The Life of Jennifer Dawn: November 2016

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

6 Amazing Desserts to Try Right Now

The holidays always put me in a mood to bake. My sister and I grew up with a mother who baked the most scrumptious treats. She'd divulge her baking secrets as we'd lean in to help mix and even taste test whatever it was that she was making. My childhood holidays were coated in sugary, sweet memories. Now I get to share baking memories with my own children.

Do you have a traditional recipe you enjoy during the holidays? I can remember cherry cheese pies, Magic Cookie Bars (similar to the recipe shared below), peanut butter pinwheels, and so many others. The bloggers being featured this week shared some of their own delicious recipes at last week's link party. Enjoy clicking around and taking a look at these delectable treats. You might even find a new one you'd like to try during the holiday season.
1. Reese Lava Cake / Simply Stacie
Who doesn't love peanut butter and chocolate together? You just have to click over to see the rich, decadent filling in these cakes for yourself! Yum!

2. Magic Bars / Simply Stacie
These Magic Bars look delicious! They're a great treat to make ahead and freeze for later.

3. Rolo Pretzel Turtles / To Simply Inspire
These little treats are simple to make--with just three ingredients--and they look so tasty!

4. Homemade Brownies / Little House Living
Ditch the mix! These ooey, gooey brownies are made from scratch and look absolutely scrumptious!

5. Chocolate Mousse / Christina Chitwood
This mousse is the perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Just wait until you see what it's made with!

6. Coconut Whipped Cream / Living Montessori Now
This fluffy whipped topping is the perfect addition to the chocolate mousse you just saw. I bet it would be amazing in a mug of hot cocoa too.

Now it's time for...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gift Wrap Ideas for the Avid Crafter

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WrapGiveRepeat #CollectiveBias

Just like the song, brown paper packages tied up with string have always been one of my favorite things! Anyone else? Here are five crafty gift wrap ideas to dress up those papered packages. It's a crafty collection of gifts that are almost too pretty to unwrap, and each one starts with a plain brown package. Even if you don't consider yourself to be the "crafty type," you'll find these gift wrap ideas to be super simple and quick to pull together.
Packaging and wrapping presents has always been one of my favorite things to do during the holidays. I used to have "wrapping parties" with my dad where we would put on a holiday movie and wrap gifts together. He would share tidbits and tips for cutting the paper or folding in the ends to make the present look perfect. He had a knack for making packages look fantastic! Now it's my kids and I enjoying those same "wrapping parties".
I love coming up with a new theme for our packages each year. Last year I shared these chalkboard inspired gift wrap ideas. This year I'm trying out fun ways to add pops of color and crafty touches to brown papered packages. It's a collection of ways to add pretty details to simple papered packages. 
Brown paper is a quick and affordable way to wrap all your gifts. It's my go-to wrapping paper. These ideas add flair to each presentScotch® Tape is an essential part of wrapping up these festive packages. I especially love the Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape because it blends in with the paper for an almost invisible look.
I stocked up on brown paper and a few kinds of Scotch® Tape at Walmart. All of the other supplies were pulled from my craft closet. You probably already have many of these supplies on hand too! How's that for simple?! There are so many other things to buy during the holidays. Who wants to spend a ton on expensive gift wrap. Be sure to stock up on Scotch® Brand wrapping products early and save with a 50% bonus and Walmart Rollback. And since we are getting into the holiday spirit of giving... Did you know that Scotch® Brand is donating $200,000 to Fisher House this holiday season. It's a charity that provides housing for military families while their beloved hero is receiving treatment. By using Scotch® Brand products for wrapping gifts for your family, you are supporting a company that helps military families. It's a gift that keeps on giving!

Ready to grab your supplies and have a wrapping party together. Let's get started!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Pumpkin Pie

It just wouldn't feel like Thanksgiving without my mom's recipe for pumpkin pie. It's a traditional recipe that's been enjoyed by my family for decades. And I'm sharing that special recipe with you today!
When my sister and I were growing up, our mother always made the holidays wonderful. The traditions, decorations, crafts, and food--especially the food! Holidays of my past are coated in warm, buttery memories. There she would be--apron on, cooking away, and listening to a favorite holiday song. Daddy would be close by reading the paper, drinking coffee, or rolling up his sleeves to help her in the kitchen. He was the official turkey carver and mashed potato whipper. Sweet, savory smells would wash over the house as the timer beeped and Mama clanged pots and pans together trying to pull out the specific one she needed. We'd clamor into the kitchen begging to help, and she'd happily oblige by allowing us to stir and taste while she divulged some of her baking secrets. Yes, mama was an amazing cook! Not only that, but she knew those moments spent together in the kitchen were the stuff of memories!
As I got older, my mom and I started a tradition of enjoying the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pies for breakfast. We'd load up a piece with whipped topping and enjoy it along with a mug of coffee (me) or tea (mama). Not wanting to break with tradition, I enjoyed a pumpkin pie breakfast with my husband and kids this year. The hubby and I paired our pie with steaming mugs of NESCAFÉ® TASTER'S CHOICE® Instant Coffee sweetened with sugar and NESTLÉ® COFFEE-MATE® Liquid Coffee Creamer. It was the perfect breakfast beverage to have on a chilly morning with our pumpkin pie.
Holidays are harder now. There are empty places at our table where both my dad and younger sister once sat. I wasn't sure how we'd make it through this first Thanksgiving without my sister, but somehow...we did. Grace and prayers are probably what got us through.

Despite my broken heart, I was determined to try to make it a special day for my own kids--just like my own mama always did for us. It was my turn--to put the apron on, roll up my sleeves, and make sweet memories with my kids. We went shopping at Dollar General for the things we needed including LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin. They were running some great deals and had a coupon for the coffee and creamer on their coupon app. Caleb, my youngest son, had a blast carrying the can or pumpkin all around the store. It's always the simple things with kids, isn't it?
On the night before Thanksgiving, we gathered our ingredients and joined in the kitchen to make my mom's recipe for pumpkin pie. I must confess that I did have to call my mom a few times...just to make sure I was getting it right.
My dad used to teasingly call these pumpkin pies her Pilgrim Pies since she'd make them from scratch even down to cooking and straining her own pumpkins. In more recent years, she started using canned pumpkins. That's a shortcut that I'm happy to take too using the LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin that I picked up with the kids at Dollar General. Even with that shortcut, the memories are no less sweet. The kids and I had a wonderful time making pies together just like I used to do with my own sister and mother.
And now...I have a special treat for you! It's my mama's recipe for Pilgrim...I mean Homemade Pumpkin Pie. I hope you enjoy! But even more than that, I hope you savor making sweet memories with your family this holiday season--in and out of the kitchen!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cozy Christmas Decor Ideas and Weekly Link Party

Have you started decorating for Christmas yet? Keeping with my family's long-running tradition, we're waiting until after Thanksgiving to pull our decorations out. I have been tossing some ideas around to theme our Christmas decor around though. Last year Lydia Grace and I made these adorable wood slice ornaments that ended up inspiring the rest of the tree decorations. I love the rustic, natural quality of decorating with wood slices and other natural pieces like pine cones and greenery. There is something so cozy and warm about a traditional red and green color scheme with those natural elements sprinkled in. Oh, and don't forget a few pops of plaid. That's just the feel you get with the Cozy Christmas ideas featured below. Enjoying gleaning inspiration from these fantastic bloggers. And happy decorating!
1. Plaid Christmas Table / The Country Chic Cottage
How many cozy, rustic elements can you fit into one table setting? Angie shows us the answer with this cozy setting. There are so many fantastic elements--natural greenery, plaid, pinecones, and galvanized napkin rings--just to name a few.

2. Christmas Vignette and Printable / Lolly Jane
Just seeing the words "comfort and joy" puts me in a comfy, cozy, Christmas mood. And I love the natural elements brought into this Christmas display. Be sure to stop by the Lolly Jane blog for your own copy of this FREE printable.

3. DIY Stocking Ladder / Gluesticks Blog
The mantle is the traditional place for holiday stockings, but I'd break with tradition for this fantastic idea. This is a great way to display the family's stockings and free up the mantle for other decor ideas. When Christmas is over, it can double as a blanket ladder for those soft, cozy blankets you'll need during the cold winter months.

4. Wood Slice Snowmen Ornaments / The Country Chic Cottage
What a fun idea for wood slice ornaments. These snowmen look so cute and cozy in their little scarves. This is a great craft to get the kids involved with too!

Now it's time for...

Monday, November 21, 2016

White Chocolate Cranberry Bark

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheHoliday #CollectiveBias.

White Chocolate Cranberry Bark is an ideal recipe for the holidays. The seasonal flavors of white chocolate and cranberry come together in this delectable treat. It's super simple to make which means you can quickly and easily whip up multiple batches. That also means there will be plenty of pieces to enjoy at home and still others to tuck inside containers like Rubbermaid's TakeAlongs to share with family and friends.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Hostess Gifts for the Thanksgiving Holiday

When my husband and I got married we came up with a plan on how to divide the holidays between our families. The solution we came up with for Thanksgiving was to spend one year with his family and the next with mine. This year we'll be hitting the road and traveling to eat our Thanksgiving meal at his mom's house. I've already been trying to figure out what kind of hostess gift to take with me. A homemade pie? Or maybe one of the ideas featured below?

Will you also be enjoying a Thanksgiving meal hosted by someone else this year? If so, here are several DIY gift ideas to let your hostess know just how thankful you are for their hospitality. They are simple but lovely ideas that are sure to make your hostess feel appreciated on the day devoted to giving thanks.

Are you the one hosting this year? You'll find that these ideas are perfect to have on hand for your own guests this Thanksgiving. However/wherever you're celebrating, I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful holiday!
1. Thanksgiving Bunting / Lolly Jane
Fabric and wood come together to create this fun garland that anyone would be delighted to receive!

2. Gather Napkin Rings / Bittersweet Walnut Grove
What hostess wouldn't love these adorable bird napkin rings?! Click over to download and print off your own copy of the leaf tags.

3. Orange Soap / Simply Stacie
A package of handmade soap always makes a lovely gift. And I bet the dried orange slices for this soap recipe smell amazing!

4. Pumpkin Roll Bath Salts / Life-n-Reflection
These sweet smelling bath salts are a wonderful gift option. Don't forget to make a batch for yourself to leave out for your own guests to use during the holiday season.

5. Pumpkin Pie Granola / Artful Homemaking
A batch of this tasty granola is a perfect snack to have on-hand for guests on Thanksgiving Day. Packaged up, it also makes a scrumptious hostess gift if you aren't the one hosting this year.

On a more personal note: I know that the blog has been a stream of link parties lately. This week's party post is even coming to you late due to a stomach bug. Yuck! I know! (I backdated it for Wednesday to keep from confusing everyone on what day it is supposed to post, but it's really Friday when I'm writing this.) Week after week the only post I've managed to get up has been this weekly link party.

The tragedy that our family faced back in May has left the whole family struggling. Grief is a difficult road to walk and the effects have been felt in every area of my life--including with the kids. I've had three heartbroken kiddos with their own insecurities and grief. As much as I LOVE this little blog of mine, stepping back from it to focus on our children, our home, and myself felt like the right thing to do. I've had to drop the ball on a lot of things related to the blog, but this time of refreshment was much needed. I'm limping forward though. God's peace and sustaining presence continue to wrap around our family and allow us to keep trudging forward one moment at a time.

With the holidays coming up, it's especially hard. My dad and my sister Allison always loved this time of year. Daddy could whip up the creamiest mashed potatoes you ever did taste and expertly carve that turkey on Thanksgiving. After he passed away, Allison was the 'glue' that held our holiday season together and encouraged us to keep our family traditions going. She LOVED the holidays and was a gift-giving extraordinaire! Anyone who ever received a gift from her knows how true that statement is--especially her handmade presents! I always tried to rival her on her gift-giving talent but often fell short. I saw the perfect gift for her on Instagram the other day and burst into tears thinking about how she isn't here with me anymore. My heart aches for her. Some wounds may never heal on this side of heaven. All I ever want during the holidays is to have my family close to me, and the thought of the empty places around this year's holiday table is heartbreaking.

I write all this to share a tiny glimpse of what we've been facing and to explain why things have been so slow here on the blog. Thank you for bearing with me. Last month one of my recipes went viral across Facebook and my stats were soaring higher than EVER. What a blessing! (It was this recipe if you are interested.) I try not to get caught up in all of that, but I felt like the boost in numbers during this down time gave me further permission to step away from the hustle and bustle of running a blog. It was as though the blog was running itself without me and that took a huge weight off my shoulders.

I'd like to encourage you to do something here in the final months of this year. Find a way to love on someone who is grieving this holiday season. Even if they don't say it, they need to know people are there for them. The holidays reopen the wounds of a grieving heart. Do you know a widow, heartbroken parent, or grieving friend that could use some extra love this holiday season? Give them the gift of your time, friendship, a listening ear, and maybe even a shoulder to cry on. In all the merriment, there are people around us who are hurting. You can be a blessing to them this holiday season!

Don't forget to hug your family extra tight too. I know all too well that we are never guaranteed a single day more with the ones we love. Thanks again, friend, for following along! I have some great ideas in the works for future posts. I'm in my happy place when I crafting and creating, and I can't wait to share more of that with you very soon.

Now it's time for...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

DIY Gift Ideas and Weekly Link Party

I love handmade gifts at the holidays--giving and receiving them! There is just something extra special about those presents that come carefully crafted and wrapped. Whipping up a batch of homemade gifts for family, friends, and neighbors is an inexpensive but thoughtful way to spread some holiday cheer.

Make the season merrier by crafting up a few of these super simple DIY gifts. Simple? Yes! But any one of them is sure to wow the lucky recipient. So without any further delay, here are five DIY gift ideas for the holidays that are quick and easy enough for even those who feel less than crafty. Happy crafting and happy giving!
1. Reversible Holiday Banners / Lolly Jane
From Halloween to New Year's Day, these garlands are perfect to use for multiple seasons. Boo! becomes Joy! and Merry! turns to Happy! as you ring in a brand new year. What a fun gift these would make!

2. Berry Tree Cards / White House Crafts
Who doesn't love glitter?! These cards are oh so sparkly and perfect for kids to make too!

3. Fleece Hand Warmers / Gluesticks Blog
These hand warmers are super cute and only take five minutes to make. How's that for simple?!

4. Snowball Soap / Gluesticks Blog
Throw these snowball soaps into some cute packaging, you have a practical and fun handmade gift for kids and adults alike.

5. Hot Chocolate Sticks / Gluesticks Blog
Whip up a batch of these and you have a sweet gift for all of the neighbors on the block!

Now it's time for...

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Fall Brunch Recipes and Weekly Link Party

Brunch has always been a favorite for my family. In fact we're enjoying a delicious brunch hosted my my mom later today. My sister and I grew up with a mother who could whip up the most scrumptious breakfast but she was also know to frequently treat us to brunch later in the day and even breakfast for dinner. Who wouldn't love eating pancakes during the middle of the day?!

Are you wanting to gather your own family together for a brunch filled with delicious breakfast goodies? Here are 8 recipe ideas to recreate for you own fall brunch. The relaxed pace of a brunch fosters the perfect setting for friends and family to gather together for good food, good conversation, and great company.
1. Easy Homemade Cranberry Sauce / The Gracious Wife
Cranberry sauce is a delicious fall staple. Wouldn't this be wonderful paired with turkey sausage or even spread across a warm buttermilk biscuit.

2. Old Fashioned Buttermilk Biscuits / The Gracious Wife
Speaking of biscuits...these flaky, fluffy ones look delicious! And the recipe seems simple and to recreate.

3. Quick Bread Recipes / Little House Living
Quick breads an ideal food to serve for brunch. And this round-up features 18 delightful recipes to choose from. You'll find the recipe for the Cinnamon Quick Bread pictured above over at My Suburban Kitchen.

4. Turkey, Cranberry, & Brie Quesadillas / Simply Stacie
Does it get any more fall-ish than turkey and cranberries? This simple recipe only calls for four ingredients. Oh, and it's a delicious way to use up some of those Thanksgiving leftovers!

5. Pumpkin Muffins with Ginger and Orange / Your Vibrant Family
So many delicious flavors come together for these fall Paleo muffins. Add a generous helping of shredded coconut and pecans for a crispy, flavorful topping.

6. Simple Cheese and Bacon Quiche / Little House Living
Quiche is one of my favorite foods! I usually make a crust-less version, but this one baked with a homemade pie crust sounds amazing!

7. Pumpkin Protein Muffins / To Simply Inspire
It just wouldn't seem like fall without some pumpkin goodies along the way. Here's a healthy pumpkin treat. These tasty muffins are packed with protein and other wholesome ingredients.

8. Mini Pancake Muffins / Acadiana's Thrifty Mom
These are a great breakfast treat to let the kids help make. Each child could choose the toppings they want for their own delicious pancake muffins. Yum!

Now it's time for...