It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

As some of you are probably aware, my friends and I do an annual Christmas Cookie & Treat making day together in December. It happened this weekend so I wanted to share some of our delicious dishes with you!

There were whoopee pies, a marshmallow popcorn ring, sugar cookies with royal icing (a cookie day requirement), crockpot fudge (which I made & was gross. Never do it), candy turtles, and caramel stuffed chocolate cookies! So much deliciousness.

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In the middle of our treat-making marathon, we got to take a break to enjoy some homemade sushi. It. Was. Delicious. Thank you again, Matt!

I can’t wait for treat day next year! 🙂

2.5 weeks until Christmas…just a reminder. 😉

Nashville to Asheville

Hello all!

I’m just checking in to say “Happy December!”

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving weekend last week. We opted to take a mini-vacation in Asheville, NC instead of traveling to see family. Nate and I try to make a “just us” getaway at least once a year if possible. This year it worked out that we saw Nate’s family in August and we will see mine in December, so that left Thanksgiving as a vacation opportunity.

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We headed out on Thanksgiving Day and traffic was beautifully clear. We stayed at a lady’s apartment that she advertised on Airbnb, which was perfect for our little stay. It even came with a cat! 😉

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On Friday we took the day to be out on the town. We had some delicious burritos at Mamacita’s Taqueria.

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We walked around the city and found some pretty interesting characters. This folksy duo was pretty awesome and was making a ton of tips!

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We stumbled across this amazing display of desserts, but refrained from buying any…now I’m kicking myself. 🙂

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Next it was onto the Moog Music Store & Factory to tour and test out #allthesynthesizers. Nate was in synthesizer heaven! The tour was free and it you are into electronic music at all, it was totally fun. I’m don’t know anything about analog synths, but I still had a great time learning about Bob Moog & his music-changing inventions.

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That night it was Thai & sushi for dinner then we headed out to see a movie (Mockingjay, Part 2….great ending to The Hunger Games saga!). Saturday we stayed at our apartment because I had a head cold (boo). But that night I was feeling well enough that we got to have some lattes and fancy food at a cool little shop called Filo Pastries. It was delicious!

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That night I got to watch Rocky for the first time ever. I must say, it was pretty good. And I think I have a newfound respect for Sylvester Stallone. I had no idea he wrote & directed Rocky and I didn’t know that it won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year. It’s a great story. Since that night we’ve been working our way through the Rocky movies. Number 4 happened last night. Heartbreaker!

Aside from getting sick, our trip was great. We got to experience a little bit of the city, but I’d love to go back and see more.

Now we are only 3.5 weeks away from Christmas! I’ve got some shopping to finish up. How about you?

See you back here next week!

6 Weeks to Christmas!

Friends! How are you? We’re doing pretty good on this end of things. Busy but sticking to our budget and saving away! We had a fun weekend. Nate had a show this weekend with his band Afterlife Parade and it was completely awesome. I’m so glad he has the opportunity to be creative and live out his dreams as a musician.

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This Friday marks 6 weeks until Christmas. I can’t even…6 weeks?! It’s crazy. Which brings me to the Christmas gift budget. Hopefully you have one set up for this year. If not, now is the time to start! If you haven’t set aside a Christmas budget, try to work in some saving for the rest of this month and for December. I’ve heard it said so many times, “Christmas is not an emergency; it comes the same time every year,” which means no going in debt for Christmas expenses. So go ahead and set aside some cash now.

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If you’re struggling to meet the budget, you can find some easy DIY gift ideas here! Many families also opt for doing gift exchanges instead of everyone having to buy a gift for every single person. It helps to cut down on over-spending and, honestly, do our loved ones really need all the gifts we would give them? Tradition has its place, but when your budgets are hurting because of a holiday, I’d recommend keeping it simple. As you can see below, 4 aunts & uncles buying gifts for 10 kids can quickly get overwhelming!

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Once you have your gift list figured out and the amount you can spend per gift, it’s time to shop (the fun part)! Try to be as mindful of sales going on in the store and online as possible. Amazon is one of my holiday store favorites. Black Friday is, of course, a huge sales day, but be smart about your purchases. I, personally, do not think Black Friday is worth it, but some of you do and that is perfectly fine! Good luck to you if you’re braving the lines this year. 🙂

I think the most important thing to remember through this time of year is that it’s all about LOVE. Gifts are great, food is great, decorations are fun, but it’s all in vain if we forget to live our lives rooted in love. Spending time with the people we love should be one of our main goals this holiday season.

What are some other ways you look to save during the holidays? What gift-giving traditions do your family or friends have that are budget-friendly?

See you guys next week!

15 Valentine’s Day Dates [on the cheap!]

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Valentine’s Day is coming up quick! Have you and your honey planned a date yet? Nate and I like to keep a simple tradition we started when we had our first Valentine’s Day together. When we moved to Nashville we were extremely poor, so on Valentine’s Day we splurged a bit and bought a Little Caesar’s $5 pizza and ate it by candlelight. Every year since then, we’ve bought a Little Caesar’s pizza and enjoyed it together, remembering that first year in Nashville that was kind of a difficult one that we conquered together.

If you haven’t planned your day yet, I’ve come up with a little list of some fun date ideas that are romantic, fun, and don’t cost much at all. Some of them are completely free!

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+ take a walk in a park together that you’ve never been to before
+ make a blanket fort and watch a movie inside
+ cook a nice dinner at home and light some candles
+ plan your dream vacation together
+ an old classic: breakfast in bed!
+ take a picnic lunch to a park
+ star gaze with a bottle of wine
+ if you have a projector, set up a backyard movie night
+ board game night
+ chocolate fondue & fruit
+ move the furniture and set up a dance floor. Add some lights for a nice romantic glow
+ take a hot bubble bath together 🙂
+ gather some firewood and build a bonfire in the backyard
+ tour a brewery together and taste some craft beer
+ create a bucket list together

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There are tons more ideas to come up with. And Pinterest has a ton of ideas as well. If you need some other ideas, I’d recommend visiting The Dating Divas website. I hope your day I’d memorable and special, no matter what you do.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy New Year & Some Pics

Hello again, friends! I hope your holidays have been relaxing and this post finds you excited about the upcoming year. Nate and I got home late on New Year’s Eve and neither of us were feeling well, so we were bums and stayed home alone on the couch to celebrate.

We had a wonderful time with Nate’s family over Christmas. We have a lot of nieces and nephews running around on that side of the family so there is never a dull moment. As you can see, the Christmas tree drowns in gifts for all of them. I love it!

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We got some amazing pictures of the Northwest as we flew overhead, both on our way and on our return. Here you can see Mount Rainier (background) and Mount Adams.

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Mount Saint Helens was in view as well. Here you can see it by the wing.

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Isn’t it amazing what you can see from your plane window? I’m always fascinated every time we fly. Here is a great view of Chicago at sunset.

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All in all we had a great trip but we are not quite ready to get back to the daily grind. I have a few more days until I am back at work so I’m trying to soak up every minute. Vacation is never long enough!

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Merry Christmas!

Hello friends!

Merry Christmas from the skies. Nate and I are on our way to his family out in Washington where we will be for a week. So far travel has been smooth and wonderful! Everyone seems extra cheery on Christmas flights. Our flight attendants are even wearing ugly Christmas sweaters. 🙂

I wanted to drop in and say “well done” to everyone who stuck to their Christmas budgets. I know it can be very hard. Giving is fun, but we have to remember to stay on track so we aren’t trying to recover the next year. I hope the season has been enjoyable and that you are taking the day to relax and enjoy time with your family and friends.

If you had a harder time with Christmas expenses this year, let this be an encouragement to you to try again next year. A good thing to do is think ahead, right now, to next Christmas. Will you be traveling? Who do you plan to buy for? What is a reasonable amount you can aim to save in one year? Start planning for next Christmas right away, and you will find that it makes the season and buying gifts much, much easier? Remember to include your spouse on the plan so you can work together toward one goal.

I’ll be off the grid until we are back from our vacation, but everyone please be safe and have FUN! ❤

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Christmas Cookies!

If you’re looking for something fun and cheap to do with your family or friends, grab your aprons and mixers and get in the kitchen! Making homemade Christmas cookies & treats is a fun, easy-on-the-wallet way to enjoy the holiday season. Add in some friends and you’ve got yourself a little cookie exchange party! My friends and I have made this kind of day a Christmas season tradition, and this past weekend we did some serious baking and treat making.

We met up and got ourselves some caffeine to get the day started…

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I had my Green Bay Packers shirt on for good luck…unfortunately, it didn’t work. 😦

Then it was time to get to work.  Those are snacks in the middle of the table… we didn’t use celery in any treats! Ewww…

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E & J working hard on some chocolate peppermint & gingerbread cookies!

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The finished chocolate peppermint cookies! How cool do they look?!

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We also made “Christmas Trash” or “Christmas Crack” or whatever other name you’d like to call it.

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And then the most fun and traditional cookies you can make…sugar cookies! Decorating them is one of the best parts of cookie day to me.

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We always have some hilarious decorating mishaps, like this gingerbread man who lost his leg. So we added some blood and tears. Thankfully, the frosting was pretty solid and we were able to reattach the lost limb. 🙂

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It was a successful cookie day and now my kitchen is full of sweet treats that I need to get rid of. I took quite a few cookies to work yesterday and my colleagues helped me eat them. 🙂 Thanks, guys!

What kind of inexpensive traditions do you like to do with your family & friends?

8 days until Christmas! ❤