Saturday, December 31, 2011

good-bye 2011...

create a gif
It's New Years Eve!!! 
Tonight, I will be staying home with my family, eating yummy food & playing scrabble!! :) That is my ideal way to celebrate!! However you will be ringing in the New Year, I hope you have a blessed time with those you love! 

Of course, 2011 wasn't perfect, but it really was a great year!!
Here are a few of my fun memories from 2011...
(through my blog posts)


I took a roadtrip to Ohio to visit my aunt!
I went to several Rockies games!! We met the coach & a few of the players.
I discovered the best homemade brownie recipe.
My cousin got married & I got to take photos of her sweet little girl. (more photos)
I cut over 10 inches off my hair to donate for women with breast cancer.
I learned how to make pretty chevron bracelets.
I read through the whole book of Psalms & it really blessed me.
I had a really fun day in the mountains with my mom & sister.
 My love for Jane Austen grew... I read Sense & Sensiblity & Emma.
I took silly "photo-booth" snapshots with family & friends!
I ate alot of little tomatoes, right from the garden!
I went to "Water World" with my family & actually got some really fun pictures!

In 2011, my blog grew a lot (thanks to all of you!) & my etsy shop was successful!
I read several good books & I even got a Kindle to read even more this year!
I did two Beth Moore studies on Daniel & Revelation and I grew so much from both of them!
Just sitting here, there are so many blessings that come to my mind & I am full of JOY!!


Sometimes it's easiest to only think about the negative things from the past... But one of the reasons why I love to blog is so that I can look back at my life, my memories & see how much God has blessed me!! It is always so good to take time to reflect on what God has done for us! He loves us so much! :)

God is the giver of all good gifts!
I will praise God for the past year & for the new one to come!

Friday, December 30, 2011

a new year is coming...

The other night we had one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen, a masterpiece of God!! The pinks & oranges were so bright & vivid, next to the dark blues... I had to capture it! I was so full of joy to see a such a gift from God. To see something that makes you stop everything & just gaze at the beauty & wonder... it's amazing!! How could people see something so beautiful & not know that it comes from Him...
(my sister pointed out a cross in this shot... do you see it?)

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Ecclesiastes 3
For some reason, whenever a New Year comes, I always think about this passage. 
(v. 1-2)
"There is a time for everything, 
& a season for every activity under the heavens,
a time to be born and a time to die, 
a time to plant and a time to uproot..." 

I know this is nothing new, but life is full of ups & downs & it's not always easy to explain why. Sometimes bad things just happen & we wonder how it could be a part of God's plan... Sometimes we put ourselves in bad situations & it's not God's plan at all... But the amazing thing is, even when bad things happen (whether it's our fault or not) God can & does use it for good! We need to trust His plan & timing, even though it's all unknown to us, because He is the one who sees the bigger picture. This has definitely been a challenge for me over the last year, but I have learned a lot too. The whole point is that God is with us through everything!
We are blessed, come what may!

As I thought about Ecclesiastes 3, I also thought about this song...
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everythi by The Byrds on Grooveshark
I love old songs like this!! :)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

today....

I took my pup to get groomed! This photo is right after we got home! They did a great job at getting a lot of her dead hair out & she is so soft now! They even gave her a little bandanna! CUTE!! :)

However, in this picture, she is definitely giving me "the look"... She was mad! When I dropped her off, the fear in her eyes was breaking my heart... :(  I did give her a couple of treats though & now she is a happy dog again! 

I love my doggie!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

this christmas...

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

This Christmas season has been such a beautiful one! I have made so many special memories that I will always cherish. It started on Christmas Eve... my family gathered at my Grandparents for our Christmas eve dinner; every year we have clam chowder & then we go to my church's candlelight service! That is one of my favorite traditions. We sang beautiful carols about the birth of Jesus & we lit the candles! To see the lights dimmed & the candles glow is magical & a true representation of Jesus, the Light of the world!!!


& On Christmas, my family enjoyed so many wonderful blessings!! 
Giving & receiving special gifts from one another, an amazing Christmas Dinner, making & eating sugar cookies, hosting friends & family, skyping with family that lives far away, playing games & laughing, taking family photos & realizing how truly blessed I am!!! 

Most of all, I am so thankful for the blessing of  JESUS & celebrating His birth! He came into this world to give us life everlasting! That is the greatest gift of all! One I could never deserve, but the one I am most thankful for!! :) All of the other little blessing are so beautiful because I know that they came from Him!

I think of a wonderful gift that my sister gave me for Christmas... a mug with a Jane Austen quote that says, "How shall I bear so much happiness!" (from "Pride & Prejudice") It is so true! :)

Also, I got "Emma" from my mom & a pretty Fossil watch from my brother & mom!
My family definitely spoiled me & I am so blessed! :)

So, now that Christmas is over... I will not be sad, because I can reflect on how blessed I am, & it's all because of God's great love & grace!! That is something that will outlast all other Christmas gifts! :)
I love this family picture! My dog is perfectly posed & smiling! So cute!

I hope you all had a blessed Christmas, too!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

happy 1st day of winter!!

Today is the first day of winter & it definitely looks like it outside! This morning my doggie was actually crying to go outside & play in the snow. She hates water, but she loves the snow!! So, my sister & I bundled up and took her out to run around. We had drifts in the yard that were probably at least 2 feet deep & we had to shovel so much snow out of the drive way just to get out... So exhausting, but it was a lot of fun too!!

Here is a little video that my mom took of us playing in the snow...
video


Only 2 more days until Christmas!!! 
YAY!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

4 days 'til Christmas...


I got this Charlie Brown Christmas tree at a party that I went to on Monday! I have always wanted one! Isn't it so cute?! I am so thankful to the person that gave it to me, I was really surprised! :) 

& a little Christmas quiz... (from here)

1. egg nog or hot chocolate?
definitely hot chocolate!
2. does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
presents are wrapped! 
3. multi-colored or white lights on tree/house?
I prefer the big lights & multi-colored! But white lights are pretty too!
4. do you hang mistletoe? 
yes.
5. when do you put up decorations?
usually the weekend after Thanksgiving.
6. what is your favorite holiday dish?
On Chrismtmas eve, my family always has clam chowder! yumm!
7. favorite holiday memory as a child?
oh, there are so many... Putting up my Grandma's Chrismtas village with her every year! 
& I will always remember, once when I was little, I snuck out in the middle of the night to see everything under the tree... & my dad was actually up, rocking in his chair, watching the Christmas lights. When he saw me, I thought I was in trouble, but he didn't say a word! :)
8. when did you learn the truth about Santa?
I have always loved Santa, but I have never believed in him... In my family, the focus was always more about Jesus' birth! :)
9. do you open a gift on Christmas eve?
When I was a kid, we were allowed to open one gift on Christmas eve. But now, we open everything on Christmas morning!
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
lots of lights (the big & little ones) & a collection of ornaments, some vintage bulbs, some handmade, etc...
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? 
I love it! until Jan & Feb rolls around & then I start getting tired of it!!
(& of course that is usually when it snows the most where I live)
12. Can you ice skate?
No.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Well, I got a watch a few years ago, from Fossil & I still wear it everyday! :)
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? 
Reflecting on all I have to be thankful for... For my family & mostly thankful that God sent His Son into this world to save us! It's so beautiful to get to celebrate that in so many special ways at Christmas time!
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Oh boy, we make so many... I love our homemade peanut butter cups, magic bars, & of course sugar cookies & pie!!
16. what is your favorite holiday tradition?
I really love going to my church's Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve every year!
17. what tops your tree?
a star!
18. which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
I love to pick out the perfect gifts for my family & see their excitement on Christmas morning! But, yes, it is fun to receive too! :)
19. candy canes. yucky or yummy?
yummy!
20. favorite Christmas show?
either "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer".
21. saddest Christmas song?
umm... "Please Come Home for Christmas" by The Eagles... sad, but I love it! haha!
22. favorite Christmas song?
Well, there are way too many to just choose one... but I especially love a song called "Here with Us" by Joy Williams & of course, "It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas" by Bing Crosby!


& Here are my Christmas-y nails! So fun!! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

5 days til Christmas...

Over the weekend, my church choir sang our Christmas Cantata. After a lot of practice & God's help, it all went really well!! I got a cold right before & was worried I wouldn't be able to sing with everyone, but I was so happy that I was & I am feeling pretty good now!
Also, I have been to so many Christmas parties over the past few days... Lots of goodies to eat & fun times with special people!! These photos are from a party at my pastor's house, which is in the mountains & it is always so cozy at Christmastime. Plus, there was snow! The kids even built a cute little snowman! This time of year is such a blessing! :)

& Last night we got more snow... so pretty!

This song seems appropriate!
White Christmas by Bing Crosby on Grooveshark

Thursday, December 15, 2011

christmas candy: peanut butter cups...

These peanut butter cups are another very special recipe to my family...
We have made them every Christmas for so long & they are definitely a favorite of mine!

how to make homemade
Peanut Butter Cups

Ingredients:
1/4 C. butter
2 C. powdered sugar
1 C. peanut butter
Chocolate melts

(You will need the special candy paper cups (we use the ones that have a 1" base) & the plastic trays that hold the paper cups. Also, you have to use chocolate that is made for melting, Wilton's is pretty good.)

Directions:
Combine the butter, powdered sugar & peanut butter and knead the dough. Add a little bit of powdered sugar if the dough is too sticky. Pinch off a small amount, roll it into a ball & then flatten to form the centers. Make the size of the centers appropriate for the size of the paper cups you are using. 

Once you have put the paper cups into the tray, you can spoon a small amount of the melted chocolate in to each cup. Then place one of the centers in the middle of the chocolate & cover the top with melted chocolate. Put the trays in the freezer for a few minutes, so that the chocolate will harden. The peanut butter cups can be stored in a sealed container.

Here are a couple more photos of the process...

Enjoy!! They are fun to make & to eat!   :)

living nativity & christmas decor...

This past weekend, my church had their annual "Living Nativity" & it went so well! We had a lot of kids (more than usual) & they had so much fun!! It is such a blessing to be a part of something that really celebrates the true meaning of Christmas! This year, my sister & I took a picture with a cute little cow! Last year, it was with a llama. (See photos from last year.) 
So fun!

It is so special to watch the lights twinkle on my little tree...

My sister & I made a Christmas wreath, inspired by Martha Stewart's version...
with lights & paper doilies. It turned out lovely! (I later added a pretty silver bow!)

I made the word "Joy" from pipe cleaners & yarn and hung it with my little blue bulbs!
{inspired by this photo on pinterest}

Christmas is only 9 days away!
Can you believe it?!?
oh.my.goodness.
Time to finish my Christmas shopping... 
:)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

{etsy faves} edor jewelry...

I just discovered a beautiful etsy shop, called Edor Jewelry... Typically, I prefer silver, but most of these are gold & i love them just as much! Mostly, I love that these designs are so simple & delicate! Any of these necklaces would make a perfect Christmas gift! :)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

christmas playlist...



Of course, I can't get enough of Christmas music lately!!
There are so many great songs & versions out there...
So, here is a little collection of some of my favorites!
I just love Bing Crosby at Christmastime!! :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

cranberry-orange scones with an orange glaze...

Cranberry-Orange Scones

 Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup fresh or dried cranberries
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & orange zest.
Cut butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. 
Stir in fresh or dried cranberries.
Add buttermilk, and stir until just combined; try not to overmix. 
Use a little more buttermilk if dough is too dry to work with.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; shape it into an 8-inch round. 
Cut circle into 8 wedges & place them on the baking sheet.
Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.


This is the first time I have ever made scones & I am so glad that I finally did! They are so easy to make & so good... Plus, there is such a variety of things you can add to them... to be sweet or savory! I know that I will be trying many other scone recipes soon! Yay!! This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart.
For the Orange Glaze... I simply mixed 1-2 Tablespoons of Fresh-squeezed Orange Juice 
& 1-2 Cups of Confectioner's Sugar, until I got the desired thickness. 
Then, I drizzled it over the scones.
I can't wait to have one with a cup of tea, for breakfast tomorrow!
Yumm... :)