decking the halls for these happy holy days

We are fa-la-la-la-la-ing our little hearts out as we deck these halls.  All to celebrate our King's birth.  All to joyfully proclaim Jesus is our Lord, the Saviour of mankind.  "It's Jesus' birthday!" little voices chime the morning after Thanksgiving, their eyes wide in wonder as the christmas boxes are unpacked and lights are strung in every corner of their room.  It's a tradition I want to preserve, every year on the day following Thanksgiving, we throw a decorating party for Jesus' birthday.  And this year it spilled into the weekend as well, and it hasn't stopped yet.  We'll probably be decorating, baking, crafting, and creating right up until Christmas morning.

I love the wonder in my children's eyes, the joy and anticipation.  
The awe of it all.  
The air alive with holiness and happiness and hymns of glad tidings.  
Sipping hot cocoa through peppermint candy canes.
Dancing in our slippers. 
Wandering hand in hand through acres of Christmas trees.

Astair asked Papa D. where Christmas trees came from, so this year Mimi and Papa D. took us to the Christmas tree farm.  I have many cherished childhood memories of my family searching the canyons for a Christmas tree and cutting it down.  We would drive off into the hills covered in white, often being greeted by deer and other wildlife, and attempt to find an evergreen that might suffice as a christmas tree.  It was always an adventure and the trees we would find were the sparse and crooked "charlie brown" kind.

Mimi and Papa D. with the kids at the Christmas Tree Farm

It's exciting to share these memories and to make our own, to pass down family traditions and to preserve the practice of our faith.  For some, Christmas trees may not be important or may even be controversial, but for me and my family, we've given them our own special meaning.  The evergreen is our reminder that Jesus brings eternal life, the strands of twinkling lights fill our home with a warm glow, just as Jesus brought light into the darkness.  And lastly, it's sturdy trunk alludes to the tree Christ died on at Calvary.

setting up the Christmas tree
This week I'll be sharing some Christmas traditions we have, as well as some new ones we'll be making.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?




When every moment is unwrapped like a precious gift
and the rain is only a rainbow in the making.
Hearts are hushed by the sheer beauty of being alive
and souls bow to our generous God.


Can be heard in whispered prayers above the storm,
seen in the smile that refuses to be dimmed.
It's the faith that comes from a heart that's held on
to the hope that only Jesus brings.


Is having just a few apples left in the barrel
and baking an apple pie for a neighbor.
A life that is blessed and seeks to bless others.

Because giving thanks is good but living it is so much better.


I love Thanksgiving.  I love how it washes our hearts in awareness of our blessings.  And knowing just how blessed I am always makes me want to be a blessing to someone else.

Feeling the same way?

Here's some big ways to give this Thanksgiving:

>>>Join Flower Patch Farm Girl and help bring a well to a community in desperate need of the one thing we take for granted--water.

>>>Help my friend Lauren bring home their second adopted baby!!  For every $5 you give, you will be entered in her Baskets of Galore Giveaway worth over $350 dollars in prizes!!

Be blessed today friends!

Our fun filled day at a Pumpkin Patch birthday party


{diy} paper lantern hot air balloons

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I know our minds are cramming with recipes and fall centerpieces, crafts and meaningful family traditions, but I needed a little break from all the autumn awesomeness, is that ok?  When I get a craft inspiration I gotta go with it while I've got the itch or it's gone.  To say I love hot air balloons would only be the understatement of the year.  To say I love, love, loooovvve them is getting closer.  In grade school I wrote a short children's story about a sheep, a chicken, a pig, and a duck who all accidentally hijacked a hot air balloon.  It's still one of my favorite stories.  In fact, I think there's a book out now with that same story idea...they stole it.  Hahahaha, okay, I'm sorta kidding about that last part.  Oh if only I could travel around the world in a hot air ballon...one covered in vintage fabric of course.  It would probably look a lot like these.  I got this idea from my friend Abbey (the very same fabulous and creative gal who made me my picnic quilt).  Her hot air ballon is way more awesome than mine, she doesn't take short cuts like I do.  She sewed the little basket on the bottom out of burlap and added burlap patches to her balloon to make it more "boyish".  She even gave me these lanterns that she had left over from a business venture and they're the really good kind--the ones covered in fabric instead of paper.  Thanks, Abbey!

Originally I had wanted to post a little tutorial on how I made these because I couldn't find one on the web, but I know they must be out there somewhere.  Unfortunately, tutorials and toddlers don't always mix.  But we gave it a good try.  I must warn you, I am not a perfectionist.  I'm usually more concerned with how the overall finished piece will look than I am about the details leading up to that point.  So just a note to all the perfectionists out there:  a)  you are awesome  b) this tutorial will probably drive you crazy.

P.S.  I think I'm moving into Legend's room now.  I seriously love these.

P.S. #2  I'm making more for Boston and Astair's room.

Linking up to loveliness here:


oh my oh my oh apple pie oh

Dear Betty Crocker,

Hi, I'm Joye and I'm culinarily challenged (if that word even exists).  But as slow of a learner in the kitchen as I am, I've always been a fan of your vintage cookbooks.  Mainly for the bright and happy 1950's illustrations of adorable mommies in poodle skirts and perfect loaves of bread magically flying out of ovens.

Oh yes.  I do love the illustrations (remind me to upload them on this here little blog of mine, will you Betty?)  I loved them so much I took pictures of them.  Lots of pictures, page by page.  Barely glanced at the recipes, I have to admit.  But the pictures of your cookbook turned out beautifully, by the way.  And then your lovely recipe books sat on my shelf collecting dust.  But you are a smart one, dear Betty.  You knew those darling illustrations would draw me in.  You knew the whole happy, homey, vintage warm and fuzzies would eventually inspire even a kitchen klutz like me.

It is a pity, Betty, that home economics was no longer taught the year I attended high school.  The one class I could have benefited the most from!  The majority of my day is not spent on calculating pythagorean theorems or on understanding the theory of relativity (although I may have that to look forward to).  No, Betty, I became the keeper of my home, a constant chef, without even the basic knowledge of how to boil an egg.  My fault, I am sure.  But it made the task of learning how to cook seem daunting and unattainable.  Slowly, though, I am taking more risks, venturing out and experimenting with recipes.   I have now successfully baked three finger lickin' good apple pies.  Along with sweet potato cupcakes with spiced buttercream frosting.

So, thank you, Betty, fabulous icon of retro housewives everywhere.

Thank you more for the inspiration than anything else.

-A happy homemaker and apple pie baker

Psssssttt.....don't tell Betty, but this apple pie recipe isn't one of hers.

It's super easy and I made it with pre-made pillsbury pie crust dough.
I followed the recipe on the box, only changing it slightly.

The Perfect Apple Pie Recipe  from Pillsbury (with a few tweeks)
For the filling: 
7 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (about 4 granny smith, 4 gala)
3/4 c. sugar
2 T.  all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 T. freshly squeezed juice of one lemon
Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Press one pre-made pie crust into the pie plate.  Use a fork to poke several holes along sides and bottom.  Pour filling into pie plate and top with second pie crust.  Cut off any excess dough under the rim.  Flute the edges by pushing the dough along the rim toward the middle of the pie with your left forefinger while placing the forefinger and middle finger of your right hand on the opposite side of the rim.  Cut shapes or designs in the top crust.  Cover the edges of your pie with 2" strips of foil to keep them from burning.  Stick it in the oven for about 40 minutes.  Serve with ice cream.  Don't skip that last part.
 So there it is.  Grandma, this one's for you.  You tried to teach me, bless your heart.  And I remember more from your lessons than I thought.  You're the real Betty Crocker after all.


we are the woods people

The Picture Story
our wonderful,
weekend woods adventure.

(because it took really long to upload and I felt too lazy to add words...just sayin')

>>>>>>> my camera runs out of juice at this point, so we switch to Joel's iphone <<<<<<<<

Back to civilization we go, though reluctant we are...

We could live in the woods very happily.

They remind me just how wildly beautiful our God really is.
I'm humbled that His Spirit lives in me.

You have to hear this song by Daniel Bashta (I've linked the David Crowder version but it was written by Daniel).

"My God's not dead
He's surely alive
And He's living on the inside
Roaring like a lion" 

-Like a Lion by Daniel Bastha


gotta tell ya

Okay, so have you heard enough answered prayers yet?  Haha, nope, didn't think so.  They just keep on coming so I better keep on tellin' bout em.  Somebody shout a "hallelujah!", "amen", and "thank you, Jesus!"  I've been taking pictures with my iphone for the past nine months because my slr camera broke and it would cost more than it was worth to fix it.  Real bummer.  But you know, I fell in love with hipstamatic and instagram filters.  I was just starting to really appreciate my camera that is constantly with me, when my phone broke.  Yes, it was a very sad day.  I went to bed that night as low as ever.  I'm addicted to taking pictures.  No phone equals no fun for me.  I started thinking about all the scenes I missed that day and in my overactive imagination I saw images of my children growing up right under my nose and getting married and having babies and all this with absolutely no pictures to remember them by.  None.  Nada.  Entire years of their development missing.  So that's when I prayed for a camera. 

And the next day my brother called me and told me he was sending me his camera because he had just bought a new one.

It came in the mail yesterday.  And I got to play.

End of a beautiful story.

epilogue:  It's not a professional camera, but I'm not a professional photographer, just a wanna-be, and it does have a manual setting, so we are getting along just fine.  Just fine and dandy.

At our hangout:  the churchyard across the street from our house...

our house that Joel built  {oh, yeah.  we still have christmas lights up.  it's how we roll.}

Have an answered prayer?  Or maybe a prayer request?
Please share!  I'd love to praise and pray with you.


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