Holiday Gift Guide 2017: For Him

Men. They are, by far, the most impossible people to shop for. It's no secret that every year December rolls around I start to panic on the inside. Andy's birthday is a week before Christmas and then my dad and brothers birthdays fall within the next two months. I struggle every. single. year. The best tactic I've found is keeping a small list hidden (usually in my planner) of things I hear them say they want throughout the year. If I'm lucky enough, they won't buy it for themselves (ahem... Andy) and I have a set of perfect gifts under the tree.

Here are a few suggestions for you all out there who have no idea what to buy you significant other, father, brother, adult son, etc. who has it all. 





Coffee Mug Warmer | Perfect for an office.


Outdoor Gas Fire Pit | I bought Andy one of these last year and we get a lot of use out of it! Especially in the summer on our front patio. They're also great for entertaining.




What Do You Meme | If you read my previous blog post, we absolutely loved this game!


Nest Thermostat | This gadget seriously just screams DAD. You can adjust the temperature of your home from your phone while you're away, and it learns your schedule and the temperatures your prefer at specific times. So genius.





Tile Mate Key Finder | I didn't even know something like this existed until recently. You can put these on keys, bags, backpacks, etc. and your phone can track it's last known location.



Happy shopping! Let me know if you have any great ideas, I'm always searching!
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Weekending

We had the best weekend that was a perfect balance of fun and productive. I'd like to say that Friday we stayed up late or went out partying or something, but after eating a deep dish pizza we were dozing on the couch at 9:00pm.. so yeah we are officially old.

Thankfully we were able to make up for our early bedtime on Saturday. Early bedtime meant we were up by 7:30 enjoying coffee and making waffles. We met some friends at Tattersall Distillery for some cocktails and their Holiday Market. There were a lot of great vendors there and I was able to get my mom a little something for her Christmas present, and I splurged on a $50 Great Lakes shirt.. shopping + cocktails = dangerous.




We continued the party over at our place - although not without a short intermission to run some errands and devour some cheap chinese takeout. Andy bought the game What Do You Meme and we played all night until we had actual tears coming out of our eyes. This game is HILARIOUS and definitely competes with Cards Against Humanity. If you're a lover of funny (and sometimes raunchy) group games like this - you have got to try this one.



Sunday brought errands, grocery shopping, a bath for Bosco, and some cleaning. Andy and I started a new diet to prep for our Cancun vacation in February and for me it includes cutting out virtually all sugar. If you know me, that is not an easy thing to do. Fingers crossed I can make it to February without too many cheat desserts - but I can't make any promises on Christmas Eve/Day ;)




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Five on Friday | 12.8.2017

Short, sweet, and to the point this week! Happy weekend!



ONE // We received our Christmas cards in the mail this week and I am so excited to mail them out! We went through Vista Print and got a really good deal on them. They had so many designs to choose from so if you're still in the process of ordering, I highly recommend them! 


TWO // We've been enjoying Cranberry Moscow Mules this week as a nightcap. Tart, sweet, pretty, and delicious!




THREE // I've also spent some time this week cuddling up with this puppy and this book with said Moscow Mules.




FOUR // We were hit with a big snow storm on Tuesday (it took me over an hour to go 15 miles to work) but before that day, we had a weekend of unseasonably beautiful weather! Bosco and I took full advantage of it and went on a two-mile walk each day. 



FIVE // Andy finally has the weekend off (hallelujah) and we are going to make the absolute most of it. Not sure what's on the agenda for tonight, but tomorrow we are going to a holiday market at a local distillery with some friends. We're kind of playing the weekend by ear but I'd say those are the best weekends :)

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Peanut Butter Blossoms

I can't think of a more classic Christmas cookie than these Peanut Butter Blossoms. I have made them every year - with my mom as a child, in my own kitchen as an adult, and I'm sure I will bake them with my children someday. I've been using this recipe for a few years now and they've always turned out spectacular. Soft and chewy, and perfectly sweet. Few things beat the peanut butter-chocolate combination.. it's a favorite in our house!


Peanut Butter Blossoms

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 sttick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar, more for rolling
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 tsp vanilla
Bag of Hershey's Kisses, foil removed


Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt - set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Slowly add flour mixture, mixing until well incorporated. If the dough is too soft or sticky, refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray oil or line a baking sheet with nonstick liner. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll balls in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake until very light brown, about 6-8 minutes. Press a candy kiss into center of each cookie, allowing it to slightly crack.

Place cookies on cooling racks and cool completely before packaging.



ENJOY!
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Five on Friday | 12.1.2017

A Five on Friday comin' at you a little late today on account of work has been absolutely INSANE lately and so has everything else pretty much. Oh the craziness of the holiday season :)


ONE // I started my adventure with Monat products this week! I'm sure you've seen this brand floating around on social media lately and I decided to take the plunge and try their awesome products that have such rave reviews! My best friend Chelsea is a rep for them, and she hooked me up with their Renew Shampoo and their Revitalize Conditioner.

Now, I guess it's pretty common to go through a detox phase - which I am full blown going through right now. I am losing some extra hair in the shower these days (to be honest, I shed a ton before I even started Monat anyway) but my hair is feeling extra soft and I can actually already tell my ends are healthier. I can't wait to post updates once I am past the detox phase.




TWO // I tried a new service this week for grocery delivery - Instacart! I was feeling helpless on Wednesday night when I needed to pick up groceries, cook dinner, and get Bosco on a walk before it was dark out all in a span of like 15 minutes. So I found Instacart online and saw that they deliver groceries from numerous stores - right to your home! How convenient is that?? You can pick a time span you would like them delivered, and sure enough at exactly 5:15pm my groceries were delivered right to my door! They were packaged super nice, doubled bagged, and everything was perfectly correct down to my exact flavors of yogurt.

So if you're finding it hard to get to the grocery store among your other bazillion things on a to-do list, try this service! Your first delivery is FREE.

Also, not a sponsored post - I just love this service!


THREE // Not sure if it's this cold I've been battling but coffee has sounded so nasty to me lately (who AM I?!). So for the past two weeks I've been making smoothies every morning and they have been so darn delicious. I have been using Target's tropical frozen fruit mix, milk (or almond milk), a container of flavored Oikos Triple-Zero Greek yogurt (I'm loving the orange cream flavor) and a handful of spinach. I make enough for both Andy and I.


FOUR // I'm working on finding a new makeup regimen, and after consulting via snapchat with my two best friends I've decided on picking up the NYX Gotcha Covered conceler, the NYX contour pallet, NARS blush, NYX micro-brow pencil, and now I'm dying to try a Laura Mercier lip color. Fingers crossed there is an Ulta giftcard for me under the tree this year!



FIVE // I have fallen in love with my new nail color - as always, it's gel so there isn't any specific name but I am adoring allll the reds for this time of year!


I've got plans to do a whole lot of nothing this weekend! I desperately need to clean my closet and dresser drawers out, take a couple loads to Goodwill, workout, and get some Christmas cookies made. Also, is it bad that I have a new-found guilty pleasure of watching Jersey Shore reruns? It's such a raunchy show but I love all the drama. I've been binge watching it on nights I'm alone and can't wait to watch the Italy season again!




HAPPY FRIDAY LOVIES! 
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Crock Pot Mississippi Chicken

Today I am sharing one of our favorite, easy crock-pot meals that is so versatile and delicious. Mississippi Chicken! This simple shredded chicken recipe is so flavorful, and goes well on buns, over rice, or just by itself! We make this fairly often, and it always turns out great.



Crock Pot Mississippi Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 packet chicken gravy mix
1 packet ranch dressing mix
1 stick salted butter (you can cut down if needed)
Peperoncini peppers

Place all ingredients into a crockpot and cook on low until complete (I don't give an exact time because I know ours varies depending on how much we are making and what type of crock pot we use - so just cook it for as long as you would normally with chicken!)



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Thanksgiving Weekend

I am still not willing to accept that this four day weekend is over. Having those extra two days off felt incredible (and incredibly short) and I was not ready to face reality when my alarm went off this morning.

On Wednesday, I packed up the car and headed to my parents' after work. I had to leave Andy behind, as he had to brave the Black Friday madness at work. We spent Thursday up in Brainerd, MN at my aunt and uncles, where the tabletop never ceases to amaze me. As always, the food was delicious - and we had an awesome spread complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing (dressing?), green bean casserole, corn souffle, sweet potatoes, broccoli salad, and rolls. For dessert we had our family's traditional chocolate mud cake, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pumpkin bars. Let's just say that we rolled out of there.




My mom and I got some killer Black Friday deals the next morning. This is one of our favorite traditions we do together! We had so much fun and I knocked a ton of gifts off of my to-buy list. I sure do love that woman - we are just too much alike (too much for our own good sometimes).

On Saturday Andy woke up with a fat lip. No, I'm not even kidding, it was ginormous. We could not for the life of us figure out what had happened. It wasn't sore so I know I didn't punch him in the mouth in my sleep.. and we hadn't eaten anything weird that would cause an allergic reaction. We assumed it was a cause of either one of two things - first off, I put Target's off brand of Vicks Vapor Rub on my chest the night before because I was super congested. I had never done that before, so maybe Andy is allergic? Second, it was super, super dry in our room and we didn't drink any water before bed. Either way - it slowly went down throughout the day. It was so bizarre though.

I spent Saturday taking Bosco on a super long walk, running errands, wrapping presents, and cleaning. We met up with Andy's dad and his friend that night for drinks, music, and appetizers at a cute and rustic diner downtown called Aster Cafe. I wish I could have gotten pictures of the gorgeous charcuterie board we snacked on - our other favorites were their bacon and apple flatbread, and their chocolate moose.

On Sunday we had our first official "Pajama Christmas Breakfast". Andy and I are all about traditions this year, and we incorporated this fun one and are so glad we did! So we have to pick out a pair of festive PJs for each other and keep them a secret until the morning of, where we gift them to each other. We made coffee and our favorite breakfast of Biscuits and Gravy.







We spent the day cutting down our Christmas tree with my parents, decorating it, and watching Christmas movies. A day well spent!









We are so, so excited to celebrate our first real Christmas together and in our new home!



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A Thankful Heart

Thanksgiving is officially 24 hours away and I'm popping in today to wish you all a wonderful holiday, and to give my thanks for my infinite blessings.


First of all, I'm thankful for my amazing family that has continuously supported me throughout all of my endeavors. I'm thankful for being raised in a loving, happy home, and for a childhood filled with beautiful memories that I carry with me each and every day.



I'm thankful for my amazing man who stands by me, guides me, builds me up, and always has the right words I need to hear; a man who is hardworking, spontaneous, and brings so much fun to our lives. I'm thankful for every past and future adventure we experience together, big and small. I love him so, so big.




I'm thankful for the two most incredible best friends in the entire world. I'm thankful that I have two kick-ass ladies on my side through every obstacle and blessing we encounter through life. I'm thankful for the deep, eye-watering, belly laughs they give me, and that they accept my flaws and back up the many rants I may go on.



I'm thankful for our sweet pup who came into our lives this year. The puppy who chases my feet, puts a smile on my face everyday, and provides me endless comfort. Bosco has truly taught me to just put my phone down and be present, and to enjoy the simple things in life - whether it be an evening walk to our favorite park or warm snuggles before bedtime. He brings us so much joy and laughter.




I'm thankful for our warm, cozy home and all the work we have put into it to make it ours. Although temporary, I can't wait to see what memories we will make here.



Lastly, I am thankful for YOU! Whether you have just stopped by to read a post or two, or you have followed this blog from the beginning - you make blogging worth it!



On top of everything I am eternally grateful for my faith and the angels I have above. I am filled to the top with gratitude by this life I have been blessed with.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. I will be signing off for the rest of the week to enjoy my time with my family.
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Quick Friendship Bread

I used to get so excited when my mom would come home with a ziplock bag of friendship bread starter. Not familiar with this occurring regularly in your childhood? Real Amish Friendship bread is made with a starter - something that gets passed around friends. It's sort of like a chain letter. You make the starter, which is a substitute for yeast and takes 10 days to properly make. You then pass your bag of starter among friends so that they can make their own friendship bread. If you've never had this, you are in for a treat. It is the perfect balance of sweet, but not too sweet. It goes perfect with coffee or just warmed up with a little butter. And I'm sure you have *almost* all of these ingredients in your pantry already.

Coming from the generation of instant gratification, I just couldn't wait 10 whole days once I got a craving. So I found a recipe that is super close to the original, doesn't require a starter, and tastes (almost) as delicious - which is saying a lot because that bread is pretty darn delicious.



Quick Friendship Bread 

Starter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour

Bread
1 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
3 whole eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 (5 1/8 oz) box instant pudding (I used vanilla but I bet butterscotch would be amazing)


Mix your started ingredients until there are no large clumps.

Mix oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla in with the starter

In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and pudding mix. Add to liquid mixture and stir thoroughly. I used a hand held mixer for almost 2 minutes.

Pour into 2 greased (you can also add a cinnamon sugar mix to the bottom and sides) loaf pans. Bake at 325 for one hour or until done (mine took around 90 minutes).

Sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar. ENJOY!
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[three] on Friday

ONE // We picked out our Christmas tree last Sunday and we are so excited to cut it down next weekend! This is our first year of having a real tree, and although I'm a little nervous I'm going to kill it before Christmas Day even comes, or that Bosco is going to eat it, I am so ecstatic to be starting this new tradition.









TWO // Speaking of which, after we got home from tagging our tree, we were feeling so festive that we broke out the Christmas decorations and decked the entire house. I was so ready to put away all of the oranges and pumpkins. I adore fall, but once November hits I am officially in Christmas mode! I'll be doing a reveal once it's considered more acceptable for people to decorate.. but for now here's a small preview. Christmas decorations are by far my favorite of the entire year!





THREE // Hot chocolate and This Is Us.. my favorite Wednesday night routine. Gosh I sure do love this show. And I swear every episode I watch I love it more and more.. is that even possible? It's one of those shows that you can go from not liking a character to just adoring them in one 50 min episode. Did anyone else not love Kevin's character at first? Even in the most recent episode I just could not be swayed... until the very end. Each of the character's stories are just so complex and intricate, and I think there is something relatable for each one of them.



It's been a pretty uneventful week.. so to spare you from the boredom of reading things I came up with just to fill the last two spots - I'll just end at three this week. Happy weekend!
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