Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Life Lately | December

Life Lately | December
Well Happy New Year! How is it 2020?! It seems like yesterday I was in high school waiting for the electricity to go out or something crazy to happen when the clock switched to the year 2000! December was an amazing month for us. We celebrated my oldest daughter's 7th birthday and made wonderful memories with friends and family. What a way to close out this decade!

Books I've Read

  • Room 215 by Timothy Murphy- This is a collection of essays about students from a high school in northern Illinois. I took a couple of Mr. Murphy's English classes many years ago and when I saw he had written this, I knew I wanted to read it! Spoiler alert: I didn't recognize anyone he wrote about and their names are changed for privacy anyway. It was a quick read and I did enjoy them! 3.5/5
  • The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal- When Olivia Shaw's mother passes away, Olivia is shocked to find that she has inherited a familial estate. While recovering from an automobile accident and still reeling from her mother's death, she travels to England to learn more. As her stay in England continues, Olivia finds herself feeling more and more at home in the village where her estate is and becoming close to its residents. There was a bit of a mystery element to this book that has to do with a 'curse' on the estate that was interesting. I loved the story of her deciding between selling and rebuilding. She's a strong female character and it was fun to follow her story. 4/5
  • Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde- Raymond feels like an outsider in his family. He doesn't have many friends and when his best friend moves away, he feels as if he as no one. When an elderly women in his building turns to him for help, an unexpected friendship begins. I initially thought the book would end when the mystery of Luis Velez was solved, but I loved that it followed the aftermath. It was sad, but the story shows there it is still worth putting good in the world. This was my favorite book this month! 4.5/5
  • Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg- Deputy Eve Ronin is not a popular person in the homicide devision of her department. She is resented because she got her dream position due to a high profile off-duty arrest of a celebrity that made headlines. Now she is charged with solving the possible homicide of a missing mother and her two children. This story sucked me in and kept me there. It became very fast paced at the end. I love the two sides of Eve, her smarts, but also her lack of experience and how she tries to balance her instincts versus respecting superiors throughout the book. 4/5 

Recipes I've Tried
  • Thanksgiving sliders- Fantastic way to use up some Thanksgiving leftovers! I added bacon jam to these. They were a HIT!
  • Slow cooker white [turkey] chili- Another way to use up some of that turkey! I made white turkey chili in lieu of chicken and it was tasty! 
  • Cranberry bread- I used the leftover fresh cranberry sauce to make cranberry bread. The only recommendation I would make is to NOT save cranberry sauce for the top. Mine fell through as the bread was rising during baking. Still tasty, but not pretty. 
  • French onion skillet- My hubby's favorite recipe this month! He calls it, "a definite make-again!"

  • Loaded Baked Potato Soup- I normally make soup in the slow cooker, but this was worth the minimal extra effort not to! It was absolutely delicious topped with green onions and cheese! Best potato soup I've had!
Products I've Been Using 

Peter Thomas Roth Vital-E Microbiome Age Defense Cream and Eye Cream- I was gifted these to try through Influenster, but thought I'd share them here, too. I've been using them about 2 weeks now day and night. Both the cream and eye cream are an almost solid texture that melts on contact with your skin. Both are designed to help the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, uneven texture, and help improve elasticity. I don't really have fine lines or wrinkles yet (although I am always trying to prevent them!) so I can't speak to that, but one of my main concerns are dark under eye circles. I do think I saw improvement! They certainly didn't go away entirely, but I looked more awake after washing my face and applying in the mornings. I felt my skin had a more rosy appearance and softer texture. I love that they protect your skin from blue light, too! Both products really helped to moisturize my skin without making it feel greasy. They absorbed really well. And it seems that they will last a while as well. After 2 weeks of twice daily usage, I've barely made a dent. 

  • Resolving-I'm resolving to start eating better. I think I did some stress eating over the past month or 2 and need to get back on track! 
  • Reading-I'm currently reading the Words Between Us by Erin Bartels. It was a free book through amazon prime, but it's really good so far! It's the story of a girl whose father is a disgraced senator convicted of murder and keeps flashing back to her past as a teenager just after he was sent to jail and present day. 

  • Cleaning- Now that I'm done reorganizing all the toys and new gifts, I need to clean up our decorations! We left them up a little longer than usual because we put them up later than usual with the late Thanksgiving. I love Christmas decorations so much!
  • Creating- I have a large collection of wreaths downstairs that I like to hang on our front door. Many are looking a little sad so I want to create a new one for winter or Valentine's Day! Time to start pinning and getting inspiration! 
  • Planning- For the past few months I've been trying to get quotes for replacing our living room and sunroom carpeting with wood flooring. We are planning (hoping) to get it done in February or March! 
  • What We've Been Up to Currently-
    • I ran a 5K in early December and got 1st place for my age group! 
    • We had a wonderful brunch with Santa and got some great photos! Avie wasn't too comfortable with sitting on Santa's lap, but there were no tears! 
    • I snapped this walking into Christmas Eve service. I'm so proud of my family! 

    •  Claire's birthday party was cooking themed, but when we celebrated her birthday on the actual day, she wanted a Harry Potter cake. The girl is a fan, what can I say?! I found this cute topper on amazon and we added wings on the side of the cake to make it like a snitch cake. 

December Goals

  1. Bake a new Christmas cookie recipe- I made two new recipes! We tried these mint oreo truffles and they were a huge hit! I didn't have mint oreos so I just added extra mint extract instead. I also made a sugar cookie recipe our neighbor gave us. We made this icing recipe and it worked really well! They were delicious and Claire had a blast!
  2. Try a glass of red wine- Done! I still need to work on enjoying it as much as I enjoy white though.
  3. Look into refinancing- We put together all the information and hope to get the paperwork done soon. It will help us decrease our term, too.
  4. Play a family board game- We had a chance to play Life as a family. Claire got it as a Christmas gift and it was fun! I had never played it before. 
  5. Make a trip to Goodwill- Done! AND I went through all the girls' toys and their rooms and made a second trip! 

January Goals
  1. Create landing page on instagram from my blog 
  2. Earn 5 CEUs- So I know I just finished my continuing education for 2017-2019, but I want to get a head start on the next 3 years. And I paid for my subscription through December 2020 to where you can earn unlimited CEUs so I might as well get them done in 2020 so I don't have to pay for additional yearly access. 
  3. Go on a weekend run- I signed up for the Naperville Women's Half Marathon in April and really need to start increasing my mileage and days a week that I run. Weekend's are normally my time off, but I need to schedule some time to start going on longer runs! There are so many great running trails around here, too. 
  4. Sell or donate baby things- We have a lot of baby things like a swing, jumper, exersaucer, and more, taking up room in our basement. I want to clear it out to make room for a more organized system. 
  5. Schedule and go on our first date of 2020! - Matt and I set a goal for ourselves in 2019 to go on at least 1 date a month. And we did! We actually went on 14 or 15 total dates which was a big improvement on 1-2 a year previously! It's so easy to put your marriage on the back burner when you are a parent or trying to become one, but now that we have the opportunity it's so nice to 'reconnect' with each other without our children! We want to continue that in 2020! 
linking up with Anne & Gretchen + KristenWhat's Up Wednesday

1 comment:

  1. Your girls are so cute!
    My electricity actually did go off right after midnight at the start of last decade. Lol. My dad's old oven was broken so if you put it on the grill setting it overloaded and tripped the power switch. My friend decided to make cheese on toast right after midnight and BAM: no power. My other friend freaked out thinking it was the millennium bug.