Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:11-12
Christmas is just a couple days away. My family and I celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God come to Earth as a baby. Who is Jesus? Why does the biggest holiday of the year tell of His story in Christmas music, pageants and yard ornaments? Was the Christmas story just that - a nice story?
It's clear to see that the world we live in is filled with pain, sadness and just plain evil. Especially in recent days. How can we possibly have hope or even celebrate, when all around us is utter chaos? Broken hearts, broken homes, broken dreams, broken people. Lives shattered by any number of reasons. Where does real hope and true joy come from? And what does baby Jesus have to do with that?
I believe that Jesus came to Earth to rescue the entire world. He's the answer to the questions we can't answer. Jesus IS hope. Jesus IS love. He's the only way to experience authentic peace, joy and lasting love. Real love. Unconditional love. That baby lying in a manger with a golden halo wasn't just a baby, He was, and is, the Son of God. He came to Earth to be our Savior - the ultimate Hero, for all mankind.
And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14
This world desperately needs a Savior. I desperately needed a Savior. Jesus is the reason that I have hope and can navigate this road we call life, in the midst of utter chaos. It's only by his blood that was shed for me - years after he was born as a baby - that I know I'm forgiven and free. I have joy in my heart because when Jesus died, to pay for my sin, and came back to life - that was the most magnificent day in history. Even greater than his birth (what we celebrate at Christmas) was His death followed by His resurrection (what we celebrate at Easter). I know that some day I'll spend eternity in Heaven with Him. What greater hope could there be?
Christmas isn't about a jolly man in a red suit, it's not about trees, lights, or even presents. Christmas is about Jesus and the reason that he came to this world as a baby, so many years ago. It's right there if you listen to Christmas music classics - O Holy Night, Joy To The World, Away In A Manger, Silent Night. Listen to the words and really let them sink in. Yes, He was a baby, but He grew to be a man who gave His life for you.
My prayer is that you would find Jesus, the real Jesus this Christmas, if you haven't already. He may be hidden behind the latest toys, gadgets, family celebrations, shopping and cookies. But He's there. Waiting to fill your life with joy, peace and unending love. The book of Matthew in the Bible tells the whole story.
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17
If you're hosting or attending a party, this artichoke dip is one of my all-time favorite appetizers. My sister usually makes this around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but you could have it any time. There's only 3 ingredients, and it's SO simple! Always a crowd pleaser.
Ingredients: 1 14oz. can of sliced artichokes (in water, not oil), drained and chopped (be sure to trim off any tough edges/leaves) 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (the good kind) 1 cup of Hellmans REAL Mayonnaise (I'm a stickler for real mayo, none of that miracle nonsense)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour into in an oven-safe baking dish. Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned. Serve with sliced bread, crackers or vegetables.
You can mix everything ahead (or the day before) and refrigerate until ready to bake. Recipe easily doubles for a larger crowd. Enjoy!
It's not too late to whip up some wonderfully homemade sugar scrub to give as a gift! I have been wanting to try a sugar scrub recipe ever since I received Morgan's homemade salt scrub a couple years ago. You only need a few ingredients and glass containers to give away. Make a cute little label, tie a ribbon around it, and you have a treat for hands and feet that beats anything store bought, because YOU made it!
Ingredients: 2 Cups Granulated Sugar 1/4 cup Sunflower Seed Oil (Almond or Coconut Oil work too) 2-3 tsp. Scented Essential Oil OR Bath and Massage Oil 1-2 drops Food Coloring (if desired) (yields 2 mason jars)
Whisk sugar and sunflower oil together until it's soft, but not too oily. You may need to add more or less oil.
This is where the magic happens. Bath and Body Works Eucalyptus Spearmint is my favorite relaxing scent. I could breathe it in all. day. long. Their Bath and Massage Oil is perfect for hands and feet and will give your sugar scrub an amazing aroma. Add as many drops as you like and whisk it into the sugar. Don't be shy.
1 or 2 drops of green food coloring is all you need to go along with the "mint" scent. If you use peppermint oil (or any other oil) you can make it any color you like. This Candy Cane Scrub is adorable from the Idea Room.
Once you've got it all mixed to your liking, scoop and funnel it into your containers. I found these mason jars at ACMoore - they're the perfect size!
Print or hand write tags labeling the scent, ingredients and directions (so people don't accidentally use it on their face! Or even worse, accidentally eat it! Gross!). Wrap it with strips of scrap paper or add stickers. The packaging is the best part!
Add some ribbon and you've got the cutest little gifts!
I used an entire 5 LB bag of sugar and made 10 jars to gift, with a little leftover for me. The perfect solution for dry hands and feet or just an excuse to pamper yourself! You could even add a little scoop/spoon or wooden popsicle stick. This would make a great hostess gift, coworker gift or favor - be sure to make some for yourself too!
And just like that, Christmas is 2 weeks away! There have been so many fun things going on this month - crafting, shopping, Christmas decorating, home re-decorating, celebrations and parties. I haven't forgotten about you blog friends, I just haven't had the time to re-cap everything as I'd like to! Trust me, there is lots to share. Hopefully I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging in the new year!
In the mean time, I'm sharing a few of my favorite things at the moment.
McDonald's Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Peppermint Mocha. Nothing shakes off winter's chill like hot chocolate! What's better than hot chocolate? Peppermint hot chocolate. Or, if you need a caffeinated boost, a peppermint mocha. Espresso + milk + chocolate + peppermint = pure delight. Both are soooo delicious. The perfect early morning/afternoon/evening treat.
Bath and Body Works Cashmere Glow. By now, you probably know I have a deep love for Bath and Body Works products. Darn them and all their coupons, email deals and gorgeous direct mail pieces! Not to mention their continuous flow of breathtaking packaging, year after year. Sigh. The latest scent I have fallen for is Cashmere Glow. "An enticing blend of shimmering vanilla and golden peach wrapped in soft cashmere musk." Yes, please. I am now enjoying the shower gel, lotion and mini eau de toilette (perfume).
Bath and Body Works Sparkling Icicles Scented Candle. Another enticing winner from BBW. This candle is intoxicating. "Sweet moss and bergamot adorned with a citrus bouquet." I don't even know what sweet moss or bergamot smell like, but it is good. Reminds me of a light men's cologne. In fact, I wish this scent was available as a cologne because I would have already bought it for my husband. Light, fresh and masculine.
Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Nail Polish in Brilliant Bordeaux. My current favorite nail polish, and a long-time favorite color. It's that dark, rich, sparkly wine color that looks great, especially in the winter months. The Diamond Strength brand is pretty true to it's name. Two coats lasts quite a while.
Old Navy's Rock Star Jeans. Yes, I know, everyone and their sister probably own a pair of these by now. I have a black pair and I'm contemplating getting a color, especially since they're starting to be on sale/clearance. They are super comfortable and fun to mix and match. I actually wish I could wear mine everyday. They don't really look like true "jeans", so you can dress them up or wear them casual. My one suggestion: try on many different sizes - they are all over the board and vary from color to color.
These are a few of my favorite things. All of which would make nice gifts too - McD's gift card, a spa themed basket of lotion, candles and nail polish, or a great pair of pants. Which color Rock Star's would you rock?
We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you did too! I was thrilled to host dinner at our house this year. Our family traveled from both far and near - Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and right down the street. I absolutely loved having (almost) everyone together to enjoy a meal under one roof. My Mom was definitely missed, but I'm glad she could celebrate with our extended family in Arizona.
I really enjoy entertaining, cooking and being hostess. I baked a pumpkin pie and Mom's apple pie the night before. Both were absolutely delicious, to my delight (despite what may have been a minor oven fire). What holiday would be complete without a little panic excitement?
Thanksgiving morning, it was time to prepare the star of the show - Mr. Turkey. I may be smiling now but just moments prior I was removing the "giblets". That's real love.
We rearranged our living room to accommodate tables and seating for 14. Simple burlap runners, glitter gourds and glass vases with corn kernels and candles made perfectly simple centerpieces. Pinterest strikes again!
I had lots of great help in the kitchen preparing the meal and cleaning up afterwards. Thank you everyone!
Me in action, making last minute preparations.
Let's give thanks and enjoy!
Dinner was delicious, and everything turned out just as I'd hoped!
Everyone enjoyed themselves, which was the best part.
There was even a little craft time - thanks to GiGi for bringing some creative goodies!
We made a "thankful tree" as part of the decor and a fun way to reflect on all our blessings. Everyone cut out a leaf from scrapbook paper, wrote what they're thankful for on the back and hung it from the branches. I love that it's a keepsake from the day.
We truly are blessed to have such a gracious and loving God and on top of that, the love of a wonderful family. So much to be thankful for! Every. Single. Day.
My Dad visited us over Thanksgiving and we got to spend some quality time together. I don't get to see my Dad and Mom as often as I'd like to, so having my Dad here this Thanksgiving was extra special. I can't blame them for enjoying the Arizona weather, especially since winter has been knocking on our door here in New York. Although, he picked a perfectly beautiful time of year to visit!
We shared our favorite tradition, Indian lunch buffet. This time, at the "original" India House restaurant, which always brings back memories of our trips to India together.
There's nothing like sharing a meal, conversation and memories with my Dad.