Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas, hope everyone had an awesome holiday!  Unfortunately ours was a little sickly with my niece Mikayla having a fever & Melanie becoming deathly ill with the flu on Christmas day.  I started to feel sick late last week & it definitely kicked in by Christmas, but luckily it's only a cold & not the flu.  I'm actually home with Cameron today since he woke us up at 4am with a 102 degree fever.  Lets say that it wasn't exactly the Christmas we pictured, but we still managed to have fun!

This year for teacher's gifts I baked these amazingly tasty chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies.  Click here for the recipe; they're like a moist cookie paired with a brownie, living in glorious bliss together!

I jarred them & packaged them with a yummy red velvet cupcake candle from Target & bagged them with a picture of each kiddo that I used as a thank you/Merry Christmas card.  I would love to do more for the teachers since I'm so incredibly thankful for all they do for my kids, but the budget was tight, so I did what we could!


To help stay in budget, I made some of Christmas presents, like this brown sugar lavender, peppermint body scrub.  It was so easy to make & left my skin amazingly soft & smooth!

Brown Sugar Scrub
makes 3 mason jars 

3 cups brown sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup + 2T honey
1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil, optional
1/2 teaspoon peppermint essential oil, optional

So much less expensive than a store-bought version & just as good!

We hosted Christmas Eve & it was a gloriously beautifully cool day, so we took some time to feed the ducks.


The cousins always have such a blast together; I'm so thankful that they have each other!

The kids had a blast opening presents!  It's sooooo much fun watching their excitement, I love it!

 We got Reese the exact same doll I got when I was two years old on Christmas... I still adore her & have to admit that I sleep with her to this day.  Yes, yes, I am aware that as a 34 year-old, this is absolutely not normal! 

Anyway, my dad found the same doll nearly ten years ago & gave it to me on Christmas in hopes I would have a daughter to give it to.  Well, that time finally came & Reese seemed pretty excited about her "new" doll (that was made in 1979, the year I was born!)

And we took our annual picture of the grand kids in front of the Christmas tree. Both years, we've managed to get them all to smile with the help of Mike & Dempsey!

 Despite the sickness, I've loved the extra time spent with my family & all of the new memories & traditions we've continued to create!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas happenings

I'm trying to soak up Christmas & enjoy this awesome season as much as I possibly can, but things are so crazy busy lately.  I feel like I'm perpetually rushed & frazzled.  Yesterday Mike said, "you are always so stressed!"  Oops.  Work has been really busy, so I'm working mostly ten hour days lately & not getting home until later in the evening which makes the nights hectic as all get out.

Mike's taken the last two Wednesdays off which has been awesome & we've gotten a TON done in terms of Christmas shopping.  Last week we hit Target hard & after two hours of filling our cart, the overhead sirens began to WAIL in the worst possible way.  Turns out there was a bomb threat called into the store & it didn't reopen for nearly two hours!!  Crazy people in this world.  So, we took a lunch break at the mall & they luckily saved our cart for us so we could go back & resume shopping.

Saturday we made "Grinch" cookies from this recipe which was quick & easy (I didn't add the mint flavoring).  Make sure you set your timer though or your cookies will burn like ours did.  I should seriously not be allowed to bake since there's always a mishap whenever I do. 

In case you didn't realize, baking with small children is extremely messy & Dempsey ended up in a snow storm of powdered sugar.  She was too busy licking up the excess from the floor to notice, so she didn't mind!

We took some time to feed our neighbor duck family on Saturday evening.  They definitely appreciated it!  It's funny to look at the weather forecast when all of the U.S. is blue with icy cold temps when Florida is bright red with it being in the 80s.  Although tonight is in the 40s... Brrrr!  Just kidding.

The kids got these cute Christmas jammies & Santa cups from their Elf, Fella so they were super excited & I've never seen Cam undress quicker!

We headed out with this kids in their new Christmas get-ups & saw a nearby light display that this family does each year.  It was all set to music, so it was pretty cool & must have taken them a long time to set up!

Sunday we headed to Lauren's house for our kid's gift exchange party.  We all had such a great time!!  The kids decorated sugar cookies & after dinner they had an absolute blast opening & playing with their new presents.

 Growing up my mom worked tons & tons of hours so we very rarely ever baked together since they were especially busy at the holidays.  But, Lauren was lucky to decorate cookies each year with her mom & they would "paint" the cookies with colored powdered sugar mixed with water.  I had never heard of this, so it was a new concept for me!

Reese couldn't believe it when I told her she could lick her paint brush in between colors.  She made me prove it first before she would try it herself!  Hopefully she doesn't try it at school the next time they paint!

This was the kids a year & a half ago... boy have they grown!!

We picked Cameron up early yesterday & ate lunch at Hulk Hogan's restaurant on the water.  The service was positively awful, so if you live in the area, I don't suggest it!  

Then we hit the theaters & watched Frozen which was such a great movie!  Next year Reese will be able to join us for movies, but I'm not ready to take her just yet.  Tomorrow is Cameron's Christmas program & we're super excited to see him perform!  I'm looking forward to the weekend as always, thank goodness tomorrow is Friday!

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Monday, December 2, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

We had an awesome Thanksgiving & I was very sad to be heading back to work this morning after five glorious days with my family.  Wednesday ended up being great; I spent the day with the kids, prepped for Thanksgiving, listened to Christmas music & enjoyed the quickly cooling breeze through the open sliders.

I was so surprised when my mom called & said that my sister would be joining them to spend the night (as well as my nieces).  As we all gathered around the table talking & drinking chocolate peppermint martinis, we wondered why my brother & SIL weren't coming after my brother got off work.  A quick text later & they decided they'd come too!

Documenting what we're thankful for!

After the kids played together until they crashed, the adults hung out on the patio chatting it up & having an impromptu dance party.  Chocolate peppermint martinis do that to you!

I was positively giddy when we woke up to 39 degree weather on Thanksgiving morning!!  It's not often that we get to feel cool weather in November, so I was thankful that it truly felt like the holidays.

Since we were in Asheville last Thanksgiving, this was our very first in our "new" house.  It was so awesome to actually have room for everyone to sleep & eat!  I was very thankful for that.

I caught this little stinker sneaking candy from the lingering Halloween stash right before dinner!

Friday was equally as awesome & spent buying & decorating our Christmas tree.  Yes, apparently my son enjoys decorating in his undies.  Hey, whatever floats his boat.

This was the first year that Cam was really into decorating the Christmas tree & he did such a great job!  We watched Elf as we decorated.

Unfortunately I woke up super early Sunday morning with some mega anxiety.  I didn't want to go back to work after having so much fun with the kids, I get anxiety on Sundays in general, I was sad the holiday was already over & with it being officially December, my to-do list was screaming at me.  Luckily I worked hard & got my annual Shutterfly picture calendars done, so that took some pressure off. 

 Mike's taking the day off with me Wednesday & hopefully we'll be getting the majority of our shopping done.  I'm trying to keep the month manageable so I can enjoy it instead of stressing.. sucks to be a worrier!

In keeping with the Dave Ramsey cash system we've been following, we're completely budgeted for Christmas which also takes a lot of stress off.  No more January dread with a massive credit card bill.  It is amazing though how much everything involved with Christmas quickly adds up.  I create one of the more reasonable Christmas cards from Shutterfly, but those + 60 postage stamps = $60 alone.  

We don't go insane buying gifts for our kids either since they have plenty of toys already & we certainly don't need more "stuff" taking up space in our house.  Christmas definitely doesn't have to mean going broke

And I have to admit, one of my favorite things about Christmas is having Fella our elf hanging around.  I love this little guy & so do my kids!  After my little bout of anxiety in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I've gotten it together so I can enjoy the holiday & not stress myself through it.  Happy December, Happy Christmas! 

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My little turkeys

I love, love, love Thanksgiving!  Being with family, time off work, cooking, the smells of said cooking & the kick off of Christmas that comes in our house the day after Thanksgiving.

These pictures have nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but are from Reese's actual birthday on the 14th.  Since her favorite food is pizza, that's what we made for her birthday meal.  Every single Friday in our house is pizza night & we normally heat up a frozen one since it's cheaper & fast.  With it being a special day/birthday, I decided I'd try to make Pioneer Woman's homemade dough & I could not believe how incredibly easy it was!  It took me less than five minutes to make & it's so inexpensive with just water, yeast, flour, salt & olive oil.  Click here for the recipe.  She recommends making it at least a day or two ahead of time.  By the way, I don't have a fancy mixer, but I do have some fancy hands & the dough turned out just fine the old fashioned way.

Anyway, I looked so forward to Thanksgiving week, knowing I only had to work Monday & Tuesday.  I remember saying Sunday night, "whatever this work week brings, I can handle it!"  Yeah, not so much.  It was overwhelmingly busy, I worked long, non-stop days & was completely burned out by last night.  Unfortunately, that meant that I was cranky, emotional & snappy.  That meant that my husband was not very happy with my poor attitude.  After realizing I forgot to send Cameron with the cranberry sauce I signed up for his Thanksgiving school feast, I was having a bashing myself party.  Just snapped at my husband, dropped the ball on my kid's party?  I suck!  Luckily Cameron's teacher was extremely sweet, told me they had more than enough cranberry sauce & gave me a hug after seeing how sorry I was! 

Sometimes when I'm overwhelmed, I just can't see the light when I'm in that moment.  If I give myself ten minutes to decompress & get some clarity, I'm fine.  Grocery shopping, getting ready for Thanksgiving & working while trying to tend to the family was apparently too much for my weak emotional state!!!  But, I'm all better after sleeping on it, it's a new day & I'm off for the next FIVE DAYS!!!  WOO HOO!

Mike's headed to work today, but will hopefully get out early & we'll be together the rest of the week.  My parents come up every year to spend the night the Wednesday before Thanksgiving so we're looking forward to their arrival too.

And this year they're bringing my nieces up for a sleepover, so Cameron & Reese are super excited!

I'm thankful for my family, time off from work & the cooler weather that will be here just in time for Thanksgiving.  I'm hoping you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families too!!

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