Pinterest Lately – Valentine’s Day

Despite its being a commercialized, sometimes cheesy, pink-infused holiday, I do love Valentine’s Day.  🙂  I’m all for any excuse to dress up, eat out with the hubby, and focus on just how blessed I am to have a guy like him.  And honestly, I think it’s fun to bake heart-shaped cookies and to leave love-letters throughout the house for my guy to find.

Ain’t nothing wrong with that!

Sometimes we go all out… Other years, we keep it very simple..  Sometimes I make a nice dinner at home…  Rarely do we celebrate on the actual day. But it’s just fun to make a fuss over our love for each other, whatever we end up doing!

Brady is at the age now too where holidays are particularly fun, so I obviously had to browse Pinterest for some ways to make Valentine’s Day extra special this year.  Here are some of my favorite finds!


These nails are too cute!  (The coffee looks good too…  Ha, ha).

Pink mani <3 { valentines day nails }

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{21} Crazy Cute Valentine's Day NAIL ART IDEAS! | Make It and Love It

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74 Valentines Day Nail Art Designs We Love 2017

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These pants are a little too grunge for my personal taste, but I am obsessed with the t-shirt!

25 Great Ideas of Valentines Day Outfits from Polyvore - Be Modish - Be Modish

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A collared shirt over a sweater, paired with a chunky necklace?  You can’t go wrong with such a classic!

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I love cozy winter hats with pom poms almost as much as I love a thick, winter sweater and a cup of Starbucks coffee.  🙂

Find inspiration in these Valentine's day outfit ideas


How about a fun, Valentine’s Day treasure hunt?

scavenger hunt ideas (with printable checklists) to do right now with your kids. Tips and tricks to help you create your own scavenger hunt anytime

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I love this idea of leaving heart-shaped notes on your kids’ door.  You could totally do this for your significant other as well!

Give a Valentine heart attack to your kids to let them know how special they are. A great Valentine's Day activity.... free heart template included.

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And more for the kids!

Love Bug Fruit Cups are a perfect Valentine's Day snack or class gift.

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Conversation Cuties are Fun and Healthy Valentine's Day Treats Kids Love to Eat! Naturally Sweet Cuties Fruit #IWantCuties #SweetasCandy #ad

(I’ve pinned this idea before, but it’s too cute not to show again).  🙂  (source)

 

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Valentines Day Kids Craft - eventstocelebrate.net

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I LOVE cookies with m&m’s baked in them.  YUM!!

Valentine's Day M&M'S Cookies - loaded with M&M's, white chocolate chips and milk chocolate chips.

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I wish I could reach through the screen and try a bite of these.  🙂

Cannoli Cream Puffs | Cooking Classy

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Do you have a Valentine’s Day tradition?


And since chocolate is associated with the holiday, what is your all-time FAVORITE chocolate?  (Mine are probably peanut butter cups, although I just love chocolate in general).  🙂  


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2018 Bucket List!

—  2018 BUCKET LIST —

I’m going to create a new page for my fun plans of 2018 and will be updating it throughout the year.  (So going forward, look for the tab at the top of the page if you ever want to see updates).  But for now, I’m posting it here, because I know that I love looking through the yearly bucket lists of others’.  (Not that I’m nosy or anything).  🙂  Just in case some of you are curious about mine, here it is!!    (I obviously might not get to complete everything here, but these are things I’d love to try to do this year).

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—  Commit to reading the Bible and praying every single day, no matter how crazy busy life is

—  Go away for a night or two with the hubby

—  Run a 5k

—  Run my first 10k!

—  Trip to the ocean

—  Buy food at a fair or event

—  Go on a hike

–Visit the zoo

—  Take a self defense class

—  Go on a girl’s trip with my sister

—  Read 5 books  (I know it’s sad that this is all I think I’ll be able to read.  But I have time for blogging OR reading a few nights a week, and I usually choose blogging.  I do hope to read a few books this year though).  🙂  

—  Shopping spree with my mom and sister  (I haven’t gone to a real mall and shopped for clothes in soooooo long)!

— Make homemade bath bombs

—  Go on a ‘Date of the Month’ with the hubby!

—  Decorate Kaitlyn’s nursery

—  Get 50 more blog followers  (Right now I’m at 532)

— Establish a dedicated workout routine

—  Try a new icecream flavor

—  Practice decorating cupcakes at least 4 times and practice cake decorating at least once

— Begin a recipe book of my favorite, go-to recipes

—  Buy a new Christmas ornament

— Drive-in Movie

—  Bake and decorate gingerbread men

— Shop at a Farmer’s Market

–Get a manicure

— Try 12 new recipes

— Take a nice, family photo and send out Christmas cards

—  Cut back on sugar and empty-calorie drinks

—  Enjoy outdoor dining

— Go berry picking and apple picking

—  Fly a kite

—  Take a gun safety class

—  Eat fried seafood (I didn’t get to have this last year, because of my dietary restrictions while breastfeeding Kaitlyn.  I am SO looking forward to enjoying it this summer)!  

—  Begin using reusable grocery bags

—  Go on a technology fast

—  Try a new restaurant

—  Watch a play

—  Plan how I can better organize each room in the house and begin to set those plans into motion

—  Icecream and old car’s show on a Friday night

—  Drive to look at Christmas lights

—  Make homemade lemonaid

— Relax in a hot tub (this might be wishful thinking, but I’m crossing my fingers)!  🙂  

—  Go sliding

—  Eat out for breakfast

—  Participate in a photo scavenger hunt

—  Have a campfire

—  See fireworks

—  Try a new cookie recipe

—  Bake an apple pie

—  Get my hair done professionally

—  Buy a friend a present, just because

—  Send birthday cards

—  Be the BEST mom and wife I can be

 

 

 

 

 

 

December Ipsy Bag

I totally published this as a page the other day, instead of a blog post…  So I’m reposting!  🙂

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The Bag – 

I loved the frost-inspired bag with its hint of glitter and silvery sheen.  It was very elegant and definitely perfect for the beginning of winter.  So pretty!


Purlisse Beauty Face Mask –   

I honestly didn’t use these masks, because I couldn’t find a ton of reviews online.  And I was nervous about putting it on my skin and then having a bad reaction…  Have any of you tried these masks or Purlisse products?


 

Ofra Cosmetics ‘Unzipped’ –  

I really liked this liquid lipstick so much!  The berry shade is really pretty, and I feel as though the stain lasts for most of the day.  It also feels smooth on my lips and is easy to apply.



Dirty Little Secret Cosmetics Eyeshadow Pencil –  

I was excited to try this eyeshadow pencil, but the tube fell out during my first application.  It was a bit of a mess, and I had to just toss it.  Sooooo I think it’s fair to say that I’m not a fan of this product.  Ha, ha.


Rimmel London Stay Matte Primer –  

I loved how smooth and evenly this applies, and I felt as though it did keep my makeup looking fresh.  I ended up liking this primer more than the primer I was currently using!  So I’ll probably end up buying it once this good-sized sample runs out.


Luxie Beauty Eyeshadow Brush –   I always enjoy receiving new brushes!


 

I can’t wait to see what’s in this month’s bag!  

New Year Vibes

Coffee shop…  Tall, hot latte in hand…  Comfy, leather chair…  Cute notebook and brand new pen…  My sister (a.k.a. best friend) sitting across from me…  Planning a 2018 Bucket List of fun things to look forward to throughout the year…  Fresh, new photo album just waiting to be filled with new year memories…  A few hours without the kids…

On Monday (January 1st), there really wasn’t a better way for me to start a brand new year.  By itself it was perfect, but it was also – in a sense – my mantra for the next 12 months.

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I’m calling them Mommy Mondays…   I’m setting aside a couple of hours a week just for ME.  It doesn’t matter whether I go out with a friend or lock myself upstairs and soak in a hot bath…  The important thing is that I am going to commit to a few hours of kid-free time a week, so that I can regroup mentally.

Yes, it’s true.  I’m going to be selfish.  The ironic thing is that by being ‘selfish’ a little  bit every week, I’ll be that much better of a mom and wife.  And that’s honestly the biggest reason why I want to do it…

So I guess it’s not selfish at all.  But even if it was, I’m reminding myself that I also matter as an individual.  That I too can have some dreams, experiences, goals, interests, and plans this year.  I totally forgot that last year, and I paid for it by turning into a bit of a Mombie.   😉   (I think that’s why my hubby was so quick to agree to this plan…  I was a bit scary some days).

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Of course, in my defense, I also didn’t sleep for about 8 months straight.  I had 6 hours of straight sleep last night for the first time in months, and I felt like a new woman today.  Also the kiddo’s both slept in long enough for me to enjoy an extended devotional time, which – honestly – is even more important than sleep when it comes to my attitude throughout the day.  I can’t wait to see how much energy I have once this becomes the norm, because I am already feeling SO much more like myself!!

In addition to Mommy Mondays, I’ve decided to adopt a Planner Journal routine.  I bought a really cute planner and instead of filling it out in advance, I fill it out throughout the day, writing down the largest of my completed tasks.  So instead of writing down potential chores that might not get done, I write down what I DID get done.

Last year, I struggled with feelings of failure, because there was just SO much that I was never able to get to.  I kept reminding myself that I’m in one of the busiest phases right now, because my mischievous toddler and snuggly baby require so much of my time.  But I definitely had a hard time focusing on all that I did throughout the day, because there was so much that needed to get done… but just couldn’t.

This year, I’ve decided to be proud of my accomplishments and completed tasks throughout the day, from the never-ending laundry I fold to the meals I prep and cook.  (Because however minuscule those chores may feel in the moment, they are contributing to a happy and healthy family.  So they are incredibly important)!  Hopefully workouts will also make it onto the planner several days a week too, because I always feel a million times better when I have a consistent workout routine!  🙂

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I’ve done this for a few days now, and it definitely works.  I obviously don’t write down everything that I do, but I feel very accomplished if I complete one large task every day.  And I love looking back and realizing that I did a LOT… even if the house might be still messy.  (I know, I know, I’m not Type A at all)!  Ha, ha.

AND that brand new photo album is going to be a celebration of this year’s simple moments.  I do have some pretty exciting plans this year, like running my first 10k and getting away for one night with my sister.  (Also the hubby and I are going to celebrate 10 years of marriage in October, so we’re hoping to do a bit of traveling then too).  But the majority of items on my year’s bucket list are simple moments that I can’t wait to experience with my friends and family.  And I’m planning to print out one photo from each memory throughout the year, because – really – my mantra for the year is to just LIVE it!!  🙂

I know it’s still early, but I really feel as though this is going to be a good year!  Maybe it’s the extra sleep talking…  😉  But I’m pretty sure that 2018 is going to be awesome!

 

 

 

Farewell to 2017

On paper, 2017 was basically perfect.  We weren’t rich by any means, but we had enough… and some extra.  Our family was healthy, warm, and safe.  I gave birth to a beautiful girl, completing our family of four.  And we had SO much support those first few weeks after her arrival…  Cards, gifts, meals, and prayers.  It was incredible.

And really, when you think about it, a mom doesn’t hope for much more than that when she faces a brand new year.  Those blessings are huge.  

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But if I’m to be completely honest, I feel rather glad to say goodbye to these past 12 months and to welcome the fresh slate of a brand new year.

For most of 2017, I was in survival mode.  I think that this isn’t a surprise to my long-term blog readers who have been used to me writing predominately positive, blog posts.  I definitely had a lot more serious,heart-to-heart style posts this year due to the type of year it was.  😉

I was pregnant for half of it, and – like my pregnancy before – I was very uncomfortable with too much amniotic fluid and a very large baby.  Except this time, I was chasing after a toddler who more often resembles a pin ball machine than a little boy.  (Gosh, I love him.  But he never, ever slows down for a second; and he gets into more trouble than Curious George himself).  For a third of the year, I was recovering from a painful C-section.  And for several months after that, I struggled with some pretty nasty post-partum depression.

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This was a year of no sleep.  Of ridiculous, fast-paced busyness.  Of toddlers going through emotional, strong-willed stages that left my nerves beyond frazzled.  Of feeling like I was parenting alone, because my hard-working husband would leave for work at 6am, only to get home around 9pm.  Of date nights that just didn’t happen often enough.

Most days, it was just a lot.  Again and again, I had to put my needs aside until I was running on empty.

I almost feel as though I lost myself in 2017.  I lost some of the bubbliness and positive spirit that has always been my trademark.  I was just tired.  And spent.  I gave so much of myself ALL the time that I no longer felt like me anymore.  I was wife, mother, and keeper of the house.

But Nicole, the woman who faces each day with humor, passion, and joy?  She was getting harder to find.

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Going into 2017, Nate and I knew that it would be a difficult year mentally.  It’s never easy adding a baby into the mix, especially when you’re already raising a mischievous, strong-willed little boy like ours.  And as we suspected, we felt as though we were treading water the majority of the time.  To be honest, this past year was the toughest on our marriage, because we were SO busy being mom and dad.  Between caring for a colicky baby and a needy toddler going through a regression, we just didn’t have energy to pour into our relationship.  (And Nate’s working so many odd hours didn’t help either, although we REALLY were grateful that he at least had a job)!

During all of this, I kept reminding myself that this was a phase.  And that’s what gave me strength…  Knowing that our days would get easier and that – until then – I could get through with the help of coffee and Jesus.  (I can’t imagine parenting without faith.  Those prayers got me through some pretty rough days).

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But little by little, especially over this past month, we have gained some traction.  Over the past two weeks in particular, I’m feeling a spark of energy, enthusiasm, and happiness that I haven’t felt in awhile. These past two weeks have given me such hope that we’ve reached the summit and that life will maybe be a little more smooth sailing going forward.

Baby Kaitlyn finally moved to her own room several nights ago and now just wakes up ONCE a night!  (You guys, that is SO huge!!!).  Brady is slowly getting over the there’s-a-new-baby-in-the-house regression (and getting used to his big-boy bed), which means he has started sleeping through the night again too.   I only pump twice a day now and supplement with formula, which has been a tremendous load off my shoulders.   Kaitlyn’s allergies have subsided, and I’ve been able to re-introduce foods back into my diet!  (Oh, cheese, how I missed you!).  And Nate hasn’t had to work as many late nights.

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I feel as thought these small (yet huge) victories are already setting us up for a more positive 2018, and my resolutions will be completely focused on that.  Finding myself again.  More than anything, I want this next year to be a year of mental and physical health.  Of investing back into my own life a bit, so that I can be refreshed enough to be the mom and wife I want to be.

I am so grateful for our blessings from 2017, because I know that we had so much to be thankful for.  But yes, in many ways, it was a hard year.  And I wave goodbye to it with fond memories, but also some relief.

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Here’s to a beautiful 2018!

Happy New Year to all of my incredible readers and fellow bloggers!  

Bits O’ This and that

1.   So are you ready for it?  I was in Urgent Care the other night for… a spider bite!  I know, I know, I find it hard to believe too.  Ha, ha.  But I woke up Saturday night with an itchy bite (which I found odd, since there aren’t any mosquitoes this time of year).  When I woke up the next morning, my arm was painfully swollen and red.  I decided to give it a few days, but – by Monday night – the pain was intense, the swelling was worse, and the redness was branching up my arm and towards my chest.  My arm was also feeling numb, and I was feeling shaky and a bit lightheaded.  I ended up rushing into the city before Urgent Care closed (at the direction of my doctor), and they immediately hooked me up to an IV with antibiotics.  That helped to slow down the spread of the infection, as I woke up already feeling a bit better.

By this point, the swelling is completely gone, and there’s only a scab (where the bite was) and a tiny bit of pink left.  I’m on ten days worth of some pretty strong antibiotics though.  Never a dull moment around here!

The good news is that I’m feeling a million times better.  But the bad news is that I don’t have any super Spidey powers…

2.  I have been on the search for the perfect Christmas outfit…. but apparently it isn’t wise to start looking just one week before Christmas.  I envisioned a cozy, perfectly fitted sweater that was a beautiful, blushed pink or vibrant red color.  But I’m just honestly not impressed by the clothing styles this year, and the designers let me down.  Thankfully I found a black cardigan tonight that will go well with a wine-colored shirt that I already own.

It’ll do!  (I desperately needed a new black cardigan anyway, so at least this purchase was very practical).  Thank you, Marshall’s, for saving the day.  I honestly didn’t know what I was going to wear this weekend!

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3.  We found out this past week that Brady probably has a Christmas tree allergy!  I’d never heard of this before, but apparently it’s quite common.  My little guy has been exhausted and stuffy for over three weeks now, but the cold wasn’t getting worse or going away.  It was just staying there.  We had to get rid of our tree the other night, and he seems greatly improved!  (It’s hard to get an accurate depiction of whether or not it worked, because he spent the day at my parent’s house yesterday.  And they have a real tree).  As far as I can tell though, he’s doing a ton better, because he has a LOT more energy.

I was a bit panicked that we wouldn’t have a tree for Christmas, but my bestie Liz saved the day.  She and her hubby dropped off an adorable, fake tree that they had found and gave it to us for Christmas.

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4.  I never had the chance to ask my sister to take Christmas photo’s for us this year, like she did last year.  And honestly, I never got around to filling out Christmas cards either.  (I have high hopes for next year, but I decided to just cut myself a bit of slack this year).  🙂  That being said, I was determined to take some cute photo’s of the kids before Christmas was over, because this is Kaitlyn’s first!  I took out the good camera this afternoon and snapped away (bribing Brady with treats the entire time).  Ha, ha.  I haven’t had the chance to download them yet, but I’m hoping that a few came out really cute!

Do you like how I helped to lessen the harsh light coming into the room?  Yes, that’s a baby blanket hanging from my curtains.  🙂  It definitely did the trick!

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5.  As of tonight, Nate and I are both on vacay, so it’s a bit of a Christmas staycation for us.  🙂  I took two weeks off from teaching piano, and Nate has next week off from work.  (It looks as though he will probably get tomorrow off too though, because snow and ice are making there way to our neck of the woods).  I’m excited for a snow day AND for a week off together!!

My mom is supposed to watch the kiddo’s one afternoon for us next week, so that Nate and I can go out for a movie.  I’m SO excited already!!

Hmmmm, and I think that’s all folks!  Ha, ha. 🙂  It has been a crazy week, and I am officially beat.  That being said, I am also officially EXCITED and sooooo ready for Christmas!

What are everyone’s Christmas plans?  🙂