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,
Amanda

Seeking Goodness- 2018 Goals

I love beginning the new year with goals.  I know there is nothing magical about January 1.  In my mind it is a great time to start my goals.  When I was in education, my goals and year began in August.  You can start goals on March 23rd and it is just as good as any other day.

I am visual and reflective.  So, I write out my goals.  My hubby and oldest wrote out their goals too.  We shared them as a family.  This gives us accountability and knowing someone is looking out for us.

Each year I decide on a word that helps focus me.  Last year my word was INTENTIONAL.  I wanted to be intentional with my mind, heart, words, and time.  As I reflect for this year, I continually landed on two words, SEEKING GOODNESS.   Looking for the kindness, generosity, quality, and best parts of everything.  By Seeking Goodness in my spiritual life, in my health, family, and self, it will naturally point to Jesus who is true goodness.

I know that working towards my goals is a process.  I’m not looking for perfection, it will take time to accomplish several of these goals.  I can rest in the fact that I am making progress towards my goals.  I am excited and a little nervous but know that I will be Seeking Goodness during the process.

20180102_175336354590163.jpg

What are your goals?  Do we share any of the same?
Here to progress!

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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.

20171219_0757371759597611.jpg

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.

20171219_075820852416019.jpg

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.”

20171219_0757241954185860.jpg

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).

fb_img_1513775311127-1998274246.jpg

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!

20171219_081044.jpg

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.

 

20171219_075953388202547.jpg

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.

 

20171219_0759142007551116.jpg

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,

Amanda

 

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.

20171008_173046.jpg

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.

20171008_173206.jpg

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

20171004_163120.jpg

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).

20171004_163815.jpg

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,
Amanda

 

 

 

Happy Christmas Eve, Olives!

Happy Christmas Eve, Olives! 

photo-91

It’s not a family gathering without a very special ingredient that sits on our table.  Since before I can remember, a beautiful bowl of black olives has always been a part of all family celebrations. You might ask, Black Olives?  What’s so special about Black Olives?  Well, the story goes a little like this…

My Pop-Pop, my mother’s father, grew up outside of New York City with many brothers and sisters.  Their family was very poor and most holiday celebrations were sparse with presents and goodies.  My Pop-Pop’s family always received baskets from local churches during the holidays.  His mother would use the ingredients to create a feast for the family.  There was one item that Grandma Patak would not use and no others in the family wanted… Black Olives.  At a young age, Pop-Pop, learned that the jar of black olives went untouched until he unlocked the yumminess of the olives.  For years Pop-Pop would look forward to the basket and that one jar that was all his.  This was true Christmas.

Well, Pop-Pop met Mom-Mom, they had three children, those children had amazing children. We would all gather at their house on Christmas Eve.  The memories are so clear and wonderful.  They feel like just yesterday.  Every year, under the tree, everyone would have a wrapped can of olives from Pop-Pop.  In return, everyone would give Pop-Pop a can of olives.  Each year we would hear the story of how even a can of olives can give you the feeling of Christmas.  Black Olives are a part of who we are.  Each of Pop-Pop’s granddaughters shared a black olive with him before they walked down the aisle to be married.  Pop-Pop taught William how to place an olive on the tip of each finger and then eat every one of them off.  It’s all about the olives.

As I write this Happy Christmas Eve blog, there are tears and a heart full of love and memories of a man who always had the spirit of Christmas.  As a family, this is our first Christmas Eve without our Pop-Pop.  I know my Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop are having the Christmas Eve of their lives with Jesus.  Tonight as we place the dish of olives on the table, this year in my Mom-Mom’s dish, I will remember how a simple olive can give so much joy.

Happy Christmas Eve to You All!- Amanda (or A.J. as Pop-Pop would say)

Will (age 4) and his Black Olive

Will (age 4) and his Black Olive