Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello!

I can’t believe it’s already the end of the first month of 2023! I’m so happy that Holly and Patty are continuing their Monthly Musings link up, and I’m joining them today.

This month’s topic is: beating the winter blues…

1. Something you do for yourself to beat the winter blues

With it getting darker earlier, it’s tempting for me to come home and put my pjs on! That being said, I try to keep my routine as normal as possible. When I get home, I usually give myself a few minutes and then go ahead and get my workout in.

Also, last week, for instance, the temps were so mild. After my workouts, I walked for about twenty minutes and enjoyed the sunshine while I could.

2. Something you do for your family to bring joy in the winter

Ever since the kids were little, I make snowman pancakes on the first snow day…and I still do. I just checked my stock to make sure I have pancakes and other good stuff if/when we ever get measurable snow! and…

…I try to make Valentine’s Day fun. I always pick up a few things for the kids…

…and the past couple of years, I’ve made a little Valentine’s Day lunch at some point in February.

Travis and I usually go to dinner, just the two of us, one evening around Valentine’s Day.

3. Favorite cozy items

I love an oversized sweatshirt and leggings or pj pants.

Cozy socks and/or slippers are a must! These are my new fave slippers:

…as well as my new boots. These have been perfect to wear with the colder temps!

4. Winter exercise habits or practices

I keep everything pretty much the same which means Beachbody workouts in my basement. That being said, we tend to have a few more free Saturdays in the winter (cross country, football games, etc. take up time in the fall), so I try to take advantage of that time and go to the gym on Saturdays that I have the chance.

5. Do you practice journaling or mediation?

I write this blog. haha

That’s about it. I do always try to start the day with some quiet time, and even at night before I go to sleep, I just try to calm my brain with a few quiet minutes.

6. Do you light candles or use essential oils?

I always have a candle burning if we are home. Lighting a candle is one of the first things I do when I wake up and same when I walk in the door!

7. Bedtime rituals to promote quality sleep

Y’all! I’m a high maintenance sleeper! I started using a weighted blanket a few years ago, and it’s hard to sleep without it. I’ve been using a sound machine since the kids were little. (When they were babies, they had a sound machine in their room that I could always hear through the monitor…so when I quit using the monitor, I missed the the white noise sound. So, that meant we needed one for our room.) Any app I’ve found isn’t the same, so we bring at least one sound machine with us when we travel if we can.

And…the real MVP…an Olly melatonin. The package says you can take two, but just one is all I need. I only occasionally use these, but they are legit.

8. Morning habits that help me prepare for a good day

Quiet and coffee to start my day. If I had to wake up to an alarm and hit the ground running, I wouldn’t feel ready for the day. One day during the kids early elementary years, I forgot to set an alarm. We all woke up late, had to rush to get to school, and I clearly remember feeling so frantic all day. (which I didn’t like one bit!)

I also try to know what I’m going to wear the next day, so I don’t have to think much about that. Some days I have my lunch made the night before…and some days I don’t. Obviously, it helps if I do.

9. Favorite way to spend days off in the winter?

I love a snow day!

There have been a few times when major winter weather has hit and Travis has been home. He likes to try and be productive, and I have to remind him that’s not what a snow day is about. haha

Now, there have been times when we’ve had a stretch of days off, and then we are eventually productive.

Of course, the kids love to play in the snow which is probably their favorite way to spend a winter day. We have such a great group of neighborhood friends, and they all end up getting together to sled, play in the snow and run around. Of course, that’s gotten easier on me as the kids have gotten older! Now, they bundle themselves up and head out to play…checking in when they can.

Our school plan this year is a mix of snow days and online learning days which is what we did last year too. I think that’s a good compromise considering we are 1:1 with technology, and the kids don’t have to get online with teachers. No one wants to be in school past May 31. I can promise you that!

As I’ve mentioned before, January and February tend to be slower months, so I do try to build in time on the weekend to read, watch a movie, nap, and whatever else I feel like doing. After the hustle and bustle of November and December, I feel like I deserve it.

10. Favorite winter themed movie

Well, in December, I think of Home Alone, A Christmas Story, and The Holiday.

When kids were little, we watched Frozen more times that I can count.

In the winter, I also think of Serendipity (the first movie Travis and I ever saw in a movie theater together) and Cool Runnings. That’s a family fave for sure.

This was such a fun topic to think about. It’s an unpopular opinion, but I love winter.

Have a great day!

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello! One week from today is Thanksgiving. Can you believe it?

Holly and Patty are doing the Monthly Musings link up a bit early due to Thanksgiving next week. So, I’m linking up with them to share my responses.

This month’s topic is:

I’m definitely team “give Thanksgiving its moment,” (it’s my favorite holiday!), but I also know that with a crazy busy schedule, the earlier I start thinking about Christmas the better as far as planning and organizing are concerned.

…so…’tis the season to really start thinking about holidays!

1. Favorite holiday tradtions?

I love baking cookies with the kids, buying Angel Tree gifts, going to see the Kentucky Horse Park lights and more!

My mom and Gma always bake cookies and send a few to us. Then, when we are in KC, we make waffle cookies. Spritz cookies are another family tradition.

I also love that the kids pick out gifts for each other. It’s always fun watching them exchange their gifts…sometimes on Christmas Eve and sometimes Christmas morning.

Holiday cards are another favorite tradition. I love receiving them. I feel like it’s a tradition that’s dying…and I blame social media and the cost of stamps! I know before platforms like Facebook and Instagram, holiday cards were a way to check in on others and share about the year. I truly love receiving cards each year.

2. What holidays do you celebrate?

We celebrate Christmas.

3. How early do you shop?

I try to start picking up a few things here in there in November, but it’s hardly enough to make me feel accomplished. I always feel like I need to get through the kids’ November birthday before I can really think about buying Christmas presents. I try to have a decent list for Cyber Monday, and I always feel accomplished after I buy quite a few things that day.

4. When do you decorate?

That varies year to year. The years we go to KC for Thanksgiving, I really try to have most of it up before we leave. That being said, the kids’ birthday usually throws a wrench in things just because we are busy with that before Thanksgiving. This is the third year that I’ve put up my pencil trees on Election Day. It just gets the Christmas ball rolling for me, and it’s just the right touch of cozy since it gets darker earlier.

Last year, was the latest I got everything out for Christmas, and I told myself that I would decorate earlier this year. I actually pulled the Christmas bins out of the attic on Sunday, and have the house about 80% filled with Christmas cheer.

My kids give me grief, but I remind them that I still love Thanksgiving…I just have to decorate when I have the time. Also, they don’t help decorated, they don’t get a vote…and I want to enjoy it for as long as possible.

5. Do you host any holiday festivities?

We don’t host any festivities. That being said, we usually get together with my brother’s family and let the kids swap gifts. We usually have an informal dinner and dessert.

We do love attending a few parties. Trav’s work always has a Christmas party and then another one of our friends hosts a fun one too! Our neighborhood used to have a progressive party with apps, dinner, and dessert, but we haven’t had that since Covid. We loved that tradition.

6. Favorite holiday meals or recipes to share?

For our Christmas dinner at home, I always make salmon, potatoes, and green beans. We keep it simple, but we all love that meal.

7. Best holiday organization tips?

For being so Type A, you’d think I’d be better at organizing. Some things I do are:

  • Keep an ongoing note on my phone with gift ideas, mostly for myself and the kids.
  • For two years now, I’ve shared an Amazon wish list with family with present ideas for the kids (and me!)
  • The past couple of years, I’ve thrown out or donated seasonal decor when I haven’t used it. Some of my bins could be consolidated which made for less bins to store.
  • I label the main bins “1 of 4,” “2 of 4,” etc., so I know exactly what I’m looking for when it’s time to decorate.

8. Gift wrapping. Love it or hate it?

I want to love it, but it’s always such a hectic process and sometimes last minute. Usually somewhere around December 20, I sit down in the basement, turn on a movie, pour a glass of wine, and wrap. It still is usually a hectic process for some reason, and I’m always glad when it’s over. I’ve thought about “wrapping as things arrive,” but then I’m afraid I’ll just end up overbuying because I can’t remember what I’ve wrapped.

9. Holiday coffee drink?

I don’t do many holiday drinks, but I will indulge in a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha from time to time.

10. Are you a holiday baker? Recipes to share?

Once we are out of school for break, the kids will bake cookies with me. Some years we make more than others, but we always make Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

For our Christmas dinner dessert, I always make Shay’s Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake.

It’s a family favorite.

I try to enjoy the season…it’s always so hectic, but I try to take it all in the best that I can.

This is such a fun link up! I can’t wait to see how everyone else responds.

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Happy Thursday!

It’s the last Thursday of the month, so I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is:

I always love this link up, but I especially love talking about Thanksgiving! #turkeytalk

1. Do you host Thanksgiving or go elsewhere?

We go elsewhere. I hosted Thanksgiving one time a long time ago, but that was a random occurrence. We usually alternate between Thanksgiving and Christmas in KC. When in KC, we go to my dad’s cousin’s house. When we stay in Kentucky, we go to Trav’s aunt’s house.

Thanksgiving 2020, we stayed closer to home and had Thanksgiving with my brother and his family.

2. What dishes do you make or contribute?

Well…we’re usually off the hook because we travel. Whichever Thanksgiving we go to, there’s always so much food. The year we celebrated with my brother’s family, my sister-in-law and I split up what we made. A quick short cut was Bob Evans mashed potatoes!

Last year, I did contribute this salad to our KC Thanksgiving…

3. What is your favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

I always look forward to green bean casserole for Thanksgiving and Easter. I do feel like that’s more of a Southern staple, so it’s usually only something I get if we go to Trav’s family’s Thanksgiving/Easter or if I make it.

Honestly, I always look forward to using the leftover turkey to make Turkey Rice Soup. We’ve made this the Friday after Thanksgiving since I was in high school.

4. What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

I love watching the parade on Thanksgiving morning.

If we are in KC, I love watching the Plaza lighting ceremony (and we try to drive through that part of town to see the lights on either at Thanksgiving or Christmas)

5. Stuffing or dressing?

Well, I would say “neither,” but Thanksgiving 2020, I did make sausage dressing and really liked it.

6. Pumpkin, pecan, or apple pie?

I always look forward to pumpkin pie. I’m not a big pie person, so pumpkin (cold with Cool Whip) is about the only one I’ll eat. I do like warm apple pie, but that’s not usually served at Thanksgiving.

7. Casual dining or set the table?

My dad’s KC cousin who hosts, always has the cutest table.

We always get a personalized chocolate turkey at our place setting.

That being said, my sister-in-law had a cute tablescape too in 2020!

Trav’s family’s Thanksgiving is a little more casual because there are SO many people.

8. Favorite beverages to serve with Thanksgiving dinner?

Honestly, we don’t make anything special for Thanksgiving, but my brother and sister-in-law had a fun drink prepared: apple cider, pumpkin vodka, soda water, and a cinnamon stick. It was so good. I brought the “flocktails” cups, so that was our fun bevvy that year.

(Hadley just had apple cider 😉

9. Do you Black Friday shop?

Absolutely not. I’m a Cyber Monday girl.

10. Holiday movies or football games?

I feel like football is always on the tv during our Thanksgiving festivities. I enjoy holiday movies, but that’s more for when it’s time to just hang out at home.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (with the 4th of July a close second!) The month of November is always so hectic for us that by the time I make it to Thanksgiving, I’m really ready to relax and eat some good food!

What Thanksgiving traditions do you have?

Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello!

With only a couple days left in the month, it’s time for one of my favorite posts.

I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is:

If there was ever a blog post made for me…this one is it!

1. How do you decorate for fall/Halloween?

Yes! I always decorate for fall. It’s my most favorite time of the year. Last week, I shared this post with a little fall home tour.

I used to put out a few Halloween touches that I would only have out in October, but I don’t really do that anymore.

2. Do you decorate inside? Outside? Both?

Both!

These outside porch photos are from last year. My current porch is almost complete 🙂

2021
2021

3. When do you do your fall decorating?

I usually wait until mid-September for the inside, and then a week later for the outside. I like to wait for the temps to cool off before putting pumpkins on the porch.

4. How do you pumpkin- decorate with pumpkins?

I’m the Oprah of pumpkins. Every space inside and out…”YOU get a pumpkin and YOU get a pumpkin!”

5. Do you add lights to your decorating?

Funny you should ask… 😉

I’ve shared about my favorite light up pumpkins from Michael’s, and they provide the perfect glow.

This year, I did add a string of lights to the mantle. They are battery operated with a remote. I just put them behind the fall garland for an extra glow.

6. Do you do anything special for Halloween dinner?

When the kids were little and we did more trick-or-treating, we’d always have friends over and have chili for dinner.

A couple of years ago when Andrea shared her “Spooky” Halloween dinner, I started making that one night for dinner close to Halloween.

It’s always fun, and I hope it’s a tradition we’ll continue even as the kids get older. It’s an easy dinner to make! I’ve also made “mummy” dogs as another option as well.

7. Favorite Halloween candy?

I’m pretty boring…I love a mini Snickers bar or a little pack of Nerds.

8. Full size or fun size candy bars?

We always buy fun size and a variety of chocolate and other candy. The kids love getting a full size bar when out trick-or-treating, of course.

9. Best fall decor tips?

A few years ago, I realized the quickest and easiest way for me to decorate is to just swap out key décor for fall décor. For example, I swap out my regular pillows and candles for seasonal ones.

Also, I take photos (or blog about) where I typically put items which makes decorating quicker year to year.

Then, last year I finally took some time to toss or donate seasonal décor that I hadn’t used for a few years. I narrowed it down to one tub for my fall decorations. (I can’t say the same about Christmas, but I will probably do that this year.) I store all my regular décor in a tub until it’s time to bring it out again in January.

10. Pumpkin spice—yes or no?

Yes…but I haven’t had a Pumpkin Spice latte in a few years. Instead I get some version of a less caloric one if I go to Starbucks. Now, as far as the spice, yes…I do love it! I put a dash of Nutmeg or Pumpkin Spice in my coffee (with a splash of creamer) every morning in the fall.

This was such a fun post to share. Fall décor is always my favorite.

Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello! Wow! I can’t believe that this time next week will be September! The month of August is always an adjustment back to reality. I feel like we are getting our feet under us now, and September means I can start burning my fall candles, so I’m looking forward to that!

I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is:

I love to cook, but I’m all about an easy dinner especially during the week.

1. Easiest dinner you make and the recipe:

The first thing that popped in my mind was the baked chicken recipe that I make at least once a month. It’s quick and can easily be paired with the microwave Bob Evans mashed potatoes or a bagged salad. There are usually eight chicken thighs in a pack which used to be enough to guarantee leftovers for dinner, but now that the kids eat more (and they love this meal!), I sometimes make two packs of chicken to have leftovers or even some for lunch.

In general, anything in the Crockpot is a lifesaver too…

2. Crockpot? Instapot? Both?

Well, I have both. I asked for (and received) an Instapot a couple of years ago for Christmas. While it is handy, and I’ve made some delicious meals, I can honestly say that I hardly turn to it for a recipe and instead rely on my Crockpot. I think I will give the Instapot one more winter, and then if I don’t use it much, I may donate it.

The Crockpot, on the other hand, I literally can’t live without. I used it to make two meals this week!

3. Are you a member of a wholesale club and fave items?

We are not a member of a wholesale club. When the kids were babies, we belonged to Sam’s Club for a couple of years. It was a handy place to pick up diapers and formula…and so many other things. I understand why people go, and I know there are so many great finds at Costco and Sam’s Club, but we don’t live close to either, and I don’t really have storage space for bulk items.

4. Do you meal prep or menu plan? Do you follow any set themes?

I always meal plan, and I sometimes meal prep. I have a calendar on our fridge, and I write down our evening activities and go from there. If there’s an evening full of activities, that’s the time I use my Crockpot, for example. I know some people do Taco Tuesday and other themes, but I don’t necessarily do that.

A perfect week would be that I make something Sunday that has leftovers for Monday. Then, Tuesday, I might make tacos or have pork loin (we love the ones you make in the bag) or fish (salmon from the fish counter that you cook in the bag) and make an easy side. Then, Wednesday would probably be some kind of pasta, casserole, or soup that provide leftovers for Thursday.

Or, Thursday often ends up being soup and grilled cheese or breakfast for dinner. Hayden (finally) mastered the grilled cheese this summer, and that’s been a game changer having him make a sandwich or two when he’s hungry.

As far as meal prep, on Sunday, I will prep a few lunches and even go ahead and put my grapes and chips in baggies, so that they are easy to pack in my lunches.

5. Best dinner tips for busy nights?

Kind of like I said above, meal planning and planning for leftovers are key for me. Again, using the Crockpot is another tip. Finally, I also make sure I have easy sides like Bob Evans potatoes, bagged salad, Bisquick or Sister Schubert rolls, and I use the Air Fryer for tater tots or sweet potato fries. Fruit is an easy, healthy side, and I make fresh green beans often (blanch in water for a few minutes, drain, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with S&P and serve! This is my kids’ fave side dish besides the BE potatoes.)

Here’s a post I wrote about a year ago with some “Quick Family Dinners”:

6. Do you use certain ingredients more in the fall?

My favorite fall recipe is Pumpkin Sausage Penne Pasta, and my family loves it.

That being said, I don’t think I really use certain ingredients more, but I lean into making chili, soups, and casseroles once the weather cools off.

7. Any back to school dinner traditions?

I’ve written many posts about back to school. When the kids were in elementary, our tradition was a cute Back to School breakfast.

For two years now, we’ve done a Back to School Brinner instead, and I love this new tradition.

8. Do you own an air fryer?

YES! We’ve had our air fryer now for almost two years, and we love it. We most often use it to cook frozen items like chicken tenders, fries, etc., but I’ve also used it for veggies, chicken and more.

9. Favorite grab and go items? Homemade or store bought?

My go to “grab and go” would be when we need dinner in a hurry, and I pick up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and then just serve with the BE potatoes or microwave baked potato.

The Fresh Market in town has a chicken, two sides, and cornbread muffins for $10-$12, and we get that deal pretty often too!

10. How many nights a week do you cook?

I cook (or we have leftovers) Sunday-Thursday. Usually the weekend nights are one night carry out and one night eat out.

That being said, we’ve had discussions about how “backwards” it kind of is to eat out/carry out when we have more time on the weekend. Maybe I should cook at least one of those days and save a carry out meal for a random Wednesday night! I guess it’s just the routine of it, and I do like being less structured on the weekend. During the week, when dinner is ready, you better be in the kitchen ASAP or I start getting grumpy. Just ask my kids!

Also, I should add that Travis can and will cook too! I just usually get home sooner, and I do the grocery list, so I tend to cook. He’s our grill master, that’s for sure!

What are some of your favorite fall meals?

Posted in Monthly Musings, School

Monthly Musings

Hello! How has your week been? We got back from Missouri late Tuesday, so I’ve been trying to get us back on track with all the things…unpacking, groceries, errands, and more.

I can’t believe it’s the end of the month already, so I’m linking up with Holly and Patty for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

I can’t believe it but we have less than two weeks left of summer break before school starts! I’m definitely savoring these days for sure! Here’s a peek at Back to School Prep.

1. How do you get organized for the school year?

The last couple of weeks of July, I start tackling the last items on my summer “to do list” and then I really start thinking about the school year on August 1. At that point, I’ve made appointments for back to school haircuts, and we have the supply list for back to school shopping. Also, I go to my classroom and get unpacked for the year. Once that task is completed, I feel like I can savor the rest of my summer at home.

2. Favorite places to shop for back to school clothes?

Well, that used to be Target, but as the kids have gotten older, their taste has changed.

This made me laugh:

Also, I’ve always just bought one new outfit for them to wear on the first day along with new tennis shoes. Hayden usually doesn’t want anything new, so often times he just shops his own closet whereas Hadley and I may visit the mall or find something on Amazon.

3. Do you meal plan? Favorite back to school meals?

This summer, I’ve been pretty relaxed with meal planning which is a summer perk for sure! I will definitely get back to meal planning as school begins because I will have to maximize my time as much as possible.

We (maybe mostly me!) look forward to our Back to School Brinner. When the kids were in K-5th grade, I always did Back to School Breakfast, but decided to shift to dinner a day or two before school started because middle school starts later than high school rather than before like during the elementary years.

breakfast
brinner

4. What are your kids favorite things about going back to school?

I asked, and both kids had similar responses. Both are excited about getting their schedules and seeing what friends they have in their classes.

Honestly, I thought Hayden would say “nothing,” so I will take that as a win.

5. Best place for school supplies?

I very rarely go to Walmart, but they do seem to have the best prices on school supplies. We usually start there and then check Target or Amazon for anything else that is missing.

6. Any first day of school traditions?

Besides the breakfast or brinner, I always buy the kids a book to start the year. I usually get lucky and find books with the grade level they are going in. Also, we always have a back to school photo!

7. Best lunchbox tip?

Pack the night before…which we almost never do! That has to change this year! I need to pack the night before too!

8. Buy lunch? Bring lunch? Both?

In elementary school, the kids went through phases of wanting to take their lunch or buy their lunch. Last year, Hayden bought his lunch every day, and Hadley took her lunch every day. I pack a lunch every day too.

9. Does school start before or after Labor Day?

TOO SOON! I swear it feels even earlier this year. Our first day is August 10. (And, it usually is the second Wednesday in August, but it still feels too early)

I hate to say it, but “when I was a kid..,” our summer was Memorial Day to Labor Day, and I think that’s how it should be.

When we were visiting family in KC, I heard all their back to school dates on the news…and school districts can’t start until nine days before Labor Day to help with tourism in August. I feel like that’s a great idea!

10. Best money saving tips for back to school?

I always feel like all I’m doing is spending money in August. From new shoes to school supplies to school fees, and more it just feels never-ending. I do try to space out spending as much as possible. Also, school supplies will never be cheaper than they are in July/August so stock up while you can.

It’s always good to get back in a routine with the start of school, but I also always cling to summer! Time is just flying by too quickly.

Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings: Summer Travel

Hello! How is your week going? Ours has been pretty lowkey, and I’m not mad about it!

I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for this month’s Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

With a couple of trips planned this summer, this is the perfect topic!

1. Favorite summer destinations:

I’ve shared before, but we love Siesta Key, Florida and go there most years for vacation. We also love the Charleston, SC area, and have stayed in Isle of Palms and Folly Beach a few times through the years.

2. Warm or Cold Temps?

In the summer, I definitely prefer warm temps especially if it means my view is the ocean.

3. Are you traveling this summer? Flying or Driving?

We have both flying and driving on the agenda. We’ll be flying to Mexico soon, and then we will drive to KC to see family in July too.

4. Ocean? Lake? Mountains?

Seeing the ocean typically only happens for us once a year, so that’s always a preference.

That being said, I love a lake. It’s nice when we can float in the lake on a summer afternoon.

I do love the mountains too, but that’s usually on my radar more in the spring or fall.

5. Best travel tips to share?

Find you a Travis White who will do all the research? haha Really though, I’m not travel tip expert, but here are a few tips:

  • I make a list(s) for everyone.
  • I use packing cubes to stay organized.
  • We attempt to book dinner reservations ahead of time.
  • We ask others who have been to the location for tips and recommendations when we can.

6. Vacation budget tips?

I’m definitely not an expert on budgeting tips either, but….

We have a list of places we’d like to go, and try to budget accordingly. If we know we are going on a bigger vacation in the summer, we may go somewhere more local for only a couple of days for Spring Break.

We typically only eat out for dinner. That being said, if we have a big lunch out, we will eat dinner in. Usually, one morning we will have breakfast or brunch out, then have a lighter lunch of sandwiches and dinner at home. Of course, many of our vacations have been to Trav’s aunt’s house in Siesta Key where it feels likes home with a fully stocked kitchen and patio with grill. That’s definitely a huge help!

7. Overpacker? Underpacker?

Uh…my worst nightmare is having underpacked! 😂

I just purchased another set of packing cubes. We now have them in blue, teal, and gray. The kids and I use them the most.

Also, random, but do you follow @Bruncwithbabs on Instagram? I just saw her packing tip of using a hanging sweater (or shoe?) organizer. You hang it in your closet, and put each day’s clothes in a cube, then you can just fold it into your suitcase. When you arrive, you can just pull it out of the suitcase and hang it in the closet. I wonder if this would help me not overpack!

8. Vacation planned in advance? Last minute adventures?

Well, like I said, we usually have an idea of where we’d like to go in the summer, so those are usually planned out in advance. Fall and Spring Breaks are usually planned at the last minute since we don’t go too far away. Since we have family out of town, I usually rotate when we go there (Thanksgiving or Christmas and then usually in the summer).

9. Group vacations or immediate family?

Most the time, our vacations are with immediate family. As much as we’d like to go with extended family, sometimes it’s just too complicated with everyone’s schedules especially as my kids have gotten older.

That being said, we have a group trip planned for Fall Break with friends, and we are looking forward to it.

10. If you have them, do you travel with pets?

Before we had kids, we used to always take our Boxers, Shiloh and Scout, with us when we’d go to KC for holidays. We never took them on vacation though and use a dog sitter. We do the same with Homer and have someone stay with him when we are gone…usually for holidays too.

This post has me excited for our July adventures! Where are you headed this summer?

Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings: Vacation Planning and Prep

Happy Friday Eve! Well, it’s the last Thursday of the month. Isn’t that so hard to believe?!

That means that I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for this month’s Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic:

1. What trips/vacations do you have planned for the rest of the year?

We will take a summer vacation like usual. Since Hayden won’t be playing summer baseball, we decided to treat ourselves and splurge a bit on a vacay. We’re headed somewhere that needs a passport, and the kids are excited 😉

Then, we will go to KC to see my family at the end of the summer. I’d love to plan another quick getaway in the summer, but we’ll see.

We get a week long fall break this year, so we are thinking about going to Florida in October.

2. Best packing tips?

I’d love to say pack ahead of time, but that’s a great packing tip that I never follow. You would think my “type A” personality would shine while packing for a trip, but that’s definitely not the case.

I always have to have all the laundry finished before I start packing. As we put the clean clothes away, I hold out what we’d like to pack for a trip.

I do use packing cubes (more on that with #3), and I do think they are a great way to keep your clothes together, organized, and sorted by person.

As the kids have gotten older, I’ve started making them a list of what they need to pack, and have them do so. Then, I go through and give approval on what’s in their suitcases.

Leading up to a trip, I start a note on my phone of the random things I want to remember: book, Kindle, charger, sound machine, Melatonin, etc. I keep meaning to create a standard packing list to have on hand when we pack, but I’ve never done it. It would be nice to have a “beach” list, “overnight one night somewhere” list, and “KC” list, etc. Maybe this summer I will get to it!

3. Packing cubes. Yes or no?

Heck yes! I started using these cubes (affiliate link) from Amazon a few years ago and haven’t looked back.

Depending on how long we will be gone depends on how I divide these up. If each kid is bringing their own suitcase, I usually just give them a smaller one to hold their underwear, swimsuit, etc. Hadley has used a smaller one for hair stuff and other odds and ends.

If the kids are sharing a suitcase, they each get a color. I actually only have a gray and a teal set, but as I was working on this post, I made a calendar notification to order another set before our summer trip.

When I use them, I typically use a smaller one for undergarments. Then, I use another for workout clothes and swimsuit and cover-up. I will also use one for pjs and shorts, etc. Because I am an over-packer (more on that with #10), these do help condense what I pack. I still usually have a few things like sweaters if it’s the winter, that don’t go in a packing cube.

Travis doesn’t use packing cubes…not because he’s opposed to them but because he’s just a very efficient packer!

4. Favorite travel outfit?

I guess it may depend on the mode of travel. On an airplane, I like to wear a dress with a cardigan or denim jacket. I typically will also wear sneakers rather than pack those since I tend to have a suitcase that’s always pushing the weight limit!

In the car, I love leggings and a sweatshirt with flip flops.

5. Favorite vacation destination? Why?

I shared this post recently on some of the favorite trips we’ve been on. It’s not that we are world travelers, but it is hard for me to choose a favorite destination. If I’m going for comfort and familiarity, I love our trips to Siesta Key beach. We’ve been many times through the years, and it’s a place my entire family loves.

2020
2015

My heart belongs in Charleston! I love SC.

2018
2021

Of course, other family trips like our trek to AZ and then Cali provide such special memories.

2018
2018

If I could get to San Diego (Del Mar) easily and regularly, then hands down that would be my favorite place.

6. Have you flown since March 2020?

We have. As a family, we flew to Florida in the summer of 2020. Then, Travis and I flew to California last summer. I feel like I’ve flown another time as well, but I can’t remember off the top of my head.

7. Beach or mountain vacation?

As you can probably tell from all of the photos above…I’m a beach girl. I don’t necessarily need to get in the ocean, but I love sitting on the beach (preferably covered by an umbrella), listening to the waves crash, and reading a book.

photo cred: hadley

That being said, we love going to Asheville when we can.

8. Do you prefer to sightsee or relax on vacation?

Well, growing up with the Major provided early wake-up times when we traveled. He’d open the hotel curtains and say, “What?! I let you sleep until 7!?” haha

I always swore when I was an adult that I would just relax on vacation, and at the beach, that’s what we do. Places like Charleston have so much to offer in regards to sightseeing and the beach which I enjoy. Having kids “forced” us to sightsee a bit more. For example, Hayden’s desire to see the Grand Canyon prompted us to plan that trip…and then added on the California beach part as a compromise.

We still hope to take the kids to NYC and DC in the next couple of years as well.

9. Hotel, camping, Airbnb?

We’ve done it all, but to me, vacation means a hotel or a nice house. To be honest, we’ve been so spoiled with being able to stay at Trav’s aunt’s house in Florida, that when we stay at a hotel, even a nice one with a decent size room, I feel so on top of each other that I just wish we had more space. I guess that’s become more of a thought as the kids have gotten older.

Travis always “does his research,” and we’ve always had good Airbnb experiences.

As far as camping goes, well…I’ve only “glamped” for a few nights in Asheville. It was a great experience, and I would do it again, but that’s about as rustic as I get.

10. Overpacker? Underpacker?

I am an overpacker to a fault! I want to have all the options. To be honest, through the years, I’ve gotten really good at packing “just” a couple of pjs, workout options, etc. I still tend to overpack sweaters and dresses depending on the time of the year. I want to do better. Not to psycho-analyze myself, but I guess the fact that I’m a homebody by nature means that I want whatever it takes to make myself feel at home on vacay?

Making a list and the packing cubes both really help me at least try to rein it in.

One more thought…

This wasn’t on the list, but are you the type to unpack as soon as you get home from a trip, or do you let your suitcase sit on the floor for a while?!

Honestly, depending on the time of the year or how we traveled (car/plane), etc. determines where I fall on this. There have been times that my suitcase hasn’t been unpacked for a week. I know, it’s ridiculous. That being said, once we get home from a trip, we always make sure everything is out of the car and in the correct room. The kids tend to get their clothes put up almost immediately (per my suggestion), and I put away snacks (if it’s been a road trip), and always put away my toiletries. So that just means I’m about 90% unpacked once we return home and then my suitcase might linger for a day or two depending on if I have time. (I will say this is a character flaw that Travis wishes I would re-evalute! haha)

Shew! This post has me thinking about summer. I can’t wait for summer travel.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites.

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings: Love and Valentine’s Day

Hello! How is your week going? I can’t believe it’s already Thursday. I do feel like this week is flying by! I’m happy that Holly and Patty are continuing their Monthly Musing link up for 2 0 2 2!

It feels crazy to be thinking about Valentine’s Day already, but I guess it is just a couple weeks away.

1. Favorite Valentine’s Memory?

I don’t have a special Valentine’s Day memory that jumps out to me, but I do remember how fun it was to exchange valentines during the elementary years. I loved a class party and always thought it was so fun to exchange valentines with classmates.

I loved re-living those days when my kids were in elementary school. The kids’ Valentine’s Day boxes from a couple of years ago crack me up. Hadley was all about the bling, and Hayden just wrote his name on the box. This says a lot about both of their personalities.

2. Chocolate, Flowers, or Both?

I love chocolate…probably too much! That being said, my favorite part of holidays and birthdays has to be receiving a card. For some reason, Travis always writes my name in bubble letters on my cards. It’s now a sweet tradition.

3. Favorite Romantic Date?

We don’t really purchase gifts for each other, but we typically make a point to go out to dinner around February 14th. We do exchange cards on the 14th though.

4. Any Valentine’s Day Traditions with Kids?

I always buy the kids a little box of chocolate, a book, and a few other things. Sometimes, I purchase a game I know we can play as a family.

The past few years, we’ve had a Valentine’s Day dinner at home where we eat everyone’s favorite dinner item which means a fun mix of foods for our meal.

5. How Do You Show Love?

I get a lot of grief for not being a big hugger, but I think I show love with kind gestures and notes/cards. My “love language” is Act of Service, and I really do appreciate when Travis helps me with an errand or an at home chore that I don’t want to do.

When the kids were babies, I decided to order a card from Shutterfly to send to immediate family for Valentine’s Day. I love this tradition.

2020 card

6. Do You Decorate for Valentine’s Day?

I don’t go all out with Valentine’s Day decor, but around February 1st, I put up a few Valentine’s Day touches.

7. Do You Wear Red or Pink on Valentine’s Day?

If Valentine’s Day falls on a school day, then I will wear something red or pink. I’ve always loved having the kids wear red/pink for Valentine’s Day through the years.

I guess we are probably past that stage, but Hadley will find something festive in her closet, I’m sure.

8. Valentine’s Day—Big Deal or Small Remembrance?

I’m team “you should show your love year round,” so I just think the day is nice to celebrate small. Again, I love a card, and it’s nice, with our hectic lifestyle, to make a point to go out to dinner around Valentine’s Day. Honestly, I have loved celebrating at home through the years with the kids too.

9. Favorite Ideas for School Valentine’s Parties?

I typically couldn’t help with holiday parties as I was usually at school myself. When the kids were in elementary, I was always happy to donate baked goods or craft supplies. Again, I have fond memories of holiday parties from elementary school, so I wanted to help my kids’ teachers as best as I could.

With my kids now in middle school, I guess the days of buying class Valentines are over. That being said, for a couple of years, I used Andrea’s awesome printable Valentines. She has so many amazing ideas. Like her directions say, you just save the design and then print (I print to Walgreens) and add to whatever snack, candy or toy you are sharing.

Hadley chose the s’mores one to give to the kids in the class pod last year.

10. Have You Ever Had a Secret Admirer?

I don’t think I’ve ever had a secret admirer. Again, with my kids in middle school, I’m reminded of the fun notes and candygrams that can be sent via Student Council, and sometimes they say “secret admirer.” It’s always fun to guess who may have sent the sweet treat.

Do you have any Valentine’s Day traditions? It will be here before we know it.

See you back here tomorrow for a different kind of Friday Favorites + a GIVEAWAY!

Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello! How’s your week been? I’m so happy that it’s Thursday. We are so close to the weekend!

Since Thanksgiving is next Thursday, Patty and Holly are doing their Monthly Musings link up today, and I’m joining them!

This month’s topic is: Holiday Preview 2021

1. Share your favorite holiday traditions:

We have so many favorite traditions like:

Seeing Santa,

attending Christmas parties,

and baking cookies.

We also go to the Horse Park lights, shop for the Angel Tree, and I hold on to the time honored tradition of mothers making their kids dress up for Christmas cards.

2. Do you see any holiday lights? Driving tour, park, festival?

I’ve shared before that as a kid, most holidays seasons we drove the park lights. Once I moved to Lexington, Travis and I started that tradition as well by going to Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park. The only year we’ve missed since 2004 is 2009 when we had two one month olds!

There’s also a house in Lexington that a must to drive by.

Then, last year we went to Mustard Seed Hill for the first time, and it was a fun experience.

3. Favorite holiday recipe?

We do lots of baking around the holidays, but Shay’s Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake is my fave! I make for dessert for our Christmas dinner at home every year.

4. Must have holiday fashion staples?

I’m not much of a fashionista, but I love a plaid shirt!

2018

5. Any special or extra festive plans this year?

I don’t think we have anything extra planned. We are pretty good about traditions, but we’ll see what pops up in December.

6. Best holiday planning tip?

Make a list and check it twice! As far as gifts are concerned, I started keeping a note on my phone for gift ideas all year long. Also, last year was the first year that I shared an Amazon list with family for ideas for the kids. That worked out nicely because once a gift was purchased, it was taken off the list.

7. Favorite holiday movie?

I love watching Home Alone. I have on my list for us to watch the new Home Alone (Home Sweet Home Alone) at some point in December or even after the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

As a tradition, we always watch A Christmas Story on Christmas day. I can’t wait.

8. Die Hard…Christmas movie or not?

I’ve never seen it, so I have no clue! Randomly, when I was watch Love Hard last week, this was a topic in the movie!

9. Tree/decorations up before or after Thanksgiving?

I will let this recent picture speak for my answer!

Really though, last year was the first year I put up the pencil tree in November. This year, I put up two pencil trees, one in the sun room and one in the living room until we get our real tree after Thanksgiving.

I do try to decorate for Christmas the weekend before Thanksgiving because it takes so much effort. That being said, I’m not sure if I will meet that goal this year as this upcoming weekend is proving to be a busy one.

2020

10. Do you celebrate other holidays in December?

No, but my kids went to a pretty diverse elementary school, and during those years, their teachers would do units of study on other cultures and holidays. I always loved hearing my kids share what they learned during that time.

I love the Monthly Musing link up. I can’t wait to see how others answered too!

See you back here tomorrow for a very special Friday Favorites.