Food, family, and fitness... all with a bit of style.

Merry Christmas!!!!!

Merry Christmas Eve friends!!!!
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Thank you so much for following along as I share a little piece of our world here on the blog. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas & a Happy & Healthy 2019! I am taking a little blogging break to enjoy the holidays and will be back here on January 2. 
I can't wait to share our holiday fun, my favorite reads of 2018 and my favorite moments from the year. 
From my family to yours.....Merry Christmas!!! 
See you in 2019.....there is always room for one more at our family table.

Merry Monday!!!

Ok friends...I guess it is officially "crunch time"! We are one week out until Christmas Eve and I'm not sure about you, but we have all the things happening this week!! 
We have holiday parties, cookie parties, dance, basketball, neighborhood parties, a gift giving event, my birthday, and... I start a new! 
I am so excited for all of it, but I feel like I am going to blink and the week will be gone. So for today I thought I would share a few things to help in case you have a busy week too. 
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Happy Friday friends!! Just 11 days until Christmas! It's that time when I am torn between being excited for Christmas Eve/Day and wanting time to slow down, because I don't want it to be over!
We have been getting our holiday on here this last week! So here are a few of my favorites from the week.
Spoiler Alert... all my favorites have some connection to Christmas!!
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 As always, I am linking up with some of my favorite bloggers, ErikaNarci & Andrea to share some favorites from the week!

How We Christmas!!!!

Happy Wednesday friends!!! Today I am linking up with Shay & Erika for How We Wednesday. Some fun topics on "how we do" life... and today's topic is How We Christmas!! Cue twinkle lights and Christmas music.
I am all about traditions. As much as I like to explore new things too, I love doing the same things each year....especially around Christmas. So today I am sharing some of our family Christmas traditions. Not just what we do on Christmas day (we do pretty much the same things every Christmas Day) but the whole month leading up to it!

Gingerbread Party 2018... A Sweet Afternoon

 Happy Tuesday friends!!! I had every intention of sharing a post yesterday, but the weekend wiped me out and I chose my bed over blogging on Sunday night! But the weekend wiped me out in all the best ways! We took our annual trip across the border to see the lights in Niagara Falls on Saturday and on Sunday we hosted our annual Gingerbread party. 
I get lots of questions from friends, on the blog and on social media aobut this party, so this post is a recap and a "how to" all in one๐Ÿ˜‰ I will warn you it is also a lot of pictures!
As for how this party started, we first hosted this party 7 years ago. I love Christmas and thought it would be fun to have an afternoon with Moms and their girls during the holidays. Our first party we had 6 girls. 
And this year we hosted 11 girls. 
Each year we partner with a local organization to find a family in need for the holidays. We send out the family wishlist to the girls that are coming and they help us make the holidays a bit brighter for a special family. So not only a fun afternoon, but the reason for the party is to help a family that needs a little hope around Christmas. 

Friday Favorites....Hello December

Happy Friday friends!! We are in full December Mode here!!
Elf Arrival...Check
Good Snowfall....Check
Twinkle lights all around....Check
Gifts bought....Check
Gosh I love this month! I shared a fun linkup on Monday with a little holiday Q&A and I think all those holiday questions really got be in the spirit! Be sure to check it out, if you missed it!
And now onto Friday Favorites... a whole bunch of random favorite things from the last week. As always, I am linking up with some of my favorite bloggers, ErikaNarci & Andrea to share some favorites from the week!

What I've Been Reading......

Hey friends!! It has been a while since I shared a book review here. So here is a peek at what I have been reading lately. 
8 books
6 I enjoyed.
2 not so much.
And reading is so good when you are surrounded by twinkle lights!

A Fun Holiday Link up!

Hey friends! I am so excited that December is here!!! We had a great weekend and kicked off our month with a little visit from Percy our elf. 
So I am feeling all kinds of festive and excited to link up with the ladies over at  The Blended Blog for a Holiday Edition of TBB Asks. 

Friday Favorites....Goodbye November

Hey friends!!! I am ready to flip my calendar tomorrow and say Hello December!! My favorite month of the year. And I have a feeling our elf may be flying into town tomorrow....

Crazy to think November is coming to an end... I shared a peek into our November in my What's Up Wednesday post.
And now onto Friday Favorites... grab a coffee, cozy blanket and read on as I link up with some of my favorite bloggers, ErikaNarci & Andrea to share some favorites from the week!

What's Up Wednesday....November Edition

Hey friends!!! Here we are, wrapping up November. I feel like this month has flown by, but that's ok with me because it means December is on it's way!!
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Today I am linking up with ShayMel and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday, November Edition. 

 A fun monthly post where we answer these questions....

Giving Tuesday

Hey friends!!! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!! We had a great time with family and enjoyed a little break from work and school and kicked off our day running the Turkey Trot.
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FYI...It was 6 degrees at race time. Yes, 6. FREEZING!
So now that we had Black Friday (which I think was really Thursday), Small Business Saturday (actually Saturday) and Cyber Monday (which seemed to start on Sunday), today is an important day to get back to the meaning of this whole season. Today is Giving Tuesday
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Holiday Gift Guide.....Gifts for Her

Hey friends! Ok, so a gift guide for her is probably the easiest... I mean can't we all just list out things we would love to get?!?!

I have it broken down into a few buckets. Kitchen stuff (I love to cook), home and personal stuff and some fun things to wear!

Holiday Gift Guide...Gifts for Guys!

Hey there friends!!! Ok, so here were in like the biggest shopping week of the year and I am sharing a few ideas to help you out.  I have shared  Gift Guide for BoysGift Guide for GirlsGifts for Kids & Family, and Gifts for the Hostess

Today is all about the guys. And I have to admit, this is usually where I can struggle. Especially because Paul is not a collector of things. He prefers practical gifts that serve a purpose- no fluff! Ha!! So here are a few ideas, aside from the basics of cologne, boxers, undershirts and car wash certificates....which are usually what end up in Paul's pile๐Ÿ˜‰

p.s. You can read here about the tradition of this box and why Paul gets a gift in it every year!

Something New for Your Family Table....One Pot Greek Chicken

Happy Monday friends!! Can you even believe Thanksgiving is just three days away?? I can't wait!! So it has been a bit since I have shared a recipe and this has quickly become a family favorite. Did you catch the title? One Pot Greek all cooks in one pot! Amen! 

Friday Favorites....Feeling Festive!

TGIF friends!!! We are halfway through November and I am feeling all kinds of festive! I worked hard all week getting together some gift guides and was so excited to share them! Even more exciting was hearing from readers that they found some great gift ideas.
Now on to Friday Favorites... grab a coffee, cozy blanket and read on as I link up with some of my favorite bloggers, ErikaNarci & Andrea to share some favorites from the week!

Holiday Gift Guide....Family Gifts!

Hey friends! So excited to share another holiday gift guide with you guys!!
 I have shared gifts for hostess, for girls, for boys....and today is a mix of randomness I am calling family gifts. Things you could do together as a family or a gift that is perfect for a boy or girl or....... wait for it... a gift siblings could enjoy together!!!! Hallelujah!
You know the kind of gift that is "for both of them" so there is no peeking....
That's what we are talking about today๐Ÿ˜‰

Holiday Gift Guide....Gifts for Boys

Hey friends!!! So here I am with gift guide number 3 for you! Yesterday was all about the girls and today it's about boys! I would say most of these gifts are tailored towards boys ages 8-12. And I picked things I know my Luke would love (or already has). He is really into sports and football, so if your little guys are too, then I have a few fun ideas! I did not share any jerseys, but that is at the top of Luke's list. He loves wearing sports jerseys!

Holiday Gift Guide....Gifts for Girls

Today's post is some of my picks for great girl gifts this year.  I would say most of these gifts fall in the tween category, as I look at things my Ella, age 11 would love!

A Little Life Lately.....

Hey friends!!! So it has been a while since I shared a little life lately here on the blog. Nothing too exciting to report, just a random bunch of pictures from the last couple weeks. 
So not sure if you have this issue with your fuzzy one, but she loves to be near me. Especially when I am cooking dinner. I think she is hoping that cheese magically falls down to her. I am constantly tripping over her, I mean she plops herself right in my zone!

Friday Favorites...10 Favorite Hostess Gifts

Happy Friday friends!! it just me or does this time change have you ready for bed at  7pm????  I know I just need to adjust to it, but having it totally dark by like 5:30pm has me ready to call it a night super early! However it has not had quite the same effect on my kids!
And I cannot believe Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks! I feel like it is going to come so fast, so I need to get it together! I am sharing some of my favorite hostess gift ideas with you, in case you need some ideas for this holiday season.
As always, I am linking with some of my favorite bloggers, ErikaNarci & Andrea to share some of my favorite gifts to give the hostess!

Holiday Planning Tips!!!

Happy Wednesday friends! As we start November, I thought I would share a few of my tips to help make the holiday season a little less crazy or maybe a little more organized. Here are a few things I do this month to ease the load of December's hustle and bustle! And it seems an appropriate time for this post as I started listening to Christmas music yesterday!  A local radio station started playing it and it sure brought a smile to my face. So some of you hear holiday planning and Christmas music in November and you are all like....
But if you are on the side of  "don't talk Christmas until after Thanksgiving", then maybe this post isn't for you ๐Ÿ˜‰
For those still reading, here are some of my holiday planning tips!

A Christmas List
I actually start this a little earlier in the year. I keep a piece of paper in my wallet with those I need to buy gifts for. As I see things in store or hear them talk about something, I write it down. I also check off things if I purchase them... this helps to keep tabs on what you have and still need to get. And if you want to be really organized, make a note where you stash those early gifts! I mean haven't we all "lost" a gift or two we bought too early!
 I feel like I will be out shopping in September and see something and think, "gosh, that would be perfect for.....". So I write it down. You can also put it in notes in your phone. I just happen to be very much a pen, paper and list girl. Even with a really great list, this may or may not happen to me at some point in the holiday season!
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Another way to make your list is write out need, wear, want and read and try to get one thing in each bucket, instead of just a bunch of "wants" that will probably lose their wow factor immediately after opening. And if you need help with your lists, stay tuned... I'll be sharing my gift guides this month!! 

There are lots of fun holiday things to do and see! Like you could do something everyday! We like touring the lights, ice skating, visit to Santa, family visits, holiday can get hectic. Schedule out what you want to do and when you want to do it.  You can check our our Christmas Bucket List  here. It's from a few years ago, but we do love Christmas traditions, so it is pretty much the same year after year!
I'm talking really schedule. Like ride around to see lights on Tuesday December 11. Be specific, but be sure to leave nights for doing nothing but enjoy your own Christmas decorations with your kids, popcorn, and a fun Christmas movie!
I just LOVE this time of year!!

Pantry Stock up
I love to host holiday parties and also love holiday baking. Try to plan out what you are baking and what you might need for parties and get some of your pantry items now. Baking supplies, spices, frozen items, etc. are all good things to stock up on early in the season.
And it will make for a lighter grocery cart as you battle your way through the produce aisles on the day before Thanksgiving!!

Wine & Gift Cards
Now that I have your attention..... November is the perfect time to stock up on some extra bottles of wine. Great to have on hand if you need a last minute gift, something to bring the hostess, or need a glass for some late night wrapping!
 And speaking of hostess gifts, be sure to check back next week....I am sharing some gift ideas for the hostess.
We usually give gift cards to our local coffee/lunch spot for teachers, bus drivers and our mailman. Grab them now to check that off the list. 

Wrapping Paper, Tape, Scissors
If you did not stock up on wrapping paper at the end of season last year, get it now. The selection is great this time of year.  And if you have not checked out wrapping supplies at Home Goods, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx, they have the cutest (and best quality) wrapping paper and boxes!
While you may pay a little more than waiting for the sale in mid- December, I like to be able to wrap when I have  few extra minutes. 
Have your paper, extra tape, scissors, Sharpies, and whatever else you need ready to go so you can wrap as you buy.  ***always buy an extra roll of tape....I always seem to run out at the worst time!

Make a stop to the post office this month to pick up stamps and shipping materials. That place is just going to keep getting busier, so grab your stuff now to avoid the rush!!!
If you mail out Christmas Cards, now is the time to "make them". I always pick my design and add my pictures to my Shutterfly account. I save it in my cart, so that on Black Friday or Cyber Monday when they have a crazy good sale I can just click to buy! 

Elf on the Shelf
Does this little Elf make an appearance at your house after Thanksgiving? Does the thought of what tricks he will do or where he will hide each day stress you out??? Make a plan now. I write out the dates from his arrival to his departure and fill in what he will do or where he will hide each day. If he brings "special things" throughout the month, get that stuff now. 
That way each night you can check the list and sleep more soundly! Now remembering to check the list each night.....that's another story!!!
So while these tips may not be earth-shattering, they are some little things that can help make December more fun. I have worked in retail my whole life, so I know all about the craziness of the holidays! I have found that with a little's a lot more fun. I like to get things all wrapped up (literally!) by December 10th so we can really enjoy those weeks leading up to Christmas. It's such a magical time with the kids and really is "the most wonderful time of the year!". And yes I sang that as I typed!
Ok I am officially in the holiday spirit!!!

Have the best Wednesday! See you on Friday for Friday favorites! There is always room for one more at our family table.

Thanksgiving Questions...Answered!

Happy Monday friends! I am linking up with my friends over at the Blended Blog to share answer some fun questions around Thanksgving. So grab some coffee and let's talk turkey!

Friday Favorites....Hello November!!!

Oh friends I am so happy to see Friday!!! This has been a LOOONG week. We started the week past our bedtime on Sunday watching the World Series...then up late again watching our Bills play Monday Night Football...Tuesday was a fun Halloween Dinner...Wednesday was Trick or Treating and Halloween fun....last night brought dance and basketball practice....
So excuse me while I pour some more coffee in my cup and think about turning the clocks back on Sunday. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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As always, I am linking with some of my favorite bloggers, ErikaNarci & Andrea to share some of my favorites from this week! So grab your coffee, get cozy and check out a few of my favorite things from the week.

Thankful Tree

Hey friends!! I hope you guys had a fun Halloween! Ours was wet and chilly, but my crew still came home with lots of sweet treats. And lucky for me, Paul walked around with them and I stayed home...cozy and passing out candy to all the neighborhood cuties!
 Now moving right along to Thanksgiving! I cannot believe it will be here in just a few weeks. One of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions is our Thankful tree.

Every year on November 1st we start our Thankful Tree at our house, so I a reposting this tradition. It's simple, sweet and a fun thing to do leading up to Thanksgiving.....

A few years ago a good friend told me about a Thankful Tree she does with her kids. It's really a cute idea. We have a tree silhouette hanging in the kitchen and each night at dinner we add a leaf to it. We each write something we are thankful for and put it on the tree. It's fun to look back and see what we have written.

What's Up Wednesday...October Edition

Happy Halloween friends!!!
We are here hoping this rain stops before all the ghosts and goblins start out Trick or Treating!!!  We celebrated a Halloween Ever dinner last night with my parents and sister, so we can get an early jump on Trick or Treating, since it's a school night. I have said this before, I am a strong supporter of Halloween being moved to the last Saturday in October every year. I think that would work out much better๐Ÿ˜‰
So here we are the last Wednesday of the month and I am linking up with ShayMel and Sheaffer for What's Up Wednesday... October Edition. 

 A fun monthly post where we answer these questions....

Something New for Your Family Table.....Pumpkin Chili

Hey friends! Gosh I am tired this morning after staying up to watch Boston win the World Series! What a fun group of guys to watch play and even more exciting that we got to see them in action this year!
Give me some extra coffee this morning! Lucky for Luke, the kids are off from school today....he was up way past his bedtime too๐Ÿ˜‰

Friday Favorites

Hey friends! Gosh this week just flew by... and I cannot believe we are less than a month until Thanksgiving! But first let's finish up October enjoying all things pumpkin ๐Ÿ˜‰
As always, I am linking with some of my favorite bloggers, ErikaNarci & Andrea to share some of my favorites from this week! So grab your coffee, get cozy and check out a few of my favorite things from the week.

Favorite Fall Recipes

Hey friends! So it is officially Fall (ok maybe Winter like) weather here. That means my weekly meal plans are full of some of my Fall favorite recipes. I rounded up a few of our family favorites to share today, in case you are in need of a little dinner inspiration this week.๐Ÿ˜‰

This Butternut Squash Ravioli is a great option for a weeknight. You can have it pulled together in under 30 minutes and it's not a lot of  "hands-on" time. I get the squash pre-cut at our grocery store. It's not the easiest to peel or cut, so I usually opt for the pre-cut.

Colder weather means soup season and this one is a staple. My Black Bean Soup has been a favorite for years. It's filling on it's own or sometimes we add some simple quesadillas on the side... my kids love to dip them in the soup.

This soup recipe was the most popular recipe on the blog two years ago. This Turkey, Bean & Spinach Soup has lots of good for you ingredients and is kid approved. I usually make a double batch of meatballs and freeze them, to use another night.

Try mixing up your Taco Tuesday with these Verde Chicken Enchiladas. With help from a store bought rotisserie chicken, you can have these together in no time!

Can we all agree that a Crockpot meal makes life a lot easier? This Cranberry Chicken is full of flavor, perfect over rice or cauli-rice and cooks all day. The tartness of the cranberry is just a fun pop of flavor! I use fresh orange zest too and serve orange slices on the side for my kids.

And lastly a little something sweet.....
I can't' share Fall food without my Pumpkin Cupcakes. All the tastes of Fall in this delicious bite. 
And the frosting is A-Mazing!!

Do you have any favorite Fall recipes??? Share them with me in the comments!
Have the best day...see you soon. There is always room for one more at our family table.

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