Happy Friday Everyone!
I hope everyone is enjoying this festive season! Let’s get started with Friday Five!
One – Christmas Fun
Christmas break seemed to last more than half the month this year… typically my kids have a week and a half off, not a full two weeks… plus, they had 2 snow days and a half day the week before Christmas break. It was a lot of time off, which was fun! Brian usually takes off a little time during the holidays, but this year he took off 2 full weeks! We had a lot of time to celebrate the holidays, unwind and do some fun things!
We hosted Christmas and had my parents, brother, SIL and their adorable English Bulldog (Hickory) over. I found some adorable Rae Dunn Christmas plates and napkins at HomeGoods and used them on the table.
The weekend after Christmas, we went to my second cousin’s wedding at the Grand Hall in Union Station. They’ve been making over Union Station and it was a beautiful setting for a wedding. I got to mingle with some of my relatives that I hadn’t seen in a very long time.
They had 3 light shows during the wedding reception, which was really neat against the historic ceiling of the Grand Hall. We landed up staying overnight at the hotel, my parents and brother and SIL got rooms as well. We all had breakfast early the next morning.
For New Year’s Eve we went to the Melting Pot for fondue… we don’t do this every year, but we do it quite often. The kids LOOOVE fondue!
On New Year’s Day we went to Six Flags! One of our friends invited us and it turned out to be a nice 55 degree afternoon (a little colder in the evening) and we had a lot of fun!! I even tried a new (to me) rollercoaster, the pandemonium and… wow… It was… terrifying! Ha!! It’s a rollercoaster that spins you around 360 while you go up and down loops. We ended the night with waffle cones (so good!), that resulted in a loose wire and last minute orthodontist appointment for Nathan the next day. 🙁
We visited the Mauhaus Cat Cafe, which we’ve been to a few other times… but, this was Brian’s first time! The cafe has the best assortment of coffee/tea drinks and the desserts/bakery is so good. And, there are always a lot of cats to pet and take photos of.
One of the MUST do things in St. Louis over Christmas was to check out the new Union Station area. I ordered us tickets to ride on the new wheel and it was such a treat! Each car is heated, which is so nice in the dead of winter… you can even bring a beer or glass of wine onboard with you. The sky was overcast and not ideal for photos on the day we went, but can you imagine going on the wheel at sunset? There is even one car that has leather seats and a clear glass floor for extra special viewing!
Here is the view of the arch (gosh, it just blends into the overcast sky, but it is there!) and a photo of Autumn and I inside the wheel.
After the wheel we headed over to the new St. Louis Aquarium that opened the week of Christmas. It was short and sweet…. they had a lot of touch and feel exhibits and fish native to St. Louis and the Mississippi/fresh water regions. I’m excited for when they’ll be getting a sloth (or sloths) in the future!
We then had lunch at the Union Station Soda Fountain… just CHECK out these ridiculous shakes… I mean… they’re really a meal in themselves, aren’t they?!
Two – Christmas Gifts
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Brian got me this SMEG Espresso Machine from Williams Sonoma for Christmas (it comes in about every color of the rainbow!) and I absolutely LOVE it. It makes the PERFECT cappuccino! Yes, it IS a little pricey, but I love it so much more than my Keurig (which the flavor always seemed a little off on!). Now I can make a healthier cappuccino and stay away from all the add ins that I tend to be tempted by at Starbucks.
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My favorite cappuccino right now is with this Kaldi’s Coffee (Cafe Kaldi). These beans are light in flavor and the texture is like velvet, SO smooth! I add skim milk and it lands up not being too bad in carbs, fat or calories!!
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My parents were so sweet and gifted me the Cricut Maker for Christmas. They got a Black Friday deal and I got some extras with it, that I know I’ll use. I have had a Silhouette Cameo for 5 years now and I think I’m about done with it… I’ve heard Cricut is a dream for cutting vinyl and other thicker materials, so I’m eager to see how it cuts compared to my old Silhouette machine. The software is web-based for the Cameo, whereas the Silhouette keeps its software on your computer. What I love about Cricut is that it can do SO much these days… heck, there is 4 aisles in Hobby Lobby just devoted to Cameo products.
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When I opened the Cricut Maker box, it had materials for a small project (the card above) in it to get me started. What a great idea! The Cricut used a marker to draw the design on this card and it cut out the fabric for the kite and the cut ons for the details on the card. It was SUPER easy and got my hyped for future projects on the Cricut! I’d love to know in the comments if you have a Cricut!
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My old Bear Paw black boots started to fall apart, so I asked for a new pair of boots for Christmas. I received these UGG Shearling Short Boots in Black. I LOVE them!
Three – New Year’s Resolutions
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I had some time to reflect on 2019 and to think about some goals for 2020. I have been loving my Cultivate What Matters journal and I got cozy with my Barefoot Dreams (Barefoot in the Wild) blanket… I swear, this blanket is SO soft… my calico kitty thinks this blanket is her new bed! She’s always laying on it. I don’t blame her!
So, goals for 2020… I want to continue on my clean eating journey, I’ve purchased a few books lately that have given be some ideas on some changes I want to make. I follow the FASTer Way to Fat Loss macros splits (where you have a fixed amount of healthy fats, carbs and proteins each day) and that has made a HUGE impact on how I feel/look and has helped force me into a lot of healthier options. But, I’d like to take it a step further. I’m also trying to cut back on my love for Starbucks and I want to make healthier coffees at home (where I can control what’s added).
Other goals have to do with the blog, continuing to grow my knowledge (such as SEO, etc.) and to cut back on hamster wheel chores and to focus more on content and knowledge. I’d like to clean up our unfinished basement/finished basement, which is a HUGE project. We are considering the idea of a new home in 2020, but the thought of how huge of a time commitment (we’d have to pack everything!) it is scares me… so, we’ll see if that one happens. LOL. I’d love to attend a conference this year. I’d like to take more time for myself this year, because I feel like any free time I have, I’m always working on something with the blog. I’ve even thought about scheduling 3-4 weeks (not all at once!) to take time off from the blog, just to give myself a break.
Four – Latest Books & Shows
Over the holidays I read three holiday books:
Winter Solstice (Winter #4) by Elin Hilderbrand – This was the last book in the Winter series, which I’ve been reading these books over the holidays for the last few years. This book tied up a lot of the loose ends with the Quinn family that lives in Nantucket. I suggest starting with the first book of this series, it is a delightful Christmas series.
Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella – This book is just delightful and full of laughs. The perfect Christmas book! I would love to see this made into a Christmas movie. I haven’t read all of the Shopaholic books, but I followed right along with this one without any problems. Becky gets put in charge of the family Christmas gathering, but while planning it she gets side-tracked and distracted quite a bit… there are a lot of funny adventures she has in this book, especially when her ex boyfriend shows up in the shop and invites her and her husband to dinner. I love the part in the book about her trying to find the perfect Christmas gift for her husband, just SO funny!
Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes (Still Reading!) – I’m still reading this book, but it is about Isabel who goes to Paris after breaking off her engagement. She gets locked out on her balcony and meets Alec next-door, who has a broken heart from his fiancé, that left him. It’s an enchanting book set in Paris at Christmas. I’ve been enjoying it so far… it is surprisingly a little R-rated, just wanted to mention that!
And, we FINALLY FINISHED Game of Thrones!!! We started it at the beginning of last summer, thinking we’d finish it… and, let me tell you… it takes awhile to watch 8 seasons with tons and tons of episodes. At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of it… there is a lot of violence, nudity/prostitution, etc. BUT, I really loved it!! Next, we plan to watch season 2 of Big Little Lies!
Five – Sephora Play! December and Pixi Products
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I wanted to share my December Sephora Play! box with y’all. It had some pretty amazing products in it this time, except one item was a repeat (yes, I was a little bummed about that!). I’ve been toying with the idea on if I wanted to cancel my subscription at the end of the year and I did decide to cancel it. I think I’ll take 2020 off from it, so I can use up some of the products I’ve received!
I love this product line and I use their products for my eye brow liner and clear brow gel! I’m excited to try this wand for my brows, this looks quick and easy!
This was the REPEAT item I got in the box. I was a little bummed to receive it again, so soon. It’s a setting spray you mist on your face after applying your makeup. I think it does an ok job.
Bobbi Brown is a brand I always get excited about… I’ve been into cream shadow sticks lately, so I’m excited to try this one! The pink shade will be really pretty this Spring.
Sephora PLAY! has been sending a lot of Tarte products lately and they’ve all been great! I’m excited to try this one which promises to refresh your skin, fight free radicals and plump the look of fine lines.
This fast absorbing body cream (don’t you just love the name?) helps smooth and visibly tighten skin with its nurturing ingredients.
Living Proof is another brand I love! This silicone-free, color-safe cream smooths hair texture and moisturizes it for a polished look that’s ready for any occasion!
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Pixi was kind enough to send me a HUGE bottle of their Glow Tonic (it even has my name on it!) over the holidays. This Glow Tonic is one of Pixi’s CULT faves and they were kind enough to share 2 smaller bottles with me to share with some friends… which is perfect, because I have a New Year’s gift and a birthday gift to send out this month! Then, they sent me another box with a bunch of new to me products and some products I’ve tried and love.
The photo above shows these Pixi products, which are:
Rose Ceramide Cream – Intensive Moisturizer infused with rose flower and rosemary oil. It helps keep your skin in deep hydration, which is so important in the winter. Antioxidant-rich plant extracts and ceramics help to improve ski’s elasticity and lock in moisture.
Glow Tonic – Exfoliating Toner. This is Pixi’s CULT product! There are thousands and thousands of good reviews on this product, just take a look at them HERE.
Glow Mist – This is a nourishing mist enriched with 21 natural oils, propolis, aloe vera and fruit extracts. The perfect mist midday, after a workout or for a makeup free day!
Eye Reflection Shadow Palette – I love Pixi eyeshadow and they sent me this huge palette with a lot of beautiful, earth and natural colors in it.
Endless Silky Eye Pen – I’m really excited to try this waterproof eye pencil!
Matte Last Liquid Lip – This is a matte lip color in a beautiful berry shade (Berry Beauty).
Lip Lift Max – This is a new to me product, with is a glossy lip plumper. You can use this solo or over any lip product. It will fill lines and plump up lips and a super hydrating gloss with a cooling sensation. Peptides hydrate, firm and plum and the added aloe calms. There is jojoba for moisturizing and chamomile to soothe.
Well, I hope everyone has a nice and relaxing weekend!