CT Favorite Things Day 3 HOMEMADE CRAFTS

Day 3 of #ctfavoritethings I'll be sharing homemade crafts or thoughtful gifts.  I'm a creative at heart and since creating is an extension of myself, it's the natural course of action for me to take at Christmas...in the past I've created all sorts of "homemade" gifts for my girls and family members.  I'm sharing a few today, you can watch the video below to see more. 

I'll list some "how to" videos for DIYs in case you want some specific directions to try on your own. 

Wood Canvas Banner : This one gives you the gist, it just doesn't show you the stain and varnish.

Wood Slice Ornaments: For these, I create my pattern just like they did it on this little video.  For the back, I did the Photo transfer to wood.  

Merry Christmas to you all!  I hope your family time is beautiful and memorable!


CT Favorite Things Day 2: BOARD GAMES

Day 2 of #ctfavoritethings I don't take time for granted.  My girls are BUSY!  Between their academic schedule, Senior year commitments, musical rehearsals, and job clock ,among a string of many more activities, it's difficult to find time together...and when we do, we want our time to be meaningful and memorable. 

One thing that we attempt to do anytime we have a chance is Family Dinners.  HERE are a few pinned creative conversations starters. 

If we DO find time, we love board games!  We also enjoy a bunch of card games too...but here are some board games to get you started.

Tellestrations was a game gifted to us and it has brought LOTS of laughter and FUN over the years. Even the neighbor boys have come over and joined us.  It's sort of a cousin to Pictionary, but more like the game "telephone" that we played in grade school...but try to play that with drawing pictures rather than whispers and you get a hilarious combination!  

Codenames is a new one to me.  My girls LOVE this game though.  They attend a youth group game night each Tuesday and this is a favorite of a lot of the teenagers! 

Rummikub is for lovers of math and strategy.  We've owned this game for a long while and my girls have learned to be strategic and think multiple steps ahead.  As a former teacher, I would highly recommend this game for any family!

Spot It is a QUICK game that you can play over and over again. There are all kinds of versions: camping, fishing, emoji, holiday, sport, animals and even Frozen! It's basically like "Snap" from days of yore...but more contemporary and pretty. Though I'd have to slow it down a bit, I even played this with my then 3 year old who loved it! 

These are just a few favorites...but really, you can't go wrong with board games...it cultivates time around the table together, laughing and learning and "NO SCREENS" :) 

((AND, there are LOTS of sales going on all over right now on the classics like Connect Four or Yahtzee or Apple to Apples :) ))


CT Favorite Things: Day 1 BOOKS

"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens"...

I'm not quite sure why the Sound of Music soundtrack is categorized in the realm of Christmas repertoire, but it definitely helps when introducing and thinking about My Favorite Things!

To start day 1 of #CTfavoritethings you had to know it was going to be BOOKS!  If you've been around here long, you know that I'm a lover of STORIES...words and pictures...things that evoke emotion and that inspire!

This post could last forever if I didn't limit myself.  My list of favorite books is probably a mile long, but I'm going to try to narrow it down to just "gift" books and specific genres that I know I or my daughters/nephews would enjoy!

Let's begin with picture books for Christmas. 

Snowmen at Christmas is a sweet tale of Snowmen coming to life. It's a compliment to other Snowmen books, including Snowmen at Night (the first in the series), Snowmen at Work, Snowmen at Play, you get the idea. The extra special part about this picture book is the fact that there are hidden pictures on every page...so once the narrative is told, the "story" continues as you go back and search.

Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a short chapter book read that is an oldie but a goodie...When reading it feels reminiscent of "A Christmas Story" movie with older references, but the spirit is the same.  My girls loved the characters and the 80s humor.

Room for a Little One is a great picture book for toddler and younger children.  It's sweet, short and heartwarming.  I love the illustrations too! Each little animal is welcomed to join in the stable.  The repetition is comforting to young kiddos.  Kindness and sharing are the main themes of this nativity story. 

One Baby Jesus is another "toddler" type book that is fun because of it's repetition.  It was a favorite of my girls.

One thing that our family has done for YEARS is an advent type book.  The one we use basically quotes the story found in the book of Luke.  It's actually called The Advent Book. I've loved it because my girls have it memorized now. Unfortunately, they don't "realistically" sell the book that we use anymore (and I'm devastated because I wanted to purchase one for each of the girls for their own homes one day...but...) I have found another one that has the same idea, especially for young children and then growing into it as the years pass. 

Unwrapping the Greatest Gift is a wonderful alternative.  Although this is a more exhaustive and all encompassing narrative of the Nativity, I appreciate it's attention to Truth AND the fact that you read it as a FAMILY.  Time together is really what cultivates relationship, trust, and the hearts of our kiddos.

Another idea for young families, I know this sounds so old school, but my girls LOVED it!  I built my own flannel graph board out of foam board and a yard of flannel and felt at Joanns.  Then I purchased "old school" flannel graph stories...(over time, I even made my own using cut out photo copies of stories with felt pasted on the backs) I found this flannel graph set on amazon and there are LOTS more to choose from too! 

Now that we have the "Christmas themed" books taken care of, I'd like to share some "gift" books as hospitality shares or gifts for avid readers!

I LOVE THIS COOKBOOK!  If you don't know the story behind Half Baked Harvest, it's an inspiring one of a 19 year old girl that just loved to cook/bake and take pictures...so you KNOW that I had to research and find out more.  What I found was that I loved her and her recipes!  This book is right up my alley because it uses ingredients that I actually have in my house with Super Simple instructions (thus the title!!!) And, go follow her on Instagram too...her photography (self-taught by the way) is gorgeous! 

Another "gift book" that I'd recommend is by Emily P. Freeman entitled: The Next Right Thing I actually listen to her podcast frequently and I appreciate her wisdom, as well as her honesty.  It's not an overly "spiritual" book, but rather practical ways to put one foot in front of the other when this life sometimes seems overwhelming or too many distractions keep us off track... (it's also the title of a song from Frozen 2 :) 

My favorite book for the past couple years has been The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley.  I've not only read it multiple times (which I'm normally NOT apt to do) but I've also listened to the audiobook (because: European Accents) numerous times as well. This is a story for lovers of travel, ancestry, historical fiction, descriptive detail, and two stories in one!  And then, IF your recipient enjoys it as much as I have, she has the option of many other books by this same author that are remarkable as well!

This is Ruta Sepetys latest historical fiction book.  She is a master storyteller with incredible attention to detail and historical facts. Fountains of Silence is her latest 2019 book set during the Spanish Civil War (something I knew VERY little about) I love her other books, Salt to the Sea and Shades of Grey For any high schooler or young adult (or old adult like me) who are avid readers and lovers of historical fiction, this is a great new read to gift during the holidays.  AND, if they enjoy this (and I'm certain they will) they can check out her other titles as well.

I've tried to mention this series to every mom of preschool or elementary aged daughters. The Penderwicks Series is an absolute favorite in our household.  It's a modern day Little Women with wholesome and wonderful story lines.  My daughters read or listened to these over and over again.  These are books that I'll be sure to have in my "grandma library" one day.  They are classics and wonderful gifts to give for the holidays for a special niece or friend that loves stories!

For moms (or dads) of young sons or daughters, this was another favorite hard-covered novel. Kenny and the Dragon is an elongated version of the picture book, The Reluctant Dragon. The best part about this book are the accents and the ability to read aloud with different voices.  As a former teacher, this is another recommended read!

Speaking of "voices"...I can't even begin to tell you my love for Bonny Becker bear books!  The Sniffles for Bear (along with MANY other titles) are fantastic picture book gifts to give to children at any holiday or event.  And you MUST read it with a big "bear voice" and a tiny "mouse voice".
What I also love, is that adults will love this as well!

As I mentioned, I have book recommendations that could go for a mile long, but I tried to narrow it to good hospitality gifts or presents that stand the test of time.  I'd love to hear YOUR recommendations of books that you've gifted or been gifted yourself that you treasure!  Comment below or follow on my IG and FB accounts and leave a comment there as well!

((as we get into Winter, I plan to do another round of #ctreads recommendations for all ages for snowdays and such))

Merry Christmas!



It all started back in the OYAA soccer days.

My husband was coach and Lexie was on the team. 

More young girls that grew up alongside my own daughter, now on the precipice of the future of independence and adulthood.

I remember well, the cheering along the sidelines, the praying they didn't get concussions, the JOYs when they made a good play, and of course, all the girls' favorite: the SNACKS!

Those days are now long gone and yet they are tucked in our memories...the pictures are reminders and they conjure up the emotion and the HAPPY.

That's exactly what a Senior Session is meant to do as well.

Pictures tell a STORY, but not just because it documents a particular setting, or details, or even character, but because of the memory associated with it.  

The choice of outfits will one day bring a recollection of wearing it in a classroom. The hairstyle will trigger a memory of getting ready before a huge exam. The expressions will prompt a remembrance of personality and how you viewed yourself at age 18. 

It's about celebration...the meaningful, memorable and HAPPY.

Lexie has grown into a stunningly, beautiful young woman who has determination, gumption and confidence to take on adventure and even the obstacles that may arise.  She's passionate and zealous for her future.

This is my last Class of 2020 FALL Senior Session preview.

It has been a PLEASURE and an honor to tell the stories of these soon-to-be graduates!

Congratulations Lexie on an amazing Senior year! 



We had to keep rescheduling, but eventually we found the perfect day...and one of the lasts of November before Fall decided it had had enough. 

Kylie is a natural, with an easy smile and go-get-em attitude. She was excited to celebrate the culmination of all these years...for the future that lies ahead.

It's a balance, a juggling act between savoring the "lasts" of this year and then letting the anticipation of college and independence bubble to the surface. Kyle understands this feat and does it with grace.

Her smile lights up a room, but it's her sincerity that puts you at ease. She is a joy and it was a pleasure celebrating her STORY :) 

Congratulations Kylie!  You are lovely! 



I've known her family for quite awhile, but it wasn't until I saw Amelia on stage that I actually SAW her...

I mean, her HEART, her SOUL, the TRUE girl.

Amelia is spunk, talent, confidence, determination, beauty, humor, intelligence and adventure all rolled into this amazing package.

to hear her sing, watch her dance, see her perform...she's limelight in and of herself! 

It's a joy and privilege to interact with these incredibly amazing students...this year especially, because they are people that I've known for so long, that have rubbed shoulders with my own girl throughout the years.

Amelia, you are sunshine and a song!  Love you to bits!

Congrats on an amazing senior year girly!


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"Teach us to number our days, (savor the moments) so that we may gain a heart of wisdom" ~Psalm 90:12

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