10 Day You Challenge: Day 9

Posted by Danielle on November 15th, 2011

Nine Loves

1. My family. My husband is a true partner in every sense of the word. He is my biggest supporter, my confidante, my love. He’s kind and intelligent; passionate and loving. He’s my best friend and I’m grateful that I get to wake up beside him each morning. Our daughter is the center of my world. She’s my grounding force, the sunshine in my life. Nothing I have ever done or ever will do is as important as being her mother.

As an extension, my parents, my sisters and their families, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – I treasure them.

My favorite times are the ones I spend with family. The pumpkin patch with my husband and our girl, dinner with all of the extended family – they’re all full of laughter. They warm my soul.

2. Books. For as long as I can remember, books have been an integral part of my life. They’re a way to relax, disengage and escape. I can travel the world. I make new friends. I get a glimpse into different worlds. There’s nothing like getting caught up in an exceptional book. Nothing.

3. Music. I am in awe of folks who are blessed with the talent to play instruments, sing, and/or write lyrics. I can create a playlist that is a trip down memory lane and brings to the surface emotions I haven’t felt in a long time. Spending an evening at a concert is one of my favorite things to do. What I lack in singing talent I make up for in enthusiasm!

4. The water. I’m not your typical beach person. I hate lying on a towel all day, baking under the sun. I hate to be hot and sweaty. I get annoyed by sand in my pants. But I love the water! I love the sound of the waves, the feel of the water crashing over my feet. I love wading into the surf and leaping with each wave that comes my way, letting it carry me. I love the smell of the salty sea air, even the crunch in my hair.

5. A fall day spent at the renaissance festival. The color of the leaves, the crunch of them underfoot. The cool breeze mingling with the warm rays of sun on my face. The music, the beautiful wares at the booths, the costumes, the friends. It’s my favorite way to spend an October Saturday!

6. Pajama pants. If I could live in my comfy pants, I would. I have three pairs of pajama pants and one pair of sweatpants that are in constant rotation. They’re cozy, comfy, and occasionally cute, though certainly not fit for wearing in public. I change into them the moment I walk in the door, though!

7. Pizza. I never get tired of pizza. Carbs+Cheese? How much better could it possibly get?! I love a thin crust veggie from Pizza Hut, a homemade white pizza, a hand-tossed with pineapple and ham. Really, I just love pizza. Lots ‘n’ lots.

8. My cats. They’re black and white and fluffy and so full of personality that they keep me entertained each and every day. My boy kitty is my baby. He lays on top of me every chance he gets, chirps and purrs at me, does laps around the house just for fun. Our girl kitty is a total ditz, but she’s such a sweetheart. She’s as playful as a kitten and follows my husband around like a duckling with mama. They’re the first cats I’ve ever owned and I know that I’ll never again have a house without cats in it. They’re my loves.

9. Fancy coffee drinks. Salted Caramel Mocha or Iced Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks. Caramel Mocha Iced Latte from Dunkin Donuts. These are the ways to my heart. They’re expensive and more sugar than anything else, but man do they make me happy.

{Recipe} Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

Posted by Danielle on November 14th, 2011

I’ll readily admit that I’m a little finicky about what I eat, particularly when it comes to vegetables. I eat broccoli, green beans, spinach and salads, and that’s about it. But fruit? Oh, I love fruit! Every year at my daughter’s birthday party, you can bet your bippy that there’s a huge fruit tray with some Fluff Dip on the spread. If I could make and eat that dip with strawberries, grapes and pineapples every day, I would!

I came across a Peanut Butter Fruit Dip on Pinterest awhile back and bumped it up to the top of my To Make list! We had a small party with friends for Halloween and I threw this dip into the spread alongside some bananas chunks and apple slices and it was the biggest hit out of anything I made that night. And, bonus? It was the easiest!

As with the Fluff Dip, it almost feels like cheating to call this a recipe, as it’s only three ingredients, but it’s delicious and I have to spread it far and wide for fear that one of you will miss out. Make it ASAP and take advantage of the Honeycrisp Apples that are currently in season. They’re incredible, and they’re the best accompaniment for this dip that I’ve found. Bananas are delicious, but slippery and more difficult to eat. Celery would probably go well, but why would I sully my dip with veggies? Be a better person than I and try it, though!

Peanut Butter Fruit Dip
Spotted via Pinterest from The Wannabe Chef

½ cup peanut butter
½ cup yogurt (I used vanilla, but use whatever sounds good to you!)
¼ cup powdered sugar

Mix ingredients together and serve with fruit and/or vegetables. Will keep in the ‘fridge for a few days if you happen to have any left over!

A Happy Dozen

Posted by Danielle on November 4th, 2011

Today was an excellent day. Nothing big happened, exactly, but there were a lot of little moments that added up to just a whole bunch of awesome. I used to regularly blog (back when everyone had LiveJournals) good things and found that it helped to center me. It helped me to appreciate those little moments that much more.

{A happy moment from yesterday: the view from my bed!}

Since today was overflowing with bright spots, here’s A Happy Dozen:

1. Figuring out that two rolls of sushi can satisfy a craving as well as twice that many, but for less money and less calories.

2. Getting the master closet purged and organized. It’s glorious!

Bonus: Dropping all of the donation stuff off within 24 hours rather than allowing it to languish around the house.

3. Having my husband home from work earlier than usual.

4. Confirming that I’ve gone down a size in tops, and it wasn’t just a fluke of the blouse I bought last week.

5. Finally replacing a 10-year old hideous, ripped, over-sized fleece pullover – and for a lovely low price! Thanks, Target!

6. Staying on top of household chores, thus allowing me to relax and feel accomplished with my time.

7. Falling in love with Once Upon a Time. Thanks, FiOS OnDemand!

8. A new Nora Roberts book to read on the plane next week.

9. Folding fitted sheets into perfectly flat and lovely rectangles.

Bonus: Storing fitted, flat, and pillowcases inside a single pillowcase from the set. No more misplaced cases and toppling piles of haphazard sheets!

10. Finding the Christmas ornament I purchased in Scotland in 2009… and promptly lost.

11. Getting my daughter’s closet purged and organized, all of the old stuff stored away. We’re leading up to a bedroom re-do for her and having those little things done will help ease the way.

12. Bones is back!

What’s on your Good Things list?

Goals for November

Posted by Danielle on November 3rd, 2011

October was so great that watching it come to a close was a bit of a bummer. In addition, while it was a blast, I didn’t get nearly as much accomplished around the house as I should have. November’s going to have less going on socially, so I have even more time to work with, and so I need to focus. I need a To Do List to keep me on track, so that not only do I finally knock out some projects, but to keep a little cloud o’ depression at bay.

Speaking of depression, have you read Adventures in Depression by Hyperbole and a Half? If you suffer from it, you’ll relate. If you’ve never been depressed, here’s a little glimpse into what it’s like.

What was I saying?

Oh, right… To Do List! I sat down and composed my goals for November and to help keep me honest, here they are! What goals do you have plotted out for the near future?

  • Clean out and organize the master bedroom closet.
  • Drop off donations from the clean-out within 3 days.
  • Organize the kitchen, including new liner paper in the cabinets and drawers.
  • Finish scanning and filing old family photos. Transfer to DVD for backup storage.
  • Take my daughter shopping for food donations, then to drop the goods off at a soup kitchen.
  • Organize the bookshelves and DVD collections.
  • Drop off donations from the DVD and book clean-up within 3 days, if necessary.
  • Re-hang the living room photo wall.
  • (Finally) Select a paint color for the master bedroom.

{Pictures Galore} October in Retrospect

Posted by Danielle on November 1st, 2011

As I’ve mentioned before, fall is my absolute favorite season. The rich colors, the cooler temperatures, the fun activities that come along with this time of year. A hayride at the pumpkin patch, selecting my daughter’s Halloween costume, drinking apple cider, cooking comfort food, and of course, Halloween!

It’s been a month rich in family time and the making of memories. Here are some (okay, a lot) of my favorite photos from this October.

The first Saturday this month our family and our close friends took a trip to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, a special place for my husband and I as it’s where we met. We love the magic to be found in those woods, and this was the first year we could really share it all with our little girl in a way that she could grasp. As a bonus, the day we took her was the day Barleyjuice was performing, and Barleyjuice is one of our girl’s favorite bands. She rocks along to Potatoes and Weekend Irish in the car, so realizing who was on stage was a huge shock for her. This music-lovin’-Mama was thrilled to take her to her first concert, and the group, particularly the lead singer, was great with my girl and her BFF. He hopped off the stage to dance with a gaggle of little girls, tried to pull them all up on stage with him (my girl was the only one to follow), and then took a picture with our girls after the show.

October also marked the start of our girl’s first extracurricular activity: jazz/hip-hop dance classes! She’s been asking to take ballet for awhile now, but given her energy levels, I felt like ballet may not be the best fit for her. The local rec counsel offers numerous dance options, and the jazz/hip-hop class really jumped out at me. I showed her some videos on YouTube of those styles of dance and asked how she felt about taking that class instead, and she was all for it. It helped that she gets to wear the standard leotard+tights combo that she so closely associates with ballet. It’s really all about the fashion!

The school isn’t set up in such a way that I can take pictures during the classes, so I snap away before she leaves the house and, as a natural-born ham, my daughter kindly obliges me.

A week later, it was off to one of the local pumpkin patches with our closest friends, also featured in the renaissance festival photos above. Our daughter are a mere 2 months apart in ages and go to school together, my husband and her husband work together and are good friends, I’m godmother to their little boy, and she’s one of my dearest friends. It’s a match made in heaven!

This farm, Brad’s Produce, was a new one to us in terms of pumpkin hunting, but we’re sold! It was an absolutely glorious day, the hayride was a blast, the play structures were great for the kids, and the pumpkin selection was abundant.

Though we’d initially planned to only visit the renaissance festival once this year, closing weekend came around, the weather was beautiful, and I was dying to return. I used to spend every day of every weekend of the festival’s entire run there, socializing, shopping, just enjoying the feel of the place. It was great to get back there one more time, just my husband, daughter and I, and we had an absolute ball.

I learned that my girl loves the joust – the state sport of Maryland, if you can believe it! She loved seeing the big horses and the riders all dressed for battle, rooting for her favorite knight!

And then, of course, Halloween festivities! Our girl’s school hosts a Trunk or Treat event just before Halloween so that the kids get to trick or treat with their classmates. Parents pop the trunks to their cars, decorate them, and then those act as the stations on the trick or treat route. They have a great time together and then get to go inside the school for some fun activities with friends before going home for the night.

Our girl was Princess Aurora, from Sleeping Beauty. Her best friend was Jessie to her little brother’s Woody, from Toy Story. Their costumes were made by their Mom and turned out so cute! Woody’s hat kept slipping down over his eyes, making him even more adorable.

The day before Halloween we had a little mini party. Our girl got to do some Halloween-themed crafts, we made Halloween funfetti cupcakes, the husband and I put together some party food, and some friends came over for food, pumpkin carving, and Halloween movies!

Halloween was a school day, so I used it as an excuse to get our girl a cute little outfit to wear. Then, when she came home, she donned her costume and hit the pavement with Daddy for trick-or-treating while I sat outside and handed out candy to the adorable ones in our neighborhood. There were a handful of impolite teens who didn’t bother with costumes or manners, but the little ones melted my heart!

And, finally, Halloween also marked my 3rd wedding anniversary. My sweet husband, who is far more tolerant of my quirks than he ever should be, remains my best friend and the best life partner I could have chosen. He’s an incredible father to our girl, provides for and supports our family in ways we don’t deserve, and I am more in love with him each and every day. 3 years of marriage, 7 years together – it’s all gone by in the blink of an eye, and I cherish every minute of it.