Happy New Year!

What a wild ride this year has been!  I hope you experience happiness and success in 2018!MichaelkatyFB v2 (1 of 1)-2.jpg

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Christmas Tidbits

Michael and I had a really lovely Christmas.  I’m so thankful that my mother-in-law was able to travel down here from Arkansas to spend time with us.  It was a really special visit.

Here are some things we did.

On Christmas Eve, we took a picture in front of the tree in the church foyer.

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Then, Christmas morning, I woke up early to stuff the stockings and arrange everything.

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Once everyone woke up, we had a breakfast with eggs, sausage and cinnamon rolls.

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Then, we opened presents.  I didn’t get pictures of the humans opening presents, but I did get the dogs opening their treats from their stockings (which were a bit blurry because, you know, dogs).  I loved Teddy’s Naughty cookie.  It was pretty spot on for him.

While I was making dinner, I set out these penguin appetizers.  I found a picture on Pinterest and thought they would be perfect.

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Then, it was feast time.  Prime Rib roast with potatoes and carrots, sprouts, and rolls.  It turned out really well.

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And finally, we ended the night playing a few board games, including Splendor (pictured) and Machi Koro.  20171225_191047

It was a wonderful visit with very little stress (even the meal prep and cooking went smoothly).  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day with their friends and family.

Christmas Party!

Last weekend, Michael and I attended his work’s Christmas party.  I took it as an excuse to get a little gussied up with makeup.20171216_172136.jpg

And Michael took it as an excuse to wear his Ugly Christmas Sweater.  My parents just gave this to him during their visit earlier this month, and he has been wearing it to every Christmas function he can.  There are lights in the antlers that blink every time he moves.20171216_172358

We sat next to our friends who got engaged earlier this year.  Lizzi works with Michael.  I always have a good time hanging out with her!

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Towards the end of the party, we had a puzzle competition that had three levels.  Our table won one of the levels!  I thought this was pretty good, considering it was way past my bedtime.  I was pretty proud of myself for staying out until 10 o’clock, but I was definitely tired when we got home!

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It was a wonderful night, and I had so much fun!

Have you attended any Christmas parties this year?  

Stocking Stuffer Stumper…Solved?

For the most part, I have a lot of my Christmas on a schedule.  I’m very thankful for that schedule this year especially because of my lack of energy and brainpower during this part of my pregnancy.  I mentioned in my goals post this month that I really wanted to enjoy this particular season, and if there is a way to streamline something in order to de-stressify it, I am all for it.

I love the little poem that has been passed around the last few years (or maybe it has been longer) for parents purchasing presents for their kids (but really, it has helped me in years past when I blank on my own Christmas list).

Something you want, Something you need

Something you wear, Something to read

And since this was so helpful to me in years past, I thought, “Why not try something similar to help with stocking stuffers?”  You see, stocking stuffers are the biggest bane of my Christmas existence.  After sorting out all the Christmas gifts and the wrapping and the food and the decorations, this one little extra just taunts me.  I almost completely forget it every year, and when I do remember, I am racking my brain, trying to think of something to fill each stocking and stay within my overall budget.

This year, I think I found a solution.  By using a similar poem to the one above.

Something to try, Something to buy

Something to eat, Something for feet

Let me break this down a bit.

Something to try – This is what I call the “sample size” portion of the stocking.  Maybe it’s a beauty or skincare product that you think one of your family members will enjoy.  I noticed that Ulta has a lot of these available this time of year (not sponsored), and the shelves right before the Sephora checkout always have some good travel goodies (again, not sponsored).  One suggestion is the facial sheet masks that seem to be really popular this year.  There is an excellent brand I have used before that has one, and I’m willing to bet my stocking will include a sample of this particular mask in it.  I also shared some beauty favorites in June that could also easily fit in a stocking and a budget.

But it doesn’t have to be beauty related.  Mini-coloring books or little puzzles can also fit into this category.  Some hobbies, like cross stitch or crochet, can have smaller projects that you can fit into a stocking for a beginner.  Or even just a small mini-game or pack of cards.  Anything that you think the person in question might enjoy, especially if they have never tried it before.

 

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Something to buy – This one is pretty simple.  Gift cards are the perfect size for a stocking.  And it doesn’t have to be a whole lot!  I know that most Christmas budgets don’t leave a lot of room for stockings, so a five dollar gift card to Starbucks in each stocking may be all that’s needed.  Or you can just put money in their stocking.  You can even fold it into an origami heart or Christmas tree if you are feeling really creative.

Something to eat – This can be as lavish or simple as you want to make it.  Traditionally, at least in my family, an orange at the bottom of the stocking makes for a good morning snack while waiting for others to wake up.  But you can also add their favorite candy or Christmas treat.  Lindt comes out with bags of individually wrapped candies that are really good.  I saw these Godiva dessert truffles that are also individually wrapped as well, and you can’t go wrong with Godiva in my opinion.  You can divide them among stockings or simply get one bag for each person of their favorite flavor or brand.

Something for feet – A few years ago, I was hosting Christmas at my house, and I included footsie socks, or non-slip socks, in the stockings for my mom and sister-in-law.  They were perfect to wear on a cold Christmas morning, or even throughout the rest of the winter season.  And this year I thought, what can fit more perfectly into a stocking than socks?  And what other time of the year do we ever get around to buying socks for ourselves?  And they don’t have to be the fuzzy, non-slip kind.  It can be themed socks, like a superhero or whatever show your family member is into.  It can also be plain socks (because let’s face it, sometimes we need a refreshed set).

So this is the poem I’m using this year to navigate the dreaded stocking stuffers. What I like most is that I can use this, again and again, each year.  Just one more thing I don’t have to stress about so that I can enjoy the holiday season even more!

Do you have any traditions when it comes to stocking stuffers?

I also wanted to let you know that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  These are all things I have used or would purchase personally.  Thanks!

Christmas Kick-off With My Parents

This past weekend, I got to spend time with my parents for Christmas.  They live in Georgia, far away from here in Dallas, TX, so it’s always a treat to get to spend some time with them.   We had so much fun, but unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures.

So, first, they came to my 16-week ultrasound appointment, which I will talk more about on my Friday update video.  I will probably say this again on Friday, but this was such a special thing for me.  None of my family (except Michael, of course) have been able to attend an ultrasound appointment for any of my pregnancies.  So this was pretty awesome.

Then, we decorated for Christmas.  Teddy helped test the lights.

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And we managed to get the tree and mantle done by that first evening so we could have Christmas the next morning (since they won’t be here for Christmas this year because this year is my in-laws’ turn for Christmas).

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(The fire wasn’t on because it was so hot this weekend – highs were in the upper 70s)  The next morning, we stayed in our pajamas, exchanged presents, and had hot cocoa and pancakes.  All wonderful traditions for our family.

We went to Downtown McKinney, but I completely forgot to take out my phone to take pictures.  This is probably one of my favorite downtown areas in the DFW metroplex, especially at Christmas.  I know I plan to go back sometime this month so I will try to take some pictures, then.

We also saw Murder on the Orient Express, which I might do a separate post about.  My mom is a big mystery fan.  She has read pretty much all of Agatha Christie’s stories, so this was a real treat to watch this with her.

Then, on Sunday, we went to church that morning.  And then that evening, we watched an adorable musical.  One of the kids in the chorus is my best friend’s son (and surrogate nephew).  This was his first musical, and he did so well!

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Most of the rest of their visit was doing Christmas-y things at home.  My mom was so kind to make one of our traditional Christmas desserts, boiled custard (which she shared a bit of the finished product with the dogs).

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She had them eating out of her hand, literally!  They may be moping around today, wondering where the fun humans went.

It was amazing to see my parents for the time they were here.  I don’t get a lot of opportunities to see them throughout the year, which makes this holiday season extra special.  It was the perfect way to kick-off Christmas this year!

Our Thanksgiving 2017

If you watched my video last Friday, then you would know that our Thanksgiving holiday was quite a bit different this year.  Since it was just going to be Michael and me, we decided to try a new restaurant here in the DFW area.  There are so many fine dining restaurants here, even though we have lived here for almost 10 years, I still don’t feel like we have scratched the surface.  Mostly because when we find one we like, we tend to go back over and over again.

But we wanted to try something new, so Michael got reservations for a restaurant called Table 13 in Addison, TX.  Addison, to me, is kind of hipstery and the restaurants are always interesting.  Plus, this particular restaurant was suggested on lists with other restaurants we have enjoyed and it had good reviews.

Thanksgiving morning was spent in our PJs, watching the Macy’s Day Parade with the pups.  Teddy loves Jerzee.  Jerzee tolerates Teddy.  So, when the two dogs start snuggling, pictures are taken a lot.

After the parade ended, we got ready and headed down to the restaurant for our reservation.  It was packed, which is always a good sign.  But there was some mix-up with seating (people were taking longer than anticipated), so it took close to 30-40 minutes for us to be seated.  Also, quick note, the decor was….interesting.  It was mostly decorated with pin-up drawings of girls without clothes who were strategically situated.  So, not a place I would take kids.  Definitely had an adult vibe which I didn’t really pick up on with the reviews (plus, they had a special price that day for kids).

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They had their Thanksgiving special, which both of us got, but they also had other choices a la carte.  I feel like the a la carte menu was more their regular food, judging from how the meal went.

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So, the first course was a choice between their salads or lobster bisque (which were also starter choices on the a la carte menu).  I chose the lobster bisque which is good.  It was creamy, perfect temperature, and had bits of lobster in it that added to the flavor.

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The second course was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner – turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green beans, and cranberry sauce.  All of it was pork-free, which was important to me because I have a pork allergy.  But after we finished the first course and our plates were taken, it took 30-40 minutes for the second course to arrive.  This was surprising to me because it was the special of the day, and that’s usually easier to get out than something else off the menu.  But maybe I’m wrong about that.  As far as taste, it was okay.  The one thing that really stood out was the cranberry sauce.  They added some kind of mint ingredient to the cranberries which complemented it very well.  But the rest of the meal was…just okay.

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The third course came out much more quickly.  It was a traditional raisin bread pudding with a pumpkin sauce and a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.  The center of the pudding was soft and absorbed the vanilla ice cream pretty well.  But the outside was a little crispy and I didn’t really taste the pumpkin sauce.  Again, it was okay.

Overall, I don’t think we will go back anytime soon, not because it was necessarily bad.  It’s just that there are so many other options in the DFW area to eat for the same price point that are better in my opinion.  Still, I’m glad I didn’t have to cook or clean on Thanksgiving day, which really made it worth it.

The rest of the evening, we just spent at home, hanging out.  I had a wonderful day with my husband and my pups.  I was truly thankful for the time we shared together!

Our 2017 Labor Day

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Since last week was a rough one for us, we intentionally decided to not make plans for Labor Day.  In holidays past, we would visit family or have friends over, but this year, we just wanted to have a day in.

One of the unique things (at least to me) of living in Texas is from Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are flags at the entrances of all the neighborhoods.  I took advantage of the beautiful day by walking around the neighborhoods and trails near our house.20170904_114215

And then, in the evening, Michael grilled out with hamburgers.  While I hung out with the pups in the backyard.

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So, we had a laid-back, chill evening just with our little family.  Hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day!