Thursday, December 9, 2021

Things I Love Thursday // 12.9.21

I hope these last few weeks before the end of the year find you with ample time to enjoy the things that bring a smile to your face and some happiness in your heart.

Easy Peasy Family Photo Sessions

Last time we had our pics done as a family was mid-2020 during the height of quarantine. My friend, Lillian Shamy (an amazing teacher at our former elementary school and fabulous part-time photographer), came to the house and sat us for some "porchtraits." Loved them. However, some of us had side parts and braces then so obviously we were due for some updates.

Walks (Pulls) with These Guys

The days are getting chilly but so far, we're managing to stay mostly dry. Ben is absolutely terrible on his leash (totally our fault for not being consistent) but we traded constant monitoring and corrections in favor of being able to enjoy each other's company, carry a beverage, and walk side-by-side. Worth it.

Building a Charcuterie Board

I think this is becoming my jam (pun intended). There is something so satisfying about putting together a beautiful platter of deliciousness. It's almost as fun as eating it. Well, ok... maybe not THAT much fun --but still a lot. I feel like my boards get a little better every time. I have a few hot takes from professionals I've picked up along the way. Use a combo of cheeses (soft, semi-soft, and hard). Use a platter that has a bit of a lip or edge so you can really crowd everything together. Spread the color around. Add a few dishes with yumminess inside. Use fruit. FOLD or roll your meats. Use fresh herbs for fillers and color. Here are the details of this board (90% is from Trader Joe's). 
Meats: calabrese salame, prosciutto, capocollo, 
Cheeses: toscano drizzled with truffle oil and cracked pepper, sharp cheddar, Boursin, cambozola, cranberry-rolled goat cheese
Fruit: fresh grapes, dried apricots
Nuts: spicy pecans, rosemary marcona almonds
Crackers: beet crackers, pita chips, gluten-free nut crackers, fruit and nut crisps, truffle + black pepper Parmesan crisps, baguette
Dishes: sweet gherkins, Greek olive mix + pepper drops, Mike’s Hot Honey
Garnish: fresh basil, rosemary, and sage

Decorating the Tree

As is our tradition, we bought our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving but then we didn't end up have any time that matched up in all of our schedules to decorate until the last weekend. I'm so happy that my kids still want to decorate the tree with us. They're certainly a lot more helpful than they were when they were shorter! Another thing I love about decorating this year is how little else I did. After the tree came together, we hung the stockings from the mantle and put a wreath on the door. I think that's it for me this year. Of the 8 giant boxes my family carried up from the basement, five and half went back down full. Don't get me wrong, I am totally feeling the holiday spirit this year --I'm just passing on a lot of the work and all the extra STUFF. Besides, where on earth would I put all the houseplants to make space for Christmas tchotchkes? 

Richard Parker Here & Richard Parker There

If you've been around here lately you know that Ben (or covid puppy) has dominated the attention of nearly everyone in the household. He and Richard Parker are not friends yet. We're working on it... slowly. When Ben came home, Richard Parker almost immediately retreated to the basement (it's a cat palace down there, trust). He was fairly out of sight unless it was breakfast time or dinner time. Now, he's suddenly living his best life in all the places Ben is not allowed unsupervised --so literally anywhere except the kitchen. He spends his days sprawled out on one of the beds upstairs, lounges in the living room, and finds laps wherever he can. Welcome back to the rest of the house Richard Parker! We've missed you!

Organic Cotton Napkins

What is it with me and cloth napkins these days? Is this a side-effect of being almost 48? Honestly. I'm delightfully baffled. But every time I see images like these of adorable cotton or linen napkins I'm like, "Oh wow. YES. I need those." Let me tell you how often my family uses cloth napkins: two times a year. That's it. But I'll tell you something else: that better change soon because I'm not sure I can hold out much longer without these in my life.

Exploring Charlotte

My friend, Anne, is always up for a new experience. No idea how it got on her radar --but she threw out an invitation to join her on a holiday tour of "Historic Rosedale" on Tuesday. Her email to a few friends went a little something like this, "Hey, does anyone want to check this out with me? Tomorrow works on my end. Sorry for the short notice." Four of us were able to make it! We met up about 10 minutes outside of Uptown on the 9-acre property of Rosedale. It was a chilly but beautiful day and we had a guided tour of this family home built in 1815 that had been decorated throughout by Christmas scenes spanning the decades. The grounds and gardens are plentiful and I'm sure a visit in Spring would be beautiful. Thanks for your spontaneous idea, Anne!

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Things I Love Thursday | 12.2.21

Happy December! As always, I'm both pleased and overwhelmed that we have reached this point in the calendar year. I hope this season brings you an abundance of love and peace to help counter the inevitable moments of stress and unhappiness. Here are a few ways that love and gratitude have shown up for me.

Thanksgiving Holiday

Our family enjoyed a supremely relaxing and indulgent Thanksgiving in Palm Springs this year, hosted by some of the kindest, most generous friends. We spend the whole week in the sunshine laughing, lounging, reading, playing cards, sipping, and devouring delicious food! It was just what we needed and we returned to the east coast rested and happy. 

Rosemary Shortbread

I'm not sure I can overstate how absolutely delicious this recipe is! You MUST try it. I love to make it for family and friends during the holiday season. I have a blog post about it and you wouldn't believe how easy it is to execute. If you give it a try, let me know!

Trader Joe's Nuts About Rosemary Mix

Speaking of rosemary, if you're a fan, you MUST try these mixed nuts from Trader Joe's. I was gifted them by my friend, Sara, right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Holy moly. These are dangerously delightful. It's impossible to eat just one handful. You've been warned!

My Soccer Player

Piper wrapped up her fall club soccer season the weekend before Thanksgiving with an out of town college showcase event. Her team went 3 for 3 and had a ton of fun on and off the field. I'm not sure what the spring season will look like yet (because of her age bracket and high school tryouts) but I sure hope to have a lot of opportunities to continue to watch her do something she clearly loves.

Reindeer Cookies

Making these reindeer cookies with the girls for the first time in 2013 continues to be a sweet holiday memory. I love this activity for little kids. At the time, we packaged them up and delivered them to teachers and bus drivers. They were so proud of their creations --and they're delicious too. Here's a whole blog post about them with some bonus content of squishy Jones Girls. :)

Haagen-Dazs Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle Ice Cream

The title is a mouthful --which is fitting, as (if you're a bourbon fan like me) you will want a mouthful of this followed by another, and then another, etcetera, infinity. Do be warned though, it is decidedly boozy. Both of the girls tried it and were not fans. Geneva asked, "Why would you willingly eat something that tastes like cough medicine?!" Haha! Because I'm an old person.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Wow. This book. If your holiday list includes a reader who enjoys suspenseful psychological thrillers --you must pick up a copy of The Push by Ashley Audrain for them. Goodreads has this summary, "A tense, page-turning psychological drama about the making and breaking of a family --and a woman whose experience of motherhood is nothing at all what she she hoped for and everything she feared." I loved it! 

Our Advent Calendar Tradition

Since the girls were little, I've been doing this wooden advent calendar for them. The compartments are just big enough to hold two pieces of candy. Most of the doors have just that behind them --but every few days, the girls will have a (very silly) clue instead of candy that leads them to a small(ish) treat. December 1st is usually a matching pair of holiday pajamas to wear throughout the month and on Christmas morning. I found these amazingly soft striped ones at Target this season (already out of stock) --but the green pair is super cute and this set from Amazon has amazing ratings and so many colors! The whole family could rock this buffalo plaid set --if you can talk everyone into it (and if you do, please share pics)! 

Other advent calendar clues might lead to lip balm, nail polish, an ornament, or their annual wooden nutcracker (to be added to the collections I started for them a decade ago). One year, the final clue on Christmas morning lead the girls to an upstairs bathtub where a pair of hamsters were waiting to be adopted. Big fun!

Similar advent calendars are easy to find. I love this one with the little drawers. This cheerful guy is very cute! You could even go very fancy with something like this, if you're so inclined.

This post may contain affiliate links and I may make a HUGE commission (j/k it's literally pennies) when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You should know (and I'm legally required to tell you) that as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Feel free to make me RICH. lol ;)