Jesse Tree Ornaments: A daily advent guide

Christmas gets so busy, and my tendency for activities with the kids is to try and do something too complicated, get frustrated, try and modify my plan, and then rush something at the end.

This makes for little joy. I drive everyone nuts.

But hey!

Good news this year.

My sweet friend Katie organized a Jesse Tree Ornament exchange for some friends. It was simple and fairly easy for everyone involved:

Katie emailed a wide group of friends, asking if they’d like to participate, and then assigned the first 25 people who replied one of the 25 days, with a set of scriptures that went along with that day. Each friend then made 25 of the same ornaments that symbolized their day. We all showed up at Katie’s one morning with our 25 ornaments, put them on the dining table, and then went around the table and everyone took one of each ornament. And with that, everyone had a set of 25 handmade ornaments.

We had a guide (available for download at the end of the post) that shows which scriptures go along with each day.

A few tips:

  • Make your ornaments sturdy! You’ll want them to last in little hands over the years.
  • Make them simple! You’re making 25, which takes more time than you’d think :)
  • I’m sure some of the ladies who participated can comment with their own tips….

Here are our ornaments:
jesse tree ornaments_01 jesse tree ornaments_02 jesse tree ornaments_03 jesse tree ornaments_04 jesse tree ornaments_05 jesse tree ornaments_06 jesse tree ornaments_07 jesse tree ornaments_08 jesse tree ornaments_09 jesse tree ornaments_11 jesse tree ornaments_12 jesse tree ornaments_13 jesse tree ornaments_14 jesse tree ornaments_15 jesse tree ornaments_16 jesse tree ornaments_17 jesse tree ornaments_18 jesse tree ornaments_19 jesse tree ornaments_20 jesse tree ornaments_21 jesse tree ornaments_22 jesse tree ornaments_23 jesse tree ornaments_24 jesse tree ornaments_25

click the image below to download the daily guide:

jesse tree guide

give and get: clothing swap how-to {reuse, recycle, refashion}

About twice a year I host a clothing swap. It’s one of the most fun events we do all season.

Why partake in a clothing swap?

  • It’s free
  • You purge the things from your closet that you never wear
  • You come home with new, fresh pieces to liven up your wardrobe
  • Always wanted a blazer/(insert some piece of clothing here) but never wanted to buy one because you didn’t know if you’d love it? You can now grab one for free, and see if you like it.
  • Take something you know you’ll only use for a season, or a pair of pants that will fit you for the interview you have next week, but you’ll only wear once.
  • Free. Free. Free.

The truth is, we  talk often about being good stewards of what we have. Here’s a practical step: simplify your closet and get a few new things for the season without spending a dime. in short: friends + friends’ friends + old clothes = new friends + new-to-you clothes

Sometimes you have this:

But you need this:

or this:

What’s a girl to do? Skip that trip to the stores to overhaul your wardrobe and clean out your closet instead. There are perfectly good clothes in there. I promise. You just don’t wear them because they don’t fit your body, your lifestyle, or your job right now. Bring them to a house with 30 other women and they’re bound to be the perfect piece for someone else.

So here’s what we do:

1. Plan a date and send an invitation that tells everyone to:

  • Clean out your closet* and bring your old/don’t fit/i-never-wear-this clothes/shoes/jewelry/purses.
  • Bring a bag or two so that you can haul away your new goodies.
  • Bring your friends. The more the merrier.
2. Host the event
  • First 30-40 minutes: Everyone can show up and grab a drink and a snack. Have designated ares in your home for tops/pants/dresses/accessories/shoes, etc. and have people lay their clothes out accordingly. We don’t categorize by size. Once everyone starts going through the clothes, it’s a mess and sizing gets rearranged, anyway.
  • Next 30-45 minutes: Go time! Everyone can dig through piles, start bagging what they want, and try things on. Have some mirrors around the house.
  • End: Have another snack, laugh, and go through piles one last time. As people try things on, items that didn’t work for them get thrown back in the mix and pay be perfect for someone else.
  • Later: Attendees get to go home and brag to husband/fiancee/roommate how they just got bags of fantastic clothing and accessories for free, AND got rid of the crap in their closets. Everyone is happy.

3. Donate what’s left. No clothes are lost or wasted, everything is reused and recycled. Everything finds a new home.

*And, attendees:
  • Have a ton of stuff and some of it is old tees? Bring all of it. We’ll have an embarrassing stuff/old t-shirts pile. Everything’s going to get donated anyway, so this saves you a trip to donate them (or if you’re like me, this saves you from carrying three bags of junk in your trunk for months before you finally take them to be donated).
  • Have nothing? Come anyway. Take freely. There will be plenty of things.

this is how you make the best french fries

this is how you make the best french fries if you want them to be thin and crispy and baked and still have their skin on. i have another recipe if you want them to be skinless wedges. more on that later.


  • 2-3 large potatoes
  • 3-4 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • salt

Other things you need:

  • parchment paper


  1. Preheat oven to 425. Cut your potatoes into long slices, and then cut those slices into sticks. mine are usually about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick and deep.
  2. Put them in a plastic bag and sprinkle the cornstarch in there. The cornstarch will help them get brown and crispy.
  3. Shake the cornstarch all around until it’s not clumpy.
  4. Drizzle the oil in the bag and shake.
  5. Pull the fries out (don’t’ dump them. actually pull them out so that the excess oil is left in the bag and not on your baking sheet)
  6. Put them in a single layer on the baking sheet. This is important. The part of the potato that’s touching the parchment/baking sheet will brown, so you want all of the pieces to be laying on the baking sheet.
  7. Sprinkle with salt.
  8. Bake 18-30 minutes or until the bottoms begin to brown.
  9. Flip fries over and bake another 15-20 minutes or until browned all over.

i was pregnant and now i am not

august 31 and we have a good ultrasound. baby is about 7w4d, almost a week behind where i thought i was, but what am i to know. heartbeat – check. everything looks good.

i take the picture home and put it on the fridge.

september 4 and it is shilah’s first day of preschool.
a few things happened the night before that led me to call the doctor.

nothing monumental. nothing  yahoo answers didn’t say was normal. (why do i trust yahoo answers? ever?). but i called.

the doctor said to come in to the office.

shilah does a stellar drop off at preschool. no crying and straight to the toy bin of babies. uncharacteristic of her and a gift from God since i am preoccupied. panicky.

fastforward 15 minutes and i am in the doctors office.

it a nice office. not luxurious-nice but friendly-nice. there are fresh cookies at the door and cucumber water at the reception desk.

no one asks my name when i come in. they know who i am because of why i am there.

five more minutes.


i saw it on the screen. it looked similar to how it did four days ago at that ultrasound.
that ultrasound where it measured a week small, but had a strong heartbeat, so no one challenged the calendar math
it looked similar to how it did four days ago at that ultrasound. but cloudy. the screen was darker. the parts less defined.
the sonographer moved quickly, taking measurements.
i don’t want to keep you waiting. there’s not a heartbeat.
i hold my breath and close my eyes but tears come out anyway.
i have to take a few more measurements. ill be quick, i just wanted you to know.

i sit in a room and wait. rationalize. silent tears.
the doctor comes in and we talk options. lots of them. but don’t make a decision today. wait and think.

i call jon.

i lost the baby.
that’s what i want to say.
but i can’t make the words come out.
it’s not lost.
i saw it.

the baby died.

that’s what i say. it doesn’t sound as nice, but it’s true.

i know why we told everyone. i say. i know we told everyone because no one talks about this stuff and if something happened – i would want our friends to know. i would want people to watch me go through it in a way that’s glorifying to God. and i still think that. but this. will. be. hard.

mommy, you sad? i get you a kleenex.

the everyday: part 3 {march 9, 2012}

This kid is loving life.


Waking up early.

Skipping naps and requesting elmo instead.

Broken of a pacifier.

Counting to 10.

Eating jalepeno chips.

Talking with her hands, not sign language-style, but i-am-a-girl style.

On a super strong antibiotic that is clearing an infection that has been lingering for probably six months.

Speaking in full sentences. Most often:

  • “I want to go to grocery store?”
  • “Mama kiss it? All better.”
  • “Shilah big girl. Give paa-faa to Babu Beau.”
  • “Where it go? I FOUND IT!”
  • “Shilah read hungry cat-pillar, booooo-tiful buuhh-fly”

Yes, I know some of those weren’t full sentences.

On a related note, we have been careful not to get her stuck on saying “mine!” and consequently, she speaks in the third person often. Better? Worse? Oops.

I shall leave you with are a few great parenting reads for the weekend:

An article in the Huffington Post:


And, a delightful read on parenting: