Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 in Review

Well, another year is coming to a close and I think it's safe to say that it was both the most exciting and challenging year yet. I'm eager to see what 2017 has in store but am also a little nostalgic to let go of what was such a special year for our family.

If you've been reading for a while then you know that 2015 was a very emotional and difficult year for our family. It was one that totally completely shattered our hearts and then, when we were the most heartbroken, surprised us in the best way possible with the news that Madeline was on the way. I'm happy to say that her long-awaited arrival this year was exactly what our family needed. In the midst of a lot of pain, she gave us something joyous and exciting to look forward to. What a year it has been! So, without further adieu, here is my 2016 in Review.

We rang in the new year with a quiet dinner with friends. I was entering my 8th month of pregnancy and in the final weeks of awaiting Madeline's arrival.

We snuck away for a last minute babymoon at The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. 

My sweet, sweet grandmother passed away, just weeks before what would have been her 95th birthday. 

My family and close friends showered Madeline and me and we made the final preparations for her arrival. 

I got pretty excited for a week of much needed relaxation when my OB told me he would be writing me out of work due to swelling, and the fact that my work schedule didn't allow any restroom breaks for this super pregnant lady!

But then, as I had just finished grading my last set of papers before maternity leave started, my water broke two weeks early and Madeline was on her way!

We welcomed our precious daughter on February 17, 2016 at 2:33 in the afternoon.

Ten days later, I experienced an extremely dangerous and rare type of postpartum hemhorrage. All turned out fine but totally worth mentioning because you should always trust your body and I just knew something didn't seem right after Madeline's birth but figured I wasn't really the expert on childbirth.

We adjusted to life as a family of three. This was the most challenging month of the year for sure because breastfeeding was hard and Madeline never slept for longer than two hours at a time so I was exhausted. It was a busy travel month for Corey so Madeline and I had lots of one on one time that we spent figuring it all out!

We met some great friends through a playgroup and finally really began to settle in. Parenthood seemed to get a little easier and more fun. 
We found our new house and put in an offer. 

We listed our old house and went under contract soon after.
I went back to work. I am so thankful that both grandmothers were able to come and take turns nannying.

We closed on our new house and started renovating right away.

I had my last day of work and moved six years of my most valued teaching materials and about 800 children's books into the garage of our new house.

We moved into our new home. It was both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I am so glad we made the move when we did but I'm not sure I would recommend moving with an infant to any of my friends.

We debuted the new home with a 4th of July party with our closest friends. 

We said goodbye to Corey's aunt after an eight-month battle with cancer. 

We traveled to Florida to visit with Corey's mom. His sister and grandmother were also in town so it was great to have four generations together. 

We celebrated four years of marriage. 

We took a little impromptu beach trip. It was fun to get away for a few days but y'all, traveling with a baby is no easy task!

We celebrated Corey's birthday and Madeline's first Halloween.

Madeline was baptized at the church where I grew up and where Corey and I were married.

We celebrated my 29th birthday and hosted Thanksgiving in our new home.

Madeline met Santa and we prepared for her first Christmas. 

We snuck away for a little adults-only weekend at Olde Edwards Inn in Highlands, NC.

We celebrated the holiday with my parents and Corey's mom and enjoyed how much more magical the holidays become with a child, even one who doesn't really "get it" yet! 

We are so excited for what 2017 has to bring! 

You can see previous Year in Review posts here. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Holiday Home Tour 2016

Merry (almost) Christmas! I am so excited to celebrate Madeline's first Christmas this year. We will be staying in Charlotte and celebrating at our home in the morning and then enjoying a late lunch at Corey's mom's new home. A full recap to come soon!

I hesitated to post a Holiday home tour this year because I definitely feel like our home isn't quite where I'd like it for Holiday decorations. This is our first year in our house and our old home was smaller with a totally different layout. I feel like I will definitely need to add to our decor next year but we used what we already had this year and kind of got a feel for our home during the Holiday season. So without further adieu...

I kept our foyer very simple by adding this reclaimed wood sign that a local mom made, switching up my florals, and adding the mercury glass tree. In my childhood home, we lived in an old victorian house with 8 fireplaces and my mom always did Christmas villages on each one. My intention is to go through some of those decorations over the next year and bring a few of my favorites to decorate this table next year. This worked for now, though, and was a simple way to transition from our fall decor.

For the dining room, I added a holiday table runner, two crystal trees from Target, and this beautiful floral arrangement that Corey brought home for me. Isn't it gorgeous?

Our tree is in our family room. I always do an artificial tree. It is just my preference, perhaps because that's what I had growing up. My tree is not a show stopper this year. In fact, the bottom foot is not even decorated because Madeline is obsessed with the lights and ribbon. I made my bow topper and my tree skirt is from Pier 1. I'm ashamed to say my presents don't look quite as photogenic as usual, either. I guess I wasn't as on top of things this year!

Corey and I recently had our fireplace converted from wood burning to gas logs and it has been going daily this month. I so missed having a gas fireplace.

My mom made all of our stockings and they are pretty cute and whimsical. Madeline is obsessed with the Santa and sparkly reindeer and knocks them over pretty much daily.

I swapped out my fall lumbar pillow for this cute reindeer one and added Christmas throw pillows to the bonus room and bedrooms, too. Its such an easy way to add just a little something around the whole house.

In our breakfast nook, I added some red berries to our floral arrangement and hung these beautiful "Joy" wreathes that Corey's mom passed down to us.

I am displaying our Christmas cards on the cabinets in our little breakfast-nook desk area. This was so easy. Just attach the ribbon to the cabinets (I used picture hanging command strips so I can put it back easily next year) and hot glue tiny little clothes pins for the cards. 

I have this little gingerbread men setup in our kitchen along a really long countertop. I've had them since my very first apartment so I can't remember where they came from but the Christmas sign is from Target's dollar spot.

Of course Madeline has her own little tree to use as a nightlight. It is decorate in pink, white, and gold ornaments and needs a pretty bow topper next year.

Our decorations are truly a work in progress this year. They certainly add some Holiday cheer to our home but don't feel finished. Outside, we only have a wreath on the front door. We used to do wreathes and candles in all our windows in our old home but have so many more windows facing the front that that will be a project for next year, for sure! 

I have to say I haven't really felt on top of Christmas this year. But, its because I've been spending all my time with this precious girl. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

You can see my 2015 home tour in our old house here and my Fall home tour here

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Madeline Diaries - 10 Months

It's hard to believe our girl is already ten months old. She is on an awesome schedule and we are enjoying our days. It's nice to be in a predictable routine and I feel like we've fallen into a nice rhythm, which I appreciate since I am super Type A.

6:45-7 Madeline will wake up and have a bottle. Then, she will play. We usually stay downstairs until breakfast even though she is all over the place now and it is hard to contain her. I make my coffee and prepare my shake.

8:00 Madeline eats breakfast and I sit with her and drink my shake. She loves bananas, whole grain waffles, and oatmeal. 

We head upstairs to play after breakfast since it is easier to contain her.

9-11 Madeline takes a nap. We brush her teeth (she has four right now) and read a story before she goes into the crib.

While she is napping, I work out and get dressed and try to do laundry.

11:00 Madeline has a bottle then we usually go out for an errand or a walk. Some days we have play group during this time and on Tuesdays we sometimes go to Story Time at the library.

12:45 Madeline and I eat lunch together.

1:30- 3:00 Madeline takes a nap and I work for an hour or so then try to spend 15-20 minutes cleaning something. My down time is so scheduled to fit everything in but I turn on Netflix in the background so it works. 

3:00 Madeline wakes up between now and 3:30 and has a bottle. Sometimes we take an afternoon stroller walk if we didn't earlier or play. 

4:30 We go downstairs to prep dinner. I put Madeline in her high chair next to me in the kitchen with some Cheerios or in the play pen (which I call Baby Jail) with some toys to contain her while I dice veggies or whatever I have to do to get started.  

5:10 Madeline eats dinner. She eats so early that we sit and talk with her but don't eat with her yet. Sometimes she eats what we will be eating or what we ate the night before. She also really loves turkey meatballs in organic marinara, butternut squash mac n cheese, mini chicken pot pies, and pulled chicken with sweet potatoes and veggies.

On Mondays, I leave for work at 5:00 so my mother in law comes over to play with Madeline and put her to bed for the night.

5:45 Bath time! Corey does bath when he is home and I try to finish up dinner. 

6:00 Bottle in the nursery.

6:15 Teeth brushed and listening to a story. Then, we listen to the sweetest little Precious Moments prayer bear Madeline got for her baptism and into the crib she goes. I turn on a lullaby on the Sleep Sheep and she is usually asleep by the time it goes off on the 20 minute timer.

Sometimes Madeline will sit up in her crib and talk or play with her lovey for 10-15 minutes before she goes to sleep and just lays right down when she is ready. We worked so hard on her sleep because it was rough for about the first four months but I am so proud to report she is an amazing sleeper now. It is hard to believe she is almost a year old! 

Friday, December 16, 2016

5 on Friday

Happy Friday! Its a cold one for us today but perhaps the weather will inspire me to get my act together and finish getting ready for Christmas?

Joining in with April for 5 on Friday today. 

This has been a super busy week with three Christmas parties. I accidentally asked a sitter for tonight for a party that was last night so I ended up having to get another sitter for Corey's client party last night. This means that we just have to have a date night, tonight, which I am not at all unhappy about. It will be nice to go out for a non-obligation night to ourselves tonight and we are planning to see a few friends. It also gives me a great excuse to wear my new Anthro top I got for my birthday.

We sent out our Christmas cards at the beginning of the week so I am assuming they have all been delivered at this point. Enjoy this virtual version of our card as a gift from our family to yours this Holiday season. A little fun fact is, that although we've been married for more than four years, this is the very first time we've sent out Christmas cards.

Corey and I are looking forward to sneaking away to Olde Edwards Inn for a couple adults-only days of relaxation. The grandmothers will be here to spend time with Madeline and Riley so I know they'll be in excellent hands while we recharge.

I am trying to finish up my Christmas shopping before we leave. Last year I was all finished and wrapped by this time but I am severely behind this year. Anyone else procrastinating like me?

Speaking of Christmas, what are the top things on your list this year? I am really drawing a blank for myself so I just asked for gift cards to Nordstrom, Anthro, and Lilly. Impersonal, I know, but just what I need to update my wardrobe a little now that I am not in the classroom.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Favorite 2-Ingredient Appetizers

I have always really loved to entertain at home. With a baby at home, I often have to find recipes that are quick and easy to prepare. I don't want to compromise on deliciousness, though. I really like my guests to feel like I didn't cut any corners in preparing for them. But the days where I have time to cut circles out of puff pastry to make tomato tartlets are over for the time being.

Today, I am sharing three of my favorite appetizer recipes, each with just two ingredients and a few condiments you will already have in your freezer.

Shopping list:
  • Palmetto brand pimento cheese
  • frozen Phyllo cups
One of my favorite recipes is pimento cheese cups. These are such a crowd pleaser. I use Palmetto cheese. I'm sure you could use another brand but it would be worth your time to hunt this brand down if it is carried somewhere near you. 

Simply place phyllo cups on a baking sheet and fill with Palmetto cheese. Bake at 350 until the cheese is gooey, about ten minutes. Prepare to be amazed.

Shopping list:
  • Asparagus
  • Bacon
  • Italian or vinaigrette dressing 
Soak toothpicks in water so they don't burn. Meanwhile, wash asparagus and cut into fourths. Marinate in a baggie with Italian dressing for a few hours. The brand doesn't matter. I just use whatever is in the fridge. You could also use olive oil and a little salt and pepper in a pinch. Cut thick-cut bacon into 2-inch long pieces and use it to wrap 4 or 5 pieces of asparagus and secure with toothpick. Roast in oven until bacon is crispy, about twenty minutes. I usually do this at 400 but will start them lower when I am cooking several things at once. 

Shopping list:
  • Little Smokies or all beef hotdogs
  • Crescent rolls
These are a classic but always a crowd pleaser. I like using Little Smokies because they are the
perfect size already but an all-beef hotdog cut into bite sized pieces will work just fine as well.

Lay crescent rolls flat. Cut each triangle in half to make two smaller triangles. Wrap smokie or hot dog in crescent triangle, starting at the wide side, and place on a baking sheet seam down. If you have poppy seeds available, give your pigs a little sprinkle and bake at 350 for about 12-15 minutes until the smokies are warm and the rolls have puffed. Serve with mustard and ketchup for dipping.

What are your favorite easy appetizers for entertaining?