Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Year Has Gone By: Life Lessons From the Year

As yet another year draws to a close, I can't help but find truth in the saying, "The days are long, but the years are short."  Seven years ago, I was very pregnant with our first child and the anticipation for what changes the New Year would bring was at an all-time high.  Fast-forward seven years:  as I sit here with my husband and four children I find myself wondering, "How did time pass so quickly?"

Each year after Christmas I find myself reflecting on all that has happened over the course of the year. I'm sure many of you do as well.  It always amazes me how slowly the year starts out but is seems to pick up speed like a big snowball as the days go on.  Before I know it summer is here and over, the kids are back to school, and all of the fun holidays fly by.  It brings me to this point:  the final day of the year.

2013 was a big year for me.  We welcomed our fourth child, I began my adventure with From Cover to Cover with my dear friend, and made the decision to open my own business, The Busy Bee Early Childhood Center, in 2014.  I have watched my kids grow like weeds, master new skills, and continue to explore all that the world has to offer.  We took a few vacations, tackled a summer bucket list, and made many lasting memories.  All-in-all it was a great year!

While there were many positives, there were also many moments, days, or weeks that were a struggle. Life ebbs and flows and in those challenging moments I do my best to learn from them.  I am far from perfect, and while my intentions may be good, I don't always get it right the first, second, or even tenth time.  The best I can offer is that I will try again until I get it right (or as close to it as possible).  I love the ideas of "imperfect progress" (borrowed from the book Unglued) and practicing grace, both to ourselves and others.  We all hit bumps in the road, if only we can remind ourselves of that instead of beating ourselves or others up about it.

So onto 2014 we go.  I do not make resolutions:  instead I set goals.  This year I have a found some inspiration from many great resources to help prepare those goals.  As I age (yes, I realize I'm not that old) I am beginning to look at life a little differently.  For years, I fell prey to the "fitting in" game and in the end it was neither successful or fulfilling.  I've read many non-fiction books in the past year, many by Christian-based authors, about looking inside to find your authentic self and to find God's purpose for us.  I've read many quotes suggesting the only way to find happiness is to stop looking to outside sources and instead search inside and be happy with yourself. One of the latest that I've seen surfacing is this and I like it:

While I feel that for the most part the goals we set for ourselves are a private matter, I'll share the mantra, if you will, of my hopes for the New Year.  I'm going to continue to work on being my authentic self.  To not always say "yes," but prioritize and focus on what is important to me and best for our family ("no is the new yes").  To grow some of the new friendships that I have gained since our move and strengthen those with the people who have been by my side for years. To be vulnerable and focus on the positive instead of the negative.  To pray more, be slower to anger, and to appreciate the simplicity and wonder of the little things.  And most of all, to "dare greatly" (from my favorite book!)...
Onto 2014 we go.  This has the potential to be a big year for our family and full of many changes.  I pray that we all stay safe, healthy, and have a wonderful year full of blessings, big and small.  I wish this for you and yours as well.  Happy New Year!  Bring on 2014!  "Dare greatly", put yourself out there, and go for it!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cookies for Santa

There is simply not enough time in the day for me to accomplish even half of what I'd like to do! Unfortunately, my blog (which I really enjoy doing) has taken a back seat the past few months to the other demands in my life.  I wanted to quickly share with you this fun cut-out cookie project that you could do with your children this weekend.  They make great "cookies for Santa!"
I have found a yummy cookie dough recipe that I have been using for the past few years.  Initially I started using it when I made cookies on a stick, but it works well to roll it out thinner for regular cut-outs as well.  Mix up the dough and let it chill for awhile.  Once it's firm, grab some cookie cutters and get to work!  Once they are cooled, give your kids some paint brushes (wide is best) and let them paint their cookies with some icing.  I'll include both recipes!  

Our kiddos love this project.  They love to select what cookie cutter to use and decorating their cookies especially for Santa!  Once they're dry, I throw them in the freezer and we pull them out on Christmas Eve so they're nice and fresh for Santa!  Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Sweet Sista'

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 large egg
1/2 t. salt
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift together flour and baking powder.  In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in the egg, salt, and vanilla.  Slowly add the flour mixture (1 c. at a time) and stir until incorporated.  Form the dough into a disc and refrigerate for one hour.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the cookies into shapes and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Place on a cookie rack to fully cool.  


1 c. powdered sugar
2 t. milk
2 t. light corn syrup
1/4 t. vanilla

Warm milk.  Stir in powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  Mix in corn syrup and vanilla and mix until smooth and glossy.  If it's too thick, add more corn syrup.  Divide into bowls and add coloring.  Paint on with paintbrushes.

Painting away!