Monday, December 31, 2012

The Past Seven Days

This past week has been full of highs, lows, adventure, laughing and memories in the making.

We were visited by Santa Claus. :)

Our boys were extremely good this year, or so their Elf on the Shelf  "Jingle Bells" told Santa. They awoke Christmas morning to find many gifts under the tree with their names on them. Their favorites include a train table, tricycle and shopping cart. Mommy was also good this year and received some awesome gifts from "Daddy Claus", including a brand new laptop! :)


We decided to foster a dog for the holidays. A local rescue that we work with offers this program to free up kennel space at the facilities they use to board dogs who haven't been placed in a foster home yet. We were matched up with a beautiful, fawn boxer girl named Aurora. She gets along well with our dog AND cat, and our little men love her.


Unfortunately, we had an "incident" occur on Christmas day (Without getting into graphic detail, it involved Aurora ripping open her spay site and us finding her bleeding profusely in our backyard with her insides hanging out of her belly. It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.) and we spent about three hours of it at the Emergency Vet with her. Our neighbors came over to watch the boys while Jason and I rushed her to the closest available doctor. She went in for emergency surgery and is doing much better now. Thank God. It was frightening and we were lucky that we found her immediately and were able to get her fast medical attention.


Our evening was spent eating a delicious dinner with close friends at their home. Once the kids were in bed, us ladies went out and saw Les Miserables. It. Was. Amazing. Seriously. I want to see it again on the big screen in all its glory. If you haven't seen it, you must!

On Friday, we met friends of ours at Sea World in San Antonio. Growing up in northeast Ohio, Jason and I were both spoiled with having one in a nearby suburb. (In fact, Jason's first job was working in the pinniped igloo at Sea World!) Sadly it closed in 2001 and we haven't been since. All of the kids had such a wonderful time! The crowds were a bit dense at times, but it thinned out as the day wore on. The highlight of the day, of course, was seeing Shamu! I'm not gonna lie, I teared up a bit as the 4 whales "took the stage". I'm a sucker for childhood nostalgia.


We stayed the weekend with our friends at their house in Hill Country. And it was COLD! Like 20 degrees cold. I realize that all of our friends and family in Ohio were dealing with 2 feet of snow. But 20 degrees in Texas is just crazy, people! We stayed inside for the most part, aside from two hiking adventures that the Daddies took with the big boys. It was nice to cozy up by the fire, play cards and just be with some of our favorite people. Oh, and we may or may not have ventured out for some Thai food and outlet shopping one evening. (Mamas need their alone time!)


I hope that your holidays have been as wonderful as ours. I'm so glad that we were able to stay home and spend time together. :) Tonight we'll be ringing in the New Year (and my BIRTHDAY!) with a nice meal and wine at home, while the boys are snuggled up, asleep in their beds.

It's hard to believe that another year has come to an end and a new one is on the horizon.
 
Happy New Year, my friends. Make it your best one yet! :)

Monday, December 24, 2012

We Wish You A Merry Christmas


Pictures courtesy of Kiss the Moon Photography

Friday, December 21, 2012

Five Days 'Til Christmas

Oh, friends. I realize I have been absent this entire week. There's just been so much going on and blogging has been pushed to the side for now.

We've been making Christmas cookies...

Watching school performances...


Attending Ugly Sweater/Cookie Exchange Parties...

Decking the halls...
Crafting Christmas creations...
 

Ooohing and aaahing at beautiful holiday lights....
 

shopping, trips to the post office, wrapping gifts and so much more! It's been wonderful, spending these last few days with my family and friends.

And, while I know that each of these events is deserving of it's own post, there's just not enough time. Atleast, I'm not willing at this moment, to spend the time. I'm having too much fun enjoying my children! It's been wonderful. :)

So wonderful, in fact, that I will be taking some more time off.

Jason has the next 12 days off of work. So we're going to be spending them together, with just our little family of four. We're thrilled to have this precious time with each other. It doesn't happen often. :)

So, enjoy your holidays friends. Be present. Celebrate what's happening in the moment. For, it will certainly be over in the blink of an eye! :)


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Silence {For Sandy Hook}


Hold your children and loved ones close. And pray. Please pray.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Twine Pears {Hardware Store Decorations}

** Pop on over to Huckleberry Love today for a tutorial on how to make a very cute Christmas card holder. While you're there, scroll down a bit for my Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Ball recipe. You won't be disappointed!!**

From time to time I've seen people create awesome decorations out of everyday items they've found wandering the aisle of their local hardware store. Me? Well, I never really thought about it. Until now!

 

Recently Westlake Ace Hardware contacted me about creating some Christmas decorations using items from their store. I was really excited about the opportunity and immediately responded to them! Earlier this week a package came to my door containing this:


My mission? (Should I choose to accept it..) To create Twine Pears using light bulbs, twine, hot glue and a twig from my backyard.

I quickly got to work creating this cute little holiday decorations. (Although, they could really be used as Fall decor, too!)

 

First I wandered into my backyard in search of a twig. Don't hate me because Christmas is a little over a week away and it's 65 here. The benefits of living in Texas are pretty awesome this time of year! :)

 

After a successful twig hunting mission, I went back inside to start my project. I began by breaking of a small piece of twig and hot gluing it to the top of my pear (which would be the bottom of the light bulb).

Then I started wrapping twine around the bulb, starting at the base of the stem, adding hot glue as I went.


Once you get towards the fatter part of the bulb, things can get a bit tricky. I just used a lot of hot glue and pressed the twine down onto the glue as I worked.


In no time at all, I had a pear! Super simple!

 

I made a few more so that my first pear wouldn't be a lonely only.

How adorable are these? I honestly never would have thought of making these using light bulbs and twine!


You can keep them natural, or go crazy and spray paint them to match your Christmas decor. I think they'd look great dressed up in red, green, silver or gold spray paint, don't you? I'm loving how they look on our Christmas mantel. :)


I want to thank Westlake Ace Hardware for asking me to share this fun project with my readers!You can find other awesome inspiration from their store in the HoliDIY section of their website.They have everything from frosted, mason jar Christmas lights, to chalkboard paint poinsettia pots to an AWESOME  PVC Christmas wreath. Check them out, you won't be disappointed! :)

Have you ever gone to your hardware store for decorating inspiration? Ever made a pear using a light bulb and twine? 

This post was sponsored by Westlake Ace Hardware. All opinions are my own.

Sharing with:  The Frugal Girls, Fingerprints on the Fridge, Whipper Berry, & I Heart Naptime

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Handmade Gift Exchange {What I Received}

A few weeks ago, I shared the Monogram Christmas Wreath I made for my "buddy" in a Craft Exchange that I participated in. Today, I'm excited to share with you what I received!

I was linked up with Ashley, and her gift certainly did not disappoint! (You can follow her on Pinterest here.)

She created this beautiful NOEL banner out of paper. I had requested something for a "colorful Christmas", and this certainly fit the bill. 


Isn't it simply gorgeous? I love her attention to detail and how the colors coordinate so perfectly. :)


I draped it over this mirror in our living room. The colors blend nicely and it's a wonderful addition to our Christmas decor!


She also handcrafted this fun Advent Calendar. I've never seen one like it! Aidan is smitten and loves to watch as Santa "slides down the chimney" everyday.


Each day you pull a tab to reveal how many days are left until Christmas. As the tab is pulled, Santa slides down into the next slot. Pure crafty genius!


I really loved participating in this Craft Excahnge and can't wait to do it again this Spring! Thank you, Ashley, for my beautiful gifts. :)

Have you ever participated in a Craft Exchange? Interested in signing up for one? Linda hosts one twice a year. Be sure to sign up for her next one!

Monday, December 10, 2012

'Twas the Night Before Christmas {Free Printables}

I've always admired the various holiday printables that I see floating around Pinterest. I printed out an adorable one for my Thanksgiving decor and even have one up on my mantel for Christmas right now! Over the weekend I had a bit of free time and decided to try my hand at making my own.

And, they came out rather nicely, if I do say so myself.  

Here it is... my very own Christmas printable! Are you impressed or what?

 

I also made one in green! Now you can choose. :)


 Actually, I made one more!  It's not a "Night before Christmas" printable, but it came out nicely. I actually think it's my favorite. I'm a sucker for chevron. And birds. I love birds.



Download instructions:

1. Click on the printable you'd like to display.
2. A new screen will pop up. Right click on the picture and click save as.
3. Save and print.

I'd love to know if you displayed one in your home! Let me know. :)

Happy Monday, folks!

P.S. I realize they look "short", but it's only because they are white at the bottom. They'll look "normal" once printed. I promise! :)

Linking up with: The DIY Showoff, Skip to My Lou, Serenity Now, House of Hepworths & Tatertots and Jello

Friday, December 7, 2012

Southwestern Chili Con Queso Bake {by Rachel Ray}


 **Today on Huckleberry Love I'm sharing my homemade Advent Calendar with our readers. I'd love for you to stop on over and check it out!**

One of my recent foodie pins is from Living Light blog. She shared an awesome Rachel Ray recipe on Pinterest and the name caught my attention.... Chili Con Queso Bake. Sounds pretty delicious, am I right?

 

Well, I thought I'd share it with you all. It was an awesome combination of ground turkey, pasta, cheese and just the right amount of spice to make your mouth, but not your eyes, water! Jason, Aidan and I all loved it. :)

Chili  Con Queso Bake from Rachel Ray

Ingredients
1 pound whole wheat penne
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon roasted ground coriander
2 tablespoons chili powder Coarse black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

Directions
 1. Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked--a little chewy at the center.
3. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the turkey.  When the turkey is almost finished, but still a bit pink, add the garlic, jalepeño, and onions. Finish cooking until the turkey is browned and the onion is translucent.  Drain the grease from the skillet and mix in the cumin, coriander and chili powder.  Take off the heat or turn heat down low.
4. In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter and add the flour to it.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat and then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro and parsley with a wooden spoon.  When the cheese has melted, stir in the tomatoes.
5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot.  Add the contents of the hamburger and all of the Cheddar sauce, and stir to combine.  Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish, sprinkle with more cheese and place under the broiler to lightly brown.

You can find a printable version of this recipe here.

 

 A few tips: This recipe originally called for ground beef regular penne pasta. I decided to make mine a bit healthier and opted for ground turkey and whole wheat pasta. I also didn't have any fresh parsley or cilantro on hand, so I opted for the dried versions that were in my pantry. It still tasted wonderful! :)

This dish makes enough for 4 people, plus plenty for leftovers for the next few days. I hope you enjoy it!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Card Holder

A Christmas card holder... such a glorious idea. Yet, I don't have one. Well, atleast not one that does any good. You see, usually I just shove all of our Christmas cards in a tiny sleigh that sits on our entry table. It's convenient, but the smiling faces and warm wishes of family and friends are never seen. This year, I vow to change that!
 
Here's what I came up with. :)

What You'll Need:
* Small canvas (I used a 4x12)
* Red, white and green acrylic paint
* Sponge brush
* Mod podge
* Cardstock
* Scissors
* Ribbon
* Clothespins
* Silhouette (optional)

I started out by painting my canvas. I thought alternating green and red stripes would be festive and pretty! Be sure to let your paint dry completely before adding another coat. 

 

Next, use your  Silhouette to cut out a word or phrase you'd like to have on your canvas. I chose "believe" in the pegasus font. Coat canvas in a thin layer of mod podge and lay letters on top. The apply another thin layer of mod podge. Let dry completely.

 

Now, you're going to paint OVER the letters in the red and green paint. Let the paint dry. Trust me, it'll be okay! I promise. :)
 
This is where the fun begins! I decided I wanted my canvas to have an "aged" look to it. So, using a Q-tip, I spread white paint in little circles all around my canvas.
Then I used a paper towel and wiped the white paint all over my canvas, including the letters. Keep doing this until you get the desired effect that you are looking for.

All that's left is to staple your ribbon onto the back of your canvas. 

 

I hung my card holder on our pantry door in our kitchen. Want to see a little trick? Hang a command hook upside down on the back of the door, then simply secure your ribbon to it! Sneaky, huh?

 

These miniature clothespins worked perfectly to secure our Christmas cards to the ribbon. :)



It's so nice that we're able to keep all of our cards on display now! Aidan loves looking all all of his family and friends. He gets excited whenever we get a new card, because he gets to hang it on the card holder. 

How do you display your Christmas cards?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Huckleberry Love

I'm so excited to share with you all my newest endeavor... a new blogging adventure entitled Huckleberry Love!

Four friends and I have teamed up to share with readers our love of crafting, cooking, home decorating and Mommyhood. We'd all love if you would stop on by to say hello. :)

 

 I'll still be writing here at Texas Life 3 days a week, don't worry! But, I'd  love it if you would pop over and follow along on my other blog as well. :)

You can also find Huckleberry Love on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

We were lucky enough to have Lerin from Lerin Photography take our "professional" pictures for us. She did an awesome job capturing our personalities. Thank you, Lerin for a job well done! Here are a few images that didn't make the final cut. They were too cute not to share, though.

 

 

 

Our first post is all ready up. Learn how to make your own custom t-shirt using your Sihouette... and check out some pictures of us all "colored up" from running The Color Run!

 

Happy Tuesday, friends. :)


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