Winter Stovetop Potpourri

Hi! I’m just popping in with a quick post to share an easy stovetop potpourri recipe.

This potpourri is actually wonderful any time from autumn through winter. With citrus and layers of spices, it will warm up your home. This is a natural, non-toxic way to make your whole home smell heavenly.

A few tips before we get to the recipe: The amounts for these ingredients are flexible. However, Star Anise is very strong. I don’t recommend using more than 3 seed pods. The best place to find these spices is in the Hispanic area of your grocery store. Not only will the quality be wonderful, the prices will be, too. For example, the cinnamon I buy in the Hispanic area of the store is not only bigger, but it is much, much more affordable.

Winter Stovetop Potpurri

A warming potpourri scent filled with citrus and spice.

Credit: BelleAntiquarian.com

Ingredients

  • 1 small orange or lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup of whole, raw cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon of whole cloves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 3 star of anise dried seed pods
  • 3 whole cinnamon sticks
  • water

Directions

  1. Add all of your ingredients to a large sauce pan.
  2. Fill the pot 3/4 way full of water.
  3. Put the pot on a stove burner on the low setting.
  4. As the pot steams or simmers, it will fill your home with a beautiful, natural aroma.
  5. Don’t allow the pot of water to boil. Don’t leave it unattended. You will need to add more water, depending on how long you allow the potpourri to simmer. Don’t allow the water to burn off completely.

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New Year’s Goal Setting Tools and Must Haves

Hi, friends!

  • Weight Loss/Eating Healthier/Fitness
  • Finances/Debt Payoff/Savings/Financial Independence
  • Spirituality/Church Attendance
  • Organization

Below I am sharing some commissionable links for things I personally find helpful in each of those areas. To find the exact items pictured, simply click the photos.

The key to long-term health and fitness is creating new habits and learning more about what is healthy. I’ve included some of my favorite things, including some really helpful books.

I haven’t shared about our debt free journey to early retirement before, but I highly recommend the Financial Health items below. If you get anything on the list below, I suggest the book A Simple Path to Wealth. If you are just beginning a journey to get out of debt, you will also need to budget and use an expense tracker. Everything is linked, just click the photo! (You can use the goal setting worksheet at the bottom of this post for savings or debt payoff goals.)

I can’t pick one favorite from the Spiritual Growth must have list below. I simply recommend all of it. My favorite Bible to use is the NASB 2020 version because of the accuracy of the translation from the original Greek.

I personally struggle with organization. I am constantly trying to find “homes” for things. It is much easier to do when you have the right “tools” to use. These Bathroom Organization must haves give a home to all of your bathroom items.

The kitchen is another area of my house that tends to need organization. One of the most frustrating things for me is spices/spice jars. When we get into our next house I will be using the set below.

For the past several years I have shared some goal setting strategies around this time of year. Today I want to provide you with an updated (2022) version of the goal setting worksheet that I use every year. This goal setting worksheet can be used in two ways. For an explanation of the two different ways to use this worksheet, please read THIS POST HERE. You can download the updated version below for free. Simply click on it, and it will open into a new tab. You can either print it or save it to your computer to use later.

Stocking Stuffer Ideas for the Whole Family

Here are a few stocking stuffer ideas for toddlers:

Next, here are some stocking stuffer ideas for little girls:

And now, here are some stocking stuffer ideas for little boys. Just a heads up that there are only a few of the Santa Legos in stock:

Here are a few stocking stuffer ideas for teens:

Dad would love any of these stocking stuffers on Christmas morning:

Last, but definitely not least, here are some stocking stuffer ideas for the ladies! Men, do not forget to fill Mama’s stocking. We don’t want the kiddos thinking she was on Santa’s naughty list.

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What Do You Give Someone Who Has Everything?

A follower recently messaged me asking for advice on what kind of Christmas gift to get for the person who has everything. In her case, she was shopping for her in-laws and parents, who didn’t really *need* anything. In this situation, I recommend one of two categories: Consumables or Experiences.

Consumable gifts are gifts that are going to be used. This could be something that is eaten or something that will last for just a season. Of the two categories I am featuring today (Consumables/Experiences), I generally prefer to give consumable gifts the most. Consumable gifts require less effort for the gift recipient.

Here are a few examples of consumable gifts:

  1. Real Christmas greenery – This can work for both local and long-distance gifts. For several years we bought table top Christmas trees or wreaths for both my Dad, who lives 1,500 miles away, and my Mother-in-Law, who lives 30 minutes away. This a great gift that will last for the season, and then it can just be thrown away. HERE is my favorite place to order from. Make sure that you enter the shipping address as the gift recipient’s address. Also be sure to leave a gift message. When I receive an email notification that it’s been shipped, I like to call or send a text that says, “Something we ordered for you should arrive on XX/XX/XXXX. Merry Christmas!”
  2. Specialty food gifts – This is often a decadent splurge that people don’t spend on themselves, but love to receive as gifts. In the past I have sent filet steaks for a big birthday year. I have also sent gifts of gourmet pears, apples, and specialty cheeses. These are great gifts for long-distance family members. For local family members, I like to put together my own basket at World Market or order one from Sprouts. When I am ordering food gifts to be shipped, THIS is my food gift favorite retailer. If you want to take a specialty food gift up a notch, consider a food of the month subscription! I’ll never forget the year my parents were gifted a subscription to the Fruit of the Month – it was something we all looked forward to!
  3. Another great “consumable” gift is a personalized calendar. You can easily create and personalize one with digital photos. At the end of the year, your gift recipient isn’t left with any clutter or junk; they can simply throw it away! One year for Christmas I created a calendar for my dad. Each month featured different pictures of him with his grandkids. I would say that is 100% grandparent gold!

Experience gifts are another great idea for the person who has everything. However, there are a few things I would keep in mind when gifting experiences. Make sure you consider if the experience you are gifting is good for an individual or a couple. Would the experience be something that the recipient would actually enjoy doing? I’ll explain more in a minute.

  1. A good experience gift for a long-distance family member or friend would be to find a highly rated local restaurant, and send them a gift card for it. Take it up a notch and ask if you can make the reservation for them. When you call the restaurant, explain that you are gifting an experience at the restaurant, and ask if there is anything special they can do. Sometimes they’ll offer a complimentary dessert or something.
  2. Theater tickets for an upcoming show or concert are a great “experience” gift. This would require some planning ahead of time to make sure the gift recipient is free on the day of the show. (Tickets for a sporting event would fall into this category as well.)
  3. A gift certificate to take a class would be a fun experience gift for the person who has everything. Maybe they have always wanted to learn French cooking, photography, or salsa dancing. A quick internet search should help you find the perfect class for something your gift recipient is interested in.
  4. A day at the spa or salon. This doesn’t just have to be for women! Try giving a certificate for a couple’s massage. A local Foot Palace pedicure would be enjoyable to both men and women.

And now a few things to consider for the “experience” gifts. If your gift recipient is single, it might not be the best idea to give them theater tickets unless you’re planning to take them. For me personally, a spa/salon day would not be an enjoyable gift, because I do not enjoy those types of things. Make sure the experience you are gifting is one the recipient would actually enjoy, and not something that you think that they SHOULD enjoy.

I hope these ideas help you to find the perfect gift for the person who has everything! To find all of the consumable gifts that I recommend in one spot, you can follow the commissionable links HERE or click on the photo below.

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More Christmas Gift Ideas

Welcome back for another roundup of Christmas gift guides! If you remember from my last post, my goal isn’t to get you to buy something that you weren’t planning on getting. I want to give you some ideas for gifts you were already going to buy.

You can click any of the gift guides below to find the commissionable links for those exact items. Subscribe below, and never miss a gift guide!

First up, some ideas for your mom or mother-in-law. Sometimes Mom is hard to shop for because she already has everything. Many of the items on this gift guide are sentimental things she’ll love.

Next, some ideas for dear ol Dad!

Need some ideas for those hard to shop for teen girls? Here you go…!

What about the kid who has everything? Here are a few ideas that will keep them busy!

Headed to a party this holiday season? Don’t arrive empty handed!

Do you have a coffee lover in your life? Here are a few unique gifts they would enjoy!

What about a foodie? Who knows, maybe they’ll whip something up with one of these gifts and share it with you!

Ready for December! Count down the days to Christmas with a fun advent calendar. Here are a few advent calendars for grownups and kids!

I hope these gift guides gave you some ideas! Let me know what kind of gifts you need help with!

Christmas Gift Ideas

You may have seen gift guides popping up everywhere this year, and normally I don’t jump on the bandwagon. I am the kind of person that runs away from the bandwagon. Except, I love gift guides. Some people are SO EASY to shop for. And some are not. Some people LOVE shopping, and some don’t.

It’s kind of like when you don’t feel like cooking dinner, but the family needs to be fed. It sure would be easier if you knew what to cook. That’s what gift guides do; they help you get ideas for presents that you already had on your list to buy.

With the help of my grownish kids and husband, I’ve put together some gift guides for Christmas. Just in case you need ideas like me, this will give you a head start. If you want to find these exact items, simply click on the photo to find the commissionable links for those items!

Gift ideas for the casual chick:

Gift Ideas for the outdoorsy guy:

Gift ideas for the gym rat (fitness nut):

Gift ideas for the traveler:

Gift ideas for the techie:

Style it Saturday, October 16, 2021

Welcome back to another edition of Style it Saturday, where I share a round-up of outfits from the week before. Today I am changing things up a little bit and sharing pictures of me wearing the outfits, so that you can see what they look like on. Let me know in the comments which way you prefer to see my outfits. As always, you can click any photo to be taken to the commissionable links to find those exact pieces.

You may recognize this shirt and bag from a previous Style it Saturday post! Here I am wearing it with some cute boots and pumpkin colored pants. The shirt is made by Ralph Lauren, and costs a little bit more than other denim shirts. But it’s very well made, and the attention to detail makes it worth the price. The sleeves are very feminine, and the mother-of-pearl snaps have a faint RL logo. This is not your run of the mill boxy shirt. *I recommend going up one size in the shirt.* My bag is made of woven wool, and comes in multiple colors and patterns. The top of the bag zips closed, and it is perfect for carrying everything you need.

Here’s another outfit you may recognize from last week’s SIS post. I wanted to show you some different ways that you could style this dress. Either black or brown shoes look great with it, and sneakers would look great, too! On the right I added a leather belt that I thrifted. On the left I just added a basic jean jacket. This dress has pockets, and the bottom is lined. It’s under $50, and it’s super cute on!

Remember this outfit? The whole outfit is super affordable, and I love it! It’s a little hard to tell from the picture, but there is smocking and peplum waist on this shirt. Combined with the V-neck, it’s a very flattering and feminine look.

Yep, you’ll recognize this outfit from last week, too. Here’s what it looks like on! This vintage fit sweatshirt has slits – so cozy. I wear it with leggings, jeans, and even to sleep! I love it so much that I bought it in several colors.

Lastly for this week, here’s Sam wearing a cute outfit! It would also look cute with some suede knee boots and a jean jacket.

That’s all for this week! See you next time.

Abby

A Day of Rest: Part Four, Food Prep

Welcome back to the fourth and final installment of my series, “A Day of Rest.” In Part One we talked about why your family may want to consider a day of rest, once a week, every week. (You can can catch up on part one HERE.) In Part Two we talked about preparing ahead of time for a day of rest, so that it actually happens. (You can read that post HERE.) In Part Three we talked about ways you could spend your day of rest. (You can read that post HERE.)

Today we are going a little further in depth on preparation for your day of rest, which we talked about in Part Two. Specifically, we are going to talk about meals, food, and preparing ahead of time for them. There’s something special that happens when we wake up on our day of rest and everything down to the very meals has already been taken care of. I feel like it makes it exciting and holy to know that when you wake up, no work needs to be done. Kids may get excited to wake up on Christmas Day, but I get excited to wake up on Sabbath. (By the way, you can prepare your Christmas meals with a Sabbath/Day of Rest frame of mind as well.) Read more: Exodus 16:23-24

Day of Rest meals must be planned out ahead of time in order to be successful. We don’t want to be filled with frustration or anger on the day we are supposed to be resting. Remember, you are not simply creating a day of rest for the people around you or in your household, it is also FOR YOU. Planning our meals and prepping for them can be done the day before. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do my cleaning on Thursdays, grocery shopping and errands on Fridays, and meal prep on Saturdays. If your Sabbath is Saturday, just back that schedule up one day to put you on track to be prepared.

What does it mean to have my meals prepped for our day of rest? It means that I have already done the shopping. I already know what we’re going to eat. And I have done everything ahead of time to prepare the meals, except for maybe putting them into the oven or getting the food out of the refrigerator.

Here are some ways that you can prepare your day of rest meals:

  • Select what your family will eat ahead of time.
  • Shop for all of the ingredients you’ll need.
  • Consider freezer meals, the crockpot, or make ahead meals like casseroles.
  • If you’re eating something cold, like sandwiches or salads, cut and slice all of your ingredients ahead of time.
  • Consider a “potluck” meal with other families, where each family contributes a few things (made ahead of time.)
  • Consider using paper plates to serve meals to avoid clean-up. Some people even like to use disposable aluminum bake ware.

Even if your family plans to do something like grill out, it is really easy to prep everything the day before.

Be sure to follow my Pinterest board where I pin make ahead meals and ideas.(Below) If you’d like to share a recipe that makes a great make ahead meal, please leave a comment below.

If you need to catch up or want to re-read the other installments, you can find the links below:

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Style it Saturday – October 9, 2021

Welcome back to another edition of Style it Saturday, where I share a round up of outfits from the week before. This week I am sharing a mix of outfits for cooler fall temps, as well as some transitional outfits for areas still experiencing warmer temps…like mine! As always, you can click any of the photos featured to be taken directly to the commissionable links to find the exact pieces.

First up is an outfit that I think would be PERFECT for fall family pictures, Thanksgiving dinner, or any other fall event that calls for a gorgeous, timeless dress! I’m showing how simply changing the jacket choice will make this either casual or formal.

Just like the dress above, here I am wearing a shirt that shows how good brown and black can be together! This shirt is very affordable, and I found the tailoring of it to be very thoughtful and flattering. (Sometimes more affordable button up shirts can be “boxy” and unflattering, but not this one!) I am wearing the small. If you’re in between sizes, size down.

Okay, I just got these pieces in the mail yesterday, and I *love* this shirt! I can’t wait to share with you a picture of it on. It’s hard to tell here, but the neckline is v-neck, there is smocking under the bust line, and transitions to a peplum hem. Ladies, this creates a flattering waistline. No waist = not flattering. Even if you aren’t happy with what your waistline looks line, it is essential to create the illusion of one!

Below I wanted to show you how this olive green sweater can be an amazing neutral pieces in your fall wardrobe. Here are five different ways to style it! Dress it up, or dress it down, it’s a great pieces to layer with this fall.

I wanted to share this little black flutter dress with you! This is a 3 season piece – just add a jean jacket, sweater, or blazer to get the most wear out of it. I am wearing a size small, and could easily have gone up to a medium.

Okay, okay…so can you tell I’m a little obsessed with the brown/black combo this season? I am *in love* with this dress. It’s sophisticated, classy, and yet a little flirty if you ask me! As usual, I LOVE the attention to the seaming and tailoring. It makes all the difference in quality, well made pieces. (Notice around the shoulder and cuffs – to die for.)

Am I the only one completely over jeans with stretch?? Over.It. So I am on the quest for 100% cotton jeans to replace all my loosey-goosey ones with. Here’s what I’ve learned: when you purchase your normal size, you’re going to feel like they’re too small. But 100% cotton jeans mold to YOUR BODY. After wearing them in, your 100% cotton jeans will fit your body perfectly, even after washing. Here are some affordable pieces I found on Amazon. A couple of these are name brands, which you’ll find much more expensive elsewhere.

I admit it, I should’ve just titled this post “Brown and Black.” And ten years from now you’ll find me wearing the exact same pieces. Why? Because #1 They’re classic pieces that never go out of style. #2 They’re quality materials that don’t wear out.

That’s all for this week! See you next time!

Abby

A Day of Rest: Part Three, The Day

Welcome back to the third installment of my series, “A Day of Rest.” In Part One we talked about why your family may want to consider a day of rest, once a week, every week. (You can can catch up on part one HERE.) In Part Two we talked about preparing ahead of time for a day of rest, so that it actually happens. (You can read that post HERE.)

Today we are going to talk about what a day of rest would look like. We want a day of rest to actually be restful, beneficial, and something joyful that you have to look forward to, not dread, each week. In today’s world we have an addiction to “busyness.” Busyness does not define a successful day, especially one when the goal is rest, so we are going to avoid busyness. Our Rest Day goal is to avoid the association of accomplishment with a completed to-do list. Instead, we’re going to focus on our Day of Rest as though it was a gift, which it is. (Read: Matthew 11:28-30 and Mark 2:27-28 and Hebrews 4.)

When you first start observing a day of rest, one day a week, every week, it’s going to feel like the world is working against you. It is. Be strong, be patient, be persistent. It’s going to be worth it. Your goal for the day is rest, so if including others in your plans is counterproductive to that, don’t.

Today I am going to share a few ideas of how to spend your day of rest. Remember, we are going to avoid work. So if you see something on this list would leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated, or defeated, then that’s not going to be the activity for you. Or maybe, in order to do it, you really need to do some planning and preparation ahead of time. For example: a picnic. A picnic!! Sounds like a fun, relaxing activity, right? Tell that to every mom that’s been responsible for getting their young kids to the beach and making sure they had a blast/got fed/made memories while they were there. That’s not a vacation for most moms; that’s a trip. So what if you are packing a picnic, bringing the Frisbees, hiking 10 miles in, and rounding up the cranky kids to get back home? Alter your plans by packing the picnic the day before, keeping the hike to a minimum, and keeping your expectations lower. If that still doesn’t work, then that is not something you want to add to your Rest Day activities.

Rest Day Activity Ideas

  • Worship with Others
  • Visit a Museum
  • Walk Outside
  • Use a camera to take photos
  • Go on a hike
  • Read a book
  • Play an instrument
  • Do a puzzle
  • Needlepoint
  • Play with a pet
  • Journal your gratitude
  • Color in a coloring book
  • Listen to a podcast
  • Take a relaxing bath
  • Diffuse oils
  • Write a thank you note
  • Facetime with long-distance family or friends
  • Deliver Baked Goods
  • Take a nap
  • Brew a special tea or coffee
  • Learn a new board game
  • Look at photo albums or books
  • Spend time with an elderly family member
  • Visit a nursing home
  • Watch a nature documentary
  • Go on a picnic
  • Eat by candlelight
  • Sit by a cozy fire
  • Play a card game
  • Watch the sunset
  • Go to the library
  • Visit a loved ones grave
  • Arrange flowers
  • Enjoy a hobby
  • Go for a train ride
  • Do a crossword puzzle
  • Listen to records
  • Stargaze laying on blankets
  • Visit a local waterfall
  • Plan random acts of kindness
  • Memorize comforting scriptures
  • Try a new restaurant
  • Deliver a meal
  • Tell your kids about when you were young.
  • Ask your parents about their childhood
  • Play charades
  • Research your ancestry
  • Watch family home movies
  • Meet with a small group Bible study
  • Look through an old hymnal

You can download a printable version of Day of Rest Activity Ideas HERE. A pdf file will open in a new tab. You can either print it or save it to your computer.

If you’re looking for more ideas, I have saved a board on Pinterest with even more ideas for how to spend your day of rest. You can follow that board HERE. Side note: many different types of faiths (religions) observe a day or rest, or Sabbath. Jewish, Mormon, and Seventh-Day Adventists are just to name a few. My family does not personally identify with any of those faiths, and observing a day of rest does not mean that you do or do not either. I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on how a day of rest would benefit your family’s mental and physical health, reading scripture that supports a day of rest, and spending time in prayer to see what the Holy Spirit leads you to do. You might see Pins on my Pinterest board that mention some of those religious faiths. Don’t let that be a distraction from getting ideas on how to spend a wonderful, relaxing day with your family.

Next week I will be sharing Part Four, Food Prep and Recipes. I feel like that this topic that falls under Preparation (part two in this series) needs more detail, because it ends up taking up a big portion of our day. When one person, or multiple people, in the family spend a large part of their rest day cooking and cleaning up from meals, then they are not able to fully enjoy the rest aspect of the day. See you next time! In the meantime, if you need to catch up or want to re-read the other installments, you can find the links below: