Friday, December 30, 2016

Year in Review

I have to say I will not be sad to see 2016 in the rear view mirror.  Our 20th anniversary trip was probably the worst trip we ever had in Hawaii and we STILL haven't watched footage from it or looked at pictures.  I hope to be able to do that in the coming year.

Of course you all have hung in with my struggle with this injury (caused, in part, by said crappy trip) and spent most of the year recovering from it.  I am looking forward to going into this new year stronger and maintaining the lessons physical therapy has taught me.  One of them being if your butt isn't sore after a walk, you'd better get to doing clam shells and side squat walks asap!

We are carrying on our tradition of listing what things made us happy every day and honestly, if I didn't have that list to look back on, I would feel like the whole year was just a huge waste.  Tomorrow night, we'll read each day and it's always fun to see what's on each other's list for the same day to see if what made one of us happy made the other one happy too.  It actually takes a few hours!

Here's a sneak peek of some of mine:

1/4- The Mr said “sometimes when you smile, I can see your Grandma.”

2/1- NO CANCER!!!

2/27- listened to The 1975’s new album, Mr told me my burgers could beat Bobby Flay

5/6- Nakalele blowhole hike, Fatt Chicks burgers, walked up 100+ steps at Iao Valley without dying, massage on lanai

7/10- sunset paddle

9/3- lost 1 lb despite very little cardio this week, nice bday dinner at fancy restaurant, told a heavier woman dressed to the nines she looked stunning in her outfit- I hope it made her smile the rest of the night as much as it did when I told her

9/9- putting my cold arms inside of pant legs fresh out of the dryer

9/23- Stayed out of jail

10/9- Surprised the Mr with a trip to Shenandoah- the last on his childhood vacation bucket list

10/21- Got all of the Christmas cards addressed and written out

10/30- Drove to Kent OH to meet The 1975.  My man George was the only one who bothered to acknowledge us which proves I know how to pick 'em.  Mr was kind enough to freeze his nuts off for my happiness.

11/15- saw Hershey kiss bell Christmas commercial for the first time this season

As you can see there are some big things like you know, not having cancer and getting a smile from my favorite band member that made me happy as well as little things like complimenting someone else to an old school Christmas commercial.

While I swear the years since we've started this project have felt crappy all around making me wonder if we jinx ourselves by doing this project, it's still nice to look back and appreciate those things you may have forgotten about.

Happy New Year to you all!  Thank you for hanging in with me and for the joy you bring to my life with your comments, emails and support.  You'll never know what it means to me.

What was your lowpoint and highpoint of 2016?  What are you hopes for 2017?

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Food Review: Halo Top Chocolate Ice Cream

After I did the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough tasting of this stuff, I had to know how something basic like chocolate tasted.  Since it was still on sale, I decided to grab some.  ($3.99 compared to $5.49) The reviews I read weren't great but I like to decide for myself .

Yep, that's 240 calories per pint.  Half a pint could easily be a snack with very little guilt involved.

Let's check out the rest of the nutritional info.

Yep, I can totally dig that.

That's all well and good but how does it taste?

I'm not gonna lie, this will NEVER pass for regular ice cream.  If you like a more cocoa based chocolate, this is it.  There is no rich, creamy mouth feel in tastes like diet ice cream.  It reminds me of that Arctic whatever ice cream and I don't care for that stuff.  Is it bad?  No...not really but I would much rather eat full flavored chocolate and take the caloric hit than to eat a diet ice cream that I'm not totally jazzed about.  I foresee this getting tossed unless the Mr takes possession or I suppose if we want something a little different for our after workout snack since the protein is decent.

But yeah, I won't be buying that flavor again.

What's your favorite chocolate ice cream..."healthier" or not?

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Wrapping Paper Wrangler

Last year I came across a post somewhere about ways to get organized for the new year.  I think it's pretty normal that many of us will make the new years resolution to finally get organized but I finally least on this front.

See, I have a serious Christmas wrapping addiction.  Snoopy at Hallmark?  I'm on it.  Rudolph at Target?  There, dude.  Santa with that classic retro look?  Two rolls, please.  The Mr rolls his eyes and says "enough on the paper!" but then sees my excitement and can't deny me.  I thought I had it wrangled properly in a large plastic wrapping paper container with a lid but once they started making those super tall rolls, they wouldn't fit.  I have a large green and red fabric wrapping paper holder and it fits the larger rolls but it's full and has some sticking up out of it.  These wranglers reside in front of the heap under our stairs where our suitcases or seasonal bins are.  Instead of moving them before raking a suitcase over the area, the Mr would leave them there and then rip, bend or knock over the paper rolls.  Maddening.

Why didn't I move them?  Because we live in a shoebox and space is limited.  But when I saw you could alter an over the door shoe holder to fit wrapping paper and it would be out of the way of the Mr's cross-hairs, I was all over it!  I'll apologize ahead of time for crappy lighting because between the overhead light and having to have the door open, it's not my best work.  But I know y'all aren't all judgey like that so we cool!

Here's what you'll need:

Over the Door Shoe Organizer (this is the one I used) (affiliate link) 
Cardstock (optional)
Bakers Twine (optional)
Hole Punch (optional)

Let's get this wranglin' started!

Hello organizer!

We're going to be cutting the 3rd, 4th and 5th rows.  We will NOT be cutting the top two rows or the very bottom row.  I've made it pretty clear below in case you need to glance back  and don't want to re-read.

You want to cut the bottoms of each pocket in the rows mentioned but don't cut into the piping below the pocket where the stitching is.

Like so...

Once you cut all four pockets across for the three rows mentioned, you can see how this is going to help keep my addiction in line!

Now to move on to the top.  This is how my ribbons looked for the past 20 years.

This is how they look now!

It looked so pretty and organized, I decided to hop over to and design some labels for each one.  I didn't need them but I'm a nerd so I made them anyway.

Then because the pockets were made of mesh, it was easy to just punch a hole in either end of the tag and tie them on with bakers twine that matched the colors of the organizer.


This would be perfect hanging on the inside of a closet or the back of the basement door if you didn't want it taking up any more precious space elsewhere.

I've been using it this past year and when it was time to wrap Christmas presents, it was nice to have almost everything in one place.  I will admit, about 6 more rolls didn't fit in there.  But it'll give me incentive to use the ones in the wrangler first so I can move the superfluous rolls in this baby!

If you are buying your wrapping paper for next year on clearance right now, this would be the perfect way to store it!

How/where do you store your wrapping paper?

*This post contains an affiliate link
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Monday, December 26, 2016

Well, it's over

The Christmas holiday is over.  Families are packing to head back to their respective homes. Leftovers are being picked at.  Squishy tummies full of one too many cookies or second helpings of Aunt Marie's famous casserole are being grabbed with disdain and shaken with a bit of regret and promises to get right back on track.

For all of the rushing around, picking out the perfect gifts for those special people in your life, making time to get in a few holiday events and movies with the tree lit, baking new and old recipes to have and get today.

A day of reflection.

A day to sit back and look at the whirlwind and wonder what the hell happened and where did the time go?

A day to make promises of getting a better plan of attack for next year and being about 90% sure you won't follow through with it.

A day to curl up in your new jammies or slippers with a cup of hot tea with the tree plugged in.  Or if you have to work, share heartwarming (or war) stories with people.  You're all having the same emotional holiday hangovers in varying degrees.

Save the returns for another day, you don't want to be out in that mess.

Just exhale.  You made it.

Share your favorite memory from this weekend!

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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happiest of Christmas Eve's to you all!

Since I know many of you are off spending time with your families, friends and the like, I know you may not be checking in here on a weekend, especially Christmas weekend.  But I would be remiss if I didn't spread my favorite bit of holiday cheer from the mouth of Francis X. Cross.

The line that always chokes me up early on is "For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be."  Why is that?  Why is it so much easier to let someone in during traffic even though the place we have to go means more to us that day than the mundane places we go but don't let people in when we just want to be first?  Why is it easier to cut the old guy driving 30 in a 45 a break that day instead of every day?    Why are we more likely to wave to someone we may pass every day in our neighborhood on that day than 363 or 364 days out of the year or wish them goodwill only that one or two days as though they somehow mean more?

Let's try to follow the renewed spirit of Frank Cross in Scrooged (or any Christmas Carol adaptation) and treat our fellow man better any day of the year, not just the holidays.

God bless us...everyone.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas and What I'm Reading This Week

It's almost time for Santa, kiddies!  I hope you've got everything prepped as much as possible so you can spend time with family and not in the kitchen the whole time.  (Unless that's your strategy...ha!) It's a Christmas themed WIRTW but I know you're busy so if you read nothing else, read the first link.

Let's get to...

Don't throw everything into the blue bin: seven tips for smart Christmas recycling  (DO NOT RECYCLE WRAPPING PAPER unless you bought paper that is made from recycled paper already.  Didn't know that until it was too late last year!  Putting it in with your other recyclables can actually void the whole load and it goes into a landfill.  Other good tips in this one)

How to keep your home safer (Good stuff)

17 Christmas Quotes That Perfectly Capture the Spirit of the Season  (Indeed they do!)

43 Beautiful Christmas Table Settings & Centerpieces  (Gorgeous!  Wish we had people come over more.)

30 Things 'Country Living' Readers Truly Miss About Christmases Past  (I'm with them!)

Transport Your Holiday Foods Safely  (Some really great tips!)

18 Vintage Photos That Will Make You Nostalgic For Christmases Past  (These look like pics from my mom's Christmases!)

The Hidden Symbolism Behind Your Favorite Christmas Decorations  (Interesting stuff!)

7 Tips For Not Losing Your S#%T Over These Stressful Holidays  (Or take my tip and live the song Christmas Wrapping..."So deck those halls, trim those trees- Raise a cup of Christmas cheer,
I just need to catch my breath, Christmas by (ourselves) this year.  Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas...but I think I'll miss this one this year!")

I hope all of you have a holiday filled with peace, family and friends and take an hour to sit and just take everything in.  A little cup of cocoa in hand, the tree aglow and maybe your favorite Christmas music on.  Before you know it, it will all be over.  Hope you get everything you want and more!

What are your plans for the weekend?

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sharing YOUR trees!

The holidays are in full swing and it's time to share your trees and holiday decor!

Diane was the first to send me her tree...isn't it beautiful!?  I love white trees, the ornaments really pop on them and they just somehow seem more wintry to me.   I also love how the stockings are hung all ready to be filled!  I'd be tempted to keep it up and put red ornaments on it for Valentine's Day!  :-)  Thanks for sharing Diane!

Pam sent in all four of her trees.  Her love of cardinal ornaments couldn't be contained on just one tree and not wanting to keep them caged during the Christmas season, she just bought another tree!  A lady after my own heart!   These trees represent 46 years of collecting these ornaments during her marriage!  Thanks for sharing your trees and sleepy pup, Pam!

Christine sent in her gorgeous tree decked out in teal and silver with beautiful white lights.  I love the little snow couple in front and the decorations on the window framing everything out.  I've noticed this color combo is very popular this year and if she's had it for a few years then she's obviously a trendsetter!  Thanks for sharing Christine!

Dawn sent in pics of her beautiful tree all lit with multi-color lights and the perfect angel on top.  It looks like she got a beautiful layer of snow as well...what a perfect winter scene!  Bagel the pup is stylin' in that sweater and I'm betting not too anxious to get the paws in that snow!  Thanks for sharing, Dawn!

Donna says she and her hubby are self professed "Christmas lunatics" and they decorate with gusto! Their beautiful tree is all ready for a visit from Santa but first he's going to have to move Mr and Mrs Snowman from the front of the fireplace to drop them off!  I love the wintry mantel scene and all of the family pics on the hearth!  I can't quite tell but I think the stocking on the far right are butt flap pajamas and if that's the case, she's got 'splaining to do on that one!  Thanks for sharing Donna!

I'm so happy to have gotten these submissions to share.  I love seeing the way others decorate and the things that make their heart smile this time of year!  If you didn't get your tree submitted in time and usually put it up later in the month and want it included for next year, feel free to message me a current pic if you don't think it'll change much and I can include it in next year's post!  :-)

Hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Trim the Tree Poll

"Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas lovely are your branches!"  (Billy Idol  (affiliate link) version.)

People always have very specific ideas of what they like or how a tree should be decorated.  So let's take a poll to see how you guys like to decorate yours!

Real or faux?

Decorations:  Themed?  Color scheme?  Mish mash from childhood/kids ornaments?

Garland?  Ribbon?

Tinsel?  Yay or nay

White lights or multi-colored?

Blinking or constantly lit?

Topper- Star?  Angel?  Bow?  

Tree skirt or nothing?

When do you put it up?

Outdoor lights?  Yay or nay?

*This post contains an affiliate link

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Thoughts on Gifts


Christmas gifts.

There are usually four camps people fall into as the buyer.

"I know you so well, I'm going to pick out what I think you like because I'm just that good!"

"You'll get my present and like it and if you don't, I don't care.  I will say let me know if you need the receipt but will use it against you in gossip and will totally complain if you don't have the item out when I visit."

"I listen carefully to clues of things you said you wanted during the year and pick up things I know you won't buy yourself."

"Give me your specific wishlist or Amazon link so I don't waste my money."

I fall into the last two camps because I have been the victim of the first two camps particularly my first 10 years of knowing the Mr.  There is nothing I hate more than seeing people waste their money.  One year I got a horrible toucan plaster pin and the back of it had a blood stain on it.  Yeah.  What about me screams "toucan!" and you obviously didn't flip it over when you bought it at the yard sale to see there was a reason it was out there.  I believe that was the same year I got earrings with ear crud still on them and it was from the same person.  I smiled, sent a thank you note and they promptly went into the trash.  That's just gross.  Since then, the person has wised up and just gives us money to buy what we want.  May seem impersonal to some but I tend to hoard it and then before I know it, I've got a lot to go toward something big.  Or maybe treat myself to a few massages to keep out of jail.  (The Mr wants me to make sure you know it is NOT him!)

We have wishlists on Amazon and my mom, best friend and Grandpa's wife shop off of them.  We add to it all year long and then 1 month prior to birthdays, we go through it and make sure we still want what's on there, delete as necessary and then release it to the family masses.  Again, may seem impersonal but it ensures we get what we want/like and not gifts we already have or have no need for.  I can't count how many times I've gotten "extra" gifts that weren't on the wishlist and I smile and when they leave it's like "um...what do I do with this?"  Then I get into a situation where I feel guilty for not using it and hold on to it like it will magically become something I need one day.  Please don't think me ungrateful, I'm not!  But when someone spends an extra $20 on something I know with certainty I will never use, I die a little inside for the money they wasted.  When you live in a shoe box, you don't have the actual room to fall into that trap.  So I usually have a box handy after the holidays and anything I get that I didn't ask for that I don't anticipate needing goes into it and straight to Goodwill.  I feel awful about it but I say a little prayer asking for forgiveness and then move on.

I always ask people what they want and thankfully they all are very specific with me because they know that's how I operate.  They know "if I tell her I want X, I'll get it" and if I don't get it, I'll pass it along to someone else who could use the idea.  I actually really appreciate people giving me ideas and specifics because it makes it easier on me and I know they'll like what they get.

What camp do you fall into as a buyer?  As a receiver, do you like when people ask you what you want or guess what they think you'll like?

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Friday, December 16, 2016

What We Watch for Christmas

Some links of a different kind for ya this week!

Scrooged- (affiliate link)  It is just not Christmas without a trip with the ghosts and Francis Xavier Cross.  I love that so many of Bill Murray's brothers were in the film with him.  Definitely a quoter for us and whenever it's time to kick people or their stupid behavior to the curb, it's never without first saying "scrape 'em off Claire."

A Charlie Brown Christmas- (affiliate link)  Who doesn't get warm fuzzies when you hear that brush cymbal of Vince Guaraldi Trio kick in?  While it's not until you're an adult that you realize that Charlie Brown is surrounded by unfeeling douchebags except for his trusty friend Linus, it's still a classic.  These days they may treat ol' Chuck for depression.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas!-   (affiliate link) This is the original, none of that creepy Jim Carrey stuff for this household.  Just sweet Cindy Lou Who, cartoon Max and the carved roast beast.

The Santa Clause- (affiliate link)   This original holds a special place in our hearts.  It was the Mr and I's first time finally taking a spontaneous trip to Chicago in our dating years.  We saw this movie in Water Tower Theater which is unfortunately no longer there.  I remember silently crying thinking of how beautiful that moment was sitting in those plush red old timey chairs watching this beautiful Christmas movie in one of the most awesome cities with my honey.

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (affiliate link) Who doesn't love this Rankin and Bass classic?  I know kids today may think the stop motion looks dated but think of all of the time and patience it took to make that come to life?!  I always want to scratch Rudolph's furry bum when he's drinking from the river.

Home Alone (affiliate link) I HATED Maculay Culkin when this was out!  I refused to see it in theaters and probably didn't watch it for like 5 years after it came out and it became one of my faves.  Actually, I think it was after our Chicago trip when we saw The Santa Clause and since it took place in Chicago, I wanted to see the movie.

Home Alone 2:Lost in New York- (affiliate link)  I know we're in the minority on this but we like this more than the original!  Something about Christmas in New York...SOOO many great one liners and our other Christmas tradition on Christmas morning is uttering Fuller's famous line..."it's Christmas mornin' man!"

A Christmas Carol (affiliate link) Many have played the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge but the Mr and I feel no one played it better than Patrick Stewart.  He was so great in this TNT production and it's not Christmas without it for us.  Plus fans of Dominic West from The Affair can get a view of him as Scrooge's nephew, Fred.

The Santa Clause 2 (affiliate link) While nowhere near as good as the first one (we're not even discussing the third one!), this is still endearing for the Christmas party scene alone.  Talk about reducing me to a puddle of tears every single time!

A Christmas Romance (affiliate link)  This one is a little cheesy and definitely a Hallmark movie of mass proportions but I'm a huge Olivia Newton John fan so it's a must for me because she's so dang adorable.  She stars with her real life daughter Chloe back when she was all sweet and innocent.  It doesn't hurt that the dude from Trapper John MD is in it too.  Oh crap, I REAAAAALLY dated myself.  (I remember my mom drooling over him when I was a kid!  LOL)

So those are our favorite must watches for the Christmas season.  I know people are going to ask where Christmas Vacation, Elf and A Christmas Story are but those just don't resonate with us for some reason.  There was a really sweet Hallmark movie last year with Winnie Cooper called Crown for Christmas.   (affiliate link) If they replay it, I suggest giving it a watch.  It may end up in our DVD collection!

What are your must watch specials/movies for the Christmas season?

*This post contains a Santa's sack of affiliate links for your holiday viewing pleasure.

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Food Review: Halo Top Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Ice cream isn't one of my big tempations unless it's either sweltering hot in the summer and I'm passing a shake shop or it's already in the house for some occasion.  I rarely give in to the hype on "healthy" ice cream because I've been burned by them before.  Arctic something or other comes to mind, so I basically wrote them all off.  But I kept hearing people rave about Halo Top and read an article where a place had their whole staff try it with varying reviews.  The one thing they could all agree on is the chocolate chip cookie dough was the most amazing thing they ever shoved in their ice cream holes.  CCCD is one of my faves so when I saw it on sale, I thought we should give it a try, you know, for you guys.  ;-)

That's right, that says 360 calories per pint.  Meaning even if you suffer a break up and need to eat a pint of ice cream for medicinal purposes, you can still do a hard strength workout and burn it off.

Let's look at the rest of the nutritional info...

So let me get this straight, I could get almost 50% of my fiber and protein for the day if I ate this pint!?  What wizardry is this!?  Granted, I know I'd also be getting in sugar and such but if ever you needed a retort on how to justify it over other ice creams to the food police in your life, that would be it.

So how does it taste?

I'll be honest, I really had to dig for those pieces of cookie dough.  They're not abundant but it scratches that itch if that flavor is your jam.  While I think vanilla ice cream is about the most tasteless thing on God's green Earth, I can tell you that this vanilla is friggin' ah-may-zing!  It reminds me of the double strength vanilla extract I use which is like heaven in a bottle so that makes this heaven in a pint.

Would I get it again?  If I were craving that particular flavor of ice cream, no question.  I've yet to try the other flavors which are lower in calories but get mixed reviews.  A sale would be in order because I don't risk $6 per pint on something I might end up throwing away.  But it's nice to know this option exists if you get that hankerin' for some ice cream that doesn't break the calorie bank!

Have you tried Halo Top ice cream?  What flavors are your favorite?

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Tin Mold Wreaths

When we were on a road trip, I spied a set of round, roped vintage tins.  I gasped and yelled "WREATHS!" and given I was in the midst of Christmas on the brain (in July), this was not unusual for me to be seeing all things yuletide.  At $.50 a piece, my conscience wouldn't allow me to leave them.  I picked them up, squeed and walked around with a big smile plastered on my face just so I could bring you these:

Here's what you'll need:

Roped mold tins (antique stores usually have plenty or ask your mom or gran!)
Green paint
Small paint brush (I thought a sponge brush would work better, it didn't)
Heavy duty glue
Mod Podge (affiliate link) 
Small red ribbon (for bow)
Larger red ribbon (to hang)

Hello you lovely little bargain!  I'mma make you purty again!  (Not that I am vintage "shaming!")

Time to break out the paint!

It's easiest to paint the inside first.  (I ended up picking it up from the inside of the tin)

Paint on top and all the way around the edges.

After one coat, you'll look at it and say "well, that was just wrong."

Don't worry, with each coat, it gets more opaque (though if you like that kind of rough, transparent look, let your uniquely you flag fly!)

I did 3 coats total.  While those are drying, time to make bows for the wreaths!

When the paint is dry, it's time to seal it with Mod Podge.  I did the whole thing but if you wanted contrast you could certainly just paint the roped part only.  Just be aware anything not sealed can get nicked quicker.

You can see the difference between the matte finish on the left and the dried Mod Podged version on the right. (At least the top)

This one is totally dry.  See...nice sheen to it and all protected!

Grab your glue and put a dab on the back of the bow and adhere it to the bottom on your wreath.

Woo hoo!

Now time for hanging ribbon.  Cut about 1-3" more than you think you'll need so you can adjust to where you're going to hang them.

Tie a knot, a bow, whatever you like!

I have these weird gothic church window cut outs that always look like they need something and these babies were perfect!!

I loved them so much in that spot, I think they'll stay home on there to spruce things up!

* This post contains an affiliate link

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