Blogmas

Wrapping Blogmas Up

I did it! Plus 2 days, even. What’s funny is that I’m only taking one day off – tomorrow – before I post a few posts before 2019 begins on Tuesday. I’m not really taking it off, I’m just not posting anything.

I learned a few things, too. Like being 2 weeks ahead was incredibly helpful. Seriously, it was so nice to not have to worry about posting all the time. I’m not sure I can keep it up, but I’m thinking about having ‘fill-in’ posts sitting in the draft folder so I have some in reserve if I fall behind. Also, the best laid plans are sometimes foiled. I had planned a few different posts that didn’t make it. Book reviews, a gingerbread house post, a post about a visit to Christmas lights. I just didn’t do everything I wanted to do, so I couldn’t write about them. Finally, I’m glad I don’t have to post 365 days a year. 27 days is hard enough, a year is too much.

I will most certainly not start 2019 being 2 weeks ahead in posts. I may not ever do that again {until next December, anyway}, but I definitely want to have several posts scheduled ahead of time.

My plans for next December {that I’ll probably forget, to be honest} are to basically follow through on the things I want to do. I didn’t get to go to see any Christmas Lights, which is a bummer, so I definitely want to go to the nicest ones next year.

Anyway, I’m super proud of myself for following through on Blogmas. Can’t wait to start 2019!

~Sarah

Blogmas · Life & Family

Christmas Recap

I thought I would have a lot more pictures from Christmas, but I didn’t take a lot. We spent Christmas Eve Eve with my parents at their place for a pretty excellent dinner. My brothers weren’t able to be there so it was just the four of us. I also scored some sweet Delft pottery from my parents’ Dutch adventures. I think it was my grandparents’ that they bought on a trip, but I’m not actually sure.

Christmas Eve I woke up at 6 am to help my mother in law (and Shane, to be fair) get ready for the party. I made Bread Pudding with Bourbon sauce, which is apparently my ‘thing’ now. People showed up around 4ish and there were a bunch. Shane’s cousin has 4 kids plus several of my MIL’s siblings and attendant spouses as well as Shane’s brother and his kids. Oh, all 6 kids are very, very girly girls, by the way. Also loud. So loud.

But I had a great time – my oldest niece is a month from 13 and she’s hilarious and genuinely fun to be around. My 9 year old niece is a sweet bundle of love. The other 4 girls are a bunch of energy, too. The youngest is about a year old (but is developmentally younger) and I got to hang out with her a bit. I love a baby…that I can give back.

Good food, good company, and my MIL’s cat letting me pet him a bunch (he’s a bit standoffish) made for an excellent Christmas 2018. The few pictures I took are below – some are from my parents, some from Christmas Eve.

Blogmas · Top Ten Tuesday

Ten Books I Hope to Find Under the Tree!

Merry Christmas! This week’s topic from That Artsy Reader Girl is a list of the books I want to find under the tree today. I love this idea! I actually got a ton of the books I really really wanted from my Secret Santa done by The Broke and The Bookish blog, but I always have more on the list!

  1. Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter ~ Karin Slaughter is one of my favorite authors. This is the only novel of hers that I haven’t read yet. I’m on the Holds list for it, but it’s going to take for-ev-er.
  2. The Broken Girls by Simone St. James ~ This is the only book of Simone St. James I don’t own, and I loved it as much as the others so I’d like to own it as well.
  3. Force of Nature by Jane Harper ~ I liked the first Aaron Falk book, and would love to give the sequel a try.
  1. So Close to Being the Sh*t, Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta ~ I follow Retta on Twitter, and loved her in Parks and Rec. I’m so interested in knowing more about her.
  2. The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King ~ Mr Rogers is the last great American {television} hero…along with Bob Ross, obviously. He’s inspiring and I want to read about what he was like outside of the show.
  3. Becoming by Michelle Obama ~ Speaking of inspiration, who wouldn’t want to read Michelle Obama’s autobiography?
  1. Florence & Giles by John Harding ~ There’s nothing about this book that’s not right up my alley. I can’t wait to read it!
  2. The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir ~ An ultra-religious family with a pregnant but not married daughter? Sign me up.
  3. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal ~ This seems like an interesting twist on the space race and apocalypse. I’m hooked.
  4. All Systems Red by Martha Wells ~ The series is called The Murderbot Diaries. How could I not want to read this?

~Sarah~

Blogmas · Life & Family

2018 Highlights

2018 was bananas. I don’t just mean the country falling down around us, or Earth continuing its slow decline because we’re killing it, or the general insanity that has come to what feels like the entire world. Though all of those things are also true. It’s just been a crazy year, personally. I won’t remember the insanity in the future {yyaaaayyy bad memory}, so I thought I’d write up a few of the ‘highlights’ of the year. I’m intentionally avoiding the worst things that happened this year, by the way. Keeping it positive, but adding in some things that were just unique. I’ll have a normal end-of-2018 post later on, with stats and such.

  1. I have a nephew! He’s a chubby little ball of love and I can’t handle how cute he is.
  2. Hurricane Florence has to take the {almost} top spot, right? It was our first evacuation.
    • Shane and I took our boys and fled to the mountains of North Carolina. We didn’t spend that long up there, but I really feel like the weekish we spent dealing with the Hurricane put me behind on my to-do list by several weeks. I never recovered, and have been playing catch up since September.
    • Thankfully, my area of MB was fairly unscathed. Our grocery stores weren’t stocked for awhile and the roads were so flooded that we couldn’t leave town for awhile, but that was really it. Other people had it much worse. I still wish I had volunteered to help out, but maybe next hurricane.
  3. Shane got a new job! He had like 3 or 4 interviews for it, then started the week after his last one.
  4. We moved to Myrtle Beach in a grand total of 4 weeks from the day of his last interview. He had his last interview on April 12th and my parents drove the UHaul down on May 12th.
    • I had to pack the old apartment up without a lot of help because Shane had to be here to work. He did help when he could.
    • Tau immediately got a UTI when we got here and has been a different {re: needy} cat ever since.
  5. We celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary by forgetting it, packing all day, then saying ‘Happy Anniversary’ exhaustedly on the couch. Classic us.
  6. We visited Washington, DC in February {I had a conference} and Nashville, TN {I had another conference} in December. Both were cold, rainy, awesome trips.
  7. We discovered Huntington Beach State Park which has quickly become one of our favorite places in MB.
    • Turns out I like taking pictures of birds.
  8. Driving back to spend a day at work means I have to drive up the night before and I have dodged the following:
    • A tornado. A real, touched down a few miles from my car tornado.
    • A thunderstorm complete with hail.
    • Two separate hurricanes.
  9. I gained 20 pounds since we moved here.
  10. Moving here has been a hard transition. We don’t know anyone, we’re in a place neither is very familiar with, and it’s really lonely sometimes. I do like that Shane and I get to spend a ton of time together.
  11. I started this blog and I’ve really enjoyed blogging!
Blogmas · Life & Family

Bullet Journaling

I recently re-discovered Bullet Journaling {thanks YouTube!}. I’m not going to go into details about what Bullet Journaling is – I liked to the main BuJo source above, and there are some YouTube channels linked below if you’re interested. This time around I decided that I didn’t need to immediately jump into the whole situation, I really needed to learn a lot more about the whole thing. So I watched a billion YouTube videos from: AmandaRachLee, Sunshine & Stationery, Plant Based Bride, and so many more.

These ladies are so incredibly talented and I am amazed by them. I kind of wish I had held off on watching them, to be honest, because it’s hard to not feel insecure about my abilities. I cannot draw, letter, do faux calligraphy, draw a straight line even with a ruler, etc. so that’s not really something I can incorporate into my BuJo. I will forever watch their videos though – there’s something soothing about watching people create spreads.

The other downside to watching so many videos is wanting to start big, with all the spreads, trackers, collections, etc etc etc and that’s not sustainable when you’re just starting out. There are so many different custom Collections (which is what the spreads are called) out there, and I want to use all of them. ALL OF THEM. Not feasible, though. I’m not even sure about habit trackers – is it really reasonable to go from tracking literally nothing to tracking 10 habits, plus whatever else I want to keep track of {cleaning, exercise, etc}? I realize you can scale that down to just a few habits, but you get the point.

I started reading a book by the creator {founder?} of bullet journaling – Ryder Carroll – called The Bullet Journal Method {imaginative, eh?}. It’s a really good book if you’re looking into the whole bullet journal thing. He talks a lot about why he created the method and why. I identify with a lot of what he writes. It’s very much like a lot of other ‘how to improve your life’ books in that it’s advertised as a cure all – this method will not just change your life, it will fix your life. It’s different in that he freely admits that you can take or leave whatever you need; the entire method is not necessary for it to fix your life.

I have hopes for the system – I’m scheming and plotting and planning for 2019 and this is going to be a part of all that. I spent a lot of 2018 apologizing for letting things drop, and I’m hoping that this can help me out with that. I’ll talk more about 2019 in a blog post later this month. You can see my bullet journal Pinterest board if you’re interested. It’s mostly cleaning trackers and meal planning spreads, though.

~Sarah~

Blogmas · Cooking

Haystack Cookies

Welcome to my first recipe post! Luckily for y’all, if I keep doing these posts, I have 0 children so I won’t ever talk about sneaking veggies past their super sensitive palates. Also, Shane eats everything except sweets so I won’t have to talk about how picky of an eater he is.

On to the best, simplest Christmas cookies ever. No pictures, though, since my mom is making them this year & I refuse to go digging for pictures from last year.

Haystack Cookies

Stuff to gather:

  • 3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup of butterscotch chips
  • 1-2 T creamy peanut butter
    • Or any other nut butter, or leave it out.
  • 1 1/2 cups (more or less – you do you) of chow mein noodles.
    • You can use peanuts, but that’s an inferior situation 😉

Putting it together:

  • Put everything except the noodles in a microwave safe bowl or in an improvised double boiler.
  • Melt it all together (either microwave with lots of breaks or using the boil/bowl method).
  • Mix it a bit.
  • Throw those noodles in.
  • Mix some more.
  • Line a tray/baking sheet/countertop with wax paper
  • Use your biggest spoon and scoop spoonfuls of the deliciousness until you’re out of mix.
  • Throw your tray/baking sheet/slice of wax paper into the fridge for *at least* an hour.
  • Eat too many & get a sugar headache.
  • Store the few left in an airtight container on your counter.
    • Or get a loved one to hide them from you and dole them out as needed.

Note: Be careful, those noodles are super hard to bite through.

Enjoy!

~Sarah~

Blogmas

What Makes Christmas Christmas

There are a few things that I *have* to have to make Christmas a good Christmas. Two of them I discovered this year, oddly enough.

  1. One of those Terry Oranges. Why? No idea. It’s an institution, though.
  2. Real oranges, because I read Little House on the Prairie as a child.
  3. Haystack Cookies! They’re my favorite Christmas cookie and I adore them. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow. I’m not really set up for recipes, but we’ll figure it out.
  4. Making a Gingerbread House….from a kit. I hate I haven’t made mine yet, but I think I’ll be able to tomorrow or Friday. Even if I’m not home to enjoy it because of Christmas travel, the experience is important.
  5. Christmas movies, obviously.

The two I discovered this year:

  1. Southern Comfort Eggnog – it comes without booze and I mix it with chocolate milk and nutmeg. Delicious.
    • If I do feel the need for some adult beverage, I put Kahlua and/or Irish Cream.
  2. Matching pjs – see my roundup from yesterday.

A couple of traditions I might want to start:

  1. Eating pizza with just the lights from the tree. I think I got this from a mommy blog, so if you recognize it please let me know so I can give her credit.
  2. Putting out our shoes for St Nicholas Day (Dec 6th). I spent my first 6 years in the Netherlands and this is something they do there – I did it in Kindergarten and 1st grade. I’m not Dutch, but it’s a super nostalgic thing for me anyway.
  3. Buying an ornament that represents the year. I wish we had gotten an Acadia National Park one last year. I don’t know what we’d get this year.
  4. Holiday fondue on a night that’s just Shane and I. One year my mom and I had a Thanksgiving fondue while my dad was overseas and it was super fun. I think it’d be a nice tradition.

I really love Christmas and want more actual traditions instead of just things that happen to happen in December.

~Sarah~

Blogmas

Christmas Pajama Roundup

I’m into Christmas pjs, y’all. I’ve always been super jealous of people who get Christmas pjs every year. So I made Shane buy matching pjs with me this year. Ok, I didn’t actually *make* him, he was fine with the idea. I’m not going to share a pic, but we have definitely spent an evening in matching pjs on the couch – especially in Nashville. I’m going to post a roundup of the pajamas I considered along with the ones I picked. All images are from Target, because I’m super predictable and only really looked at Target pajamas.

image of a woman, man, dog, and 2 children wearing matching red plaid pajamas.
These are the ones we went with.
An image of a man, woman, and 3 children wearing navy and green plaid pajamas.
Very close 2nd place.
An image of a man, woman, and 3 children wearing navy pajamas with white animals printed on them.
These animal pjs are adorable.
An image of a man, woman, and child wearing beige pjs with snowflakes on them.
If I looked better in beige, these would be more of a contender
A man, woman, and 3 children wearing a slightly different set of plaid pajamas. Red and Navy this time.
I’m really into plaid right now.
An image of a man, woman, teenager, and 2 kids wearing white t-shirts and black buffalo plaid pj pants.
I dunno if these count since they’re only pants, but I love Buffalo Check prints.

This felt like a better idea before I wrote it. But I did write it, and I’m very behind, so it stays!

~Sarah~

Blogmas · Movies & TV

My Christmas Movie Marathon

This past Saturday a good friend of mine came down to celebrate Christmaspalooza – a several years old tradition we have of watching Christmas movies (usually bad ones) and making baked goodies. This is the lineup from this year:

A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding

Aldovia is a tremendously poorly run country who should have democratic elections promptly. The movie rarely has the bride and groom in the same room, which was a super weird choice. I didn’t watch this for Count Simon’s redemption arc or the government’s financial failings. 

Christmas Inheritance

This was pretty cute, I won’t lie. It was the perfect amount of Hallmark-like shenanigans. The formula worked well, though I found myself liking her original boyfriend more than you’re supposed to like the original man in her life. I’m reasonably sure she has to move back to New York City to run her company (that she inherited from her dad even though she showed no aptitude for leadership), so that’s a nice change. My friend called it ‘A Trump Family Christmas’, but I feel like that’s an unfair comparison. She’s not nearly as spoiled by the end of the movie as she does in the beginning.

The Christmas Chronicles

This is by far my favorite of the four movies! I actually enjoyed all four, to differing degrees, but this is the best. Kurt Russell is so dang good. His Santa Claus is an excellent twist on the usual one. And Oliver Hudson in the beginning made me happy.

This movie is a kids’ Christmas adventure that reminds me of 1990s Christmas movies. It made me nostalgic, though I don’t know how it would stack up to them. 

It’s a really cute movie, y’all, and I would definitely recommend it. The older brother sucks for a good bit of the beginning, just so you know.

The Holiday Calendar

This movie is so dang cute. It’s just a feel-good Christmas movie with questionable judgement on her part until she suddenly ‘sees the light’ at the end. 

I love a good Advent calendar in real life, so you know I loved seeing a magical one bring love to someone. I love a good trope, too, so the best-friend-is-your-true-love-you-dummy is also right up my alley. A photographer dealing with her parents asking about her life choices feels pretty legit, but then they’re won over by some art at a school auction which makes me wonder if they ever looked at her work. Still cute, though.

I still have a ton of movies that I want to watch, but haven’t had the chance yet and might not get the chance to before Christmas. I have part of next week off (from work *and* family) so I might just declare one of those days to be another movie marathon. I feel like you can watch Christmas movies through to New Year’s.

~Sarah~

Blogmas · Top Ten Tuesday

My Top Ten on My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Usually, I don’t really look at these TBR lists after making them, but I feel like this is a pretty accurate representation of what I’m going to be reading over the next couple of months. Especially Terminal World, I’ve been reading it off and on for months, and Shane (who loves it), is starting to get his feelings hurt. The rest of these fiction books are ones that I’ve been really looking forward to. 

  1. All the Weyrs of Pern ~ Anne McCaffrey 
  2. Terminal World ~ Alastair Reynolds
  3. Avalon – Mindee Arnett
  4. A Winter Flame ~ Milly Johnson
  5. The Mysterious Affair At Castaway House ~ Stephanie Lam

On the non-fiction side, I’ve been looking at figuring out this whole ‘being a super responsible adult’ thing, hence the style books, the book on writing, and the book on bullet journals. The Murder Room is just going to be a great read. 

  1. The Curated Closet ~ Anuschka Rees
  2. Classic Style: Hand it Down, Dress it Up, Wear it Out ~ Kate Schelter
  3. The Murder Room ~ Michael Capuzzo
  4. On Writing ~ Stephen King
  5. The Bullet Journal Method ~ Ryder Carroll