Love Story

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Torani Holiday Cheer

 There are so many things to love about this time of year and one of them is all of the seasonal flavors we get to enjoy! I wanted to share with you two of the Torani Syrups we have been using in our house for the month of December.
 The first Torani syrup that has been making many appearances this month is the Peppermint flavor. It's like a candy cane in a bottle! This is great added to a homemade mocha and my kids have especially enjoyed it poured into their hot chocolate. If you caught my DIY hot chocolate jars post, if you removed the peppermint candies and instead paired a bottle of the Torani Peppermint Syrup with the cocoa jar, it would make for an awesome gift.
My personal favorite lately has been the Salted Caramel syrup. I add it to my french pressed decaf coffee along with almond good! The kids have also really been liking it in their hot apple cider. For more ideas on how to incorporate Torani's Salted Caramel syrup into your drinks and other treats, check out the recipe idea page HERE.
What flavors are you enjoying this holiday season? As I was browsing the flavor list at I was so surprised to see that their syrups extended beyond the typical sweet flavors I knew existed. Did you know they have flavors like Bacon and Chicken 'N Waffles in their arsenal? I didn't either. If you haven't checked out all that Torani has to offer, I encourage you to do so. Great for this season and beyond.

**This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks and Torani. In exchange for my opinions, I was given free Torani products to sample. However, all opinions given here are completely my own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DIY Gifts - Hot Cocoa Jars

I am so excited to be co-hosting a Christmas party this weekend for some awesome women who serve in the same ministry as me. We know these women give a lot so we wanted to make sure they had a great time and felt loved. The games, devotional, food are all going to be great and we just needed something great for them to take away as well. That's when I decided on these super adorable Hot Cocoa Jars. They are so cute and who doesn't love a delicious cup of hot cocoa this time of year? Let me share with you how we created these.
You could certainly use a store bought mix for this project but I wanted to go the extra mile so I started by making a huge batch of homemade hot cocoa mix (I used this recipe from Pennies On a Platter).
Now you need a mason jar...I used 16oz but you could make this work with any size. I added a little less than a cup of cocoa mix to the jar using a canning funnel to keep the powder from going everywhere.
Next come the toppings. You could get all kinds of creative here! We went with a 1/2 cup of mini marshmallows, 1/2 cup of chocolate chips, and 5 or 6 peppermints all layered on top of the hot chocolate. I left the mints in the wrapper so that anyone who didn't like them could just take them out but you could crush them up if you wanted. You could also separate the topping layers with little baggies so it is easy to get out of the jar. I really liked the look of the layers on top of each other so I did it that way.
Finally, time to make it beautiful. I found some fun polka dot cupcake wrappers that I put on top of the lid before I screwed the ring onto the jar. Then I tied on a homemade tag. The silver backing is just a mini foil cupcake wrapper flattened out and cut along the edges. The snowflake tags that are glued in the middle are part of a free printable from Simple As That. On the back I put the directions for making the cocoa. Tied it on with a ribbon and it was finished. I think the ladies will love them! (Only 23 more to make...thankfully it will go fast thanks to help from my co-hosts. Nothing beats an assembly line and girl talk while you are getting work done:)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Meet the Gundersons

I want to introduce you to a dear friend of mine, Jessie Gunderson, who has been on quite a journey this past year. I'll let her tell you more about it in her own words:

I’ll Never Get my Life Back

I’ve never thought of myself as the mothering type. The delight I experienced once I started having kids surprised me but I still longed for a day when they’d be grown up and I’d get my life back. 

One day I was thinking about God’s profound love for us and how Jesus gave up his life so we could live and I began to change. I realized I couldn’t love God and despise His creation. I prayed for Jesus to show me how to love people.  

I’ve been a mother eleven years this December, learning how to love, surrender my agenda and the 
perfectionist tendencies, and grow to a place where I no longer want a different life. Isaiah 58:10 says to spend yourself. And as I studied God’s selfless character, I realized that’s how I want to be. 

I delivered a little boy, my fifth child, at our home in the woods and I knew that our family wasn’t complete. God revealed over the next year and a half, His plan for further growing our family to include internationally adopted children. We’re currently in the process of adopting a 5 and 7 year old brother and sister from Ethiopia. She wants to be a judge when she grows up and he wants to be a runner. The journey toward them is immense and the heart change has taken me a lifetime but I no longer want out. I want to surrender to Christ’s strength and lean on him so I can spend myself loving the least of these. 
How cute are they?
It has been pretty awesome to watch this family fully surrender to something they feel God is calling them to do and to trust Him despite how impossible the end goal seems. They are working diligently to bring their two missing kiddos home where they belong. 

You too can be a part of their amazing story. First and foremost, they need prayer. The enemy continues to put up roadblocks but they are trusting that nothing will get in the way if this is God's plan for their family. The second step you can take is to check out their online store ( They are currently $5000 short of the next goal which they would like to reach by the end of December and every penny of what they sell goes towards adoption fees.

If you want to know more you can find Jessie in her muddy boots at and on Facebook at


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gingerbread Nativity

I have had some crazy experiences trying to build gingerbread houses. The one that most sticks out in my mind was in high school when my best friend and I decide to make houses from scratch. We wanted to do it alone so we went out to her grandparents lake house, in the middle of winter, and tried to tackle the project. Needless to say, after hours of work and problems like no running water, we ended up with disasters for houses. After that I shied away from that particular part of Christmas for a long time. I think the next time I did it was at a party with my kids and they had graham crackers for easy house building. Last year,more than 10 years since the great gingerbread fiasco, I got brave and decided to give the homemade thing a try again.

My husband and I did most of the work for this but we let the kids get involved some too. We had decided that a Gingerbread Nativity would be a fun spin on the typical house idea so I found a basic gingerbread recipe, a royal icing recipe by Martha Stewart (royal icing is the key because it dries rock hard), and some marshmallows and spaghetti noodles for the rest. It was a lot of fun and the nativity turned out great!
Time to start brainstorming this years creation....

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Kids Craft - Nativity Scene

My favorite season has once again arrived and as we pull out the decorations, welcome back Elfie, and let the fun of this time of year fill our schedule, I more than ever want to make a conscious effort to keep Jesus the center of our celebration. All of the other stuff is great and we enjoy it but none of it matters if we forget about Him. So as I was browsing for ideas to do with the kids I came up with this Nativity Scene collage idea and thought I would share it with you all.

The idea is to have the kids create their own nativity scene as they listen to the story of Jesus' Birth. I got out my Bible and read portions from both Matthew and Luke and the kids created their scenes as they listened.
This could be done a number of ways from using stickers to letting the kids draw their own pictures. For this particular activity, I printed off cute cartoon images of the different aspects of the nativity and let the kids cut, paste and arrange their scene however they wanted.

I got the images from Prepared NOT Scared (she actually created a Silent Night Bingo so you could print out the whole thing and have a fun game but I just used pages 16 and 17 from the PDF). I made copies for each of my older boys and let them chose if they wanted to cut out the squares or the actual images themselves. I wasn't surprised when they both chose to do it differently!

This was an easy activity that required little prep ahead of time and it was fun to listen to the kids interject when they were familiar with a part of the story. It was also great to see how differently they created their nativity scenes.

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