Ham, beans and corn bread

Whew, what a wonderful week and weekend it has been with family and friends! I sure hope you had a great Christmas with those you love! I'm looking forward to doing a Christmas recap very soon. But until then, here is a favorite 'after Christmas' meal.

If you're like me, you over estimate how much ham you'll need for Christmas dinner and always end up with lots of leftovers. In my family, and maybe yours too, we take that ham, put it in a pot with some Great Northern Beans, fill it with water and let it cook all day. The ham falls off the bone by the end of the day and you have a ham & bean soup. We pair it with chopped onions and homemade cornbread. It's a very easy way to use up the leftovers and provide plenty of food for another big family meal.

Do you have any favorite 'after Christmas' dishes? (Or any holiday, for that matter. :))

*Since I've been out of my normal posting routine, I just wanted to remind you to check out the New Year's giveaway I'm apart of...and don't forget to link up with us this Thursday for Thankful Thursday.


A Sparkly New Years Giveaway!

Merry 'Day After Christmas' everybody!! I'm very much enjoying family/friends time, but wanted to tell you about a fun giveaway I'm a part of with some other lovely bloggers! The theme is "Sparkle in the New Year" and there are some FUN giveaway items!

Check out the details below on how to win a little "Sparkle for your New Year"!
Your prize package will include all of your New Year necessities! A girl has to be prepared for anything that could happen on New Year's! The only thing you don't have is a breathe mint. But that's up to you to decide your own fate.

Elf Makeup Set || Gold Polish & Hairties || Red Velvet Cupcake Soy Candle || Red Lipgloss || Bath & Body Works NYE candle || Scarf || $10 Ulta Giftcard || Black & White Orly Polish || Sparkle Coin Purse & Anchor Necklace

Whew! That's a lot of goodies for one lucky gal! You'd better get busy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Chocolate Crinkles

Chocolate crinkles are probably my favorite cookies ever. I mean, who doesn't love chocolate cookies?! Well, Robert isn't a huge chocolate fan (what?! how is that even possible?!) but these cookies he gobbles right up. Although I make them some throughout the year, they are certainly a Christmas staple at our house. If you haven't had them before, you must make a batch...today. Go, now! :)



Five on Friday

It's Friday!! And the Friday before Christmas...how exciting!! I'm linking up again with the lovely Five on Friday gals {Darci, April, Christina, & Natasha} and Lauren Elizabeth.

{one} Last Saturday, Robert and I invited our sweet neighbor lady over for lunch. She is an elderly woman who has been a widow for 20+ years. She is the sweetest lady and any time she's sees the kids and I out playing, she always wants to visit and talk. And bless her heart, she's a talker. You can just tell that she longs for some company. I've talked about our journey to our house before and I believe that God has us in this house not just for our own comfort and enjoyment, but to be a tool for Him to our neighbors. And lunch with our widowed neighbor is one way we can share His love.  We enjoyed it, she enjoyed it....no doubt we'll do it again. :)

{two} Kind of going along with the first one, we invited Robert's new boss and his wife over for dinner on Christmas Eve. They moved here this past October from Belgium and have no family here and won't be going home for the holidays. We hated the idea of them being alone for Christmas, so we invited them over for Christmas Eve. Our family dinner will grow by two this year and I hope they enjoy themselves!
{three} Speaking of Christmas, last night the girls and I had our little Christmas party and gift exchange. This year we drew names and exchanged gifts that way. Sweet Kim drew my name and gifted me a Essie holiday gift set and insulated 31 bag. Love them! Thank you, Kim!

{four} In case you missed it yesterday, beginning January 2, 2014, some of my favorite bloggers and I will be hosting a weekly link up called Thankful Thursday. We want to live each day with gratitude and encourage each other to do the same. We've decided it would be fun to take a picture every day of something we're thankful for and then post those pics in our Thankful Thursday post. But you can do whatever is best and meaningful for you. We just hope you link up with us and focus on gratitude in 2014.

{five} I have SO been enjoying the sweets and treats of the season! My favorites so far have been Chocolate Crinkles and my grandmas famous Coucan! Mm, so good!!! What about you? Do you have any favorites?

Apart from wrapping a few more presents, I'm ready for Christmas! What about you? Are you ready?


Thankful Thursday

As I've talked about before, living with an attitude of gratitude is important to me. It's strangely easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and only focus on the negatives. So, in my life I want to strive to do the opposite. Find the beauty in everyday. Be grateful...in everything!

My life isn't always easy...or fun. There are a lot a mundane moments throughout my days. Times when I sneak away to the bathroom to savor a piece of chocolate...by myself. But, these are days I want to cherish. These are the days the Lord has allotted to me. And I want to always be thankful to Him for the countless blessings in my life...seen and unseen.

I'm so excited to be partnering with some of my favorite bloggers {MakeMeUpMia, Katie Elizabeth & Sunday's Grace} in 2014 to host a 'Thankful Thursday' link up. There are no rules other than being grateful. Some link ups out there have so many rules for joining the link up that it deters me from even linking up. We don't want that with this. We'd love for you to follow us and share the info/image on your page, but mostly we want you to live with gratitude, too. :)

For us, we think it'd be fun to snap a picture everyday of something we're thankful for and then share that each Thursday. But you can do whatever you'd like. Whatever is meaningful to you. Our first link up will be on January 2, 2014. I hope you'll join us and make 2014 a year of gratitude! 


The Sunshine Award

The lovely Katie at Katie Elizabeth tagged me in The Sunshine Award back in November and I'm finally posting about it! This is a fun tag because it helps you get to know other bloggers better. So here we go...

The tag contains:
11 random facts about myself
Answer 11 questions left for me
Leave 11 questions for the blogs I tag

{11 random facts}

1. Hair grosses me out. Not all hair. Specifically if you're staying at a hotel and find hair in the shower...or your bed. Totally, completely grosses me out and I cannot relax the rest of the time I'm there. Weird, I know.

2. I broke my middle finger swinging from a rope swing into the Rio Grande river with Robert...and I didn't even cry. I was trying my best to be tough and impress him. If that happened today, no doubt I'd cry.

3. I had an emergency appendectomy when I was 12 years old...followed by another major surgery 2 weeks later. The Drs said it was a miracle I lived.

4. I have to sleep with a sound machine on ocean waves. Can't sleep without it. I even travel with it.

5. I have only lived without a dog during the years I was at college.

6. I graduated college in 3 years with my degree in Psychology.

7. Vacuuming is oddly relaxing for me.

8. I LOVE coffee. That's probably not a random, unknown fact about me. But if I'm feeling stressed, just enjoying a cup of coffee helps me relax.

9. I only have one sibling, a younger brother.

10. I received my one & only(to date, at least) speeding ticket ON my 17th birthday. Yeah, the cop was NOT so nice. Who gives you a ticket ON your birthday?! LAME!

11. I'm a sucker for Hallmark movies. Yes, the cheesy, predictable Hallmark movies.

{11 questions from Katie}

1. What is your favorite Christmas movie?
~Probably a tie between Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story. We watch both, countless times, each Christmas.

2. What's the best vacation you've been on?
~Definitely our honeymoon. I've been on other great vacations that I've loved, but that vacation was almost magical. It was our first trip together and we were newlyweds. Amazing!

3. If you could only have your computer or TV for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
~Computer, for sure. I certainly enjoy watching TV (see my #11 random fact) but I spend more time on the computer. Plus, you can watch TV on the computer. Win, win. :)

4. Where were you born?
~Findlay, Ohio. A small town in Northwest Ohio.

5. What is your dream job?
~Honestly, I don't know. I adore staying home with our kids and that was always my dream "job." But I really enjoy photography and if I took some classes, learned a whole lot more and practiced a lot, I think it'd be fun to take pictures as a job.

6. What is the best gift you've ever received?
~Mother's Day 2012, Robert and the kids gave me a picture of their hand prints made into flowers with a verse from Prov 31. I LOVE that gift. In fact, I cried when he gave it to me. It was so incredibly thoughtful of Robert to do that. We were house hunting that spring, and in a home we toured there was a similar picture that we saw and I commented on. He listened, tucked it away in his mind and BAM! blew me away!

7. What are your goals for your blog?
~I'm loving the relationships I'm building with other bloggers. My goal would be continue to grow those friendships and continue meeting new bloggers, while hopefully encouraging others through the happenings of our life.

8. What is a typical daily outfit for you?
~In the winter, jeans and a sweater/shirt. In the summer, shorts and a shirt...or my swimsuit. The kids LOVE to swim and having a pool now, we spend a lot in the water.

9. How did you meet your significant other?
~We met in college through mutual friends.

10. Are you named after anyone?
~Nope. And in fact, my name was supposed to be Stacy Corrine. But the day I was born, my dad looked at me and said "No, this is Kristal Marie."

11. What is your favorite beauty product of all time?
~Well, I don't have a specific brand, but I love mascara. Putting on just a little mascara on really livens up my eyes and face, making me look less tired and more alert. :)

Thanks for reading along!! Here are my questions:
1. What do you love about blogging?
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
3. Do you have any "guilty pleasure" TV shows?
4. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
5. What's the most important thing I should know about you?
6. What's one place you have to visit in your lifetime?
7. Do you have any summer vacation destinations you visit yearly?
8. Do you prefer the ocean or mountains?
9. What's your favorite flower?
10. If you could do anything without fear of failure, what would it be?
11. Do you get up early or stay up late?

I'm tagging:
Dawn @ Sunshine of Mine
Elise @ Cheers Y'all
Cassie @ True Agape
*If y'all have already done this award or aren't interested, no worries. :)


Homemade Brownies...and a winner!

I've made some not so great homemade brownies in my time. In fact, I remember whipping up a batch one night and setting off the fire alarms! Given my past experiences, I tend to stick with a box mix. 

However, we were snowed in last weekend and I was really craving some chocolate (can I get an Amen?!) and I remembered this recipe I had and hadn't tried yet.

OH.MY.WORD. These brownies are amazing!! Robert was very skeptical of them, but after one bite, he actually said they were better than any box mix. And then went back for seconds (and thirds!). Seriously, they're amazing and so easy!

And the winner of my Christmas giveaway is....Jennifer Cramer! Thank you for all who stopped by and entered my giveaway!!


5 on Friday-Christmas traditions

Do you have Christmas traditions you do with your family? I love Christmas traditions and love creating traditions for our little family. So, I thought it'd be fun today to link up with Darci and Lauren Elizabeth and share some of our Christmas traditions with you.

{one} Last year was our first year to attend The Christmas Train. It's put on by a local church and takes place in an old western town. There is a real train you ride around the town that tells the Christmas story and then there are lots of things to do within the town. Restaurants, shops, lots of entertainment for the kids. It's a fun place to visit. This year we were able to go with Dustin and Mia, which was so fun. The only negative able this year is that it was about 25 degree outside...COLD!

{two} It was so fun linking up for the Christmas pajama party, that a new pair (or two) of Christmas jammies each year is making our tradition list! Who knew pj's could be so fun?!

{three} Another tradition we started last year was to make hot chocolate, put on our jammies and drive around and look at Christmas lights in our town. Emma loves Christmas lights and yelled every time she found some. So fun!!
(this is a terrible pic, but sometimes you take what you can get. :) Emma is back there too, just hard to see her without any light.)

{four} Baking! Some of the best parts about the holidays are all the goodies you get to make and eat! This year I enjoyed two little helpers on our day of baking. Emma lasted maybe 2 seconds, but she looked cute while she lasted! :) And Collin did great!! He baked a whole batch of cookies with me before he was off to play with Emma.

{five} Have your heard of The Jesus Storybook Bible?! It's amazing!! We love reading this Bible anyway, but after I found an advent reading plan to go along with it, I knew this was the perfect plan for us! The kids love it, we love it...win win. :)

Now I want to know...what are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?! We might just add them to our own! :)

**Just a few more days to enter the Christmas giveaway!


Christmas Pajama Party!

Today I'm participating in a fun link up with some lovely bloggers for a virtual Christmas pajama party. Please feel free to join in, too! The link up goes from now until the New Year on your blog or your Instagram. I had a ball taking pics of my cuties...and even scored our Christmas card photo from our little photo shoot!

Don't forget to check out my Christmas giveaway! It's open until December 16th.


Crock Pot Stew

It's no secret that I love my crock pot. I mean, what's better than putting dinner on in the morning, going about your day and having it ready for you when dinner time rolls around?! I'm all over it!

Many years ago I came across this recipe we have named Crock Pot Stew. I was actually searching the internet for a recipe similar to a dish my grandma makes that is so good. I thought I hit the jackpot with this recipe. Although I did find an awesome recipe, it's not my grandma's dish. But that's ok because this has become a family favorite! I hope you enjoy it too!


Clearly it's a super easy recipe, which makes it even better in my book! It's so creamy and flavorful. You could even leave the onion out, if you're not an onion fan. In fact, I made this recently for our sweet friends Andrew and Angela after they welcomed their precious little guy and I left the onions out just in case it bothered the baby. If you give this a try, let me know what you think.

Don't forget to check out The Christmas Giveaway I'm hosting with MakeMeUpMia and Katie Elizabeth.

Have a great Monday!


It's Friday!!

Yay, it's Friday!! And a snowy one at that! So, snowy, in fact, that Robert even has a snow day today. :) I'm linking up with Darci (and the other lovely Five on Friday ladies) and Lauren Elizabeth .  I've been a bit down this week with a cold, so here's my top 5(ish) pics from the week.

{one} My Aunt and Uncle were in town for Thanksgiving, so we had a BIG family get together on Saturday. My cousin and his wife have three kiddos (two boys and a girl) and our kids love playing together. How cute are Hailey and Emma here?! :)

{two} Collin, sweet Collin. He knew I wasn't feeling good but saw I was still trying to get things done around the house. So, after asking me all the things I needed to do, he said "Mommy, can I dust for you?" Melt my heart!! You sure can! Thank you sweet boy!

{three} We had a good time coloring Christmas pictures and I posted about delicious apple pie pork chops !

{four} Yesterday it started snowing and Collin loved watching it come down.
{five} And today we enjoyed a snow day with daddy!! His work was closed down, so we decided to have a family outing to the movies to watch Frozen. What a cute movie!!

So there's a quick peek into some of our week. {I wanna make a little disclaimer. I feel like I post more pictures of Collin than Emma. It might be true that I do, for now, only because the little stinker refuses to let me snap a picture of her. I'm hoping those days are quickly coming to an end. Whew, ok I feel better now.}

*Also, don't forget to check out the Christmas giveaway I'm hosting with the lovely ladies at MakeMeUpMia and Katie Elizabeth!
Do you have any highlights from your week? Or exciting weekend plans?


Apple Pie Pork Chops

I do love Pinterest and found a delicious recipe on there a long time ago....it's called Apple Pie Pork Chops. I'm guessing you're hooked at the name alone, right?! And let me tell you, they do not disappoint! They quickly became a family favorite. I like to serve them with mashed or sweet potatoes and rolls. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!


A Christmas Giveaway

I'm so excited to be partnering with Mia @ MakeMeUpMia and Katie @ Katie Elizabeth to bring you an awesome Christmas giveaway! We're all giving away some of our favorite things that we want you to enjoy this Christmas! If you haven't done so yet, you'll want to check out Mia and Katie's blogs. I know you'll love them as much as I do. And make sure you enter their giveaways, too, for a chance to win their lovely gifts.

Here are the goodies I'm giving away! You know that I'm a coffee addict, so I thought a cute coffee cup from Target, paired with some homemade coasters, would be fun. And you know about my love for Bath & Body candles and Scentsy, so they seemed like another great option. Just a little bit of what I enjoy!

The giveaway will be open until December 16th and is open to all US residents. Entering is easy...just complete as many or as few options as you'd like on the Rafflecopter below.

Good luck and Merry Christmas!! a Rafflecopter giveaway