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It is the end of the week and I don’t want to order pizza for the family.  I was thrilled that the Dave’s Gourmet products had come in the mail- dinner was solved!  The company was great to work with, prompt and has wonderful customer service.

Knowing that I needed a quick yet tasty dish, I decided to pair my butternut pasta with a butternut squash sauce by Dave’s Gourmet.  I am not one for jar sauces, I like to make everything from scratch.  But I will tell you- this sauce is fabulous!  Usually I tweak the sauces with extra of this or that, but with Dave’s Gourmet- there was no need to.  This saves any mom the time in prepping food!

Here is my two step process for
this recipe:

1. Boil butternut squash pasta till cooked.  Drain.  2.  Warm and pour Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce over the pasta.  That’s IT!  Pair with vegetables, and italian bread.

It tasted smooth and savory with a slight touch of sweetness.  It paired very well with the pasta and would go great with chicken and fresh vegetables as sides.  This is a fantastic go-to meal.  The thing I liked about it is that I didn’t have to worry if the quality would be there.  It was, and that is a relief for any mom or dad trying to put together a fast and delicious meal for their family.

We still have 1/2 a jar left, so check back and see what other creation I come up with for this sauce!  I would definately seek this out in the store and buy.

For more information on Dave’s Gourmet products please visit their website at http://www.davesgourmet.com.  You can also find them on social media at: http://www.facebook.com/davesgourmet and @davesgourmet on twitter.

Disclaimer:  Products were received complimentary by the company.  The opinions in this review are my own. 


Football season is now upon us!  In our house we love USC Trojans and ASU Sun Devils.  Below is a deco mesh wreath I created to show our support for both teams.  Colors can be changed out and ribbon adjusted to match your favorite team.  The process was simple and I found everything at the local craft store for under $40 total.


USCASUwreath2  USCASUwreath3F

First I painted the letters, while they were drying I used red/maroon and yellow/gold deco mesh on a circluar wire wreath.  I start with the large deco mesh first then work my way around with accents of the yellow.

Next I made a bow at the top and wired in the craft store football find.  Then I tied at each wire space a corresponding smaller ribbon to hide the wire/deco mesh gaps.  Lastly, I hot glue gunned the letters to the wreath.

Took a little over an hour all together to create.  On Etsy you can find corresponding team ribbons, I may go and add a touch of them to the creation! 


Summer is just upon us and with that are thoughts of popsicles, watermelon, fireworks and all things patriotic.  Below you will find a how-to tutorial on making this fabulous patriotic wreath.  Feel free to change colors, or find your own symbols to hang from the wreath such as fireworks or patriotic hearts instead of stars.  This was my first attempt making this style of a wreath and I was not disappointed!  I think it’s the beginning of many more to come.

patrioticwreath1Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Roll (15 ft) burlap 4-6″ wide in neutral and red

1 Roll blue wired burlap ribbon, 2-4″ wide

Patriotic swag (stars, hearts, letters) to hang from top center

1 Wired wreath, your choice of size.  Mine was about 14″ in diameter

Floral wire or small gauge wire


Step 1:

Place and secure wire around burlap as pictured above.


Step 2:

Secure wire to inner circle of wire wreath as pictured above.


Step 3:

Every 6-8 inches of burlap, grab and center the burlap by pinching it together, wire it to the wreath’s inner circle as pictured above.
Continue to do this for the entire circle of the wreath until you end up back at the beginning.


Step 4:

Take the red burlap and repeat in a similar way, this time adding the red burlap to the center wire of the wreath.
Try to place the pinched section of the red to the middle of the neutral burlap as pictured above.


Step 5:

Take the blue burlap ribbon and intertwine it in the empty spaces between the neutral and red burlap.

Pinch the ribbon in the same manner and attach with floral wire to the wire wreath on its most outer edge.

Step 6:

When all the burlap and ribbon has been attached and the blank spaces filled, pick the top of your wreath.
Attach with wire or hot glue gun the swag at the top.  A large bow made be made with the blue ribbon as well if desired.

WaLA!  You have your own patriotic wreath.


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There is no doubt that the beaches of Jacksonville, FL are beautiful and fun to visit.  My daughter loves our sand time!  But for the fall through spring months there is still much to do in Jacksonville.  Here is a highlight of where to eat and two premier locations to take your family.


Where to eat:

While Jacksonville has just about every chain restaurant you can imagine (and I do love many, including the Cheesecake Factory at St. John’s Towne Center!) there are a couple hidden gems that are worth stopping by.  The first is a favorite among locals, the San Marco Metro Diner.  This is a breakfast hotspot and is open from 7am-2:30 daily with three Jacksonville locations.  It features delicious breakfast and lunch items from waffles and fried chicken to my personal favorite, eggs benedict.  They serve a variety of sandwiches, salads and the ever important espresso!



The next location is not far from Metro Diner, it is in the San Marco business district just south of downtown, Vino’s Pizza Grill.  They have multiple locations throughout southeast Florida, but still feel like a down home mom and pop italian restaurant. Catch them early for a great lunch pasta and pizza buffet or order traditional menu items for a great dinner.



Next we have two great places to take the family.  The first is the Jacksonville Zoo. They are open year round and feature a wonderful variety of animals, gardens, carousel and train ride.  Starting in March they will have a special butterfly exhibit.  Here’s a highlight of some of our favorite animals from the trip:





Next we have the exquisite Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens.  This is a wonderful venue to visit, with both indoor and outdoor features it is perfect for any type of weather conditions and all ages.  I especially enjoyed the permanent galleries, with their collection of works from ancient Greece, medieval, and baroque paintings.    There are contemporary exhibits as well and a delightful children’s gallery where my daughter enjoyed hands-on art education learning.  Here are just a few of the beautiful works we saw in the galleries.


Agnolo Gaddi, Madonna of Humility with Angels, mid 1390′s


Peter Paul Rubens, The Lamentation of Christ, c. 1605

We also spent some time in the beautiful gardens.  They are breathtaking.  Each season brings its own beauty, we caught the garden in early spring.  The Cummer Museum features both a traditional Italian garden and an English garden.  We spent a considerable amount of time despite the cold that day wandering its paths and enjoying the scenery.  Then we moved inside to the museum cafe for a warm up of hot chocolate!  The cafe features salad, sandwiches and more- a great place to rest as you spend hours enjoying the museum.


English Garden at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens


The Oak Tree view from the Italian Garden at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens 


This is our first year doing a Jesse Tree, I’ve been wanting to do one for a few years.  I am excited about sharing this tradition with my family, I think it will be a great way to keep us centered on Christ this season.  For more ideas on Keeping Christ in Christmas, see a great link up of articles HERE.

Here’s a tutorial on how to make your own Jesse Tree Ornaments.  We used the templates from Ann Voskamp’s Book: The Greatest Gift.  I am in no way affiliated with her book.  Upon purchasing her book you are given the code to download free printable Jesse Tree ornaments for personal use.  Here is how we took these beautiful white printables and made them into lasting treasures.

1.  Print the printables on high quality cardstock in color.

2.  Get 25 round ornaments, print to size that will fit.

3.  Get enough paper for the backing of the ornaments, about
5-7 full size scrapbook sheets.

4.  Trace so the printable covers the round ornament.  Cut to size.

5.  Modge podge the printable to the ornament on one side.


6.  Trace the scrapbook paper, modge podge it to the back side of the ornament.


7.  Take the modge podge and ensuring the printable is smoothly attached, modge podge the front of the printable ornament.


8.  Repeat with other ornaments.  Let the front dry, then modge podge the back side on the top of the scrapbook paper.

9.  To complete the look, take a matching paint, I used cream/beige and paint the edges of your ornaments.


10.  Let dry and wrap up as a special gift to open each day during December.  May Jesus’s love be with you!


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Deployments whether sudden or expected are never convenient.  They challenge us to grow in ways that we never imagined our families could grow.  One of the best tools I have used in parenting and to keep the momentum up during a deployment has been with deployment counters.  While we must stay flexible to changes, the counter will also stay flexible  and give a general idea of progress which helps the days go by.  For children it makes it more visible and tangible that daddy or mommy is returning home, and as the days get shorter on the calendar then we know it’s going to be soon!  Here are some fun and crafty ways to do your own deployment count-down.

Also be sure to check out the special deployment counter giveaway we have this month from Stick With Me Vinyls at: Giveaways or at the bottom of this article.

Blessings Jar

I’ve mentioned it before, but during a long remote, the regular counter became overwhelming at first.  The blessings jar did the trick.  We fill a jar with blessing marbles or stones and each night say 1-3 things we count as our blessings.  At the end of the deployment we have counted “up” a multitude of blessings!


Tried and true deployment counter.

This one is made by Stick With Me Vinyls of Wasilla, AK
It features days until on one side and weeks until on the other- for a variety of deployment situations. My daughter has enjoyed flipping the blocks to get to the right day- ever closer to daddy being home!


Kisses & Moments

This next idea is wonderful, especially for school aged children.  It comes to us from Oursevendwarfs.com.
The first part is each day the child gets a “kiss” from daddy/mommy.  Then they can place special momentos in the box to later tell their mother or father about items or experiences that meant alot to them while they were gone.



Countdown Tree by Amanda Telesco
This next one is beautiful for the home, and would be fairly easy to make.  Find a rod iron tree and tie yellow ribbons on it, one for each month they are gone.
Then at the end of the month, take the ribbon off to mark the end of the month until no ribbons are left and they return!
Events for Kids
  A visual deployment calendar that is all about milestones by Singing In The Rain blog.  This is just too cute and is great for younger kids!
Instead of numbers and days, track the milestones such as holidays and trips until they see mommy or daddy again.
Simple & Cute  
This simple and elegant countdown is great because it is easy enough to put your favorite photo in a frame and features “my mommy is home” for all our female veterans as well as a “my love is home” for those without children.
They are brought to us by Thelittlebrownboot on Etsy.
Sweet Nothings, Sweet Memories.
This next idea comes also via Singing In The Rain from a blog titled Beautiful In His Time.
It is a beautiful daily calendar where you print out sweet sentiments, photos or memories of your deployed member for each day.
What a wonderful way to make a deployment more memorable and uplifting!
Across The Miles
The blog So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler has a fabulous 90 day count-down chain!
The key is to stay flexible with it, add chains if needed but roughly about 90 days out begin the countdown.  Younger kids will love the anticipation and enjoy making the links.soyoucallyourselfahomeschooler
Pictures Say A Thousand Words
Our last idea of the roundup is certainly not the least!  It comes to us from SomeCanterburyTales blog and is a wonderful idea.
Take a photo of yourself and your kids with signs saying the month of the deployment that is done, then you can send to your loved one or add to a scrapbook.
Possibilities are endless, you could use on Christmas cards or make a photo collage for when the deployment is over!
Do you have a favorite countdown idea?  If so, leave your idea in the comments below! 
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If you’ve read my post: Keep Christ in Christmas you will know, I LOVE Christmas cards!  And with that comes the holiday letter.  I love finding out what everyone has been up to throughout the year, and sharing our story with others.  Here are some fun Christmas printables designed in part by On The Way Home.  They are free for your personal use.  They are measured to fit an 8×10 image and should do well with a boarder on 8×11 paper.  Enjoy!

1.  Noel Letter

noel2. Ornaments! Free Printable

ornaments3. Red Holiday Background

redletter4. Green Holly & Lace

greenholly5. Candyland Free Printable




If you’re looking for a light summery cupcake without alot of fuss but full of delicious lemon flavor, this recipe link is for you!
On The Way Home baked according to Sally’s Baking Addiction and they turned out fantastic.

Take a peak at her wonderful blog and visit:  Sally’s Baking Addiction for the full recipe. 



Welcome to our Holiday Blog Tour!  The following blogs have teamed up to give you a variety of ideas from home decor to tips on how to make your tree stay fresh.  There’s something for everyone in the mix!  Grab a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa and enjoy the tour.  Merry Christmas!

The tour includes:
On The Way Home  featuring a Holiday Home Tour
Life Of A Traveling Navy Wife  featuring A Harley Davidson Holiday
Jessica Lynn Writes featuring A DIY Felt Christmas Tree for Toddlers
Campfires and Cleats featuring their 10 Traditions for Advent and Christmas
Adventures Of A Frugal Mom featuring Decorating With Ribbon
Back On Land featuring 7 Tips For Keeping Your Christmas Tree Beautiful!
Candypolooza featuring Holiday Fun In San Angelo

I started on this feature more than a month ago, pre-turkey.  The time is flying by and we are already entering the second week of December, the second week of advent.  I am trying not to get lost in the frenzy, just getting this post up for y’all is a challenge.  Thanks for being here with me to journey through some of the projects I’ve done for our family and some of the sights of Christmas around our house.

Let us always remember- God incarnate, is the true reason for this time of year.  He continues to challenge me with priorities and gives grace to handle what each day brings.

To start off this season with that focus, we created a dollar store advent candle display.  See the full feature HERE.

Next my daughter helped me make custom birchwood ornaments with birch provided by Esty shop Ourlifeinthewoods.  See the full feature HERE.


Which leads us to the beauty of the Christmas tree!  We merged traditions this year and while we have many Jesse Tree Ornaments left from last year, we combined it with Savior themed ribbon and the birchwood ornaments.  It left us with a stunning look.



We kept the tree skirt simple by using just gold mesh fabric to wrap around the base.


This brings us to the mantle.  I used an old window and some chalkboard holiday themed printables to create this wonderful array of Christmas cheer.  I also added garland and some holiday “swag” above the window.



I used left over ribbon and trimmings to create a simple but elegant pine centerpiece.


Now we’ll go outside to wreaths, vignettes and more.  We continued the birchwood theme with some birch found at a local craft store.  Then implemented it into planters to carry over the look.




I searched high and low for the perfect Christmas pillow to accent our bench with.  This “merry and bright” pillow was perfect!  And was used courtesy of Etsy shop: Browneyedgirlsdesigns






We’ll end this tour with the most important part, our nativity.  We keep it simple with just the sillouette showing, and with white holiday lights surrounding it, it sets the focal point on the meaning of the season.  From our home to yours- have a Merry Christmas and be inspired!




*Disclosure: the following article is a paid advertisement.  The views of the shops represented and of On The Way Home are their own.

One of the best items to get any woman on your list is definitely jewelry! What gal doesn’t want added bling? Jen Carey of the Etsy shop, The Modern Bazaar is one jewelry designer you will love. Let’s take a look at her process and products!

1. What has inspired you to create jewelry and where do you get daily inspiration from? I am inspired everyday by the meaning behind the jewelry I am making. I adopted my 2 precious children from Russia and had the latitude and longitude of the place I adopted them from tattooed on the back of my neck. This later inspired me to create jewelry that could commemorate special events for people. I also made some special pieces when my father passed away and found so much comfort in wearing that jewelry everyday. I am inspired everyday by the meaning behind the jewelry I am making.

2. What makes your jewelry or process unique? I make every single piece of jewelry by hand from start to finish. I stamp each letter and symbol and truly put my heart into each thing I make.

3. What are your favorite picks for the holidays?

The Gold Latitude & Longitude Bracelet.  This is the perfect gift to commemorate a meaningful place that has had an impact on your loved one’s life.

Next on the list is the coordinating latitude & longitude ring.  A wonderful addition or stand alone piece to give as a gift.


Lastly, I recommend the Personalized Roman Numeral Pendant.  Have your special day stamped on a classy sleek pendant.  Another fabulous way to commemorate a date of importance with style.

Be sure to check out Jen’s shop for more fantastic gift options.  Order soon to ensure delivery before Christmas!  Her jewelry will be a delighted gift year around too.

Thank you Jen for sharing your shop with us.  Happy Holidays! 

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