Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: Year in Review!!!

...2013 has been a pretty great year! It's crazy to go back and see how much our family has changed in the past year. Here's a look back in pictures...

January 2013
AR took her first airplane ride to visit Nana in Florida!

February 2013
H turned 9 and we all celebrated at her gymnastics party!

March 2013
I joined the Dirty Thirty Club with lots of love and excitement from all my friends and family.

April 2013
AR won $100 in a Diaper Derby!

May 2013
My sweet girl celebrated her first birthday pink lemonade style!

June 2013
Summer officially arrived. We spent lots of time at the spray pad, swimming, drinking out of the hose, and anything else that kept us cool from the hot Missouri weather.

July 2013
We took family vacay to Outer Banks, NC. It was AR's first time on the beach and in the ocean. Of course, my little water baby LOVED it!

August 2013
AR went to her first, very hot Cardinals game.

September 2013
Of course we had to celebrate the first day of Autumn! We went apple picking and she wanted to eat every apple she picked right way.


October 2013
Halloween time! AR's costume this year was a cowgirl. The Cardinals also went to the playoffs and AR went to her first World Series game outside the womb. Matt and I also celebrated 5 years of wedded bliss. 

November 2013
AR had her first sleepover at the farm and it was the first time I'd been there in a couple years. Other highlights from November include Toddler Thanksgiving, Turkey Trot and I cooked a turkey for the first time!

December 2013
This month brought on Santa, cookies, Christmas trees, and more holiday celebrations. AR and I became Santa stalkers, we got to see all of our family, and we enjoyed the first snow of the year.

Can't wait to see what 2014 holds for us. Have a great New Year's celebration! We'll be celebrating with our hog jowl and black eyed peas tomorrow. What was your favorite memory of 2013???

Monday, December 30, 2013

Ozeri Touch II Professional Digital Kitchen Scale...

...If you've been reading my blog for awhile then you know my husband is an avid hunter and you also know that I'm super cheap. These two things combined means that when he gets a deer, we always process our own meat. Every year, we eyeball and estimate how much meat with think is a pound and then wrap it up to freeze. Over the years, it's obvious we is the wrapper based on how big or small the packages are.

I came across the Ozeri Touch II Professional Digital Kitchen Scale. I knew this would solve our problems and ensure that all of our packages would be of equal and appropriate weight. I love that it's small and doesn't take up a ton of counter space. It's also very thin so it's easy to store in the cabinet.

Unfortunately, it was too late to try it out this year as we'd already processed both deer he got this fall. I pulled out a package to make some taco soup with the deer burger (yum!) and decided I'd weigh it to see how close we were. One pound and three ounces so we weren't too far off!

Now come on, Mattie, get us another deer next year so we can really try this thing out!
 
*I received this product at no charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

"If I Were You" Book Review...

If I Were You

Summary
Does size matter?  Is bigger better? That’s no small question to Tom Little—the circus midget with giant dreams. 

Tom may be king of the midgets, but he’s got far grander ambitions—to become the muscleman at the top, the ringmaster.  Now, drawing on some dark ancient secrets and mystic texts, he’s about to get his wish.  Imagine a pint-sized Mickey Rooney on steroids, trading up into a body like Burt Lancaster’s.  Then imagine paying the biggest price of all…. 
Assuming another man’s identity, Tom discovers he must also take on his sins, debts, and enemies.  He may be living large—but now there are those who want to make him pay for the big man’s sins.

Throughout his young life Hubbard was fascinated and intrigued by mysticism and magic.  From an old Blackfoot Indian medicine man in Montana to the last living magician descendant of Kublai Khan in China, from the Chamorro natives of Guam to voodoo displays in Haiti, he absorbed information and insight wherever he could—putting it all to marvelous use in stories like this.

Also includes The Last Drop, an astounding tale of a New York bartender who mixes some very magical drinks—to amazing effect.

Review
Very suspenseful story.  Wasn’t sure I would enjoy because I’m not a big circus fan, but Hubbard made the characters all come alive and the sound effects and music definitely held my attention!

My mom listened with me and she said as a retired school librarian, I think this would be a good story to share with middle school students because of the moral of the story….the size of your character is way more important than your actual physical size.

I enjoyed the short story, The Last Drop, better.  It was hilarious!
*I received an audio book at no charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

"Order Restored" Book Review...

...A huge thank you to Ioana Visan for my Christmas gift of the third book in The Impaler Legacy. After reading the entire series, I had to find out how the story ended! On our travels to visit family, I quickly finished Order Restored and found out how it all ended.
 
Description
Despite their five centuries at war, the pandurs and the vampires work well together when they ally against a common enemy. Led by Little Council member Liana Cantacuzino and a thousand-year-old vampire Maximilien Hess, they descend on South Island, New Zealand, to search for the new breeds’ base.

With Dr. Jesse Carver kidnapped by the new breeds and Liana’s feelings for him muted thanks to Hess’ compulsion, Liana is forced to act like Jesse means nothing to her while she is dying inside. Asked by the new breeds’ leaders to betray her cause and losing the support of her people one by one, she needs to destroy the new breed-making facility before her entire world falls apart and everyone has to run for their lives.
 
Review
I've really enjoyed reading this entire series because it has the elements of action and love without being too sappy. Instead of the characters fighting each other in love, they're fighting the bad guys to be together. This book brought on a whole new issues of whether Liana would really save Jesse and what she'd end up doing with Max. As I was reading, I was biting my nails wondering if Liana would even make it out alive!
 
This is an awesome series that is a quick read filled with action to keep you turning page after page. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, even if you're not interested in vampires, you'll be interested in this saga and "dying" to know what happens next. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas in Cape...

...Well, kind of Cape, we were technically at my grandma's which is about 30 minutes south of Cape. Good news-no super expensive speeding ticket this time! We left Thursday night so AR could sleep in the car. She did great on the way there, but we all slept awful that night. We got up early and visited with my grandma then started the cooking. Around 2pm, we all stuffed our mouths because we were starving and then shortly after, we started the gift opening.

The cousins: AR and H

My dad got his Busch Stadium painting that I did.

Sha was pumped about her Cardinals shirt and orange visor.

Of course, we had to open everyone of AR's gifts right away. She loved this Magna Doodle. She also got this awesome pink and white polka dot chair, princess set, two Cabbage Patch dolls, alphabet bucket, LeapPad, mini trampoline and more!

Matt got this package and was confused who it was from :-)

He got a laptop from me-woohoo!!! It's his first ever computer, just him. I think he was surprised and hopefully he'll like it.

Love this bow that my sister found at a craft fair for AR!

My sis and her husband are big Broncos fans. My dad's girlfriend's son made the plate. He also made a Cardinals one for my grandma. I put in my request for a Cards one for my birthday.

H and I both got visors too. AR felt left out so she borrowed H's for the afternoon.

A train track is behind my Grandma's house so every time it goes by, she has to go check it out.

We had a great Christmas this year especially because we got to see all of our family. I already have all the Christmas d├ęcor down and just a lonely tree stands in our living room. Now I have to start trying to find a place for all the gifts we received. I hope your holiday was as blessed with family and love as ours was. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

"Broken Build" Book Review...

...I won a giveaway on Jessica Cassidy's blog for a free copy of Broken Build by one of my favorite author's Rachelle Ayala. This is technically the first book in her Chance for Love series so I read them a bit out of order since I'd started with Hidden Under Her Heart followed by Knowing Vera. Rachelle assured me that it was okay to read them out of order and she was right. I think this one may have been my favorite of all three.

 
Description
When a woman wrongs a man… can a man forgive and love?

Jen Jones hides a horrible secret behind her new degree, toned body, and exciting job at Silicon Valley’s hottest startup—until a man linked to her past is killed by a hit-and-run.

CEO and founder Dave Jewell is about to land a huge deal. He doesn’t need blood on his car, threatening phone calls, and Jen wrapped in broken code and blackmail.

A gang of thugs hunts Jen, and she takes refuge in Dave’s protective arms. Together, they must thwart a killer and rescue an innocent victim from their past. Love blossoms, but a damaging revelation points straight at Jen, threatening to tear them apart forever.

Review
After reading three of Rachelle's books, I see the recurring theme of man and woman love each other but cannot fully trust one another which makes for exciting, edge of your seat reading. As stated in my Knowing Vera review, I love that the main characters of all three of her books in the Chance for Love series are intertwined. This story had so many twists and turns that it was hard to keep up and Rachelle did a great job of making you suspect EVERYONE as the bad guy. I was rooting for Jen the whole time and was relieved to find out she wasn't guilty of half the things she was accused of.

Having finished reading the entire Chance for Love series, I have one thing to say. I'm glad I'm not friends in real life with Jen, Vera and Maryanne! They are brave women that always encounter adventure that I'd be too scared to handle. Great writing, Rachelle!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas with the G-Fam...

...Matt always said that once we had kids, we'd host Christmas morning at our house. Last year was the first year we did and I let him be in charge of cooking. It was, um, how do I put it nicely...not good. He told everyone to be at our house at 9, but didn't feed them until 10:30 and it wasn't that great (he'll even admit it). We're lucky his family didn't revolt because we were all starving by the time he put the food on the table.

This year, I said I was in charge of cooking and we'd eat as soon as everyone arrived. We had to be at his aunt's at noon so the immediate G-Fam arrived at our house at 8am. Matt's mom brought the milk and juice, but I did the cooking for all eight of us. My menu included: strawberries & bananas, Costco muffins (I was going to make them, but ran out of time), bacon, sausage and a crockpot breakfast scramble.

When I started browning the sausage for the breakfast scramble, Matt began adding garlic. I *patiently* told him that he was always heavy-handed on the garlic and that he'd better not mess up the meal I'd been planning for three months. He tried to argue with me, but then in the Christmas spirit, he agreed that I was right and backed off. I mixed up the fixin's, put it in the fridge and set my alarm to wake me at midnight so I could turn on the crockpot.

A little before 6am, we heard AR kickin' the side of her crib. She'll lay on her back and face the side just kicking her feet away. I rolled over and said to Matt that I guessed someone was ready to see if Santa came. We all headed into the living room and what do you know, Santa had stopped at our house!

We opened our stockings first which consisted of a dollar coin for good wealth, an apple and orange for good wealth, an ornament and some small "toy." AR was immediately distracted by the orange so she had to eat hers before we could open any more presents.

I had Matt's big present shipped to my sister's so he'll be getting it tomorrow so I'll reveal then. Matt and my dad went together and got an automatic starter for my Tahoe-woohoo! He also got me two tickets to an Ambush game in February. They are a local indoor soccer team who I used to LOVE when I was in elementary/middle school. All my soccer teammates and I would go to games and we even played on the field before one of their games. I now work with one of the guys who used to play back in the day and I was star struck when I first met him, but now we're 'ole buddies chatting every Saturday during soccer season. This guy was actually the first person I told about AR winning the Diaper Derby even before Matt!

Matt always waits until the last minute to get my gift and then he's asking me every day what I want. I had "liked" the Ambush on Facebook and he commented on it, half-mocking me. I told him, heck yeah I like them and that he should use it as a hint and get me tickets. I totally forgot about it until I opened my present this morning-sometimes he does listen! After I opened them, I made the comment that we should see if my Dad wanted to come to which Matt jumped on and said that it was totally fine if I wanted to take my Dad instead of him. Sports, especially not soccer, isn't really his thing. I called my dad and hopefully, he'll be able to make it!

AR didn't get a whole lot from Santa at our house because "he" knew that the grandparents were getting her a lot. She got a t-ball set from Daddy, a interactive "walker" from me (but I'm going to leave the walker part off so it's more like an interactive lap thing), books, stamps, stamps and more stamps! AR and Daddy checking out her new toy.

Daddy found Ms. Monkey her very own ornament! I told AR to kiss the monkeys and she made them kiss each other-adorable! Good job, Daddy.

The scramble was done by the time we woke up so I just had to cook up the bacon and sausage. I made the bacon in the oven and fried the sausage while I worked on the fruit. The idea was to use the strawberries and bananas to make candy canes. As you can see, mine turned into a heart.

Everyone was scheduled to arrive at 8am. At 7:45 am, I had three pieces of bacon left to fry and I had to change clothes. All except Matt's parents had arrived by 8am. AR couldn't wait any longer, she was "starving!"

Matt's parents arrived and we ate on time-woohoo! After breakfast, we started opening presents. His dad got us earplugs to go along with the drum filled with instruments he got AR. Funny thing, Matt only got one earplug!

Did I mention that all her gifts came wrapped in a huge box full of peanuts that she dove into and played around in? She loved it, can you tell by the look on her face?

After they left, we quickly cleaned up, changed outfits and headed to Matt's aunt. I couldn't ever get a great pic, but she made each of us, sixteen!, our very own personalized place setting. Check it out! I absolutely love it!

She lives in an older, historic house with high ceilings. AR loved it because that meant that Daddy could throw her up SUPER high!

She got MORE presents here. Great Grandma knew exactly what to get her-a baby doll! As soon as she opened it, she took it to the rocking chair to rock her then laid her on the couch to nap and AR laid down with her.

Aunt Jan has two dogs that AR went crazy for the whole afternoon. AR would walk up to the bigger dog and pat her. As she got more comfortable with her, she'd given her hugs, too. This dog was just her size so AR and Karma hung out under the table together.

Aunt Jan also has chicken and geese so her and Daddy had to go inspect them.

This girl sure loves her grandmas! Here she is with her Grandma Star. Oh, we also did an ornament exchange and AR loved the ornament she got which she is holding. It had snowmen on it and opened and closed. She loved it until she tripped and it broke. :-( Daddy said he would fix it and luckily, Aunt Jan had another one she could have. I think her ornament collection tripled this year!

And finally, as we were about to leave, I remembered to ask someone to take a picture of the G-Fam before Christmas was over!

 
Whew! What a long day and we still have two more celebrations with more family! I hope everyone had a fun-filled, safe Christmas filled with happiness, family, and the celebration of Baby Jesus' birth. Happy birthday, Jesus!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

...Merry Christmas from the G-Fam! I'm busy cooking breakfast for Matt's family as this posts, but we'll be celebrating Baby Jesus' birthday all day today and the rest of this week. Here's a look at our family photos we did a few months ago! Photos were taken by the talented Kelly K. Photography.


Location Faust Park

Daddy got all the good smiles since I was behind the camera acting a-fool!

She went more serious in my photos

Nana is driving back to Florida today. We'll be going to see her in just a few weeks. While she was here, AR and her decorated a gingerbread house.

After many unsuccessful attempts for her to look at the camera and smile, I told her to take a bite...

This made for some great pics, but lots of tears when it was time to put it up and go to bed.


This year's Christmas season has already been totally different with AR so I can't wait to celebrate many more of Jesus' birthdays with her. Happy birthday, Jesus!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

AR as Santa!!!

...We had a special Santa come to our house last week. It was...AR!
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Her and Nana did some Christmas shopping for Mommy and Daddy so AR as Santa handed out the gifts.
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"Eh...I don't know what it is!"
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"Oh Daddy, this one is so heavy!"
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This gift made a great seat.
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She was all about opening the gifts and ripping the paper off. We're in trouble tomorrow!
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OMG! She LOVES this Santa song we sing. This is her pointing to her "beard that's white."
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Merry Christmas Eve to all!

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Three French Hens" Book Review...

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.


...I recently finished reading "Three French Hens, Two Macarons, and Lovers in Bakery" by Noelle Love. It was a love story, but the coolest part about the book is that each chapter ended with a French pastry recipe so that you could re-create it yourself!
http://www.amazon.com/Three-French-Macarons-Lovers-Bakery-ebook/dp/B00H2AQBAY/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1387677719&sr=8-4&keywords=three+french+hens
Summary
Three French Hens is the story of three women who are brought together under the roof of a small bakery at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Their shop, The Two Macarons, is the bakery in Paris until an ultra-rich, money-hungry businessman teams up with an ex-boyfriend to take over the dessert market, threatening the livelihood of the women's bakery and their lives. An erotic tale served with thirty indulgent recipes from the showcased bakery, Three French Hens is a delicious debut by its young author not to be passed by.

Review
Throughout this story, I had to constantly remind myself that it was set in Paris, France because of the way certain things were portrayed. With that being said, I still loved the book even though I wasn't entirely familiar with the culture. It was an easy, fun read that left me wanting to keep turning the page. I loved that the end of the story ENTIRELY summed up everything, not just the current here and now, but 50 years down the road. Not to spoil it for everyone, but all does end up "happily ever after" which is how things should in fiction, right? Well, at least in a love story! Be sure to check it out on Amazon where I think it's actually being offered for free as of when this is posted, not sure how long it will be though.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Wild Lights at the Zoo...

...Last Sunday, the G-Fam headed to the STL Zoo for Wild Lights. I saw a Living Social deal where you could get entry for two plus $6 for refreshments for only $8. Normally, it would be $16. Under 2 is free so I bought the deal plus three of my friends bought the deal so we got it for free! Once we arrived, I bought hot chocolates for all 4 adults so out of pocket, I only spent $4. Not too bad, eh?

They had fun animal light displays all around the zoo. It's kind of misleading because even though it's in the zoo, you can't see too many animals. We did get to see the sea lions, which AR loved when we went back in September. Only one tunnel is was open and you had to turn around and go back. There was one really friendly sea lion though. I put my finger on the glass and I guess he thought I was itching him so he was rubbing his back against the glass. AR LOVED it!

Here's her and her Daddy checking out the polar bear display.
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While we waited in line for hot chocolate, I ran into my BIL's cousin and her daughter, Harper. She's just two months younger than AR. It was the first time I'd met her, but thanks to Facebook, I've been able to watch her grow up right alongside AR!
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We'd planned to eat after the zoo. Matt's dad bought popcorn so AR wasn't much into getting out and walking around because she wanted to eat all the popcorn he put on her stroller.
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The reptile house was open. The boa cage had five dead rats in it. Yeah, gross. So the only animals to see were the sea lions, reptile house and the bug house. Not cool. 
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Here's Grandpa, AR and Daddy
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Me, AR and Grandma Star
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AR with her grandparents
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Verdict: Great deal, but we'll be skipping it in the future. I think they had storytelling and maybe one craft plus the few animals. I was surprised that they didn't even have Santa there, but then again, we're Santa stalkers. For what we paid, or should have paid, we could have driven through a local light display and had a nice dinner or snack with my in-laws plus saved on gas/time to drive to the City. At least I got some great pics though! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bath Bombs!!!

...A few weeks ago, I did a post on an ebook series I'd received called Soap Making Made Easy. Well, my supplies for my bath bombs FINALLY arrived. They were delivered last Sunday by FedEx, the driver told me it was a special Sunday delivery! I promptly tore into the box anxious to get started. So without further ado, I'll share the recipe with you!

Ingredients
1 part citric acid
2 parts baking soda
Witch Hazel
Colorant
Fragrance
Dome-shaped mold (I used mini-cupcake tins)

Here's a pic of the ingredients plus the laptop to follow directions!
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Directions
1. Blend citric acid and baking soda. Make sure there are no clumps. You may want to use a stick blender, but I just used a regular old whisk.

2. Add the colorant to the mixture. Don't add too much or it'll change your bath water colors. You only need a drizzle of the colorant.
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3. Add desired amount of fragance. Note: A little goes a LONG way! As in our whole house smelled like a tropical paradise for a week.

4. Use a squirt bottle to spritz the witch hazel onto the surface of the mixture, while hand-stirring with the other hand.

5. Once the mixture starts to become sticky, it is ready to mold. Don't add too much witch hazel or the mixture will begin fizzing. Trust me, this happens-we ended up with a whole pan in the bathtub and our house smelling yummy. See, this is what happens when there's too much witch hazel and it just keeps GROWING and GROWING! AR took a nice, fizzy bubble bath in the middle of the afternoon.
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6. Let the mixture sit in the tins/mold for 10 minutes. Then let them air dry for 3-4 hours (or overnight).

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Here there are popped out. Then did flat and become a bit more round as they dried.
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I went to the Dollar Store and bought this gift cartons which held two bath bombs and added them to gift cards I'd gotten for people.
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Now, make your own and go enjoy a nice, long bath!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Decorating Cookies!!!

...Last Saturday, after we played in the snow, we headed over to our neighbor's house. She had left me a note on the door asking us to come over to decorate cookies. We headed over for our messy, yet yummy, fun morning!

OMG! Her cookies looked perfect. She had made chocolate dough, vanilla dough and gingerbread dough. She had them all cut out in Christmas shapes and they seriously looked like something you'd get at the bakery. She had homemade frosting for us to use too. We had vanilla and chocolate as well as red and green. Then she had lots of sprinkles and gel icing for us. I brought over M&Ms, marshmallows and pretzels, too. AR loved the gel icing because she thought it was Chapstick.
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Here's Charlotte and her mom, Emily, who invited us over. They thoroughly made a huge mess and they had a blast doing it!
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AR was honestly more into eating the decorations than actually decorating and she did NOT want to wear that apron.
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This was cookie #1, a little icing, some sprinkles and she was good to go to lick it all off!
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"Hey Mom! I'm not eating the M&M's..."
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Both girls had so much fun! After the decorating, Emily and I cleaned up while the girls played. Charlotte has a twin mattress on her floor and AR thought it was great to jump on it. Towards the end of our playdate, she actually climbed into her bed and covered up with her blanket!
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Ta-da! Their final products! What do you think? Should we have them fill out an application for Jilly's?
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This was my creation...Rudolph! I was so proud of him!
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She's going to send me the recipe for the dough because she said it was easy. It was a lot of (messy) fun, but AR loved it so we'll definitely be doing it again next year!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

DIY Reindeer Gift Bags...

...Today is AR's last day at the sitter's before Christmas. We're taking Ms. Pam's and the other kids' gifts today. Last week, I made reindeer gift bags for all the kids. It was super easy, cheap, and cute!
 
Supplies (this will make 8 bags)
8 Brown Paper Sacks
1/2 sheet of red construction paper
2 sheets of brown construction paper
Rubber Cement (or adhesive of your choice)
Black Marker
 
Step 1: Take brown paper sack and round out top.
Step 2: Fold bag in half and draw on eyes with black marker.
Step 3: Take the piece you cut off and cut two ears.
Step 4: Take red construction paper and make 8 circles for the nose.
Step 5: Take brown construction paper and make antlers, I freehanded mine.
Step 6: Glue it all in place!
 
Here's a picture of everything cut out before gluing on:
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Finished product! So, I'm not a great eye drawer and all my reindeer look a little cross-eyed, but hey, it gives them personality! 
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I put candy in the bags for the babysitter's kids who are in middle and high school. For the younger kids, I put a container of trail mix with all of AR's favorite snacks: pretzels, marshmallows, craisins and M&M's. She loves Ms. Pam and all the kids there so I'm sure she'll have a blast playing with them today! I hope I can burn off as much energy at home with her as they do there.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weight Loss Wednesday...

...I got pregnant. I gained weight. I had a baby. I gained weight. I breastfed. I insisted I needed to up my calories to keep my supply up so I gained weight. And then I got to this, 15 months after she was born (August 2013):
August 2013
I was practically busting the seams on all my pants. Nothing fit right, or even comfortably. I was winded from walking the 100 feet to the playground and chasing her around. Things had to change. I started working out, counting calories, and the pounds started to melt off. Here I am October 2013:
October 2013
It's been a long journey and there's a lot more to go. I'm down 36 pounds and have another 36+ more to go. During the holiday season, I've just trying to maintain and after the New Year, I'll get back on my weight loss routine. Here I am December 2013:
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Everyone asks what's my secret, what's the key? It's pretty obvious...workout and eat right. I'm not perfect by any means. I can easily be talked out of a workout which is why I try to get up early and get it done during the week around 5:30am because then it's done and I don't have to worry about it.
 
I count my calories religiously during the week and then I give myself a break on the weekends. This isn't to say that I eat Taco Bell every weekend, but I do indulge in a brownie or cupcake every now and then.
 
The greatest reward? Sure, my pants are looser, I'm not spilling over in my airline seat, but the greatest reward is running around the playground with AR listening to her giggle as she chases me around. I plan to keep going on my weight loss journey so that we can enjoy many dates to the playground together. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Furbaby Post...

...It's been awhile since I've done a furbaby post so I thought I'd let you all check in with them. They are doing good, bored from being inside so much with the cold temperatures, but they have a little girl keeping them busy and on their paws! Here AR just gave Emma a hug and was running to do the same to Shadow.
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I'll stop by the house and let them out before I pick up AR. If it's not too cold, I'll leave them in the yard for the 15-20 minutes I'm gone. When I park and open the door, they usually bark and AR gets all excited. I'll get her out of the car and she'll run over to the fence where she'll pet them and then she refuses to come inside! She sure loves her Shadow dog.
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In the morning, we put them in their cages and AR insists that we give them both a treat. She slips on in through the side of Emma's cage and then carefully feeds Shadow his. Sometimes, she drops his if he tickles her fingers while he's reaching for it so it takes a few tries before he gets his.

She's cracking up at Shad in this picture...
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...because he'd jumped up in Daddy's chair! Of course, AR wanted to follow so the two of them chilled in the chair for a bit.
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AR didn't sit too long because she had to go check on Emma. After she saw Emma, she rushed back to give Shadow a kiss.
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Here's the best picture I could get of all my kiddos!
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Whew, these three sure know how to keep me on my toes!

"A Victory that Counts" Book Review...

...Remember my book review on "The Impaler's Revenge" a couple weeks ago? Ioana sent me a copy of the next book in the series, A Victory that Counts, so that I could find out what happens next!

Cover for 'A Victory that Counts'
 
Description
For the first time in five hundred years, pandurs and vampires need to work together and defeat the new breed of vampires that threaten to upset the current order of things. Liana Cantacuzino travels to New Zealand to find the new breeds and their makers, but even with the help of her friends, Maximilien Hess, Dr. Jesse Carver and Radu Basarab, the task turns out to be close to impossible to accomplish. The enemy is vicious, always one step ahead, and has no respect for any kind of life, including its own.

With a prize put on her head, unreliable informers, exploding arrows, and turned pandurs, Liana has to lead what’s left of her troops through a terrible siege, while struggling to keep Jesse safe and fight for her own survival.
 
Review
After reading book 1.5, Sweet Surrender, I was left wanting to know more about Liana and Jesse. What can I say? I'm a romantic at heart. It touched on them some and how they'd fallen into a relationship, but I really wanted more! This book was more about solving the problem, and Liana has such low hopes of them beating the new breed it kind of made me depressed.
 
After I finished this book, I moved on to book 2.5 Casualities of War. I feel like book 1.5 filled me in on parts that I missed, but I fill like book 2.5 left me with a cliffhanger wanting to see what happens to Jesse! I almost feel like I could've skipped book 2 and just read book 2.5. Still an awesome series that I'll have to continue reading to find out if that "happily ever after" ending happens!
 
*I received a copy of this book at no charge in exchange for my honest opinion.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Hot Chocolate 5k Race Recap...

...Well, the big event has come and gone. Yesterday was the day of the Hot Chocolate 5k here in STL. We had received an email from them on Friday saying prepare for extreme cold temperatures...as in 5 degrees-holy moly!

Early Saturday morning, we got snow...lots and lots of snow. Luckily, Jenni picked up all of our packets at the Expo so I didn't have to brave the roads and take AR out in the snow. Supposedly part of I-70 was closed for awhile yesterday.

Then bright and early on Sunday, earlier than expected because my daughter decided to wake up at 4:30am, I woke up ready to face the Hot Chocolate 5k. I met Jenni at 6:40 then we headed downtown to meet my sis and H were we all added more layers and made our way to the starting line. Our crew, the Turquoise Turtles back at it again! They kept trying to talk to me, but I couldn't hear anything because I had on ear warmers, a hat, that scarf wrapped around my head 2-3 times and my hoodie!
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Unfortunately, I didn't really use any of my training. Having already had knee surgery once, I'm always very cautious on ice. Good news though, the only person I saw fall on ice was my husband as he watched me back out of the driveway and told me to watch for black ice...maybe he should take his own advice, huh?

Instead, H and I ran/walked the whole race...hand in hand. Yes, we held hands the entire time until our hands were so sweaty we couldn't stand it. Then I put my arm around her and we'd walk until we'd start running again and then hold hands once more. We ran almost to mile one then probably walked the next mile-mile & half then ran off and on until the finish. I may not have had a stellar performance, but hey, at least I was out there! Haley and I finished in 46:36 so that's not bad considering my goal was under 45 and we didn't run as much as I wanted to. Oh and the winner of the 15k barely finished before us, too. :-)

Oh and I forgot during mile one, we saw Santa and his elf. While AR & I are Santa Stalkers, H is absolutely terrified of Santa and any other character like that so it took a bit of convincing to pass them.

We finished the race and waited on my sis & Jenni. Then we got in the massive line to get our Finish's Mug. I know I'd gotten a few emails that they were looking for volunteers so I'm not sure if they were short or what, but they could've used some more manpower in this area to keep the lines moving. We'd wait in what we thought was a line only to find out it wasn't. Once we got close enough, we saw if we kept moving to the left then there were REALLY short lines. I was pretty stoked to get my finisher's mug!
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Unfortunately, our Rice Krispie treat was frozen and my hand was covered in chocolate when I dipped my mini pretzels. My fondue also hardened before I could finish it, but the hot chocolate was amazing! It was an excellent post race treat.
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When I got home, Matt and AR weren't home yet, but they had hung garland around the living room (see beads in the left corner of picture). When they did get home, they had a Christmas tree!
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Here I am in my awesome hoodie! I picked a larger size since I'd registered back in August and you can tell by the baggy part under my arms, but it's still awesome. My husband was jealous when he saw it so I better keep a close eye on it or he might be trying to wear it.
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Definitely a fun race and I hope next year that I can do the 15k. Hopefully, there won't be snow/ice on the ground and it won't be so cold, but with Missouri weather, you never know what you'll get in December!