Tuesday, November 28, 2017

THANKFUL + SURPRISED

I've never been more thankful at Thanksgiving than this year. We spent another 5 days down in Florida and crammed so much into the trip...

First festive things first -- Thanksgiving! We flew home bright and early on Thanksgiving morning in our best athleisure and ready to party. Per usual, mom whipped up the most amazing Thanksgiving dinner feast for about 125 people (even though we only invited 17 people). Also noteworthy, this year Matt was delegated the most important task -- carving the turkey. Thomas supervised, only threatening to sacrifice a few fingers along the way.
Thanks to my friends at Fruit Bouquets we had one heck of a centerpiece too -- an adorable and festive fresh fruit bouquet. And there was only a brief argument over who got to eat the chocolate turkey head apple.
Friday morning we went on a family adventure to Santa's Tree Farm. Yes, even my sunshine state offers a cut your own Christmas tree experience. The kids had the very best time chasing goats, petting horses, wandering the jolly acres forest of trees and more. Caroline said her favorite part of the trip was the bag of kettle corn and Thomas said his least favorite part of the trip was definitely Santa.

 
 
Lucky for us, we got to knock out our 2017 Santa visit while we were there.
Caroline was a little bashful this year, but not enough to prevent her from asking for the Doc McStuffins Hospital Cart she's been obsessing over. I love Christmas. Every time she gets into trouble she'll give the most sincere apology and then ask us if we think Santa will still bring her cart. Maybe, Caroline. Or maybe you've walked past that cart 15 times in the garage already and still haven't noticed it.
Thomas was just...nope.
There were no amount of candy canes that would keep Thomas on Santa's lap for even a second.
Later that afternoon we decorated gingerbread houses which was fun for about 3 minutes before Thomas realized we wouldn't be eating the candy, but instead decorating with it. The temptation was too strong and he ended up eating it by the handful while Caroline screamed and bawled over him eating all of her house decorations.
Once the kiddos were sound asleep, Matt and I snuck out of the house for a drink at M Bar before meeting two of my girlfriends and their husbands for drinks at M Lounge. It was a super fun night.
Saturday morning mom and I "went Christmas shopping," aka we ran a bunch of errands (filled balloons, picked up cake, etc.) and then went to Uncle Nick's house to set up a surprise birthday party for dad! How freaking crazy that we got to celebrate dad's 60th birthday (technically 11/30, but still)?!?! All of us were just SO thankful and happy to celebrate him and he never saw it coming. He thought we were all headed to Uncle Nick's house for a BBQ...
SURPRISE!!!! Also, ALL THE PRAISE HANDS that dad was able to get out of his wheelchair and WALK into his surprise party? Blessings. Blessings. Blessings. There were 25+ party goers cheering loudly for him when he walked in.
Uncle Nick!!
My best friend since elementary school, Ashley, and my bestie since high school, Shannon, also came to the party to celebrate dad. Both of them have known and loved my dad for a very, very, very long time and he was SO happy to see them there.
Sunday morning we went to church where Thomas spilled communion juice all over himself (and me) and started screaming and crying for "juice" during the silent prayer. It was awesome and not embarrassing at all as I was frantically trying to remove him from the service as fast as possible. Afterwards we all went to lunch and then lounged around the rest of the day eating lots of leftover birthday cake.
On Monday we flew back home!
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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Ultimate Toddler Gift Guide

TA-DA! Toddler gift guide...just in time for Black Friday & Cyber Monday!

Favorite Toddler Toys (ages 2+)
A list of my kids' tried and true favorite (and most played with) toys! At first I was going to sort the list by girl and boy toys but both of my kids love both boy and girl toys so really any of these would work for any 2+ toddler!
Favorite Toddler Toys
$15 & Under


$25 & Under   


Over $25


Outdoor Toys
My favorite toys for the kids are the ones that I'm not going to trip over 30 times a day in the family room. If they can be played with outside it's a double win in my opinion -- keeps them out of my way and gets the kids outside! Here are some of our most favorite outdoor gifts that our kids looooooove to play with.  
Outdoor Toddler Toys
$20 & Under


$35 & Under


 Big Gifts


Boooooooks!
My kids loooooooove books and even though we have piles and piles of them I am always looking for more! We own some of these books or check them out often from the library, and Santa is also bringing a few too.
Toddler Books!

Looking for more meaningful gifts? Check out this post!

***And PLEASE do not forget to use ebates for all your online shopping this year!!! It's FREE cash back just for doing your shopping online! Sign up here if you need a referral.***

Friday, November 17, 2017

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday! Yes or no...is this weekend too early to bring home our Christmas tree? 
 
one. Last week I ran to Ikea to make some returns and while I was there I stumbled upon these adorable little Christmas trees. I grabbed two for our fireplace mantel and scooped up some pots to go with them. We have not busted out our boxes of Christmas decor yet but I am loving these first signs of Christmas in our home!
two. Last Friday, we joined two of our favorite couples for an epic triple date night. We started with dinner and drinks at Dandelion Market and then walked to the arena for the Jim Gaffigan show. The show was unbelievably hilarious and we all laughed our faces off. Afterwards we were all so wound up that we decided to hit the bars for a bit (who ARE we?!) and then finished the night off at an 80's night club (I'm sorry, WHAT?). That club has never seen such amazing mom moves. And the kids could not have been more excited to find a trail of glow sticks throughout the house when they woke up.
three. Earlier this week Matt broke out his custom suit from Ole Mason Jar for a photo shoot he had for an impressive legal award he won. Is this suit not amazing?! It truly turned out so gorgeous. #notsponsored just obsessed.
four. After a recent cold & ear infection for Thomas plus the threat of hand foot mouth going around Caroline's class, I primed Zarbee's Elderberry Immune Support Gummies a few weeks ago and have been giving one to both kids every night. These vitamins are loaded with vitamin C, zinc and elderberry to boost the immune system. Fingers crossed, so far they seem to be working to keep any additional colds and viruses at bay! Of course, now that I said that...
five. [GIVEAWAY] I know I'm super late to the Beauty Counter party but I recently received the Multi-Masker Set to review and am super impressed with my first experience using these products! I use a face mask almost every night before bed and am always on the hunt for new ones to try. Lucky for me, this set came with THREE masks: #1 Brightening Facial Mask (creates an illuminated and more even-toned complexion with vitamin C.), #2 Plumping Facial Mask (gives skin a firm, toned, more youthful appearance with plumping peony root), and #3 Balancing Facial Mask (absorbs excess oil and draws out impurities with activated charcoal). You can use one mask at a time or all three at once! This would be such a fun Christmas gift to give the beauty product lover in your life.
[GIVEAWAY] Lyndsey generously offered to give away a multi-masker set to one lucky reader! Enter using the Rafflecopter! The contest will run through Nov. 21 and the winner will be picked at random and announced back here on Nov. 22! Good luck!

About Lyndsey: Mom of 2 - Franklin (almost 4) and Anna (almost 1).  Fun fact: they were both born on 12/13. She's a CPA, spent five years in the Raleigh area working for NC State before moving to Northern Virginia about two weeks ago.  Her husband is the head wrestling coach at George Mason University and his job dictates where they live.
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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things...

Stumped on what to ask Santa for this year? Me too. However, today I'm sharing a few of my faaaaavorite things that I'd recommend adding to your wish list. All items are tried and true favorites that I own, love and have blogged about (sometimes over-blogged about). Let me know if you need a little elf to shoot this over to your Santa. Happy wish list making!




1. State to State Coffee Mug: This adorable mug perfectly captures my heart in my two favorite states and is hands down my mug of choice each morning! This is also the perfect gift for your long distance bestie.

2. Hearthside Slippers:  An annual wish list item, my mom gets everyone in the family a new set of hearthside slippers every Christmas. They are fleece-lined and so cozy!

3. Iluminage Beauty Eye Mask: This rejuvenating silky sleep mask is embedded with copper, a well-known essential mineral with skin-enhancing properties to help minimize the appearance of wrinkles while you sleep! This would be a good mom, mother-in-law or sister gift too!

4. NARS Mini Blush & Bronzer Duo: This is the most perfect (and best-selling) combination from NARS ever -- my favorite blush (color: Orgasm) and favorite bronzer (color: Laguna) in one mini compact!!

5. Chanel Coco Mademoiselle Eau De Parfum Spray: Another annual staple for my list! I'll never wear any other scent and I always happen to spray my last few drops right around Christmas.

6. Capri Blue Volcano Candle: Both my and Matt's favorite candle (scent: volcano). Matt even asked for the diffuser for his office.

7. Ball Drop Earrings: I wear these ALL the time and always receive so many compliments on them. They pair well with so many outfits -- dressy or casual!

8. 50mm Camera Lens: This is really the only lens I use on my camera and I always get a lot of questions from readers inquiring about my camera lens. Highly recommend!

9. Swig Wine Tumbler: Comes in one billion colors (two of which I own), keeps beverages cold for 9 hours and hot for 3 hours. Oh, and it's dishwasher safe and shatter resistant, making this the perfect stemless wine cup!

10. Revision Black Mask: I use this mask 3x a week! It's so so so good.

11. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer: This concealer (color vanilla) works miracles! It's creamy, smooth and can cover even the darkest under eye circles. 

12. Kiehl's Avocado Eye Cream: A little goes a loooong way. I've been using mine every night for 6 months and it still doesn't look like I've ever used it. This eye cream is very soothing and creamy.

13. Bath Caddy: Conveniently holds a book/iPad, a candle, glass of wine and more. I use my caddy every single night while relaxing in the bath. Oh, and make sure to get this super inexpensive ($5) Epsom salt bath soap too. It's my absolute favorite and smells heavenly (made with essential oils)!

14. NeuLash: I have seen insane results in my eye lash growth since using this lash enhancing serum. It is incredible and works to strengthen your lashes so they can grow longer and thicker!
 
Stocking Stuffers under $15

15. Mario Badescu Facial Sprays: I use this cooling and refreshing facial mist to hydrate my skin after getting out of the shower and I also use it as a makeup setting spray each morning.

16. Neutragena Hydro Boost: If you suffer from dry skin like me, you must must must try this gel cream out. I've also read this product is a major dupe for the Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Moisture Cushion Moisturizer ($58).


17. L'Oreal Lash ParadiseAn incredible $7 dupe for Too Face Better Than Sex mascara ($23)! I've never been married to a specific mascara (I swear I've tried them all and they are all the same) until I used this one. I am now on my third tube and not only does this mascara make my eye lashes look fuller, they are drastically longer since I started using it. If you don't believe me, just read the Amazon reviews for yourself.

18. Seche Vite: The absolute best top coat ever. For a girl who pants her nails in bed and wakes up with tons of creases, this polish has been revolutionary. Not only does this seal your polish for a professional look, it fully dries in less than a minute and my manicures now lasts up to a week without chipping!


19. PopSocket: Pop, tilt, wrap, prop, collapse, grip! PopSockets help secure your grip and hold your phone more comfortably so you drop your phone less. It also allows you to securely prop your phone up at an angle for watching videos, etc.

20. MAC Lipstick: (color Twig). My favorite color since my wedding day! Twig is one of those colors that looks good on anyone which is probably why it's a makeup artist's go-to lip color. It truly is an amazing lipstick in every category - color, quality, long-lasting, etc. Here is my favorite $3 dupe for this lipstick too. It's not as amazing as the MAC version but close enough!

21. Sunglasses // My favorite sunglasses! I get a lot of questions about them. They are super cute and are only $12!

Now tell me what's on YOUR wish list. So far this makeup palette is the only thing on mine!

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

Last night I whipped up some Asian Chicken Noodle Soup. 
Before we get into the details I have to mention that if you don't often cook Asian dishes this one may be a bit of an "investment" for your first batch. I didn't own many of these ingredients and was a little sticker shocked as I was throwing items into my cart and adding it all up in my head ($6 mirin, $10 Sriracha, $6 napa cabbage, $6 rice vinegar, $12 organic chicken, etc.). I'm sure you can find these ingredients at a lower price but I was already at my Harris Teeter and committed to the recipe. Anyway, the soup was totally worth $60 (kidding, it wasn't that much) and I'll be making it often now that I own all of the ingredients.
Asian Chicken Noodle Soup 
Adapted from Food Network & Cooking Classy

Ingredients

    2 Tbsp vegetable oil
    2 cups diced carrots
    6 green onions, thinly slicing scallions and keeping onions separated
    4 garlic cloves, minced
    2 Tbsp minced peeled ginger
    1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
    Salt and pepper
    8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    4 Tbsp soy sauce
    2 Tbsp mirin
    4 Tbsp rice vinegar
    1 Tbsp Sriracha
    1 Tbsp sesame oil
    1 Tbsp granulated sugar
    4 cups slightly packed chopped Napa cabbage
    8 oz crimini mushrooms , sliced
    2 (4.3 oz) packages dry ramen, seasoning packets discarded
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions
Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Dice chicken into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Saute until browned on both sides. In a soup pot or dutch oven add carrots and saute 3 minutes then add green onions, garlic and ginger and saute 2 minutes longer. Add chicken in. Pour in chicken broth, soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, Sriracha and sesame oil. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer about 5-7 minutes. Stir in sugar, cabbage and mushrooms and return soup to a boil. Add noodles and cook 3-5 minutes longer until noodles are tender. Serve warm sprinkled with cilantro and scallions.

Print Recipe for Asian Chicken Noodle Soup
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