Monday, December 31, 2012

My Favorites from Photo a Day 2012

I have had the best time participating in the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day Challenge. I am so thankful for the challenge for a number of reasons. It has given me a creative outlet. It has inspired me to start this blog. I've met some amazing people in my Photo a Day group on Facebook. And I have taken more pictures than ever before. Because of that, I have captured some fantastic moments in my life.

Here are my favorites from this year.

June 15 "Yellow": I chose this photo because this is the photo that started it all. I found the monthly challenge list on Pinterest, thought it sounded interesting, encouraged a couple of friends to join me.... and the rest, as they say, is history.

June 29 "Soft": This is my favorite photo from June. I experimented with the tilt shift on Instagram and loved how it turned out. I also love the expression on my daughter's face.

July 1 "Self-Portrait": We had a string of very hot days in July, so I took my self-portrait from the reflection of my oven. This is also the first blog post I made with Photo a Day.

July 4 "Fun": July 4th is always a fun time at the lake. I captured my nephew doing a flip in the air with a huge smile on his face. This picture represents everything "fun" about summer and the lake.

July 7 "Garden": I took this picture at my friends' house. We were there for a pool party on one of the hottest days of the year! Seeing this picture makes me think of good memories on a fun day.

July 15 "Finger": Cool photo, and I like my blog post that goes along with this photo.

July 25 "Heart": My first black and white photo for Photo a Day. I love this necklace and the whole look of the photograph. Definitely a favorite.

July 28 "Cup": This cup and this day will hold a lot of meaning for me for the rest of my life.

August 10 "Ring": I love everything about this photo.

August 13 "Simple": Not the official photo of the day, but it was included on my blog post for the day. Again, I was experimenting with tilt shift and just loved how it turned out.

August 29 "Down": Perspective, abstract, black and white, taken on Mizzou's campus... all of my favorite things in one photo.

September 15 "First Thing You See": I had fun with the focus and meaning behind this photo prompt. Definitely a favorite of mine.

October 22 "In Your Town": Ah... Mizzou in the fall. My favorite time of year, and campus is just gorgeous. I love, love, love this photo.

November 11 "Night": I love the lines and composition of this photo. And it's a different take on the topic.

December 4 "Black and White": My favorite topic... black and white. I darkened the photo to accentuate the lines. I will always treasure this photo of my little dog, Skyler. She loves her sun beams.

And there you have it. My favorite Photo a Day photos taken in 2012. Wow, July was a memorable month, huh? It was a jammed packed roller coaster of a month for sure. And since I got a late start in the year, this is only 7 months worth of pictures. I'm really looking forward to posting a picture a day for a full year in 2013. So stay tuned! Many more photos to come.

I can't wait to see what 2013 will bring.

December Wrap Up

December is almost all wrapped up and done. Here's a look back through Photo a Day.

And here is the list for January 2013. 

I plan to participate for the whole year. Won't you join in the fun?

Self Portrait and Self Reflection

Here we are. It's the last day of 2012.

Self Portrait
I can't help but reflect back as the year comes to a close. I believe you have to know where you have been to understand where you are going. So where have I been?

I've been building friendships, strengthening relationships, growing professionally, and maintaining physically. Those are the positives for this year.

But from where I sit, there have been some negatives as well. So I will use those negatives as building blocks. The new year is a great time to set goals and reflect on the changes we need and should make in our lives. For 2013, I resolve to...
  • Spend less and save more
  • Watch TV less and read more
  • Eat less and exercise more
  • Complain less and love more
I think we can always save more, can't we? And with this looming fiscal cliff we're about to fall over, it's more important than ever. I have set a new monthly savings goal for myself. I encourage you to do the same. 

I will choose a new book each month to read. I was an avid reader for a while and just stopped. Nothing seemed to interest me, but then again, I didn't really try to find a new book either. I also plan to read my Bible more. You can never read that book too much.

The holidays have not been kind to me, and I have not been disciplined with my exercise routine. I turned 40 this year and can see that it is even harder now to maintain my ideal weight. So, I have set a goal to improve my 5K racing time. I will run a new race every 8-10 weeks to keep me motivated starting with St. Patrick's Day.

And finally, I believe in the power of positive thinking. We are what we THINK. Keep thinking positively and positive things will come your way.

Here's to the new year and new beginnings. Have a safe and happy new year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Something That Made You Smile This Year

Scuba Toast 3. Destination... Further!

Pat and I have the best time with our friends, so we were super excited to plan a week long beach trip with them this February.

Cozumel? With the craziest people we know? Awesome!

The day this photo was taken, we rented two Jeeps and drove to the other side of the island. We packed it full and planned to be gone the whole day. As the sun was beginning to set, we arrived at a dead end at the end of the road. We could turn left, which was the way back home, or park it for a while. 

Since we were not even ready to call it a night, we turned up the music and had a little dance party. Right. On. The. Jeep. Cars were honking and waving at us as they drove by (even a bus full of tourists). 

Clearly we make fun happen no matter where we are. 

I wonder what adventures await us in 2013???

Cozumel, February 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I can't believe it took this long. 

Is this really my first photo of bacon for photo a day?

Bacon is a wonderful thing. Everything is better with bacon. Bacon wrapped asparagus, green beans with bacon, broccoli salad with bacon crumbles, bacon wrapped steak, and my favorite... smoked bacon for breakfast! 

Doesn't matter what the question is, bacon is always the answer. 

Friday, December 28, 2012


Taken on the one day this month that we received snow.... definitely cold!

cold, snowy day at Mizzou

Thursday, December 27, 2012

How I Relax

Spring, summer, winter or fall... I just prop up my feet, and that is all.

It doesn't matter what season it is. I prop up my feet to relax. I love to sit on my back deck with a bottle of wine when the weather is just right. When the weather isn't just right, I will prop up my feet on my couch and watch a movie or a little TV.... especially if it's my Tigers playing. 

However, my feet usually aren't propped up for long (depends on how they are playing, of course).

But my most favorite place to relax.... is at the lake. Wind blowing, music playing, sun shining, sitting on the deck or floating in the water.... I'm relaxed just thinking about it.

"We enjoy warmth because we have been cold." Isn't that the truth? I'm so glad that I live somewhere that has distinct seasons. I don't think I would enjoy living somewhere that is the same temperature all year long. Yes, the colder months can seem like they last two weeks too long here in Missouri. But I'm glad I have the winter months because they make me appreciate the summer months that much more.

Now I think I will go prop up my feet with a nice cup of coffee.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Ah, yes... the after Christmas mess. It's inevitable, isn't it? The over flow of paper and boxes to put away. The serving dishes and glasses you use only once a year. New items received that don't yet have it's own place in your home. Clothes to put away. Books to put on the shelf. Games to be played and stored.

It can all wait.

The mess means family time is more important than cleaning time. It means lots of love was opened up on Christmas morning. It means we are blessed beyond the available space in our home

I am so very thankful for the mess.

Christmas Day

I remember my mom making me wait until after everyone had eaten breakfast before we could open our gifts. I can understand why (well, now I can understand why) because the extended family would come to our house for Christmas. There were quite a few adults, my sister and me. The adults outnumbered the kids, so we ate first. And the tree was always packed full of presents. It took us a while to distribute, open, admire, and "ooh and ahhh" over the gifts. It was a long morning.

But at my house, it's mostly just the kids opening gifts. Just the four of us. A few gifts for each. We hand out a gift, open it, and move to the next one. Gifts come before breakfast here! And this year the kids slept until about 7:30. We were in the living room by 8:00. That's my kind of morning!

Since we start late, we eat two meals on Christmas day. We fix a large breakfast after the gifts have been opened and then a big dinner later that day. In the past, I have fixed Grandma's tea ring or cinnamon rolls or monkey bread for brunch. Since we traveled the whole weekend before Christmas, I didn't have the time or the energy to make Grandma's tea ring. The kids were only slightly disappointed. I may fix it later this week. We had cinnamon rolls at my sister's house and Nana fixed monkey bread.... so we had pancakes for brunch this year. The kids had chocolate chip and the adults had blueberry. A side of bacon and eggs completed the meal.

The photo word of the day for December 25th was "lunchtime." I completely missed taking a photo of lunchtime because we didn't really have "lunch." I think I was watching a movie and eating an apple around that time today. Or that could have been when we were playing Apples to Apples. Or I may have been writing a blog post. It's so relaxed, and we don't really watch the clock, so I'm not for sure what we were doing. So... for today's photo, here is dinnertime.

We set the table with the china and used real napkins. We smoked a chicken, fixed a few sides, and some rolls for dinner that evening. We ate fairly early (around 5:30) and then had fondue for dessert. I melted chocolate chips, added some whipping cream and a little chocolate syrup. Yum!

We watched "A Christmas Story" (one of my favorite Christmas movies) and then called it an evening. It was a great Christmas Day together with the family. I hope you made some wonderful memories with your family this Christmas, too.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Best Gift Ever

I may have mentioned it a time or two, but I don't really make a huge deal about things like this. Nope, I don't normally talk about what I would like for Christmas.

But first, let me start at the beginning... for a while my son has been "outgrowing" his Nintendo DS. Although for a long while, it was all he wanted. Begged me for one! So he saved his chore money, his birthday money, and finally bought one (with a little help from Mom and Dad) a couple of years ago. He was so excited about it. Played it all of the time. Saved up more money to buy games. That's all he wanted for his birthday and Christmas... more DS games. So, when he asked me if he could sell it, I was a bit sad honestly. My little boy was growing up. The things that once meant the world to him don't mean as much to him now. But still I said of course.

We went to GameStop where they will buy back your gaming systems and games. He brought several games with him and his DS hoping to cash in BIG. The man at the counter reviewed the items and told him the price for his trade. Yeah, he wasn't impressed. He decided he would keep his DS because he thought he could sell it for a higher price on Ebay (I agreed). He accepted the game trade but decided to take store credit. He was looking for a basketball game for the Wii, but they didn't have any in stock that day. So he walked away with his DS and a gift card, and has been holding on to them ever since. Never sold the DS. Never spent the gift card.

The other day he came up to my husband and me and asked if he could give his DS to his cousin for Christmas. He said, "He always asks me to play mine, and I don't want it. I'd like to give it to him." At first I was surprised. Such a generous gift. But then my heart swelled with pride. He has such a giving heart. We wholeheartedly agreed with his idea. That's a wonderful thing to do. And of course, his cousin LOVED his present. But I loved the look on Brandon's face even more when he watched his cousin open his present. Giving is the best part.

This morning, he surprised me again. As I mentioned earlier, I don't normally talk about gifts I'd like for Christmas. But I did happen to mention while we were out shopping something that I would like to have and that maybe I would receive it for Christmas. I opened this gift from Brandon this morning....

He heard me that day. He told me he bought the game online (yes, online!) with his gift card, had it shipped home, and hid it until Christmas. Krista found the package first when it arrived to the house, but he intercepted it with a "that's mine" and didn't tell her what it was. He wrapped it himself. My husband didn't even know he had bought it for me. It was completely Brandon's idea, and he had kept it a secret.

I cried when I opened my gift. He was beaming, a big smile on his face, as he watched me open his gift to me. I was completely surprised and extremely touched by his generosity. My sweet little boy is definitely growing up and becoming a very fine young man. 

And it's not just the gift (though I do love it). I saw a glimpse into his tender heart this Christmas, and I really loved what I saw. That was the best gift ever.

New Tunes Tuesday - Christmas Edition Week 5

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
and presents under the tree

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

"I'll Be Home For Christmas" is my favorite Christmas song. I love this song because it explains perfectly and simply what Christmas means to me. It's about being with family, with the ones you love, with the people who make you happy. Whatever that looks like for you, I hope you find it on this Christmas day.

Here's a playlist of my favorite Christmas songs as my gift to you. Music has always been a large part of my life, so I love to give it as a gift. I really hope you enjoy it. If you have Spotify, you can "subscribe" to the playlist or just simply play it from here.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Monday, December 24, 2012


We have a couple of Christmas Eve traditions at my house.

We bake and decorate Christmas cookies for Santa.

These are the best sugar cookies! The glaze always dries up nice and shiny. Love them. And so does Santa...

The kids also receive new pajamas on Christmas Eve.

This is a tradition passed down from my family. My sister and I always received new jammies for Christmas Eve. I liked being able to open a package the night before Christmas. And so do my kids. The anxiety of all of the presents... the anticipation of it all... that's an exciting time for sure as a kid. 

Now as a parent... I'm just as excited the night before Christmas. I love seeing their faces the next day! I have a hard time sleeping just as them. Christmas Day is one of the few mornings where I don't mind waking up. I love Christmas! 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Joy is...

... celebrating the reason for the season.

This year we attended church service at Pebble Creek Assembly of God in Kansas City. My kids were able to play in the bell choir which was a thrill for Nana and Papa's Marks. All of their grandchildren were together. They did such a great job!

Remember to keep Christ in CHRISTmas this year and every year.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Decorations of black and gold on my green Christmas tree... I'll have a Mizzou Christmas!

My apologies to Elvis. OK, not really because I love my Mizzou ornaments. I usually receive or buy a new one each year. Eventually, I'll have enough to cover my entire tree with black and gold. This year for my office gift exchange, I came away with this cutie...

We have a white elephant gift exchange where you can "steal" each round. Everybody draws a number, and when it's your turn, you can either open a gift or steal. It got pretty brutal this year! All in good fun, of course. The gift I opened, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, was stolen multiple times. I had my eye on a Mizzou picture also. I'm very happy with this little guy. He makes a wonderful addition to the collection.

Do you have any special decorations or collections on your tree?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I got my wish.....  SNOW!!!!

Jesse Hall and the Columns covered with snow.

Memorial Union and Lowry Mall

Student Center

Alpha Phi House

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Begins with "S"

I wish I could post a picture of the snow falling.... but none to speak of so far. So instead, you get a picture of my family's Christmas stockings.

My house doesn't have a fireplace, so I have a stocking tree where they are all hung with care. I bought these needlepoint stockings from Land's End the year my son was born, and then added a fourth the year my daughter arrived. I just looked these up online and noticed the designs are completely different now. I'm glad I bought these when I did. I like the older designs much better. They are so well made though. I love them.

And the big bone with the red bow? That is Skyler's stocking, of course! Another "S" word. Santa brings her treats, too. One more "S" word.

I can't believe there are only six more days until Christmas. Another "S" word! Six days!

Are you ready?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Tunes Tuesday - Christmas Edition Week 4

Ever sang in your high school choir? Are you a fan of the television show Glee on Fox? Do you appreciate really great a cappella singing?!?

If you answered yes to any of those questions (or even if you didn't), you should give Straight No Chaser a listen. They are a college-turned-professional a cappella group that originated in 1996 at Indiana University. In 1998 they all graduated, found jobs, got married, and grew up.  Now fast forward ten years later. In 2006, a 1998 video of "The 12 Days of Christmas" became wildly popular on YouTube and led to a five year record deal with Atlantic Records in 2008.

Ten years later! Isn't that awesome? Here is that video:

The first record they released was, of course, a Christmas album and one of my all time favorites. Holiday Spirits is 14 songs of holiday fun guaranteed to make you feel merry. But not only that, they are superb singers. Their sound is pure, the crooning leads are sweet storytellers, and the backgrounds are sung impeccably.

My favorites are Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, The Christmas Song, and Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Angels We Have Heard on High. Great arrangements, exceptional leads, and all around excellent execution on these songs. I also really enjoy the departure from the standard Carol Of The Bells. The bass singer is the highlight in this song. The quiet parts of Silent Night are also very elegant.

The live version of The 12 Days of Christmas comes in the middle which I think interrupts the natural flow of the album. I like that they included it, because that's how they received their big break, but I would have placed it at the end instead of Auld Lang Syne (another great arrangement, by the way).

Overall this album is exactly what I expect from a Christmas album - a little traditional mixed with some modern pop. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who adores Christmas music.

Crank it!


Monday, December 17, 2012

On the Floor

I don't always step on a Lego, but when I do.... I cry for like 20 minutes.

OhMyGoodness that smarts. If you are a parent, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Or even if you're not, you may have memories of that agony from your childhood. Those darn little Legos.

I don't want to complain about the Lego too much though. They provided hours of entertainment and child-parent bonding for me and my kids. They would get out their little instruction booklets and construct masterpieces that would be displayed for weeks. Many times they would build whatever their little minds could create. That's the great part about Legos. And they still play with them today.

However they also strike a deep fear into my organized heart. I tried ziplocks, color coded boxes, and containers galore. But all of my collective OCD tendencies couldn't save all of the Lego pieces. I remember one occasion when a piece went missing. The world came to an end and all happiness ceased. The Star Wars X-Wing fighter was completely useless if it didn't have all of its parts. Useless! And replacement parts just would not do. "The instructions have a white piece, Mommy. I can't use GREEN!!!"

But that agony is nothing compared to the pain one feels in the middle of the night while stumbling to the bathroom and your bare foot comes into contact with a Lego brick.

Yep. It feels exactly like that. So, my dear readers, better check what's on the floor before retiring. I hope you never step on a Lego.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Molasses Crinkles

I make these every year for Christmas. The cloves and cinnamon fill the house with a wonderful aroma. They just smell like Christmas. And they remind me of my grandmother. These cookies were one of her favorites.

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup granulated sugar for decoration

Cream the shortening and the brown sugar. Stir in the egg and molasses and mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture and mix well. Cover and chill 2-3 hours.

Now I can't wait that long. I usually only chill the dough for one hour and they turn out just fine. So if you are an impatient person like me when it comes to baking (especially cookies), then a shortcut will work just as well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll dough into balls the size of large walnuts. Roll balls in sugar and place 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool one minute before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling.


A few photos of the outdoors taken on this day for the photo a day challenge.

This is a tree in my backyard taken at different times during the day.

Marble cam pic of the same tree:

Captured the sunset on our way to a Christmas party last night.

Scenes from the Christmas party.... fantastic evening!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Focus On The Good

Shocked and horrified are two words that come to mind after hearing the news today. There was a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. It's being reported that 27 people are dead, including 20 children. First graders.

Pure evil.

What kind of monster would do such a thing? It's an unthinkable tragedy. I have such a wide range of emotions going through my head and my heart right now. Grief, anger, sadness, confusion, outrage, hurt...

But I'm also shocked and horrified at the media for glorifying this tragedy. I think that is even more sickening. They are interviewing these poor traumatized children when they should just let them be with their families. I know it is their job to find the news and report it, but please.... show some compassion.

I, for one, will not be watching the news tonight. I will hug my kids a little tighter, say a prayer for the victims, and turn my TV off. I will help my kids feel safe. I will answer questions only if asked. And I will give them hope.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” - Fred Rogers

Focus on the good and caring people. I may not be able to provide a happy ending, but I can point out that there are still good people in this world. God bless us all.

Marinated Green Beans

I found this recipe for Marinated Green Beans on Pinterest (love that site) and altered it just slightly. I'm not a huge fan of green beans unless they are sweet. And everything is better with bacon! So this recipe is a definite winner for me.... bacony sweet yumminess. It makes a great side dish for any meal, and the leftovers are divine.

4 (14 oz) cans of green beans
1/2 cup of melted butter
1/4 cup of brown sugar
6 tsp of soy sauce
garlic powder
pepper to taste
a little chopped onion
6 strips of cooked bacon

Place green beans in a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish. I used canned green beans, but you could probably use frozen. Fresh green beans would be amazing! Sprinkle a little chopped onion over the green beans. And by a little, I mean whatever your family prefers. My kids will turn up their nose if they SEE any onion, so I don't add much. I add onion simply for flavor, so chop whatever you please (by the way, I don't measure a lot of my ingredients). In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Pour the sauce over the green beans and mix to coat. Sprinkle the dish with garlic powder and pepper. Again, I don't really measure this. I just sprinkle until it "looks good." Marinate your beans overnight or for at least 4 hours.

When you are ready to cook your beans, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While your oven is heating, cook  the bacon. Make sure it isn't really crispy or it will get over done in the oven. You could probably just lay it on top of  the beans uncooked, but I'm afraid that would make the beans too greasy. So I cook mine first and then break it into large pieces over the beans. Adding more bacon would not be a bad idea either.

Bake for 30 minutes and enjoy! Soooo good.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


My new favorite photo app for my Andriod is the Marble Cam!

Lights on my Christmas tree taken with MarbleDroid

I love photo apps. I have ten on my phone, and this is the most recent that I have downloaded. MarbleDroid is a unique application. It creates an effect which makes it look like you took your photo through a glass marble. You can use a photo from your albums or directly capture one through the camera.

It's very challenging to get the right picture using the camera. Sometimes it takes me two or three shots until it looks right. That's the only downfall - not a whole lot of editing with the app.

But it's fun, a little addicting, and can create really unique photos.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Baby, it's cold outside. Better wear your hat!

my daughter wearing her warm hat this morning

to the bus stop

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Cautionary Tale of Ebeneezer Snoop

"Mom, you are so smart."

Oh no. Compliments like this don't come freely from my children. No, I usually hear "whatever" or "that's so dumb" or my favorite "you're the worst Mom EVER!" So when I hear them praise my logic and knowledge as a Mom, I know something is up.

"And why is that, Krista. What do you know?"

Ah, yes... busted. The look on her face said it all. She wasn't expecting me to say that to her. She thought she would be coy and give me a compliment, but her sweet conscience got the best of her yet again. I could tell immediately that she had done something she probably shouldn't have done.

"Do you really want to know?" she asked sheepishly.

"Yes," I replied. "Tell me. What do you know?"

"We found our Christmas gifts.... but you were sooo smart not to label them!"

They had snooped. Their curiosity was too much for them. They had snooped while I was out of the house. And honestly, I did think I was being smart this year. I had bought things online, had them shipped to my office, and wrapped them at my office. Yes, thankfully, they were all wrapped. Then I cleverly disguised the gifts in a Sponge Bob bag and stapled it shut. And it was securely stapled. I know it took a lot of pulling and tugging to see what was inside.

Yes, I thought I was being smart, but here is where I slipped up. I just put the Sponge Bob bag in the laundry room downstairs on the floor. I didn't hide it. I didn't cover it up. Nope. It was left out in the open just BEGGING to be messed with. And so they did. They popped those staples loose and had a look inside the bag. The funny part is that after they were finished manhandling their packages, they stapled the bag back up. They had tried to cover up the snooping hoping I would never know, but Krista couldn't keep it a secret.

I was really upset with them. I shouldn't have been. I should have expected this to happen because I was an expert snooper as a child (and so was my husband, I later found out). I remember tearing off the corners of the packages because I was so darn curious. I would unwrap gifts, admire what I had found, and then wrap them back! One year, I knew Every. Single. Gift. I know my mom had to be furious with me because here I was in the exact same situation... completely furious.

So I began to explain to my children that Christmas is not about receiving... it's about giving. I want to see the look of joy on their faces when they see all of their presents on Christmas morning. That's why they are hidden. They are not placed under the tree until Christmas Eve night. That joy and happiness in their eyes when they see all of their gifts under the tree... THAT is what I look forward to every year. Giving is absolutely the BEST part and the true spirit of Christmas.

"Don't you like to be surprised? If you snoop now and everything is revealed to you, won't that ruin your Christmas morning? Isn't that robbing yourself of your own joy and excitement? Not only that... by snooping, you are stealing the joy from Mom and Dad too."

They looked down at their feet, nodded a little, and muttered they were sorry. Krista said she liked surprises and promised not to peek any more. Brandon said with true remorse, "You can take my gifts back, Mom."

I told them I would do no such thing, accepted their apology, and gave them a hug and a kiss. As they turned to walk away, I hoped that this would be the incident that cures them from snooping for their gifts, just like it did for my husband and me. Snooping only brings disappointment.

Hopefully this lesson will be the best gift they receive this Christmas.

New Tunes Tuesday - Christmas Edition Week 3

We all have our favorite song or album that defines a certain mood, occasion, or season. For me, it doesn't feel like "Christmas" until I listen to Kenny G. I own two of his holiday albums and would love to add this year's release to my collection as well. He compiles some of the highlights from his five (yes, FIVE) other holiday releases on The Classic Christmas Album. 

He whittles the favorites down to 16 wonderful tracks. Each one is a memory in the making. Most of the big Christmas carols and seasonal standards are here mixed with his signature smooth-jazz sound.

Silent Night is one of my favorite tracks. Peace reigns, and you are instantly put at ease as his symphony of saxophone magic floats over you. Pair it up with a glass of wine after a long day of shopping.

Accompanied by a piano and multi-instrumentation, Sleigh Ride is a wild and bumpy ride through the snow. Mid-way through, he lets loose with a lively jazz number that is full of holiday cheer. Listen to this one while you're wrapping up your gifts.

Jingle Bells starts soft and comes to life with warm rich colors. The layers of music wash over you and envelope you with a sense of happiness. The soft jazz of this piece is a warming balm to the spirit. Enjoy it with a cup of coffee and a Christmas cookie.

Kenny G has sold millions of records and it is easy to see why. He projects such warmth and depth to every note he plays. Grab a cup of cocoa, a warm blanket, and enjoy this warm encounter that will leave you prepared to face the relatives this holiday season.

Only two more weeks!

Sweet - The Christmas Candy Ribbon

One sweet a day to count down the days until Christmas.

My grandma gave this candy ribbon to me and one like it to my sister for Christmas one year. I remember my mom hanging them up in the hallway across from our phone. 

It's funny to think about the phone in the hallway now when we all have cordless phones and cell phones these days. But that was back when phones had cords and rotary dials and you had to sit in the hallway to talk on the phone because the cord wouldn't reach very far. That's right kids. No running off to your room with the phone! Oh, the torture... See how good you really have it?

We usually tied tootsie rolls to our ribbons. One year we had Brach's creme filled candies in the shiny foiled wrappers. Oh boy, those were good. Vanilla was my favorite. I would savor my candy just nibbling on it for as long as I could. We usually couldn't have sweets before bed time, so this was a memorable treat for sure. After we had eaten our dinner and gotten our pajamas on, we would go to the ribbon and untie our candy. 

And then I would count the days.

I knew when we had reached the top, where that little bell was, it would be Christmas. This was one of the best gifts I ever received. Such a simple design made of felt and yarn with a cute little poem at the top:

December 1 to Christmas is the longest time of year.
Sees as though ol' Santa never will appear.
How many days to Christmas is mighty hard to count;
So, this little candy ribbon will tell the exact amount.
Untie one candy each night when the sandman casts his spell,
And Christmas eve will be here by the time you reach the bell.

My mom held on to our candy ribbons over the years, and then gave them to her grand kids for Christmas. She had to do a few repairs first. The yarn was worn in some spots, and the poem at the top had to be retyped. She saved my grandma's handwritten note to me and glued that to the back. My son has my candy ribbon, and I made another one for my daughter. They prefer caramel kisses in shiny foiled wrappers for their ribbons. And after they've had a good dinner and gotten their pajamas on, they may go to their ribbon and untie their candy.

And count the days until Christmas.


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