Tis the season to be HAPPY!

I don’t know what it is about this particular Christmas season, but I find myself having a difficult time locating my happiness.  Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things that bring a smile to my face, but I’m talking about deep down in your soul happiness.  Maybe it’s the state of our world.  Maybe it’s something more personal.  Maybe I miss my family.  I really don’t know for sure, but in the past when I have gone through these kinds of valleys, I find the best way to pop out of them is to focus on the things that really do bring a smile to my face, even when they seem trivial.  So that’s what I’m doing!  Here are the things making me happy these days!

1. Peppermint Americanos

2. The Family Stone

3. Advent

4. Faux fur lined leggings

5. Glitter and sparkle (but let’s be honest…I don’t reserve those only for this time of year)

6. Twinkling lights

7. Cranberries

8. Christmas music on repeat

9. Cheesy ABC Family Christmas movies

10. Gingerbread

11. Ivy’s love of “Frosty the Snowman”

12. Getting Christmas cards in the mail


I have every reason to be happy this cold December month.  And sometimes I just need to remind myself of that by making a list.

Christmas Card 2014

December Photo Challenge-Carols, Festive, Warmth, Giving, and Memories

It’s the day after Christmas!  This season was a good one, full of festivities, fun, friends, laughter, food, merriment, snow, firsts, and thankfulness.

So blessed!

Day 12–Carols

photo 12

This was the scene during Silent Night on Christmas Eve.  This is one of my favorite Christmas carols!  And I love it even more when we’re singing it in church.  Few things sound more beautiful than that many people singing together about such a beautiful night amidst candlelight.  Glory.

Day 13–Festive

photo 1

This was one of the drinks at our annual Christmas Cocktail Party this year.  If it isn’t festive, I don’t know what is!  Gin, cranberry juice, ginger ale, floating cranberries, and mint!  Pretty and delicious!

Day 14–Warmth

photo 10

This girl.  She’s one of the best people I know.  She mans the only coffee hut in Tumalo several days a week.  Every once in awhile our little family drives out to see her and she makes us the epitome of warmth…a hot cup of coffee!  Love her.  Love the coffee she makes.

Day 15–Giving

food basket delivery

For the second year in a row we have delivered food baskets to those in need on Christmas Eve morning.  It has very quickly become one of the things I look forward to most during Christmas.  It’s a great way to give back and it just makes me smile.  We do this with Aaron’s leadership kids from the school, but if we ever stop doing it with them, I think we’ll continue as a family.  I hope that one day Ivy will love it and see the importance of giving too.

Day 16–Memories

photo 11

This is our pastor, Steve Mickel, sharing the Christmas story with the little kids in our church.  It brought back lots of memories for me.  I grew up in a very small church where scenes like this were quite common.  But my church now is quite large, and this is one of the things I love most about it.  They work very hard at making church and community small in a very big atmosphere.  I love and adore my church and am so excited for the day that sweet little Ivy sits up there wide-eyed with her friends Grey, Clara, Lexi and Taylin!


December Photo Challenge-Santa, Tree, Treats and lots of Joy!

I find myself yearning for some peace these days.  If I’m going to be completely honest, this Christmas season has found me in somewhat of an anxious state.  I haven’t really been able to place exactly why this is, but certainly the most recent tragedies have not helped.  This feeling of uncertainty has left me wide eyed at night more times than my tired self would like to admit to most days.

When I was young I had a very hard time sleeping.  I think my parents can attest that it truly became a psychological issue where I would be so worried about not being able to sleep, that I would actually not be able to sleep.  My worry would begin as early as dinner time!  It was really such an awful feeling that I hate even recalling it.  However, my Jesus-loving mother would provide me with Scriptures to read and say when I found myself starting to worry or fear.  When I would calm myself down enough to actually do this, I found such peace in the promises of Jesus.

Here I am…over 20 years later…finding myself in a place where those same Scriptures are bringing me the same kind of peace I needed then.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~ Matthew 11:28-30

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Jesus is so good.

In a world that is so incredibly broken.

He is so very good.

That being said, this photo challenge includes JOY!  And you better believe I found some!

Day 8–Santa

photo 5

This is the closest we got to anything involving Santa this year.  I had good intentions of getting out to do the traditional photo with Santa, but when it came down to it, I just didn’t get it done.  And since Ivy doesn’t understand Santa this year, I figured no harm.  Instead I made this to document her tiny, itty, bitty hand that I will inevitably look back at in years to come and remember how adorably little she was.  Tear.

Day 9–Tree

photo 6

This is my whimsical little apple tree in my back yard, covered in pretty white snow.  Magical.

Day 10–Treats


I have made my fair share of Christmas treats this year.  Christmas cut-out sugar cookies, peppermint bark, dark chocolate cupcakes with peppermint frosting, Christmas M&M cookies, chocolate-peppermint cheesecake bars, and delicious caramel apple cider.  In addition to this, we have been given a ton of Christmas treats as well!  My current favorite is the butterscotch fudge from my dear friend and co-worker.  Holy fudge it’s good!  But these steaming mugs of hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream are a staple treat for Aaron and I during the winter.  It’s the perfect sweet in the evening, and one of my all-time favorite treats!

Day 11–Joy

photo 2

Speaking of joy…these two bring me lots!  This is Ivy and her dear friend Grey at our recent Christmas breakfast with friends at The Lodge in Sunriver.  It was snowy and magical and all things Christmas!  We sat these two down on this giant-backed chair and couldn’t resist snapping a few.  Cute and cute!  Ivy is enamored with Grey.  She loves looking at him, even when he doesn’t look at her. 🙂

Peace this Friday morning to you. ♥

December Photo Challenge-Stockings & Snow

Does anyone else feel like this Christmas season is flying by?  Good grief!  With this most recent snow here in Bend, it’s at least starting to look like the Christmas season!  I’m still hard at work trying to complete this photo challenge.  I have to admit that some of them have been a little difficult to think of creative ways to document just one single word, but it’s been fun.

Day 5–Stockings

photo 3

This is Ivy’s stocking. It’s new.  And it’s pretty.  And it’s perfect for her.  Hanging out of this pretty white stocking is her sweet new Ivy doll that I made for her.  I found the idea here and used this pattern.  Aaron hung this stocking last week and while he was at it he put in enough hooks for our future kids. ♥ Sweet.

Day 6–Snow


This picture isn’t as much about the snow as it is the snowsuit.  It cracks me up!  My grandma sent this for Ivy before she was born and it is totally stylin!  The picture doesn’t truly do it justice. The buttons are big sparkly jewels, and across the chest is written in silver sparkly thread, “Roca Wear” which is definitely a clothing line founded by Jay-Z.  Ahahaha!  So funny!  But it totally lives up to its purpose.  It kept this little girl warm and happy as she experienced the snow for the first time.

Christmas is near, and I don’t know about anyone else, but it just seems sweeter this year.  ♥

Hoping for a white Christmas.

December Photo Challenge–Day 4

It being two weeks into the lovely month of December already, I’m well aware that I am ridiculously behind in this fun little photo challenge.  I’m only on Day 4!!

The Schrader home has been actively trying to fight off a nasty bug for the past week, which means I spent most of my days inside the house with a sad, less than energetic little girl.  But we are finally on the upswing and trying to get all caught up on all the fun Christmas festivities that we missed!

Day 4–Tradition

sugar cookies cookie toppings

Decorating these Christmas sugar cookies is one of the longest standing traditions in my family that I know of.  This cookie recipe was my grandma’s.  My mom made these every year with my sister and I sitting patiently impatiently by waiting to frost, decorate, and make them our own!  After I stopped coming home each year for Christmas, I kept up the tradition and made them for Aaron each year. ♥

This year Aaron and I hosted a little Christmas gathering for our friends.  We decorated these sweet Christmas cookies, watched a Christmas movie and took in all of this season’s merriment that we could.

I can’t wait until Ivy is old enough to help me bake these and then earnestly wait for them to cool so she can frost, decorate, and then enjoy her own.  This is one of my favorite family Christmas traditions that I don’t anticipate ending any time soon.

December Photo Challenge

It’s Monday.  And normally I don’t appreciate Mondays and the fact that it means Aaron is back at work, and life goes from relaxation to schedules and appointments.  However, here’s a few things that are exceptionally great about this particular Monday.

  • Topanga is in town!  Whaaaaaattt?!  That’s right.  Boy Meets World’s very own Topanga has graced Bend with her presence, and I really want to see her.  Katie Scott, you’re with me, right?  Let’s find her and squeal and be giddy about it!
  • Princess Kate is pregnant!  Yay!  I mean, another prince or princess is going to be born.  It’s not every day that happens!
  • I made baked maple bars this morning, and my house smells like a donut shop (post coming soon).
  • It’s December!  And that brings all sorts of merry and bright things.

I found this lovely little December Photo Challenge on Pinterest last month, and decided in my effort to document more intentionally, I would jump in and take this challenge on!

christmas photo challenge

December 1: Lights!


Look at that little bug!  She adores these Christmas lights!  Honestly they could have kept her busy for hours if it wasn’t slightly dangerous to put little glass bulbs in your mouth.  So, so much fun!

December 2: Decorations!


I love decorating for Christmas.  It’s one of my very favorite things to do.  I hope that I never tire of it.  These are photos of my lovely mantle!  O Holy Night is one of my favorite Christmas songs, so I decided to make it a part of my Christmas decor this year.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,

For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn!”

With lyrics like that, how can you not nearly weep with joy at the hope He promises!

December 3:  Gifts!


This is the current state of Christmas gifts in my household right now.  Ha!  I have not wrapped a single one!  In fact, most of these are from Gigi and G-Daddy, and Ivy’s great-grandma Millie. 🙂  Aaron and I decided to adopt the 4-gift rule for Ivy and any future little ones.

  • Something you want
  • Something you need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

It simplifies things a little, and really helps us to be more intentional about what we are purchasing instead of going crazy!  We are almost done shopping for little Ivy!

This photo challenge is going to be fun. 🙂  I’m already loving it!  Happy Monday everyone!