I'm sure I'm not alone when I say 2015 was an absolute blur. I can still recall uncorking a bottle of bubbly with my husband to welcome it, and tonight we'll be bidding 2015 farewell. New Years Eve is always a little bittersweet for me; I'm incredibly sentimental and I hate saying goodbye, whether it's to a loved one or, as is the case today, a year. But instead of feeling melancholy about another ending, I'm taking time today to reflect on all the wonderful things that happened in 2015 (our family trip to Kauai is at the top of the list), and thinking ahead to the exciting unknowns that await me in 2016.
I hope you have had an amazing year and that the new year brings with it a bounty of blessings and happiness. Have a fun and safe New Years Eve celebration!
New Years Eve is just a couple of days away, and for me, the best way to ring in 2016 is with good friends and, of course, champagne. I love the idea of a champagne bar where guests can serve themselves and maybe add a splash of colorful liqueur or drop a berry or two into their flute. Here are a few absolutely gorgeous champagne bars, as well as some suggestions for putting together your own.
Deck your bottles with glitter. Serve something sweet with the champs. Think chocolate truffles, mini cupcakes, or even flavored popcorn.
Offer guests a variety of berries and freshly cut fruit, fruit juice, and flavored syrups and liqueurs to mix a custom bubbly. To avoid having to wash a ton of dishes, attach cute paper straws to champagne splits so guests have their own little bottles.
Use this trick to chill champagne in no time. Let guests personalize their glasses with festive swizzle sticks and name tags. Decorate the table with glitter or confetti, vases and colorful blooms, and cute signage.
December 18 is sort of a magical day; it's exactly one week before Christmas, and while many people are stressed out as they scurry to get last minute gifts or groceries for their holiday feast, I rather enjoy these final days before the 25th. Unlike my husband, I don't mind the holiday crowds, and actually, I quite like them because, even though we're all celebrating in our own way, it sort of feels like we're in this together. This weekend we'll be joining the crowds of last minute shoppers to pick up a few more things, then I want to grab some hot chocolate and cookies, pack up the kids in the car, and take a drive to see some holiday lights. I'm hoping for a truly magical weekend. Have a wonderful weekend, and God bless!
It's crazy to think that there are only three Fridays left in the year! And even though I've been listening to holiday music since the beginning of November, I can't help but feel like Christmas has snuck up on me, and once again, I find myself scrambling to get everything done. This weekend, however, I'm committed to taking it easy and getting some rest. I just want to snuggle with my family and watch holiday movies (my 2-year old has made me watch Shrek the Halls every day this week, so I'm hoping I can convince her to switch it up), cook some good meals, and maybe share a nice bottle of wine with my husband. Because after this weekend, it's game on, and I'll be spending the next couple of weeks wrapping and baking and cooking and shipping and shopping--I'm exhausted just typing that! I wish you a wonderful and relaxed weekend. God bless!
Thin mint eggnog, plus what are surely the cutest drink stirrers to ever stir a drink.
I love to bake and always tend to do it a little more when the holiday season hits. One of my favorite spices to use is cinnamon; it's warm and sweet and fragrant--perfect for holiday treats. These iced cinnamon streusel muffins are warm and sweet too, like a hug. A sweet cinnamon streusel is laced throughout the muffin, plus more is sprinkled on top, then the whole thing is drizzled with icing. They're soft and tender, like a good coffee cake, and make a cozy Saturday morning in PJs feel a little extra special. With cocoa or coffee, they'll no doubt be the perfect Christmas morning breakfast for little (and big) hands to grab as they unwrap gifts. Iced Cinnamon Streusel Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 egg plus 1 egg white
1 cup milk 2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup butter, melted
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons half and half
Preheat oven to 375° and either coat a standard muffin tin with baking spray or line with cupcake liners.
For the muffins: mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a smaller bowl whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, and melted butter; add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. For streusel: mix all ingredients together, using a fork to mash the sugar and flour into the butter. You want to combine all ingredients but still have a crumb consistency.
Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the streusel mixture into the bottom of each muffin cup, top with muffin batter until cup in just below halfway full, then sprinkle another ½ teaspoon of streusel over the batter. Fill each muffin cup with the remaining batter. Use a toothpick or skewer to gently swirl the batter and cinnamon streusel in the center, then top the muffins with the remaining streusel. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. While the muffins are baking, mix together confectioners' sugar and half and half until smooth and creamy, adding additional half and half if the consistency is too stiff. When the muffins are finished baking, remove them from the pan and allow to cool completely before drizzling with the icing. Enjoy!
I was saddened this week to learn about the shooting in San Bernadino, a place so close to home it stunned me. It was definitely a reality check that my children are growing up in a very different world, and my heart breaks for the families who are affected by this. There are people who will never be able to celebrate the holiday season in the same way they had before because there will always be something, someone missing. There are children who will have to grow up without a mommy or daddy; wives will bury husbands, and husbands will bury wives. It is not the way they could have ever imagined their lives would become, and certainly not the way anyone deserves for their lives to be. I pray for those families; I pray for God's grace to comfort them as they prepare to navigate the rest of their lives without the person they love. Hug your loved ones this weekend and remind them how much you love and cherish them, because life is short and sometimes cruel. God bless!
Coming up with new ways to keep your little ones entertained can seem an impossible task at times, so each month I will offer up a few fun ideas that you and your children might enjoy. Have fun!
1. Make a bucket list for 2016. 2. Take them to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip, out December 23. 3. Let them invite friends over to decorate cookies or help build a gingerbread house. 4. Get some paint, brushes, and some plain wrapping paper and have them make custom gift wrap. 5. Buy toys to donate to Toys for Tots. 6. Send them a video message from Santa Claus. Go here for more details. 7. Take some holiday treats to share to a children's hospital or senior center. Call in advance to find out what's acceptable to take. 8. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, The Polar Express, and all the other wonderful holiday movies over and over. 9. Make holiday ornaments to give to teachers, neighbors, friends, etc. 10. Take a break from all the holiday cookies and bake up a batch of brownies for National Brownie Day on December 8. Here's my favorite go-to brownie recipe. 11. Put together a book of photos and written memories from 2015. Be sure to include moments that made them especially grateful and have them write down why they were grateful. 12. Celebrate the winter solstice with a trip to the snow (or an ice skating rink if there's no snow within driving distance). 13. Tune the car radio to some holiday music and drive around looking at lights. 14. Make homemade Butterfinger bars for National Chocolate Candy Day on the 28th. 15. Go to the dollar store or Big Lots and buy little gifts to give to strangers on the street, in restaurants, and anywhere else you go. National Giving Day is on the 1st, but any day is a good day to give! image via
You know those commercials that depict a big, loud family sitting around laughing, and everyone seems to be talking at the same time? That's kind of how my family works; there are a ton of cousins and aunts and uncles, and we're all laughing and telling stories and looking at old pictures and just loving being together. Thanksgiving always seems to bring out our loudest, lovingest selves, and yesterday was no exception. I had an awesome holiday, and I hope you did too. I also hope that your long weekend is an extension of the holiday, and that you are filled with love and gratitude for many days to come. God bless!
A cheap and chic DIY dessert stand that even the most uncrafty person can put together in no time.
Coffee has always been my hot beverage of choice, but, this time of year especially, I love to indulge in a steamy mug of hot chocolate with my little girls. I've got a go-to hot cocoa recipe that always yields the perfect cup, but lately I've been in the mood for cocoa with a twist. Here's a roundup of a few of the hot chocolate recipes I've been looking to try.
As we get closer and closer to the holidays I find myself longing for a wintery vacation in a rustic log cabin somewhere in the mountains. I can almost feel the warmth of a roaring fire in a big brick fireplace as my husband and I lounge on the chaise watching Christmas movies (actually, if I'm imagining correctly, I'm watching Christmas movies and listening to the gentle snore of my sleeping spouse). It's all very idyllic, with glistening snow falling outside the window and the smell of cookies baking in the oven, and a scene that I'd love to make a reality for my little girls this holiday season. What are your plans for the holidays? Have a safe and fun weekend, and God bless!