All is calm, all is bright

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Andrew and I were pretty busy over the weekend, but it was good to get some time off work and to visit with all of our family. We spent Christmas Eve morning with his dad and his family. We opened presents first and Andrew got some movies and video games, while I got a couple of books and a Zumba game for the Xbox. We haven’t tried it out yet but I’m pretty excited about making Andrew play it with me! :P

We bought Andrew’s little half-brother a huge Nerf shot gun that he absolutely loved. Andrew might have gotten him in trouble a couple times when they were shooting it in the kitchen, but we were glad that he really enjoyed it! I think Andrew was even a bit jealous because we just have little mini Nerf guns at home and this one was huge!

That evening we went to my mom’s house for dinner and to exchange gifts. We kept it pretty simple and just had sandwiches with chips and dip. I made a banana cream pie and my mom had a plethora of Christmas cookies that we all munched on afterwards. My mom bought me a new kitchen knife block set that I am really excited about! She also bought me a couple of small kitchen utensils and the False Prince book series. My brother got me the same book series, which we all laughed a bit about, as well as a new flash drive.

Andrew got some new clothes from my parents which I’m pretty sure I was more excited about than he was because he only gets new clothes at Christmas! The boy does not like shopping. He also got some video games and a couple DVDs.

I was most excited for Christmas morning when Andrew and I had our own little Christmas. I bought him a 3DS which he had been eying for a couple of years now but never got around to buying because of the price. In turn, he bought me an Xbox 360, which I have been eying every since he sold his old one to get the Xbox One. Most of the Xbox games that I enjoy are on the older system and aren’t backwards compatible on the One, so I’m pretty excited to play Lego Lord of the Rings and Lego Harry Potter! He bought me a couple of other 360 games, but I’m most excited about those two in particular.

We both said we wouldn’t get much for each other since we bought such big gifts for each other, but we both ended up getting more things for each other than we planned. Andrew has been wanting a candy dish for our living room and we always seem to have candy laying around (even though we both eat it almost immediately!) so I bought him a red candy dispenser machine which he now has proudly displayed in the living room. I also bought him a new pillow and a couple of DVDs that we haven’t seen yet off of our IMDB 250 list.

Andrew bought me a few 360 games.

My roommate gave me such thoughtful gifts; her grandmother knitted me a towel holder that is shaped like a dress to hang on our stove which I loved. It’s just so cute! She also gave me and Andrew matching over-sized mugs that say ‘his’ and ‘hers’ in gold on them. Even though they weren’t very expensive gifts, those two ended up being some of my favorite gifts this year just because of how thoughtful they were and they were just very me.

Afterwards we headed to Andrew’s mom’s down in Union. It’s only about a forty-five minute drive and traffic was pretty light, surprisingly. Shopping for Andrew’s mom for Christmas is always easier than I think it will be. She loves to read – moreso than even I do – so I always like to get her one of my favorite books that I read that particular year (I chose A Man Called Ove for this year) and an adult coloring book. Andrew bought her a couple of small things, but I wanted to put something nice together for her and her husband. So I made a little date night basket, using popcorn tubs as the basket, and filled it with popcorn, their favorite candies, a movie seek-and-find book, a bottle of wine for her, his favorite beer, and Casablanca. She really liked it when she opened it so I felt pretty good about that one!

While I got a couple books, I think my favorite present from her was a mandolin slicer! I’ve been wanting to make apple chips and make homemade french fries a lot, so I can’t wait to try out how it works. Everyone has warned me to be careful and not slice off my finger, however. :P

We spent the afternoon at Andrew’s aunt’s, who cooked up a big Christmas meal. There was ham and scalloped potatoes, corn mac, green bean casserole, buttered rolls, barbecued meatballs and little sausages, and I supplied some Christmas cookies. :) We were all stuffed and I unintentionally took a brief nap when we headed back to his mom’s.

Overall, it was a great Christmas! It was pretty busy fitting in four Christmases over the two days, but we were happy that we were able to see everyone and spend time with each of them. All of presents I received were really thoughtful, and I’m really excited to try some of them out.

How was your Christmas?

2016 in Blogging

Twenty-sixteen has been a great year, especially for the blog! I feel like this is the year where I finally started to find a blogging schedule that worked for me. Looking back, there were a few little breaks towards the end of the year when I was starting out at my new job, but I’m not upset about those. I think little breaks are necessary sometimes and are good to come back motivated and energized.

I also feel like my content has really improved this year. While most of my posts are usually personal, I’ve tried out some variations of how I write these. Some are more poetic, some are more of a narrative, some are just like I was talking to a friend. I’ve had fun playing around with my writing and I think that it’s made my content more interesting for my readers as well.

This year I’ve also really enjoyed all of the new bloggers I’ve met and friends I’ve made. While I do a little dance at the end of the year for my achievements, I also do a little dance for all my fellow blogger friends and all that they have done this year. While not all my readers blog, I love catching up with you guys and your lives. So keep staying awesome. :)

Looking Back

My Favorite Posts this Year

  • These Hands – an overview of Andrew and I’s relationship through our hands. This is one of the more “poetic” posts I mentioned earlier, but it’s my favorite one from this year. I hope I’m never too mushy on the blog, but I feel like this one hits my feelings on the head.
  • define: Home – written right before we moved from Kansas City to St. Louis. What I had traditionally considered my home before was changing and evolving, and I explored what home means to me now.
  • Rock Mountain National Park, Colorado | Day One – this was the first day on our spring break trip to Colorado. We visited parts of Rocky Mountain National Park and my car broke down.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado | Day Two – our second day in RMNP, we took my poor car to a mechanic, but still managed to have a lot of fun at a mini golf course and squeezed in some more views.
  • A Letter to me at 18 – written right before I graduated college in May, this is a letter to myself right before I would have started college. I gave myself advice and encouragement, and told myself a lot of the things I wish I would have known beforehand.
  • Daytona Beach, Florida – our summer vacation to Daytona Beach.
  • When It’s Time to Go – one of the hardest posts I had to write this year. I narrated the day that I had to put my nine-year-old dog down and I every time I read it I cry.
  • #Goals – I talk about my goals in life and how hard it is for me to come up with measurable, attainable goals.

Most Popular Posts

  • Decorating my Cubicle at Work – I share how I turned my former overwhelmingly white desk at work into a space with more color and that felt like me. This one was really fun to write and put together!
  • These Hands – I’m glad this one made the top-viewed list because I loved this post, so I’m glad that you guys did too :)
  • The Job Hunt Begins – a post about when I started looking and applying for full-time positions. I’m kind of surprised this one is on the top but that could also be because I consider this one of the harder parts of the year for me.
  • Chilly so Chili (A Recipe) – I share a recipe for spicy chili perfect for the cold weather (and how much I hate cold weather).

Looking Forward

Around the end of the year I also always get the urge to clean stuff up on the blog – I call it winter cleaning. As I’m looking back at the previous year, it motivates me for the next year. I always want to start the new year with a fresh and updated blog, ready to go!

Most of these things you might not notice just passing by, but if you want to check it out, here’s what I’ve updated:

About page – I’ve updated little pieces throughout the year, but it really needed an overhaul. I added more pictures and tried to be more descriptive about myself since this is where people go to learn about me I took some stuff off and just overall cleaned it up. I think it looks quite a bit better now!

Links – updated some links for those of you who have moved domains and took some inactive bloggers off.

Sidebar I haven’t been a college student for six months so whoops! I updated my description.

Broken Links cleaned up and down to 0 broken links (for now at least!). Broken links I swear are the bane of my existence.

There is always still room for improvement, but I am satisfied with the improvements I’ve made thus far. I’m also excited for some new topics that I’m going to introduce in the new year and hopefully I can keep up with all of my ambitious ideas! ;)

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