Thursday, December 30, 2010

Life Changes

Life is all about change, I know this, but sometimes it doesn't make the change any easier. Our dear friends are moving to Arizona and while I'll see them when I'm visiting my parents it isn't the same as having them 5 minutes away. And, although I am very sad, I am happy for them and their new adventure. I pray that this path leads them to all the happiness they can stand.

Here we are at their going away party. A great night to celebrate their impact on our lives.

Here's to you, D+J! May only the best head your way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas at Home

We finally made it home at 2:30 am on the 26th of December, slept in and had our Christmas together. Just the 5 of us. It was a wonderful time for us.

Jared and I don't really do big gifts any time of the year. We like to spoil each other little by little all year long, sometimes for no reason at all except we love each other. With that being said, we all huddled up downstairs around the tree and opened our stockings. The pups were so overwhelmed they didn't know what to do...treats and balls and babies galore! So we played with their toys and just enjoyed the time together. J's stocking was full of peppermints, gift cards and lottery tickets! He immediately scratched off the tickets and was bummed when he didn't win. Mine had some goodies, too!

Aside from our stocking, we only get 3 gifts. If Jesus only got 3 gifts from the wise men, why should we get more? He got new fun t-shirts for work, a new desk calendar and some sleep shorts. I got a pajama set, a desk calendar and slippers. He surprised me with a Hallmark ornament when we were decorating the tree. It's a quiet tradition that he continues each year.

I think this celebration was my favorite. Just us, at home, enjoying each other and basking in the beautiful twinkle lights from the tree. The pups even got a special treat from grandmaw and edible holiday card!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

You got an IPad??

I was blessed enough to unwrap an IPad this Christmas. I told you it was a techie Christmas full of Apple TVs, IPods, IPads, Nooks, TVs, XBox360s, etc. We were all very good this year, it seems.

Anyway, I unwrapped an IPad this year and my mom added that she had a very special gift for my 11 year old nephew, too. After all he had opened, I was thinking, really, you got him an IPad, too?

She whips this out....

We all started cracking up, as I hope you are doing out there, too. Apparently he saw them on Oprah with my mom and when she told him that she got me one he was so bummed that he made himself an IPad. He had forgotten about it so my mom knew she had to give him the "IPad" at Christmas so he would have one, too. So funny! I love that kid.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We are traveling through Michigan, Indiana and Illinois before heading back home to Wisconsin this Christmas weekend. We hope you are enjoying the holiday.

We are in the midst of our "techie" Christmas, spoiling one another with goodies, baking and icing cookies, cooking Christmas dinner, watching Christmas movies and just enjoying being together.


Here's to a blessed and safe holiday for you and yours!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Freebies

For those of you scrambling to finish Christmas cards or gift tags, you need to check these out! Download, print, trim and viola... instant tags or cards!

Here is our beautiful Christmas card 2010... straight from the Costa Rican rainforests. :) We thought our family and friends might like some fun this year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Lights

I love Christmas lights. Everyone I know should know how much I love Christmas lights. I make it a point to hunt them out wherever I am. Today has been a dark day in my family and I decided that what I needed was a Christmas light display. A Christmas light display to remind me of the light that Jesus is in my life even in this dark day. I especially love the lights that are set to music (like the ones below). Here are a few of my favorites.


I hope you are a light to others in your corner of the world.

Here is a link to a great show that J sent me one afternoon! Enjoy.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy Baking

This advent, J and I have been focusing on the reason for the season and trying to be more like Jesus. J has helped load a TV in a woman's car, bought juice for little boy who otherwise wouldn't have had any and supplied his whole office with a sweet treat just because. I've been spending time putting others ahead of me by spending extra time listening and caring for those who need it this Christmas, I've been doing small things trying to make the season brighter for those who need it brightened and I've been refocusing the holidays on giving with love -- staying within our established budget but buying and making things that seem just right for those that I love. I give gifts this time of year because God has given me the ultimate gift and I pass that along in my own small way.

One little way we helped out was by creating some holiday baking packs for struggling families. Cooking baking together is such a special gift that many don't get to enjoy in this economy so what more fun that to be given that back. Our life group all pitched in and we gave two baskets full of holiday baking goodies from the cookie sheet to the sprinkles. I hope that these go to families who need a pick me up this year.

I've been reading 25 Days, 26 Ways which is a book on the advent and it has provided some wonderful back stories to the holiday traditions. Knowing the history -- biblical and more recent -- has helped me shape and mold the traditions that we have in our household. I don't think our jingle-a-thon is going anywhere soon but it is fun to see how it has shifted and changed between cultures. What some people view as secular, isn't secular at all. It's putting a whole new spin on things for me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Buckeyes hit the Bullseye!

So, in the holiday baking at our house, I also wanted to bake buckeyes! I found this simple recipe online and thought I'd give it a go.

My husband doesn't like to follow the rules so we may have some less than perfect buckeyes, but they were still delicious. I just wanted the taste to take me back to The Ohio State University. J didn't measure the powdered sugar and put too much in which made the peanut butter insides a little dry, but they were still good. What I'm trying to tell you is follow the recipe! :)
Here are the peanut butter balls for the inside!

Here's the melting station on the stove! Stir, stir, stir!

Here are the first few buckeyes!!

We ended up with so many J took some to work and we still have a container full for our party this evening. Score!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

DIY -- Christmas for Grown-Up Idea

The anniversary gift that I blogged about here have really been a big hit. I made one as a Christmas gift for my dear friend and my MIL has asked me to make a few for her close friends. My road-trip companion also made one for a new mom-to-be and it was the hit of the shower! There is so much you can do with these.

I decided to make a variation of these for my best friend for above her bed in the master bedroom. I got the frames at the Dollar Tree, the wood at Home Depot and  I chose the letters. Her bedroom is brown, black and blue so I went with black and white letters with blue ribbon. I think it'll work out great. A little money, a few hours and a lot of love = a super personal piece of art.

The really tricky part is getting the frames attached to the wood backing. I handily passed that task off to my incredible husband who fiddled with it until it stayed! Thank you, J.

Here it is without the ribbon. I'll be sure to post a picture once she gets it up in her house!!

And, unless you are currently living under a rock or the South Pacific, I'm sure you've heard of the crazy blizzard that has struck the Mid-West. Well, it hit Wisconsin and here's a picture of my favorite snowman.

Happy fa-la-la-laaing!

Monday, December 13, 2010

DIY -- Christmas for Baby Idea

I know that you've seen me do this type of thing before, but my best friend sent me a picture of this...

...and asked me to create letters for Aiden's room. I figured that is just what I would do for Christmas for him. We got together for Christmas with them this weekend and I gave them the letters. I think they liked them. I'll post a picture once they are up in the nursery!


And I have to share the loads of gifts we had to bring from Wisconsin down to Indiana. We felt a little like Santa!

I hope you are out enjoying the snow!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Holidays from The Brown Family

This is what we used for our e-card this holiday. Phin wasn't looking at the camera but c'est la vie. You can't win 'em all!

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting a Family Photo!

We've been attempting a family picture for quite some time... its hard to get 5 faces shining at the camera, here are some of our bloopers. I hope this makes you smile in the midst of your busy holiday.


Benton mid-air.

Super cute... and super blury!

Take time to make the holiday meaningful for you today!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Catching Up!

Right before Thanksgiving, I  hosted a baby shower for my co-worker, Julie. Here are some pictures of how it turned out. [There are green table runners but they are so light you can't see them.]

Here's the final look of the banner and "Q." I wanted the "Q" above the buffet table, but it wouldn't adhere correctly. Oh well.

And here are the excited parents-to-be! We can't wait to meet your little QP!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Falling Behind...

With all of our 25 days of Christmas activities, volunteering, DIY-ing, etc, I've fallen WAY behind in my blogging and, boy, do I have lot to share. For a few days I'm going to recap what I've missed and then I'll start back in on crafting projects, Christmas freebies and ideas, etc.

Right before Thanksgiving, J and I had our 3rd wedding of the fall. It was a dessert reception that showcased just about every dessert! Delicious!

And here's J with his favorite little buddy! They had so much fun!

It was a great time to be together with family. It was a long haul to Kentucky, but we had a blast.

Monday, December 6, 2010

What a beauty!

I saw this idea on Made by Girl a while back and I loved what it represented....animal rights, design, art, etc. I knew I had to make it. (I also already have the perfect place to gift it!)

I used the detailed instructions found here.

It was fairly tedious and I got up close and personal with my exacto knife, but other than that it was pretty simple. Time consuming at most.

In progress:

Finished product:

It costs approximately $3-$5 to make one of your own!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


What do you do when the freezer is left cracked open and 8lbs on blueberries are dethawed? You bake. Alot.

I'm making a blueberry pie from scratch tonight, but last night I made lemon bars with blueberries and blueberry and zucchini bread! Oh my goodness, the lemon bars are good but the bread is phenomenal. Its more like a moist muffin trapped in a bread. Love it!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Advent is more than opening a door for a piece of candy or the counting down to Christmas, its a time to prepare our hearts for "the coming," or rather for Jesus. I made an advent calendar, and I love it, but I want it to be more than just small gifts each day for those I love most in this world, I want it to be a reminder of Jesus and why we celebrate this season. Without advent, without Jesus's coming, how would our world be different? We have so much to rejoice and celebrate this month as we prepare our hearts. Let Jesus come into us and help each of us to be more like Him this month, and all year.

I'll get off of my soap box now, but it truly has been weighing on my heart how secular this holiday is. J and I are doing 25 things (1 each day) to bring Him back to the center on the season. More on that later.

Now, for the actuality of my advent. It does look a lot like the PB one but I kept my pails white to match my kitchen more.

I had a blast filling these with treats my family would love, too.

Day #1 was full of mini-treats for the pups. They were anxiously awaiting them, too.

I do fully realize that my pups will never understand that Jesus is why they get treats all month, but hey, I love them and they need some Christmas cheer, too.