Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016 Favorite Things

Each year one of my "reflection" moments involves looking back at my favorite things.  Some are new things I've discovered in the year, others are old favorites I cant get away from and the rest...they are just every day, little simples that make my world go round:
2017 Favorite Things List | bigpittstop.com

  • Honey Roasted peanut butter, by the spoonfuls
  • Thomas English Muffins, especially the pumpkin spice ones
  • Hidden Valley Ranch Fiesta dip mix - I'm using it on everything to add a little "zest"
  • Emeril's Essence - I think I need to make this next year for gifts
  • Sunset magazine - I'm still a Southern Living and Real Simple girl, but this one has opened my world up to a whole part of our nation I've really never explored
  • Bic pens - I love a good ball point, no smear, no bleed, smooth writing
  • Tide pods - make my life so much easier...I have issues with the blue liquid drips all over your 
  • getting to shop at the Tyson Family Store - see if you have one near you
  • Dawn Foam Soap
  • White Barn Autumn Days candles - smells like a vacation cabin in the mountains - "home with a little luxury"
  • Mud Pie dishes - love them!
  • CO Bigelow - Magenta Mint lip gloss - goes on top of every shade
  • Instagram - its the only social media I look at every day! Follow me @bigpittstop
  • Mint - it has been a life saver our first year of marriage - #budget #spendingtracker - more on this in 2017
  • buying dog toys - especially chickens!
  • Designated Survivor, Notorious, This Is Us - our DVR is full
  • meals in the mail - pick your pleasure!
3 BIG Things I love:
  • Ibotta -  rebate app that pays me for shopping and buying what I already shop for and buy - use my referral code - jwmhedf - and we can be teammates
  • Word Swag - its my jam...its the app I use to make all my graphics on my phone
  • Canva - use it for work, use it for personal stuff, use it to play....but this site make me feel like a rockstar and has totally changed my graphics game.
#1 Favorite Thing of 2016:
  • Hello Fresh - obsessed - use this code for $20 off your first box
Well, really my mostest, mostest favorite thing of all time in the history of ever....is being Mrs. McKinney....its really the best...and he is the cutest...and we have the most fun!
2016 My Favorite Things - being Mrs. McKinney | bigpittstop.com

What favorite things made your list this year?  I'm always down for something new!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

thoughts on giving: let it be

So its that time of year.  We are finishing wrapping presents.  We are working on the order we want people to open them. We are realizing we have 1 big, high value gift for some and 3 small random things for others.

Oh the debacle!!!

What do you do? Do you go by more? Do you feel bad and apologize profusely? Do you stew about it all the way to grandmas? Do you dig around your "gift closet" or look for one extra thing when stopping at that Amish store to get breads and cheese?

What if we just let it be?
What if we bought gifts for people because its what we wanted to give them?
What if we bought gifts for people because its what was on their list?
What if we bought gift for people because we thought they would enjoy them?
What if we bought gifts because the item made us think of them when we saw it?

You know the whole idea of giving and receiving gifts at Christmas stems back to the manger. Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh - yep, that was the line up at the first Christmas gift exchange. But, they were all gift "for" the baby.  They were things that told us something about Him and told us something about those giving the gifts to Him.

What does your gift list this year say about you? Are you a domestic diva, a minimalist, practically perfect, outdoorsey, in a new stage of life, not really needing much and thankful for what you have...?

What do the gifts you are giving this year say about you? Checking the list, preparing the person for the future, personalized, helping prepare for the year to come, observant, thoughtful, diligent or on a mission, just perfect...?

And, where does grace come in? Can we spend a little more time this year just "being" with each other.

What would the gift of words look like this year?
What about a gift of time?
What about a gift of presence?

We give and receive gifts all throughout the year.  Let's let 2017 set the precedent for being instead of doing. For spending time together instead of dollars for each other.  Let's honor someone and the things they are committed to by donating time and $$ to their cause.  Reciprocity does not have to win the day.

Give and expect nothing in return!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

recipe: Nacho Ranchy Texas Trash

This time of year reminds me of many holiday traditions.
  • church Christmas pageants - you know who you are
  • school choir solos
  • Salvation Army bell ringing
  • family christmas gathering
  • shopping at the school store - you know where you took your parent's hard earned money and bought them something ridiciously cheap
  • driving around the "fancy" neighborhood looking at christmas lights
  • Ritz crackers and peanut butter covered with chocolate - thank you Uncle Keith!
  • making fudge
  • making sugar cookies
  • making more fudge, because dad ate it all
  • making thumbprint cookies
  • making chocolate crinkles
  • making Texas Trash (Chex mix)
Honestly, making is my favorite thing.  And, making with my mom is my most favorite.  Making a mess, making all her dishes dirty, making my dad crazy....just making at its finest.

Over the weekend, my Love asked if we could make something for his co-workers and i jumped at the chance to get my kitchen (more) dirty! I made a quick trip to the Dollar Tree for buckets and then gathered all the items needed for Chex Party Mix and the extra ones I wanted to make a new version.

Now, at my house growing up, we called this Texas Trash growing up. I know you just rolled your eyes, but I didn't know any better. We lived in Texas and we stored it in those big popcorn tins which we also used by the couch as a trash can.  Context clues...it all came together.

Since my brand new baby niece is about to make her grand appearance, I thought it would be fun to share my new version that I'm calling Nacho Ranchy Texas Trash...but I'm guessing we will really land on calling it Grandad Crunch!

Nacho Ranchy Texas Trash (Chex Party Mix): Grandad Crunch | bigpittstop.com

I can see it now.  My dad would get a red Tupperware Tumbler and sit in "his seat" on the couch and crunch away as he scrolled through between any variety of "boy movies" and 10 o'clock news.  I love those memories and a new baby niece to make more with. Now she gets to smell the stinky breath that comes with the yummiest Granddad Crunch!

Are there people in your family that have a signature item they always request or eat?

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Gift Guide: for the Hostess with the McMostess

Let's be honest, its a mind boggling thing this time of year - the hostess gift.

Do you get one? What is too much? What if you are the only one who brings something? What is too small? Is it one size fits all? What if there is more than one host?

So, what is appropriate this time of year?
  • Hand Towels - holiday specific or just fun and every day
  • Coffee - a bag of ground coffee or Kcups rarely are a disappointment...bonus points if it has a story and a cause! And a gift card to Starbucks or their favorite local spot works here too.
  • Sonic Gift Card - 2 words: Happy Hour
  • Favorite Beverage - juice, wine, burbon,fancy tea in sachets or grounds, again...coffee
  • Candle - only if you know their "scent theme"
  • Monogrammed anything - napkins, zipper bag, stationary 
  • iTunes card - these are one size fits all and can be used for whatever they like...like buying music for their patio party.
  • Homemade Treat - they are always making and doing for everyone else...a treat for themselves is a rarity
  • Fancy Cleaning Supplies - there is a store off the square in Fayetteville and they have the most fin cleaning supplies...I always covet them and have a friend who gets a set each fall - but even a little goodie basket of Meyer cleaning supplies is not something you always get yourself! 
  • Ornament - if they have a theme they decorate for each year or just something new that makes you think of them.
  • Bonus Idea: give a gift in their name to cause they advocate for are involved in.

Keep it simple, keep is personal.  That's what the Hostess with the McMostess is in to afterall!

What did I leave off the list?  Or, what gift have you received as a hostess that you loved?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

being the hostess with the mcmostess

I mentioned earlier this week that we got to host a crew last week for a little Christmas gathering in our new town.

Now, this is something I love doing, but I know hosting people is not always easy for everyone. Here are a few things to keep in mind, to keep your tinsel from getting in a tangle!

Oh how I love this time of year. Always easy built in reasons to host people, spread some cheer, make homemade goodies, get out the dishes you never use and rub elbows with your honey as you clean up after a house full.  

What's your favorite things about this time of year?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hostess with the McMostess: a little christmas gathering

Hostess with the McMostess: a little christmas gathering | bigpittstop.com
So, if you've known me any short amount of time, you know my heart is the most full when my counter is covered with food options, my living room is full of friends and laughter and chuckles are filling the halls. Today, my heart is oh, so, full!

Some of the first people I met in my new little town were the ladies involved with the Mary and Martha Center. As stated on their Facebook page, they are "an after school program that shows the love of Christ and provides both physical and spiritual food to children in Kindergarten - 12th grade." For me, they are a place where I've made new friends and found a place to use my gifts and passions, and some really cool high school kids!

Last night, Mr. McKinney and I had my students and some of the teachers over for a little Christmas party. We had so much fun. I tried to keep the menu super simple and foods I knew they would all love (less left overs that way!)

Hostess with the McMostess: a little christmas gathering | bigpittstop.com

So, what was on the menu?

Protein - Glorified Ham sandwiches and Crockpot weenies
Dip - enchilada dip mix (the kind like you get at a craft fair and stir in to sour cream), Jarred salsa
Chips - bite size tortillas chips since we had lots to balance on our plates
Veggies or fruit if you want - we skipped these last night with a bunch of high school kids
Salty/crunchy - I made a mix of pretzels, oyster crackers, veggie straws, pumpkin spice cheerios, Pumpkin SpiceLife cereal, and white cheddar Cheez-its
Sweet Mix/Candy - Christmas Crack
2 easy finger desserts - Peanut Butter Cookies with Nutella, Nutella Cheesake Crescent Rollups
Cold beverage - Sweet Tea, Water, Mexican Punch (Peach, Mango and Guava Nectar mixed with pineapple soda)
Hot beverage- Crockpot Hot Chocolate and the Keurig was ready (coldest night of the season so far!)

How I made it an easy party and worked the day before and til 5:00 the day of the party!:
1. Two nights before make your list and buy your groceries. - see what you already have in your
cabinets and pantry and use that to build your list/menu
2. Prep all that you can the day before.
3. Leave just a few last minute things to do before your guests arrive.
4. Keep your party entertainment easy. - games in sight, TV remotes accessible, conversation easy, divide and conquer guests in each room. If you plan an organized game, make it something everyone will know or pick up easy like Christmas Scattegories, Christmas Carol Pictionary, or Balderdash.
My sweet love was all hands on deck and we had the best time with a table and couches full of
guests.  A friend of mine reminded me yesterday.  People might forget you, but they will always remember how you treated them.  Love others well! Its really what makes the world go round.

Love Others Well - its what makes the world go round! | bigpittstop.com