Monday, November 26, 2012

Lovely Handmade Soap Giveaway

*Giveaway is closed.

I love giving homemade gifts for Christmas....and I LOVE receiving them, too.
The thought and love that pour into something handmade are just so special.
If I don't have the time to make a gift, many times I will find a way to support Moms who are running a business at home.
Meet my friend Amanda.
She is an amazing Mother and has been such an encouragement to me.
She also makes the loveliest handmade soap.
Sadie's Lavender
It is 100% natural, with no artificial colors or scents, and preservative and chemical free.
Just what I love in my home!
I love her soap and with scents like Rosemary Mint, Sadie's Lavender, and Ava's Almond ...who can resist? 
Amanda was kind enough to offer Blissfully Content readers 10% off of their order from her shop: Levi's Lye Soap.
Just use the coupon code: blissfullycontent10 during checkout.
They truly make GREAT stocking stuffers!


Amanda is also offering 2 fresh new bars to one lucky ducky reader!
They are PERFECT for Christmas!

Peppermint Scrub 
"This scent is cooling, refreshing and very fragrant. It brings the smell of summertime peppermint to wintertime in the form of a nourishing bar of soap that will exfoliate your winter skin so well."

 and Virginia Cedarwood.
"Handmade especially for Matthew, this scent is sweet and woody. Gentle enough to calm nerves after a long day for the working man, while abrasive enough to scrub away dirt with added grits. It will deter insects during a day in the woods. It is perfect to store in his closet and drawers to repel moths while not in use."


With nourishing ingredients like coconut, olive and vegetable oils, local spring water, and grits the soap is cleansing and nourishing!
We have been using both bars and they are so wonderful....refreshing, they have a great lather, and exfoliating. My skin feels hydrated and clean.

To enter, just leave a comment!
For a second chance to enter, visit Amanda's shop and tell me which handmade soap is your favorite in a separate comment.
Be sure and leave a way for me to contact you!

Winner will be drawn on Monday, December 3rd and will receive 1 Peppermint Scrub and 1 Virginia Cedarwood handmade soap....just in time for the holidays!

Good luck!

~Julia


Monday, November 19, 2012

Dutch Appeltaart


My Mom is Dutch and during the holidays we love to indulge in Dutch treats.
This Dutch Appeltaart is easy to make and a fun recipe to bake with your kids.
It brings back so many good memories of traditional Dutch cuisine that we enjoyed around the holiday season.
It has almond undertones and sweet cinnamon and gingery flavors.
The crust is perfect and flaky and i added a little almond extract to round out the tart.
I think you will LOVE it!

Recipe:

Pie Dough
{Original from Martha Stewart}

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, but into small pieces, plus more for pan
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract

Stir together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or rub it in with your fingers until small bits remain.
I use my food processor...it works great!
Stir in egg, water, almond extract, and vanilla until you can form a ball with the dough.
Form 2/3 of the ball into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate until firm...about an hour.
Do the same with the remaining 1/3 and refrigerate for one hour also.

Filling:
2 1/4 pounds~ about 6 cups tart apples, cut in 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 tbs. flour
6 tbs. butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten {for crust top}

Combine all ingredients, stir to coat, and let sit...stirring occasionally.





Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter a 9 inch round springform pan.
Roll out larger disk of dough on a lightly floured surface.
Press all cracks closed and roll big enough to fit onto bottom and up the sides of the pan.
Press dough into pan and sprinkle with a little flour.
Transfer filling into pan.
If it is really juicy, use a slotted spoon and leave juices behind.

Roll out remaining smaller pie dough disk to 1/4 inch.
Cut into 1/2 inch strips and lay half the strips one directions, and half the other direction over the top of the pie. 
Press strips into top edge of dough.

  Brush top and edges with egg wash.
Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes until crust is golden and apples are tender.
If crust starts to look too dark, put foil over top.
Let cool for 30 minutes until sides of tart start to pull away.
Release from the mold and let cool completely before serving.
It is GREAT with cinnamon whipped cream :). 

 By the time I got around to photographing ...we had eaten half of the Appeltaart!








Enjoy!
Happy Holidays!

~Julia

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Advent Calendar Ideas

Advent is a season of hope.
Four weeks to deeply reflect on the birth of our Savior and to encompass peace, the anticipated wait, and a glorious ending.
Advent is from the Latin "adventus," which means "coming."
I want the hope that is coming...don't you?
I also want my children to fully embrace this quiet season...in the midst of a culture that zips and zooms with commercial decor and gifts overflowing.
I want to focus on heart giving, abundant and joyous giving of ourselves this Advent.
The world needs so much more of it!
So along with our theme of an Advent calendar with a little surprise each day, we are going to have a slip of paper with a gift to give to others that day.
A kind act toward a family member.
A trip to the retirement home with cookies.
Leaving a small gift in the mailbox of a lonely neighbor.
Opening our home to hospitality.
A random act of kindness toward someone that we may have hurt.

So here are some really wonderful and beautiful Advent calendar ideas...all from my PINTEREST {click here} board :).

DIY - Advent Calendar
Advent calendar activity cards ~ how cute. Loving the red pattern.

advent

Advent

advent...

Here is what we did last year...

A simple Advent calendar....

And who can forget about the wreath and all of the fun of lighting a candle each week?
We use Ann Voskamp's Jessie Tree Advent Celebration.
You can print it out for free :).
Each night we read at the dinner table and light a candle, turn the lights down, and it is such a special moment in our busy day.
You can read about our Advent wreath and traditions HERE...

Pinned Image

I am so excited about this lovely season just beginning.
Can you hardly believe Thanksgiving is upon us?
I will be back early next week with a special Dutch Appeltaart recipe.
It is sooo good and perfect for the holidays...and something you can bake with your kids.

~Julia

Monday, November 12, 2012

Make A Paper Leaf Garland

Thanksgiving is just around the bend, and even though I am holding back the urge to decorate for Christmas, I think Thanksgiving deserves a decent amount of time.
To add a little more to our Fall theme, I made this easy paper leaf garland.





I used brown craft paper from the Dollar Store and a 4 ft. piece of jute twine.
To make it, simply cut out a desired leaf pattern {mine were about 5 inches tall by 2.5 inches wide}.
Cut out several leaves and have your hot glue gun handy.
I crinkled my leaves a little for a more rustic look and staggered them in a 2 and 3 leaf pattern.
First, glue several leaves of two together at the base.


And then sections of three...


Next, add a little hot glue to the back lower edge of the triple leaf section.

Place it on the jute twine and pinch a little at the base...


Stagger the leaf sections about an inch apart and just keep going until you reach the end of the twine.
Leave a few inches on each end to tie.


Hang up and enjoy!
 


~Julia

Friday, November 2, 2012

Finding Joy in This Season of Thanksgiving

Joy is prayer.
Joy is strength.
Joy is love.
Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.
God loves a cheerful giver.
One gives most who gives with joy.
The best way to show our gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.
A joyful heart is the NORMAL RESULT of a heart burning with love.
Never let anything so fill you with SORROW as to make you forget the joy of Christ risen.
This I tell my sisters. 
This I tell to you.

~Mother Theresa of Calcutta



In this beautiful season that is approaching, all I can think about is joy.
How do we find that inexplicable, lasting foundation, residual kind of joy that isn't taken from our hearts in suffering, hard times, and struggling?
God just keeps imprinting this joy word over and over on my heart.
Joy... light, amiable joy.
Burden lifting joy.
The kind of joy that brings grace.

My sweet, loving Dad has Lou Gehrig's disease.
We found out about 5 weeks ago....and each day his body weakens.

His whole life has centered around his children.
He worked with us, he played with us, I don't think he even had a hobby that didn't include his kids.

My Mom and Dad live two miles away and my kids see them everyday.
My Dad is a retired mechanic and my boys have helped him almost daily with projects.
His calloused hands showing them and guiding them through every mechanical problem to fix.
They are so close and the love that he has for all of his grand kids just makes his sky blue eyes shine.

I hesitated to write, but I know there are so many in tough circumstances right now.
There is joy in suffering.
I can attest to it even though the circumstances are devastating for all of us.
It comes through thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving.
It's an upcoming holiday that we celebrate, but maybe we should celebrate that daily.
Thanking God that He has the strength and knowledge of the future...even though we don't.
Thanking God that he gives us the grace to sustain...even if it is just today.
Thanking Him for provisions and the joy that we have one more day.




Is it ironic that after the Thanksgiving holiday we celebrate new birth and JOY?
I don't think so. 

Thanksgiving, gratitude, contentment...you have to hard press for these.
Use them as a blanket to stamp out the ugly feelings of anger and frustration.
Because when you do...and allow your heart to grieve, yet lift it up at the same time as an offering... in a way that thanks God for the wonderful life, the blessings that are to come, the hope that is still very present...then you are open to joy which brings GRACE.
Kind of like a wound that is open to healing.
That is how I feel about suffering.
We are sore and tired and hurt.
Our minds and hearts are wide open to some kind of reprieve.
It comes from being thankful.
Thankful in the midst of pain.
 {Catching snowflakes...first snow.}

Grace means: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification, a virtue coming from God.
Isn't that beautiful? 
A regeneration, a renewal of your heart.
A life that encompasses joy in the good and the bad.
Thanksgiving is approaching and it will be a sweet day for all of us.
Through thanksgiving and gratitude for all that is happening, all that is given, we look forward to that regeneration and finding JOY.
The kind of joy that brings grace...a virtue coming from God.

And grace will flow abundant.


{First snow!}

Praying that we all find that the best way to show our gratitude to God and people is to accept everything with joy.

~Julia


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