Friday, December 7, 2018

Five Loves on Friday // Highlights of the Past Month | 20th Wedding Anniversary, Birthday, Holidays, and More!


Happy first Friday of December, friends!  So many wonderful things have been going on around here lately that have kept me (happily) away from my computer, leaving my little nook of the blogosphere a quiet space.  I thought I'd remedy that on this fine Friday morning by chatting with you all about the highlights of this past month I've been away, good old fashioned Five Loves style!


One  //  20th Wedding Anniversary
"Second Honeymoon"


Jason and I were able to get away just the two of us for a wonderfully refreshing celebratory vacation over the week of our twentieth wedding anniversary.  We spent 9 fantastic days hand in hand right back where our marriage began, Walt Disney World.  We took it a bit slower than we do when our thrill ride loving teens are with us.  We soaked up the atmosphere of each park, enjoyed eating our way around the world at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival, and savored some of the best meals I've had ever at WDW, two of which were at new-to-us signature restaurants.  We spent many afternoons relaxing on the private balcony of our beautiful savanna view villa at our Disney Vacation Club home resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge, watching the giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, antelopes, and more.  The sweetest part about this trip was simply spending a little over a week of uninterrupted quality time with my favorite man on the planet.  I keep saying it felt like our second honeymoon, so we began calling it that.  We returned refreshed and our marriage is even richer for having taken this getaway to celebrate our life as husband and wife.

Here are some snapshots from our anniversary evening.  

Anniversary dinner at California Grill on the 15th floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort






Our appetizer - braised beef short rib wontons






My entree - grilled Colorado bison loin with gouda macaroni and cheese



Castle view from our table



Jason's dessert - pear crème brûlée 



My dessert - chocolate cake, of course!




I am so looking forward to recapping the entire trip here in the coming year!


Two  //  Princess' Birthday



I'm still not sure how this is possible, but my firstborn turned 17 at the end of last month!  Once again, I'm picking my jaw up off of the floor just saying that.  I have no idea how these years have passed by so quickly, but every single day of the past seventeen years has been sweeter because of the precious gift she truly is to our family and all who have the pleasure of knowing her well. She's so thoughtful, kind, caring, helpful, talented, smart, and lovely - inside and out!  I couldn't be more grateful to God for blessing me with the privilege of being her mom!


Three  //  Celebrating Thanksgiving with Extended Family


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  I have such fond memories from childhood of going to my aunt and uncle's every "Turkey Day" to feast and enjoy the company of my entire family.  Three things remain unchanged no matter how much time passes - each year my aunt and cousin put together beautiful tablescapes that are absolutely a feast for the eyes, we enjoy a truly scrumptious spread at those lovingly prepared tables, and the conversations had there are so delightful I wish they never had to end.  I definitely don't take for granted the fact that I come from a family that I genuinely love gathering with and for that I'm incredibly thankful at Thanksgiving and always!



Four  //  Thanksgiving Day with my Loves


My in-laws hosted a lovely Thanksgiving with my husband's side of the family a month early to accommodate travel schedules and we feasted with my family the Sunday before the holiday.  This meant that we had the entire day of Thanksgiving free to enjoy as a family of four which is always so much fun! 



We kicked off the day with our favorite tradition - a feast of a breakfast cozied up in pajamas under a pile of blankets, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by the National Dog Show.  We ate, laughed, snuggled up with the ones we're most thankful for, and created new memories that fill this mama's heart with joy!  


Thanksgiving afternoon we headed to the movies to see Ralph Wrecks the Internet.  I won't give any spoilers, but will say the parts that included the Disney princesses were my favorite (literally laugh out loud hilarious)!  If you catch the flick be sure to stay all the way to the very end following the credits. ;)  


We came home to an untraditional Thanksgiving dinner of pork chops, potatoes, and carrots in the slow cooker.  I whipped up some mac and cheese, a few other yummy veggie sides, rolls - all of which we feasted on for days.  Start to finish it was a fabulous day with my favorites!


Five  //  Christmastime!

One simple joy of this season was driving beside snow-covered branches while seeing my husband's delight over taking our new 4-wheel drive out on wintry roads for the first time.   I'm thankful for the beauty of a Midwestern winter, for these wonderful wheels we got this year, and my talented driver who gets us safely around even on icy roads (and actually enjoys driving in winter weather)!

That brings us to the most wonderful time of the year, Christmastime!  My family and I have been soaking up every fantastic bit of this festive season!  At any given moment of the day my home is filled with the sound of either a Christmas song or movie playing and is lit with the glorious glow of Christmas lights shining on our sparkly and sentimental decor.  

Best of all, Christmastime is a season to reflect on the reason I celebrate this holiday.  My heart overflows with gratitude to God for sending the Savior and Redeemer who has brought me hope and promise of eternal life!  Oh, what an amazing gift God freely offers to all who place their trust in the finished work of Christ.   

"For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  

Jesus said, 

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28, 30)  

To anyone out there trying to make it on a "good" list, the burden of striving to save yourself through your own works can end today.  If we could save ourselves through our own efforts God would not have sent Jesus to be born of human flesh to live the sinless life He alone could being fully God, yet fully man.  God's plan of redemption was fulfilled when Jesus, altogether pure and holy without sin, died upon the cross as the only perfect sacrifice to bear the complete punishment for all the sins you and I have committed against God throughout our lifetime.  Through this perfect plan God's righteous justice was completely satisfied, and the debt of every sin we've ever committed against God could be paid in full through the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  When we repent (ask God to forgive us and turn away from sin) and place our trust in Him (rather than striving to earn forgiveness and righteousness ourselves) the gift of salvation is freely given to us!  His payment for our sins is essentially credited to our account and we are made right with God, now and for all eternity.  He gets all the glory and we receive the free gift of salvation and eternal life!  What a reason to rejoice!  (To learn more visit:  NeedGod.com)

I hope this season is filled with family fun, deliciousness, and time with those dearest to your heart.  Above all else, I pray that you'll receive the gift that Jesus was born and died to give.  Here's one of my favorite (untraditional) Christmas songs.  The lyrics put the meaning of the season into perspective.  I couldn't love it more!



For anyone reading this blog post via email subscription, you can view the video here.


Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Wishing you an extra marshmallows kind of weekend ahead, sweet friends!




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Friday, November 2, 2018

Five Loves on Friday // Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas ALL in One Week!


Happy first Friday of November!  This has been such a full week filled with festive fun!  We celebrated an early Thanksgiving, a Halloween of firsts, and kicked off the Christmas season!  Needless to say this is a Five Loves post I'm giddy about writing!  Thanks so much for stopping by to read it!  Holiday cheer straight ahead...

One  //  Thanksgiving 2018

We celebrated Thanksgiving a month early with Jason's side of the family as several travel plans made it too tricky to work out gathering together next month.  It was such a lovely day together in my in-laws beautiful home.  We enjoyed a delicious turkey that Jason smoked overnight, along with several sensational sides my mother-in-law prepared, and a delicious pumpkin pie freshly baked by my sister-in-law.  The only thing that rivaled the scrumptiousness was the time together, and the fabulous fall view (more on that soon).















Two  //  Walking in a Fall Wonderland

My in-laws' home in the country is like a fall dream!  I think I went for a walk around their place at least three times while there just to take in the beauty.  I've always been partial to bright red and orange foliage and they had plenty of prettiness in those swoon-worthy shades.

My sweet girls took a stroll with me and posed for a cute picture (or ten) too.  This mom's heart was so full it could burst!

























Three  //  Halloween 2018

Little One created her own Halloween costume this year!  We got her a new sewing machine over the summer and she's been putting it to good use and making her mama proud at the same time.  She sewed her dress and neck accessory and added a few extra touches to complete the look she fashioned after one of her favorite characters, seen on the pillow she's posed with in the photo below.





She didn't stop there with the Halloween creations, she also carved these two cat pumpkins too...





Halloween evening was gorgeous here!  It was in the upper 50s and the sky was lit beautifully for the occasion.  We enjoyed sitting outside on our front porch, passing out treats and visiting with neighbors, friends, and family who all stopped by to say, "Hello" and added to their sugar stash at the same time.





This was the first year that we didn't go out trick-or-treating ourselves and it couldn't have been a better evening at home  celebrating and creating spooktacular new memories!  I hope yours was every bit as sweet!


Four  //  New Phone


My awesome hubby hooked me up with a new phone this week!  My old iPhone 6 had two huge cracks, was running extremely slow, and the list could go on and on about how it'd seen better days.  We both got new iPhone XRs and are loving them!  I went with coral which was a special order color (at the location we purchased our phones from).  It was well worth the wait as it's oh so lovely!  I got a Kate Spade case for it that's half glittery, half clear, and entirely perfect for allowing me to admire the prettiness of the color along with a dose of sparkle.  I'm loving the phone's camera!  All the photos in this blog post were taken with it.  Pretty good for a phone, right?  The speakers are excellent too.  Want to know what I've been listening to on it?....

Five  //  Christmastime is Here!


I couldn't be any more excited that it's November, friends!  As Jason said when we were setting our wedding date, "November is a good month."  Indeed it is!  This month Jason and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary!  It's also the month we celebrate the anniversary of becoming parents, aka: our oldest daughter's birthday month.  Add in holiday cheer and it's absolutely the best time of year!  

Don't worry I don't skip Thanksgiving altogether.  Yesterday morning I swapped out all of my jack-o-lanterns and spooky sweet Halloween decor for turkeys and more fall touches throughout our home that speak of the thankfulness that fills our hearts during this month and all throughout the year.  Make no mistake about it though, every waking hour spent in my cozy home this month there will be either a Christmas movie or Christmas record playing despite the terrific turkey decor surrounding it.  Christmastime is definitely here and I embrace it wholeheartedly!  


Yes, Yes, Yes!


Attention fellow Hallmark loving friends!  Have you seen this app?  It not only tells you when each of the new 2018 Christmas movies premiere, it also helps you keep track of which ones you've watched.  It makes my list loving, Hallmark movie adoring heart skip a beat!


They also launched a new Hallmark Channel radio station on SiriusXM yesterday too!  I haven't had the opportunity to tune in yet, but look forward to listening soon.  If you've got a SiriusXM subscription you can find it on channel 70.


So, how about you?  Are you Team Christmastime or do you hold off on holiday cheer until later in the year?  I'd love to hear in the comment section below.  Thanks so much for stopping by today!  Wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead!


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Friday, October 26, 2018

Five Loves on Friday // Fall Fabulousness


Happy Friday!  I hope you've enjoyed a wonderful week!  Mine was filled with sweetness and simple pleasures.  Would you care to hear about a handful of them?  Fantastic!  Let's get right to the good stuff!

One  //  My Fall Happy Place

You may remember me talking about a big home improvement project going on at our place during the late spring and summer.  We tore down our wooden deck (that was in desperate need of repair) and rebuilt it with composite decking.  I am enjoying it even more this fall than I did in the summertime!  No scorching heat to deal with and just enough chill in the air to make sitting fireside incredibly cozy!  I've enjoyed reading out in the sunshine, evening chats with my family, and some dining and crafting around the table.  I couldn't love this fall extension of my home any more!







Leaf rubbing crowns are the new flower crowns.


Two //  S'mores for the Sweet


You don't have to suggest breaking out the s'mores supplies to my girls more than once.  The time together was the sweetest part!


Three  //  A Simply Sweet Evening

While our girls were at church youth group Wednesday night my hubby and I went out for tasty treats and conversation.  I enjoyed the Blizzard of the Month, Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough.  Yum!  Personally, I haven't met a cookie dough I didn't like!  This blizzard with the seasonally sensational flavor of cinnamon sugar blended with their vanilla soft serve was delicious!  Having an hour alone with my man was like the sprinkles on top of this much enjoyed dessert date!

While it wasn't the prettiest Blizzard, it tasted far better than it looked!


Four  //  Warm Apple Pie in Candle Form

Aren't fall scents are so warm, inviting, and cozy?  Plus, this version of pie doesn't have a single calorie.  Win/wonderful win!

  


Five  //  Another Disney Trip Completely Documented!

This week I shared my final Trip Report Tuesday blog post from our November/December 2017 Walt Disney World vacation.  This series began during my first year of blogging way back in 2013 both a means of sharing vacation details and bringing a "Disney fix" to our Disney loving friends and family, as well as a way to document all of our magical adventures.  Five years later I'm so thankful to have each day of these vacations preserved right here to look back at fondly for years to come.  Documenting life, whether the ordinary every day joys I share in my Five Loves on Friday posts as well as the memories made on vacation, is one of my favorite parts of blogging!  Another beautiful blessing of blogging is connecting with other bloggers and readers, which leads me to extending a HUGE thank you to those of you who have taken the time to stop by any of my trip reports over the years!  You have made sharing all the more fun!  



If you are interested and missed any of my Trip Report Tuesday posts you can find direct links to each post from the past five years in the Disney World & Disneyland Trip Reports tab located at the top of my blog or simply click here!  You can also find each of those vacations documented in video form at my family's YouTube Channel Eat, Sleep, Dis, Repeat.  I'm so glad my husband pours the time into recording, editing, and sharing our memories there too.  I'm slightly biased, but I think he does an amazing job! ;)

Thank you so much for stopping by today!  I appreciate you taking time out of your day to visit my nook of the blogosphere!  Wishing you a delightful weekend ahead!  



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