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Popsicle Stick Christmas Ornaments

It's November, which to many over-enthusiastic holiday lovers means CHRISTMAS! Yes, I love Thanksgiving as well—it's just one big holiday celebration for me from now to the end of the year. So far, I've refrained from putting up my Christmas tree, but that doesn't mean I can't prepare, right? This past weekend, I spent some time making some ornaments. I love to create handmade ornaments to add to my little tree each year. 
Lately I've been interested in popsicle stick crafts. I found some super cute ideas on Pinterest (see the links to my Holiday Crafts and Food board and specific posts below). I like that such a simple material can have so many possibilities. Just add paint and glue!
I was able to get my kids involved for part of my craft day. They are ages 2 and 3, so they didn't do much beyond just paint a few popsicle sticks. I turned these painted sticks into little Santa Claus ornaments—two for each daughter as they're bound to ruin some of them …

Easy Macaroni and Cheese


When I was single, I shared a house with my two sisters. We were pretty good at sharing in the responsibilities that come with running a home. Eventually, we settled into certain habits, and we each had our own specific chores that we generally did—my sister Shannon took care of the cats, and I usually did the dishes. My other sister, Dani, was the cook. And she’s a really good one, too. :)

Once I got married, I had to get used to a whole new routine. I’ve had to make my peace with the fact that unless I wanted to eat Chinese takeout and pizza for the rest of my life, I was going to have to get back in the habit of cooking meals. The hard part has been finding meals that are a) quick and easy for busy weeknights and b) appealing to both me and my husband. A few of the staple meals that I’ve been making since I was a teenager have gotten less-than-enthusiastic responses from Mr. Sturk. One dish that he LOVES, though, is macaroni and cheese. I’d never really made it that often before, but I did it one night at his request. I looked up several recipes online, and referred to the ones written on the pasta and cheese packages. There are so many variations out there. It got confusing. In the end, I didn’t really follow any one recipe. Instead, I kind of developed my own recipe that suited my needs. I made the measurements simple so that I could memorize them, and the ingredients are simple as well. It works every time, Nathan loves it, and it’s EASY. So here's the recipe. Printable downloads are below.


Easy Macaroni and Cheese


8 oz. of macaroni (about 2 cups uncooked or half of a 16 oz. box)
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups of milk (I prefer whole milk. If you want to get really crazy, you could combine 1 cup milk and 1 cup of heavy cream.)
2 cups of shredded cheese (A typical 8 oz. package equals 2 cups. A good sharp cheddar is always good. I found a store brand “Mac & Cheese” blend that works pretty well, and it seemed like a no-brainer.)
garlic salt and pepper for seasoning

For topping:
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. 
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot (I like to use something oven-safe, such as a Dutch oven.), melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes. 
  4. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly. Cook mixture for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and bubbles. Stir often. 
  5. Turn off heat. Add cheese and stir until melted, then add the cooked pasta. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste. (At this point, if you are not using an oven-safe pot, transfer to a 9x13 casserole dish.)
  6. In a small bowl, melt 2 Tbs. butter. Stir together with breadcrumbs and add mixture on top of the dish. 
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes until bubbly and the topping has browned.




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