5 Sides Dishes Perfect for Your Holiday Dinner

Holiday Side Dishes with Bacon

Okay, look. I do not eat bacon at every meal. Or every day. I don’t. But my favorite side dish recipes – the ones that are perfect for your holiday dinner?


I don’t know. I don’t have an explanation for this, although my husband has a t-shirt that tries. (If you haven’t guessed, it says, “Bacon makes everything better.” Because, duh.)

So as you make your grocery lists and plan your menus for next week, don’t forget a pound (or two) of bacon. And, for the love of a clean stove top, remember to bake your bacon! (What? You don’t bake your bacon? TRY IT. You can thank me later. Or now. Because you KNOW this is going to be awesome, don’t you?)

I haven’t decided exactly which dishes I’m taking to our three Thanksgiving dinners next week, although Mark’s “famous” baked beans are on the list for my Grandma’s house (lunch) and he’s requested homemade cinnamon rolls for his family at our house (dinner). I haven’t made this loaded potato salad in a while, so that’s one option.

In case you’re still looking for side dishes to serve at your holiday meals, I’ve got five delicious, bacon-y recipes for you.

5 Side Dishes Perfect for Your Holiday Dinner

As I looked through my recipes, I noticed I also have a couple good pumpkin snacks that I haven’t made yet this year. If you need a pumpkin snack for your holiday dinner, try Pumpkin Pie Dip or Pumpkin Pie Crunch (chex mix). Mmmm…

Pumpkin Pie Dip

And if you need a veggie tray, why not make one that looks like a turkey?

Turkey Veggie Platter

What’s on your menu for Thanksgiving?

More Early Sales from DaySpring

Early Black Friday Sales from DaySpring

I have bought several DaySpring items multiple times. Like the mug and journal I mentioned yesterday, these are things I love giving as gifts – and every time I give one away, I have to replace it! I was excited to see several of those very items – a necklace, a stuffed animal, a block set – as part of the early Black Friday sales.

Eight more items have been added to the sale page, including my favorites and a vase I can’t wait to give away!

One more thing – don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a $50 coupon code to DaySpring’s Everlasting Light collection!

Happy {early} shopping!

This post includes affiliate links.

Shine Your Light [GIVEAWAY]


About a month ago I drove to Des Moines. The trees had started turning at home, so I was looking forward to the drive north, assuming the trees along the highway would be even more vibrant and colorful than the ones I’d seen so far this year.

My assumptions were correct, and both sides of I-35 showed off hillsides full of happy little Bob Ross trees in my favorite fall colors. But, as much as I love yellows and oranges and even pale greens, the shade that made me smile uncontrollably was red. Always the red trees, catching my eye and making me say [again], “Ooh, look, Annalyn!”

The red trees – at least in my area – tend to be the small ones. But their rich color means they can’t possibly be overlooked. And when they happen to grow together, in a group? Wow!

We’d spotted a few bright red-leafed trees when we drove under an overpass. As we came out the other side and began driving around a curve, my breath caught in my throat. A couple dozen smallish red trees were growing on the hill next to the highway, and it looked like the earth was on fire.

It was beautiful.

And as soon as those trees faded from my rearview mirror, I grabbed the notebook out of the passenger seat and started scribbling. Yes, while driving. But though I knew the image of the fiery trees would stay with me, I didn’t want to forget the thoughts that had blazed across my heart as I gazed at them.


Those trees might have been – for the most part – small, but they were mighty. They grew with confidence and, in a sea of relative sameness, they shone with vibrancy and richness. They were lovely on their own, drawing my eye and making me smile. But together? Together, they were awesome. No, not awesome as in, really super cool. But they were AWE-some, AWE-inspiring. They lit up the land and my heart.

They didn’t just shine; they burned and blazed, brilliantly.

And they made me think of the verse in Philippians that talks of us shining brightly:

Do everything without complaining and arguing,
so that no one can criticize you.
Live clean, innocent lives as children of God,
shining like bright lights in a world
full of crooked and perverse people.
- Philippians 2:15

I use the beginning of that verse often with Annalyn, reminding her to quit arguing. But when I read this chapter again recently, I’m the one who was reminded. I remembered the larger context of Paul’s request for Christ followers to live peaceably, “loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose,” as he says earlier in chapter 2.

When we stand strong in our faith – not in judgment, not in superiority or self-righteousness, but in love, in service, in humility – those of us who love and follow Jesus stand out from the crowd just like those red-leafed trees. And I believe that’s beautiful to God, and maybe He grins a little bit when He sees it, just like I did on my drive to Iowa.

But when we stand together? Agreeing wholeheartedly on what truly matters, supporting one another in love despite our differences, loving and serving as One Body? Well, then we outshine even the most brilliant copse of autumn trees!


Have you seen the new Everlasting Light collection at DaySpring? It’s gorgeous. The collection includes home decor, jewelry and artwork – and it is all so warm, so lovely. [When I first got a sneak peek this summer, I truly did say, “I want ALL THE THINGS!”] So far I’ve only gotten a couple of “the things,” but I am really in love with them.


First of all, I’m excited to have a gold necklace (the one on the left). With silver being all the rage these past few years, I have amassed a decent collection of non-gold pieces. But sometimes something a bit warmer would look better, and now I have it. Both the bracelet and the necklace remind me to shine my light (AND the gold works with my warm-tone outfits).

Next up on my Everlasting Light wish list are the candlesticks and this art print:


(Although the Shine Your Light pillow, the world map canvas and a couple other art prints aren’t far behind. I told you – Want. All. the Things!)


While I can’t give YOU all the things any more than I can get them for myself, I CAN give one lovely reader $50 to spend in DaySpring’s Everlasting Light collection! Simply visit the site and come back to tell me (in a comment) which item you’d most like.

So the winner can use that coupon code with the AH-MAZE-ING sales DaySpring is having, I’ll randomly choose a winner after the giveaway closes at midnight CST on Friday, November 21. So, quick, go enter now!

{Photo source for top photo and second photo. Also, this post includes affiliate links and I did receive product from DaySpring. All opinions are, as always, my own.}

Stock Up Today for Easy Gifts


Since I began working with DaySpring, I’ve discovered the beauty of having a gift closet. I mean, I don’t HAVE a gift closet. I have a gift bookshelf in the corner of my garage, behind my clothes that are clean and hanging but will probably never get hung in closets because I’m the worst at laundry.

The result is the same, though.

I have a few (FINE. More than a few!) gifts on hand, for those surprise, last-minute, unexpected occasions that require a gift. These are items that say thank you or I’m thinking of you or I love you on a Tuesday – or you’re a great teacher but I forgot Teacher Appreciation Day. Again.

I’ve tried out several items for this say-anything, give-to-anyone, still-special gift, and I’ve arrived at a favorite. I love giving the Everyday Joy journal and Everyday Joy mug filled with chocolate. The colors are my favorite, the gifts are useful and lovely to look at, and the price can’t be beat.

Except – oh yeah – the price CAN be beat. Because today – AND TODAY ONLY! she said in her best car dealer voice – DaySpring mugs are buy one, get one free.

So, the Everyday Joy mug is already on clearance for $4.99 – and today you can get TWO mugs for that price.

Come on. THAT is a great deal.

FYI – the Everyday Joy journal is only $9.99. And ALL mugs, cups and bottles are buy one, get one free. Today only. As I mentioned. And (but wait! there’s more!), also today only, is the Tabletop Advent Calendar for FREE with any $50 purchase. (Just add it to your cart along with $50 of product and enter code PREPARE50 at checkout!)

So go stock up on these easy gifts and get yourself a free advent calendar! SCORE.

And just in case you have kids and families on your list this year, I had to tell you about another ONE DAY ONLY sale. Use the code SHARE15 to save 15% on all What’s in the Bible orders today. There’s no minimum, but you do get free shipping for any order over $25.

All DVDs are currently on sale for $9.97 each, so that makes each DVD less than $8.50 today! That means…

- the Why Do We Call It Christmas DVD is less than $8.50 today!
- the Sing Through the Bible DVD (30 music videos) is less than $8.50 today!
- the ENTIRE BIBLE from Genesis to Revelation (13 DVDs) is just $110 today!

I’ve told you before how much we adore What’s in the Bible. I’m getting the music video DVD for Annalyn today, and I’m thinking about getting DVDs 11-13 to complete our collection, too!

Happy shopping, friends. (And don’t worry: this blog hasn’t turned into a deals site. But when I find out about amazing sales like this, when we’re all in shopping – or, at least, shopping-list – mode, I just have to share!)

Monday Morning Notes


When I got my phone it came with a bunch of apps. Lots of them I don’t use at all (hello, ESPN), but the Notebook app comes in handy quite often. I used to keep an actual notebook by my bed and I do still keep one in my purse, but a lot of times I’ll just tap my phone and scribble my thoughts, ideas and reminders there.

Recent notes include “Gaps, Grapes and Gratitude” (a blog post idea, obviously), white kitchen trash bags, and cancel dentist appointment. It’s exciting stuff – but it’s what’s on my mind, the things I don’t want to slip away in the night or between the last errand and my house.

This post is basically the blog version of my notes. Just a few thoughts that are too long for Facebook and too short for their own posts, but things I wanted to share with you anyway. Like an old-fashioned web-log post.

And really, who can handle more than that on a Monday morning anyway?!


As I posted on Facebook last night, I’m beginning to think “they” are onto something when they say nothing good happens after [insert scary time here]. At that point it was near 1:00 am and I had cleaned up both puke and poop since saying I was going to bed at 11:00 pm.

I’m not exaggerating when I say it was so ridiculous I was on the verge of tears and laughter (and maybe a little gagging) at the very same time.

Sadly, this leads me to my next, actually important (and less disgusting) thought. Now that Annalyn is getting older, she’s a lot more aware of what I do – including the fact that I share stories about her online. So she’s starting to say, “Don’t put that on Facebook!” occasionally.

I completely respect that and am cognizant of the new boundaries we’re creating here. But I have to admit I’m a little bummed. Many of my friends have enough kids – or kids close enough in age – that they can be vague about which child had a certain problem while still sharing funny or poignant stories. Having girls six years apart pretty much means I’m out of luck in that department! You’re going to know which daughter I’m talking about, no matter how vague I am, because they will be in different stages of life for about the next 20 years.


Lucky for you, however, that means no more details about last night’s bodily fluid fest at the Carver house. Even though it was all kind of funny. You’ll just have to use your imagination. Or not. Because, well, gross.


Speaking of funny stories and Annalyn, though, I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you how tickled we got yesterday. We were driving through the ATM to get cash for childcare at our small group, and Annalyn started asking me how “bad guys” could steal money if the bank wasn’t open. [Clearly this is a sign that I should begin watching White Collar from the beginning this winter and let her join me? … FINE. Not really.]

I explained to her, again, how ATMs work and also reassured her that the older woman in the car ahead of us was not, in fact, a bad guy or stealing anything from the bank. Then, as we pulled up to the machine, I noticed what song was on the radio: Take the Money and Run by Steve Miller Band.

Obviously I cranked it up, considered peeling out and didn’t, and then laughed for a good five minutes with my daughter who was no longer worried about bad guys knocking over the bank. Even though you’d think hearing a song about Billy Joe and Bobbi Sue might’ve made her even more anxious about a heist…

And speaking of criminal activity, I decided over the weekend to reintroduce Adrienne to her pack and play. When we’ve attempted to use it for a travel crib, she’s basically thumbed her nose at it. Haha, I scoff at your pathetic crib made for travel! I will only sleep on comfortable mattresses or strapped into my car seat after a long, exhausting ride around a strange town!

Make sure you hear that in a baby voice with a French accent. I don’t know. But that’s how it sounds in my head.



Since Adrienne is crawling everywhere and, therefore, getting into everything, I needed a way to keep her safe during the times I can’t watch her every single second. So, we got the pack and play out yesterday, filled it up with her toys and plopped her down into it.

She loved it. Well, she liked it well enough and for a long enough period of time that it seems worth the precious space that portable crib takes up.

But, you guys, I kept laughing every time I’d look at her, sitting in her playpen, happy as can be. (Fine. Happy-ish. It’s new, okay?) I laughed because I couldn’t help thinking of that scene in Back to the Future, where Marty McFly sees his uncle – as a baby – in his playpen. And he says, knowing Uncle Joey ends up in jail: “Better get used to these bars, kid.”

Obviously our pack and play has mesh and not bars, and no daughter of mine better get used to bars, thankyouverymuch. But it still cracks me up!

And on a day that ended with two unfortunate messes between 11pm and 1am, I needed all the laughter I could get!

Happy Monday, friends. Won’t you tell us what’s making you laugh today?

Photo source