Monday, December 31, 2012

it's New Year's Eve. . . . . .

and the simple fact that i'm writing a blog post to help YOU
is kinda crazy.
 i'll be the first to admit it.
i'm a boring new year's person.
i don't ask for much, other than to be happy:)
let me stay home with my family and watch a few good movies
and i'm happy, happy.
oh, and let me munch on some yummy treats, too.
cause you know, the diet starts in the morning, or so they say!
i'm not even a resolution person.

but i did come across some cute things i thought i'd share with you.
maybe i'm not hopeless about new year's after all!

feel like making resolutions but don't know where to start?
here are some good ideas. . . . . .
or maybe there's something for you here. . . . . .
seems like we should be able to grab something from one of these lists,
don't ya think?

here's a cool idea i wish i'd done through the years.
use a mason jar or something similar, and writing on scraps of paper,
add memories throughout the year and then read them on
 New Year's Eve.


next, this would be cool to do each new years. . . . .
just go to thirtyhandmadedays.com for free printables
think of the adorable notebook you could have of each child someday!

IF i were having a party, it would be a family party
with kids of all ages.
so we would need goodie bags!



but remember, no stressing out over details, okay?
just be happy:)


sorry i'm not much help with a menu.
give me a big bowl of caramel corn and i'll be good to go!
but here are a few ideas.
chocolate covered strawberries. . . . .
and they only LOOK hard, because they're really easy to do.


 i love the idea of these simple frosted cookies. . . . .



personally, i'm feeling so lazy these days, i wouldn't even bake any.
these kinda look like those soft, frosted Lofthouse cookies at the grocery store
(which i love and can't have in the house:)
i would buy some, regardless of the color frosting,
and just frost/draw on a clock face.
voila. . . . .instant new year's treat!

maybe, more than anything,
we can all just remember it's a NEW year,
with NEW changes, NEW choices, 
possibly NEW opportunities. . . . .
and a year full of hopes and dreams come true.

 

whatever you do, 
please be safe this New Year's Eve!
may God Bless You in the coming year. . . . .
Suzanne

Saturday, December 29, 2012

a day to CELEBRATE. . . . . .

december 30. . . .
it's a day to celebrate my dad.
because today is his birthday. . . . .a very special day.


this is his second birthday in Heaven.
and  while we all miss him SO very much,
we are grateful just knowing he is Home. . . . . . .
and waiting for us to join him once again.

dad...here is my pledge to you.
i'm not sure i can do this but i'm going to try.
today i will celebrate you more and mourn less.
i read that in a poem. . . . .
that there comes a time to celebrate more and mourn less.

we all get there in our own time.
i still miss you.
still shed many tears.
but i wouldn't trade a day of having you for my dad.
and that is something to celebrate.

you won't be here in person.
but you can watch from above.
hopefully smile your little smile.
and understand what i am trying to do.
i'm celebrating your life.

let's see, how can i do that?
well, first of all, by going to church as always.
you would want that.
then maybe playing with my dogs.
because i think secretly you liked my dogs:)
i think for you, we'll have fried egg sandwiches for lunch.
the sandwich you always made me when mom was at work.
then a bit of t.v.
Phil will watch some golf for you.
and the girls and I will watch some classics,
like maybe a few episodes of 
The Honeymooners.
you laughed so hard watching this show.
especially the one where Ralph Cramden is trying to teach his buddy
 Ed Norton how to golf.
remember " helloooo ball. . . . ."?
hahahaha


the Bible says this. . . . .
i'm gonna try my best to laugh as we celebrate.
again, no promises.
but your life is worth celebrating and appreciating.
i miss you.
i'll always miss you.


and there are some things I'll never understand.
but what else is new.
i don't understand a lot of things.
as long as i get to see you again, it's all okay though.

Taylor is making a birthday dinner tomorrow night.
Lasagna...something you enjoyed.
and what kind of birthday would be complete without cake. . . . .
or at least ice cream:)
i can't promise to eat any black cherry ice cream.
but i will get something.
maybe butter pecan.
neapolitan?
we'll think of something.
and guess what?
no little dinky bowls like mom had:)
we'll have a big ol' bowl of ice cream.
and candy if we feel like it.
because we're celebrating YOU!

i think we'll start a family puzzle.
we didn't get around to a Christmas puzzle as I was kinda out of it.
but we can do a birthday puzzle.
for you:)

we'll look at photos and try to smile.
photos like the ones of your shed.
it's really so pretty in a rustic kind of way.
and by the way, after all those times of not wanting to ride
 in your pick up truck,
me and the girls are into pick up trucks.
like really in to them.
as in if only we could have a little red one, we'd be happy:)
wish i had your old truck now!

it's been tough dad, i'm not kidding.
but i think we all are coming along.
this is a verse from a song that i like.
I don't think it is speaking to our situation,
but it kind of fits.
through life's trials and struggles,
you eventually get a little bit stronger.
hopefully wiser,
and find a way to smile again.
most of the time anyway:)

i made this snow heart in your beautiful back yard.
everytime i see this photo, i think of you.
and this time, i'm gonna try to smile.
and say Happy Birthday to my WONDERFUL Dad!
with more love than you could ever know.
Suzy

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Pretty (if i say so myself:) Burlap Bag AND Slow Cooker Oatmeal

well hello there!
today i am joining in on Katherine's 
Favorite Things Thursday. . . . .
and i'm gonna show you one of my favorite things, 
as well as a recipe i've been trying
to make forever!!!

first up, the bag.
i found this burlap bag with a flower on the front
for my friend who owns the shop here in Naples where we sell
our Beach Gypsy stuff.
i think it was literally the last Christmas gift i bought,
and i found it at another friend's shop downtown
 a few nights before Christmas.
i wish i could find more,
cause i would make them for everyone i know:)

like it?
i didn't do much, but i think it's pretty cute.
it was already pretty, but i added pieces of cut-up doilies,
as well as pearls and crystals.
oh, and i used fabric no sew glue.
EASY!!!
  

okay, it seems as if i have been trying to find a recipe for
slow cooker overnight oatmeal forever!
seriously, we try various recipes,
 and it either turns out like gross looking runny mush,
or it's burnt and stuck to the slow cooker soooooo badly,
i want to throw the whole thing away.
that's how it is.

but on Pinterest, i found one and we decided to give it a try.
mainly because Jenn from Frugal Upstate Living knew what i was going through. . . . .
and because she tried it various ways with a number of testers, like in a test kitchen.
She posts the recipes for each way but i chose the one she made first. . . . .
variation #1.

now, it would have helped if we remembered to turn the crock pot on
before going to bed.
duh. . . . . . 
oh yes. . . . . . we are THAT flaky! haha
but when we eventually did make it, it was amazing!
here is the recipe, or you can visit Jenn to see more. . . . .
and p.s.; we added chopped apples and they were SUPER!!!

Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal

1 cup steel cut or regular oats (NOT Quick Oats!)
4 cups water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1  TBS butter
1/2  tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine all in crockpot and cook on low for 8hrs.  Serve with milk & cinnamon sugar.
Variations:
Add up to 1 C raisins/dried fruit before cooking.
Add 1 chopped fresh apple before cooking.
Top with fresh fruit (in season) or canned fruit (drained).
Add a pat of butter or a dollop of jam/preserves.
Drizzle with honey.

talk about a yummy breakfast!
next time i'll make more, for sure:)

joining in with this fun blog hop.

and just a question for others out there. . . .
i would LOVE to join more during the week,
but forget or don't know of them.
any tips for keeping things straight,
or do you have any favorites I should check out?
please help this terribly disorganized aka flaky person out:)
xoxo
Suzanne 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Cool, Random Tips to Make you Look Smart!:)

. . . . .well, maybe you know these already:)
but just in case, i thought i'd share them with you.
 i hope you had a wonderful Christmas,
and are looking forward to an
even more wonderful new year!

here are the "smart" tips i promised. . . . .


oh but wait. . . . .
there's more!


there, now don't you feel smarter just knowing some of these?
haha...if only it were that easy, right?
now we just have a ton more to remember!
have a good one. . . . .
Suzanne

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Traditions. . . . .There's Still Time:)

JOY to the world. . . . .
it's Christmas Eve!
love came down on Christmas Eve.
TRUE love.
the birth of God's Son,
Jesus.

you know that saying "it is what it is".
well, never was that more true than on Christmas.
because we can make it about a million different things,
but it is what it is. . . . . .
a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

does that mean we can't have fun and be merry throughout the Holidays?
personally, i don't think so.
my God wants me to be joyful.
and happy.
and Christmas time makes me happy. 
as long as we never lose sight of the reason we are celebrating.
that's what i think.
i hope i'm right, at least a little bit:)

maybe you've been on top of things this Christmas season.
if so, you're my hero:)
because if you're like me,
you've been so busy,
the LAST thing you've been is on top of things.

but no worries!
there are still plenty of wonderful traditions to be done on Christmas Eve
and Christmas day.
i'm going to share a list. . . . . . .
some we have done (or still do) and some i know that others do.
so relax. . . . . .
when we're through,
you'll be right and ready with a few meaningful and joyful traditions!

in no particular order. . . . . .

1.  if you're not done wrapping, you can do something we do every year.
and it is SO much fun!
when you write on the tag the to: and from: names,
put who it is for, and for the from part, use fake names,
superhero names, favorite athletes, funny names. . . .
we do this, and it is always good for a few laughs.
plus, the person who gave the gift can always pipe up and say "it was from me".
a few examples. . . . .
my girls will be getting gifts from Tim Tebow, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, 
Pioneer Woman, Rafael Nadal (tennis player) and even Martha Stewart:)
Seriously, you can get really silly and have some fun:)

2.  if you haven't baked cookies yet, now's the time.
cause Santa gets hungry!
and you can make a "cookies for santa" plate
 with a sharpie pen if you don't already have one:)

and today is a great day to have the little ones color
a Christmas picture and take it to a neighbor, along with a few
of those yummy cookies:)
you can also grab a marked down gingerbread house kit to make today
if you haven't yet.

3.  one more thing needs to be baked.
a "Happy Birthday Jesus Cake" for tomorrow's dessert.
and the coolest thing to do, is to let the kids truly make and DECORATE it. . . . . .
their way!  no need for a professional cake with this one.
such an easy reminder of what it's all about.

4.  you can still make up some reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn.
it's easy...uncooked oats and colored sprinkles.
trust me, if you've never done this, they're gonna LOVE it!

5.  got the new jammies all ready to go?
make them festive and matching for some great photos by the tree!

6.  read "twas the Night Before Christmas" before bed.

7.  hopefully you were able to go to church,
but if not, sing carols or watch a favorite Christmas eve movie.
ours is White Christmas, EVERY year:)

8.  you can also have game night. . . . .
anything as a family is what counts, if you ask me:)

9.  go outside and sprinkle that reindeer food on the lawn.
and if you haven't driven around and looked at lights yet,
bundle everyone up, make some hot cocoa in to-go cups and go for a ride.
my girls STILL love this!

10.  when the kiddies are all tucked in, use a bit of flour to make 
"santa's footprints" on the floor.
as long as they're still young, they'll love this!

11.  it's Christmas morning!!!!!
and they can't wait to open presents, right?
but try, try, try to read the Nativity story first.
so, so, so easy and important to do.
and then let them place baby Jesus in the manger...
signifying He is born.

12.  now this is just my opinion,
but my kids were never allowed to tear into gifts and throw them aside,
reaching for the next present right away.
a.  we took turns opening to appreciate what each other received.
b.  if the gift they open is from someone far away, 
have them hold it up and snap a picture.
makes a great thank you later on.
i just think it is so important that they learn to share in the joy 
of the rest of the family too,
and not just focus on themselves.

13.  whether you do brunch, lunch or dinner,
make something traditional.
it's so tempting to try something new every year and that's ok to a point,
but part of Holiday traditions is enjoying special dishes that you
associate with that day.
again, just my opinion:)

14.  make one of the gifts a shiny new ornament.
my daughter is turning 18 in a few weeks,
and i am gathering all of "her" ornament to give to her.
a nice start for her own tree someday or even if she doesn't use them,
some nice memories of years past:)


15.  finally, make lots of memories,
take lots of pictures,
eat TONS of food...sweets too,
play, play, play,
watch a Christmas parade from Disney World,

call family far away and spend time with those you love all day,
keep the day for your family.....
and by this i mean, TURN OFF the computer/cell phone/ipad or whatever.
and for pete's sake, don't spend the whole day on facebook, pinterest or whatever.
post a simple message and get off if you have young kids.
your family is more important than that,
and deserves your undivided attention for one day, at least.
now THAT one will get me nasty emails,
but i stand by it.

16.  and before the day is done,
have a list for thank you notes,
and when you tuck your kiddos in,
remind them of all they have to be thankful for and 
also remind them of the BEST gift they got that day,
in case they forgot.
the gift of God's Love.

Merry Christmas Eve. . . . .
from my family to yours!

xoxoxoxo
Suzanne


Friday, December 21, 2012

Gooey Desserts, Yummy Dips and other HAPPY Things...........

ahem. . . . . 
this is my kinda happy. . . . . . 
so it seems only right to focus on a few things that make me smile.
or feel happy.
and of course, food is part of that!  haha
but there's other stuff, too.
like this super cool truck. . . . . . 


now doesn't the sight of santa sitting in his truck just make you 
smile?

in my weekly email from pinterest,
my most popular "pin" was of this YUMMY appetizer dip.
funny too, because i haven't made it in years!
but it IS yummy, and EASY.
and VERY husband friendly.
unless he is on some weird diet.
then, whatever. lol


Zesty Fiesta Sausage Dip

1 package (16 oz.) Jimmy Dean® Regular Flavor Pork Sausage Roll
1 large onion chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, chopped
2 pkgs. (8 ounces each) cream cheese, cubed
1 large tomato, seeded, chopped
½ cup hot yellow banana peppers, drained, seeded, chopped
cup chopped fresh cilantro (i don't like cilantro, so i often eliminate this:)
Tortilla chips or crackers for serving
Directions
1. Cook sausage, onion, red pepper and jalapeno peppers in large skillet over medium-high heat 8-10 minutes or until sausage is thoroughly cooked and vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring frequently. Drain sausage mixture; return to skillet.
2. Reduce heat to medium; stir in cream cheese. Cook and stir 5-8 minutes or until cream cheese is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Stir in tomato, banana peppers and cilantro; cook and stir 3-5 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
3. Serve with chips.
Cook’s Tips: Substitute ¼ cup chopped drained jarred pickled jalapeno peppers for the fresh jalapeno peppers. Garnish with additional chopped tomatoes and cilantro just before serving. Spoon hot dip into small slow cooker or chafing dish to keep warm while serving.

i love this sign. . . . . . 
it truly makes me smile!



 i think these bags are AMAZING!


and amazingly easy.
my new obsession:)
gather old leather handbags. . . . . . 
or hit up a thrift shop.
use some no-sew glue to place the doilie and embellish with jewels.
sooooooo cute!

this snowglobe cake from Taste of Home is MUCH easier than you think.
and it is also CUTE, don't ya think?


and for a dessert you're gonna want to DIVE into. . . . . . 
omg. . . . . . .
it has everything good in it!

Better Than Anything Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix and any ingredients it requires
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (16 oz) jar caramel topping
1 (8 oz) container cool whip thawed to room temp
3-6 Heath Candy Bars chopped
instructions
Bake cake according to directions in a 9x13 pan.
Let cake cool for about 5 minutes.
Poke holes in cake with the handle end of a wooden spoon. 
While cake is still warm, slowly pour over sweetened condensed milk over the top making sure some gets in all the holes of the cake.
Next drizzle the caramel topping evenly over the cake slowly, 
making sure some gets in all the holes as well.
Spread cool whip over the top evenly.
Sprinkle with Heath Candy bar pieces.
Store in fridge until ready to eat. 
Store any leftovers in fridge.
leftovers?
what leftovers?  haha!

last but not least,
this CRACKS ME UP!
i know, i know, it's a halloween costume!
but i remember these cabbage patch dolls.
and this little doll looks like the CUTEST cabbage patch doll ever.
i want one of her for Christmas:)




 xoxoxo
Suzanne

Friday, December 14, 2012

Dream Come True. . . . . .


somehow, amidst all the sadness of young lives taken in Connecticut yesterday,
we have to remember that life goes on.
it is never easy,
but that's how it goes. 
we will go to sleep and God willing, wake up tomorrow.
we will pray for those hurting............
and live our day the best way we know how.


while so many saw dreams die yesterday,
my little girl is going to see one of hers come true on Saturday/
She has taken ballet since the age of 3 and watched the Nutcracker
 every single year at Christmas.

growing up, she loved her Barbies.
and two of her favorites were the Nutcracker Prince and Sugarplum Barbie.
even at play, she thought about her dream.

She has danced many of the parts in her young life...........
she has been a doll, spanish dancer, russian dancer, flower, snowflake, soldier, snow queen and the
sugarplum fairy.

but in her childhood journal, 
i found a note from her preschool 4 teacher saying when Taylor
introduced herself to her class as directed and told them what she wanted to be one day,
she said she wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up and dance the role of Clara in the Nutcracker.  
well, guess who is Clara in this year's Nutcracker?
my little girl!

she has worked so hard. . . . . . 
spinning, stretching, sweating. . .. . .
soaking feet and wrapping toes.

on Saturday and Sunday, she will lead her friends and fellow dancers on to the stage to tell the story of the Nutcracker.
not only is this a special day for her,
but for me too.
because that little girl I used to take to the ballet, is dancing a role she dreamed of.
a role she may or may not ever dance again.

and the whole time she is on stage, i will be silently cheering her on.
as her mommy and number 1 fan, i will be so proud.
proud of my little girl.
xoxo
Suzanne

Hard to be Happy.........

...............when parents are still waiting for news that their child was spared.
news that most likely will not come.
these parents who sent their child off to Kindergarten.........
only to never get to hold them again,  make them breakfast, pack their lunch
tell them a bedtime story, give them a hug, tell them goodnight,
hear them say "mommy (or daddy)  i love you".


not everyone will agree with me,
but this is a broken world.
28 killed in Connecticut.
22 killed in China.
it goes on and on.


i pray for these precious children, their families, the emergency workers,
every single person impacted.......... and that should be all of us.
i pray for this world...........
a big task.
but a broken world needs it just as a broken heart needs it.


 hold those you love closely.
and pray.


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