Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Revisited

Romans 13: 12
" The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.  So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. "

Let's change that verse up, just a little...the year is nearly over, the new year is almost here. What will you choose this year? It doesn't matter what you chose last year, last month, last week, last night. The day is almost here. Choose today, right now, to put on the armor of light! I like the sound of that, don't you? Now this might be a daily choice (for me sometimes, hour-hour, minute-minute, second-second, get the idea!). Choose to move forward in light, put aside the darkness. I pray this year, no matter what you are facing, and even if you fall short moment to moment, that you keep choosing the light. In Him there is no darkness at all. Choose the light, choose Jesus!

As we close out this year, I thought I'd look back at some of my highlights in 2015. This blog has been, such a blessing to me (I pray it has been to you too!). I have gone through ups and downs throughout the year, but I've hopefully always relied on faith of the hope and promises yet to come. I pray you have at least gotten that out of reading this blog. There is hope in the cross. Here are some of my favorites from this past year, I hope to be able to share more joy and light in the new year to come. Happy 2016!

Disney World!
This "fierce" baby!
My neighbor said I looked  "rich" in this outfit
My entry to the house looked clean,
 and organized!!
Me and my "little" girls at Easter.

I found this perfect necklace at a charity event
at my church...destiny.
This pie...OMG!
My favorite photo-bomber!

Goodbye 2015! Thank you, Lord, for all the lessons and blessings I've had this year. 
I can't wait to share what the new year brings! Happy New Year!!! 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas 2015

Dr Seuss- How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
" What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

What was your favorite Christmas gift? I got a lot of nice things. I really did. What I wanted for Christmas, more than anything, wasn't under the tree. Actually, it couldn't have been under the tree. It's not something you can wrap in pretty paper and put a ribbon on. What I wanted for Christmas is something that I may not ever have here on earth. No matter how badly I want it, or how much I work to get it, or pray to God for it; the gift I want most may be waiting for me in heaven. Why? I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that through faith, this is a promise. Someday I will get this gift. Lord, though I may not know when and where and even if I will ever receive this gift here on earth, I am certain of your promises. As I am sure one day, my loved ones will be healed, I will see my little baby boy, there will be no more pain, no more worries, no more sadness. Lord, thank you for the gifts I have received: for my family, for my faith, for my savior who promises He is not finished with me yet and that the best is yet to come. Amen.

If you have been following along, I put some pictures of my favorite things throughout my posts. This Christmas I'm blessed to know my family is following along. A few of my favorite things found their way into my home. Yay! Another thing that found it's way into my home was this delicious Pumpkin Roll. I've been making this dessert/breakfast for Christmas morning for about 15 years now, and it never disappoints.

Miss Cheryl's Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs (beat 5 minutes)          1 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup pumpkin puree          1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup sugar                            1/2  teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup flour                          1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and beat. Grease a jellyroll pan and cover with waxed paper. Spread dough on waxed paper. Bake 375* for 15 minutes. While baking spread out linen towel on table and cover with powdered sugar. Remove cake from oven and overturn cake on towel. Remove waxed paper while still hot; roll cake up like jellyroll in towel.Cool in refrigerator for one hour. Unroll and spread with filling. Reroll and chill. 

8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
4 tablespoons of butter (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup of powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Beat ingredients until smooth.

Of course this is a delicious dessert anytime, but you know me, I love it in the morning with my coffee!! Enjoy!

I pray today, that nothing keeps you from believing, from exercising your faith, and from seeking to know the love and promises of Christ. Amen!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Fit gifts

Matthew 2: 11
" On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. "

This verse in Matthew, is about the wise men presenting their gifts to Jesus (notice Jesus wasn't lying in a manger in a stable at this point).  God's ultimate gift to us, Jesus, was given these very valuable gifts from wise men who journeyed far to worship him. Led by a star, by faith. We give because we were given. I pray today, that you follow Him, by faith. The ultimate Christmas gift, Jesus, was given for you. Amen.

Christmas gifts...ugh! I have a large family so, it can seem overwhelming sometimes. Even though I know ultimately that these things that I give my family are not the reason we celebrate Christmas, I do enjoy giving my children things that will (hopefully) bring them a little joy. I've been thinking about gifts this year that will benefit the health and well-being of my family (doesn't mean they'll get them, I was thinking about it though!!).  Here's a few things that I've been dreaming of this Christmas...

Fitbit!, need I say more?
What a great way to keep track of your heart rate, your  activity level, even your sleep!
You can get them practically everywhere now (shop a sale!)
NEW! Reindeer Sleigh Ride Bouquet™
I love Edible Arrangements.
This Reindeer Sleigh Ride Bouquet is $79!
In a sea of Christmas cookies, this would be a festive change.
Nike Flex Experience Run 4 Premium Women's Running Shoes
You can never have too many shoes (just sayin').
I saw these Nike running shoes in Kohls the other day. Love them!
Nike Flex Experience Run 4- Kohls
Snowflake Stripes Fleece Jacket
This fleece jacket!
What a perfect fleece for a quick run or a brisk walk.
Snowflake Stripe Fleece Jacket- Talbots

Look Honey, see how the shoes match the Fitbit and coordinate beautifully with the jacket??? What a coincidence... 

I pray you have a wonderful weekend, full of fun, frivolity and festivities!
 (and you could add a little fitness in between Christmas cookies, too!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

buon Natale

Isaiah 9: 6
" For unto us a Child is born, unto us a son is given; and the Government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. " (NKJV)

Christmas is full of tradition. At my house, we have a traditional meal that brings back special memories for my husband.  He grew up in a very traditional, large Italian family. Part of an early memory of Christmas for him was when his "Big Nana" would come down from New Jersey to spend Christmas with his family. She and his mother ("Little Nana") would make ravioli for their Christmas meal (among other things). Of course, this was all made by hand. Even though I have never made pasta by hand, I do try to honor the ravioli tradition. I buy the best ravioli I can find ( The Italian Market) and I make my own pasta sauce. We also have added some new Italian traditions of our own. We buy a traditional Italian bread called Panatone, and the girls and I make some great cookies called Angelettis. They are so good I don't know why I only make them once a year??

Here is the recipe I use for the Angeletti cookies. I saw it on the Martha Stewart Show years ago.

Click here for link- Angelettis
I have not baked them with the anise (which would be more traditional), I use the vanilla extract. They are delicious, or should I say. "Deliziosi "!! (especially with my morning coffee, OMG!!!)

I pray today, as we get closer and closer (and closer, and closer!), to Christmas that you take the time to consider and be thankful for the traditions that have been handed down over the years from your family and friends. I also pray, that you take some time to enjoy them and not allow them cause you stress or anxiety if you don't get to do them this year. After all, Christmas traditions can be wonderful, but the greatest gift of all was handed down through the lineage of David and born in a stable in Bethlehem. "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace"!

Monday, December 14, 2015


Isaiah 60: 1
" Arise, shine, for light has come , and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. "

What does it mean to shine? Probably has a different meaning to us today than it did for the writers of the Bible.  We are to shine bright to others, showing them God in us. Immanuel (Emmanuel) literally means God with us. In Matthew 1: 23 where Matthew is telling the story of Jesus' birth, he is retelling the prophecy in Isaiah,  over 700 years before. "Shine, for light has come". Let us, in this season of preparation for the coming of our Lord in His birth and His coming again, remember to shine.

There's nothing wrong with a little shine here and there that doesn't come from above, especially this time of year. We put a star on the top of our Christmas tree, we festoon our homes in Christmas lights, I even still put a little tinsel on my tree (nothing wrong with that!). It's also the perfect time of year to sparkle a little on your outside. Festive sweaters, jewelry, and makeup will keep you shining throughout the season.  Here are some of my favorite (Honey, I hope you're reading this one) shiny things to wear now and through the new year.

Tinsel Joy Sweater
This sweater says it all for me this year!
 It can be worn with jeans or some dressier bottoms, for a festive evening out.
Tinsel Joy Sweater- Talbots

Serene Snowflake & Stripe Bateau Tee
This festive Tee has just enough sparkle to help you shine all day long.
I love that beads dress up something so simple and basic.
This Tee comes 3 colors.
Serene Snowflake and Stripe Bateau Tee- Talbots

theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer
There are a lot of uses for this luminizer. I love it as an everyday all over eyeshadow, but you could use it as a highlighter on your brows or even on your cheekbones. Very sparkly!
Mary-Lou Manizer- theBalm

These nail wraps from Jamberry are called Midnight Magic.
These actually glow in the dark! Talk about shining!!

and my new fave shiny bracelet...

I love Alex and Ani. This is my birthstone, blue zircon.
It comes in silver or gold tone and of course 11 other birthstone choices.
What a great way to add sparkle and shine everyday.

I pray today, that you shine bright with the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Celebrating the light that burns brightly inside each one who believes. Let it shine!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The show must go on!

Zechariah 8: 5
" The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there. "

Last weekend, my family and I went to see a Christmas show "Deck the Halls" at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster, PA.  What a great show! This Bible verse reminds me of show. This year the show's setting was at a hotel in New York City. The stage was filled with performers of all ages. Children were playing in the street. There was even a cute Bichon pup that wowed the audience with his performance. There really wasn't a plot, it was more of a setting, showcasing the beautiful voices and talents of the performers, and just about every Christmas song and carol you can think of! My SIL and I were sharing on the drive home, how motivated we were to "get our Christmas on". I know for me personally, I put  the Hallmark Channel on the second we got home, and the girls and I baked a batch of cookies (Grandmom's Butter Cookies-click here for recipe "Hiding place").

(Photo found on facebook)

This was a visually beautiful scene where there were angels singing and dancing in front of a church like backdrop.
(Photo found on ticket)

I'd love to know what get's you in the holiday spirit. Please comment below. Is it Christmas music? Baking? Cutting down the Christmas tree? A special service at church?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Today I pray that the Lord bless you and keep you- that His face shines on you, and be gracious to you:  that He lifts His countenance to you and gives you peace! (Numb.6: 24-26)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hiding place

Psalm 32: 7
" You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. "

I had a good weekend and a bad weekend. I saw a wonderful Christmas show and had a lovely lunch with my mother, my God-mother, my cousin and her daughter, my SIL and my niece, and my 3 youngest daughters. So much fun. Definitely the "good part". The "bad part" was made worse because the people I went to with my "bad part" didn't react the way I wanted them to. Shame on me. Seriously, no sarcasm here.  I need to learn to go to God first. I wanted a reassuring word, I wanted a voice of reason. When you count on people that are too close to the situation and are emotionally involved, sometimes their reaction comes from frustration, out of love and caring.  Unfortunately, it can make things less clear. In my moment of frustration, if I had gone to God first, I wouldn't have been as emotionally charged as I was. Help me, Lord, to rely on you first. Remembering that You are my hiding place, You will protect me, You will surround me with songs of deliverance.

We all need a place of peace and security. What first attracted me to my husband was that he made me feel safe and protected and loved. He is my advocate (in most things...sometimes he's my mortal enemy, too-lol!). My parents also have that same ability. I love to go to their home. I feel a sense of order, security and peace (again, in most things....we are all human for heaven's sake!). Bonus at my parents house is: no renovations, and my mom's a great cook!! This time of year my mom and I bake cookies. I'm going to share some of my favorite cookie recipes in the next few weeks leading up to Christmas. Cookies= happiness (it's good math, trust me!).

My paternal grandmother made the best cookies. I don't remember my mom's mom baking cookies, she was more of a cook than a baker. She did make some delectable desserts, but her Christmas cookies (that I remember) were from  the local bakery. Here's the closest recipe we have for my grandmother's "brown-edge" cookies. She made them from memory, so one year, my mom and I went to her house to watch her bake them and we wrote down this simple recipe. It's still a family favorite.

Grandmom's Butter Cookies (aka. Brown-edge Cookies)

1 cup of butter (2 sticks)
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 cups of flour 
2 tsp of baking powder
1 dash of salt (generous)

Preheat oven to 375*
Cream together butter in sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour baking powder and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing thoroughly until dough forms. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto baking sheet. Press down cookies with a fork. (at Christmas time I sprinkle on colored sugar at this point). 
Bake for 8-10 minutes until edge of cookies turn a golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack. 

Image found on Google Images
(click here for link)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I'm square!

Matthew 18: 22
" Jesus said to them , 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.' "

I know I just used this Bible verse a couple of weeks ago in my post- 7, but I was reminded of it when I was thinking about my birthday. No, I'm not 7, and I'm not even 490. I just turned 49 this week. 49 is an interesting number. It's actually a square number, but not only that, it's the first number whose digits are both square as well! That makes me utterly and hopelessly square!! (just ask my kids, they'll tell you it's true).  I've had a couple of people say, "You're 29, again, right?". No. I'm not ashamed of 49. I'm embracing 49. I've earned 49!

 Thank you, Lord, for 49 challenging, crazy, funny, unbelievable, but mostly blessed years!!

Square also reminds me of my latest decorating obsession for Christmas this year. The pattern is actually called "Buffalo Plaid" or "Buffalo Check". Basically, it's an oversized check pattern. I believe I had a black and white buffalo check dress back in the 80's (very chic!). Here's an example of the print in a simple gift bag found at Target.

Spritz Buffalo Plaid Gift Bag Small Cub
Buffalo Plaid Gift Bag-Target
Only $2!!

Snowman Toss Pillow - Red
I really like the subtle plaid on the snowman's hat,
 and this pillow could be used throughout the winter season.
Snowman Toss Pillow- Target

 Even this cute Snowflake ornament is "square"!
Holiday Plaid Snowflake Frame Ornament
Plaid Snowflake Frame Ornament- Target's a couple of beautiful trees I found on Pinterest, that are rockin' the Buffalo Check.

Black and White Mixed Plaid Christmas Tree MichaelsMakers By Stephanie Lynn:
Image found here- Pinterest

Tartan Trimmed Christmas Tree - would be cute for one of the "mini" trees.:
Image found here- Pinterest

So, being square (or check or a buffalo) isn't a bad thing. It can be beautiful and fun!
 I pray you embrace the day and where you are in it. I pray that you count today as a blessing!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Happy, happy birthday!

Matthew 19: 14
 " Jesus said, ' Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' "

We have 2 birthdays and an anniversary at our house this week. One of the birthdays is for my baby girl. Here is where my husband would say, " She's not a baby!".  Well, to me they will always be my "babies"(even the 25 yr old).  But, in this case I am talking about my youngest. She will be 3 this week and we celebrated this past Sunday.  Just as on Halloween, when she changed her mind a couple of times before we settled on Tigger (see-Costume dilemma), we did not have a Beauty and the Beast party (see-Princess). I had even invited Belle! Fortunately, I hadn't purchased anything or made any deposits yet. Belle understood, and hoped we could work something out next year (whew!).

We had a Dora birthday party this year. When you're 3, Dora is the "bomb"! So, after perusing Pinterest and customizing an invitation on Evite. Dora truly came to life. Here are a couple of pics from the party.

I found this coloring page on Pinterest.
I was able to add some personal language to the map on my PC.
We used "Map" to go through the activities.

Dora the Explorer |
I got my color scheme and this goody bag idea from this party on Pinterest as well.
Found on Pinterest-
Dora the Explorer |
I enlisted the help of my 14 yr old to draw faces on cheese sticks for some festive party fare.
Also found on Pinterest-
My friend, Erin, made this wonderful cake.  It was truly the piece de resistance!!
My children are truly my precious gift from God.  I love the wonder and innocence that they have when they are younger. It makes birthdays and holidays so much fun. Planning and giving them these special times brings me so much joy (and then they become creepy teenagers, yuck!). I pray today that we approach each day with a little bit of the hope and wonder and yes, even some of the innocence of our youth. Amen!

Have a great week!