Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Twenty Fourteen in Review

Well, 2014 was pretty eventful. I love looking back and reflecting on our year before we begin a new one. These are some of my favorite posts to go back and read through. And although this year had it's challenges, we experienced so many blessings and happy moments these past 12 months.
In 2014...

We snuck away for a few vacations and spent time with our families.

We prepared for the arrival of Caroline.
Caroline's Nursery / Maternity Session / Baby Q for Caroline / Winston Baby Shower 

We welcomed Caroline Grace into our family on May 7.

We celebrated our first Mother's Day and Father's Day as parents!
Matt opened the doors of Marcellino & Tyson, PLLC for business!
It was a good year for the most part. But it would be unfair not to mention the times that left us in puddles of tears, scared or just downright deflated. These moments include Caroline's traumatic SIDS incident {post}, Grandpa going to Heaven {post}, Matt and Caroline's terrifying car accident {post}, Dad's cancer diagnosis {post} and a few other sad times that can't be shared here for one reason or another. But through all of this, I know that God has or somehow will use these times for good.

 So here's to a happy and HEALTHY 2015!
And for fun, our 2013 recap can be found {here}.
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Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in Florida {2014}

We had such a wonderful, warm Christmas in Florida with my family. I've never cherished family time more than ever before and it was super hard to leave this time. Caroline brought so much joy to everyone this Christmas and I know this is a year that we will never forget. Watching her experience Christmas was one of my happiest mommy moments to date and to think it only gets better absolutely blows my mind.
Caroline was an absolute rock star for her first flight. She hammed it up with all the passengers as we boarded, passed out at takeoff and awoke upon landing. Matt and I were so relieved as we weren't sure how things would go and pretty much packed a huge carry-on full of distractions for her.
As soon as we arrived Grandpa immediately let Caroline open a few of her Christmas gifts. He just couldn't wait.
On Christmas morning we got up bright and early, ate a huge mimosa breakfast and opened lots of presents. Santa spoiled all of us rotten this year.
Caroline was a huge fan of bows and tissue paper just as we suspected. After the first few presents she had it all figured out and was so adorable to watch.
Other activities we enjoyed during our trip included visits with my besties Ashley, May and Shannon, fishtail hair braids, competitive games of Tic Stac Toe, Old Fashioned tutorials and more.
And that's a wrap on Christmas 2014!
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmassy Things!

Merry Christmas, friends! Before I break away from the blog for a few days to celebrate Christmas I wanted to pop in with a few last Christmassy things...
Our Christmas tree went up the day after Thanksgiving this year and thankfully I took a picture right away. Within a few days it stopped taking water and now it's so sad looking that I debated taking it out to the curb to put it out of it's misery over the weekend. But then we got busy and I forgot. So now I expect we'll be coming home to 5 feet of pine needles when we get back from Florida.
I cannot tell you how much joy these stockings have brought me this season. Seeing Caroline's little stocking has been such a constant reminder of the best thing that has ever happened to Matt and I. Being a mom this Christmas has really shed a whole new light on the holiday for me. Yes, Matt and I have shared 5 wonderful Christmases together but this one, as a family of 3, takes the cake. It is so easy to get lost in parties, presents, to-do lists and more this season {and trust me, I totally have at times} but no matter what, nothing can overshadow the joy of being together as a family. 
Mini loaves of the best dang cinnamon bread ever went out the door with Matt this morning for daycare teachers and co-workers. For years my mom has been making huge loaves of cinnamon breads as gifts for friends, neighbors, etc. She also includes a jar of homemade strawberry jam with her deliveries. I cut the recipe into thirds, making mini loafs in the cutest little $1 Christmas tins that Michael's carries each year...and without jam. Regardless, they are always well received.
We spent some time with Matt's family celebrating Christmas this past weekend. It was so fun watching Caroline with tissue paper. She loved it and insisted on removing everyone's paper from their presents for them...and then ate it.
We also got some pretty awesome gifts. I'll only mention the highlights - Caroline received some pretty cool toys (Infantino Snap & Pop Pals, The Manhattan Toy Company Skwish, and the classic Farmer Says See N Say). Matt got a fire pit and we both got fireside fishing pole holders! And I got a pair of Hunter Boots!
I've over shared this photo all season and for good reason...it's just too cute not to! Although we really had to squeeze her in, our petite little muffin is wearing 3-6 month jammies here. Today I'm linking up with Darci, NatashaAshleyJenny and Julie for their Holly Jolly PJ Party! Details below:
Tonight Matt and I will exchange stockings after we get all packed up for FLORIDA! Merry Christmas everyone!
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Five on Friday!

Happy last Friday before Christmas!

- ONE - I picked up OPI's Red Fingers and Mistletoes nail polish over the weekend and am loving how festive my nails look! Right now Ulta is offering a Buy 2, Get 1 free on all OPI colors which is perfect timing to grab one for yourself and two for Christmas gifts!

- TWO - McKinsey's Annual Girls Gift Exchange Party was last night! The gift limit was $35 and each year the dirty Santa style game gets more and more competitive. I brought a volcano candle to the party and actually ending up stealing my gift back during the last round of the game! Here are a few of some of the best, most stolen gifts at the party...
Left to Right: Charlotte Coffee Mug & The New York Times 36 Hours Book; Necklace; 100 Days of Real Food Book; Volcano Candle; Chick-fil-A calendar and Scarf; 2015 Kate Spade Planner; Tote; Polished Gift Card & OPI Nail Polish; C Wonder Wallet & Note Cards   

- THREE - For the party last night I needed a quick appetizer idea that I could literally throw together in a few minutes after getting home from work. Off I ran to the Teeter where there was a nice old lady offering samples next to the cheese counter which I of course stopped to check it out. The appetizer was crackers topped with pimento cheese and a dab of pepper jelly. Winner, winner. In less than 2 minutes I was out the door with a container of My Three Sons Pimento Cheese and a jar of Stonewall Kitchen Red Pepper Jelly. I had some mini fillo shells in the freezer which worked out perfect in lieu of crackers.
- FOUR - For the cookie exchange last week I baked Marbled Red Velvet Christmas Brownies! They were so yummy that Matt requested I make a separate batch to have at home (even though I brought home ~40 cookies.
Here's the recipe I used:

Marbled Red Velvet Christmas Brownies

Ingredients
1 box (8 oz.) reduced fat cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 package Red Velvet brownie mix (choose directions for the cake-style brownies)

Instructions
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar. Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Set aside. Prepare the brownie mix according to the package directions. Spoon 2/3 of the brownie batter into a parchment-lined 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Spoon the reserved cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter. Now scrape the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese mixture. Swirl the tip of a knife through the batter to make a marbled effect. Press M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies into the batter. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a preheated, 350-degree oven until slightly moist in the center. Cool completely before cutting 8x4 into 1½-inch squares.

- FIVE - I've seen a few versions of this "Holiday To-Do List" floating around Pinterest and Instagram {here} recently and thought it was such a powerful message that I wanted to pass it on! Can you imagine what it would be like if everyone's holiday to do lists looked a little bit more like this?
Wanna join Darci, April, Natasha and I on the Friday fun? You can link-up on any of our four blogs every Friday! All you have to do is...
1.) Write your post about five things you're lovin' this week (or any five things you want to share!).
2.) Share the logo on your blog and link back. 
3.) Link-up at the bottom of the post so some new readers can check out your five things and say hello!
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