Sunday, November 29, 2015

A True Christmas Story to Inspire Hope and Heroism

A touching holiday story for readers of all ages, American St. Nick is the true Christmas tale of hope during a black time in WWII’s history. In December 1944, a group of American soldiers brought Christmas and St. Nicholas himself back to a war-torn town whose kids had not seen him in five years. Some children did not even know who he was, but St. Nick carried Christmas cheer to Wiltz, Luxemborg, just 10 days prior to the one the bloodiest battles of WWII, when the town was turned to rubble.

A perfect
Christmas gift for
anyone on your list!
Thirty years later, before the anniversary celebration of the rebuilding of Wiltz, survivors searched for the soldier dubbed as the “American St. Nick” who brought Christmas hope to a town during one of its darkest hours. Their celebration would not be complete without bringing the soldiers back to Wiltz again. But in July, 1973, most the of discharge records from 1912-1960 were destroyed in a fire at the National Archives building in St. Louis, proving impossible to locate these soldiers of goodwill who all but stopped the war to throw a Christmas party that revived a war weary town’s spirit.    

What follows is the remarkable true tale of how one town’s prayers were answered. Including images of period maps, vintage signs, and black and white action photos, American St Nick is a must-read Christmas story of heroism that will inspire readers both young and old. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

{Rethinking the Holidays} Ideas for a More Joyful Season!!!

Yes, it’s true that the 1943 Normal Rockwell “Freedom from Want” illustration of the happy old-time family gathered around a mouth-watering 20 pound turkey is a vision that may always reign in my mind as the ideal holiday gathering. On many a time, both in my tiny apartment and also in my modest sized house, I tried to recreate that picture—and I’d say I succeeded in bringing together family and friends for some memorable times.

And then I got tired.

Exasperated and exhausted from trying to hold everyone and everything together in my pursuit of perfection, I began to let go of this and that duty in exchange for the ones that matter most and that I enjoy the most. By coming to terms with my own limitations and the fact that working single mom homeowners only has so much time, I discovered a reserve of happiness when I cut out those non-essential jobs that no longer create joy. Applying this philosophy is exactly how I’m rethinking the holidays this year, and I give you permission to do the same.

Rethink what brings you the most joy during the holiday season. Yes, you can create time for doing those things you enjoy by eliminating what stresses you out. Hope my 2015 list of holiday essentials inspires you! 


Need some easy ideas for baked gifts? Try Grandma's Easy Ginger Snap Cookies or Our Family's Lemon Bread Recipe


Psssst. I'll let you in on some secrets for making elegant homemade ornaments for $2 or less . . .  Gorgeous Homemade Ornaments on a Budget


One of my most favorite all-time presents was the set of Vintage Cherry Cups and Saucers my dad found at a thrift store. 


Focus on the importance of this season with the 25 Days of Advent Reading Plan to get you started. 


Take a deep breath and try some Simple Ways to Slow Down this Holiday Season so you can carry your calmness and joy through the holidays and beyond.  

Linking to: Pink Saturday

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Decorating for Thanksgiving on a Shoestring Budget

A gorgeous welcome wreath
on sale at Khol's for $11 
Confession time. A hidden part of me is jealous of all those gals in Pinterestland who have the extra income and time to spend on sprucing up their house interiors a la model home style. Dare I say, I even feel less than compared to these princesses of perfection? These days, I barely have the time to get through my weekly routine tasks, let alone a spare afternoon to set aside for home d├ęcor. Yet, I think it’s really important for single moms to beautify their surroundings in ways that enable them to feel good when they come home, even if they lack extra time and money to do so. 

Take George Bailey’s wife in It’s a Wonderful Life, for example (sorry, can’t recall her first name at the moment). She turned a broken-windowed dump of an old fixer-upper into a cozy honeymoon sanctuary. Yes, I realize we’re talking a movie here, but the point is we, too, can make something out of nothing—or at least very little. And I think that single moms should take pride in decorating their homes in a way that makes them feel comforted and inspired, whether they live in apartments, condos, houses, or studio rooms. Speaking from my years of frugal experience, I’m here to tell you it’s entirely possible. Let’s start with getting the house ready for Thanksgiving, whether you are entertaining guests or just enjoying the last lovely bits of fall ambiance yourself! 

Welcome to my home, where I am celebrating the last rays of autumn
just in time for Thanksgiving before the Christmas decorations come
out of the boxes. Found this lovely fall welcome mat at Joann's for $7. 

A vibrant fall scene I discovered on sale at Michaels for less than $10
Time to "plug in" the fireplace and get cozy now that
the weather has finally cooled down in Southern California!
Dad painted Grandmama's table and chairs with a fresh coat of white paint,
reupholstered the seats, and capped it off with this cute leaf-patterned tablecloth.
She would have been so happy to know her table looks so lovely in my backyard.
We're all set for Thanksgiving with this fall centerpiece I found at Khol's
on sale last year for less than $10.
Mmmmm...each fall, I look forward to the comforting scent
 of cinnamon pine cones at home. Found a bag of these on sale for $4. 

Fall decor total? $42! And I can use everything
(except the pine cones, of course) again next year. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

{Gratitude} The Power to Change Your Circumstance

Every November, we hear about gratitude and prompts like "30 Days of Thankfulness" on social media. While it may seem artificial to drum up thankful thoughts now through Thanksgiving, counting your blessings really does work. In fact, God instructs us to be thankful. Just the other week in a talk at church, I learned there are a total of 79 verses in the Bible about thankfulness that you can access here Gratitude Verses. The speaker of the gratitude talk encouraged us to check out those verses, but even more importantly, we were given homework to write down a list of 3 things we are thankful for each day to begin building daily gratitude lists.

Bestselling books on happiness attest to the life-changing power of gratitude and the age old idea of counting one's blessings. The bottom line is that gratitude changes our outlook, which can change our circumstances, and I have found the daily practice of writing a gratitude list to be effective in my life as well, so I dedicated an art journal page to my favorite verse on thankfulness as a reminder: "Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances." ~1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Here's how I practice the art of gratitude this Thanksgiving season--and beyond! 
  • I write down 5 or more things I'm thankful for in my journal each morning. 
  • I challenge myself to change my thoughts into grateful ones by focusing on the solution instead of the problem. 
  • I read a daily devotional each morning that helps me begin the day with a thankful heart. Here's one of my favorites on the Benefits of Thankfulness.
  • I pray about situations that cause me anxiety rather than worry and thank God in advance for what He is doing now and will do in the future. 
I would love to hear how you've allowed gratitude to change your circumstance!!! 

WEEKEND RETREAT LINK PARTY new buttonLinking to: Katherine's Corner Thursday Blog HopWeekend Retreat Blog HopAnything Goes Pink Saturday

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Speaking of Halloween, It's High Time to Do the Thing that Terrifies You

All transformed into my alter-ego costume, an idealistic hippie straight from Haight & Ashbury circa 1969, I'm getting a few freaky vibes on this spooky Halloween night. Yes, I'm kinda freakin' out about tomorrow. . . the first day of NANOWRIMO, National Novel Writing Month, when I am going to dive back into my book and commit to writing 10,000 words by month's end. (Yep, that's a 333 word count per day, and I'm not quite sure how this is going to materialize without my house falling into complete disorder or resorting to a 5 a.m. wake-up call, but I guess I'll figure it out day by day). The typical word challenge is 50,000 and my book isn't a fiction novel, so I'm not quite being authentic with the guidelines, but I've never been a true rule follower. The important issue here is the resolve to join my fellow comrades from writers' group and venture into this journey that actually terrifies me. Yes, getting back to my half-finished book scares the heck out of me, but it's beyond time. God's been giving me the green light for months now, so I'm shelving the procrastination and diving in, messy rough draft and all.

So, if I look a little bleary-eyed this November, don't judge. It's not the inner hippie in me acting out. It's the 10,000 words in front of my eyes.

What terrifies you? If it's legal and makes you a better person, by all means, put the big girl panties on and face it.

Friday, October 30, 2015

White Chocolate Jack-o-Lantern Pretzels {a super easy treat this Halloween!}

Reina and I have finally discovered how easy chocolate dipped pretzels are to make for holiday goodies year round, so stay tuned for more goodie ideas like these this holiday season. This week, we made white chocolate jack-o-lantern pretzels from a pretzel bargain barrel at Costco for only $7 and still have 3/4 of the bin left over to pass out to costumed kids come Halloween. With as little as 15 minutes and only 3 ingredients, you are good to go!

White Chocolate Jack-o-Lantern Pretzels

  • Bag of white chocolate morsels
  • Pumpkin shaped pretzels 
  • Orange sprinkles 

  1. Line a cookie sheet with greased wax paper. 
  2. Melt morsels in a microwave safe dish for 1 - 2 minutes and stir thoroughly.
  3. Dip individual pretzels into melted white chocolate and place on greased waxed paper.
  4. Cover with orange sprinkles and place cookie sheet in fridge for 5 - 10 minutes to harden. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Portable Chargers are the Coolest Thing {especially for mom's of teenagers}

What mother of a teenager doesn't get totally annoyed or even worried when she can't get ahold of her kid because the cell phone is dead? No more, moms! There's simply no excuse for that these days because of all the nifty portable chargers on the market, but the one I highly recommend is the Jackery Air, which is so slim it fits in my daughter's back pocket. This portable charger is Reina's favorite because she hates carrying a purse and can easily charge her phone on the go. Not only does my daughter use it when she's out with her friends, but I've discovered the portable charger saves the day when I'm out hiking and there are no outlets in sight. Perfect for anytime of year, but especially useful on a night like Halloween, the Jackery Air comes in handy when you can't recognize your own kid among the sea of costumes and need to make contact quickly. Have your kid take it this Halloween, just in case. That way, he or she can resurrect a dead cell phone while trick-or-treating, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. Don't get tricked this Halloween. Be sure your kid takes the candy bag and the flashlight, but also pack the portable Jackery Air charger for some peace of mind on a spooky night.

Check out Jackery for a portable charger perfect for you and your teenager!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...