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Dec 18 2019

CTLP Episode 147 – A Simple Christmas with MacKenzie and Chelle

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Show Notes-

This week on Cultivating the Lovely the Podcast, MacKenzie Koppa has her dear friend Chelle back again to chat about all things Christmas. They share some of their favorite simple ways to celebrate the holiday even when there isn’t the time and energy to do All. The. Things. This is a fun, encouraging conversations, so grab your favorite hot beverage, prop up your feet, and enjoy!

  • Being intentional about being present instead of making a huge list and setting expectations too high
  • Why MacKenzie is so thankful that she felt prompted to decorate and start celebrating early
  • MacKenzie talks about the unique Crescent window displays in downtown Spokane
  • Keeping a select few traditions that you always do with your family
  • MacKenzie’s family recipe for Popcorn Balls:


  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 2/3 cup white corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cup uncooked plain popcorn (3 quarts popped)
  • food coloring, if so desired


Pop plain popcorn in a brown paper bag in the microwave 1/4 cup at a time. Pour popped popcorn into a bowl to separate out any unpopped kernels, then transfer to a large bowl or roasting pan. Keep popcorn warm in slow oven at 300 degrees.

Stir and cook corn syrup, water, butter, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Cook until 270 on candy thermometer for a hard candy shell, or 260ish for a chewier ball (what we prefer). Add vanilla and food coloring after removing from heat.

Pour candy over popcorn while stirring with a large spoon as you go to coat the popcorn evenly. You can place the roasting pan over low heat to unstick any syrup that might stick to the bottom and fully incorporate into popcorn.

Coat hands in butter to form into balls, or leave loose for easier eating. You can also coat candy molds with butter and make suckers out of the syrup.

  • Chelle’s family’s favorite homemade Christmas candy- Almond Roca:


  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chopped almonds or pecans
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Line a 9 x 13 cookie sheet or glass pan with parchment paper and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of finely chopped nuts.
  2. Mix the butter and sugar, vanilla and salt in a sauce pan and cook over medium/high heat for around 5-13 minutes.
  3. Continue to cook, stirring constanly until the candy thermometer reads “Cracked Stage” or 300 degrees F on candy thermometer or when it’s dark and caramel colored and starting to smoke. This is known as the hard crack stage (about 13 minutes in). I don’t actually own a candy thermometer so I test the candy for doneness, by dropping a small amount of candy into cup of very cold water, when it’s ready it should separate into hard brittle threads.  This step will take your full attention and is the trickiest and most crucial part of the recipe.
  4. Pour the caramel mixture into the cookie sheet with spatula.
  5. Let it cool a just a bit and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top, it will melt and you can spread it until smooth with a spatula.
  6. Top with finely chopped almonds or pecans ( our personal favorite ).
  7. Let cool completely and once the chocolate has hardened on the top, ( Some times I put the pan in the fridge or freezer to speed up this part ) use a knife to cut into small pieces.
  8. Share with your family, friends, teachers, neighbors, mailman and well pretty much anyone else not already mentioned, liberally.

Find Chelle-

You can find Chelle Bruzas on Instagram.

Find MacKenzie-

You can find MacKenzie Koppa on InstagramFacebook, and the CTL Facebook Group, of course! Join us on Patreon at

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