Merry Christmas!

From the Castro family, we wish you a wonderful day of remembering our Savior, and all He accomplished for us. Merry Christmas!


Cranberry Caramel Bars

If you are looking for a last minute dessert, these are really yummy and easy to make!

Cranberry Caramel Bars

1 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups uncooked regular oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 (10-ounce) package chopped dates
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 (12-ounce) jar caramel sauce

Stir together cranberries and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients; stir in melted butter until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup flour mixture. Press remaining mixture into bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with dates, pecans, and cranberry mixture. Stir together caramel sauce and remaining 1/3 cup flour; spoon over cranberries. Sprinkle with reserved 1 cup flour mixture. Bake 20 more minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Makes 2 dozen



I am not computer savvy in any way. So, I had a picture behind the title on my blog. It fit nicely in the long rectangle. Today I went to my blog and it was a HUGE picture. I tried to fix it, but ended up messing it up more :o( I cannot get the color font back. I think I must haved messed up the HTML some way. Does anyone know how to fix this, so I can put a picture to fit in the box and get color back?


Gingerbread at Nani's

Mckenna was such a big help and Nani taught her how to measure flour...

even using a knife to scrape off the excess!

The Best part!

My mom likes to make these spice oranges for the holidays. She takes oranges and pokes holes all around them. Then she sticks cloves in the holes. They give off a wonderful fragrance and look very decorative in a bowl. And they last very long. Mom showed the girls how to make them and they all got their little hands in on the project.



Pizza Cookies

Yesterday Mckenna and I made cookies just for her to give to her friends and whoever she'd like to bless with. They were called Candy Shop Pizza Cookies. What a great time making them. They are large cookies that you decorate like pizzas....and they really do look like pizzas, in a way! The nice thing is that one recipe makes 2-4 of them, so it doesn't take quite as long baking tray after tray. I changed or omitted a few things and noted below.

Candy shop Pizza cookies

10 tablespoon butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels, divided
1 cup white chocolate morsels, divided (I used butterscotch just cause I had it on hand)
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I used much less than this)
Toppings: holiday sprinkles, candy-coated chocolate pieces, white chocolate pretzels
White chocolate, melted (I skipped this and they came out fine)
Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; blend well.

Combine flour, soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1/2 cup each of semisweet and white chocolate morsels. Spread dough evenly onto 2 lightly greased 6-inch round pizza pans. (I just used cookie sheets and did 4 pizza cookies out of one recipe. They were a very generous size).

Bake at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Working quickly, sprinkle crust with remaining semisweet and white chocolate morsels; drop peanut butter by tablespoonfuls onto crust. Let stand 5 minutes or until morsels and peanut butter are softened; gently spread evenly over crust. Decorate with desired toppings; drizzle pizza with melted white chocolate.


Decorating our tree

We are a little challenged in the Christmas tree dept. this year! Yes, it really took us almost a week to decorate, after we had it in it's stand...then I forgot to water it for 4 or 5 days, so it won't drink anything now. I'm waiting for all the needles to fall off. Then it has taken me almost 2 weeks to post any pictures of us decorating it.


Baby Savanna

She's a cutie! Here a few photos that Joe and I took at the hospital.


What a week!

This past week was about as full, exhausting and yet as wonderful as they come. I have so much to write, so many pictures to post, I'm not quite sure where to start...

This will be a long post!

Last Monday - we set out in the evening to go to Brookside gardens to watch the light show with a few families. As we arrived, I realized it would have been a great idea to look online and confirm times, etc....we got there to discover they were closed for the evening. But the kids could have cared less as we ended our time at Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream.

Tuesday - There was a slight change in plans for Dave's birthday, which was the next day, and I ended up spending the day cooking lasagna and a cherry pie to celebrate the next evening with our cluster group. In the evening some of us ladies surprised Esther Lee with an evening out to bless her with a little gift before her baby comes. It was a wonderful evening!

Wednesday morning - the BIG day! I woke up early and as I was brewing my tea, I decided to check email. I get a little IM from Charisa saying she was up!!! I knew something must be going on, given that she was up that early. Yep, she was having contractions and was getting ready to start timing them. About 2 hours later, I check in and she is getting ready to call the doctor. So, I get busy, getting the girls ready, myself a speedy shower and out the door to deliver them where they would stay for the day (Elizabeth, thanks so much for taking Mckenna and Kel, thanks so much for caring for Selah so I could be with Charisa). Then I rushed off to the hospital to meet up with Joe and Charisa. Then the long day began. Charisa ended up walking around for a number of hours to get herself to 3 cm, so she could be admitted. She had the option to go home for awhile, but she decided to just stick around. It took till almost 4pm or so to get to 5 cm. She was such a trooper. She made it to just about 6 cm before getting the epidural. After many more long hours and just a little rest, she was ready to start pushing. To all of our amazement, she only pushed for 17 minutes and out came Savanna! Everyone was so impressed by how well Charisa did. What a joy it was to be a part of this exciting time in their lives!

Needless to say, Dave's birthday was put on hold, so to speak. I had to cancel our dinner. Dave did not seem to mind and was so gracious! I arrived back home and got to bed around 3am. Then Selah woke up at 5am, but Dave graciously got her a bottle and was quiet as he got ready for work. I got to sleep a bit more and pulled myself out of bed around 7:30ish.

Thursday - Grateful for caffeine!!!! We had a few things we needed to do that day and was very aware of grace! That evening, we had Dave's birthday dinner and gave him his gifts. I think he was blessed ;o). Afterwards, I took Mckenna out to go and meet baby Savanna at the hospital. She was very excited...but somewhat distracted by the prospect of getting a promised lollipop later ;o). Next stop, Target, so Mckenna could pick out a Christmas gift for Papa and Selah. It ended up being a not-so-pleasant errand. After a fall Mckenna took in the store, which left her with a bloody nose spilling all over and many crying fiascos, a check-out computer crashing on us, and a long time in the manager's office, figuring out what happened on our credit card, we finally left the store. We spent over 2 hours in Target and left without a gift for Papa or Selah ;o). Oh well! I left realizing how much I need to grow in patience with my little girl! So, grateful for the Lord showing me that. Fell into bed late again.

Friday - In the evening Dave and I attended his company's Christmas party. It was a nice time. Good food and many laughs....we spent a good bit of time with Sam and Danna Wethje and that always provides us with pains in our sides from laughing so much! We also found out that day that Sam is getting deployed to Iraq on January 2 for a year, so it was bittersweet time as well. They are doing very well with it all and are trusting the Lord. Please pray for them.

Saturday - Dave took Selah to his family's Christmas gathering (his mom's side). He graciously allowed me to stay home with Mckenna. Mckenna and I wrapped presents and watched "A White Christmas." We had an early dinner when Dave got home and headed back out to my mom's house to drop the girls off. Then Dave and I were off to the Sheffer's Christmas party. What a wonderful time! That will definitely be one of our hightlights of the month. It was such an privilege to be counted among their friends!

Sunday - We were so grateful that my mom kept the girls overnight...I slept in till 7 that morning. Then, after church, came home, made lunch and crashed on the couch. I didn't read or fact, the whole afternoon is a blur to me now! But it was very restful! That evening we put Selah to bed early and Dave, Mckenna nad I watched...."A White Christmas" (yes, it's the only Christmas movie we have, but one of our favorites). I also wrapped presents!

Here we are a whole week later! Today the girls and I spent the day at mom's for our annual gingerbread cookie day. Mckenna had a blast helping every step of the way! Selah just toddled around and played with Nani's doll house. It was a day spent doing one of my favorite things...being at my old home, with my mom, baking!

As I write, I am filled with gratefulness as I recount the past week...grateful for family and friends, an incredible husband, newborn babies and the miracle of life, Christmas and all the traditions we share, and most of all, our Savior who makes all of these undeserved blessings a reality in my life.

pictures to's time for bed!


Salty Chocolate-Pecan Candy

These turned out really well. And it was recipe that Mckenna was able to be very involved in, every step of the way...from unwrapping the chocolate, to placing the chocolate on the baking sheet, to swirling the chocolate (the fun part ;o) and adding the salt and pecans.

Salty Chocolate-Pecan Candy


1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
3 (4-oz.) bars bittersweet chocolate baking bars
3 (4-oz.) white chocolate baking bars
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt*
1. Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet.

2. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted.

3. Line a 17- x 12-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Break each chocolate bar into 8 equal pieces. (You will have 48 pieces total.) Arrange in a checkerboard pattern in jelly-roll pan, alternating white and dark chocolate. (Pieces will touch.)

4. Bake at 225° for 5 minutes or just until chocolate is melted. Remove pan to a wire rack. Swirl chocolates into a marble pattern using a wooden pick. Sprinkle evenly with toasted pecans and salt.

5. Chill 1 hour or until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 1 month.

*3/4 tsp. kosher salt may be substituted.

Note: I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bars and Ghirardelli White Chocolate Baking Bars


Faith for a busy season

There is a lot going on in the Castro home lately. Mckenna has just celebrated her birthday, Dave's is this Wednesday, my dad's is Friday, Charisa is due any day to give birth, we are busy enjoying and getting ready for Christmas and busy house shopping...yes, our house is now officially "under contract" with Jon and Jenni Smith. We are not yet sure where we are to move yet, but trusting the Lord to direct and guide us.

While we are busy looking around and pondering the move that is ahead, Dave has communicated that we are going to try to have a normal December, enjoy the Christmas season. However, I am ever aware that my sin is not at rest these days and temptation abounds to be anxious over a multitude of things. I picked up Morning and Evening a few days ago, and Spurgeon provided words of encouragement that refreshed my heart and brought renewed faith for the days ahead, whatever comes our way.

“Thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.”

Psalm 68:10
"All God’s gifts are prepared gifts laid up in store for wants foreseen. He anticipates our needs; and out of the fullness which he has treasured up in Christ Jesus, he provides of his goodness for the poor. You may trust him for all the necessities that can occur, for he has infallibly foreknown every one of them. He can say of us in all conditions, “I knew that thou wouldst be this and that.” A man goes a journey across the desert, and when he has made a day’s advance, and pitched his tent, he discovers that he wants many comforts and necessaries which he has not brought in his baggage. “Ah!” says he, “I did not foresee this: if I had this journey to go again, I should bring these things with me, so necessary to my comfort.” But God has marked with prescient eye all the requirements of his poor wandering children, and when those needs occur, supplies are ready. It is goodness which he has prepared for the poor in heart, goodness and goodness only. “My grace is sufficient for thee.” “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.”

Reader, is your heart heavy this evening? God knew it would be; the comfort which your heart wants is treasured in the sweet assurance of the text. You are poor and needy, but he has thought upon you, and has the exact blessing which you require in store for you. Plead the promise, believe it and obtain its fulfilment. Do you feel that you never were so consciously vile as you are now? Behold, the crimson fountain is open still, with all its former efficacy, to wash your sin away. Never shall you come into such a position that Christ cannot aid you. No pinch shall ever arrive in your spiritual affairs in which Jesus Christ shall not be equal to the emergency, for your history has all been foreknown and provided for in Jesus."

Yes, my heart was heavy before I sat down to read this and pray. But it helped me to lift my eyes above my circumstances to the Almighty God who has ordained and is intricately involved in all these circumstances, working for my good and helping me. Whether it is seeking to bless my dear family members celebrating birthdays in an already busy month or knowing we are to move, but not sure where, I am confident in the Lord's sustaining grace to help!



This past Wednesday we had our first snowfall. I LOVE the snow! We ventured out on Thursday to play. First stop, the Lees to borrow boots for Selah and a sled. I pulled the girls all over the icy sidewalks and then we found a hill to sled on. Mckenna preferred to just sit and fill her basket with snow. But Selah and I had a great time sledding down the hill. However, Selah quickly decided that she was done with the snow and her lungs clearly communicated that! So, we headed in to warm up.

Mckenna with her basket of snow


Mckenna's Party

As I mentioned previously, we had a small family gathering last Monday night to celebrate Mckenna's party. For a few months she had been asking for a princess cake! She had a blast playing with her cousins and even her cousins's cousins....Mark's sister was in town and she came and brought her 2 children.


Christmas tree adventures

Everyone is bundled up and off to find the perfect tree.

Papa and Selah

Kel and little baby June..she was not so excited about this trip!

"It's cold, mom!"

Infamous Ty...looking for something to get into!

Our tree!

Running back with Pop-Pop!

Selah was such a trooper...she walked most of the way back to the car.


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