Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Wrapping Up Christmas

We are back at home after a whirlwind trip to all the family. We made two stops in opposite ends of South Carolina so that we could see both of our parents. We love that they live in the same state making it a bit easier to see everyone. We started over at the lake with my parents where there was a lot of eating and game playing- some of my favorite things! 

Monday evening, after an afternoon of darts and shuffleboard at a local spot, we ventured downtown for pizza and to check out the awesome light display their little main street does. They time all of the lights to music and it is really quite impressive. It was a chilly night and definitely felt like December- its a miracle how quickly you lose your tolerance for cold. I kept reminding myself that I'd spent the last year and a half in PA and should be tougher but alas, I am not and was glad to be bundled up in my parka. 

Tuesday was a gloomy day but we didn't let that stop us! We went out for lunch...I said there was a lot of eating right? And then we went miniature golfing! Yes, in December. And yes, it was drizzling/raining throughout our 18 holes but it was SO fun! I don't have any pictures because as I said it was rainy so none of us were looking our best for a photo op. The spot we went is not your typical putt putt course...as in there is no windmill, or pirate ship or other themed characters all around. But instead, it is full of beautiful greenery, water features, sculptures. It's called Oasis and it definitely gives off an oasis vibe. 

Wednesday was "Christmas"! It wasn't really but we made it Christmas with all of our usual traditions. We opened stocking presents, ate breakfast casserole then opened some other gifts. And the remainder of the day was spent relaxing and watching the boys manage dinner. Seriously, you all haven't seen men discuss meat cooking until you have seen my husband and dad together. It was worth it though because they created a delicious prime rib for our Christmas feast! 

On Thursday we headed out of town to make our way to the next town for more Christmas. Hubby's grandparents would also be in attendance which was lovely since I hadn't seen them since our wedding. Friday afternoon we spent the day over at a high school friend's of my husbands. Along with some other high school buddies. I love that these guys have stayed so close and they are truly the most welcoming group of friends. And it's always fun to get everyone together! After a day of catching up it was back to the in-laws for more prime rib. Let me tell you, hubby was in heaven with all of the food choices over the week. 

Saturday was Christmas part 2 and the only evidence I have of it is a picture of our dog Bo in his new sweater...he was a big fan! 

I can assure you the rest of us also enjoyed the merriment of gift giving, and the delightful surprise of being able to be out on the porch in some gorgeous late December weather. We headed back to our own home on Sunday and began trying to unpack and organize. And figure out how our own home is so messy and cluttered when we didn't actually have Christmas here...

In other news...I am now 15 weeks pregnant and showing every bit of that. Not sure if it's baby or the Christmas cookies, or maybe a bit of both! 

I always love the space between Christmas and New Years. Perhaps because as a teacher I've always had that time off as opposed to going back to work in between. But I think it allows for the loveliest of transitions into a new year. There's time to slow down, reflect and look forward. I'm nearing the end of finishing a new years resolution- perhaps for the first time! I'll share more about in the next few days. And anticipating the new year with excitement and joy at the changes coming our way. And of course also practicing a new skill of balancing things on my belly!

Adorable mug courtesy of my sweet sister!

Friday, December 17, 2021

Big News!

If you follow me on social media then you already saw my announcement but hubby and I are expecting a bundle of joy this coming June! 

We are beyond thrilled with the news of our growing family and it has been so fun to share the excitement with our loved ones the last several weeks. We discovered we aren't great secret keepers when it comes to something that is so full of joy. 

I found out the Thursday before my cousin was getting married, just before leaving for a 10 hour drive from PA down to SC for the festivities. And because we had begun our relocation at that point hubby was already down south waiting for me to arrive. Which meant, it was just me when I found out. I was in a bit of disbelief, and cried happy tears and said a prayer of the utmost thankfulness to the Lord for an answered prayers. And then took a selfie so I could show hubby my initial reaction. 

Then I had to somehow keep that secret from him for the 10 hours of driving, where I talked to him on the phone 3 different times. I was so excited to tell him but definitely wanted it to be in person. The interesting thing was, we were staying the night at our close friends' house so we weren't exactly going to have much time just us for this announcement. But I had a plan. Earlier in the year I had found a shirt that I wanted to use to share the news with hubby and I packed that with me. It says "She's eating for two, I'm drinking for three." I knew he would get a kick out of it. So as soon as I arrived, I asked hubby if he would mind carrying my suitcase up to the guest room for me . He said of course and as we walked up the stairs I let him know I had brought something from home I thought he would want. So in our friends' guest room I pulled out the shirt and tossed it to him, giving him a moment to read it and process what it meant. His reaction has obviously been my favorite and it was simply the best finally getting to celebrate that moment together.

Ok this isn't actually right after I told him, its from the next day but I assure you we were riding a joy wave the whole weekend! 

But we decided we wouldn't tell anyone else just yet, we'd give it a week or two since it was so so early. Not to mention, this was my cousin's weekend and I didn't want to spoil it. However, it turns out its much harder to hide this information that one would think. Particularly if the people around you are aware you're working on adding to your family. So when I decline the pre-dinner cocktail, said no to the oysters at dinner and offered to stay sober and drive us home so we wouldn't have to Uber our friends we definitely suspicious. And by suspicious I mean they totally knew but were willing to pretend they didn't. Whew! One night down without spilling the beans (ish).

But then it was wedding weekend, surrounded by me entire immediate family and much of my extended family. When I asked for juice instead of a mimosa while the bridesmaids were getting ready, there was a hubbub of chatter from the other room about what that might mean. And a knowing smile and comment from my aunt. But I stayed strong and said I had nothing to share- it wasn't my day! But my cousin pulled me aside shortly after to tell me she was so excited for me and I knew there was no hiding it then- I do not have a poker face. So we exchanged hugs and excitement and my cousin became the 2nd official person to know about our bundle of joy. 

Well after that, I called hubby and told him we had to tell people- there was no way I couldn't tell my sister and parents. After all sister was also with us getting ready and mom and dad would be there shortly. And of course if we're telling my parents, we're also telling your parents and let's call our friends back and confirm what they already know. So with me in the parking lot of the wedding venue and hubby downtown killing time at Fall for Greenville, we facetimed our families to let them in on the news. Cheering and a few tears all around! 

This is my most recent belly picture. I'll actually be 14 weeks tomorrow so I'll have to take an update. Also, I'm pretty sure that's not all baby and is probably mostly cheetos. 

The bean spilling didn't end there and by the end of the weekend that whole side of the family knew/ But you know what, that's ok- those are our people and I think its good for your people to know all the excitement. 

So here we are...almost 10 weeks later and it's officially our in the world. We've seen our little munchkin and heard the precious heartbeat and spend most evenings talking baby names, or baby gear or baby questions while we relax on the couch. And I'm not sure there's anything else I'd rather do. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Final Hodgepodge of 2021

We had a great visit to my sister's last weekend that I want to recap but the Christmas shopping and wrapping and baking has me running around like crazy this week so stay tuned for that, hopefully before this weekend rolls around. But I didn't want to miss the last hodgepodge of the year, so I'm taking a pause from baking to answer today's questions. Join in at my mom's blog

From this Side of the Pond

1. How young is young? In the past, according to various organizations who decide these things, age 60 was the 'border age' to old. The World Health Organization has done new research recently and divided up the categories as-0-17 (underage), 18-65 (youth or young people), 66-79 (middle-aged), 80-99 (elderly senior), 100+ (long-lived elderly). Your thoughts on this particular breakdown, and also your thoughts as to where you land?

I think based on the people I know in their 60's this new breakdown makes so much sense! I know some spry and wonderfully fun people who fall at the end of the "young people" or beginning on the "middle-aged" and I would never describe them as old. I also like that it places me firmly in the young people category. And while I know I thought 31 seemed SOO old when I was a kid, it certainly doesn't feel that way now. Well except when I want to get in bed at 8:30 on a Friday night. 

2. TIME magazine has declared Elon Musk person of the year in 2021. What say you? If you want to know more about how they choose you'll find that info in the link here. If you were choosing, who would be your person of the year? 

I don't usually pay a lot of attention to the this announcement but I have heard a lot about Elon Musk this year. And while, I wouldn't say I've always been impressed with him or seen the huge appeal, he's definitely had some influence this year. The most interesting thing related to Elon Musk, I viewed this year was a docu series on Netflix called "Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space". While it doesn't center around Musk himself, SpaceX is his company so he obviously played an important role and I found the whole series very interesting. I recommend it if you're looking or a end of year show- just 4 or 5 episodes on Netflix. 

If  I were selecting the person of the year, I'm inclined to say teachers, or nurses or both. I would have said this same thing last year as well as these groups of people have continued to step up in challenging situations. 

3. I read here ten habits of extremely likable people which include-they greet the world with a smile on their face, they ask questions, they're consistent, they put the phone away, they remember names and use them, they keep an open mind and don't pass judgement, they're authentic, they're kind and generous, accountable for their mistakes, and they send thank you notes.  

So, are you likable-lol? Which one of these habits could use some further developing in your own life? What is one habit/quality you'd add to the list? 

Well I like to think I'm likable and I would say many of these qualities on this list are things I work to possess in myself. But there are definitely some areas that need improvement. If I'm picking one, it's putting my phone away. I definitely need to limit that time. I think I would add being punctual to that list. I love people who are punctual. 

4. One non-holiday related task/job/goal/dream on your to-do list that you hope/plan to make happen before the new year rolls in? 

Finish hanging pictures in our home...there's only 3 more. Does it count as being on my to do list but really my husband will be the one to do it? 

5. Share with us some of your holiday plans. 

Hubby and I will be visiting both sides of our family this holiday season, a few days at each. We sure would love if everyone could be together since neither of our siblings will be making it home this year but nevertheless we're looking forward to time with family celebrating the joy of the season. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

Since I mentioned I've been doing some baking I thought I'd share what's on my baking list with a link to the recipe I'm using if you need any inspiration. 

Gingerbread cookies, Peppermint Snowball Cookies, Chocolate Cherry Cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms, and Martha Stewarts (ok this isn't what these are called, but it's what I've always called them- I use a recipe card from my Mema, but I've found the link I think).

I also made this delicious white chocolate peppermint bark. I found this idea last year from a girl I follow on instagram and I've linked her blog post about it here for you. She even includes a little card that you could add to yours if you're giving it as a gift. So definitely check that out.  This is SO SO easy, takes hardly any time and makes the best neighbor gift or personal holiday snack- whichever you prefer.

1. You start by crushing a bunch of candy canes. You can use the large or small but I think the small are easier to crush and since I also crush candy canes for my peppermint snowballs, I'm all about making it easy. 

2. After crushing them, you want to sift them so there isn't as much peppermint dust in the mixture. You just want the chunks. 

3. Melt white chocolate. I'm sure you're supposed to use a double boiler but I don't have a bowl I can use for that so I microwave it and it does just fine. I do 1 minute, sitr, then 15 sec, stir then 15 sec and stir one more time- done! After its melted you'll add in some of the crushed peppermint- not too much but enough to distribute it through the chocolate.

4. Spread the mixture on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and sprinkle the top with more crushed peppermint. 

5. Let it set- it would set fine on the counter I'm sure but I do it in the fridge to save time. Takes just a few minutes.

6. After it's set break it apart and store in an airtight container till your ready to eat! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Gearing up for Christmas with the Hodgepodge

Linking up with the hodgepodge today. Head over the my mom's blog to join in! 

 From this Side of the Pond

1. 'Tis the season to be jolly....so are you? 

I feel pretty jolly for the season. It has been fun getting to find spots in the new house for our holiday decorations and starting to build some holiday traditions with hubby as this is our first married Christmas. I do wish some of the logistics of traveling and getting to all the people we want to see were a bit simpler but I'm not going to let it deter me from enjoying the season! 

2. Do you trim a tree this time of year, and if so is yours all done? What's something in your home-closet-life that needs to be trimmed in the new year? 

We did get a tree this year! It's artificial which I think is the way to go and I'm very happy with it. I don't do too much in terms of trimming aside from the lights (that it came with) and ornaments. I'm thinking as the years continue I may up my tree game but for this year I was pleased to get it up and working. 

Hm, do I need to trim anything in the new year? Probably. Moving alerted my hubby and I to how much stuff we have and we definitely have been working to trim that down a bit!

3. Are you 'dreaming of a white Christmas'? Is that a possibility where you'll be celebrating? According to
 this site the top ten places in the US you can count on for a white Christmas are- North Pole Alaska, Crater Lake Oregon, Yellowstone National Park, Winthrop Washington, Aspen Colorado, Ketchum Idaho, Mt. Washington New Hampshire, Whitefish Montana, Duluth Minnesota, and the Lake Tahoe town of Truckee California.

Of the snowy spots listed which would you most like to visit? 

I do love a white Christmas, though it seems unlikely that we'll see one this year- you never know though! Of the top 10 list, I think I would most like to check out North Pole Alaska. I mean, it just sounds like the perfect Christmas destination. But I also think I would like to head to Truckee at Lake Tahoe- I've heard Lake Tahoe is beautiful and I'm sure even more so when covered with a snow blanket.  

4. December 8th is National Brownie Day...will you be celebrating? How do you like your brownies-chewy or cake-like, frosted or plain, nuts or no nuts, a piece from the middle or give me the corner? As a child were you a member of a brownie troop? 

I saw that this was coming up. I may have to go get myself a brownie to celebrate! I will eat a brownie any way it is served to me, but I prefer no nuts, and no frosting and definitely prefer a fudgy/chewy texture but with a crisp top. I am definitely corner piece all the way because I feel like you get the best ratio of fudgy middle to crisp edge. 

I was a brownie as a child and I recall it being a fun time, although with far less actual brownies than the name implied. 

5. Share a favorite line or two from a Christmas carol or holiday tune. 

"A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."

Oh Holy Night is my favorite Christmas song and I think this line really captures the expectation of the advent season and the joy at the arrival of Christmas. And these last couple of years especially, I think people can truly relate to the idea of a weary world ready to rejoice. And Christmas brings that no matter what is going on around us. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

In my tree picutre above it may be hard to see but the topper for our tree is a fabric angel. And a fun fact about that angel is that it is made from the fabric of my mom's wedding dress. Last Christmas, just a few weeks before my wedding, my mom gifted me a beautiful robe to wear the morning of my wedding made from her wedding dress. Upon receiving it I quite literally burst into tears. Seriously, it was sort of embarrassing how overcome with emotion I was. See evidence below. 

Photo grabbed from my mom's blog, where you can read all about it.

But after recovering from that, I also discovered a beautiful Christmas ornament made of the same heartfelt material which worked just perfectly as a tree topper this year for our first Christmas as Mr. and Mrs.

Photo grabbed from my mom's blog.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Weekend Recap

 It's a rainy Monday here in Tennessee, which definitely makes me want to just extend the weekend and stay snuggled on the couch. But I'm working on tackling our to-do list, a little at a time. The weekend sure was lovely though! 

Friday evening was date night! Friday has pretty much been date night for us since we started dating and it's one of my favorite parts of the week usually. But then, we went out for every meal for 2 weeks so date night wasn't really a thing and then we definitely needed a restaurant break and some home cooked food for a change. But after our brief hiatus, we were back to our favorite day of the week heading to 1885 Grill for a night out. Followed by some Christmas movie watching, a perfect date night in my opinion.

We had big plans Saturday to do things around the house, and head to the holiday market and the incline railway and the Alabama/Georgie football game-all in one day. But the things around the house took a wee bit longer than we expected so plans shifted to...finishing things around the house, eating Mexican for a LATE lunch and watching football for the rest of the evening. One thing, of the many, that I love about my husband is how handy he is. He put up some ceiling storage for us in the garage which allows us so much more space now that we were able to move some of the boxes that were lining the walls up to the ceiling shelf. And I say we, but let's be real, it was all him. I am very lucky. 

Sunday we found ourselves back in church after a long time of not going. Our previous church had a lot of regulations in place that made it hard to get to an in person service. So finally being back in a church building, worshipping alongside others and hearing a message from a real life pastor not on a screen was a delight for my soul. We're still in what I would describe as the "church shopping" stage of the move, but we enjoyed our visit here. And because we missed the market Saturday, we headed over after church to peruse the aisle of homemade pottery, jewelry, soap, spices and jams among other things. We didn't end up buying anything but it's always fun to "window" shop right? 

The day ended with me rushing to finish up Christmas cards so they could get ordered in time for me to take advantage of the sale and somehow manage to get them to me in time to mail out before Christmas. That second part remains to be seen but I'm hopeful. I will share here once I've sent them out but oh boy am I excited about the card we came up with this year! 

And because I still have not managed to master the art of remembering to take photos so I'll have them for the blog later...I will leave you with this one of our silly little guy in his Christmas best. Merry Christmas from Bo :) 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Normal Routine? Is That You?

 Nope, not yet. But we're trying! I had anticipated that since the move south meant I wouldn't be working right away I would have so much more time to blog. Hah! As it turns out, there is so much to do when you're moving that any extra time you do have, you are too exhausted to do anything else. But I do finally feel like this week, we're moving towards a semblance of normal over here. We officially moved into our home on the 17th- woohoo!! But let me back up just a couple of days. And yes, I know it's December 1st and I'm talking to you about mid November but that's where we are. 

In the few days before we closed on our home, I headed to my sister's home to visit with her family to give myself a break from hotel living and have something to do while hubby was traveling for work. It was so wonderful to eat some home cooked food after a week of nothing but restaurants and sister and I had some much overdue sister time. It's so exciting to only be a short drive away from her now. Now short is a relative term in my book because she was living on the other side of the world and then upon their return  I was still 11 hours of driving north of her. So it's not like they live down the street, but a quick 3 hours seems like a breeze! 

We talked and shopped and got lunch at the cutest cafe with an attached warehouse style store full of different booths of items to peruse. And I can't forget that sister time also equals nephew time! We snuggled and read 1,000 books and built towers so that we could knock them down and I soaked up every minute. 

It was a quick trip but just the refresh I needed to push me into the rest of my busy week. I left her house and headed straight to our house closing. After all the million papers were signed (seriously, why is it so many?) we started trekking around to get all of the utilities set up. I do not understand why things like the water and electric company are not smack dab in a central location. In theory, everyone needs to go there at some point, so why are they out in the boondocks? And not near one another? Electricity and water secured, we ran a bunch more errands to be ready for move in before grabbing dinner to celebrate our new home and prepare for one last night of hotel living before finally getting to move in.

The movers came the next day, oh and the internet company, and we had a bed delivered. So it was basically chaos but those movers really moved! Things were unloaded and out of boxes in about 6 hours. But let me not mislead you, when I say they were out of boxes, I did not say they were neatly put away. Merely out of a box and on a flat surface. Or in a big pile... 

So Thursday night was spent getting the kitchen counters cleared before ordering takeout pizza. You don't realize how much stuff you actually own until is all sitting on every surface in your home. Hubby and I both determined after this, we may need to pare down a bit. But while we are wanting to pare down, we also bought some new things - whoops! But we needed a new rug for our living room and found this beauty that I just love! 

We have since rearranged some of the furniture here, but the rug is still my favorite :) 

We spent the weekend putting things away, getting a few more things delivered, and trying to make our house look more like home. We had to be prepared for turkey day obviously! Wait, you didn't think that because we moved in the week before Thanksgiving that meant we wouldn't be hosting people at our house all the following week did you? On Tuesday my aunt and uncle brought my grandmother over to spend the week with us and Wednesday brought my in-laws for a few days, followed by my own parents arrival on Friday. Why have a new home if you can't fill it with people? 

It sounds like a lot and well it also kind of felt like a lot but mostly it felt joyful and warm and made me extra thankful we have so many people who love us. There was some seriously puzzling being done, games played, and of course too much food consumed! Hubby smoked two turkey breasts... one of which was wrapped in bacon! Plus we had all the fixings, my favorite is always the stuffing. It's really dressing I guess because I don't stuff it in the turkey but I always call it stuffing anyways. 

The last of our company pulled away on Sunday morning. And as one holiday ends, a new one gets going. We got a tree on Monday and I sure do love a lit tree in the evenings. I don't have a picture of it with ornaments on it but you get the idea. We had to get on top of things and at least get the tree up because boy our new neighborhood is full of Christmas spirit. They're going to think we're scrooges if I don't get my wreath on the door or some lights on the porch. Two weeks of my life, wrapped up in one post. But now that things are finally settling down...she says hopefully...I fully intend to be keeping you in the loop on a much more regular basis. 

And for those of you that weighed in on our zoo/aquarium decision...we went zoo! I took no pictures as proof but we made a good choice. The aquarium and about 100 other things are still on our list though!