Category Archives: holidays

The Sparkly Time of Year Has Arrived!


I’ve been listening to Christmas music for weeks, not gonna lie.  Even when I’m NOT listening to it, I’m humming it.  Yes friends, it’s my favorite time of year!

Lately we have enjoyed visits from family with several more to come… we’ve been enjoying yummy meals that take extra time to prepare and make your pants feel tight…we’ve enjoyed wandering the aisles of Target looking at all their fun holiday stuff…Picking out Christmas trees and choo choo trains…and Christmas Plays…  It’s been a fun few weeks and there is more to come.


I told everyone that I made the best thing for Thanksgiving this year…RESERVATIONS!


Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer is becoming an annual tradition for us. 


We were so happy that Matt’s Mom was in town and could enjoy it with us!  Milo’s face though…


Again… that face?!


Another Christmas Play – this time A Christmas Carol at the Wyly here in Dallas… it was amazing!


Christmas Tree Shopping!  We may or may not have 3 trees up in our house…


One of those long trips to Target.  Cady and I both wanted this sweater so this is our edition of “who wore it better?”.  Neither of us ended up getting it.  ha!


This years advent calendar…What can I say, I went super simple this year.  Pieces of scrap paper taped to our chalkboard with activities written on the other side.


We have lots of more fun advent activities waiting for us.  Cady has a Christmas concert this week.  Milo is part of his preschool’s holiday program next week…  This year, in addition to a lot of our regular activities, we’ve added in some fun ones like “put on our own family Christmas play” and “Christmas make-overs”.  And each day I decorate a little more – every corner will be sparkly and  Christmasy by the time December 25th gets here.  I’m not sure who will take it all down but we’ll figure all that out later!  Gage and LaLa will be here for Christmas and we can’t wait until our whole family is in one place – even if it’s just for a few days.

Until next time, I hope you have added sparkly lights to every room in your house…there can never be enough.


Thanks for reading!



Merry Christmas Eve…Eve!


The eve of Christmas Eve!  Yes!  Right now I’m feeling the old saying “as slow as Christmas” does not apply.  Even though I have been intentional about stopping and taking time to enjoy the moments/days lately they still seem to zoom by!  I’m subscribing to the saying “time flies when you’re having fun“…

Anyway, here’s what we’ve been up to lately.

Carriage rides on cool nights around our town square…


Visiting fire stations to donate toys for tots…


Attending Holiday concerts featuring the amazing and talented cellist, Cady!


Creating salt dough ornaments with glitter…lots of glitter…  What can I say, ’tis the season for sparkling things!



Candlelight dinners with our favorite Christmas records…


Classic Christmas movies and even better family conversations… (I love the look on the big kids’ faces…)



Visits with Santa…


Family movie nights to see THE MOVIE OF THE YEAR!!! (Star Wars…)


Fresh baked cookies and the games we are all addicted to – Fibbage and Drawful.


Challenges to create Lego nativities… I don’t know why Milo insists on Chewbacca being involved.


Our Christmastime puzzle… I think we broke a record this year… Matt and I (with a little help from the kids) finished this one in less than 24 hours!



Making holiday gifts for friends & family… (the bigs made homemade granola and it was SO yummy!)



We are finishing up all the advent activities today and tomorrow.  For the first time in over a decade we won’t be having our “Asian Dinner” on Christmas Eve this year.  We’ll have it tonight.  Gage will be working late at church tomorrow night so going a day early will work better.

We’ll also spend time reading The Night before Christmas, continuing our streak of family game nights and welcoming more family and friends.  My heart is excited about church services tomorrow night with tiny candles and traditional carols – I always tear up.  Silent Night gets me every.single.time.  I’ve got big plans for a Christmas morning breakfast casserole and an even yummier baked ham dinner.  It will be an awesome time with family.

I hope your Christmas is full of beauty and peace… gratefulness and perspective.  And because I probably won’t check-in before, Happy New Year.  See you in 2016!

Merry Christmas!

Changing of seasons

Since I’m taking a “break” from work right now, my schedule looks much different.  It’s been just over a week and, honestly, I still feel like I’m just on vacation most days – but there is something nice about not having to check email or follow up on projects or even get up at a certain time.  Milo and I have spent a lot more time playing outside; taking walks and heading to the park.


The weather is unseasonable warm right now so we are enjoying it while we can.  And remember when I told y’all autumn in Texas isn’t that great?  Well, this fall has been beautiful.

december leaves.1

Lots of amazing bright colors and thick blankets of leaves to frolic through.  I’ve been teaching Milo to grab handfuls and throw them in the air and yell “I’m about to make it rain!”

december leaves.2

We definitely won’t be having a white Christmas this year (predictions are the temps will be in the 60s/70s) but the mild weather has allowed the tree leaves to slowly change and float to the ground the way they are supposed to.

The inside of our house looks a lot more like December though, and I’m soaking that in too.


There are bits of Christmas scattered all around the house.

Stockings and garlands and “Joy to the World” sheet music…


Tiny advent candles and a modern wire nativity that has been bent out of shape a few times (literally, not metaphorically – ha!)…


The paper village that I want to live in…


Merry Christmas plates and lots and lots of red plaid…


Bits of holly brought in from the  bush in our front yard…


Leftover gumdrops from homemade decorations on Little Golden Book Christmas stories.


The salt dough ornaments that we made have been divided between the family tree…


and the advent activity limb that is dwindling down as the days pass… (will post more on our activities next time)


All the gifts for our entire family of 5 (plus extended family) have been purchased and are wrapped under the tree.  We have been diligent about not over indulging this year – and that feels nice.


Little reminders about the meaning of the season…


And on most days you’ll hear one of two things in our home – Christmas music or Christmas movies!  And of course the smell of my favorite candle (Tis the season – how appropriate!) will be burning as well.


Whether it’s an actual season like autumn or winter… or a holiday season like Christmas… or just a season in your life where things are very different than they have been (that is definitely the case for me)… I hope you are slowing down to enjoy it while it’s here; to honor what is important to you and to recognize that it will soon change.

Thanks for reading!


On the first week of Christmas…

Do you know all the words to the 12 days of Christmas?  I’m totally good with the first 5 but then I start getting a little confused.  Is it 10 Lords a Leaping or Ladies milking… Oh wait, it’s Ladies Dancing?  See?!

Hennyway…we are finishing up our first week of advent 2015 and it’s off to a great start.  In my last post I shared our simple little advent calendar.  The first night of advent (I’m pretty sure it’s the same every year…) we opened Christmas jammies.


I love soft new winter-themed jammies!  You can get them every year at a steal from Old Navy.  I’m pretty sure I now have at least 5 pairs of reindeer jammies.  This year I changed it up a little and got myself bunny jammies with little santa hats. ha!

Day 2 of Advent had all of us meeting up at target to pick out our annual ornament.  Each year we pick an ornament that goes on the “family tree”.  The best part of this tradition?  Going through the ornaments each year and talking about why we chose them.  There are some very funny stories and you can definitely tell what the kids were “into” that year.


We haven’t decorated our “family tree” yet.  But I did decorate “my” tree.   Haha – mine is the one with all matching ornaments that is downstairs.  The family tree is a real tree that we purchase each year that lives in the game room.  A photo of my tree…


Day 3 was all about crafting… Cady and I love the crafting activities.  The boys go along with it because they know it makes us happy.  This past week LaLa was here visiting and she is super into crafting too so she enjoyed helping us make a Christmas Paper Village.


I love how it turned out.  It’s one of our favorite things in the house.


This past Friday night was Day 4 of our Advent and we headed up to our city hall for the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree.




Saturday morning (the 5th Day) we started a new tradition.  We drove an hour away to a small Christmas tree farm.  It was so much fun.  We walked around for a while and finally found the perfect tree.  Matt cut it down and we drug it back to our truck.  We also took lots of pics.











And then last night we decided to start making decorations for our new tree.  We didn’t get the tree all the way decorated but we started making old-fashioned candy and popcorn garlands.  This was Day 6 of our Advent activities.



Hopefully, we’ll finish up our tree tonight.

We’re off to a good start!

Thanks for reading,


P.S.  The announcement that I was waiting to make was that I have decided to leave corporate world for a while.

Believe it or not, this is in fact NOT my first badge pic with my company. This one is only about 10 years old.

Believe it or not, this is in fact NOT my first badge pic with my company. This one is only about 10 years old.

My company has been having layoffs on and off for the last decade it feels like.  I’ve been working in corporate telecom for 20 years and I felt it was time to move on to something new.  Thankfully my company was VERY generous with it’s severance package and I don’t have to decide any time soon what I’d like to do next.  We have prayerfully made this decision and although it feels like a HUGE change for me, I think I will settle in to a more relaxed lifestyle in no time!

A Simple Advent Activity Calendar


I love the tradition of having an advent activity calendar.  Some people do candies or gifts each day, and I think those are fun too.  We, however, decided a few years ago to start activities.

In the past we have used little envelopes stamped with each day’s number…


But I’ve noticed that it seems like everyone does the envelopes and tiny clothespins now…so I put my thinking cap on and tried to come up with something unique.  I have been inspired this year by old-fashioned homemade decorations.  In fact, one of our advent activities is to head to a Christmas tree farm this weekend then make decorations for the tree.  Think popcorn garlands and candy ornaments!  Fun, huh?  I’ve noticed that lots of homemade decorations are made from paper, so that’s where I started.

I headed to Hobby Lobby and picked up 8 pieces of scrapbook paper (I figured I could get 3 trees from each piece of paper).  I looked for patterns that had sort of a vintage Christmas feel.  They were .25 each.  I grabbed a branch from our scrap pile out back and decided to hang the mini paper trees from it.  Hanging a branch in your house and adding ornaments is not a new idea.  I’ve seen it a few times.  I just thought the idea would be good for our little advent trees too!

I had already thought of all our activities.  My suggestion on this is to start by looking locally for Christmas activities that you’d like to do. For example your town’s Christmas tree lighting, visiting Santa, a charity event or play/concert you’ll be attending.  I also have a couple “extra” activities just in case on the day we are supposed to do an activity something comes up and I need a quick change.  Here is our list…

  • Christmas Jammies
  • Christmas Craft
  • Make a Lego Christmas Scene
  • Choose an Ornament
  • Tree Lighting
  • Christmas Tree Farm
  • Decorate Tree
  • Give a Toy – Toys for Tots
  • Christmas Music Concert
  • Visit Santa
  • Christmas Craft
  • Read the real Christmas Story
  • Watch Elf
  • Visit Heard Natural Preserve
  • Make edible decorations
  • Carriage Ride
  • Go Look at Christmas Lights
  • Candlelit Dinner with Records
  • Family Movie Night
  • Family Game Night
  • Christmas Puzzle
  • Make Christmas Fudge
  • Watch Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Bake Christmas cookies
  • Chinese Food!
  • Read The Night Before Christmas

You can see that I have 26 things listed above but I only needed 24.  The extra two are the ones I’ll use if something needs to change due to weather, etc.

And here is how I made our simple little “trees”.  I already had stamps and the christmas twine (I’ve had both for forever – good investments.  That Christmas twine has lasted years and there is still a ton on the roll!)  I printed our list out and cut the activities into strips.


I created/cut a template for a tree then traced it on the paper.  the template is a shape like a triangle with a rounded bottom.


Then I taped the activity strip on the inside.  I also taped a piece of string to the “top”.


Then I folded the paper together to form a tree (cone) and taped it.


Finally, I used my stamps to add the number for the day the activity would be opened.


Then I tied the paper trees to the branch.  The kids can easily untie them on the day it will be opened.  The branch is hung by the same Christmas twine from the bottom of our mantle with command strip hooks.


So simple and cute!  And it cost me about 2 bucks…  I knocked it out in less than an hour while watching one of my gazillion Hallmark Christmas movies.  I’m obsessed with Christmas movies!

In addition to our family advent activities we also spend a few minutes each Sunday night working through our family advent guide.  It has a scripture and stories and songs and is a wonderful way to remind us of the reason for the season.  We also light the weekly candle.  This year we decided on simple mason jars to hold our candles instead of our more ornate usual advent candle holder.


I’m looking forward to sharing some of out activities over the next few weeks. This is, after all, the most wonderful time of year!

Thanks for reading!


“Homemade” Holiday Spice Cake


Homemade is not exactly accurate.  This cake is made from a box mix but I sorta think if you have to get the mixer out and turn the oven on it’s *almost* homemade.  Be prepared for a super easy cake recipe…  Here goes…

  1. Buy a boxed yellow cake mix.  They run anywhere from 1 – 2 bucks.  I’ve always heard you should keep a box on hand – they can be used for tons of dessert recipes.
  2. Follow directions on box…
  3. Here is my special part…. Remember when I bought that pumpkin pie spice a couple weeks ago?  Well, I added a tablespoon of the pumpkin pie spice and a splash of vanilla.  Then mixed…well, Milo mixed.


After it’s well mixed, pour into your greased and floured pan & bake according to directions.  We used a bunt cake pan because I think it looks prettier in our cake dome.  Seriously that is the only reason.  Ha!


Let your cake cool on a rack… While it’s cooling make this super easy caramel sauce that I mentioned in the pumpkin cheesecake post.  It’s Pioneer Woman’s and it is AMAZING.  That post that I linked to Pioneer Woman’s sauce is almost 2 years old but I was watching her Thanksgiving special earlier this week and she made the exact sauce and jarred it for all of her holiday pies!  It’s SO yummy.  Learn to make it and pour it on ALL THE DESSERTS!



Here is the hard part… After you make your caramel/brown sugar sauce, let it cool.  It’s SO hard to wait.  I actually coated my cake with a bit of it while it was a little warm because I wanted some to soak in and keep the cake moist.


Jar the rest of the sauce and use it for subsequent pieces of cake.  It makes for such a pretty presentation.


Told y’all it was easy.  It reminds me of the Cinnamon Cream Cake from Corner Baker… or that Amish friendship bread that I LOVE to eat with my morning coffee.  Have you had that?  Someone gives you some “starter” mix and it sits on your counter for a few days then you make friendship loaves and continue to pass around the recipe/starter.  I think it’s been around for a gazillion years… now I want some of that.  I’m going to have to go look on Pinterest to see if I can make a starter…  I haven’t had it in a while.

P.S.  Pumpkin Pie Spice doesn’t taste like pumpkin…it’s just a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.  You have to use it in conjunction with actual pumpkin to make a pumpkin pie/cake/cheesecake etc.

P.S.S.  I’ve had this cake mix in the pantry for a few weeks.  When I was at the grocery store last weekend they had boxes of spice cake in their holiday baking section… So I guess you could make it even easier by just BUYING a box spice cake mix… who knew.  But I think it’s still a good idea to have the plain cake mix and then you can use your spice cabinet to create whatever flavor your in the mood for!  Plus, having to actually measure out that tablespoon of pumpkin spice makes it feel a little more homemade, right?  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

P.S.S.S.  Found this link to the starter for Amish Friendship Bread.  This is just the starter, once the starter is ready you can use your favorite Friendship Bread recipe.  I’ve never made the starter, it’s always been given to me… I may try it… supposedly because it is made from this “starter” or sourdough process it has some pretty great health benefits.

Until next time,


Welcome November – the month of Thankfulness

The 31 day writing challenge was fun, but I’m happy to get back to my lackadaisical blogging style…which means I tend to write about everything and nothing.  Every year I feel a shift at the beginning of November.  As if we are preparing for holidays or winter or something like that.  Things seem to get cozier, I look forward to family and fireplaces…yummy food and falling leaves.  I drag the sweaters and Uggs out of storage and put away the tanks and flip flops.  I’m not one of those people that gets bent out of shape about people putting their Christmas tree up early or stores being flooded with decorations.  I know people seem to get offended that Thanksgiving isn’t getting it’s turn, but thanksgiving is a mindset – not a holiday.  And the holiday is made no less important if Target has their twinkly lights on display.  For real.  Thanksgiving is about gratitude – being thankful in your circumstances…for your adversity and for your joys… Granted, I’m not about to get our tree out or start in on Christmas stories before December, but if that’s your jam, then go for it.  As a side note and just to give myself a pat on the back, I have however finished all of my Christmas shopping…and even wrapped everything…


took this on Nov. 1… might be a new record.

This one is important to me because rushing around in December to buy meaningless gifts does take me out of the holiday spirit.  Have you been to a mall in Dallas on a Saturday in December – there is NO Jesus there, I’m serious… So I try and do the shopping early.  We do the 4 gifts policy in our family (1. something you want 2. something you need 3. something you wear 4. something you read).  I keep a running list of Christmas gift ideas in my phone all year.  This 4 gift practice and list keeps the gift giving under control.  And if I’m thoughtful about gifts I find that I can pick up things that are truly unique and meaningful to the person getting it!  And it keeps our budget in tact!  And OBVI, it frees up time for more Hallmark Christmas movies and driving around to look at lights and candlelit dinners with hot cocoa and advent discussions…

But for now, we are relaxing into November.  Enjoying cooler temps and plans for turkey and family visits.  I took Milo on a nature hike today.  We have been talking about Fall leaves and the change of seasons.  In Texas, we don’t get those beautiful autumnal landscapes, but we do our best to find what we can.


And if you look hard enough, you find the beautiful stuff.


By the time we made it home, we had pockets full of acorns and yellow and orange leaves…cracked open pecans and muddy sticks.  Treasures.


And I got to take a break from my laptop…and work…and email…and listen to the wind blow those fallen leaves and Milo squeal each time he found a new bend in the trail.  Thankfulness…  November is a good month.