A Free Thanksgiving Display Printable For You

Dear Friends (and Family!)

Thanksgiving is just days away. Although we won’t all be gathered together in person, we like to think we all are in heart!
We ask that you remember all of those this holiday, who may be sad, lonely, ill, grieving, or otherwise struggling at this time of year, or this year in particular.  Reach out to them as you can, or remember to keep them in your prayers in a special way.

As a gift of our thanksgiving for you, I designed this 8″x10″ display printable for you!
  You can frame it, and display it anywhere you please, as a heartwarming message for all.

*NOTE: In this post, you see below the web version…which would not print to size. (It would probably be very tiny, and poor quality.) So don’t try printing it from here! It’s sized for the web only.
Please use the provided link to download your full-sized copy, at the end of this post.
 This is designed as an 8″x10″.  You are welcome to print this on either regular printer paper, or a nice sheet of card stock, and frame it.  Either way, those sheets are generally 8.5 x 11″. 
Therefore, for your convenience, you will notice a light gray line to cut along, to make your 8×10″ to size just right, and fit in your frames.

*Be sure to have your printer set for it’s best printing quality in full-color.


*Click the DOWNLOAD button in the upper right corner, and then print from wherever you saved it.

We hope you enjoy it. May God bless the abundant food on your tables, and all of you for whom it will sustain!  Give great thanks, for all good things come from the hand of God!
We are always thankful for you, and although you are all in our daily prayers, you will be especially so on Thanksgiving, in a special way.

~The Richard Family

Christmas Eve / Morning – 2012

With Christmas 2012 behind us, we ultimately decided to blog a little bit of it, before we move on to wrapping up our year of projects for you, revealing a new one, and jumping into the new year with both feet, and some bigger projects than ever, that you are welcome to follow along with us. I cannot wait to get to all of that, and hopefully you all might have some great ideas and help for us along the way. It’s going to be too much fun!

But first, our little Christmas. We try to keep the entire season quite simple and stress-free.  (Not always an easy thing to do – right?). We celebrate Advent, we decorate, make some handmade gifts and shop a little, bake, drive around neighborhoods at night with cocoa to see people’s Christmas lights, and stuff like that.  We also try to not get too distracted from remembering that Jesus’ birth, and what the course of His earthly life would mean for us all, is the whole purpose of our own celebrations, personally. Some years Christmas Eve and Day is more simple than others, with a little more or less gifts or family/friends around. 

This year we went to Christmas Eve Mass, and had a quiet evening at home, with a little festive food spread.  While we had bought the kids a few gifts, Michael and I decided not to put them out the night before.  First because, one, two, or all of them tend to get up during the night to use the bathroom or get a drink of water, and I really didn’t want them to see anything.  Secondly, I was kind of curious what their reaction would be. There have been Christmas’ where the only gifts they received were from extended family and friends. But this year, since this year has progressively gone quite well, and we could afford more, I actually asked them all what they might want for Christmas. That’s something I’ve never actually done. Their requests were easy enough: certain books (Olivia and the Trio), a new basketball (Shane), a Pillow Pet (JackMichael), socks, (socks?), and Patriots or Tim Tebow calendar (Alexis).  So we got them those things, and a few more surprises.  But when they got up in the morning, there was nothing more under the tree than there had been all week: packages that had arrived for them from other family, and a large gift bag each from a sweet family friend. Still, they were bouncing around the house all happy-chatty and excited because well . . . it was Christmas Day.  And they love Christmas.

(After Mass on Christmas Eve.)

But Michael and I were pretty excited, to give them their gifts! So after breakfast and an hour or so of chilling in our pajamas, we asked the kids to go upstairs for a few minutes, until we called them.  After the 4 “Why?” ‘s, and our refusal to answer, they went up, and we got everything around the tree.  Despite the fact that there is a lot more to our simple Christmas than presents, that happens to be all I took photos of this year! lol.  Since I do intend to get back to some major scrapbooking some day, and I take photos of the kids through their childhood for their/our own memories, I always ponder if I should bother blogging these kinds of things. But our oldest (Alexis) and husband say yes – it’s our family blog in the end, and they want these memories a part of it too. Not just all of our projects and things we do. So I put together a small collection of some of my favorite photos of them opening their gifts. Note: I am TERRIBLE with on camera flash. Ugh-hate using it.  But the important thing for our family history is having these (any) family photos someday – perfect or not, they will be treasured more and more as time goes on. So I am embracing candid casual photography, to most enjoy these times with my family. There is a little description with each photo. But I’ll also say that aside from what they are sitting in, and a small gift each from us, they also got a few small things together, and one bigger item (which has not yet arrived), and will be part of another post (a major room revamp), coming soon.

If you look through the slideshow, you can use the arrows to go to the next one. Anytime you want to get out of the slideshow mode, simply click ON the photo, and it will close out.

However you and your family does Christmas, we hope it was beautiful, meaningful, peaceful, and you were surrounded by love and happiness.

A Glimpse Into This Mother’s (Typical) Day.


  It’s morning, and the coffee maker gurgles it’s last drips of piping hot fresh coffee into the pot. My boys race to the kitchen to be the one who gets to prepare my first cup of the day. It’s delivered to my hands, wherever I am, followed up with the first smile, kiss and hug of the day.  As my girls sleepily descend down the stairs, they are collided by one brother or other, greeted with a hug of their own, the moment their foot hits the bottom of the staircase.  I watch, as I sip my coffee, still waking up, happy to see they are happy to see each other, every morning.  They pour cereal and milk in the kitchen, and chat too much all through breakfast, reliving many amusements that still make them all laugh again, for the millionth time.

     Everyone is washed and ready for the day. Our school day begins with prayer and Scripture discussion. In closing, the littles say the Lord’s Prayer, with hands held to form a circle of themselves, and following the great Amen, their 6 hands all collide in the middle and then reach up to the Heavens, in some triplet ritual of praise to God, that only they can fully understand.

    We open our books and begin verbal reviews, and all of the lessons to be done. To teach them, fills my heart with such joy. Being able to watch them all understand and put their new knowledge to use, feels like a new gift to me, every day. They teach me so much in a day, too. Soon, the room is filled with nothing but the beautiful sound of many pencils at work, and thinking.   My youngest daughter leans my direction repeatedly, peeking into my coffee cup, waiting to see the bottom, so she can get me a refill.  The same sweet girl, who loves to help, and leaves me floral arrangements  in shot glasses, all over the house.  I smile inside, and remember I should probably eat breakfast, too.

   Hours later, and it’s time for a late lunch.  Another highlight of their day.  Good gosh, do they love to eat. I overhear a discussion of their hopes and wonders, that there will still be food, and the need to eat, in Heaven. I giggle, and offer the notion that feasting is a form of great celebration, so I imagine there is much of that in Heaven.  They all express various forms of great relief, and it amuses me again.  I secretly hope there is wine at these feast celebrations, too.

    Appointments, activities, workshops, practices or games… the day often holds something to get done or somewhere to be.  If we separate, I’m always given proper good-byes;  a kiss on the cheek with a beaming smile of excitement, an ‘I love you’ and a verbal promises to ‘see you later.’ Even my oldest never hesitates, despite all of the eyes and ears of her high school friends around. I am thankful that hasn’t changed, and I pray it never will.

   The day wears on, and I get little done of my own, that I had intended. But the kids spend their energy well. Races are run, seeds are planted, and bugs are observed in containers, all too often forgotten, only to bake in the sun. Trees are climbed high enough to make my heart pound. I want to tell them to come down, before they fall and get injured. But I don’t. Instead, I say a silent prayer, and go take their photo, zooming in and shooting up from the ground. 

     Little arms with grubby hands, randomly find me, wrapping tightly around my middle, and gifting me with surprise hugs that remind me of how good love feels, and the recurring wish that they could stay little forever.

     Artwork, crafts and love notes, written and created just for me, are everywhere; hanging by clothes pins, pinned to bulletin boards, overflowing out of folders and boxes.  The artistic gene and love of art, from both sides, passed on from generations before, lives on in them.

    I attempt to work on my laptop on the couch, throwing my feet up, while little fingers pound keys, and piano music fills the house, bouncing off the walls. It’s lovely, and distracting. It’s such a treat when any one of my kiddos prop my feet on their lap and read a book, while giving me a foot rub.  They know how much I love those.  Life is good.

    Their bellies are filled once again, and the littles wash and change for bed. It’s quiet time before sleep, and they read more books, taking turns to suddenly interrupt the silence, to share bits of what they are so amused by, from the pages of their books. It’s time to climb into their beds.  But not before another round of hugs, kisses, and I love you’s – for me, their Daddy, and for each other.

   I indulge in my nightly routine. A hot shower, pajamas, and my own winding down before sleep. My big girl and I often find ourselves hanging out on my bed. She with her books and notebooks, and I with my laptop, but neither of us getting much done.  We’re too busy, having the best kinds of talks a mother and her teenage girl can have, or laughing so hard that we can’t catch a breath, as tears stream down our cheeks.  She has such a lively and beautiful laugh. Michael appears in the doorway, wanting to know what he is missing out on. I let her stay up too late, until her chin quivers; a tell-tale sign she is way over tired. I tell her it’s really time for bed, and I see her think about protesting, but decides she is too tired to. She kisses me, and recites her 3 lines she has said to both Michael and I every night for so many years, it has become  single run-on sentence: “Love you goodnight see you in the morning. ”  I repeat it back to her, as she lumbers off and up the stairs.

   This is such a beautiful, typical day for me as a mother. My children’s behavior and choices, are not always wonderful. But then, neither are mine. In between all of the expressions of love, thoughtfulness, busy-ness, and fits of laughter that each day can hold, are also disagreements and disgruntled moments that forget respect, responsibility, or efforts to strive to be like Jesus.  Just as there are moments in every day, that I fail to the very best mother I can be, for them.  But it’s the love between a mother and her children, that outshines the rest.  Taking a moment to count our blessings, and thanking the good Lord for every one, reminds us of what a great thing we’ve got going, and we forget the rest.  We have love, and we have joy, and there are no greater gifts, than family.  

    At the end of each day, I am exhausted. But I know after a little sleep, I’ll be ready to do it all over again the next day. I ponder all that needs to be done, and all that we’ll repeat, when the sun rises at dawn the next morning, once again, and I feel the little leap of happiness in my heart. I look forward to it. But first, I must sleep.  I do for hours, until I wake somewhere in the few hours past midnight, for no reason at all. It is never so quiet, as it is when I am the only one awake. I revel in the moments (sometimes hours) of sheer silence, while I can. I take the opportunity to brainstorm, to plan, to dream, to relive memories, to ponder all of my blessings, and to pray.  Sometimes, I waste it worrying. I re-evaluate once again, if I am honoring this blessed role God gave me well enough, as the mother of these children; where and how I might do better.  I always want to.  They deserve the best I can give. And I promised God I would. Every day that I am given to try again, is a gift.

    Mother’s Day is this weekend. It’s a wonderful and thoughtful day, honoring mothers of various means and generations, everywhere. My husband and kids always give me an extra special day, usually agreeing to antique shop hop with me, all day long.  No matter what the day holds, it doesn’t really matter…… 

Because I know:  Head to toe, and inside out, morning until night, 24/7 and 365 days a year, I AM BLESSED that these 4 beautiful children call me Mama.  One day, one lifetime, will never be enough, to celebrate the immeasurable gratitude I feel, for that.



Valentine Chocolate Covered Spoons

Chocolate covered spoons are something we have been intending to try making, for awhile now. There really needs to be no upcoming holiday to make them. But when there is a holiday coming up, it’s another good reason to go ahead and make them!
If you have never heard of chocolate covered spoons, they are just what they sound like they are:  spoons covered in chocolate!  And then prettied up.  They can be used to to stir your coffee, hot chocolate, warm milk, etc – to add some chocolatey flavor to your drink, or make licking your spoon that much more enjoyable!  Meanwhile, if you’ve made a whole batch, they just look pretty sitting in any container in your kitchen.
Chocolate covered spoons can be made as simply or fancifully as you’d like. You’re the designer, with each and every spoon, and that’s the fun of it!  I already had an idea of how we wanted to make some chocolate covered spoons for Valentine’s Day, so that’s what we’re sharing with you in this post.

Here are a bunch of our spoons, already finished. I thought they looked nice in this simple white gravy boat. We made even more than this though.  We’ll be using some ourselves, but we really made them for the kids to give to their friends. And our oldest made some for her whole basketball team. lol.  I made a simple Valentine card printable, to go with each spoon, and you can get that for yourself HERE, if making these spoons is an idea you’d like to use for your kid’s friends or classmates, too.  It’ll make a unique Valentine, don’t you think?

I did not photograph the step-by-step process, but I think it is simple enough directions to explain.   All you need is some hard plastic spoons, *chocolate to melt, a tad bit of shortening (optional, I guess), and whatever you’d like to decorate the chocolate covered spoons with!   We used Valentine sprinkles and marshmallows for this batch.  But you can drizzle with white melted chocolate after, use sprinkles on other (holiday) colors, cover in nuts…whatever you’d like!

*Because we have a boy with a severe peanut allergy, we cannot use the chocolate melts (like Wilton’s) that are sold in stores in the baking / candy supplies aisles, because they are not guaranteed peanut-safe.  They are convenient though, and melt very nicely, if you can use them!  Since we cannot, we use Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Chips, and so the best we can with those. I believe we can find peanut-safe melts online though, if we planned ahead.

We got everything out that we needed:  spoons, chocolate (chips), sprinkles and marshmallows, and shortening.  You can melt the chocolate in a mug or a glass measuring cup – just choose something deep. We got a few cookie sheets out, and covered them with some wax paper.  

We began melting about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips at a time, in a mug, in the microwave, with just a 1/2 teaspoon of shortening. (I normally avoid shortening for anything, but a tad bit does help the chocolate melt and stir up smoothly.)   We started at a minute, and then did 10-1secomd intervals, stirring completely in between, until all of the chocolate is melted and smooth. 

Two important tips:   1) You do not want to overheat the chocolate, or it will be ruined. Little by little is the way to go, and add a dab more shortening if you feel it needs it.  2)  I use the handle end of a wooden spoon, for stirring chocolate.  I saw that tip somewhere a long time ago, as it doesn’t heat and cool like metal does.  Stir rapidly, for smooth and shiny chocolate.

When your chocolate is melted, dip a spoon!  It does take a little patience to wait for each spoon to stop dripping off excess, unless you want to make a big mess.  Then, over an extra the cookie sheet or wherever, sprinkle on your decorations!  For the ones we were adding marshmallows to, we pressed those in first, and then added the sprinkles.  We had fun with our little Valentine variety. Simply rest the handle of the spoon on the edge of a cookie sheet, and the wet chocolate end of the spoon on the wax paper to harden.  As soon as the sheet was full of spoons, we put the sheet in the refrigerator, to further harden.

A couple of other things we have learned:   The spoons really need to be kept in a cool place. Cold, is best. SOME of our spoons, developed white specs on the chocolate the next day.  We know that tends to happen sometimes when the chocolate is overheated any amount.   It could very well have something to do with our needing to use chocolate chips too.  (You know how milk chocolate chips have that white-ish coating sometimes?)  But we did notice, that they spoons we left int he coldest place, are still looking perfect!! Those are the ones we’re giving away! lol.  Regardless……the little change from the smooth chocolate you see will not hurt you or any different.  It’s just prettier to prevent it, if you can.

To package nicely, we got some skinny clear bags sold in the baking/candy making aisles. They have some for chocolate covered pretzels, and that what we used!  We just cut them down to about 8 inches, and they were perfect!  Then we tied on curling ribbon, and curled!  As I said, I designed a Valentine for each spoon, for these.  But this is a fun project for you (maybe with our kids too!),  and it’s certainly a pleasant treat that will bring a smile to anyone’s face, when given away, or served with a hot drink!


Valentine Printable (free, to go with Chocolate Covered Spoons)

This is a Valentine card printable, that I specifically designed to go with our Valentine Chocolate Covered Spoons, for our kids to give as Valentines to their friends.  But, we are also offering it to you all, as a free printable!

  First, here is what the Valentine looks like in detail:

(Minus the watermark….if you print out a sheet.)

I mentioned I wanted to get back to enjoying some of my hand artwork, and so I did sketch the cup, in a chocolate brown colored pencil.  It’s been awhile, but I had fun doing it!  I hope you like it.

This is what it could look like, given with a chocolate covered spoon, as a very unique Valentine:

We chose to also add a pack of hot chocolate.  That an option.

Here is how we simply attached it all together:

I apologize for the lousy photo.  It was growing dark and I was having a hard time focusing. But you should get the idea with an explanation:  A single hole punch towards the right side, through the sealed packet of cocoa if you are adding that too.  Then using the pretty silver twist ties that came with the clean bags, we just twisted it around the spoon handle, arranging the spoon to be ‘inside’ the cup, visually.   Easy!  Cute!!

So if you’d like the free printable, 5 come on sheet. I would recommend printing on white card stock, instead of floppy printer paper.  Just make as many sets of 5 as you need, and cut them into individuals!  This below is not full size, but just to give you an idea of how they are arranged on a sheet:

Each card is the same size as Swiss Miss Cocoa packets!
HERE is the printable as a full size PDF.
If you like it,consider it a little gift, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day.
If you don’t, have a Happy Valentine’s Day, anyway!