Thursday, December 22, 2016

Friday Favorites: Christmas Edition

I think it's Friday, but I'm not sure.  During Christmas vacation every day seems like Saturday, right?  Assuming that it's Friday I am sharing a FIVE of my FAVORITE things from the last few weeks....

I have been in a bit of a "blogger slump" lately due to the busyness of life.  This week I tried to get back on track with my posting.  

On Tuesday I shared a few of my FAVORITE seasonal purchases from Trader Joe's.  If you need some ideas on what to eat or drink this Christmas, be sure to check out my post.  

On Wednesday I confessed my guilty pleasure; I'm a QVC shopper.  I shared a ten of my FAVORITE QVC purchases.  Like my FAVORITE dishes...

I posted my What's Up Wednesday post...on a Thursday, because I'm a rebel...or possible just running behind.  Check it out and see what we've been up to, and a few of my FAVORITE memories from this Christmas.

Yesterday we boarded the North Pole Express in Grapevine, Texas.  The kids wore robes and pajamas and Mark and I wore robes (over our regular clothes...I felt like I needed to clarify that).   We boarded the train where an Elf greeted us and led us in Christmas Carols.  The kids wrote letters to Santa and put them in a "special bag" for the Elf to deliver to the Santa's Workshop.  Mrs. Claus came aboard and greeted the kids and gave everyone a silver bell to wear around their neck, before we pulled into the North Pole.  It was "snowing" at the North Pole, but after Jess tried to catch a snowflake on his tongue he said it "tasted soapy!"  Then we went into Santa's Workshop where the elves and Santa put on a musical show that the kid's loved!  The elves passed out Frosty Chocolate Snow Milk in a souvenir mug.  We had a great day!  The kids were the perfect age for this.  If you're in the DFW area, and have small kids, I would definitely recommend a trip on the North Pole Express.  Be sure to buy your tickets early though, it sells out in October.  

You may have noticed that my sweet Kendall isn't in any of the North Pole Express pictures.  No, it's not that she was too cool for school...but, really she probably was too cool for the train.  Anyway, she left last Saturday to spend the week with her Dad and his family.  She will be back home on the 26th.  Even though it stinks to not have her here for Christmas, I know she is enjoying herself with her family.  
Last month her aunt bought her an advent calendar that she opens everyday.  Jess and Jentry love to see what's behind the little door everyday.  She wins Big Sister of the Year for Face Timing them everyday to open her calendar so they can see what she got.  My little kids are so blessed to have her as their sister!

We miss you Kendall!  Can't wait to see you Monday!

 Last week my monthy Bunco group met for our Christmas Pajama Party (& Bunco ...of course).  We were missing a few of our regulars due to schedule conflicts, but this is such a fun group of ladies!  Taking time to do something for myself is something I have a hard time fitting into my schedule, but I am so thankful for this little bit of girl time I have each month with these amazing ladies.  

We tried so hard to take a silly picture, but we are not up on our silly poses.  Bunco ladies, we have twelve months until our next Christmas party.  We need to be Pinteresting silly faces, so we can nail this picture next year!

I posted something similar to this last December when I was just dabbling in blogging, but it's been on my mind again this Christmas season, so I thought I would share:

My mom bought the kids this Little People nativity after Thanksgiving last year. They have loved playing with it so much! Every night when they go to bed, Mark & I put it back together; but every night it seems Joseph is missing. The irony is not lost on me. How easy would it have been for Joseph to abandon his fiancée and her new baby? How many times did Joseph have to explain his "baby mama" situation? Mary is often admired for her faith & purity, but in 2017, I want to have Joseph-like integrity. I want to trust in God that even when it makes no sense to me; even when it's messy or complicated, it's all in His plan. What are your goals for 2017?

Thank you so much for stopping by today!  I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

I'm linking up with my Friday regulars today...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What's Up Wednesday...on a Thursday.

My blogging has been a bit sporadic lately, so I am a day late on my What's Up Wednesday post, but here's a peak into what we've been up to lately....

What We're Eating This Week:
Basically I am in hungry bear mode.  I feel like I am about to go into hibernation for the Winter and I need to eat up in order to survive.  In other words I am really going to start watching what I eat in January again, so I am living it up the next few weeks.  We stocked up on a few of our seasonal favorites from Trader Joe's this week, and I also tried a new recipe, Slow-Cooker Bacon Corn Chowder, that was perfect for a cold, dreary December night.  

What I'm Reminiscing About:
Christmas always reminds me of how precious time is.  It seems like just yesterday this little girl cared more about Polly Pockets than trendy clothes from Altar'd State, and jewelry from Kendra Scott that cost more than Barbie's Dreamhouse.  

But, it makes me slow down and be in the moment with my family.   Savor the snuggles when there's wrapping to be done.

(Goodness, that little girl grew up!)

Eat a Christmas cookie that was made with love...and may have been sneezed on during the production process.

And, smile with pride when you see your child overcomes her fear of Santa.

In the words of The Oak Ridge Boys, "Thank God for kids!"

What We've Been Up To:

Tis the  season for performing...

In Christmas Parades....

And School Musicals...

And Choir Performances at church...

What I'm Dreading:
I really need to purge all the pictures on my phone and camera and organize them somehow.  If anyone has any tips on that, let me know.  I think they may be a goal for the New Year. 

What I'm Working On:
I started Couch to 5K the week of Thanksgiving and am really loving it.  I have always wanted to be a runner, and several people told me this was the best way to get there.  I am in no way ready to compete, but I have been amazed at the improvements I've seen in my endurance after just a few weeks.  

What I'm Excited About:
We are going on the North Pole Express this week!  The kids are super excited about riding on the train, and of course catching a glimpse of the North Pole!  I can't wait to see their faces.

What I'm Watching/Reading:
You may remember me asking for this Kate Spade book for my birthday.  Well, I got it (Thanks Dad!) and have been enjoying reading it before bed.

I have learned so much already about entertaining.  For example, did you know how you can easily figure out how to place your china on the table?  Take your hands and make a "d" or a "b".  Your left hand makes the "b" so that's where the bread plate goes.  Your right hand makes a "d" so that where your drink goes.  Genius, right?  Thanks, Kate Spade!

(I'm wish I could use my Christmas dishes all year long!)

What I'm Listening To:
Every time I hear Kenny & Dolly singing Christmas music, it takes me back to my childhood.  I just love their Christmas songs!  For most of my childhood I thought they were married.  I was so disappointed to find out they weren't.  But, I also thought Bobbi Brown (makeup) was Bobby Brown (Whitney Houston's husband).  So, obviously I have never been up on pop culture relationships.    

What I'm Wearing:
I don't normally post outfit pics, mainly because I can't get that selfie pose down, but I sent this to my friend, Shelly, the other day because we were unintentionally twinning in our stripes/plaid/military jacket/scarf/riding boots look.  If you don't follow Shelly, be sure to check her blog out.  She always has fun outfit posts that have helped me find new combos in my own closet.

What I'm Doing This Weekend:
Celebrating Jesus' Birthday!

"Look Mom, we're Mary & Jophus!"

What's My Favorite Memory From 2016?
Anytime my family is together is my favorite time.  Our family vacation was probably one of my favorite memories from the past year.  But, the nights when we're home watching a movie (or Shark Tank) together is perfect, too.  What makes my mom heart overflow with joy is when I see my children loving on each other.  Long after I am gone, I hope they still want to be together...and possibly make a few of my recipes and laugh about how crazy their dear ol' mom was.

That's what's up with us.  What's up with you?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

You Asked...

Yesterday we did some Christmas shopping at Trader Joe's; today we're shopping from the comforts of home.  A few weeks ago I mentioned doing some shopping on QVC and received a few inquiries (both via the blog and in real life) about what I have bought from QVC, and the quality of my purchases.  I know, I know, it seems crazy, when you think of people that sit at home and order things off of the TV, you probably think of an older lady watching the "shopping channel" while knitting near the fireplace, with her cat purring nearby.  I'm not *too* old, I don't know how to knit, and I'm allergic to cats, BUT I am a QVC addict.  I have been a QVC shopper for almost ten years and have never been disappointed.  Today, I thought I would share with you a few of my QVC favorites you might be interested in for fulfilling your Christmas list.  In no particular order...

My biggest QVC purchase (and probably most used) PedicSolutions King Size Memory Foam Mattress.  Yes, you heard that right, I bought a mattress off of TV.  Why not, right?  

And, incase you're wondering, it came in a large box and was delivered to my front porch.  When my husband got home, we opened it, this is similar to what happened:

Another one of my most used purchases is my Rowenta Steam Power Iron.  If you've never used a Rowenta before you may be questioning why I would shell out the big bucks on an iron, but you need to know this about me; I am the type of person that might iron my swimsuit if it needed it, or perhaps a handtowel, maybe even a newborn's onsie.  I'm not even kidding.  I wish I was, but I detest wrinkles.  With that said, this purchase was well worth the money spent.  There really is a difference!

Another product that was well worth the money is my Bissell Quicksteamer.  It works on my carpet and my hardwoods.  Let me take a minute to confess that I have never used this product, BUT my husband has and looks like he's having so much fun while he's cleaning, that I hate to take that chore from him.  

My Temptations are one of my all time favorite QVC products!  I have the dinnerware, bakeware and a few bowls.  I love it!  I have bought pieces for myself and for gifts.  I love the fun patterns, mostly because when I take it to a party or covered dish, I always know which one mine is.  

The pattern I have is called Old World (in green).  It may look familiar to you from a few of my recipes... like these soup recipes:

While we're on the topic of cooking, I also bought my Green Pan Nonstick Cookware from QVC.  I needed some new cookware, and saw this and loved the color, because don't we all buy our cookware based on the color?  Well, it was either the fun color, or that Trisha Yearwood was selling it.  I can't remember which marketing ploy worked on me the best.  

And here's a quick peek of the cookware "in action" in my kitchen making my Olive Garden Inspired Chicken Alfredo.

I made a total impulse buy the day I flipped on the TV and saw a Vitamix Blender on TV.  I am glad I did, though, it is sooooo much better than that inexpensive blender you probably registered for when you got married.  I have also noticed that I also use blender more, now that I have a nice one.

It's so much fun to use, even my son can whip up one of my Frappas!  

Before we move on from cookware, I also want to mention that I have also purchased a Keurig (which I no longer have) from QVC.  They also have Kitchen Aid mixers, but I received mine as a gift from my mom, not from QVC.  If you're looking for a fun gift for a chef in your life, be sure to check it out.  

Let's not get too far from the kitchen and talk food for a minute.  Did you know QVC sells food, too?  We have enjoyed Juniors Cheesecake from New York City via QVC before, but one of my favorite purchases are these Mrs. Prindable's Apples.  

It's the perfect teacher appreciation gift or first day of school gift, or for co-workers or neighbors.  My favorite part of these, is that they are individually wrapped.  As a former teacher, let me assure you that food gifts are appreciated more when you know they have not been handled before they got to you.  Right teacher, friends?  

Philosophy is one of my favorite beauty brands; and you guessed it.  QVC has it!  Be sure to check out all the gift specials they have right now!

Last, but not least, I purchased my HP Laptop on QVC about a year ago.  I love it, and am actually typing this post on it right now!  I'm not very "technical" so I can't go into much detail about what all it does, but it works for me, and it's a lovely shade of blue!

These are just a few of my QVC purchases, they offer so many other brands, like Rachael Ray, The Pioneer Woman, Vera Bradley, Apple, FitBit, Clarisonic, Chi, and more!  

Also, please remember that these purchases were made over a ten year period.  The best thing about QVC is that they offer Easy Pay.  Which is basically a payment plan with no interest.  So for example, if you ordered a laptop for $499.98, you order with a debit (or credit) card and they ship you the product immediately, then they charge you $83.33 for the next six months.  No interest.  My husband's one rule is that I can only have one thing on Easy Pay at a time.  Deal!!

Today is the last day to order an item off of QVC and get it by Christmas (with just $3 extra in shipping and handling).  

One last thing...QVC did not in any way sponsor this post.  This was done out of the goodness of my heart to shed the light on QVC to you.  QVC only knows me as a customer, not a blogger.  But, maybe one day.  

Have you ever ordered anything from QVC?  

Monday, December 19, 2016

Trader Joe's Christmas Finds

You may remember a few months ago I shared My Top Ten Favorite Trader Joe's products.  Today, I'm back on the Trader Joe's bandwagon, BUT with a bit of a holiday twist.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that one of my favorite aspects of Christmas is...eating.  I mean, every get together, party and gift exchange revolves around food, right?  (Side should all revolve around Jesus first...then family...then food).

Here are a some of my favorite Trader Joe's seasonal products this year:

Let's face it, mom's, Christmas break means ALOT of mornings...home.  These frozen blueberry waffles are easy to pop in the toaster, and much tastier than the ones you buy at your average grocery store.  

Look how thick they are!  They were a big hit with my kids.  And, incase you care; they're made with whole grain flour.  Which totally balances out all the sugar cookies they're eating later in the day.  

 How many parties are you attending this week, where you'll need to take an appetizer?  Or, are you hosting and would love to have a few snacks around while your guest wait for dinner.  These Mini Brie En Croutes are the perfect solution.  Just pair with your favorite fancy jam, and you're done!

I forgot to take a picture of my own bacon, but I grabbed this one off of the Trader Joe's website.  This bacon is may be the best I've ever had.  It is thick and flavorful.  I added it to a corn chowder this weekend, and it totally held it's own in the chowder and didn't whittle away like some bacon does.  Just trust me on this one.  I would not steer you wrong on something as serious as bacon.  

I know some people like to go all out for breakfast Christmas morning, but around here I want simplicity.  I want to savor my time with my family, and my cup of coffee, and not spend my morning in the kitchen.  That's why this Christmas, I'll be popping these babies in the oven.  We've all had those yummy little quiches from Sam's, but these are better.  You have GOT to try these!!  

Speaking of my morning cup of Joe, this coffee is becoming one of my favorites.  I laid down a new "law" recently and declared "We're only brewing Starbuck's coffee in our home," BUT we were running low, and it was a COLD day here in North Texas and I decided to give this a try.  Besides the fact that it is almost half the price of Starbuck's, it was full of flavor.  

Another beverage that's worth a try; Winter Wassail!  This wassail has all the favors of the one my mom use to simmer on the stove on Christmas Day.  It tastes just like Christmas!

While we're on the topic of beverages, if you're looking to serve the right wine this Christmas, or perhaps deliver one to a neighbor or hostess, let me help you!  These two vino's are full of flavor and inexpensive.  If you're a red fan, try Terrain.  It's a Red Blend that is smooth and light.  If you're dreaming of a White Christmas, try the Chardonnay Churn.  It is buttery and oaky without being an overkill.  The best news, these are both under $10 each.  

If you're going to buy the wine, buy the cheese.  This Black Diamond Cheddar has been aged for five years.  Oh my goodness, it's creamy and salty with a bit of a bite to it.  Buy the cheese, people!

During one of my first Trader Joe's trips I bought a spaghetti sauce and really disliked it.  So, it was with great caution that I decided to taste the sample meatball that the friendly associate at TJ's was handing out marinated in this sauce.  It was delicious, and reminded me of a sauce I had recently at Buca di Beppo.  If you're planning a Christmas Dinner with an Italian twist, I definitely recommend this sauce.  

 Be sure to check out my other favorite Trader Joe's products, too.  Are you a Trader Joe's fan?  If so, what are some of your favorite products?  

I'm linking up with some of my favorite bloggers for Tuesday Talk today.

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