Hello December.

Happy last and most exciting month of the year! A month filled with so much Christmas spirit, and welcoming a new year. A month when the kiddos can’t wait for school break, gifts, cookies, and of course the big guy Santa!

For my daughter Hadley, December is a month of truly believing in the spirit of Christmas. She loves all the traditions we’ve started for the holidays. Christmas lights on the house, decorations all throughout the house, Elf on the shelf, Advent calendar, St. Nick, Christmas bucket list, celebrations at school, and much much more!

What are your plans for this month? Are you excited for the new year?

Happy December to all of you!

Our Thanksgiving 2021.

Our Thanksgiving 2021! We had my side of the family over our house and it turned out great! It was very calm, peaceful, and low key despite how many people we had in our home. We had about twenty-ish family members plus the kiddos.

We have folding tables we keep in our attic for entertaining, and then our regular dining room table we use also. We had plenty of room since a few family members didn’t come this year. The table cloths on the long tables were paper from Meijers, and then my regular fall table cloth on the regular table. The centerpieces were plain eucalyptus greenery, mini pumpkins, and candles.

Banners made out of cardstock! I love making anything paper, these were all handmade by yours truly.

Pumpkin pie banner for the dessert table. We had two pumpkin pies, two apple pies, and apple fritter bread.

The bar cart. We had two bottles of wine, a decanter of Wellers, and a sparkling pomegranate juice recipe. The sparkling pomegranate recipe can be found by clicking here!

Cardboard turkeys for the kids to color! We used cardboard from the boxes we already had on hand, painters tape, and that’s it! Hadley and I grabbed a few of her washable markers, and let the kids go to town. It was a cute easy idea to entertain the kids!

I do paper plates for Thanksgiving! I don’t want to mess with a million plates to wash afterwards, plus they make pretty cute paper plates for the holidays so it works perfect for us. In the three-tiered metal tray is a fall chex mix that I made. It consisted of chex mix cereal, muddy buddy’s, pretzels, candy corn, reeces pieces, and roasted peanuts. Yum!

My husband putting together his new fryer, with his tool box just cracks me up. Never met a man that loves to cook as much as he does! We had two turkey’s, one was smoked, and one was fried.

The smoked turkey.

The fried turkey.

Hadley named the turkey’s, Tom and Pam. Tom got smoked, and Pam got fried.

And there you have it, our Thanksgiving 2021! Everyone left with their tummies full, which is always a good holiday. It was nice to get together with the family, it had been a long time since we’ve seen everyone. I’m glad those that could come did so, it was good to see everyone and catch up!

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Invites.

We are hosting Thanksgiving next week for the second time! My husband and I alternate each year with our families, this year is my side of the family, and next year is his. We have alternated holidays for probably ten years now! It’s what works for us and we love it.

Thanksgiving with my side of the family is pretty standard as far as food goes. We provide the main dishes, most importantly Tom the turkey. We’ll have two turkeys, and Hadley has named them Tom and Pam this year! My aunts, uncles, and cousins bring most of the same sides each time, it’s been the same for forever it feels like.

When it came time to spreading the word on what everyone was bringing, I started making the invitations. Trust me, there was no need for invitations, mainly because everyone brings the same thing each time, but it’s just what I do. What’s the fun of throwing a party without a real invite? I love anything and everything paper!

In addition to the invites, I made these little menu cards for each family member. I made these the same way as the invites, except smaller and omitted the address info, etc.

The envelopes are plain white, with washi tape on the back and a Thanksgiving stamp. I use washi tape on almost every single piece of mail I send out. Even boring bills, why not make sending out old school bills in the mail prettier?!?!

I created the invites in Photoshop, and printed them on kraft paper. Love how they turned out! Simple invites + envelopes. I have a ridiculous amount of envelopes that need to be put to good use. Plus, we’ve already got the majority of our shopping list done, the extra tables and chairs all set up, and Tom and Pam defrosting in the fridge!

30 days of Thanksgiving.

This year I’m doing a little project where I post a photo of something I’m thankful for each day of November, using a few different hashtags but the main one is #30daysofthanksgiving. I’ve done this a few years ago, and wanted to bring it back this year. My goal for this project is to focus on something everyday, to help me feel more appreciative. Thankfulness is what it’s all about! The ten photos above is what I’ve done so far! The 11th day will be posted later tonight.

I encourage you to participate or just follow along! Instagram handle: @lifewithmandyjoy.

P.S. Happy Veterans Day! Thank you to those that have served.

November is here.

Oh, November.

We made it through the first week! I predict great things this month, and fully intend on enjoying each of the 30 days. October was good and our normal busy, but I foresee November being a bit more on the faster pace side of things. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, being busy helps me prioritize and plan things better believe it or not.

Can you believe all the Christmas ads and deals that are everywhere you look? I feel like Christmas is being rushed even earlier this year. I mean, it’s just the beginning of November! I have to focus on hosting Thanksgiving, not buying Christmas presents already!

Here’s a little recap from our first week of November…

Hadley was off school the first day of November, her school met their goal for the Walk-a-thon which meant a day off! I remember when private schools used to have the day after Halloween off for All Saints Day, but not our school.

Celebrated a work anniversary last week, and by celebrated I took this selfie while working in the office and posted it on my Instagram stories. (Follow my IG stories @lifewithmandyjoy). That’s about the extent of celebrating around the office.

The best helper around! While I was blowing the leaves after cutting the grass, this little one goes into the garage and grabs a rake and starts raking the leaves without being asked! She must’ve been out there for a good 45 minutes just raking away. Just love her willingness to help all on her own.

After ordering my favorite chai tea latte from Starbucks, the barista wrote the nicest message on the cup. I didn’t even notice until I got back to work! Never heard of Thursday being called Friday Jr.! Little things like a message on a cup can definitely brighten the day!

Hadley had her first ever basketball game! She is in the middle shooting a basket. At the first grade level, they practice before the game, and then have two halves, and they play at half court. She did very well! She had two baskets, and dribbled the ball pretty good for not playing before.

First cheer competition in the books! This was her first season cheering for football, and they ended the season with a competition. It was a fun long day, filled with makeup, hair, and waiting for their time slot to perform the routine. They practice for only three weeks, and did so great for first timers! Go Vols!

Welcome November. I’m glad you’re here.

Eight years.

Today we celebrate eight years of marriage! It feels like a blink and it feels like ages. Isn’t it weird how it works that way?

Kevin and I started dating when I was 30 years old. It was the end of the Reds baseball season and he asked me to go to a game. I said yes without any hesitation. I knew that a future with Kevin would make his path part of mine, but twelves years together, and eight years married? Who, at thirty, can look forward to that long with any clarity?

I am glad that I couldn’t. I am glad that when I looked forward it was an abstract idea that was worth exploring. And I am glad that we have spent the last twelve years turning that idea into something that works for us, one day at a time.

Brady is sixteen, Natalie is fourteen, and Hadley is six.

There have been a lot of mistakes. There have been some crap days. But damn I’d do every lay off, every third shift, every panicked moment, every new job, every fight over nothing and every fight over something again to get right here.

I love that today is a new starting line. I love that tomorrow will be one too.

Marriage is just as much work as everything else in life. Parenting. Jobs. Being healthy. Being happy. Choosing your best and do the right thing, even when you may not want to. I am so grateful we are in this season of our lives, and even more grateful to have this man in my life.

Thank you for choosing me to be your wife. ♥

From the weekend.

Our weekend started off with cheering for the last home football game! Hadley lead the crew down to the field, which she was super excited about. And it was a “pink out” game for Breast Cancer Awareness month, so they all wore pink and the coach gave the cheerleaders a pink sticker for their cheeks.

After the football game, I got a walk in. I love to go to this trail by our house, it’s the perfect spot and it’s so pretty to walk through. I usually get in a three mile walk, but lately part of the path has been closed due to construction so I’ve shortened the walk to 2.5 which is better than no miles!

Saturday night we went to a wedding, it was beautiful outside! The ceremony was outside, and the reception was partially outside/inside. The reception was in a barn type building that had these huge sliding doors that opened to let the fresh air in. It was a great date night!

Sunday morning, I went to the trail for another walk. My partner in crime joined me on her bike. I just love it when she wants to come with me, it gives her exercise and she has fun riding her bike. I just wish she would try and learn how to ride without training wheels one of these days.

Sunday afternoon, Hadley had her last soccer game for the outdoor season, and they won! I’m so proud of this girl. She went from not knowing much about soccer, to learning how to dribble in and out of other players, and just learning the basics of soccer for her age. She had the best coaches, who were so patient yet determined to teach these girls. Her team learned how to play together by the end of the season, and it was so fun to watch.

We had a busy but fun weekend! Now back to the grind.

Fall decor.

Happy Friday everyone! Welcome to the fall decor post for the year. There’s not much that makes me happier than decorating a home for the different seasons! It always takes me a bit to transition from summer to fall, but once it’s here I slowly get on board with the changing seasons.

Fall can be difficult sometimes, as I never know how to incorporate Halloween into Fall. This year, I decided to just add a little mix of both. The decor is mostly Fall, with a touch of Halloween I would say. We don’t have pumpkins for the front porch yet, it’s still a tad warm for that and I like to wait until it gets a little closer to Halloween for those. Our yard is like a zoo, we have all different kinds of animals that come out at night so I’d rather the porch be pumpkin free for awhile.

Without further a do, come on in!

The fireplace mantle! All the pieces are from random places, and some pieces are old that I’ve had awhile. I like the look of different items placed all over the place, it gives it a warm vibe.

As you head into the kitchen from the family room, we have some fallish flowers on the table. Kevin got those for our dating anniversary of 12 years! In the cabinet above the countertop, I have some pumpkins and Turkey things displayed. On the chalkboard, I wrote on chalk “trick or treat” with some fun spider webs and a ghost. By the sink, I have a small pumpkin by the kitchen sponge. And by the way, if you haven’t tried Dawn’s PowerWash yet, you’re missing out! And then on the stove, fall towels and Thanksgiving salt and pepper shakers!

As you enter the dining room, I don’t have much except for a fall tablecloth, and then candy corn in a glass container, candy in the pumpkin basket, and “Hello Fall” on the mini chalkboard.

In the downstairs bathroom, I have Happy Harvest hand towels. Always try to have fun towels in there for the kids! The pumpkins and signs on the bathroom shelves are from the Dollar Tree years ago, and Target Dollar Spot last year. Love Mrs. Meyers hand soap and all the seasonal flavors each year. Fun Halloween napkins, even though the kids aren’t really fans of the napkins. And the Trick or Treat wood block is from a store in Brown County, Indiana from years ago.

Down the hallway to the front door, an Autumn Leaves and Pumpkins Please sign from Target Dollar Spot, Thankful and Blessed sign from the Dollar Tree, sign on the front door and planter stick are from Gabes a few years ago. I tried to make a fall wreath for the front door, and I just can’t get the ribbon to go right. So this will do!

Hope you enjoyed all the fall decor for our home. The seasons are changing, and I’m ready for it!

DIY Skinny Chai Latte.

Have you ever tried to make one of your favorite drinks from Starbuck’s or your favorite coffee shop? I feel like they never really taste just the same, like something is always off. After lots of searching on the internet, I finally found a good recipe for a chai latte!

Ingredients:

  • Tazo chai latte mix
  • Milk of choice
  • Ice

The chai latte mix can be found at your local Target, or even Amazon. I picked the skinny version, but they also have the full versions which I haven’t tried before.

Put ice into the glass, and pour half of the chai latte mix into the glass. Pour the rest of the glass with the milk of your choice. And that my friends, is it! How easy is that? And it’s delicious! You can tell it’s the skinny version, which taste lighter but it’s still taste pretty close to the one I get at Starbucks. I order this with skim milk at Starbucks, so I’m used to it tasting pretty light anyways.

I’m soo glad I figured out how to make this, and how unbelievably simple it is! Now I can save some money on Starbucks drinks!

Happy October! Can’t wait to make more of these for the fall months that are finally here.

From the weekend.

Friday. Started out with a walk on our favorite trail, and Hadley riding her bike. I just love it when she wants to come with me. It gives her exercise, and fresh air! She was off school for her festival set up. The first day of the festival! We were so excited to go this year! Last year it was cancelled due to the pandemic. I’ve waited so many years to go to our own school festival, and it was finally here. We played games, rode the rides, listened to the band play, and just hung out with friends. Hadley and her bestie! We had the best time, and the weather could not have been more perfect!

Saturday. We went to see the big kids all dolled up for Homecoming. Brady is a junior, and Natalie is a freshman. They were taking pictures with their dates at a park near downtown. I’m glad we were able to see them and got a few photos! Even Dad got to stop by while he was hard at work. Hadley and I came home and washed my car, the weather has been just gorgeous.

Sunday. More festival time! Face painting, rides, games, and more food. Natalie joined us for a little bit, she even tried the famous west side Pizza from Trottas and her picky little self loved it! So good. I’m so glad we have this community at school and in our parish, it’s been fun getting to know the parents and kiddos. I can’t wait for many more festivals!