A Rainy 4th

Now that 4th of July is behind us, I'm really hoping that the rest of this month flies by because I'm getting so excited to move in just a few short weeks! 

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Andy picked up some of the boxes from our storage unit the other day, so I've been taking advantage of having some time to pack up the house so we can make this a quick and easy move to our new house! 

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On Tuesday night, Andy picked up this movie from Redbox and we both really enjoyed it! I'd definitely recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.

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Yesterday was such a weird day on the weather front -- it kept going from sunny to stormy all day! Due to the rain, we decided to hit Mall of America for a bit to do a little window shopping.

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We didn't buy anything, but it was fun to browse around together! 

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We almost always browse through Barnes & Noble whenever we visit the mall and I love finding new books to add to my requested list at the library. I just downloaded the ebook version of this one on my iPad and plan to start it later tonight! I LOVED this author's other book because of all of the twists and turns, so I'm hoping this one is just as good! 

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Afterwards, we swung by Chick-Fil-A for a quick lunch on the way home. Side note, I've been straying from my vegetarian ways a little bit now and then -- I'll share more thoughts on this later.

We hit more storms on the drive home, so the rest of the day was spent relaxing around the house. I'm not a huge fireworks person, but Andy walked down to the lake to check out the show! 

What is your favorite 4th of July tradition?
What do you typically order at Chick-Fil-A?

Back-to-Back Easter Celebrations

Easter felt so early this year! I'm looking forward to it being a bit later in April next year so that the weather will be a little warmer! We ended up doing back-to-back celebrations this year which involved a lot of packing but we made it work! Since Andy's brother lives about an hour north of us, and my parents live an hour north of him, we decided to just spend the night at their house to avoid backtracking.

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I swung by Target on the way home from work on Friday evening to grab a few items for a dish I planned to make for our Easter celebrations that weekend.

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Target was a nuthouse and I quickly made my way in and out fairly quickly -- so many last minute shoppers! I never used to be a last minute kind of person, but ever since switching over to being an ENTP, it happens more often than I'd like to admit.

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The next morning, we packed up and headed out to Andy's brother's house for Easter #1. We woke up to a ton of snow (welcome to Spring in Minnesota), so my North Face gloves, Sorels, and winter jacket definitely came with me. Definitely the opposite of Easter last year when it was 65 degrees and sunny!

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We enjoyed a lunch together, played with the nephews, and then had some dessert before packing up and hitting the road to Robertson Ranch.

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I read the whole way there and the drive flew by! I just started this book last week and finished it super quick -- it was so good! 

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Upon arriving at my parent's house, we got settled in the guest room and then headed to the kitchen for some dinner. My mom made her famous homemade tomato soup and it hit the spot! It had pesto, veggie cream cheese, carrots and a bunch of other random ingredients in it -- it's always a favorite of mine! 

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Afterwards, we hung out for a bit while Andy watched one of the final four basketball games. Later on, we made some homemade stovetop popcorn (the best!) and watched a show together before heading to bed. The next morning, I woke up and enjoyed a cup of coffee before helping my mom prep the Easter meal. Why does coffee always taste so much better when someone else makes it for you?!

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We made some strawberry banana smoothies and then got to work in the kitchen! 

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We prepped fruit kebabs, popovers with maple-cinnamon butter, veggie trays, relish trays, a type of broccoli au gratin, and some twice baked potatoes! 

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I also made this Greek quinoa salad and it turned out to be a winner! I'm definitely more of a "make it up as you go" type of cook, but I feel like things usually turn out! I combined cold quinoa with chopped cucumbers, roma tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese, kalamata olives, fresh mint, chickpeas and a dressing that consisted of lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, s&p, and dill.

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Once the food was prepped, I headed upstairs to the loft to play Chinese checkers with Andy while we waited for family to arrive. He beat me five times in a row -- I'm good at strategy games, but he is literally a mastermind at them! 

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Once the family arrived, we hung out and enjoyed some snacks before sitting down for a meal together.

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Everything tasted so good! We tried out a few new recipes this Easter and they were definitely winners! 

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After we finished eating and helping with dishes, we headed back up to the loft (a big game room with a bar, pool table, etc. that overlooks the kitchen / living room) for some more games. I beat Andy at backgammon while my uncle and grandpa played a game of pool. My dad taught me to play this game when I was probably in 2nd grade or so and it's been a family favorite ever since. As seen in the photo above, this game has gotten a lot of love over the years as it's starting to fall apart! 

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Afterwards, we dug out our old game of Life from the early 90s and enjoyed playing that for a bit of nostalgia! I always loved this game as a kid and it was fun to play it with Andy this time around.

Shortly after the games, we packed up and started our trek back home to gear up for another week. We unpacked once we arrived home and then spent the rest of the evening relaxing and catching up on some shows.

Favorite Easter food?
Favorite memory from this past weekend?

Trio of Christmas Celebrations

Another Christmas is in the books! We had three Christmas celebrations this past weekend, so it was a busy one! 

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On Saturday morning, I hit the gym bright and early! There weren't many people there when I first arrived, but it was packed by the time I left! I did a shoulder workout and then hit the stairstepper for a bit before heading home to shower and get ready for Christmas at my brother-in-law's house.

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I read one of my library books on the drive to their house -- I love Mary Higgins Clark and this one sucked me in right away.

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My sister-in-law asked us to bring a vegetable, so I whipped up this veggie medley on a whim. I mixed sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, fresh cranberries, and a granny smith apple with some coconut oil and roasted them in the oven until they were just about done. Then I took the baking dish out, poured a mixture of pumpkin butter, pumpkin pie spice, pure maple syrup, and butter over them -- I stirred everything together and then popped it back in the oven for a bit. Once I took it out of the oven for the final time, I added dollops of fresh goat cheese and candied pecans to the top. It turned out so well and everyone seemed to really like it! 

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After lunch, we opened gifts -- we gave our nephews a hot wheels racetrack set and they loved it -- almost as much as Andy enjoyed putting it together for them. :)

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My mother-in-law's birthday is on the 25th so we celebrated with a cake for her once we brought out the desserts. 

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The next morning was Christmas Eve and I headed to the salon for a pedicure -- it was such a relaxing way to start the holiday.

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Since it was snowing outside, I relaxed in the locker room for a bit while I let my toes dry before heading outside to drive home. The rest of the day involved a relaxing evening at home with Andy. We made tacos, watched a couple of Christmas movies, and opened gifts -- I loved having our own celebration with just the two of us.

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The next morning we hit the road for Robertson Ranch, which called for more reading (it's a long drive up there). I ended up finishing this book on the way home that evening! 

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My mom made ribs, twice baked potatoes, and salmon while I prepared another dish of the veggie medley for this Christmas celebration as well. I've come to really enjoy salmon this past year and I'm thinking it's due to becoming a vegetarian last winter -- it's hard to believe I've been missing out on it for so long!

I also made Nanaimo bars (a popular Canadian dessert) with my mom (shown on the plate below) and it was so fun to share one of my favorite desserts with my family! A friend of mine that is Canadian introduced them to me a few years ago and they are a little labor intensive, but so delicious! 

Afterwards, we headed downstairs to watch a movie with my mom and grandpa before heading home -- it was a nice and relaxing day at the ranch! 

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We swung home for a bit before grabbing a bag of ingredients and heading to my sister's house to drop off gifts for our nieces and enjoy some apps. I made my aunt's taco dip and our family's favorite fruit dip. The fruit dip is just a container of french vanilla yogurt, packet of vanilla pudding mix, splash of milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and brown sugar -- it tastes like muffin mix! In case you haven't noticed, all of our family recipes consist of dumping and pouring ingredients rather than measuring -- it's just how we've always rolled! 

At my sister's we ate together, opened gifts, and then watched Elf together before calling it a night! I went back to work yesterday and it feels good to be back to my normal routine after so many festivities! 

Best thing you ate this past weekend?
How many Christmas / holiday celebrations did you attend?

The Days Before Christmas

Christmas definitely felt like it snuck right up this year and I was so grateful to have some time off before the holiday shenanigans! 

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Just before Christmas, I got my hair cut and went about an inch shorter than usual -- I'm toying with the idea of doing a much shorter, asymmetrical cut sometime this year, but who knows! Here I'm wearing that holiday plaid button-down again -- it's been so fun to mix and match with other closet staples! Paired with a puffer vest and my favorite everyday jeans (which are currently on sale for under $95). Just an FYI, I'd recommend sizing down a full size on this particular wash of denim -- their other toothpick jeans don't stretch out but this wash definitely does! 

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Last Wednesday, I met up with my auntie for a dinner date -- this is always one of my favorite things and I always leave feeling so uplifted. My aunt and I are scary-similar personality-wise (ENTP and Enneagram 8w7), so it's always fun to chat about life with her. She's also really into psychology as well, so it's fun to have conversations centered around that.

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Last Thursday, my boss surprised us with Christmas gifts before most of us headed out! We always say that she is the hostess with the mostest because she's always so thoughtful throughout the year! 

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The box was filled with so many fun things like hand cream, one of my favorite books, and a few other little goodies! 

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I headed to my sister's house after work that evening to watch her girls while they finished up some last-minute Christmas shopping. We ate snacks and watched a Christmas movie -- that's a winning combination in my book! 

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I took Friday off to have some downtime before the Christmas events started and it felt so good to wake up and relax instead of rushing out the door like I do most mornings. After awhile, I headed out to a nail appointment, but otherwise spent the day watching a few Christmas movies and taking a 2-hour nap which felt amazing.

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Getting a manicure is a rare occurrence for me since I prefer to do my own manicures, but my cuticles had been in rough shape lately. They recommended this product to me, so I'm excited to try it out! 

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We're still loving our Sling membership -- it's been so great to be able to record the shows / movies I want to watch and then having a full DVR to choose from whenever I have a chance to sit down.

I'll recap our Christmas celebrations tomorrow, so be sure to check back! 

Did you have time off before / after Christmas?
Favorite TV channel
? I'm obsessed with those thrillers on Lifetime Channel! 

A Night at the Nutcracker

Christmas is just one week away and I have a feeling this week is going to fly by! I'm taking some vacation days this week / next week and am looking forward to some time off to enjoy the holiday! 

This past Saturday, I headed over to my sister's house bright and early to drop off some birthday gifts for my niece before we headed out to the sample sale that the studio I work at was hosting. We gave her this play set for her birthday and she loved it -- even little sister loved it as well! It was definitely a hit! 

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After the sample sale, my sister suggested we stop to grab donuts for a little treat. We wound up at Glam Doll Donuts and it was so fun to check it out -- I've had their donuts many times before at work, but had never been inside the actual shop.

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One of my friends actually designed their logo, so it was fun to see it in action! I went with the salted caramel one -- lately I feel like I've been kind of over donuts, but it was pretty good! 

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We ran a few errands around the area after our donuts and then headed home to bake Christmas cookies. We used our step-grandma's recipe, which is our favorite! 

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Becca helped with the decorating and it was so funny to watch her get so into it!

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Afterwards, I packed up a container of cookies and headed home! 

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After I changed clothes and touched up my makeup, Andy and I headed out to see The Nutcracker. I've loved this production ever since I was a little girl, so attending a performance of it around the holidays always means so much to me! 

Are you a fan of The Nutcracker?
Red hots on sugar cookies -- yay or nay? 
The more the merrier for me!