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Advent

Advent

 

Advent officially begins tomorrow, Sunday, December 3, 2017!  I love this time of year.  For me it’s a special time of focusing on Jesus, His birth, and His promised return.

I’m headed up to the attic to start bringing down Christmas decorations this morning, and the first thing I’ll be setting up is our Advent wreath.  I wrote about it last year, and I’d like to share that post with you again today.  If you’ve never celebrated Advent, or if you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive idea for an Advent wreath, please click here to check it out!

In that post I mention several places/books that provide great Advent devotionals.  Those links and books are still available, and you could also check out She Reads Truth for a wonderful Advent study.  (It will begin on December 3, 2017.)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Cinnamon Star Bread #bakealong

Cinnamon Star Bread #bakealong

One of my goals for this autumn was to do two of the King Arthur Flour bakealongs. Each month they post a recipe and invite folks to bake the recipe and then post a picture on social media. I’ve wanted to do this for a long time, and I finally got in the kitchen and did it!

The recipe for November was Cinnamon Star Bread, and it looked WAY too complicated! My mom taught me that I can cook anything if I just followed the recipe, so I grabbed my apron and got started.

Y’all, I still can’t believe how simple this recipe was and how well it turned out! King Arthur Flour did a fantastic job on their step-by-step directions. Those made this project a joy!

Four disks of yeast dough with egg wash and cinnamon sugar in between each layer.
I might have squealed and danced a little after twisting the “petals” and seeing the pretty stripes show up! Is this gorgeous or what?!?
And I might’ve squealed and danced a little more when it came out of the oven looking all beautiful! HOORAY!!!

You guys should definitely give this a try!  Did I mention how good the directions were?!?

I’m looking forward to the December #bakealong now! I wonder what it will be!

Do you like to bake? Have you done a bakealong? Give this one a try and let me know how it goes!

Autumn Adventures – Update #2

Autumn Adventures – Update #2

Is it just me, or has time been moving at warp speed lately?!?  Wow!  We’re two months into autumn, and it’s time to share how I’m doing on my Autumn Adventures list.  My original list is here, and my October update is here.

I’ve had some AMAZING adventures over the last month, and I’m excited to tell you about them!  I’m going to give short recaps here today, and then over the next few days (when I’m spending many hours on the road) I’ll write more about all the fun I’ve had lately!  Here we go!

 

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Check out that reflection! So cool!
An unplanned bike ride ended up being SO romantic! (Other than when I nearly had a heat stroke and nearly fell off my bike!) Ah, memories!

1.  ✔Have a picnic in Forsyth Park in Savannah.  We didn’t have a picnic in Forsyth Park, but we DID have a picnic at Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina!  We made a last minute trip to Asheville and then made an unplanned visit to Biltmore!  We rented bikes and rode up the (enormous) hill to the back side of the house, looked around for a bit, then had a lovely little picnic under the trees just down the hill from the house.  What a view!  Don’t you love how unplanned, super simple things end up being your favorite memories?!?  Crazy!  In any case, I’m going to call this one done.  Maybe we’ll make it to Forsyth Park next month.  If so, I’ll give myself bonus points!

2.  ✔Go to the beach at least once. 

 

3.  ✔Take a Master Class at the Savannah Food & Wine Festival DONE!  I took the “Southern Dishes with a French Accent” class.  It was taught by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker, and I had a great time!  She taught us how to make three different dishes.  We were then able to taste each dish!  I’d like to take more classes next year.  I learned a lot and had a really lovely afternoon.

4.  ✔Take a road trip to Eifel Acres Farm in Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with friends.  Happening now!

5.  Χ Finish most of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving.  (So that I can…)  I have done SOME shopping and some thinking, but I failed to do MOST of my shopping before Thanksgiving.  Ah well.

6.  Focus on Advent.  Coming soon!

 

7.  ✔Take a hike during peak autumn color in the mountains.  YES!!!  Watch for a post in the next few days about our camping trip to Asheville!  Photos and restaurant recommendations will be included!

8.  Write one letter a week to a friend.  Still not making progress on this one!  Goodness gracious.

9.  ✔Eat from a food truck.

10.  ✔Attend a local book store event.  I’m looking at you E. Shaver, Bookseller

11.  Χ Make an autumn art project.  This one did not happen.

12.  Make a winter/Christmas art project.  Not yet.

13.  Have dinner at Alligator Soul in Savannah.  Not yet!

 

14.  Do two of King Arthur Flour’s bakealong projects.  YES!  I did my first #bakealong last week!  I made Cinnamon Star Bread and still can’t believe how beautiful it was!  I’m eager to see what December’s baking challenge will be!  A post with the recipe and more photos is coming soon!

15.  ✔Continue to have intentional meet-ups with IRL friends.  YES!!! I’ve had two especially fun time with friends over the last few weeks!  I’ll share more in the next few days!  (Hints:  Poe, camping, and IKEA!)

So.  Much.  Fun!!!  Like I said on the front end, I’ll have lots of time to blog on our road trip to Missouri this week, so come back soon and often to get all the details about my adventures!

I’m linking up with some other bloggers to see how THEIR autumn lists are going.  I love seeing what everybody is up to!  I’m getting a lot of great ideas for things *I* want to do!

Thanks for stopping by!  Have YOU baked anything new lately?  Hiked a beautiful trail?  Spent some time with a friend?  Please leave a comment so I can celebrate with you!

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Autumn Adventures – Update #1

Autumn Adventures – Update #1

Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future!

Which is to say we’re a month into autumn already, and it’s time to revisit my Autumn Adventures List and see how I’m doing!

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1.  Have a picnic in Forsyth Park in Savannah.  Not yet, but I HAVE been planning my food strategy for this one!  I’m thinking Smith Brothers will be involved!

2.  Go to the beach at least once.  YES!  Gene and I went to Tybee Island for a while last weekend!  The temperature was around 78 which was PERFECT for watching the waves without getting all sweaty.  I took a book but never even opened it.  It was nice to just BE, you know?

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3.  Take a Master Class at the Savannah Food & Wine FestivalI bought my ticket!  I’m signed up for “Southern Dishes with a French Accent” taught by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker.  To say I’m excited would be an understatement!

4.  Take a road trip to Eifel Acres Farm in Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with friends.  Coming soon!

5.  Finish most of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving.  (So that I can…)  I have started my shopping!  What fun!

6.  Focus on Advent.  Coming soon!  I need to go ahead and round up my Advent wreath stuff.

7.  Take a hike during peak autumn color in the mountains.  Trip planned and coming really soon! 

8.  Write one letter a week to a friend.  Seriously?!?  Why is that so hard?!?  No letters yet.

9.  Eat from a food truck.  (Hoping for The Big Cheese truck!)  DONE!  Gene and I caught the last few hours of the Savannah Jazz Festival in Forsyth Park, and I snagged a grilled cheese from The Big Cheese food truck! 

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Photo is from The Big Cheese’s Facebook page.  I wasn’t able to take my own picture at the jazz festival because it was too dark.

10.  Attend a local book store event.  I’m looking at you E. Shaver, BooksellerDONE!  I attended a book signing and reading with Daren Wang for his book The Hidden Light of Northern Fires.  Watch for a blog post soon to tell you all about it!

11.  Make an autumn art project.  Nothing on this yet.

12.  Make a winter/Christmas art project.  Not yet.

13.  Have dinner at Alligator Soul in Savannah.  We’ve at least discussed it!  I need to make reservations.

14.  Do two of King Arthur Flour’s bakealong projects.  While I *have* baked, I haven’t done an official bakealong yet.

15.  Continue to have intentional meet-ups with IRL friends.  (A favorite from my summertime list!)  One done!  I met a special friend for dinner earlier this week!  She has a house of busy teenagers and a busy life in general, so I really appreciated her making the time to hang out with me for a while.  We enjoyed getting caught up and sharing victories and concerns with each other.

Hooray!  We’ve had a lot of fun over the last month, and there’s more on the horizon!  Temperatures here in Coastal Georgia are finally, finally feeling a little more like autumn, so that’s an extra bonus!  And as an extra extra bonus, there are currently NO hurricanes to watch out for!

Here’s to all of us living intentionally!  We all have to roll with the punches, but with some effort and a little creativity we can make sure we have some special moments of fun in there too!  Have a great weekend, y’all!  Check out the links below to get more ideas for YOUR autumn adventures!

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TBB Asks: Fall Theme

TBB Asks: Fall Theme

Autumn is finally here!  Hooray!  Temps here in Coastal Georgia are finally down to the low 80s!  In celebration of this happy season, I’m linking up with the wonderful ladies of The Blended Blog for another round of “this or that.”  It’s a fun way of getting to know the person behind the blogger!  Let’s go!

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1.  Favorite fall sweet treat?   All of it.  Fruity cobblers.  Gingerbread.  Candy corn.  All of it!

2.  Red, yellow, or green apples?  For eating I like red Gala apples.  For baking I’ll snag some green Granny Smith apples.

3.  Favorite fall sport to play?  Is hiking a sport?  Or lying on the beach?  Because I like to do both in autumn when the temps are less likely to bring about heat stroke.

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4.  Best drink for fall?  Sweet tea, as always!  Or Jamaican Me Crazy coffee.  Yes.  Well, and hot chocolate.  I had a great hot chocolate with cinnamon at Red Owl Coffee in Valdosta, Georgia this weekend!

5.  Favorite fall activity?  Hiking and lying on the beach, as I mentioned earlier.  I also feel more crafty in the autumn, so let’s add “make crafty things” to the list.  (That actually IS on my Autumn Adventures list!)

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6.  Must have fall purchase?  A fresh scarf or pair of boots.  I’m still on the prowl for an embroidered scarf, but I DID snag this fun pair of Teva hikers!  I wear them all the time!

7.  Pumpkins:  pick your own or store bought?  I’ve never been pumpkin picking!  I usually buy my pumpkin in a can.

8.  Real or fake pumpkin?  For baking I prefer to use real pumpkin!

9.  Favorite Halloween costume?  I like the clever, punny ones!

10.  College football or NFL?  College for the fun, NFL for the power.  I enjoy watching both!  (For the sake of all that is good, I’m not entering the NFL debate here!  Thanks!)  My daughter leaves the room when I watch football.  She says I’m loud.  Hmph.  If my Georgia Bulldogs are playing, I do tend to get a little vocal!  Our Dawgs are doing us proud this year!  #godawgs #goyousilverbritches

11.  Fall or Halloween decor?  Fall.

12.  Raking leaves or no leaves to rake?  We have no leaves to rake!  I like leaves, but it’s okay that I don’t have to rake any.

13.  Favorite soup?  Cream of Pumpkin Soup (Kürbiscremesuppe) from the Torschänke in Dudeldof, Germany.  I enjoy making vegetable barley soup and chicken barley chili.  And I’ll be making Kürbiscremesuppe this week now that it’s on my mind!

14.  Favorite fall candle scent?  Anything apple or berries!  These days I’m diffusing an apple cider essential oil, and it’s amazing!

15.  Love or hate pumpkin spice?  Meh.  Neither.  I prefer a nice apple pie spice blend.

16.  Short booties or tall boots?  Tall boots!

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17.  Favorite Halloween candy?  I enjoy giving mini moon pies.  #halloweensouthernstyle  #georgiayall

18.  PSL:  yes or no?  No.  I try to avoid the sugary coffees.

19.  Hayride or corn maze?  Corn maze.  This one is fairly local to us.  I should put it on my Autumn Adventures list!

20.  Favorite fall tv show?  Oh, goodness!  I’m a longtime fan of Survivor, and I also enjoy Madam Secretary and Designated Survivor.

Well, that was fun!  I’m eager to see what the other folks in The Blended Blog’s linkup enjoy about autumn!

Have a great week everybody!  What are some of YOUR answers for today’s questions?!?

Autumn Adventures 2017

Autumn Adventures 2017

Ahhhh!  The first day of autumn!  We saw the first glimpses of autumn color a couple of weeks ago when we were in Asheville, North Carolina, and today here in Savannah we have a predicted high temperature of only 89 degrees!  Yes!  We’re headed in the right direction!

autumn adventures

It’s time to plan fun adventures for the new season, y’all!  I did this for spring and for summer, along with some bloggy friends of mine, and it’s been a lot of fun!  I’ll post a final update on my Summertime Fun List tomorrow, but for today, here is my Autumn Adventures list!

  1. Have a picnic in Forsyth Park in Savannah.
  2. Go to the beach at least once.
  3. Take a Master Class at the Savannah Food & Wine Festival.
  4. Take a road trip to Eifel Acres Farm in Missouri to spend Thanksgiving with friends.
  5. Finish most of my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving.  (So that I can…)
  6. Focus on Advent.
  7. Take a hike during peak autumn color in the mountains.
  8. Write one letter a week to a friend.
  9. Eat from a food truck.  (Hoping for The Big Cheese truck!)
  10. Attend a local book store event.  I’m looking at you E. Shaver, Bookseller!
  11. Make an autumn art project.
  12. Make a winter/Christmas art project.
  13. Have dinner at Alligator Soul in Savannah.
  14. Do two of King Arthur Flour’s bakealong projects.
  15. Continue to have intentional meet-ups with IRL friends.  (A favorite from my summertime list!)

What adventures do YOU have planned for the new season?!?  Let me know in the comment section below!  I love to chat with my readers!

And click below to see what my friends are planning for autumn/spring, depending on their side of the equator!

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Springtime Fun List – Update #1

Springtime Fun List – Update #1

Hello!  It’s time for an update on my Springtime Fun List!

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A few weeks ago I shared a list of the things I want to do this spring.  Here’s the list:

  • Go to the beach at least twice.
  • Try two new restaurants in downtown Savannah.
  • Go to Savannah’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
  • Take a trip to Alaska.
  • Buy a new Easter dress.
  • Get a new, official (professional) picture of Gene and me.
  • Focus on Easter by observing Lent.
  • Make and put up some springtime decorations in the house.
  • Go kayaking in a new location.
  • Write at least one REAL letter or note to a friend each week.

Thanks to a little head start (since spring starts EARLY here in Coastal Georgia), I’ve actually made a lot of headway!

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What I Read – December 2016

What I Read – December 2016

December is a perfect month for some fun, lighthearted reading, am I right?  Of course, right!  And what a bonus if the books are ALSO powerful, funny, well-written, and clean.  I recently discovered new-to-me author Chautona Havig, and I’m just loving her stuff.

She summarizes her writing as “Christian fiction without apology or pretense — lived, not preached.”  That PERFECTLY describes her books!  Check out her bio and blog here.

I’ve been binge reading her Christmas stories.  So far I’ve read Carol and the Belles, 31 Kisses, and Christmas Stalkings.  The first of her books that I read was Corner Booth.  That one’s not a Christmas story, but it’s a good one!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all of them!  I posted a review of Corner Booth here.

Christmas Stalkings is one of the four novellas in Christmas Lights: A Collection of Inspiring Christmas Novellas.  The other three stories in this collection are:

  • The Heart of Joy by Vikki Kestell.  This one reminded me of a Grace Livingston Hill book; a little old fashioned but nice.
  • Snow Angels by Cathe Swanson.  A great story that begins with a misunderstanding and good intentions.
  • Trip the Light Fantastic by April Hayman.  What’s not to love about a clumsy FBI agent with a big heart?!?

Chautona JUST released her new book, New Year’s Revolutions, and it’s a joy to read as well.  One thing I love about her books is that each book is unique.  No formulaic stories for her!

I did read some non-Chautona books too!  Here they are:

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry.  Oh my goodness, this one is FUNNY!  I dare you to try to read it out loud to your family!  I read this one every December and chortle every time.

Letters from Father Christmas by J. R. R. Tolkien.  My daughter and I listened to the audiobook, and we recommend it in print!  The letters are great, but the music on the audiobook bugged us.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I read this years ago when I was growing up and didn’t like it at all.  I recently decided to give it another go, listened to the audiobook, and loved it. It’s painful in some spots, but boy is it good.  Sissy Spacek narrated this book and  gave a great performance.  Looking back,  I bet the book must have shocked me when I originally read it; I think I would have appreciated it more if I had discussed it with my parents.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017?  Have you ever revisited a book that just wasn’t right for you the first time you read it?  Do you like Christmas books?!?  Leave a comment and let me know!  I love talking about books!

 

 

 

DIY Advent Wreath

DIY Advent Wreath

Christmas is coming!  Christmas is coming!  It’s a wonderful time of year, and it can also be a hectic time of year.  Several years ago our family began observing Advent as a way of  slowing things down and focusing on Jesus, the REAL reason for this amazing season.

Here’s a great little video that gives a quick overview of Advent.

As you saw in yesterday’s post, we got our Advent wreath set up and lit the first candle yesterday, the first Sunday of Advent.  Our Advent wreath is not very traditional, but I like it a lot.  Here’s how I made it.

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I used a glass pie plate (some years I use a white dinner plate) and poured some glass stones on it.  Since I happened to have a mix of clear, blue, and green stones, that’s what I used.  While these aren’t traditional Christmas colors, I like them.  For me, the clear stones represent Jesus’s purity,  and blue and green seem like regal colors.  I added one red stone as a symbol of His sacrifice.  You could choose different colors if you’d like.

Sometimes churches use candles of different colors, one for each week of Advent.  Some use purple and pink, and others use blue.  Usually there is one white candle in the middle of the wreath to represent Christ.  I like to burn the candles every evening, so I opted for four tea lights instead of regular candles.  That way I can easily replace them and keep burning them.  I snugged four little glass tea light holders into the stones and placed a tea light in each of them.  I do have one white candle in the middle.  It sits in a candle holder that sits a little taller than the tea lights.  We’ll light that one on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.

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Typically you light one candle each Sunday of Advent.  (The second week of Advent we’ll light two candles, and so on.)  Each week has a different focus.  The candles might represent Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.  Or Expectation, Joy, Hope, and Purity.  Or Prophets, Mary, Joseph, and Shepherds.   You get the picture!

The materials for this kind of Advent wreath are easy to find and not expensive at all.  Look around your house first.  You may have everything you need already!

The Advent wreath acts as a reminder to remember what Christmas is all about.  I need visual nudges like that!  To take it all a step further, I like to read Advent devotions each day.

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This year I’m reading God Is in the Manger:  Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Bonhoeffer knew a thing or two about waiting.  A large part of this book was written when he was in prison in Germany during World War II.  I’m looking forward to reading his thoughts on the season.  He lists the focuses of each week as being Waiting, Mystery, Redemption, and Incarnation.

Another book I’ll be picking up during Advent is Max Lucado’s Celebrating Christmas with Jesus: An Advent Devotional.  This book uses passages from several of the many books he’s written.  (God Came Near is my favorite Christmas book ever!)

A great, FREE, online resource for daily readings is d365.

If you have kids, I highly recommend reading Jotham’s Journey with them during Advent!

Does YOUR family observe Advent?  What special things do you do to keep the potentially chaotic Christmas season under control?  Please share in the comment section below!