Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Peaceful December

Did you survive your Christmas? Was it peaceful in your home? I can honestly say that this year I was at peace. I didn't stress about spending money and we really took the time to focus on Jesus this year. It totally made Christmas extremely enjoyable. Not to mention this months challenge lending to a more specified focus on peace.

In just a few short days 2010 will come to an end. I love to spend the time between Christmas and the new year reflecting. Remember all the wonderful moments of that year. Planning for the following year. Making goals & coming up with ways to improve the things I didn't like about that year.

Each new year brings a fresh start.

The final challenge of the December Peace Challenge is this: Find a minute this week to get alone...outside is best. There is something about the big open sky, the trees, and the sounds of nature that help us to see and hear God clearly. Take your Bible with you - visit Matthew 27 and 28, evaluate 2010 and commit 2011 to living your life completely for God.
Courtney at Women Living Well gives you a great check list for evaluating each area of your life. With great questions to reflect over the previous year in each area.

And she also asks you What is your theme word for 2011?  I am working on this now and can't wait to share with all of you my word and little bit about how this final challenge went for me. I should have that up sometime next week.

White Christmas

As I said in my other Christmas post for the first time basically ever(pretty sure no one from 1800 is still living) Georgia experienced a white Christmas. I am sure to those of you in the north this isn't that huge, but for us who hardly ever see snow it was pretty huge. We got about 4 inches total. Just enough to make it look beautiful outside, be fun to play in for a little while and of course in the south to halt just about everything.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas (a long recap)

Come and gone...but I am praying that the spirit of Christmas will live on all year long. In our home, in our life, in the way we act, and in all the moments of every day. The intentional family time, taking the time to play, and making time to focus on Jesus...every day of the year.

I love Christmas. The weeks leading up to the day and of course Christmas Eve & day. We live close to our families so we get to be with almost everyone at some time of Christmas Eve or day.

This year we enjoyed a great lunch with Jason's parents, Uncle and his brother and sister in law were able to be into town Christmas Eve. It is great to be able to spend time with all of them.

From there we headed to Christmas Eve service at church. This year we decided to bring Jake into the service with us. For only being 3 he did great the whole service. We all enjoyed being together worshiping and celebrating the birth of Jesus.

We headed home to put out cookies and milk for santa and sprinkle reindeer food in the grass.

Christmas morning was a bright and early wake up call from Mr. Jake super excited to see what santa had brought him. This year he really got Christmas. He was totally into it way before it was here and it has been so great to wait in anticipation with a three year old. He even really understood that we were actually celebrating the birth of Jesus. We spent a lot of time during Advent focusing on these things and reading Bible verses so that the true meaning of Christmas would be a little overshadowed by the man in the red suit and gifts.

But of course the gifts were a lot of fun too. Jake got the one thing he was hoping santa would bring SKATES! He loves them and was so excited to see them under the tree.

I am writing this post from my new pink lap top from my amazing hubby. He out did himself with my 2 surprises of a lap top and an ipod. I can't wait to get music on my ipod to run to. 

We all snuggled on the couch with a fire burning to read the story of Jesus' birth in Jake's new Bible he recieved. It is so sweet to hear Jake get excited about baby Jesus, Mary(he overheard a lady in the store the other day introduce herself as Mary and was so excited her name was the same as baby Jesus' mom) & Joseph. And that Jesus came to save the world.

After our time at home and enjoying each other & our new gifts. We headed over to my parents house to spend time with all of my siblings. All 5 of us were actually home for Christmas which hasn't happened in several years.

And for the first time since the 1800's we experienced a white Christmas in Georgia.

I think this might be one of my favorite Christmas' EVER!!! Or at least pretty close to the Christmas Eve 8 years ago when Jason proposed to me!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas &  Happy New Year from our family to yours.

Expect it to be quiet around here over the next week or more. I am taking in the time with my family. Rejoicing in our Savior's birth and being in the moment.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peaceful Christmas

Does the week of Christmas have you rushing around for last minute things? Take some time for this weeks challenge. And be sure you take time to reflect on Christmas and prepare your heart for the coming of Jesus in the flesh as a baby. To live among us and save us all from our sin. Take the time to be with your family during what can be a hectic week. When your husband ask you to come sit with him...go! When your children want you to read to them...put down what you are doing and go. These are the times we can never get back.

Here's this week's challenge: Christmas is just 5 days away and so much of our time is often spent helping the children to remember the "Reason for the Season". Now it's our turn. Once the kids are in bed get yourself a HOT drink (again we are warming the body as we warm the soul.) Get ALONE and turn out the lights by your Christmas tree, a lit fire, or a candle and just be alone with God. Pray, talk to him, I encourage you to sing Christmas carols or songs praising him, and just rest with Jesus.

 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled." John 14:27.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Crafting Christmas

I love to craft! And I really like Martha Stewart's ideas. It has been fun for me this year to make several things from Martha Stewart.

We made these beautiful glitter ornaments. You pour a little bit of pledge floor wax into a clear glass ball and swish it around inside. Dump the excess out and then pour some fine glitter into the ornament. Shake the ornament to get the entire inside of it covered. They look so pretty hanging on our tree.

Then I took on folding a magazine into a Christmas tree. This took a little bit of time, but it was super easy. I love the way they turned out. I sprayed painted it gold and sprinkled with gold glitter. The next one I do I will use super fine glitter instead of regular. 

Then the hardest, but super cute sock dog. My best friend saw this in Martha Stewart's magazine and thought it would be fun to make them. I thought it would be fairly easy and would be able to make stuffed sock dogs as Christmas gifts for my youngest nephews. Umm lets just say that this 3 hour project is super cute, but I don't know that I will be making any more. And I won't be parting with this one that I did get made. The dog is made from one pair of socks and then his sweater is from a Christmas sock. So Cute!!!

There you have a Martha Stewart Crafting Christmas!!! So much fun...any fun crafting ideas you want to share? I am always looking for new fun things to make.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Time fun

Every year Jake & Caleb have their picture taken with Santa. We joke that when they are 16 we are going to send them to the mall with money and tell them they have to come home with a santa picture. This year they both were all about Santa and not scared at all. Caleb continued to rattle off a list of what he wanted the whole time he was up there....it was pretty funny! This is both of them saying Cheese...I have got to figure out how to get Jake to stop saying "cheese" it definitely is not a smile worker for Jake.
We also had an evening driving through a local college who puts on a lights display. At the end you can get out of your car and roast marshmallows, visit Santa, ride a train or pony. We all enjoyed the Christmas festivities.

 Looking at the lights with Uncle Perry...daddy & mommy were sitting up front.
                                   Elf Jake...again with the "cheese" smile
                                            Caleb & Jake the elves
                                 The biggest marshmallows ever...yummy!!
                                      Watching daddy burn the marshmallows :)
                          Daddy had to eat all the black part off before Jake would it
                                 Enjoying his giant marshmallow

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Star

Every year Jason holds Jake up to put the star on the tree. Or I guess really to just look like he is next to the star. This marked the 4th year of Jake helping daddy to put the star on the tree. I really can't believe how much my tiny baby has grown.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A little laugh

Did you know that at 3 years old you are supposed to be able to jump on one foot? Jake doesn't know how. But it is so hilarious watching him try. For your viewing pleasure Jake demonstrating his one foot jump.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Daily Moments (12/5-12/11)

Another week...oh my goodness can you believe next week is Christmas!!!

Sunday-December 5th-We got our Christmas lights up on our house. Well really my step-dad got the lights on the house. Jason is afraid of heights so every year Mike has come over to put up our lights. Our house always looks so pretty lit up at night. Thanks Mike for hanging the lights!

Monday-December 6th-While we were at the mall today Jake mailed his letter to Santa. Macy's has a huge Santa mail box in their store and with a stamp on your letter they donate money to Make a Wish. Jake thought it was fun and kept asking if the mail man had picked up the mail yet.

Tuesday-December 7th-I spent the day in this warehouse sorting toys. Preparing for our churches Hope for Christmas event on Saturday. We had to sort toys by age and then into bags according to family needs.

Wednesday-December 8th- Do you notice anything in Jake's mouth? We have been done with the paci(he didn't even really use this kind) for months. But today Jake came running down stairs and was so excited to show me something. Upstairs in his room he had found a paci behind his bookshelf. He was so excited to put it in his mouth. Thank goodness this was very short lived and he only had the paci for about 15 minutes.

Thursday-December 9th-I am totally in a baking mood. I love to bake & cook, but for some reason at this time of year I want to do it even more. Jake & I made these delicious chocolate chip cookies using this recipe. I think we will make another batch this week to give to a couple people we know. YUM!!!

 Friday-December 10th- Today we made whole wheat chocolate chip banana bread. One of our very favorites. Nana gave Jake his very own tiny loaf pan. And he loves making his own "loafa" (as he calls it) bread.

Saturday-December 11th-no picture today...I spent the day helping the children at Hope For Christmas make toy soldier crafts. This was a huge Christmas party our church put on for 1500 needy families in our area. It was so awesome to be a part of something so great!!

Monday, December 13, 2010


December can be a month where we are burning the candle at both ends. It seems there is never enough time to finish our to do list. And there is hardly a day where everything gets checked off. Why do we do so much?

I know this is me.  A lot of the "stuff" I am trying to fit into my days is fun stuff. But it is still stuff that makes me want to rush from this to that. Which doesn't really make it very fun for any of us.

Courtney at Women Living Well asked this question today: 
Are you experiencing the green pastures, the quiet waters and the restoration of your soul that Psalm 23 speaks of from resting with your Shepherd?

I have to admit there are times throughout the year that my quiet time with God is just one more thing to check off my list. I pray a usual short pray for those close to me and for the day ahead and then usually just read the Proverb that coordinates with the day of the month. Easy, check that off my to do list.

But I am pretty sure this is not the type of quiet soul restoring time that God's word speaks of.

When I catch myself in this kind of rut I make an effort to spend more time in prayer, more time sitting quietly listening for God, and more time reading his word and actually paying attention to the words and not just reading to check it off my list.   However, usually a few weeks later my to do list looks like it will take more time then hours in a day and my quiet time turns back into a quick something to check off my to do list.

I should clarify if this is you; reading your Bible in any amount every day and praying is better then doing nothing at all. And reading a Proverb a day for each day of the month is a great way to get a little bit of God's word into your heart. If you are starting out and don't want to feel overwhelmed a Proverb a day is great!! Proverbs are filled with such great wisdom for life it is definitely a great daily read.

For me though I know when I am only reading a Proverb a day it is because I have read them several times (I feel like I know them...totally not true) I am not really letting the words that God speaks soak into my soul. It is just a check off my list.

Christmas would be one of those times where my quiet time could turn into a hurry check it off the list and get to whatever is listed next. 

This Christmas season I have really made a commitment to make Christmas about Jesus. Both for me and my family and it really has been so wonderful.

I have been reading Ann's from A Holy Experience Advent ebook and this has truly helped me to experience the green pastures, quiet waters, and restore my soul. Every day when I get up to read that days page I am letting God's word reach me. And then Ann's words she speaks after each days reading further encourage, restore, and bring His word home.

Although, my days still get hectic and a lot of days there are things left on my to do list...during this years Christmas season I am letting the meaning really sink in. And help to lead me by green pastures and restore my soul.

This weeks Peace on Earth Challenge is:
 Pull out your calendar and SCHEDULE a night where you will go to bed very very early. Take your Bible with you to bed and read in bed for at least 5 minutes. Read in Isaiah 7:14, Micah 5:2, Jeremiah 23:5, and Isaiah 53. These are prophecies that were fulfilled by the birth and life of Jesus. Get extra blankets for a warm nights rest, pray God gives you deep rest and that no one wakes you. Then turn out the lights and sleep. I pray that when you wake, you face the new day of Christmas stress with extra strength and vigor.

With so much still on our to do lists it can be so hard to just go to bed. To put it off until tomorrow. But I encourage you to take this challenge this week. And by going to bed super early you can get an early start to the following day. I am sure after a great nights sleep you will feel peaceful about the day to come. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stay a While

Welcome to our home. In the fall I took you on a little tour of our fall decorations and now here you can peak at our Christmas decorations. I hope you will grab a cup of coffee and stay a while!

The foyer entry table, excuse the "beleive" Jake likes to rearrange the letters, usually only a couple at a time. I didn't notice until I was uploading this picture. But hey if you were visiting that would be real life. 
Our Jesse tree that sits on our dinning room table. Thanks to Ann at A Holy Experience for her wonderful Advent ebook that includes these great ornaments to go along with each days reading.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Daily Moments (11/28-12/4)

So I am a day late getting this weeks pictures up. We haven't been super busy, but I haven't really been getting on the computer very often. As usual there are a couple days with no pictures.

Sunday-November 28th- We got our Christmas tree today! This was the earliest we have ever gotten our tree. Jake was so into looking at all the trees.

Monday-November 29th- We introduced Elf on the Shelf this year. When Jake woke up this morning the elf was waiting for him. We went through cutesy names like jingles, elfie, after lots of nos from Jake Jason started throwing random names out. Jake settled on Timmy. Now Timmy the elf sits around our house and Jake loves to find him each morning and he tells everyone about him when we are out places.

Tuesday & Wednesday have no pictures.
Thursday-December 2nd-Jake often stands like this in the kitchen, but today he looked so grown up standing there. He really is turning into a little boy right before our eyes.

Friday-December 3rd-We went to Gingerbread house party with some of our sweet friends. Jake was much more interested in eating all the candy for the house, but here was a rare moment of him actually concentrating on placing candy on the house.

Saturday-December 4th-Our family went with my sister's family to a local  light display. At the end they had fun activities for kids along with the biggest marshmallows ever to roast and hot chocolate.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Peaceful December

Again the wonderful Courtney from Women Living Well is hosting a challenge. This time it is for the month of December and it is Peace on Earth Challenge.

A lot of times our Decembers fill up with so many obligations and there is already so much to be done that December can be anything but a peaceful month. Most of the things we do are for our enjoyment; Christmas parties with friends and family and some times even for work. Cookie baking and craft making. But we also tend to over book in December to fit everyone and every thing in.  

We don't want to be left out and we don't want to leave anyone out so we keep saying yes.

Then there is the other part we put on our self about making Christmas perfect. We stress about the decorations, the food, adding in fun and meaningful Christmas traditions, and then of course there is always the perfect gifts for everyone on our mile long list...at this point we are saying to ourselves "after all Christmas is for giving."

Amongst all of this a lot of times we get so stressed that we completely forget all the things we should actually be focusing on. All the things we do to mean well end up only half of what we wanted them to be. Decorations are no fun if you have to have it perfect and your children can't enjoy them too, traditions are no fun when the mommy trying to set the traditions is grumpy because no one is doing it the way she wanted, and presents are fun, but if they cause more stress make it simpler for yourself. (I am totally writing to myself here!) And really how much of what we do is all in trying to keep up with everyone else?

To make my December a Peace on Earth I am taking Courtney's challenge serious. I am trying not to add a bunch of extra into our time. I want to spend time in God's word this month both with my family and quietly on my own. I want to spend time with my family enjoying each other's company doing fun things, but also just relaxing together.  And I want to savor every moment of this busy month with peace and joy.I want to get to December 26th and think that was a wonderful Christmas season.

The 1st thing Courtney asked us to do was to write out 1 Peter 5:7 at the top of our December calendar.  "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you."

Then the 2nd was get a candle and light it every day through the month of December. We did this during the making your home a haven challenge as well. It really is so nice to smell the candle burning and have a peaceful reminder to pray without ceasing.

The challenge for this week is:
As the warmth of Christmas has now begun to enter your home with the influx of decorations, cookie baking and friends, take out your calendar and SCHEDULE a night where you will take a warm refreshing bubble bath. I'll give you more details on what to include with this bubble bath. But until then, one main thing will be your Bible. Read the story of the birth of Jesus in Matthew 1, 2 and Luke 1,2. 

So time for a confession: I really don't enjoy baths. I know this is totally shocking(hopefully we can still be friends). The bath water gets cold too quickly and my skin gets all wrinkly. So really for me I don't enjoy sitting in the bath. But I will happily wear warm, comfy jammies and make a delicious cup of coffee while relaxing on the couch reading God's word about the birth of Jesus. For me this is much more relaxing then a soak in the bath.  But if you are like many I hope you will take this challenge this week and take a bubble bath.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pie Crust

My new thing to learn for the month of November was pie crust. I have to congratulate myself and say this was a big success.  Even if I didn't try a completely traditional pie crust.

I made 2 different types both going with pumpkin pie. I thought it was only fair to taste them both against the same type of pie. I made a shortbread press in pie crust (martha stewart recipe). This is nothing like what you would expect a traditional pie crust to be. It was however good and like a shortbread cookie bottom.

The other crust I made was a cream cheese pie crust. This was much more like a traditional pie crust with a few change ups in the recipe.  But you still had to chill the crust and then roll it out before placing in your pie pan.

Makes one 9-inch crust
  • 2 teaspoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon cold cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces 
  1. Combine water and vinegar in a small bowl. Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut butter and cream cheese into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining.
  2. Add water mixture to dough in a slow, steady stream, stirring, until mixture just begins to hold together. (Alternatively, pulse ingredients in a food processor.) Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap. Press dough into a disk using a rolling pin. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. (Dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw before using.)
  3. Roll dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie dish. Trim edge, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Turn overhang under so that edge is flush with rim. Flute edge. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
Read more at Marthastewart.com: Cream Cheese Pie Crust - Martha Stewart Recipes
This crust was so delicious and I am sure will go great with any type of pie. I am looking to try in on an apple pie at some point. My husband loved this and said my pie was exactly like you would imagine the best pumpkin pie should taste. His description was also that the crust wasn't as dry and flaky as a regular crust. He preferred this over the drier flakier crust. And so do I. I didn't take any pictures of the finished pie. But it was a yummy!

All in all my November new thing was a big success and I now have a great pie crust recipe to add to my recipe box to use for years to come!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Picture This

Christmas photo cards are  fun to get, just as much fun to make, and even more fun to send out. 

I think Christmas photo cards are one of the best ways to send a little piece of you for Christmas. And it is also a nice way to see how family & friends have changed over the year.

You can put together a great card to capture a small 
 glimpse of the previous year. A photo card with space for a few pictures makes it easy. You can include some individual pictures of your children along with a family picture; put some silly shots with more serious shots, or a great Christmas picture with a fun family vacation picture.  Shutterfly offers great folded photo cards which can encompass the best of both worlds. Pictures on the front and a personal note inside to each person you are sending your cards to.

 You are probably curious why I am going on about Christmas photo cards. Shutterfly is offering 50 free Christmas cards to bloggers. I truly love shutterfly. The ease of use is so great to put together Christmas photo cards. Shutterfly has so many choices for Christmas cards. It makes it very difficult to choose which card to use, but I always have fun looking at all of the cards and trying my pictures into my favorites before I decide on a card I want to use. I keep our Christmas card a surprise until I think most of our family and friends have received their card, and I love to hear what everyone has to say about the card that year.

  Looking for an easy gift that is used all year. For me photo gifts are some of the best to give. For grandparents you have to try their photo calendars. How fun is it for grandparents to have a picture to look at with each month of the coming year. This is also a way to put together a little something that you did last year. Each month include pictures of fun things you did the same month the previous year.  Grandparents can see how you and your family have grown and changed over the year. And maybe even help long distance relatives to feel like they were part of the fun too.

Another of my favorites are photo coffee cups. I love drinking my coffee from a “happy” coffee cup. It just starts the morning off right; a delicious cup of coffee in a fun cup. A cup with pictures of your favorite people would just make the day even better. I think it would be so cute to take pictures of your kids wearing their jammies each holding up a card that says “Have A Great Day,” or “you look beautiful.” A “happy” coffee cup with a happy message.