Monday, November 30, 2015

Cookie Day 2015

This past Saturday was one of my favorite days of the year - Cookie Day! It's a day where my whole family gets together to #SpreadCheer & bake up a storm. We make everything from Oreo Balls to Reese Cup Trees, but the show stopper is always the massive table full of sugar cookie cutouts! 

Every member of our family is asked to bring a bowl of pre-made, chilled sugar cookie dough to my mom's house, then we roll them all out & bake them together. To say that I'm not the best baker is a massive understatement, and to say that I'm short on time these days is as well. So, this year I fooled everyone & used Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix

I picked mine up at the Dollar General & was so pumped about how easy it was to throw together! There are two recipes on the bag - 1 for drop cookies - which is what I normally use - and 1 for cut outs - which is what I used on Saturday morning. I put my dough in a big red mixing bowl & nobody was any wiser! They rolled out & baked up just like all the other homemade versions, but took me no time at all to throw together. Trust me, if you're short on time, this is the way to go! 

Ella was all about Cookie Day & had tons of fun getting messy in Grammy's kitchen. She has a super short attention span, but the girl loves sprinkles, so she was all about that part! 

Our finished products were not only adorable, but also quite delicious! Stay tuned to see how we shared our efforts to #SpreadCheer this holiday season! 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What's Up Wednesday - November Edition

Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone! Hopefully you're off for the day like me & headed to join your family to celebrate the holiday. I have to get us all packed for the weekend, but I'm popping in for What's Up Wednesday with Sheaffer & Shay! 

1 - What We're Eating This Week... 

Since it's a "short week" in that we travel for over half of it, we're keeping meals really simple & cleaning out the cupboards. On Sunday, I made Copycat Panera Broccolli Cheddar Soup though & it was delicious! I'll probably cook the broccoli longer next time & use mild cheddar instead of sharp, but it's pretty close to the real thing! 

2 - What I'm Reminiscing About... 

I can't get over how similar Ella & Olivia look! I mean, I know they're sisters, but when I look back at pictures of Ella it really hits me! Check out the resemblance... 

3 - What I'm Loving... 

I found Ella's winter Santa hat from her first Christmas & it seriously makes my day every time I see Livy in it. We've started referring to her as Livy Clause. 

4 - What We've Been Up To...

November is a quieter month for us because the first week is off season for cheerleading, plus we have Veteran's Day off, followed by Thanksgiving Break. The main highlight has been putting up our Christmas decorations last weekend! 

5 - What I'm Dreading... 

Ugh. We had our first significant snowfall of the season Monday & there were accidents everywhere. I know it'll get better as people adjust again, but brushing off your car & sitting in traffic isn't the most pleasant way to start your day. 

6 - What I'm Working On...

My main project right now is Christmas shopping. I really worked hard this year to set a budget and stick to it. I love to give my girls gifts, but the reality of Christmas with three extended families is they get more than their fair share of toys and clothes. So this year, I've really reigned it in on buying for them. I was also very strategic about purchases for our extended families and have bought every. single. gift. on sale!

7 - What I'm Excited About... 

I'm really quite excited about tomorrow. Thanksgiving at my Grandma's house is just delicious! 

But I'm also excited about spending Friday with my mom, aunt & sister. Then we're baking cookies all day Saturday. So lots of family time in the coming days! 

8 - What I'm Watching... 

I know I've already mentioned this on the blog, but this past month I watched the entire season of Scandal. And I'm obsessed with it. I'm really struggling with the fact that I have to wait until February for it to return.

In the meantime, I'll be watching Elf... 

9 - What I'm Listening To...

My favorite holiday station is on repeat right now - Pandora R&B and Pop Holiday Radio! I've listened to it for so many years now that all of my likes are stored & it's the perfect mix of all my favorites. 

10 - What I'm Wearing... 

So I'm kind of failing on this one because mornings have been such a mess since the time change that I haven't done any #ootd pics. But I can tell you that I've been wearing a ton of blanket scarves, leggings, tunics, and sweaters. 

11 - What I'm Doing This Weekend... 

Since it's a long weekend, let me give you the run down...

  • Thursday - Family Dinner x 2 
  • Friday - Black Friday Shopping with my mom, sister, and aunt! 
  • Saturday - Christmas Cookies 
  • Sunday - unpack & do laundry
12 - What I'm Looking Forward to in the Next Month...

SO MUCH! We're taking the girls to visit The North Pole where we'll be visiting Santa Clause! We're also going to welcome back our Elf on the Shelf, Sprinkles, and watch all of our favorite holiday movies. The best thing though is that I get to spend a week and a half at home in the country with my parents, which just makes me incredibly happy. 

Bonus - What is your favorite Thanksgiving Recipe?

Four words - Bacon Wrapped Green Beans. They will change your life! I only make them for Thanksgiving, but I dream about them all year long.

**Side Note - I've tried to get this post to format correctly for almost an hour now with zero luck. It looks fine in edit mode, but as soon as I post it, it goes back to the way it was. So, sorry that some things look a little wonky today!**

Monday, November 23, 2015

Spread Love Not Germs This Holiday Season

Being a teacher, I have a lot of people in my life that I want to recognize during the holiday season. I work with over twenty individuals on a daily basis that make a difference in the lives of my students. These are hard working teachers aids, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech pathologists, and secretaries that I depend on all the time. I'd love to buy them all gift cards to go out to dinner or a nice scarf to wear all winter long. But the reality is when you have twenty of those individuals & you yourself is working off a teacher's salary... that's not possible. That's why this season, I'm creating the perfect winter care packages with the Kleenex Winter Pack, available exclusively at SAMS Club

The Kleenex Winter Pack includes 3 winter themed canisters & 8 lotion boxes - all for only $15.96 per pack - and if you buy before November 20th you can save an additional $3 too! That brings the cost down to just over a dollar per pack - which makes it an affordable addition to any teacher care package. 

To put my gift together, I paired a box of tissues with a mini bottle of hand sanitizer, then tied it all up with a festive ribbon. For a finishing touch, I added a tag that reads, "Spread Love Not Germs". 

I just think that this is the perfect gift for any school professional because we can all use more quality tissues (aka - not the sandpaper ones you get from the nurses' office) and hand sanitizer as the cold & flue season approaches! I can't wait to pass them out to my co-workers & #SpreadKleenexCare.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Favorites - It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I know that we still have 6 days until Thanksgiving but I'm gearing up for my favorite weekend of the year people! It's time to deck that halls! 

I have a touch of OCD - Obsessive Christmas Disorder - that I've been reigning in as best as possible lately, but we have our living room furniture rearranged & it's time to put up the tree. (Please note that as I'm typing this, I'm singing "Haul out the holly, put up the tree before my spirit falls again...") 

In honor of these exciting festivities, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things about the Christmas season today! 

1 - My Tree 

please note that the hideous lace curtains have been replaced #thankgod
I just love having twinkly lights in the corner of our living room & decorating with Ella is so much fun! I try to collect ornaments that are special to us (like the ornament we got on Ella's first trip to Disney) so that they serve as reminders of all the amazing memories we've made as a family while we put up the tree. 

2 - Black Friday 

Black Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. Not because I love fighting crowds or because I love the thrill of a bargain, but because I spend it with three of my favorite people in the world - my Aunt Babs, my mom & my sister. We go out to lunch, hit our favorite stores, listen to Christmas music, and recreate a few scenes from Elf, just for fun. Last year Babs & I even wore matching Elf shirts for the occasion. 

 3 - Visiting Santa

Now if I'm being honest, visiting Santa is a little bit stressful at our house. Ella was oblivious the first year, but the past two years have been a challenge. She stands in line & thinks she's going to love it.

Then when we finally get up to the front, we end up with pictures like this... 

She's bound and determined that she is going to sit on Santa's lap & tell him that she wants a pony and to get her ears pierced. (I know, such realistic choices. Neither are happening.) I'll be sure to keep you posted on how it goes. 

 4 - Festive Attire

I just love festive outfits for every holiday, so the month leading up to Christmas is jam packed with seasonal cuteness! Of course you have to have Christmas PJs... 

And we all love a festive outfit too! 

I've ordered this shirt for myself this year! It's supposed to arrive on Saturday & I can't wait to wear it all December long! 

5 - Our Elf on the Shelf 

Last year was our first experience with Elf on the Shelf & we kept it pretty simple. Ella was little, so if we screwed up she didn't really notice. This year, we're prepping to step up our game! Sprinkles will be making his debut upon our return from Thanksgiving! 

So in case you couldn't tell, I'm just a little excited! As Ella would say, this next month is going to be fun-tastic! Poor Livy doesn't know what she's in for... 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fitness Update - Where I Stand Heading Into the Holidays

I wish I had better news to report, but the reality is I'm really frustrated at the moment. On Friday, November 6th I hit my goal weight. I was so excited! I felt great & yes, I did have a hot chocolate to celebrate a little. I mean, it's red cup season & it was skim milk & I tracked it. 

The problem is.... I stepped on the scale on Monday, November 9th & weighed five pounds more. No joke. I brushed it off & thought to myself there is no way that I gained five pounds from Friday to Monday, especially when I haven't had any fried food or binged. I tried again on Wednesday. Still up 5 pounds. And to this day... I'm still five pounds away from my goal weight. 

So right now, I have no clue what to do. I've thought about buying a new scale because quite honestly I've had this one for awhile & maybe something is wrong with it. I've thought that maybe I'm just stressed - because November 9th is coincidentally the day that winter cheer season started & I made the most progress between seasons. I am also aware that my hormones are still adjusting to their normal levels - and that there is a possibility they'll never go back to where they were before Olivia. I know there are tons of reasons WHY this could be happening, it just doesn't make it any less frustrating. 

So as we head into the holidays, I'm just going to try & relax a little. I'll still get my steps in & I'll still track my food (except on Thanksgiving because duh...) but I'm going to try to let go of that number on the scale & enjoy the season with my family. #screwthescale #bringonthepie

Reasons I Love Fall

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Weekend in the Country

Am I the only one who has no idea where their weekend went? Because I feel like I blinked & it was Monday morning. I can't complain though because it was a great one, filled with family & food - you know, my favorite things! 

I started my weekend off with a half day on Friday to take Olivia to her 4 month check up! We met my sister at Panera for some soup before Liv's appointment & spent the lunch catching up on all sorts of important things - you know, like Scandal, jewelry, and our favorite blogs. I feel guilty saying this because we love Ella to pieces, but it was quite relaxing to just have Livy at lunch with us. 

Livy's appointment took forever. I've never had over a fifteen minute wait at our pediatrician & I was there for over an hour on Friday. I was annoyed enough to ask what was going on & found out that another doctor at the practice had gone into labor that morning so they were all scrambling to cover, and I softened up just a bit :) 

Olivia weighed in at 13 lbs. 9 oz., got three shots, and was deemed practically perfect in every way. 

Friday night my sister hosted a Stella & Dot party, and Livy went as my guest. She was very busy picking out presents for everyone... 

Saturday morning,  I was awoken at 5:45 am to howling. Not by our dog, but by my daughter. Ella has watched Mickey's Monster Musical one too many times & was howling at the moon.  Once I figured out what was going on, I was wide awake from laughing, so we got right up & started our day.  We had told my mom that we'd be at the country house by lunch, but I was shocked when we pulled out of our driveway before 9:00. 

ready to hit the road!
We arrived around 11 & Livy was excited to find that Gramps had gotten the exersaucer out of the attic for her! She just loves to sit up & stand, so she was all about it! 

We ordered lunch from the restaurant that my family used to own, then spent the afternoon crafting up a storm in preparation for Christmas! 

Then, that evening we had a birthday to attend for my cousin's son Ethan. I took a ton of pictures... but I was using my aunt's camera so I just realized that I don't have any pictures to share! Which is a shame because the kids were absolutely adorable together. 

On Sunday, my dad made a feast for breakfast & then we packed the kids up to head for Eric's dad's house to spend time with more cousins! 

This was my niece's first time holding Livy :) 
We watched football, ate the most delicious pulled chicken sandwiches, while the girls played their little hearts out. 

It was no surprise that both girls slept the entire way back to Rochester last night... or that I was in bed by 9 myself. I tried to watch Scandal, but I was just flat out exhausted, so I switched to Modern Family & fell asleep approximately 5 minutes later. But at least I'm well rested to tackle a busy week of cheer practices, a food drive, and parent teacher conferences! 

All The Pictures...

Designing our family Christmas card is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I love the entire procress - the outfit coordination, the family pictures, the designing, the addressing - ok, maybe not the addressing. But I think you're getting the point that I love Christmas cards! 

Typically I select one or two main photos for my cards - the best of the best if you will - to showcase my family. This year though, I got back our family pictures and I just couldn't decide. So I went in a new direction and I chose all of them... 

This was my first time using a tri-fold design & thought it might be overwhelming. Not the case at all. Tiny Prints made the entire process incredibly easy for me! I simply chose one of their tri-fold layouts & start plugging in our pictures using their website's design features, and a half hour later I had a card that I absolutely love! 

Another reason I love to order through Tiny Prints is that they offer many options that really upgrade your card & make it stand out. One of my favorite options is the coordinating envelope liners. I love how they add an extra touch to our cards & make opening them extra special! 

I cannot wait to get these out in the mail & start spreading some holiday cheer! Be sure to take advantage of all of Tiny Prints' amazing holiday promotions - like 30% off all holiday cards today & tomorrow! (Use code: HOLIDAYCARDS - Plus, if you sign up for eBates you can get an extra 1% cash back!)

* This post was sponsored by Tiny Prints, but all opinions expressed are my own. *

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday Everyone! As always, I'm linking up with Andrea to share my favorites from this week! 

1. Having a day off in the middle of the week is a hands down favorite. Sleeping in on Wednesday morning was absolutely heavenly! I invited Eric's oldest sister to hang out with us for the day, and the girls loved having their Aunt Hannah with us. We ate lunch at Panera, dropped a bunch of stuff off at consignment, then used our earnings to do some Christmas shopping! 

2. While out shopping, Hannah took me in American Eagle, a store that I loved as a teen, but haven't been in much since. I found this adorable cable knit sweater that I just had to have! It's thick, not scratchy, and long enough to wear with leggings. Basically everything I've been looking for, plus it was 40% off, making it less than $35. 

Bonus, it reminds me of the one that Jillian Harris (huge Jillian Harris fan here!) has been wearing non-stop.

from Jillian Harris' Instagram
3.  I've been putting a huge dent in my Christmas shopping! I have been working really hard to be planful about it this year & to stay on budget. So far, so good. I really just need a few small things for the girls & I'll be done with them. So far, my favorite purchase has been these PJs for Ella....
from Gap

... and this toy for Olivia. 

Skip Hop Alphabet Zoo Soft Activity Book
(Sidenote: I realized while shopping that I've never actually bought a toy for Liv, she's living solely off hand me down toys at this point. I don't think she cares though.) 

4. Speaking of Christmas, Ella's new favorite saying is "I'll talk to Santa about that." I swear, she has a four page list for the man. Normally she is scared to death of Santa...

but she is determined that she is going to sit on his lap & tell him her list this year. Fingers crossed she follows through & mama finally gets an awesome Santa picture. 

5. I may have a new favorite show. I couldn't get Dancing with the Stars to stream the other night, so I started watching Quantico instead. Umm... the show is pretty awesome. It centers on FBI trainees & a terrorist that has infiltrated their ranks, but there is so much else going on too! I'm not far enough in to explain any of it yet, but I'm hooked & can't wait to find out what happens next. 

Have a Great Weekend!
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Staying Warm with Ugg & The North Face

Living in Upstate New York, I know a thing or two about winter. Let me just take a minute to remind you of the living hell we all endured last year...

Thankfully, my family is always well prepared to take on the elements thanks to Ugg & The North Face! I know that at first glance, the items may seem pricey, but trust me - we get our money's worth out of them! They last for multiple seasons, despite the beating they get in Rochester. And since I personally think these brands make amazing (and practical) gifts, I thought I'd share our favorites as you start your holiday shopping...

You can find all North Face options by clicking here!

And earlier this year, I snagged Olivia these adorable North Face mittens from the Anniversary Sale. I can't wait to see her in them, but I can certainly wait for the cold to settle in!

Now moving onto Ugg... I'm the only one in my house that wears Ugg presently, but my sister & mom have also worn the brand for years, so I definitely have a few favorites to share!

You can find all Ugg options by clicking here!

And if Ella's feet didn't grow so darn fast, I would be all over these too! 

Stay Warm & Happy Shopping! 

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