DIY Gift Giving for the Holidays

posted in: Christmas | 0

(This is a sponsored post by Walmart and @incommworldwide for the #SaveMoneyGiveBetter2017 Campaign.  My opinions are my own.  Thank you The Women Bloggers)

Even though I live in the South, and it usually only mildly cold, it is still a lovely season when I get to drink all the warm drinks.  Some of my favorites are dirty chais, caramel apple cider, chai lattes, or peppermint mochas.  Since I’m not really a “coffee” drinker, I have to improvise when I meet up with friends over the holidays at our favorite coffee shops.

So, when gift giving at the holidays, I love to gift homemade mixes that will help people enjoy sitting by the fire with a warm cup in the hands all winter long.  And these mugs at Walmart by The Pioneer Woman are oversized and perfect for wrapping up in a knitted throw and reading a book, sipping on something warm, and staying there – all.winter.long.

And I know the perfect way to gift these homemade mixes: a cute box like this one from Wal-Mart, tissue paper, a handwritten tag, a cute mug (they have so many to choose from), and your mix.  Throw in some holiday candy and you are golden.

But, wait…what would make it all the better?  A gift card of course.  I think throwing in a Vanilla Mastercard from Walmart would be the perfect pairing.  You can use these cards anywhere.  They are perfect for buying a book you’ve been wanting so you have something to read as you cozy up to the warm fire.  You can use it for a new movie that you can watch after the kids go to bed.  You can use it to order in some food so you won’t even have to cook.

I’m definitely one of those people that think giftcards are the way to go.  Unless you know I’m going to love something – the best thing is a gift card.  And Walmart has a display with a gift card for every single person on your list.

Check out these homemade mixes that you can add to your special holiday box (and don’t forget the gift card, its a great way to give better)!

What goes in chai?

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

Warm Apple Drink

Vanilla Chai Mix

What are smoe DIY gifts you like to give at the holidays?  How do you plan on gifting giftcards this year so they will be a wonderful surprise to your friends and family?

Total Christmas Makeover

posted in: Books | 0

I love makeover shows.  What Not To Wear, Fixer Upper, Biggest Loser, Flipping Virgins, etc.

HGTV and TLC are some good shows.

I love how you take the norm and make it into the fabulous new norm.

And what about Christmas?  I love having Christmas in my own home with my own little family: my mister and two boys.  I love the quietness of the day.  I love the phone not ringing and you can sit around all day in your pjs.  It is always hectic up until the day: church activities, retail hours, shopping, work.  But, that day is the quietest of the whole year and I love it that way.

Melissa Spoestra in Total Christmas Makeover, gives her readers some ways to make over your Christmas this year.  Christmas is more than buying gifts and giving gifts, singing in cantatas, and eating too much, and doing all the school crafts!

Christmas is more about thinking of the One who gave up everything for us – all for his glory.  These short devotionals in Melissa’s book have Scripture, gospel, prayers, applicable writing geared where you are, and activities to help you work out the truths that you’ve been reading about.  And they are short to read – you can think about it all day as you go about your day. Because we all know that the Christmas season is probably the busiest time of the year for most people.

Thanks to Litfuse for the book.  All opinions are my own.

Traveling Healthy During the Holidays

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Healthy Holidays

Over the river and through the woods.

In a one-horse open sleigh.

Grandma got ran over by a reindeer.

Walking in a winter wonderland.

No matter how you travel this holiday season, you definitely want to arrive safe, stay safe, and return to your home – hopefully without a trip to the hospital!  I have already traveled over this holiday season with my two little boys, and I wanted to share some tips with you!

  1.  Eat healthy.  I know, crazy, and hard to do. But, this helps!  If you pack some fruit in the car, get applesauce, clementines, or fruit pouches when you go in for lunch at your favorite lunch place while traveling, and definitely if you get those fluids going.  This is especially hard when you are aiming for speed on your trip – because diapers need changing and if you are potty training then you stop often.  But, just know that fluids really do help your body (and your little one’s body) stay healthy!
  2. Get exercise.  When you get to your destination – and even on the way – incorporate exercise into your vacation plans.  My boys love parks and would play all day!  And at those rest areas, do some jumping jacks or run around in the grassy areas.
  3. Be prepared.  If you son or daughter takes medication, be prepared with how much you will need.  If they have allergies, make sure you understand the place you are going and what you might encounter.  Always know where a medical doctor is.  Whether it is a clinic, an emergency room, or a hospital – this is crucial.  We usually go places we know for the holidays, so I always know where places are.  But, if I’m going somewhere new, I would use Amino’s great guide to help you find what you need in your time of stress.  All on one site, too!
  4. Be loved.  Stress is such a killer during the holidays.  Whether its the traffic or the relationships, look on the bright side, slow down, love.

And with that, happy safe and healthy travels.  Thanks Amino for the hint!

Return to Rest

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Recover from the Holidays

One of the most dreaded parts of the holiday season (Thanksgiving until my birthday) is the amount of traffic that is created.  I love living in metropolitan areas – but I’d rather do anything than fight busy intersections and crowded shopping malls.

What is it about the holiday season that raises our blood pressure, turns highways into crowded parking lots, and makes doing errands almost unbearable?

Something we DON’T DO: we don’t rest.

We strive.

We plan too much.

We go too often and too fast.

We don’t take time.

We don’t REST.

This goes not only for our physical activity, but also for our spiritual activity.  We seldom take time to enjoy the Christmas season and all that it entails.  Even if we go to Christmas Eve services, we are rushed getting in shopping and huge family meals with lots of cooking before and after it.  We rush into places that we need to go and never take time to rest and enjoy the holiday season.

I look forward to the days after the holidays when the parking lots of back to normal, the traffic is back to normal, and life can resume a comfortable, full life of friends and cooking and photography and play dates and doing nothing with my Mister.

Hello December 9: Cooking Edition

posted in: food | 0

Wow – the holidays are upon us and there is much activity in my kitchen. I’m glad the oven and stove will be on more because that means I can stand where its warm most of the time but not crank up my heat in our home.

Here is what’s planned for this week:

plates

Chicken Noodle Soup: via Tyler Florence
Smoky Grill Rub: via Southern Living for a gift
Peppermint Divinity Bars – via Southern Living (which I’m so excited to have a subscription for)
Nutella Sea Salt Truffles – via On Sugar Mountain
Chai Truffles – via Southern Living
Chicken Spaghetti – for lunch during our marshmallow making
Salted Caramel Swirled Marshmallows – via Bake or Break
Salted Caramel Sauce – via Brown Eyed Baker
Strawberry Margherita Mini Cupcakes – via A Helicopter Mom (virgin, don’t worry)
Homemade Herbed Salt – via 5$ Dinners
Refried Beans for Taco Tuesday: via Simply Recipes and Camille Styles
Curried Hummus: via Heather’s Dish
Chocolate Pistachio Thumb Print Cookies – via How Sweet It Is for the ARWB Cookie Swap on Friday

Here we go. What are you cooking this week, for the holidays, for gifts, for your family? What recipe are you most excited about?

Pomegranate White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Oh, bring on the holiday season. I love baking for things during the holidays…trying new festive recipes that get out of my kitchen in a hurry. These will be gone tomorrow! 🙂 And I did much better on tasting them than the buttercream sessions earlier in the week.

I found this recipe on :

Pomegranate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup pomegranate arils

Cream butter and sugars, add egg and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to the creamed mixture. Fold in oats and white chocolate. Fold in (gently) the arils. They will pop, but you want them to pop in your mouth, not in the dough.
Spoon onto sprayed cookie sheets and bake at 375 for 10 minutes.
Enjoy the pop of tart and the creamy goodness of white chocolate and the chew of oats. These are definitely a holiday winner!

Much & Link Love: November 21 edition

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Vacation over: Thanksgiving ahead.
1. Vacation was great: hiking, eating, sleeping, photoging, seeing friends. Beautiful weather.
2. Parents come in town tomorrow.
3. I’ve decided not to do the half on Thursday. That would take out 9 hours of what my parents and I could do together (drive, run, drive), so we will find stuff to do in Raleigh without going to Charlotte.
4. Friends are crucial to my wellbeing, but I also love downtown when I don’t see another soul. I’ll have to find a time to do that after my parents leave. Hmmmm. Maybe New Years.
5. It just wasn’t a pretty football weekend, except for the GATORS. I was in Boone (home of ASU) and loved saying GO GATORS. One of the signs I saw read “Gator: It is what’s for dinner. Go App.” – Well, that didn’t happen.
6. Short week in the office, busy week of editing and reading.
7. To shed some weight this holiday season (instead of put it on): one meal a day has to be either oatmeal, egg white omelette, or veggies. That will definitely help cut some calories during the day.
8. Got some new things in the works for after New Years. Thinking and excited.

Link Love:
1. Girls Gone Wise blog hits up entitlements and rights of women.
2. I think I would like to host one of these. Anyone in RDU interested – good way to start the new year.
3. These will definitely be making their way to a holiday party near you.
4. These will also be making it to a Christmas party near you (if you live in RDU or Lakeland).
5. Love this article that Justin posted on his blog. Often as Christians we ignore culture. But, here are some wise ways to engage and redeem. Hopefully a post will be coming on that by a friend of mine.
6. I would like to try this Chicago-style pizze at home one night, maybe while the parents are here.
7. Ed Stetzer to the rescue – especially if you are flying this holiday season.
8. I thought of these videos a lot this wknd while scaling 23 feet up a ladder on a side of a mountain.