“You smell like pine needles…”

As I sit here and realize we are counting down the days to 2016, and almost in the single digits, I can hardly believe it. Where in the world did this year go to? I know people say this all the time, but I truly feel like this year was a whirlwind that flew by. A year ago, I never ever imagine my life to be where it is today. I say this, for many many reasons, and I mean it in a good way. I have been thinking of a few resolutions for 2016, so once I have them finalized, I plan to post them as a way to kind of say “hey Lyndsay, here is your self motivation to stay on track- the word is out, so follow through!”

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The one of a kind Sievers kids. ❀

I will be going home in a few days to spend the week with my friends and family and I am thrilled to get to still have that opportunity. My company is very rare in the fact that they basically shut down for the week of Christmas and it is mandatory for everyone to take the week off, with most actually taking the following week too. It is such a blessing when you live away from your family to have this luxury. Despite being home for 6 days though, I have already somehow managed to ensure my time is almost completely filled. Sadly, Adam doesn’t get to come home until Christmas Eve as his job, like many, stay open up until Christmas. But, I am just grateful he gets to be home Thursday-Sunday with everyone and we will get to spend time with our families and Kaci.

Leading up to leaving though, it has been a busy month. We enjoyed a couple of holiday outings in the area, and I think we found some new traditions! We went to the Winter Stroll in the park one evening and was able to view all the lights and scenes different churches and organizations set up each year. The weather has been extremely warm so that night, because it was 7 PM and still 60 degrees, the crowds were certainly out. But, we had such a good time and these light displays are so creative! Of course they had frozen, a couple Charlie Brown ones, Elf on the Shelf, Polar Express, Santas Workshop, Santa golfing and on a boat, all sorts of things. We also went down to the historical part of St Charles right on the Missouri River last weekend to view their Christmas Traditions. It was by far one of the neatest things I have ever experienced during the holidays. Christmas characters from folklore and legends and different traditions walk around Main street while kids collect their trading cards (think Ebeneezer, Jack Frost, various Santa’s, Sugar Plum Fairy, Elves, Chestnut Roasters etc. – 41 in all!) . All of the little stores are open and decorated for Christmas, booths are set up with different vendors, and then they do a Christmas Parade during the day. I honestly would love to go back in the evening to see the lights, but I am not sure if we can squeeze it in this weekend or not, or if the weather will even cooperate!

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Adam and I on our Winter Stroll. (note to self: Start using a better camera than your cell phone Lyndsay!)

This past week I have also started doing more baking (Adam is loving this), and I decided just for the heck of it, we would decorate our deck a little bit. We didn’t do anything exciting, just wrapped some lights around the area and whatnot, but it adds to the Christmas feel. In the spirit of baking though, I actually thought I would share my first recipe on here for everyone!

I have a weakness for cookies. I honestly don’t typically like anything that contains nuts, just purely for a texture reason. And I love sugar cookies, but at times it can get a big overwhelming with how sweet they are. I actually made some delicious shortbread cookies this week to take into work, and after giving the recipe out 4 times in one day, I figured why not share it with everyone on here in case someone is in the need for a last minute holiday treat to make! It takes 5 ingredients, and most of them, if not all, you already have in your kitchen! I made these into bites, it gives them a nice twist and makes them a little more fun. Plus, it is easier to justify eating a bunch when they are bite size without the guilt. πŸ™‚

Shortbread BitesShortbread Bites

All Purpose Flour – 2 1/4 cup
Granulated Sugar- 2/3 cup
Almond Extract – 1/2 tsp
Butter (salted)- 1 cup
*Sprinkles- as/if desired

1) Cube butter into 1/2 inch pieces
2) Mix with sugar
3) Add in Almond Extract, mix in flour on low speed (it will appear dry and sandy at first- but eventually, it does come together after mixing for a bit, if you question this, feel free to fold in and together with your hands)
4) Fold in sprinkles
5) Spread dough into an even layer on cookie pan and/0r 9×13 cake pan, refrigerate for 20 minutes
6) Remove from fridge, cut into 1 inch pieces. * I like to use a pizza cutter for even pieces
7) Put on non stick cookie sheet and sprinkle with additional sprinkles if desired
8) Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

There you have it! Easy as can be!

Aside from all of this Christmas stuff, it has been business as usual at the Howard Homestead (see what I did there? πŸ˜‰ lol) I am so excited for 2016 to start and finally maybe be able to get some projects underway that I have been planning. Can’t wait to share anything we accomplish! Until then, in the spirit of sharing Monday Mantras, I posted this week’s below. It was just a little reminder/prayer on something I have been trying to work on a little more lately.

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