Friday Favorites

Friday, November 27, 2020

Happy Black Friday! Is anyone going out shopping? I think we are embracing Cyber Monday or Cyber Week around here – along with shopping locally when we can.

I am linking up today with Andrea, etc. right here.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. I will do a full recap in my Hello Monday I think, but for now here are some things that made me happy this week.

Remember when I wrote 3 snail mail letters? I got two letters back! How fun! I am going to try to continue doing this.

Every year I get one peppermint mocha shake from Chick Fil A and I am ready for this year’s soon! Do you like them? I may get one this weekend.

Tom isn’t big on posed pictures or smiling in them. He smiles a lot in real life, though, I promise. My high school bestie who is also a talented photographer captured this one and it came up in my Facebook memories.

Do you like egg nog? I tried this and it is good!

It is static season! I like to keep a small can of this around and it really helps.

I am continuing to enjoy the patio as long as I can. One day this week I had a hot chocolate and read the mail.

I love chai lattes and this local place has the best! Jack got a smoothie.

This is promising news and I have heard that teachers would be in phase two to get vaccinated. Will you get the vaccine as soon as you can?

This was on sale on Amazon for only $18 so I jumped on it.

The results? An 80s mug shot. I need some practice.

We had two ferns that did really well from May-November. Tom planted them in front of our arborvitaes. I hope they stay alive.

I switched out the o.j. for the cider yesterday and it was so good!

And, I said good-bye to the Thanksgiving decor. I will show you my Christmas decor when I finish.

A nearby shopping center is having a European style market that I am going to try to go to today. It is time for me to get my gifts!

What were your favorites this week? I hope you had many!

Amy

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Good morning! Anyone out there? I hope you are enjoying your coffee with a side of a quiet house. Maybe you have a candle burning or already have your Christmas twinkle lights on? I still have a strand of orange twinkle lights and I will change over sometime today or tomorrow.

I am enjoying watching the squirrels have their feast of my pumpkins. I enjoy this every year! I keep the pumpkin up on this stand so I can see it!

I am so thankful for you, dear readers! Your comments are so positive and encouraging! This blog has meant even more to me in 2020; it has been a community that has helped me more than you can know. I feel that I have made real friends through this medium and it has been a positive creative outlet.

I am thinking of you today. I hope you are home safe and sound. I know this isn’t what we expected for today but I am going to try to focus on what I can do and not what I cannot do.

Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.com

Here is my list:

Enjoy a lazy breakfast. I may do my french toast casserole or just french toast and I might add pumpkin. I have been intrigued about stuffed french toast, too. This pandemic has turned me from a Type A person into a Type A- person. I’m not quite a Type B yet. But, I feel pretty chill. I will make whatever strikes me.

Make a charcuterie tray – one of my favorite things to do! I still have my fall chocolates and maple leaves from Trader Joes for one last fall hurrah! I will just look around for anything orange or fall-ish and we always have tons of crackers and cheese. I have baby carrots and mandarin oranges, too. Again, I am chill about this.

Pick up my bbq joint meal and cook a couple more sides. I may make cranberry sauce and I may make mac and cheese. I also might roast carrots like I told you about on Tuesday and I might make corn.

Enjoy a meal with my three boys plus Ernie.

Maybe I can talk them into a game at the table?

Play ping-pong. Mason has become kinda obsessed at college in his dorm lobby we hear. Luckily we have a ping-pong table, too. I suggested a tournament?

Use my new patio lights and have a fire. I have stuff to make s’mores including Fudge Stripe cookies to use instead of graham crackers if we are feeling crazy.

Watch a movie.

Put away the fall decor and start to do the Christmas. I am so excited now that I have pared down my decor for a more simple and more “me” look. I am also excited to use my new green pre-lit pencil tree that will work much better in our space.

Take a walk around the neighborhood.

Use up all of my pumpkin stuff and get ready to transition to all things peppermint and peppermint mocha!

Make a warm boozy coffee drink.

Make hot chocolate – maybe make a warm boozy chocolate coffee drink?

Drink apple cider sangria, bourbon, or red wine.

Light my candles.

Read a bit of my book.

Catch up on my shows.

Count my blessings.

Wishing you peace today,

Amy

What I Wore Wednesday

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

I am linking up with The Style Six here if they are having their link up today!

Here are some not so great photos just to show you what I have been putting on lately. I do my hair every day to be camera ready for virtual teaching but I have given my skin a break from the makeup most days, except when I go out to do something other than a curbside pickup that is!

This is what I wore to meet my friend Beth last week for a happy hour cocktail. Basic black leggings, black Lucky boots, and one of my three Target A New Day ponchos. I love these and have worn the burgundy and the tan the most lately. I am also wearing my 50% off Kendra Scott necklace from my birthday. It can be one, two, or three strands and I love it.

For teaching the next day I wore this “You had me at pumpkin spice” old tank top, a Target cardigan, comfy grey Matilda Jane consignment pants, and new Amazon rainbow earrings that have sadly since come apart. I may be able to fix.

My Costco star sweater that was $12.99 and is super soft.

Guess what! They are now $9.99 and I am a little bit mad. If that $3 was holding you back, go now! Did you know you can shop there without a membership if you have a gift card? I think that is correct.

Old Free People top (my only Free People item), navy capri leggings, white Madewell sneakers to teach in.

Detail of the sleeves.

Dinner out in the bubble Saturday night – last year Target Wild Fable faux leather leggings(seriously so good – size up one), the tan Target poncho, and last year’s Kendra Scott half price birthday necklace. I guess the legging and poncho look is a bit boring but I love it.

Teaching outfit – new Amazon sweater that is soft and wonderful with my Aerie crackle leggings (size up one IMO), and I decided to put on my grey Tieks.

I am trying to wear everything in my closet or donate right now. I have some stuff that needs to go.

Sunday when I spent some time on the patio I wore my only tobaggon/cap for winter. I looked at my camera to see if it looked weird and yes, Amy, it does. Why do most look so cute in theirs when I…

look just like Harry from Home Alone? I did have to Google and see if it was Harry or Marv, FYI.

Anyway, it kept me warm but this is my cross to bear.

What have you been wearing lately? I shower and get dressed everyday and I also put on perfume (and deoderant, of course!). Who do we dress for, anyway? I dress for myself I have decided.

I have no idea what I will put on tomorrow. I usually like to wear something in Thanksgiving colors – brown, orange, mustard, olive.

Thanks for reading!

Amy

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

It may be too late to help you out with Thanksgiving side dishes, but maybe you have these ingredients on hand?

Saturday once our kids were home we made the decision to stay at home with just the four of us for Thanksgiving. Tom’s sister lives in town but with our Covid numbers climbing we decided it was the smart thing to do. Plus, our governor has asked us to have no more than two families and no more than 8 people together for indoors.

I ordered a meal for 10 from a bbq place called Frankfort Avenue Beer Depot. The meal ($89) was a better deal than just a smoked turkey breast ($64) so I just did that. We can eat the leftovers. It comes with 5 lbs of sliced smoked turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, stuffing, and rolls. We are picking it up at 10 a.m. on Thursday so it will also get us out and about. I may suggest a walk with Ernie before picking it up. I plan to make a few extras to go with it.

Our plan is to have breakfast, charcuterie around 12, then eat around 3 or 4.

Here are a few of my recipes from the past. I have the ingredients to make these and will make them at some point over the next few weeks if not on Thanksgiving day.

My Favorite Mashed Potato Recipe (Pioneer Woman):

5 lbs. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes – peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks

3/4 cups butter softened

1 package cream cheese softened

1/2 cup half and half (I have left this out and it is just fine)

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon Lawrys seasoning salt

Boil potatoes, drain and then I use a manual masher and not an electric mixer. I keep the pot on the warm burner and it helps things along. I am o.k. with a few lumps. Add other ingredients and combine with a wooden spoon. Can be made ahead and put in a Pyrex or a crockpot for re-heating.

Tastes Like Homemade Mashed Potato Casserole

This is surprisingly delicious and you cannot tell these are instant.

3 packages instant mashed potatoes

1 package ranch powder dressing mix (I only use 1/4 – 1/2 packet because I think a whole packet is too much)

1 16oz container sour cream

2 cups shredded cheddar

1 package of bacon cooked and crumbled (I have left this out for my vegetarian niece)

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9 x 13 dish a set aside.

Prepare bacon and mashed potatoes according to package directions. Combine potatoes, ranch, sour cream, cheese, and bacon in a mixing bowl. Spread into pan and bake for about 20 minutes.

Easy Roasted Carrots:

Preheat oven to 400.

Toss a bag or two of baby carrots with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add Tony Cacheres cajun if you are Amy. Roast on a cookie sheet for about 45 minutes. I am kind of obsessed with these right now. So good!

April’s Mac and Cheese

April is my cousin and this is a nice recipe! My students seem to all say mac and cheese is their favorite Thanksgiving food. This has become a traditional food in modern times I guess but I did not think of this as a typical Thanksgiving food!

I like to do fun pasta shapes for this or the giant 99 cents macaroni noodles from Trader Joe’s.

2 cups of pasta cooked (I like to undercook a bit because it will still cook in the oven)

one stick butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 and 1/2 cups milk (we only buy skim and it works)

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

cajun Tony Cachere’s if you are Amy

1 cup shredded cheese – I like a variety of cheeses in mine

Melt butter over low heat.

Stir in flour and keep stirring until it reaches a smooth paste consistency.

Slowly pour in milk, stirring consistently.

Add seasonings and cook until thick.

Mix noodles and put in baking dish. Top with cheese or mix it in.

Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.

Cranberry Sauce:

I save a few to freeze for cocktails, by the way!

I bag of fresh cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup orange juice

cinnamon – maybe 1 tsp.

Cook over medium heat stirring frequently. After about 15 minutes they should all have popped – opened up.

Remove pan from heat and let cool. I always make it ahead and it is served cold.

Hope this helps someone out there!

Amy

Hello Monday

Monday, November 23, 2020

We should already be on break but we have today and tomorrow still to go. These two days are always awkward (2 day week) and I always wish we had the whole week off like many schools do.

I am linking up with Heather, Tanya and many more here!

Friday I worked and my friend came over for a quick patio happy hour at my house from 3:15-4:15. I left at 4:30 and my husband and I met to help move Jack out. Move out day! Students are home until the first week of January. They will do a bit more class stuff from home, take finals from home, and will be done with semester one on December 9. My break starts December 18, but we finish semester one mid-January.

His dorm is below. It took a sweet forever. We weren’t allowed to go in and it seemed like he was packing as he went – lol. They didn’t have to take everything home but he had lots of musical equipment that he wanted and needed to have at home.

These IKEA bags are amazing!

We packed my car first and that took from maybe 5:00-6:30. I left and ordered us pizza and Tom and Jack finished up. We finally sat down to eat at home around 8:00. I was so happy and Jack was really in a great mood and you could tell he was happy to be home.

Mason had play rehearsal until 9:00 and then plans to go out with friends so move out was Saturday morning for him. This chapel has been the view out of his window this semester. He basically only moved books and clothes out.

Front view of his dorm.

This beautiful fountain is across from his entrance.

We were loaded up in 15 minutes! Such a difference from Friday night!

At 11:00 both of my kids were in the nest! I had done a 7:15 grocery run to have move food in the house and then I made an omelette for one and fried rice for the other. Happy to be a short order cook!

Saturday Mason and I chatted from basically 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. with only about a 30 minute break while Tom needed help stringing my new patio lights. We sat on the patio with the heater on most of the time. It was really nice. Jack had a virtual class much of that time but when he finished he and Mason finally got to catch up. It has been a strange semester. They were not allowed in any other dorm room and they have not had much time together.

They ordered Shiraz mediterranean take out and we headed out to eat in a bubble with our friends. I knew they were happy to be without us for the evening! I took this photo during my morning Kroger run to show you the bubbles. Our state has no inside dining allowed until December 13.

It was raining but we were cozy inside the heated bubble with ventilation on two sides, too!

I had a cocktail called a Paper Plane. It was good!

Focaccia that they give you.

My friend and I split a fig and pig pizza with fig jam for the sauce and a special type of bacon topping.

My new patio lights are controlled from my phone!

Sunday was super lazy but I was so happy to have my kids snoozing away in the house. They both slept until 12 and I made chocolate chip pancakes for them. There was a light rain most of the day and I read and had coffee on the patio and

used this little heater. I thought about a fire but the rain lasted much of the day.

Mason went to hang with a friend, sadly – ha! Jack and I got a chai latte for me and a smoothie for him and a couple more things from Kroger that we forgot. Tom worked on our Master bath project most of the day to get ready for our plumber who is coming this afternoon to rough in the plumbing.

My heart is happy and I do not want to speak too soon but I think I have seen tremendous growth in my kids from their experience thus far.

We have decided to stay home for Thanksgiving and just be the four of us. I ordered our meal from a local bbq place and I will do a few extra sides. I will miss seeing my family and my in-laws. But, our governor has asked that we keep it to a two family maximum and that seems like the best idea given our numbers.

How was your weekend? Tell me the highlight! Thinking of you all this week as we navigate a strange and sad holiday. I am not sure how many posts I will do this week but I will let you know!

Amy

Friday Favorites

Friday, November 20, 2020

Happy Friday! This has been a much anticipated date for me (well, I guess for Tom, too, and for our boys!) Today starts move out day from semester one of college. Jack ends his last in person class at 5:00 p.m. so we are moving him out then and Mason has play practice that ends at 9 p.m. so he is moving out Saturday morning. At least, that is the plan as I am writing this Thursday morning. So, that is my ultimate favorite. I do realize it will be an adjustment and we will have to find our footing.

I am linking up with Andrea, etc. right here!

My second favorite has to be sweet Jeremy from Spectrum that gave me WIFI late Wednesday afternoon! We have made the switch to Youtube tv, too. I am trying to figure it out! Let me know if you have it!

Now here are some random photos from the week…

Holy close up, Batman! I read to use blue eyeliner to wake up those eyes for Zoom calls and virtual classes. I happened to have a palette with a metallic blue so I used a tiny brush to tightline. I thought about cropping this photo but it is making me laugh so maybe it will make you laugh, too!

The boys’ college had a virtual happy hour Monday evening to help us support our kids as they come home and finish their semester/take their finals online. They think of everything. Have I told you how much I love this college? They had us hold up our drinks and virtually toast. It was college staff and parents. Email me for specifics if you are interested. I am trying not to put too much about my boys’ lives on the old interwebs.

I enjoyed a chilly patio happy hour one afternoon with my friend Beth. We tried a spiced pear old fashioned and it was amazing. Meeting up with a friend once a week has really helped me. I highly recommend.

I have a couple of library books to enjoy. This was recommended by Jen.

Then, I guess it will be time for Christmas books!

Wednesday during lunch I went to Costco for dog food and a few other things. I bought toilet paper and they are back to a one pack limit. They were totally out of all brands of paper towels. Here we go again. There were so many people in the store and they seemed frantic. Ay!

I also spotted these thin but super cozy sweaters for $12.99.

There was also camo print and red with a heart on it. I went with stars and leopard. I think I will be living in these.

What were your favorites this week?

Amy

Unpopular Opinions

Thursday, November 19, 2020

I love this idea! I hope Kristin does not mind! She does a post like this every now and again and I really enjoy reading it. I first became friends with Kristin when she was selling her Madewell tote (gasp!) and I bought it from her and still love and use it. It is an older model and very heavy. She just was not reaching for it so she sent it on and made me very happy!

Anywho, it is o.k. to disagree! If you disagree with me I will still be your friend. I value your opinions and enjoy hearing other perspectives. When did it become that we cannot have differing opinions? Amy, get off of your soap box!

My first unpopular opinion is about bum bum cream. It does smell good but I am not sure how much better it smells than a cheaper lotion. Many bloggers rave and rave and rave and I thought it might make me into a Brazilian goddess. This is very expensive and for me it is not worth buying again. If you disagree that is totally o.k.! Have you tried it?

I am sorry Tom and Sheri but your natural product does not work. If you have gotten this wrinkle spray to work, please let me know how and on what fabrics. I have tried Tom and Sheri Iron in a Bottle on multiple fabrics and nothing. I am loyal to my chemicals, I guess. I love Downy Wrinkle Release and it even smells better to me. This stuff works! I have noticed they use it on Below Deck to get wrinkles out of the sheets, too! I would have never thought about using it on bed linens. Have you tried either?

My next unpopular opinion is about the golden arches. My boys refused to get food from there from about age 8 and up. They were against all fast food. When they got a little older they started requesting other places. But, I really like McDs. I love their egg mcmuffin and sometimes I love a basic cheeseburger or fish sandwich. I only go about 6 times a year and I do always try to get one Shamrock shake in March! What about you – do you secretly or not so secretly like the golden arches?

Photo by Robi Pastores on Pexels.com

This was fun to write! Share an unpopular opinion in the comments!

Amy

What I Wore Wednesday and What to Wear for Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Happy Hump Day! Today is the day! I have a Spectrum internet truck scheduled to be at my house between 2 and 3 p.m. Remember how they used to give you such long windows like anywhere from 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. I guess they have stopped that practice. Remember the Seinfeld episode? Ha! You know – this was not all bad. I broke up with using my phone so much, I went to my classroom which has honestly been nice, and I have had more time for my books.

I will link up with The Style Six here today, too.

I am in love. I ordered a kind of expensive to me sweater from Amazon here recommended by Simply Small Town blog. It is super soft and runs true to size. It is long enough for leggings. I wore this to work on Monday.

I got out one of my Old Navy plaids for work on Tuesday.

Now, what should you wear for Thanksgiving – a mask! Done! You are welcome!

I love the look of a graphic tee with a cardigan or kimono. I have a feeling Thanksgiving is going to be really casual for many this year. Or, many will need to really bundle up to be outside. Layers are always a good idea!

And, I love this combo. I have a similar scarf and I think the rust sweater would look just as nice as mustard. I do not have a mustard sweater but I love this color.

Pinterest gives me so many good ideas for shopping my own closet! Try it! Search Thanksgiving outfit and see what Pinterest gives you! I think it is really fun!

What have you been wearing and what do you plan to wear for Thanksgiving?

Amy

Gifting in a Pandemic

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Photo by Olenka Sergienko on Pexels.com

I thought we would talk gift ideas today. I normally start my shopping the day after Thanksgiving or two days after for Small Business Saturday. I am pretty chill about it and it all comes together. This year everything is different. Your UPS deadline is December 15. Your USPS date is December 18. You can send directly from Amazon, of course, to the recipient. You can also have gifts sent directly from many retailers. I really am not sure what our plans will be at this point. I will go ahead and buy gifts and hope to see everyone in person in some fashion.

I would love to shop locally, too. I love the convenience of Amazon and online shopping, but I just feel like our local stores need us now more than ever!

Step One: Make a list of all the people you buy for and write potential ideas down next to their names.

Step Two: Is there a theme you can use for gifts – food gifts, pjs, slippers, blankets, restaurant gift cards. I love the idea of supporting local businesses with gift cards. They get the money now to help them through these hard times. Your loved one gets a special take out later.

Here are my ideas in no particular organized fashion! Please share your ideas in the comments!

I kind of have gifts for the home on my brain. What does the recipient do every day? What would make their home life easier, better, more fun?

Museum gift stores – some may even have an online site. There are really unique gifts to be found!

10 foot phone charger cord – my boys laughed at this but they have found it to be super useful.

Wireless charging pad – I am thinking about these for my boys.

We will be at home streaming shows this winter – a Disney Plus subscription, a projector for a big wall inside that can be used outside come spring, too. Echo Show might be fun, too.

Little makeup fridge or 6 soft drink can fridge – These are so cute and can be run from a USB or outlet.

Notepad set – order monogram or personalization. You could put a fun saying, meaningful word, too.

Think non-traditional places – there are some cool gifts to be had at the boat business of our SIL/BIL. Tom got a float for my sister last year and she loved it! He drew her name. They also carry Maui Jim sunglasses. There is also a little Mom and Pop hardware store with candles and other gifts.

Etsy – so many cute and unique gifts and you are helping someone with their small business!

Pins – my son has a thrifted jean jacket and is starting to put some metal pins on it and it looks so cool and so 80s!

Redbubble.com for fun teen things

Think practical and useful this year – food and gas gift cards.

Electric kettle – I would love one of these for tea.

Dash egg cooker – I would love one of these, too!

Food gifts – local coffee beans or anything your town is known for.

Bourbon products- we have gifted bourbon caramel sauce, bourbon smoked pepper, or just bourbon!

Local soaps or toiletries – sometimes these are in our grocery stores in a particular section.

Anything for staying home and being comfy..

Popcorn maker and popcorn

Soft fleece jackets, robes, blankets, slippers, fuzzy socks

Solo stove or other fire apparatus

For small kids, I like the idea of bubble bath, bath toys, bath crayons

Plants – there are certain plants that purify the air and we are spending so much time at home! I have noticed teens love plants, too. There are faux and real plants in their rooms. I stare at teenage rooms all day now. That sounded weird – I am a virtual teacher, not a creeper!

Funky lights for teens are great, too! I also like the clothesline photo holders.

I hope I gave you at least one idea today!

Now, give me some, please! Ha!

Amy

Hello Monday – Weekend without WIFI

Monday, November 16, 2020

I am actually happy for Monday to be here because I have a second modem on the way from a different internet provider! I am linking up with Heather and Tanya at http://www.my glittery heart.com.

Friday I worked at school and was just beat when I got home. I read and rested and then picked up bbq. Tom had a late meeting and I was happy that not go out. The modem had arrived and I tried to hook it up myself with no luck. Tom tried, too, spent an hour on the phone with ATT, and finally they said they would send a technician Saturday morning. We sat down to eat at 8 and watched Queen’s Gambit.

Saturday morning came and I got an ATT text saying they would be here Tuesday morning. We both lost it! Tom called and they were not accommodating so we fired them, called Spectrum for internet, went to Verizon to change plans, and got YouTube tv. We had had ATT for internet, Uverse tv, and 3 phones. Spectrum is sending us a modem today – we hope!

Saturday I was switching between my old phone and my new phone – my old phone was not compatible with Verizon so I took Tom’s old work phone that he bought from the company after he got an upgrade. It is very hard to transfer without WIFI. I currently don’t have any of my photos. I hope to get them back.

Saturday night we went to our friends’ new house for pizza on their porch with their heater. It was nice!

I am reading this book – cheesy but I’m ok with it. I spent some time on the patio.

Sunday morning-Trader Joe’s – lots of Christmas stuff out but I resisted. I tried to get things for lunches and dinners this week.

I tested out the peppermint marshmallows with a mocha coffee-yum!
The highlight of Sunday and the whole weekend –

We got to have lunch with our Jack! Then we did some shopping with him – he found two jackets.

And, we got Blizzards and watched some Mandalorian on our sad set up. We have to use our phones for now. We got 6 months free of Disney + from Verizon.

And, I am typing on my phone! How was your weekend?

Amy