December 2014Back Home Again: December 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 in Review

I do this every year and I'm counting it as my last #2014BloggerChallenge post. I completed all but two so I figure I can do the last one as well.
1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before? Hmm...I honestly don't know
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Ugh, no
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No
4. Did anyone close to you die? No
5. What countries did you visit? Montreal and Quebec City, Canada
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014? No credit card debt...we're getting there! 

7. What date(s) from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 
January 5: Ewan's 3rd birthday and party
April 10: A trip down the Ohio on the Belle of Louisville
May 25-31: Our family vacation to Chattanooga and Charleston
May 30: What would've been my grandmother's 91st birthday
July 4: Watching the fireworks in Angola and spending time at the lake

August 9-10: Going to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers at the Indianapolis Children's Museum and hanging out with my college friend Steph and her family then going to the Indianapolis Zoo
September 17-21: Our trip to Montreal for our fifth wedding anniversary That I STILL haven't fully blogged about!
October 21: Alan's birthday
October 24: Our fifth wedding anniversary
October 25: Cecily's 2nd birthday and party
November 7: LEGO KidsFest Indianapolis
November 8: The first anniversary of my grandmother's death

December 5: My 33rd birthday
December 12: Ewan's first school Christmas program
December 25: Christmas
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Paying off $4000 in credit card debt
9. What was your biggest failure? Not paying off as much credit card debt as I'd hoped
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Pretty much the entire month of February and some crazy fungal issues over the summer
11. What was the best thing you bought? My new car, our vacations
12. Whose behavior merited celebration? All the people who have made it a priority to spend time with me
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Not anyone specific but rude people and those who cannot or will not help you when asked after you have repeatedly gone out of your way for them

14. Where did most of your money go? daycare, debt, vacations
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? The prospect of being credit card debt free in 2015...and my herb garden :-)
16. What song(s) will always remind you of 2014? I haven't listened to much music, at least anything that sticks with me
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? Sadly, fatter - Remember how I wanted to fit into this dress for my 33rd birthday? Yeah, instead of losing 15-20 lbs I gained it :(

iii. richer or poorer? Richer
18. What do you wish you'd done more of? enjoying the little things instead of stressing out all the time
19. What do you wish you'd done less of? being angry
20. How did you spend Christmas? Santa came to our house on Christmas Eve Eve and the kids opened presents the next day. Then we went to my in-laws to have Christmas with Alan's family. We will celebrate with my family in January sometime. 

21. Did you fall in love in 2014? More in love with my husband and kiddos
23. What was your favorite TV program? Downton Abbey, Blacklist, Once Upon A Time, Reign, Revenge
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No
25. What was the best book you read? I only read a few books this year and I honestly didn't really like any of them much
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? The Old Dam Band, a community band I started playing saxophone in a few months ago. 

27. What did you want and get? a real family vacation
28. What did you want and not get? debt paid off faster
29. What was your favorite film of this year? Umm...? I think we saw maybe two movies at the theater and neither were my favorites. Can I just go with The Holiday? It's one of my favorites and I got to watch it uninterrupted a few weeks ago.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014? Comfort, as always
32. What kept you sane? Starbucks
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? No one.
34. What political issue stirred you the most? birth rights, gmo foods
35. Who did you miss? Friends and family I don't see often
36. Who was the best new person you met? Several bloggers that I have become friends with
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014: You can't make people want a relationship with you and even though it may hurt incredibly, it's ultimately their loss
We're lame and have no plans for New Year's Eve. We will probably order or make Chinese food and hope to make it til midnight. 
 Happy New Year Everyone!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

Santa came to our house on Christmas Eve since we were at my in-laws today. So, on Christmas Eve Eve, Ewan and Cecily set out our reindeer food so Santa would know to stop at our house. 

The kids were wired, but after they finally went to bed, Santa brought their presents! 

Thankfully they slept all night and woke up at their usual 5AM. We were able to keep them in bed with us until 6, when we came downstairs and they saw all the stuff Santa brought. 

After we opened presents and the kids played with their goods for a bit, we drove to Louisville for Christmas with Alan's family. The kids exchanged gifts at Alan's grandparents in the evening on Christmas Eve and then we opened gifts with his parents, brothers and their families on Christmas after a huge Christmas lunch. 

We drove back this afternoon and took all of their gifts out of the packaging...They had a blast playing with all of their stuff. 

Given everything that went down right before Christmas with my phone and how upset I am about how the business involved handled it, I surprisingly had a decent Christmas. 

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday too, whatever it is that you may celebrate!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

My #FrostyVoxBox is Frosty Indeed!

I would normally wait a bit before posting about anything I receive so I can have a chance to try it out, but the #FrostyVoxBox from Influenster is so bad that I decided to post almost immediately after opening the box.

I have seen others post pics of the #FrostyVoxBox so I had an idea of what I would be getting, but when I opened it up and saw with my own eyes, my first thought was "How in the world do they decide who gets what box?!" Out of the eight things in there, five immediately went into the trash or yard sale box. 

So, do you want the good, the bad or the ugly first?

McCormick Gourmet Thyme ($4.79): This is the one thing I am super excited about. Do you know how good thyme is for you? In addition to a yummy addition to food, it has anti-septic, anti-viral, anti-parisitic and anti-fungal properties. It's also recommended to drink thyme tea when you have a cold to help clear your sinuses. I am not a doctor, but am speaking from my own experience. Use thyme in this manner at your own risk. 

Celestial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane Decaf Green Tea (sample size): While I'm not thrilled that it's decaf, I will drink this at work. Peppermint does wonders to help wake you up!

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Sachet (Full Size $29.99): This is made by Boots for Target, which is a British pharmacy, so it's automatically not that horrible in my book ;-) As to whether or not I will use or like it, I will let you know.

EcoTools Full Volume Styler Hair Brush ($10.99): These are natural brushes, which I love. However, I don't use a round brush so it went into the yard sale box. I saw a review where someone got a brush type that I would use. Wanna trade?

NYC Expert Last Lip Color in Sugar Plum ($1.99), Rimmel Gentle Eye Makeup Remover ($7.49) and Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl  Kajal Eyeliner ($4.49): I'm sure there's nothing wrong with any of this, but since I don't wear makeup, I have no use for any of it. Into the yard sale box it went.

And finally...Fruit Vines Bites ($1.28-1.79): 1) no one in my family likes licorice 2) Bleh! Do you know what's in these?

Corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1...makes me want to vomit. No thank you, straight into the trash you go!

Maybe I shouldn't complain so much because everything is free...however you do want my honest opinion, right Influenster? How about you actually read your members' blogs and know what they're about before sending them crap they'll never use.

I received these products for free thanks to Influenster in exchange for my honest opinion.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I am incredibly, incredibly homesick. Something I never in a million years thought I would say about my hometown, but it's true. 

Indiana - Allen County

A couple months ago several of my co-workers were working on a project not too far from my hometown and when they got back and were talking about my summer hang out places, I was really missing home and now that I've been working on the report, I've been pretty nostalgic lately. 

I don't get to visit the area very often, maybe twice a year and I haven't been there for Christmas since 2009. As I was listening to Diana Krall's Christmas album while at work today, it really hit me how much I need to spend an extended period of time there. A hurried three day weekend just doesn't cut it. I saw photos old friends posted on Facebook of the Santa sign and it brought me back to the days when we used to play holiday music during the lighting in high school and how everyone takes their kids downtown to see "the sign." We've started creating our own traditions here, but this is just one of the things that I miss from my childhood.

My family isn't all that close, but I really miss listening to Diana Krall, or Manhattan Transfer or the NRP Jazz All-Stars while my grandma and uncles drink coffee after opening presents.Obviously my grandmother isn't around anymore, but as much as it could be pretty lonely at my house during the day, I really do enjoy those quiet Christmas evenings hanging out with my cousins.

Sorry for the rambling, my thoughts have been all over the place today. At least I get to go "home" in January, right?

Monday, December 15, 2014

First Christmas Program

Ewan's Christmas program at his preschool was last Friday. The first of many such programs to come. And I was totally that parent who bawled. 

He was a little unsure at first because there were so many people there, but when it was his turn to sing "Oh Candy Cane" with his class, he was all about it.

The way his face lit up when he found us in the crowd made my heart melt. I so remember searching for my mom and grandma during school programs and being so happy when I found them. 

Alan made fun of me for crying but I just cannot believe that my baby boy is such a big kid! He will be FOUR in less than three weeks. Where has the time gone?!

At the America Center, March 20-22 LEGO KidsFest brings all of the creative hands-on, minds-on fun of LEGO building and experiences together in one activity- and entertainment-packed family event for children of all ages and builders of all skills and interests. Additional tour stops include Glendale, AZ; Nashville, TN; and Austin, TX!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

$100 to Give Back - Sharing Your Story

A big thanks to Medtronic for sponsoring this post. 
Have you ever heard of the Bakken Invitation honorees? The Bakken Invitation honors those who have overcome health challenges to give back to their communities. Krystal Boyea is one such honoree. She was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the age of 10 and co-founded a diabetes clinic that serves those in need in her home country of Barbados. Diabetes is something that is always on my mind because my mom and uncle are Type II diabetics. I don't think I have ever mentioned it on here, but my mom does not take care of herself and I am forced to watch her slowly kill herself. It is an incredibly hard thing to do, which is why I love to see women such as Krystal live on and give on, helping others in her situation.

You can read more about each honoree here and on the infographic below.

I may not have Type II diabetes, but I do try to do several things to give back to my community. As many of you know, I suffered from ppd and ptsd after my son's traumatic birth. I am active in the International Cesarean Awareness Network and help others receive the support I did after my son was born and during my pregnancy and vbac with my daughter. I believe that every woman deserves the respect and care I received during my second pregnancy. Below are some other ways you can give back. 

My favorite in this list is "Bloom Where You Are Planted." No matter where you are or what stage of life you're in, you can always find ways to grow within your community. This has been a lesson I have learned since coming back to Evansville almost four years ago. I never thought I would live here again after graduating college, yet here we are. And I am doing what I can to make the best of it and be involved in the community. 

I'm giving you the opportunity to Live On. Give On. in your community as well. Leave a comment below sharing what you do to give back and you can win a $100 Visa Gift Card to benefit those in your community. The winner will be chosen on December 29 and you must be 18 or older to enter. Open to the US only.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Fun and Holiday Traditions

Every year since Cecily was a newborn we go out to the Winter Carnival and Santa's Workshop at the 4H Fairgrounds. We either pack the kids and picnic dinner or go out to dinner and then head to the fairgrounds to drive through the light displays and go see Santa. 

I love it because the whole thing is donations only and you take your own photos with Santa so you're not paying a whole lot if the kids decide they want nothing to do with Santa, like Cecily did. 

When you get inside Santa's Workshop, there are all sorts of decorated trees and various displays that have been put together by local organizations and charities that you can donate to as well. 

My favorite tree was of course pink :-)

And because I can't resist, here are a few photos of Ewan and Cecily the first year we went!

 Ewan was almost two. 

Cecily was almost two months.

What are some holiday traditions in your family?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What I'm Doing About the Blog

I mentioned last week that I had come to a decision about what to do about my blog after a friend told me I had become part of a meme. 

I have decided to keep it, at least for now. I think I always knew I would keep it, but I needed a bit of a break to just hang out with my family. One that was/is definitely needed since I have failed Alan's Facebook Free December challenge miserably. I actually forgot about it so I guess that means I didn't fail if I forgot...?

Anyways...I'm going to keep the blog because I really do enjoy writing and having that record of our family. However, I don't think I will post as many photos of the kids, or at least their faces because I don't want them "borrowed" for other things without my permission. Several people suggested watermarking my photos, but I really really don't like that so unless it's something taken by a professional photographer, I probably won't. I already watermark my photos like that anyway. 

So...that's that, I guess. I really don't have much else to say right at the moment...well that I feel I can post on here without causing some major drama. I always have something to say haha!

How's life in your neck of the woods?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Ordering with eShakti

By now most of us know about eShakti. Just in case you don't, it's an online women's apparel company offering sizes from 0-36. You can customize your order to your measurements or change the neckline or sleeve type. 

I have seen eShakti around blogland for awhile and have always wanted to try it. So, I was thrilled when they contacted me. To be honest, I loathe buying clothes. As a bigger gal, and especially one that is so disproportionate, clothes shopping can be a horrible experience because for something to fit in one place, it looks horrible somewhere else. So, I scoured the site, looking for the perfect thing to order.

I fell in love with the sweater, but decided to really put the customization to the test. So, I decided to order this dress instead, customized to my size and I added long sleeves. 

I was hoping to wear this dress on my birthday and to our work Christmas party next week. However, it didn't fit and just looked horrible on me. 

The dress was so tight in the chest that I almost couldn't get it on and I thought Alan was going to have to cut it off me. I also couldn't move my arms. The skirt was huge and I felt like I was wearing a tent and made me look like I'm about two feet tall. I definitely should've gotten the sweater. 

While I think the ability to customize your clothing based on your measurements is a great idea, eShakti didn't work out for me.

Maybe you'll have better luck!

Christmas Cookie Party 2014

I have been planning a Christmas Cookie Party since right after last Christmas when I picked up some treat containers on clearance. 

I thought it would be such fun to have several of our friends over for a potluck dinner and then let the kids go at it decorating cookies.  

We had nine children five and under in our house and they all had a blast. I made paleo sugar cookies, ginger oatmeal cookies and my absolute favorite cookie ever, Nutella cookies. I also made the buttercream frosting from scratch...and used beets and spinach to dye some of it red and green. Someone was teasing the kids about eating veggies instead...well they were!

Everyone had a great time and I'm thinking of making this a yearly tradition. As my cookie "gift" to you, I leave you with the recipe for Nutella cookies. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

1 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c Nutella
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar I use raw cane sugar for both sugars
1/2 brown sugar 
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Cream Nutella, butter and sugars, then add vanilla and egg
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients
  • Roll onto parchment paper that has been dusted with some flour
  • Use cookie cutters of your choice to create shapes
  • Bake about 8 minutes
My buttercream frosting recipe is 4 1/2 c powdered sugar, 1/2 c butter, 1 tsp vanilla and 5-6 tbs milk. Then I add chocolate or whatever I'm using as dye. 

Happy Holidays!

You can go to the following blogs to see their Christmas cookie recipes.  These recipes are also first on the linky below.  

Creative K Kids -- Santa's Surprises Simple Hacks Living -- Candy Cane Snowballs Gypsy Road -- Incense & Peppermint My Life Abundant -- My Favorite Cookie with Ernest T. Bass Home Garden Joy -- Christmas Cookie Recipe Fudge Ecstasy Cookies Barbara Vogelgesang -- 12 Days of Christmas Cookies - Rainbow Cookies From this Kitchen Table -- Russian Tea Cakes - The Best Christmas Cookie Ever Baking With Mom -- Christmas Cut Out Sugar Cookies Back Home Again -- Nutella Cookies Surviving Toddlerhood -- Almond Joy Cookie Bites {Grain Free, Refined Sugar Free, Egg Free} Creative Pink Butterfly -- Coconut Macaroon Recipe The Southern Fried Bride -- Peppermint Wonderland Bars  One Hoolie Mama -- 5 Ingredient Christmas Cookies Snapshots and Snippets -- Snowmen Cookies

You can also follow our Online Exchange Christmas Cookie Pinterest Board HERE to see all the  posts that are linked up below plus some other great Christmas posts that we find!

Follow our Online Christmas Cookie Exchange Board on Pinterest!

We would love it if you grabbed our button so that others can find this linky!

Creative K Kids

Link up your Christmas cookie recipes, and they will be seen on all the hosts' blogs!

Friday, December 5, 2014

I turned 33 Today

Earlier in the week, I was lamenting on how my week hasn't been that great. I was really hoping that my birthday would be a lot better than the rest of the week. Alan and the kids had an awesome surprise waiting for me when I got home from work yesterday - if you follow me on Instagram, then you already know all about it. Just in case you have no idea what I'm talking about, Alan made me red velvet cupcakes with whipped frosting - my favorite, got me a gift card to Old Navy, had the kids decorate mugs for me and got me some peppermint hot chocolate - another one of my favorites. One of my friends was taking me to lunch today - my birthday was looking to be much much better than the rest of the week.

Until I found out that Cecily was sick at daycare yesterday afternoon and that I would be spending my birthday at home with her. Ewan didn't go to daycare today either because he was afraid he would miss my birthday party. While I said that I would love having my birthday off from work...Man, it has been one of those days that makes me glad I'm not a stay at home mom. I have spent my day keeping the peace between two grouchy, sick kiddos who insist on picking on and screaming at each other.

I know that I'm 33 and not a child, but in my world my birthday is a national holiday. I was really hoping the actual day would've wound up being a little better.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Making Mezzetta Memories with Pasta Alfredo

This #MezzetteMemories recipe is sponsored by Mezzetta.

Some of you know that we have semi-monthly dinners with several college friends of mine. This month is my turn and I have decided to re-create one of my favorite meals, pasta alfredo, using Mezzetta products and create my own holiday Mezzetta recipe.

Family owned since 1935, the fourth generation of Mezzetta family is continuing the commitment to bring our customers the highest quality foods available. They source the finest fresh produce from the sun-drenched soils of California, Italy, Spain, France, and Greece and prepare them according to their Italian family recipes in the Napa Valley.

The recipe is simple, cook the pasta of your choice, toss in Alfredo sauce, then add in Sliced Greek Kalamata Olives, the greens of your choice - for me argula and kale, and sun dried tomatoes. You could also add in chicken or artichokes or bacon even. The possibilities are endless!

This recipe is elegant enough for the adults at the dinner table, yet it's still pasta alfredo for the kids. 

Did you know that most olives are actually brown and not black? Most olives you buy today are dyed black. One of the things I love about their olives is that they are not dyed.

I actually use Mezzetta products all the time. One of my favorites is using Mazzetta Roasted Bell Peppers on top of my grilled cheese. 

Simply Fantabulous!

Mezzetta is offering a downloadable $.50 off coupon on any Mezzetta product that's good until December 31. They're also holding a Daily Holiday Gift Basket Giveaway that runs from December 1st through December 31st. That means there are 31 daily prizes!

Mezzetta Favorites Holiday Gift Basket includes:
• 100% Italian Estate Grown Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Golden Greek Peperoncini
• Garlic Stuffed Olives
• Castelvetrano Olives
• Pitted Greek Kalamata Olives
• Roasted Marinated Red & Yellow Sweet Bell Peppers
• Cocktail Onions
• 1 Apron (from House Party contents)
• 1 Metal Olive Spoon (from House Party contents)
• 1 Tote Bag (from House Party contents)
• 1 Ceramic Bowl

I hope you decide to enter!

The No Good, Horrible Week

I have made a decision on what to do with my blog, but it's going to have to wait until I get time to sit down and let you all know about it. This week hasn't been the greatest for me, which stinks because my birthday is on Friday! Alan and I got into an argument Monday evening, then yesterday I shattered the screen on my phone...which I got in October. Boo, hiss. 

Today is hump day and I just keep waiting for something else to happen. Not the greatest attitude I know, but as I'm a firm believer in the power of three, we shall see. At least it's only two days til my birthday though, right?

Hope everyone is having a better week than I am!

For now, enjoy a great deal on Bulu Box from US Family Guide:

The perfect partner in the pursuit of a healthier you, Bulu Box is like having a personal trainer and a nutritionist as a best friend. Each month, a box of healthy discoveries is shipped right to your door for just $10. You learn about that month's 4-5 premium samples, try each one and see what fits into your individual healthy lifestyle. For sharing your opinions on each month's samples through a quick survey, we will give you 50 Rewards Points (that's $5!) to use in our shop to get more of your favorites. 3 Month Subscription for just $10 (regularly $30)! at Bulu Box - Use code WOWZA 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Six Years Ago...

...Alan asked me to marry him!

I've written plenty about our wedding, but I don't think I've ever talked about our engagement.

I worked at Target when we first moved to Pennsylvania and it had been a long, long day in electronics and toys. I came home, exhausted, to flowers - something that almost never happens. I think in the entire time we've been together that I've received flowers from Alan maybe five times. He had told me that we would be engaged by the end of the year and that something would happen to make me think it would be then, but it would actually happen later.

I had this in mind when I came home that night and saw the flowers. I didn't think anything would happen that night, I thought it would happen on my birthday or Christmas or New Year's Eve, or some other day.

When Alan asked me to watch some movie with Bruce Willis in it after dinner, I thought I was right. Little did I know what he had planned. We were watching the "previews" and they were filled with some of my favorite scenes of my favorite movies. I still didn't get it, in fact I thought it was one of those Miramax watch our sappy films things. It wasn't until the words started flashing on the screen that I finally got it. 

 Of course I said yes! As I said at the time, I finally got my shiny doughnut :-)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...