A Different Kind of Christmas

Due to a couple of things that have recently popped up, our Christmas celebrations looked a bit different this year. Andy and I had good intentions of celebrating our “last Christmas” with just the two of us, but after the craziness of the last few weeks, we were both exhausted yesterday and ended up taking three hour naps. We’re hoping to celebrate together this coming weekend instead.

Andy’s dad has been having some serious health issues and we’ve also had a few other things pop up that have been a lot to deal with. We are both feeling a little worn out and it was so strange to find myself not looking forward to Christmas and instead craving the fresh start of a new year.

My new planner is on its way to our house and I’m really looking forward to re-evaluating my routines and schedule for 2019 as we adjust to our new life with baby. Lately I’ve been chatting with my friend Gina about this past year and it has been so helpful to talk it out with her since she and I are very similar in terms of our mindsets towards life / home / etc. There were so many great things about 2018 (work + baby + house) but also some habits and events that need to get ditched for the new year. I’ll write more about this later as we transition into 2019 because I have a lot to say on this topic. :)

After that talk about the new year, let’s take a look at the last few days. I took Wednesday off of work due to scheduling a whole string of appointments back to back. First up was the allergist — I wanted to meet with one to chat about why this allergic reaction was so severe and how to prevent it from ever happening again. It was SO helpful to meet with him and the answers that he provided were not at all what I was expecting. I’ll be sure to share more once my blood work comes back and things are clearer, but I’m SO glad that I took the time to meet with him!

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From the allergy appointment, I headed straight to the chiropractor for a quick adjustment before heading to my 37 week OB check. My doctor was running behind due to a birth, so I ended up waiting in an empty exam room for quite awhile. I was able to get a good chunk of this book read, which has been helpful as I start writing my birth plan this week (way late in the game, but life happens).

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I worked from home Thurs and Fri due to more chiro appointments and then on Saturday morning I headed out to a prenatal massage that my aunt had set up for me (seriously, I have the best aunt ever). It felt SO good to relax with an hour-long massage!

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On Sunday morning, I baked some of our favorite pumpkin bread, had our groceries delivered, and took a long nap before Andy and I headed out to look at Christmas lights.

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We drove through a few neighborhoods and also wandered through the arboretum for a quick visit since they were having a holiday light show.

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Andy also finished up the baby’s dresser (new paint and new knobs) and brought it up to the nursery, so I spent some time putting away all of his little clothes all organized by size. This felt SO good to get this checked off our list because now his room is basically done except for hanging his bookshelves and adding a few decor items.

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On Christmas Eve, Andy’s sister called to let us know that their dad wasn’t doing too well so we made the decision that Andy would drive up to visit for the day and I would stay home. I’ll share more on this later, but I was / am under travel restrictions per my doctor due to baby so we opted for me to stay home. Later that evening, my sister and her little family came over for a super casual Christmas Eve. Our plans have been so up in the air with so many things going on, so we literally pooled our fridges and pantries to see what we had and ended up with an awesome spread. Veggie tray, fruit, turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin bread, chips and guac, and homemade muddy buddies. We ate, hung out, and then opened gifts before they headed home to put the girls to bed for the night.

We had quite the interesting Christmas morning over here — I was having a lot of upper abdominal pain on Christmas Eve — making it hard to get comfortable while Andy and I tried watching a movie. I eventually gave up on laying on the couch and headed to bed. I woke up around 3am with the pain increasing so I called the birthing center to talk to the nurse; she wanted us to come in so she could check on the little dude to make sure everything was okay especially since I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for the past three days and noticed an increase in swelling.

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Note, this is why they tell you to pack your hospital bags a month before your due date. Mine were about 70% packed but when I say “packed” what I really mean is that everything was in a pile in the corner of our master bedroom. So, here we were at 3:30am throwing things into my Nike bag as fast as possible so that we could head to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital around 4am and were immediately taken to a triage room. They hooked me up to a machine to monitor baby’s heartbeat and then did an ultrasound to take a peek at him. Thankfully, all was well and she said the abdominal pain is just my body getting ready for him to be born but that it was good we came in to have him checked. She said I need to start taking it easier — focusing on more rest and taking some baths to relax. I feel like that’s always easier said than done, but now that work is winding down, I think it will be a little easier. We thanked her, headed out to the car, and arrived home around 5:30am.

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Christmas Day was super low-key around here after our random middle of the night hospital run. Andy gave me this devotional for Christmas and it was the perfect gift to crack open yesterday morning while sipping a hot cup of coffee. The rest of the day was spent doing a quick treadmill workout, reading, taking a long nap, and watching The Grinch on tv.

My goals for today involve getting that hospital bag 100% packed and finishing our birth plan — wish me luck! ;)

What was your favorite part about Christmas?
Do you enjoy driving around looking at Christmas lights?

Thanksgiving + Black Friday Weekend

After attending a few meetings, I left work around lunchtime on Wednesday since it was so quiet in the design studio!

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I had some time to kill before an appointment later that afternoon, so I headed to The Galleria to knock out some Christmas shopping and to browse through Barnes & Noble for a bit. I picked up a few things for Andy’s gift and then put my feet up with an iced Americano with a pump of gingerbread syrup at the bookstore. An afternoon at B&N was just what I needed before the holiday weekend and I’m so glad that I made it a priority. I whizzed through this book (would highly recommend it!) and then started this one but plan to head back to the store in the next couple weeks to read more of it as we get closer to baby time!

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Upon arriving home later that evening, I did some of our Thanksgiving prep to make the morning a little smoother. I quickly whipped up a batch of homemade cranberry sauce (cranberries, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and freshly squeezed orange juice), and prepped a pomegranate so that it would be ready for the salad I was making the next day. This was my first time dealing with a pomegranate (I usually buy them pre-seeded), and let’s just say it was a labor of love. I did the whole “peel it in a bowl of water” trick but it was still very time consuming and messy to say the least!

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The next day, we successfully hosted our first Thanksgiving with his side of the family. Andy and I made turkey, ham, lemon-garlic green beans with almonds, cornbread, and a fall salad while his siblings brought a few other sides and dessert to complete the meal.

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Side note — we recently picked up one of these tools and it is seriously the best thing ever! It saves so much time and makes your life a million times easier — would highly recommend picking one up if you don’t already have one in your kitchen drawer.

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I threw together this autumn-inspired salad and really liked how it turned out! It had spinach, fresh cranberries, candied pecans, pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, roasted sweet potatoes, red onion, and apples. I tossed it with a homemade dressing that contained pure maple syrup, olive oil, fresh lemon + lime + orange juice, onion powder, black pepper, salt and cinnamon. I’ve been enjoying the leftovers all throughout the weekend and it’s definitely one that I plan to make again!

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Andy’s sister and brother-in-law brought pies and I swear, there’s nothing like pumpkin pie with whipped cream and a cup of coffee! It definitely hit the spot!

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After the family left, Andy and I settled in on the couch to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It was the perfect ending to Thanksgiving Day.

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The next day, we headed out for a little Black Friday shopping later in the day (mainly to avoid the crowds). We wound up purchasing this little gadget and a new Christmas tree since the one in the photo above is way too tiny for our new living room! I took a nap upon arriving home and then we spent the evening watching Home Alone 2 (we typically watch a holiday movie or two every weekend leading up to Christmas).

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On Saturday morning, my sister and I ran an errand, grabbed coffees, and walked around the indoor track while catching up. We both agreed that this is something that we should do more often since it’s way more fun to walk with someone than by yourself. :) Another nap happened when I got home that afternoon (seriously, story of my life these days), and it felt SO good!

Sunday was spent washing all of our baby’s clothing while Andy painted the dresser for the nursery. I’m hoping to get all of his clothes organized by size this week so that we can start putting his room together in anticipation of his arrival. I also finished all of the thank you cards from our baby shower and worked on a scarf that I’m knitting — it was such a relaxing day!

What was the best part of your Thanksgiving?
Did you do any Black Friday shopping?

First Round of Holiday Treats

On Saturday, morning, my small group and I met for a virtual meeting (we meet every other time in person) and I always leave feeling so refreshed! It’s been so fun doing this study with these girls and also hard to believe that this is our third year together.

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I’ve been trying to get creative with ways to stay active until my treadmill arrives, so after doing a few things around the house once my small group meeting was done, I headed to a track to walk for a bit while I listened to the latest episode of my favorite podcast. It’s so strange to feel exhausted after something like going for a s l o w walk — definitely not something that I’m used to but am reminding myself that growing a human takes a lot out of you!

Upon arriving home, I started prepping for our sister baking night — on the agenda: homemade Chex mix, Oreo truffles, and Muddy Buddies!

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I mixed up the first batch of dry ingredients before they arrived so that we could get started right away. Our family has always added Kix and Cheerios to our homemade Chex mix (and omit the bagel chips) — I think the Kix are my favorite part!

I had also prepped the Oreo truffle filling earlier that day. It was my first time making the truffles in the food processor and all I can say is that it was a total game changer. It crushed the cookies super fine and then it swirled the cream cheese in so smoothly! I rolled the truffles into little balls and then put them on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet before popping them in the fridge so they could harden. That way, all we would have to do that evening was just dip them in melted chocolate — easy peasy.

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Once my sister and her girls arrived, we got to work right away!

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As batches of the Chex mix baked, we dipped our truffles (which are seriously the BEST thing ever if you’re an Oreo fan) and whipped up a delicious batch of Muddy Buddies. We discovered the secret to good Muddy Buddies is to make more of the sauce than it calls for and it use less cereal so that each piece gets coated and kind of clumps together.

It was so fun to spend the evening making holiday treats with them and we’re already looking forward to making / decorating homemade sugar cookies in a couple of weeks! This holiday season feels like it is flying by so we are trying to do as many holiday things as we can before the season passes.

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The next day, Andy and I hit the shops to knock out a bunch of Thanksgiving-related errands. Our first stop was Starbucks for a holiday drink — I swear, each year the gingerbread latte tastes better than I remember.

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On our way to grab T-day groceries, we made a few pit stops at furniture stores since we’re still trying to find the perfect dining room table. There was a table we liked at West Elm, but we felt like the color was a little too warm for our liking. We’re super picky about furniture and I feel like we are starting to annoy ourselves with the search for a table. The one we really want is something like this but in a cooler toned wood.

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We also stopped at a Macy’s furniture gallery but quickly realized that the tables there weren’t really our style — it was still fun to pop through and look around though.

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After enough messing around with furniture shopping, it was time to get down to business. This was my plan of attack that I crafted before we left the house that morning.

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After three different grocery stores, we finally had everything we needed! We came home, ate a late lunch, and then I headed out to meet my auntie for a coffee date. Catching up with her was the perfect end to a long weekend!

Favorite Thanksgiving side dish?
What recipe does your family like to make each holiday?

A Weekday Date

On our day off last Friday, we headed to a furniture sale that was being put on by a local home staging company. We had first heard about this sale during Parade of Homes and were excited to attend in hopes of finding some pieces for our new house. Unfortunately, the sale was a bust — not much inventory and what they did have wasn’t really our style.

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After leaving the sale, we headed to Michael’s in search of a few filler pieces for our new Christmas planter that we have on our porch. We both felt like it needed a few more red accents, so we picked up a few springs of holiday greenery to stick in the pot. While we were there, we also browsed through their Christmas trees and garlands but didn’t see anything that we loved enough to take home with us.

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We grabbed a quick lunch and then headed to the theatre to see The Grinch. We were both so impressed with the new version of this holiday classic — the animation, story, and music were great!

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Afterwards, we headed to Einstein’s Bagels to see if any of my mugs for them were in the store (I did some dog illustrations for them), but unfortunately all they had was the Caribou Coffee holiday collection in stores. I snapped a pic of this display because it was nice to see all of my designs together as one instead of spread out on different shelves like at the Caribou Coffee shops that we visited last weekend.

We made a quick pit stop for paper plates and napkins since we’re hosting Thanksgiving on Thursday and then we were on our way!

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Since Andy was off from work, he was able to attend our 32 week OB appointment! Baby was measured and got his heartbeat checked — everything is right on track! I have two more OB checks and then I will start having weekly appointments until he is born.

A Target run was our last stop of the day since I needed to grab a few items to make Oreo truffles with my sister and nieces that following day. We grabbed a few groceries, browsed through their Christmas section, and then on our way out we ran into one of my friends and her husband! I used to dislike running into people while running errands and now I really enjoy it — crazy how things have changed since flipping over to the extrovert side of life ;)

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Target had the cutest wrapping paper and gift bags — I always feel so inspired while browsing through items like this.

I was so excited to see the snow falling down as we walked out of Target! We headed home, made dinner, and then relaxed on the couch while watching Christmas Vacation, which is one of our favorites.

Has it snowed where you live yet?
Are you hosting or attending Thanksgiving this year?

Holiday Day Date

On Saturday, Andy and I headed out to do a few holiday-themed activities amidst running errands for the week.

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It was freezing out so we bundled up and I was so excited when it started snowing on our way home later that day! I keep checking the forecast hoping for our first blizzard of the year but so far it’s just been flurries and light dustings. I look like I have no hair in the photo above, but hey, at least I was toasty warm in my hat, scarf, jacket, and gloves!

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After swinging by the library to drop off / pick up books on hold, we headed to Caribou Coffee to check out my contributions to their 2018 holiday collection. We were delighted to find that all of the drinkware I designed + illustrated was on the shelves!

The four mugs above are part of the “value mugs” collection — meant to be purchased and given as gifts. These four are my favorites since they really showcase my illustration skills and they were such a joy to create!

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I also really enjoyed illustrating and handlettering this little winter scene for their kids tumbler and cold cup!

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The two mugs above feature a removable faux leather sleeve that contains a tiny flask on the side — perfect for gifting!

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I typically do the copywriting on the drinkware that I design, but my creative director gave me the idea for this catchy Minnesotan phrase and I thought it was too perfect to pass up!

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I also designed these little coin purses / gift card holders!

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Speaking of gift cards, some of the elements used in my designs made it onto gift cards this year as well!

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This little dude did really well in terms of sales last year, so this year I added an additional sku with him sporting an ugly sweater!

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This stainless steel tumbler features a wintery cabin-inspired pattern.

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A few of my designs made their way onto adorable little ornaments as well!

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After purchasing a handful of mugs from Caribou, we decided to grab some lunch.

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We hadn’t been to Cafe Zupas in what felt like forever, and a warm bowl of soup sounded really inviting on a chilly day!

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After lunch, we headed to a few different stores to check out their Christmas decorations.

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We didn’t end up buying anything but it was fun to look around! I always love looking at stickers when we’re out and about — I’d love to one day have a job designing sheets of them! I thought these ones with the little gingerbread men were the cutest!

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When I was younger, one of our neighbors used to transform her formal living room into a Christmas village filled with tons of these little buildings, people, and accessories to create the cutest little holiday scenes. It was fun to see that they still make these cute little shops and houses!

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Originally, we had planned to see the new Grinch movie and get Starbucks holiday drinks but by the time we got to the theatre, the movie was sold out so we decided to save those two activities for this coming weekend. We wound up at a furniture store to take a look at recliners for the nursery and it ended up being a great choice because they had free cookies and massage chairs. Seriously, a pregnant woman’s dream come true!

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Our last stop of the day was our weekly Costco run — they had so many good samples yesterday with these being my favorite!

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We filled our cart and then headed home! I’m toying with the idea of trying out this recipe this holiday season, hence the massive container of cinnamon.

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Our new Christmas planter rode in the front seat with me to prevent it from tipping over — it’s been so fun to be able to pick out things like this for our new house! We’ve never really lived in a place where we’ve been able to full-on decorate for the holidays / seasons so this has been a treat!

Have you started decorating for the holidays?
What coffee shop is your favorite?