Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top Posts of 2014

It's that time of year! Time to look back & reflect on 2014. Here's the best of Back to Bliss from the year past... 

5. My Hunter Boots

My favorite Christmas present from last year & they were equally loved by all of you! My color block Hunters are ah-mazing!  

4. A Pinterest Recreation

Seriously, one of my favorite outfits ever. I love the mint with the polka dots. Actually, I just love the polka dots. I wear this skirt all of the time at work & always love how it looks. I can't blame everyone else who loved it... 

3. What I Learned from Weight Watchers

Probably one of my favorite posts ever, I got to share everything that I learned on Weight Watchers. It's a program that I love & one that helped me finally be successful at losing weight. No promotions, just love, because it works! 

2. Another Pinterest Recreation

This outfit recreation is my most popular of the year & for good reason - I still wear it all of the time! Super comfy & easy to throw on.

1. Snowed In HITT Workout 

Last year, just about this time, Rochester had a huge snow storm & I was stuck inside with my one year old going nuts. So... I made up this HITT workout & shared it with you all. It's become one of my most popular posts ever & a go to work out for myself, even when I'm not snowed in! 

Cheers to 2015 & All That It Brings! 
Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Pinterest Hits from My Holiday Season

One of my absolute favorite parts of the holiday season is all of the get together that it brings. On an average day, I don't have a whole lot of reason to make five different types of cookies or three different appetizers. Thus, my Pinterest boards tend to get backed up on things that I'm dying to try. Since we had a ton of places to go, and my mom decided to host an appetizers only holiday party, I figured it was the the perfect time to try them out! 

Our first big event was my mother in law's for Christmas Eve. I was only asked to bring a tossed salad, which is actually a huge step for me. Normally, I'm not asked to bring anything at all. After ten years, they're finally starting to trust me! 

On Christmas Day though, I was busy busy busy in the kitchen. My family hosted Christmas dinner at my parents' country house and like I said, it was apps only. I made three, and gave one recipe to my aunt to try too. We had fifteen different appetizers & trust me, it was just as good as any "real meal" that my family has ever made. We loved it so much that we decided to make it a new family tradition! 

I made Mini Taco Cups... which were probably the easiest ever. I just took a bag of Scoops, filled them with taco meat, melted Taco Cheese on top, & set out bowls of salsa, sour cream, and lettuce for people to garnish with! Huge hit... 

Pinned Here

I also made my favorite Buffalo Boneless Bites. For some reason, I can't find my pin for it, but this is the same recipe, only in whole finger size. If you love chicken wings, but hate frying, these are the answer to your prayers! A total go-to in our house, I get asked to bring them to parties all of the time. 

Found Here

And last, I made this mini-hot dog wreath... because really, who doesn't love pigs in a blanket? 

Found Here

And at my suggestion, Aunt Babs brought Pepperoni Pizza Pull Apart Bread.
Pinned // Originally Found
For our last Christmas celebration, I was in charge of bringing my famous Chex Mix, which really isn't all that fancy... I just follow the recipe on the box & add Cheerios and cashews. But if you're looking for an even easier Chex Mix option, check out this crockpot version... 

Found Here

What are your favorite holiday party foods? I'd love to try them out!! 
Monday, December 29, 2014

A Goal for 2015

At the end of 2013, I set a goal for myself in 2014. I didn't want to lose weight or save money. What I wanted was far more simple than that, I wanted to take the time to appreciate my life. As I reflect back on 2014, I feel like there were seasons where I truly embraced this & made it a priority. For instance, I spent my entire summer home with Ella, without a schedule to follow, just the two of us having a good time. I appreciated the simplicity of being home with her & truly enjoyed what may possibly be the last summer of just the two of us at home. 

Then, I look back at the fall & cringe. I was a hot mess, running from work to practice to practice - getting home at 7:30 every night, just to be up & out the door again by 6:30 a.m. I've fully admitted that I stretched myself too thin & that I regret taking on more than I could chew. It wasn't worth the money I made, nor the frustration that it brought to my life. 

It got me thinking that when I take on extra things, I'm not typically motivated by my passion or a higher calling - I'm usually doing it for the money. It's kind of a sick realization to reach. Knowing that I was willing to give up so much of my daughter's precious childhood to make an extra $1500. It simply isn't worth it for me anymore. It's time to scale back.

Since I've already announced my retirement from coaching & I'm on a "farewell tour" of sorts, I think it's a good time to set a new goal for myself in 2015. In the next year, I plan to... 


Linking Up with Andrea for Show & Tell Tuesdays! 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Still Going Strong...

I know many of you are sitting in your living rooms sipping coffee & watching your little ones play with their new toys. I envy you. Today, we've got another full agenda of friends, family, food, & gifts! We're starting with lunch with friends who live in NYC & San Diego at one of our favorite pubs. Then we're headed to Eric's dad's house for another Christmas celebration!   

Whether you're relaxing or still going strong... have a great weekend! 
Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas Eve

Today is our last day with Sprinkles! She decided to bake Ella a cookie while we slept. That's about as fancy as our elf gets. Thankfully we've been able to get away with being really low maintenance this year. I'll probably have to step up my game as Ella gets older... 

I'll be spending the morning at the grocery store with my mom. Then Ella & I will meet up with Eric at his mom's for Christmas Eve dinner. We stay the night there & open gifts with his family in the morning, which is followed by a HUGE Christmas breakfast... which I'm clearly excited about! 

I'm so looking forward to these next few days with our families & I hope you get to enjoy yours as well. Merry Christmas! 
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Winter Wedding Recap

On Saturday, 12/13/14, approximately 13,000 weddings occurred. My baby sister's was one of them... 

Before I get into everything, can we all just take a second to appreciate the fact that my sister's name is officially Brittany Gross. Yes... she went from Brittany Bliss to Brittany Gross. #grosspartyof2 

We had a winter storm on Wednesday, so the ground was covered with a thick blanket of white snow, but the roads were cleared so everyone made it safely. We had spent a lot of time worrying about the weather (even though it was totally pointless) so it was a huge relief to get the perfect conditions. 

I had also spent a lot of time worrying about Ella's performance at the wedding... which were merited. We had to wake Ella up from her nap around 1:45 in order to have her ready for the 3 p.m. ceremony. It did not go well... she cried the whole time she had her hair done. But she started to pull it together & I was hopeful the ceremony would go fine. We made it down the aisle, hand in hand because there was no way I was going to risk having her walk alone, and she immediately went to sit with my mom. That's when I made the mistake of letting out a sigh of relief. Just as my dad sat down with my mom, she started crying. It only lasted a minute & a half before Eric's mom popped out of nowhere with a Curious George book, but I'm quite sure that my dad had his hand over her mouth at one point... 

She was content for the rest of the ceremony, and walked right up the aisle with her daddy afterwards. Then the tears started again. Then my mother-in-law (seriously, my hero of the day) swooped in to take her & get her calmed down. Thankfully... we got her pulled together again for family photos & I actually never saw her cry again the rest of the night. But OMG, she was a mess for awhile there people. 

a very blurry family photo... praying that her photographer got a better one!

Once we finished with family photos inside, the bridal party put on our boots & coats to head outside for our photos. It was cold, but based on even the most preliminary photos I've seen, it was worth it. The photographer was kind enough to let us wear our coats over our dresses, then her assistant held all of them whenever we had to strip down for photos. My sister was a serious trooper... she wore only her off the shoulder fur the whole time, except for the 5 minutes that they shot the boys when she let me wrap her up in a blanket. The girl must have been running on adrenaline, because I was wearing a puffer coat & still freezing! 

an instagram sneak peek from @teamswales

Cocktail hour started at 5 p.m. in the ski lodge's pub, then was immediately followed by the reception just down the hall. I cannot say enough good things about the food at Greek Peak or the DJ. They were both phenomenal. I always think a good wedding boils down to three things - a good meal, good music, and dessert. We had all three.

Instead of opting for a traditional buffet, my sister chose to do stations. So, we had a carving station with the juciest meat I've ever had on a buffet, a build your own potato bar, and a Mexican station. Yes - my sister had tacos at her wedding & it was awesome. 

Then there was DJ Napps... if you are getting married anywhere in Upstate NY, you need him. I've never heard a wedding DJ this good (and trust me, I loved my wedding DJ at the time.) What made him stand out was that he didn't just play a song, then another song - he actually mixes all the music into medleys & mashups so that the dance floor is packed all night long. My fave of the night? Easily Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" mashed up with Rihanna's "We Found Love." Although his 90's boyband mix was a huge hit too... 

So yeah... my sister's wedding was amazing. I am so happy that my whole family got to be a part of it. It was a weekend that I know we'll always remember & I hope it was everything my sister dreamed of. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Recovery Mode...

Hello friends! I am still in recovery mode from my sister's wedding weekend and it's going to be complete chaos at work this week because Christmas Break starts on Friday... but I did want to stop by & share a few photos. The wedding was absolutely gorgeous & the day was practically perfect. I'll be sharing a few funny stories & some of my favorite moments tomorrow, but until then... 

heading down to the lobby for the ceremony

outside taking pictures on the slopes

pre-wedding selfie with my mom

DJ Britt in the House!

dancing with her daddy
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

It's Go Time People!

This week... it's flying by & dragging at the same time. I have so much to do, because my baby sister is getting married this weekend! 

it seems like we were just wedding dress shopping! 
And while I'm trying to focus as much of my energy into the wedding, the rest of my life hasn't stopped, so it's pretty much been chaos all around. With all three of us in the wedding, I have lists coming out my ears. I'm trying to get all of our laundry done so we have everything we need to pack tomorrow night. Last night we had to pick up Eric's tux, which led to me picking up Moe's for dinner & nothing beats Moe's. Tonight I need to bake for a school function tomorrow, because I wasn't paying attention to dates when I volunteered. #oops And tomorrow night, I have a pedicure with my sister on top of cooking food for wedding weekend. Oh... and we have an Elf on the Shelf to move around every damn night too. 

Despite the craziness, I am so excited for tomorrow afternoon to arrive so I can officially go into wedding weekend mode! We have manicures & facials scheduled for Friday morning, then right after lunch we're headed to the lodge. It's about a two hour drive from Rochester to Greek Peak, so we should arrive mid-afternoon & have time to get things ready for rehearsal. 

where the ceremony is being held... only with a whole lot of Pinterest pizzazz added
My sister has me in charge of basically everything on the morning of the wedding. I'm coordinating arrivals & reception hall set up - which thankfully will all be taking place right across the road. We kind of went Pinterest 0ver-board on things... so we have a lot of setting up to do in both the lobby & the reception space.   So if you happen to be in the area & see a lunatic in Hunter boots with an up-do running around with her cell phone attached to her hand... that's me. Thankfully, Eric & my dad will be entertaining Ella at the indoor water park, so I won't have her to worry about.

So... I'm not sure I'll be around the blog for the next few days, but if I don't make it back, be sure to follow along on Instagram & Twitter! I'll be sharing pictures of the big weekend... and you won't want to miss Ella's flower girl debut! 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Family Photos - Winter 2014

It's been two weeks since I got our family pictures back from my aunt, and while I shared a teaser in my Christmas cards post, I wanted to share my absolute favorites with you all today! We had these shot on November 1st & I was not expecting snow, but OMG I love the snow! We had them shot in the side yard of our country house & it was FREEZING outside. In some of the pictures you can even see tears in Ella's eyes. For that reason, we had to move fast. I didn't get to do quite as many as I'd hoped for, but I got plenty to help me remember this special time in our lives, happy as just the three of us. 

A quick story about this rocking horse... it was made for me by my Great Grandpa Theodore Atkins. He was an amazing woodworker & we have several of his pieces around the house. This fella happened to be in my parents' attic & as I ran up to grab the wreath, I found him. It was completely spur of the moment & perfect! 

If you're wondering where our outfits are from, you can check out this post (most items are still available) & if you want to see how our family Christmas card turned out, you can read about that here

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What's On Our Calendar...

So... I'm two days late getting this post up because Thanksgiving kicked my butt. Truly. I've been sick since 5 p.m. on Thursday. It started with a runny nose & scratchy throat then escalated to full on vomiting yesterday, resulting in my calling in sick the day after break. Not pleasant. Despite the sickness, I really enjoyed my time with family & can't wait to be at home with everyone again for Christmas.  

Now onto December, which is going to be a jam-packed month of awesomeness for us! Let's take a look at what's on the calendar... 
  • Tonight is my first game of the season! With my recent promotion to the JV team, I get to have my games in the big gym (versus the hole in the wall where Freshman play) & I'm really looking forward to it. 
  • This weekend, we're taking Ella to see Santa! Last year was pretty disastrous, but I'm optimistic because she seems pretty interested in the whole Santa thing. She's even been telling everyone, "Santa come down chimney ho ho ho." #fingerscrossed We haven't quite decided if we're going to the mall or if we'll go to Holidays at the Market again, but either way I'm sure she'll love it. 
last year's disaster...
still not sure... 
best shot we got... Santa sneaking in from behind
  • Next weekend is a pretty big deal. My sister is getting married! The whole family is in the wedding - I'm the MOH, Eric is a groomsman, & Ella is the flower girl. It's a destination wedding too, so we'll be at a ski lodge from Friday to Sunday, with all of my crazy extended family. I can't wait !

    At the same time... I'm really quite nervous about Ella getting down the aisle. I'm afraid she'll freeze & want my dad to carry her. I don't want to ruin my sister's walk down the aisle, so I've been practicing with Ella every night. We talk about it all the time. "Go after mommy, walk down the aisle, carry your flowers, go sit with Grammy." Seriously, I'm drilling it into her head.
  • Once we get my sister on a plane to Aruba, I only have a week left of school! I am planning a fun party for my class that day & I have our team party that night too, so even though Britt will be on a white sandy beach, I'll still be having a good time! 
  • On the 20th, we're headed home to make Christmas cookies with my mom & grandma. It's pretty late for us, but with the wedding, we didn't have a lot of other options. Everyone is supposed to bring ingredients for two cookies - right now I'm leaning towards Oreo Balls & Monster cookies - two of my absolute favorites. 
last year's family Christmas with her cousin Ophelia
  • And then we finish out the month with three family Christmas celebrations - one at each grandparents' house! 

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