It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This Christmas season is one of my favorites.  I love the brisk cold air, warm beverages by the fire, spending time with family….and of course all of the lights.  Joshua and I put up our Christmas lights a few weekends ago and I love pulling into our driveway with the welcome glow of lights greeting me.  I put our tree up and the garland over the fireplace the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Here are a few images from around the house.

My ceramic Christmas tree (handed down from my grandmother and one of my favorite Christmas decorations), our tree, some santas on the fireplace, and a close up of one of our ornaments

My ceramic Christmas tree (handed down from my grandma and one of my favorite Christmas decorations), our big tree, 2 Santas on the fireplace, and a close up of one of our ornaments

Garland on the mantle and a cozy fire made by my sweet husband

Garland on the mantle and a cozy fire made by my sweet husband

I even have a little tiny USB tree on my desk at work.

I even have a little tiny USB tree on my desk at work.

In addition to making out house look and feel festive, I’ve been doing She Reads Truth‘s Advent daily reads.  These devotions are short, pack a great message and have been a daily reminder of what this season is really all about – the miracle of our Savior’s birth.  Yesterday’s reading was Luke 1:26-38 and the end of that passage really stuck with me. Mary, in response to Gabriel’s news that she (a virgin) would give birth to the Child of God replied:

Luke_1-38

Pretty awesome response, right?  I am sure this news was pretty scary to hear but instead of freaking out – which I have to say, would most likely be my response – Mary simply said I am God’s tool to use as He sees fit.  My desire is to live a life more like Mary…a life of dedication and devotion.  God’s plans for us are good, we just need to have faith in Him and take time to listen to where He is leading us.

Light of the World

With the darkness of winter here, I thought I would share this picture I found over at A Cup of Jo.

I thought this verse went well with the image:

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5: 14-16

Be God’s light in the world, and share His love this Christmas season.

Winter Warmth

I don’t know about the weather where you are…but here in Tennessee, it has gotten mighty chilly over the past couple of days.  It was a brisk (by that I mean bitter cold) 24 degrees when I left for work this morning.  Yikes!  Thankfully, I love cold weather clothing..so I’m somewhat grateful for the cold and being able to wear warm sweaters and scarves all day!

The other thing that I love about cold weather…all of those WARM beverages I can consume!  Granted..not all of them are very “Calorie Friendly” but I do enjoy endulging from time to time.  Here are 2 of my current favorites:

Hot Apple Cider:

The picture may be from the Land O Lakes website…but I take the really simple route to my Cider.  Just add Mulling Spices to a gallon of apple juice.  I know, I know…this is not very “gourmet” but that’s ok.  It tastes great and is easy to store.  Tuesday night I simply through the apple juice in a big pot, added the mulling spices and simmered on the stove until the spices had disolved.  I funneled the juice back into the original bottle (which was pretty interesting on its own…we had no funnel so I had to improvise.  Thankfully I’m married to a pretty smart guy).  Now I can have cider whenever I want..I just have to pour some in a mug, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and I’m set to go!

The other warm beverage I love in the winter is hot chocolate and I found a fantastic recipe on AllRecipes.com.  This, my friends, is definitely not calorie friendly.

 

 

 

 

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c. white sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/3 c. boiling water
  • 3 1/2 c. milk (I used 2% to give it a little extra body..thought skim might be a little too thin)
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract (forgot to add this and it was still delicious)
  • 1/2 c. half and half cream

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan.  Blend in the boiling water.  Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir.  Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes.  Watch that it doesn’t scorch.  Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil!  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

Here are some tips:

Make sure you have all your ingredients ready–have everything measured out and ready to add.  If you have to run to the fridge to grab your milk to add..you risk burning your chocolate mixture and noone likes burned chocolate.

I didn’t measure my half and half, I just poured a little bit in each glass to take the temp down slightly.

Add some mini marshmallows or whipped cream to the top.  I did ready whip, as I didn’t want to fuss with homemade whipping cream (and my father-in-law wasn’t home…and he is the expert whipped cream maker).

 

What is your favorite winter treat?

Christmas Cheer

Josh and I braved the nasty, rainy weather and went to our church‘s youth Christmas concert Sunday night.  Granted..we had a little bit of extra purpose than just going to get our fill of Christmas music.  My sister had a solo and my parents were also going.  So, we spent Sunday evening in the beautiful Narthex of our church listening to the voices of youth (5th-12th graders) sing the joyful songs of Christmas.  They always sing the same song to finish the evening performance…and it is special to me because I used to sing it when I was in choir.  So, here is a little video someone shot a few years ago.  It is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit.