Happy New Year, everybody! Can you believe it’s 2018 already!? Right around this time last year, I started up this little blog of mine yet again, and I’ve enjoyed it so much this time around. Mostly because it’s sparked plenty of great conversations with people I know as well as new friends. It’s pretty cool how the internet can bring us closer.
These monthly lookback lists have been a fun way for me to be a little more mindful about how I’m spending my time each month — I hope you’ve all enjoyed them, as this is my last of 2017!
DECEMBER’S LOOKBACK LIST
This month I actually picked up a book that I had started earlier in the year, but had never finished. It’s called The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking. The Danes are famously known as the happiest people in the world, and they contribute it to their hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) way of life. Hygge can be translated to mean comfort, togetherness, and well-being. This book is an easy little read and a great “coffee table book” with short excerpts about how to transform your home and life to be more hygge-like. From the type of lights that you have in your home and the food and drinks you prepare, to the activities that you plan for each month, this little book gives you a lot to consider! If you’re looking to get back into reading more this new year, this would be a great book to start with!
Every year for Christmas, Alex and I go back to the East Coast to spend time with our families! Since December is always a pretty hectic time of year for everyone, we spend a lot of the month planning things like travel arrangements, puppy boarding, sending gifts back, and how we’ll spend each day when we’re home. Although we weren’t back east for quite as long this year, we both wanted to spend as much time with our families as possible, and we’re so glad that we did 🙂
While I’m typically not a huge tv-watcher (which is a little ironic since I work in the television industry), this month I picked up on watching more than usual! I attribute it mostly to having something to do while traveling on trains, planes, and automobiles … but maybe a little bit of it has to do with procrastinating too 😉
Fixer Upper is back on HGTV for it’s final season! I love seeing what Joanna can turn these homes into…I think she gets better with each season! My neighbor, Lauren, just started getting into the show as well, so it’s been fun watching new episodes with her as well as re-watching some of my older favorites!
The Good Place, Season 2 on NBC: I’m finally catching up on the second season! Season 1 was so so good, and season 2 is proving to be just as hilarious! I was interested to see where they were going to take the show after season 1, and they haven’t disappointed!
The Crown, A Netflix Original: I was recommended this show by a few of my brother’s friends as a good show to watch amidst my travels! Netflix has a new-ish downloadable feature, meaning that there are a select number of shows and movies that you can download when on wifi and then watch later when you’re not on wifi. Which is ideal for long trips. The Crown is a scripted series loosely based on the rise of Queen Elizabeth II. It chronicles both political and romantic rivalries. I’m currently just a handful of episodes into the first of two seasons, but it’s been great so far!
And aside from tv, we’ve watched a couple movies this month as well! I love this time of year because all of the really great movies start to come out. Still on my list is the newest Star Wars movie, Lady Bird, and I, Tonya. I’ve heard wonderful things about all of them! While I haven’t crossed those off my list just yet, Alex and I did go to see The Disaster Artist which I talked a little bit about in my last monthly lookback post! It was really good, I just wish it could have been longer! I also saw Pitch Perfect 3 because who doesn’t love Anna Kendrick and gang?! And I think this one definitely has the best music of the three! And of course, it wouldn’t be the Christmas season without a couple of Christmas movies! We had a Gals Night Out to go see Bad Moms Christmas in theaters. Al and I watched How The Grinch Stole Christmas because it’s one of our very favorites! We also watched Four Christmases, which I had never seen before! And then we watched The Family Stone with our neighbors! Like I said, there was a whole lotta’ movie-watching this month!
You can find in my last post, an easy recipe for homemade dog treats –> here! But aside from dog food, I think Al did pretty much all of the cooking this month! He’s in the midst of marathon training right now, so he’s on a pretty carb-heavy diet, which of course I don’t mind 😉 One of our favorite things to make on the weekends are our own pizzas! I mixed it up for New Years and made Bubble Pizza which is a recipe from one of those old grocery store pamphlets from 1999! My brother, Jim, made it for his friends over the holiday and I forgot how simple but delicious it was! So I snagged a photo of the recipe and made it for three hungry boys! Prep time is 10 minutes & cooking time is 30-35 minutes! Pairs great with a nice tossed salad and cold beer! 😉
ingredients: 1 & 1/2 lbs ground beef. 1 can (15 oz) pizza sauce. 2 tubes (12 oz each) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. 1 & 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
directions: in a skillet, brown the beef and drain. stir in pizza sauce. quarter the biscuits and place in a greased 13x9x2 backing dish. top with the beef mixture. bake, uncovered at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. sprinkle with cheese and bake for an additional 5-10 min, or until cheese is melted. let cool, and enjoy!
It wouldn’t be the holidays without consuming copious amounts of alcohol, right?! Right 😉 It’s also not a trip back home without a visit to Troegs Brewery in Hershey. We enjoyed a crazy amazing mixture called Mad Dreams, which is a combination of their Mad Elf and Dreamweaver. It was so good and so easy to drink! I loved spending this time with my family, and the icing on the cake was getting to see Jim’s art upstairs in their gallery, as part of the Art of Troegs competition!
On one of the last days of the month, Laur and I took Banjo and Marty down to the Huntington Beach Dog Beach for a morning of romping around in the sun and waves! Afterwards we decided to grab a beer at a little brewery called Riip Beer Co. It doesn’t look like a whole lot from the outside, but once you step inside you won’t want to leave! They have a pretty big selection of beer — I ordered the Hippy Lettuce, an IPA, and Laur ordered a sampler, and we liked everything that we tried! They get extra points, too, because they allow dogs outside and inside, and they get double extra points because they make their own dog treats for any pups that decide to stop in! If you go, make sure you grab a Growler or Crowler to go!…especially if your husband couldn’t make it because he had to spend the day at the office 😉
Another blogger in the area that I follow had posted about a coffee shop in Torrance that I hadn’t been to yet, called Old Torrance Coffee & Tea. Aside from working a handful of hours here and there, Alex and I each get two weeks off from work over the holidays, and so upon arriving back to the West Coast, I decided to soak up the warm weather and enjoy an evening cup of coffee outside with the pup! The sunset was just beautiful and now I want to explore more of Old Torrance!
Believe it or not, I actually got some weaving in this month! A friend of mine from back east recently bought a new home, and so I snagged a photo of her new place and wove a little replica of it as a house warming gift 🙂 I’d never done anything like this before, but I was happy with the end product! Aside from that, I had the joy of making a few little ornaments for the store where a few of my pieces are being shown (you can read about that in a previous post –> here. But I loved them so much, that I made a few more as gifts! They were so much fun to make, that I think I’ll make a handful more of them to post in my Etsy shop for next year!
As I mentioned before, we went back to the east coast to good ‘ole Pennsylvania for the holidays this month! While the temperatures were cold, we got out of there right before the really really cold temps hit, and didn’t experience any delays or cancellations! While I could do without the cold weather, I wouldn’t trade the time home with my family for anything. Alex and I were recently talking about how being away from home has made us appreciate and cherish the time we get to spend with our families so much more. It’s not about gifts at all anymore, it’s about time spent together, that matters most to us. Now if only teleportation existed, then everything would be perfect 😉
For Christmas this year, Alex and I agreed not to give each other gifts. We had a crazy year of expenses and wonderful experiences, and we treat one another every day with meals and adventures, and so we agreed to just exchange handwritten cards. A lot of people might not know this about my husband, but he is a wonderful writer, and always makes me cry with his words! Moving forward, I think we’ll continue this Christmas tradition — the gift of words and soaking up as much time together as possible! Another tradition we started this year was adding a new ornament to our Christmas tree! So many people have their own spin on this one, but I think the one I liked the most was getting one new ornament each year to symbolize something that we did together. This year we added our First Christmas as a Married Couple ornament to our tree! It’ll be fun to dress up the tree each year and take a little walk down memory lane of all of our greatest adventures together.
We celebrated our wonderful friend, Leah’s, 30th Birthday this month! Leah is one of the gal’s that lives downstairs, and I’m not lying when I say that she has the biggest go-getter attitude of anyone that I’ve ever met. She does it all. And she does it all for other people, both at work and outside of work. I genuinely look up to her drive. She’s also the ultimate party planner, so the fact that she let us gals plan her birthday night outing was huge, but I think we made her proud! We rented a little Air BnB in West Hollywood for the ultimate Hollywood experience — drinks at a rooftop bar, dinner at Norah (can’t recommend this place enough….so good), and a burlesque show and dancing at one of Hollywood’s famous secret bars! 😉 We had such a blast celebrating our favorite red-headed gal.
And of course we celebrated Christmas this month, but you already knew that 😉
I think being away from home for any extended amount of time always has you coming back with so much more appreciation for your own space and surroundings. I feel so thankful to have these days off at the start of the new year, and I’m taking full advantage of them by spending a lot of time outdoors in the sun, organizing our home to start the year off on the right foot, and crossing things off my To-Do list that I feel like I added at the start of last year! There will be a more detailed post on this later, but my mantra for 2018 is to Live Simply & Enjoy Fully, and so I’m trying to be more mindful of all that I have to be grateful for, rather than focusing on what I think I need or want next. So far that includes a lot of little cups of coffee, snuggles with my pup, and extra time with my husband 🙂
This is probably old news to most of you, but Sam Smith’s album, The Thrill Of It All, is just fantastic. As I mentioned before, the Pitch Perfect 3 soundtrack is dynamite — my favorites are Sit Still, Look Pretty and Freedom! ’90. I’ve added two songs to my current workout jams playlist: Good As Hell by Lizzo, and Sorry Not Sorry by Demi Lovato. Other than that, I really enjoyed the “In Case You Missed It” playlist that Spotify curated for me…did anyone else discover some good tunes on theirs as well!?
And there you have it! That closes out 2017! And only two days into the new year, I can already tell that 2018 is going to be full of new experiences and opportunities! I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited 🙂 Look out for a post on Resolutions, but in the meantime I’d love if you guys shared some of yours with me!