Live Your Best Holiday Life Update

(or LYBHolidayL from here on out.)

Alexandra and Shea are hosting this wonderful, mindful, month-long challenge and I’m doing my best to slow down and participate. October was a hectic & rough month for me. I had fun, but it was at the expense of my patience and sanity. I’m determined to finish out the year in a better state mentally. Alex and Shea’s LYBHolidayL challenge has helped so much with that. Since we’re halfway through, I wanted to share an update!

November 1 – Make an effort to write down one thing you are grateful for every day or week

November 2 – Read this article about raising Thankful kids

November 3 – Do something to welcome the Thanksgiving season
I packed up the Halloween decor and brought out the fall and winter stuff (but nothing too Christmasy yet). We have some Thanksgiving-themed decorations so I’m letting those hog the spotlight for a while. 🙂

(also includes day 1 & 2 of gratitude!)

November 4 – Make pumpkin waffles for breakfast/brunch/breakfast for dinner
Kyle doesn’t like pumpkin flavor so he got french toast.

November 5 – Shop your closet and try to come up with a couple of new outfits from old pieces
I’ve seen other bloggers try this. It was fun to take the time to put these together!

November 6 – Give back this month: decide as a family how to “give back” to your community
It’s not much, but this year when Christmas shopping I will say “yes” any time a cashier asks if I want to round up my change or donate a dollar to xyz organization. Also, our holiday cards came from paper culture and they plant a tree for every order 🙂

November 7 – Schedule in 30 minutes to curl up with a good book
This was great timing. We left on the 8th for a business trip so I needed the reminder to just STOP and relax for a bit with a book.

November 8 – Take a Break: Get your Hygge on
I bought both the Hygge book AND this activity book a while ago. I worked on some puzzles during our drive to Indy since I couldn’t do anything in our home while on the road.

November 9 – Let go of one thing you feel obligated to do, attend, or complete this month.
There’s a Christmas tree festival in my town that happens every year during this week. I try to go every year and I feel like I missed a crucial party of preparing for Xmas when I forget about it or don’t have time to go. This year I’m just saying the heck with it 🙂 I don’t want to go so I’m not gonna.

November 10 – Treat yourself to a new, yummy-smelling candle
I had to postpone this one until we were home, but I finally lit my new Spiced Apple Toddy candle from B&BW!

November 11 – Clean out your fridge & get it holiday food influx ready!
I actually did this one early! Before we left I cleaned out the fridge for the house/dog sitter!

November 12 – Give someone an unexpected gift
We came home from Indy with extra stickers and lanyards so I took them to my grandma’s house and gave my cousins some of our new merchandise.

November 13 – For today, clear your to-do list of all the non-fun things unless they are absolutely essential!
Since we spent 5 days on the road with customers and clients we decided to nix the alarm clocks this morning. I consider waking up to an alarm to be very un-fun.

November 14 – Start making a holiday gift list
Already started the list AND the shopping 🙂

November 15 – Get started on an Advent calendar, or a similar project for another holiday celebration!
Stephanie shared some AWESOME advent calendars… so I think I might need one of those. I’m also brainstorming some other cute Advent or Christmas countdown activities!


At the end of November I’ll share a final post 🙂 Until then, I invite you to join in (even just for a day or two) and slow down this holiday season!

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What I Read… vol. 11

I participate in Erin’s Book Challenges & when I first started doing it I was barely making time to read for pleasure. In high school I devoured books, but then college happened and I felt guilty reading anything that wasn’t for a class. My habit of pleasure reading went into hibernation. Thanks to Erin, I’ve been slowly but surely reading more and more over the last few years. I’m no 12-books-a-month kind of reader, but hitting 3 in a month makes me feel good. All that to say, I didn’t finish the challenge this time around, but I’m enjoying books and reading for pleasure and I don’t mind that I gave up on the challenge. I plan to complete her challenge in its entirety soon, but moving houses and summertime stress just didn’t allow for that this time. Thank you for being an amazing, wonderful, gracious host, Erin!!

Also, happy birthday to my dad!

What_I_Read_blog

And now I’m linking up with Steph & Jana for Show Us Your Books!! (Happy Anniversary last month, ladies! Sorry I forgot to say anything!)

On to the books. My rockin’ husband bought me a Kindle for my birthday so you’ll hopefully see some NetGalley books around these parts! For now, it was a pretty slow reading month.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie | ★★★/5 
Summary: When the wealthy Emily Inglethorp is murdered in her own bed, surrounded by family and staff, Hercule Poirot is on the case to solve who dun it. | Why I Read It: I’ve found that I really enjoy Christie’s writing and I plan to make my way through the Hercule Poirot series. | What I Thought: While Hastings drove me right up a tree (he was such a naive, over confident, horny creep IMO), I loved Poirot. He was an absurd little character, but the mystery made sense to me once it was all explained. And I never even came close to guessing the outcome.
You should read it because… you enjoy a classic mystery with a twisty twist and quirky characters. No thriller mystery here.

DNF: West with the Night by Beryl Markham
I might come back to this book someday, but I wasn’t feel it from the time I picked it up. Good stories, but not a pace I enjoyed (for now).

Erin’s Challenge ended Oct. 31st at 11:59pm…

|5 points| Freebie: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
|10 points| Starts w/ “B”: The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
|10 points| Yellow cover: Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
|15 points| An animal on the cover: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
|20 points| Published in 2017: The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver
|20 points| Compass/cardinal direction in title: West With the Night by Beryl Markham
|25 points| A most commonly banned book in America: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
|30 points| About mental illness: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
|30 points| Non-human main character: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
|35 points| A Disney movie /book/ based on a Disney movie: The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart

I ended with 135 points. I can’t wait for the winter challenge!

What did you read this month?

Life According to Steph

Amazoning

I’ve posted about my Amazon purchases before, but it seems like they always appear a week or so after Christmas. I wanted to share my pre-Christmas purchases this time. Maybe I’ll do a follow-up after the holidays 😉 Thank you Rebecca Jo for the post inspiration!

Lately I’ve bought…

Desert Essence Whitening Plus Toothpaste & Mouthwash Bundle

I’m always on the hunt for c.f. tooth-care that can stand up to my coffee and tea addiction. I have a tough time getting K on board with some of my stuff but we both really like this! We’ve already seen results and I think that the tea tree oil is super effective.

American Crafts Pink Paislee Spellcast 36 Sheet 6×6 Paper Pad

Alexandra turned me on to this company. Unfortunately, I was paying attention to the price- not the size- when I ordered this. That doesn’t matter though. It’s gorgeous paper with fun prints- I’ll definitely use it all up in my scrapbooks!

SimpleHouseware Heavy-Duty 3 Bag Laundry Sorter Rolling Cart- bronze

The new laundry room in our house is pretty damn tiny. I love doing laundry but I love having space to do laundry. I’m adjusting to the new normal (which includes a laundry chute!!) and this little contraption helps SO MUCH. I seriously love it. I funnel the chute laundry into these three bins (white, black/dark, color) and then the bags lift OFF of the cart and I can dump them in the washer. Love it 🙂

Marvel Comics X-Men Logo Men’s Charcoal Grey T-Shirt and Wolverine Men’s Crew Socks 2 Pair Pack

We were in a wedding and the guys had to pick a superhero for their outfits. I picked Wolverine for Kyle 🙂 This shirt is SO soft. Even if he never wears it again (I think he will), I’ll totally wear it around the house. K also loves quirky socks so he’s a fan of these.

AOMEI Wedding A Line Tulle Tutu Jupe Knee Length Prom Party Skirt Black

I wanted a tulle skirt for my Halloween outfit. This one fit well and had a zipper and elastic waist with a cute bow. Perfect!

I also sent along some “needed items” to a dog rescue in Texas after the hurricane and I made a gift basket for a bridal shower with these items ordered from Amazon:

water bowl | donut | nylabone | treats | blanket

In other news…

I got one, two, three pairs of shoes from Target. Also this Halloween sweatshirt.

We ordered these bookshelves from Overstock.

We got 2 of these chairs from Big Lots.

And we got this large mirror from Lowes!

What online store has been sucking your wallet dry lately?

Waitress in Cleveland

My talented, vivacious, beautiful friend Aubrey offered me two tickets to see Waitress at Playhouse Square in Cleveland last month, so I invited my mom along and we made a night of it! (We had less than 24 hours notice so it was a whirlwind!)

Knowing how Cleveland gets on a Friday night, Mom and I arrived in the city roughly 2 hours before showtime. (Fortunately the Cavs were out of town!) We parked across from the theater and decided to find some noms before the show. Rookie mistakes: Reservations are a must in Cleveland on a Friday night in the theater district. Lol

Fortunately, after putting our names on a waiting list and flashing our puppy-dog eyes, we snagged a table at Cowell & Hubbard, an upscale eatery a block down from the show. Our sever was only three days into his job and so nervous but so so good! He explained all the specials to us and obliged our weird orders and time restraints.

Mom and I each got an appetizer. She ordered Foie Gras (BLEH) and I got chicken spring rolls. Our second course was a cup of tomato bisque for me and Brussels sprouts salad for Mom.

To be totally honest, nothing really impressed me (except the service). My soup was ok but not spectacular and my chicken spring rolls weren’t the best I’d ever had. But then we ordered dessert…

Oh em gee. My caramel apple cheesecake was awesome. Mom got the peanut butter and jelly creme brulee and it was killer. Seriously… a ridiculously good note to end on.

After dinner we hightailed it to the box office to retrieve out tix and find our seats. After a quick hug and “hello” to Aubrey and her fiancee Alyssa we found our seats and settled in.

I loved this musical. There were a handful of story lines that I didn’t agree with, but I think that’s what made the story so beautiful and relateable and real. All the characters were flawed but the best ones exuded so much kindness. And the music? Sara Bareilles is a composing goddess. If this musical comes to a theater near you, I recommend you go 🙂

Thank you to my mom for going with me last minute! (And for reserving judgement when I cried like a toddler for the last 20 minutes of the show.) And THANK YOU to Aubrey for the tickets!!

The best part might have been Sara Bareilles coming out at the final curtain. I just really love her. It made me cry even harder.
When spontaneous nights are this incredible it lifts your soul.

Currently…

Hello, November 🍂

My blog has been very surface level lately so I wanted to link-up with Kristen and Gretch today to go a little deeper with a currently/What’s New With You? post.

Right now I’m R E A D I N G so many books simultaneously. K got me a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday last month and I went a little crazy on NetGalley… Physical-book-wise, I’m finishing up The Moon-Spinners and Circling the Sun. I just finished Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Affair at Style. On Kindle I dove into Fairest of All. (K got me Kindle Unlimited and I found it on there.) After I finish some of those I’ll crack into my NetGalley reads! I didn’t end up finishing Erin’s book challenge but that’s ok.

We’re done moving and the old house is officially turned over to the new owners, but I’m still S T R E S S I N G – O U T – O V E R the settling part of new homeownership. I completely broke down to K a few weeks ago and told him that our constant chaos in the house is killing me on the inside and making my anxiety a raging beast. I feel like a failure in my home which makes me feel like a failure in all aspects of life (as a wife, as an employee, as a daughter, as a fall-lover, as a dog momma). I know that’s silly and unhealthy, but I crave balance and order. I promise I’m trying to slow down and focus and relax this month.

I’m also P R E P A R I N G for the holidays (i.e. Christmas gifts, Christmas decorations). I think getting some of that stuff done will reset my brain and give me peace.

The kitchen is finally in order so we will be E A T I N G some yummy home-cooked meals soon. FINALLY, guys. I think one of the worst parts of moving was all the takeout and fast food and sodium-filled dinners during the process. UGH. The last few nights we’ve been snacking on the dips we had at the party (spinach & artichoke, taco, etc.).

We moved all our furniture into the new house and don’t plan to change anything, but we’ve definitely had to add. We are B U Y I N G allll the things right now. Lol. We just got new bookshelves and reading chairs for my library area, I got a new hamper for my itty-bitty laundry room, and we’re currently trying to decide on some end tables and a coffee table… Home tour soon. Promise.

My brain is overwhelmed like an accountant in April, but I am very T H A N K F U L – F O R all our friends and family. Between helping us move, letting me vent on the phone/through text, and celebrating with us at birthday and Halloween parties, I just can’t get over the love and support we’ve been given. Thanks, everyone 🖤 I love going into the holiday season feeling so loved.

We have a business trip in Indianapolis coming up, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t P L A N N I N G a potential winter trip for K and myself. I’ve only mentioned it to him, but I feel like I need to mentally and physically get away for a long weekend. We’ll see if it happens. I’d settle for a girls’ trip instead, but my bff is laid up after knee surgery. We’ll see…

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been R A G I N G – A B O U T the state of our country. The current administration, the Hollywood assault stories, the preference of policy and politics over people. It’s embarrassing and heartbreaking.

Let’s end on a good note, yes?

I am P A R T I C I P A T I N G – I N Alexandra and Shea‘s Live Your Best (Holiday) Life or LYBHolidayL in November. I’m pretty excited about it, actually. Taking the time to be grateful and intentional without spending hundred of dollars 🙂

(I don’t care if Halloween is over.) L A U G H I N G – A B O U T :

This is us trying to get the dogs to adjust to the new neighborhood. LOL

So what’s new with you?

What's New With You

Halloween Housewarming Party 2017

I like to share and record our Halloween party every year. This year I abandoned the theme and didn’t implement the mandatory costume rule due to the housewarming-nature of the party, but we still had some dressed-up guests and obviously it was a good time 🙂 So without further ado…

My brother and his wife arrived Friday night and we each carved a pumpkin. (Can you guess whose is whose?) K and I spent most of Friday and Saturday preparing the house for a party and hiding not-yet-unpacked boxes and random objects 😉

On Saturday one of my best friends arrived around 3pm and helped me get last minute things done. Our first guests arrived at 4:30! (We started the party at 4 so our parent-friends could bring the kids and hang out for a bit before bedtime.) The majority of guests arrived around 8.

We had +30 people show up from 4:30 pm to about 2 am. (It was a looong night.) Some of our guests dressed up and some came as they were. Regardless, it was a fun & busy night!

The ghostbusters also had a little slimer with them but she wasn’t feeling the costume. I’m still dying over Tobin’s Stay Puft Marshmallow Man costume.

My brother and Christina were Scooby-Doo and Shaggy!

Lylee was a cow. I think she might have lost some of her dignity… and her respect for me. Enzo’s costume was also a little degrading, but he makes the cutest little squirrel horse. 😂

Our food spread was on point 🙂 Guests brought taco dip, a veggie tray, a cheese ball-skull, jello shots, and a charcuterie board spread! On top of that I made…

Halloween cupcakes (just yellow cake mix with chocolate buttercream frosting), spinach and artichoke dip via Nadine, and my signature puking guacamole pumpkin. I also made this caramel apple dip and the world-famous Aubrey Johansen put together these incredible charcuterie boards!

We also ordered pizza around 9 pm.

The night consisted of laughing, talking, drinking, game playing, and eating. It was fun to see the new house- which was empty a month ago- filled with all our friends and family. Overall, we had a really good time.

I’ve said it before, but the calm next-morning is always my favorite part…

Another Halloween party in the books 🎃 Happy Halloween, my friends!!

Halloween 101

Some people don’t do Halloween and some people are professional Halloween-ers. I believe I fall into the latter category. Since the blog world is all about sharing how-tos, I decided today was the perfect day for a How To ~Halloween~ post.

(1) First things first… You need to get in the Halloween spirit (pun intended). Halloween movies come in all forms of scariness…

Less Scary: Hotel Transylvania, Monster House, Hocus Pocus, Beetlejuice, and obviously It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (airing Sunday at 8pm on ABC)

Moderately Scary: Sleepy Hollow, The Shining, IT (the 1990 one)

I’d recommend some horror/scary movies but I don’t watch them… lol. You don’t have to love horror to love Halloween 😉

Freeform (cough*ABC Family*cough) always disappoints me with their 13 Nights of Halloween, but if you’d like to check out that list you can find it here

(2) Now it’s time to figure out your costume…

Some super simple costumes include: cat, witch, a Grecian goddess or Medusa, a princess, or this scarecrow.

Check these out, too…

(3) If you’re hosting a party this year* you’ll need a few snacks & drinks:

Originally found here

*obviously you don’t need to host anything to enjoy these snacks

(Here are the posts from our Halloween Parties in 2014, 2015, & 2016!)

(4) My go-to places for Halloween decorations include HomeGoods, Marshalls, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and any local craft show or fall festival.

With every holiday and every year I promise this ledge will get better 🙂

In need of some music? This is a Spotify playlist from Alexandra rocks!


What are some must-haves for your Halloween season? Do you have any big plans this weekend? Our annual party is Saturday night and I’m so excited!!