My Christmas Recap

This Christmas was such a blessing. I spent several days in celebrations with friends and family whose company I cherish. Watching my daughter as she grasped the true meaning of Christmas this year was priceless. She sang songs about Jesus’ birth and relayed the story of the wise men bringing gifts to Jesus over and over again. Over the past week our family received so many gifts and items that we were so excited about, but above all we were thankful for the gift of Jesus and what that gift has meant for our family.

Later this week we will be heading on a short vacation to Indianapolis where we will be watching the Pacers vs. Bulls NBA game. (A gift from me to my husband.) It’s been a while since we have gone on a trip so even though it isn’t a long one it is much anticipated to get away and make some memories in a new setting.

My daughter received an abundance of gifts. With clothes, multiple pairs of pajamas, Barbies, a bike, art supplies, and quite a few games she is well set for another year.

I am beyond grateful for the gifts I received. My husband purchased some jewelry and a new outfit for me. My big gift from him, however, was two-fold. He sent the first ten pages of my manuscript to author, Mindy McGinnis, who provided critiques and comments. He also heeded her advice and purchased me a year’s membership into SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). This is a national organization which also has a local chapter in Columbus which I will now be able to attend once a month. I’m nervous, but so thankful for the opportunity to network with real authors and illustrators.

I was also blessed with an abundance of other gifts:

It’s easy to focus on the material on Christmas, but this year I really tried to set my eyes on the true meaning of this Holiday. Jesus is the purpose and the reason that we are able to love and appreciate others. With His life he showed us how to treat others and how to accept love. I am so glad to have people to share my love with and to give to them is an expression of Jesus’ love in me.

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

 

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Last Minute Gift Guide

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Six days and counting until the BIG morning. I envy each and every one of you who have finished all of your purchases (not to mention those over achievers out there who have already wrapped your gifts too!)

If your family is anything like mine the next six days will be full of fun gathered with the people you love. Christmas dinners. Church programs. Caroling. Holiday parties with friends. All of these precious moments are truly the reason for the season. One thing that shouldn’t get in the way of these celebrations is the daunting list of gifts that may still need to be purchased.

A quick way to take care of those fashion lovers in your life is to give them the gift of style. Ordering a Stitch Fix gift card takes only a few minutes and the digital gift card will appear in your email inbox.

You can give a gift card to someone who is currently enrolled in the Stitch Fix program or you can provide an opportunity for someone to try it for the very first time. With a Stitch Fix gift card you are allowing your loved ones to create their own style from the selection of informed stylists.

As we head into the final stretch of this Christmas season don’t let gift giving be a stressor. Use my link to the Stitch Fix website and select the gift card option in the upper right hand corner. Ever since I started with Stitch Fix I have been pleased with my shipments and now that I am a Stitch Fix Influencer I may receive compensation for your purchases and for spreading the love of fashion to those of you who cross paths with me in the blogosphere.

Whatever you decide to give this Holiday Season I hope you do so with love and that you remember that the reason for this season isn’t the decking of the halls, the expenses gifts, or the football games, but rather the celebration of the things most dear to our hearts.

Merry Christmas,

The Ameri Brit Mom 

Christmas Crack

A few weeks ago I was dreading the Holiday season as it applies to being gluten-free. Inevitably I would receive invitations to parties with tables filled with baked goods. (Cake, why must you tempt me so?) I’ve been on the prowl for a good gluten-free recipe to use as my go to this season. I’ve tried cookie and cupcake recipes, but I’ve been hard pressed to find one I really like and that I’d be willing to share with others.

This weekend we hosted a game night. This is a somewhat new thing in our family, but we are hoping to form a habit with some of our friends where we get together and play games once a month.

I spent days trying to find a recipe for a Christmas snack to offer at game night. Then, my sister solved my problem when she offered, “Why not make Christmas Crack?” I felt so silly. I was trying to think of some elaborate, brand new recipe when Christmas Crack has been a favorite for years. I love to make and eat this treat every year and all it needed was a small tweak to make it gf friendly.

It was a huge hit at the party by the way. Luckily, I saved back a bag for my family to munch on throughout the week, because my festive Christmas tin was empty by the final hand of Dutch Blitz.

Below is the recipe for gluten free Christmas Crack. Feel free to add pretzels if you are not confined to a gf diet.

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Ingredients: 

-1/2 box of Rice Chex cereal

-1/2 box of Cheerios

-2 bags of Nestle white chocolate chips

-1 bag of M&Ms

-Wax paper

 

Directions: 

  1. Lay two long sheets of wax paper across a table
  2. Dump bags of white chocolate chips into a large bowl. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (in 20 second increments being sure to stir after each set of 20 seconds and DO NOT LET THEM BURN.)
  3. Once the chocolate is smooth and completed melted through, quickly add both cereals and the candy to the bowl. Mix to cover all evenly.
  4. Pour the contents of the bowl onto the wax paper. Spread the contents into a thin layer.
  5. Let sit for 20-30 minutes or until the chocolate has hardened.
  6. Break the mixture into small, bite sized pieces and place into a festive Christmas tin or large Ziplock bag.

This stuff is called Christmas Crack for a reason, people–it’s pretty addictive. Eat at your own risk and enjoy!

The Ameri Brit Mom

Stitch Fix #9

For the first time ever my Stitch Fix actually snuck up on me and I was completely surprised when I found my box on my porch after school. I had been so caught up in my life, new diet, sick child, and school work to remember that it was about time for my next Stitch Fix to arrive.

Around the holiday season I have to tighten the budget a bit so I want you to know upfront that since it had slipped my mind I wasn’t prepared to drop a bunch of money on this Stitch Fix. In the end I only ended up purchasing one piece, but that doesn’t mean I totally hated my items. I was still rather pleased with what I received, but in November I tend to focus more on buying for others than for myself.

Here’s a look into my box.

1. Elisa Dress (Collective Concepts)/Sutro Open Knit Infinity Scarf (Octavia)

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The wrap style dress is so beautiful and elegant. I love the fall hues and the fit of this piece. It’s a dress that can so easily go from professional to casual with the right accents. It pairs perfectly with the color of the scarf. I only ended up buying the dress, but if I had more of a budget to work with the scarf would have been my second choice. The color is very hot right now and it could be worn so many ways.

2. Rufus Crew Neck Blouse (41 Hawthorn)

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I wasn’t a huge fan of the fit of this top. My torso is a bit long so the panel for the shirt hit in an awkward place. The black panel at the bottom was see through and I just felt like the whole top was unflattering to my body shape/figure. I loved the color scheme. Black and white tops are so easy to accessorize  and dress up, but I just felt like the fit of this top made it one not worth purchasing.

3. Locklyn Cowl Neck Pullover (RD Style)

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This was another top that didn’t fit quite right. The shirt was too short for my torso, so much so that if I were to lift my hands my stomach would show. It was an instant “no” for me for that very reason. If it was longer, I would have liked the concept. It was cute and warm.

4. Hampton Corduroy Skinny Jean (Edyson)

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I will spare you the image of myself wearing these pants. They did not quite fit. I’m not sure if it is due to the fact that they are skinny jeans, but they were tight in all the wrong places.

It was kind of disappointing that only two pieces actually fit in this Stitch Fix, but it’s probably better for my bank account that it worked out that way. I really didn’t have the cash to buy my whole box this go around so I was happy with the outcome. I did not leave a note for my stylist this time around (like I said, it slipped my mind.) It is important to communicate your wishes with your stylist so I blame myself for the fact that I didn’t end up loving more of my pieces.

**It is also important to note that if I had wanted to there is now an option to exchange pieces on the Stitch Fix site when you go to check out. If there is a piece you love, but it is in the wrong size you can select to exchange it free of charge.

If you are thinking about giving Stitch Fix a try or know someone who is unsure about it, and you want to give them a chance to try it risk-free there are two links below for you.

First, if you want to give it a try use this link to sign up. By using my link you give me credit for referring you to Stitch Fix. I am currently a Stitch Fix Influencer which means I may be compensated for this blog post and/or your signing up if you use my link.

Secondly, if you know someone who already has Stitch Fix or is thinking about giving it a try you can give the gift of Stitch Fix for Christmas. Use this link to purchase a gift card. Once on the website, click on the Gift Cards tab.I will receive 15% commission if you use this link so I would appreciate if you used it when making a gift card purchase.

Stitch Fix has been a rewarding experience for me. I almost always love the entire box that I receive and I’ve been featured on some of their social media for my posts and experiences with the company. Let me know if you have any Stitch Fix questions.

Happy Holidays!

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The Ameri Brit Mom

 

Five Minute Friday: Break

This week the topic for the Five Minute Friday link-up post is Choose your own. So I chose my post to be on the idea of Break. What is a link-up? Essentially a link-up is when you join other bloggers and write on a similar topic. You share your blog posts with one another and begin conversations via a host site. You can head over to Kate Motaung’s page to check out other entries from inspired bloggers. Here’s my five minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing on this week’s topic:

It is now officially Christmas break for my husband and I. No words can accurately describe the feeling of turning my keys in my classroom lock for the last time in 2015. I stayed a little later after school today to ensure a completely work-free vacation and so I am thrilled to say that there will be no grading or lesson planning happening in my life between now and January 5!

In light of the Holiday season and the break that I have just entered I decided to make a Bucket List today of all the things I would like to accomplish between now and my far-off return to the classroom.

  1. Netflix Binging: Aside from reading, Netflix is the best tool for helping me unwind and de-stress. My husband, Arianna, and I have been looking forward to a few evenings of snacks in the living room and a couple of episodes of favorite shows.
  2. Finish writing draft 1 of my novel: I still have an end goal in mind for my novel and that is to finish draft 1 by January 1. I’m about four chapters shy of that goal currently so we will see what the next two weeks hold for the future of the novel.
  3. Read 3 books: Although I have read a couple books this school year it is increasingly difficult to read as much as I’d like the further I get into the year. I have a “to-read” list that I’m looking forward to putting a dent in this break. Currently, I’m finishing up I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. I love it so far and will let you know what I think when it is finished.
  4. View holiday lights: Every year we like to journey to Lancaster, Ohio to a lovely home light show. We always stop at Starbucks, get warm drinks, and then drive through the light display. It’s a beautiful property lined with animated LED lighting. This is a fun family tradition. We also may end up at the Columbus Zoo Wildlights this weekend which is another beautiful and festive display.
  5. Take Arianna to see Santa: To be honest we’ve never done this before. This year is the first Christmas where she has asked to visit St. Nick so we are going to carve out some time to stop in and see him at his house in downtown Circleville. That will be the beginning of a new family tradition I suppose.
  6. Christmas Baking: Need I say more? It isn’t the holidays without a kitchen lined with goodies.

When I’m not working on part of my Bucket List  I will be totally relaxing, enjoying time with the people who mean the most to me, and not thinking about work.

Five Minute Friday is taking a break over the next couple of weeks. Below is a schedule of the link-ups in the making.

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What are your plans this season?

Giving Back This Christmas

As a parent it is scary how easily the Holiday season can become overwhelming. Between all the gift buying, family gatherings, and Christmas programs December can easily become a month void of free time and short of rest.

This Holiday season I am putting in extra effort to ensure that even as things get busy that I never lose focus on the purpose of all this mayhem. After all, if it wasn’t for the birth of Jesus there would be no crucifixion, and no salvation. That salvation, by the way, was the best gift I ever received. Much better than anything I ever unwrapped on Christmas morning.

So in light of the sacrifice made for me by my Savior I am in search of ways to sacrifice for others this season.

Here are some ideas if you are looking for ways to give back this holiday season:

  1. Church gift drops: Every church who participates in a gift drop does so in a different way. My church usually takes part in the Operation Christmas Child gift drop, but this year we have shifted our focus to a more local organization out of Columbus, Ohio. My church is in a partnership with the Stowe Mission in downtown Columbus which is currently preparing to open a Crisis Pregnancy Clinic. They are in need of new items that come along with the territory and so our church is focusing our outreach efforts this Christmas in providing resources for this organization. If you are interested in giving to the Stowe Mission please click on the Stowe Mission link above for a list of materials needed.

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2. School Inquiries: Being a teacher I have heard many stories about people who have called into their local district and asked for any needs from families in the schools. Sometimes the school counselors can provide family needs anonymously. I’ve never actually served in this way, but I have a friend who does this annually and says it’s a huge blessing to know that she is meeting the real needs of a family in crisis. Last year she helped a family who had recently lost their home and belongings in a fire and gave that family hope during a very difficult time.

3. Cooking or Serving in a Soup Kitchen: When I was in youth group I remember serving alongside my peers in soup kitchens on various occasions. This is a truly humbling experience and gives you the chance to also meet a real and immediate need of members in your community. Depending on where you live many soup kitchens struggle to open on holidays like Christmas so if this piques your interest be proactive and get in touch with your local soup kitchen soon to offer your services.

4. Adopt-a-Family: This is another ministry offered mostly through churches, but occasionally school groups, clubs, and organizations will take part in taking up the requests of local families who are met with hard times. Adopt-a-Family programs oftentimes focus on gifts specific to child genders and ages so check with a local organization before purchasing anything.

5. Toys 4 Tots: This is a national charity with thousands of collection points around the country. They collect new toys to be donated to children in need. Check out their mission and link below for a list of drop off points or suggested items:

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

My challenge to you this year is to find a charity or project that you can give back to this Holiday season. Giving back during this time of the year serves as a reminder to the reason behind Christmas and keeps us from getting too focused on ourselves and our schedules. If you are planning to give back this year I would love to hear about how and where you plan to do so. I’m always looking for new ideas for getting involved in the community whether that be locally or on a national level.

How are you giving back this Christmas season?

 

 

Scally on the Loose

This Christmas season has been exciting and full of surprises. Arianna is three and loving everything about Christmas preparations. She enjoys picking out presents for her family members. During the annual tree decorating she took charge and told us where to hang each of her special ornaments. Each day when I pick her up from the sitter she requests a jam session to the local Christmas Radio Station for the car ride home. And she has been absolutely tickled by our introduction of Elf on the Shelf to this year’s festivities.

Her elf made an appearance for the first time on the day after Thanksgiving and without skipping a beat Arianna named the elf, “Scally, because it’s short for Scalawag.” Okay, maybe we need to start limiting Jake the Pirate in this house.

That night, Scally left Arianna a note and explained that every night while Arianna is asleep Scally goes to the North Pole and reports to Santa about her. She will return just before the sun rises and then will be frozen wherever she is and fall asleep. All of us (mom and dad included) have had a blast keeping this little story alive for Arianna. Each morning she awakes with excitement and searches the house high and low for her new elf friend. I thought I would share some photos of what our elf has been up to.

There are some super creative ideas out there on Pinterest and I’m excited to get a little more crafty once I’m out of school for Christmas break. Two more weeks!!!