Thursday, November 30, 2023

Fall Family Photos 2023

Just like last year – and most other years LOL – we waited until the last minute to take our family photos.  I swear every year we’re going to hire a photographer, and then we never do, so here we are using our good ol’ tripod in our back yard yet again.  Sigh.

The day we finally decided to take them, it was dreary, FREEZING, and super windy, so we had to take literally a hundred photos of the four of us just to get a handful of decent ones where somebody’s hair wasn’t flying away in the wind. 

All things considering, they turned out okay, and without further ado, here’s our little fam for 2023…

Happy Monday, y’all! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Three Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Teachers from the Class

*This post contains affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

We love our teachers, and we love to shower them with gifts during the holidays!  I’ve been the room parent for one or both of our kids for the last six years, and each year during the holidays, I send an email to give the parents the option to contribute to a class gift for the teachers.  Contributions are, of course, not mandatory, but I’ve found that most parents would rather contribute to a class gift than worry about purchasing a gift on their own.

Today I’m sharing three themed gift basket ideas for teachers from the whole class.  The items you curate for your basket are, of course, dependent upon the amount of money that you are able to collect, but I’ve found that parents are very generous when it comes to treating the teachers, and we’re usually able to put together something pretty fabulous for each of them year after year.


Gift Basket Idea #1 – The Gift Card Tree

You can never go wrong with gift cards, but it can be tough to gift them in a clever way.  To spruce up the presentation a bit, just purchase a miniature Christmas tree and clip the gift cards to it.  It’s easy, and the teacher can use the Christmas tree in the classroom for years to come.


Christmas Tree

Gold Clips

Target Gift Card

Amazon Gift Card

AMC Gift Card

Starbucks Gift Card

Bath & Body Works Gift Card

Chipotle Gift Card

Chick-Fil-A Gift Card

Gift Basket Idea #2 – The Stanley Cup Bundle

Stanley Cups are incredibly popular right now, so a cute gift idea would be to purchase a Stanley Cup in the teacher’s favorite color and include a bunch of accessories with it.  Just look at that custom nameplate, y’all… it is just darling!


Stanley Cup

Silicone Handle

Straw Toppers

Personalized Teacher Name Plate

Skid-proof Boot

Snack Tray

Reuseable Straws with Cleaning Brush


Gift Basket Idea #3 – The Pamper Yourself Basket

Everyone deserves to pamper themselves every now and then, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than our teachers!  This gift basket includes an array of items to keep teachers cozy and allow them to pamper themselves after a long day in class with a room full of kids!


Barefoot Dreams Blanket

Cozy Slippers

Laneige Lip Mask

Glass Nail File

Gold Under Eye Anti-Wrinkle/Dark Circles Patches

Ice Roller

Barefoot Dreams Cozy Socks


And there you have it… three very different ideas for gift baskets for any teacher on your list! 

Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Our Week - The One with Playdates, Tree Decorating, Friendsgiving, Fantasy in Lights, the North Pole Breakfast, Three Thanksgivings, and a Birthday Brunch

What a week we had, y’all!  I feel like we squeezed a million things into our Thanksgiving Break, and it was a really great one!  Just looking at the title of the blog posts makes me tired.  Haha.  Let’s get to the recap!

Monday, November 20

Monday, the kids were out of school and Brian was off of work because it was Thanksgiving break!!!!  We all slept in, had a low-key breakfast, and then I spent some time being lazy and enjoying a cup of hot cinnamon tea.  I also got the garlands on our Christmas tree since the lights were finally done.

Later in the morning, I got showered and ready for the day, and then we had an early, light lunch because we had to be out of the house before 1 to pick up the kids’ friends to come over and hang out for the day.  We picked up Jacob’s friend WJ first, and then we headed to Olivia’s friend Savannah’s house to grab her, and then we all headed back to our house.

Jacob and WJ played video games pretty much the whole day (we usually don’t allow that much screentime, but we make an exception when friends are over), and Olivia and Savannah lived their best lives listening to Taylor Swift and making slime. 

They made slime for a couple of hours, and while they did that, I got some laundry done along with some blog work.  They wanted to go out and play in the leaves after they were done with slime because our tree (and yard) were at peak with colorful, crunchy leaves everywhere, and they had a blast out there for the rest of the day.

Brian had stepped out to pick up tables and chairs and some last-minute things for Thanksgiving since we’re hosting, and I helped him get all of that put away when he got home.

Olivia and I drove Savannah home at 5, and then WJ’s dad picked him up at 5:30, and then we got dinner ready.  On the menu for Monday was breakfast – eggs, grits, bacon, sausage, and toast – as it’s always the kids’ favorite dinner that we do at home.  That’s why we make it almost every week.  Haha.

Last weekend I had listed a bunch of stuff for sale on Facebook in a local selling group, and I ended up selling several items, so the last of the items were picked up Monday evening and it felt great to have everything out of our house + some extra money in our pockets!

After dinner, the kids headed upstairs to shower and get ready for bed, and I got in a stair stepper workout while they did that.  Afterwards, we all headed downstairs in our cozy PJs, and we decorated the main tree in our living room.  The kids each have a tree in their bedrooms for all of their handmade ornaments over the years, Brian and I have a tree in our bedroom for all of our leftover wedding ornaments, I have a tree in my office for all of my favorite things ornaments, and the main tree in the living room is for all of our family ornaments throughout the years.  I have all of mine from when I was a kid, B has all of his from when he was a kid, and the kids each get new ornaments each year as well, so it’s a FULL TREE.  Side note, Olivia saw my ornament from 1989 and said, "Mommy, we have a Taylor Swift ornament!!!!"  I had to explain to her that was actually not a Taylor Swift ornament, and that it was, in fact, literally from 1989.  Lol.  My teacher's assistant made those for all of the students in my second grade class for Christmas that year.  <3

Once it was all done, I just couldn’t believe how beautiful it turned out.  I had worried that an artificial tree just wouldn’t hold a candle to our usual real trees, but y’all, I have to say, our artificial tree looks EXACTLY like the old Fraser fir trees we always get every year, but the artificial tree is BETTER.  The branches are stronger, so the ornaments don’t droop, and we don’t have to worry about it being dead and brown by Christmas Day!  It will also be worlds easier to take down at the end of the season.  I’m. in. love.

After the tree was decorated, we all snuggled up to watch two episodes of the new season of The Santa Clauses, and then after the kids went to bed, B and I finished season one (and what we’re assuming to be the only season) of Wilderness.  We loved it.


Tuesday, November 21

Tuesday, we woke up to a dreary, rainy day which meant that we spent the day indoors.  I enjoyed some hot tea and finished a blog post, then I got in a mixed cardio workout.  I also got the whole ground floor tidied to perfection, B and I rounded up all of the items to be donated and put them in my trunk, I cleaned the toilets, vacuumed, and freshened up all of the hand towels, and then I pulled some of the fall décor back out to get the dining room ready for Friendsgiving that I was hosting that evening.

I did some more blog work in the afternoon, and then I got ready for the evening.  In the early evening, Brian and the kids headed out so my girlfriends and I could have the house to ourselves.  Jeannine’s husband offered to keep all of the kids since three of us would be at Friendsgiving, so Brian dropped them off over at their house and then he headed out for dinner and drinks with his two best friends from high school.

After they left, I got to work staging the house, whipping up a big batch of my Bonefish copycat Winter White Cosmos, making my Momma’s famous mac and cheese, and putting together a charcuterie board.  I had just finished all of that when my girlfriends started to arrive.

Five of us ended up being able to make it Tuesday evening – Jeannine, Jen, Jessica, Heather, and me – and we had the best time.  I gave everyone a house tour since it was all decorated for Christmas, and then we enjoyed our cocktails and grazed on the charcuterie board for a bit before turning to the main course.

Each girl brought a dish, and we had a rotisserie chicken with homemade cranberry sauce, mac n cheese, sweet potato souffle, and one of the best salads I’ve ever had with smoked gouda cheese, bacon, apples, and almonds.  For dessert, we had apple pie with vanilla ice cream, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we were all STUFFED by the time we were done.

The girls headed home a little after 8, and then I got the kitchen cleaned up while I waited for Brian and the kids to get home.  Brian had had a great time with his friends, and the kids had had a great time with their friends, and it was just a great evening for all of us. 

James (Jeannine’s husband) sent me a couple of pictures of the kids throughout the night, and they’d had the best time decorating cookies and hanging out.


Once we were all home, we got in our PJs and then we watched another episode of The Santa Clauses before sending the kiddos to bed.  Brian and I started a new show called Tell Me Your Secrets on Amazon Prime, and y’all, I was hooked after episode one!  It’s intriguing.


Wednesday, November 22

Wednesday was HELLA productive, and I felt super accomplished and ready for Thanksgiving when the day was done.  I was the first one up Wednesday, so I took advantage of the fact that the house was tidied to perfection, and I went ahead and photographed the whole downstairs for my Christmas home tour.

After that, we all had breakfast, and I spent the next hour sipping my hot tea and catching up on some blog reading.  I was about two weeks behind, and I caught up on a whole week’s worth Wednesday morning.  I love reading blogs, and I love to support all of my blogger friends, so I hate when I get behind.

After that, I laced up my tennis shoes and headed out for a very cold, windy run.  The weather was gloomy all day Wednesday again, but there was no rain, so I wanted to get in one good run before all of our Thanksgiving festivities started on Thursday. 

After my run, I unboxed some packages that had arrived, and I started putting together some outfit ideas for my trip to New York City. 

We had lunch after that, and then I worked hard for a couple of hours clearing off the kitchen countertops and scrubbing them down.  We hosted Thanksgiving Thursday evening, so we needed ample space for the food buffet.  We also got the extra table and chairs set up and decorated in the foyer.  I also chatted with my Momma on the phone for a bit about some last-minute details, and then it was time to get ready for the day.

Once we were all ready for the day, we set up the tripod in our back yard and took family pictures for our Christmas card.  The weather was yucky, and the beautiful fall foliage had blown away in the storms on Tuesday + it was FREEZING and the wind was blowing almost constantly which made picture-taking really hard, but we got them done.  They’re not my favorite, but they’re not bad considering we did them ourselves in our back yard in some unfavorable conditions.  Not to mention taking the pictures had been hanging over my head for WEEKS, so I was just happy to knock them out.

We were all freezing by the time we got back inside, so I grabbed another cup of hot tea, and I headed to my office to work for a couple of hours.  I had big plans to get a couple of blog posts knocked out, but unfortunately, when my new iOS updated on my iPhone a few days ago, it messed up the connection between my phone and my PC, and it took me an entire hour and a half to get the pictures off of my phone to my computer.  It used to take about five minutes.  For a while there, they wouldn’t come off at all, and I was worried they never would.  That would be a complete and utter MESS if that ever happened since I remove pictures from my phone weekly for blog posts.  Y’all, sometimes I HATE technology.

I was finally able to get the pictures transferred to the computer, but by the time they were there, I only had a few minutes to finish my blog post for Thursday, and I had no time to get ahead on the blog once again.  This year has just been awful for that.  I haven’t been able to get ahead ever since my vertigo started back in July.  For one reason or another, something always happens when I’m just about to get ahead.

Wednesday evening, we went out for Mexican food at our favorite local place, and B and I enjoyed a round of margs.  We typically do Mex nearly once a week, and it had been weeks since we’d had it, so it hit the spot.  We almost always go out for Mex the night before Thanksgiving, too.  It’s been a tradition for me to do that since I was in my early 20’s.  We’d always hit up margarita night since it was always on a Wednesday, and then we go downtown to the bars and clubs and meet up with old friends who were back in town for the holidays.  The good ol’ days.  Haha.

After Mex, the kids asked for DQ, so we swung by there on the way home, and then I did a Bible study while the kids got showered and ready for bed.  We watched another episode of The Santa Clauses, and then after the kids went to bed, B and I watched another episode of Tell Me Your Secrets.


Thursday, November 23

Thanksgiving morning, we started the day with homemade waffles, bacon, and mimosas, and then we all curled up on the couch and watched the entire Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from start to finish.  This was the first year that the kids didn’t lose interest somewhere in the middle of it.  After that, they watched the dog show, and I got off the couch and started getting stuff done since we were hosting my entire family that evening at our house.

We had a light lunch, and then I squeezed in some blog work… yes, on Thanksgiving Day… because when you’re a blogger and you’re behind, that’s what you do!  I typically blog ahead and have everything done for this week, but as I’ve already mentioned, it’s been impossible to get ahead this year.  Every time I try, something happens and I can’t.

Midway through the afternoon, I got showered and ready, and then it was time to get the house ready to host my Mom’s side of the family for Thanksgiving.  We have nearly 50 people on Momma’s side of the family, but due to cancer, dementia, and various other illnesses in the family, we ended up having just under 20 people Thursday evening.  I think it was the smallest group we’ve ever had.

We always do a potluck for holiday gatherings, and each family brings a few dishes.  This year, I provided the pineapple casserole, garlic roasted green beans, a cheeseboard, and drinks, so I spent the next couple of hours getting those in the oven and getting the house all cozy and ready for our guests. 

Everyone arrived around 5 and ended up staying until after 9.  We had a great time despite the fact that so many family members were missing, and it was a fun evening.

After everyone left, B and I got the kids in the bed, and then we watched some more of Tell Me Your Secrets before heading to bed.  I was exhausted.


Friday, November 24

Friday morning, we slept in yet again (praise!), and we hung out at home all morning.  I got a few things done around the house and then went for a two-mile run to burn off Thanksgiving #1, and then I made another pineapple casserole to take to Thanksgiving #2 at my father-in-law’s house.

We spent the whole afternoon over there with all of Brian’s family, and then we headed home to rest for an hour before it was time to leave for Fantasy in Lights.  I worked on some blog stuff and did a little bit of Black Friday shopping from home until it was time to go.

Friday evening, we all drove to Fantasy in Lights in Pine Mountain, GA for our annual visit.  We had a big group this year – my Momma and Daddy, both brothers and my SIL, niece, and nephew, and my brother’s BFF/roommate + our little family of four, and my SIL’s mom and dad, sister, and nephew.

We spent the first hour walking around soaking up all of the Christmas goodness, and then we got in line for the trolley just before 6.  Even though it was one of the busiest nights of the whole year, we were able to load one of the trolleys just slightly past 6.  I handed out candy canes to all of the littles, and then we spent the next hour riding through all of the lights.  We’ve been going to Fantasy in Lights pretty much every year since it opened when I was maybe 10 years old, so it’s one of our longest lasting traditions, and it never gets old!

After the trolley ride, we hung out by the new giant Christmas tree that does a cool light show to music, and then we did the Christmas light walk-through.  We were able to get a group picture of all of us at the end of the walk-through (minus my SIL’s family who had left a little earlier), and it turned out so cute!

We were all starving by the time we left Fantasy in Lights, so we made the long drive home, and we stopped at IHOP for a (very) late dinner.  When we pulled up, there wasn’t a single car in the parking lot, so we thought they were closed, but thankfully, they were open, and we literally had the entire restaurant to ourselves. 

All 12 of us got breakfast for dinner, and it was the coziest, yummiest meal after a festive, chilly evening. 

By the time we got home, it was LATE, so we got the kids in bed, and then B and I watched some football before we headed to bed late.  We got way off of our usual schedule last week, and B and I were staying up past midnight every night, and sleeping in past 8 every morning, so Monday was a rude awakening.  Haha.


Saturday, November 25

Saturday morning, we woke up to a very festive breakfast that Cheek, our elf, had put together because he was back with us for the first time since last Christmas.  Breakfast was donuts, cookies, gumdrops (Dots), and hot chocolate as any true elf breakfast should be.  ;o)  I threw in a scrambled egg for myself to get some protein and something other than sugar, though.  Lol. 

Cheek had brought new Christmas PJs for the kids, their annual ornaments (a golf ornament for Jacob and a microphone for Olivia to commemorate two of their hobbies this year), and a new Grinch video game to play on the Switch.

After breakfast, the kids immediately went upstairs to try out their new game, and Jacob said it might be his favorite Switch game of all time which is really saying something since he’s obsessed with Minecraft and Zelda Tears of the Kingdom.

After breakfast, I got some laundry started, the kids did their laundry for the week, and I got in a mixed cardio workout.  Late in the morning, I made yet another pineapple casserole for Thanksgiving #3, and we headed to my MIL’s house for Thanksgiving with them.  My step-sister-in-law and her family were able to come for the first time in a couple of years, so it was great to see them.  We ate tons of good food, spent some time outside in the sunshine, and we watched the first half of the Alabama/Auburn game.

We got home around 5:30, just in time to watch the second half of the game, and y’all, what a game it was!  I couldn’t believe that Auburn hung with Bama for so long, and I couldn’t believe the end of the game either.  Whew.  I had hoped Auburn would pull off the win, but Bama ended up making a miracle throw in the last 30 seconds of the game for a touchdown to win the game.  It was just crazy.

While we watched the second half of that game, I sat down to get organized for the week ahead.  I planned out my whole week ahead, made multiple to-do lists, made the meal-planning and grocery list for Monday, and I crossed a few things off of my master to-do list.  I also peeked outside to see the tail end of a stunning sunset.

The kids made their own dinner since Brian and I were still full from our late HUGE Thanksgiving lunch, and then we sat down to watch the Georgia/Georgia Tech game.  It was way too close for comfort for the first half, so I ended up getting up and cleaning out the fridge and the pantry as I watched, because that’s what I do when I get nervous during a game.  Haha.  I feel like they play better when I’m not giving them my full attention.  Lol.  #ItsNotWeirdIfItWorks

We got the kids in bed at halftime to try to get them back on a decent schedule after a ton of late bedtimes, and then I finally sat down and watched the second half of the game.  We ended up getting another win – 29 straight, baby! – breaking Alabama’s previous SEC record of 28 straight wins!  Woop woop!

Now we just have to get through Bama YET AGAIN in another SEC Championship game matchup this coming Saturday.  Not-so-fun fact, Brian and I have been to four different Georgia/Alabama games over the years, two of which were SEC Championship games, and we have lost every single one of them.  The recently played games where we were not there, Georgia beat Bama.  Sigh. 

So apparently, it’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.  Hahahaha.

I’m happy to report that we will NOT be at the game on Saturday (I’ll actually be in New York City!!!!), and I’m hoping that means that we will beat them.  Bless.


Sunday, November 26

Sunday morning, I got up a little bit earlier than I had been most days last week, and I got in a quick yoga workout before it was time to get showered and ready for brunch at my mother-in-law’s.  My nephew’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and she wanted him to have his own birthday celebration while he was in town that wasn’t attached to Thanksgiving, so they cooked a huge brunch. 

We had scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, hashbrowns, homemade cinnamon rolls, pancakes, donuts, and fruit… they went all out even though they had cooked a massive Thanksgiving lunch just the day before.  It was all delicious.

We did birthday gifts and Hershey pie for birthday dessert per the birthday boy’s request, and then we headed home.

We were home before noon, so I had the rest of the day to get my ish together to prepare for going back to school on Monday.  It was a cold and rainy day, so it was the perfect day to stay indoors and be cozy, and I ended up working on blog stuff for hours.  I also started packing for my trip, I did some Christmas shopping, and I crossed a few other random tasks off the ever-growing list that I just can’t seem to get under control.  I also did a Bible study and I watched my Sunday sermon that I watch every week.

For dinner, we made girl dinner AKA a charcuterie board with all of the leftover Thanksgiving items we had on hand, and B and I finished the bottle of wine his dad had brought over on Thanksgiving. 

After dinner, we played a couple of rounds of Exploding Kittens (our favorite!), and then we watched an episode of The Amazing Race before getting the kids into bed early.  Then, B and I watched some more of Tell Me Your Secrets before heading to bed early, too.

And now for a few current things…

Currently Reading

I finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman on November 1, and I loved it.  Now I’m making my way through The Idea of You by Robbine Lee, and I’m loving it, too!  I would have probably knocked this one out in a couple of days if I had more time, but my reading time has been very limited this month. 

I’m also still making my way through Winning the War in Your Mind: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Craig Groeschel, but I didn’t pick it up at all this month again.

And I’m still working my way through The Bible and The Bible Recap. 

Currently Watching

With B:  This month, we’ve been watching The Golden Bachelor, the new season of Shark Tank, and the new season of Saturday Night Live.  We also started and finished Wilderness on Amazon Prime, and we’re now working our way through Tell Me Your Secrets.  Both are excellent.  And, of course, we’re still watching tons of college football.

With the Kids:  We’ve been working our way through the new seasons of Lego Masters and The Amazing Race, and we also started the new season of The Santa Clause on Disney+.  We still haven’t gotten back to The Big Nailed It Baking Challenge, but hopefully we’ll have time during Christmas break.

Alone:  Serendipity on repeat.  And I’m sure I’ll be throwing in The Holiday soon, too.

Currently Listening To

I’m still on a Taylor Swift 1989 (Taylor’s Version) kick, and I recently downloaded an entire album by Teddy Swims, and I am OBSESSED.  Christmas music has also officially begun in our household, and I can’t get enough!  ‘Tis the season, y’all! 

What a week!  Happy Tuesday, y’all!