December 31, 2014

THE BEST OF 2014

Hello dear friends. Today wraps up the end of 2014 and boy has it been a ride. When I began to put this post together I looked through all of our photos from this year and it reminded me of how blessed we are. I looked back at great memories, fun times, and hard times. I remembered all the travel we experienced, I remembered feeling put through the ringer this summer, and I remember all the prayers prayed. 2014 has been a great year.


TOP 10 MOMENTS

1.) TENNESSEE IN THE SPRING : Tyler and I traveled to Tennessee in May of this year to visit his dad. We also got to celebrate our anniversary while we were there. We had a lovely time, went on lots of adventures, and made lots of memories. One thing that really sticks out about this trip is that while we were there we found out that Tyler's team was shut down. It was rather stressful, but we say Jesus provide and shape us in new ways.
2.) BASIC TRAINING GRADUATION : In June I traveled to Fort Benning to see my brother graduate from basic training. I was so exited to see him and I was so proud of him. It was a grand adventure.
3.) PARAMOUNT RANCH : Our summer was filled with many adventures! One which included visiting Paramount Ranch. Paramount Ranch is located around the Santa Monica Mountains and it's super close to Malibu. We were thrilled as we got closer and closer because we kept driving further out in to the country. We love being outdoors and experiencing God's beautiful creation.
4.) POINT DUME : Another Summer adventure included visiting Point Dume. Point Dume is a beautiful beach and one of my favorites. We had an amazing time. The water was beautifully blue, the weather was perfect and we even got some hiking in.
5.) VASQUEZ ROCKS : Vasquez Rocks became one of our favorite places after our visit there. The drive isn't to bad. The rock formations are amazing, it's quiet and I loved climbing to the top of some of the formations and taking in all the beautiful scenery. God's creation is so breath taking and beautiful.
6.) OFFICER TRAINING GRADUATION : In September I traveled again to Fort Benning for my brother's graduation from Officer School. It was such an honor to be there and I loved seeing how much my brother had grown.
7.) DISNEY IN THE FALL : We were invited twice to Disneyland this Fall and it was so amazing. We're so grateful for the friends who invited us and shared with us such fun and amazing experiences.
9.) CHRISTMAS AT HOME : Our favorite moments are always spent with family and we cherish all the time we get to spend with them over the holidays. Whether we are spending an afternoon watching movies and relaxing or out doing something fun we love every minute of it.
10.) IN THE WAITING : This has been a moment that has been with us much this year. It is many events and many moments. In our waiting Jesus has taught us and we have learned to stay focused on Him. We clung to Jesus and stayed wrapped up in Him. Waiting was a precious moment this year. And through all of our waiting we saw Jesus working and through our faith Jesus opened doors for us. I have news for you friends, but you'll just have to wait. :)

TOP 5 POSTS:

Photography Tips, Blog photo tips, how to take pictures for blogging
TriStyle & Co., She is Clothing, Chucks, Casual Style, tee and skirt We saw Jesus work in our lives in so many ways in 2014. He blessed us, surprised us, and prepared us in new was. How was your 2014? What are some of your top moments? xo. Samantha 

December 26, 2014

THE BEST HOMEMADE BAKED BEANS

Ever since I was a little girl my mom would make Homemade Baked Beans. They were at every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I can't remember a holiday without them. When I got married and moved away I missed having baked beans and I knew it was a tradition I wanted to begin as well. One Thanksgiving a few years ago I called my mom and asked her if she could talk me through how to make them.  I also asked her how she learned to make them and I loved her story. A long time ago a friend of my mom's would make these bake beans and one year my mom asked if she would teach her to make them. I hope we can continue to pass the family recipe around.
INGREDIENTS: 4 cans of pork-n-beans, 1 package of bacon, half an onion chopped, 1 small green pepper chopped, 1/4 cup brown sugar, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, red seasoning, ketchup, mustard, 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp liquid smoke.
METHOD: So here's the thing, because this is a family recipe not everything is measured, but don't worry, these beans are super easy and difficult to ruin.

1.) Begin by chopping the bacon and cooking in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the bacon is almost finished add the chopped onion and green pepper. (You'll notice there is red pepper in mine, that's because I had some left over from another recipe, but it's not something we always put in.)
2.) Next add pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and red seasoning. I seriously just guess when I'm adding these seasonings. We've never measured ever. Just give them a good shake over the entire skillet.
3.) When the bacon is finished cooking pour in a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Stir together and cook for 2 minutes. Add your 4 cans of pork-n-beans to a large crock pot, then pour the bacon mixture of the beans and stir gently. Cook on high for 2 - 3 hours. After 2 - 3 hours squeeze in the ketchup and mustard. Again, no measuring, just a good squeeze per bottle. Last add 2 tbs of Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp liquid smoke. Stir together and cook for one more hour.
The first year I made these, Tyler told me he didn't like baked beans. But this year he gave them another try and he's now a fan. I definitely feel like these beans are a Midwest dish and I love that about them. Midwest through and through. xo. Samantha

December 25, 2014

MERRY CHRISTMAS


For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; 
and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6


MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OUR FAMILY TO YOURS!

December 23, 2014

CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS

I really love traditions that start spontaneously. One of my favorite holiday traditions is decorating for Christmas on my birthday and I love how that tradition started. So many sweet memories come with the beginning of traditions. I will always remember our first year decorating for Christmas and how it started such a sweet tradition.

Other traditions have started and they are each so sweet. The most recent tradition that we have started is to buy a new Christmas ornament every year. I remember when we picked out last years. It happened spontaneously while we were out shopping. I stumbled on a a little bird ornament and I knew we had to have it. I kept calling it my Narnia bird and it has been our Narnia bird ever since. This year we picked out a Disney ornament during one of our trips to Disneyland and it is one of my favorite ornaments. I love how each ornament carries a sweet memory.
Do you have Christmas traditions that you love participating in every year? What sweet memories come with your favorite traditions? xo. Samantha

December 22, 2014

QUICK & EASY CHRISTMAS TREATS

Every year I make Christmas treats. Often times I am making treats for Tyler's co-workers or for a Christmas get together. When I make treats I'm usually hoping for three things. One that they are easy to  make, two that they are easy on our budget, and three that they taste really good. For the last few years I have made pretzel rolos and they are always well liked. Pretzel rolos for the win!

This year I decided to add some Puppy Chow to my go to Christmas treats. I had never actually made Puppy Chow before and Tyler suggested we make it for a party we were going to. While we were grocery shopping I texted a friend for the ingredients and we were good to go.
Pretzel rolos and Puppy Chow are both super easy to make and super quick. The pretzel rolos are pretty self explanatory. Grab a bag of rolos and grab a bag of pretzels and you're good to go. For the Prezel Rolos you'll need to preheat your oven to 375ยบ, place pretzels on cookie sheet, place rolos on top of the pretzel, pop in the oven for 2-4 minutes. I check mine after 2 minutes. If they are shinning, try smashing on a pretzel. If it works you're good to go.
Puppy Chow will take a little longer to make but it's still just as easy and just as quick. You'll need; one box of rice chex, one bag of chocolate chips, 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter, 1tbs of vanilla, and two cups of powered sugar. Begin by melting your chocolate chips in a sauce pan. Once the chocolate is melted mix in your peanut butter and vanilla. In a large bowl, pour chocolate mixture of rice chex. Once rice chex are coated with chocolate add to zip lock bag, pour in powdered sugar and shake. Serve and enjoy!
These Christmas treats are probably my favorite to make because they are so easy and so delicious. What are some of your favorite quick and easy Christmas treats? xo. Samantha

December 20, 2014

10 BEST STOCKING STUFFERS FOR HER

Christmas is almost here. Have you gathered all of your stocking stuffers? Etsy is one of my favorite places to find unique gifts and I have filled this list with many of them. Even if there isn't time to have something shipped from Etsy I hope you find lost of inspiration here.

1.) BIRCH PAPER STRAWS : I love the earthy feel of these birch straws. Great for the hostess in your life or simply for fun. 

2.) ALMOND LIP BALM : I'm a huge chapstick fan and I think it's fun to find a try different ones. this almond lip balm would be perfect for a stocking.
 
3.) TINY JOURNALS  : These tiny journals are perfect for so many things. Throw them in your purse, keep one next to your bed. Perfect for jotting down ideas. 

4.) BAKER'S TWINE  : There are so many uses of bakers twine. I love all the options for packaging and gift givng.
 
5.) METALLIC GOLD WASHI TAPE  : Washi tape. Need I say more? 

6.) MR. DARCY MUG  : Are you a Pride & Prejudice fan? This mug would be perfect for the Darcy lover in your life.
 
7.) HONEY ALMOND CARAMELS  : I was over the moon when I found these caramels. I love caramels and I love almonds so I think these are amazing.  

8.) TRIANGLE STUD EARRINGS  : How cute are these triangle earrings. These are so fun and a great price too. 

9.) MINI CLOTHESPINS  : These mini clothespins are so perfect for everyday. I love that they can be used to hold pictures, keep track of notes and so much more. 

10.) RECYCLED NEWSPAPER PENCILS : Reduce, reuse, recycle. I love that these pencils are made of recycled newspaper!

Are you doing any last minute shopping?

MEET SHANE
Shane is a recent grad who headed to Australia to take on her first big girl job. She documents her journey over at Whispering Sweet Nothings, sharing her trials and tribulations of her new life!

December 19, 2014

5 THINGS : VOL. 34

1.) Tyler and I went to breakfast at Woody's with some clients. It's weird to call them clients, but I'm not sure what to call them. Tyler did some freelance work for them and we met for breakfast and it was so delicious.

2.) We ventured to Seal Beach for the first time. It was so nice! It's nice going to the beach in December because it's not to busy. We walked down the pier and saw one of the boats come in to pick up some crew men. Too fun! 

3.) One of my favorite things ever is a good burger and watching movies. I have lots of favorite things, but I love when Tyler and I pick up burgers from In-N-Out, pick up some Redbox movies and spend some time relaxing.

4.) So fun fact, sometimes I randomly have stomach problems, mostly just the not feeling super great and there usually isn't any real reason for it. Well, I recently tried some Ginger Beer and it totally made me feel better. It's like Root Beer, but Ginger and it's so good.

5.) I whipped up lots of Christmas treats this week. Including one of my Christmas staples, rolo pretzels. They are my favorite thing to make to give to friends around the holidays.

LINK LOVE

Man Style.
Christmas dinner Mexican Style.
Comfy cozy.
Clothes with stories
These boots.
Preparing for 2015.

P.S. I'm leaving on a jet plane today! Tyler and I are headed to the Midwest for Christmas and I can't wait! There is lots of good stuff planned on the blog,  so stick around.


December 18, 2014

STAYING HEALTHY & RESTED DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Oh, the holidays, how I love the holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, all so lovely. While I do love these holidays I have come to find that it is a little tricky staying healthy and rested. Between holiday get togethers, traveling, family time, friend time, and all the food, it's tough. If I'm not careful I end up tired, bloated, hungry, overwhelmed, and little grumpy. Keepin it real here friends. Since, Tyler and I are traveling over the holidays I had been thinking a lot about staying healthy, because when I'm healthy I always feel better.
STAYING HEALTHY & RESTED DURING THE HOLIDAYS 

1.) Take a break from Social media : Checking out over the holidays has become really great for me; no work, no checking social media, it's great. Taking a break keeps my mind clear and helps me to stay focused on the present.

2.) Get Plenty of Sleep : Sleep is so important and I think it's easy to lose sleep during the holidays because there are so many people to see and so many things to do. Remember all that beauty sleep is what helps make those experiences better.

3.) Stay Active : It is so tough staying active over the holidays. It's hard carving out that time to take care of your self and get some exercise. Try to make staying active a group activity, go on a hike together or plan an outdoor activities. Make sure to get active.

4.) Saying No is okay : This is so hard sometimes, especially when we travel home because we want to say yes to everything, but sometimes it's okay to say no. And saying no will help keep you balanced and will curb the grumpies, at least in my case. :)

5.) Bring Healthy Snacks : Oh goodness, it is so easy to eat all the unhealthy things. Am I right? And there is food everywhere, there is no getting away from it. Do your best to pack your own healthy snacks and this will curb any of those unhealthy choices. Throw some carrots, some fruit, nuts, and a protein bar in your bag and you're good to go. Also, if you are anything me you will need to eat all the time and having quick access to snacks will keep you from eating junk.

We love seeing all the people and doing all the things, but we all need a little rest during the holidays and that rest will keep us pleasant for all of our holiday gatherings. How are you staying healthy and rested during the holidays? xo. Samantha

December 17, 2014

CHRISTMAS FAVORITES

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Did you sing that? I hope so. Have you ever  read Treasures and Travels? I was hanging out over at their space the other day and they were all sharing their Christmas Favorites and I loved the idea and wanted to join in. So, today Meg, Beth, and I are all sharing our Christmas favorites!

Christmas favorites are so fun! I love thinking through all the things I hold dear about Christmas and I love sharing them with you. We would love for you to come along with us.  Be sure to let us know if you are inspired to share yours as well! 
MOVIE : This one is so hard because there are so many that I love. I'm going to cheat and name a few. The Santa Claus, Home Alone, While You Were Sleeping, White Christmas, Narnia.

DRINK : Hot chocolate, hands down, with peppermint.

ALBUM : Amy Grant Christmas, from the 90's. I listened to it on cassette when I was a little girl.

BAKING : Butterscotch Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal cookies.

TRADITION : Every year Tyler and I pick out a new Christmas ornament for our tree.

ORNAMENT : This one is hard too. I really love our new Disney ornament that we picked up this year.

MEMORY : When I was a little girl I remember waking up in the middle of the night and walking down stairs to sneak a peek at the Christmas tree. I remember being so exited because Santa had come.

FOOD : All the food. Is that allowed? Okay, growing up, every year my mom would make homemade baked beans and they are my favorite.

SMELL : Pine tree

VERSE : For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
What are your Christmas Favorites? xo. Samantha

December 16, 2014

REFINERY 29 STYLE STALKING : A REVIEW

My most recent read has been through Refinery 29 Style Stalking. I was rather intrigued by the book as I have never really gone through a style book and I was looking forward to gaining some inspiration and learning some tips and tricks. The book is incredibly visual which is a plus for me because I'm a picture person and is laid out beautifully.

My favorite part about the book is probably the intro with the authors. I appreciated their hopes for the book; wanting to encourage others the take risk in their style and move pass judgement of what others will think of your style. That intro was a great set up for the book, especially sense not every item styled was my favorite, I viewed each piece as the other persons individual style and gained inspiration through their risk taking.

Another thing that I loved about the book was their basic training sections. These sections were super great at breaking down basic style concepts while walking you through how best to achieve them. Often times I get stuck when trying to achieve different style concepts and these sections helped give me confidence in taking those risks. I also loved the "1 piece 3 ways," sections. They broke down how to style one piece three different ways.
One of the overall things I took away from this book was to be confident in your style and not worry about what others think of you. There was definitely lots of style inspiration and lots of encouragement to take risks and get out there! xo. Samantha

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for a review, all opinions are my own.* 
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