Friday, December 29, 2017

Top 5 Blog Posts of 2017

These are the top blog posts of 2017 by number of views from you guys!  Starting with number...

5.  Workin' It: Marriage Edition.  This was actually one of my favorite posts of the year, too.  As I said in the post, it may be odd for someone not married AND divorced to be participating in a relationship link up, but I feel like I have learned so much on what makes a good relationship (in my opinion) from family and friends and my experience with marriage / divorce.  

4.  Friday Favorites (6.2.17).  This post was a little bit of everything - a swimsuit, TV show, workout, organization idea and link up announcement!  

3.  Friday Favorites (7.7.17).  Another Friday Favorites post!  And another post that was a bit of a mix!  I was again talking about TV, my favorite iced coffee drink (the homemade version!), movies, and a vitamin find.  

2.  Show & Tell Tuesday: Steal vs. Splurge.  I realized as I wrote this post, that I tend to splurge quite a bit.  However, I like to think of it as 'investing' in quality items - at least when it comes to clothes, shoes and purses that I plan on wearing / using all the time.  I did have some steals, though!

1.  Show & Tell Tuesday: Summer Home Tour.  No surprise here, the top post is a home tour post.  Those are my favorites, too!  And since I don't really decorate for the summer, it's actually a post showing some of my mom's decor.  She has a few little touches here and there for the 4th of July and it just makes things festive, without being too much, or really costing much money at all!  

Before I go for the year, I just want to say thank you so much for reading and supporting my blog.  When I started this back in 2015, I really had no idea what I was doing, or what to expect.  There have been growing pains for sure, and lots of lessons learned along the way, and I appreciate you all coming along with me on this journey.  

Cheers to 2018!  May it bring lots of laughter, love and happiness to us all!

 Linking up with AndreaErikaApril, and Katie.  

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas 2017

I had a wonderful time back home for Christmas.  A few years back, my mom and I realized how much we love the anticipation and build up of Christmas, so I always try to take some time off before Christmas.

I headed home the Wednesday before, and had such a nice and relaxing day.  My mom was in Chicago with some friends to see Beautiful, the musical about Carol King's life (which she absolutely LOVED), so my dad and I enjoyed a late lunch together.  My mom had made white chicken chili, and I had forgotten how delicious it was!  I know there are a ton of recipes out there, but this one is another great one, that I will hopefully be sharing soon!  I spent the rest of the afternoon / evening watching Christmas movies.  When my mom got home, she made popcorn.  My dad got a stove top popcorn maker years ago and it makes the best popcorn.  It was the perfect way to kick off my Christmas 'break'.  

Thursday, my mom and I had plans to go shopping.  I needed to make a return and we were going to do a huge grocery haul for all the baking and cooking we were going to be doing!  We made it through grocery shopping (something we both are not crazy about), and picked up one of my favorites, Avanti's, for a late lunch.  We still had a few things to pick up for the saran wrap ball game that we were going to be doing, so we headed out again later on, and even made a trip to check out a new boutique in the next town over.

Last year, my mom and I made white chocolate peppermint blondies, and sugar cookies.  They were so good, we knew we wanted to do the same again this year.  However, since we were going to be baking again this year, my mom decided to forego the gingerbread cookies we have been getting the past few years from the local bakery.  My dad knew I was pretty sad about that because they are GOOD, so he picked up a small one for me to have when he was out running errands.  I thought that was so nice!  We had a little break in the baking when my cousins stopped by to pick up tables / chairs for our family Christmas the next day.  My mom had my dad pick up some flowers for her to do a little arrangement for my aunt for them to take with, and they turned out so pretty!  I never get flowers for my place, but seeing how easily she put it all together has me wanting to start getting some!  We got the cookie part of the blondies done, then I headed out to my dad's shop to help him with something on his car.  I had to tighten something from within the car, while he held is tight underneath the I was up in the car on the lift!  It was the craziest thing!  I so wish I lived closer so I could learn more about cars from my dad.  I think it's so interesting!  We finished out all the cookies after I got home, with a break for pizza.  It was a team effort at the end - my mom and I frosted the sugar cookies, while my dad did the sprinkles.  We had a great time with lots and lots of laughs.  We also put together two saran wrap balls.  My mom had the idea to do this for my dad's family Christmas, since there are so many of us.  We did one for the kids and one for the adults, although they didn't look like balls as much as hams, haha!  

Saturday my brother and his family came to town.  I honestly don't know what we did before they came, but they made it in right before lunch time.  We had a lunch of Italian Beef, chips and veggies - and some cookies, of course.  My sister in law and I went up to check out my friend's boutique, Charmed.  My mom anticipated this, so she gave us both a little money to put towards a purchase - I thought that was so nice of her!  We broke out our annual Christmas puzzle, and got to work on that.  My dad needed some tech help, and while I am not great at all that stuff, I was able to help him upload his pictures from his phone to his computer.  It was time to get ready for my dad's family Christmas.  I have probably mentioned before, but my dad is from a very large family, and it's hard to us to all get together.  However, this Christmas, we had the biggest turn out in years!!!  Of course, we didn't get any family photos to document it, but it was so great to see everyone!  The food was delicious and it was so nice to catch up.  It was also super fun, because a lot of my cousins have families of their own now, so there were a bunch of little ones running around.  When my parents and I headed out, we drove around a bit to check out the Christmas lights, before heading home.  One of our traditions is to eat Italian food on Christmas Eve, and this year I was going to make my lasagna.  My mom and I put it together when we got home, because if you make it the night before and refrigerate, there is no need to cook the noodles which I think is so handy!  And it is one less thing to make the next day.

Christmas Eve was kind of a nice and slow day.  It snowed pretty much all day, so it was exciting to know that we would have a white Christmas.  My nephew is really into trains, so my mom thought it would be fun to take him to the train station in town.  We headed up there shortly before a train was due.  His reaction there wasn't huge, but he kept talking about it after, which I thought was neat.  We got outside in the snow and played a bit, and by that, I mean my nephew 'helped' my dad and brother shovel, while I took pictures.  Our lunch consisted of crescent roll hot dogs (I just love those things and never have them, so it was a treat!), and of course, more Christmas cookies!  We worked on the puzzle, made it outside for a little bit more playing in the snow and cooked for Christmas dinner.  We enjoyed our lasagna, cheesy garlic bread and salad, before heading in to watch a Christmas movie.  Another one of our traditions growing up was for my brother and I to exchange our gifts on Christmas Eve, and of course in the years since they have been married, my sister in law, too!  It was always nice to get a little taste of Christmas morning with that one present and it still is even as we have gotten older, too!

We were up and at 'em early on Christmas Day.  It was so fun this year with Jack, because he was really into opening things, although it was kind of humorous because he was very meticulous about getting the wrapping paper off.  He had to make sure that every bit of paper was off the present.  We took a break with some of his presents, did ours, and then back to him.  It was a very merry Christmas for us all!  We had our traditional breakfast of monkey bread, and this year my mom paired it with scrambled eggs with ham, and fruit.  Everything was delicious, and as I type this, my mouth is watering just thinking about that monkey bread.  Yum!  We headed to my grandma's to continue our celebrating, and it was a full house - my cousin who lives out of town flew in that morning, which was super exciting.  It's been awhile since all of us had been together for the holidays.  More presents were opened, and we had a special one for my grandma this year.  When I went to Chicago earlier this month, I got a nesting Santa doll.  I showed my mom and grandma when we met them for lunch, and she just loved it and said how she wanted one for herself.  Since my cousin lives in Chicago, I asked him if he wouldn't mind going and picking one out, as a gift from the grandkids.  He did, and the expression on my grandma's face when she opened the gift was just priceless.  We feasted on all the yummy Christmas food, and then again on my aunt's awesome Christmas cookies.  After dishes were washed and put away, we sat down to play cards.  One of our favorites is Blitz, or 31, as some people refer to it as, and while I was on a roll to start off with on the second game, things went downhill pretty quickly! It was a great time, though, and I am so thankful we were all able to be together!

It was FRIGID the next day when I headed back to St. Louis, and I even ran into a little snow on the way, which if you know me, I hate driving any pretty much any type of precipitation, so I had a minor panic attack, haha, but it really it wasn't all that bad and could have been so much worse.  It was back to reality and I spent the day getting ready to go back to work.

Another wonderful Christmas is in the books...while I am not quite as sad as in years past, I am already looking forward to next year's holiday season!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Looking Back at My 2017 New Year's Resolutions

With 2018 right around the corner, I thought it was time to revisit my 2017 New Year's Resolutions.  I copied over my original resolutions and then provided an 'update' at the end of each!

Image result for 2017 resolutions

1.  Read the Bible, find a church.  Re-establishing my faith is something I have been thinking hard about the past year or so, maybe a bit longer.  I purchased the One-Year Bible (it's set up so that you can read the entire thing in a year) last year, but my OCD had me waiting until January 1 of this year to read it, so that the days matched up.  So far I have kept up with it, reading before bed, or in the morning.  As far as church goes, growing up, we went to church regularly, and I remember feeling so great after going.  I loved the music, and while some of the sermons could go on, you just feel a sense of good after being in church.  I have a few options around here that I want to try out and see if they are good fits for me.  Update:  This was something I definitely worked on throughout the year.  I got away from the reading the Bible everyday, so my 'one-year' Bible is turning more into a 'two-year' Bible, but I am over half way through and plan to continue to the end.  In July, I found my church.  I transferred my membership from my hometown church to my current one a little over a month and a half ago, and am super excited to continue to get more involved.   

2.  Organize everything.  Last year, many of my monthly goals were cleaning out this, or cleaning out that.  While some of my reorganization / purging projects went well and are still working for me today, like my bathroom reorganization, my closet feels like it back to a mess, as does all my filing / paperwork.  I want to really focus on organizing in such a way that it will stick for the long haul.  Not only does it make things easier to find, it also just helps with my state of mind.  Lizzie shared this article which speaks to the fact that the way women feel about their homes comes across in other aspects of their life.  I can 100% say that is true for me, and would love to cut that unnecessary stress from my life.  Update: I feel like I cleaned / purged / organized a lot this past year, but in the past month or two I have been feeling like I need to again.  So I would say I did 'ok' with this one, but not to the point I was hoping.   

3.  Continue to improve my health.  This is a carry over from last year, but I feel it is just still so important.  I think I have a good thing going with the 21 Day Fix (review here)  as far as work outs go.  Once I am done with this round, I am going to see where I am at, and then decide if I want to switch things up a bit, or go ahead with another round.  I just love the ease and convenience of the work outs, so we will have to see what is up next for me.  The main focus of this resolution, though, is definitely on eating better.  Doing the 21 Day Fix, I have realized that I needed to get in a lot more veggies, less carbs (so sad!) and more protein.  Part of the problem is the fact that I love to cook, so I want to try out all these different recipes, and some just aren't as good for you.  I think the key is just to balance those with the good meals and eat appropriate portion sizes.  For example, I love ordering pizza.  But I have found that if I order a salad to go with that pizza, I can have my salad and my pizza, too, without feeling crummy afterwards.  Or, if a dish I make is really rich, then take a smaller portion add some extra veggies, and eat cleaner with my other meals.  All about the balance.  Update: This was an up and down battle for me this year (per usual).  I do think I am eating more veggies (my obsession with roasted broccoli is real), but the balance I was hoping for is still not quite there.  

This year wasn't my best with resolutions, although I am really proud of myself for finding a church.  I am one of those people that gets anxious about trying / doing new things, especially by myself.  So, even though I ended up trying a total of 2 churches, both took a little bit of working up to go to.  I am so glad I did, though!           

Friday, December 22, 2017

Friday Favorites: Christmas Crafting & Eating

Merry almost Christmas!  Today I wanted to share some Christmas DIYs that would be great if you are looking to do any crafting this holiday weekend.  

1.  Hope Medallion Ornament.  I shared this DIY ornament earlier this week, but it is definitely worth mentioning again.  I really, really love how it turned out.  It just glows in the Christmas light!

2.  Wish Upon a Star Ornament.  Another fun DIY ornament.  We did this last year, and I loved pulling it out again this year when decorating the tree.

3.  All is Bright Ornament.  The first DIY ornament I shared on the blog.  Another favorite that really pops on the tree.

4.  Reindeer Food.  This is super fun for those of you that have any little ones with you this Christmas.  While I think my little nephew is too young to fully appreciate Santa coming, I know he will have a blast tossing this around the yard.

5.  Snacking & Baking.  One of the things I love about Christmas is the food.  SO MANY delicious things!  Yesterday I shared my mom's cheese ball recipe, which is super yummy and makes for some great snacking.  We have ours after we open presents to tide us over til Christmas dinner.  I pretty much set up camp right next to it!  You cannot have Christmas without some baking, and my aunt's snowball surprise cookies are so, so good.  I mean, how can you go wrong with a cookie that has both M&M's and is coated in powdered sugar?  While I could see them being a bit messy with little ones, I also think it would be really fun to make it with them - shaping the balls and then rolling them in powdered sugar.  


 Linking up with AndreaErikaApril, and Katie.  

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Mom's Cheese Ball Recipe

This cheese ball is a Christmas staple for my family.  It's super easy to put together, and really delicious.  I recently made it for my book club and all the girls loved it.

A funny story about this cheese ball, before I give you the recipe.  When I was younger, I always used to try to sneak cookie dough from the mixer when my mom would make cookies.  One day, she was making this cheese ball, but I thought it was cookie dough.  I guess I never paid attention to when she made the cheese ball before, and for me the mixer equaled cookies.  I get a little swipe from the mixing bowl when she walked out of the room and pop it in my mouth before she came back in.  You can just imagine my surprise when I put it in my mouth and realize that it is NOT cookie dough.  Whoops!  I am not sure if I ever told her that story, but it is out there now.  Sorry, Mom!  

Mom's Cheeseball
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 jar Old English Sharp Cheddar
4 oz shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 stick margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup chopped green olives
crackers (to serve with)

Mix softened cream cheese, Old English sharp cheddar and margarine.  Add seasonings.  Then shredded cheese and olives.  Line bowl with saran wrap.  Place mixture in bowl.  Cover with wrap and refrigerate.  Invert on plate and serve with crackers.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What's Up Wednesday: December 2017

I am linking up with my usual Wednesday girls - Jessi and Jenn for What's Hap-pinning Wednesday and Shay for What's Up Wednesday. 

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.

What I'm eating this meal planning this week.  With it being a short week due to the holiday, it's just a bit of a wash for me. (I didn't even change this from last month's because it is the exact same situation for me this week!)  

What I'm reminiscing it is almost Christmas?  I swear the time has just flown by, even more so than usual.  I am thinking back to just a few weeks ago and feel like I was going to fully enjoy the season, but it seems like it has gone with a blink of the eye!

What I'm loving...candles.  I am still in love with the one Lindsay recommended, Cinnamon and Clove Bud, and then one of my favorite ladies just hooked me up with some of her favorite candles for Christmas!  I cannot wait to burn those, too!

What I've been up to...since last month's post, we celebrated my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, which I recapped here.  I also took a trip to Chicago, which was so nice!  It's my favorite city and I love spending time there.  Especially when it includes time with some of my favorite people.  I shared one of my favorite posts of the years - my Christmas home tour.  It's always so fun getting a peek into homes, especially all decked out for the holidays.  I have been a reading machine when it has come to Christmas books - I shared them yesterday, with a few non-Christmas books, too!  I checked two of my favorite Christmas activities off the list recently - looking at Christmas lights and building a gingerbread house.  Or rather, attempted to build a gingerbread house.  After it fell apart a couple times, we told ourselves good try, and next we are definitely going to bust out the glue gun for the actual construction of the gingerbread house!  And of course, watching lots and lots of Hallmark movies.

What I'm dreading...filling out my evaluation at work (seriously, does anyone like those things?!), and also taking down my Christmas decorations.  My collection grows more and more each year, so it makes it a bit of a job to take down and fit into the tiny big of storage space I have.  

What I'm working on...having humility.  This weekend I was getting ready for church and had the TV on for background noise.  Joel Osteen's show came on and he was speaking about humility.  Basically, he spoke about how you have to be the one to make the first move, you need to treat others with respect to gain respect, etc.  He talked about how sometimes you feel like the other person in whatever situation you are in needs to change in order for you to change...but really, you need to be the 'bigger person' and take the first steps.  For example, he talked about how something he did really annoyed his wife (washing his hands in the kitchen sink after working out, rather than in the bathroom sink like she would prefer), but he didn't see anything wrong with it and he didn't want to change, so he just kept doing it how he wanted.  Then one day he decided to put her first in this situation and even though it was such a small thing, it changed their relationship for the better.  He likened it to a story in the Bible, which I am not near knowledgeable enough to speak on, but I thought the takeaway was really good.  And it can be very broadly applied, probably any relationship you have, whether it be at work, with your friends, or even your family.  It made me that I could improve on that sometimes and am going to make a conscious effort to change my thinking.  

What I'm excited about...seeing my family for Christmas!  I am also really excited about the new year.  I know everyday is a new start, but the new year just brings extra motivation and a renewed sense of wanting to improve on things.  And for some reason (I am not quite sure), I am even more excited this upcoming year.  Hopefully that's a sign it's going to be a good one! 

What I'm watching...Hallmark.  And Lifetime.  With two Hallmark channels, I forgot that Lifetime also does Christmas movies! 

What I'm reading...Christmas in London.

What I'm listening to...lots of Christmas music!  

What I'm wearing...I did some super last minute shopping for myself on Monday during my lunch break and found some super cute things at Loft.  I wanted new pants for my Christmas outfit, and while I was there, I couldn't resist picking up two sweaters.  Funny story - Sunday, I went shopping in the afternoon and had TERRIBLE luck.  I decided to give it another go on Monday, and was in and out of the store within 20 minutes.  I went to one of the same exact stores I went to on Sunday.  How does that work?!  But luck was with me on Monday and I found a great pair of black dress ankle pants, a super soft mock neck sweater and a shimmery sweater.  

What I'm doing this weekend...celebrating Christmas and hanging with my family!

What I'm looking forward to next month...a fresh start, a fresh year.  I am also beyond excited to start using my Essential Planner!  I kind of fizzled off with my planner this year, and I feel like my life would have been much more organized if I had stuck with it.  This one pretty much covers all my needs, and I am ready to get organized!  Side note: Peacock Paper & Gifts is running their 12 Day of Christmas Deals, so each day there is a different deal in case you are looking to pick up a planner!

Looking ahead to the rest of the week, I know some people may be taking breaks in anticipation of Christmas, but I will be back tomorrow sharing my mom's cheeseball recipe (so good and so easy!), and then on Friday, it will be my usual favorites.  Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

November & December 2017 Book Review + Christmas 2017 Reads

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.

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman.  This book was pretty entertaining.  It takes you in the life of a SAHM, who is the class mom.  It's very sarcastic and funny, and while I am not sure if this is how things are (where class mom's even a thing while growing up?), it does seem pretty realistic!  There were a few parts to the book that I just didn't think were necessary, but if you need a more light-hearted read, I would check this out.  

Look Behind You by Iris Johansen & Roy Johansen.  This is a book for thriller / mystery lovers.  Another one that freaked me out - I had to start reading a Christmas book right after this, to get it out of my head before going to bed.  The book is about a woman who helps the police with murders, because she has a way of seeing things others don't and reading people well.  It's kind of gruesome, but I thought it was well written and I had NO idea whatsoever who the killer was - it really was a surprise.  Definitely plan on checking out this author again.

Seeing Red by Sandra Brown.  I usually like Sandra Brown books, so when I saw this in the new releases shelf at the library, I grabbed it.  From what I have read, her books always have some mystery and love in them, two things which I love in a book.  A woman wants to interview a man that has not spoken to press in some years.  The estranged son gets involved and this whole corrupt world is revealed.  They are trying to stay alive and figure out what is going on, while falling in love with each other, of course.  It was a good read, and would suggest checking it out if you are a fan of hers.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  I had heard so much about this book and I finally remembered to request it from the library.  It was SO GOOD.  I feel like it totally lived up to the hype, although all throughout the book I was felt like the choice was so obvious and I don't know why she was waffling.  A woman's husband is lost at sea and pronounced dead.  She has finally moved on with her life and is engaged, when she comes to find out that he survived.  The question is, does she choose her husband or her fiance?  I loved this one, definitely a must read.  

A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill.  This book was cute, and it actually was made into a Hallmark movie that came out this year.  I haven't seen the movie, but the book was good.  A woman runs into a man with his bike, and he loses his memory (temporarily).  She feels terrible, so she tries to help him figure his life out.  Her findings lead them in one direction, and at the end they find out, that isn't him, at all.  Cute book with a surprise ending (at least in my opinion), which I feel like it hard to come by in most Christmas books.    

Sleigh Belles by Beth Albright.  This book was ok - the writing wasn't the best in my opinion, so it wasn't as easy of a read, although the actual story was.  Not something I would really recommend.

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand.  The fourth book in her Winter Street series, Elin does it again.  This may have been one of my favorites, as she entwines some characters from her other books in the story, too.  It's really sad, but so very good.  This series is definitely a great read.

Just a Little Christmas by Janet Dailey.  Girl scorned comes back home to the place where she couldn't want to leave, only to run into her ex, who has since been married, had a little girl and is since widowed.  It's a cute read, and if the premise sounds interesting to you, I would check it out.  

Merry & Bright by Debbie Macomber.  This book was cute.  It's about a girl and guy that fall in love via an online dating website, only to realize that they work together, and their work impressions of each other are not the best.  I like how the story went, although parts of me throughout the book was like, why don't you just tell him?!?  A good Christmas read.

A Husband for Christmas by Diana Palmer.  This book actually has two stories.  The first one I don't quite remember how it works with Christmas, but it's about two people so stubborn they just get into each other's way, instead of giving into to be together.  The second story I liked a bit more, so I would say it would be worth it, if nothing for the second story.

The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis.  I am glad I found this book, because I felt like it was a different type of Christmas book, which was good.  Of course, you have the love story, but it's a bit different.  The main character is a pet owner, and her love interest remodels homes.  Both are gunshy for different reasons, but you know they should be together.  It's cute and fresh.  Although, with all these books, if people just communicated better, they would save themselves a lot of heartache!

Christmas Bliss by Mary Kay Andrews.  Mary Kay Andrews is one of my very favorite authors, and I was super excited to see this Christmas book.  She revisits two of her characters from other books, and carries on with their stories at Christmas.  I would suggest reading the other books first, just for a little background, but it could definitely be a standalone book, too.  While I do like some of her books more than others, she really can do no wrong!

Christmas in London by Anita Hughes.  I am in the middle of this book right now, and really like it.  As I write this, I am just realizing that this is the same author of Christmas in Paris which I read and loved last year, so it's not wonder I am a big fan of this book, too!  There are a few stories going on, and I think I like what may be considered the 'side' story better, but really, the way she paints a picture of London at Christmas is just amazing!

If you have any great Christmas book recommendations, I would love to hear them.  Still plenty of time to get in a little holiday reading before Christmas!

Linking up with Erika and Ashley.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas Crafting: Hope Medallion Ornament

Hey all!  Today I am sharing with you all the DIY ornament my mom and I did this year.  We have been doing one together for the past few years - I will post those links below - and honestly this is something my mom has done for years!  It seems like growing up, she was always crafting during Christmas.  I absolutely love how this one turned out, and while it was a bit time intensive, it was well worth it.

First up, what you need:
computer / printer / paper
free music printable
ruler / scissors or cutting board
double sided paper
circle punch
kraft paper
hole punch
hot glue

If you remember from my Christmas home tour, my mom made me a banner out of music printables.  To get these printables, just google 'Christmas music printables' and they will pop up!  Print out, making sure you print it on both sides.  Cut your paper into 4 strips, each one 1 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches.  Mark 1cm from the end, and fold.  Fold like an accordian until the entire strip of paper is folded.  After you have all four strips folded, you will want to connect them with double sided tape.  When you tape them, make sure the folds line up correctly, so after connecting all of them, they will fold properly in one continue strip.  Then connect the two ends again, with double sided tape.  Set aside.  To create the middle part, we used kraft paper, 65 font and Edwardian font.  Using a circle punch, cut out your circle.  Our circle punch measured at 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  Then cut out another circle from the kraft paper, which will be used for the back of the ornament.  Pinch your folded paper into a circle.  Holding it down, hot glue the plain kraft paper circle in the middle.  Do the same with the 'hope' circle on the other side.  Hole punch at what you would like the top of the ornament to be, for the twine.  Tie a loop through the circle, to create a hanger for your ornament.  Then, hot glue to knotted part down by the hole punch.  This will both reinforce the hole a bit, as well as make the haning loop look seamless.  Enjoy!

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!

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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!

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