Christmas Preparations

So finally {2 days before Christmas} I feel prepared for Christmas. This season has been quite busy but over the course of a few weeks we finally got our tree/decorations up, baked a bunch of goodies, and got all the shopping/wrapping done! yippee! 

So here’s our lovely tree from Home Depot. We have quite an eclectic mix of ornaments, each with their own story 🙂


And we weren’t too thrilled with the tree toppers last year so we went with this guy, our penguin in a reindeer hoodie! We like him 🙂


And I can’t go long before having a blog post about food can I?? Well, these goodies are long gone already. I made them for a couple parties and work friends. Peanut blossoms, peanut butter bars, peanut brittle, sugar cookies, rum balls and snickerdoodles = YUM. I’ll gladly share any recipes if you’re interested, just leave me a comment. (I also made stroepwafels with my mom today but they will get their very own post)

And here is my Tante (aunt) Dicky! She lives in Holland and was out for my Opa’s (grandpa’s) birthday (which I will also post about later) She’s a pretty cool lady…I like her. We are going to plan a trip to visit her ASAP!!!!

Advent Part 2

Here’s our part 2 of Advent. The theme for the week is Bethlehem. Here are the pictures we put up along with the text. We tried to make all these pictures look simple since Jesus came to Earth in a simple way. The next two themes are Praise and Jesus. I’ll post them soon 🙂
“And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth A RULER who will shepherd my people Israel.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.”
Tell me what you think about this project so far…I would love some constructive criticism.


We are part of our worship service’s (Resonate) creative team. A while back the worship leader thought of gathering a team of people to come up with creative ways to keep the service interesting and fresh. We didn’t want people coming to this service expecting the same thing week in and week out. We came up with lots of ideas to incorporate art including painting, photography, videography and murals. Of course we were mostly intrigued with using photography and videography. It has been a fun adventure and we have enjoyed using our God-given talents in this way!
So the most recent project we worked on for the Christmas season was Advent. The gentleman grew up with his family celebrating advent but I wasn’t super familiar with it. Advent in Latin means coming and it is meant to put you in the right mindset for the true meaning of Christmas. You light candles and do a devotional reading of a few verses per night to remember that we are celebrating Christ coming into the world. It’s second purpose is to remind ourselves that we are waiting for the second coming as well. So our project for the chapel was to come up with photos that depict the different themes of each week of advent. Week one’s theme is Prophecy. Here are the photos and text that we put up.

PROPHECY – “the people who walk in darkness will see a great light…For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us…And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace”
If you haven’t celebrated Advent before, check it out. Don’t make it something that makes you too busy in this already crazy season, but maybe take some time out and read the story of Jesus’s birth or just pray and thank God for all the things we are blessed with including salvation! Even in rough times, living here in the U.S. is a blessing, we have so many freedoms and so so much here.
There is always something to be thankful for.
I’ll post the rest of the Advent weeks as we finish them. I’ll also try to post more things that we do for Resonate, including Songs of Christmas! If you aren’t doing anything on the 20th (this coming Saturday) come to Resonate for our Christmas concert. We will be filming it so if anything we’ll post a few songs online. Happy Advent!


Well, I’ve been busy so when that happens, the blog suffers. So I might post a lot this week to catch up…
But to back up…I put a “Thanksgiving” post on the SidebySide Video blog that you can check out here.And I realize that we did not take any pictures at Thanksgiving this year! BUT, I did take pictures of the pies I made. I love making pies!!! Well, I love baking anything and I’m sure you can tell based on how many posts with recipes I have 🙂

The first is a favorite and one I have made many times, crumble crust apple pie. I haven’t always used the same recipe because I like to change it up sometimes so I’m not posting a recipe for this one. What bums me out though is that these days it is quite cheaper to buy a pie already made than to make one yourself. Even though the ingredients are a bit more and it’s quite time consuming, apple pies are one of my favorite things to make! (following stroep wafels at Christmas and banana bread anytime!)
This was a new one this year. I figured other people would bring pies even though I was in charge of making them and I figured those pies would be pumpkin (I was right) so I made a variation of pumpkin. This is a turtle pumpkin pie. Rena gave me the recipe and I think it turned out pretty good! The recipe is below.


  • 1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
  • 1 (6 ounce) HONEY MAID Graham Pie Crust
  • 1/2 cup PLANTERS Pecan Pieces
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 2 pkg. (4 serving size) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 (8 ounce) tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
  • 2 tablespoons caramel ice cream topping
  • 2 tablespoons PLANTERS Pecan Pieces


  1. Pour 1/4 cup caramel topping into crust; sprinkle with 1/2 cup pecans.
  2. Beat milk, dry pudding mixes, pumpkin and spices with whisk until blended. Stir in 1-1/2 cups whipped topping. Spread into crust.
  3. Refrigerate 1 hour. Top with remaining whipped topping, caramel topping and pecans just before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
There was a lot to be thankful for this year: God’s providence, husband, family, friends, health, jobs, happiness… I feel like a pretty blessed person 🙂
What are you most thankful for in this crazy life??

artificial sweeteners – not so sweet of a deal

So lately I’ve been getting a lot of headaches/migraines. This is not really uncommon for me as growing up I’ve had to deal with headaches from sun, not eating/drinking enough or allergies. I’m used to normal headaches because my body is really sensitive to change. Lately they’ve been different though. I’ve had more migraines which is not typical for me. I have been blaming it on stress from working a full-time job and having the video business but I don’t think that’s really the case. I’ve always been a busy person, my whole life, and I’m sure there have been times I’ve been more busy or stressed than now. So what has changed??


I started paying attention to my diet more and trying to eat healthier and more natural. I stopped drinking sodas for a long time but since dating the gentleman picked them up again. I used to only drink regular sodas, but then he introduced me to diet sodas. Once I got used to them, the regular ones were too sweet/syrup-y. So in the last few weeks the thought occurred to me that the artificial sweeteners might be the culprit.

I already had weird feelings about Splenda (mostly because it’s made out of chlorine covered sugar) and a few months ago noticed that my yogurt had Splenda in it. That made me mad! How had I not noticed that there was Splenda in my low-fat yogurt! It kind of seemed sneaky. But I didn’t give too much thought to the other artificial sweeteners mostly because they had been around longer. So after my last migraine following a few cups of crystal light at a baby shower (with aspartame) I decided to try not having anything, I mean anything with artificial sweeteners (including: phenylalanine, aspartame, saccharin, splenda, nutrasweet, etc…etc…etc…) and the task has started to seem a bit daunting actually!

I was chewing some gum for example the other day and suddenly got nervous about it and looked at the ingredients. Sure enough there is phenylalanine in it so I spit it out. Believe me, the pain of a migraine will make you not want to eat anything until you’ve figured out the cause!!! So then I was putting on my lip gloss later and thought I might be crazy for thinking there might be something in there but checked anyway. No kidding there is Saccharin in my favorite lip gloss! NOOOOOOOO!

So I looked it up online. It seems that there are lots of people with my same situation, though I seem to be on the easy end with just migraines. People have complained of headaches, migraines, stomach cramps, blurred vision, diahrrea, nausea, vomiting, numbness in the legs. Then I saw that people were writing where they have found these sweeteners: in many foods and drinks, medicines, toothpaste, chapstick, dentist offices, even popcorn…basically anything you can ingest. What bothers me about that though is how sneaky they are about it. It is already annoying to have to look at the ingredient labels for anything that might be a factor and now will I have to ask in restaurants if they used any artificial sweeteners? Yikes! I don’t know for sure if artificial sweeteners are the culprit for me so I’ll keep working on figuring it out for sure…we’ll see I guess.


Now, I am not the type of person to go calling people out or starting some paranoid rumors, but I think there might be something here. I mean just think about it logically, there are all these sweeteners that are made out of chemicals that we are putting into our bodies. There will probably be some consequences to that! I don’t have any problem with sticking with plain sugar and just eating it in moderation. Until there are more studies out there, I would be careful with the artificial sweeteners and stop tricking your body into thinking you are eating something sweet when you’re not. Just eat the sweet thing you want and then go to the gym and burn it off, you will be healthier in the end!!