Tuesday, November 30, 2010

12 Days of Christmas and Top 2 Tuesday

Rather than the traditional listing of "My Favorite Things" about the holiday season {and yes I love that song!}, today Aly is asking everyone to think about:
Day 8: Least Favorite Thing About the Holidays
Gaining weight
 It's actually a myth that we gain anywhere from 5 to 7 pounds during the winter holidays, however, it is said that we do tend to gain at least 1 pound each year and over a 5 year span, BINGO--that adds up to a whopping 5 pounds! Interesting huh? I despise gaining weight during the holidays, and I vow to myself now to gain weight this year... yes, I will be diving into the desserts and treats, but all in moderation--the wedding isn't too far away and I will not stress myself out!
Having to take down all the d├ęcor after it’s all said and done
Does anyone else out there get that seasonal depression after Christmas is over? Once the decor is all down, does your house feel as empty as mine does? Something about knowing I have to wait another year to get all my trees out and the house smelling like mistletoe makes me one sad girl. But cheers to spending NYE in the mountains with my favorites so that'll make it a lot easier on me this year!
And I am on the roll to another one of my favorite bloggers, Taylor at The Undomestic Momma, who is blogging about her Top 2 Tuesday today which is all about cleaning and organization...she has got her labeling system down pat, whereas I am still in the learning process. I do, however, have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve:
1. Colored Rubbermaid Bins--if you own an older house like we do, you know storage can be an issue. Which is why we jumped on the bandwagon and bought colored bins so we know what is in each storage tote... green and red for Christmas, orange for Fall/Halloween decor, etc.  Not a genius trick, but it really helps me out when I am trying to look for a certain item.
2. As for any superb cleaning tricks, I am not sure I have mastered that one quite yet... Windex is my friend for everything and Febreeze does the trick when I need something "freshened up". And I love to light candles all throughout the house although that doesn't really pertain to cleaning so much. Sorry I can't be of much help in this area =(

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turkey Time Rewind

I was a horrid photog this weekend in that I didn't take a single picture from our family's Thanksgiving festivities... so sad. Let me put it to you this way, we came, we saw, and we most certainly ate! Please tell me I was not the only one that ate themselves into a food coma this year?? I was able to work off some of that homemade caramel cake and carrot cake by playing a few rounds of cornhole in the afternoon. By the time we made it home Thursday night, all I could manage to do was put on some comfy PJs and fall asleep on the couch with Jeff while he and his Mom watched movies all night...it's that stupid turkey ingredient I tell you! 

Just like clockwork, Mom and I were up before dawn the next morning, stopping by Starbuck's for my Skinny Peppermint Mocha and then we were off! 12 hours later, we had visited the mall, Sam's, Target, Dick's Sporting Goods, and everywhere in between and both of our SUVs were stuffed to the brim with all of our goodies. I was VERY good this year in that I only came home with 2 sweaters and a scarf for myself and the rest was Christmas presents for the family... pat on the back for me! That evening, my Dad met my Mom and I for our anything-but-turkey dinner at PF Changs and then I went home to rest with Jeff and his Mom.
Saturday was spent doing more shopping around town and running errands, and then that night we met the fam at the infamous Gerst Haus restaurant downtown for some authentic German food to celebrate my Papa's 70th birthday. We were the entertainment that night, dancing around the restaurant doing the chicken dance and had a great time!!
Sunday, we decided to take it easy and finish decorating our house for Christmas. We went and bought a real tree to put in our formal living room which makes our whole house smell like Christmas trees {yay!}, made homemade hot cocoa while we listened to our holiday music mix, and then I decorated our tree while Jeff put up the outside lights. I cannot wait to show you the finished product--not exactly the Griswalds for our first year, but we couldn't help but get excited driving by with everything all lit up!!
Is it just me or are the Cyber Monday deals not that exciting this year?? I did see DSW's whole site is 25% off, at Loft, everything is 40% off, and Francesca's has 30% off, but not too much struck my fancy...fail for getting more online shopping done today =(

12 Days of Christmas Challenge... Catch-Up and Day 7

Sorry bloggy friends, today I am having to play catch-up for Aly's 12 Days of Christmas Challenge… my apologies for being MIA this weekend, but I was playing hostess to Jeff's mom visiting from Knoxville, dancing around a restaurant doing the chicken dance for my Papa's 70th birthday dinner, shopping all over Nashville for Christmas gifts for the family, and decorating our home for the holidays.
So here we are, days 5 through 7--I promise to be on the ball the rest of the week!
Day 5: Favorite Holiday Movie/TV Show Special
I have a few must watch movies that must be seen at some point during the holidays each year... for many reasons, these are sentimental movies that are really special to me and they definitely put you in the spirit to celebrate the season...
Love Actually
The Holiday
 Meet Me in St. Louis

Day 6: Gift Iideas for Me!
Thankfully, I had recently posted my list of "wants/needs" a few weeks ago... after my day-after Thanksgiving shopping, I'm adding these must haves to my list:
Bose System for our Kitchen
 Eat Pray Love DVD
 Day 7: Holiday Craft/DIY
My family is notorious for making present "accompaniments" to our packages... my Mom always ties on the most gorgeous bows and ornaments to each of her gifts, and so I have started doing my own tradition AKA holiday goodies. Last year, I made this:
 
Peppermint Bark Popcorn (recipe here)
 Oh it was tasty!! I bought little Christmas-themed tins and then wrapped it all up for each person in my family, and it was a sure hit! This year, I am thinking of doing something similar, but changing it up a bit... we'll see what I can come up with, but check out some of these yummy creations brought to you by some of my favorite food blogs:
Pie in a Jar via Our Best Bites
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies via Paula Deen
Giant Smore Chocolate Chip Cookies via Picky Palate
Happy Monday friends...full recap of my weekend festivities to come ASAP! And remember, if you haven't signed up for my 600 follower giveaway, remember to do so for a gift certificate from CSN Stores ;)
Elf
Home Alone

Friday, November 26, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Challenge--Day 4: Budget Savvy!

Day 4: Tips/Tricks to a Budget Friendly Holiday Season
If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you know how budget conscious I am when it comes to shopping, even moreso for myself! As this post is going live, I am out shopping with my Mom and trust me, we are BOTH using our clip-outs from yesterday's newspaper so we can rack up the goodies for our family gifts this year.
Growing up, I always helped my Mom on Sunday mornings by clipping the coupons... so obviously that's where it all started. Even now, she gives me coupns for anything she thinks I may use and every little bit helps. The other night, Jeff and I were grocery shopping and he laughed when I brought out my coupon sorter... low and behold, we saved an extra $7.25 once we checked out just because of that--so there you have it! So here are my tips:

1. Dont be afraid to use coupons--that is why retailers have them...
for us to bargain shop and save money so we'll end up spending more!
2. Watch for sales--if you have your eye on something specific, shop it out. Visit Amazon and other online retailers to see who has the best price, free shipping, added goodies, etc... you'll be happier with your purchase knowing you did your homework!
3. DIY--if you don't have loads of mooola to spend on family/friends/neighbors/work colleagues, make them something!! Nothing is as good as a homemade gift and they will know it came from your heart...my favorites are a homemade chex mix, perfectly peppermint bark, or cookie mix in a mason jar.

 Hop over to Aly's blog and see what everyone else's budget saving tricks are!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Give Thanks...and My Own Big Turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving friends!! In a world where we are constantly on the move, sometimes it's hard to stop and smell the roses... well, it is for me at least. I do know, however, that God has blessed me and my family with so many blessings and I cannot ever begin to repay Him for just how much we all have... with Thanksgiving finally here, I wanted to highlight my list of important {and some not-so important} things I am thankful for are:

1. A house to call a home
2. A career that keeps me stimulated
3. A family that supports me unconditionally
4. True friends
5. My gym and iPod that helps me have my "me time"
6. The ability to help others
7. A fiance and best friend that is the most incredible man I could've ever wished for
8. Handwritten thank-you notes
9. A wonderful church family and my faith that has increased exponentially
10. A computer that helps me stay connected to friends and family
11. My health
12. An incredible coffee maker that is always happy to give me my morning fix
13. Clothes to keep me warm this season

The list goes on and on, but I hope you all can take a moment to reflect on just how lucky each of us is and know that all our blessings come from Him. God bless all of you on this day {as well as all others!} and remember to be thankful for the men and women who are serving our proud nation--keep them safe and bring them home soon!
And, as if I could forget, today we are also celebrating a big turkey's birthday in my family... my Papa's 70th birthday!! What a special birthday--I am one lucky girl to have such a close relationship with my grandfather--he's always been there for me from the day I was born, and he is such a loyal husband, father, and gradnfather. They just don't make them like that anymore I tell you. He retired last year and has taken up even more hobbies with his free time. He and my grandmother are constantly on the go and traveling whenever they can. Such remarkable role models who have changed the lives of so many in our family. He is selfless, honest, the ever-comedian, and loves to entertain. Papa, Happy Birthday!!! I am so happy we are celebrating today AND this weekend... love you!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Challenge--Day 3: My Favorite Gift

Day 3: Most meaningful gift/best gift you've received

If there is any topic that has me baffled and trying to find something to say {I know you're shocked!}, but this is a HARD one for me… sure, I have gotten some very fun and meaningful gifts throughout the years, but not one SINGLE gift that jumps out to me I guess—is that horrible??
On the contrary, I do have to say that the diamond cross pendant and necklace my Mom surprised me with last year as an early Christmas gift sure did top the cake. Since I had recently been baptized in front of my church, this was a significant present in that I was walking down a different path… a Christian path that I had wanted for so very long.
But thinking back a bit, I look at some of my all-time most favorite presents as a child and laugh because Santa Claus was wonderful to me every.single.year:

my Fisher Price cash register with conveyor belt and scanner
{oh how I loved playing store!}
my Holiday Barbie each year,
my talking Teddy Ruxpin doll,
and my very own Easy Bake Oven
There are traditions we always had growing up, like wearing elf hats and reindeer antlers when we opened presents on Christmas morning {you have to know my Dad to understand this was all his idea!}, and us always getting to open 1 present on Christmas Eve, and those are the special things I remember about my childhood... so many fond and fun memories to smile back and be thankful that digital camerad weren't invented yet, so the incriminating pictures are stored in albums rather than online--hehe =)

Visit Analyze This to tell Aly what you're favorite gift is!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Number 600=A Giveaway!

Can it be?? I can't believe 600 people actually care what I have to say... well, let's be honest, maybe more like 50 actually read what I have to say, but I'm still uber excited about another blog milestone!! Thank you all so much for giving me the opportunity to blabber on about my days and nights and let me give you a little peak into the world of Natasha ;)

With that being said, I wanted to fill you in on a little giveaway I am doing...
whether you need a barstool for the kitchen island,
a lamp for your guest room,
or art for your living room,
 CSN Stores is the perfect online shop for anything and everything house. I have worked with them on giveaways and product reviews in the past and I can't say enough about this company... they are friendly, fast, budget savvy, and a great place for online shopping--they have graciously offered to sponsor another $45 giveaway, so here is what I need you to do:
All you need to do is venture to their website and leave me a comment with what item you'd love to add to your home. The giveaway ends a week from today, Tuesday, November 30th, and I'll announce a winner the following day--good luck friends and thanks again for all your support!!

Its Tuesday Afternoon and I am Stuck at Work...

Why does corporate America insist we work the days prior to a major holiday? Seriously, I assure you that most of us who are logged in are doing anything but working right now. I am busily emailing friends, shopping for gifts for my family, listening to music {Christmas tunes of course!}, and plotting my plan of attack at the grocery store to avoid those lunatic women who are vowing to get the last can of pumpkin or whatever it is they want. If they paid us to stay at home, we would be saving them money... on electricity and other bills, and the time it will take us to actually get caught back up next week--oh well, on to the next one, right??

To make you giggle a bit today, have you seen the soon-to-be infamous Crazy Target Lady ads circulating TV screens right now?? Hilarious I tell you--here's a peak at my favorite:


In other noteworthy news, I know we're all dreaming about royalty because of the upcoming nuptuals of Prince William and Kate Middleton... I love her effortless style and I think she will make a blushing bride. April 29th has been marked as the official wedding day and I know us girls will be glued in front of the television so we can see what designer she chooses for her bridal gown, what colors line the pews at Westminster Abbey, and just how over-the-top this royal wedding will be!!

So tonight is the big night for DWTS... the finale--bless little Brisol Palin's heart! We all know she is looming far behind both Kyle and Jennifer, and she is so sweet, but if she wins I will go insane and vow to never watch this show again because then we'll know it's been a setup all along {who am I kidding? I'll be glued in again next season}. Other than that, I think both Kyle and Jennifer are fantastic and will be supper enthused for either of them.

Crossing my fingers I get out of here soon so I can head home to get ready for Jeff's mother coming tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with us and my family, begin my baking tasks, hang a new picture ledge in the formal living room, and then relaxing the night away--cheers! 

12 Days of Christmas--Day 2: Shopping Tips/Tricks

Back for the 2nd installment of the 12 Days Challenge via Aly and Molly at Analyze This. Today, we're talking about one of my favorite pasttimes AKA Black Friday/Christmas shopping!

I actually posted about this very topic a few weeks ago which outlines my best tips and tricks for the day after Thanksgiving sales... but in summary, it looks something like this:

1. Have a Game Plan--know what times the stores open (department stores vs. mall stores, etc.) and carpool so you only have to find one parking spot
2. Use Your Coupons--retailers put coupons in their ads for a reason and this is the best way to save your moola and stretch your pennies... if you don't get the daily newspaper where you live, buy one on Thanksgiving just so you can cut out the ads for Friday sales
3. Dress Comfortably--leave the platforms and dresses at home ladies (I used to be guilty of this too), and dress for comfort... this year, I'll be sporting a tunic, leggings, scarf, and boots so I can carry all my goodies; and P.S. leave your coat in the car, you don't want to carry that thing around all day
4. Have Fun--sure, we all want great bargains, but remember to have fun and play nice... this is a time for everyone to be kind, so no line cutting, grabbing from other shoppers, etc.
5. Make a List--try not to get overwhelmed this year; make a draft shopping list and know what you're looking for... stick to a budget and it'll make shopping so much more enjoyable. Don't just buy something because it's a "great deal"
6. And I loved Aly's quote and this is so true for me: "One gift for you. Two gifts for me."
Remember, if you're not aware of this website for this Friday's deals, you need to check it out--they have EVERY Black Friday ad known to man and you can scour right now. Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 22, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Challenge... Day 1

Aly over at Analyze This has a FUN FUN FUN blog challenge for all of us to get in the spirit this season with "The 12 Days of Christmas" and today is the very first day to join in...
Day 1: Christmas/Holiday Traditions
Oh wow, we have LOADS of Christmas traditions in my family--let's see, to jumpstart our decorating and baking, we always listen to our favorite Christmas CDs just so we can sing-a-long and get in the "mood"... in no particular order, our must-haves are Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Transiberian Orchestra, Harry Connick Jr, The Carpenters, Kenny G, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra--obviously more "relaxed" tunes and the epitomy of classic Christmas!
The 2nd weekend of December marks holiday nostalgia when we visit Franklin's Dicken's of a Christmas festival in the square... everyone that works the event dresses up in traditional mid 1800s attire, sings carols, sells treats, and the shops are all open for you to stock up on gifts, decor, and food! We never miss this and it's always one of my most favorite things to do during the holidays.  
Moving to actual Christmas festivities, on Christmas Eve we get all dressed up and head to church for communion and worship... it's always fun to see all the little kids dressed up and anticipating Santa's arrival and it's a great way to celebrate the REAL reason for the season. After church is over, we head to Ruth's Chris for our favorite meal and then call it a night!
Christmas Day morning, we wake up and get down to business, unwrapping all of our surprises and spending the morning with my Mom and Dad... then afterwards, we get ready and head to my Grandparent's house for Christmas lunch and more presents! This day is all about spending time with the fam and of course our other favorite activity--eating!
Christmas truly is one of my favorite times of the year... sure, it's fun to shop for loved ones and open gifts, but more than anything, it's a time to reflect on Jesus Christ...let the
merry times begin!
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