A Look Back at 2015

Hello Sunshine! Happy New Year! Twenty-fifteen was a challenging, life altering year. A year of exhilarating ups and mind-blowing downs. As a symptom not much blogging happened. I did manage to post 26 times and had my best blogging year yet. I will walk you through my year sharing our favorite posts, the most view post of 2015, with a little life in between.

At the beginning of every year like most people, I try to set a few goals I would like to accomplish. I forwent the one word theme. I started the year out by organizing our files. Something I appreciated all year long.

My youngest son celebrated his birthday with an epic knight pajama jam birthday party. A really simple party that the kids still talk about. We setup our tent in the living room with twinkle lights, had breakfast for dinner, the kids watched a funny movie, a chocolate donut tower for a cake, and an epic foam sword fight!

My most viewed, top blog post of the year was my hall closet makeover reveal. Living in a small home every space has to be functional and serve multiple purposes. I had to work around a major obstacle but found a perfect solution to our dilemma.

In family related news, my youngest won 3rd place in his packs pine derby race! This was his first year in Cub Scouts and we had a blast at the derby.

On Sunday, March 8 my husband had a stroke. He had a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) which is another way of saying 'mini stroke' caused by a lacunar infarction. Words cannot adequately express how we felt during this time.

We are still finding our way through this ordeal. He is fine and doing better every month. We are almost one year out! I may share his story someday soon. When he was in the hospital I shared this on instagram.

We are so grateful to all our family and friends who came to visit, prayed, called, and to those who helped with the children, which is no easy feat! I wanted to say a special thank you to my blog friends who thought of me and my family during this time. It's a wonderful thing that this blog has awarded me friendships with amazingly talented women scattered across the world, some of which I have never met in person.

In April, I participated in the Home Depot Patio Style Challenge. It was a complete honor to have been chosen and a dream come true. To read more about our patio style challenge head on over to the Home Depot Apron Blog.

I couldn't do a patio makeover featuring a dining set without a colorful tablescape and my favorite flowers, tulips. As part of my challenge I did a tutorial on how to repaint a concrete porch.

During the summer we got to spend 5 weeks in Houston. The kids and I explored the city during the day, swam in the pool in the evening, and ate all sorts of delicious foods. I decided to do a photo series to document our time in Houston and our one day trip to San Antonio.

In August, I participated in another Home Depot Style Challenge. This time around it was all about Halloween meets my front porch. This was extremely fun for the kids and I and completely took me out my comfort zone, in a good way. To read more about my Halloween style challenge head on over to the Home Depot Apron Blog.

September is my favorite month! It's my birthday month and the month I started this little ol' blog of mine. It marked 3 years of blogging, I just can't believe that. I started a new job outside the home and met Eddie Ross! He's fabulous and his book it beautiful!

I made my first blog paycheck in the month of October! I was elated! I got to meet John and Sherry Petersik from Young House Love. They were so nice and I got a chance to set in on a talk they gave about their new book.

One of my favorite craft projects last year was my polka dot treat bags. I thought they turned out super cute and they were easy to make!

I shared a new recipe, the first one of the year, pumpkin puree to kick off the fall holiday season. Delicious and pure!

Back in November I started refreshing our living room, as part of the refresh I built a leaning blanket ladder. In honor of the last day of fall I did another photo series featuring my son's cub scout camping trip back in October.

I tried my hand at canning and shared my mother-in-laws cranberry sauce recipe. My holiday home tour came later in the month and highlighted our pared down Christmas.
2015 is now a wrap! I am excited to see what 2016 has in store for us! I want to thank you for your support of ChippaSunshine. Wishing you a wonderfully blessed, happy, and productive new year.

What is your favorite memory from last year? See ya soon!

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Our Pared Down Christmas Home Tour

Hello Sunshine! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday! For this Christmas I wanted to pare things down a bit, focus on it's true meaning, and only commit to the things that absolutely bring us joy.

Only putting out about a fourth of our Christmas decor I believe it still looked very festive. Welcome to our 2015 Christmas home tour.
Along with paring down the decor, we picked out a smaller tree at our local tree farm. The kids decorated it with their ornaments they had made over the years along with some quirky ornaments. So we had everything from pictures of them when they were little, little set on construction paper, painted sticks, paper birds, guitars to mustaches. A very special tree in my book!
The kids always look forward to our little house advent calendar. They take turns opening it each day to reveal a chocolate candy or a fun activity. I also added a scripture card for them to read each day about the birth of Jesus. I got the scripture cards from here. I coupled our advent calendar with a potted poinsettia and a picture of their Santa visit last year.
Keeping with the pared down theme I only put out four pieces of my nativity scene. I love this set so much and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Read about its history here.
You may have already seen my DIY leaning blanket ladder all decked out in stockings and Christmas cheer. On the table beside it is a ornament globe light and a pot of paperwhite bulbs that just sprouted.
For the first time in years we spent Christmas away from home. We packed our bags and presents and headed for South Carolina to spend the holiday with family. We had so much fun seeing all our family. We played games, laughed too much, ate great food, and simply enjoyed each others company.

How was your holiday? What is your favorite Christmas gift you have ever received? See ya soon!

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DIY Leaning Blanket Ladder

Hello Sunshine! Today, I wanted to show you my new DIY leaning blanket ladder I made as part of my living room refresh I started back in November. I love throw blankets and thought a ladder would be a great way to show off my prettier throws. It's also a creatively artistic way to fill a blank expanse of wall.
The ladder was really simple to make and only took me about an hour to do so. I used this tutorial, it was fairly straightforward. I made my ladder 7 feet tall with 5 rungs. My blanket ladder turned out amazing aside from it leaning to the left a bit. More rustic I say! Lol!
For the holidays I added a couple of the kids Christmas stockings with some fir clippings and faux berry twigs. I love how it looks and I can't wait to add more pretty throws to it! My husbands loves that its a great place to hang his earphones. Men!
I'm lovin' how this living room refresh is turning out. Tell me, what do you think of my new DIY leaning blanket ladder? Have you built anything lately? Do you love throw blankets? See ya soon!

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Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Hello Sunshine! Today I am back with another holiday recipe. Cranberry sauce is a wonderful compliment to any holiday table. It's perfect with turkey, ham, stuffing! I absolutely love it!

Since I have been trying to eat as clean as possible I started trying to make as many things as I can from scratch. I do this as much as possible and wanted to try a few more recipes this year. You should definitely try my homemade pumpkin puree.

My mother-in-law gave me this very basic but delicious recipe that she has used when my husband was growing up. I gave it a try for Thanksgiving but wanted to share it with you for your Christmas dinner prep or to pin next year for the holidays.

We are big fans of the jellied cranberry sauce and this recipe taste just as good and without all the preservatives. I decided to can my cranberry sauce and this time my cans popped! I hope to plan a little canning session with my mother-in-law this spring!

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries
a little orange zest

ONE | In a medium saucepan, bring water and sugar to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries and return mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and shimmer gently for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all berries pop. Stir in orange zest, if using, during the last few minutes of cooking.
TWO | For Jellied Cranberry Sauce - Pour mixture into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Then strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl. Work quickly, the sauce will setup as soon as it starts to cool. You don't have to do anything special to make it jellied, cranberries have natural pectin in its skin.

For Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce - Skip to step three

THREE | Pour cranberry sauce into sterile canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims, place new sterile lids on the jars, and screw finger-tight. Place your filled jars in a canner of hot water. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 15 minutes. Transfer to a towel to cool overnight, untouched. You should hear a small pop when the lids seal while cooling.
If you want to skip the whole canning process, simply pour sauce into a serving bowl, cover and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.

You can store your canned sauce safely in a cool, dark place for up to a year. This recipe makes 2 half-pint bell jars of sauce with a little left over.
What will be on your holiday table? See ya soon!

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Fall Photo Series : Cub Scout Campout

Hello Sunshine! Today I am back with another photo series. Over the summer I shared our vacation to Houston and San Antonio through a series of photos and today I wanted to share a fall edition from our son's cub scout campout.

In October, the boys and my husband spent two days camping out with the cub scouts. This years camp theme was space travel. May the force be with you! I came up just for the day to participate in all the activities. It was cool during the day but it dropped down into the 30's that night. It was COLD!

My younger son is in cub scouts but since this was a family event they allowed our other son to participate as well. They both had a ton of fun! They learned about archery and how to shoot arrows, made a pinwheel galaxy at the Native American Village, at Cub-A-Lot Castle they made the aliens retreat with their noodle sabers, played by the lake and made a UFO spaceship, played at the Fort Cub, and had endless fun exploring the campsite.

I asked the boys what was their favorite part and what did they learn at the campout. Our youngest said he learned about bows and arrows and his favorite part was at the castle with the foam swords and pirate ship. Our oldest son said he learned how to set up the tent from his dad and his favorite part was also the castle with the swords.

While the kids played at the pirate ship my husband and I sat by the lake where it was quiet. We talked and enjoyed the peacefulness of the still water. The view was amazing.

The campfire was especially welcoming after a lot of walking and the cool weather. The men prepared dinner, the boys played, and the adults gathered around the fire. It was a great day!

Our Fall Photo Series: Cub Scout Campout
See ya soon!

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Living Room Refresh : The Plan

Hello Sunshine! A month ago I decided to change the look of my living room. I often move furniture around to fix my need for a bit of change but the configuration of the furniture in our living room must stay for optimum flow so I resolved my need for change with what I like to call a refresh.

A refresh is to update, to freshen up any space to renew your love for that area of your home. And I encourage you to do this in your home. A refresh doesn't have to cost a lot of money or any money for that matter. You could shop your house, move things around, or even remove dated decor.

When rethinking my space I found it best to remove everything. Everything out! Since the furniture was staying put, I removed all of the art, pictures, lamps, decorative items, pillows, and books to get a good look at the space all bare.

With it completely void of anything I devised a plan. I want our room to be cozy, reflect my husbands love of art on the wall, blended with my minimalist style, and room for the kids to be kids. I did a lot of my own style searching during this process. I can't pinpoint my exact design style but its somewhere between casual traditional modern minimalist.

Here is our living room refresh plan plus some changes that will come down the road:
Drop Pendant Floor Lamp | Pillow Covers | Blanket Ladder
Native Map | Curtains

I have already made a lot of small changes to the living room and the room already feels different. In a good way. It looks and feels more like the 'now' us! I shared a little sneak peak a couple weeks ago over on instagram.

Funny story about the floor lamp, my husband was against me getting the lamp. I went with my heart and got it anyway and now he loves the lamp. He even claimed it as his personal lamp to read under. Ha!

I recently fell in love with some Belgium linen curtains that I just can't get out of my mind but a part of me wants a patterned curtain. Jury is still out on that decision but if you want to way-in on the matter please leave a comment. 

In the near future, we plan to get a sectional to replace our sofa and chair, a new rug, starting a family gallery wall, and ripping out another wall. All great stuff but it will require more planning and saving of funds.
Later this week I will be back to share my DIY blanket ladder with another sneak peak. So if you took a look at my living room refresh progress picture over on instagram, let me know about how you feel about the curtains. See ya soon!
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Christmas Movie Night

Hello Sunshine! It's the most wonderful time of the year, friends! As a family, we have many traditions we look forward to during this special time of year. Visiting Santa, cruising through the neighborhood to catch a glimpse of twinkling lights, decorating gingerbread houses, our advent calendar.

One activity we love to do every week is to have movie night. It's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle that this season entails but on Friday nights we unwind and relax in front of the TV. The kids look forward to our movie nights and the holidays are equally fun cause it's all themed.

Today I want to share with you some of our holiday favorites just like I did back at Halloween along with some delicious treats you can whip up to make it even more festive.

We love to eat sinfully delicious treats when we watch movies! Most of the time it's just plain ol' popcorn but sometimes I like to jazz it up a bit. Here are some of our favorite movie night treats:
     - Hot Chocolate with Homemade Marshmallows
     - Peppermint Bark
     - Caramel Popcorn
     - Chocolate Pudding Cups with Whipped Cream and Caramel Drizzle

What are some of your family favorite holiday movies? See ya soon!

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