Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Conspiracy

So I'm going to go there with today's post.  I'm talking about religion.  Actually, it's more about my church and some of the awesome things they do and promote.

We've been attending our church for almost a year now.  We had been at other churches and moved around every so often.  We never found something that really fit both of us.  In January of this year, we visited The Crossing and have been going ever since.  One of the things they promote during the Christmas season is Advent Conspiracy.  There are 4 main themes: 

Worship Fully
Spend Less
Give More
Love All  

Even for those of you reading this who are not Christian the last 3 themes apply to everyone.  Try spending less money this Christmas but give more of your time to the people around you.  In this economy who can't benefit from spending less money.  Instead give your time to your friends, your family, volunteering somewhere important to you, etc.  Finally, love all by donating to those in need whether it be your time or your money.  

I know this Christmas I'm trying to put more thought into the gifts I am giving my family and friends by giving them relational gifts or gifts that will build and strengthen our relationships.  The example our pastor gave at church was about a 20 something son giving his dad a pound of coffee.  Doesn't sound like much until you read what the note attached to the coffee said.  His dad was only to drink that coffee with his son and he was to tell his son stories about his life when he was younger.  Now that is a gift that I think any dad would like to get from their son or daughter.  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stacey Yacula Studio

Can I tell you just how much I love this artist?  She does amazing work.  Her ornaments are adorable and her little snowmen are so detailed and have such great personality.  I want every single one of her snowmen living on my mantel to enjoy all winter long.  Actually, I want one of everything in her store.  I might have to settle for one of her ornaments for the time being but I'll keep dreaming.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I have so many things to be thankful for in my life.  

I'm thankful for the cold rainy day we're having in STL so that Ava and I could bake our cream cheese pumpkin muffins and snuggle with good books.  After her nap we're watching her newest obsession, Wall*E.  She loves that little robot.  I thankful for having a wonderful husband who puts up with my incredible moodiness lately.  Love you!  I thankful for getting to experience having Ava as my daughter.  I'm thankful God is blessing us with a son in February.  

The list goes on and on.  Let's just say I'm thankful.  Especially for the little moments like seeing Ava's eyes light up on the carousel for the first time.  She got to ride the one she wanted too...a dragon!

Have a great Thanksgiving with your families.  I'll be back again on Monday hopefully full of turkey and well rested!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Recipe: Herb Biscuits

Sometimes when planning a large menu like Thanksgiving, I forget to plan for things.  It happens.  This year it was the bread.  I would love to make rolls from scratch but this year I totally forgot so I'm going with plan B.  I don't even know if you can call this a recipe but I'm going with it.  I like these because they look fancy with very little work.

Herb Biscuits
1 can refrigerated biscuits (I prefer the Grands Buttermilk Flaky biscuits)
6 Tbsp.  melted butter
1 1/2 tsp. parsley or dill or whatever dried herbs suit your fancy
Dash of garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl combine melted butter, herbs and garlic powder.
  3. Cut each biscuit into 4 equal pieces and toss into the butter mixture.
  4. After all biscuit pieces are thoroughly coated, place 3 pieces in each section of a muffin tin.  
  5. Bake at 350 for 14-17 minutes.
Serve these right out of the oven and there's no need for butter since they're already drenched in it.  Each little muffin biscuit pulls apart into 3 little sections that are so so yummy.  Not to mention that it looks like you spent a long time whipping them up.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Gift of Reading

Being a self professed book junkie has been passed along to Ava.  We read at least 15 books a day and that's on a low day.  Last Christmas season I saw this idea on someone's blog and decided to do something similar for Ava this Christmas.  I wish I could remember whose blog I borrowed this from to give them credit but I didn't write it down.

On December 1st when Ella the Elf comes to stay at our house until Christmas, she will not show up empty handed.  She will bring with her a basket full of wrapped books. Each night before Ava goes to bed she will get to pick a book to unwrap and read together.  Now I realize that most normal people don't have 25 Christmas books at home but being a former 2nd and 4th grade teacher and ordering Scholastic books a lot means that I have just enough.  If you wanted to do this on a smaller scale with library books it wouldn't cost you a thing other than the wrapping paper.  My plan is to do this every year with the same books.  I don't think the kiddos will get sick of the books because they only come out once a year.  What better gift to give your kids than getting excited about reading.

On a side note, I'm making Ella the Elf this year for Ava.  I will be sure to post some pics of the little darling when I've finished making her.  Fingers crossed she turns out cute.  In my head she's adorable but we'll see how it translates from my head into fabric and felt!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beautiful Books

Image Source: Anthropologie

Penguin does a great job of making their books attractive.  Their classics are beautiful and now they have a line of children's classics that are just as stunning.  It's hard to resist buying the set for my little one to enjoy down the road.  Who am I kidding?  They'd be for me to enjoy, the kid's 2 right now!

Anthropologie has them now.  Gotta love that store!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adult Stocking Stuffer

A few years ago I gave my brother one of these as part of his Christmas present.  I know they are totally inappropriate but too funny not to buy.  Especially for my brother.  How can you not smile at a pooping reindeer?  They poop cola flavored jelly beans.  C'mon, that's funny!  While checking out at Joann Fabric the other day, they had a stack of them at the register.  I think they were $3.99.  I'm sure you could think of someone who would get a kick out of these.  I can think of several.  What does that say about my friends and family?? Hmmmmmm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Recipe: Cranberry Orange Cookies

I am quite the sucker for all things citrus.  Throw in some fresh cranberries and these cookies were a must in our house.  They are sweet and tangy all at the same time.  These are also chewy cookies which is nice for a change.  Everyone in our house loves them.  I made some with the glaze and some without.  If you don't have time to make the glaze then just leave it off.  They still will disappear...quickly!  These would be a nice compliment to pumpkin pie and coffee after you've stuffed yourselves with turkey.  They look pretty and festive too.

Cranberry Orange Cookies
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, halved
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until well blended. Mix in 1 teaspoon orange zest and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the orange mixture. Mix in cranberries until evenly distributed. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Cookies should be spaced at least 2 inches apart.
  3. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in the preheated oven, until the edges are golden. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, 3 tablespoons orange juice and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Spread over the tops of cooled cookies. Let stand until set.

*Recipe from allrecipes.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Reason #3462

There are plenty of reasons why my mom is so loved.  This is one of those small things that she does that means so much to me.  The latest came in the form of a gift she found for the "baby bruder" that will be here before we know it.   

This is Bear.  She is rather scraggly and matted from being loved and washed so much.  She gets dragged all over the house, attends several tea parties a day and helps with puzzles and other difficult tasks throughout the day.  Occasionally Ava sneaks her into the car for a little ride with us too.  Bear lovingly gets hugged and sometimes dries tears and the occasional snotty nose by accident.  She was given to us by a friend before she was born.  To say that Ava loves her is an understatement.  Here's where my mom comes into the picture.

This is our newest Bear.  My mom managed to find a blue Bear especially for our little arriving in February.  I don't know how almost 3 years later she found a boy version of Ava's most favorite possession but she did.  I'm sure our little man will love him as much as Ava loves hers.  Ava kept trying to steal him off the counter so I resorted to hiding him in our closet so he stays fluffy and nice until February.  Thanks Mom!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Printable Freebie

Image Source: Paper Glitter

The very talented Linnette over at Paper Glitter is offering up a free downloadable Thanksgiving/Fall set that is so adorable.  She has thought of everything from menus to place cards, cupcake toppers to activity sheets.  This gal even made up a water bottle wrap.  How cute could the kids table at Thanksgiving look with all these little touches.  Go check out her adorable blog/website and all her other free printable goodies she offers.  What a talent!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Club: Little Bee by Chris Cleave

For this months meeting we read Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  It is the story of a young Nigerien refugee Little Bee and Sarah a magazine editor from London.  Their lives become intertwined in a sad and tragic way that is so eye opening at the same time.  I'm not one who would willingly pick up a sad story to read in my free time but I did enjoy this book.  

The gals at book club last night seemed to really like the book as well.  Out of the 10 of us, only one really didn't care for the book.  I will say this about the book, it made for a night of good discussion.  The past few books we have read were good but not good for discussion.  This led to a night filled with discussion about oil companies, government, marriages, kids, affairs and the list goes on.   While I didn't love, love, love the book it was a good read and out of the realm of things I would normally read.  This book club is definitely stretching my comfort zone and I love it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Parks, Parks, Parks

The weather has been super nice here lately (in the 70s) so let's just say that not much has been getting done in the house. We have taken plenty of walks, fed our neighborhood fish until they were stuffed, chalked up the driveway and visited several local parks.  Ava is quite the cautious one at parks but after this week and seeing all her friends can do, she started to lighten up a bit.  In all the pictures though she still looks very unsure of everything and kind of like it's torture to be there.  Trust me though, she's been having a great time.  Really she is :o)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Fries

image: readersdigest.ca

I'm a sucker for a good sweet potato but no one around me really likes them the way I do.  That being said I'm always trying to find a way to incorporate them into our meals about twice a year (other than Thanksgiving).  Last night I made French Dip Sandwiches and wanted fries to go with them.  Having picked up two sweet potatoes at the store earlier in the week, I decided to make "fries" out of them.  These are not going to be crispy like normal oil fried french fries but I think they have good flavor, are easy to prepare and are a little out of the ordinary.  Steve even commented how good they were which is saying a lot.

Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thick fries
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil and place your fries on the sheet.  Drizzle with oil and toss to evenly coat the fries (I use  my hands).  Sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and pepper.  
  3. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, toss and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until fork tender.
I'm sure there are countless other ways to jazz these up but this is a simple recipe that you can add your own flare to.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Etsy Finds: Stocking Stuffers

~Set of 8 Rocket Ship Crayons~
$8.95 from Crayon Couture

 ~Fairy Holiday Bendy Doll~

~Dino Soap~
$2.75 a piece from Soapsations

~Dragonfly Rubber Stamp~
$3.50 from Norajane

~Princess Crayon Wallet~
$10 from Gifts 2 Give

~Mini I Spy Bag~

It's that time of year folks and I'm super excited. SHOPPING! SHOPPING! SHOPPING!  I know some people hate the crowds and hustle and bustle but I actually enjoy it.  I love hunting down the perfect gifts for friends and family.  I make a list throughout the year of things people mention and then start planning what to buy.  This minimizes my stress and lets me enjoy the holiday season a lot more.

I thought I would share a few of the things on my list for Ava's stocking this year.  The Mini I Spy bag is a definite for her.  She is going to love this and it will occupy her time and her busy little hands.  We already own a couple of the bendy dolls but her holiday dolls are just so cute I might have to splurge and get Ava another one as well.  She adores all things crafty and the little stamps would be perfect for her too.  You could even hit up the $1 bin at Michael's and put together a cheap stamp kit for your little ones.  

So what is going in your little one's stocking?  I love to get some new ideas.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gifted Magazine

*Image from Creature Comforts

I am a sucker for presentation and packaging.  Gifted, a new holiday online magazine from Creature Comforts, knocked this one out of the park.  The EZine is well thought out, organized and easy to navigate through on the computer.  There are loads of inspiration ideas, projects, free printables and even the occasional recipe.  There are so many great packaging and gift-giving ideas in this magazine I don't know where to start!  The gift guide at the end I love, love, love.  All you have to do is click the name of the company and you are taken to their website.  How much easier can shopping be?  I also like that a lot of the companies involved are small businesses and bloggers.  It always makes me feel good when I support small business.  They have thought of everything including gifts for your pets.  Do yourself a favor and go check it out.  Trust me you'll love it and come away with at least one idea to use this holiday season.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Snot River

I've got a kiddo with a bad cold so we've been spending our days in the big bed reading The Nutcracker over and over and trying to learn how to blow her nose.  It really stinks when you can't give her anything to take the symptoms away.  We've just been doing lots of snuggling and loving to make her better.  Hopefully the snot river will stop soon...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Recipe: Spicy Sausage Dip

Yup, that's not a picture of spicy sausage dip.  This recipe, while thoroughly yummy, is not that pretty to look at.  Instead I thought a random picture of my little one was cuter (at least to me it is).

Almost every family I know has this type of dip at family functions and get togethers.  We had a small crew over to our house at the last minute on Halloween and I needed something fast, easy and crowd pleasing to fix.  I had planned white chicken chili and cornbread but the addition of 4 more people to our already group of 8 had me worried I didn't have enough food.  This dip was the easy solution and feeds quite a few people with only 3 ingredients. 

Spicy Sausage Dip
16 oz. spicy/hot sausage
16 oz. reduced fat cream cheese (not fat free, yuck!)
2 (10 oz.) cans of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (I use mild)
tortilla chips, veggies or whatever else sounds good for dipping

  1. In a skillet brown sausage and drain fat.  
  2. Add cream cheese and tomatoes to skillet and heat until thoroughly melted and combined.
  3. Transfer to a small crock pot and serve with chips, etc.
In my experience this has always been a great dip for the guys in the crowd.  They're always the ones who tell me how good it is.  I think because it has a little kick to it.  This would be a great recipe to bookmark for a Superbowl party, too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Arrrrggg, Mickey"

Steve took the day off today and we are all still in our jammies.  Great way to spend the day after Halloween if you ask me!  Halloween was busy and fun.  Carter (aka: Elmo) and Ava ran around the yard to get pumped up for trick-or-treating.  When we finally headed out with the wagon, she gave the first 2 houses we went to candy out of her bucket not yet understanding that they were going give her candy.  Little Elmo did the same thing.  So cute!  Our little pirate went around saying, "Arrgg, Mickey" all night no matter how many times we said it should be matey.  When we got home the two littles ran around the house on their little sugar rushes.  Overall, a very successful Halloween with friends and family.  

PS:  Simon (the bun) wouldn't go near his costume and was not at all happy about me putting his ears through the hat.  Hopefully I'll have better luck next year.