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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Whether you're traveling or staying put, surrounded by family or spending time with friends, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

I'll be taking a two week break (or so) from blogging. But don't worry, I will be back in January!

Friday, December 21, 2012

it's more than a mouse in the house

Home ownership is a blessing and a curse. We love building equity with each mortgage payment, but miss picking up the phone to call the landlord when something goes wrong. There is so much responsibility that goes along with owning a house. 

I mention it last week, but there's a little problem plaguing this old house lately: mice. It's kind of funny because I teased my Granny for years about mice. We'd usually buy her birthday cards with mice on them or give her a stuffed mouse of sorts. When I went to college she mailed me a mouse Beanie Baby and I brought it to her house and would hide it in various places as a joke (thankfully she has a great sense of humor).

In reality, mice are not that cute. They pop up in the most inconvenient places and terrify me with their sudden movements across the kitchen. I get anxious every time I enter the kitchen in the evening, pausing to do a little dance in the doorway or make noise, giving them time to disappear before I see them. What's more amazing is how they can seemingly disappear into the smallest crack.

Yesterday, my friend posted this photo on Facebook saying she it was such a cute treat from a friend. I quickly scrolled down the page so I didn't have to keep looking at it. If someone brought me such a "cute" holiday treat, I don't think I could bring myself to eat it. Or maybe I would, just so I wouldn't have those eyeballs staring at me! 

As much as I don't want to admit my fear of a tiny little creature like a mouse, I think we all have fears, whether they are rational or not. And even more so, I don't want to admit my house has mice living in it. I don't want to admit it to myself or a friend and I really don't want blogland to know. 

Perhaps, my fear lies more in being judged for not being able to rid our home of mice (we caught two of the suckers this week alone)! I share all of this to say, being a homeowner isn't always easy and as much as I may want to show off pretty photos of our home looking ready for Christmas or tell you how we solved the mouse problem, I bring you the truth.

What irrational fear(s) do you have?!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

question of the month

I'm excited to introduce several of my awesome blog sponsors to you this month. I asked each of them to answer the question of the month.

bloglovin' // facebook // instagram

blog // pinterest // instagram

blog // facebook // twitter

blog // twitter // instagram

Take some time to connect with these lovely ladies via their blog or one of their preferred forms of social media (listed under their answer). I hope you'll join in and tell us what you look forward to most at Christmas time and why!

Oh, and I'm sharing a favorite Holiday recipe over on The Arizona Russums today!

Monday, December 17, 2012

pretzel candy poppers {recipe}

I love pretzels and chocolate. I just can't pass up the combination of sweet and salty. And since the Christmas season is often busy with added events to the calendar such as parties to attend and shopping to be done I keep my 'baking' simple.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good sugar or spritz cookie (and am so grateful others make them). But I've learned I don't have the time or patience for them until I'm on Christmas vacation. For the first 2-3 weeks of December, I find myself committing to bring a treat and I am truly happy to bring something sweet to share. But with all the additions of the month, I have learned to go with easy to make treats that don't require a lot of labor on my part.

A week ago, I made salted caramel pretzel bark using a recipe I found via Pinterest (my version picture above). It was so easy! It only took about 10 minutes of prep, 5 minutes in the oven and then a few hours to set in the freezer. Cutting it was probably the toughest part, but even that only took 10 minutes or so. They're very tasty and everyone was asking for the recipe!

A few years ago, a friend shared the following recipe with me and I've been making it for holiday parties ever since! They only take about 10-15 min of prep (depending on how many you make) and bake for 5 min.

pretzel twists
hershey's hugs ((or kisses))

Preheat oven to 250 Fahrenheit
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up
Line up pretzels as close together as possible
Unwrap all hugs/kisses and place in bowl
Place one hug per pretzel (try to center as much as possible since it will melt)
Place cookie sheet in oven for 5 minutes
Remove cookie sheet and place 1-2 M&M's per hug/kiss
Place cookie sheet in freezer to set or leave in oven overnight (oven should be turned off and let cool a bit)

I love being able to bring a homemade treat for a dinner party or Christmas gathering and no one has to know how simple and quick it was to throw one of these candy treats together!

What's your go to holiday treat?

Friday, December 14, 2012

friday finds & favorites #13

Happy Friday! Another busy week? Why is it that we look forward to December all year long and the month seems to pass more quickly than any other in the year?!

A few highlights from my week:
>> Decorating our Christmas tree
>> Doing some holiday "baking" (more on that next week)
>> Yummy meals that made lots of leftovers (turkey one night and pot pie the next, plus a round of carnitas tacos, followed by enchiladas)

Other stuff I love:
Have you heard about privacy changes Facebook rolled out this week? Read more info on Mashable.

We started receiving Christmas cards this week and I've been trying to decide how to display them. I was grateful to find this idea via Pinterest.

I've always wanted to "ring and run," but this story of doorbell ditching touched my heart.

I've got a list of things I want to do in the coming weeks and one of them is rearrange the bookshelves. Betsy had some great suggestions I'll want to keep in mind.

Need a break from Christmas tunes? Check out Melissa's great mix.

Have a great weekend!
I hope you'll grab a button and link up your post with me and Erika! Want to know more about this series? Check out the"rules."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

gift ideas from Jessica

Still have some gifts to buy? Looking for the perfect thing for a dear friend? I'm excited to introduce you to Jessica who blogs at Swish ans Swoon. She's joining us today with some gift ideas!

Hello there, I'm Jessica from Swish and Swoon, and I'm so happy to be guest posting today. Thanks, Beth, for having me! I'm a wife and mama who loves sharing my life through my blog along with the hand-picked deals. For this Christmas season I've had so much fun pulling together some real girl budget gift guides. Here are some amazing gifts I've gathered with the Christian friend in mind. Please note I'm a Christian, but I would NOT be offended if you bought me some really fabulous boots or something like that from Anthropologie.

1- Map of the World $14. This would be perfect for those who have a heart for missions. I love the scripture! 2- Bethel Worship For the Sake of the World. $9.99 download. This is an amazing worship CD in heavy rotation over here. 3-  So Worth Loving Shirt. $38. I think the message on this shirt is so good.  4- My Heart Country Canvas. $20. I think this would be a great gift for those who may have gone on a missions trip to Africa, or perhaps adopted a child from there! 5- Bless the Lord $40. Absolutely beautiful. Love. 6-  As For Me and My House Wooden print $62. This needs to be on my wall now! 7- When Heaven Invades Earth $10.87. This is one of my all time favorite books. It's my heart.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas traditions

Growing up, I would look forward to pulling out our advent calendar and reading what was hidden in each day's pocket. I also loved to help decorate the house for Christmas, pulling out wreaths, stockings and all the ornaments. My favorite tradition was opening one gift on Christmas Eve after we read the Christmas story from Luke.

Another favorite tradition started with my mom; each year she'd get an get an ornament for me. I still love pulling out my ornaments of a Cabbage Patch Kid, Care Bear, flute playing cherub, and various angels (just to name a few). I've adopted this tradition as my own by either making an ornament or buying one to represent the year. I haven't yet decided what this year's ornament will be.

As an adult, Christmas traditions take on a different form. We can keep the ones we like and create new ones. This will be our third Christmas as a married couple and I like to think we've claimed a few traditions of our own:
+ get a live tree and string it with white lights
+ listen to Christmas music when we decorate the tree
+ my version of holiday baking doesn't involve sugar cookies (even though I love the taste of them)
+ watch The Holiday
+ see a live Christmas concert in Boston

Over the past few years, we've had a mantle (shown above). I've love to decorate it a bit different every year. This year, I went with a white and silver color palette with pops of green and red. I used this printable I found via Pinterest. The bottles are upcycled glass bottles I saved and removed the labels from; some are spray painted.

What Christmas traditions have you made your own?

Friday, December 7, 2012

friday finds & favorites #12

Happy Friday! It's been a busy week for me. How about you? I am really looking forward to some time off in a few weeks for Christmas and New Year's. You may have noticed it's got me blogging a bit less, so pardon this month being a bit sparse.

A few highlights from my week:
I got a new phone :) and have been enjoying the ease of sending text messages (my old phone's keyboard was a mess and the screen was shattered)! I'm also pumped to use Instagram on it, rather than my iPad!

Getting our Christmas tree over the weekend was  fun. The poor thing only has lights on it and is awaiting proper decor, which we'll get to this weekend.

Time with our community group.

Other stuff I love:

Confession: I'm a total sucker for children's books. I have a collection with my own little Christmas section, so I was excited to see these Christmas Books highlighted on Beautifully Rooted.

I nee to make something like this DIY holiday dessert stand from Jen.

This news story is almost too good to be true. If you've ever lived in an area that has deer crossing signs, I'm sure you'll appreciate it too!

Need some gift inspiration for a social media loving friend/family member? Or maybe you'd rather make a gift, don't miss Virginia's suggestions.

Have a great weekend!
I hope you'll grab a button and link up your post with me and Erika!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

blog content how to's from Hayley {The Tiny Twig}

Hey friends! I have a very special treat for you today. As promised/hinted in yesterday's post, you get an up close glimpse of the author of The No Brainer Blog, Hayley Morgan. She's right here to share her tips on finding, creating and planning awesome content for your blog!

Why Create Awesome Content?

Creating memorable content is key to growing your readership. Gone are the days of relying on Search Engine Optimization to draw people to your blog. These days, I'm focusing on creating great posts that people are compelled to share with their friends. I'm never looking to write a viral post (I'm not one for banking on luck), but I'm looking to impact 15-20 people enough that they will excitedly share my work with their circles of influence. If I can do that day in and day out, eventually those drips will turn into a streams of readers.

How to Plan Awesome Content

Think of things you are passionate about. Make a list. Think of problems you see in the world around you. Make a list of the solutions. Think of those things people say you're great at. Make a list. Think of recipes you love, places you want to visit, goals you have, stories you remember. Make a list. Make lots of lists. Keep a notebook in Evernote with all those lists as individual notes--these notes are fodder for great posts. As you have thoughts, sentences that form, resources to use relating to those post ideas, clip to them to your "post notes". When you finally round out an idea enough, then sit down to write the post. At that point, you should have enough of a head start that you can focus on the delivery rather than the actual content.

How to Find, Plan, and Create Graphics

These days, people are drawn to posts with memorable images. They make the post more compelling to read and more natural to Pin. There are many ways to create great graphic posts. First, you can take your own images and spruce them up in an application like Photoshop or PicMonkey. Second, you can buy stock photos (or find free stock photos). I like iStockPhoto for that purpose, and you can buy the smallest size because you're only using it online. You can also add text to those graphics. The other option is to search online (via flickr or a simple search engine query). If you are using someone else's photo that you haven't paid for, make sure to gain direct and explicit permission to alter the photo in any way (that includes, in my opinion, to adding text or doodles).


Hayley Morgan wrote newly released eBook The No Brainer Blog (and also, The No Brainer Wardrobe!). The eBook helps women cast a vision, define their voice, and refine their blog space to ultimately propel their blog to be successful on their terms. Hayley also writes at The Tiny Twig, a lifestyle blog inspiring women to create lives of more passion and less fuss. She recently hosted The Influence Conference and is launching The Influence Network in January 2013. You can follow her on Twitter, "like" her Facebook page, or follow her days on Instagram for the latest updates, resources she loves, and a peek into her life with 3 (almost 4!) boys.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What I'm into {December}

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great weekend. Ours was the perfect combo of relaxing and checking things off the to do list. Saturday started off with a dusting of snow, which was perfect to out us in the mood for buying our Christmas tree and decorating our house. 

what I'm reading
+ The No Brainer Blog (more on this soon) -I read the whole book in one sitting, but haven't completed all the worksheets yet.
+ 7 -it's taken me entirely too long to read this, but I love Jen's writing style and I can pick it up when I have just a few minutes to read.
+ The Meaning of Marriage -I've only read the intro, but I can't wait to get into it.

TV show worth watching
+ Nashville -I never aspired to be a country singer, but I do love Connie Britton and admire a television show that's shot on location.

movie that I've seen
+ Hugo -my brother has been telling me to watch this one for months and we finally did last week. I love a good children's story. It was the perfect combination of intrigue and wonder.

in my kitchen
+  2 turkeys -in the freezer, but we haven't planned what exactly they're for
+ almond flour -I'm waiting for the perfect recipe to try it
+ mice...thankfully we've caught more than one. Sadly, there is evidence we have not caught them all!

in my ears
+ Christmas music and more specifically Pandora's Indie Holiday station, A Very She + Him Christmas, John Denver and the Muppets (a childhood favorite), Sufjan Stevens' Songs for Christmas

what I'm looking forward to
+ Christmas and all the anticipation that comes with this time of year
+ Snow! Last winter was quite disappointing as far the amount of snow, so I am hopeful we will get a few good storms
+ Baking for the holidays

What are you into lately?