Friday, January 11, 2019

Five Loves on Friday // Family Fun, New Recipes, and Fab Frugal Finds!

Happy Friday, friends!  It's been a wonderful week and I can't wait to recap some of the family fun, food, and bargains here today!  Let's jump right in!

One  //  A Jolly Holiday Do-Over

You may remember me mentioning in my Five Loves on Friday Christmas Week Edition post that my family enjoys the tradition of seeing our most anticipated holiday release film on New Year's Eve.  We had purchased our tickets to Mary Poppins Returns and were looking forward to a fun family outing.  Sadly, things don't always go as planned.  When New Year's Eve arrived Little One and I had some pretty nasty colds and weren't feeling up to doing much of anything.  We decided it'd be best to cancel our NYE tickets and go when we were all fully well to fully enjoy this fun flick and we did just that this week!

Anyone else love taking pre-show family selfies?  I don't think we've attended a movie in years without one!

I try to avoid spoilers at all costs and would like to avoid sharing any here today too, so all I will say is that like my sweeties pictured above I give this sequel two great big thumbs up! 

Two  //  New Year, New Purse

I'm always a bit sad to pack away my Christmas Disney Dooney, but having a new one to carry sure does turn that frown upside down!  I picked up this sweet bag with some birthday money during our November trip and am so excited to be carrying it regularly now.  The sketch pattern is my favorite and I adore the pattern placement on this bag!  Here's a peek at the back and sides of this cutie too. ... 

Three  //  Sitting Pretty

Last weekend Jason and I put the Christmas money we received from his parents to excellent use buying this beauty.  It's a swivel glider recliner, and let me tell ya, it is incredibly comfy!  We scored a much better price on it in-store than what it goes for on Costco's website which was also a beautiful thing!  

Four  //  The Goal Continues

Although not pictured, I served this chicken chili topped with monterey jack cheese.

For the past few years I've had the goal of trying at least one new recipe each week.  This week I used two rotisserie chickens from Costco (such a time saver) to prepare three new-to-us meals, two of which I've linked above.  The third wasn't actually a recipe, but something new I put together with what we had on hand.  This simple dish of chicken, four cheese alfredo, and broccoli topped with shredded parmesan ended up being Jason's favorite of the three meals.  My favorite new dish of the week was probably the green chicken enchilada soup.  The flavor of the salsa verde paired with creamy, cheesy goodness really hit the spot on a cool winter day.

I can't resist adding a little bonus love within this love, one which I'm continually grateful to God for - tastebuds!  What a kind God He is to have created us in a way that allows us to enjoy the necessary everyday activity of eating.  I'm so thankful for the simple, yet wonderful pleasure that can be found in everything from a spoonful of comfort food to a nibble of a sweet treat!   

Five  //  Frugal Find on Fall Fabulousness

I admired these cute plates on Walmart's website months ago (when they were actually in season).  This week I noticed they were marked down to half price, making them only a dollar and a quarter each!  They arrived every bit as adorable as pictured online.  I'm already looking forward to the fall day when I'm able to pull them out and put them to use!  On a side note, I really enjoy the salad size plates for lunches, snacks, or light dinners.  Being smaller it gives my brain the illusion that I'm enjoying a bit more food than I actually am and with that pretty pattern I'll be just fine with that. ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  It is such a treat to have you visit!  I hope you'll take a moment to say "hello" in the comments section below before you go.  Wishing you the loveliest weekend ahead!

Previously on Chatting Over Chocolate:

Direct Link to Blog Post:  

for High Five for Friday
AndreaErika, and Narci 
for Friday Favorites

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Friday, January 4, 2019

Cheers for Six Years of Chatting Over Chocolate!

Happy Friday, friends!  What a happy one it is for me, indeed!  Today marks six years since I began Chatting Over Chocolate.  If I could I'd bake you up a batch of brownies and deliver it to you personally with a handwritten note of gratitude for both your readership and friendship.  Since that's not possible I'll share this snail mail via blog post and include a couple brownie recipes I've shared here over the years. ;)

Now, for the aforementioned links to sweetness that'd be perfect on a day such as this!

The couldn't be simpler route to a delightful Disney dessert at home!

OR if you're in a minty mood, may I suggest...

Another recipe shared during my first few months of blogging, these brownies were created with my mint-adoring oldest daughter in mind.  What a treat it is to remember sharing the first batch of these with her.  Back then I aimed to share a new recipe or craft each week and enjoyed linking those posts to several blog link parties.  These brownies were featured at four parties that week, but even sweeter was when a then new blogging friend (who is now one of my dearest real life friends) baked them for co-workers and shared a blog post on what a hit they were!  Sweet memories all around! 

I'll wrap this post up with a link to last year's 5th Blogiversary post, Five Ways that Blogging has Changed my Life.  Each of these still ring true and play a huge part in why I still make the choice to continue on blogging as Chatting Over Chocolate enters its seventh year. 

Wishing you the happiest New Year, sweet friends!  Thank you for visiting today and adding to the joy of my own!

for High Five for Friday
AndreaErika, and Narci 
for Friday Favorites

Join me in the adventures to come!
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Friday, December 28, 2018

Five Loves on Friday // Christmas Week Edition!

Happy Friday, friends!  I hope you've enjoyed a fantastically festive week.  We certainly have!  In the midst of a fun Christmas break with my loves I wanted to take a moment to quickly preserve the sweet memories of this week and share the highlights with you here!  Let's get right to the good stuff!

*This week's loves listed in chronological order. 

One  //  Kicking Off Christmas with my Sweet In-Laws

We spent a very sweet Sunday afternoon celebrating Christmas with Jason's side of the family.  Jason put his smoker to excellent use smoking a ham for our lunch.  The meal ended with my sister-in-law's beautiful black forest cake.  Every bit and bite of the day was savored as our time together always flies by, yet is greatly cherished!  

Before heading home we drove through some favorite neighborhoods for lights.  This just happened to be the perfect excuse for one more candy cane chill blizzard on the road.

Two  //  Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve morning my girls went to my parents to decorate sugar cookies that they rolled out with my mom earlier in the week.  "Princess" came home and helped me with some more sweets prep for Christmas Day.  We made Peanut Butter Ritz Ornament Cookies while singing our hearts out to K-Pop Christmas songs.  So much fun!

Peanut Butter Ritz Ornament Cookies 
Spread creamy peanut butter on a Ritz cracker.  Top with another Ritz cracker creating a "sandwich".  Dip in melted almond bark.  Top with a mini Reese's peanut butter cup and decorate each "ornament" as desired.

Christmas Eve Night

Jason played guitar for our church's Christmas Eve service which is always such a wonderful time with our church family.  We enjoyed singing songs, rejoicing in God's goodness in providing our desperately needed Savior in Jesus who was "born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth".  He was born to die for sinners like me, and through Him I have eternal hope for life beyond the grave.  There's no greater gift and celebrating it through worship, taking communion in remembrance of Him, and singing "Silent Night" in a room aglow with candlelight prepared my heart for Christmas.

(Pics taken during practice before service)

We returned home to a simple meal ready for us in the crockpot.  We chatted over dinner about our favorite Christmas memories and what we love most about Christmastime.  Normally we let the girls each choose and open one Christmas gift on Christmas Eve, but this year I took a different route preparing a family Christmas Eve gift.  I filled a bag with goodies I purchased at Disney World last month, two Christmas games, a Christmas movie, and new pajamas for all of us!

Three  //  Christmas Morning with my Loves

While I could share pics of all of the gifts my girls received, I'd rather share the gift I enjoyed most, the joy and surprise on their sweet faces as they opened gifts that were chosen with much care.  My mama heart overflowed that priceless morning!  

After gifts we enjoyed breakfast and Disney's Christmas Parade.  We actually jumped in on the parade a bit late as we declared "presents before parades".  Wouldn't that make great band name? ;)

Four  //  Christmas Night

The time had come for the finale of all Christmas celebrations, Christmas at my parents'!  Each year they host such a wonderful celebration in their home.  The group that gathers there just happens to be made up of some of my favorite people on the planet which makes this one of my most anticipated gatherings of the year!  There is never a shortage of conversation, laughter, or love here.  

Top Left: My niece, my nephew who was also celebrating his 17th birthday that day!, and my girls  | Top Right:  My dad, sister and her husband, my aunt and uncle, and my cousins and cousins-in-law  |  Middle Left:  My husband and our daughters |  Middle Right:  My parents and I  |  Bottom Left:  My sweet sis and I  |  Bottom Middle:  My girls  |  Bottom Right:  My sis, mom, and I

Five  //  Day Trip to KS & MO

One of my favorite Christmastime traditions of all is road tripping with my parents to hit after Christmas sales and see our favorite drive through light display!  

Upon arrival we lunched at Chick-Fil-A, always a delicious idea.  Before long we were finding all those fun 50 - 75% off sales and filling bags with Disney deals, and sensational scents at Bath & Body Works.  Jason and my dad may have actually made two trips back to our Explorer so we didn't have to lug all our finds through the mall all afternoon.  (One of a million reasons they are my two favorite guys!)  Before long it was time to make our annual visit to IKEA.  We don't have one in our area and we absolutely love that place!  Anyone else with us on that?

Once we'd shopped 'til we dropped we made our way to the main attraction, Christmas in the Park!  This park turned winter wonderland boasts 300,00o lights including 175 animated displays that have snowmen tipping their hats to greet you, toy soldiers tumbling to the ground when gift boxes are fired out of a cannon at them, and more!  It's such a fun sight and brings out the childlike wonder in each of us!

Santa chilling in the hammock post-holiday always makes me smile!

Bonus Love  //  New Year's Anticipation

We always save our most anticipated holiday movie release for New Year's Eve.  This year that's Mary Poppins Returns!  I've been in full Mary Poppins mode here using my Jolly Holiday phone case and listening to my vintage soundtrack album.  I couldn't be more excited for a practically perfect New Year's Eve outing with my family to see the fun new flick!  Afterward we'll head home for a family game night during which I'll indulge in far too much deliciousness, delight in my daughters' laughter, and smooch my forever New Year's date at midnight! 

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Wishing you a beautiful conclusion to 2018 and a fun New Year's Eve celebrating the start of a fresh new year.  I'd love to hear about your NYE plans in the comment section below!  

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