Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Free Christmas Printable

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

I think I’ve found a new hobby. The company I work for asked me to design some printables recently, AND NOW I CAN’T GET ENOUGH. I’m dreaming in clip art.

Feel free to download this image and print away. And, I’d love your feedback. What do you like/not like about it? Too much? Too little? (I can handle it…{I think.}) You may need to re-scale it in your print settings to fill the page adequately. I rescaled mine to 145% and it fit an 8.5 X 11 sheet perfectly in landscape format. (I’m still figuring this all out.)

Merry Christmas!

 

Star-of-Wonder-1

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Davis Fam Christmas Card 2014

 

 

Merry Christmas!

I am thankful for this upcoming week–a week of wrapping, gift-giving, too many cookies, singing Christmas songs in the kitchen, comfort food, too many cookies, parties, and friends.

But even more, I’m thankful for a God who constantly surprises me with His grace, even in my sin and weakness.

I was on a desperate search for grace this weekend after several botched parenting moments, weighed down with the guilt of not living up to a standard of kindness I want in myself and in my children.

But grace comes, it always does.

Sometimes I  just have to develop an eye for it…

It came through honest questions about Jesus from my oldest in a late night conversation. It came through a husband who accepts me just as I am ALWAYS.  It came through a Sunday morning sermon. (Listen here.)

2 Corinthians 1:20- “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. “

 

Since Jesus has fulfilled every one of God’s promises, we now live in the Yes–the YES that God is for us and always at work for our good. All we have to do is receive, to speak the Amen–Let it Be So–because the work is finished.

So, can you and I be set free from a life of regret? YES!

Can you and I forgive and be forgiven? YES!

Can you and I be accepted always, every morning, even in our weak attempts at righteousness, in the middle of our sinfulness? YES!

Jesus has the quintessential “Yes” face. He rejoices over His people with singing and His mercies are new every morning.

I can’t think of a better Christmas present. 

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

 

Merry Christmas, indeed.

 

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Christmastime is Here.

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

I know.

It’s been too long.

Between friends and family in town, Thanksgiving, putting up the tree, decorating the mantle, writing jobs on the side, and a dishwasher breaking, I have not had time to blog.

Honestly, it’s mostly just the dishwasher’s fault. Hand-washing and drying dishes for 6 people leaves little time for anything else. I’m telling you,  if your dishwasher works, do a little dance right now.

 

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about Christmas and the little things we do.

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Christmas Traditions

I’m not one to start creative traditions, but I’ve come to realize that traditions have been created in our home while I wasn’t looking.

This year the kids demanded eggnog while we decorated the tree, because “that’s what we always do, Mom”. They also insisted we get the tree right after Thanksgiving because that’s what we’ve done for the last 3 years. So, while Sufjan Stevens holiday radio played in the background (I insisted!), with eggnog-sipping in full effect, we bought and decorated the tree just TWO days after Thanksgiving.

Trimming-the-Tree IMG_9498 IMG_9501 IMG_9505

 

Last year, I bought a miniature stocking chain, numbered 1-25, to hang on the mantle for Advent. So, (theoretically) each day the kids reach in to find a treat and read the Scripture passage for the day. We’re following along with our church’s Advent devotional. It’s a great plan, though we’ve missed a few days, and the Dum-Dum lollipops keep falling out of their assigned stockings.

I’ve also realized in the process that the stocking line over the fireplace really isn’t such a good idea when you actually have to build a fire. Melted chocolate candy everywhere.

Live and learn.

 

Stocking-Chain

advent

 

On Christmas morning, we always open presents first (who doesn’t?!) AFTER the coffee is made for the parents. Then, we have Christmas brunch together. They always ask for homemade cinnamon rolls. I’ve been making them since forever.

I also  make a 2-layered fudge–chocolate and butterscotch–during the holidays to give to teachers and friends. The best part about it is that you don’t need a candy thermometer and it comes out smooth and  creamy every time. Check it out here: Foolproof Fudge {without a candy thermometer}.

This year I’m still making fudge, but I think I’m going to try this, too: White Chocolate Peppermint Sugar Cookie Bark.

 

sugar cookie bark, Christmas dessert

Looks amazing, right?

Christmas Decorating {on a Budget}

I’m not a major decorator–I don’t even decorate for fall (erg, I feel like I might lose my American citizenship with that confession). But I do decorate a few things for Christmas and I actually enjoy it.

Last year, I made this and I liked it so much, it stayed on the back of my front door ALL. YEAR. LONG. I just removed the fresh  dead greenery last week to spruce it up ( see what I did there…) for  Christmas this year.

Christmas Pinecones 2 - Version 3

 

Last year I found a great, budget-friendly Christmas decoration at okiobdesigns.blogspot.comI have a few of theses on my mantle and other places in the living room.

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My newest addition to the mantle is a gift I just received from a good friend.

 

 

And that pretty much sums it up.

And that pretty much sums it up.

The crowning glory (besides the tree) is probably the centerpiece on our kitchen table. I love the two-tiered silver tray, but I NEVER use it. So, I always pull it out at Christmastime, fill it with fresh greens, a few pine cones (store-bought) and a few sprigs of (fake) berries.
I think it’s lovely.

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Last, but not least…

Christmas Hymns

I love the traditional  hymns that we all sing each Christmas. My only problem is that I think we should sing them all year long. Seriously, read the words to some of the hymns you’ve been mechanically singing for years; they are rich with the GOSPEL.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found. (Joy to the World)

 

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing)

I need to be reminded of these truths everyday. All the time.

So seriously, Joy to the World in July? Who’s in?

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

What are your Christmas traditions?
 
Are you trying something new this year?
 
Is Christmas hard for you to celebrate? (It’s not always the most wonderful time of the year.)
 
I’d love to hear you thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Advent 2014

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Advent-2014

 

I don’t know  about you, but I’m excited about Advent this year. Maybe it’s the miniature stocking line I bought last year to hang on the mantle so we can visibly  count down the days to Christmas. I bought mini-treats to fill these cute little stockings today, and I plan on stuffing them with Scripture that follows along with our church’s Advent Devotional, too.

 

Advent-Stocking

This year, our Advent sermon series comes from 2 Corinthians 1.

Duane wrote the first devotional, and I was simply amazed after reading it. Amazed at a compassionate Jesus, a no-holds-barred Paul, and a simple man using his writing gifts to make the beautiful work of Christ known.

Once I read it, I knew I had to share it. (Then, I promptly freaked out because I realized that I had to write the devotional on the very next passage–tough act to follow.)

Ah, well.

I hope your Advent season is full of seeing Jesus in bigger, clearer, and fuller ways.

 

The God of All Comfort

2 Cor 1:1-7

“I dream to heal your wounds, but I bleed myself.” – Sunny Day Real Estate, “In Circles”

You’ve probably felt this way at some point in your life.  “I can’t do another thing.”  “I’m too tired.”  I’ve been hurt too badly to help anyone else.”  When everyone shares this sentiment, the church starts to look like a battle field, littered with dying soldiers writhing in pain.

Paul, however, promotes an alternate vision: “God…comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction…” (2 Cor 1:3-4).  Suffering in this life is certain—a given.  But for those who follow Jesus, dying and rising with him, suffering takes on a new meaning and becomes the conduit for loving like he does.  Perhaps Paul would have written: “I work to heal your wounds because I bleed myself.” 

We run the risk again this year of remaining the forever wounded, of doing nothing but dreaming about healing.  If so, paganism has triumphed rather than Christianity because, as Paul Miller argues, paganism is simply evil management, an attempt to keep things safe, a way to lessen the bleeding.  Jesus, on the contrary, Miller says: “is the massive center of surprise.”  When he arrives, God arrives in surprisingly human ways: hidden in a dark womb, confined to a dirty manger, obligated to unsuspecting parents.  He cries, bleeds, and dies “to heal your wounds.”

Let the church then not remain a battle field, littered with dying soldiers writhing in pain, but become an army of the walking wounded—a mobile hospital for sinners caring compassionately for others in the name of Jesus, whose father is “the God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3).

Father, comfort us in every affliction by revealing to us the power of Jesus’ affliction.  And help us to comfort others around us who need comfort with the comfort we have received in his resurrection.  Amen.

 

(I told you it was good.)

 * * * * * * * * * *

What are your Advent traditions?

Do you have a favorite Advent devotional?

I’d love to hear what you do during the Advent season in the comments below.

Foolproof Fudge {without a candy thermometer}

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

I know you’ve been counting down the seconds ’til I get my act together and FINALLY post my go to Christmas fudge recipe. Wait no longer. I use Taste of Home’s Two-Tone Fudge recipe. I leave out the walnuts, however. I have a real problem with nuts in fudge. It takes away from that smooth, creamy quality I want to savor when I eat that first bite, ya know? It’s kinda like adding mint to chocolate. I don’t want anything to alter the purity of my chocolate. Mint and chocolate should remain 2 separate entities (I’m in the minority, I know). But if you like nuts in your fudge, go ahead and include them.

I make this fudge every year around Christmastime and I promise it comes out perfect every time…without a candy thermometer!  Follow the directions precisely, especially the timing on the boiling. Set your kitchen timer for exactly 5 minutes. That’s the most important step to follow. You, too, can get foolproof fudge. Without a candy thermometer. Every time. Promise.

fudge

Ingredients
1-1/2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup Chopped Walnuts
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Directions
Line a 9-in. square pan with foil and grease the foil with 1-1/2 teaspoons butter; set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugars, milk and remaining butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a rapid boil; boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; stir in the marshmallow creme until melted and blended.

Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla. Pour 2-1/2 cups into a large bowl; stir in chocolate chips and walnuts until chips are melted. Pour into prepared pan.

Add the butterscotch chips to the remaining marshmallow mixture; stir until chips are melted. Pour over the chocolate layer and gently spread to cover. Refrigerate overnight or until firm.

Using foil, remove fudge from pan; carefully peel off foil. Cut into 1-in. squares. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 2-3/4 pounds.

You can package up the fudge and give it to friends for the holidays. I like to wrap it up in wax paper and add decorative ribbon, greens, and berries to spruce it up, like so:

fudge
fudge

Let me know if you try the recipe this Christmas. Also, feel free to shoot me any questions in the comment section or on my Facebook page.
Enjoy!

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Good morning! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around the Davis household. I’m not-that-crafty, but I tried my hand at a homemade Christmas decoration this year.

homemade decoration
Original Inspiration:www.mayarts.com/winter-wonderland-pinecones/

Ironically, I made this pleasant pinecone swag while Duane and I watched a foreign Christmas war film-Joyeux Noel. I think I needed to distract my mind a little from bombs, trenches, and artillery. Actually, the movie was great and the cinematography breathtaking. It’s based on a true story about a Christmas truce between French, English, and German soldiers during WWI. They stopped fighting for one day beginning on Christmas Eve and celebrated the holiday together. Maybe they made some pinecone swag over champagne together?

Anyway, this week I’m really excited to share a recipe for my Christmas fudge that I look forward to making every year. And the best part is: you don’t need a candy thermometer. I quickly package it up and give it away so that I only gain 10 pounds in December instead of 20. I give it as teachers’ gifts and it always gets rave reviews.

Stay tuned…

Friday Favorites: Christmas Gift Guide for Kids

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Happy day after Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoyed your holiday with family and/or friends. We celebrated with friends this year and had a great time. I had a deep, tryptophan-induced sleep last night, which means I’m up and ready for Friday Favorites.

Friday-Favorites-BNW-Christmas-Kids

This week I’ll be focusing on favorite toys my kids have played with over the years. If you’re out shopping on Black Friday–while I’m sitting on my cozy couch with my second cup of warm, french-press coffee–you can use it as a helpful guide to buy gifts for your little ones.

 

For Babies and Toddlers:

wooden blocks for babies

A Classic. My kids played with blocks over and over again. Jonathan’s beginning to stack them and knock them down. It’s really basic, but necessary developmentally while being a whole lot of fun. These are from Land of Nod.  Lots of cute stuff, especially their whale-themed crib sheets. I’m a fan.

Melissa and Doug wooden fruit set

This Melissa and Doug toy is great for toddlers. The velcro on the fruit slices holds the pieces together well so that when the child “cuts” the fruit, there’s some resistance. Feels like cutting into real fruit. A must have in your collection of kitchen play toys.

kids baby cardiganThis is Just. Plain. Cute. I don’t need to ruin it by rambling on. Jonathan has one. You can find a variety of these bow tie sets at Etsy (of course).

For Young Children:

melissa and doug sandwich game

Another Melissa and Doug favorite. This sandwich-making game is the perfect game for a family game night. We’ve had many laughs as a family playing this relay game together. I’ve also used it for my kids’ birthday parties for a large group of kids to compete against one another. There’s about 20 different relays you can play, but in the end, it’s mostly about who can make the correct sandwich first. I’m telling you it’s a blast. Your child probably needs to be at least 5 to enjoy.

Fezzy Squishable

Abby saved her money all summer to buy this adorable…umm..animal?! We’re not sure what it is, but we do know it’s C U T E. It’s a Squishable- a line of very cute and squishable stuffed animals. This one is Fezzy. Pretty sure it’s the only stuffed animal with a mustache.

 

For Older Children:

Electronic Snap Circuits

Aidan played with Electronic Snap Circuits a ton between the ages of 7-9. A great learning toy about the inner workings of electricty. We got it a Fat Brain toys which is a great website for not so run-of-the-mill toys.

rainbow loom bracelets
The only way you don’t know about the Rainbow Loom is if you haven’t seen one kid between the ages of 5-10 this year. These rubber band bracelets are everywhere. Kids love ’em. My daughter has a running list of friends who’ve requested her to make bracelets for them. Which is another great reason to get your kids a loom. She’s not just making them for herself; she’s giving them away.

coloring poster

Okay. This is the only one on the list we haven’t tried out already. I love this Artist Collective Poster Kit from Land of Nod. My 9-year-old still loves to color, but she’s kinda beyond My Little Pony, ya know? Could quite possibly be under the tree this year.

For Daughters:

mother-daughter bracelets

I love these bracelets for a mother and daughter set. Getting a little teary thinking about it. Geez. Might be under the tree this year, too.

Enjoy your shopping and Happy (Black) Friday!

Friday Favorites: Christmas Gift Guide

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

T.G.I.F. You know what that means. Friday Favorites is here again.

 

Friday-Favorites-BNW-Christmas

Thanks to Pinterest, lots of unique gift ideas are on my radar this year. Here are my favorites from around the web, in no particular order. Have fun as you “window shop”; think of the people in your life you’re excited to give to this year.

Coffee Shelf

A coffee shelf! I know a particular coffee snob in my family who would love it! : ) This shelf comes from a website called scoutmob.com. It contains a variety of items handmade by artisans.

States Necklace

I love these states necklaces from an Etsy artist, of course. They’re great to showcase where you’re from or love for where you live.

Night Owl Paper

Night Owl Paper Goods. I’ve loved this company forever. Letter pressed stationery on paper and wood.

Fairjour

I just found out about the Fairejour clothing company.  They scour the planet looking for clothing made by independent, eco and ethically conscious designers for truly one- of-a-kind pieces.

City Prints

Creativity abounds on Etsy. I love these city prints. Buy one for your favorite person in  Chicago or New Orleans or Paris! Multiple city options available.

Enjoy and Happy Friday!

onNeutralGround