taking time to reconnect with friends via letter. I bet you will be pleasantly surprised how many people enjoy your letter. They will never say that about a like or comment you give them on social media. Please join me for the letter revival project. Let’s revive writing letters! Comment below and tell me if you are joining me. Commit to writing to five unsuspecting friends or family members this month.

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How Jeremiah 29:11 Changed My Life

Do you have a life verse? Today I am sharing how Jeremiah 29:11 changed my life and how I’ve grown as a Christian with it.

How Jeremiah 29:11 changed my life
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a link through one of the links I provide I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

All of us have a particular scripture that has spoken to us at a particular time. Today I am going to share how Jeremiah 29:11 changed my life. When I was much younger, I was much younger in my Christian walk. I felt like life wasn’t going the way I had envisioned it. I will be totally honest. At that time, I had just started to really read the Bible. It’s embarrassing that I was a Christian all my life and yet had never really read The Word on my own at that point. So when I found the verse, naturally I simply applied it to my life at the time.

I assumed God was promising me that all my dreams would come true. (Insert facepalm here). To make a long story short, I was praying for a Godly husband and children but could not find a suitable mate. That verse gave me hope for the next three years as I pursued a deeper relationship with God. In the end, God was indeed faithful and gave me a man whose goodness surprises me to this day. But is that the meaning of the verse?

As comforting as the verse was to me, I misunderstood it. The verse is not really about what God can do for you. Today the verse has taken on a very different meaning. Perhaps a more correct meaning. In fact. I dare say it changed my life and how I view God’s plan for my life.

The Book of Jeremiah

First, let’s take a look at what is happening in Scripture. Jeremiah was a priest and prophet who served for more than 40 years. He had a difficult life and his message of repentance was not well received. Jeremiah first became a prophet during the reign of Josiah, the last faithful king of Judah. The book of Lamentations was written during Jeremiah’s grief over Josiah. In the two decades following Josiah’s death, Judah would collapse into moral, social, financial, political, and spiritual decay. (Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah were also prophets during this time in scripture.) The country would also change hands through various kings.

In chapters eleven through twenty-eight, Jeremiah warns the people of God’s holy wrath. He forewarns that if they do not repent, they will suffer and God will not hear their cries for help. Instead, God will let them endure the full consequence of their sin. Jerusalem is overthrown by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and they are put into slavery. This suffering in slavery would eventually remind them of their need for God.

As you can imagine this message did not go over well. People, by nature, cling to their sin. Jeremiah suffered terrible persecution, was beaten, mocked, and even imprisoned. But I digress. Chapter 29 begins with a letter to his people from Jerusalem who are now exiled in Babylon. The letter opens with Jeremiah quoting what God has told him. In verse five, God says to build houses, make families, have children, and multiply. God is essentially telling them to settle in and to plan for a long stay in Babylon. In verse seven, God tells them to make the best of their stay and to work for the welfare of the city. Then He tells them that they will spend seventy years there and once completed, He promises to send them home. Then God leaves them with this hope:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

Like any loving father, discipline is done out of love. God is teaching His people a lesson. “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.” (v. 12-13). In these verses, God promises to eventually answer their prayers for restoration. But even more amazing is that God promises when we seek Him with all of our hearts, He reveals Himself to us. What a promise. Throughout scripture, God invites us to know Him and He promises we will find Him!

The Message

This verse is often misunderstood and even misused. I admit that in my young Christianity, I misunderstood it too. So now that we know what is going on in scripture, there are some takeaways to consider.

It’s Not About Fleshly Things

I sometimes see this verse used to insinuate that God’s plan (or following God) means we will never have trouble or that God will ALWAYS give us the outcome we want. That’s not exactly what this verse is saying, although it can sound that way if we read it out of context without knowing what’s happening in scripture.

As we see in the book of Jeremiah and other parts of scripture, God often permits trouble and struggle in our life so that we rely on Him alone. He also allows it in order to refine the faithful. It is not God’s promise for wealth, perfect health, or other fleshly things. Rather it is God’s promise that He has planned your life. He is in full control of it! Every problem, every storm is completely planned and in His capable hands. This should give us a lot of comfort and peace. The kind of peace that no matter what happens to us, God has permitted it, God is with us, and that it will ultimately be for our good. (See also Romans 8:28).

What are God’s Plans for Our Life

So what exactly is “our good?” There are many times when God will work circumstances out in our desired outcome. There are many times he intervenes and works out our problems after a season of trial. However, we should remember that God is most concerned with our salvation and holiness. Simply put, God is in the business of saving souls.

A Look at Paul

That means that God’s plans can look very different from ours. Let’s stop for a moment and take a look at the book of Romans. In the Epistle, Paul is in Corinth and he is writing to coverts in Rome. Paul opens the letter explaining that he has tried many times to come to Rome but that he has been prevented from going (Rom 1:13). You can read about those circumstances to which he is referring in the book of Acts. This is where it gets interesting!

God has created circumstances that had actually prevented Paul from going to teach Christians in Rome. It is possible that Paul was perplexed about why God prevented him? After all, he was intending to do God’s work there. Why prevent him? Yet, God’s plan is often so much greater than we can imagine. By preventing Paul from going, Paul would write a letter to the Romans. 2,000 years later, we are reading the letter. Paul intended to save hundreds maybe even thousands in Rome. God saved millions over two millennia around the globe. God’s ways are much higher than ours. It’s important to note God did eventually permit Paul to go to Rome, but when he did, it was as a prisoner, and after being bitten by a poisonous snake, and being shipwrecked!

How Jeremiah 29:11 changed my life
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

God’s Great Plan For Us

And it is that very thing that has really opened my eyes. God had a good plan for Paul’s life. God’s good plan for Paul included being lost at sea, being robbed, beaten with rods, shipwrecked, hunger, thirst, imprisonment, and eventually being beheaded all for the glory of God. God’s plan for Peter’s life included being crucified upside down. God’s plan for John’s life spared him martyrdom but included being exiled and dying as an enemy of the state for not participating in emperor worship. Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego were thrown into a furnace. Daniel was a prisoner in chains. And Joseph… thrown in a pit and sold into slavery.

God’s good plan for our life is all about glorifying Him and furthering His kingdom and even in the worst-case scenario – martyrdom – He will make something good out of it. Coming to the realization that God’s plan for my life can include everything up to and including martyrdom, changed my life and it changed how I viewed my everyday struggles.

Make the Best of Your Season

I think it’s also important to note that God tells his people to stay busy, build a life, and raise a family while they are waiting to be returned home. God even tells them to invest in the welfare of the city where they are enslaved! Now in this particular instance, God tells them exactly how long they will be exiled. We, unfortunately, don’t know how long our seasons of trial will last. But the example we can take from this is that even when we are in limbo or a season of trial or hardship, we should still try to live a fruitful life that honors God.

How Jeremiah 29:11 Changed My Life

I have grown as a Christian with this beautiful verse. It was my very first verse where God spoke to me through The Word and I am certain when I take my dying breath, it will be one of my last thoughts. It has taught me that God and His plans are sovereign over my life and that God’s plan for me is good no matter what happens.

What are your favorite verses and why do they speak to you? Tell me in the comments. Be sure to share this post with a friend and don’t forget to subscribe before you leave. You may also be interested in some additional scripture reading, Depression and Grief.

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10 Super Quick Appetizers

Hosting on a budget or short on time? These 10 super quick appetizers are perfect for your next no-fuss gathering.

10 super easy appetizers

I love entertaining and I love having people over, but now that I have kids, I am often short on time. Before kids anyone could come over with a moment’s notice. Now, I need at least a day or two to pick up the clothes, the toys and all the goldfish crumbs. I always find myself short on time and no matter how early I start, I feel like I am running behind. So today, I thought I’d share 10 super quick appetizers. These appetizers are quick to make and generally don’t take a ton of ingredients.

Boursin on Baguette

Boursin cheese

If you’ve never had Boursin cheese, you’re missing out. Boursin is a French spreadable cheese similar to cream cheese. Although garlic and herb is the classic version, it comes in a variety of flavors like:

  • Pepper
  • Fig & Walnut
  • Cranberry & Spice (seasonal)
  • Red Chili Pepper
  • Shallot & Chive
  • Basil & Chive

No recipe needed. Buy your cheese and let it come to room temperature. Cut your baguette and brush a little bit of olive oil on each side and toast on a grill pan. Spread your cheese once the toast is cooled and serve!

Baked Brie and Chutney

Baked brie is one of my favorite appetizers. This mild cheese can be found in the “nice cheese” part of your grocery store and typically comes in a wheel. It isn’t the cheapest, but it’s always a crowd-pleaser and has always been considered an upscale appetizer. I love to wrap the Brie in puff pastry or phyllo dough but if you want to keep it simple, you can bake it naked for about 7 to 10 minutes at 350. If you don’t have time to get all fancy with chutney, consider just spreading with preserves or thick jam. Even cranberry sauce or honey pairs well with it.

Brie

Cheese and Grapes or Cheese and Olives Skewers

This is definitely an easy appetizer. In fact, many grocery stores will even cube the cheese for you at the deli so you don’t have to do all the cutting. Anthos or Kalamata olives pair nicely with cheese, just make certain that grapes are seedless and olives are pitted. All you need is cubed cheese, seedless grapes and pitted olives. The skewer them using cocktail picks and place them out. You can help keep cheese cool by serving on a marble pastry or cheeseboard.

10 super easy appetizers

Cheeseboard (Charcuterie Board)

For this, you can leave cheese whole in wedges and serve with cheese knives for easy cutting. Pair with a cracker variety and/or grapes. Three or four wedges should be plenty. A great cheeseboard has a variety of hard and soft cheeses. Stick to classic cheeseboard cheeses like:

  • Blue Cheese (Roquefort, Blue Stilton, Gorgonzola, Maytag, Danish Blue)
  • Cheddar (Farmhouse, Longhorn, Extra Sharp, Aged)
  • Brie
  • Goat Cheese
  • Other Cheeses (Havarti, Swiss, Provolone, Parmesan-Reggiano, Gouda, Gruyere)

Of course I love turning this into a charcuterie board full of fruits, nuts, and salami (see pic below). But if you need to keep it simple and don’t want to spend a lot of time putting it together, a few wedges of cheese and crackers does the trick! Be sure to read my post How to Make the Ultimate Charcuterie Board for a large scale version of a cheese board.

wine & cheese
My Charcuterie Board

Bruschetta

Brushetta is a simple salad that uses Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, Parmesan, and olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. You may need to add a little salt to it. But it doesn’t take much to whip up this five-ingredient appetizer up. You will need to help cut up a baguette to serve it on. You can even let guests spread it themselves if you are worried about the bread going soggy. To prevent this, toast your baguette with a little brushed olive oil and grill it until golden brown.

Bruschetta

Caprese Salad Skewers

Caprese Salad is a three-ingredient salad – tomatoes, fresh basil, and fresh mozzarella. A simple dressing of balsamic vinaigrette and extra-virgin olive oil is drizzled on top. For parties, I love putting it on skewers or toothpicks or putting it in small cups. If preparing in advance for a party, don’t drizzle the dressing until you are ready to serve or keep it on the side. To serve on the side you can put the dressing in a small bowl for dipping. Or if you are offering the appetizer on small plates you can keep the dressing in a small creamer pitcher for guests to drizzle.

Caprese salad skewers

Pimento Cheese

About fifteen years ago, I found a fabulous recipe for pimento cheese. I was not a pimento cheese fan. Of course, I had only ever had it in a processed variety that you get in a jar from the grocery store. No wonder I didn’t like it. Try my recipe for a fresh version of pimento cheese. I know you will love it. The recipe uses Monterrey Jack cheese. I really recommend you use that instead of cheddar which can be overpowering. It then combines fresh dill, minced garlic, mayonnaise, and of course pimentos.

You can serve it with crackers and a spreader or you can purchase some nice artisan bread from your local supermarket and spread it on finger sandwiches. Either way, it’s an easy appetizer that whipped up quickly for guests.

Monterrey Jack Pimento Cheese

This homemade Pimento Cheese is to die for. Monterrey Jack. Is blended with mayo, Pimento, garlic and dill. 
15 mins
Course Appetizer
Servings 2 Cups

Ingredients
  

  • 8 Oz Monterrey Jack Cheese shredded
  • 2 Tbsp Garlic Minced
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Dill Chopped
  • 2 Oz Pimento Strained

Instructions
 

  • With a food strainer, strain the pimentos until all the liquid is gone. 
  • In a medium bowl, add cheese and Pimento. 
  • Mince garlic and add to mixture. 
  • Add dill and mayonnaise. Stir well  until fully combined. 
  • Refrigerate for one hour before serving. 
Keyword appetizer, cheese, dill, easy appetizer, entertaining, monterrey jack, pimeto, pimeto cheese, sandwiches
Pimento cheese spread

Hot Goat Cheese Fondue

I first tried this hot goat cheese fondue at a local farm-to-market style restaurant here in San Antonio where I live. Once I got home, I was determined to make it myself. If you are a goat cheese fan, this Mediterranean-inspired dish is delicious and it is super quick to make. You will need a log of goat cheese (at least four ounces), cherry tomatoes, pitted kalamata olives, fresh rosemary, and extra-virgin olive oil. Baked together, it is bubbly, cheesy, goodness. You can serve it with warmed or grilled pita bread or baguette. This recipe is easy with only a handful of ingredients and is done in less than half an hour.

Goat Cheese Fondue

Goat Cheese Fondue

This delicious new take on fondue fuses Mediterranean flavors like Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Fresh Rosemary, Olive Oil and Sweet Tomatoes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Appetizer
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3-4 Small Sweet Tomatoes
  • 4 Oz Goat Cheese
  • 1 Tsp Fresh Rosemary
  • 6-8 Kalamata Olives Pitted

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a small dish, place goat cheese and place in the over for 5-10 mins until softened. 
  • While in the oven, pit olives (if not pre-pitted) and separate rosemary from stem.
  • Once goat cheese is semi soft take out of oven and spread the cheese to fully cover the bottom of the dish. 
  • Sprinkle fresh rosemary. Add 3-4 tomatoes and add olives
  • Turn broiler on low and place cheese in oven
  • Melt under broiler for approximately 5 mins. Pay close attention to the cheese as things can burn quickly under the broiler. 
  • Once melted, remove from oven. Drizzle olive oil on the top. Best served with warm bread.

Fried Ravioli with Marinara

Can we just agree that most things taste better fried? Okay, well maybe not everything. I definitely enjoy things fresh, but for an appetizer, fried ravioli is really good and it is a little more refined than say that fried cheese sticks that grace every sports bar in America. You will need fresh ravioli. It does not matter if it is cheese or meat filled. Heat up some vegetable oil to 365º F and fry your ravioli for 2 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle salt and a small amount of grated parmesan on it. Plate a small bowl of marinara sauce for dipping. Easy peasy!

Quesadillas

Maybe it’s because I’m Hispanic, but quesadillas are so good! Sure you can always do chips and salsa if you want to really make it easy, but if you are looking for something a little more filling for your guests, you can always warm up some quesadillas. You can do a wide variety of different kinds. You can keep it simple and just do cheese (The best Mexican cheeses for quesadillas are Oaxaca, Asadero, Chihuahua, and Manchengo) or you can add meat or pico de gallo. You can keep them warm in a tortilla warmer until guests arrive. Then serve with guacamole, sour cream and salsa for dipping.

I hope you enjoyed this 10 super easy appetizers. Don’t forget to pin this post for later (you may need it). What is your favorite appetizer? Do you have a go-to dish? Tell me in the comments.

My 2020 Book List

Although I didn’t read nearly as much as I have in the past, these are the books I read in 2020. Here is my 2020 book list.

My 2020 book list
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

I do love reading. When quarantine started in March I honestly thought that I would have a ton of time to devote towards reading. Unfortunately, that is not how this all turned out. I spent a great deal of time engaging with my children and bonding as a family. Of course, I absolutely don’t regret that at all!

This year was also spent homeschooling. This was the first year where I taught both boys. My youngest is in kindergarten and I also taught my two-year-old in tot school which is actually just purposeful playing but it requires me to be present because I teach as we play. ( You can see my Kindergarten reading list here.) After a few bumpy months, we found our groove. We’ve gone a little slower than anticipated, but that’s okay. In my spare time, I spent lots of time working on my Etsy shop which had great success this holiday season. With all that happened, I admit, my reading fell by the wayside once November came. I still have some unfinished books as well as books I meant to read this year.

In this list, I am only going to mention the books I actually read. There are several books I started and did not complete. I will include those in a separate post for the books I intend to read for 2021. Let’s get started. Here is my 2020 book list.

Washington’s Spies: America’s First Spy Ring

Washington’s Spies was by far, my favorite book I read this year. Alexander Rose, is a masterful storyteller and he begins his book with an introduction to Nathan Hale and his friendship with Benjamin Tallmadge. Tallmadge, who while serving in the Continental Army, would go on to lead America’s first spy ring for General George Washington, the Culper Spy Ring.

In the book, we learn of the heroic contributions of those who would become our first spymasters within the ring. The ring itself was a hodgepodge of talent and disciplines – Benjamin Tallmadge, a cavalry soldier, Abraham Woodhull a cabbage farmer, Anna Strong (America’s first female spy), Robert Townsend a Quaker torn between politics and family, Caleb Brewster a blacksmith, and Austin Roe, a tavern owner among others. Their shadowy missions, which primarily take place throughout Setauket, Long Island, and other parts of New York, combine the use of double agents, double-crossing, dead drops, disappearing ink, codes, and ciphers, and signals on laundry lines. The book painstakingly recreates the precarious missions of the ring which ultimately, also smokes out the infamous turncoat Benedict Arnold.

The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers

After reading Washington’s Spies, I was eager to read more on some of its major players, one of which is Robert Rogers. Rogers was a frontiersman who served in both the French and Indian War as well as the American Revolution with the Queen’s Rangers on behalf of the British. This particular book written by Timothy Todish is actually partially autobiographical. A large portion of this book, The Annotated and Illustrated Journals of Major Robert Rogers, is written from the narrative of Roger’s own journals. Missing historical gaps and additional context are supplemented by Todish which makes for a thorough retelling of Roger’s life and military career.

Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge

Again, after reading Washington’s Spies, I wanted to read further about Benjamin Tallmadge. I absolutely fell in love with this heroic man who contributed so much to the revolutionary war. I found the Memoir of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, written by Tallmadge himself. This autobiography covers Tallmadge’s friendship with Nathan Hale along with his emotions over his execution. Tallmadge records his experiences as a cavalryman in the Continental Army as well as his relationship with Washington.

One thing that is lacking in this book is a telling of Tallamadge’s movements as spymaster of the Culper spy ring. This memoir, originally written for his children, is surprisingly tight-lipped about his spy days. This is a little disappointing because most readers gravitate towards this memoir to learn exactly that. He does write about it some, but don’t expect sensational details about his spy tactics. Still, this book is a gem for those of us who love American Revolution history.

You’ll Get Through This

I typically enjoy Max Lucado’s books. After receiving some disturbing news this year, I decided that I wanted a book to aid me through my emotional response. You’ll Get Through This frankly did not give me the substance or comfort I have found in other Lucado books. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, but I felt more connected and comforted by other Lucado books. I think it is a worthwhile book that you will enjoy if you need hope in your current situation.

This book uses the story of Joseph and his betrayal of his brothers and his being sold into slavery. The book continues to teach through Joseph’s struggles, which God uses for His glory and for the good of Joseph. If I am being honest, this book, seemed to regurgitate much of Lucado’s prior works. If you are looking for other good Lucado books, I highly recommend He Chose the Nails, It’s Not About Me, and For the Tough Times. The general message in this book is something that really needs to be impressed upon the modern-day Christian. God may not remove the circumstances but we can be assured that he will use it for our inevitable good.

The Original Wit & Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln: As Reflected in His Letters and Speeches

This book, The Original Wit & Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, is a compilation of various speeches and personal correspondence. The most apparent quality of Lincoln’s writing is that he was a masterful composer of sympathy and compassion. Some of his most provocative compositions are letters of condolences to grieving families. Here we get a more intimate look at the man who ended slavery as he writes to military subordinates as commander in chief during the Civil War. We also get to discover the more private Lincoln from his correspondence with friends and family.

The Haunting of Hill House

After watching the original Netflix series, Haunting of Hill House I was eager to read the original source material knowing full well the Netflix series varies greatly from Jackson’s artful story. Still, I had started reading this book years ago but never finished. I never went back to it, so naturally, I decided to remedy that. Shirley Jackson crafts a classic haunted house story.The gothic horror story centers around Eleanor, a fragile, lonely recluse who after caring for her ailing mother agrees to be a part of a psychological study conducted in a stately home. Theodora, a Bohemian artist and the heir to the home Luke Sanderson also join her for the study conducted by Dr. Montague. Once there, supernatural happenings and poltergeist activity begin to sinisterly torment the inhabitants and their psyche.

Happiness is a Serious Problem

Dennis Prager, know as a conservative talk show host discusses happiness at its core. Although religious himself (he is an Orthodox Jew), Prager explores happiness as a human condition, but not necessarily from a religious viewpoint. How we respond to circumstances in our life, our attitude, and everyday choices are components of a pragmatic approach to happiness. Prager manages to break down these components into chewable portions that one can apply to his or her life.

This was an interesting book but one that should be read slowly and with sips. Like philosophy, I found that there is lots of food for thought nestled in the pages. Also as a side note, I purchased this book as an audiobook. The audiobook is not narrated by Prager who has a very distinctive voice. Instead, a drab narrator has been supplanted for Prager. Stick to the printed version if you can.

12 Rules for Life

12 Rules for Life, written by world-renowned Psychologist Jordan B. Peterson, is not an easy read. In fact, this actually took as much concentration from me as other complex writings like Freud, Dostoyevsky, and Chaucer because there is so much to consider in a single sentence. Love him or hate him, Peterson himself has become a controversial figure for his outspoken political statements. He strikes me as a classic liberal but in recent years has become outspoken about certain progressive political policies.

As the title suggests, Peterson cites twelve profound rules for life that are built upon a number of influences such as mythology, biblical archetypes, historical context, and social constructs among other things. One should note, Peterson does not consider the bible to be divinely-inspired rather a tool of moral relativism. Like Peterson himself, many of his conclusions may be controversial and in today’s political climate, often waffles from left to right at times. I enjoyed reading his book even though I do not agree with all of his conclusions and I certainly have respect for him as one of the finest minds alive.

What Are You Reading?

The volume of my reading this past year was a little pathetic by past standards. I’m hoping I can do a lot more reading this year. In the comments below, I’d love to hear about the books you read this past year.

Hot Cranberry Orange Cider

Hot cranberry orange cider is a delicious hot punch that is perfect for holiday parties in the Fall and Winter.

Hot cranberry orange cider

I love cranberries. I get so excited when I see them finally appear in our grocery store. Once Fall hits, I make a wide variety of cranberry foods. From cranberry-orange muffins to white chocolate and cranberry cookies, I love making things with cranberry. I’ve had this recipe for a few years and I’ve grown to love it. This recipe actually calls for cranberry juice which you can get year-round. However, I love to add a few whole cranberries to the punch when I serve it. We’ll get into all that later, but for now, let me tell you about this easy punch recipe.

We love entertaining around Christmas time. In fact, for the last seven years, I’ve been hosting Christmas for our family. I always set up an awesome hot chocolate bar that family and friends rave about! You can see my post on how to set up your own hot chocolate bar. I even have the best slow cooker hot chocolate recipe that you’ll ever try! Be sure to check those out before you leave.

How to Make Hot Cranberry Orange Cider

When I found this recipe years ago, it came with specific instructions to make over the stove. That is how I am going to share the recipe today, However, you can make the entire recipe in the slow cooker (e.g. crockpot) if you like. This recipe calls for several things, frozen concentrate and cinnamon imperials. Don’t know what those are? Cinnamon hard candy. Kind of like starlight mints except they are cinnamon flavored. You can find them at your local grocery store in the candy section.

This recipe calls for no actual sugar or cinnamon. Instead, it uses the sugar in the candies to sweeten the tart drink. The recipe instructions direct you to melt down the cinnamon candy by boiling it with the cranberry fruit cocktail which essentially turns the candies into a cinnamon syrup. Yes, the candies will still melt if done in the crockpot, but it will take a while. Until they are fully melted they can be a choking hazard, if someone doesn’t realize they are in there and they go for a cup before they are dissolved. Trust me, this can happen, even with adults. So I’d still recommend that you dissolve them on the stove. Then if desired you can transfer over to a crockpot afterward. I normally do just that, so the punch can stay warm as guests serve themselves. The recipe also calls for whole cloves, so you want to make sure you strain those out before serving. The stovetop method ensures your punch is ready in 30 minutes.

Cloves

Serving Hot Cranberry Cider

When you serve it, you can serve it directly in your crockpot. I recommend providing a ladle and spoon rest so avoid your countertop or surface from getting sticky from the ladle. If you don’t want to serve it in a crockpot and want a more classy look, they sell chafing punch bowls on Amazon. They are way more sophisticated than crockpots for your holiday parties.

By the way, if you are using a crockpot, allow me to introduce you to my best friend. A couple of years ago I discovered the slow cooker liners and they are awesome. I don’t typically buy disposable stuff, but these are awesome especially around the holidays. During the holidays my crockpots are used almost on a daily basis. The only thing I hate about using them is all the soaking and scrubbing in between uses. This totally eliminates the need for both. Just take and toss when you are done and then wash your crockpot without the elbow grease.

When I serve it, I often serve it in my old depression glass punch bowl or in cute Santa mugs. These Santa mugs (below) are from Pottery Barn. They are exactly like my mother’s vintage ones in her kitchen. You can also put it in Mason jar mugs. Another favorite of mine. I serve the punch with whole cranberries which I put in the punch while being warmed and I garnish with a cinnamon stick.

hot cranberry orange cider
santa mugs

Hot Cranberry Orange Cider

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 24

Ingredients
  

  • 64 fl oz Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • 2 Cups Water
  • ½ Cup Cinnamon Imperials (candy)
  • 12 Whole Cloves
  • ½ Cup Frozen orange juice concentrate
  • ½ Cup Frozen lemonade juice concentrate

Instructions
 

  • Combine cranberry juice, water, cloves, and cinnamon candy into a large stockpot.
  • Boil mixture until candies are fully dissolved. Reduce heat to low.
  • Add lemonade and orange concentrates. Remove cloves.
  • Transfer to a crockpot or heatproof serving bowl. Keep heat on low. Serve with heatproof mugs or punch cups. Garnish with cinnamon and whole cranberries if desired.
Keyword citrus, cranberry, holiday, holiday party, holiday punch, lemon dressing, orange, punch
Vintage Green Punch Bowl

Printable Christmas I Spy

Trying to keep the kids busy at home? Here is a printable Christmas I Spy to keep those little ones from feeling bored on those cold days.

printable christmas I spy

It is just the beginning of December but we are already busy without Christmas activities. Every year, we set up an Advent calendar and fill it with Christmas related activities or experiences. We have so much fun doing it as a family and it really gets us in the mood for Christmas. You can get all kinds of ideas for holiday-themed activities in my posts, The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List, 10 Beautiful Christmas Traditions to Start, and 50 Acts of Kindness for the Holidays.

We have a had a great homeschool year. My kindergartener is reading very well and he is obsessed with spelling at the moment. I’m so glad that we have managed to keep their interest in school even though we aren’t getting out much. I am so grateful that we had a wonderful and productive Fall. That said, I am so glad that we are taking some time off in December. We will be taking a whole two weeks off and just focusing on fun activities and play, so I’ll be sharing some of our fun activities here on the blog.

Printable Christmas I Spy

To Christmas off, I’m sharing a printable Christmas I Spy that I’ve made for my kindergartener. I think that children under five might struggle with it. I purposely made it a little challenging by using similar objects. Therefore, it is better suited for ages five and up. You can download it here and print it out at home. Feel free to share this post with others.

You can download some of my other FREE games and activities for other holidays

And coming soon this month, I’ll be doing a printable Christmas Memory Game! Stay tuned or subscribe to the blog to be notified.

As with all my printables on the blog, you can print them without an email sign up, although I”d love it if you subscribed.

Directions

You can use the following for your I spy game:

  • Crayons
  • Colored pencils
  • Markers
  • Highlighters

There is an answer key at the bottom of the page that states the objects to find as well as how many of the items there are in the maze. I suggest having your child count and color them as they find them. I’ve included lots of objects that are similar and objects that are not in the key to make it more challenging.

Download You Printable Christmas I Spy

This printable is in letter size and is in a pdf file. You will need a pdf reader in order to access the file. You can download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader here.

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you are your little ones enjoy this fun activity.

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole has become a family favorite of ours. My family begs me to make this dish every Thanksgiving. So today, I’m sharing these easy fall dish that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Easy Sweet potato casserole

When I was a child, both my grandmother and my mother always made candied yams for Thanksgiving. Candied yams is a traditional thanksgiving dish. First, they used canned yams. I don’t mean to offend if you use canned vegetables. I actually love to can food. But the yams always seemed mushy and soggy. Candied yams then top them with marshmallows, cherries, even pineapple. It was never a favorite of mine. I just didn’t care for the combination. So for years, when people passed them to me, I passed them right along.

Fast forward to my twenties. I can recall watching a morning program where Martha Stewart was a guest and was sharing her version of sweet potato casserole. Oh my, this dish looked divine and I’ll never forget what she said. She said it tasted like sweet potato pie without the crust. Now that I had to try. (I dare say, it is better because of the praline topping). So that day I headed to the store for my first try of sweet potato casserole. It was a huge hit at Thanksgiving. To this day, my family will pass over the pies to have the sweet potato casserole. I often get asked to bring it to Fall parties. Trust me, it’s delicious! What really makes this superb is the praline topping.

Making Sweet Potato Casserole

Over the years, I’ve tweaked Martha’s recipe based on my own experience. I’ve also been influenced by other versions. You will need a nice deep casserole dish. I personally love baking it in stoneware because it is so easy to go from oven to table. I also highly recommend using raw, fresh sweet potatoes. You can cook them any way you like (bake or boil). However, I have found that boiling them makes them much easier to mash because they are very tender. Baking also takes much more cook time.

Now, if you want to save yourself some time in the kitchen or want to save some real estate on your stove on Thanksgiving Day, you can always cook the potatoes the day before and store in the fridge. Then you can take them out when you are ready for them and create your casserole. I’ve been asked if you can prep the whole casserole the day before. Yes, you can. However, you’ll need to make sure you put it in a metal pan instead of glass or stoneware. Putting an ice-cold dish in a piping hot oven can cause the glass to shatter. Also, you may need to increase the cook time to an hour if your casserole is refrigerator cold.

Sweet Potato Casserole

One of my favorite kitchen tools I’ve ever come across is this brown sugar keeper. If you haven’t discovered this, you don’t know what you are missing. It contains a terra-cotta disk that keeps your brown sugar soft and fresh. And it isn’t just for brown sugar! They also sell little terra-cotta discs that keep lots of things soft and fresh. Things like cookies, baked goods, marshmallows, baker’s coconut and granulated sugar. Anything that you want to keep soft. Best of all you can use them forever. Just wash them with soap water whenever you want to put it in a different food container.

Brown sugar

How To Make Sweet Potato Casserole

You will need about 3-4 lbs of sweet potatoes. It is up to you if you want to peel before or after boiling. I prefer to peel after so they aren’t too waterlogged. Once peeled, transfer the potatoes to a large bowl. Mash your sweet potato with a potato masher. I typically don’t mind lumps in mashed potatoes, but for this recipe, I recommend working out as much of the lumps as you can. In a separate small bowl, beat your eggs, then add them to your potato mixture. Then you will add your pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, milk, sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, butter, and mix well. You will then pour the mixture into an ungreased casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, you will create a sugary praline topping. You will mix brown sugar, butter, flour, and pecans until it resembles a coarse mixture. The sprinkle atop the potato filling. You’ll bake it in the oven uncovered for about 45 mins. If you love this recipe, you should try another Fall favorite of mine Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte. I make it every Thanksgiving as well! Your friends will ask you for that recipe also.

Easy sweet potato casserole

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potato casserole is a lot like sweet potato pie without the crust. This delicious sweet potato dish with praline topping is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Deep casserole dish
  • potato masher

Ingredients
  

  • 4 Large Sweet potatoes peeled, cut into large chunks
  • ½ Cup Milk
  • 2 Large Eggs Slightly beaten
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar packed
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ Stick Unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), melted
  • 2 Tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

For the Topping

  • ½ Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar Packed
  • ½ Stick Unsalted Butter melted
  • ¼ Tsp Kosher Salt
  • ¾ Cup Pecans Chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon ground

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • In a large stockpot, add peeled, cubed sweet potatoes with a pinch of salt into boiling water. Bring boil to high heat and then reduce heat and cook until potatoes are very tender (about 20 mins).
  • Drain potatoes in colander and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  • Smash potatoes using a potato masher.
  • In a small bowl, slightly beat eggs then add to the potato mash.
  • Add milk, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, melted butter, vanilla into the bowl with potato and egg mixture. Stir ingredients well until fully combined.
  • Transfer to an ungreased baking dish. Spread the mixture out so that it is even across the dish.
  • In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the topping – brown sugar, pecans, all-purpose flour, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Sprinkle topping over the pumpkin mixture.
  • Place into the oven uncovered. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.
Keyword casserole, casserole recipes, chocolate dessert, fall, praline, side dish, sweet potato, thanksgiving

Storing and Leftovers

If you have any leftovers you can store them in an air tight container for three to four days. Leftovers are easily warmed up in the microwave or in the oven.

Friends, thank you so much for joining me today. I know that 2020 has been an exceptionally hard year. But I encourage you to make the best of it. FaceTime or Zoom with family and friends. Write some gratitude lists as a family. Focus on what is going right instead of all the things that wrong this year. There are always reasons to be grateful. Until next time friends. Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving Word Search for Kids

Download your free Thanksgiving Word Search for kids. This is a fun word recognition activity for elementary school aged children.

thanksgiving word search

Hey friends, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving has always been a special time. First, my mom’s birthday almost always falls on the week of Thanksgiving, so it’s always super special. Secondly, as a child, I used to love to hear my grandfather’s stories about our own Apache heritage. We are prepping for Thanksgiving this week. I imagine this year, Thanksgiving will look different for many families. I’ve heard some cities are locking down again. If you are in one of those cities, I’m sorry. It’s very tough to be apart from families especially this time of year, especially after all we’ve done already this year. We are staying home and cooking for a few immediate family members.

Today, I’ve created something fun for your older elementary school kids. I’ve created a free Thanksgiving word search for kids. Who knows, maybe it will keep them busy long enough to butter rolls! I personally used to love word search games particularly as a kid. Who am I kidding? I still really love them. I always felt like it helped me with my dyslexia because it forced me to concentrate.

Benefits of Word Searches

Sometimes word searches can get a bad rap. They seem like they are just busywork, but the truth is, they have lots of benefits. Here are some of the perks to incorporating word searches into your child’s playtime or school time.

  • Word recognition – Word recognition is very easy for adults that have been reading for years and are familiar with recognizing words by just a glance. While such things are obvious to adults, it’s not to you our little ones. For the emergent reader, word searches require them to truly hone in on the letters that make up the word.
  • We visualize words as a picture – Word searches have a unique effect on our brain. When we search for a word in a word search, we continually picture the word in our mind, thus reinforcing the spelling and structure of the word. This, of course, improves memory.
  • Focus on letter combinations. It’s in our nature to look for parts of the word that are unique like ie, uo, ea, tr, etc. We tend to hunt for letter combinations in word searches. For example, in the word Thanksgiving we tend to look for the letter combination ‘TH’ and ‘NG.’
  • Spelling – This might seem obvious and that’s because it is. Word searches encourage spelling. When you word search, you will have to examine the maze of letters to find the letters that make up the word and you have to spell it in order to know if you have found the word correctly.
  • Improves Vocabulary – I like using word searches to help reinforce vocabulary words. You can make the word search for just about any subject. Science, Social Studies, Language Arts, etc.

My Word Search

I’ve created this word search with 25 different Thanksgiving-themed words. Have your child search for the words horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. To add an extra level of difficulty, the words can also appear forwards or backward. I’ve created the word search in a .pdf document. You will need Adobe Acrobat or some other pdf viewing software to view it. You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.

I love coming up with some of these fun games. I created a Halloween I Spy as well and I plan on making a fun Christmas version as well in the next coming weeks. Also, be sure to check out Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle available in my shop here on the blog or in my ETSY shop.

Click on the button below to download your copy.

Thank you for reading and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog before you leave.

How to Play Dirty Santa

Are you bored with traditional white elephant gift exchanges? Here is a new take an old favorite. Today I’m sharing a new way to spice up holidays gift exchanges with how to play Dirty Santa.

how to play dirty Santa
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide, I may receive a small percentage no cost to you. See my full privacy policy for details.

All of us are familiar with white elephant gift exchanges. If you have ever been part of an office gift exchange chances are you have done white elephant. As much as we all love gift-giving, most of us haven’t won the lottery recently. A white elephant type of exchange is a great way to involve lots of people in gift exchanging with everyone making a modest contribution and therefore not breaking the bank.

In fact, that’s part of why I decided to share this in a blog post this year. COVID-19 has hit lots of people financially this year. In years past, some of my extended family drew names for a gift exchange instead of buying everyone a gift. But I found that it ended up being lack-luster. For example, lots of people just bought $25 gift cards and that’s exactly what it felt like. A group of people passing the same $25 around. Boring!!

Why not turn it into a fun game instead. Today, I’m going to share with you a fun way to turn humdrum white elephant gift exchanges into something more fun. Dirty Santa, White Elephant and Yankee Swap are all very similar in nature. First, I’m going to give you the basic rules. Then I am going to give you some fun variations to mix it up.

How to Play Dirty Santa

Rule 1: Decide on a Dollar Amount

This is totally up to the people involved, but you will need to decide on a dollar amount. It’s hard to find decent presents under $10 or $15, but if you are giving to office co-workers, that might be the perfect amount. If you are giving to close family members, you might consider a higher dollar amount like $50 or even $100. Just make sure there is no pressure and everyone is in agreement. You also want to discuss whether or not gag gifts will be allowed. This should be absolutely clear to everyone. I’ve heard heartbreaking stories of people who were upset when they bought a thoughtful gift and got a ridiculous gag gift like a bar of soap! So just make sure everyone agrees on whether to include comical gifts or not.

Rule 2: Make Wrapping a Big Deal

To add a little extra flavor to the experience, go all out on wrapping. Go festive with big bows or festive elements. If you have a very small item, perhaps you wrap it in a large box or an unusual container. I’ve heard of some people that get silly and wrap the gift multiple times so the recipient has to unwrap it again and again. There are lots of ways to make the wrapping entertaining to onlookers.

Rule 3: Place Gifts

You will need to place gifts in full view of all the guests so they can select from the pile. Any surface will do so long as it’s clean and everyone can access it when it is their turn to pick a gift.

Rule 3: Draw Numbers

Count the number of participants and write the numbers on little slips of paper. For example, for fifteen participants you’d write numbers one through fifteen. Fold the papers to obscure the number, then place the papers in a container. Then every person will draw a number from the container.

Rule 4: Gift Picking and Stealing

Starting with whoever drew number one, that person will pick any gift from the pile. They will open it in front of everyone. Then the gift picking will move to the number two person. That person can either pick a new gift to unwrap from the table or they can steal the unwrapped gift. If they select a new gift to unwrap, they cannot steal. The playing moves down the line chronologically and every player can steal any one of the previously unwrapped gifts or pick a new gift from the pile.

Some people like to make a rule that a particular gift cannot be stolen more than two or three times. This rule is totally optional, but it totally stops coveted gifts from making too many rounds. If a player’s gift is stolen, they then get to pick another gift to unwrap or they too can steal one of the opened gifts. They just can’t steal their own back. This continues until all players have gifts. At the end of the gift picking, the person who was number one can choose to steal any of the gifts!

Variations of Dirty Santa

Scavenger Hunt

This particularly fun in an office setting. Everyone must start at the entrance of the building or home you are in. Instead of drawing names, hide all the presents, and have people search for them. Participants can swap once with each other once all the gifts are found, but that’s it.

Musical Chairs

Have all guests sit or stand in a circle. Have some holiday tunes ready. A gift is entered into the circle as music plays and continues being passed around until the music stops. Whoever is holding the gift when the music stops, gets the gift and leaves the circle. This process continues until everyone has received a gift. The last person in the circle can either steal any of the opened gifts or take the remaining unopened gift.

A Themed Gift

You can play this using the same rules as classic Dirty Santa or White Elephant, but the gifts purchased have a theme. Maybe its a DVD, a holiday ornament, homemade gifts, or regifts. Use your imagination!

Karaoke Edition

Have everyone include a tag on their gift that has a Christmas Carol title on it. You can do this with or without a karaoke machine. Guests get in line and take turns selecting gifts from the gift table. However, they must sing the carol written on the gift they select before they can open it.

Christmas Break Out Games

Make sure everyone is okay with this before purchasing gifts. But you can turn the gifts into prizes and instead allow guests to win them in simple Christmas games or minute-to-win-it games. In fact, I’ve created some printable Christmas party games that you can purchase below. You can also set aside a few gifts for consolation prizes and set a rule that guests can play the games all they want, but can only win one gift.

Gift Ideas

For a full list of gift ideas, you can check out my blog post

However, here is a small list of ideas. If you are playing with both men and women, you’ll want to aim for unisex gifts. These are gifts that can be used or appeal to both. Here are some quick ideas all under $25.

So now you know how to play Dirty Santa also known as White elephant and hopefully I’ve given you some additional ideas on how to switch things up. Full confession – I normally dislike gag gifts. If you’ve received and loved a gag gift, let me know in the comments. Happy Holidays!

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Preppy Baby Boy Names

Ivy League schools. New England coastlines. Sailing. Nantucket. Martha’s Vineyard. Plaid. These are just some of the things I think about when I think about preppy kids. If that’s your vibe, I’ve got some cute preppy baby boy names that have Ivy League written all over them.

Preppy baby boy names
This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Oh, the joy of naming a baby. I don’t know about you, but I found it hard to name my kiddos. Also, I never realized that I only had girl names picked out, so naturally, I had only boys! I actually fretted quite a bit when I was choosing the names for my boys. Admittedly, I also never expected to get pushback from family members and friends on names I was considering. I have a friend who was even pressured into giving her son a family name. It happens friend and the best advice I can give is to just brush it off and do your thing.

One of the lists I made when choosing a name was preppy baby boy names. I admit I love this style of names so I thought I’d share the list I compiled with you. I’ve also tried to give you some basic meanings when available. When I hear preppy names I kind of think about Ivy League universities and New England coastlines. I think upper-class and clout.

Before you scroll down the list, I know that you’ve got lots to do before baby arrives. That’s why I’ve created the Baby Registry Checklist to help get you started on your registry shopping list. You may also want to check out my post 10 Things You Don’t Need On Your Baby Registry.

preppy baby boy names

Preppy Baby Boy Names

  • Alexander – though most well known for the Greek emperor Alexander the Great, Alexander is popular in many European countries
  • Anders – A Norse / Scandanavian version of Andrew, it was also the name of a notable physicist
  • August – A shortened version of Augustine, August graced three Polish Kings and also Augustus an emperor of Rome
  • Anderson – A more formal take on the name Andrew
  • Asher – A biblical name, Asher is the son of Jacob and also means happy and blessed in Hebrew
  • Aston – A rare name, it means East Town in Old English
  • Ashton – An Old English version of “Ash Tree Town”
  • Basil – Originally a Greek name, Saint Basil the Great was an early doctor of the church
  • Bastian – A suffix shortening of the name Sebastian meaning “venerable”
  • Beau – pronounced “Bo,” it means “beautiful” in French and has become a unisex name
  • Bernard – A Germanic name meaning “brave” or “bear”
  • Blake – An Old English name meaning “black” or “pale”
  • Blaine – Originally a Scottish surname meaning “yellow”
  • Brett – An Old English name to describe a Briton.
  • Brooks – Originally the English surname “Brook” it was used literally to describe someone who lived near a brook.
  • Bryce (or Brice) – A French name that also graced a saint
  • Camden – An Old English name that was originally used to describe a place like a valley.
  • Carlton – This is actually a variant of Charlton, meaning “settlement of free men”
  • Casey – Originally an Irish surname, It was also the name of hero Casey Jones, (1863-1900) who gave his life to save train passengers
  • Cecil – An ancient Roman name
  • Chauncey – A Norman surname of unknown meaning
  • Charles – A classic name, it is actually a derivation of the Germanic, Karl
  • Chase – English surname meaning ” huntsman”
  • Chett – A short form of Chester
  • Chip – Often a nickname for Charles or Christopher, this name is also occasionally used on it’s own.
  • Clarke – An English surname that was used to describe a cleric or scribe
  • Colin – Believe it or not, this is actually a shortened form of Nicolas.
  • Davis – A derivative of Davis
  • Desmond – An Irish surname describing the region from which they came
  • Drake – Old English surname meaning dragon or serpent
  • Drew – Shortened form of Andrew
  • Easton – English surname
  • Edmond – French form of Edmund. The famous bearer is Edmon Halley for whom Halley’s comment is named.
  • Ellis – A surname that derived from Elijah
  • Ferris – British surname
  • Forrest – English surname for someone who lived near the forest. Saw a resurgence with the movie Forrest Gump
  • Franklin – An English surname meaning “freeman” it was notably the name of American Statesman Benjamin Franklin president Frankling Roosevelt
  • Francois – The French form of Frank
  • George – Also considered an aristocratic name because many kings have donned the name
  • Graham – A Scottish surname that eventually developed into a Scottish given name
  • Granville – An English surname named after a place in Normandy
  • Hamilton – Originally an English surname meaning “crooked”
  • Harris – A name that derived from Harry
  • Harrison – A name meaning son of Harry
  • Horatio – most commonly associated with British Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated Napolean at the Battle of Trafalgar
  • Hugh – Popular among French nobility
  • Hyde – An English surname used to describe someone who lived on about 100 acres
  • Jack – a derivation of John. In the middle ages, it was slang for “man” in the same way we use “guy” today which is why it is common in fairy tales
  • James – Originally a Hebrew name and used in England from the 13th century
  • Keaton – An English surname
  • Miles – Originally derived from Milo, it is a Germanic name with uncertain origins.
  • Montgomery – An English surname named after a mountain
  • Nicholas – a Greek name meaning “victory for the people”
  • Parker – An English surname meaning “keeper of the park”
  • Patton – English name deriving from Patrick
  • Pierce – a medieval form of Peter
  • Prescott – An English surname meaning “priest’s cottage”
  • Price – Welsh surname from Rhys
  • Quincy – English surname
  • Reid / Reed – Old English surname meaning “red”
  • Rhodes – Old English name meaning “cleared lands”
  • Royce – Medieval name meaning “rose”
  • Rupert – German form of Robert
  • Sebastian – Greek name meaning “venerable”
  • Spencer – Middle English for pantry or “dispenser of provisions”
  • Sutton – English surname meaning “south town”
  • Sumner – Middle English surname for someone who had to summon witnesses to court
  • Tanner – English occupational surname
  • Tate – Derived from the English name Tata
  • Trey – name meaning “three”
  • Warren – a Norman name meaning “animal enclosure”
  • William – A Germanic name meaning “helmet” it has graced many Kings in history
  • Winston – An Old English place name

Other Baby Names

By the way, if you enjoyed this name round up, you should see some of my other posts such as Strong Baby Boy Names, Biblical Baby Boy Names and Biblical Baby Girl Names. I’d love it if you subscribed to my blog for future posts and don’t forget to PIN this post for later.

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