Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Back in early October, when our days were getting cool, and the AC unit wasn't constantly running, my friend Janelle mentioned the idea of making homemade vanilla extract for gifts this holiday season. I jumped at the idea, because it sounded really fun and I am always up for a ladies night of fun and food! We all decided how much vanilla we were wanting to make, and purchased the beans, booze, and bottles! The actual mixing process takes no time at all, so we spent the majority of the night at my house eating and chatting. Now, ten weeks later, the extract has brewed and is ready for use! Bottled in these darling little bottles, with these fun labels, this vanilla extract makes the perfect holiday gift!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015


Merry Christmas! It's the most wonderful time of year! The sights, smells, and sounds of Christmas are some of my most favorite things. This year, with the help of our first fireplace (!!!) we have been staying cozy in our new little home, and enjoying our Christmas decor. With fresh boughs, colorful ornaments, and our reindeer friend, we are fully set to celebrate this most glorious season. Besides the countless amounts of events and parties this month, I wanted us to start more family traditions. Over the summer, I was introduced to a Kickstarter Project called The Giving Manger. If you know me, I am very anti "Elf on the Shelf", because it detracts from the most important reason for Christmas, and it's just plain too much work! This project focuses on service. To begin the tradition, the beautifully written and illustrated picture book is read, explaining the Christmas tradition. For each act of service, you place a piece of straw in Baby Jesus' manger. By the end of the month, your manger will hopefully be full of hay, where Baby Jesus will then lay. I love the idea of serving one another during this busy time of year, especially when there are so many little things we can do to serve!
 If you would like to purchase The Giving Manger, and start a new Christmas tradition, click here.

Monday, November 30, 2015


 This year for Thanksgiving, we stayed local and cooked dinner ourselves! We have done this in the past, but I have usually opted for cooking a turkey breast, as a full turkey somewhat intimidated me. This year, I decided to bite the bullet, and boy was it worth it! Besides waking up to an overnight leak in my brining bag, and a big mess in the fridge, the meal and day went off without any hiccups. After tasting my deliciously brined and cooked turkey, I vowed to ALWAYS do it this way! We enjoyed a lovely dinner and time with just the two of us! We ventured out later for Old Sacramento's Macy's Theater of Lights, which is a show held on the balconies of historic buildings in old town. We were entertained with historical facts, a reading of "T'was the Night Before Christmas", a light show, holiday music, and snow! It was really fun and a great way to get us in the holiday spirit!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


 Derek and I have had our fair shares of Thanksgivings with family and friends, surrounded by delicious food and loud laughter. We have also had a fair share just the two of us, in our little home, feasting on our favorites like cornbread stuffing and rolls. (We clearly are a pro-carb family here, folks). This year, we are dining just the two of us. Although we miss our families, and the camaraderie of the day, we do enjoy years when we can spend an entire day together. This, my friends, is a rarity unto itself. Using simple items from around the house, our table for two this year will also consist of turkey, cornbread stuffing (this year I used sage sausage instead of bacon!), mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls, green beans & gravy. For dessert, Derek requested his favorite chocolate cream pie, while I prefer a twist on the classic, pecan pie. These chocolate drizzled pecan bars are ooey and gooey, and going to make anyone you serve them to a very full, and happy camper. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Monday, November 9, 2015


 Scattered through El Dorado County, outside of Placerville, is a smattering of apple orchards known as Apple Hill. Derek and I ventured East early on Saturday morning, and enjoyed the beautiful drive through the hills, arriving at High Hill Ranch before the crowds. We were first in line for hot apple fritters and cider, both the best we have ever tasted. We strolled the ranch, and shops, before heading to our second destination, Rainbow Orchards, for famously known apple cider donuts. After venturing to the different orchards, we stopped in Placerville, and walked the historic downtown. It was absolutely picture perfect. I kept telling Derek I felt like I was back in Rexburg or a real life Stars Hallow (Gilmore Girls). With sarsaparilla and root beer in hand, it was the perfect way to spend our afternoon. Apple Hill may be one of my new favorite places in the area. It's pretty easy to win me over with donuts, cider, and beautiful scenery.