Wednesday, December 2, 2015

This Weekend in North Carolina (From Benson to Asheville and Points in Between!)

Happy December!  North Carolina is a fun place to be this time of year and I'm happy to be back with a listing of fun things you can add to your "attend" list for the upcoming weekend.

Chapel Hill is ready to celebrate the season at the beautiful Carolina Inn.  From breathtaking decor to handsome horse drawn carriage rides to the smells and sounds of the season the Carolina Inn's 12 Days of Christmas Event is not to be missed.  All through the month the Inn will have different displays and festivities to partake in.  Visit their website for a menu of events and pricing.

Benson's Meadow Lights is home to the oldest and largest light display in Eastern North Carolina.  This event is more than just lights - it is the story of Christ, train rides, a massive candy store, Santa, and a beautiful carousel.  Make this a destination point this holiday season - there is no admission fee and food is available for purchase.  


Greensboro if you're in the Gate City then make plans to visit the Greensboro Historical Museum where Christmas Mice have taken over the exhibits!  

Winston-Salem once was known for tobacco.  The legacy of the R.J. Reynolds' family has left a permanent mark on the Twin City.  The Reynolda House - the home of the Reynolds Tobacco Magnates - is alive with the charm of the holiday season.  Art lovers will enjoy seeing the beautiful paintings that call Reynolda home.  The Gilded Age is celebrated in this home in the heart of Winston-Salem.  


High Point This is a great weekend to take in the High Point Ballet's Peformance of The Nutcracker Ballet.    I very much enjoy the High Point Theater and have enjoyed many plays and music acts there.  Be sure to reserve your ticket for the ballet ($15)!

Pinnacle is home to Horne Creek Farm.  This historical farm allows visitors to get a feel for farming life around the turn of the last century.  At Christmas the farm transforms to allow patrons to experience the food, music, and rural culture at Christmas during 1900.  This event is a reservation only experience and includes your meal.

Blowing Rock is where we spent our meal time on Thanksgiving Day (yummy!).  It is also a beautiful, tiny town in the NC High Country, next to Boone. The beautiful Chetola Resort calls Blowing Rock home and to see it at Christmas is just majestic!  The Festival of Lights at Chetola Resort is free to enter and when you come in to drive through and take in the lights you will be given information on more events taking place this season at the resort.   

Gingerbread house in Asheville

Asheville is home to the National Gingerbread Competition and you can already smell it, right?  This competition has been televised on various national cable syndicates and also ABC.  Head to the Grove Park Inn Hotel and enter to view the competition for free.  There is a fee to park ($10) with half of that fee going to area charities.  This is the 23rd year this fun event!

Have a fun and festive weekend ahead!  I'll see you later on with my evening post.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Just Makin' & Bakin'

Good evening!

This is my second two-a-day post.  Yesterday I shared a Christmas Decorating post and then a look at how November turned out and my personal goals for December.  

If you missed it, this morning I recapped our Thanksgiving break.

Tonight, I'm sharing with you the holiday goodness I'm hoping to complete this week.

We are coloring!

free Christmas coloring sheets

I found these awesome Christmas coloring sheets (that you can turn into ornaments) over at Pink Stripey Socks :)  I printed sheets for both kids and myself to color together.  

We are baking!

Easy Christmas tree brownies

I love brownies (duh, but that is not where my blog name comes from).  Over at She Knows there is an adorable brownie Christmas tree baking idea.  Last week, Lowes Foods had Duncan Hines brownie mixes for a buck a piece.  I picked up some icing today (no, I'm not trying to be all Mrs. Homemade right now!) and all that is left is letting the kids have a blast.

Mama is shopping!

Between a little mid November deal finding and some great Thanksgiving/Cyber Monday buys my list is nearly all checked off!  This week I'm hoping to complete the remaining gift buying.  My goal?  Have 90% finished by Friday!

We are watching!

Holiday Specials!  Charlie Brown's Christmas came on on Monday.  However, ABC fiddle-faddled around and didn't show the cartoon until 9 PM.  Bad, bad, bad ABC!  My kids just came off Thanksgiving break and had just finished up their first day back to school.  They could not make it through the 9:00 hour!  Thank you DVR!  

Thursday ABC is back at it with Toy Story's The Toy That Time Forgot, Shrek's Christmas Special, and the CMA Country Christmas.  

We are celebrating!
I'm not sure what we're doing this weekend but it is either a trip to a light show or a trip to visit Mr. Claus.  

{Re-Cap} Thanksgiving Break, Day, and Friendsgiving!

It all started for us on Monday.  My Little Man had his first preschool celebration.  My oh my the sweetness was enough to make your heart burst open into a million tiny hearts.  I'm thankful for these early years and all the joy they bring us and many other parents.  It is a gift to be able to give your child early learning experiences, the gift of knowing and learning about Christ, and to be able to enjoy holidays through little eyes again.

Tuesday was quiet.  It was the last day of school for my Diva.  
Wednesday was awesome!  School was out, my husband began a five day "off work" stretch.  I spent the morning grocery shopping and the afternoon watching Hallmark movies.  The kids had a wonderful time playing and just being in their pajamas all day long!  We had dinner at my mom's house.  Unfortunately, the evening was spoiled by the Diva.  We've had some attitude issues with her over the past few months and well...yeah not too thankful for that.

Thanksgiving Day...Was fabulous!  We woke up and took our sweet time getting ready to go to Boone for the day.  This year we ate lunch at Southern Comforts in Blowing Rock.  We were excited to recognize faces from our old Thanksgiving haunt.  It turns out the place we spent the first 6 Thanksgivings eating at has relocated, renamed, and is a new joint venture for some restaurateurs.  Our lunch was fabulous.

After lunch we headed to Greene Tree Farm (our 8th year) to pick out our tree.  The weather was terrific and the kids had a blast climbing the hill, riding the hayride, and racing through the trees.

Thanksgiving Night...It is only American go do a little Thanksgiving Night shopping.  I enlisted my cousin, Tiffany to help me, we tackled our local Walmart.  I realize I could have done it all from my computer but you know....we are social creatures!  I was able to clear five names off the to buy for list!  Plus?  I was only there for an hour!

Friday, Saturday...We decorated and cleaned out storage (yes totally out), attended a chicken stew, watched a lot of get it, right?

Sunday aka Friendsgiving 2015...Our original RSVP list was 17 but my bestie was hold up in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and my other bestie was all locked down with a strep positive little girl.  Luckily, we still had seven other wonderful guests to attend.  The greens, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casseroles were freaking amazing, as was the cranberry sauce (Heather, Keileigh, pass along the recipes STAT!)  It was a pretty laid back and relaxing time (while the kids wilded-out).  Did I mention how good the food was?  Due to the rain we had to eat inside but the kids still managed to get out and run some laps around the yard!

The moral of the story...I am so thankful for this little family of mine.  God has blessed us with some amazing friends near (Heather, Josh, Keileigh, Marc) and far (Ashley, Seth, Jennifer, Josh).  How could the holiday season be catapulted off any better?

I hope your Thanksgiving was amazing.

Monday, November 30, 2015

List 11 & 12

November, you sure did not stay very long.

Here’s a recap of my 11th list and the outcome of it all!

  • A fun birthday away – Rocked that out in Asheville!
  • Another craft date night with my bestie and maybe a new face or two – Failed to occur L
  • To keep my house in tip top shape  I did OK with this.  Thanks to my fabulous sitter who helped me with my list last weekend!  She is AWESOME!
  • Flu shot – Meh…done.  Ouch!
  • A fabulous Thanksgiving break – It was pretty fantabulous!
  • A wonderful first time Friendsgiving – I must admit it was just what I was hoping for, laid back and relaxed!
  • Successful cleaning out of the clutter I'm finding more and more of (thanks offspring!)  - Whoa did we ever!  We have literally donated a plethora of items, trashed a lot of junk, and made our little garage fit I a lot of stuff we just cannot toss!

December 2015 List

My "goal list":

Exercise more (should be attainable)
Read more
Drink more water
Take loads of pictures
Make loads of goodies
Enjoy & Relax

Now it is your turn to share what goals you have for this exciting holiday filled month!!!  Comments. blog posts, (link back), Facebook, Google+...just do it!

Christmas 2015: Decorating

Holiday Decor:  I'm dreaming of....

I'll show some of my decorations in another post.  Today I want to dream about having a big, fat house and never having a budget and decorating like mad.

Christmas table centerpiece with mercury glass balls in vintage dough bowl:

This centerpiece is just perfect for Christmas and could be stretched out through the winter.  I love the lantern and anytime we can bring the outside in, I say do it!  Except when it is acorns!  After our October craft date my bestie had maggots surprise her from the real acorns we used!!! Note:  Bake your handpicked natural elements to insure you do not have bugs and critters as holiday guests!

50+ Latest Christmas Decorations 2015 | Christmas Celebrations:

I just love this whole set up.  If we weren't supporting the NC Ag Economy by purchasing a live tree each year I would totally be a white tree girl.  The elements of this that I love the most are the whites, silvers, and vintage flare.  Oh and any time a plant or four are involved I'm there!

Ah, one day ☺️ | Christmas Tree On The Barn:

I need a proper barn on my property.  Unfortunately, it didn't come with this side of the road!  How perfect is this?  It is simple but so fun and I think it screams - CELEBRATE!  If you have a barn please do this for me and send a picture!

10 Inexpensive Ways Of Decorating Your Home For The Holiday Season:

This mantel just wowed me.  Its so clean and fresh and inviting.  And lets face it I have small children I cannot pull off white anything for another 10-15 years!

How one blogger combined rustic and glam decorating ideas to deck her home for the holidays.:

This makes me yearn for a proper dining room!  I so love to host but am limited on space.  If I weren't....yes, this would be it!  Maybe in my next home!

So what decor are you dreaming of this season?  How is your home coming together?  I'm sure it is beautiful!

Check out my Holiday 2015 Pinterest Board for fun ideas this season!
Follow Amanda's board Holiday Season 2015 on Pinterest.

Remember to "like" my Facebook page for more fun!
This way to the Facebook Page!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful 23-30


23 - Wednesday Nights...because they mean tacos, couch cuddles, and fun television for an hour with my kids.  I'm not a sit down and watch television mama but for some reason every Wednesday I find myself plopped with two of the cutest crumb crushers on my lap and by my side.

24 - Pull Ups...there is joy in knowing they were created so I don't have to wash sheets every single day.

25 - Remembering how I was as a daughter's current choice of clothing has me gritting my teeth.  I remember a phase where all I wore was terrible oversized t-shirts and gym shorts.  This too shall pass.  Always being able to remember a phase through reliving it on the other side and remembering I made it out semi unscathed makes me feel better!

26 - Good know the kind:  smart, funny, can conversate, responsible.  They are a HUGE blessing.

27 - Email...without it how would my bestie and I survive?

28 - Cabernet on the back porch at night...even when it is cold out.  There is something nice about that adult moment when the world is at peace and you can sip and look up and know everything is OK.  Even in a world where the unimaginable is now animated it is nice to know, in that moment, everything is going to be just fine.

29 - Faith...I don't see how people can live without it.  It carried, will carry, and currently carries us over every wave.

30 - Opening our eyes in the morning....the biggest gift that is not promised us.  Celebrate it every single day you are given.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  May your day be filled with a plethora of gifts, a table of warm food, a hundred hugs, a millions laughs, and leave you smiling for months to come. 

Pass the pie.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Survival Tips for Chaotic Holiday Times

Oh what fun it is to admit the holidays are insane.  I have compiled a list of tips from my house to yours on coping with the holidays effectively and in a fun way.  I hope you will enjoy this read and share it for fun.  XO sweeties!

1.  Thank you for being a friend...

There is nothing in this world like having a best girlfriend.  It is especially true at this time of the year.  I can recall a time not so long ago (the past weekend) when all I wanted was some adult interaction.  My husband's work schedule leaves us a tiny window of time to effectively communicate the "meat and taters" of life let alone just gab and laugh.  This is where my best girlfriend comes in.  Over the weekend we were to have a phone date.  To say I needed this phone date is/was/will be a complete understatement.  I was going on day six of being a married single mom.  The morning had been tedious, the afternoon was a blur, and the evening was fun but man oh man did I crave an adult conversation!  The time came for our phone date, after the kids were nestled all snug in their beds (or after the sugar high and worn them down and they were drooling on themselves asleep with eyes open, it happens.)  I rang her up and got...voicemail.  Shot to the heart and you’re to blame.  The poor thing had had a busy day with her two boys and her husband just let her snore (she may kill me for sharing that) where she was.
Two days later we got that phone date.  In the midst of her getting off work and getting kids in the house, a dog walked, and referring a candy incident - we had a fabulous conversation!  One of those only us girls can have - serious, gross and left in giggles.
The key to survival in any season is a good BFF girlfriend who you can dial up and vent to and then be left laughing until your mom bladder has you peeing yourself.  It helps if she is in the same mommy boat or single boat as yourself as you will connect in just the right way.  If you do not have one of these precious gems then we need to talk and get that fixed immediately.

2.  Bourbon...

This is not the part of the post where I post of the joys of alcoholism.  Negative on this being where I tell you to put it on the binky when you have hit your breaking point either.  Indeed, this is where I share with you that at some point you will be so high strung and tight that you will need a tiny release.  Since I do not condone the use of illegal narcotics or your grandma’s stash of loopy controllers I will share that the one thing that will loosen me up is bourbon and some Coca-Cola.  I don't do this first thing in the morning but in the evening when you've had your fill of screaming kids, braggy-beotches, and the mountain of work that hasn't been accomplished - pour yourself about two fingers and some soda and unwind.  (But just one....this isn't Christmas Eve.)  If you have an aversion to spirits then crack open um…well…grape juice or something.

3.  Delilah....

You think you have problems?  Figure out what your local dentist chair music station is and turn it on after 7 PM and listen to the Delilah show.)  You're totally good, I promise.

4. Water...

I loosened you up with bourbon and now I turn the tables on you.  Truth be told we should all be in a state of pancreas strike during this time of year.  If you want to feel better then drink a lot of water.  With all the holiday foods (salty ones, sweet ones, high protein, higher fat) we need to ingest a whole lot of water.  And no, you don't have to put lemon in it, good Lord.

5.  Messy Activities...
Admitting I am a pretty A type person but I have B type tendencies in this DNA structure (seriously, how many letters can I use?)  This is that time of year when you need to let your B tendencies run freely.  My kids have the best time with paint (acrylic).  I buy some canvases (on sale extra cheap right now) and pull out my paint, cover the island with towels or paper and let them set their inner Van Gogh free.  You know what happens right?  I join in.  I fail to stress about the paint on my son's face, I don't go crazy over my daughter's lack of attention to detail, we just sit around and make masterpieces and have fun.  Here's the deal:  These are the moments I remember from being a kid - making a mess that did not get a standing yelling session because we were all having fun.

It should be known that these days I survive on coffee and play doh. I don’t get why parents freak out over Play Doh?  Keep it off the freaking carpet and on the table and supervise a little and you’re golden. Buy a few cans of the stuff and put the kids into a realm of sculpting.  They will have oodles of fun and their brains will grow and you'll get a break to do something like...laundry.  (Refer to number two for a better idea.)

6.  Gift yourself...

This isn't putting a bow on your person and being awkward.  You are an important individual who has a lot to do but that doesn't mean every second of every day has to be doing work.  If you work outside of the home then for the love of God take the toilet cleaning gloves off.  If you work inside the home then, well, do the same.  You like to read?  Then do it.  I promise I have talked to the good fairy and she said she will not cause your walls to break away from your home and crumble if you sit your butt down and read, paint, knit, watch Lifetime, do a Sudoku puzzle, paint your nails, shave your legs, catch a cat nap, eat Oreos, color in that “adult” coloring book (which I have issues with) or whatever.  So do it and make a point to carve out a good thirty minutes every evening or day time to do it.  It is a gift to you, take it!

7.  Evade debt....

Can I get an amen that we live in a society that is so materialistic we have made ourselves shopping stupid?  I hate to think we will see the day when oxygen gets branded.  Coach bags, Ugg boots, Under Armor thongs...give me a break.  If you have scads of cash to blow or no fear of the magic swipe then go ahead do your thing (and email me for a list of things I'd like to have but really don't need.)  But if you're sitting there at 1 AM looking at your bank statement and your shopping list then listen yourself.  Do you know how many people on your list do not want another blah blah to sit on a shelf and gather dust or hang in a closet never to be placed on yourself?  I'm calling for a socks and underwear revolution...just kidding.  I am calling for a self-check - a reality check too.  So many people are insanely talented with crafting, arts, baking, cooking and yet they think they need to go blow a load (bad choice of words, maybe it is the bourbon, oops).  Get crafty with your niche and make something awesome.  If you still think you're not doing enough throw in a slight gift card.  Gifts are fun and all that but is the thought that counts and sometimes just being in the presence of your loved ones and friends is enough.  OK, sometimes. 

Schnauzer sweetness and a stylish daywear look from 1959. #vintage #1950s #fashion

8.  Dress pretty...

Some people get to get all dolled up for multiple events for the season and some of us don't.  This can be a fancy time of the year and I read studies where the majority of women like to get dressed up because it makes them feel more confident.  If you're stressed then maybe you need to take an extra fifteen minutes and put on more than concealer.  That "dressy" sweater you bought needs to worn.  Those diamond earrings need to be in your ears.  It doesn't matter if you're going to the post office, Walmart, McDonald's, or to get gas.  Take some time, dress pretty, make people wonder where that hottie is going.  (Don't take that as meaning you dress like a skank hoe.)

Image result for evaluate your calendar funny

9. Re-eval your calendar...

If you're one of those people who have a full calendar of crap then maybe you need to have an intervention re-evaluation of all those pen and pencil marks.  Believe it or not you're not mandated to attend every single event you are invited to.  You also do not have to decide to try out for volunteer of the year in the 12th month of said year.  Running yourself ragged when it is unnecessary can be a huge road block to happy holidays.  Take time (after you read this post preferably) to look at what all you have going on and decide what you really want to attend and what you really want to skip.  Then do like your great aunt Nike said - just do it.  As in RSVP: I'm so sorry.  This time of year is busy and it is short cut the crap; create more time for things you really want to do.

10.  It is short...
 I just said that twice.  In college if a professor said something twice that meant it was important and you better remember it for 16 weeks. This time of year is a mere blippit on the radar of a calendar year.  Yet it is the most memorable time of the year every year.  This is when we remember big things that happened in the 11 months prior and embrace some sort of change.  Maybe you got married this year and this is the first Christmas as a spouse.  Maybe you had a kid, well Merry Christmas Parent!  Maybe you lost a loved one; that sucks and hurts.  Maybe you moved away, won the lottery, got some bad news, or some great news.  This season is impacted by the changes we faced over the year. Changes are reflected in every photo, video, get together, decoration, party, gathering, etc.  This is the time of year when our senses are heightened along with our emotions.  Your kids will grind your nerves, break your heart, and then leave you standing in a puddle of tears of happiness.  Your loved ones will drive you to the brink of four fingers of bourbon with no coke.  The get-togethers will be funnier and sometimes a little difficult. Love will be sweeter.  The downside: we will all be a year farther into this game of life and even farther removed from the ages of our youth.  Enjoy every single second of every single moment.  You will never get this 2015 holiday season again.  Savor, enjoy, and relax.

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