HE HAS COME!! merry christmas 2013

John 6:
38For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Oh, merry, MERRY Christmas sweet friends!!

What a sweet day it was all those many years ago. We have been given such a gift to be able to know about that baby born in Bethlehem. I can't believe the KING of the universe came down from Heaven to save us. And we will meet Him on the last day. Words don't do it justice.

Christmas Eve, 2013
What a true gift. ahhh.

It's incredible.

Our light of the world has come!! :D

Sooooo wonderful. :DDDD

I am so thankful for 2013- it has been a blessed and challenging year with lots of changes. I'm planning to take the next week and a half off from blogging like I do every year to spend time with my family and Jesus and enjoy a little break away from regular life. :) I've been feeling pretty weary this month, so I'm hoping it will help me come into the new year refreshed and ready to start again.

I am so thankful for you! Thank you for walking beside me in this journey this year. You are a blessing to me!! I wish you the loveliest end of the year, friends.

do, read, learn, and be goals Dec. 17 + meal plans {cheddar avocado turkey burgers}

We only have 8 days until Christmas! It will be here before we know it! :) We are finishing up school this week, and hosting my family for Christmas next week. I'll hopefully be working my plan for the next few days! :)

  • make 12 homemade gifts {I wish I could tell you about them but can't} ;)
  • install new flooring {husband- I'm just the helper/baby holder}
  • paint a piece of furniture
  • wrap presents
  • check gift lists again
  • buy last few items on my list
  • take family pictures + print them out
  • bake eggs and cook rice for the next few days
  • go grocery shopping for Christmas breakfast/dinner + make it in advance/freeze on Sunday
  • make cinnamon rolls {if you love cinnamon rolls, you have to try this recipe! And double the icing.}
  • attend Christmas parties and bring this dessert :)

  • best cinnamon rolls ever, even frozen! :)
  • Luke 1-2, Matthew 1-2, Psalm 145-150
  • 3-5 chapters of library books
download the free printable!

  • content with now- content with how many things are not getting done, and not be discontent with the state of now... how the floor needs to be swept, or the clothes need to be put away, or the amount of work I have to do... it all fades in the light of who Jesus is, and how short my life is. Worrying about today is not where my heart should be. I want to live in and enjoy today, because tomorrow it will be gone.

real simple cheddar avocado burgers
meal plans this week:

  • pinto beans and rice x2 {if homemade, I just soak them for 12 hours overnight, crockpot them for 6-8 in the daytime, then salt them to taste :D}
  • turkey tacos, corn, black beans, chips and salsa
  • cheddar avocado turkey burgers + fries {I might leave the avocado sliced though!}
  • chicken + cabbage mix italian salad
  • pizza/family night
  • dinner out
  • sandwiches + pretzels
  • leftovers
  • cereal
  • oatmeal
  • eggs

:: Favorite avocado recipe? 
I have 5 of them to use up this week so I'm all ears!! :)

:: Have you ever baked eggs before?
I think they taste so much better in the oven! I like the Egg Genie too though.

:: What foods are you most looking forward to eating next week?
I'm hoping to make these cinnamon rolls {best recipe ever, though I haven't tried PW's} and poor man's toffee this week. They're both my favorites!


learn more about drlb goals here.
free printable drlb worksheet

december 2013 so far: tree hunting, bears + elves, and considering a name change

We've been so busy this month, in a fun way. I'm about 73% done with my Christmas shopping, and 0% done with Christmas day planning. :) It seems like Christmas came out of nowhere and suddenly it's time to party! I guess it helps that I was in the postpartum fog for the last 4 months of the year. ;)

The weather helped my brain make a quick leap to the holidays for sure. It went from this:

To the mid-20's in two days! My poor Texas roses were confused. And frozen. 

We had another first this month- our very first build-a-bear session:

It was a reward for good behavior, and I was thrilled they were all still young enough to enjoy it. This kid-growing-up thing is hard on a mama's heart, I tell you.

Teddy bears + little kids = sweetest combo ever. Even Zane got one. :)

Speaking of amazing combos, this is one you have to try:

The pretzel crisp is non-negotiable and the Ghirardelli puts regular almond bark {which I previously loved} to shame. You don't even need to dip the whole thing in the candy. :)

Did I ever tell you that earlier this month we went Christmas tree hunting on my in-laws' property? They were kind to let us chop down a tree and take it home:

I somehow didn't realize there would actually be dirt in the forest {ahem}, and of course wore the wrong footwear. I didn't want to get my shoes all muddy, so despite all of my weak protesting, Rob insisted on carrying me over this huge ravine:

I have it rough, I know. I'm thinking about getting my name changed to Princess.

We found a good tree fairly quickly:

It was so tall! 

And the story ends with us buying a tree stand, and getting home with a tree that would not actually stand up in a tree stand. After all of that, we put up the old artificial one. :P

At least it was still fun. :)

Last week, we had dinner by candlelight one night.

And 3 out of the 5 went for haircuts last Friday. I don't know why, but no one was super excited about getting a trim. They must get it from their dad, because I love getting my hair done.

Yesterday after church we went to the library and stocked up for the next few cold days. We've never done elves before, but our library had an elf-on-the-shelf contest so it made it fun for all of us. :) Noah and Bella spotted him:

And this little {not-so-little} boy keeps growing. :D I am planning to do a 4-month update soon where I tell you how much he weighs now... :P It's crazy.

We have lots more to squeeze in this week- I have a big to-do list building now that Christmas is only a few days away! :) I'm going to do a little more man shopping today and I think I'll be done! :)

Are you done with your shopping already? {I'm amazed by you if so!}

How has your December been so far?

Do you love or hate candy-coated pretzels?
I am not a fan of chocolate ones, but the white ones are my favorite! They are definitely part of my favorite Christmas memories! :D


thrifty thursday finds: metal goods + flea market finds

Confession: I have little to no desire to decorate for Christmas this year.

I'm tired these days {4 months without a full night of sleep helps}, and when you have a small infant + 4 other homeschooling munchkins, the idea of putting out tons of items for 3.5 weeks and then having to turn around and put them up again sounds exhausting. 

We did manage to get a Christmas tree up, though. Maybe next year we'll actually have stockings. :P 

Thankfully, my mom helped me out in the decor department. We went thrifting on Black Friday, and I was in love when I found these vintage style metal trees- 3 for $7:

But I didn't want to spend the extra money so I walked away, and my mom was awesome and snuck them into her cart. I thought she was buying them for her new house but turns out she was buying them for me. :) Isn't that cool? She's the best. I think they are perfect on the dining table!

My other thrifty find that day was this little gold tree for 99 cents: 

I think it's a jewelry tree. I like how it's a little funky too. I added it to my kitchen window to take off rings if I need to. :)

And did I ever tell you about my metal B? I bought it at a huge flea market right before Zane was born. :D Anthro sells big metal letters for close to $100, but I bought mine for $10! It's a little smaller than theirs, but it measures close to 24 inches tall.

I think it works on top of my bookshelf-turned-display hutch along with my thrifted bird cage! :)

Oh that hot, hot day at the flea market. :) I was one day overdue, and we were hoping the walking would inspire Zane to come while my family was still in town. Here was my big belly the morning we went:

He must have been 9+lbs already there! Even that long day of walking didn't make him budge though. It took 9 more days!  :P

I find most antiques and other things to be overpriced at flea markets, but the letters were a steal after a little bargaining: 

And the rest was just fun to look at:

What do you think about flea markets? Do you ever find good deals?

Have you ever been to Round Top? 
I haven't but I would love to go. I'm really not even sure I can afford to shop there though. :)

Have you ever seen vintage metal Christmas trees? 
I feel like they should be vintage but they're probably Walmart circa 2001...

Women Living Well book study conclusion: what is your driving force?

This post is the final installation of the WLW book study series- you can find all the details and the previous posts in the study here!

Today we end our Women Living Well book study- what a journey we've been on for the last eight weeks! I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have! I am so glad we could walk through it together! I hope to post all of the study guides together in one document for you to print soon if you didn't get to finish, or if you didn't get to go through it with us. :)


What is your driving force? The final chapter's concluding question weighs heavily on my heart.

What is the purpose of all of this?? What is my goal in this life?

I can be a great homemaker, I can serve my family well, and I can even know my Bible and go to church, but without the love of Jesus I have nothing.

I seriously have nothing without Him.

It's so easy to get distracted where we are right now. Things are pretty wonderful. Life is challenging, but fulfilling. But there's so much more than just this, and I want that.

I want to see Jesus. When I see Him for the first time, I want to be weeping with joy because I have longed for this day and am His- not weeping with sorrow for a short life I regret.

There is so much more ahead of us. This is so important: if our hearts aren't set on the Lord, then we are wasting our time here.

I can never be righteous or good enough to deserve salvation. I can't even be a good homemaker without Jesus. My heart is selfish, angry, and impure on its own. Left to myself, I produce nothing good. I am the very opposite of holy.

And if I look to things, or to having a perfect house, or a nicer car, or an easier season to make me better or more happy, I've lost sight of the MAJESTY of my Lord who saved me.

All throughout the Bible, the Scriptures speak of people falling face down before the presence of the Lord.

Our God is so holy, we cannot stand in His presence on our own two feet.

Do you realize this??

Do you see it?

Our lives are like a vapor- merely a breath!! Our time here will be less than a blink in eternity.

Let me ask you this: do you love Jesus? Do you love Him with all of your heart? Do you serve Him?  Do you long to obey Him?

Do you just say you do or do you truly love Him? 

If you believe in Him, if you realize WHO He is- the great I AM, you will understand the weight of this.

God cannot be deceived. You can't tell Him it was all a mistake when you see Him.

Are you living for Him now?

Do you desire Him? Do you desire to be like Him? Do you know Him?

Are you longing for His heart, for more of Him?

These are my questions for you.

If you are following Jesus, I can tell you that He will do amazing work in your heart. It's not about rules; it's not about looking better; it's not about doing more. It's about your heart, the very soul of you- changing from its natural lust for sin and itself to becoming a new creation- one who longs for the presence of God and the love that He has.

Salvation is beyond comprehension. That God sent His Son to die for us while we were still sinners, and took our punishment and defeated death itself so that we could become His children....oh!! It's too much for words.

This is our God, friend. The One who rescues and redeems and heals what is broken- undeserved by all means, because we did this to ourselves. This is the same merciful Lord who will return in all His Glory one day soon to judge the earth. You will come before Him after this life is over, and He will judge every man according to what he has done.

Do you know Him? Do you long to be holy as He is holy?

Do you want to know Him?

Seek after Him with all of your heart. Confess your sin before Him- you can't hide it, and you can't stand before Him apart from the work of Jesus who takes your sin away.

Pray to Him- confess your sins and repent from them- believe in Him, and pray and read His Word to hear His voice. He is faithful- He will not despise a broken and contrite heart! He is so good, and He is far kinder than we could ever imagine and loves us more than we ever deserve. Don't live this life for yourself- our God is more worthy of your life than anything or anyone else. You can know Him and walk with Him personally.

When you are saved and are given His Holy Spirit, He convicts you and encourages you and comforts you in the most incredible way. It's certainly not easy to follow Jesus while we live in flesh- we all constantly struggle and none of us are perfect- but God knows our hearts, and the Holy Spirit produces fruit in us when we follow Him. The more we know Him, the more we long to know Him and to see Him on that last day.

Our end is coming, and soon, and very soon- we will see Him. How will you spend these next hours? Will you seek after Him and let Him rule your life? Will you serve Him and follow His commands to love? Will you follow after Him and what He would have for you, no matter what it may bring or change? How will you live these days you've been given? Will you love Him?

He is so good. Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come!!

Will you "walk with the King?"

easy {free} printable christmas gift sack

Do you ever make cookies or give little gifts at Christmas? I do, and I have the hardest time finding cute sacks that are frugal in a large quantities. When you make 65+ Christmas packages, even 50 cent sacks start to add up! :) And plain lunch bags just don't seem appropriate, so I found a way to make them cute in large quantities by printing right on them! :D

I've never done anything like this before, but honestly, this is now one of my very favorite printables!! It's so useful for us! But it's one of those projects that may or may not work for you and your printer {a.k.a. this is a do-at-your-own-risk sort of printable. :P}, so I've made a few different options for you to choose from.

It may take some trial and error with your settings, or if it doesn't work and gets caught in the printer, you could just print and use the labels I give you below to glue on the sacks. :)

I bought 100 brown lunch sacks at Target for a couple of dollars, and my laser b+w printer prints directly onto the sacks. I also would love to see this printable printed on a white lunch sack. I'm going to try to run by the store today and see how it looks tonight! :)

Here's how you do it:

1. First, download your choice of printable below. They are full 8.5 x11 prints so you don't have to change any settings.

2. Load the lunch sack in your printer. Mine didn't need anything special- I moved the guards and put the top of the sack in first, and the bottom facing up, but this will depend on your individual printer settings. You might have to put the bottom facing down.

Since my printer uses a drum, it rolled it in perfectly. If your printer won't feed the sack, you could try this with painter's tape:

3. Print as usual. The pdf is a full sheet of paper, so like I said- it depends on your printer individually as to whether it rolls through or gets stuck. :) Here's how mine came out, with a hole punched and added twine.

4. If all else fails, you can always cut and glue a label on! :)

And that's it! If it works for you, let me know! I will be making more of these in the very near future, and I will post them here if you can use them!  :)

What's your favorite frugal way to give gifts in large quantities? 
I'm so not a wrapper these days. I'm only a gift-sacker. :P

Do you like wrapping?
I used to LOVE it when I was young!

Download the printables here:
gift sack #1:
download here
gift sack #2:
download here

printable labels for cutting:
download here

10 fun and manly online gifts for guys {$25 and under}

After doing the girl's gift guide, I couldn't help but do a man's version too! :)

I think guys are the hardest to shop for, don't you? It's hard to know what they really like, but for this guide I broke all the rules and asked my husband what he liked out of my gift findings. So this is an officially man-approved gift guide. ;) 

Here are my 10 favorite manly man gifts $25 and under:

1. Swiss+Tech ST66676 Utili-Key 6-in-1 Key Ring Multi-Function Tool, $8.58. {+ free prime shipping}. So small yet so functional!

2. Gerber 31-000699 Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter, $10.83 {+ free prime shipping}. Guys and fire are.like.this.

3. Champion Eco Fleece Pullover Hoodie, $17.95 {free prime shipping}. A big hoodie just might be one of my husband's most favorite worldly possessions...

5. Gerber 31-000750 Bear Grylls Compact Multi-Tool, $12.04 {+ free prime shipping}. Bear Grylls. Multi-tool. Manly man things I don't understand. {Watch out- get him all this survival stuff and before you know it your guy will be eating scorpions too. hahaha ;)}

6. MagnoGrip 311-090 Magnetic Wristband, $6.98 {+ free prime shipping}. It may seem a little underwhelming at first, but the men reviewing it LOVE it. It's like having three hands apparently. I need one that does dishes! ;)

7. Leathercraft 125L Handyman Flex Grip Work Gloves, Large, $11.71 {+ free prime shipping}. My husband loves his similar pair for working on house and car repairs.

8. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work, by Tim Keller $19.99 hardback {+ free prime shipping}. I've never read it but I love the idea of how to connect our every day jobs to serving Jesus!

9. Audible audio book membership- $15/mo for one book or gift 3 months for $45. Perfect for guys who like to listen or have long communtes. Or you could just gift his new book in audio format. ;)

10. Thermos 16-Ounce Vacuum-Insulated Travel Tumbler, Stainless Steel, $23.15 {+ free prime shipping}. This gets amazing reviews!!

BonusWarTech USA Batman Knife with Dual Assist Open Blades, $7.12 {+ free prime shipping}. I was thinking this would be perfect for a younger teenager if they liked knives! The 624 reviews were almost 5 stars! 

What do you like to buy your guy? Food? Clothes? {now I need some ideas he won't know about!}

***disclosure- the Amazon links above contain affiliate information. Should you purchase the item through my link, I get a small percentage from Amazon. Hey! Yay for small percentages!! :)