Monday, November 12, 2018

DIY Christmas Gifts

Well, November is just zooming on by, isn't it?
But it's not too late to get moving on some DIY Christmas gifts.

One of my favorites is Homemade Vanilla.

Nearly everyone in my family loves to bake, so this gift is a no brainer ~
it's easy to make, fun to package, and greatly appreciated.
And if you make it soon, it'll be ready for gift-giving by Christmas!

I make my vanilla individually, but you *could* make up a big batch in large mason jars, 
and then divide it up into smaller bottles at the end.

I buy my BOTTLES on Amazon
My BEANS on Beanilla
and my VODKA ~ just the cheap-o kind at the liquor store

I slice through the center of each bean, drop a couple in each bottle, 
fill to the top with the Vodka, tie up with pretty ribbon, and set aside for 5 or 6 weeks.
And voila!

Seriously, y'all, they make the greatest gifts!

Make some today, and check some people off your gift list!

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

I Can Safely Start Prepping For Christmas Now . . .

Y'all, it is November 1st!!!


That means I can *now* start openly talking about Christmas.
I promised Sierra: No Christmas movie-watching, Christmas music, or Christmas prep 
{aside from a bit of shopping here and there so it's not all heaped on at the last minute, *and* crafts for our upcoming Christmas Bazaar},
until after Halloween.

And here we are ~ November 1st!!!

So . . . one of my most favorite Christmas activities is wrapping gifts.
I love the wrap, the ribbons, the bows, the tags.  All of it.

We've been making our own gift tags for years: 


But last year I tried something new.
I printed out a bunch of my favorite, wintry prints in wallet-size,
punched holes at the top, and strung string through, and voila!
Gift Tags.

This year I got fancy and adhered cardstock to the back to finish them off, 
and sturdy them up a bit.

The photos I used to make my tags this year are general, wintry images as I am selling them at our local Christmas Bazaar.
BUT ~ how adorable would it be to print off images of your littles playing in the snow, baking cookies, or enjoying other holiday festivities?

To make your own just print off your favorite images, slap some glue and cardstock on the back, punch a hole, slip some ribbon through, and you can have your own, personalized tags.
Let me know in the comments if you make some!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It's Fall! And that means . . . Soup for Dinner!

Ahhhhh, I am so excited for Fall!
This is definitely my favorite time of year, 
but perhaps even more so this year as we had such a long Summer.

One of my favorite things about Fall is all of the yummy soup options for dinner.
I don't love spending hours in the kitchen, nor am I able to with our busy schedule, so a big pot of soup with a side of salad and bread makes me super happy!

I tend to switch off among three of our favorites:

Cheeseburger Soup 
{we're a hunting family so we *always* have a freezer full of ground venison, making this a staple during Fall and Winter months}.

Half of our family LOVES chili, half of us aren't into spicy, but still this is one that winds up on our table fairly frequently.

And finally,

Ham and Potato
Whenever we have leftover ham, I make up a pot of this soup.
It is thick and delicious, and keeps us warm and full on those crisp nights.

You will need:

8 {ish} potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated carrots
2 cups diced ham
6 cups chicken broth
8 Tbsps. butter (divided)
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
salt & pepper to taste

Grab a large pot, throw in 2 Tbsps. of butter, onion, and carrots. 
Sauté for a minute or two over medium heat.  
Then add peeled and cubed potatoes, ham, and chicken broth.
Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 15 minutes or so ~ 
until the potatoes are tender, then reduce heat to low.
 Meanwhile, in a large skillet {Medium Heat}, toss in the remaining 6 Tbsps. of butter 
and two cloves of garlic {finely chopped}. 
Sauté for a few minutes, then add the flour.
Once the butter/flour mixture gets bubbly, slowly add the milk. 
Once it is thickened {4-5 minutes},
add to the pot. Stir to combine.

~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~ - ~

And then . . . ya need some bread, y'all. 
I typically make homemade bread 2-3 times a week.
If you like your bread machine, use it! 
I never could stand using mine, so I just use the old-fashioned oven.

Just remember to start the dough before the soup, 
so you'll have fresh baked bread to eat *with* dinner . . . not hours later.

Easy-Peasy Homemade Bread

You'll need:

2 Cups Warm Milk
2 Packets of Yeast
2 Tbsps. of Sugar
1 Tbsp. of Salt
3 Tbsps. of Softened Butter
5-6 Cups of Flour

Preheat oven to 350*
Throw the yeast, sugar, and warm milk into a bowl, and set aside for 5 minutes until bubbly.
Add salt, butter, and flour, and work into a dough.

Let rise for 45-60 minutes.

Dive the dough in half, shape into two loaves, and place on a large cookie sheet.
Let rise again for 30-45 minutes.

Pop in the oven at 350* for 25-35 minutes
{Ovens vary ~ mine seems to run hot, so my loaves are ready to be taken out at about 25 minutes}.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Happy 16th Birthday, Sierra Elizabeth

Oh my my.


Hold on like, forever, while I {try to} let that sink in.

My oldest baby girl, I can hardly believe you are sixteen years old today.
How could it have been SIXTEEN YEARS AGO 
that they laid you on my chest, and said, "congratulations"?  
Sixteen years since tiny baby toes, and little newborn sounds.
In some ways it is heartbreaking to watch you grow. 
To watch you head out, navigating life more and more on your own.
In others it makes my heart burst to see all you've accomplished.
The adventures that lie ahead of you are full of excitement!

Sierra Elizabeth, you:

Love to read.
You devour a book the minute you pick it up.

Are super organized.
You make lists every day to ensure you get everything accomplished.

Are a bit of a dreamer.
Always reaching for the ideal, and hoping for the best in every situation.

Are an AWESOME helper.
If we need something done, we go to you.
You are always willing to help, no matter how large the task.

You love big, are fiercely loyal, and have a heart of gold.
And we cannot wait to see what new adventures you face in the coming year.

Love you bigger than the sky!

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Happy 7th Birthday, Taylor Grace

Happy Birthday Miss Taylor Grace!

I'm equal parts happy and sad when I look through seven years of photographs and memories.
It's so exciting to see the young lady you are becoming, but this mama also misses those teeny baby days, the tiny little feet learning to walk, and watching as you take in everything new for the first time.

Taylor Grace,

You are seven years old today!

You love the color blue.

You can play Legos with your sister, Kam, ALL.DAY.LONG

After visiting Texas you have decided you want to live there . . .
and work at Sea World
(Because Orcas are your absolute favorite!)

You are, by far, the most independent child I know.

You love animals.

You have BIG emotions:
You love fiercely and fight strongly.

God knew just what we needed when He sent you to us,
and we love you bigger than the sky!

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Annual Beach Trip 2018

We are freshly home {and unpacked, and laundered!} 
from our annual beach trip with Nana and Gramps.

It was a super quick trip this time, because life = BUSY.
But we had so so much fun!

We started the trip with a stop at Camp 18 :

For IQ games and yummy food.

And, of course, our traditional photo out front.

It was overcast, and a little chilly, but that didn't stop us from
walking the boardwalk.

There were thousands and thousands of these blue, jelly-fish-looking thingamajigs 
all over the beach.

So, obviously I googled it, and they are called: Velella Velella.
They wash up by the billions each Spring along the Oregon Coast.
They are just beautiful!

After a stroll we headed to Funland to play some games.

Then more beach combing,


And modeling ;)

We decided to come home a bit early to get a jump start on a busy weekend, 
but what fun we had!

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