The Hubs and I celebrated our own little Christmas last night.
He covered my eyes, set me in front of my present
and then proceeded to take pictures...
Here's how it all went down:
Yes, that is my shock-n-awe face.
Yes, that is Remy's shock-n-awe face.
Here's what I was looking at:
A beautifully handmade shelf.
There is an old barn window for a door, rough cut oak wood for the sides and old farm wood for the rest. The Hubs found and used things from around where we live. His creativity never ceases to amaze me!
Christmas traditions are not a familiar terrain for me. Growing up, we spent some holidays with Grandparents in Canada, others with the other Grandparents in the States and still others at home. One year, we even went to Cancun to Christmas. Have to admit, it was a little weird seeing Christmas lights on palm trees and lighting off sparklers for New Years. There have been very few years where Christmas has had the same constants from the year before. The same location or food or people in attendance. There have been a couple years where members from my immediate family were not even altogether while one of the sisters was traipsing off around New Zealand or Europe somewhere doing YWAM.
I heard stories of people who go to the same house every year. It contains the same food and people, the only change would be who drew each others names. Their Christmas traditions rest in each other. The closeness that family and familiarity brings. It's a beautiful tradition of love. I heard of these stories and while growing up I was always surrounded by family and love, yet every year seemed to have a different twist on it.
You must understand how much I love how I grew up doing Christmas. It was different every year and I learned to embrace it- always looking forward to the people, community and relationships. I loved every year. I remember being at my uncle's farm and jumping between large round hay bales with my older (and way cooler) cousins quite a few years ago. I remember another year when all of the cousins were all at my Grandparents' house, in our pajamas opening stockings. It was mass chaos, loud and a beautiful Christmas. I remember going skating on the lake, being terrified every time the ice would shift and crack but the uncles kept on saying it was normal and supposed to happen. I remember being at my Grandparents' in Nyack, across the river from New York and playing outside in the snow. I remember my grandma doing Christmas crafts with us. I remember being home with my sisters, going shopping for each other at the same time, in the same mall and somehow still surprising each other with gifts. I remember a lot of love in our Christmas, even when every year had a new twist. I loved every year's new twist.
It wasn't until I got married to my husband and we spent our first Christmas together in Minnesota that I began to experience my first Christmas season traditions with him and his family. They have been blessed to grow up and settle down in the area. All of them live close by and Christmas is embedded with traditions. This new terrain is an important part of our married life as it is a part of both of us. Since we've gotten married, we've searched for ways to meld our Christmas experiences together.
We have found traditions in shopping for presents together for family members and having my favorite breakfast dish Puffed Apple Pancake together before we open presents. Obviously, the Hubs finds it a lot easier to establish traditions as he buys me a Christmas mug every year from Starbucks. My tradition? To never buy anything off his Christmas list. Yes, my tradition is to once again buck tradition. But, I'm working it.
In the end, Christmas traditions are not familiar terrain but I've learned that it's not what you do. It is who you are with. Regardless of location or what is served, who you are with makes all the difference.
We are supposed to get more snow this weekend. It might be mixed in with rain and sleet, but I'm just choosing to embrace it. I'll drive a bit slower (I already drive like a Grama according to some). I'll wear a hat, maybe some gloves. But I'm going to embrace it. That's kind of become my theme this Christmas season.
I'm not sure what all it means yet, but as I've begun to dig into what Christmas means and how to celebrate it in a way that celebrates the true meaning, this term just keeps creeping in. In very small ways, embracing the seasons is becoming a very familiar and friendly term.
I am embracing a busy season of life. December always brings more business than the rest of the year combined. I'm choosing to embrace it. Bring on the parties, the work days, the shopping, the baking.
I walked into my office today to find my coworkers hiding in the corner, whispering and laughing. As soon I was walked in, they broke into a beautiful out of tune rendition of Happy Birthday which was followed by the best Awkward Family Photos card & Gluten Free Rice Chex Crispies.
It's currently cold outside. Shocker, it's December and I live in Minnesota. The last of year has been anything but normal. Summer was unbearably hot with over a month of 90+ days. Fall was warm and went well into November. Now that December is here, everyone expects the cold, but I somehow cannot get used to it. I have a new theory... I need snow. Snow means that it's ok for it to be cold. Of course, I know it doesn't work that way.
I complain about the snow, but did enjoy our warm weather as of late. The Hubs and I had the opportunity to go for several walks in the woods and fields and enjoy being outside. It's been a beautiful fall and I really have enjoyed it as we are moving into the next season. My favorite season, I can't wait! So let it snow! Let it snow!
There are several things I love about the holidays, but one of my favoritest (yes, that's absolutely a word!) are holiday drinks! From Starbucks to Caribou, I love it when the red holiday cups roll out with delicious cups of warm treats.... Here are a couple of suggestions if you want to try something filled with holiday goodness:
Here's how I'd recommend ordering it:
Grande, 5 pump, No Water, Eggnog Chai
Don't laugh, just thank me after you've tried it.
Carmel Brulee Lattee
I'd recommend asking for an extra pump of syrup if
you like sweet stuff or don't care for a strong cup of joe.
That's what I'm drinking in the picture above and
obviously I'm excited- just because it's THAT good!
It has caramel, heavy whipping cream, milk, more carmel,
some syrup stuff and is basically sweetness in a cup.
It's time for month long celebrations as the Christmas season has started! In Christmas seasons past, I've spent 25 days looking forward to a very special day, yet when it finally comes with all of its wonderfulness, something is missing. We eat traditional dishes and candies, open carefully bought and wrapped presents, spend hours playing games, laughing and enjoying the company of friends and family. Yet, when the day is all said and done, I feel empty. I spend all of this time preparing. I decorate and craft, this year I've started with glitter [it's a whole new world!]. I bake and wrap presents. I "do" all the Christmas stuff. I spend so much time doing, that before I know it, Christmas is past and everyone is already moving on January and another new year.
What if I have it all wrong? What if I have spent 25 years (almost 26!) wasting Christmas? What if Christmas is all about preparing our hearts? Christmas is supposed to be about Christ, not buying unnecessary gifts or eating ourselves silly. I know that the focus is supposed to be on Christ, his incredible gift, the miraculous mystery of choosing coming to earth as a human, yet I'm still trying to figure out the details. I'm hoping that this season, I can begin to preparing my heart for Christmas. I hope that I can learn what Christmas is actually about.
I had the honor of voting this past week in my very first American election. I watched debates, read articles and and researched the different issues at hand. For the first time in my life, I dove into the world of elections and was educated on a whole new system. I thoroughly enjoyed learning how electoral votes works versus the popular vote. I learned how important one single vote can be, especially locally. But, the most important thing that I learned throughout this entire process is that despite different opinions, different outcomes, how great our God is.
As the outcome of the election came out, I was stunned by the sheer number of status updates and tweets that talked about pending doom and destruction. They bashed the newly re-elected President. Their words were harsh and many were unkind. I admit that I was surprised by the election and the man that I voted for, did not win. However, my response was one that was very different from others. I would like to think that a different outcome in the election would have probably brought about a very different
look in our country in the coming years. I can't say which one would
have been better as there is a possibility that neither would have been
Regardless of whatever outcome happened: I serve an Almighty God. A God that is a whole heck of a lot bigger than American politics. A whole lot bigger than a Democratic or Republican party. That's not to say that I don't care. That's not to say that just because Obama won, I will stop caring about what's happening. My God can work through Obama. Sounds crazy right? Doubt that? Read the book of Judges. Sampson killed a thousand with a donkey jawbone and the spirit of the Lord was upon him. He was also a womanizer and prone to anger. another guy, Gideon, came from a family who worshiped an idol god. He defeated an army of 135, thousands of men with only 300 men. That's not a very good ratio: for every man in Gideon's army had 450 men to return the fight. Yet, they still won. Gideon doubted God the entire time and eventually ended up going back to worshiping his idol god. There are other judges who have just as crazy stories... one killed his own first born child as an offering to God for winning a battle. Another killed someone just by being very tricky. They were some crazy men (and one woman), but God chose to use them to demonstrate his love and justice for Israel. That may be an old example, but God doesn't change. He can use whoever he chooses, which means he may just work through Obama.
So, my response to this years election? I'm going to pray for Obama and his leadership. I am going to pray that God's will will be done regardless who is the President, govenor or has control of the house. God's will is not my will. God's will is not the Republican party's will. God's will is mighty and powerful and makes me look forward the future and just what is to come.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
Thanks to Pinterest, I found yet another super easy recipe that helps me trick people into thinking that I spend hours in the kitchen, slaving over yet another incredible gluten free dish. Yup, this one takes me about 7 minutes to assemble, 10 to cook and even less than that to eat.
You'll need some extra bread dough. I didn't have any, so I mixed up a batch, split it in half and used part of it on this recipe. I used Bob's Red Mill Homemade Bread and it worked like a charm!!!
First, you need to prepare yourself. Other than mixing up the bread dough, if needed, you will not have to mix anything. No, I'm not kidding. No mixing. Dumping is acceptable.
Here's what you do:
Put 1/4 teaspoon butter in the bottom of each hole.
Put 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon in the bottom of each hole.
Here you have 2 options: (1) Put a glob of bread dough in each hole OR (2) Put 3 small rolled balls in each hole [they'll pull apart nicely for you!]
Repeat with the same of butter, sugar & cinnamon
Top with a drop of vanilla in each hole
Cook at 375 till golden and bubbling
Top with sweetened condensed milk if needed, they're also amazing without it!
There's something refreshing and exciting about the changing of seasons. I'm the type of person that is always looking forward to the next thing, I struggle to live in present, which is a whole different can of worms. HOWEVER, the changing of the seasons is something that I love. Especially fall, considering it is so short and leads into the 2 best holidays of the entire year: My Birthday & Christmas. Yes, both of them are holidays.
I've already begun preparing for the wonderful seasons with our Christmas lights hung, DIY Christmas projects started and of course, I've been baking!
I love this changing of seasons, with the bare trees and chilly air. Even though I'm cold probably 78% of the time, I love it. Boots, scarves, thick socks and warm jackets are so much better than flip flops. It's no wonder I love living in the wonderful state of Minnesota!!!
Thanks to Pinterest and my wonderful co-worker Lani,
who pinned this incredible kitchen.
I've been brainstorming for about 6 months on ways to update our kitchen. There's a lot of white and a lot of faded-looking green. I like both the colors, but feel overwhelmed by the lack of vibrance in the kitchen. I want inspiring colors, something that is exciting yet a good balance of warm. I think I've finally begun to paint a picture of what I want the kitchen to look like.
The top cabinets will be repainted white, they all need a good repainting anyhow. Then, I will do thin striped borders on each door with a rectangle of red and one of yellow.THEN the bottom cabnets will be painted the same yellow that is used above. THEN if I'm going all out, I might as well as that I'd love to have the back splash tiled. Not sure on the color yet, but I'm sure I'll find something!
these photos were non-discreetly stolen from my sister.
Just looked at that beauty. And yes, that is snow, from the
Rocky Mountains in the background. Excuse me while I swoon.
My beautiful sister and her new FIANCE got engaged over the weekend! I could not be more excited them as they begin this next step of their journey together. AND we get to plan another wedding!!!
I am so thankful for technology since they live up in Canada and we're 19 hours of driving away. Not only did I get the official phone call, I also got to skype and see her beautiful face. Along with all of the other family that was there. I could almost feel the excitement through the phone. It was awesome.
So, congrats Casey & Mike.
You two are beautiful people and I am so excited for your future together!
I recently got a new iPhone. I loved my andoird, but because apparently I had no idea what I was missing. It's faster, has my favorite board game (Ticket to Ride) in the app version AND you can ask it fun questions like:
I really enjoy the Holidays, but considering it's only the beginning of October, I'm trying to hold myself back... I've only listened to Christmas music three times and haven't bought any Christmas decorations (despite them already being out in stores!). I did try a little DIY Pinterest idea that I want to put on my Christmas tree, but 'techincally' they could also be for Fall. So we'll just go with it, ok?
I found a DIY pin for these decorative hearts that only have 3 ingredients and are actually pretty easy to make! Here's what I do:
1. Mix together 1 cup of cinnamon, 1 tablespoon cloves
and 1 cup of applesauce.
2. Mix, mix and mix some more.
It needs to be completely mixed in.
3. If your mixture seems really dry and crumbling,
add more applesauce.
If it seems really running, add more cinnamon.
4. On a cutting board, sprinkle some cinnamon
and roll out your applesauce mixture until it's about 1/4 inch thick.
5. Using whatever shapes you'd like,
cut out and lay on a cookie sheet.
(I used small hearts that I bought from Ikea)
6. Using a small nail or skewer, poke a small hole
(for the string) to go through in each shape.
7. I kept on re-rolling out my applsauce mixture until I used it all up.
8. Bake your cutouts for 2 hours on 200*F.
* You want your shapes to be rock hard,
so I cooked mine for almost 3 hours then let them cool over night in the oven.
If you want to visit my original source of inspiration:
Being a farm girl has it's perks. Such as, having space to grow a vegetable and flower garden. Having a huge yard for a dog to run around. Looking out my kitchen window at a beautiful pasture & old rustic barn every morning. I also get to decorate an old farmhouse, which has so much character that I really just feel like I add to the story.
There are also come downsides, one of which I had the chance to experience last night. I have a sensitive sense of smell. I enjoy candles and anything that smells clean. But there are certain smells that just get me, every time. Dead animals are one of them. Mice in particular. Mice are naturally kind of gross little guys, scurrying around and showing up when you least expect it.
For the past couple days, I kept on thinking I was smelling a dead mouse. It's happened before, but was in the wall so there was nothing we could do. Kind of gross, but comes with the territory of living in an old farmhouse. But the Hubs never smelt it. But I knew it. I just did. There was a dead mouse.
Finally, last night, Remington and I were holding down the fort at home- in other words- I was cleaning and doing laundry. I could not handle the smell any longer. Determined to find the source of the smell, I decided to look in a grate that goes to the underbelly of the farmhouse and is an excellent storage place for dust bunnies and spiders. After vacuuming out the grate, pulling up the screen that keeps mice from coming out of the grate and onto the main floor (not that it's ever happened), I found the source of stench. A dead mouse. That had fallen prey to peanut butter and a mouse trap.
I had found it and hadn't really planned what to do next. Maybe I didn't think that I'd actually find anything, but now that I had, I couldn't just leave it there! So, being the brave wannabe-farm girl that I am, I got one of the Hubs' work gloves (the padded kind so that I hopefully wouldn't feel what I was picking up). Coaching myself with deep breathes and words of encouragement like: "you got this," "ok, here we go," "don't think about it." I started to reach in and for no logical reason completely lost all nerve and may have let out a little scream.
Remington of course wanted in on the action at this point and came over to make sure I wasn't dying or being eaten alive by spiders (oh, did I mention I saw 4? Yup, 4.). The smell was so bad, he just laid down behind me and I'm sure he was silently laughing at my pitiful attempt to dispose of a small field mouse.
Not able to simply reach in the grate and grab the little guy, I did the next logical thing. I grabbed my kitchen tongs (yes, the same ones I use to flip my chicken), and decided that would be the best solution. Looking back, it may not have been my most sane moment. Looking back, I realize that was super gross and am mowing considering skipping the cleaning with bleach and just throwing them out. Regardless, the tongs worked great. I got that little mouse, almost threw up when I moved it and quickly put it in the trash bag.
Yup, I am successfully turning into a country girl. Just don't tell anyone how many times I gagged. It's embarrassing.
Lately, Remington has been running across the road in front of our house. Normally, it's scary because of the amount of traffic that we have. It's a semi-busy road and the speed limit is 45 (and most go about 10 miles over). Normally, those are the only two scary things. BUT the farmer the rents out the land around us is starting to harvest the corn and soy beans. That means awesome new places for Remington to sniff out and run around. AND really fun tractors to run around. Tractors that would squash him like a bug. SO, it's been a bit stressful with him outside. It's like we have a small kid and we have to watch him all the time when he's outside with us. Which is fine, when it's a child. But he's a dog! So. we're still working on this one and figuring this out. I'm hoping once the tractors are put away for the winter. Until then, if anyone has suggestions- let me know, please!
This past weekend, I have a very to do list of things I wanted to accomplish.
It looked like this: Try a new recipe Have some friends over Edit more photos Sleep in Weed my garden
I woke up Saturday, early, and wasn't really in any type of mood to get things done but something possessed me and somehow I cleaned for the next 8 hours. I mean cleaned. Windows got washed, baseboards got dusted, cobwebs were conquered and couches met with the vacuum. My to-do list just kept growing and more and more things kept getting checked off.
I got to 4 o'clock and it felt good. Laundry was folded, light bulbs changed, yard picked up... I accomplished way more than my little 5 items I had anticipated doing.I felt like I could conquer the world, which obviously was not true when I sat down and completely crashed afterwards. But, the house is clean and I got to start off my week with no pending laundry or dirty dishes. That's almost like a mini Christmas present to myself!
2. Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread. Honestly, there isn't much more to say than that. It sounds amazing. Looks amazing. And probably IS amazing. I'm thinking I'm going to try this one in my crockpot too, just like my Pumpkin Bread.
3. I am exploring new color themes. I hope to repaint the kitchen at some point this fall/winter and want something fun. I love yellow and grey, but since that's a bit drab for a kitchen, I just might try to work up something fun using yellow
4. Boots + high socks... especially when the socks are super cute, like these red ones or something with a bit of lace popping out of the top. There are loads of patterns of how to make them yourself on Pinterest, some of which I'm hoping to make this fall.
I love Fridays. I love feeling of waking up knowing that I'll get to sleep in the next morning. I love waking up to birds singing, soft golden rays and a purring cat laying on top of me. While I enjoy my job, there is just something special about the 2 days put together that we call the Weekend. No agendas, no hours sitting in front of a computer, no meetings or answering the phone. I enjoy my job, but cannot honestly say that I love it more than enjoying time working outside in my garden or drinking a cup of coffee on the back patio.
On the agenda for this weekend:
Try a new recipe.
Have some friends over.
Edit some more photos.
Weed my garden.
I know, a crazy busy & jam packed weekend... NOT! It's going to be awesome!
I spent the entire weekend with my husband. His new job & everything else exciting in his life means that he sometimes works odd hours, like the complete opposite of mine. This is not a complaint, as neither of us would trade this for the world. Even when we don't see each other during day, instead only when he crawls into bed at night- we still refuse to complain or wish it was any other way. We both know he's doing what he's wired to do and are so thankful for that. Working different hours does cause both of us to appreciate the time that we are together just that much more. So this weekend, we soaked up as much time as we could. Most of which was spent around our little farmhouse.
Last week we emptied out the shed where we park our cars so we could put down some crushed up asphalt. That means, we had to put it all away. BUT everything is much more orangized and pretty. While we were cleaning, I found a little treasure. A robin built its nest on hope of our Christmas decoration sled.
I also got some photos from around our gardens, even though I did absolutely nothing to help with the weeds or water them. Oh well, maybe today....
And last but not least, Remington did everything with us. As always, he is adorable and wonderful. Not that I'm biased, but he is just an exceptional pup. We played, we ran, we chased and eventually we crashed...
All in all, it was a good weekend. We had time with family, time with each other, time to work around the house (we even painted a door!), and time to just enjoy not being apart.