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 · 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 · Reviews

Catching Christmas {Review}

I accidentally read a Christian Christmas Romance novel, guys. I found this book while wandering the aisles of my local library and the book jacket only talked about the fact that there’s a taxi driver who has to ferry an old lady with dementia around town.

It was pretty cute though. The last half was definitely  heavier on religion than the first half, though. The main character/taxi driver/ex-chef is pretty funny in his determination to be mean while failing at it completely. He also has the deepest hatred of Uber that I’ve ever encountered. 

Miss Callie (the old lady with dementia) is a terror, and while she’s adorable in the novel, in real life I’d hate encountering her in real life. In the novel she’s a character that everyone loves and supports. Though her son-in-law kept her from seeing her granddaughter for most of her life (for good reason, really). That’s fairly glossed over.

I really love the trope of hating each other then loving each other, and Catching Christmas does that one really really well. The author does misunderstandings really well, too. They have a very realistic ‘bumping of heads’ in the beginning and get over it in a realistic way as well. 

There’s a moment where the book went from normal story to Christian fiction and it’s a fairly small part of the novel overall. This book is a really sweet Christmas tale that involves the elderly, a taxi, and a sweet romance. 

-S-

Blogmas

My Favorite Christmas Movies

This weekend I’m going to be having an all day Christmas Movie Marathon with an old friend (called Christmaspalooza, an annual tradition) & while thinking about what movies we might want to watch I decided to post about my favorite Christmas movies. There’s no way we’ll watch these, since we only watch bad Christmas Romances, but I’ll watch of all of these at some point in December.

  1. The Holiday – This is by far my favorite Christmas movie. All the main characters are fantastic and the supporting characters are perfect. Who doesn’t want to swap houses with a stranger and then fall in love in a foreign country?
  2. Dear Santa – I have no idea how I found this movie, but watching it is an annual tradition. It has all the things – spoiled little rich girl, single dad that runs a food kitchen, adorable little girl, scheming girlfriend, an ensemble of wise friends. It just makes me happy. 
  3. Desk Set – A friend of mine introduced me to this movie and I LOVE IT. It’s about a man trying to install an enormous computer (the movie was made in 1957) for reference questions in a broadcasting company’s library and the sassy librarian who gives him trouble. It has Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn and I can’t believe I made it to adulthood without seeing it.
  4. Bad Santa – This is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures for me. I have no defense. 
  5. Elf – How is this movie 15 years old? I can’t believe it’s been a staple in the Christmas movie lineup for that long. 
  6. The Santa Clause – I’ve been watching this since I was a little one and I will never stop. 
  7. Home Alone – Samesies. 
  8. A Christmas Prince – I enjoy this movie against my will, and I will be watching the sequel this weekend. 
  9. It’s a Wonderful Life – Classic. Who doesn’t love It’s a Wonderful Life?
  10. All the classic animated Christmas movies from the 60s/70s (Frosty the Snowman, The Little Drummer Boy, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer…you know the ones). – Unlike the others in this list, I actually haven’t seen these in a few years and I’m sure they’re very ‘of the time’ but they will always be special to me.

Let me know if I’m missing any on your favorites list!

-Sarah-

Blogmas · Reviews

The Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries {Review}

Thanks to NetGalley.com for giving me a copy of Twas the Knife Before Christmas in return for an honest review.
Cover for Twelve Slays of Christmas

I got a copy of the second book in this series (‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas) from NetGalley and decided to read the first book as well. It wasn’t super needed, since the second book is fairly independent of the first. 

I really like both books, by the way. They’re very sweet little cozy murder mysteries with a likeable main character named Holly (her cat’s name is Cindy Lou Who, which I enjoy) who lives in a Christmas obsessed town on a Christmas obsessed tree farm/tourist attraction. She’s super nosy and has to investigate the Christmas-related murders, even though her life is threatened on the regular. Holly can just not trust law enforcement, even though the sheriff (who has a seemingly unlimited number of deputies for the size of the town) is a homicide detective from Boston. I really think that he’s better at the whole death investigation than she is.  There’s a wee bit of romance that’s very much a side story and is honestly mostly forgotten about in the second novel. Which is oddly the only thing that got on my nerves.

The author stuck with the conceit that Mistletoe, Maine only has murders at Christmas, so Twas the Knife Before Christmas is set a year after the end of Twelve Slays of Christmas. Nothing has seemed to move forward for Holly, though. She’s still living in her parents’ guesthouse (though they’re building an inn) and isn’t sure if they guy she’s been dating for  year is her boyfriend or if they’re exclusive. I feel like that’d be a conversation you’d have over a year-long relationship. Could be wrong, but it feels weird, especially since he’s weirdly jealous/possessive. He just doesn’t seem the type to leave her ‘available’. There’s a semi-explanation given, and I like the story line, but the effect on their relationship doesn’t seem real. 

Overall, I enjoyed both books – I’ll read anymore that Jacqueline Frost rights, for sure. They’re adorable little Christmas cozy murder mysteries that are all resolved neatly and there are some quality death threats thrown in there. I definitely suggest reading these for some light Christmas reading!

Blogmas

My Christmas Wish List {minus books}

I looked around the internet for some Blogmas ideas and a ton of people suggested putting up my Christmas List. Which feels weird to do, honestly, but why not? I doubt anyone who actually buys me gifts will see this list, but it’s still accurate.

  1. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Nail Polish –  I have no idea why I want this for Christmas, since I’ll just end up buying it anyway, but it’d be nice to get as a gift, too. I have told everyone this is what I want.
  2. I have been hearing about butter LONDON nail polish and Amazon has the minis for $5 less than normal – I love the mint color and can always use a dark neutral
  3. Attempted Murder Coffee Mug – So I obviously love crows, and 2 crows would be an attempted murder of crows which dovetails with my love of true crime and who doesn’t love a new coffee cup?
  4. Shane and I sleep in a split king bed, and only have 2 pairs of sheets – flannel for winter and regular for summer. These bright sheets would be awesome to add. I hate having to buy 2 sets of Twin XL sheets, though.  
  5. I posted this T-Rex Cookie Jar on Twitter months ago and still haven’t bought it. I have no idea where to put it, but I love it deeply and would find it a home. 
  6. My other favorite Target product is their various pineapple scented candles. I love the smell of pineapple and you can never have too many candles.
  7. Okay, to be honest, I have a huge stack of engagement/wedding/honeymoon pictures and should probably start putting them in albums. This really cute album might be a good start. 
  8. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on writing with fountain pens and I’d love to try it out. Without spending a ton of money. I had no idea Pilot made disposable fountain pens, but they seem like a good place to start.  
  9. I’m literally obsessed with Paper Mate Flair pens and want to add the Ultra Fine tip set to my collection. I have way too many of them but I can’t stop myself.
  10. Ending on the writing theme, I’d like to get this Hand Lettering 101 book so I can maybe be slightly creative in my letters.

Yeah, no, this is still a weird thing to post about. But it was kind of fun, so I’ll call it a draw.

-Sarah