December 12, 2019

Christmas Cookies 2019

Every year, I make a list of what I'll be making for Christmas. Some years my list is more detailed than others. I'd show you a picture of this year's list, but I already threw it away because it's mostly complete.

Realizing there's only 2 more weekends until Christmas means there's not too much time left to plan out holiday baking. For years, I only did my baking and treat-making on the weekends because of work and, now, it seems so strange and counterproductive, but weekdays still feel too busy to really dive into big baking projects. I tend to make treats in steps now. If it can't be completed in half a naptime*, it takes more than one day.

*I treat a "naptime" as a unit of measurement.

I'm most excited and relieved this year that we will be seeing family for Christmas and not flying to get there as we have in the past, so I can easily transport all of these. All can definitely be made ahead of time, which is my strategy as I work through December. Doing all of this in one day would lead to some serious burnout.

Peppermint Fudge
My favorite. This is so easy and so incredibly good. It's everything Christmas treats should be. I prefer fudge to cookies in a weird way so I always add some to a cookie tray. This one, I doubled, and stuck in the freezer so I'll pack it up into little treat bags to hand out, instead of just putting it into a cookie tin.

Spiced Nuts
This is a recipe I've made for a few years now and I don't see myself giving it up; it's perfect for gifting. Very easy and incredibly good. I doubled-it this year and still have a bit of spice mixture left over so I may make one more batch. Don't be afraid of the cayenne! It's what makes them perfectly seasoned.

Sugar Cookies
I don't even like sugar cookies very much. I think they're rewarding to make and they're fun to look at when they're decorated. Otherwise...meh. I don't mess around though: I swear by this recipe and I don't roll them in sugar. It's way too messy and unnecessary. I just use a little flour to roll out and cut the dough.

Molasses Snickerdoodles
I haven't made these yet, but I'm thinking I may get to them this weekend. They're the perfect spice cookie. Not too strong, but they have some flavor and aren't just a sweet sugar cookie.

What are you making this year???

December 11, 2019

Stuff and Things Wednesday 12/11

I thought about starting up Stuff and Things Thursday again, just for me, so I have a place to drop all the random tidbits each week. But I don't have time to get much of anything else together for today and something another blogger said once really stuck with me: this really should be a 30 minute a day hobby right now. As in, I probably do spend more than 30 minutes reading/writing/commenting on a lot of days, but putting together a post shouldn't take me longer than 30 minutes right now.

So here's a bit of the last week...

Remember the giant hole in downtown Pittsburgh from the bus falling through a sinkhole? The hole is still there. I would've taken a better picture but I looked like a tourist and people were kind of looking at me. 

At Scott's office, they had a cookie-baking contest and someone submitted bus-in-a-sinkhole cookies:

Stroller walks. He's walking more and more on his own but not when we walk the dogs. 

I made peppermint fudge last weekend. 

We went to a Mexican place yesterday and Wells enjoyed the chips/guac with a side of grapes. I gave him a bit of taco and he liked it and then got a spicy piece and didn't like it anymore. 

That placemat worked great! He didn't even notice it. 

I procrastinated ordering Wells a personalized ornament this year. I thought about it at the end of October, found one I loved, then lost the link, and never thought about it again until this past week. 
I like family ornaments and got one last year, but I'm weird about ordering something without the dogs on it and not many personalized ornaments are able to include two dogs and the dog in question on an ornament is always a golden retriever it seems. 
Last year, I got all 5 of us on an ornament. 
This year, I ordered one for just Wells, and I got us a Pittsburgh ornament since that's where we're living this Christmas. 

Anyway, this is what I settled on at 6am this morning. Fingers crossed it arrives for Christmas? 

Also, speaking of dropping the ball, I never sent out any sort of change of address when we moved...which is probably why the only Christmas card we've received so far is from my brother. 

I ordered cards last week and should have them in the mail next week. 

And speaking of ordering...I've ordered 3 items from Uniqlo in the last 3 weeks and I've gotten two emails like this:

One of my items was canceled completely. 
 And then I'll get a promotional email, attempting to entice me in to buy more. Why-would-I-do-that??? They're also still advertising two-day shipping on their site. I don't believe that. 

Also, my holiday shopping isn't done yet. I feel like I'm definitely running out of time, given that I order most things online. If Uniqlo doesn't come through, I'm in trouble.

December 10, 2019

Books in 2019 #10

Happy book day! I, unfortunately, am in the place where I haven't really been reading so I don't feel as optimistic this month as I did earlier this fall.

With all of the books below, I'm at 45 books for the year and 14 did-not-finish.

The fact that I started 7 (SEVEN) books this month that I didn't feel like finishing means that I doubt I'll hit 50 books. There's no rhyme or reason behind 50. It's just a nice even number for me because there ain't no way I'm making it to 100.

I'm a few chapters into a book right now, but who knows if I'll finish it because I've become very lax about this these days.

Also, I'm reading the book of Luke each night on my phone in bed. I'll hopefully have thoughts on this maybe next week? Rebecca is doing an insightful recap each day.

But the point there ^ is that it cuts into any other desires I have to read at night before I go to sleep.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
This was such a fabulous book. All the rave reviews are correct! I'm normally not into character-driven books; I like plot. But I was so curious about these characters. I love that it started in the late 60s/early 70s and went on for decades. It was one of the best I've read this year for sure.
In my opinion, this book is everything Little Fires Everywhere (Celeste Ng) wanted to be, but wasn't. LFE was good but it was wasn't nearly as deep as this one.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

And wait: Read this blurb that I just now noticed on Goodreads. Are they trying to frame this as a ...mystery? Uh, it's not. It'd be a LOT more interesting if it was.


The Nanny by Gilly Macmillan
I didn't care about the main character. 70 or so pages into the book, she didn't matter to me. If something is going to be a mystery, I need it to be a mystery I care about, I suppose. I think I want to like Gilly MacMillan books more than I actually do. They're just okay if you have nothing else to do.

And this selection that I never really got into enough to care. There was nothing wrong with any of them, actually. But they weren't doing it for me. I think I burned out on audiobooks in October and now I'm not into them.

 I used Scribd for all it was worth for two months and then canceled it. I didn't want to pay for a service I had no desire to use. At least, with Audible, you don't pay for the service and feel that you always have to get your money's worth. 

Linking up with Jana and Steph!

December 9, 2019

Skincare Update + what not to use on your face

I didn't know what else to title this. I've done a ton of skincare posts. They're still pretty valid. But I think our skin changes a lot, so getting attached to one particular product or routine isn't always best in the long run.

My first dermatology post is here.

After 3 months, I went back for a check-up.

Good news?

It all works!

You can see in the pictures that I have a dry spot near my chin, but my chin has always been my problem area.

I have very little make-up on; just a brush of powder, really. It's also painfully obviously that I need to find a good eye cream and need to add some lip color into my regular rotation, not just when I'm going to see people outside of my house. 

Also, just now realizing that my forehead is covered in these pictures but there's nothing there to cover up. It was just super windy on this day. 

Also good news: Our insurance PAYS for this. I'll list my co-pays for the products below.

I don't have to go back until September now (which I won't, but hopefully I'll find a doctor in our next location).

Bad news?

I do have a little bit of dryness so I need to start spot-treating with moisturizer.

Which isn't really bad news, I suppose, but is just annoying.

Here is what I was told to use:

1. The wash is at night ($9)
2. In the morning ($9)
3. At night ($11)

I don't use anything else because the wash is enough to get any face makeup off. You leave it on for 30 seconds and, for real, if it stays on much longer, it starts to burn. Nice to know it works, right?

I use Eucerin moisturizer for eczema as a spot-treatment as needed
And I still use my caffeine-based eye cream. That's just what I picked up when I ran out of my RF eye cream because I was tired of looking tired in the throes of bad baby sleep over the summer.

The only question I really had for the doctor was what kind of moisturizer to use. I mentioned that I had used CeraVe moisturizer with sunscreen over the summer and it'd make me breakout worse than usual. He said that was definitely the sunscreen component and not to use sunscreen on your face unless you have to.

A dermatologist told me you generally should not use sunscreen on your face.

That goes against everything we hear, right? Every beauty blogger/MLM beauty product salesperson starts with a layer of moisturizer + sunscreen.

He said the chance of irritation and breakouts is so high for most people that it's not worth it. Unless you're actually going to be outside in the summer, it's definitely not an everyday product.

When I asked about this initially, he said Are you worried about sun exposure...? In Pittsburgh? In the winter? He asked if I was going to be traveling to a sunny place in the near future LOL.

And I realized how ridiculous I sounded. If I'd been having this conversation with a dermatologist in Colorado Springs, the answer would've been different. Sometimes I forget where I am.

After all, I took this picture out of the exam room window: we're in for 6-7 days a week of THIS until April...

He said maybe if I were going skiiing. Then I could use sunscreen on my face.

So anyway. There you are. If you are in a northern climate, in the winter, and not spending long periods of time outside daily, don't use a moisturizer with sunscreen.

That was the most valuable thing I've heard from a professional since we've been here.

December 6, 2019

My not-viral, but-still-impressed-me tweet.

This is from like two weeks ago. Currently the 6 or 7 ring circus that is impeachment is still incredibly boring and pointless.

I didn't actually mean to defend Donald Trump. I meant to point out the ridiculousness of Nancy Pelosi. But I think this came off more as a defense of Trump. Whatever. I mean, it's not wrong.

If you know me, you know that I am not a Trump fan, but I'm unflinchingly conservative in my political views. Therefore, I was trying to get the point across that this impeachment is just a goal-post-moving, waste-of-time turkey trail that is meant to generate headlines and sway independent voters. (I don't think it's working?)

Also, I tweeted this while I was getting ready to take a nap.

I might have even punctuated it wrong.

Oh well.

The point is that you can't ask someone to prove they are innocent after you've accused them of a crime and, failing that, claim they're guilty of a charge on which no one is very clear to begin with.

That is an actual witch hunt.

The common practice back in the day was to throw suspected witches into ponds, and if they floated, they're guilty. If they sunk, they're innocent, but they drowned so oh well. They were suspected and suspected is as good as guilty when trying witches. And suspected is as good as guilty in 2019 politics as well.

My short-lived Twitter fame:

If you want to follow me, it's almost all political, a little bit of sports and TV, and sometimes something funny or dog-related.

Are you on Twitter? It's a cesspool sometimes but it's like 17+ levels up from Facebook.

December 5, 2019

Currently {a *late* link-up} 12/5

Apparently I can't keep up with any link-ups this week!
For real though. I had a plan for this week. Like a plan, in which I had something to do (not on the blog, but in life) each day and it all got pushed around and rescheduled, so my whole week fell apart and caused me a lot of anxiety in the meantime.

Sometimes, all I have are my plans for the little things because I can't control the big things and this is why I get so upset about little things, like not being home for naptime, because I intentionally plan "nap time" into my daily schedule.

Anyway. I never miss this link-up. Here we are. A day late.

Enjoying.... Noelle.

This was adorable and hilarious. I mean, I laughed out loud more than I ever expected. The comedic timing (in a G-rated movie) was amazing. Highly recommend.
I was also thrilled to see it on Disney+ because it looks like something that would go to theaters first (and easily could've) but I'm glad they're putting marketing strategies to use on a platform I'm currently streaming for free.

Baking... I made this pumpkin bread the other day and it was so easy and came out perfectly. I added walnuts. Also, I really made it because I had extra cream cheese frosting in the fridge. I still have extra cream cheese frosting in the fridge so I'll be making this pumpkin bread again before the weekend. Seriously. So easy.

And I'm going to be making sugar cookies this weekend. The plan ("plan") is to bake them and freeze them and I'll decorate them maybe next week.

Lighting... Wells' own little Christmas tree. It has his personalized ornaments on it.

This tree is what I bought in 2009 because I didn't have a tree. It was in my classroom for a few years. I used it as round-the-year decoration in my living room for a few years. Then it was our tree last year because we moved the week after Christmas. Now it's his this year. Next year, who knows?

Sending... or rather, NOT sending. Since we are doing Christmas with both of our families this year, I don't have to spend $150 on postage! Also, under the category of "not sending", I still haven't done Christmas cards. Eventually.

Enjoying... more TV! 'Tis the season, I suppose.
We've been watching The Mandalorian. Very good.
Remember in 2017 when I committed to watching all of the Star Wars movies? I had never watched any of them before that.  We saw one in the theater in December 2016 and a student was constantly talking to me about Star Wars and I became a little obsessed with the timeline and how it all fit together? Well, I've since forgotten all of that, so maybe it's time for a rewatching party. I had never watched any of them before that. Now, I can see why The Mandalorian is so good.

Linking up with Anne for Currently and Kristen for What's New With You?

See also: Random Monday Catch-Up and December Goals (and some boring Amazon purchases if you're into real life :)

December 4, 2019

Amazon lately

Fun fact: I intentionally set a post for YESTERDAY because I knew this link-up was happening YESTERDAY and I buy so many random things on Amazon that I thought it'd be fun to share and then...I completely forgot about it.

Better a day late than giving up for another month, I suppose.

First up, we have exactly two Subscribe and Save items because I was always running out.

Dog bones.

And baby treats.

Then some randoms I needed this month:

Acrylic paint pens. I bought these for some Christmas gifts I made, and I have no high standards on the quality of art projects but they did exactly what I needed them to do so I would recommend them.

These baby-proof cabinet locks. I wanted something that wasn't a permanent fixture since we're renting this house. Most of the time these just hang off of one cabinet door and I only lock 3 of our cabinets when Wells is in the kitchen with me. I like that I don't have to use them all of the time.

These frames. I had two 8x8 pictures of Wells from his 1st birthday and you can't buy 8x8 frames in most stores (Snapfish just told me that's how they fit best so that's what I ordered). I almost got these in light blue but wasn't sure what that light blue would actually look like so I went with brown. I'll put them in his room at some point, and he already has a lot of blue in there. The weird thing, when you move so much, is that you don't become attached to color schemes. You can't because nothing will ever match long-term. Brown is always a safe bet.

That's it for this past month. Super boring, actually. I don't buy fun things on Amazon, as you can see. It's just more necessity, I suppose. As a friend told me the other day, Amazon is great if you know what you want. It's not good for browsing. If I'm going to browse, for Christmas gifts, etc, I'm going to go to a store.

Linking up with The Other Side of the Road!

December 3, 2019

December Goals

I purposefully didn't look back at my November goals during the month of November. I knew I had gotten thrown off track.

1. Get started on Christmas presents. Yes. Check. I would add something like this to December but I legitimately have to finish all Christmas presents in December so it's kind of cheating/odd to make it a goal.

2. Christmas cards. Nope. Not at all. I have my coupon ready. But no cards have been even thought of and I have no picture to put on them anyway yet. Maybe this week? There's kind of a time limit on this too.

4. Try 4 new recipes. I don't actually know if I hit this goal. I think I thought I would have more time on my hands this month but I got sick so I didn't feel like cooking or baking. I did make these chicken meatballs with zucchini and I added grated carrot as well. And I made this pumpkin bread that was ah-maz-ing

5. Continue going to the gym. Nope. Not even a little bit. I was sick. And the last thing I could even think of doing with a sore throat and cough was cardio. And dealing with a toddler who is getting to be more toddlery every day, I didn't have the desire to navigate childcare. Maybe...sometime. Just the thought is demotivating.

1. Bake cookies. Also, make a few homemade holiday gifts/baked goods for family and friends.

2. Paint my nails. I'm aware that this is a thing most people do. I'll try it, solidly, for a month. I'm just so bad at it and don't enjoy it the way some do.

3. Finish reading "goal". I didn't have a great November when it came to books. I actually quit about 7 books? I hesitate to call them true DNFs because there wasn't anything wrong with them. I just didn't care enough to continue. More about books next week though. I think I have like 5 more to read in December to hit 50 books and I don't quite see that happening, but you never know.

4. Overhaul my diet. Which seems silly to do in December, I know. But I'm going to reflect back on the two years I spent consciously eating less carbs. Not low-carb, as I didn't fall into that category at all, but I was told by fertility doctors to eat high protein and less carbs (they actually recommended no carbs, and that's not sustainable nor healthy, in my opinion). Specifically, I remember drinking a protein smoothie for breakfast each day and just not eating bread. I probably went two years with little to no bread and didn't even buy it for so, so long. We didn't even miss it! Then, when I was pregnant, all I wanted was toast. It wasn't that I was sick and needed it; it was that it just sounded so good all the time. That carried over to now... two years later. I don't love it, necessarily, but I got into a habit and now I need to break it.
So the goal ...back to the point here... is to start the smoothies again and just stop the bread. It's unnecessary. This doesn't mean not eating crackers, chips, pizza, etc. It literally just means bread.

Are you setting goals for the month?
December is an iffy time to start new habits, right? I think it's so much better than the clean-slate January mentality, though. There's too much pressure when everyone is starting over at the same time.

December 2, 2019

Random Monday Catch-up


That was a failure.

I meant to blog last week but I left for my parents' house on Wednesday with Wells and that's always an undertaking. I got real lucky this time and he slept the whole way (almost 3 hours) because I intentionally took him to Toddler Time to tire him out in the morning. Scott followed on Thursday with the dogs because he had to work on Wednesday.

We headed back to Pittsburgh on Saturday because there was a winter storm watch on Saturday night into Sunday. Pittsburgh was supposed to be fine, but everywhere else was to be a mess. Oddly grateful that we didn't get hammered with snow and ice!

I do always take my computer if I'm gone for more than one night and I meant to get some blog posts together for the end of last week and this week and then...I always end up reading all the back editions of the local newspaper that my parents keep in a recycling pile instead. It's weird.

But here's some random catch-ups...

 This episode, that I listened to on Saturday, goes over actual documented history not of the first Thanksgiving but of the relationship between Massasoit and the Pilgrims. Start around 18 minutes and go to about 32 minutes. I liked that he pointed out that there was real political strategy/maneuvering between all of the tribes. And Squanto's history is fascinating. 

I posted this about a book I realllllly didn't get the hype over...and so many of you DM'd me to say you agreed! Whew! I'll talk more in my books post next week, I suppose.

Last week, I wanted treat bags and pom-poms. I could find none on Amazon (that I liked). I went to Michael's since it was a Sunday because it's two miles away and the website said this store had what I wanted in stock. Nope. None of it. And I couldn't even find an employee to ask.
I was super annoyed because I had packed up Wells and gone through the whole "going-out" process for nothing (he's been realllllly fighting the carseat lately).
 Then I went to Hobby Lobby first thing Monday morning. 
Lesson learned. Just wait for Monday and go to Hobby Lobby.

I try to give him freedom but I always come back to creating a pen with this play-yard. I just need to know he's safe while I do dishes or cook dinner or whatever. (I know that's expensive, but it was worth every penny. Just wait for a 20% off coupon. It's invaluable and doesn't look like a dog pen, which is my complaint about most play-yards.)

There's plenty to explore when we go to my parents' house.

It's so funny to see him interact with babies. These two are 10 months apart and should be able to really the time we move away. Sigh. 

Another podcast! This was good. The last 20 minutes of the episode are important. 

I bought exactly two things this weekend for myself (actually I only bought two things this weekend). If you look at the times, you'll see that I bought them while lying in bed, on my phone. Because technology is wonderful. 

I bought a Naked palette for half-off 3 years ago and have used only that for eye shadow ever since. I figured it was time for some new colors. Also, trying some new lipstick. 

These fleeces have been popping up everywhere and all I wear are comfy clothes. They were out of mediums in this color and I like things loose, so we'll see. The entire store was half-off so I have to try it.


He has two firetrucks and he likes to drive them around the house and try to sit on them.

Scott's birthday was last week and he wanted "nothing", but I think he's supposed to be ordering new dog collars that have GPS this week. However, his "gift" was a new set of wedding rings. We've gone through multiple sets of silicone rings in the last 4 years. He loses them constantly. Luckily it's like $10 for four. His real ring has been lost and found more than once, so it stays home now. 

Happy to be home? He's such a toddler these days. So many emotions and he can't talk so I can't tell what he wants at least half the time. He did just run around happily while I unpacked on Saturday, after only three days away, rediscovering all of his toys and was perfectly pleasant until bedtime. 

Tomorrow: December goals.

November 26, 2019

What to Buy a Young Toddler for Christmas?

In case you want any ideas or, like me, are just super nosey and also have a weird tendency toward hating gift guides but also love seeing what people are buying and recommending.

None of these are affiliate links and I don't have time to make a collage today (thought about it, didn't do it), but I'm not trying to be click-baity. :)

In Wells' stocking, I'm doing a theme: food-related items. These are some necessities I've being meaning to buy him and transition to and I thought it'd be nice to put it all in his stocking, since opening them up wouldn't exactly be thrilling for a one year old. 

Camelbak bottle. I got the one with airplanes on it. I'm packing up the sippy cups. 

Snack containers. To make life easier for all of us...less spills and all, hopefully.

Silicone mat for eating in restaurants. A friend suggested this, and I've been meaning to look for something similar for months.

My "splurge" was a bento box. When we goes places like out to eat or the zoo or a museum, I pack up like 6 different packages of food for him and spend a lot of time doling it out. This will solve about 7 or 8 logistical problems, by my calculation. They're on sale right now on Amazon!

Also, a winter-themed book to open on Christmas Eve. I got this at Marshall's for $3.

VTech Puppy. Babies/toddlers love pull toys.

Little People Bus.  He has the zoo train and I thought about the airplane because he loves planes (they go over our house many times a day and he loves to watch) but the bus looks like his beloved Buster the Bus. And I'm not spending $$$ or space on an actual Buster. If someone else were to get him something like that, fantastic! That wouldn't bother me because he'd love it. I'm just not bringing it on myself purposely :) Maybe for his birthday. 

Puzzle.  Amazon doesn't have the one that makes sound, but I got that one at Walmart.

Magnets. More magnets. He has lost all of his animal ones by shoving them under the fridge and, as soon as I pull them out, he puts them back under there. So these may end up on a shelf for a few months.

My parents got him blocks and magnatiles. Those were things we wanted him to have, so they said they'd get them. 

We tried, as you can tell, to stay away from "big" things like riding toys, play kitchens, etc. We don't really have the room right now unless we suddenly start making use of our half-finished basement and, to be honest, he doesn't seem to need it right now. I'm thinking that a few of those bigger pretend-play toys would be great for his birthday next summer or Christmas next year, when he's doing more pretend-play anyway. 

What do you buy younger toddlers for Christmas? A 16-18 month old is so different than a baby but definitely not big enough to be trusted with or play with certain toys.