Small Biz Holiday Gift Picks

Hi there and Blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception! I am currently feeling very Advent-y as I (restlessly) wait/prepare for baby2 to come! Due date is in 2 days and I am mostly feeling well. However, the baby is pretty low according to the midwives, so every minor discomfort has me wondering, “Is it time??!!”. Although a little bit restless, I am mostly very EXCITED and not very anxious at all. We have all baby prep pretty much done. Next week depending on my recovery status (or if the baby is even here), I’ll have some gift wrapping and card sending to do (or realistically maybe the husband will do it). But otherwise, we are pretty much good to go and ready to snuggle with our babies, rest, and enjoy the rest of Advent and Christmas!

I had hoped to squeeze in another post between now and the due date which included an abbreviated version of Jimp’s birth story, but couldn’t find what I had typed out a couple years ago. So I will have to sit down and do it again eventually.

In the meantime, I thought I’d join the Christmas link up again with Sarah and Victoria and share some fun small business gift picks. I have purchased some of these myself and the rest I think would just be great gifts to give or receive! 🙂

From Left to Right, starting at the top: any of the fun mugs and prints from Brick House in the City, all designed by Lauren, a friend from college.

A personalized, hand lettered ornament from All She Wrote Notes.

Simple, but beautiful embroidered baby blankets from Etsy Shop, TheInitialGift (got one for a friend earlier this year).

We used these address stamps from Etsy for our wedding invitations (with my parents’ address) I wish I had one for our Christmas cards this year! Would be great for any new homeowners or newlyweds.

And lastly, basically anything by Katrina of Hatch Prints! She hand letters and watercolors art prints and mugs and just added this beautiful calendar to her shop. I think I would frame all the prints at the end of the year for a gallery wall. You can find art for the whole family on her site!

I hope you have a blessed Advent and Christmas season and a wonderful feast day today!

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Advent and Christmas Traditions

Blessed Feast of St. Nicholas! I’m linking up today with day 2 of a fun holiday linkup with super cute Victoria and Sarah and sharing my favorite holiday traditions! Our Advent and Christmas seasons are of course going to look a little different this year with a baby due this Saturday. A couple things we do intend to do is really savor/enjoy and simplify the seasons as best we can! So far we have done a bit of decorating and have had our tree up since right after Thanksgiving. That isn’t something we normally rush to do, but we were definitely excited for that this year. We didn’t purchase any new decor and just re-purposed some items we already have, besides the tree itself (Patrick and I both grew up with real ones). One thing I wouldn’t mind adding though is a nice quality Nativity set. Maybe I need to check out post-Christmas sales for that. We also have been enjoying lots of holiday music, particularly the Pentatonix! Jimp loves this video.

In terms of traditions, we are trying a couple of new things this year. First, we finally put together our Advent wreath and have been lighting it during dinner and in the evenings. I didn’t grow up with this tradition, but now that Jimp is older, I am hoping to get into the habit of incorporating more liturgical traditions.  If you’re not familiar with Advent wreaths, there are fours candles to represent the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each Sunday, a new one is lit. The three purple candles represent our prayer and penance (for weeks 1, 2, and 4) as we prepare for the birth of our Savior. The third week, we light the rose (or pink) candle to represent our joy in knowing what’s to come! We are continuing to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, which I love and have done for several years.

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Another new tradition we are starting is a Reverse Advent calendar, which I stumbled across on good ol’ Pinterest. The idea is that each day during Advent, you place an item in a container to donate to others, instead of a traditional calendar where you get something new each day. Surprisingly Jimp seems to really get it and has been enjoying putting in something new each day in the box. Just the other day, he grabbed a box of cereal from the pantry on his own and put it in there, without me asking (cue my mom heart melting). I normally just tell him it’s for our “friends” who might not have enough food at their houses and he seems to get it. Here is our box on Day 2 of Advent:

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For Christmas, we started a new tradition last year of Secret Santa with Patrick’s family which is super fun and definitely has simplified gift giving as the family grows! Patrick’s family loves gift-giving and we all take turns opening our gifts together. So much fun and makes opening all presents super exciting. The past several years, we have done Christmas Eve dinner with my dad’s side of the family (every year since I can remember, actually), Mass followed by brunch with my immediate family on Christmas morning, and Christmas dinner with Patrick’s family. We mainly plan to stay home this year though to recover, but if I feel up to it, my goal is making it to Christmas Mass and taking a festive family photo with the decorations (my family’s tradition). Below is our photo from last year and I dug up one from Patrick’s and my first married Christmas, complete with 16ish week baby bump!

Christmas 2015

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On a random note, we have really enjoyed taking family walks over the past couple of years around our neighborhood to see the Christmas lights. I grew up in the same neighborhood but don’t remember it being this festive as a kid! Last year, we did Santa pictures at the Mall for the first time. I will have to find it and upload it later on. I like the idea of it for this year, but almost 40 weeks pregnant at the mall during Christmas sounds like a really bad idea! ;D

I almost forgot one final tradition…since I was in junior high, some dear family friends have hosted a potluck and White Elephant gift exchange in the day or two after Christmas for our friend group…lots of the group have since moved away and are married with kids, but if they’re in town they’re at the party. It has since evolved to include any local friends and kiddos and into an epic gathering, but it’s something I look forward to every year!

Check out Victoria’s and Sarah’s blogs for lots of of fun holiday traditions! Yesterday the link-up was to post your wishlist. I normally am not a Christmas list person as I like to surprised, but since we had to make one for Secret Santa, here are a few things I “wished” for: a new pretty slow cooker for some post-baby freezer meals, this print from Hatch Prints to help dress up some bare walls, this cozy cardigan, and a healthy nail polish set.

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Life Lately and 38 Weeks!

Hello and blessed first week of Advent! I wanted to share a few (a lot) of photos of what life has looked like lately before it gets too late. At this point I have about a week and half (!!) until my due date for baby number 2. So far the pregnancy has continued to go smoothly and at my birth center appointment yesterday, the midwife said the baby has settled into a good position for birth, so it could be sooner than later. I still pretty much attribute the ease of everything due to regular chiropractic care, as I have gone weekly since I hit 30 weeks. We had a great Thanksgiving break and spent a bit of time putting up a few holiday decorations. I anticipate the Advent and Christmas seasons flying by so our plan for Advent is to prepare by just enjoying and resting as much as possible!

A couple weekends ago we went on a “babymoon staycation” to downtown Houston. We stayed at the Whitehall hotel which was a lot of fun. We had a relaxing evening and morning in downtown Houston, complete with happy hour, dinner and Mass at Holy Rosary and Brunch at Downhouse (pictured below…best chicken and waffles I’ve ever had!).

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A little field trip with the little one to the mall, complete with a stop at the Lego store!

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Packing for Nativiti! Can’t wait to meet baby number 2! I remember bringing so much stuff the first time around. I’m trying to simplify life this time around and bring only the bare essentials–we only stayed about 5 hours after baby was born the first time around.

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A fun Thanksgiving table at my in-laws’ house! We had such a fun Thanksgiving this year. It was a little busy, but I didn’t mind it. We did lunch around 1 with my in-laws and relaxed until it was time to head to my uncle’s house for dinner at 6. Two big meals, but I’m not complaining! I also didn’t even have to cook a thing…just brought a cheese plate.

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Visiting the naughty chickens (or ducks as Jimp refers them). They didn’t seem to like visitors that day.

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Almost 38 week belly on Thanksgiving day!

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Non related–but we got our master shower tiled! I don’t think it’ll be complete before the baby comes, but progress is still progress! Patrick is currently working on drywall for the walls and I think we will start tiling the floors soon too. It’s so fun to finally see it come together. I shared inspiration for the redesign here.

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This past weekend my sister threw a last-minute baby “sprinkle” for me at our neighborhood park gazebo. I didn’t want a huge party or anything, but just an excuse to get together with friends before the crazy happens! It was so fun and the weather was great. 🙂

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We normally don’t decorate early, but we wanted to get a big head start this year since we knew not much would be going up once we had a newborn in the house. I already anticipate having our tree up until mid February (joking, but not really). While we picked a small-ish one, shopping early had its perks with the great selection! It’s so fun having a two and half year old at this time of year. I don’t think Jimpy really understood what was going on the last two years, but he loves holiday decorations and music and is totally getting into the spirit for the first time.

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I normally buy gifts and toys for our church gift drives, but wanted to do something new this year. We are definitely simplifying gift giving and our celebrations this year in general due to the circumstances, but still wanted to give back in some way. So here is the start to a Reverse Advent Calendar! The idea is each day you give a gift (either a household item, food, or something fun) and give the box away during the Christmas season. I’m not sure where we’ll donate it yet, but I’m looking forward filling it up and teaching James about giving and sharing during Christmas.

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Blessed First week of Advent! I am so thankful for my family and friends and am feeling blessed to expecting a new little one during the Advent season. May the Lord bless you and your families as we prepare our hearts for the coming of our Savior! Linking up super late with SQT!

7 Quick Takes

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And just like that….it’s been like a month since I last posted! I think that’s the theme of life right now….time is just moving and every time I look at the calendar another week has flown by. I can’t believe baby2 is due in less than 7 weeks. Surprisingly enough…I’m feeling calm and not to anxious about it all yet.

I’m linking up with Kelly at 7QT to get back into blogging!

(ONE) Funny story: I tried joining another linkup earlier this week but never got a chance to finish so I’m turning it into a 7QT post….To start, I thought I’d share meals for the week…I don’t have the meals all quite planned out but here’s an idea:

Sunday: Roasted whole chicken and vegetables (Patrick cooked)

Monday: I felt like pasta this day so we did gluten free pasta with ground beef/red sauce, Greek salad, and roasted brussel sprouts and broccoli

Tuesday: Turkey meatballs, roasted green beans and yellow potatoes

Wednesday: Taco salad with ground beef and veggies over spinach

Thursday: Turkey shepherd’s pie

Friday: no idea, but we have been enjoying eating out at the end of the week! So possibly?

Weekend: no clue–depends on when I shop and what’s left. 🙂

Most of our meals these days have revolved around three basic proteins: a whole roasted chicken, grass-fed ground beef, and ground turkey. A little boring maybe, but keeping it simple has saved us money (particularly through shopping at Aldi, which in our area, has the best price for grass fed meat at around $5/lb. It sells out quickly so I normally buy 3-4 at a time to always have some on hand.) and has made planning meals super easy. We rotate a few meals and try to get creative with the way we prepare things to keep it interesting.

(TWO) These past two weekends I got to freelance with Jennifer Laura Design on flowers. The first time I worked alongside my sister in law, Aelish, and we had a blast and learned so much! The second weekend was just for a day since a freelancer dropped out last minute. Both days were so fun and I hope to get a chance to do it again soon. Here are a few snaps of some of the magic we got to help create…I love the fall colors we used.

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(THREE) I just finished listening to the Magnolia Story on Audible. I definitely recommend it. It’s definitely inspiring and makes me wish I had my own small business. Also just confirms that I need to make my Magnolia Market pilgrimage dreams a reality. The audio book is especially fun because Chip and Joanna read it themselves. We are cancelling our Audible account (kinda pricey), despite how convenient it is. However, I recently discovered Hoopla and can’t wait to start listening to more books for free. I had been checking out audio books on CD for a while at our library, but never bothered to figure out how to download them to my phone. Now I’m thrilled that I won’t even have to go to our branch to pick it up! I’ve had difficulty starting/finishing books lately, but listening has been way more my speed. I can listen while I make dinner, drive, play with Jimp. I’m obsessed. Any recommendations on what I should check out next?

(FOUR) I’ve also slowly tackling a few organization/house projects and hoping to start some new things before the baby comes. Next up: finish our master bath and possibly chalk paint a couple pieces of furniture. Hopefully we will get tile ordered this week for the bathroom and figure out granite for the new counters in there. So far I mostly have Jimp’s “big kid” room finished, I just want to add some art to the walls to personalize it.

(FIVE) Which leads me to my next take–I’m itching to repaint some furniture! I have used Miss Mustard Seed paint and Annie Sloan before, but I’m curious about the Valspar chalk paint after reading this post from Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee. I’d love to paint this giant china cabinet thing we have (our first furniture purchase as a married couple).

(SIX) I found this Verily post on sticking to an outfit formula very timely for me at almost 34 weeks pregnant. I have found most of my outfits consist of fitted pants/leggings or looser tops/blouses. For a day at home, it’s Old Navy jeans or leggings and a loose-ish t-shirt. For our business casual-ish office it’s Gap maternity pants (these or some navy fitted cords that I can’t find online) and a nice-ish top/cardigan (admittedly sometimes a t-shirt if that’s all my clean laundry allows). I’m definitely pushing the casual in “business casual”. With my first pregnancy, I preferred the comfort of maxi skirts and dresses.  For shoes, it’s flats all the way: Toms, various ballet flats, or my new Hunters (Seen here along with a favorite comfy outfit and found for a deal on Amazon!!).

(SEVEN) I’m so looking forward to a somewhat easy week coming up at work. No RE classes on Sunday and the office is closed on All Saints’ Day. Not sure about weekend or Halloween plans yet. I think we’ll do a little trick or treating with our neighbors and call it an early night. This pregnant’s gotta rest! Do you have anything fun planned? Please share!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!!

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Last year’s costume: the cutest chicken ever!

 

 

Pregnancy Update: 30 Weeks!

And just like that….I’m a couple weeks into the third tri. Um, when did that happen? Seriously. I looked in the mirror the other night and was like, did I grow a basketball overnight? I think yes!

Right: 31 weeks with Jimp / Left: 29 weeks with baby2

How far along: 30 weeks

Baby’s size: A cabbage!

Baby’s progress: All is good!

Weight gain: Not sure–Maybe 15 pounds?

Stretch marks: Not yet

Sleep: Sleep is good, but we still get up around 5:00. I have taken two two+ hour naps with the toddler this week though, as I do feel tired a lot.

Gender: Still unknown

Movement: Yes! Lots!

Best moment this week: It’s been a pretty low-key week, but I’m loving the moments in the evenings when the three of us are home and relaxing together.

Looking forward to: freelancing a floral design job next week with my sister-in-law! 🙂 I’m anticipating a crazy weekend, but a great learning experience.

Food cravings: Pizza…salty snacks like pretzels and popcorn…and sweet things like grapes, apples and chocolate.

Weirdest food I ate this week: Hmm….I started drinking my red raspberry leaf tea to prep for labor, but I wouldn’t say that’s so weird?

Anything make you queasy or sick: No

Labor signs: No!! Just good ol’ Braxton Hicks.

What I miss: Sleeping in…

Symptoms: tiredness/thirst. I’ve been drinking lots of water and thus going to the bathroom lots. The back discomfort that I was starting to feel is pretty much gone. I now go to the chiro weekly for adjustments so that definitely is doing its job.

Things that suck: It doesn’t suck too much, but I am getting to the antsy stage. Every picture of a newborn/tiny baby makes me really wish I have already been through the labor stage and that I was at home on maternity leave. I’m also wanting to NEST and purge/clean/organize EVERYTHING…so feeling a little restless, I guess.

Things that don’t suck: No gestational diabetes! I’m trying to nest a little bit everyday by organizing/purging a little at a time, such as washing and organizing tiny baby clothes (for a boy and girl! Something I didn’t do before…everything we used with Jimp was gender neutral). And slowly acquire extra necessities for post-partum so we won’t have to make big purchases of everything we need all at one time. Also, Patrick got a lot of painting done upstairs over the last month so I will have to share updates about that. I’m also trying to organize/clear out certain problem areas like closets and cabinets…We joke that I, for whatever reason, did not feel the need to nest with Jimp so I am trying to take advantage of it while I actually want to!

7QT Life Lately

Linking up at with 7 Quick Takes on this beautiful FRIDAY!

1) I’ve been back to a regular work schedule for a couple weeks now as RE classes have started up on Sunday and Wednesday nights and our First Penance prep sessions are about to begin. I miss my leisurely Sundays, but it has been a great start to the year! It’s a different story though working more hours as my body seems to want to slow down as I get into the third trimester. Still no back pain/swelling, but my feet are achin’ by the end of a night of classes. Any shoe recommendations for achy preggo feet? So far Toms seem to be my best option…

2) I really enjoyed reading this post about how one family chooses not to meal plan from, for simiplicity’s sake. I do meal plan, but it’s not a super regular thing. I think I tend to buy similar ingredients from week to week and we will repeat a lot of the same meals since we know we like them and they’re easy for us. I have so many unique and delicious-sounding recipes pinned…but I never tend to keep a wide variety of ingredients on hand to try them. And I totally resonated with the point the author made about buying a whole bunch of leeks to end up only using up a little for a recipe and then letting the rest waste in the fridge. This family tends to keep their meals simple with a veggie (from their CSA box)+protein and sometimes a starch. It also made me want to sign up again for our CSA or at least hit up the farmer markets for healthy, seasonal produce!

3) Speaking of (non) meal planning, I tried out Wal-Mart’s grocery pick up this week and was impressed by the ease of it! I’m not normally a Wal-Mart shopper, but since I didn’t have to go into the store, I decided to try it out. I don’t think I’ll do it super often, but maybe during weeks when we’re especially busy and after baby2 is born. Our location had a good variety of organic and healthy options and I spent close to what I normally spend for groceries. I also got $10 off for my first order so I definitely think it’s a win and worth a try if you have a location nearby that does it.

4) The temperature has been in the 70s-80s the past couple of days so in Houston that means that we’re all about flannel, scarves, and boots (we take what we can get!). 🙂

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When it actually feels like fall, you go to the park in your pajamas!

5) I can’t stop listening to Young House Love’s Podcast when I’m at home! Each episode is only about 30 min long so I can normally get thru a couple per day. Loving it and totally inspiring me to get a few nesting projects done in the next 10 weeks.

6) At work, I’ve been listening to the French Cooking Pandora station. Lots of sweet and relaxing songs on there…think Midnight in Paris. Jimpy can’t stop requesting a Raffi playlist on Youtube. If you have a toddler…I’m warning you! 😉

7) Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year…Feast Day of St Therese! I’ll be working in the morning, but hope to make a special treat to celebrate. I’ve done novenas for this feast day since college and Patrick and I have done it together for at least 3 years. I love all the special feasts this week…Guardian Angels and Archangels too…do you do anything special to celebrate?

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Any plans for the weekend? I hope it’s blessed!

What We’re Eating Now…

Happy Tuesday! Being pregnant (and before that nursing a toddler), I feel like food is always on my mind. I’m trying to get better at planning meals that are simple and don’t require too many crazy ingredients so we aren’t tempted to go out to eat in the evenings and to keep things pretty healthy. Eating enough protein and veggies are some of my main priorities with pregnancy. About a year ago, I shared some of our favorite meals. We have kind of evolved over time with certain things, but still keep things pretty simple.

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Pioneer Woman – Mexican Rice

We went through a long phase where our dinners were mostly grain-free, but we have incorporated rice, corn tortillas, and brown rice/quinoa pasta (so still mostly gluten-free) into our regular meals and it’s working well for us. Here are a few of our regular favorites. Most meals follow the same sort of template: veggies, starch, and a protein. We don’t use recipes often (although the Mexican rice recipe below is what we use for ours), but I’m adding some for ideas!

  • Meatballs with oven baked fries and broccoli/brussels (or with red sauce and pasta)
  • Ground beef/turkey or pulled chicken tacos (or taco salad) with corn tortillas, spinach, tomatoes, and Mexican rice
  • Roasted whole chicken with roasted vegetables and potatoes
  • Beef sliders (bun-less) over greens with veggies, fries, and fixings
  • Texas Chili (no beans, beef or turkey), over rice and with a veggie on the side
  • Frittata (with meat or meatless for Fridays) with lots of veggies and cheese, potatoes
  • Baked wild fish (salmon or mahi) with veggies and rice
  • Zucchini lasagna (basically just lasagna that uses zucchini for noodles)

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Camille Styles – Frittata

All of these meals are super simple, toddler-friendly, and can be made in pretty much an hour or less. What are you family favorites or staple meals? And do you meal plan or just wing it? I made a list of these and put it on the fridge which makes it easy when I shop and prepare for the week ahead. Have a great week!