Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas Granola

As a self-described granola addict, this is one of my favorite Christmas gifts to push on the neighbors {I don’t think they mind}.
It’s extra festive because we candy the nuts with maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt. Oh my. Read on…life will never be the same.
You’ll start with the usual suspect: rolled oats (not quick oats)
About 7-8 cups Granola. Add cinnamon.
In a saucepan, over low-medium heat, add water, honey, olive oil, and maple syrup. Heat until small bubbles form around pot. Pour into dry mix. Stir. Lay out on two lined cookie sheets. Cook for about an hour until toasty brown.
¬†Add Dried Cranberries, Pumpkin Seeds, and Coconut Flakes. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Candied nuts are simple: heat maple syrup in a skillet, add nuts. Stir occasionally. Done! YUM.
Load into gift bags and you’ve got a great gift. Tasty, healthy, WE RUN ON OATS!

MaisyMak Granola Snack, Christmas Edition:

Heat Oven to 300


7-8 C Oatmeal
1/2 C Sunflower Seeds
1 Tbsp Cinnamon

Heat in Saucepan:

1 C Water
1 C Honey
1/2 C Olive Oil
1/2-1 C Pure Maple Syrup
Heat until tiny bubbles form around pot. (If you want more “sticky clumps,” you’ll need to add more honey or maple syrup.) Pour over the dry mix. Stir evenly. Spread granola onto two lined (foil or parchment paper) cookie sheets. Place granola in oven, stirring every ten minutes, rotating granola from top to bottom racks to ensure even browning. About an hour.

Heat in Skillet:

1/2-1 C Maple Syrup
A pinch of Sea Salt
1 C Pecans
1 C Almonds
1 C Walnuts
In a skillet pan (I use a well-oiled cast iron), heat maple syrup and sea salt over low-medium heat for one minute. Add the nuts. Stir occasionally until syrup begins to “candy” the nuts, being careful not to let the nuts burn. You’ll know it’s ready by the delicious smell, and when the liquid is soaked up. About 7-9 minutes. (Beware: these candied nuts are a DANGEROUS snack ūüôā )

When Granola is out of Oven, Add:

Candied nuts
1 C Unsweetened Coconut Flakes (I like Bob Mills)
1 C Dried Cranberries
1 C Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Place in gift bags. Or consume. Whichever. Merry Christmas!

You may also want to try: 3-ingredient homemade dark chocolate, my favorite sugar cookie, sugared cranberries and brie bites, famous NYTimes No-Knead Bread!

See you in the New Year!


A Christ-Centered Christmas Craft

It’s cute, a reminder, and such fun alliteration to say, “a Christ-Centered Christmas Craft,” no?

I’m handing these out to my young women at church tomorrow…

Credit goes to Ivory Bloom where you can download your FREE PDF PRINTABLE

I hope my girls will hang it somewhere where they can see it every day, all year. In my opinion: The most important key of our whole life.

You will need:

Rustic keys ($11 for 20 skeleton keys – there are MANY key options)

Cardstock of any color


Easy. Kids and youth (and adults!) love the keys. Paige HAD TO HAVE a key, which will certainly unlock mysterious attic doors, and ahem, Let Jesus In ūüôā



Not Everyone Loves Christmas: Holiday Encouragement

I’ve been sharply reminded several times already this month that not everyone is happy at Christmas time.

The “perfect Christmas” is supposed to be presents and treats and music and laughter. Most of all, it’s gathering with those we love the most.

But that doesn’t happen for everyone. Some of us are alone and some of us are surrounded by family but still missing someone. I think of Cassie. Of Heather. Andrew. The older we get, the list grows.

Katie Couric wrote a beautiful essay Here, of what she’s learned from missing her husband for the last 19 Christmas’s.

My father-in-law and I were listening to Christmas songs on the way home from Boston and the song, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” came on. “This is a sad song,” he said. “It’s from World War II.” I was pretty sure he was also thinking of his wife.

I thought of war time and all the young men and women who never came home. Not for Christmas and sometimes not ever.

Two of my close friends lost their husband’s this year. Stephen. Eric. We miss them.

My neighbor still longs for his wife who has been gone the last 20.

I believe that someday, we will be reunited with the ones we love the very most.

But in the meantime, we are here are on earth to help each other along the way.

I post this video in the hopes that we can be the light that makes someone’s Christmas bright.

(As a side note, there are several Cope sightings ūüôā )

Wishes and Candle for you:



A Few Favorite Things {a maisymak Christmas guide}

Now that we’ve said “THANK YOU!” can we ask for stuff? ūüôā

Here are some beloved items you may consider for the Christmas season.

FOR YOU (Warm and Cozy ALL WINTER):

1.¬†American Eagle Faux Mink Twisted Snood:¬†Haven’t you always wanted to wear something called a “Snood”? Go ahead, imagine yourself wearing wicked good mocs and a super soft faux mink snood and you’re ME. All DAY. This snood is both fabulously soft and also pretty; you can wear it to bed or a dinner party.

  1.  2.  3. 

2.¬†L.L. Bean Wicked Good Moccasins. Have you put your feet in these? You’ll never take them out. And with L.L.Bean’s Lifetime Guarantee (the best!), you’ll never ever have to buy another pair. I wear them all day, all winter. With a snood. 25% off TODAY!

3. LL Bean’s Weave Hat and Mitten Set. You see a theme here? Warm and cuddly and so soft inside. And the mittens can go on either hand.


  1.  2.  3. 

1. Coconut Oil. Weird? It’s the best (and most economical) beauty product I have in the shower. Apply to feet, legs, arms, face, and hair! Anti-microbial and bacterial, no greasy, clogged pores. Feel soft and smooth and smell delicious. Buy anywhere.

2.¬†Garnier Skin Renew. Our love affair is going strong. I’ve resisted foundation, but have needed a tinted moisturizer and smoother. This is it. Buy at any drugstore.

3. Pomegranates. Because you are what you eat – and because beauty literally comes from the inside. The fruit is in season NOW. Eat for breakfast lunch or dinner, it also makes a great stocking stuffer.


  1.  2.  3 .

4.  5.  6. 

1. Seed and Sky necklaces. Handcrafted by a former student who is now a master artisan, these are so beautiful and unique. My girls adore them. On sale now!

2. Candy Cane Pop Rocks. Can’t go wrong here, right?

3. Candy Land Band-aids. Right???

4. Barrel of Monkeys. Long car rides, boring afternoons…monkeys are fun!

5. Whoopie Cushion. Surrounded by sisters, my son has never had one. It’s time.

6. Hatch a Dinosaur! Paige wants this soooo bad. I can’t wait ūüôā


  1.  2. 

1. Oh, Snap! A new game we all have fun playing. Find a sale at Target!

2. #LightTheWorld This is the most important and best Christmas gift. I love this campaign. It’s a reminder to be the light by serving one another. See a video below and print the PDF for your family.

Books for Christmas!

  1.   2. 3. 

4.  5.  6. 

1. How to Be An Explorer of the World by Keri Smith. So excited for Paige to open this for Christmas.

2. The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. Classic.

3. Under the Bottle Bridge by Jessica Lawson. Paige named it as a favorite of all-time!

4. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

5. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I’m not even all the way done with it, but I have many thoughts. More later. I think the teen in you will like it.

6. The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie. A shameless plug! But the cover was tweaked (see full image here)!!! (Amazon hasn’t updated yet.) Yeah, yeah, you won’t get it until June. Big whoop. Order now. Tell the kids…it’s coming ūüôā

Looking for more book ideas? Christmas books,¬†Here,¬†Here,¬†and Here!¬†and Here ūüôā

Here we go, into the holidays. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, fa-la-la-la-la!


A 2016 Recap and a Merry Christmas!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…


Charles Dickens summed up how I feel about this year.

Highlights and lowlights:

Low: Our Hearts Broke. Twice.

High:¬†Love doesn’t die.

Low: My children don’t like the above Christmas card

High: I don’t really care ūüôā

Low: We emptied and sold a house, hauling and selling stuff every weekend for four months

Saying goodbye to Grandma's house

Saying goodbye to Grandma’s house

High: We became a multi-generational family. It’s better than I ever thought it could be

Low: Four major appliances broke

High: We have Brendaen img_8339

High: We almost have a finished basement!

High: We didn’t get divorced during this process ūüôā

High: I shocked myself and hired a woman to clean our home for two hours during the month of December. And I have all sorts of thoughts about this. It shall be written! #2017post

Low: Grief is not linear. Loss hangs over you and hits hard at the oddest times.

High: Friends and family. You hold me together.

Low: So many well-intentioned blog posts didn’t get written.

because :

Poor time management?

No, the other one.

Higher than a kite: In April, New York ICM literary agent Zoe Sandler called and made all my dreams come true. I have not written about this publicly yet. Hold on to your earrings, ’cause I’m still freaking out.

Low: Publishing houses apparently aren’t worried about my self-esteem #boatloadofrejection

High: Zoe is the best.

High: This is the book deal year. I can feel it . #please?

Low: “Mom, no more¬†hashtags!”

High: #whatevs

Low: “And stop with the emoji’s!”




High: Fantastic books here and here. More coming!

Low: Read some duds, too.

High: There was soccer and basketball and swimming and running and piano and singing and chores and Netflix and cows and driving and did I mention soccer?nelson7

Low: My running suffered.img_8379

High: Running saved me.

Shout out to good health and running buddies!

Low: Faith was tested

High: Staying in the boat

Low or a High? Our country voted Donald Trump as our next president. #what?! If we’re Facebook friends, you know how I feel ūüôā

High: I get to teach the best A&P class ever. We dissect pickles.



High: Fallimg_9461

Life was good and life was hard. The year felt short and some days felt forever long. I cried a lot. And laughed a lot, too.

If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that tomorrow can change in a second.¬†SEE. FEEL. HEAR. TOUCH. RIGHT NOW, in the present, all that you love most.

Questions swirl in my brain as I look forward to a new year:

Will Cope go to college?

Will my boy like me again?

Are all teens¬†surly while seeking independence from their mothers? Theoretically speaking…

Is Brynne growing up too fast?

Will Paige still hold my hand?

Will I get a book deal?

Am I good enough? #sayyes

Should I let my hair go gray? #chicken

Will I master a consistently clean house?

That was a joke.

Tonight is the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. Tomorrow the earth will begin to spin toward greater light. Literally. This makes me giddy. There is light ahead!¬†As a born and often unrealistic optimist (my best quality ūüôā )¬†I’m holding out hope.

“… it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period…”–¬†Charles Dickens,¬†A Tale of Two Cities

Merry Christmas, friends. See you in the new year!




Okay, now we can move on to December!

Let’s kick off the season with the best part:¬†LIGHT.

Join me?

Follow Our Savior Jesus Christ. In 25 Ways. Over 25 Days.

Keep it simple, simple, simple.

My friend, Rebekah, copied pasted, and printed out the 25 ideas listed, and put them into an envelope for her children to open every morning. LOVE IT. 15321614_10211192681475802_1883106853_oClick HERE to do the same!


A LINK to the following advent calendar


screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-40-02-pm screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-40-22-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-29-at-10-22-57-pm

Tonight I showed the video to my family. Tomorrow we begin. No matter how big or small, all service brings light.

He is the light. We are the light.

Merry Christmas – let’s #lighttheworld on fire!


A Glimpse at Christmas

Paige has been asking for an elf on the shelf for years. “They come to your house and watch you and you can’t touch them and please please please, I NEED an elf!”

IMG_3393¬†Inspired by my friend, Lindsey, and ¬†this post, twin elves arrived at our house while the girls were at school. There was much shrieking!¬†After Paige read the note she said, “no, no, no we can’t TOUCH THEM!” So ¬†they ended up moving themselves every night after we were in bed. They are magic, after all.

DSC_0327¬†To get into the Christmas spirit we did our family annual “secret santa.” How tricky could we be? Always fun!

DSC_0366 Sometimes the elves got into the pretzels, but mostly they reminded us to do nice things.IMG_3381 I found this hysterical.

IMG_3430¬†We bought our tree from the local fire department, decorated it, and had a fight about the ornaments…we repented later with tears and apologies. Yep, just keeping it real here.

IMG_3555¬†Our church youth group went caroling at a retirement center. After a shaky start, we sang with gusto and had a great night ūüôāDSC_0388¬†Our elves continued to move, hanging out in odd places.

DSC_0374 Our tree has a duct tape star, made by my Nellie-mak many years ago. He now thinks it looks trashy. I refuse to get rid of it!

DSC_0318¬†Paige left little snack crumbs for the elves. If we get mice I’ll blame it on Christmas.

IMG_3800 Our elves speak Spanish!

IMG_3507 Brynne proved to be my real Christmas elf, addressing Christmas cards. Whew.

Apparently, our address is difficult to find:


Did you know, one of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy!

Making cookies makes me happy…

IMG_3728¬† ¬†It’s one of the most fun things we do as a family in December. Even when Nelson tries to walk out of the picture. Note the weather? AWESOME.

My children were grumpy there was no snow whilst I not-so-secretly expressed my great glee at 50-degree December temps. It makes the morning run so much better. And I know…the white stuff is coming.IMG_3736¬†Christmas favorites.

It was an odd year, too. My children are getting older. They have amazing opportunities!IMG_3589 Nelson left before Christmas to go ski in Canada with his Nordic team.

IMG_3558   Cope went to Germany to au pair for her nice and nephew!

IMG_3680I think she really ate a lot of treats and bratwurst. Incredible experience!

IMG_3765Finally, all my children came home.

IMG_3824¬†Christmas Eve is always special. We read the story of Christ’s birth in Luke 2, Matthew, and The Book of Mormon. This is our angel declaring the good news!

IMG_3850¬†Andy Rooney said, “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day.” This is the “before” shot.

IMG_3456I bought myself some Wicked Good Slippers from L.L. Bean 50% off. Life is complete.

After the presents were open, The Professor left us Christmas morning for a basketball tournament in England! What???!   IMG_3980 But guess what? They won!IMG_4028 And strutted the famous crosswalk in front of Abbey Road Studio. Proud of our #hornets!

We’ve missed our daddy. Especially when the basement flooded. I can’t talk about it yet.

But…IMG_3972¬†It snowed! And the kiddies were happy. I’m adjusting. It’s beautiful!IMG_3982¬†And our dear Mr. Goody plowed me out when I got stuck in the driveway. Hey, I’m a feminist and all that but I sure like men with tractors!IMG_3987¬†Obsessed with brussel sprouts this season. I’ve got a knock-out recipe…

DSC_0442 Days before it snowed we had a photo shoot. IMG_3940 My parents arrived from Arizona. Yahoo!

DSC_0432¬†Striking a pose.¬†DSC_0426¬†Ewwwww…my feet are getting wet!DSC_0447¬†Mom, I can’t sit down on the wet rocks – my pants!DSC_0449¬†So he sat on his sister’s hand. “This is so wrong,” he said. But aren’t they cute?DSC_0481¬†Walking down the catwalkDSC_0487¬†That’s enough, paparazzi.

So there you have it. Our Christmas. Food. Our beloveds. Snow. Presents. Love.

My friend, Scott, sent me¬†this article¬†by¬†Tim Urban, an author/illustrator. It’s called “The Tail End.”¬†He writes: “I‚Äôm 34, so let‚Äôs be super optimistic and say I‚Äôll be hanging¬†around drawing stick figures till I‚Äôm 90.¬†If so, I have a little under¬†60 winters left.”

But his bigger point was that he’s used up about 90% of his time with the people he’s loved best: his parents and siblings.

I’m thinking about my children now. They spend so much time together now. But these long December days together are¬†dwindling. They are going incredible places. How many more moments do they have with each other? How many more Christmases will we spend together?

Gee, aren’t I a bundle of fun???

I’m just saying: The Tail End has made me feel more intentional this season, more mindful of this time that is¬†flying by.

When you actually draw a picture, marking out the days you’ve had with your parents, siblings, children, best friends,¬†like¬†Tim Urban did, it becomes starkly clear that although you might not be at the end of¬†your¬†life, you may be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important, and the most loved people in your life.

So this season, I especially liked this:IMG_3813

First there was a little family. Now there’s our little family. Your little family.

I hope that this Christmas season we made the most of our time together. But if not, remember: tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is a NEW YEAR!

Happy 2015. Happy 2016!


Sunday Meditations: Why I Love Mary


Mary was named National Geographic’s Most Powerful Woman¬†of 2015, and while I don’t “worship” her the way some religions do, I revere her. I always imagine the type of young girl she must have been, to be¬†chosen to raise the most extraordinary man and influence the world has ever known.

Sometimes I feel very inconsequential, like I’m never doing enough, that I’m not “living up to my potential,” the message “CHANGE THE WORLD OR YOU’RE NOTHING” constantly being thrust at us. It’s exhausting.

During the bustle and hustle of Christmas time, I’m so happy to pause and¬†think of Mary. Quiet and serene, holding a small baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, in a dirty barn in a field under the stars. Or maybe she was loud and boisterous and had a wicked sense of humor. I don’t know. But she’s sitting in the barn wrapped in pure love with some cows, her¬†Joseph, and their beloved baby. She’s thinking nothing of social media likes or platform or being important. She’s just loving her baby. This scene is pure peace. I want to sit under the stars with her and just hold my babies, hearing nothing but the cattle lowing…

A few years ago I realized that the greatest thing I would probably ever do in this life was raise good children. What a wonderful way to change the world.


My Bestest, Most Favoritest: Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

I’m quite particular about the sugar cookies I’ll eat. Most anything that comes in a box or tin? Pass.

I like to save my sugar cookie treats for the good stuff: soft and homemade. Offer me one of those and I might fight you for it. This gem of a recipe comes¬†from my Aunt Naomi, from a small cookbook she compiled and entitled, “Good Food That Won’t Kill You.” Is that convincing or what?

Not too sweet, these sugar cookies are delicious even without the frosting. They’re perfection.

We make them once, maybe twice a year, at Christmas and Valentine’s.unnamed-2

unnamed-1Are you on our nice list? We might deliver!

DSC_0070unnamed-3 unnamed-5

DSC_0280Our decorating is top-notch, don’t you agree?

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies


  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cups buttermilk

For the frosting:

  • Um, better Google that. I’m a Betty Crocker type of frosting girl ūüôā


  • In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add shortening with a fork (or electric mixer) until crumbly.
  • In a small bowl, beat together eggs, vanilla, soda, and buttermilk.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined (I like to do this right in my stand mixer, being careful not to overmix).
  • Chill one hour for better rolling.
  • Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut into shapes.¬†Yield: about¬†4 dozen¬†cookies.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes. Take out of oven before they brown.
  • When cool, frost, sprinkle, dunk, devour, deliver.

The end. Enjoy!


How We Do Christmas

Image-1-3An idea from and I love it.

Instead of long “I want” lists, the darlings¬†carefully choose what they most want and need. Whew. It sure makes¬†Santa’s job easier. Santa especially loves the “one thing to light up the world.” Because the world surely does need hope and light.

Last year we gave the kids money to spend on someone else, or to donate. Some favorite charities: Heifer International, Lemonade International, WishListNH.

This year, as we try to “light up the world,” we’re going to focus on serving more locally. For instance, Mert is in the veteran’s home this year, his first Christmas without his Bertha. He sits by the elevator, waiting for someone to visit. Wouldn’t it be lovely to jump out of the elevator with kisses and cards?

And then there’s our dear Anne who visits Harry, who is also in the veteran’s home, but Harry can’t remember his beloved wife’s name. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to play secret Santa?

How about caroling Mr. Goody who lives alone in that big house?

Or how about that coat drive at the elementary school? Of the food pantry which always empties as soon as it’s full?

It’s a busy time of year, but I’m trying to slooooooow down this bus, to look around, and do something for someone else. Funny how that makes for such a magical¬†Christmas.