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Monday, December 30, 2013

My One Word 365 - 2014 Edition



Intentionality (is that even a word?)

All of that - this is my One Word for 2014.  And thanks to Melanie I even have a cute little sign that says so!

Last year I chose the word CREATE to have before me.  It was my hope that this word would spur me on to more actively participate in my life in ways that were creative: knitting, sewing, crafting, meals, homekeeping, family time....  I have to say, it ways fairly effective.  I created much more this past year than I would have without the visual motivation.

What has become abundantly clear to me is that to achieve anything I need


So this year I choose to live and act with intention, no matter the day, time or circumstance.  Will I be 100% successful?  No.

Will I be more intentional than if I hadn't chosen the word?  That's what I'm praying for and counting on.  Only time will tell.  It's a good sign that I have this post up and will be linking it to others for good measure and accountability.

My first two "Intention"al acts were choosing that word and trying to match it to Pantone's Color of the Year - Radiant Orchid.  I love purple and this makes me very happy!

In the next day or two you will be reading more about my intentional plans for January!!  You can be a part of it, as well.  I'd love to have you follow along by email this next year.  There's a little box for just that purpose up and to the right.  No spam - I promise.  :)

Are you choosing one word for 2014?  Would you share it with us here? Add your post link if you'd like.  Thanks!

Blessings on you all for a 2014 beyond all you could ever ask or imagine!

If you are looking for a way to be intentional about your fitness in the new year, I have a Shazzy Fitness DVD giveaway until the end of New Year's Day!

Find your own tribe at One Word 365

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shazzy Fitness: Review and Giveaway

Disclosure:  I was given a DVD of Shazzy Fitness to try out and review.  All opinions and sore muscles are entirely my own.

I like to fancy myself a little athletic.  I wish I went to the gym more than I do - I actually love my gym.  I have made friends there with my Zumba sisters and the 2 hours of childcare ain't bad either!  Let's face it, especially in the winter time it is easier to just snuggle up with some cookies than to venture out into the cold to go sweat it up and work off those cookies.

My one issue with my great classes at the gym is the music.  I love a good beat, but I'm a word girl at heart and cannot escape those lyrics.  You know the ones right?  The ones you wouldn't be caught dead saying out loud.

Shazzy Fitness is different.  They are all about the hip-hop that's going to edify your soul, not make you cringe.  Their story and name kind of say it all:

The story of the Hebrew prophet, Daniel, is a life model for the power of faith.  Despite life threatening circumstances, Daniel never let his fear override his commitment to God. Daniel's Babylonian name was “Belteshazzar.” (Daniel 1:7)

 If Daniel were alive today, we believe his hip-hop name might be... “Shazzy”.

There are two DVDs - beginner and intermediate - with 2- 10 minute workout options that can be shortened or lengthened to suit your needs and time.  The first two songs have cues to follow for the moves, while the third of each workout is an "all out dance party".  There is a "favorite moves" option at the top of the menu to learn the steps individually.  Each move could be replayed 10 times if needed, hypothetically speaking of course.  I wouldn't have to practice a move 10 times to get it... ahem.

The diverse group of men and women on the DVDs cover a range of body types all smiling in their street clothes.  No lycra-clad "hotties" that make you feel more intimidated than encouraged here.  You can also modify the intensity up or down to suit your own fitness needs and goals. 

Now to the good part.  To help you kickstart your fitness in 2014, I am giving away a Shazzy Fitness DVD.  All I want to know is your favorite way to workout.  Maybe this will be it.   Good luck!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Family Tradition: Fruitcake Cookie Recipe

It all started with a photo of cookies on Instagram and Facebook.  There are the 'Likes' and "yum"s, and then the requests for the recipe.

I say that's where it starts, but really it is decades back into my childhood.  Deep into the hills and winters of past Christmases at home - either living with my parents, over break in college, or spending time over the holiday after moving away - there is a cookie.  A cookie that shows up once a year for a couple weeks, then vanishes leaving nothing but crumbs and deposited calories.  And memories.

This year I wanted to make the cookies myself - my mom's fruitcake cookies.  Before you wince at the dreaded Yule time F-word let me clarify that these are sweet and soft without the astringent citrus that plagues round tins and white elephant parties.  I had to get the recipe.  A simple phone call is all it would take, and within 15 minutes I was typing onto Notepad as quickly as my mom was reading.  I could see the folded piece of paper from the brown recipe box as surely as it was lying in front of me.

The next day I went to the store and scoured the baking aisles for chopped pecans, candied chopped dates and candied cherries.  Those translucent fruits only seem to be in season this time of year.  I went up and down searching high and low.  I finally found the treasure I was seeking on the end cap of the baking aisle - specially displayed because, well, apparently they are only in season this time of year.

The process is messy - especially chopping the cherries.  I just take my shears and chop away in the little plastic container.  The batter is one of the stickiest you will ever encounter.  The bowl is incredibly heavy after all the sifting and adding and beating into sweet submission.  The cookies, oh the cookies, they are like Christmas to me and worth the effort.

I'm sharing this recipe with you.  I have no idea where it came from, maybe the pages of Southern Living or a relative.  I'm also sharing some of the tools that I use to help the process along.  If you make them, I'd love to hear what you think.

My favorite tools to help create the YUM!  (These are affiliate links, thanks for clicking through.)

KitchenAid Stand Mixer - for the heavy duty jobs

Cookie scoop for consistent size and even baking
Chef'n Silicon spatula/scraper stick for the beaters

I'm linking up with Crystal Stine for Behind the Scenes.  Click over to find other stories that lie outside the frame of the photos. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Beautiful Clothes From Beautiful Women: The Open Arms Shop {Giveaway}

So have you ever thought you were sharing your latest find with someone only to discover they found it years ago?  DOH!  I did just this thing a few weeks ago with The Open Arms Shop based in Austin thinking I was sharing my lastest scoop with Jen Hatmaker.

Well come to find out, the lovely Jen Hatmaker wrote about this very store 2 years ago and has known them since before that.  Well, of course she did.  Let's let the embarrassment fade and move on, shall we?  Watch this short video while I collect myself.

I was so excited because, Y'ALL, this is some of my favorite things all rolled into one.  These are CUTE CLOTHES that are ETHICALLY MADE IN THE USA by women who were REFUGEES!  Let's nor miss the fact that this is GREEN.  Better yet, the prices are really good.  I love a good deal and this is a GOOD deal, emphasis on GOOD!  Doing good, buying good, feeling good (seriously, don't their skirts look totally comfy) - it's all GOOD!

Here is a bit of why they do it:

At Open Arms, we are committed to providing refugee women in America a living wage (the baseline hourly income necessary for food and shelter [including housing and incidentals such as clothing and other basic needs]) which typically runs $3-$7 above the federal minimum wage.

Combining ESL and enrichment classes on an as-needed basis with family-friendly hours, this meaningful work and living wage are intended to set these women and their families on an upward path of integration and prosperity.

Open Arms is not a charity, but a "social enterprise", a sustainable, for-profit company working to achieve a social purpose through the materials they use, the products they sell and the impact they have. As such, Open Arms measures its success against a triple bottom line that is economic (employ), ecologic (engage) and social (enjoy).

You can shop now and receive the beautiful holiday Sparkle Infinity Scarf free as a gift with a $50 purchase.  There is even a gift tag if you have someone in mind who would love it, you know - other than yourself!  Isn't that little wrap of silver velvet just perfection on that white???

Here's the crazy fun part.  The Open Arms Shop is giving one of these away to a lucky reader, just in time for all of your Christmas festivities!!!  What amazing generosity!!!  You can enter multiple times, but it will be fast.  This ends Friday night!!!

Good luck and go check out The Open Arms Shop.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 25, 2013

Christmas Advent Resources for Your Family

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is THIS THURSDAY and that December starts on Sunday??  Whaaa??  I'm sure that there will be much eating, planning and shopping done over the next few day.  Many of you are probably thinking about Advent and I want to help you out a little.  Below are three ways I want to share with you as your prepare for CHRISTMAS!!!

I've written before about Truth In The Tinsel.  You can read that post here if it's new to you.  More importantly just click and go get yourself a copy for you and your kids.  No time to do all the crafty goodness?  Not a problem, get the printable ornaments and go for it.  No stress and no shame there, sister!  I have them myself!

Click here to visit Truth in the Tinsel.

Wondering about the tree and stockings and Santa and what in the world it all has to do with the Baby Jesus in a Manger anyway???  Phil Vischer has the answers with "Buck Denver asks... Why Do We Call it Christmas?". You may or may not be familiar with What's in the Bible?   I LOVE these videos and have learned so much myself.  Check them out by clicking on that cute pic.  If you look just over to the right you will find a handy dandy coupon code good through December 2.  Use it!  :)

Finally, a little something for the whole family - as if the first two aren't!  Ann Voskamp has released a book just in time for Advent that uses the Jesse Tree.  It is a journey to Christmas beginning in Genesis and following the family tree of Jesus.  There's also a special treat included with the book that you will find out about as you read the instructions.  Trust me, you'll like it.  I've included a link to that below as well.

Based on my dear friend Becky Daye's recommendation I am adding The Advent Book as well.

These should get you going on your way to getting more out of the season than torn paper and stray remnants of scotch tape stuck to the carpet.  These are also affiliate links so thanks in advance if you use them.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!  I am thankful for YOU!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Stopping to See the Beautiful - {Guest Posting at No Maybe Baby}

Today I'm writing over at No Maybe Baby, the home of the wonderful Marcy Hanson.  Oh, this gal's heart is beautiful!  All this month she is sharing adoption stories.  Won't you come on over and read a little bit of my own story.  Just follow this little link and I'll see you there.

No Maybe Baby

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Tree

It’s been a while, but I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo and her merry band of writers today for Five Minute Friday.  She gives us the One Word and we will attempt to capture those first thoughts and pull out what lies beneath all the filters and clutter of life.

We are brave, as my friend Jessica says, by showing grace through encouragement to others and to ourselves when we let those words stand- raw, unedited, as they are, not as we wish they were.  Grace is sprinkled across the blogosphere as we begin with the one who linked up just before to read and leave encouragement in their comments.  There are so many amazing and divergent writers that I must travel on.

Join me on this journey today?  Write for 5 minutes of your own and follow the yellow brick below to our Oz.  Here we go:

Five Minute Friday 


Tree almost rhymes with screen, that’s what I imagined in my head would make a good word for FMF.  Aw, shoot, I forgot to set the timer.  Done.  I do that.  Not forget the timer, but yes that, too.  I predict what is going to happen – in this universe I create inside my own head.  Then I run with that nonexistent phantom through every possible scenario of interaction.

I think we have a word for this – imagination.  I think it’s more likely expectation.  Oddly enough – it’s like a tree.  See how I brought that back around.  My crazy mind is always looking for a connection – no matter how obscure.

Expectations are very much like trees.  They start as a very small seed.  See an acorn that fits in your little boy’s pocket.  Actually, a good 15 or 20 will fit in the pockets of 3T denim.  They are best used to feed squirrels.  We can watch as a creature that will get some benefit gobbles them up.

A lot of the time it ends up buried in the middle of your manicured life, sprouts, reaches down deep with roots and high with branches.  Then it’s all you can do to maneuver around this obstacle in the middle of your life with so many unintended consequences and regret.  Yep, that sounds a lot like expectations to me.

Am I alone here, do you let expectations come in and ruin the party?  What trees do you deal with?

I'm giving away a copy of A Million Little Ways and a matching journal.  I'd love for you to enter.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Million Little Ways: Review and Giveaway

**Disclosure:  I was given a copy of this book for review.  Any and all opinions or disjointed thoughts are entirely my own.  This post contains affiliate links, proceeds from you using that link will also be my own.  Thanks! :)

Emily Freeman’s latest book, A Million Little Ways, is a work of art.  Rather, she declares that YOU are a work of art, a poem breathed out by our Creator to live as that masterpiece everyday.  Throughout, the reader is encouraged to examine self and “uncover the art you were made to live”.  Notice that she does not implore us to find the art we were meant to make.

Book and matching journal with pen
By looking within, back, up around and beneath we begin to discover our art so that we may release it into the world for the benefit of others, and ourselves but ultimately to reflect the glory of the One who made us.  Just as a tree grows up strong, with deep roots and reaching branches, it does not shy away from its form, coloring or changes through seasons.  It is always what it was meant to be and eventually becomes more than just a tree.

I wasn’t sure if I would finish the book for stopping every sentence to ponder or pray.  Once I did make it to the end, I immediately turned back to the beginning to start again.  I think you may be inclined to do the same.

Emily Freeman shares A Million Little Ways at Allume
This morning on the radio I heard a new-to-me song by Josh Wilson titled Pushing Back the Darkness.  Just as God’s glory and work may be expressed in a million little ways, we are able to come up with a million little excuses to hold it back.  Give a listen then keep going to find out how you can win a copy of A Million Little Ways and a matching journal.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Available November 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.