Thursday, December 18, 2014

Some Christmas spirit for you

I’m beat.  This week has kicked my butt.  I’ve been busy at work, I’ve been running errands during my lunches, I’ve gotten in three workouts, I’ve held down the fort while the McHusband traveled for work, and I’ve wrapped all the gifts.

Can it just be Christmas already?

Speaking of the holiday, here’re a couple pictures to boost your Christmas spirit.

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That one up there is the background picture on my computer.  Makes me smile every time I open my laptop.

The McHusband and I took Connor to Bass Pro to see Santa last weekend.  I highly recommend the Cary store to anyone in the area. The Santa was awesome!  He looked the part and was really sweet with all the kids.  Also, they give you a free 4 x 6 print and then they have different packages for you to choose from.  We opted for the digital download for $10.  Yes, expensive for one picture, but not that much for the whole experience.

Connor wasn’t fazed by Santa.  He was pretty neutral about the big guy as you can see.

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Christmas 2014 - Santa

Once again, we have plans tonight then the rest of the weekend is wide open.  From a social standpoint anyway.  I will still have the Y, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and a dinner  to cook.  I have Monday off because Connor’s daycare is closed.  Luckily, my mom will be visiting to I should still be able to be productive even with my little helper hanging out with me.

TGIF!  Hope you guys have a great weekend and don’t find yourself fighting any mall crowds.

Monday, December 15, 2014

{Recipe Recap} Heath Bar Cheesecake Bars

Our Women’s Night on Friday was seasonal: we did a treat exchange and played Dirty Santa.  Now don’t let your mind wander to the gutter, there were no sexy elves or half-dressed old men.  Just me and a few other neighbor ladies enjoying some mulled wine, snacks, and $10-and-under gifts.  I ended up with two infinity scarves, and I was glad no one stole them from me.

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But back to the food. I mean, it is Monday after all, and I know you guys could use a little something to take the bitter taste of the work week out of your mouth.  Not me though; I have today off because I have some vacation time left and my company has a use-it-or-lose-it policy.  I plan to be equal parts productive and (couch) potato.

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Okay, the food for real.  I am not always a huge fan of cheesecake because while rich, it’s often not sweet enough for me.  These bars weren’t quite as sweet as I’d prefer, but with the sweetened condensed milk in the filling, they worked for me.

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It’d be hard for me not to like something that has toffee and chocolate in AND on it.

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The crust is one that I hate to make.  Flour, powdered sugar, cocoa and then that cold butter that has to be cut in to make the other stuff stick together.  I had to use at least another half-stick of butter to have enough for my dough so if you make these, keep in mind that you might need more butter.

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I like cheesecake bars for how many servings you get plus the cheesecake isn’t so thick that each bar is super rich.  Plus there’s no water bath or leaving the oven door open at the end of the baking time and you don’t have to worry about a crack down the middle.

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My little Hallmark snowpeople give these bars two mitts up!

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Okay, you guys don’t work too hard today!  Wish I could say that I won’t be, but I will be busy around the house and then I get to go to a class at the Y tonight.

{Recipe here}

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just like the old days

So last night I went from work straight to the Y.  I didn’t take the Thursday-night muscle class that I used to; instead, I gathered my magazine and my iPod and I headed upstairs for some “alone” time on a couple machines.

It.was.perfect.

I’m a little under the weather with a cold (Thanks, Connor!), but I mustered the energy to ride the elliptical machine and do some running and hill intervals on the treadmill.  I felt great when I was done.  I was still tired, but I had more energy and felt like I could actually DO something with my evening.  Good thing because I had to bake some cheesecake bars for Women’s Night when I got home.

See, just like how things used to be: the Y, home for a quick dinner, some baking, a shower, then TV and blogging.  I know I can’t do that every night like I used to, but once a week for now is a good balance.

Speaking of balance, did you guys see me riding a bike in my den?  We borrowed a bike trainer from the McHusband’s coworker and I finally pulled it out Wednesday night.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to just suffer through my workout or if I was going to like it but guess what?  I enjoyed it! 

My plan is to use the bike a couple of times a week and get to the Y at least two, but preferably three, times a week: once right after work, once after I pick Connor up and get him started on his bedtime routine, and then Saturday morning.

There’s hope that by Connor’s first birthday, I could be in decent shape!  And more importantly, I would just feel like I had figured out this working, exercising, socializing, to-do-list-completing mom thing.

I have Women’s Night tonight and the McHusband has dinner with a friend.  No social plans tomorrow so maybe I’ll get started on my wrapping.  My tree would be much happier with some presents under it.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

PS  Happy, happy birthday to my mom today!  Hope it’s a great one, Mom!

PPS  This post had two pictures, but it wouldn’t publish with them in there.  Not sure why, but I was too tired to try to fix it.  Sorry for all the words.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Just like the McHusband

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The McHusband is always trying to get a bite of my baked goods before they’re officially ready.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a quick bread that hasn’t cooled yet, a cake without its frosting, or some muffins minus their glaze, the McHusband isn’t exactly a model of patience.

But I love him anyway.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Busy like the elves

So I got my tree done last week, and I decided to keep the momentum going on Friday by finishing the mantle and decorating the front porch.  Then on Saturday, after the Y and dropping some stuff off at Kim’s, I wound garland through the stair railing and hung big ol’ ornaments on our (dead, to-be-replaced-in-the-spring) tree out front.  After a very productive afternoon, we took the night off to go out to eat with Ryan and Sandra.

We were back at it on Sunday.  We hit the ground running trying to take some family pictures on the front porch.  (BTW, it’s difficult to get a 10-month-old to smile at all much less in the direction of a camera without anyone behind it.)  Then, on top of the usual laundry, general cleaning, and grocery shopping, we also got our outside lights hung.

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Of course, we had a little helper.  Connor directed from the sidewalk and then, as any good supervisor would, he had to get involved when things weren’t going the way he wanted.

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He wrapped things up by doing his A Christmas Story impression.  Luckily, it wasn’t QUITE cold enough for his tongue to stick.

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I got really brave and decided to tackle the big tree by the driveway.  Since I got my new prelit tree, I had many strands of white Christmas lights begging to be displayed.  I’m a Christmas-light snob and hate when people just throw a strand of lights on some tree branches or they start off with good intentions but run out of lights and consider the job done.  WRONG!

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We want to add a couple more strands of lights up from that one line at the top so that what people see is a triangle of lights.  Otherwise, I’m happy with how everything looks.

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Now who wants to come over after Christmas and unwind all those lights from the tree?  Maybe I can keep them up and turn it into a new landscaping look…

Friday, December 5, 2014

Getting my Christmas on

I was productive last night.  I got my new tree decorated, put out a few Christmas things, and put my mantle mostly together.  Here’s how it looks from my vantage point on the couch, looking over the laptop with the TV on in the background.

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Notice something wrong up there?  Yep, I still need to get Connor a stocking.  I hope to find one that looks like the McHusband’s and mine but if I can’t, then I’ll just get something that goes with them.

Does everyone already have some holiday party or get-together this weekend?  My first Christmas event is Monday when we girls get together, but the McHusband and I are going to dinner with some friends this Saturday and we’re looking forward to catching up with them.

Otherwise, I will just be happy to be at home after all our traveling last week.

TGIF!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

We took Connor on his second road trip (his first one being to SC via Charlotte) and this one was a doozy – all the way to Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving.

We left Wednesday around 4:00, stopped after a couple hours for dinner/a bottle, then one of us snoozed almost the whole rest of the way to Summersville, WV where we had reserved a room in the Hampton Inn.  Connor was awake and in a great mood for a bit in the hotel then I gave him a nightcap to help him relax and get in the mood for sleeping through the night, which he did – and then some!  He slept til 8:00.

After our complimentary and satisfactory breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road for the second half of our trek.  Connor fell asleep shortly after we took off and dozed for an hour and a half.  He was in a great mood most of the way until we stopped for lunch, which was a nice break for all of us.  Then back on the road and Connor napped again shortly after we got back in the car.  All in all, the drive north was very enjoyable.

We had a small Thanksgiving meal with my aunt and uncle, cousins, and Shannon, Owen, and Olivia.  Connor got a bath and then we headed to my grandma’s house, which is where we were staying.  My grandma kept Connor company while we unloaded the car and got the pack’n’play set up.  Another great night’s sleep (for Connor) followed.

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Bri, Nate, and the girls got to my aunt’s house on Thursday shortly after we left.  Since we missed them there and they needed to visit with my grandma, we three sisters and our families met for lunch then went back to my grandma’s house, where we took all but two of the pictures from the trip.  I know, you’re like, “Finally, some pictures!” Smile

The kids were hyped up on pizza, and Connor was happy to no longer be confined to a highchair.

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Lyla decided to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to all of us.

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Uh oh, I think I have been spotted.

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He’s getting closer…

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Too close!

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In the meantime, Lyla has picked up a new audience.  How sweet are those kids?

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While they are reading, Connor is tackling me.

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And telling me to floss more.

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And hugging me.

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Hey, that’s a lot of bunny ears!

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At this point, Connor was about ready for a nap so I got him his blankie, but he rallied just long enough for some crawling on, and cuddles with, Nate.

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A quick visit with Aunt Bri then it was time for that nap.

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The next morning, my sisters and their families met my dad and uncles at the local breakfast joint where my one uncle holds court every morning.  We didn’t go because a certain sleepyhead stayed in bed til almost 8:00.  No complaints from us, especially when my grandma got out her electric skillets and cooked us some pancakes, bacon, and eggs.  We got to eat a fabulous breakfast wearing our pajamas.

The last two camera pictures of the weekend were taken when everyone congregated back at my grandma’s house after the aforementioned breakfasts.

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Once we changed out of our pajamas, the McHusband and Connor had on their coordinating shirts: plaid flannel.  Perfect for Pennsylvania in November.

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We split our drive home between Saturday night and Sunday morning, afternoon, and late afternoon.  We left the hotel just before 10:00 Sunday morning and finally got home at 4:00 that afternoon.  Traffic was lighter than expected, but we took our time and stopped as much as we needed to.  Connor didn’t do quite as well Saturday night as he did the Wednesday before, but Sunday went really smoothly.

All in all, our road trip was a success and we had a wonderful time visiting with everyone.  Some huge thank-you’s to my grandma for letting us stay with her; to my Aunt Becky for hosting everyone three nights in a row and for all the food prep; and to my Aunt Lynn for all her help with the food and with getting my grandma to and from Aunt Becky’s.

And I can’t leave my mom out.  She stayed at our house and held down the fort, being the pet-sitter extraordinaire that we needed.  Thanks, Mom!

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Hope everyone else had wonderful Thanksgivings!