Looking Back At My 2020 New Year's Resolutions

Oh the innocence of January 2020...we were all blissfully unaware of what the year would bring.

The idea of looking back at my new year's resolutions has me laughing a bit, because goodness knows I haven't really been thinking of them much at all this year.

Like most people, things pretty much went to the wayside once COVID hit.  But, I still like the idea of looking back on the year, and who knows, maybe I will surprise myself!


1.  Utilize my planner.  I would like to be my most organized self this year.  And to do that, I need to ensure I am writing things down (I am so forgetful if I don't get it down), and looking ahead at what is to come.  In the past, I have been on and off with planners - I will use them religiously for a month or two, and then let it go.  I hope this is the year I can be consistent, and in turn, more organized. 

Surprisingly, I utilized my planner all year.  I definitely can't say I was 'my most organized self', but I can say that my planner did not go to waste.  I kept it at my desk, and even though there wasn't much to write in there, it was super handy to have for things like payment reminders, and the few appointments I did have. 

2.  Give back each month.  This idea came from Steph @ Life According to Steph.  She posted on instagram that the last day of the year she always gives to two charities that she doesn't normally give to.  I absolutely loved that idea, and did it myself.  It was really learning about new organizations, and I would like to continue to do that throughout the year.  At the end of each month, I will look up two 'new to me' charities and donate.  The amounts won't be large, but I am in the mindset of every little bit counts, and hopefully the organizations I find are, too!

If there was any year to give back, this was the one.  There was definitely no shortage of opportunities!  I was able to contribute to some new to me organizations, especially in the first half of the year.  With the immense need everywhere, though, I did end up focusing more on organizations I regularly support during the second half of the year.

3.  Improve my packing process.  I travel a good amount throughout the year between visiting family and work.  With that travel comes lots of packing.  And the more times I pack a bag, the more I hate it.  I am hoping if I can improve the process a bit, it won't seem like so much of a process.  I know I can do this, and what steps I need to do (like not wait until the last minute, make lists), but I think making it a resolution will (hopefully) help keep me accountable!

This one definitely makes me laugh!  Packing is a whole lot easier when you aren't going anywhere!  That said, with working remotely, I was able to spend more time with family, and actually go on our annual vacation to Lake Michigan.  But still, packing isn't as much of a process when you are sticking close to home.  Once travel gets back to normal, though, I know it is something I will once again need to focus on improving. 

4.  Sunday = day of rest.  This was a resolution a few years ago, and thinking about the past year, it's something I want to again work on (since I didn't do all that well back in 2018).  My hope for this is to feel more recharged come Monday morning.

This was one of those that COVID really messed with.  Even on 'days of rest', the heaviness of the year was still there, which made that recharged feeling I was hoping for at the beginning of the year a bit difficult.

5.  Move more & eat better.  Would it be a list of resolutions if there was nothing about health and fitness?!  Whether it be a walk after work, or getting up from my desk more often throughout the day, I want to move more.  Not necessarily do an insane workout, but just more movement.  And of course, I can always eat better.  Biana @ B Loved Boston said in her 2020 Intentions post, 'I want to be kinder to my body with the food I eat'.  For some reason it really stuck with me, and has given me a little different mindset when I think of food and how it affects my body.  Of course, I am not going to be 100% clean with my eating (that will never happen), but I do want to be better.

This was actually a silver lining of COVID!  Being at home has meant healthier lunches, and less take out.  Of course, on the flip side, being home means having easy access to allll the food and snacks.  So that might be a wash, haha!  As far as moving more, it has definitely been easier to get up and move around.  Plus, having an Apple Watch has been a game changer.  Reminders to get up are so handy, and closing activity circles are a great motivator to move more.  That said, there were plenty of blah days with everything going on where I just wanted to plop on the couch and do anything but move around.  So maybe it wasn't a silver lining?!  Really, though, I do think I made improvements, which I will definitely count as a win!

Overall, I feel pretty good about my resolutions for this year.  While I didn't knock any out of the park, I definitely made improvements, and that's what is important.

With that, I leave you with a cheers...to the end of 2020, and the start of 2021!

Christmas 2020

 Hey all!  I spent last week at my parents', celebrating Christmas.  I always love the build up of Christmas, and while so much was different this year, that past was not.


Sunday, December 20

I headed back home on Sunday morning.  The drive was pretty smooth, and I had my Christmas music to accompany me.


I snapped this picture of my mom's table when I arrived - I always love her table decorations, and the sun was shining through just right.


We spent a good portion of the afternoon wrapping, with a little help from Camille.


Monday, December 21

My mom and I both had a few last minute things we needed to get, so we braved the stores to finish up our shopping.  We grabbed Portillo's for lunch (one of my favorites!), had a little car picnic, and then got in and out of the stores we had to make stops at.  We made the trip a little more enjoyable and checked out some decorations - I just love seeing homes dressed up for the holidays!  We got another one of my favorites, a gondola, to go with dinner, and headed back home to finish up the wrapping.


Tuesday, December 22

My brother and his family were set to arrive on Wednesday, so we were in prep mode on Tuesday.  We made homemade Chex Mix to snack on throughout the next few days, as well as the dough for our sugar cookies.  As my mom was getting out some toys and books for the boys, she showed me these wooden puzzles that were hers growing up - how cool are they?!




That evening, my mom and I headed out to look at lights - one of my favorite Christmas traditions.  One of the subdivisions in town lined their streets with lighted trees and it was such a sight to see.  I snapped this picture of the tree when we got home - I just LOVE my mom's tree - I think I told her that at least once a day while I was home, haha!


Wednesday, December 23

Wednesday morning was spent getting ready for my brother and his family.  I got in a quick run (I just love running at home - Missouri has so many dang hills, and central Illinois is quite flat, making things quite a bit easier), and then we cut out and baked the sugar cookies to decorate once they arrived.  Christmas is the only time we make these cookies, and it feels like the first time every time, haha.  It always takes a bit before we figure out the right amount of flour needed when rolling and cutting out!



Once they arrived, we visited for a bit, then got down to business with the cookies.  They aren't the prettiest, but goodness are they delicious!



My sister in law and I headed to check out Charmed, my favorite local boutique.  There have been SO many cute things there lately, I have had to restrain myself from buying everything!


My brother and I headed out shortly after that, to play disc golf.  He's big into that, and while I am pretty terrible, he puts up with it, and tries to help me along.  It was especially interesting playing this day, because it was windy as heck.  Luckily none of the discs ended up in the river, although to be honest, I passed on the holes close to the banks.


It's always so nice to get one on one time with them.  It doesn't happen all that often, so I jump at the chance!


Thursday, December 24

Since we wouldn't be doing our normal Christmas day celebrations, we headed to my grandma's to drop off and pick up presents.  We had a quick, masked visit in the garage before heading back home.  It was so cute - my grandma had gotten donut holes, which my nephews devoured, and she had thermoses with hot water to make hot chocolate.  We were basically in and out, but it was still so good to see her and my aunt even for just a short time.


The boys got to open one present when we got home, and it was so cute to see their reaction.  We actually ended up opening more later that day, because we knew it would be overwhelming if we waited to open them all on Christmas.  The rest of the day was spent playing, eating, and getting ready for Santa's arrival!


Friday, December 25

Christmas!  Funnily enough, I was the first one up and ready to go, haha!  My mom and I got started on breakfast, while the rest of the crew woke up.  We opened some presents, took a break to eat our traditional breakfast of monkey bread, and opened some more.


We watched Klaus in the afternoon (loved it!), and had a delicious Christmas dinner of ham and different sides.  Different than our norm, but so very good!


That evening we visited some more, played some more, and of course, ate some more.  My mom always makes a cheeseball for Christmas, so we grazed on that and other goodies to tide us over.


Even though we had a slower Christmas than normal, it seemed like it just flew on by! 


Saturday, December 26

My brother and family left that morning.  It was sad to see them go, but I was thankful we were able to spend the time we did together.  We were all a bit tuckered out from the last few days, so it was a pretty relaxing day.  The weather had been so cold Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it finally warmed up enough to get out for a walk on Saturday, which we did.


Sunday, December 27

Sunday was another relaxing and slow day.  I decided that I would head back first thing Monday, so I wanted to soak in all the time at home I could, before it was back to reality.  Another walk, lots of Christmas movie watching, and a lot of Christmas book reading.  After being in a bit of a reading rut, pretty much all year, I finally got it back right around Christmas with all the holiday books.  To top off the day, my mom made one of my very favorite dishes, meatloaf!  It was soooo good.


Monday, December 28

It was back to reality (aka work) come Monday.  As much as I love being home, it was nice to get back to my home, and settled in for the last bit of 2020.


Linking up with Lindsay.

Merry Christmas!

I have mentioned this before, but growing up I was the angel in my church's children's Christmas play, and this was my line.  It's stuck with me all these years and is still my very favorite Bible verse.  It always rings true and gives me hope, but even more so this year.



Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Garden Glow at Missouri Botanical Garden: 2020

 Hi all!  I hope everyone's Christmas week is going well so far!


Today I wanted to recap one of the things my mom and I did when she came to visit earlier this month - the Garden Glow at Missouri Botanical Garden.


I have been to the Garden Glow a few different times, and it's always so neat.  This year was a bit different due to COVID, but so much was the same that it actually felt pretty normal!  In a year that is anything but, the sense of normality was welcome.


There were precautions, of course.  There was a limited number of tickets sold for each time slot, and you were encouraged to stay no more than 90 minutes.  That gives you plenty of time to enjoy all the Garden Glow has to offer, and the limited amount of people was actually kind of nice since it cut down on the crowds.  Masks were required, and social distancing was encouraged.  There was one area that was a bit of a bottleneck, but a worker was there to help with the line, and get people through the tunnel of lights.  While there were a few food and drink booths, it was minimal compared to past years, and the restaurant wasn't operating as normal, either.  I didn't feel like that took away from the experience, though.  The one thing I did miss was the tour of the historical home.  However, instead of the tour, they did a light/music show on the side of the house which was my very favorite part - so neat!


Here are some of the pictures we snapped while there...











There was so much to see with all the lights, and the festive music...so worth a trip if you are local to the area!  


Linking up with Lindsay.



Friday Favorites: Christmas Puzzles, Christmas Music, Christmas Cookies, Christmas Books & Christmas Movies

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

Hey there, happy Friday!  


Before I get into today's post, I wanted to mention a tech issue I have been having with my blog lately.  Previously, it was set up so that anytime someone comments on my blog, it would send me an email with the comment, and I was able to email them back (as long as they were a not a no-reply blogger).  However, in the last two weeks, that is no longer happening, and my googling skills must be lacking because I have yet to figure out how to fix it.  I see the setting I need to update in Blogger, but it doesn't allow me to add in an email...and I cannot figure out why.  If you have had this problem yourself, or know how to fix it, please let me know!  Until then, I will be responding to comments on each post.  Just wanted to mention it, in case you have left a comment, I wasn't ignoring it, I just replied back in the comments of that post.


Ok, onto favorites!  I thought today I would focus on all things Christmas!


1.  Christmas Puzzles.  My mom started our Christmas puzzle tradition some years back - I think 7 or 8 years ago - and it's become one that we all look forward to.  A Christmas puzzle is set up on a table where it can be left out, and we slowly work on putting it together.  It's perfect for when we want a break from the other Christmas festivities.  Or when making a pit stop in the kitchen for a snack.  It's kind of like grazing apps - it's out on the table where you can come and go as you please.  


We've started rotating some of the puzzles, since she has accumulated a few over the years, but it's fun to get the only ones out.  We prefer the puzzles that have a bunch of little scenes or items - I think it makes it a little easier to put together and also a little more interesting.  Here are some of the puzzles we have put together in years past.





2.  Christmas Music.  I am a big fan of Christmas music, and each year I seem to add one or two new albums to my collection.  Recent favorites for this year include Dolly Parton's A Holly Dolly Christmas, and Carrie Underwood's My Gift.  ALL of the songs are good one both albums, if you are in need of some new Christmas music this next week.  Another favorite, which is a few years old now, is Brett Eldredge's Glow.  He has such a great, classic voice.

I listen to Pandora a lot when I am working or cooking, and my two favorite Christmas stations are Instrumental Christmas Music (Holiday) Radio, and Perry Como (Holiday) Radio. 

3.  Christmas Cookie Recipes.  My aunt is the queen of Christmas cookies.  She makes a huge variety each year, and they are all so good.  Over the years I have developed a few favorites, and one of those favorites is her Snowball Surprise Cookies.  They are basically a sugar cookie + M&M's + powdered sugar and they are absolutely delicious.  Now, when I make them, they aren't quite round like snowballs (mine get a little flat on one side), but that doesn't impact the taste one bit!

Another cookie favorite that would be great this time of year are Thumbprint Cookies.  These little cookies are delicious, and pretty easy to make.  You can change up the color of the frosting, too, to make them as festive as you like!

My absolute favorite Christmas cookie recipe, though, has to be Karen's Sugar Cookies + Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.  Obviously sugar cookies are great any time of the year, but we make them at Christmas so the two go hand in hand for me!  You need to do a little planning with these cookies, because you need to chill the dough before baking.  But it's worth the extra bit of planning.  These are SO good. 

4.  Christmas Books.  I love a good Christmas book.  Give me all the cheesy and all the happiness.  I rounded up my Christmas book reviews from years past here, and if you are in the mood for a Christmas book, I definitely would check it out.

Like the majority of this year, I have found myself in a bit of a reading rut this holiday season.  That said, I have read a few Christmas books, and the one that has stood out the most is Jingle All the Way by Debbie Macomber.  I really, really enjoyed it.  And can definitely foresee it being turned into a Hallmark movie, because it has all the makings for it, haha!

5.  Christmas Movies.  I feel like my favorites list for this one could just go on and on and on and on and on and on...you get it.  Each year I always make sure to watch what I consider to be 'the classics'.  Miracle on 34th Street (the original), White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Grinch (with Jim Carey), The Santa Clause, and A Muppet's Christmas Carol (along with a bunch of other 'A Christmas Carol' renditions - I can't get enough of that movie), The Preacher's Wife, The Gathering...I tell you, the list just keeps on going!  Pretty much November through the start of January is spent enjoying Christmas movies.

And then, there is Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas.  My DVR works over time this time of year, and records the majority of the Hallmark Christmas movies, which I honestly watch pretty much throughout the entire year.  Some of my favorites from this year include: On the 12th Date of Christmas, Timeless Christmas, A Nashville Christmas Carol, Christmas in Starlight and Christmas Waltz.  And I can't forget about Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Miracles of Christmas.  Holly & Ivy was really good, as was Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas.

I'd love to hear if you have read any good Christmas books so far this season, or have any must-watch Christmas movies not on my list.  I feel like there is always room for more.

On the blog this week:

Linking up with Andrea and Erika.

O' Christmas Tree Ice Cream Cone: A Gingerbread House Alternative

 I do not have the best luck with gingerbread houses.  Unless they are premade, mine tend to fall apart.  As I was thinking of buying a gingerbread house this year (and wondering if it would once again fall apart - one year I couldn't even get it to stay long enough to decorate!), I remembered something really fun my aunt had for the kids at our family Christmas a few years ago - ice cream cone Christmas trees!  Of course, us cousins couldn't let the kids have all the fun, and we got in on the action, too.


 

Here's what you need:

Sugar Cones

Icing (and something to apply it)

M&M's

Sprinkles

Colored Sugar

Disposable Pie Plates


All you have to do is place a cone (or cones) on a pie plate (to cut down on the mess), apply the icing and get to decorating!  We had M&M's, sprinkles and colored sugar, but whatever candy you prefer, works, too.


It was super simple and super fun!  It'd make a great alternative to a gingerbread house, or if you want to go all out, it would be a fun addition to a gingerbread house...you'd have a Christmas tree forest to go along with it.


And if you are looking for another fun activity to do while you already have the sprinkles and colored sugar out, I shared my mom's Reindeer Food 'recipe' here.  

My 2020 Christmas Card

 Hey all!  How is it possible that we only have 9 more days until Christmas?  That just seems too little!


Today I am sharing my 2020 Christmas card.  I absolutely LOVE Christmas cards.  There is nothing better than a card showing up in the mail, and I hope others feel that same joy when receiving mine. 


Minted is my favorite place to order cards from.  I feel like they have the best selection of no-photo cards, and I love the fact that they print the recipient addresses on the cards for free.  I get on their website way too early in the year, favorite all the ones I like, narrow it down, and end up doing that quite a few times before actually ordering.


Here's what I finally ended up deciding on!


They turned out perfectly this year! (Last year I had a bit of an issue with the printing cutting my name off at the bottom, but minted was excellent to work with on that - I got a portion of my purchase returned, and they gave me a credit to put towards a purchase this year!


As you can see, I went for simple and classic.  I love the ivory and the red, and the fact that it is plaid.  The mix of the fonts is my favorite - I love the classic type with the more fancy cursive.  Plus, the message is simple and to the point!  Sometimes all you need is a simple 'Merry Christmas'.


So with that, this is my virtual Christmas card to you, wishing you (and yours) a Merry Christmas!


Linking up with Lindsay.

Friday Favorites: Peloton, Shiny Brite Christmas Tree & Southern Living

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

Happy Friday!  Similar to last week, I had Monday off, and was all out of sorts on my days of the week again!  But, it's officially Friday, and that is for sure a good thing.


Since it's been awhile since I just touched base, I thought I would start off the post with a little look at the week...it had some highs and some lows.


The week started out with a visit from my mom, which was a high.  We did a little shopping, a lot of wrapping, and checked out all the Christmas lights.  Usually she is never here during the holidays, so it was fun to experience a little bit of Christmas here with her.


But then Wednesday hit, and it was a day.  The main reason was because I was having terrible computer issues.  It took the majority of the day to get my computer working properly.  Even the help desk was struck by how long it took!  But all's well that ends well.  At least I hope.  My computer seems to be running a bit better, and I am hoping it's just up from here on the tech side.


One thing that did offset all off the tech stuff and other blah things on Wednesday was receiving a few early Christmas presents.  The timing of their arrival could not have been better!


Ending Wednesday on a good note, had me going into Thursday with high hopes, but I started feeling a bit under the weather about mid-day, which is scary right now.  I am hoping it is just the fluctuation in the weather (super cold to mid-60's!), and that a good night's rest will help remedy that.


But, as with everything, even though there were some blah days there was still plenty to be grateful for!


Ok, onto my favorites!


1.  Peloton Holiday Classes.  Peloton is the gift that keeps on giving (see my 1 month review here, and 6 month review here).  They are offering different holiday themed classes this month, and I am here for it.  I have done a few rides, and even tried out a HIIT cardio workout, too.  They have a ton of different options, and I can't wait to do more.  


I found this article that not only lists the classes that are being released this month, but also shares holiday workouts from years past, too!


2.  Shiny Brite Christmas Tree.  I shared my Christmas home tour on Wednesday (post here).  If you stopped by then, or have checked it out in years past, you know that I have a small tree filled with shiny brite ornaments.  It gives off the prettiest glow, and the picture below is one of my favorite views each evening.


3.  Southern Living Christmas Double Issue.  Southern Living is one of my favorite magazines, and the Christmas Double Issue is probably my favorite issue of the year.  


I was home for Christmas one year and we were about to get some bad weather.  My mom and I headed out for some essentials, and grabbed a few new magazines to read, assuming we might be stuck at home for a bit.  I poured through that issue, and we ended up making two of the cookie recipes from the magazine, one becoming a new favorite.  It was just really fun to spend time doing that together, and each year I get that issue, I think of it! 


If you are in need of a good holiday gift, or a little gift for yourself, as I type this, Amazon is offering an annual subscription for Southern Living for $5.00 - such a steal!  It does come with an automatic renewal, but you get a reminder of that before it renews, and you can cancel at any time.  Definitely worth it!


Short and sweet with the favorites this week - hope you have a great weekend!


Linking up with Andrea and Erika.

Christmas Home Tour 2020

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


Hey all!  Today is one of my very favorite posts of the year...it's my Christmas home tour.  I absolutely love decorating for Christmas, and being able to look back at each year through these posts.


Without further ado, welcome!


My mom found this cute countdown at an antique mall.  It was a little sparse hanging by itself, but layered on top of a wreath, it packs just the right punch!


Not much has changed since last year.  I purchased the plaid pillow cover from Pottery Barn last year, and I still love the color and warmth it adds.  The red ribbon on the wreath is a new addition, and it's the perfect little pop of color!

I am still absolutely loving my record player, and my current favorite record to play is Dolly Parton's A Holly Dolly Christmas - so good!

All my little Santa's are grouped together - I hope to grow this collection year by year!

My mom had the great idea to mix in my milk glass collection, and I love how it looks!  Plus it ties in the milk glass Santa on the top.


This year I really wanted to simplify the mantle, and just do a full garland.  I have a few tweaks in mind for next year, but I am pretty happy with how it turned out this year!  

The stockings are the ones we used growing up.  As our family has expanded, my mom purchased new ones, and I happily brought these home - I love the nostalgia of them!


I beefed up the banister garland, too, and created this little vignette next to the TV.

One of my favorite things to do after work is light a candle, turn on the record player, and tune into the 'fireplace at home' on Netflix.



This is my favorite view!

This Santa is a hand me down from my grandma, which makes it extra special.

I love the simplicity of this centerpiece.  The milk glass is a newer piece, and works so well here!  And, of course, my beloved Christmas plates.  I look forward to breaking these out each year!


More touches of milk glasses, mixed in with mercury glass.  I love the contrast of the white and silver together.




I added a tree to the upstairs landing this year, and this neat clip on candles.  The candles have been a bit of a bust though...one broke, and the batteries have already needed to be replaced, even though I don't turn them on all that often.  But, it sure looks pretty!

I found this golden book at an antique mall a few years ago, and had to grab it.  It was one of my favorites growing up!

My milk glass vase collection continues to grow, and I also found this neat bowl to use, too!  Filled with my favorite, shiny brite ornaments.


The guest bedroom got a little Christmas cheer, too!

I have always loved the idea of holiday bedding, and finally decided to do it up this year.  The sheets and 'ho ho ho' pillow are both from Pottery Barn (and currently on sale), and the red velvet quilt and shams were a Target find.  It may be silly, but goodness, does it make me happy.  Just an extra bit of festiveness and coziness!




Ending this tour with the last thing I see before going to bed each night.  The glow of the shiny brite tree is second to none...between the tinsel garland and, of course, the shiny brites, it's just the prettiest thing.

That wraps up my 2020 Christmas home tour...thanks for stopping by!  You can see my other holiday home tours here.

Linking up with Lindsay.