The final month of the year, December.  I have really loved having these monthly goals.  However, I feel like I started the year off being much more motivated with all of my goals.  By August-ish, I was a little more lazy with it.  Which brings me to my November recap.

I started the month strong.  I edited all of my pictures for the year and began a photo book.  The first 2 pages went rather quickly.  And then I quit.  I am not sure why.  Life got in the way, and I still have work to do on it.  I do think getting all of the pictures uploaded and edited is much more time-consuming then the book itself, so at least the hard part is complete.

Here is a recap of all of my monthly goals so far…

November: Start 2014 Photo Book

October: Night Out

September: 100 Miles

August: Back on Track

July: Get a Budget

June: Stay Unplugged

May: Run a 5K

April: Beautiful Nails

March: Get Organized

February: Picture Projects

January: Get Healthy


My goal for December is to RELAX.  December gets crazy.  It goes so fast, and there are so many things we try to accomplish.  I want to be able to enjoy and relax this holiday season.  Hopefully by having no goals in place, I will get ready to start again in 2015.


Pinterest always helps me find great, new recipes.  I usually try and research to see what ones have the best comments, that way I know they will be winners (after I experienced a few fails).  The other day, I was in the grocery store and decided it was perfect weather out for chili.  Only, I am not a HUGE fan because of the beans, I didn’t want spicy so HJ would like it, and I wanted to use the crockpot to make it simple.

Luckily, I came across this recipe.  I loved that most of the ingredients were canned, I only had to brown the meat (I also threw in some chopped onion).  While working in restaurants, I learned the key to great chili is using condensed tomato soup as a base, which this recipe had.  In addition, it called for a can of creamed corn.  I figured this would add some flavor and HJ loves corn.

And it is officially my go-to chili.  It was wonderful.  With my small family, I was even able to throw half of it in the freezer, which means dinner is already ready for another time.


Our house is officially decked out for Christmas.  Which led to me trying out our first holiday craft, reindeer art.  It was not only easy, but free!  I already had everything I needed:).

For supplies, I had an old canvas, white and grey paint, and white contact paper.  I started by looking at reindeer silhouettes on pinterest.  Once I figured out the look I was going for, I pulled out some scratch paper.  I drew a deer with antlers, but only liked one side of it.  So I cut it in half, flipped it over and traced a mirror image.  I then cut the drawing out, and used that as a stencil to draw it onto the contact paper.  I cut the silhouette out of the contact paper and set it to the side.

The canvas I used had a picture painted on it, so I first painted the canvas white.  Once that dried, I put the silhouette onto the canvas.  I made sure the contact paper was stuck down really good to avoid bleeding, and then painted over the entire canvas with the grey paint.  I added 2 coats of the paint, and let it dry a bit.  Then, I peeled the contact paper off and was left with a white deer silhouette.


The entire project was simple, and I think it helps make the kitchen look a little more Christmas-y!


Projects, projects everywhere.  My house is a little disastrous looking, because I am working on 3 separate Christmas crafts all at once.  Which also accounts for why this post is later than usual.  I was hoping to have one complete to share with you, but that didn’t happen.

Last night, we were offered tickets to the UNI Men’s basketball game.  It was a last-minute decision, that led to getting nothing else completed last night.

We also had HJ’s conferences last night.  After hearing his teacher speak about him, I could not be more proud.  She told me that he was so kind to everyone in the class and loves to help.  Overall, she said he is such a great kid.  I was so happy to hear that :).

HJ’s school is closed today, which means we are staying home.  I promised him we could get our Christmas decorations up since I work all next week.  We are both pretty pumped to decorate.

Next week, I will hopefully have a few of my projects completed, I am excited to share them with you.  Even if they end up failing!


Ever since HJ turned 3, I have interviewed him with the same questions.  Here is his interview from last year.

His five-year interview proved to be different then the last few years.  For one, he is more opinionated.  For another, his answers make me smile even more.


What is your favorite color? Blue

What is your favorite toy? Bumblebee transformer

What is your favorite book? Star Wars (we don’t own any of these, but we know the section at the library well)

What is your favorite fruit? Blueberries

What is your favorite TV show or movie? Curious George, Wild Kratts and Star Wars Rebel

What is your favorite game? Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel

What is your favorite outfit?  My dinosaur shirt

What is your favorite snack? blueberries

What is your favorite animal? Cat and dog and giraffe

What is your favorite song? Jingle Bells and Rudolph

Who is your best friend? Everyone I know

What are you scared of? Nothing, except loud noises

What do you love about yourself? I have a computer in my brain

What do you like to take to bed with you at night? Giraffe-y and ninja turtle

What is your favorite holiday? Christmas and Halloween

What is your favorite thing to do outside? Play on a playground

What is your favorite drink? Water with ice

Where is your favorite place to go? Disney World

If you could go anywhere, where would it be? Disney World

What do you want for your birthday? a guitar

What do you want to be when you grow up? Dog and cat trainer

Do any of you have birthday interviews?  I love this fun tradition!

Every year, I envision beautiful Christmas pictures of my little family.  Pictures of us looking at the camera, posing by a tree and carefully opening Christmas gifts.  And every year, the pictures show the chaos that Christmas really is.


HJ’s first Christmas, he was so little, that getting him to be awake, looking at the camera, and posing with a dog was impossible.  By year 2, I couldn’t get anyone to sit still.  Year 3, I went a different route and thought HJ could pose with Santa.  Only, Santa terrified him.  Year 4, everyone was too excited.  Year 5, chaos of opening presents and throwing paper as quickly as possible was the only thing you could see in the pictures and for some reason, we included a stuffed dog instead of the actual dog.  Maybe this year, huh?

Luckily, I am not the only one who only ends up with pictures showing the true excitement and fun that Christmas brings.  That’s why The Cardstore is hosting a Candid Christmas Card Photo Contest.  Show them what Christmas really looks like in your house.  It might be a dog eating Christmas cookies, kids screaming at Santa or wrapping paper thrown all over the living room.  Once you submit your photo, ask friends and family to vote.  The grand prize winner will receive a $1,500 Visa gift card to put towards a holiday trip, a Nikon CoolPix camera, and free Cardstore Christmas cards to send out to their loved ones this holiday season!  How’s that for an early Christmas gift?

While scrolling through the Cardstore’s Christmas items, I decided to pick out our cards for the holiday season.  There were so many to choose from, that I found it helpful to add some to my favorites as I searched.  Then, I was able to few the ones I had narrowed it down to and plug our photos in.

IMG_3190Once the card looked how I wanted it to, I was able to save it.  I then uploaded my address book, and the cardstore addressed my envelopes for me.  And then…mailed them out.  That’s right.  You can pick a date for them to get mailed out on.  How’s that for simplifying life?


Thank you to Cardstore for sponsoring today’s post.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It officially snowed in Cedar Falls.  Not like the roads are slick and schools are cancelled snow, but like there are flakes falling from the sky and it is cold.  Like damn cold.  This reminded me I had not found someone to plow for the winter.  I do not have a snow blower, although I would like to save the money, and it snows too much for the ol’ shovel.  I called a guy someone recommended a few weeks ago, who said, “I will check it out today and get back to you”.  Well, he hasn’t.  Should I take that as a no?  And if it is a no, I might be in trouble.  Most plow companies are booked!

HJ had his 5 year doctor check up today.  I prepared him for the scary shots.  He was a nervous wreck.  And then, no shots.  Whoops.  He is currently in the 50% for weight and 35% for height, which is really close to last year.  I was always such a short shrimp, it is hard to believe my child is “average”.

I am struggling with HJ’s gift from Santa.  He has said he wants a guitar.  I am afraid he will hate a guitar when he realizes he can’t play it.  Does Santa still bring one?  Or do I get something he can play with?  In prior years, I have been able to “suggest” things to ask for, but I have a feeling those years are in the past.

If you are looking to get started on your holiday shopping, check out GroopDealz.  They have a few fun collections right now, including Perfectly Patterned, Silver and Gold and Out of the Woods

Have you started your holiday shopping?  I am struggling with a few people on my list, and a few budget restraints.  Hopefully no one will notice!  Do you have a limit as to how many presents you get your kids?  I have always done a big gift from Santa with the stocking.  Then, he gets 3 other gifts (one always has a few clothing items in it).  I remember a friend who said her parents always got them three gifts, because if it was good enough for Jesus, it is good enough for them.  I figured it was a good motto, and that way I make myself have limits.  I really want HJ to enjoy giving as much as receiving, so I don’t want him to think it is all about HIS gifts.

I am so glad she won’t be a one-hit wonder, because I loved her first hit.  And this one makes me dance around the kitchen.  A lot.

(not the official video for this song!)

As far as birthday fun goes, HJ lucked out.

The weekend before, we celebrated with all of his friends at an indoor playground.  The kids had fun running around and playing, and HJ loved all the extra attention.

PicMonkey Collage

November 4th was his official birthday, and he had the best day ever.

We have a tradition of taking his picture at bedtime the night before his birthday (last pic as a 4-year-old), and then first thing in the morning (first pic as a 5-year-old).  Then we measure him to see how much he has grown (almost 4 inches since April!)

PicMonkey Collage1

HJ went to school that morning, all ready to celebrate with his friends.  I showed up before lunch, just in time to see him do show and tell, and then have lunch with him and his friends.  We also brought cupcakes to share with his class.  It was so much fun to see him with all of his friends, and I even got to read them a story after lunch.

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That afternoon, I surprised HJ with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s.  We were the only people in the whole place (except for a few of the workers), and HJ loved having his run of the place.  On our way home, we stopped by a park to play tag.

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Naturally, he fell asleep on the way home.

That evening, we went to dinner with his grandparents and great-grandparents.  Then, we headed home for cake and presents.

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HJ loved all of his presents, especially a light saber and noisy truck (very noisy…thanks nana).

HJ had so much fun, and told me his favorite part was “all of it”. I loved being able to make the day so special, and watch how much fun my baby had.  Hard to believe my baby is 5!


Every year, before HJ’s birthday, I get yearly pictures taken.  Last year, we went to Main Street for his 4 year old shoot.  For his 3 year old shoot we were in the woods.  This year, we opted for beautiful fall leaves and scenery (and luckily it was beautiful weather).  I contacted a girl I know from college, Beth.  She takes pictures as a side job, and it is clear she has a passion for photography.

My handsome boy was excited to play in the leaves, and loved to give different facial expressions.


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In addition to his pictures, I had her take some of both of us.

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I am thrilled with how beautiful his pictures turned out, and will definitely be looking to Beth for our future pictures.  If you are in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area, I can pass along her information.

Now I need to pick which one to use for his yearly canvas.  What picture would you choose?


Hard to believe we are almost through the year!  Only two more goals before I complete my year of resolutions.  Here is a recap of what I have done so far…

October: Night Out

September: 100 Miles

August: Back on Track

July: Get a Budget

June: Stay Unplugged

May: Run a 5K

April: Beautiful Nails

March: Get Organized

February: Picture Projects

January: Get Healthy


So let’s get to November!

In February, I did a year book and art book out of pictures I had accumulated throughout the year.  I also said I was going to keep more on top of things for this year, and I didn’t.  I know that November and December are the months I take the most pictures.  For this reason, I want to get caught up on the 2014 book before all the pictures get out of hand.

My main problem has been that this year, all my pictures are on my phone.  This means I have to email them to myself, then download them.  I wish they just magically appeared in my computer.  Is there a way to do this?