presents are fun too.


welcome to day 9 of #12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup here. today’s prompt is “christmas wishlist”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit! share your link below!

i really try to keep the meaning of christmas at the top of mind throughout the season. i give back where i can, i share moments with family and friends, and i give thanks to God for all that i have and pray for the presence of mind to do more for others that don’t have what i do.

and yet, i still like to get presents. and maybe everyone else who writes about their wishlist today will be more selfless than i and write about their wish for the simple things, and i will look like a crazy materialistic person. and that’s okay. but you know what? this is my space and i get to write about what i want to write about.

and i want to write about the little luxuries that i would love to unwrap on christmas morning. you see, we’re on a nice budget, Mister Man and i. so i don’t shop for myself during the year for the most part. since june, i’ve purchased exactly one item of clothing, and some replacement makeup from target. most purchases made over the last 6 months have been for the house (which i love!). but that means that any gift i receive that’s just for me feels like a luxury.

1) laura mercier face polish. this stuff makes your face feel as smooth as a newborn baby’s bottom. it’s amazing. it’s not too harsh but it still exfoliates the crap out of your skin. and the best part is that it doesn’t break me out. i tried this in a sample size a while ago, and i made that tiny bottle last for two years worth of business travel. imagine what i could do with a regular size bottle?

2) camera tripod. you may have noticed that i like to take pictures of the food i make. you may have also noticed that i live in the tundra, where it’s dark by 4:30pm. that makes taking good pictures in my kitchen very difficult. sure, i could only make food and take photos of that food in the mornings on the weekend, but let’s be honest, that’s just not going to happen all the time. so a tripod would come in real handy for when my shaky hands can’t handle the slow shutter speed needed for a bright photo.

3) caramel booties. these are mama z’s fault. she made me try them on in nordstrom. and they were so beautiful. and so caramel-y. i mean, who can resist boots like that when they are just  begging to be worn with everything?? jeans, dresses, tights, leggings, winter, summer, i’m pretty sure i would never take these things off.

4) ice cream maker. okay. it’s winter and i know that i’m not supposed to be craving ice cream right now, but i can’t get ice cream makers out of my mind. i just have all these ideas for homemade flavors, and i feel like this summer i’m being called to make them a reality! maybe santa can find one on sale since we’re in the off season…

5) buffalo plaid shirt. (similar here.) because i don’t have any flannel shirts. and i think that’s a travesty. the one type of clothing my husband won’t let me borrow are his flannel shirts. sweaters, sure. t-shirts, go ahead. but the flannel is off limits for some reason. so i’m thinking i need my own. gotta embrace that inner hipster/lumberjack at some point.

i hope that whether you wish for world peace, ryan gosling, or a new car, you wake up happy on christmas morning, for all the right reasons.

sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5


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recipe: chocolate covered cherry cookies. [christmas cookie exchange]


welcome to day 8 of #12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup here. today’s prompt is “christmas cookie exchange”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit! share your link below!

it’s not going to surprise anyone who’s been around here before that i am the MOST excited about today’s post. COOKIES! RECIPES! ALL THE GOOD THINGS! i can’t wait for all the ideas i’m going to get today.

and i know i just talked about cookies on monday, but honestly, what do you people expect from me? variety? of course multiple christmas favorite things are going to be about dessert. only i can’t give you the recipe i talked about on monday. that’s a family secret and if i put it on the internet there would be  consequences. probably a lot of yelling too.

so instead, you get the next best thing: my go-to christmas cookie recipe. i got this recipe from Mister Man’s old roommate, megan. he and megan were living together when we started dating, and i owe her a lot of my happiness today. see, she trained him into how to live with a girl so i never had to, and he is so much better for having been her roommate. she and her husband are still dear friends (although we’re currently trying to find ways to get them to move back to minnesota from upstate new york…) and you can thank her for this deliciousness that i’ve turned into my signature christmas cookie.

chocolate covered cherry cookies -

i highly suggest making a double batch of these cookies, because they disappear very quickly, and you’ll be sad when they’re gone! even my dad, the cookie connoisseur, says that i need to make these every year or else. i have none left in the house and after writing this post i’m contemplating making more.

chocolate covered cherry cookies (makes about 2 dozen for a single batch)

  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C. flour
  • 1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 10 oz. jar maraschino cherries (drained, save the juice)


  • 1/2 C. Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 C. semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. reserved cherry juice

in a large bowl, cream butter, egg and sugar together. add vanilla extract and mix. add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. the dough will appear a bit crumbly, but will come together once you start to make the balls. roll dough into balls about one inch in diameter and set on baking sheet (they will seem small, but spread out when they bake). make thumbprints in each cookie, and place one cherry into each cookie. spread frosting over the top of the cookie so the cherry is fully hidden. bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.

for the frosting: melt the chocolate chips with the condensed milk over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. remove from the heat. add the salt and cherry juice. if the frosting starts to thicken or harden, either heat it up briefly, or add another 1/4 tsp. of cherry juice to thin it out.

merry christmas and happy baking!


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it’s gotta be the christmas pajamas.

welcome to day 7 of #12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup here. today’s prompt is “favorite christmas tradition”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit! share your link below!

i know all families are different when it comes to opening presents. some go early, some choose christmas eve, and some are purists who only open gifts on christmas morning. there is no right way or wrong way to open presents in my opinion. it’s all good!

growing up, i’m pretty sure my parents went seasonally deaf from the roars of, “CAN WE OPEN A PRESENT TONIGHT????” they heard every christmas eve from the five of us. it’s probably largely due to this that they started a tradition of allowing us to open one present on christmas eve before we went to bed. the only catch was that we had to open the present they chose for us to open.

and goodness my parents were smart. because can you imagine letting a child open a toy on christmas eve and expecting them to go to sleep after that? yea right. i can barely go to sleep after i open a package that i ordered FOR MYSELF, how could you expect a child to after that? so my parents strategically decided to have us open the one gift that could guarantee a swift bedtime: the christmas pajamas.

the christmas pajamas were the best idea ever. give the kids a gift that will make them want to go to sleep AND that they’ll look absolutely adorable in the next morning while opening presents? kablam! two birds, one christmas pj stone.


(i wouldn’t mind getting either of these under the tree!)

we don’t do this tradition as regularly as we used to, mostly because we all still fit into the last 6 pairs of pajamas we’ve received, and no one can possibly wear that many pairs in their life. but every so often we’ll get a surprise pj delivery. two years ago, the christmas that Mister Man and i were engaged, my parents had pajamagrams (such a good word!) made for the whole family that had the phrase, “magnif 7” embroidered on the chest. that’s short for “magnificent 7”, which is the name of my family’s theme song. (oh, your family doesn’t have a theme song? i highly recommend getting one!) and even MM was included in the club, only his said, “magnif 7 + 1”. because obviously. it was amazing.

i’m not sure if the pajamas are coming back this year or not, but i do know that when there are little “z” babies running around, i’m starting the pajama tradition up for my own little family, at least every few years. who can resist seeing kids in matching pjs on christmas morning? who? no one, i tell you! although Mister Man doesn’t normally wear pajamas to bed, so maybe he’ll just have to receive christmas boxers?

sources: 1 | 2


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it’s not christmas without…


welcome to day 6 of #12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup here. today’s prompt is “it’s not christmas without…”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit!

for me, it doesn’t feel like christmas is quite here until the santa cookies have been made. santa cookies are a tradition started by my grandma hooley. all the girls in the family, when they’re old enough, get to participate in the making of the traditional santa cookies. and this is an important task, let me tell you that right now.

christmas cookie tradition: homemade santa claus mold cookies.

because santa cookies are only allowed to be eaten on christmas day, at the hooley family christmas gathering. that’s our dessert. no pie or cake or pudding, just santa cookies. and it’s an art form, making these things. mouths must be painted on delicately, sugar must be colored just the right shade of red for cheeks and hats, and the frosting mixed to just the right consistency for the santa man’s beard. so yea, there are years of training that go into making the cookies. that’s not an exaggeration. i’m 26 and still not an expert.

but the real miracle of the whole thing is how many of us manage to get together every year. the cousins are all busy and are somewhat scattered, and yet somehow we manage to find a date that works for 90% of us year after year after miraculous year.

this year is the first year that we didn’t have grandma managing the troops. and we missed her. and for about two seconds, we wondered if santa cookies were going to happen at all. and then we realized, of course they’ll happen, because it’s not christmas without santa cookies, and grandma wouldn’t want us to drop the ball on this. not to mention the general mutiny that would occur if we couldn’t procure santa cookies at the end of christmas dinner.

so we did it. we did it without our fearless leader (although the chief cookie taster aka grandpa was there and did a bang-up job). i’ve finally managed to perfect the recipe for the dough…my dad even said i’ve replicated it as good as he’s ever tasted. there will be enough cookies to go around, and we only spilled one bottle of food coloring all over the kitchen. i think she’d be proud of us.

and really, one bottle of food coloring is such a small price to pay for making sure christmas gets here safely.


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joy to the world.


welcome to day 4 of #12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup here. today’s prompt is “favorite christmas music”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit!

have you ever heard of midnight mass? it’s this thing we Catholics do at christmas. on christmas eve, late at night, we have christmas mass to celebrate the coming of Jesus. it’s done at night to symbolize the belief that He was born at night under a star. and oh my gosh if it isn’t one of the most gorgeous things you’ll ever see.

the church where i grew up (and where we were married) is always full of poinsettia plants. there are white and gold decorations everywhere, and candles on every open surface. the choir sings the most beautiful christmas songs before mass starts (because you have to get there early, unless you’re a rookie and want to stand the whole time) and it’s cozy and you kind of feel like you’re dreaming because it’s late and the lights are dimmed and all the incense is making your head cloudy.

as the service starts, the lights start to get a little brighter, ever so gradually. the christmas story is read, and the mass is performed and it’s all traditional and beautiful and it almost makes you want to cry a little bit it’s all just so lovely.

but the end is my favorite. because at the end, the lights go up (all the way up!) and the trumpets start blaring and the organ starts roaring! and if there is anything that will give you goosebumps, it’s trumpets and organs in a church. and then the singing starts, loud and strong…

“joy to the world! the Lord is come! let earth receive her King!”

and then the bells start to ring.

“let every heart prepare Him room, and heav’n and nature sing!”

and in that moment, every.single.time without fail, i remember why this is my favorite christmas song. because being joyful is what carries me through the stress of the season and the being too busy and all the things that must get done. being joyful is the reason we’re doing all of it.

and in that moment i remember what the reason for that joy is.


now it’s time to introduce you to a joy in my world, mrs. laura beth. she lives in the tundra too, but over in north dakota (or nodak as i like to call it). she and i understand what it means to say it’s really cold out, and we both understand the value of wearing long underwear to work when the windchill is too far below zero. not to mention she is one of the kindest people i have  ever met. i can’t wait until we can have a glass bottle of wine together in person! for now, go say to another midwestern blogger!

I’m Laura and I blog over at Mrs. Laura Beth. Over at my blog you will find me talking about family, friends, faith, farm life, my hubby, crafts, photography, food and lots of fun stuff in between!! It is a blog all about the things in life I love and I hope you will come check me out and have a glass {or three} of wine with me!

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