Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday Favorites: Creed II, Ebates, A New Coat & Instant Pot Blogs

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Hey all!  I hope everyone has been having a great week!  It's hard for me to believe that Thanksgiving was only a week ago - it feels like it has been sooo much longer!  Although it seems like a distant memory already, and I want to go back to it, this week has been nice to get back into more of a routine.  Although my to do list keeps on piling up, haha.  What can you do?!  Other than chip away at it, that is.

1.  First up, I think I have mentioned on here before my love of the Rocky movies.  I think they are SO GOOD.  I watched them all a few years ago, and then hopped back on the train when Creed came out last year - which again was SO GOOD.  When I found Creed II was coming out, I knew that it was a must see.  And I did just that this week.  There was a movie showing at the perfect time right after work, and the theater was pretty much empty, which was an added bonus.  I think there were only 2 other people in there.  I have to say - Creed II was probably one of the better movies I have seen in a long time.  While the overall plot was pretty predictable (as they usually are in these movies), it was so extremely heartwarming...I think I was teary eyed for about 1/3 of the movie, if not more.  And I love how they brought back the Drago storyline (and cast) from Rocky IV.  If you are looking for me this weekend, I will probably be watching a Rocky movie, or Creed, haha.  Definitely has me wanting to pull them out and rewatch!

2.  I know many of you probably already use Ebates, but if not, I cannot urge you enough to check it out!  I have been an Ebates user for the past 4 years or so, and while sometimes I wasn't as diligent about using it, you better believe I have been this year, especially with Christmas shopping.  If you aren't familiar, Ebates allows you to receive cash back when you purchase things online.  You just have to create an account and log in, search for the store you want to make a purchase at, look at the deals offered (sometimes there are coupon codes you can take advantage of, along with the regular cash back), click 'Shop Now', and you proceed to do your shopping as if you went directly to the website.  So far, this Christmas shopping season I have earned almost $20.00 in cash back using Ebates (and I still have a few others pending).  While that number isn't HUGE, it still is something.  And I think because of the holidays, many stores have higher cash back percentages, like for example, I purchased a gift from Macy's yesterday, and the cash back percentage was 10.0%.  It's not always that much - sometimes stores are only 1.0%, but still, I feel like every little bit counts.  You can click here to sign up (referral link).

3.  Speaking of Macy's, they have been having some really good deals lately.  I have been on the hunt for a new coat for the last year or so.  Something more casual...my current coat has seen better days.  I ended up getting this Michael Kors coat from Macy's.  It was slightly better priced than it is now, but I still think the current sale is a good price.  I sized up one size because the small's shoulders / arms were a bit constricting.  But the medium fit perfectly.  It has plenty of room for layers under it, but it's not so much so that it look unflattering, like it doesn't fit.  Of course, as I get it, the weather starts to warm up.  We went from frigid earlier this week to very mild temps.  I am sure the cold weather will be back before we know it, though!
  

4.  In my 'What's Up Wednesday' post, I shared that I bought myself an Instant Pot during Black Friday.  I went down a hole trying to figure recipes to try, and there are two websites I wanted to share.  In case you are looking for some, too.  First is Skinnytaste.  This was a recommendation, and one that I was already familiar with.  I have her first two cookbooks, and I like to peruse her website from time to time to see what is new.  The second, The Girl Next Bloor, I found via Pinterest.  This was a new blog to me, but from what I saw, all of her recipes look really good, and pretty healthy, too!  One thing that drew me to her recipes are the fact that they seem quick.  I know with the instant pot you have to wait for it to pressurize, then cook, then release, but even with all that, her recipes seem like they would take, on average, about a half hour.  Which seems relatively fast to me!

If you have tried recipes from either of these, please let me know - both the good and the bad.  I plan on trying out my first recipe this weekend (still undecided on which one)...wish me luck!         

5...I don't actually have a fifth favorite.  Last night I got home from work and spent pretty much the entire night in the kitchen, baking for my church's cookie walk.  I love being able to participate, but I am tired, and it's wayyyy past my bedtime.  

Hope everyone has a great weekend!      

Linking up with AndreaErikaThe Blended Blog. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Christmas Bucket List 2018

'Tis the season to do all the Christmas things...so here is all I hope to do this holiday season!



1.  Decorate for Christmas.  There is a reason this is number one on the list, because it is my favorite thing to do each year!  I love decorating for all the different seasons / holidays, but Christmas really takes the cake.  I can't wait to share my Christmas home tour next week!

2.  Send Christmas Cards.  Confession time - I think I started looking at these all the way back in October...if not earlier!  I love sending them almost as much as I love receiving them.  If you would like to exchange, shoot me an email at emilyanndunham@gmail.com with your address!

3.  Craft a Christmas Ornament.  Growing up, I always remember my mom making Christmas ornaments.  She is so crafty, and in the past few years we have started a new tradition, and we make an ornament together.  

4.  Watch Christmas Movies.  I pretty much love ALL the Christmas movies (except A Christmas Story...knowing that, my brother always makes sure the TV is always turned to that on Christmas Day, haha, when it's on for 24 hours, or whatever it is), and I try to get in as many as I can over the holidays.  My must watch movies include: Miracle on 34th Street (the original version), The Santa Clause, The Grinch (with Jim Carrey), and allll of the different versions of A Christmas Carol.  The Preacher's Wife, Little Women, and It's A Wonderful Life are always good, too!

5.  Bake Christmas Cookies.  This is another newer tradition for my mom and me.  If I am remembering correctly, this started a few years ago because we were pretty much going to be snowed in for a few days.  So my mom and I made a grocery run, where I came across the Southern Living December magazine.  We picked two cookies to make, and then I probably asked my mom 'why have we never made sugar cookies together' so those got added to the list, too.  It's a labor of love (sugar cookies are no joke), but it's one of my new favorite things to do.  

6.  Drive Around Looking at Christmas Lights, while Sipping a Peppermint Hot Chocolate.  Very specific, I know.  I love Christmas lights, and it's even better when sipping on a Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

7.  Missouri Botanical Gardens' Garden Glow.  This was one that I went to a few years ago, but hadn't been since.  To get it in before the weather got too cold and the crowds got to be too much, we went before Thanksgiving.  It was just as neat as I remember!

8.  Santa's Magical Kingdom.  I actually heard about this one on the local news not too long ago, and looked it up to see what it actually was.  There seems to be a lot of different things you can do there - shops, carriage rides, trolley rides, but you also have the option of driving through, which is what I would like to try for this year.  There are various light parks around St. Louis, and my goal is to get around to them all so I can see which one can become the go to spot.

9.  Anheuser-Busch Brewery Lights.  I actually went to this a few years ago, but don't remember being overly impressed.  But, this year, my grandma sent me an article about it from a magazine she had, and the picture in it was just sooo pretty.  So either it has changed, or they know how to work their angles, haha!  Either way, I would like to give it another chance!

10.  Give Back.  While I love everything listed about, this is by far the most important of them all!  While giving back shouldn't just be limited to the holiday season, this time of year does go hand in hand with it.  Whether it be adopting a family, or making a donation to a favorite charity, using Amazon Smile when doing your shopping (instead of regular amazon.com, use smile.amazon.com - you can designate a charity that a small percentage of your purchase will go to - at no cost to you!) or even just slipping a few coins into the Salvation Army bucket, it's important to me that I do something.  As I get older, I realize more and more how lucky I was growing up, and how lucky I continue to be.  Sure, everyone has their trials and tribulations, but I think what you give, you get back twofold.  Even just a little bit can go a long way.  And before I get too far in a tangent about giving, I will get off my soapbox and end it here.

Cheers to a wonderful Christmas season, full of all the fun things, and hopefully checks on all these bucket list items!

Linking up with Shay and Erika.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

What's Up Wednesday: November 2018






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Again, this post seems to just come WAY too soon.  The end of the year just flies on by!

What I'm eating this week...

Monday:  Chipotle - I wasn't feeling very good, so I just got some chicken and rice.  Quick, easy, and kind of bland. 
Tuesday:  Chili
Wednesday:  Brats, roasted potatoes, and brussels sprouts
Thursday:  Beef & Noodles (one of my all-time favorite meals ever!) and peas   
Friday:  Leftovers

I posted this on my insta stories Sunday, but I purchased an Instant Pot on Black Friday.  It was such a good deal, and my sister in law just raves about hers...not to mention everyone else who seems to have one.  Skinnytaste was recommended as a good source for recipes, and of course I have been looking on Pinterest, but if you have any other websites, or specific recipes you would recommend, please send them my way.  I am hoping to try a recipe this weekend.  After very, very carefully reading the instructions.   

What I'm reminiscing about...holiday seasons of past...why does this one seem to be going so much faster than normal?!

What I'm loving...pretty much everything.  It's the most wonderful time of year!

What I've been up to...this month was another really good one.

I discovered the joys of Netflix, binging on Schitt's Creek.  It was really funny, and perfect for when I had a sick day at home.

My mom came down the first weekend (post here), and we enjoyed some shopping.  We had a few specific places we wanted to go, and one of them in particular was the furniture store, so I could check out a few things I had been looking at online, in person.  We also checked out some local shops / boutiques, which was really fun.  My mom is my favorite shopping partner and it was nice to have a more low-key visit with her, where we weren't trying to do all the things...that trip was to come in a few weekends. 

The St. Louis area got our first snow of the season...just as my brother and his family were making a trip to visit me.  Luckily they made it in one piece and we had a great weekend together (post here).  

I read what may have been my favorite book (at least one of my favorite books) of the year...and a book that was not my favorite (book review here).

I shared a few of my tips for juggling this time of year.  Spoiler alert...it's all about making lists and staying on top of things (post here).

We had MORE snow...even enough to have a work at home snow day.  I could not believe it.  Of course, the snow was pretty much gone by the end of the next day.  This weather is so fickle!  It was perfect timing, though, because my parents were headed to town to help my decorate my condo for Christmas!  And not only did we decorate for Christmas, we got some house projects done / hung (thanks to my dad), and my mom and I got in some shopping, too (post here)!  My Christmas home tour post will be up next Tuesday (12/4) - I can't wait to show you all my Christmas in my condo!

I took the whole week of Thanksgiving off, and snuck in a little Christmas activity prior to the holiday.  The Missouri Botanical Gardens has a Garden Glow this time every year, and it is so neat (post here)!

Then, of course, it was my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving...and then Black Friday.  Thanksgiving was wonderful - anytime we can all get together is the best, and to say we had an eventful Friday may be somewhat of an understatement...post here.

All in all it was a full month - I felt like the weeks were just fillers for the weekend with all the visits I had from family...leading up to the big day, Thanksgiving!  Now I am ready to enjoy the last days, and December!!

What I'm dreading...still how fast the year is going.  It seems like Christmas will be here in a flash.  I love the build up and the anticipation, so I would love for things to slow down.  Although there is a tiny, little part inside me that is looking forward to the fresh start the new year brings.  Just not yet!

What I'm working on...trying to fit it all in and enjoy this time of year, too!


What I'm excited about...I know I am a broken record, but really everything that these next weeks bring!

What I'm watching...in addition to my normal shows, Hallmark Christmas movies.  And Lifetime, too, when I remember to record them.  So far I have really enjoyed Christmas at Pemberley Manor, Road to Christmas and Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe.  A Godwink Christmas was really fun, too, because part of it was based in St. Louis, and then at the end you find out it is a true story, which I thought was a super neat surprise.     


What I'm reading...all the Christmas books.  I requested a ton of books from my library after spending one of my lunches googling Christmas books.  I didn't think they would all come in so quickly, but almost all of them did at once, and I could barely carry them all out to my car!  I thought I was picking up a handful, and it probably was more like 3 handfuls!  I was a bit (okay, a lot) embarrassed, haha, and it also made me think that I need to start bring a bag to the library. 


What I'm listening to...all the Christmas music!  My first year of blogging I shared my favorite Christmas albums (post here)...and three years later they are still in rotation.  Currently I have 'NSync in my car.  Who doesn't love a little bit of Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays?!  One that I also really love that isn't in that initial post, it Brett Eldredge's Glow album.  He has such a wonderful voice, and although he is a country singer, his album sounds more old school / traditional to me.  It's super good!

What I'm wearing...well, I am not wearing these yet, but I will be on Friday.  I was on the hunt for new jeans, and grabbed these Wit and Wisdom Itty Bitty Bootcut jeans on Black Friday.  They weren't on sale, but compared to the jeans I have bought lately, they are a pretty darn good price.  I have only heard good things about these jeans, and I am excited to break them out for the first time.  I haven't worn a bootcut in awhile, but love the wear it looks with a pointy toe - perfect with a sweater for casual Fridays at the office!


I also picked up this Nike sweatshirt on Black Friday (it's from the Mens department, but I feel like it's pretty unisex), and it's been on almost every evening.  It's super comfy, and I love the bright blue color.  Paired with my favorite, Reebok joggers, I am all set and comfy for an evening at home, preferrably watching Hallmark movies!

main image

What I'm looking forward to next month...everything - Christmas festivities, days off...I said this already but it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Linking up with Shay and Jessi.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Garden Glow 2018

Happy Tuesday!  Today, I am taking it back to two Mondays ago when I went to the Missouri Botanical Gardens Garden Glow.  The Botanical Gardens are neat in and of themselves, but they are especially neat during the holiday season, when they are all lit up for the glow.  

I went a few years ago, and had the best time, but hadn't been since.  I knew it was something I wanted to make sure to do this year, so I planned it way in advance - even before Thanksgiving!  The timing worked out, being off, and as a bonus, the tickets are cheaper at the start of the week.  Also, when I looked at the 'peak' days, it seemed like the start of the week was slower which makes sense given the cheaper ticket price to entice people to come.  

We got stuck in crazy traffic due to an accident (hopefully everyone was ok!), but made it there only about 20 minutes later than our assigned time.  It worked out, because the assigned time is for when you can start going in - any time after is fine, just not before (something I looked at very carefully while stuck in non-moving traffic, haha).  

It was a great night - cool enough to wear a hat and gloves, but not actually cold.  There weren't many people there, which was nice so that we could go at our own pace.  Last time seemed a lot longer, but I think a lot of that was due to the slow moving crowd.  All the lights are super neat - I always wonder who thinks of the set up because I know it changes a little each year.  My absolute favorite part is the old home there, though.  It so gorgeous and stately, and they had it all decked in white lights - my favorite.  I will let the pictures do the talking...and let me tell you, it doesn't even do it justice!










There was a '12 Days of Christmas' set up - this was the 5 golden rings area! 

The sky was so crazy - this hazy/foggy orangey color...so neat!


It's not just the lights, they also have a hot chocolate boozy bar, places where you can buy s'more kits and roast them, a restaurant on site, and carolers.  They have lots of good photo ops set up throughout, too.  We were going to dinner after, so we didn't partake, but maybe next year!

It's such a neat place, and definitely helped get me even more in the holiday spirit!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Weekend Recap: Thanksgiving 2018

Hey all!  I hope every had a fantastic holiday!

I mentioned last week that I had a little 'Thanksgiving break', since I took time off Monday - Wednesday, and then my company gives us both Thursday and Friday off.  It was a pretty low key few days off, but I did get in a little Christmas fun, which I will share tomorrow...otherwise this post will be wayyyyy too long.

I headed to my parents after rush hour on Wednesday.  The drive was kind of eh - lots of people out, and crazy drivers at that.  It was kind of funny, because I think my mom said all the same things when she and my dad came down the prior weekend.  After lunch, we started cooking for Thanksgiving.  Even though my mom makes four dishes, it seemed like it all went relatively smoothly and we got everything done in good time!  We fit in a walk between dishes, which was nice.  It's always fun to check out the neighborhood, and see what has changed.  

Thursday morning my mom and I got in an 'invigorating' morning walk...I say invigorating, because it was a brisk 28 degrees, haha!  It definitely got us going!  Thanksgiving was at my grandma's so we made our way up north.  We were missing a cousin and my uncle, but everyone else was there.  The food was super delicious, and my nephew was soooo fun.  My grandma has these little wooden eggs, that he loves to play with.  It's fun, because we all grew up playing with them, too.  So he would rolling them around the house, and I would kind of chase after him / make sure he didn't lose the egg.  Then he discovered the two closets my grandma has in one of her rooms, and had so much fun 'hiding' in the closet.  He would call us to go in one side with him, then two other people go in the other.  Once he got out, whoever was on the other side would start knocking and he's open the door and just laugh like it the best thing.  This went on for what seemed like quite a while - it was fun seeing how something as simple as wooden eggs, and closets could provide so much entertainment.  It really is the small things!  Another highlight from Thanksgiving was getting to pick out ornaments from my grandma's collection.  She doesn't put up a big tree anymore, so she thought she would let us have a look to see if there were any ornaments we would like.  We did it oldest to youngest, and had a lot of fun reminiscing and picking.  I even got some Shiny Brites that were from my grandparents' first married Christmas in 1953.  My grandma said she got them at the dime store!  Just really special.




Now, for some good storytelling.  My mom and I always go Black Friday shopping.  It's one of our traditions.  We love getting up early and getting good deals.  So, we were up and at 'em early on Friday, and I was getting my breakfast.  My mom had mentioned she had homemade muffins in the freezer, which I love, so I decided to pop those in the microwave to heat up.  Well.  I wasn't paying attention, and the muffin liners had the foil inside them.  And wouldn't you know, hear some crackling from the microwave and the paper towel I wrapped them in was ON FIRE!  I stopped it, yelled for my dad, and opened the microwave.  Luckily in the few seconds it took for my dad to get to the kitchen it had died down quite a bit, he patted the other flames out, then cleaned it up.  Gah, talk about a bad start to the morning.  I am so thankful that nothing was damaged, but I felt SO bad, SO embarassed, and just plain terrible about it all.  To make this story even better, a few Christmas's ago I broke my parents microwave.  I just do not have luck with their microwaves!  With that behind me, my mom and I set out for shopping.  Our first stop is always Target.  Well, unbeknowst to us, the Target we always go to did not open until 7:00.  We got there around 6:20-6:30, so we decided to just go on the mall, and we would catch Target after.  Those two things kind of set the mood for the whole day, and while we did really well shopping, it just wasn't as fun as normal, for whatever reason.  My bad luck streak continued to lunch.  We always stop at Portillo's for lunch, and I always get the hot dog, with a chocolate shake.  Well, they could not crank out chocolate shakes fast enough - I was legitimately getting worried something happened to my mom because she was still not at the table.  Of course, it was because I had to have a chocolate shake, and because of that, our hot dogs were sitting out and the buns got pretty soggy.  They still were delicious, don't get me wrong, but they just were really messy and not as good as normal.  We picked up Lou Malnati's for dinner, which is my new favorite pizza - definitely a highlight of the day.  However, once we got home, I realized that something I had gotten for my dad, just because, was not in the bag!!  My mom and I were shopping over an hour away, so it wasn't like we could just run to the store to fix it.  We called, but as far as I know, it still hasn't been resolved.  My dad went to double check to ensure that it hasn't just fallen out of the bag in the car...my mom said that if it had, I might as well just go to bed for the night (since I had already checked and not found anything), because it was NOT my day.  Luckily, or unluckily, really, that was not the case.  But I did almost lose a slice of pizza to the floor as I was dishing up my plate.  Needless to say, I went to be early that night, and hoped for a better Saturday, haha.

my favorite mall - love how it is all decorated for Christmas!

Which it was!  We did Shop Small Saturday, and had some good luck.  Then ended the shopping with a stop at Distehl, a brewery for lunch.  My mom and I shared the BLT and the pork and pineapple tacos, which were both amazing!  We had planned to craft a new ornament that evening, which we did, but not after some finagling - we were kind of off our crafting game and didn't really like how things were turning out.  But, we did come up with a winner, and I will be sharing it next month!

I was out on the road early the next day...I had some weirdness as I was leaving town.  I was driving by an ambulance, and could see the person inside, which was kind of unsettling.  And as I was making my way to the interstate, there was a car, pointed down the wrong side of the road!  It was like they went to go down the road, then stopped, and then reserved into the cross street, still on the wrong side of the road.  It was the oddest thing!  I had slowed down, because I was planning on just pulling over to the side, in case they were going to actually drive down the road, but thankfully that didn't happen.  Thankfully, the rest of the drive was relatively uneventful, I got home, watched some TV, did some laundry, installed a new fire alarm, and prepped for the week ahead.

Here's to hoping that Monday is a good one, without any of the residual weirdness from the week before, haha!

Linking up with Biana anLindsay.
        

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Fall Bucket List Recap

This fall was really great.  While I didn't get to everything on my fall bucket list, I feel like I still made the most of it!
Take a fall drive.  Check!  Even though we were about a week early (and I got a bit car sick), the colors were still super pretty.  Missouri definitely shines in the fall! 

Saturday morning at the Botanical Gardens.  I missed the boat on this one.  I was waiting until the leaves changed, and by that time, I had plans every single weekend!  Next year!

Carve a pumpkin.  Check!  Yay, so happy to have finally checked this one off!  It was really fun, and gave the squirrels a little something to snack on, haha. (Post here.)

Go to a winery.  Check!  I actually was able to make it to a winery and a distillery - bonus! (Post here.)

Go on a hayride!  I ended up going home to celebrate my mom's birthday the weekend I had originally planned to do the hayride.  It was only offered that weekend, so it'll be something to try for again next year!

Make a pumpkin dish.  Check!  I made my favorite, pumpkin squares, for work. (Recipe here.)

Handout candy on Halloween.  Check!  Although, this was a bit of a bust, because I only had one trick or treater!  I found out that my subdivision does a trunk or treat, so I guess they don't do any real trick or treating the day of...or maybe just not the section of the subdivision I am located in.  Oh well, now I know for next year.

Enjoy many, many pumpkin spice lattes.  Check, check check!  I have been getting my fill, that is for sure!  I was hoping to stock up on some K Cups, but I can't seem to find them in stores - at least the ones I go to.  I have been interspursing my caramel macchiattos to ration them a bit, haha.  But lots of coffee has been enjoyed, and I have even discovered how delicious an iced pumpkin spice latte.  That's good to know when I am craving them next fall, but it's still 90+ degrees out!

Linking up with LindsayJenn and Jessi. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Weekend Recap: Christmas Decorating

Hey all!  Happy Tuesday!  It's hard to believe that we are only a few days away from my very favorite holiday.  I took the entire week off of work, so I am a bit out of routine.  Which is why this post is coming to you a day late, and later in the day than normal.  I have been enjoying taking things easy!  

This past weekend my parents came to town to help me decorate for Christmas, hang a few things, and help me with a few little odds and ends around the house.  I took a half day on Friday, which was really nice.  I was just counting down the minutes til it was time to go home, because I was SO excited to get decorating.  I had gotten all my fall and Christmas tubs out the night before, so I was ready to 'defall' and get out alllll the Christmas.  Putting away didn't take too long, although I realized that since I bought quite a few new things this year for my fall decor, I needed an extra tub, haha!  We then put my dad to work, hanging a little shelf in the bathroom.  I can officially say that a room is totally complete in my place...even if it is just the half bathroom.  

Since the weather was really nice, we decided to tackle the outside decor first.  I had these lofty plans when I first started dreamy of my Christmas decorations with little trees flanking the front door, lighted garland around the door, lighted wreaths on even window...but reality set in with the cost of all that, I chose instead to keep it simple with a lighted wreath on the door, and a sled that my grandma had picked up earlier this year.  We used a strand of these battery operated lights, which are set to go on for 6 hours, and they worked really well!  My dad ran to Lowe's to get a few things to help secure the sled against the house, and we were good to go.

Next up were the trees and garland.  I had a prelit tree, but a few years ago a section wouldn't like up, and we could not find a replacement bulb that would work, so my mom and I took all the lights off, and put new lights on.  I treated it as prelit, still, and just would leave the lights on when putting it away.  Well, after a year or two of that, they were looking a little messy, so we took them all off, to then put back on.  It was kind of a pain, haha, but well worth it!  One of the things I was super excited about in this place was the fireplace, and the fact that the stairs weren't completely walled in.  I already had garland for the mantle, and then my parents had two pieces of leftover garland from their decor that we hooked together, and hung on the stairs.  I used battery operated lights for those, as well.  I keep them on pretty much the entire day that I am home, but next week, when I am back at work, I will set the timer so that they go on right before I get home in the evenings.  We had another little tree to work with - one for my bedroom.  I already had a little tree that I used to keep in my bedroom, but since I started collecting Shiny Brite ornaments, I wanted a larger one to put them all on.  We got that up, and lighted.  I think this is where we stopped for the first night, and felt really good about what we had accomplished.

all my shiny brite ornaments!

My mom was up super early on Saturday, so when I got up and came downstairs, she already had a few things placed and decorated.  It looked so pretty - I really can't wait to share my Christmas home tour.  

After more decorating and a yummy breakfast, my pastor and his wife stopped by.  They are downsizing a bit, and I purchased a rocker and a dresser from them.  They have gorgeous antiques, and I was SO excited to find these two pieces.  The rocker is in the living room (and it's sooooo comfortable), and the dresser is perfect for what I have in mind in the guest room.  When we were trying to come up with a good time for me to pick up, they kindly offered to bring it over.  SO very nice!  

Soon after that, we left my dad with a list of items to fix (running toliets, light panels, etc.) while my mom and I did a little shopping.  I actually didn't need all that much, which was pretty exciting for me.  When we decorated for fall, it just seemed like my old things weren't working and I needed to buy quite a few newer items.  This time, however, it all seemed to come together very well, and I only need to pick up a few little things.  We finished decorating, and all relaxed a bit before bed.

We had one more project to finish in the morning - hanging some things over my couch.  I am having a print framed, but I knew the dimensions, so we just cut a piece of wrapping paper to size, that way we could at least get the other items up.  It looks SO homey with things finally on the wall, and while I was a little worried that the bare spot would really bother me, it doesn't at all.  I am just so happy to have things on the wall!

Since my parents left later, I missed church, so instead brewed myself a cup of copy, and sat down to a few shows / Christmas books, with a couple loads of laundry in between.

As I mentioned earlier, I am off this week, so it was nice to take a break from prepping for the work week.  Especially after a busy few days getting the house ready for Christmas!

I will be back tomorrow with a recap of my Fall Bucket list, and then I will see you all back here next Monday, for a full recap of the holiday week!    

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Favorites: Snow, Amazon, Christmas Books, Ornament Exchange & Juggling the Holidays

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Hey all!  Happy Friday!

1.  As I am typing this on Thursday afternoon, it is STILL snowing in St. Louis.  It started last night, and just keeps on going.  And let me tell you, I am here for it!  It's such a winter wonderland out there.  It's snowed THREE times in the last week, which I feel like is normally unheard of here at this time of the year.  It's actual snow, not a freezing rain mix that we normally get.  I finally went out and got a shovel Wednesday night - before I was just using a broom to clear it out, but with the inches they were calling for, I knew I needed something a bit more heavy duty.  I have a feeling I am going to need to do another round of shoveling shortly - the desk is almost completely covered again already!  This snow has gotten me in the Christmas mood, and cannot wait to get all my decorations out this weekend.  I have already started burning one of my favorite Christmas candles (Bath & Body Works Cinnamon Clove Buds - it smells exactly like my favorite Hot Cinnamon Sunset tea)...tis the season!  I will say, as much as I am loving the snow, I do hope it stops soon so that the roads get completely cleared and dried for the weekend.  I love snow when I am able to be at home and enjoy it, but once I have to be out and about it's game over.

2.  Speaking of decorations, I just want to sing the praises of Amazon.  For whatever reason, I didn't really make use of my Amazon Prime membership until more recently.  And now that is the first place I look for things.  I have battery operated string lights headed my way, as well as candles for my windows.  Both have timers, too, which is going to be so nice!  I can't wait to come home to everything lit up and cozy right as I step in the door.  

I also grabbed a pair of these Zella legging dupes Lindsay posted about last week.  I have been wanting to try Zella leggings for awhile, but it always seemed like I had other things I would rather spend the money on, and I am really partial to Reebok capris and leggings for working out.  But, I didn't have a great pair of leggings to wear out and about, or even just lounging at home, so I am excited to have these to fit that bill!

3.  This time of year I love reading holiday books.  I literally spent one of my lunches this week looking up Christmas books and requesting them from the library.  I think I may have requested 20 books or so.  Which is a bit ridiculous, because I don't think I am going to have enough time to read all those books...but hey, I can try!  I thought I would link up to my past holiday book reviews, in case you are a fan of holiday books like me!  

Christmas 2017 Reads 
         
Christmas 2016 Reads 

4.  Another favorite this week is the ornament exchange I am co hosting with other ladies.  We announced on Monday, but below are the details in case you missed it.  We would LOVE for you to join in spreading the Christmas cheer!

I am teaming up with two other ladies, Adrienne @ All Adrienne, and Jaclyn @ Coffee Pancakes & Dreams to host a fun ornament exchange!  Here are the details:

  • Sign up via Elfster (link here) by Monday, November 19th. (Please only sign up if you are absolutely able to participate - trust me when I say it is a huge bummer when you are matched with someone who doesn't follow through - I am speaking from experience!)  
  • Spending limit: no more than $10.00 (before shipping), or make something handmade!
  • Please ship your package no later than Monday, December 10th.
  • To spread the word / share your ornament, post online with the hashtag, #OrnamentExchange18, and/or link up with us on Monday, December 17th.
  • A few things to note:
    • To participate, you must reside in the U.S.
    • You do NOT have to be a blogger, or even have social media to participate.  This exchange is more about spreading Christmas cheer than anything!
    • Each person gives / receives one gift anonymously.  Who you give to is normally someone different than who gives to you.
5.  Something I think we can all relate to is the busyness that the holidays bring.  Whether it be travel, work functions, kids' events, or even just memory making (or all the aforementioned) - it can be tough juggling everything the holidays bring.  This month's Girl Chat link up was on that exact topic.  I didn't get a chance to check all the posts yesterday, but that's on the agenda for this weekend, because I am sure there are tips and tricks we can all benefit from.  You can click here to see my post, then scroll down to the bottom for all those that linked up!

Hope you all have a great weekend!  

Linking up with AndreaErikaThe Blended Blog.  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Girl Chat: Tips for Juggling the Holiday Season

Hey all!  Happy Thursday!  It's time for this month's Girl Chat link up.  I will be honest...this reallllly snuck up on me.  I can't believe it is already the third week in November.  It's going to be the new year before we know it!

Here is what we have been chatting about throughout the year...

And today, it's all about the holidays.  It seems like the Christmas spirit has hit people even earlier than normal!  I don't know how many people I saw on social media decorating for Christmas, days after Halloween.  I am all for decorating early, but for some reason that first weekend just seemed TOO early for me, haha.  But, the bug bit me shortly after that weekend, because now I am chomping at the bit to get all decorated for Christmas.  Luckily, that is on the agenda for this weekend!

The holidays can tend to get crazy (an understatement?).  For me, it means travel, lots of gift buying, and scheduling - Christmas parties, and any other fun festive activities I want to do...which is pretty much all of them!  What helps me keep a handle everything?  Lists, lists, and more lists.

Lists for travel - I like to make a list of everything I need to pack.  From outfits, to toiletries, to gifts...it all gets written down.  When I just think of things in my head, I tend to get overwhelmed, and usually I forget something (or multiple things, haha!).  I write out the days, then think about what will be going on that day, check the weather...all that good stuff.  And, when I do think of things that I need to take with me (other than clothes / toiletries), I grab them while I am thinking of it and make a pile.  This makes it easy to review my list if everything is in one spot, and (usually) keeps me from forgetting things.

Lists for gift buying - I LOVE gift giving.  It is one of my favorite things.  I come by that honestly, because my mom is the same way.  To help keep track of the people I buy for, and how much I spend, I create an excel sheet that has a column for the person, the item, the actual cost, the budgeted cost, and the variance between actual and budgeted.  I'll be honest, I am not the best at budgeting for Christmas presents, but this year, with all I'd like to buy for the condo, I need to be better about sticking to an actual budget.

Lists for holiday fun - This is where a planner / calendar comes in handy, along with a list!  The holiday season seems like it gets shorter and shorter every year.  There is so much fun I want to fit in, but it never seems like there is nearly enough time to do it all!  One thing that helps is creating a bucket list - all the things I hope to do.  Usually that gets pared down a bit to be more realistic, but you gotta start somewhere!  I get out my planner / calendar, write down the events I know I have on specific days (Christmas work parties, church stuff, etc.) and then figure out where I can schedule all the other things in at.  It may be as simple as blocking off a night to go look at Christmas lights, but I find if I don't plan it on specific day, or write it down, odds are it probably isn't going to happen.  And even if it doesn't happen on that day, it's still at the front of my mind, simply because I wrote it down.  

Other than lists, I try to be early with things.  I know I mentioned above that I felt like people were decorating SO EARLY this year.  But honestly, doing the decorating early is so nice, and then you can just sit and enjoy during the holiday season.  And if you decorate early, you get more time to enjoy it.  Who doesn't want to that?!  (My family, that's who, haha!  They are fully in the 'you don't decorate until after Thanksgiving' camp.)  For me, having everything festive is something I make sure to do prior to Thanksgiving.  

Same goes with shopping - it always helps to get my shopping done early.  I have started shopping already, but I like to get the bulk of the items during Black Friday / Small Business Saturday when there are sales.  Although it does seem like there are some pretty darn good sales prior to Thanksgiving.  But my mom and I always go out the two days after, so that's why I say those two days specifically.  This way I can get things wrapped and under my tree.  Besides, if I am buying for co workers, or adopting a family, those things have to be done well in advance of Christmas anyways.  And, while I love the rush of all the people out shopping on Black Friday, any other day I would rather do without fighting the crowds for any last minute shopping.  So getting my shopping done early is key!    

Basically, making lists, and getting things done sooner than later are the two ways I juggle the most wonderful time of the year!

Now, for the 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! 





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