Annual Christmas Tree Cutting

Monday, November 30, 2015

On Friday, we made our annual trek to the mountains to cut our Christmas tree. It's been a family tradition for as long as I can remember to go the day after Thanksgiving. Most people are out Black Friday shopping but truly I didn't even really know what it was until a couple of years ago since I had never gone. As we have all grown older, it seems like our group has gotten smaller since people have to work. This year my Dad and Sister both had to work so we missed having them. I actually had to work this year too but luckily only had to go in for a few hours in the morning.

We have gotten a couple of storms lately that has finally brought us snow to the Northern California mountains (it is needed badly around here!) but we weren't sure how high up the snow actually was. Ryan, myself, my mom and his parents loaded up in our truck, met up with our best family friends and headed up. The roads were extremely icy, but we made it up to tree cutting territory and went hiking for this year's perfect tree.

The day was sunny, but extremely cold! After we all found trees, we met back at the truck for a picnic and one of my favorite parts of the day; the leftover turkey sandwiches and hot cocoa with baileys. Nothing says it's almost Christmas like a day in the snowy mountains with family and friends cutting down our annual tree!
My little Nephew has got to be the most smiley babies in all the land.
He loved the snow and reminded me of Ralphie's little brother from A Christmas Story all bundled up!
My Snow Angel...I couldn't help myself. 
This year was extra special with the newest addition to our tree cutting crew!
Time to officially deck the halls and trim the tree! May your spirits be merry and bright!

{T H A N K F U L}

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Via
I want to preface this post by saying that this year has probably been the hardest year for me for so many reasons. I hate to be one to complain. I know we all face daily struggles. I also have never been one to want to wish time away, but in a way, time does heal all wounds and I am so looking forward to the start of a new year. I feel like the New Year somehow symbolizes a fresh start. To put the past behind and move on. 

Every year on this day, a day dedicated to feeling grateful, thankful and counting our blessings, I am feeling more thankful than ever. You know how they say the older you get, the more you 1) realize how right your mother always was and 2) act like your mother? Well, they're both true. I'm constantly hearing my Mom's voice echoing sentiments she always expressed to me over the years. One I am thinking of right now that "God wouldn't bring you to it, if he didn't plan to bring you through it" could not be more true. 

I find it's easier sometimes for people to think of the things that are not going the way they want or expect, as opposed to finding the silver lining in why things may be going this way. I can't say I ever imagined this to be how 2015 would go. But I have to remember this is not my plan. There is a reason, even if I can't see or understand it now. 

On this Thanksgiving, I am more sentimental than ever. I know without the support and love of so many people, one could easily crumble from the weight and pressures of the world. 

Today I encourage you all to take a moment to be in the now of today. To hug someone you love. To let someone know you are truly thankful for them. To actually feel thankful for all the blessings; big and small. This day is a gift, meant to be treasured.

Today I want to say Thank You especially to my Husband, Mom, Dad, Sister, Most Special and Favorite Father & Mother In Law, cousins, best friends, friends that are family to us, my Grandma and Grandpa, my amazing bosses, and other family members for being a continued light in my life when things seem a little dark. You know who you are, and I want you to know how much you mean to me in case I might not tell you enough.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happenings Lately

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Tis the season (week especially) to be thankful. This is such a busy time and special time of year. I try to wake each day with a grateful heart because I know there is always, always something to be thankful for. I know some days it might be easier than others to come up with something, but really, I am sure we can all think of something each day.  Monday I was just having on of those off days, so it took a little extra reminding....

I've had so much on my mind and heart lately that it's been hard to show up for this little space of "mine." But the main reason I created this space was to write. Writing has always been something I have truly enjoyed and brought me such comfort. I want to remember these everyday moments; good or bad.

This past week we lost a dear, close family friend. It has been weighing heavy on my heart and I am at a loss. She was truly my Angel on earth, beaming with pure goodness. It has pretty much put everything once again into perspective for me and made everything else seem insignificant.
John 14:3.  That is the ultimate goal but it is hard to let go of loved ones even though we know we will see them again!:
original source unknown; found on pinterest
Your wings were ready BUT my HEART was NOT | Grief Loss Quotes:

Insignificant like this happening the week of  the much anticipated Thanksgiving festivities...
It was pretty shocking when it first happened and luckily no one was hurt. It does make things a little harder when it comes to making dinner but I've been trying to get creative. On the bright side I still have two ovens that are functioning for the time being. On the not so bright side, this oven happens to be a size they no longer make ANYWHERE which means we can't get a replacement top or even a replacement stove that is the same size. So now we will be forced to get a smaller range and have to redo our cabinets and counters to fill in the gaps. Fun stuff. I am not worried at all about it, like I said, bigger things on my mind...It is what it is at this point, but it's worth a good laugh at least, right?

Sunday I decided I needed to get out of the house and get my ingredients for the dishes I will be making for Thanksgiving and pop over to a few stores for hopefully a few Christmas presents to check off my list. I found this quilt and could not resist. I had just ordered us these flannel sheets from Target (of course Ryan didn't mind because, deer) and I wanted something to compliment them and be festive for the holidays. Instantly cheered me up when I put it all together.
quilt / deer sheets
I asked Ryan to get me out some of my Christmas wrapping boxes and this magically appeared in our dining room. Can't say I'm mad at it. Also, do you like how it's Thanksgiving in the front and Christmas in the back? Ryan (a.k.a Clark Griswold, Sparky) already started hanging the lights on the house too. Eeeek! So exciting...
I cannot wait to see my family that we really only get to see and visit with twice a year on Thursday. I hope the weather cooperates so they can all make the drives over to our home. Even though there's lots to do, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love decorating and entertaining for guests and am looking forward to setting up the tables for dinner with these tablecloths and coordinating napkins too.
Can't forget to mention one of my greatest blessings either. How did I get so lucky? This man completes me...

Wishing you all a great today and the rest of the week. Count your blessings and tell someone you love them and hold them extra tight!


Ways I Save

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I love to save money! My family will tell you how embarrassed they get when they're with me at stores because I am always looking for ways to save and I am not opposed to asking about deals or a discount. Hey, all they can say is no, right?

I tried doing the crazy couponing thing for awhile, but I never quite got the hang of it, plus I spent entirely too much time trying to clip and plan my trips. If that's your thing, I applaud you.

Anyways, I wanted to share a few of the ways I regularly save while shopping online and in-stores. I hope you find it helpful, especially being that it's the time of the year you may find yourself out shopping ;) 

1. Ebates
My Mother-In-Law is actually who told me about Ebates a few years ago. I had seen it online a few times, but assumed there was a catch. Then when I saw the check she received in the mail from them, I realized there isn't! I use it anytime I shop online for a percentage back on my purchase. All you do is go to the Ebates website and set up a free account. Each time you shop online you go to their website, search for the store you want to shop at, and then click the link where it will open an Ebates shopping trip and you will earn money for your purchase. It will tell you what percentage each store offers back and a lot of times they run deals on their websites so you can earn higher percentages at featured stores. The money is saved on your Ebates account, and then a few times a year Ebates will send you your "Big Fat Check" in the mail of your earnings for that quarter.


Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
Source

2. Loyalty Cards
Most stores have rewards or loyalty cards they try and get you to sign up for. I always do simply because that usually means you will either be earning points on the purchases you make at the stores, or it gives you a lower price on items. For example, we buy all of our animal food online. Not only do I get free shipping which saves me a trip to the store and carrying the heavy bags of dog food by myself, but I earn money back for every dollar I spend, which then generates money back for me to buy more dog food or pet supplies next time.

Also, for some of the bigger department stores, being a cardholder offers exclusive discounts and special shopping dates. I know, right? Another reason to apply for that card each time they ask you checking out.

3. Retailmenot and Mobile Store Apps
Retailmenot was one of the first discount sites I started using. I use it not only for online shopping, but for in stores as well. I check their website whenever I am buying online to see if there are any promotional codes I can enter at checkout for a discount. I have the app on my phone too so whenever I am shopping in stores, I check it for in-store coupons. Some stores do not offer in-store coupons, but it never hurts to check. Target has a Cartwheel app that you download on your phone and it provides in store coupons. It also has a handy scan feature that allows you to scan the item through your phone's camera, and will tell you if there is an available discount or suggest other items that are on sale.

4. Coupons and Coupon Codes
Occasionally I will use an actual coupon. Sometimes I see coupons in magazines, or they print automatically when I am at the store, so I always keep those in my wallet in case I am buying an item that I can use it for.

5. Website Promo Codes
Another thing I do, is check the home page of the website I am shopping. A lot of times websites will state they are running a special and to enter a code at checkout to receive a discount. Most often, they offer free shipping if you spend a minimum on their site. I never like paying for shipping if I can help it, so I will spend the minimum. Another hint is to shop at stores where you can easily return to store, or stores who offer free return shipping as well to avoid paying if it doesn't work out.

6. Damaged or Discounted Items
This is one of the reasons my family gets embarrassed in stores with me. There have been a few times when I find a clothing item for instance, that I love in a store, but there is something flawed about it, and it happens to be the only one in the store. In that case, I will ask if they can discount the item. Sometimes, they are happy to offer a small percentage off, and other times they cannot. As a rule of thumb, I don't typically ask if I am shopping at stores where items are already "discounted," but if it were something damaged then certainly it doesn't hurt to ask.

7. Know What an Item Costs
I always try and watch the register as I am checking out. There have been plenty of times I purchase an item because it is advertised as being on sale, no sooner to get to the register and have it ring up for full price. If I catch it, I can speak up right then and ask the cashier. I hate getting home later and looking at the receipt and realizing the mistake because I wasn't paying attention.

8. Dollar Shave Club (For the Hubby)
Oh my gosh, buying razors for myself is bad enough but when it comes to the husband who goes through them weekly, I was all for trying out the Dollar Shave Club. I was so tired of making special trips to the store for razors, and paying an outrageous amount for them even buying them in bulk, so I decided this would be perfect to try. Razors are delivered right to your door each month and there are 3 different, AFFORDABLE options to choose from. We are signed up for the $6/month for 4 razors a month, with free shipping. So convenient, and much cheaper for us! It would make a great gift for a special guy in your life as well!

Box
Source

There you have it! The ways I try and save money where and when I can. What are your favorite ways to save?

Easy DIY ways to Fall-ify your Home

Monday, November 16, 2015

With Thanksgiving coming up in a couple of weeks, I spent the weekend getting our house ready for our guests and the festivities. 
Here are 5 simple ways to get your house into fall shape and as I like to say, Fall-ified. 
Yeah, I said it.
1| Festive Chalkboard
You can easily create a chalkboard out of almost anything these days! There are lots of sayings and ideas around the internet for inspiration on what to write. We have a chalkboard wall in our kitchen and I updated ours this weekend for Thanksgiving with a cute saying.
2| Display Seasonal Fruit & Gourds
I was given a bunch of pomegranates and thought they would make a beautiful display. So I whipped out my trifle bowl I wasn't using and filled it up with the fruit. You could easily do this with any seasonal fruit you have in abundance or even gourds! I have a pedestal bowl I filled with gourds as well and will probably use those as part of my Thanksgiving tablescape this year.

3| Use Nature
Fresh fall flowers from your yard, leaves from the side of the road, and even dead branches can all be used to add to your fall decorations. The best part of decorating with nature is it's free!
4| Candles
There is nothing better than having your house smell good. I always have a candle lit or a scentsy burning. It just feels more warm, welcoming and my idea of 'home.' My favorite candles come from Bath & Body Works and I am an absolute sucker for all of the sweet and seasonal smells! 

5| Get Creative With Items You Already Own
I feel like I am constantly rearranging my displays in the house or redecorating depending on the season or next upcoming holiday. For this reason, I have a closet dedicated to all of those random items that I use to switch things up. 
My Husband being the outdoorsmen that he is, we have too many antlers and deer sheds laying around to count. I love using them to create a rustic table setting and mixing them with other items you wouldn't expect like metallic votives. 
Another time I set them on a plate with some extra tree trimmings, pinecones, and a burlap bow, and ta da, I had myself a centerpiece. Look around your house for items you may not be using and turn them into something!
What are your favorite ways to decorate for fall?

Five on Friday

Friday, November 13, 2015

O N E
Ryan and I are getting ready to take some fall photos next week. He is thrilled, as you can imagine, but I on the other hand cannot wait. I'm hoping to get some good ones with our dogs since we don't have any real "family" photos with us and the pups besides at our wedding (which was almost 5 years ago!)

T W O
On my list of things to do Saturday...whip up some homemade English Toffee using my Grandma's famous recipe! It's a holiday tradition that we make and gift to people this time of the year, so I want to get a head start.

T H R E E
I just sent our Thanksgiving invitations out this week and what a relief that is! I always use Punchbowl to send the cutest E-invites. Have you ever used them before? So easy to create an adorable, eye catching invite, easy for people to RSVP and have people write back via message board or forward the invite if someone is missed on the guest list! It's a free service, but they do offer more features if you subscribe to their premium service! Here was last year's invitation.
They also do digital cards, have great party planning ideas, and sell party supplies!
By the way, I am not sponsored to say this, I just love this place!

F O U R
The Mom signs always get me. :) So very true! I love you, Mama!Another great find on #zulily! 'Owe to My Mother' Wall Sign #zulilyfinds:
F I V E
Last weekend on our drive home we stopped alongside the road so I could stop and get some of the fall foliage and leaves. They were the most vibrant leaves and really, is there anything better than free decorations from nature? I'm bummed they don't last longer, but now I'll have to go on a little nature walk and find some more ;)
That's all I've got for this Friday! Have a fabulous weekend!
 

B O O! We'll Miss You Party & Halloween 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I realize I'm a little late on getting this year's Halloween festivities documented, but sometimes life happens, so here goes!
This year's Halloween was definitely one for the books! Our house was basically full from Friday night until Sunday and I could not have been happier about it. Cousins, parents, family, friends and neighbors stopped by and I loved every minute of it. I normally have our costumes planned for weeks ahead of time and we have big plans to attend a Halloween Party, but this year we decided to stay home and I think it will be our new tradition. I didn't plan on dressing up this year, but at the last minute had a change of heart. At about 1 o'clock on Saturday while shopping in Target, I spotted a cute faux fur vest and thought I could justify buying it if I at least used it to dress up with. I quickly googled some makeup ideas and came up with a last minute owl inspired costume!

We kicked off the Halloween festivities on Friday night by carving our pumpkins. My cousins were coming to town for the weekend so I couldn't fathom not decorating or getting festive. Since my cousin is getting deployed soon, I was hoping to surprise him with a little send off since I wasn't sure we would get another chance to visit before he left.

Even though it was mostly Halloween themed, I came up with the idea of "Boo, We'll Miss You!" I had gotten some BOO balloons and made a sign that said, "We'll Miss You." Then we had an American themed cake made for him to celebrate adorned with honor, independence, and 'merica. So proud of you Jam!

Here are a few pictures of the details from our weekend!
Saturday the guys went bowling ALL DAY while the girls shopped! When we got home, we all got ready together and of course started the evening off with some festive apple cider drinks! My Mom made a huge lasagna and lots of friends dropped in with their trick-or-treaters and said hi and visited! It was one big open house. We even brought the block rocker outside on the front porch at one point and had a dance party.


Now onto the next Fall Celebration!

A Thank You to Our Veterans

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

HAPPY VETERANS DAY!

I just wanted to pop in to say thank you to our Veterans; past, present and future. I am thankful not only today, but everyday, for those who have given so much for this country. I think they deserve all the respect in the world.

In the summer of 2008 I lived and worked on an army base in Germany. I had the opportunity to work in a preschool and became very close with the families on the base. At that time, the base was deployed so most of those left living on the base were the wives and children. Although I cannot fully imagine what it would be like to live that life and walk in their shoes, I was so grateful for that experience because it opened my eyes to the sacrifices that these military families make for this country. I don't think I could do it. I am so thankful there are people who are willing to stand up for this country and sacrifice everything...There is a family I became very close with while living in Germany and still keep in touch with to this day. In fact this summer when I was visiting Texas, I got to see them after all these years. They are so dear to my heart and always remind me how lucky I am.

This day hits home even more this year as my cousin will be leaving for deployment to the Middle East in the coming weeks. I just want to thank him and let him know how proud I am to call him family! I know he will do great things. Thank you, Jamison!
Tonight especially we will be lighting up a green light to honor our vets. 
Maybe you will consider doing the same? 
You can click here for more information. #greenlightavet
I also purchased this Independence Necklace recently, and a portion of the sale is being donated to the Independence Fund. I love supporting places that are made in the USA and support our military and veterans especially.
"The Independence Fund’s mission is to support our injured and wounded Veterans with the tools to achieve their independence and freedoms they have fought so hard to preserve!" -from Laura's Listing

I'm proud to be an American. I know we are a Land of the Free because of the Brave!

Weekend Recap

Monday, November 9, 2015

This weekend was one that was good for my soul. It's exactly what I needed and I am ready to start the week feeling refreshed, thankful, blessed....all the feels, really.
My Husband truly knows the way to my heart and when I told him I wanted to take a Jeep ride to the mountains, he did not disappoint! He took me to a spot I'd never been and we unexpectedly found snow! We stopped to fish a little (although we didn't catch anything), had a picnic, and got to do a little shooting. The weather was clear and sunny, but absolutely freezing. My favorite kind really because you can bundle up but still enjoy outside. And we were clearly bundled to the max. 
Sunday started off in our house with the football games on (Packers for Me, Ryan and My Most Favorite Mother in Law - Rams for my Most Favorite Father in Law.) Things were getting pretty intense right about the time I was leaving...Sad both teams lost, but at least the Pack came back to somewhat make a game out of it.

I went over to do some Christmas and Thanksgiving shopping with My Mama and we met up with my sister for a late lunch and then to check out the Friends & Family event that was going on at the store she works at! I scored a couple of cute Christmas decorations since, duh...25% off the entire store!

I finally pulled the trigger on a floppy hat, and I LOVE IT. It started raining while we were shopping and I had no hood or jacket so it worked out to be good timing. It was the joke of the evening though between my Mom and Sis about the "girl in the hat" but we all had a good laugh. It would have been the perfect day to stay home and be cozy all day, but I treasure our time together and it felt so, so good to laugh with them all day! Nothing makes me happier than seeing those I love genuinely happy.
I was so happy to get home to my Man and puppies last night and curl up and enjoy the little bit of Sunday that was left. Feeling grateful for this day...
 
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