Love Story

Friday, November 29, 2013

Elfie flashback

It's almost that time again.....Elfie is set to arrive on Sunday and the boys are already anticipating the big day. Last year I didn't get around to posting about Elfie so I thought I would share some of our favorite pictures from his last visit:

Walking on the ceiling....that naughty elf left footprints!

Spidey Elf! Can you spot him?

A yearly favorite - hiding in the tree.

Helping himself to some nuts

Looks like Elfie had a hard time getting to sleep so his good friend Buzz helped him by reading a bedtime story :)
Some more Elfie fun from previous years:
- Elfie, Elfie, Elfie
- More Elf Antics
- Elfie's First Week
- North Pole Breakfast
- Elfie's Trip Is Coming to an End
- What's That Elf Been Up To
- Elfie Update
- Elfie is Here (how Elfie came to be in our house)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nimli Animal Print Scarf Giveaway (ends Dec. 2)

Nimli is a curated marketplace of makers & sellers. We're a community of designers, curators and consumers.  To read more about NIMLI, please go to

It's the season for animal prints & we have a collection of great animal print scarves on Nimli! From leopard to cheetah to modern takes on the animal design, we have it all & for one exciting winner - we'll be giving away 3 seasonal animal print scarves to keep you right on trend all season long.

WHAT: The winner will receive 3 beautiful animal print scarves from Nimli.  The 3 scarves are featured below ( Azuri Blazing Leopard Scarf, Azuri Into the Wild Scarf & Azuri Urban Jungle Scarf).
WHO: One winner will be selected on December 2nd, entry ends at midnight on 12.2.13.  This giveaway is open to US residents only.

HOW TO ENTER:  Go to to enter the giveaway.

**This is a sponsored post from with my unbiased thoughts.**

Friday, November 22, 2013

Homemade Taco Seasoning Gift Jars

I was recently invited to a My Favorite Things holiday party. If you have never heard of this, the concept is that you pick one of your favorite things - be it food, bath item, homemade, cleaning product, etc - and bring 3 of that item to the party. Everyone draws to see what new things they will be taking home and it is a chance to get to try new products and get some gift ideas for the holidays. Tons of fun!

We had a $5 limit (give or take) so I wracked my brain trying to decide what one thing to bring and settled on one of my truly favorite items in the kitchen....homemade taco seasoning. Seriously, if you haven't tried it, YOU MUST. It is so superior to store bought and is simple to make with seasonings that you most likely already have in your possession. It's also cost effective and you know that there are no preservatives in it. I not only use it for taco meat but like to coat homemade fries in it or mix it into sour cream for a dip or put it into a Mexican meatloaf....this list of possibilities goes on and on. Can you tell it truly is a favorite?
Let's make this into a fun little gift now. I already store mine in the freezer in a small mason jar so I decided to use the same thing for my recipients. 
Time to mix the spices. You can get the easy recipe that I follow at $5 Dinners. To make this even more cost effective, I buy my spices from the bulk bins at Winco. I then mixed up one big batch and then evenly distributed it between the mason jars.

Should we make it pretty? Silly question! I found some free printable mason jar labels over at Limeshot Design and used one of the blank designs to create a label for the lid, which I attached using Mod Podge (I am sure basic crafting glue would work fine too). I also hot glued a little bit of yellow ric rac around the rim of the jar for some extra cuteness.

I wanted the people who received these to have a copy of the recipe so they could keep refilling their jars so I printed these adorable recipe cards from Design Eat Repeat. I ended up cutting off the sayings at the top just so they wouldn't be so huge in comparison to the jar. I wrote out the ingredients, where I bought them cheap in bulk, how to make it and some suggestions for using it. The only thing I left off was how much was equivalent to a packet you would buy in the store (which is 2 Tbsp, by the way).
Small Tabasco jars attached with twine completed the gift.

Wouldn't you want to get this from a friend, co-worker, secret Santa? I'm thinking I might have to add it to my own list of homemade gifts this year!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It’s a Thornton Thanksgiving from Chicago!

Today's post is a guest post by Kendra Thornton about Thanksgiving Traditions:

With the leaves nearly fallen and a cold, crispy snap in the air, thoughts turn now to family and making plans for the holidays and all the cheer this season can bring. Thanksgiving is certainly one of my most precious times of the year because of the strong meaning it holds in my heart: the act of giving and gratitude. This year, at the Thornton household, all our relatives will be visiting Chicago, and I can barely wait.
My visits to Pinterest have borne lovely fruit in the way of finding appealing dessert ideas and appetizers that my children can help make in the soon-to-be very busy holiday kitchen. As they grow older, their desire to help mom in the kitchen seems to also grow. It’s best, though, to keep the food designs simple. Complexity in food preparation tends to create bigger messes and also consumes more time. Fun and fast, I discovered, is the best way to prepare food for this special day.
The traditional Thanksgiving dinner still beats all other alternatives; so traditional it shall be again this year. The staple foods of this holiday will occupy their usual places of honor at the table. That will mean turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and my all-time favorite - potatoes and gravy. My traveling experiences will play a role this year in creating different dishes, too. An article on Gogobot’s blog highlighted what specific luxury hotels will prepare for guests this Thanksgiving season.
I said, why not? I gathered inspiration from these sophisticated but homey dishes and decided to give them my personal twist and flare, including them as special fare in my kitchen. Yes, my fingers are crossed with hope that my special guests will enjoy every bite. One dish destined for the table will be a velvet pumpkin soup with lobster accents from the expert chefs at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. This exquisite soup, offered as a pre-dinner treat, will certainly warm the heart.
One of the traditions at the Thornton household is to go around the table and ask each person to give voice to at least one aspect of life they are grateful for. That great humanitarian Albert Schweitzer touched on gratitude in his life when he penned these words: “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Perhaps this tradition of mine can become one of your traditions this Thanksgiving. May wonderful memories and delicious food grant you a safe and happy holiday! What will you be serving this year!?
Thanks Kendra for stopping by and sharing your Thanksgiving traditions with us!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

"The Best Of" Shadow Box Gift

My husband's grandpa just turned 80 and I knew I had to come up with something special to celebrate this huge milestone. After some thought, I came up with the idea for a shadow box that featured all of the best things from the year he was born, which happened to be 1933. I started by having my mother-in-law hunt down an old baby picture of Jack (he was a twin too!).
 Then I used The People History for my information on what was happening during that year in history. I chose the topics of popular culture, who else was born that year, and how much things cost when narrowing down my focus.

It was as easy as finding a piece of scrapbook paper I liked for the background, using my Cricut to cut out the lettering (you could simply do this by hand or print it off of your computer), and printing off the information with a few pictures to make it more interesting. I did my magic with a trusty glue stick and the gift had come altogether.
Once it was in the shadow box (which I picked up at Hobby Lobby for 50% off!) it made a great addition to the table at thebirthday party that displayed different pictures of Jack over the years. Happy 80th Birthday Jack!

I think this gift would also be a great way to commemorate an anniversary or any other fun date in history you are celebrating. I know I found it fascinating to look back a ways in time and see what memorable things had taken place.

Featured on The Happy Housewives 100 Days of Homemade Christmas Gifts (2013):

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday

This November I am making an effort to put feet to our thankfulness by creating acts of gratitude for our family to participate in. Really this is something I want to make a more regular part of our life, not just something that we think of seasonally. After all, thankfulness and gratitude are qualities I want to model and grow in my children as well as see continue to grow in my own life. Let me share what we have been doing this week to show those around us that we are thankful for them.

I started by giving my boys a project. I asked them each to pick one person outside of our household that they were most thankful for. I talked abut how it is important to show thankfulness to the people inside of our house but that we practice that on a regular basis so I wanted them to think outside of that to someone they may not take the opportunity to thank as often. Once they decided on a person, I gave them supplies to make a card and encouraged them to write out (or dictate to me what to write out) words of thankfulness. Jordan chose his teacher and Isaiah chose one of his grandma's. Nathan chose not to participate and while understandably disappointing, we honored his choice and encouraged him to think of his own way to show his thankfulness to someone. We will continue to model these actions and pray that they speak to his heart and inspire him to do the same in a way that makes sense to him.
The act of thankfulness we chose as a family was actually repaying a family that had blessed us numerous times when we had the twins. We had been talking about ways to bless them in return and I strongly felt God leading us to specifically follow through on a date with dinner. We ordered pizza for our family and their's (thank you Papa John's for 50% off every time the Seahawks win which made it possible to feed two families for the price of one!) and when we called to tell them we would be bringing it by they shared that it was an answered prayer as the mom of the family had hurt her back the night before and could use help with dinner. It also happened that her injury fell on pizza night and they ended up missing out on it so the kids were extra excited by our delivery. Doesn't God work in such fun ways?

There are more fun things in the works already so you'll have to come back next week to see what we have been up to. And not that this necessarily needs to be said, but I hope my heart for these posts is clear. It isn't about bragging about what my family has done but instead is meant as an encouragement and a resource for ideas that might get your family involved in acts of thankfulness. If you are already ahead of me and have some great ideas you are willing to share, I would love to hear what you've been up to. It's the best part of writing this....getting to share what I do and hopefully learn a little bit about what you do too. Don't be shy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Apple Bacon White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was in the kitchen the other day browsing what I had on hand and call me crazy but somewhere between the baking cupboard and the fridge I had the idea for these cookies - Green Apple Candied Bacon White Chocolate Chip to be exact. I know what you are thinking. My husband kind of gave me that look when I told him what my idea. But trust me, it works!

Want to go with me on this adventure? Here's what you are going to need:
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cup flour
4 pieces candied bacon, chopped *(see below for instructions)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 grated green apple (squeeze out any excess liquid)
I used my KitchenAid to cream the butter then while still blending added in the sugars, then the salt and vanilla, then the eggs and baking soda. Finally,I mixed in the flour until all incorporated.

Once you have that done, stir in the bacon, white chocolate chips and grated apple.

Place by the scant tablespoon onto a cookie sheet and pop into a preheated 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown. Let sit for 1 minute on the cookie sheet before transferring to a baking rack to cool.

*How to candy the bacon:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and then place a wire rack on top of it. Place the individual bacon strips onto the wire rack and then top with brown sugar. Pop in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until desired crispiness. Seriously....this is to die for and I dare you not to eat it all up before it makes it's way into the cookies!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween '13 - Carving Contests, Dress-Up, and Friday Flair

Another Halloween in the books. This has never been my favorite holiday but it sure is fun to experience it through the eyes of my kids. Let's look at what this day had in store for our family.
In my last post I shared the Halloween Pails I created out of coffee cans. The boys loved them and they got a lot of attention at the Harvest Festival we attended. My husband said people kept asking if he was a painter! Too funny. Aren't my little super hero, ninja, and batman cute sporting their adorable pails?

Speaking of cute, while we didn't take Samuel and Amelia out with us, we still wanted to dress them up for their first Halloween. Tell me...are they not the cutest hot dog and chick you have ever seen? I sure think so!

 In my recent post about our trip to the pumpkin patch, I mentioned that we were again going to be participating in the school's pumpkin carving contest again. Want to see what we came up with? Nathan designed this stegosaurus and Jordan helped create the pirate ship. We managed to place 3rd in the creative category for the third year in a row....can you guess which pumpkin was the award winner? Congratulations Jordan, that pirate ship was awesome (and the stegosaurus was a winner in my books as well)!

And as if I hadn't crammed enough into this post, I wanted to try to fit in a Friday Flair as well since I have missed the last few. We have been hit hard with pink eye, ear infections and tonsillitis for two weeks so needless to say, lunches weren't the top priority. Here's what they boys' got for lunch on Halloween:
pumpkin shaped pb and honey sandwiches, graham crackers, carrots and celery (yes, that's an ear in there!), and a special treat of boogers (thank you Dollar Store for this absolutely disgusting candy that is bound to have my guys in giggles)

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