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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I wish you a day full of great food and good times with friends and family. While I have no doubt there will be a lot of this going around today, I just wanted to share with you 10 things I am thankful for this year.

  1. My sweet husband – as cheesey as it sounds, he makes this crazy journey called life infinitely more interesting and enjoyable.
  2. My family – we might make each other crazy sometimes, but I know they love me and have my back.
  3. My nieces & nephews – yes, they are “family”, but these little guys deserve their own special shout out. They remind me what it’s like to see the world through new eyes, to approach everything as a game, and to laugh at and learn from our mistakes.
  4. My friends – to me, friends have always been like the family we choose for ourselves, and new or old I am grateful for their laughter and support through thick or thin.
  5. My furbabies – I am without a doubt a crazy cat lady, and after losing two of our fluffy children last year and having a couple minor health scares this year, I am so happy to see those sweet sleepy faces every morning and give them goodnight kisses every evening before bed.
  6. My health – the last few years have been a roller coaster, but I have finally found a good rhythm. It’s so incredibly nice to have more good days than bad and to feel like I am finally getting back to being myself.
  7. Having the space and the resources to indulge my creativity.
  8. For you, my dear readers. For checking in and following along in my adventure, you guys keep me accountable and push me to keep exploring and trying new things.
  9. The healing power of books – something that started as a child and follows me to this day. Books are there when I need information, when I need distraction, and when I need reassurance. A lot of ills can be mended or soothed by some quite time with a good book.
  10. Personal growth – I’ve been trying to stretch myself emotionally and physically this year, and it’s nice to feel that effort pay off in little ways, while still keeping you humble enough to remember that there will always be more lessons to learn.

Did I make you roll your eyes or throw up a bit? It did get a bit mushy at parts, but ultimately I mean every word. What are you most thankful for this year?

*I also wanted to let you guys know that I’ll be taking the last week of this month off. After Andy and I are done with our holiday travel, my mom and I are going to take a mini road trip before getting back into the daily grind. You can follow along if you like on my Instagram page.

Image from here


Weekend Recap

Wow, I am having a hard time believing that not only is November more than half over, Thanksgiving is only a couple of days away! Originally, we were hoping this weekend would be a little more about resting up and getting ready for our trip to NC, but it ended up being a little more on the side of spending time with friends with a few errands thrown in.

One thing I managed to get done, that was long over due, was dying my hair. To keep the color nice and vibrant, I bleach my light brown roots to blond every other month. It’s actually been more like two months since the last time, and while things looked “fine”, it wasn’t the vibrant color I’ve come to love. It took me a couple of hours, but I managed to not only bleach my roots but freshen up the pink, with two rounds of air drying thrown in to minimize the damage. Things look much better now, but that bit where my hair was blond was really odd for me. I kept looking at myself in the mirror and trying to figure out if I hated it or loved it… jury is still out.  I also received this little surprise in the mail on Saturday. I was a little confused, but I thought my mother-in law had just sent me a some supplies to freshen up my garden come spring. However upon closer inspection, this was what Amazon sent me instead of the nose stud I’d ordered. Tiny to be sure, but lacking the sterling silver filigree and the opal I was expecting. Customer service was thoroughly confused by the mix up and ultimately decided to issue a refund and told me to keep the seeds – they didn’t want them either. Sunday morning Andy caught a little bit of manly down time while I headed out to Basic Bitch Brunch with some friends. We wore our paid and blanket scarves ironically, but were literally out-basic’ed by another group within five minutes of entering the restaurant. There was a bit of laughter and the decision that we’d all just have to try harder next time.  If you’re in the Tallahassee area, I whole-heartedly recommend Table 23 for brunch; the food was great, our waiter was fantastic, and the bar staff happily mixed up a round of virgin mimosas and poinsettias for those of us who couldn’t drink. One of the nicest large  group dining experiences I’ve had in a long time.  If you do decide to try it out, I recommend starting with either the sticky buns or the house made biscuits. The were so good they were divided up and gone before I could get my camera out.  Sunday ended as it often does, with me making cupcakes in the kitchen after dinner. The only difference was that these were going to work with me instead of Andy. We had our holiday luncheon on Monday and I signed up to bring Apple Spice Cupcakes with Brown Butter Frosting. I think they turned out pretty well; I’ll have to write the recipe down next time so I can share it with you guys. 
Tonight I am hoping to finish up what trip packing is left over from the weekend. We are driving as far as Savannah Wednesday night, and I’d like to get to the city in time to do dinner in the historic district and maybe the teeniest bit of walking around. That means I’ll have to have the car packed and ready to head out as soon as I leave the office at 2. Keep your fingers crossed for me.


I’m Just a Girl Looking for a Nook

It’s happened, guys; it’s finally happened. I dare not speak it aloud, but… I believe… fall has reached Tallahassee. For the last week it has been consistently cool outside, we’re talking high 60’s – low/mid-ish 70’s during the day, 40’s and 50’s at night. It’s been WONDERFUL! I know that isn’t super cold for most of the country, but for us? It’s almost a freeze. As the ability to wear both socks and long sleeves has gone a bit to my head, I have rediscovered my desire for a reading nook. Not just a comfy chair, a designated cozy spot with good light, storage area for my books and well… that comfy chair or really a comfy reading surface.


I have to say that there is a part of me that is really liking that many of these have some sort of covering. I mean, a reading nook is awesome, but a reading fort is even cooler. That’s right; I’m a 31 year old woman daydreaming about making my own fort. As I’m typing this, I am realizing that whatever I make I’ll need to account for at least two cats. Reading is better with cats, and mine are a little spoiled and tend to commandeer any horizontal cozy area.

As much as I am loving this idea, it may end up on my “to-do” list for 2018. A new nook for a new year and all that.

 

Images from here


Currently: November 2017

As the countdown to the end of the year becomes disturbingly small, I am doing my best to get the things I have to do as “wrapped up” as possible so I can concentrate on the things I actually want to do. Here is what is going on in my life currently.

Smelling – CINNAMON! I’ve been baking with it, burning scented candles, and indulging in cinnamon brooms and pine cones. It’s always been something I’ve found warm and comforting, but Andy is a cinnamon fiend and my fondness for the spice has increased exponentially over the years. We keep it reasonable throughout the most of the year, but during the holidays… we definitely indulge.

Planning – Holiday merriment. There are a lot of holiday things that take place in Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. This year I am trying to put all of the information in one list for myself so we can get to as many of these events as we want. Of course there are personal traditions to be considered so we are adding those in as well to make sure nothing is forgotten. So much to do and so little time!

Remembering – Holidays past. When I was younger, a large part of my mom’s family lived a mere hour and a half away. We saw each other regularly for birthdays, holidays, and sometimes just because. Thanksgiving and Christmas were always the biggest get-togethers stretching to include family from further away and friends near by. There was always plenty of food and laughter, so much laughter. It was a common occurrence that outsiders would inquire about the general level of inebriation, which to my young mind was hilarious because nobody drank a drop at these things. These days we’re all spread out, and there are some perpetually empty seats. I still deeply love this time of year, but there is always a tinge of bittersweet thinking about the way it was and the ones who are gone.

Anticipating – Traveling. Andy and I are going to be heading up to North Carolina around Thanksgiving to spend some time with his family, some of our visiting west coat friends, and then my college roommate. It doesn’t end there. My mom is meeting up with us on the last leg of our trip and then coming back to Florida with us for a few weeks. If everything works out, she and I will then head even further south to my hometown of Lake Wales for some nostalgic sightseeing. It’s a lot, but it has been a long couple of months and I am very ready for some holiday merriment.

Wearing – Almost the same things I always wear, it’s still pretty warm here. But every few weeks or so we’ll have a bit of a cold snap and then I get the rare chance to don longer sleeves and optimistically fuzzy sweaters. The arms might end up rolled within an hour or two, but I’ll still take it.

What’s going on in your life currently?

Image from here


Long Distance Coffee Date

For October’s Long Distance Coffee Date, I wanted to discuss my favorite season with my favorite ladies. I didn’t catch the fall bug until later in life and I always love to see what traditions other people have created for themselves and for their families.  And of course I had to have them weigh on the hotly debated, much lamented PSL. I may hate, but I acknowledge there are other schools of thought.

Rebecca:

I. Love. Fall. NC is a great place to be this time of year because we have cooler weather and color-changing leaves! 🤗 I seek out reasons to celebrate. A new season is just as good a reason than any to continue traditions and create new ones.

You will find me burning a Pumpkin Apple candle on September first. I don’t care when the Autumn equinox really is. I will also splurge on a PSL like the basic white girl that I am. However, I must confess, this year I found it to be much too sweet! Is it just me??? I also highly recommend visiting an apple orchard. This is fun for the entire family. You can pick apples, eat apples on the spot and bake with apples later on! Sky Top Orchard is about a 2 hour drive from Charlotte with picturesque views from the hillside, Apple cider, Apple cider donuts and some farm animals too.

October is all about Halloween prep. I admit I prefer fall decor to the scary trappings of the holiday. My husband appreciates all things gore and zombies. A compromise has been made to decorate “spooky.” We have young kids for Pete’s sake. They are comfortable with ghosts and witches. Visiting a pumpkin patch is a must! How glorious it is to be surrounded by a ton of pumpkins, great and small; and possibly corn mazes and hayrides, sunflowers and mums! Then you better believe we carve the pumpkins and bake the seeds. The butter, cinnamon and brown sugar seeds are the best! Our tradition of Scary Movie Night has evolved. What once might have been Shaun of the Dead or Hocus Pocus is now…Monsters Inc. lol! Like I said, young kids. Which brings me to our next tradition of Trick or Treating. Who doesn’t want to see a two-year old dressed up like her favorite movie character, Moana? You guys, cultural appropriation did not even cross my mind when my MIL offered to make a Moana costume for my daughter months ago. I am so concerned that it’ll be frowned upon, but it is beautiful. My daughter loves the strong character and will be wearing the costume.

Okay. It’s a no-brainer… November is all about Thanksgiving! Now is my chance to decorate Autumn. Leaves and gourds. We have started a new tradition of creating a Thankful tree. My girls will write down one thing they’re thankful for each day on a leaf that gets pinned to the branches of a tree. I love nurturing a grateful heart. We are sure to give God the glory for our lives and all that he created. Each year on Thanksgiving I make sure to eat my mom’s famous Southern Comfort Sweet Potatoes topped with pecans and marshmallows browned just right. When gathered around our table with beloved family and friends, we write down what we’re thankful for on a piece of paper and put it in a basket. We then pick a paper out and try to guess who said what.. It’s another reminder to count our blessings. Even those in the face of hardship can recognize something positive.

I’d love to know what some of your Fall traditions are!

Verhanika:

One of the best parts about living in Seattle is that I get seasons. And by far the best
season in Seattle is Fall. We get the cool, crisp air, clear blue skies, and lots and lots
of fall colors. We also get some rainy days as the weather reminds us that our cold,
wet winter is just around the corner. But fortunately for us, on the day of one of our
favorite fall traditions, visiting a pumpkin patch, the day was clear and, dare I say,
warm.
We go to a pumpkin patch in Snohomish, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes
north of us. We ate a super quick breakfast and loaded into the car to make the
drive. Along the way we stopped at a drive thru Starbucks. Andy, my husband, got
his favorite hot chocolate and I got a white mocha Americano. Neither of us are huge
fans of pumpkin pie, so pumpkin spice anything isn’t really interesting to us. That
said, we do enjoy a pumpkin scone. Scones are delicious and lightly spiced pastries
with icing are sort of the pastry ideal.
Up at the pumpkin patch we tried to let Ronan run around, but he was not super
interested. I think we have a super introverted baby right now and big crowds of
people just aren’t his bag. He’ll probably grow into it when he realizes that the corn
box, hay maze, giant slide, and bouncy house are super fun. We got a lot of mileage
out of a wheelbarrow. We forgot our baby carrier and Andy and I got tired of
carrying him, so we got a wheelbarrow for the actual pumpkin hunt part of our
outing.
One other thing that we love about fall weather is leaf peeping. It’s a joke my
husband and I have from an episode of The West Wing, but we do love to drive
around (with a fancy coffee/hot chocolate) and check out all the gorgeous leaves. My
camera does not do justice the almost fluorescent colors that the leaves turn here.
Finally, we do a lot of long family walks together along the Puget Sound to take in
the mountains and water. The cooler weather means we can enjoy the walk in the
sun without sweating a lot and there’s nothing cuter than a bundled baby.

Stefanie:

Hello & Namaste, friends!

I am SO excited and grateful to be a part of this new blog series, not just because Julie is amazing and I want to support everything she does, but also because the holiday season is upon us! And knowing her I have a feeling these next couple of blogging opportunities are going to be holiday themed… And that is alright with me! 🙂

Family Fall traditions… Where to start. Well first of all, I feel it is only fair to say that as I type this I am lying on my couch under a handmade quilt, with a cup of warm tea in my lap, and a Christmas holiday album spinning on my record player – fall scented Yankee Candles burning and a partridge in a pear tree. Nobody loves the holidays more than this girl right here, and we are JUST close enough to our favorite kick-off holiday (Halloween) that I feel comfortable DIVING IN!

I am definitely the friend that wants to do the MOST so that every minute of the next two months feels like a holiday celebration. The fall season really gives us permission to get started. The first thing I do is make sure that all the appropriate smells are in the air… cinnamon, apple, pumpkin, etc. This way even the most mundane days have a holiday kick. Unfortunately, all of my closest friends and most of my family are still up in Tallahassee, but that means getting up that way as often as possible is #1 on my list! because this is the time of the year that I head north most, Tallahassee feels like a holiday to me. I love getting to my sister’s house and seeing all of her fall themed decorations (she goes all out for every holiday and it is GREAT). We always put some time aside for baking, and we pretty much don’t stop until January 1st. For some reason, homemade banana nut bread just isn’t as fantastic in June. Lots of warm nights cuddled up in front of good movies are in order too – another past time that just doesn’t have the same appeal in the other 9 months of the year.

Of course, this is all leading up to fall’s big number… THANKSGIVING! This is easily my favorite holiday because it kicks off the season, you get to eat tons of yummy food, and it is less gift centered than Christmas. The past couple of years I have hosted vegan Friendsgiving at my sister’s house, and I am so excited to say that this year will be no exception! I LOVE cooking all our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes with a vegan twist. Throw in a Tofurkey and it really doesn’t get any better. (We DO have somebody else cook a turkey or a ham for all the meat eaters in attendance). Fingers crossed that everybody makes it this year, and of course YOU are invited too if you are in the Tallahassee area on Thanksgiving with nowhere to go (or you just a hankering for a nice big *almost* cruelty free meal).

If we aren’t in a Tofurkey coma all day on Friday, our plan is always to head out to the stores to check out the ridiculous Black Friday deals. I could take or leave this piece, although there is no denying that it is a TRADITION. You never know what you’re going to find, and it is so nice to get that first burst of holiday cheer. Consumerism is rampant in our culture and it definitely takes away from the “true meaning” of the holiday season, but there is something about being out and about during this time that brings us closer to our fellow (wo)man and helps us feel more connected. If I am REALLY lucky we will spend Friday night out picking a tree or two – and UP she goes ASAP. Then the party really gets started!

Ahhh Mother Autumn. Thank you for all the joy you bring. As for my opinion on pumpkin spice, I can’t say I have too much experience with it (outside of candle scents and pumpkin pie). I am not a coffee drinker BUT I do adore my soy chai latte, and I have heard rumor that Starbucks will add a pump of PS to the mix if you can handle it. I only splurge on SB a couple times a year so I am usually too afraid to risk messing up a good thing. This might be my year though! If I try it before our November post I’ll be sure to let you know what I thought… 😉

Back to holiday music and hot tea… Happy Autumn friends!