Christmas Thoughts

design (3)There are other things I need to be doing at the moment. Things mostly related to making our family Christmas a joyful and restful day, filled with the warm-fuzzies that come along with a hugely blessed life.

But I took some time out of my day to continue my Advent study. I attempt to do one every year and this year am finally succeeding (although I will go a few days past Christmas, I struggle making this a daily habit). I am blown away at what I am experiencing.

This small study is taking me through many of the prophecies about Christ and their fulfillment. There are so many amazing specifics spoken in the Old Testament that come true in the New that firmly convince me of God’s greater plan. I love reading about the prophecies of Jesus, many of which focus on his birth. This year has been a little bit different.

Generally at Christmas I like to think of the happy stories in the Bible. The story of Jesus’ birth and the miracle of his arrival. The glory of God wrapped in a small babe here to save the world. The heavenly angels singing to proclaim His coming. It gives me joy and happiness to think of Jesus here as a human, experiencing life as we know it.

But the Scriptures that are really hitting home are quite surprising to me. Not that I haven’t read them before or dwelled upon them, but for some reason they are really heavy on my heart. And that is hard for me to admit. I don’t like to share my emotions, especially if they are negative. I tend to keep them hidden, even from myself!

Have you read Isaiah 53? The Suffering Servant? The clearest picture of Christ painted in the Old Testament? It has me in tears. I’ve been reading it every day for almost a week now and I can’t stop the feelings! Besides that portion of Scripture there are many other’s that tell of the suffering that Christ endures.

Christ came to earth as a tiny baby, lying in a manger, born to poor parents that were nearly outcasts. He starts humbly and continues to keep that attitude throughout his life. If you know the story, jump ahead to the end of his life.

Jesus KNOWINGLY faces the most trying experience that anyone could face and he does so with humility and grace. He is rejected, betrayed, illegally tried, falsely accused, abandoned, mocked, beaten to disfigurement, spit upon, and crucified.

This is not just the Jesus of the nativity scene that we admire at Christmas. This is the Jesus that loves us so much that he would endure complete and total rejection from us to save us from death. Wow. I mean, can you even imagine all that? This is not the warm fuzzy story I want to dwell on at Christmas!

But the birth of Jesus is greatly to be celebrated because he is coming into the world to deliver us from death. And there is of course the most amazing ending to the story. Jesus lives again. Although he suffers more than anyone can bear, he conquers the grave and brings us new life.

Isaiah 96 design 1

His glory shines through the story from the beginning to the end. It is spoken of throughout the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New. You can see how God’s Plan is greater than we can imagine. He loves us SO MUCH.

As I continue to think this week about what Christ did for me on the cross, I am going to celebrate his humble beginning all the more. He truly changed the course of history so we could live with him one day. I am so thankful he bore the burden that I couldn’t bear and saved me for a glorious life everlasting.

 

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers

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last minute stocking stuffers

Christmas is this week y’all!

Unlike my usual self that has everything ready by now, I still have a few last minute things to do! And although I would prefer to handmake all my gifts, it just isn’t always possible. Especially with a little person to tend to.

One thing I failed to even think about was stocking stuffers for my little guy! This is his first Christmas and I have new responsibilities. Ah, the life of a mom.

Being last minute with stocking stuffers, I’ve been trying to come up with some simple ideas. There are so many possibilities I thought I would pass on some ideas to get you thinking: stocking stuffers.

For Baby:

Little toys like Stacking Cups

Board Books

Baby Socks

For Little Kids:

Small stuffed animals

Soft balls

Toddler socks

For Big Kids:

Small puzzles

Small Lego sets

Big Kid socks

For Teenagers:

Books

Gift Cards

Teen socks

For Her:

Non-toxic nail polish

Inexpensive jewelry

Ladies’ socks

For Him:

Power cords

Money Clip

Men’s socks

As you can see, everyone is getting socks in their stocking. Who doesn’t like that?!

Now I need to get myself out to the store one more time. These trips to town are killing me this month. Hopefully next year I’ll be better prepared!

Do you stuff stockings in your home?


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Gluten Free Cut Out Cookies

Gluten Free Cut Out Cookies

Soft, sweet, buttery, flakey, iced or not, sugar cookies are a staple Christmas goodie.

I have memories of cutting out Christmas cookies. We had some of those old plastic cutters that were supposed to imprint an image as well as cut a shape. You know the ones! They never seemed to work once the cookies baked. Usually they would just turn out as a blob.

Still, they always tasted so good. Sometimes we iced them. Sometimes we left them plain. There’s just something wonderful about a homemade sugar cookie.

And now I’ve grown up and I want to keep the sugar cookie tradition alive. But I have issues with gluten or wheat, which makes the traditional sugar cookie recipes off the menu for me.

gluten free cookies bowl

My quest this year, was to find a gluten free cookie option that still tastes like old times, but is much easier on my stomach. To satisfy my sugar cookie desires, I put together a recipe that uses almond flour and honey. Both are better options to balance the sweet overload of the holidays.

Gluten Free Cut Out Cookies

Gluten Free Cut Out Cookies

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour and baking soda.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, honey, and vanilla.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until they form a soft dough.
  4. Cover and chill for at least an hour.
  5. Once the dough has chilled, preheat oven to 325.
  6. Sprinkle your rolling surface with coconut flour and carefully roll the dough into a half inch thickness.
  7. Cut your cookies into desired shapes. I like these mini cookie cutters!
  8. If the dough seems too sticky, sprinkle with coconut flour. (Coconut flour sprinkles better than almond flour.)
  9. Place your cookies on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  10. Cook for 10-12 minutes. Let cool before frosting or eating.
http://neverlackingzeal.com/2014/12/18/gluten-free-cut-cookies/

I had the best time making these cookies. I love using the mini cookie cutters! They make the experience so fun. It will be even better when little man is old enough to enjoy it with me.

gluten free cookies

Although I’m sure I’ll indulge in something that won’t make my stomach happy, I have these gluten free cookies to keep me from going too crazy on the bad stuff.

Do you have good cookie cutting memories?


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Simple Gift Wrap Ideas

Simple Gift Wrap Ideas Title

I cannot seem to get it together this year!

And, is it just me, but how did Christmas get here so quickly?!

I’m usually on top of things like shopping, baking cookies, and spreading holiday cheer. All these things getting accomplished in a timely manner.

Maybe it’s the baby. Maybe it’s the change of routine. Maybe it’s the bazillion things to do running through my head.

I don’t know, but it’s here! And that means I’ve got to finish shopping and making a few items and wrap some gifts.

I really enjoy wrapping gifts. Like really enjoy it. I don’t know what it is, but to me it’s soothing, relaxing, and really gets me so excited for Christmas day. Even growing up, my mom made me the designated gift wrapper for all the gifts. I love it!

Now days, with that love, I like to be creative with my gift wrap. There are so many wonderful gifts to give and for me presentation is part of it. It’s so fun to see a stack of gifts, just waiting under the tree to be opened. Wonderment and Anticipation!

My preferred way to wrap gifts is to keep it simple. There is something classic about brown paper packages tied up with string. (See what I did there?) It’s just one of my favorite things!

So here are some of my favorite ways to wrap gifts. Most of these are low cost and some of the wrappings can probably be found around your home! It’s exceedingly possible to combine pretty and frugal.

Brown Paper Wrapping

My top favorite is simple brown paper tied with string. Yarn, baker’s twine, ribbon, any colorful length of cordage will do. You can cut paper tags to tie on or simply write names on the paper. (I prefer a tag since my handwriting is so-so and I don’t want it displayed!)

Brown Paper Bag Gift Wrap

Next, which is possibly simpler, is a brown paper sack. Of course you will want to embellish it with pretty scrap paper or stickers or something Christmasy. Even a simple bow tied with jute will make it look beautiful!

Fabric Gift Wrap

If you would like an idea for a more eco-friendly wrapping that could be re-used, try wrapping gifts in fabric! I had some old sheets that have some rough spots which I cut to fit around gifts. Wide ribbon or yarn are a perfect touch for accenting this gift wrap.

I saw a wonderful idea to make your own gift bags out of fabric! It looks very simple to do. I currently don’t have time to pull out the sewing machine and whip these up, but I do plan to make them in the future. I usually try to do a few projects at a time when I have the sewing machine out, so this will go on the list!

Tissue Paper Wrapping

Another great frugal gift wrap idea is to use tissue paper. And not a new pack that you just bought. But saved tissue paper from last Christmas. Yes, apparently not everyone saves their tissue paper, but growing up it was part of the gift unwrapping event! A bag for bows, a pile for tissue paper, and please keep the mess contained! Crinkled tissue paper makes for a pretty wrapping when topped with a yarn bow.

Gift Basket Gift Wrap

Lastly, for simple homemade gifts for neighbors or friends a gift basket is wonderful! Whether it’s for soap or cookies or a small trinket, a basket is simple to put together and easy to give. There are usually plenty of small baskets at thrift stores and it’s something they could use all year.

Simple Gift Wrap All Gifts

There are my favorite ideas on creating simple gift wrap. I love to wrap presents and make the gifts especially enticing as they sit under the tree!

What is your favorite gift wrap technique?

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7 Ways to Use Peppermint Essential Oil

7 ways peppermint

It’s Peppermint Season!

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone. (Hopefully with lots of turkey.) And Pumpkin Spice Everything is starting to tone down a little. Every other thing you see on Pinterest will be filled with Peppermint, often paired with chocolate. Yum!

But besides all the tasty treats that are invading our view, there are other good reasons to use peppermint! My peppermint of choice is peppermint essential oil. It’s highly concentrated, simple to use, and a little bit goes a long way. With most things these days, it’s nice to use something that has more than one purpose. Not only does peppermint taste great, but it also is great for you!

Peppermint essential oil has a surprising variety of benefits to it. Primarily, it promotes healthy respiratory function, assists in relieving stomach upset, and increases oral health. It is also uplifting and energizing . These are great reasons to be using peppermint during the Christmas season when it’s easy to indulge in sweets!

If you are looking to use peppermint essential oil in a practical way here are some ideas! Utilize it’s great benefits with these simple tips:

  1. Add peppermint with lemon to water for a refreshing mouth rinse.
  2. Rub peppermint on your temples and breathe deeply to clear the sinuses and relieve headaches.
  3. Place a drop or two in your palms and rub together, then breathe in the scent for an afternoon pick-me-up.
  4. Mix a drop or two in a cup of hot water to alleviate digestive trouble, or just to enjoy as a delicious drink.
  5. Diffuse peppermint to lift your mood and reduce anxiety.
  6. Rub with a carrier oil on joints to reduce aches and pains.
  7. Repel spiders and ants with a bit of peppermint oil on a cotton ball.

Holiday Bonus: Add a drop or two to your coffee or hot chocolate for a tasty beverage. Or mix into your favorite dessert to create a tasty treat!

Peppermint is one of my favorite essential oils. I tend to have a sensitive stomach to certain foods and peppermint essential oil is my go-to for relief. Same for headaches. A headache seems to be my body’s favorite way to tell me something is off. Fortunately I can get rid of the headache quickly until I figure out why it started out in the first place.

I love this time of year with all the wonderment and anticipation of Christmas. It’s wonderful to have a healthy way to keep the traditional scent and flavor of peppermint in my home!

How do you use Peppermint essential oil?

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Thursday’s Thoughts – The Christmas Season

Christmas!!

This is by far my favorite time of year. I’m crazy about Christmas, my husband is crazy about Christmas, and I think our dog Bella gets crazy about it too. There is something about the atmosphere of the season that makes me filled with joy. The holiday spirit if you will. I say it exists and it is good.

Personally, my reasons for loving this season are a mix of shallow and deep. Of course I love the gifts and the wonderment and anticipation around that. I’m always hoping that someone in the family will score big on a gift and make someone cry because its the best surprise. (Usually something sentimental and gushy.) I love the excitement of planning what I want to give to whom and finding those items or making them myself. I love the gift wrapping and like to come up with something creative or thematic with my wrapping. I love seeing the trees and the presents piled up underneath, each one filled with love.

When I’m out and about at night, the Christmas lights bring joy to my heart. I usually call out “CHRISTMAS!!” every time I pass by a house with lights on. Of course I prefer to not see any until after Thanksgiving, but I will be joyous at the sight of any white or colored lights. And I try not to holler out too much when I’m by myself, although I must say it happens.

I love to get my house decked out with all the Christmas trimmings. We like to put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, and get everything set up as soon as possible. The best part is when its all out and the house is clean and the lights are dim and everything is super cozy and beautiful. I’ll light the candles and sit and reflect on the wonderful feelings that encompass Christmas.

I’m very excited to start sharing the joy and create traditions with our baby boy. I have some amazing Christmas memories from my childhood and I hope to pass that on to our child. The anticipation of his arrival is intensified by the holiday season. I just keep thinking of all the wonderful Christmasy things we will start doing next year!!!

This year I’m also experiencing something that I never have before. I am wondering what is was really like for Mary to be traveling across country, pregnant, and on a donkey or walking. As I continually feel my baby boy move in my tummy and think and wonder about him, I can’t help but imagine what it was like for Mary to experience that, and to know how special her baby was. I feel that she really grasped her situation. From the descriptions of her in the Bible she knew full and well the gravity of what was happening and the blessing that she carried. What joy and what burden!

Being pregnant around this time of year brings a whole new meaning to the season. I think about the humble beginnings of my Savior. He came into the world as a helpless little baby, born in a barn, to inexperienced parents, and with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

I will be celebrating all season long the magnitude of Jesus’ life. The reason for his birth into this world hold eternal significance for my life. I cannot help but be grateful for the gift of life that came so long ago. He brought hope, joy, and life into this world. What grater thing can we celebrate this time of year? Or any time of year? I pray that you can experience the wonders of the season and keep in mind the true reason that we celebrate Christmas.

Photo credit to the devotional series I am following right now at Good Morning Girls.
Photo credit to the Advent series I am following right now at GoodMorningGirls.org

 

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