December

2016 is almost here! We have had a good year overall with lots of ups and downs. We have had the opportunity to travel, to see friends and family, watch some good friends get married, explore our home area, complete our addition and so much more!

I have yet to figure out my blog plan for 2016 but I want to start with recapping my December goals!

*Book Club –
UPDATE: I finished reading Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave (an author I just discovered and love) and began Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty! That brings me to a total of 36 books for the year!

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*Do two new things again, especially holiday things which I anticipate will be super fun and festive! –
UPDATE: I went to a fantasy of lights driving tour with a friend that was awesome! They gave you special glasses where all the individual lights turn to snowflakes when you look through them. I looked at our tree with our lights and it worked too! Another new thing we did was go to a new place to get our Christmas tree! ❄🎄

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*Do all my holiday gift wrapping! I am going to a Nordstrom shopping night this week to see what last minute goodies are out there and after that I should be able to have some boxes and tissue to finish wrapping gifts!
UPDATE: I got all of this done pretty early and it felt great!! The decor at Nordstrom was also amazing, as always!

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*Decorate for the holidays right away so it lasts the entire month!
UPDATE: Every year I decorate it turns out a little different but I like it more and more each year! I loved being able to enjoy the decor and the scent of the tree for as long as possible!

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TRAVELS – We travelled to see family for Christmas and decided to drive about 2000 miles over the course of two weeks! The driving time involved lots of Starbucks stops, Christmas music and podcasts!
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FOOD – I did holiday baking with recipes I previously shared (Buckeyes, Mint Candies, and Sugar Cookies) and then made some hearty foods (Quinoa Chili that I have made with and without ground turkey, a version of Bacon Wrapped Chicken all paired with some Biscuits).

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BENTLEY – He saw snow for the first time!!! He did not think it was anything special at first but then ended up loving running and playing in it!!

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November

December is here and so is the hustle and bustle of the holidays! Here is my goals recap for the month –

*Book Club –
UPDATE: I did very well this month and read three and a half books. I read Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin, Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner and Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand (the sequel to Winter Street that I read last year) and half of Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella! Of these, Winter Stroll was my favorite and I cannot wait for the third one to come out next year!
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*Projects –
UPDATE: I had another incident with my quilt and stitched with a silver thread and decided I wanted to take it out for a different more subtle color thread. It definitely is a never ending process!

I was able to get my Christmas shopping done early which felt great. I like the idea of spending Thanksgiving day with family being thankful for what you have and not thinking about shopping!

*Do two more new things in the area again! This will be great for the start of Fall!!
UPDATE: I was planning on going to a tree lighting ceremony in a shopping area near us but was unable to make it so I went to view the festive decor and have some lunch on another day.

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Instead I was able to go to a different tree lighting ceremony and see the massive gingerbread houses!

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Next month this is what I would like to focus on:

*Books- Finish reading Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty!

*New Things – do two new things again, especially holiday things which I anticipate will be super fun and festive!

*Do all my holiday gift wrapping! I am going to a Nordstrom shopping night this week to see what last minute goodies are out there and after that I should be able to have some boxes and tissue to finish wrapping gifts!

*Decorate for the holidays right away so it lasts the entire month!

TRAVELS – We only traveled to the mountains for Thanksgiving this year but being this early in the season we had some decent snow but freezing temperatures!
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FOOD – I did quite a bit of baking this month as we attended a Friendsgiving where I brought a couple of desserts. I made sugar cookies that I previously shared here, raspberry tarts that I shared here and buckeyes.
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BUCKEYES – Mix 1/2 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cups peanut butter and 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar together. Make into balls and freeze for 20 minutes.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips and dip peanut butter balls into the melted chocolate and freeze until ready to eat.

Recipe courtesy of Tasty.

For dinner one night I was craving lobster so I made myself a lobster tail (broiled on both sides for 5 minutes each after being brushed with melted butter and parsley) with a ham and green bean mixture and a mediterranean mixture with olives and orzo (where I substituted risotto for the orzo) found here.
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I made up the ham and green bean mixture with fresh green beans, ham chunks, bread crumbs that I made and shared here topped with Parmesan cheese and baked for 20 minutes at 350°F.

BENTLEY – He just loves playing outside especially in the leaves! He has yet to see snow but I can’t wait to take him to experience a puppy snow angel next month!
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October

This month has gone even faster but I just wish it actually felt like fall around here! Here is my goals recap for the month –

*Book Club –
UPDATE: I was trying to read three books this month and instead of all three I read two and a half – What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and half of Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin.

*Projects –
UPDATE: I tried the hand sewing on my quilt and decided that I did not like the look as it looked like it was done by a little kid. Instead after a couple more unsuccessful attempts I decided to use my machine and hope that it works! I started on this but will need to finish next month.

I ended up burning all my DVD’s that I had transferred to my computer and distributed them to my family.

The other project that I had been working on was a retirement book for my Dad that has been over a year in the making and we finally were able to give it to him for his birthday!
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*Do two more new things in the area again! This will be great for the start of Fall!!
UPDATE: We went to a wedding at the beginning of the month in San Diego and explored some new areas near Balboa park, downtown and Cardiff by the Sea.
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More recently we attempted to go visit a historic house near our house but it ended up closed that afternoon so we will have to go back sometime!
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Next month this is what I would like to focus on:

*Books- Finish reading Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin, Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner and Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand (the sequel to Winter Street that I read last year)!

*New Things – do two new things again!

*Finish my holiday shopping – I have a big chunk already but I would like to avoid crowds and get it all done early! I have ideas for everyone except for my husband!

*Finish my quilt – this has been on my list for what seems like forever … I may not get the border complete but I can get the seams complete!

TRAVELS – This month we traveled to San Diego for some dear friends’ wedding. We had some crazy rain throughout the time but he evening of the wedding eventually had a gorgeous sunset!
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FOOD – This month I experimented with some healthy options. My sister gave me advice on what to use in recipes instead of brown sugar. We made pulled pork a couple of times and use molasses and honey instead of brown sugar. The information she sent me can be found here. We also had a couple of homemade pizza nights and have had some different variations using ham, cheese, tomato and herb sauce and varying vegetables.
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BENTLEY – Bentley turned 2 years old this month and had no idea what i was doing when i kept hugging and kissing him and singing happy birthday to him!!
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September

I can’t believe it is already October. Where has 2015 gone?! Here is my goals recap for the month –

*Book Club –
UPDATE: I got some good reading done this month just not as much as I hoped, which is pretty much the same every month! I read Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand and Deep Thoughts of a Hollywood Blonde by Jennie Garth. I started reading What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and am absolutely loving it and cannot wait to read more of her books in the future.

*Projects – do the hand sewing on my quilt, burn all the transferred videos to dvd’s … Trying again this month!
UPDATE: I have started burning my DVDs and they have been so fun to watch. I also did some projects for a friend for their upcoming wedding. They asked that we make some lawn games for them so we did – corn hole and ladder golf!
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*Do two more new things in the area again! This will be great for the start of Fall!!
UPDATE: I got this in with our travels. I have now been to my 41st state when we went to Michigan.

Next month this is what I would like to focus on:

*Books- I would like to finish What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin. I have a road trip ahead of me soon as well as a plane ride so I hopefully can get some reading done!

*New Things – do two new things in our neighborhood!

TRAVELS – This month I traveled first to Seattle for a friend’s wedding. I loved the autumn weather while we were up there!
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Next we travelled to Michigan to see a football game in “The Big House” where we had more autumn weather and saw the Henry Ford museum just outside Detroit.
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Lastly we went to the mountains for the weekend and went and explored through the woods and water with Bentley!
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FOOD – This month I tried to incorporate a lot of vegetables into the meals including this twice baked burrito bowl” with spaghetti squash. I baked the cut in half squash for 30 minutes at 375 then scraped out the inside to mix with tomatoes, onions, olives, cheese and chicken then baked for another 20 minutes back in the bowl inspired by this recipe.
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I also made my own bread crumbs for chicken cordon bleu by mixing toasted bread with dried parsley in a blender inspired by this recipe.
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BENTLEY – Bentley loved walking through the woods and even voluntarily got in the water which was a first!
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OTHER – I loved pulling out the fall decorations and admiring them while watching some Seahawks football!
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August

So my goals recap for the month –

*Book Club –
UPDATE:I have read Summer Secrets by Jane Green, Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand and finally got through Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Martinez. It was a good month to read with all my travels!
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*Projects – do the hand sewing on my quilt, burn all the transferred videos to dvd’s
UPDATE: Well with my travels this month these didn’t get done but all the Bachelorette projects got done as well as another secret project!
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*Do two more new things in the area again!
UPDATE: This is one that I did not do locally but with my traveling I explored new areas of both Nashville, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe – see “Travels” below.
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Next month this is what I would like to focus on:

SEPTEMBER –

*Book Club – This is a great month to do some outside reading while the weather slowly cools down and then move inside with a blanket and a cup of tea. I would like to read Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand, What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty and Deep Thoughts of a Hollywood Blonde by Jennie Garth.

*Projects – do the hand sewing on my quilt, burn all the transferred videos to dvd’s … Trying again this month!

*Do two more new things in the area again! This will be great for the start of Fall!!

TRAVELS – This month I traveled to Nashville for a friend’s bachelorette weekend. This is also where I went for my Bachelorette weekend so it was fun to go back there and explore new areas. We saw concerts, did wine tasting, went on a food tour and explored the history of Nashville.
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I also went to Los Angeles for work where I had a bit of free time to hang with some friends!
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We also went away for a weekend to Tahoe which is always so pretty when you get into the mountains and lakes!
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FOOD – I didn’t do any new cooking this month since with the traveling there was a lot of eating in restaurants. Since I have returned it has been a lot of chicken or fish and steamed vegetables!

BENTLEY – This little guy is all shaggy this month but still a cuddly little guy! This month was National Dog Day!
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