Category Archives: Holidays

traditions

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This past Saturday afternoon my loves and I spent a few hours enjoying one of our favorite Christmas traditions — making treats. We started the full-fledged tradition last year since Little was able to do a bit more and we had the very best time. With a tiny kitchen we spread out on the dining table and get to work. Christmas music plays, delectable smells fill our little home, sprinkles and flour cover the floor and we soak up every bit of it.

Our AK has become the best helper and she loves anything to do with the kitchen, particularly baking, just like her momma. And being able to indulge in quite the load of sprinkles and melted chocolate was an added bonus for her……and her parents, too. We made Christmas cutout sugar cookies topped with icing and sprinkles, rolled pretzel rods in white chocolate and topped those with sprinkles, and dipped marshmallows in milk chocolate and peppermint pieces complete with a mini candy cane stuck in the center. Simple, not super time-consuming, and easy for our apron-clad and adorable Little to be hands on with.

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As we bagged up several of the treats to share with some friends of ours, AK would pick out the perfect mixture of treats for each friend, naming each of them as she went, and she’d exclaim, “Dey gonna be sooooo ‘cited!” Oh, those moments of seeing her thoughtful and generous heart just burst my mommy’s heart. These times spent together are those memories we will treasure for a lifetime. Enjoying the traditions we started when she was so little and, Lord willing, adding some more little faces as time goes by. These are the moments that will forever be engrained in my heart and mind, the ones that J and I will recall to each other for years to come. Moments like these, when I’m in the company of the two people I love more than anything, the sink is full of dirty dishes, music is playing, our clothes are covered in flour and various sticky substances, and our little home is warm and cheery — moments like these, when life is being beautifully lived, I’m just overwhelmed by the kindness and grace of God and how He’s blessed me.

Traditions are like that. They are beautiful, grace-filled, entertaining, messy moments that have become treasured memories, and you never grow tired of repeating them.

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I hope you darlings are enjoying such a cozy Christmas season, full to the brim of sweet things. I’d love to know what your favorite traditions are in this season! What are you filling your days with?

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andes mint chocolate chip fudge

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The kitchen is my favorite place most any day of the week, but especially at the holidays. And especially for the Christmas treats. There’s no getting around it, I have a gigantic sweet tooth, and holiday treats can easily become my downfall if I don’t practice restraint. The thing I love about fudge is a little goes a long way. My mom makes the best homemade fudge and it’s so delightfully rich, so just a small slice of it curbs my craving and lasts me for a decently long while. 😉 It makes me feel better about my sweet intake that day.

My hubby and I both like a good mint & chocolate combination so there was no option but to make this andes mint chocolate chip fudge when I came across the recipe. And it was super simple to put together so, bonus!

Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Fudge

2.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk, divided

1.5 cups white chocolate chips

1 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more, go by your taste preference)

2 drops green food coloring

1 teaspoon shortening

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips and/or andes creme de menthe baking chips

Directions:

1. Line an 8 by 8 baking pan with parchment paper. Spray paper with non-stick spray and set aside. (I didn’t have parchment paper on hand so I just sprayed the pan and was good to go).

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 1.5 cups chocolate chips with 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk, stirring occasionally. Spread melted chocolate mixture into pan and chill for 5-10 minutes.

3. In another saucepan, melt white baking chips and remaining condensed milk, stirring until completely smooth. Remove from the heat and add peppermint extract and food coloring. Spread mint layer over chilled chocolate layer. Chill for 5-10 minutes as you make the final layer.

4. Melt remaining 1 cup of chocolate chips with a 1 tsp shortening in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir until completely smooth. Spread over chilled mint layer. Top with mini chocolate chips and/or Andes baking chips. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until fudge is completely set (could take up to 4 hours).

5. Cut into squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to two weeks. Fudge will freeze and thaw well.

*original source from Pinterest

Happy fudge eating, friends!

a grateful christmas

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It’s Christmas season — that beautiful, joyful time of year full of anticipation and wonder. I love the natural refreshment that this season holds — restful evenings with books or a classic Christmas movie, Christmas tunes all day long, afternoons in the kitchen creating Christmas foodie delight. It’s such a reflective time of year, if we choose to make it so, and I’ve been thinking much about that as the weeks have led up to it. I am seeking to emphasis gratitude in my heart this Christmas season, and in our home. To recognize the many and tremendous ways we’ve seen the Lord work in our hearts and lives and to treasure the gifts that He gives, that come in such various forms, whether hard, beautiful, edible, decorative, exciting, sanctifying, or snow-covered and pine-scented.

This last week, when we were in TX for Thanksgiving, we had quite the opportunity to practice gratitude. Thanksgiving morning dawned with my little one, my younger sister, and myself all hit with a stomach bug. There’s a great battle to fight for gratitude when your losing half your body weight into a trash can instead of getting to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family, particularly when you are all together only a few times a year. There were many tears shed that day and honest prayers struggling with “why?”, but God is good all the time, friends, and we all had to choose to find and focus on the many ways we had to be grateful! We made many precious memories together that week and we were able to have a last whole family evening together the next night and in our wearied, ab-aching, recovering sickness state, we chose to laugh about it, be grateful for the time we had, and be hopeful for more time together very soon.

My mom is probably the greatest example I know of someone who chooses gratitude in whatever situation she is facing. Even with tears streaming down her cheeks on Thanksgiving Day she continually listed off the reasons she was grateful in the midst of disappointing circumstances. J and I were talking last night about her example and how it pushed us both that day to find joy. We talked about how mom’s joy in the Lord and the way that she daily seeks to be content and grateful for whatever He has allowed in her life endears her to people and makes her a beautiful testimony of what delight can be found in every day when we choose gratitude over bitterness. That example is a gift and one that I pray I emulate to my family and friends.

Gratitude has become my word this year and I am…well, grateful….for the countless ways the Lord has taught me about it these past weeks and months. In light of all of this, I thought I’d end the year with a little gratitude project. I am always, always encouraged and inspired when I see others share their gratitude and the ways the Lord is working in their hearts to grow a more profound sense of gratitude. So, I thought it would be neat for us to continue to share these things with one another — all the bits and pieces of what we are grateful for this Christmas season. Whether you share daily or however often, I’d love to see us point one another to the Giver of all grace and good gifts and cherish this season of refreshment even more. Just hashtag your photos with:

#agratefulchristmas

I’m grateful for each one of you, my friends, and hope that you are having a beautiful start to your Christmas season! I can’t wait to see what each one of you share!

happy friday // thanksgiving

Happy Friday, my friends! Can you believe it is November 21st!? It’s Thanksgiving next Thursday. And Christmas is barely over a month away. 2014, I don’t know where you went. This probably sounds rather cliche to say, but truly, the older I get, the more life I live, the faster I feel that time goes. And I’m only 26. I can’t even imagine the speed the coming years will hold!

Wherever the year went, though, it’s been a hard one, but a sweet and beautiful one. And I am thrilled that it is the holiday season. I think with the difficulties we’ve walked through this year this holiday season seems even more lovely and refreshing in its arrival. I’m immensely grateful for it. Tomorrow we leave for Texas to be with my side of the family for Thanksgiving and we can’t wait to wrap those wonderful people up in hugs, feast on delectable Thanksgiving food, and soak up the company of some of our dearest.

In light of the impending holiday, I thought I’d do a little Thanksgiving version of Happy Friday!

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Fashion

01 || I think a sweater dress with leggings or tights is a perfect garment to don on a wonderfully busy day such as Thanksgiving. It is comfy for all the moving about, but always classically stylish, you have plenty of room for tummy expansion at the dinner table, and it can be dressed up for this special holiday and dressed down later for errand running days. I love this dress from Gap. It’s gray and my neutral drawn fashion heart loves gray.

02 || And you can dress up a classic sweater dress like this with many different accessories and I think this necklace from JCrew Factory is lovely. *Sadly, they literally just sold out of this particular one. 

03 || This Essie polish, “Bahama Mama,” was a color I picked up earlier this month and it is my favorite right now. It goes on darker than it appears in this photo and I think the shade is perfect for this time of year.

Serving/Food

04 || I love this marble and wood cheese board. This would be perfect to set out with some cheese, fruit, and crackers to munch on while you finish up the dinner preparations. And, let’s be honest, a good cheese board always makes you feel more sophisticated.

05 || I came across this recipe the other day and I think I could really get behind this particular cookie concept. There are definitely fun fall cookie cutters out that you could buy and I know snowflakes don’t exactly scream Thanksgiving day, but I’m a sucker for copper cookie cutters and these were just so darling.

06 || I’ve been eyeing this acacia wood cake stand from Anthropologie for a while. It would look perfect with a pumpkin pie or cake set on top of it, or even as the base for a small vase of fresh flowers for a table decoration. My only negative point: they don’t come with glass domes. Still lovely, though.

Relaxation

07 || What better way to end a day of feasting than with a cup of coffee and a biography on Julia Child? I’m in the midst of reading this biography right now and am loving every bit of discovering more about this talented, quick-witted, fascinating lady and her love of excellent food, particularly of the French sort.

08 || And you must always have a good blanket or throw handy. Thanksgiving naps or good book reading require it. This wool blackwatch plaid throw would fit the bill, I think.

Enjoy your weekend, dear ones! Soak up the last bits of fall and I hope you each have a wonderful and very Happy Thanksgiving with your friends and family!

I am truly thankful for each one of you.

Jenny

a month of thanksgiving

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And enters November, the last month of fall. I’ve heard many people bemoan the month of November. Not I. I love November. It is the month in which I soak up those last wonderful bits of crisp fall, put on thicker sweaters, wear boots and only boots, and stuff my face with the last Honeycrisp apples and pumpkin-flavored treats that I can get my hands on. We celebrate the birth of my sweet mom in this month, and that in itself makes this month special. We also celebrate Thanksgiving, which is one of my most favorite holidays to celebrate. I mean, fall, pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving food, leftover Thanksgiving food, football, food comas, family, what could make for a better holiday?

Last year at Thanksgiving, my precious mom had the idea to go around the table and say what we were all thankful for. Now, if you know my family even the slightest bit, you know that we are a whole emotional load of criers. We cry at commercials, Pixar movies, an encouraging card, when someone we don’t know does something exciting, you catch my drift. Happy, proud, sad, hurt, or excited, the tears come. So you can imagine that when we are all together, which happens 2, maybe 3, times a year, that makes for an enormous load of happy moments which means: waterworks. Throw in talking about what we are thankful for and thinking over how richly God has blessed us and you’re looking at a mini Niagara Falls. The cherry on top? Right before we started doing this I asked my darling nephew, who was 3 at the time, what he was thankful for and he said, all from his own sweet heart, “I am dankful dat you tould tome here.” I’m almost had to run out of the room. I couldn’t even say anything to him. I just looked at my older brother, tears streaming down my cheeks, and he had to tell Joshie, “Auntie Jen is thankful for that too, buddy, and she loves you.” I’m tearing up again just typing this.

As much as we teased my mom about the questionable wisdom behind having our family do something like that, I love that memory. I think back to that day and my first thought is, “that really was a Thanksgiving day.”

This year has been such a year of learning how to live with gratitude, daily, in my heart, my mind, and life. I feel like it’s been a year of learning to live a Thanksgiving Day every day. Cheesy as that may sound to you, I have thought over that past Thanksgiving Day so often this year and how it displayed to me how I believe I should live every day: with a heart that is characterized by gratitude.

I’ve been thinking that November would be a good month for all of us to start thinking of ways to practically live out our gratitude. A few thoughts I’ve had:

1 // Keep a journal that is meant only for you to write down “what I’m thankful for today” in it. I love mine.

2 // Writing notes, sending cards, shooting a text, making a call, commenting on Instagram or Facebook, to tell someone, “Hey, you’re great and I’m thankful you’re in my life.”

3 // Voicing to your spouse and kids daily how grateful you are for them, who they are, and the things they do.

4 // Write the word “grateful” or “thankful” on an index card or a sticky note and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day to remind yourself.

5 // Give. Get outside of yourself.

6 // Talk about it with people. Set the example.

7 // Fight to quit complaining or being negative about every other thing.

I don’t mean these things to say, “hey, let’s all leap around like fairies and sprinkle pixie dust, smiles, and candies everywhere, saying “chin up, buttercup.”” I mean these things to say, “hey, life is rough, unbearably so, at times. there are awful days, hurtful days, and heart wrenching days; but I still believe there’s thanksgiving to be found in them.” After all, we are told to, “give thanks in all circumstances,” so there really is something there, even if we have to work hard to find it. “for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus,” and that’s the best thing.

Today I am grateful for:

01 // the beautiful Sunday we enjoyed yesterday.

02 // the restaurant finding my Little’s “B” (her blanket), because even when she’s done cuddling with it at naptime and bedtime, I still want it to be folded up in her memory box to keep forever.

03 // piles of fall leaves.

04 // thoughtful, generous, and loving friends.

05 // how excited my Little was to keep me company at the doctor’s office today.

06 // chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter buttercream frosting my sweet friend made the other night.

07 // the next weeks of anticipating the holiday season.

08 // life slowing down a bit.

09 // our parents. 4 of the most generous people on the face of this earth.

september

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“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”                                                                                          — Jim Bishop

September has come, my friends. I thrill at the thought. September is dear to me for many treasured reasons, one of which is that is announces the entrance of my most beloved season, autumn. The delights of pumpkins, oversized sweaters, falling leaves, soups and stews, orange and red hues, pumpkin flavored goodness, evenings of hot tea and books, and walks in the crisp and cozy autumn weather, are ours to enjoy in droves this beautiful season.

I am soaking up this Labor Day holiday with my darlings, thankful for an extra day to be all together. We are planning the day out as we go, seeing what captures our fancy for our day off. Perhaps the purchasing of a pumpkin and some golden mums will be mixed in there somewhere.

Happy Holiday to you, lovelies! Enjoy your relaxation.

xoxo,

Jenny

easter

Thankful for a beautiful Easter Sunday yesterday. The weather was truly perfect and the evening filled with the company of dear friends. Plates piled high with delicious food, plenty of Easter sweets, good conversation and laughter, and an egg hunt for AK and her buddy, Finn. J and I snapped some photos and I have to say, taking pictures alongside my husband is a favorite thing of mine. I so enjoy being able to share photography with him.

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The sweetest part of this day is that we celebrate our risen Savior and the glorious hope that we live with daily because of His victory over sin and death. Praise the Lord! At our church’s Good Friday service we sang the song Man of Sorrows, and the last verse, bridge, and chorus have been echoing in my mind the past few days.

now my debt is paid. it is paid in full.

by the precious blood. that my Jesus spilled.

now the curse of sinhas no hold on me.

whom the Son sets freeoh is free indeed.

 

oh that rugged cross. my salvation.

where Your love poured out over me.

now my soul cries out. hallelujah.

praise and honour unto Thee.

 

see the stone is rolled away.

behold the empty tomb.

hallelujah God be praised.

He’s risen from the grave. 

 

oh that rugged cross. my salvation.

where Your love poured out over me. 

now my soul cries out. hallelujah.

praise and honour unto Thee. 

 

These words speak the grace and joy that it means to belong to God. The grave couldn’t hold Him. The stone was rolled away. He arose. He lives.

Because of that I live with hope for today and for tomorrow and for eternity. I’m praying that I don’t move on so quickly from the celebration of Easter this year.