Friday, December 13, 2013

Let's Talk Headbands.

Be prepared for a shameless sister plug.

You remember how cool my sister Elise is, right? Okay, good. 

Elise has a new etsy shop where she is selling these adorable headbands. Her motto: "making cute babies cuter, one headband at a time." Here is the evidence:

baby not included.

You all know I don't have a baby, but when I saw these, I immediately thought of several babies in my life who needed to have one of these headbands. One of my initial concerns was whether headbands are truly one-size-fits-all--I mean, I don't want my fellow large-headed folks to be hurting. Luckily, Elise has a range of sizes appropriate for different aged babies (obviously, you might want to measure your kiddo's head just to be sure you're getting the right size).

Elise shipped my headbands the same day I ordered them, which was awesome. She even enclosed a special note, at my request, in a shipment I had sent to a friend.    

Check her shop out on facebook or on etsy to view the full selection. And, dear reader, you can snag free shipping with the code shipfree13 until December 31st. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

May your days be merry and bright.

We had some epic snow here in Louisville. I really wasn't planning on joining everyone in taking a snow day yesterday, but I changed my mind by about 2:30 as I left an appointment and I saw the massive flakes falling. My 20-minute drive home became an hour and fifteen minutes! Yikes. 

I've been putting together a little package for Emma, my adorable sister who's serving a mission in Peru. It makes me so happy to think about her Peruvian Christmas. My Puerto Rican Christmases were the best. So simple, and so wonderful. The first, with my trainer, Hermana Walters (Hermana=sister in Spanish) and the second, with my trainee, Hermana Obando.

Hermana Walters was from Utah. I still remember my very first Friday night in Puerto Rico. The town we were in was putting on an event outdoors, with different musicians performing. Somehow our church had gotten a gig, and one of the church leaders happened to be a professional salsa singer. So, one of my first memories consists of feeling very out of place--a white girl, in my maroon, flowered Jody dress--singing backup to a Puerto Rican salsa singer in front of a town full of strangers. It was surreal. (where are my Hermana Walters pictures? not on facebook, apparently.)

Hermana Obando was Columbian. She was so darling. My mom sent us a gingerbread house kit and we made it together--it was Hna Obando's first one, as I'm sure you can imagine. My mom also sent us these little stuffed animals, which Hna Obando promptly named after one of the Elders she had a crush on. I'm sure I was properly horrified yet amused. Somebody in the branch there (we were in Arecibo, PR), let me borrow a cuatro (like a guitar, but with fewer strings and tuned differently) and I learned to play one song on it, which Hermana Obando and I sang at the Christmas party that year. Most Latinos can't sing, and she was no exception. But oh, how I loved it all just the same. 

with Hermana Obando. once someone asked me if I was her mom--a definite low point in my life.

Mission Christmases really were the best. I wish I could explain better.

Anyway, Emma's in Peru. Today I made her a couple of printables and picked up some odds and ends. Nothing much, really. The flat-rate envelope I will be sending is pretty teensy. I can't wait to hear about her Christmas. Here in Louisville, things are really feeling Christmasy. Real snow! And last night, we listened to Christmas music, hung lights, played chess, and drank hot cocoa. Doesn't get much more magical than that.

{you want to print one? go right ahead. right click/save/print!}

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving.

November has been sooo crazy. I got sorta behind with hours in October so this was catch-up month. (With full-time therapy jobs, you generally have a productivity standard--some percentage of your time that has to be considered "billable" time.) I killed it this month, doing 22 extra hours of therapy in the month. Which, I will add, is impressive if you are working a full month, but when you are taking off the two last days of the month for Thanksgiving? Incredible.

So, I feel good about that. I like being in the rhythm of a busy work schedule. Even though I don't always like coming home late, and sometimes my job wears me out, there is something really satisfying about working a lot. Oddly, I seem to do some of my best work when I am doing a lot of it (of course, I probably do some of my worst work too, when I am super tired. I outright admitted to my last client of the day today, "I squeezed an entire week of sessions into three days, and you are my last session. My brain is fried right now." (I felt like I needed her to understand my sluggishness.))

So, now that the work month is over, Chad and I get to take our beloved Memphis roadtrip for Thanksgiving. I am so excited to be with Marci, Spiro, and Noel.

Noel is an adorable 6 (almost 7) year-old. Today I was chatting with Marci and she told me that the other night, as she was putting Noel to bed, Noel said, "Mom, I need something to do other than think about Thanksgiving. I am trying to keep myself busy. But when I go to bed at night, it is all I can think about, and it just hurts."

It just hurts.

I die! I just love that little girl. Kids are the best. I can't wait to see them tomorrow.

I am so thankful for family, for my wonderful husband, for Jesus. For a beautiful place to live and experiences in life that have made me appreciate my own circumstances so much more. For great friends. For the beach, and fall leaves, and the mountains, and heavy rains at nighttime.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Twelve Days of Thanksgiving Advent Calendar

Chad, don't read this post because I want you to be surprised by the activities in the advent calendar.

So, after considering all of your lovely ideas and consulting the ever-creative minds of Pinterest, my friend Cynthia and I got together and built these lovely advent calendars. I am pretty happy with the overall utility and cuteness. Each of the little cards has an activity for each of the 12 days leading up to Thanksgiving Day. I included a variety of different activities, including:

  • writing notes or calling parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse, friends, etc.
  • writing a thank-you to the mailman and leaving it in the mailbox for him/her
  • watching Charlie Brown's Christmas (available on youtube)
  • making some kind of Thanksgiving treat to share with someone (I picked these nutter butter turkeys)
  • going on a "I'm-thankful-for-my-legs-and-feet" Thanksgiving jog
  • singing Thanksgiving hymns together
  • writing a letter to a favorite teacher, missionary, service-person, etc.
In short, it should be fun AND meaningful. My favorite.

One of my favorite features of this little calendar is that at Christmas time, I plan to swap out the little numbered leaves on the envelopes for some numbered ornaments, and the Thanksgiving graphic for a Christmas one. And of course, I will swap out the activity cards for some red/green, Christmas-themed ones. I love when I feel like things I make are versatile! 

Cynthia and I talked about making a tree to go alongside the calendar (you know how with some advent calendars, you take the little ornaments each day and put them on a tree? Yes.) So we talked about making a wintry tree with no leaves (just branches) that you could decorate with the numbered leaves (which are velcroed to the envelopes) after you do the activity card each day, and then having a paper Christmas tree to set out during December to decorate with the ornaments. Sounds like a good idea, maybe I'll get around to it sometime.  

I am pretty excited. Because the twelve days of Thanksgiving starts today! Yay.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Your Thanksgiving Ideas.

I really loved all of your Thanksgiving traditions you shared. In fact, I loved them so much that I think I will subject everyone to reading them now, in this post.

Suze shared that this month, she is writing a different thank-you note each day of the month. Love that idea! I am too late to join in this month, but I love the idea of not just being grateful but actually expressing gratitude.

My cousin-in-law (is that a real thing?), Beth, suggested keeping a running list on a white board with things everyone is grateful for. She also said that as a kid, her family would read the Christmas story and put up a nativity. I like the idea of focusing on gratitude for the Savior.

Leesey Poo shared, about her husband's family: "Sam's family has a little bucket and slips of paper set out throughout the month of November and throughout the month you write down things you are thankful for/nice things about other people in the family. Then on Thanksgiving day they read them all out loud and sometimes you try to guess who wrote it. They get pretty creative and silly sometimes with what they write. I thought it was a fun idea."

Another cousin-in-law (definitely a real thing), Rochelle, suggested a Thanksgiving pinata! Never heard of such a thing, and it's totally unconventional, but I like it. Apparently it's a long-standing tradition in the Smith family.

And finally, bff Maggie shared: "We have this weird tradition where we cook a turkey and eat it." Someone's always gotta be a smart alec. . .

Tomorrow, as a special treat, I will share the Thanksgiving advent calendar my friend Cynthia and I came up with. I'm pretty excited, because who doesn't love family traditions? It's fun to start new ones.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Calling All Thanksgiving Traditions

This will be our third Thanksgiving together (second one since we've been married), and it occurred to me yesterday that I really want to form some good Thanksgiving traditions. It really is such a lovely and simple holiday, but I usually don't think much about it until the day of.

{these photos are from our first Thanksgiving together, when we traveled down to Memphis and hung out with my adorable cousin Noel and my aunt Marci and uncle Spiro. We had so much fun that it has become an every-year tradition since then!}

stopping in Bowling Green, to commemorate the place we met.

nail polish! love this girl.

this is at the Peabody Hotel, so much fun if you are ever in Memphis.

This year I spent weeks planning for Halloween, and I know that in December I will be listening to Christmas music all month long and kind of "gearing up" for that holiday. I have always loved Christmas traditions with my family--caroling to friends and family, delivering anonymous gifts, shopping, baking, acting out the Nativity on Christmas Eve. There is such a positive energy throughout the entire month.

But what about November? I would love to focus some energy on being a more grateful person. I am convinced that being grateful is key to being happy. Another great side effect is that being grateful often lifts other people's spirits--how great does it feel when someone says thank you?! After some preliminary brainstorming with Chad, we came up with a few ideas. Like, what about having some kind of advent calendar, only instead of for Christmas, for the days leading up to Thanksgiving? Each day could have some directive, like, "Call someone to thank them for something they've done for you," or "Choose a letter of the alphabet--now, list everything you can think of that you are grateful for that starts with that letter." The directives could be pretty specific or more vague, I guess.

{photos from Thanksgiving #2: Memphis, again! This time, Taylor, Jenny, and Carson joined us.}


I like watching kids play sports.

same tree, back at the Peabody Hotel. I'm telling you, this place is awesome.

I asked my mother-in-law, Pam, for some of her ideas about Thanksgiving traditions yesterday. She said her family would deliver homemade canned grape juice with little notes that said, "I'm 'grape-ful' for you because. . ." She also said that she would give each of her kids a special Christmas ornament on Thanksgiving that was meant to represent something significant that had happened in each of their lives that year. Cool!

Tell me, what are your Thanksgiving traditions? I am a blank slate! Starting fresh! A mere BABY in the forming of my own family's traditions. This is your opportunity to push your very favorite November traditions on a very receptive and eager audience. Let's hear 'em!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pumpkin-shaped Buckeyes. {Recipe and Printables}

Last week was awesome. I can't wait to tell you about my trip to Auburn (go Tigers!) and Atlanta, and I have several books and things I'm excited to share as well. However, it will be Halloween in two days and I've been meaning to share my special creation with you. I suppose this could be a Halloween OR Thanksgiving treat, since it's not really spooky or anything like that. (Although, I would love to see someone make these into some little ghosties or something!)

First of all, do you know what buckeyes are? My mom used to make them for Christmas, only they are called "peanut butter balls" at our house. They are traditionally dipped in milk chocolate and are basically like homemade Reeces Peanut Butter Cups. They are goooood. These are only slightly different, as they are dipped in white chocolate. (This is probably obvious to you, but the switch to white chocolate was made in order to dye the chocolate orange for pumpkins.) They turned out super cute and delicious, in my humble opinion.

Pumpkin-shaped Buckeyes

Mix together the following ingredients, until well-blended: 1 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup butter (softened), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3 cups powdered sugar (or as needed, until dough will form a ball that will hold together and not fall off of a toothpick).

Form peanut butter mixture into 1-inch balls. At this point, I recommend placing the formed balls into the freezer to chill. It is not necessary, but will make the rest of the process easier.

Prepare some "stems." I used Jolly Rancher bites, and used kitchen scissors to cut them into quarters. You could probably be creative about what kind of candy you use here, just as long as it's about the right size and color.

Melt candy-coating white chocolate. The package you buy includes a microwaveable tray, so you just pop it into the microwave. Follow the instructions on the package so the chocolate doesn't become lumpy or crystallized. Add red and yellow food coloring until you have orange-tinted white chocolate. My tip here is to use a very high yellow to red ratio. A little red and a lot of yellow seemed to give us the best "orange."

Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer and dip in chocolate. I did this by inserting a toothpick into each ball and rolling the ball around in the chocolate until coated. Set on aluminum foil or wax paper to dry. Meanwhile, place the stem at the top of the pumpkin (while chocolate is still melted).

And, voila! So easy, and cute! (If I dare say so myself.) If you'd like, you can print out some little bag toppers if you want to gift these in ziploc baggies. Just print these out at 4x6 on some cardstock, fold them in half horizontally, and staple onto the baggie. What cute fall treats are you making? I'd love to hear about it or see photos! Happy Fall!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Franken-tines: Adorable Halloween greetings for people you love.

So, I don't necessarily consider myself a huge Halloween person. I do, like many folks, enjoy a good costume party, festive Halloween treats, and watching the old Alfred Hitchcock film, Wait Until Dark. But aside from those pleasantries, I view Halloween largely as a stepping stone to more important holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

That being said, I have spent more time over the past two weeks preparing for Halloween than I have in a very, very long time. Possibly ever. No, I haven't done any decorating or even picked out a costume. But what I am sharing with you today has consumed a large, slightly embarrassing amount of my time.

I've always enjoyed making treats for people. I pride myself on my baking skills, and the selfish part of me thrills at all the compliments I get for the treats I make. The unselfish part of me likes to see people happy as they wolf down empty calories before they can help themselves. I have fond memories of the elaborate Christmas-treat trays my mom makes every year. We would bundle up in the car and drive them around to friends and neighbors. Sometimes my dad would slow the car down to around 10 miles per hour, roll down the windows, and blast Christmas music on the radio while we waved to the empty, snowy streets as if we were in a parade. Silly, I know. But we thought it was hilarious. I always secretly thought to myself proudly, "Our treats are better than everyone else's." What a little snot I was. But really, they are beautiful. My mom always has the perfect assortment of chocolate and non-chocolate, the right balance of colorful greens, reds, whites, and neutral fudge-y colors. The treat-making is a highly supervised process which is staggered over several days, with the perfected treats being preserved in the freezer until game-time. The "ugly" treats--whichever ones are too misshapen, slightly burned, or otherwise non-presentable--are usually the ones we eat around the house.

Do you think my family is crazy right now? Well, I like our crazy.

Anyway, I got started thinking about what kind of awesome Halloween treats I could make this year. I really liked the candy-corn sugar cookies I made last year, so I planned on making them again. But, what about presentation? What is a delicious cookie if presented unfashionably? Really, has my mother taught me nothing? As I began brainstorming, I became flooded with clever Halloween puns. (I must also credit best-friend Maggie for helping me with several of these ideas!) And before I knew it, my idea had morphed into something different. I had begun collecting ideas, essentially, of how to say "I love you," Halloween style. The little cards I had begun designing were much like ones you see around Valentines Day. And therefore, as you have by now figured out, I called my little creations Franken-tines! (They were briefly called "Halloween-tines," but made way for a much catchier name.)

Okay, too much talking. I am excited about these. They are fun, and the perfect way to say "Happy Halloween" to co-workers, neighbors, friends, whomever. Save 'em, print 'em, share 'em with all your friends. I hope you like them like I do. Happy Halloween to you!


Notes about printing: right click on the image and hit 'save as.' You can then print the image you have saved to your computer. Make sure you select "full page" and "shrink to fit" when you are preparing to print. Otherwise, the images will get trimmed. We wouldn't want that. :)


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