Monday, December 2, 2013

Beginning the Advent Calendar

Yesterday started the first day of Advent for 2013.  I'll be honest.  This is the first year I've done the Advent Calendar in my house.  I had not fully understood what it was and kind of thought it was significant to only certain denominations. That couldn't be further from the truth.  Yes it is celebrated differently in different denominations and even held to a higher regard, but simply put it is a way to look forward to celebrating the birth of Christ.  A way to remind ourselves of the prophecy of His birth, the miraculous fulfillment of that prophecy and that Christmas day symbolizes the New Covenant that the birth of Jesus put into place.  If you are like me, you find it very difficult in this day and age of constant toy commercials, Santas on every corner and trains full of cookies and hot chocolate to keep Christmas focused on the birth of our Lord and Savior. It's almost impossible really.  You say Christmas and my kid immediately starts barking out a list of toys he wants. Short of unplugging the TV and putting blinders on my son, how do you keep your family focused during the season?  That's why I decided to look into the Advent Calendar.  There are so many great ones out there that guide you through scripture readings, provide prayer topics and even suggest activities.  I scoured Pinterest and pinned several great scripture reading calendars and I also found a wonderful explanation and kind of a How-to on the Focus on the Family website.

I know a lot of families that open a little gift each day.  Some light candles.  Many use the little calendars with the windows that you open each day to count down.  Some end Advent with a giant birthday party with cake and all in honor of Jesus! An idea Focus on the Family had that I thought was wonderful was to gather all the Christmas cards you received that day in the mail and pray for each of those families during your Advent time. I'm not sure it really matters as long as you are pointing your family to the reason for the season: a celebration of the birth of Christ. Of all the things I've read, the best bit of info I got was this: whenever you refer to Christmas with your family, call it Jesus' Birthday. Maybe, just maybe, this will help to make Christmas more than just presents and lights.  Even if we can't see it now, every little bit that our kiddos absorb will help shape their hearts and make an impact.

Good luck dear friends and Merry Jesus' Birthday to you all!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Pumpkins are awesome.  They taste good, they are awesome for decorating, they taste good and they are in season for home decor for 2-3 months!!  And did I mention they taste good? The spice, the cinnamon, the yummy yummy coffee...But that's a separate entry! Tonight, I want to talk about the decorating.

Every year I look forward to the pumpkin covered magazine covers that come in the mail every September, October and November.  And it seems like every year the pumpkins get more and more unique and fun. I'm not talking about Jack-o-lanterns.  Those are fun, yes, but they are strictly Halloween decor.  I'm talking about all the wonderful things you can do to a gourd without cutting them open.

Owls with sunflower seeds

multi-colored sequins
 This year, I saw the most adorable owl made out of a pumpkin and sunflower seeds in Every Day with Rachael Ray's October 2013 edition.  On the same page was a fantastically chic gold-sequined covered pumpkin.  This got me looking online for more ideas like this.

The owl pumpkins in Rachael Ray use anise pods in the middle of the sunflower seed eyes and its perfect! And her sequined pumpkin was solid gold and gorgeous! And of course, I'm always a huge fan of making my Halloween Jack-o-lantern a fall planter by simply turning it around and adding mums! I'll be using some of these inside on my table or mantle. I hope you have fun this year making your pumpkins look amazing!
layered gold sequins

sequin stripes

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Get out of town!! (for cheap)

So Southwest Airlines has just moved in to Memphis, and to celebrate they are offering $50 flights.  Surely you jest, you may say.  But no, tis true! But only if you purchase in the next 2 days!  And as always, enjoy your COMPLIMENTARY peanuts, your COMPLIMENTARY beverage and your COMPLIMENTARY checked bag!  I heart Southwest! Even with the cattle call boarding.
click here to see the offer on Southwest's website.

You are welcome world!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Have a Jewel-Toned Thanksgiving!

Every Day with Rachel Ray has some great little crafty tips for Thanksgiving this year.  But what caught my eye was not the craft ideas, but the gorgeous jewel-toned Thanksgiving table she created.  Observe:
Golden Touch
How beautiful is that!  My favorite part is the "gold"ware! 

And look how gorgeous this is:
or as Rachel puts it: Gourd-geous.  Haahahahaha!

Mainly what this is telling me is that I don't have to stick to the traditional colors of the season.   I can make any holiday "me"! And anyone who knows me knows that this purple pumpkin is TRIPPING me out!!! Go check out her webpage and while you are there, don't forget to enter her daily contest to win fantabulous kitchen accessories.  Today's was the NINJA slow cooking system which I've been kind of drooling over for a while now.

I love November and Disney World!

Bring on the magazines with Thanksgiving recipes, Fall decor ideas and lots and lots of PUMPKIN!!  Time to pull out my Orange Rachel Ray Bubble and Brown bowls that I love love love!  My dishes are all purple and orange and this is the perfect time of year to use them! Think I'll serve potatoes in one and green beans in the other!
I've ordered a new magazine...I know I know....that makes like 25, but it's completely different than all the other ones I get.  This one is called Celebrations and its all about Disney World.  That's right!  DISNEY WORLD.  My absolute favorite place on Earth.  I got my first issue this month:
It has articles on attractions, what's new, what's old and little tidbits about the park that I never knew, like where the murderous bride's wedding ring is at the Haunted Mansion!  I find it so incredibly interesting.  I may be posting some little facts about these mags as I read more.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

FREE Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Wedding magazine subscriptions

You heard me right.  I recently signed up with and have been collecting points by recycling and/or watching little videos about green products.  I've done very little and have already earned enough points for a free subscription to Martha Stewart Living.  Quite possibly the best magazine in print at the moment.  I also got a BOGO free Dasani and a free milkshake at my local Frost Top.

Highly recommend it if you like free stuff. :)

Pinterest Challenge Day 3

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Pinned from the Kraft Foods website:, this is an extremely simple and quick recipe. Seriously...3 steps and done. Both my husband and I really liked it.  It seems to be easily changed.  If you were in the mood for Mexican, you could change the cheese to Monteray Jack, the tomatoes to Rotel and the Stove Top flavor to Cornbread.  I will definitely be trying it that way as well. I think I will add this to my normal dinner rotation.  I served it with a side of quick and easy green beans that I found on Pinterest as well. Just put whole green beans on a baking sheet, toss them with olive oil, cracked black pepper and Sea Salt...bake on 400 for 8 minutes or so and done.

Ease of Preparation: A+
Flavor: A-
Margin  for Error: A
Leftover Appeal: B
Overall Appeal: A-

what you need

can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
cup water
cloves garlic, minced
lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
tsp. dried basil leaves
cup KRAFT 2% Milk ShreddedMozzarella Cheese

make it

HEAT oven to 400ºF.
step 1
MIX tomatoes, stuffing mix, water and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened.
step 2
LAYER chicken, basil and cheese in 3-qt. casserole or 13x9-inch baking dish.
step 3
TOP with stuffing. Bake 30 min. or until chicken is done.