Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tis The Season To Be Grateful

I was just sitting here thinking of a topic to post tonight and then it dawned on me that it's the Eve of Thanksgiving and a Grateful post would be perfect! 

2016 has been a good year. Looking back there were lots of moments of stress or anxiety, especially considering my employer had layoffs but scattered all through those moments are things that make me smile and make me thankful for my life everyday.

First and foremost I am grateful for my family. I'm grateful for my husband who is the best life partner anyone could ask for. He is kind, loving, and thoughtful with me. He is an amazing dad and does pretty much anything for our girls. I'm grateful for Henley and Macie. They bring me so much joy and pride.

I'm grateful for my mom. I'm grateful that she is always there for my family and for my nightly calls on the way home from work. I love the relationship she's formed with the girls and they adore her. She visits weekly to spend time with them but if I need some alone time she gets it and isn't offended if I tell her it's not a good time for a visit. I love that she just gets me.

I'm grateful for the success both my husband and I have had in our professional lives. We both are striving at work. 

I'm grateful for Hello Fresh. For about nine months now, off and on, we've had to put minimal effort into grocery shopping and meal planning thanks to their weekly meals. 

I'm grateful for the opportunities we've have in 2016 to travel, specifically the Disney Cruise and our Keys vacation. The girls are more and more fun with each trip. 

I'm grateful for our health. Not all people are blessed with their own health or the health of their children and for that I am extremely grateful. 

As you sit around your Thanksgiving tables tomorrow I challenge you to think of the same. What has 2016 given you? What has made you step back and just think how blessed you are?

I wish you and yours a great Thanksgiving holiday (and if you are planning to hit the stores, a happy Black Friday as well.)

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Friendsgiving 2016

Hello Again! I posted last week on some tips for hosting your own Friendsgiving dinner and thought I'd follow up with a post from our event this past weekend. It turned out great and we had a blast. Here are some of the highlights.

For the first time I attempted a charcuterie platter (it's French for meat platter). I used store bought hummus, four different cheeses, crackers, mini toasts, olives, candied almonds, raspberry preserves. dried apricots, and various meats. You really could use any combination of meats and cheeses. I read a few different pins and articles to compile a mix that I thought would work best for us. It was surprisingly a hit and I definitely will be trying again next year. 

In addition to this platter I made rolls with pumpkin butter, sausage stuffed mushrooms, turkey, and pumpkin pie rice krispie treats. everyone else brought the traditional Thanksgiving sides. I didn't get a picture of the food as it was quite chaotic at this point. (side note---I tried these and they were a fail, very dry and crumbly)

For decorations, I used kraft paper and practiced my hand lettering to give it a special little flair. I got the coasters from Hobby Lobby and the napkins from Target.

I also used the kraft paper as an accent for the drink table. I got the chalk wood slice from Target. I made white and red sangria. Both were wine plus apple cider, fruit, and cinnamon sticks.

For the kids I made a pink lemonade punch which they loved, I'm not sure if they liked the juice more or the fact that they could get their own from the dispenser. Even the littles were going over and placing their cups under the spout.

I bought the jars that the sangria was in from Weck years ago for a shower I hosted. I love bringing these out for parties, I think it gives the perfect bit of character over typical pitchers.

Kids table: As I went to write the kids' names on the table I was informed by Henley to "not make the names all crazy" so block lettering it was. I had a bucket of crayons on the table but Macie stole it and ran, not before decorating it though.

Believe it or not, even with ten kids, we were all able to sit down at once and eat. I really was a great night and the kids have as much fun as the adults. 

Until next year...

Are you planning to host Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving? Any tips or stories to share? I'd love to hear about it. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

10 Years Later---We Still Do

Friday was our 10 year wedding anniversary. We went to the beach the night before with a friend to recreate some of our wedding pictures with the girls. It was crazy as we expected it to be but the girls mostly behaved and we actually got great pictures. These are a few of our favorites.

Thinking back, our wedding feels like so long ago but then again it feels like just yesterday. I wanted to share some things that I’ve learned about marriage in the last ten years.

Communication is KEY. My husband and I have been together for 19 years but even still today communication is so important. The moment I start feeling distant or disconnected I know it’s due to lack of communication in some area.

Make time to be together but also be your own person. We spend lots of time together, especially with the girls but we also have regular dates and alone time as well. It’s important to be a family together, a couple, and an individual. If we don’t get any three of these times our marriage can feel the strain.

Be grateful. I am grateful for everything my husband does and whether it’s a new diamond ring for our anniversary (oh yes he did) or my morning shake, I say thank you. I am so grateful my husband is so helpful and I am sure to let him know. No one likes to feel unappreciated.

Put the phone down. Between email, social media, news, and texting, we could easily be on our phones all night. It is so important to make time and give each other undivided attention. I have to be reminded at times to put my phone down, it's so easy to forget. The distraction on a phone doesn't show you are listening or invested.

Always kiss goodbye and say I love you.

Learn your spouse’s love language. While we were planning our wedding, the pastor that was to perform our ceremony, who is also a family friend, recommended to us The Five Love Languages. This book is eye opening. Not only did we learn about ourselves but also learned about what each other needs. It makes total sense after the fact that not everyone feels love in the same way but hearing it and reading about it was a big light bulb moment for us. We read it again about 5 years into our marriage and due to life experiences and situations, our love languages had changed. During the beginning of our marriage, “words of affirmation” was my strongest language but after a job that took me out of town often, my love language shifted more toward “quality time”. I think it’s so important to love someone in the language in which they feel loved most.

Ten years of marriage has taught me a lot about myself, about my husband, and about true love & companionship. I love him so much and look forward to the next ten years. 


Thursday, November 3, 2016

::Holidays:: Friendsgiving Tips

November 1st is here which means we can all officially start planning for Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is such a great holiday and the month of November would be awesome for that alone but we also host a Friendsgiving potluck. Friendsgiving for us doesn’t take the place of Thanksgiving but instead is an “in addition to” giving us twice the delicious food and awesome company.

This year will be the fourth year we are hosting Friendsgiving. It’s such a great time and every year we all end the night proclaiming what a blast it has been. After three successful dinners and planning one more now, I thought I’d share some tips that really work out great for us so you can plan your own.

Every year we get more and more littles joining our crew

Friendsgiving Tips

1. Pick the timing that works best for you and your guests. In the past we have hosted our Friendsgiving the weekend before Thanksgiving. This year we are doing two weeks prior to allow some breathing room between this and our Thanksgiving with our families.

2. Send an invite with plenty of notice. I typically set up a Facebook invite about a month in advance. I am usually a big fan of tangible paper invites but a Facebook invites is helpful for planning when everyone starts posting what they are going to bring.

3. Be sure to have enough seating for all of your guest. We have a large table but I usually have to a arrange for a few borrowed tables or chairs.

4. Plan the menu. As host I always have the turkey covered. I also commit to one side or appetizer, one dessert, and drinks. Everyone else usually fills in the blanks.

5. For drinks we plan for beer and wine. I also like to make a fall flavored sangria or similar style of drink. This year I am planning for this apple cider sangria.

6. Set the mood. I love to decorate the house with fall accents including a nicely decorated table. Here are some of my favorite tablescapes I’ve saved on Pinterest lately. In addition to decor some mellow music is perfect for a nice evening with friends (even if there are child screams here and there).

7. Have entertainment for any kids that may be in attendance. We always invite our closest friends and all of their littles. Last year I grabbed a paper tablecloth for them and a few crafts from Target to keep them entertained while we got the food ready.

8. Enjoy it! As a host be sure to get a plate for yourself and spend time with your guests as well. Make sure to allot enough time for you to have the food completed and ready by the time your guests arrive.

I’m really excited for this again this year and I will be sure to share pictures. Here is our tentative menu:

Stuffed mushrooms
Cheese and meat platter

Mashed potatoes
Sweet potato casserole
Macaroni and cheese
Broccoli casserole
Sweet corn
Cranberry sauce

Cranberry pinwheels
Rice krispie treats
Peanut butter pie
Chocolate pie
Sugar cookies

Apple Cider Sangria
Kids punch

Do you host anything similar to this? Please share! I love all things Thanksgiving!!!