Searching For Sunshine In The Rain....A Few Favorites

Somehow the days turned to weeks and then months.  I backed away from my writing home because my mind and heart knew it couldn't be a priority in the moment, and before I knew it four months had passed.  So much has been going on personally the last few months that I mentally just couldn't put pen to figurative paper.

And so I stopped writing.

Maybe I should have kept going for my own sanity.  But for now at least the fog has started to clear and I'm ready to get back at it in my corner of the internet. 

And what better way than to share a few of my favorite things that have brought sparks of laughter and joy through some overly cloudy months?

*As always I'll include links to make it easy to find my favorites - some may be affiliate links that support the blog, at no extra cost to you*

TopShop Clear Panel Mom Jeans 

These reviews (which Nordstrom has since taken off their website) are side-splitting. I guess the designer must have been tired of showing off the same old skin on the runway, so why not be an exhibitionist of knees?  This is seriously a must read - just set your drink down first!  I thought for sure these were a joke, but nope! You can find them on Nordstrom's website....so clearly someone is buying them!  Except think they are probably model fashionistas.  That aren't moms.  And what a bargain at only $95 - a steal!

Poldark

Somehow I missed the first season of Poldark when it hit the US scene on PBS a few years ago.  It has been on my list of shows to watch one day, since I've never met a BBC production I didn't like.  But I could never find it streaming -  such a first world crisis.  So my solution?  Buy both of the seasons as a Valentine's gift for my better half (as built in at-home TV watching date nights)......which may have been just a tad for myself (I'm selfish..what can I say)?  But in all seriousness, it's a much more manly than the Bronte or Austen adaptations I usually lean towards.

AND WE GOT HOOKED.  We watched both seasons in two weeks - I haven't stayed up so late since I was in college, but it was just so addicting.  I've made it my personal mission to recommend this to everyone because it is the best TV I may have ever seen....as in it has bypassed my true movie love, the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice......and that's saying something!  I've been stalking for when PBS will air season 3, but alas we keep waiting for more Ross & Demelza.  My Dad even bought the first book in the series of novels that was the basis for the show, so you know I'll be borrowing that ASAP!

*Head's up - Aidan Turner is in the running to be the next James Bond against Tom Huddleston.  Fingers crossed Huddleston gets it or the Poldark legacy may end after Season 3!!

SheReadsTruth Bible

SheReadsTruth (SRT) had been hinting on Instragram over the last few months about having developed a Bible. I preordered it last week & it came today from Amazon....I've not been so excited to check the mail in years.  It is so beautiful!  The illustrations are so well done, but more importantly they chose a quality translation (the new CSB) which is meant to be a readable text that is translated from the original languages (not a translation of a translation).  You can check out their website for a few videos to show you more about the inside of the Bible & the translation itself. Or you can see a bunch of close ups I took on my Instagram feed today (@thehomemadefig).

How beautiful is the embossing on the gold embossing?!?

How beautiful is the embossing on the gold embossing?!?

I ordered the SRT Poppy Linen Bible, but there are multiple other cover options (apparently the leather they chose feels like the best of leather handbags!).  Plus there is the option to get an indexed version (the finger indentions that help you find each book of the Bible).  

Sure I love my Ryrie Study Bible handed down from my mom, but I'm excited to start using this one too in my Bible Study as a different translation for comparison.

I promise a more beautiful Bible has never been made.  The beauty only accentuates the perfection that is God's word. 

I promise a more beautiful Bible has never been made.  The beauty only accentuates the perfection that is God's word. 

Cascara Latte's

Most of the new drinks these days at Starbucks are just too sweet for my black coffee taste.  But the "mascara latte" as we call it around these parts has become my go to on our Sunday morning pre-church coffee stops.  Except I need an extra espresso shot - mandatory to mellow the sugar for my tastebuds.  I know this has gotten mixed reviews overall but I'm hoping it sticks around.

Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb

I've been in a podcast listening routine lately but was getting tired of princess music during all my car rides with my little one.  I'd heard good things about Ellie's new album, and those reviews were spot on.  Such a great album - my favorite track by far is 'Find You Here'.

I'm not gonna lie - I first heard of Ellie a few years ago when she performed with her husband (Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors) when he opened up for NeedToBreathe in Charlottesville.  And I thought she was straight up crazy.  Thinking back it was probably just her being super passionate about her music & that she was just ALL. IN.  {I'm talking running around and slinging her hair around more than at a Rolling Stones concert}.  So it took me a while to build up enough nerve to take a listen & get past my preconceived ideas of her music, but I'm so glad I did!  

LIVE PD

Looking back, I'm not sure at what point I started watching COPS with my dad.  Probably too young.  But I loved doing things with my Dad and I've been known to be a bit headstrong.  While vacationing with my parents recently, he turned on LivePD, and I should probably be ashamed to say I'm hooked.  Basically it's COPS, but aired live every Friday & Saturday night on A&E.

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Last week viewers noticed someone throwing drugs out of the driver's window, so the officer was able to go back to the exact spot, find the drugs, & charge the guy.  THANKS TO TWITTER.  Boom.  Take that social media. Proof you really can be used for good. 

Guys.  Tell me all the things.  What are you reading? Watching? Eating? Listening to? Bring on what's bringing sunshine on your tough days - I need all the sunshine I can get!

Fun Ways to Introduce Advent to Toddlers

I love Christmas & everything about it.  The Hallmark movies.  The lights.  Even the crowded checkout lines - I'm weird like that.  And I want to help my 2 year old love it all as much as I do - and it's not hard to really with all the music, presents, & reindeer everywhere we turn.  

But I want to be sure I am introducing the real reason for Christmas in an age appropriate way.  I've searched the internet high & low and decided on three different methods to start in the coming weeks to help keep our eyes & hearts focused on our Savior this season.

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First up is the advent calendar from Sugar House Shop on Etsy that I introduced a few weeks back.  I've barely started constructing my nativity themed magnetic ornament advent calendar, but I know the last minute push will be worth it!  I loved opening the boxes in the single-use chocolate containing ones we begged for as kids - and hopefully this will help build up some excitement without the sugar rush!

Next is Truth in The Tinsel by Amanda White.  The blogger ohamanda developed this curriculum a few years ago & released an e-book full of coordinating scriptures, crafts, and even printable ornaments to decorate that you can adjust based on the age & interests of your kids.  I've tweaked her plan from a daily advent activity to something will keep the attention span of my little one can tolerate just a few times each week. I'll share my adjustments & activity ideas for a non-scissor using kiddo later this week - be on the lookout!

I'm pretty sure that our new Shepherd on the Search from Dayspring though is going to my daughter's favorite.  Clearly the 'Elf on the Shelf' idea has been a hit since it hit it big years ago. There are girl versions, boy versions, outfits to dress them in, and Pinterest pages full of creative things for him to do.  But you know what I don't want?  A kid who thinks a troublemaking elf is fun.  Or that she should copy his antics.  Nor do I want to scare my child into good behavior.

Maybe I'm taking it too seriously, but my daughter doesn't miss anything.  And I don't want her to start dragging toilet paper through the house because an elf did.  The story that goes along with Dayspring's 'The Shepherd on The Search' is that the angels tell the shepherd of Jesus' birth & he sets off to find baby Jesus in the manger.  He can move around every day letting the kids find him - giving us the opportunity as parents to discuss where he's heading & why it matters after we find his hiding spot each day.  Then on Christmas morning, he wakes up in the manger scene that comes inside the box.

I love that this involves so little effort & planning each day...... plus there's no mom punishment if we forget to move the shepherd one day!  

Shepherd on the Search is $29.99 on Dayspring's website, and until 12/31 you can use the code SHINEHISLIGHT for $20 off of a $60 purchase  - and there are a ton of other amazing gift ideas to wrap up your shopping in one fell swoop! (Plus shipping is free over $50!).

There are a number of activities & resources Dayspring developed to go along with your advent celebration that you can find on their website here.   

From one busy mom to another - I hope at least one of these ideas is something you feel like you can try out with your own family this Christmas season!

* Some affiliate links are included in this post to help you head straight to the resources I've shared - I get a small fee for sharing these, but know I'm only sharing things I use & love!

Sugar House Shop - Best of Etsy 2016

Technically my October "Best of Etsy" series is over, but I can't help but share this shop because my excitement over starting my next project is overflowing!

The last month has been insane between blogging daily, regular life, & prepping to participate in my first local vintage maker market.  Let's just say I put too much on my plate and I knew it by October 2nd - but I don't quit!  

I found Sugar House Shop, via Instagram randomly in September & immediately went and bought her 'Star of Wonder' Advent calendar pattern.  Like immediately - because I'm a sucker for a DIY project.

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Our little one is just starting to grasp who Jesus is and I want to be sure we are having age appropriate conversations with her leading up to & explaining Christmas.  I'll share our new alternative-elf-on-the-shelf idea next week, but today I want to share the Nativity Advent calendar that we will use for years to come!

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

The directions are clear & illustrated so it's easy to follow for a beginner or expert sewer.  The base of the calendar can be machine sewn, but the individual pieces are hand sewn.  My favorite part of this is that the pieces are all magnetic!   I love this so much, it will be a highlight of our holiday decorating to make it front & center.

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

I'll be honest, the pattern is affordable, but buying all the supplies cost a bit more than I had anticipated.  I used the shops she suggested, mostly because I didn't have time to prance around town looking for all the supplies this month, which I'm sure would have cut my costs. Here's a visual of how it starts out on December 1st.....

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

I'm just so stinking excited to spend time crafting something that is educational, fun, and won't involve treats or candy to help walk us up to Christmas day, I could burst!  Bring on next week when I can get started!

There are lots of other countdown calendars in her shop for birthdays & even Halloween - I've read that the birthday ice-cream cone pattern is a great beginner pattern if the thought of basic sewing scares you!

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Photo used with permission from Sugar House Shop

Jennifer from Sugar House Shop has offered a free heart cake topper pattern that you can try if you have fears of stitching  - you can get that pattern by clicking here.

You can also watch this video that highlights the making of these heirloom advent calendars - click here for that.

So put on your favorite Christmas music & sew with me friends!  Check out Sugar House Shop for all her felt countdown calendars.  Now, if only she'd create a Disney countdown you'd know I'd be first in line for that one!  Watch my Instagram account for updates on my progress next week once I get started!