Simple Saturday: Christmas Cocktails

christmas cocktails

‘Tis the season to get together with loved ones and friends and enjoy good food and drink. Right?!

I’m so looking forward to my family coming up to North Carolina, so we can enjoy laughs and stories around the table…and it doesn’t hurt to have something tasty to drink and eat along the way.

I also know that simplicity is key this time of year.

So, here are a few Christmas cocktail ideas that you can easily whip up to spread some seasonal cheer.

If you’re still basking in apple season:

Carolina Apple Sidecar

If you’re a Moscow Mule lover:

Yule Mule from Feast + West

If you’re a bubbly type of person:

French 75

If you’ve just been playing out in the snow:

Boozy Fruity Mulled Cider by Shutterbean

or a classic Hot Toddy

What cocktails are you planning for your Christmas gatherings?

Scones for the Season

pumpkin cran scones

Lately I’ve been meeting a lot of new people in the midst of my travels, and it’s interesting how I feel like I keep getting asked, “What’s your favorite thing to cook.”

When people found out that I love to cook or that I’m a food blogger, this question is almost a sure bet. And how nice of them to ask such a thing. What a blessing to meet new, inquisitive people.

When I answer this question, I find myself going straight to my love of baked goods and scones.

Read more

Christmas Sweets

cacao nib shortbread

So, I have to be honest with you readers.

I had every intention of doing another round of “Goodies to Gift” like I did last year (which I just realized was a 5-day series)…and then life got crazy like it usually does.

In between four different airport-involved trips (to Arkansas and Wisconsin respectively) in the past month, a lack of light in the evenings which makes it super hard for me to get a good picture of anything, and the fact that I haven’t been cooking as much because of aforementioned travel, it just didn’t happen. I even had it on my blog calendar…and yet.

This year, it was sadly an “Ain’t nobody got time for that” situation.

Read more

Simple Saturday: #gettinginthespirit

#gettinginthespirit

First hashtag-titled post…check.

Today, I would love to share how I’ve been #gettinginthespirit of this beautiful, wonderful, expectant, exciting season. And I would love to hear how you’ve been #gettinginthespirit, too.

We Light the Candles

My family has been celebrating Advent for as long as I can remember. Every December, we would go through “We Light the Candles”, which is a daily guide to scripture reading and a little story that relates to the specific week of Advent. I really treasure the simplicity of the messages of this (kid-friendly) book and the fact that you get to sing a Christmas carol together at the end of each lesson.

The Gospel of Christmas by Patty Kirk

My mother-in-law gave me this book for Christmas last year, and I have so been enjoying it this Christmas season. The author, Patty Kirk, also happens to be an English professor at my alma mater, John Brown University. She takes such a unique view of what happened the first Christmas season and the significance in how and why we celebrate it today.

The Ella Fitzgerald Holiday Pandora Station

I’ve been cranking this holiday station up for the past few days at work, and it’s definitely getting me excited about Christmas and all that comes with it. I really love the soulful touch that Ella Fitzgerald brings to the classics, and then there’s a nice mix of other Christmas tunes to enjoy, too.

Panettone

I’ve already enjoyed a few loaves of this seasonal treat. If you haven’t ever tried panettone, it’s a very eggy, buttery loaf of bread (that comes in a gift-like box from the store) that’s studded with dried fruit. It’s fabulous toasted with butter for breakfast, or we really love it as French toast. You can buy a panettone for yourself at Trader Joe’s, Kroger, World Market, or at your local grocery store.

So, that’s what has been filling me with the joy and wonder of the season lately.

How about you?

(Comment below or tweet with the hashtag #gettinginthespirit)

Winter Comforts

stuffed shells

When it starts getting dark so early, all I want to do is come home, put my pajamas on and eat a warm dinner that’s quick and easy.

Anybody else feel me?

If you’re in the same camp, you might want to start making some freezer meals that you can pop in the oven or put on the stove and have dinner without any work.

I’m totally a do the work beforehand to save yourself time in the long run type of person, and I find that it really pays off.

stuffed shells

 

Read more

Thinking Fruitful: 2014 Good Gift Giving Guide

IMG_0986

Here’s the deal, guys.

Gift giving: I love it. It’s a blast. It’s happening at Christmas in less than a month!

I’m not saying this to freak you out. I’m saying this to make you think about how you can do some good with your Christmas shopping.

Sure, maybe your family doesn’t do gifts and that’s fine. But if (like me) you just can’t help but show your love by gift giving, here are some options that won’t leave you feeling like a materialistic monster.

I’ve got ideas for all of you internet shoppers, as well as local ideas for you North Carolinians!

Read more

Reset Tacos

sweet potato tacos

Welcome back to normal(ish) schedules, 5-day-long work weeks and getting back to what I like to call “life stuff.”

It’s Monday, it’s the first day of December and it’s a blessing to be alive. I’m talking myself through this, too.

We all lived through Turkey Fest 2014, and there’s still time to eat well in between the Christmas parties and holiday cookie swaps.

I’m thinking about taking some tasty salads for lunch this week, and these Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos would be a great addition to any meal plan.

Read more

Simple Saturday: Stovetop Popcorn

stovetop popcorn

First of all: Congrats to Kaylin for winning the burlap giveaway from Shut the Front Door burlaps. Thanks to everyone who commented also! If you’re looking for a fun, made in NC present for someone, please go check out Ryann’s wonderful burlap door hangers (and put your order in soon)!

Now, back to business.

How is everyone doing after Thanksgiving?

Are you stuffed?

Are you enjoying some relaxing time away from work? I hope so!

It has been such a sweet time for me to get away from all of the normal life stuff and visit family, return to NWA (Northwest Arkansas for you non-Arkies) and do some shopping, eating and chilling.

If you’re starting to get sick of the turkey and stuffing part 3 or 4 or looking for a quick and tasty (low-cal) snack, I think you might want to keep reading.

Read more

Counting Our Blessings

blessings

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving!

I know it’s cliche, but when is it not a good time to be thankful?

Being grateful forces us to recognize others, to enjoy the good and bad in life, and it helps us see past the mundane of the day-to-day. Being thankful literally lifts our spirits and helps push us to be better people and make a better world.

I believe in the power of thanking each other and our Creator.

Today, I’m thankful for:
  • The fact that I get to be an aunt for the first time next year
  • Having special times this week with my in-laws lounging, eating together and sharing good memories
  • Being able to count on two hands (or more) the amount of new friends that I have made in NC
  • Having found new blog friends and places for community on the interwebs
  • Seeing lives changed across the world while being a part of Firefall International
  • Being able to have a full-time job, a few freelance ones and time to still have fun
  • Celebrating another year of a beautiful marriage that blesses me daily

This is not a list to make you feel like you’re missing things or make anyone jealous. This is a list for us to all share in thankfulness for, and to inspire you to maybe even make your own list.

There is always much to be grateful for. Let’s share in each other’s joy.