Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday Favorites: This Week, Amazon and One of the Best Smelling Candles Ever!

Happy Friday!  This week was a good one.  Busy, so it seemingly flew by!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that any clicks/purchases may result in a few cents of commission at no additional cost to you.

1.  I had book club on Monday night, which is always a lot of fun.  We all bring something good to eat / drink and then talk books...and often about a lot of other random stuff, too!  My friend Jessi was hosting this time, which was a good thing, because somehow I thought it started at 6:00.  I pull up, and no one is there, which I am like ok...people are sometimes late, no big deal.  I ring her doorbell and she was like hey, you are early, and I was like just a minute, or two...and then she told me it started at 7:00, and that it always has.  I felt so bad, but it was really nice to get to hang out for a little bit before the whole crew came.  My mess up turned into a little treat!  My contribution this month was my mom's cheeseball, which she always makes around the holidays.  It was so good and easy to make - I will be sharing the recipe next week!    

2.  I had a haircut Tuesday night after work, and my hairdresser suggested doing this deep conditioning treatment, and that she would give me a discount.  It sounded great to me, so she slathered my hair up, and put me under a dryer for a bit.  It was so relaxing, I swear I could have fallen asleep!  A good reminder to sometimes go ahead and treat yourself!

3.  I have mentioned before how happy I am that I have found my church.  One of the ladies who has really kind of taken me under her wing, invited me over to her circle dinner.  It was so much fun!  It was a potluck, so we had a bunch of different stuff (someone made scalloped potatoes that had both russet and sweet potatoes in it, which was delicious!), and the hostess made a wonderful warm punch to sip on throughout the night.  After we ate, we did a hilarious white elephant gift exchange and shared our holiday plans.  Basically, our hostess just went around her house, found things she didn't need / want anymore, and put them in bags for us to get.  Such a clever way to clean out your house a bit!

4.  I don't know if everywhere does this, but one thing I really like about Amazon, is that if you preorder something, then between the time you order and the time it is available, they price adjust to whatever the lowest price has been at that time.  For example, if you ordered something at $40, but then it went down to $30, you will only be charged $30, even though at the time you ordered, it was $40.  It's worked out in my favor a few times now, and I just think it's really neat and great customer service!

White Barn Cinnamon & Clove Bud 3-Wick Candle - Bath And Body Works
5.  I shared this on instagram, but if you are in need of an amazing smelling candle, you have to check out Cinnamon & Clove Bud from Bath & Body Works.  Lindsay told me about it, saying it smelled like our favorite hot tea (Hot Cinnamon Sunset).  Well the tea smells awesome, so I headed over to the store to get one for myself, and goodness gracious, it smells so good!  Thanks, Linds!

I am having a hard time believing that Christmas is only 10 days away!  I shouldn't, because honestly, this whole year has just been a blur it seems.  I am hoping to slow down a bit on Saturday, enjoy being at home, watch Hallmark movies, and drink hot chocolate.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Linking up with AndreaErikaApril, and Katie. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Girl Chat: Best Gift Ever!

Hey ladies!  We are on our last Girl Chat post of the year - thanks so much to everyone who has linked up with us over the months!  

Today's topic is the best gift we have ever received.  If you ask my mom, she will tell you that her best Christmas for me was the year I got my American Girl doll.  Which, of course, is an amazing present.  My first doll was Samantha, and then I also got one that looked like me.  I LOVED those dolls and have them tucked away for the time when I can hopefully pass them along to my future daughter.  I am not sure what my dad would say, but it could be the year he got my brother and I cell phones (and a pink cover to go with mine!).  I was one of the first of my friends to get one, so it was pretty neat.  But when I think of Christmas, I more think of the time spent with family.  I know it sounds cheesy and I don't want to discount any gifts I have received, because my mom is like the ultimate gift giver, and I have gotten some amazing presents over the years, but when I think back, that is what stand out in my mind.  Not necessarily the things per say, but sitting around opening gifts, eating monkey bread together, going to my grandparents, visiting, eating and playing cards.  On my dad's side, growing up there were so many of us, so we would pick a name and get one gift.  Again, what stands out to me is all of us being out at the farm, spread out between the living and dining room, with wrapping paper and tissue paper all over the place.  Just so many great memories!

Since I don't have one specific gift to share, I will leave with this funny story about a gift I received one Christmas.  As I was talking with my mom on this subject, she reminded me about the time I got coal.  I learned the hard way that when my parents said that if you aren't good, you are going to get coal in your stocking, they mean business!  Because sure enough, one time when I was little, I went to pull out my last stocking stuffer from my the toe of my stocking...and it's a piece of coal. 

You can see all my other Girl Chat posts below:

To link up - just grab our graphic, link up and let's get to chatting!  Make sure to stop by a few others linked up for an extra bit of girl chat!

And don't forget to follow your hosts!

Danielle - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter 

Emily - Bloglovin' | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lindsay - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Lizzie - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest 

Sierra - Bloglovin' | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Holiday Recipes

I love food around the holidays.  Heck, I love food ALL the time, but there are a few holiday recipes that are just that have lots of good memories attached to them.

First up, monkey bread.  For as long as I can remember, my mom has always made monkey bread for us Christmas morning.  When we were little, I think that was all she had, but over the years, we have had to add to our breakfast spread as we got older (and hungrier) and as our family as grown to include my sister in law and nephew.  It's delicious and yummy and will forever mean Christmas morning to me.

Broccoli, cheese and rice casserole is another one of those recipes that makes me think of the holidays.  My mom makes this for Thanksgiving, Christmas with my dad's side of the family, Christmas with her side of the family...and for any other 'holiday' get together.  I don't think I appreciated it as much growing up, but it may be one of my favorite things now!  I think it was last year at Thanksgiving when my mom said, as soon as she smells the onions and celery sauteing in butter for the casserole, the holiday season has officially started for her. 

My aunt is the queen of Christmas cookies.  She makes tons and tons of them, all different kinds, too!  It's hard to pick a favorite, because they are all so delicious, but I would have to say one of my favorites are Snowball Surprise Cookies.  They are so good, and while mine never look like the perfect little balls hers do (no matter if I follow her recipe to a T!), they taste just as wonderful.  And they are a crowdpleaser for sure!

Linking up with Sarah, Victoria, Shelly, Jenn and Jessi.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas Home Tour 2017

I think this is one of my favorite posts of the year - Christmas Home Tour!  I love decorating for the holidays. 

The tree is always my favorite thing.  I turn it on as soon as I get up in the morning, and it's the last thing that goes off before I head to bed.  I love to have all the different ornaments.  Many of them have a special meaning, which makes it so fun to put up.  I also pick up new ones each year, and even after the season when they are on sale.  The more ornaments the better!  My mom LOADS up her tree, so I come by it honestly.

I added a new furry pillow to the mix this year, and it is so soft.  

My mom made this tiny little banner garland for me, which I think is so cute!  Also new this year is this nesting Santa - a memento from last week's Chicago trip! 

My mom grabbed the silver bottle brush trees from Target's dollar spot this year.  I love the different texture they add to the mercury glass!  I thought the greens needed a pop of color, so everything got a touch of red berries this year.  Such a classic pairing!

Putting my card holder to good use displaying Christmas cards!  

This spot is the perfect place for a Christmas pillow!

In previous years, I had bottle brush trees under this cloche, but they were used elsewhere, so I kept it simple with a candle and greens.  I am a big fan of these candles from World Market.  They are relatively reasonable for battery candles, and you can set them on a timer.  

Festive little spot for keys!

Coffee & tea station!  The tea and K-cup packets are on the back side, so you can't really see them, but this thing is so handy.  I love having everything right there by my Keurig.

These plaid towels were a Small Business Saturday find and the red Dutch oven adds such a festive touch.

The dining room area is one of my favorites to decorate.

To bring in a little silver to the centerpiece, my mom and I added in different sized jingle bells we got at Michael's.  Funny story - my mom had a little baggie of bells that she already had, so we tried filling it with that.  Well, we needed a LOT more.  Or so we thought.  We went to Michael's, bought a ton of jingle bells, only to come home and find out that we could have gotten away with half the amount we bought.  Whoops!

We dressed up the napkin holders with a little ribbon, bakers twine and a jingle bell.  Super easy!

My mom printed out Christmas carols, and then made a banner from it for under my shelf.  I love the pop of color against the printers box.

A new DIY this year, was the ruler star.  I have a little wall between the bathroom and bedroom, and it needed a little sprucing up.  We had seen a ruler star at a flea market a year or two ago, but I thought we could make one that more suited my tastes.  I think it turned out so cute!

Linking up with Andrea, Victoria, and Sarah.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Chicago Recap & My 2017 Christmas Card

Last Sunday, we headed to Chicago.  I have said it before, but it's my favorite city and I was super excited to go during the holiday season.  (To make it easier, at the very bottom of the post are my recommendations for Chicago.)

We got there later on Sunday, so we just check into our hotel and walked around a bit before grabbing something to eat at a restaurant close to our hotel. 

I made it to the hotel gym on Monday to start off the week right, although I do have to say it was the only day I actually made it there.  Breakfast was complimentary with our stay, so we ended up doing that each morning we were there, because it was super easy, free and really good!  One really cool thing about our hotel, was that it had two robots, that would bring up small items if need be.  We accidently got two shower gels and no lotion, and I hadn't packed any, so we texted down and a few minutes later, the robot, Cleo, was at our door, with the lotion.  It was the craziest thing!  My cousin told me about this restaurant, Au Cheval, and said that they may have the best burger he has ever eaten.  He said the wait is usually insane, so we made sure to get there early (10:45), and I have to say, had we gotten there much later, we would have had a bit of a wait.  The food was delicious, and I would highly recommend going there if you are a burger fan.  On our walk back, I saw a sign for the Little French Market, so we walked on over there.  It kind of was like a food court, with a few other odds and ends there.  It was neat to see all the different types of food, and also what stations people were lined up for.  I wanted to check out the Macy's tree and the store windows, so that was up next on the agenda.  Growing up, we would occasionally go to the city to see the store lights, so it was fun to do that again.  With all the walking, we worked up an appetite for a treat, so we headed to Firecakes for their ice cream donut sandwich.  It's heavenly!  It was nice to get back to the hotel to rest a bit, and then we headed to dinner.  My cousin said great things about Eataly, so we headed over there for dinner.  It was amazing.  If you are ever in a city that has one, you must go.

Tuesday morning we got breakfast at the hotel again, and then headed to the Museum of Science and Industry.  During the holidays they have trees decorated for each country.  It's always so neat to see.  My favorite was the Czech tree, which is fitting since that is what my mom's side of the family is!  We also had to go see the fairy castle, which has always been my favorite, and yesterday's main street.  The museum just never disappoints.  We wanted to go a little lighter for lunch, so we checked out a Mediterranean place, Ema.  Another great restaurant!  The temperature had dropped a ton on Tuesday and it was crazy windy, so we just headed back to the hotel and stayed in for awhile.  We had made plans to go see the zoo lights with my cousin, but it was pretty miserable, so we headed back to Eataly for dinner.  I know there are so many great places to eat in Chicago, but I seriously dreamed about the pasta I had there, I loved it so much.  After dinner we walked along the river and back to the hotel.  It's funny, because my cousin and I used to be terrible to each other when we were little, but now we are great friends.  


The weather was still kind of crappy on Wednesday, but we braved it for a little shopping.  First up was lunch at Portillo's, one of my favorite places.  It's a chain, but they have the best Chicago style hot dogs and chocolate shakes!  My go to order there.  Even though it was cold, we headed to the Chriskindlmarket, which was surprisingly busy!  It's a little German market that has lots of vendors - both food and goods.  I picked up some ornaments and a little nesting santa.  After resting at the hotel, it was back out to do some browsing on Michigan Avenue and warming up with a coffee.  


Our last day was Thursday, and it was spent just getting ready to go.  It flurried a bit when we left, which was so pretty to see!  We met my grandma and mom for lunch at Riverside Restaurant, a Bohemian place that is one of my grandma's favorites.  I went once before and it was just as good the second time.  Since we were passing by, we stopped by to see my dad at his shop.  The rest of the drive was uneventful, at least until St. Louis.  Because it was right around rush hour, the GPS had us going all these crazy ways to avoid traffic.  Definitely not the usual way home!  

We took Friday off, too, and it was nice to spend it relaxing at home.  We did make it out for a movie, The Disaster Artist, which was good.  Kind of odd, but still good.  I wasn't familiar with the story behind it, but it's based on this guy that makes a movie that is terrible, but has this crazy cult-like following.  They showed side by side of the actual movie and how they remade it, and it's amazing to see how it is almost exact, which was really neat.

It was nice to have a full week off work, although this coming week is going to be nuts!  Tis the season, I guess!

Now, onto my 2017 Christmas card!  I used Shutterfly this year, and was really happy with how they turned out!

Chicago Recommendations
Where to stay:
Hotel EMC2

Things to do:
Museum of Science & Industry
Macy's Christmas Tree / Store Windows

Eataly (the tagliatelle was out of this world!)
Au Cheval (get the cheeseburger!)
Portillo's (my order is always the hotdog with everything and a chocolate shake)
Ema (the hummus is amazing, and so is the halluomi cheese)

Linking up with Biana, Sarah and Victoria.


Friday, December 8, 2017

Friday Favorites: Chicago, Planners, Crockpot Mondays & Link Up Reminder

Happy Friday!  For the first time in a long while, I am actually kind of sad that Friday is here.  I have been off all week and it has just been so lovely!  A full recap to come next week!

1.  Chicago.  I was in Chicago Sunday - Thursday and it seriously is my favorite city.  I just love it so much.  We ate a ton and had a great time walking around the city and enjoying some of the Christmas-y things the city has to offer!

2.  Eataly.  I am obsessed.  I honestly dreamed about the pasta we had there and we may have gone back two nights in a row for dinner (and seriously thought about going back for a third night).  It's that good.  Can one please be opened in St. Louis?

3.  The Essential Planner in the news!  I have mentioned The Essential Planner before, but in case you missed it, Kelsey from Kelsey Peacock started a new business this year, Peacock Paper & Gifts, where she sells The Essential Planner.  The goal was create a planner that really had all the essentials in it you would need, which I think she totally knocked it out of the park.  She was recently featured in her local magazine, which is so very exciting!  Definitely check out her article (link here), and if you haven't yet, check out her planners!  My personal favorite is the weekly navy dot - I cannot wait to start using it!         

4.  Crockpot Monday.  When I was meal planning a few weeks ago, I opted to make a crockpot meal on Monday.  And let me tell you - it was so nice to come home to have dinner pretty much done.  I feel like Mondays can be tough, because you are just coming off the weekend, and since you aren't used to working all day, sometimes you are just a bit more tired and the last thing you want to do is think too much about dinner.  But having something in the crockpot going when you get home is just kind of like an ahhhhh, if that makes sense.  So I've decided I am going to make Mondays, 'crockpot Mondays'.  And maybe it won't necessarily be a crockpot meal, but something that all I have to do is pop in the oven, or assemble, like making a lasagna on Sunday to bake on Monday - something like that.  Just a way to make the start of the work week a little easier!

5.  Girl Chat link up!  This coming Thursday (12/14) is the last Girl Chat link up of the year.  We will be sharing the greatest gift we have ever received and would love for you to join us!  I have to admit, this one is a bit tough for me and I have to do some serious thinking between now and Thursday!  

Linking up with AndreaErikaApril, and Katie.