Thursday, December 31, 2015

Pictures of December

My December turned out to be a very busy one! It was full of work, fun activities, and time spent with family and friends. Here are a few glimpses of my December...

I love decorating for Christmas! I went with a vintage theme again. 

I found this "Merry Christmas" chalkboard picture at Marshalls this year.

Can you tell I love A Christmas Carol? ;)

I started out by making a little hat for my new niece who will arrive in January. Then I got on a roll making a hat for a white elephant gift exchange, a hat for a friend, a hat to finish up a skein, and a scarf for another friend. 

my niece's little hat

working on Casey's hat

Celebrating the birthday boy!
My oldest nephew Gavin turned thirteen this month. I took him out for ice cream and enjoyed talking with my nephew who is growing up way too fast for this aunt!

Warm weather! 
I'm a warm weather girl so the warmer weather made me happy!

I loved being able to wear just my uniform shirt with
no jacket to work.

Yup! You read that right! My car thermometer read 76 outside.

I also took advantage of the sunny days we had, and used my new prescription sunglasses I got from

Coffee Outing!
Every year around Christmastime, my mom and sister go to Barnes and Noble for a couple of hours. We sip coffee from the Starbucks cafe they have in the store and look at magazines. 

Chick-fil-A Christmas party!

our wonderful operators

some ugly sweaters :)

And speaking of Chick-fil-A, a few co-workers and I had some fun with Christmas hats after we closed and took some selfies.

Me, Casey, and Carissa put on elf hats and gave John a santa hat to put on.
We captioned the photo "santa and his elves". :)

 Pretty Christmas music!
Oh the joy of having a sister who plays the piano all the time! Bekah played countless Christmas carols and songs throughout the month. 

How was your December?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holiday Chocolate Barks Tray {Recipes Included}

As you may know, if you've read my blog for a couple of years, I always enjoy making chocolate barks. I've made peppermint bark every Christmas for probably eight or nine years. Over the years, I've experimented with different flavors. The most popular ones are orange and coffee (and of course, the peppermint is always a holiday favorite). 

The barks are a go-to treat for holiday parties. (As well as parties throughout the year. Because chocolate is good year-round!) I usually will just put a couple kinds on a plate or one in a bowl. This year, I decided to take all three kinds to a work Christmas party. I needed a way to present all of them in a pretty way. 

I'm really happy with what I came up with and it was so easy and cute. I went with a "chalkboard" tray display. I had a wooden tray that I converted to a "chalkboard" with two pieces of black cardstock. It fit it perfectly. Then taking a white pen, I wrote each kind of bark with arrows pointing to the right bowl. I got inspiration for the lettering and arrows on pinterest.  

It was a hit and I got several compliments on the tray as well as the bark. 

If you'd like to try making one or three of the barks for your holiday, I've included the recipes below in one easy location.

1 12-oz bag chocolate chips
1 12-oz bag white chocolate chips
1 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3-4 drops green food coloring

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, heat chocolate chips until melted, stirring every 15-20 seconds. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread out until it fills the pan. In a different microwave safe bowl, combine white chocolate chips, oil, and extract. Heat until melted, stirring every 15-20 seconds. Pour white chocolate over chocolate layer, and spread out. Once spread, take a knife and swirl the two layers together. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces and store in a container in the refrigerator.

* * *

2 12-oz bags of chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons coffee extract
1 tablespoon coarsely ground coffee, plus more for sprinkling on the top

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, oil, and extract. Heat until melted, stirring every 15-20 seconds. Once melted, mix in the coffee grounds. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread out until it fills the pan. Top with more ground coffee. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces and store in a container in the refrigerator.

* * *

2 12-oz bags of chocolate chips
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract
zest of 1 large orange

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper; set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, oil, and extract. Heat until melted, stirring every 15-20 seconds. Once melted, mix in orange zest. Pour onto cookie sheet and spread out until it fills the pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces and store in a container in the refrigerator.

I'm always looking for more flavors for my barks. Any ideas for me?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

On This Foundation {Book Review}

***I received a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Cover Art
I love anything that Lynn Austin writes. I think I've read every single one of her books. Some multiple times. This summer I got on a kick and read several of my favorites one after another. Lynn Austin is a wonderful storyteller and her characters are well developed. Once I start one of her books I usually can't put it down until I'm done. This new one didn't disappoint. 

On This Foundation is the third book in the Restoration Chronicles series. (I've reviewed both book 1 and book 2 on my blog.) I usually tend to stay away from Biblical fiction (because it feels like a whole lot of fiction and not much Biblical fact) but Lynn Austin's Biblical fiction I find different. She quotes from scripture as often as possible. I also like that she includes a list of scripture references in the back of the book for further reading. 

This third and final book focuses on Nehemiah, King Artaxerxes' cup-bearer, who found permission to rebuild Jerusalem's crumbling walls. While in Jerusalem, he was made governor of Judah. The book also tells the story of Chana (whose betrothed was killed due to the lack of walls surrounding the city), Malkijah (a man who lost his first wife and is hoping to find love again) and Nava (a young girl who became a bondservant to save her father's land during a drought). All three along with the rest of the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas do their part to help Nehemiah rebuild the walls of Jerusalem in a staggering 52 days. But amongst the people are spies working for enemies in the surrounding provinces who want to hinder and harm the Lord's work being done. Nehemiah's life, and those of his workers, are in danger. 

This is a thick book but one that is worth taking the time to read. It did not disappoint. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Photograph {Book Review}

***I received a free copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

Cover Art
I enjoy reading books by Beverly Lewis. They are always easy to read and I fly through them. She is a good storyteller. Whenever I see a Beverly Lewis book available for review through the Bethany House blogger review program, I get excited! 

This book was about Eva Esch, a young woman whose parents have died. She and her sisters are living in their parents' house until their brother and his family are ready to move in. When one of her sisters runs away to the English world, Eva and her other sister try to keep things going at home while they search for her. Meanwhile, an Amish man from Ohio, Jed, comes to the area to learn buggy making techniques and the two are immediately attracted to one another. But when Eva discovers a photograph of her runaway sister in Jed's wallet, things change between the two of them. 

While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it wasn't my favorite. The story was good. She always makes her books interesting by adding little bits of excitement in the plot. I appreciate that Beverly Lewis has a lot of knowledge about the Amish that comes through in her books. It was neat to get a look at two different Amish districts and how each district varies slightly.

If you haven't read anything by Beverly Lewis, I would definitely recommend reading one of her books. If you have, what was your favorite?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

This and That

Today I'm going to be talking about keychains, plaid, hair, kitties, pumpkin cupcakes, and a little fall decorating.

My little felt bird keychain I made when I got my new car has been looking a little sad for a while. (No wonder, since it gets so much use.) I went to and customized my own keychain. It was easy to upload an image I created on picmonkey. I caught a sale on keychains so I got a really good deal. I chose to go with a CNA theme. To finish the keychain I found a stethoscope and a blood pressure cuff charm that was for sale by an ebay seller.

I am loving Target's new plaid line. They have plaid everything! Clothes, party supplies, home decor, coffee mugs, even Listerine. I found some note cards and a little notebook that had to come home with me. 

I also got a black and white plaid headband. I'm loving it! Plaid is great for fall and winter. 

I recently discovered the technique of diffusing my hair instead of letting it air dry. The result is looser curls with more bounce. Which do you think looks better?

air dried/diffused

With fall here, I've been waiting for an opportunity to make my pumpkin spice cake. The opportunity finally arrived today. I usually make a layer cake with fluffy cream cheese icing but this time I decided to make cupcakes instead.

The rich autumnal colors make it a little hard to decorate for fall in my aqua, red, white, and vintage inspired room. I have so much more to work with when it comes to spring decorating. I make do though, by using lots of candles, a few white pumpkins, and books. 

I made this little banner a few years ago out of scraps of scrapbook paper and letter stickers. 

I'll leave you with this adorable picture of Pinky. We decided to dress Pinky for fall the other day. Amazingly she didn't mind getting dressed up. I think our pumpkin spice kitty was basking in all the attention. She didn't even seem to notice something was around her neck. :) Isn't she the cutest kitty?

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


September is almost gone.

We saw the supermoon lunar eclipse the other night. It was cloudy and the moon was hidden at times but we got a good view of it. 

A downy woodpecker has taken a fancy to one of our birdhouses. You can see it peeking its little head out. It's so cute! 

Fall is starting to show with tinges of color on a few trees, earlier sunsets, and pumpkins and mums on porches. While I love fall with the rich colors and slightly cooler weather, I hate that it starts to get dark so early. 

* * *

Earlier in the month, Dad, my brother Ryan, and I were able to go to a Michael Card conference. He talked about the gospel of John. Michael Card has written books on all four of the gospels (and has cds on each one as well). The last one was John. It was a wonderful and thought provoking weekend.

The conference ended with a concert. Mike played some old songs (such as God's Own Fool, Come Lift Up Your Sorrows, El Shaddai, Love Crucified Arose, and Grace Be with You All) and some new songs (Jesus Wept, This is Who You Are, A King in a Cattle Trough...).

He also shared the stage with Ginny Owens, who sings a song on the John album. 

Michael Card is a talented pianist and guitarist. He played this beautiful song called New Jerusalem which I had never heard before. 

* * *
After the conference we made the trip back to Ryan's house and were able to spend a few days with Sarah and the kids. 

I love this picture Sarah took of me and Paul. I'm overcome with how cute he is every time I look at it! (And by the way, that sweatshirt I have on? Love. It was a clearance Target find. It's light weight and perfect when you need something on a cool late summer evening. I get cool easily so I've been wearing it a lot.)

* * *

Pumpkin iced coffees are wonderful! I get them way too often. A local coffee shop I go to drew a little pumpkin on my cup once. It made my day! 

Pumpkin donuts are good, too. We celebrated the first day of fall with a couple pumpkin munchkins from Dunkin Donuts.

Now on to October...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Not-so-fun-really-creepy Fact {2}

Wheel bugs are PINK for a couple of hours after they molt.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Not-so-fun-really-creepy Fact {1}

Preying mantises' eyes turn black at night.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Photo-a-day Challenge: Days 30 & 31

The last two days of the photo challenge! Wow!

Day 30 - shapes
many circles (polka dots) on my phone case

Day 31 - chose your own theme
a wonderful cup of iced coffee on a hot day

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Click here to link up your photo-a-day challenge posts.