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Dear Mom,
I wanted to let you know I did it!

It took a little over a year of watching & waiting for my hair to finally reach donation length. At first I was apprehensive,  gathering enough courage to make the appointment call was harder than I thought.

I have to admit I thought about not donating it quite yet, since I had been receiving compliments about the length of my curls recently. I was nervous to think about the “what ifs” after the cut was made… followed by more months of growth before it became complimented again. Then it hit me as soon as I would entertain those thoughts that it wasn’t about me. How fortunate I am to be able to have my hair. In a fight that makes me feel helpless, to be able to contribute a small portion to help another gain confidence back…to feel pretty…to have hair.

With the first cut I knew I had made the right decision. It takes at least 6 ponytails to make 1 wig, and hopefully my donation of 3 will all be able to be used. Jocelyn did a fantastic job and about 9 inches are off in the mail to Pantene Pro-V’s Beautiful Lengths program.

Your journey inspired me to help another.

Thank you for still inspiring me.

Love,
Sarah

Before:

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After:

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Our dear friends shared some fantastic news with us last Wednesday. I am pretty sure I must have squealed with delight multiple times as Kelly was attempting to share her own excitement! (Sorry Kelly if you had a headache after our phone call!)

Gene and Luke have been friends for quite some time. I remember meeting Gene in college to pass the litmus test before Luke and I started dating. Fun times. And then not long after we met  Kelly and I knew we’d all be dear friends forever.

So join in the cheer, delight, and excitement with them and go give them some blog love! We can’t be more excited to journey on their new adventure with them.

Three years ago Hubs planned our honeymoon. By himself. Completely. I loved it. After following many clues from maps (that were sectioned off for specific parts of our drive) and hints from my custom made travel binder we arrived to stay for the first part of our trip at the Sonoma Chalets, in Sara’s Cottage. Our first night in town we dined at one of my now favorite restaurants in Glen Ellen and noticed that besides having a fantastic menu, that down below the restaurant was a grove of secret cottages… if ever we returned we decided that would be a must stay.

touring

Now three years later, we still plan our surprise trips. It was Luke’s turn (being an odd year) and much to my surprise and thrill we returned to Glen Ellen Inn Restaurant & Secret Cottages to stay. We love the quaintness and charm of the inn equally to the delicious meal & gracious hospitality that the restaurant had to offer. It was a delight to chat with other guests there and celebrate their special occasions as well.

cheesetasting

We returned to places we had enjoyed visiting previously in addition to making new memories and trying out recommendations from the locals we encountered throughout our day as to tours to embark upon, cheeses & chocolates to taste, or galleries to peruse. It was refreshing to slip away for a bit from our busy schedules in town to chat with local shopkeepers & enjoy just being with one another in the simplicity of the season.

stroll

For more traditions/insights/cheer check out Heather Whittaker’s & Jennifer Haugen’s sites!
Christmas Time!
1.Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper! Love tying beautiful bows.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Totally Real, Noble Fir is my preference!
3. When do you put up the tree? I usually pick out Mom’s tree with her the day after Thanksgiving in Reedley, then we get ours asap once back in Fresno.
4. When do you take the tree down? We started a new tradition last year in taking our tree down by the 12th day of Christmas, which lands January 5th this upcoming year.
5. Do you like eggnog? Yes! Especially in coffee. Eggnog lattes are amazing!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Billy Ray Cyrus’s Achy Breaky Heart CD
Not sure what happened to number 7…
8. Easiest person to buy for? My Momma.
9. Do You have a nativity scene? Absolutely! I collect them… currently we have 10 throughout the home.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? We are sending New Year’s cards this year.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Nothing really comes to mind…
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Rudolph, the claymation Christmas classic!
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Usually at some point during the summer…but it gets finished right before Christmas.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Luke‘s family does a white elephant themed gift exchange so re-gifting definitely occurs.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cinnamon rolls Christmas morning, Mom’s homemade applesauce Christmas Eve.
16. Lights on the tree? Of course! We used the big old-fashioned colored ones this year.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Silver Bells, Hark the Herald Angels Sing
18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?  We take a tour of the Central Valley…
19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer? I teach first grade…of course!
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Morning with Mom, Christmas afternoon/evening with the Mundys, usually the day after Christmas with Luke. We haven’t figured out an easier way yet…
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The horrible drivers!
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I have recently started a fondness of the blown glass ornaments, our tree is an “old-fashioned” one with the family ornaments & a colorful assortment of anything in between!
24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Traditional dinner, love that the same people bring the same dish every year and will always continue that tradition!
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Something sparkly & anything foodie related!

One of my current favorite restaurants is Gigi’s. Each time that we have visited has been memorable and satisfying to my palette. The food is well prepared and the atmosphere highly enjoyable.

One tradition my family has established is the “birthday dinner”. For as long as I can remember we have had the option of selecting a meal for my mom to prepare for us or a restaurant for us to dine at during the course of our birthday. With Luke’s family, they have the tradition of “birthday breakfast” which fits well in my foodie love language! This year we went to  birthday dinner at Gigi’s and Steph & Blake joined us. We were all pleasantly pleased with our dinners and evenly more thrilled with dessert! Gigi’s is located at Fort Washington & Friant in the shopping center across from Woodward Park. I highly recommend it!!! Where do you recommend dining in the Fresno area?

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RVC’s women’s ministry 5th annual cookie exchange took place December 8th. Much anticipation was in the air with thoughts of cookies to be baked, Christmas traditions to be shared, and hearts happy with the joy of gathering together. This year I decided to try something new for my cookie contribution for the evening. After a few days of hunting & gathering I discovered the recipe for Peppermint Chocolate Cookies.

kitchenaidcandypeppermint chocolate cookiervccookies

If you love chocolate, and enjoy peppermint then this is the perfect cookie for you to try! What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 pinch salt

Two 3.5-ounce bars dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

2/3 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes or candies

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar until creamy, then beat in the egg. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt; add to the mixer about one-third at a time, beating at low speed until smooth.
2. Lay a 16-inch sheet of parchment paper on a work surface; turn out the dough onto the paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a 12-inch-long cylinder; wrap tightly in the parchment and roll into a smooth, even log. Twist the ends to seal and refrigerate for 30 minutes; reshape the cylinder and refrigerate for 30 minutes more.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°; line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough; using a sharp knife, slice into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. Place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets; bake until firm, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
4. In a bowl, combine two-thirds of the chopped chocolate with the oil; microwave for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth. (If needed, heat for additional 10-second intervals.) Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate until smooth.
5. Using an offset spatula, spread a scant teaspoon of melted chocolate on top of each cookie. Sprinkle the peppermints on top and let stand until set, 2 to 3 hours.

*It is Hub’s golden birthday today. Send him some wishes!

Sending Some Love

*So let me explain myself, yes it isn’t Hubs birthday anymore and yes he’s now 25. Before leaving to our mini-vacation in Morro Bay (more about that soon!) I set this to publish after we had left since we were trying to free ourselves from technology while gone. Now back, I discovered today that it never made it to be published! So just in case you might have missed Hubs birthday like this post, or just want to send him some love anyway, make sure you do!

Last Sunday was my fabulous 25th birthday. Thank you to all of you who sent wishes and shared the festivities with me! In true Sarah Mundy birthday fashion, my first birthday celebration was given Tuesday, the 11th. Our life group surprised me with my favorite (cheesecake!) dessert, many candles, and a glorious song. We attend RVC’s life group at the Kienow’s house Tuesday evenings. I must admit when we first joined I was skeptical about actually sharing life with people I had never met, now 6 months later I can’t imagine not! Our life group has about 3 or 4 different churches represented and it is just an amazing picture of the church body coming together each week from many different life experiences, Sunday services, and careers to join to spend time in God’s Word and fellowship.

Kienow Birthday Party Time!

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