Smells Like Christmas Spirit

There is nothing that makes my home feel more in the Christmas Spirit than a good simmering potpourri. Once as the yuletide scent hits the room you will find me Singing & Dancing while baking cookies, wrapping gift, and making new holiday creations.

I feel like this time of year all my favorite stores have a distinct Christmas smell. So I wanted to create my own. Experimenting with cranberries, oranges, cinnamon, rosemary, and vanilla, I came up with my “Christmas Scent”.

The fun part is there is NO WRONG WAY to make your Christmas Scent. Play with your favorite smells and ingredients.

Fruits: Slice up fresh oranges or throw in dried oranges. You can use mandarin oranges, tangerines, clementines or lemons. They all work and smell wonderful.

Fresh Rosemary or Pine: This adds the depth scent and screams Christmas.

Cranberries: These are not a must but I believe they make your potpourri beautiful and add to the aroma. This time of year cranberries are easy to find.

Vanilla: use the extract or pop open a vanilla bean

Cinnamon: The powder or the sticks. The sticks are easy to find on Amazon or even your local grocery store.

Whole Cloves: A few go along way!

Simmering Potpourri

Cut oranges in slices. Add all your ingredients to a large pot (or slow cooker). Add water to fill pot to 3/4 full.

Bring pot to a boil. Then take the potpourri to a simmer. Enjoy it for hours. Keep an eye on it to add water as needed. Never leave it unattended for an extended period of time. You don’t want the water to completely evaporate.

Make it a Gift

Add all the potpourri items to a cellophane bag and tie it up with a cute bow. Tie on the directions. You have a gift all ready to go.

Keep Singing & Dancing,

The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross

Here in Atlanta, trees are beginning to bud, daffodils are blooming, and every one is beginning to complain about their allergies.  Yes, Spring is on its way.  I love watching all of God’s creativity show this time of year.  The incredible colors and breathtaking views of a new season get me excited.

With Spring on the way, We know EASTER is almost here.  We will put bunnies, eggs, and baskets in our decorations.  We will make plans for a perfect Easter dinner with family and friends.  We determine the best Easter Egg Hunt to take our children to.  We coordinate our family’s wardrobe to make sure we look our best on Easter Sunday. And we shop for the perfect items for our children’s Easter baskets.  We will talk about the Easter story and why we have a Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  But for many years, I felt that my children needed to know the Easter story but maybe I would leave out parts because they were not ready.  I felt maybe saying “Jesus died on Good Friday” was a little too much for my preschooler.  I would do the “Good Christian Mom Thing” and make sure there was a Bible story in their baskets along with chocolates and prizes.  We went to Easter Sunday Service and at Easter Dinner our prayers thanked God for sending Jesus to save us.  I felt good about what I was doing and then….

It was so clear the day I realized I had been watering down Jesus to my children.  I had not been talking about how we were sinners and God sent his only Son to Earth to ultimately die for us.  My words never said because of Jesus we have hope.  Easter was about Jesus to us but not letting them know how it is only about Jesus was my conviction. I would teach them that Jesus taught us how to live, love, and obey God.  I guess I didn’t want to scare my preschooler.  I didn’t want them to worry about death and how Jesus was beaten and hung on a cross for them.  But why?  It is the story they need to know more than any other story out there.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to decorate with all the beautiful eggs, sweet bunnies, and monogrammed baskets. I will create yummy Easter treats and attend a fun Easter Egg hunt.  However, I am clear the whole purpose of Easter is to celebrate Jesus.  It all points to Jesus and what He did for us.

Recently I found the best book for children.  The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross is beautifully illustrated,  Biblically accurate, and captures your child’s attention. The book begins with God’s creation of The Garden of Eden.  Quickly we learn about how our sins keep us from living in a perfect garden with God.  We had a true separation from God. But God had a wonderful plan.  He sent His son, Jesus, to come live on Earth and die for us.  After Jesus had died on the cross, He was placed a in tomb guarded by soldiers.  But spoiler alert:  On the third day, the tomb was empty!  Jesus arose!  He conquered the grave.



As a mom, I want to make sure that I am representing the truth of Jesus to my children. We read from the Bible on many nights.  When we read other Bible stories that are not out of our Bible, I want to make sure they are telling the true, Biblical story.

The Good Book Company has published this wonderful book and so many more.  The talented Carl Laferton and Catalina Echeverri made this book come to life.  I encourage you to check out their other books.  I hope to feature more soon.

And now……


I am so excited to announce my FIRST giveaway!  The great people over at Good Book Company have given me FIVE copies to giveaway to those who follow Sing and Dance in the Kitchen blog, Instagram & Facebook.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow this blog.  Follow Sing and Dance in the Kitchen on Instagram and Facebook.
  2. Comment on this blog and tell me what you love about Sing and Dance in the Kitchen and what you would like to see more posts about.
  3. Tag at least 3 friends in the comments of Instagram and Facebook.  Make sure they begin to follow and you will get extra entries.
  4. Winners will be selected at random and will be announced on Friday, 3/9.  Good Luck!

My Glass Jar Decorating Trick

I have several tricks I use when decorating.  One of my favorite tricks is filling up the middle of a jar with cans.  Basically these are aluminum cans that I have emptied and cleaned out.  I use them again and again.  They are absolutely perfect for taking up space in my jars.

This month my jar is filled with conversation hearts.  I stack the cans in first and then begin filling my jar with the little conversation hearts.  So magically I create the illusion that the jar is full.  (So tricky!)


What tricks do you have when decorating?  I would love to hear your ideas.

Looking Forward,

Cookbooks- My Favorites

I have shared before that I LOVE COOKBOOKS.  My collection is vast and eclectic.  Some of my cookbooks have tags and writing all through them as I have taken notes or made changes through the years.  I have special cookbooks that have been signed by the chefs. I take reading a cookbook very seriously.  I read my cookbooks from cover to cover before I will even cook one recipe out of it.  Cookbooks share stories from the chef.  You can understand the inspiration and influences as you read along.  You learn new techniques and terminology.  I love curling up with a new cookbook.  Page by page the stories and recipes unfold.

I know each Christmas (and other times of the year) that my husband, Chris, will search for the perfect cookbook for me.  He knows that he must write a little note on the inside cover complete with the date.  Over the years, I have grown to cherish many of my cookbooks but I wanted to share a few today in case you are looking for a last minute gift idea.


Date Night In Chris gave me this cookbook last year.  I love it.  The book is organized by seasons and has a complete menu for your date night in.  We have looked forward to creating this meals together.  Each dinner has a dessert and cocktail to create.  Chris loves making cocktails so it is a win-win cookbook for us.


The Southern’s Cookbook Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories– This is one of those cookbooks that is so fun to read.  The editors of Garden & Gun pulled together great stories and recipes all in one place.  You will love the “talk of the south.”


Back In The Day Bakery Made With Love–  So true confession- I am obsessed with Cheryl and Griffith Day!  Their bakery in Savannah, Georgia gives me all the feels and is complete happiness.  When you visit the bakery, you will see Cheryl and Griffith in the back busy creating something yummy.  This cookbook is their second book.  I have own both  (obsessed) and both are signed (true obsession).


Yes, I’m with Cheryl and Griffith Day at Back in the Day Bakery

The next time you are in Savannah, Georgia, you must stop by Back in the Bakery!  It does not disappoint and it is hard to make a decision. So do what I do, get one of each and share!


Bread and Wine–  This is my favorite book to give as a gift.  One of my best friends gave me a copy and I fell in love.  Shauna Niequist tells beautiful stories of friendships that develop over food.  She encourages you to invite others over.  Break bread together and form relationship.  Shauna shares great recipes and wonderful insight on life.  She has many great books. Present over Perfect is her latest and it reminds us to present in every moment we have and don’t worry about the perfection.  I hope to meet Shauna one day. She is a true inspiration and mentor through her words.



The Silver Spoon For Children is my favorite children’s cookbook right now.  The illustration are made where children can follow along and begin cooking like an Italian. Make pasta, meatballs, chicken Stuffed with marscapone, foccaccia, and the list goes on. I am a believer in having my children in the kitchen.



Last recommendation is a cookbook that has been well loved that I did not want to take a picture of the front.  It has lots of battle wounds (in a good way) from the kitchen.  I have used my Gourmet Cookbook for the past ten years.  It is my kitchen buddy and has helped me cook some delicious food.

Let me know your favorite cookbooks.  I’m always looking for new ones.

Looking Forward,



Our Thankful Tree

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

November brings a month of Thanksgiving.  A time to truly give thanks to for the multiple blessings that surround us.  We see words like “thankful”, “blessed”, “grateful”, “gratitude”, displayed on wooden signs, etched on pumpkins & turkeys, and Facebook statuses.  It is that one time a year that we all pause and give thanks.

Each November, I pull out my roll of brown craft paper and we create our Thankful Tree. It is fun to crinkle up the paper and turn it into branches and limbs.  Then we create leaves from a variety of colors.

Throughout the month we all take time to add to our tree.  At first the list is easy: God, Daddy, Mommy, brother, my church, food, my house.  But then you start digging a little deeper.  And there is big difference when asking a three year old what they are thankful for and then asking a twelve year old.


My boys love to look at the leaves as they are added.  They notice pretty quick when a leaf has been added.  It is a wonderful way for your child to see you showing thanks for your spouse and others.

There are lots of ways to make a tree.  This is my elementary teacher brain way of displaying our tree.  I know some families that create a tree the day of Thanksgiving and all the guest add leaves to the tree.  One momma told me that they gather limbs from the yard to create their tree.

It’s all about giving thanks and showing your children how to acknowledge thankfulness.


Looking Forward,



Fall (and Halloween) All Around the House

We love to decorate our home for the fall.  There is something about pulling out all our little creatures and favored fall items that make me excited and nostalgic all at the same time. The truth is once the calendar flips over to October, I am in a perpetual good mood pretty much until we get to January.  And then I find other happy things to focus on.

This year I added this new centerpiece box to my collections.   We have a new DIY workshop that popped up in our little downtown that I will be visiting quite often.   Although the centerpiece is not just for fall, I quickly added my fall obsession to it.  The fun little cauldron bowls in front are new from Crate and Barrel this year.  They were perfect for our first bowl of chili this year.


We have been married almost nineteen years so we have collected fun decorations over the years.  I love integrating the season into my house.  You might look on a shelf and see my usual decor but a little pumpkin or owl might be right beside it.  Take what you have and add around it.

For the past 6 years I have had a Halloween tree.  Honestly, it is just getting me ready for the Christmas trees coming in a just a few weeks.  I light up my tree every morning and it makes me happy as I pass by it throughout the day.  Instead of presents under this tree, I have glittery, fun pumpkins.


My side doors are complete with spooky wreaths and a simple burlap bow.


Yes, even my animal statues are subjected to getting into the spirit.  This is sweet Hanna.  She loves to dress up too.  (Yes, all my animals have names).


It’s not too late to add your flair to the holidays.  Also look for steals and bargains right after the holidays.  Pick them up and store them for next year.  I know I will be adding more before the big night.  Let me know if you find something I need.

Looking Forward,




What Happened in January?

I cannot believe January is over.  It was a good month of starting over and focusing on new goals.  We had a couple cooler days so we enjoyed more indoor activities.

It does not matter what time of year it is I LOVE having fresh flowers around the house.  In high school, one of my first jobs was working in a flower shop.  I loved this job and now realize how this job was just a cool learning opportunity for me at a young age.  My boss, who was my former Sunday School teacher, took time to teach me the art of arranging flowers.  I learned how to tie bows, care of plants and flowers, and how to deliver flowers to the happiest places and the hardest places.  Through it all, it was a perfect job for me.  I still love to buy my own flowers and create.  I have a thing for daisies so they are usually always around.


As part of our goals, we decided as a  family to focus on one scripture verse a month.  This month we chose, 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  This verse was up in our mudroom all month and we would recite it, talk about it, and try to apply it to our daily lives.  So whether I was taking final bites of leftover Mac&Cheese, driving Will to school, or cleaning baseboards, I was trying to do it for the Glory of God.  A simple but powerful verse for my boys.  Will got so into focusing around a scripture, he asked if he could pick out the verse for February.


We experienced a few rainy days this month.  On one particular rainy day, Whitaker and I made yummy, simple chocolate chip cookies.  It is always fun being in the kitchen with my boys.  Plus the learning that goes on in the experience.

20170123_133058_001Plus little brother thought it was really cool to have a snack ready for his big brother’s arrival home from school.  You probably have all the ingredients right at home now for these Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Welcome to February!
Looking Forward,




Happy 2017! Let’s Do This!

Well, Happy 2017!  As the year begins, we are all filled with hope and promise to make this year better than the last.  Some make resolutions.  Some don’t make resolutions because they know by January 16th, they might have fallen off the wagon.  I’m a goal setter.  I set goals each year.  Goals that I feel will be good for myself and those around me.  Last year, I added in a word that I would focus on while striving towards my goals.  I liked having a word that summed up my year so I did that again.

As I look back on my goals from last year, I can easily see that not all goals were achieved. I feel I made good effort but not all happened.  And that is okay!  I’m human and it makes me try to be realistic with my goals.


Sure there are many more goals or things I would like to achieve in the new year.  Let’s start with this.  Being Intentional! Intentional with my walk with God, my relationship with Chris, being a mom to the boys, my time, my friendships, and my commitments.

What are your goals or ideas for the new year?  Do you have a word that sums up your goals?  My hope is to use this blog to celebrate life and share why I sing and dance in my kitchen.

INTENTIONALLY Looking Forward,



My (I mean) Their Hopes and Dreams

Like with the beginning of any school year, you get all geared up with the hopes and dreams of what the year will hold.  As a teacher, my students would always illustrate their hopes and dreams for the year.  We would hang their drawings in the classroom and refer to them throughout the year.  I would ask questions about their hopes and dreams and as their teacher, I became a navigator for those hopes and dreams.  “My hope and dream is to learn to read a chapter book.”  “My hope and dream is to learn how to multiply.”  These were their thoughts and as their teacher I wanted to make sure they achieved their goals.

As a mom of two boys, I am constantly checking into their hopes and dreams.  Of course I have my own for them but it is important I know what they are wanting to achieve.  With my ten eleven year old, it is easy, “I want to score goals at my lacrosse game.”
“I want to raise my math grade.” “I want to be a leader at school.” 

And then there is my 2 1/2 year old son.  He has lots of words, actions, and ideas but they don’t come out the same way.  We began this school year with our second year of Mother’s Morning Out.  Whitaker loved it last year.  He loved his classmates, adored his teachers, and came home singing about Jesus and about wheels on a bus.  Life was good.  When it came time to sign up again, there was no question that he would move from two days to three days.  Wow, three days a week, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and I can finally get some things done.

I quickly planned out MY “Hopes and Dreams” on these three days a week.  Oh I would get some much accomplished.  Grocery shopping, volunteering, cleaning my house, the gym, doctors appointments, so many things I can take care of. 

The first week of Mother’s Morning Out was rough like most first weeks with little ones.  There were tears, extra hugs and kisses, and prying a child off of me.  He would get the hang out it.  It’s a new room, new teachers, new classmates, but it will all work out.  The first week, I accomplished so much.  The report each day was that Whit had a hard time with transitions and was sad most of the time.  It was very easy for him to tell me that “I just miss my Mommy.”  “I’m sad at school.”   I would reassure him that he was big and brave and Mommy would come back.  (Mommy had things to do!)

So the pattern should be that each week gets a little easier.  I have a degree in Early Childhood, I know what is supposed to happen.  But this was not the case for Whitaker.  He would greet me each morning with “No School Today!” Each week became harder and harder.  Phone calls with him crying in the background because they could not get him to calm down.  They/We tried everything :extra cuddles, a special place in the room to cry when he needed it, extra cookie in his lunch box, prizes when I picked him up…..  And continually, he was saying “I need my Mommy.” “I need to cry for a minute.” “I need to be with my Mommy!”  “I want to go home.”

These phone calls and early pick-up were beginning to weigh on me.  Thoughts like-  What is going on up there?  Why is he the only one doing this?  He is completely fine. I have things I need to do. 

It was a call on a Monday.  It had only been one hour.  I could hear him in the background.  They had tried everything and he was completely inconsolable.  I drove to the school wondering what I was going to face.  Praying the whole way to the school.  I wanted clarity and an understanding of what was going on.

The minute he saw me “I’m happy now.  There is my Mommy.  I need my Mommy.  Mommy, let’s go home.”  It was discussed that maybe we should take a couple of days off with Whitaker.  Maybe he would reset and be ready to try it again. 

“Are you serious?”  I have things I need to do.  My husband is hosting his coworkers at our home. I have company coming in. I have responsibilities at Will’s school.  I can’t have him home ALL day with me. 

I went home that afternoon with my sweet two-year old and tried to rationalize this all out.  Then that clarity I had prayed for came and karate chopped me in the face. 

‘What were Whitaker’s Hopes and Dreams for this school year?’ He loves life, people, activities, and his Mommy. 

This was my first time to stay at home.  With Will, he was with a caregiver at twelve weeks.  That became the norm for Will.  Now with moves, changes, and circumstances, I have the blessing of staying at home.  I had wanted this before and now I have it.  So, why am I chasing my two-year old off so I can get to my agenda.  He is my agenda.  I get to be Mom.  I get have someone miss me and want to spend time playing with me. 

That week, I put on some new lenses with Whitaker.  It was obvious as we drove anywhere near the school his adrenaline began to rise.  He wanted reassurance that we were staying together for the day.  I began to plan activities for him.  He sat a little bit longer in the morning.  No rushing to get out the door to school and to my agenda.  We had a combined plan of what we needed to accomplish for the day. 

We are on week two of “No School Today.”  The teacher in me has been planning activities complete with learning targets. (you can take me out of the classroom but it will still creep out of me).  I have been blessed by this time with Whitaker that I thought I so badly wanted to myself.  There has been quick reminders that this time is very short.  This season will not last long.  He will be going into a classroom and not turning back before I know it. 

So, I’m going to soak it all up for now.  God is still working on me.  I’m growing and learning as a mom everyday.  I get to do this.  And it is a blessing.   It is my agenda.

Looking Forward, (and open for play dates and crafts)

Amanda, work in progress


And We Say, “No School Today!”

That was not the plan of how that sign would be used but I’m so glad we get to begin again.


And of course an outtake to make life real.

Just Growing Grass….

Although it is 40 degrees outside today, we are preparing for spring and Easter in our home.  I have a tradition that about one month before Easter, I begin growing grass in the house.  Yes, it may seem silly but it bring me such joy.  And when the grass is perfect, I add eggs to complete my happiness.  It requires no thought.  You put dirt in your favorite container (I usually line my container with a plastic bag or trash sack), add some grass seed, and water!  This year Whitaker got in on the fun and got it all over the kitchen but he found happiness with the process.

I know there is worry and doubt.  What if my grass gets too long and I need to mow it?  Simple!   You have scissors to help you mow your little patch of grass.  What is my grass does not grow?  It will.  Just water and watch. And don’t store it in a closet.  The grass needs a little sun.  What if someone else’s grass is green?!?  Ha!  It always will be.


The past two years I have used an old bread pan to grow my grass.  I found this bread pan with my sister on 6th Street in Amarillo, TX.  Other times of the year, this pan holds mail, things I need to get to, and even hot wheels.  It is an equal opportunity pan!

Once your grass takes off, you can go crazy decorating and adding your favorite spring items.  Last year, our grass made its way to the dining table.


Life can be so simple at times.  The joy of seeing grass grow is one of those moments.  Spring is around the corner and it’s a reminder of all the new growth and the beauty that will surround us.  Easter is all about the new growth and life we have in Christ.  Enjoy this time of the year.  Sing and Dance!  We have been so blessed!

Looking Forward,