Making Macarons and December Daily Stuff

The prettiest of the cookies has to be the Macaron. This little French cookie is one I don’t bake well. And, by ‘don’t bake well’, I mean I bake something that resembles a hockey puck than a Macaron.

DecDaily-MacaronBox

Kit is full of promise

Oh, I’ve tried…and failed. But this year I spied this little kit at, where else, Target.

It spoke to me. It said, “Nous allons faire des biscuits!” (Let’s bake cookies!)

*** Insert random December Daily photos here, which have nothing to do with Macarons. ***

DecDaily-Rocco

I can’t help it if Rocco loves his ugly Christmas sweater…

DecDaily-Starbucks

Starbucks treat almost too pretty to eat…almost

DecDaily-Socks

Fuzzy socks to keep their tootsie toes warm

DecDaily-Party

New party shoes for the school Christmas party

Back to the Macarons…

DecDaily-Macarons

Chocolate Macarons with mint filling (3 ‘good’ cookies)

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advent

In the true spirit of Advent, here’s something I learned this week following along with the Advent Bible study at She Reads Truth:

Bethlehem means “House of Bread”.

In Hebrew, Beth•lehem is two words, Beth (House) & Lehem (Bread). Jesus was born in the House of Bread…and 33 years after his birth, He would break bread with his disciples saying, “Take, eat; this is My body.” (Matthew 26:26) 

Reading this kind of stopped me in my tracks. His perfect irony is amazing, isn’t it? Maybe you knew this little tidbit already, or maybe, like me, you are hearing this for the first time. Either way, be still and let that soak in a moment. Because it’s pretty awesome.

You can read the full post at She Reads Truth.

This is Your Permission to Keep it Simple

Advent

It’s a little over a week into December. The holidays are fully upon us. Are you feeling stressed yet?

I hereby give you permission to keep it simple this year by cutting the stress and relaxing.

But, you say you have lots and lots of things to do. Parties to attend. People to shop for. Dozens and dozens of cookies to bake. Gifts to wrap with creative wrapping that rival Martha Stewart.

“How am I supposed to keep it simple, or relax for that matter?” you ask.

Well, it turns out I have a few ideas…

Give Love. The Beatles said it best: Money can’t buy me love. No matter how expensive the item, it will not guarantee the gift recipient will love you more for it. Lexus, with the big red bow on top of the car, I am talking to you. Love is greater, and best of all, it’s free.

Give Time. Your time is also free and greatly appreciated by all who receive it. Help an elderly neighbor shop, cook for someone in need, or take a friends’ kids off their hands for the evening. The simple act of your time shows you care more than any wrapped gift you could buy.

Decorate less. I have a huge collection of Christmas ornaments and decorations. Over the years I have weeded out a lot of stuff but still, I have too much. This year, hubby has had health issues. We probably won’t get the lights up on the house…and that’s okay. Really. There is no such thing as Holiday Light Police.  Every year I dread putting these things away. Decorating less means I have time for more important things…like taking a nap.

Do Less. I give myself (and you) permission to say “no” more often to holiday parties/events. Sorry friends, but it’s for the good of my sanity. If you don’t have the energy to create an Advent calendar, Elf on the Shelf, or decorate gingerbread houses then, to quote another famous song, Let It Go, Let It Go.

Spend Less. Never use credit cards to purchase gifts…EVER! If the money is not in your bank account, don’t buy it. Find a less expensive alternative and sing with me again: Money Can’t Buy Me Love.

Focus on Family. A few of our simple, family traditions include crafting of Christmas ornaments. We pop popcorn and watching The Grinch. And, we stroll the Christmas light displays around town, stopping for hot chocolate or a Caramel Brulée Latte. These are the simple memories that will last a lifetime.

Enjoy the Season. Chances are good that your holiday won’t be Pinterest-perfect. Just go with it. Smile and laugh with your kids and family when things go wrong. Relax. December will come and go, and summer will be here before you know it.

The Reason for the Season: Let’s not forget WHY we celebrate Christmas. I honestly don’t think Jesus would be pleased with all the stress we put on ourselves this time of year. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? “…you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about.” Yeah, that.

I give you permission to keep it simple this holiday season. Can you feel your stress level going down already?

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Lisa at Over the Big Moon wrote an amazing post entitled: Why my Husband and I Cancelled Christmas. Not surprisingly, she got some very hateful comments. She got a lot of encouraging comments too, because it turns out she is not alone in this feeling that her kids (and this world) has an entitlement complex. I encourage you to read it with an open mind. Parenting is tough. Not everyone would have the guts to do what she did, but some might. It is working for her family and that is what matters.

 

Joy to the World | Free Printable

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Joy To The World Printable

For fun here is a little printable for the season. To download the pdf, click on the image above and save the file to your computer and print!

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Also, how fun is this Christmas Light Scavenger Hunt for kids, young and old? It’s offered by Ann Voskamp at The Greatest Christmas. Click on “Free Gifts” button and navigate to the Scavenger Hunt free printable.

Awesome Gift Giving Guide That Does Good | 2014

‘Tis the season to give…right? So, what do you get friends and family who have everything? Or, say, “I don’t need anything.” Which is true.

Most of us don’t need a thing. Not so true for others around the world.

The dilemma of the season: Give something special to our loved ones, because we love to give, but also give to those who are in need. The solution? Give gifts that give back in some way.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking this holiday season…drum roll, please… my Awesome Gift Giving Guide That Does Good:

HELP INK | Choose your favorite, colorful poster, then choose your charity. Hang beautifully designed artwork on your wall, or give as a gift. Priced at $5-$20.

BEAGLE FREEDOM PROJECT | This one is on the list because I LOVE beagles! “The Beagle Freedom Project is a mission to rescue beagles used in animal experimentation in research laboratories and give them a chance at life in a loving forever home.” The dog lover on your list will “aahhh” about this one.

NO KID HUNGRY | Need holiday cards? Want to help end childhood hunger in America? No Kid Hungry combines the two. Make a donation in your gift recipient’s name and give them a keepsake card. Starting at $10 donation.

ERICA SARA | These courage charm necklaces are available in gold fill or sterling silver and can be personally engraved with a special message. Choose from 3 different charities. Starting at $30.

GIVING KEYS | In a nutshell, Giving Keys “exists to employ those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry out of repurposed keys that get sold and shared around the world. Each key is unique and carries a message like HOPE, STRENGTH, DREAM or COURAGE. When the wearer of the key encounters someone else who needs the message on the key, they give it away.” Pay it forward in more ways than one.

BRAVELETS | This bracelet pictured above is in support of the Michael J. Fox Foundation, $35. “The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and to ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s today.” Bravelets offers products that support other charities, such as, breast cancer awareness, Alzheimer’s, colon cancer, MS, and many more.

COMPARTES | You know I had to put something chocolate on the list! These “Chocolates for a Cause – 10 piece gift box – signature caramels + chocolate + African graphics make for a great gift for a great cause. Made with imported African ingredients adorned with colorful African graphic, coupled with 1 Relief Beads bracelet, all to benefit Relief International in Darfur. Flavors change seasonally.”

NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION | Give an Adoption Kit to the animal lover in your house…I know a special little girl in our house who will be getting this one! NWF is committed to preserving wildlife all over the world. Adoption kits includes a stuffed animal of your choice, a poster of that animal and an adoption card for $30. Kits in larger denomination are also available. (Your adoption is symbolic and your donation will be used where it is needed most to help protect America’s imperiled wildlife.) Free shipping included.

FASHION & COMPASSION | “The vision of Fashion & Compassion to transform communities through holistic economic empowerment that brings dignity and opportunity to individuals who have been caught in a web of poverty and injustice as they heal spiritually, emotionally & physically.” And they have really cute gifts!

GOSPEL FOR ASIA | Give a gift that helps rescue families from poverty and shares Christ’s love. From the GFA Christmas catalog: $10 mosquito net, $160 outdoor toilet, $11 a pair of rabbits, $65 a lamb, $11 a pair of chickens, $30 bio-sand water filter for clean drinking water, $40 tool kit, $35 monthly Bridge of Hope Child Sponsor, or if you’re feeling really charitable, give $17,000 for a heavy duty vehicle. (I am a GFA blogger, so this charity is close to my heart.)

GRACE & LACE | A portion of each sale of these cute boot cuffs or boot socks will go towards building orphanages in India. So far, 2 orphanages were opened in 2014 with 5 more planned to open in 2015. “For the first time in their lives, these children now have a mattress to sleep on, fresh water to drink, food in their bellies and a school to go to.” I love these boot cuffs…hint, hint.

AMAZON SMILE | If you like to shop Amazon, and who doesn’t, then switch to Amazon Smile. You get the same great deals as Amazon but for every purchase you make a donation goes to the charity of your choice. 

Small Seeds LOGO

That’s my 2014 awesome gift giving guide that does good. Now, go make a difference in the world. Be a Small Seed this holiday season!

Why Advent?

advent

Why Advent? Advent is a time of spiritual reflection and celebration leading up to the birth of Christ on December 25th. Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. The word ‘Advent’ is from the Latin word “Adventus,” which means “coming.” It is more than simply marking a 2,000 year old event in history. It is celebrating a truth and the Word of God. It is the spiritual journey of us all, as we affirm that Christ, our Savior, has come, that He is ever-present in our world today, and that He will reign again.

Advent Bible Study

Looking for an Advent Bible Study Guide to help deepen your faith in the season? Pick up Lara Williams’ new book, then came Jesus. Then, follow along as Lara blogs through the Season of Advent. I also will be blogging, studying, and spending time reflecting in the Season of Advent with Lara’s book.

How do you celebrate Advent?

***NEW joyful designs in the shop now…just in time for the holidays. Visit my shop here.

30 Things | The List

NOVEMBER-LookingAtSunset

November is over…rushing in comes December!

I found sticking to a list of things to seek out and show gratitude was a little more challenging than in past years. How about you?

  • One thing worth it’s weight in gold: Neighbors taking pity on us for Thanksgiving dinner after Glenn’s surgery.
  • One thing lost, then found: I thought I had lost some pictures I took last Christmas, then found them in the most unexpected place. Why did I put them there?
  • One thing restful: Doing nothing on a Saturday afternoon.
  • One thing that nurtures my soul: Sleeping in! Seriously, all.week.long.
  • One thing in Him: He works in great & amazing ways…connecting myself and a like-minded blogger friend, who lives half way around the world.
  • One thing orange: It’s more coral, but in the orange family. This scarf.
  • One thing received: An anonymous donor to my Small Seed Bibles for South Asia campaign.
  • One thing given: Operation Christmas Child boxes filled and delivered.
  • One thing crafted: Christmas quilt wall hanging (it’s almost finished, anyway).
  • One thing found in the morning light: Chihuly glass here.
  • One thing said unexpected: An old friend came to town, friendship missed.
  • One thing encouraged: My girls’ awesome teachers.
  • One thing that made you smile: My new little work space…no more working spread out on the sofa.
  • One thing answered: Unexpected freelance work.
  • One thing so small I almost missed it: The frost on an autumn leaf.
  • One thing savored: Crockpot full of chili on a very cold day.
  • One thing sung: “Greater” by MercyMe.
  • One thing reminding me to have faith: Read on Twitter…”Get out of the boat and have faith.”
  • One thing about you: My body, although not perfect, perfectly me.
  • One thing a blessing in disguise: Not sure I can answer this one…maybe the blessing in disguise hasn’t revealed itself yet.
  • One thing autumn: The trees looked on fire with orange reflection of the sunset.
  • One thing in verse: Philippians 4:6-7
  • One thing gentle: Parker’s hugs just when I need it. The gentle way she brushes my hair out of my face.
  • One thing spouse: My hard working hubby.
  • One thing when I looked up: The clouds coming out of IKEA.
  • One thing at work: Well, there are 5 people at work that rock!
  • One thing in my kid: Parker for her fashion sense.
  • One thing of my choice: One thing in my other kid: Alex’s kindness to friends.
  • One thing of my choice: Cheesy chick-flicks.
  • One thing of my choice: Looking down at a stone path that was art under our feet.

So, how did you do with in the month of gratitude?

 

30 Things: Food and Fellowship

It’s Thanksgiving Day…bring on the turkey!

If you are making the big meal this year, be sure to take the giblets bag out of the turkey BEFORE you cook it. That’s my little public service announcement, speaking from personal (and embarrassing) experience. So, there’s that.

May you have a blessed day.

Thirty Things: 30 Days of Gratitude | If you missed the FREE gratitude checklist and quote, you can download it here.

30 Things: Grace

Grace

Thanksgiving is on Thursday (like you don’t know that). All across America we will be sitting down around a dinner table with family and friends. We be sharing in food and fellowship. We will be sharing what we are grateful for. And, we will be saying grace before we dig into good food.

I came across this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson a few weeks ago. I thought, wouldn’t this make a wonderful prayer of thanksgiving?

Do you have a traditional prayer you say before Thanksgiving dinner, or do you make it up on the fly?

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LOOKING AHEAD TO ADVENT | Okay, the season of Advent starts on Monday. Check out the newest Bible study by Lara Williams entitled, then came Jesus. I ordered mine last week and can’t wait to start.

“This 4-week study guide is one thing we can do, alone or with our family, to purposefully remember Jesus. It’s a few minutes set-aside each day to reflect on Him. A time to press deeper into our God so that when December 25th rolls around we won’t regret; we’ll rejoice. Because we’ve walked into the season hand-in-hand with Jesus.” (excerpts from the introduction of “then came Jesus”)

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