Christmas Vacation 2014 Recap


We had a wonderful time visiting my parents and family for Christmas.  Christmas Eve we got together with my brother and his family to hang out, open gifts, and enjoy dinner.. my mama made lasagna.. and of course it was delicious.. and dessert was her always loved chocolate pie.  Clara and her cousin decorated Christmas cookies.  They definitely enjoyed each others company!

On Christmas we woke up about 8am (the perfect amount of sleeping in for me these days, since I normally wake at 5:30am).. Clara crawled into bed with us, and I asked her if she wanted to go wake up Nana and Papa so we could see if our stockings were filled.  In her sweetest voice she said, "No, I'm just a little sleepy."  And so we cuddled some more.  But it didn't take her much longer after that to decide to get up and snoop around the tree.

I had so much fun watching her open the gifts she received, and seeing the joy on her face while she discovered what was under all the wrapping paper!  One of the gifts we bought for her, was a toddler board game.. called the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game.. and I'm pretty sure it ended up being one of her favorite things.  After all of our morning excitement, we headed out to GG's house (my grandma).. for some more family fun.

I always enjoy going back to visit my parents and even though we don't live super close to them.. I sure am thankful we live as close as we do.. the closest we've lived to them in 6 years.  It was definitely a nice, laid back vacation... minus Clara getting sick the last two days, but it's inevitable when we travel up there when it's so much more dry and cold.

Christmas Vacation Pt 1


This year for Christmas we were able to head up north to visit my family.  It's been about 2 years since we've been up here for Christmastime, we try to get with them every other year if we can.  The drive is about 11 hours, and it's the closest we've lived to them so we try to take advantage of it while we can!

I was especially excited this year because they're able to see my baby bump - they didn't get to see me pregnant in person with Clara at all since we were living in Korea at the time.  So being closer the second time around is a nice treat!

I didn't bring my laptop with on the trip, because I just wanted to relax - but thought I'd do a quick update (and I'll update more when we return home!).  But Clara is enjoying being spoiled by Nana and Papa and visiting her cousins.. there's been lots of food, relaxing, Christmas music and cookie decorating.. it's nice to be back!  I've been posting to Instagram a bit, so you can follow me there if you'd like!

My mama & I sippin' on some Starbucks (decaf for me, of course)!
Clara making Christmas cookies with her cousin!
I hope you all enjoy the rest of your Christmas week!!  Merry Christmas!

Everyday Cinnamon Rolls {recipe}


This cinnamon roll recipe is hands down a favorite in our family.  They're fairly easy and they turn out great every time.  They're so good, I can't even get a picture before they start getting eaten (as you can see).. but hey, I'll take that as a compliment!  I love cinnamon rolls all year long, but really there's just something about a sweet, warm roll with a hot cup of coffee when it's chilly outside.  It just kind of gives me the warm & fuzzies!

We had these for breakfast on Thanksgiving, and they would be yummy for a Christmas morning treat also.. or an any time treat.  My husband has to have cinnamon rolls as a dessert on the days that we have chili for dinner.  I'm not quite sure why, but it's what he always requests!  Ain't nobody complaining around here.. well except baby my OB Doctor who tells me I need to slow my roll.. but I just don't think he understands how good these are.  ;)

So if you decide one day you're going to up and make cinnamon rolls, look no further.. you need to make these ones!

Cinnamon Rolls
Source - Our Best Bites

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbs butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant or ‘rapid rise’ yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 2 T melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 Tbs milk

For the Dough-- Place milk and 4 tbsp butter in a a bowl and microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds. Butter should be at least partially melted; stir and set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, yeast, white sugar, and salt. When milk mixture has cooled to warm, add it to the flour mixture along with the egg while the beater, with paddle attachment, is running.  Beat about 1 min.  Switch to dough hook and add remaining flour only until dough just lifts from side of the bowl. It should be soft and a little sticky. Continue to let the dough knead for 5 minutes. If you are not using a stand mixer, turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes by hand. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and let rest for about 10 minutes.

For the Filling--  Mix softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together in small bowl.

For Assembly-- Roll dough into a 12 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread filling over the dough. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed.  Score the roll into 12 equal pieces and then cut into rolls. Place in a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes (I like to turn on the stove and just leave it sit on top of that). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  When rolls have finished rising, bake for 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool a little then spread with icing. Makes 12 rolls.

Christmas Reads


Last week I realized my child only owned one Christmas book.  ONE.  Out of all of the tons and tons of books on her shelves.. all she had was the Polar Express.  So I had to hop onto Amazon and order her some more ASAP.  I was so excited to give them to her, and decided to wrap them up to make it a little more fun.  I threw in an extra gift for her too.. something she could wear Christmas morning, if she wanted!

Lately this girl is obsessed with anything that is Frozen, Madagascar, and Rapunzel.  I really couldn't help myself when I saw this super soft Frozen robe at the store the other day.. she thinks it's the coolest thing since sliced bread.  Mama win for me!

The three books I bought for Clara are:
  1. Humphrey's First Christmas by Carol Heyer - I wanted a fun book for her that also included the true meaning of Christmas.  This story is adorable.. about a silly Camel and his journey to Bethlehem.  He realizes the importance of giving when his journey ends.
  2. Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner -  I'm loving the illustration in this book!  This is just a fun book about Snowmen and what they do when no one is around, and why they might not look quite the same the day after you make them!  ;)  This author also has a couple other Snowman books that look equally cute.
  3. Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson - This book is probably Clara's favorite of the three right now.  I love the rhyming in it and it's a sweet story about friendship during the holidays!

I could have just bought up all the Christmas books!  I might even have to order a couple more.. I love books and love reading with Clara, and I just can't help myself.  What's everyone's favorite Christmas books for children?  I could use some more ideas!  ;)