Posted in Holidays, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello and happy Thursday!

Some months I feel like they seem to fly by, but May sure felt like it lasted forever! That being said, I can’t believe this time next week it will be June! Since it’s the last Thursday of the month, Holly and Patty are hosting their Monthly Musings link up.

This month’s topic is: Celebrating Memorial Day Weekend

Ahh…one of my favorite weekends of the year. Of course Memorial Day has significant meaning as we honor those who lost their lives serving our country.

Memorial Day Celebration with American Flag on background. Text “Memorial Day – Remember and Honor”

It’s also the start of summer. The pool opens, alarm clocks can be turned off, grills are turned on, and everyone can enjoy the warm summer sunshine.

1. How are you spending Memorial Day weekend?

Well, tomorrow is the last day of school…and usually I’d be in my pjs by 7:00, but our friends invited us over to grill out/hang on their patio. Saturday, we’ll spend the day at the state middle school track meet. Sunday and Monday we don’t have any official plans, and by that time, I’m sure I’ll be ready to relax. Our pool opened yesterday. We’ve had beautiful weather this week, but it’s only supposed to be mid-70’s the next few days. I’m sure the kids (especially Hadley) will head to the pool Sunday/Monday. I will probably go for a bit as well at some point.

2. Favorite ice cream?

My favorite ice cream is mint chocolate chip!

3. Memorial Day travel or hanging out at home?

We never travel for Memorial Day…it’s always too close to the end of the school year. So, we will be at home when not at the track meet.

4. Burger? Hot dog? or both?

I love a good hot dog. We actually went out to dinner last Friday to a local spot, and I ordered a hot dog with cheese and pickle. It was so good.

There’s another local place called Boonedogs that we’ve been to a time or two, and it’s good as well.

5. Favorite cookout sides?

I love a good pasta salad. I made Shay’s Pepperoni & Bell Pepper Pasta Salad recipe this past weekend, and it’s really good.

This one I found on Pinterest years ago is one I make often as well.

6. White before or after Memorial Day?

For me, I typically wait until after Memorial Day…but that’s not because I’m trying to follow any fashion rule. I prefer to be tan before wearing white. I did wear my white jeans to school yesterday with a bright pink top…but I also made a visit to the Sun Tan City spray tan booth this past weekend.

7. Memorial Day traditions?

We don’t really have any Memorial Day traditions…not like we we seem to have for the 4th of July.

As a kid, I remember my extended family getting together for Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day weekends.

I joke that there are two kinds of Memorial Day weekend people…those who do yardwork, and those who go to the pool. Guess which one I’m married to! Plus, since I know I will have pool time in the summer, I’m not rushing to go over Memorial Day weekend when it’s so crowded.

It does seem like most years we grill out with neighbors at some point and go to the pool for a bit.

8. Share a summer recipe.

This Asparagus Fries recipe I found on Pinterest years ago, is a winner. My whole family loves them. This weekend, Travis picked up chicken to grill and came home with asparagus too. He requested this as a side. It’s one of Hadley’s favorites as well.

9. Parades, fireworks or cookouts?

Cook out and pool!

10. Show us your red, white, and blue…

For the patriotic holidays, I always put out a few flags…

…and I miss the days of the kids *willingly* wearing red, white, and blue…but how festive is Homer?

What are your Memorial Day weekend plans? Our weather looks amazing. I’m definitely ready for the weekend!

Posted in Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello and happy Thursday.

Since this month is wrapping up, it’s time for Patty and Holly’s Monthly Musing link up.

This month’s topic is: All About Spring

We’ve hit a cold snap this week, but thankfully the sun has been shining. I know spring weather is fickle, but I much prefer the warmer days!

1. Favorite spring fashion pieces?

Whenever this topic is asked, I always share a cardigan. Cardigans…it’s “giving” teacher fashion. When the weather starts to turn warmer, I start wearing cardigans over my dresses.

2. Favorite spring scent?

I love candles, and we always have at least one burning in the house. I always choose “lighter/fresher” scents like citrus and floral.

3. Go to spring meals?

Well, we’re so busy in the spring, I feel like I’m using my slower cooker still quite a bit. That being said, it’s always great when we can start grilling out! It’s just nice to have chicken or burgers and hot dogs and then serve quick and easy sides like baked beans, fruit, or pasta salad.

4. Spring dessert recipe

The first thing that popped in my mind is strawberry shortcake. We probably do eat that more in the summer though. I did make Shay’s Fruity Pebbles Nieman Marcus bars recently, and they were delish.

5. Spring traditions

Some favorite spring traditions are dyeing Easter eggs, going to Keeneland, and watching the Oaks and Derby.

6. Spring cleaning hack

Lauren shared about decluttering and getting rid of something (trash or donate) and the number correlates with the day of the month. I started a bit late in April, but I did spend at least a week being intentional with going through junk drawers, random drawers I rarely open, my closet, the kids’ closets, the basement, and more. I still need to go through my dresser drawers and a few things in the garage, but at least I made the effort to “spring clean” a bit.

7. Will you plant a garden this year?

I’m not sure if we will or not. Anything in the yard is Trav’s domain. We’ve only done a garden a few times, but we’ll see.

8. Spring rain…love or hate?

I love a rainy Saturday or Sunday when there are no plans. I joke that it gives me “permission to be lazy.” If it’s raining, I can sleep in and do things around the house. That being said, of course, I hate when we have outdoor plans and it rains. For example, the kids have an outside field trip today that’s TBD due to the rain. I’m worried that tomorrow night’s track meet will be in yet another torrential downpour.

9. Favorite spring flower?

I always love when Trader Joe’s has their peonies in late spring/early summer.

10. Any spring travel plans?

Well, we already did our spring travelling when we went to Greenville, SC earlier this month. We loved it.

We don’t have any other travel plans for this spring. As a matter of fact, we still haven’t planned summer vacation yet!

This link up is always a fun one. I can’t wait to see what other people have to say.

Thanks so much for reading,

Posted in Amazon, Clothes, Monthly Musings

Monthly Musings

Hello and happy Thursday.

I love that Patty and Holly host this fun link up. I feel like it always has me thinking/planning ahead for the next season or holiday.

This month’s topic is: Essential Spring Fashion Pieces

Anytime there is the word “fashion” in the topic, I’m hesitant to post. I don’t know much about fashion… haha…but here are some of my ideas.

1. How do you transition your wardrobe?

I usually transition my (school) wardrobe by wearing dresses and throwing on a cardigan to wear to school. I love a dress…and I love a cardigan, so spring and fall are my favorite times to dress for school.

2. Favorite spring item?

I loved this cardigan so much that I bought it in two colors last year.

3. Favorite spring footwear?

Once the weather warms up and the sun starts shining, I really can’t wait for sandal weather.

Amazon has provided some of my favorite footwear over the past couple of years like these Birk dupes and a couple pairs of slides.

Also, I can’t wait to wear my Birks that I purchased from Nordstrom at the end of last summer. I wore them for as long as possible last fall.

4. Favorite colors you wear in the spring?

I will be the first to admit that I don’t gravitate towards tons of color, but I do love pink in the spring…and the summer (when I’m tan!)

Blue and purple are other favorite colors to wear in the warmer months.

5. Favorite spring accessory?

I don’t change my jewelry much at all. Spring and summer are the perfect time to wear a statement earring, but if I’m not wearing my regular stud earrings, then I’m probably “dressing up” with a gold hoop.

I’m still loving my bracelet stack which is a mix of Daily Gold Co and Amazon.

6. Ways to add spring to your outfit when the weather doesn’t cooperate?

Throw on a bright pink cardigan and go!

7. Do you change up your makeup routine in the spring?

Kind of link with jewelry, I don’t change much. Basically, I just change my foundation as I get more color in my face. I still love Seint makeup, and I’ve been wearing the “Amber” shade highlight in the winter, and soon it will be time to switch to “Mango.”

During/after spring break, I will start using my Jergens “Instant Sun,” and I’ve already started adding in the L’Oreal Sublime Bronze drops into my face moisturizer at night and am starting to see a bit more color.

Really, I can’t wait for summer as I rarely wear makeup…and I like to be tan!

8. Puff sleeve trend. Yes or no?

I’m not against a puff sleeve, and I’ve seen a few cute options. That being said, apparently I love a “flutter” sleeve right now.

9. Do you change up your mani/pedi colors in the spring?

I’m pretty traditional with my mani color. I pretty consistently wear some version of pink all year long. That being said, in the fall and winter, I will try darker colored nail polish.

Once spring hits, I lock in with Funny Bunny or Bubble Bath for my SNS. In the summer, I usually try dark pink or a turquoise for my pedi color. I hope to cash in a gift card over break and get a pedi.

10. Favorite spring tote?

I carry a smaller purse in the spring/summer. My gold cross body is a fave, and I like that I can switch out the strap to change it up.

While I still love this one that I got last year for when I’m more dressed up:

I did just purchase this saddle/boho purse, and I’m excited to try it.

I wanted to have another crossbody option that is a little bigger and more everyday. I actually ordered a few to try, and this one was my fave by far (and less than $20!)

So, now I feel like I have a small, medium, and larger version of a crossbody for the spring/summer months.

Ahh…I didn’t think I’d have much to add to this topic, but I was able to share a bit about some of my favorite spring fashion items.

On my “to do” list over break is to pull items from my closet that I didn’t wear this winter in order to tidy things up a bit before summer.

See you back here tomorrow for Friday Faves.

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links…Thank you for supporting my blog!}

Posted in Monthly Musings, Travel

Monthly Musings

Happy Thursday!

Wow! February is almost over. I know it’s a shorter month, but I feel like it’s flown by.

Since it’s the end of the month, I’m linking up with Patty and Holly for Monthly Musings.

This month’s topic is: warm weather destinations/winter travel tips

First of all…I wish I was able to travel somewhere warm in the winter. 😆

So, most of these are just my general travel answers.

1. Favorite warm weather destination

The first place that always pops in my mind is Siesta Key, Florida. It will probably always be my family’s favorite even though we haven’t been for a couple of years. I also love Isle of Palms, SC and San Diego. Even if we don’t go to SK, we at least see the ocean once a year…and maybe more if we are lucky.

2. Packing cubes: yes or no?

Yes! I love packing cubes, and have used them for a few years. I always use them, the kids sometimes do, and Travis never does. This is also the same order of the one who overpacks the most to the least! The kids usually use one to hold socks, underwear, pjs, and swimsuits. I use them for everything.

3. Favorite carry on?

I picked up this bag from Target about a year ago, and it’s my #1 carry on bag. It’s a “weekender” bag, so it’s what I pack for overnight trips as well. Also, it comes in a few other colors.

4. Essential items in your suitcase?

Well, everything goes in my suitcase. I’d say the packing cubes are essential because they keep me organized and squish all my belongings to make room for more!

5. Excursions? Yes or no? Share your favorites.

I really think in all of our vacations, we’ve only been on one excursion…and that was this summer when we went to Mexico. We spent a day on a boat with a stop at Isla Mujeres. We all had a great time.

6. Most random item you always pack?

I do not leave home without my sound machine. I need white noise. In a pinch, I’ve use an app on my phone, but it’s not the same. If we are all staying in one room, we just bring one sound machine. That being said, if we have the kids in one room and us in another, we’ll bring two. Hadley loves a sound machine as well. While my preference is “white noise,” hers is “ocean waves.”

7. Do you use a travel agent?

The only time we’ve used a travel agent was for our Mexico trip. Otherwise, Travis White is my travel agent.

8. Favorite sunscreen?

As much time as we spend at the pool and the beach, I do make sure we use sunscreen. I’m not super loyal to any brand, but these two are typically in my pool bag. The stick is perfect for our faces and the spray is easy to apply. Actually, both are easy to apply, so the kids know to come reapply every other time the pool break whistle blows!

9. Flip flops or sandals?

I’ve been wearing these Havaianas flip flops for years. I have them in rose gold and grey.

Last summer, I splurged on these big buckle Birks from Nordstrom. I absolutely love and them and have zero regrets.

That being said, both Hadley and I have been wearing these Amazon Birk dupes for the past few summers. She has them in white, and I have them in rose gold. I wear them often as does she. As a matter of fact, I think I purchased Hadley’s three summers ago, and I did tell her I’d get her another pair this summer…as her foot has grown a bit, and she’s worn them to the ground!

10. Favorite swimsuit?

I bought this Amazon swimsuit in two patterns a couple of summers ago. I still turn to them more than any other swimsuit.

I do have my eye on this one from Target:

I never think about ordering swimsuits in February, so I hope it’s still available when I decide to give it a try.

other thoughts…

This post got me thinking …about vacations. When I was a kid, we didn’t go on many family vacations. When we did, we went on bigger ones to the west coast, the northeastern states, Minnesota, etc. We did go to the Lake of the Ozarks quite a bit though.

Also, when I was in school, we didn’t have a fall break. Even when I first started teaching in Missouri, I think we only got Columbus Day off in October. Also, while we did get a spring break when I was in school, I’m pretty certain it wasn’t a week. I think it usually fell around Easter. Of course, times were different. Travel, overall, is more convenient. Also, obviously, it’s a longer drive to the beach in Missouri as opposed to Kentucky.

My kids now go on at least three vacations/trips a year. While I’m not saying they are ungrateful about that, but more…it’s all they know.

In all my years teaching, I’ve never really had the desire to go anywhere for spring break. Of course, I’m a home body, but from March – May, I just feel like I’m in survival mode…and I like nothing better than a few days at home with not much to do. I also like to take that time to do things we don’t usually have time to do like go to the movies, go for a hike, sit on a patio at a restaurant and enjoy dinner at a leisurely pace and more!

Fall break was typically only a few days, so we usually would just go to Asheville for a couple of days. Then, for spring break, we usually go somewhere for a few days. Spring break is when we try to branch out and go somewhere different but within driving distance. Through the years, we’ve been to Knoxville, Indianapolis, Nashville, KC (which isn’t new –but from there, Travis and I went to Las Vegas), and Asheville if we didn’t go in the fall.

Then, summer vacation is our bigger vacation. I am glad we try to take our kids to places they are both familiar with but then also places that are also new to them. I will say having a week at the beach in the fall “ruined” us because it really is the perfect time. After that vacation, Travis declared that he was never going on a vacation to somewhere hot again in the summer! Next school year, we get another week for fall break, and we plan to head to the beach again. I’m not sure what our summer vacation will be just yet.

On top of that, we try to get to KC to see my family at twice a year.

There are even some schools around here that just wrapped up a winter break last week which means they have fall, Christmas, winter, and spring breaks…and then summers off too, of course…and it seems some travel for all of those. (Of course, no shade to those people…travel is more of a priority for some…)

Sometimes, we feel the “pressure” to take so many trips every year. Who is “pressuring” us? Mostly, our kids…😂 They do like to go somewhere if possible.

Also, I try not to dwell on it, but it’s easy now to see that we really do only have about five fall/spring breaks left with our kids. Like…when did that happen?

Traveling is such a privilege that I never want my kids to take for granted. It’s a blessing we make these trips/vacations happen, but I also want my kids to feel content with staying home a bit too.

I also wish Travis and I could find the time to go somewhere just the two of us more than we do. I occasionally tag along on a work trip when he goes somewhere like California, but otherwise, being parents to two busy kids with both of us working full time really does take up most of our time.

Anyway, just sharing my thoughts.

The combination of this post and our weather lately, which has been perfect, has me wanting it to be summer ASAP.

How often do you travel? What’s your favorite vacation spot?

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links…Thank you for supporting my blog!}

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.