Friday Favorites & Full Heart

Friday, November 28, 2014
Wasn't Thanksgiving the best?! I hope yours was fabulous and that you're still feeling the satisfaction from all that glorious food! Maybe you've even got more feasts awaiting you this weekend. Husband and I totaled three Thanksgiving feasts this year and it was amazing! I'll be sharing our Thanksgiving on Monday, but for now, I'm sharing my favorites from the week!

[one] These socks are rocking my world. Who would have guessed that buffalo check would be so fashionable on your feet?! The best part, I paid a $1 for these. And you'll never guess where I found Michael's of all places!

[two] Our Christmas tree has been shining brightly and filling our space with the best balsam scent for 6 days now. It's been heavenly and I loved having it up for Thanksgiving, a first for us. I want to enjoy it as long as possible and I'm loving it tucked away in the corner of our family room for all to enjoy.

[three] The first of three Thanksgiving meals! This was this past Sunday at my parents' house and it
was all the traditional foods that I grew up with on Turkey Day.

[four] Christmas and crafts go together like peanut butter and jelly. This is a countdown to Christmas board that husband and I made for someone. It was so much fun to make and a nice kick-off to our holiday DIYs.

[five] This time of year is tradition-filled and it makes me so darn happy. On Tuesday, I shared all of our family holiday traditions. There are a whole handful left for December and I can't wait!

[six] All that Thanksgiving food. The prep work always starts out fun, but by the end of it all I'm ready to not cook for the next week! Thank goodness for leftovers!

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[seven] Pomegranates have been my absolute favorite this entire week. I can't seem to get enough, which suits me just fine. The more arils the better, if I do say so myself.

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[eight] Staying in pajamas for days on end. I have loved not having an agenda the past couple of days. It's been a delight to roll out of bed, put my glasses on, and cozy down in the family room. How I have loved not needing to get ready for the day as soon as I wake up! And I can't forget about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade!

 photo image_zps829086e2.jpg [nine] It snowed on Wednesday and it was beautiful and the perfect way to officially kick off the holiday season! Having a white Thanksgiving was kind of spectacular, and I'd love some more snow!

 photo image_zps7eeacd36.jpg [ten] Watching Christmas vacation, which is a Hill family tradition. Some things never get old and this movie is one of those. Besides what's not to enjoy when you're laughing for two hours straight?!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and Friday! And mostly I hope you have had a tremendous Thanksgiving full of love and mouth-watering food!

The Diary of a Real Housewife

Happy Thanksgiving & A Final Thankful Thursday!

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope you're somewhere warm and cozy, surrounded by your people. I also hope you have some amazing food cooking and an amazing aroma wafting around!

Today I'm thankful for everything. For all the things I mentioned in my past Thankful Thursdays and so much more. Isn't it the best, to have an entire day to spend with family and friends, cherishing the 'thankfuls' in life?!  

Thankful for...good food and good people. It's one of the best combinations out there.

Thankful! I am so grateful for each and every one of you. I love sharing bits of life with you and appreciate your readership more than you know!

Thankful for...Thanksgiving and the time to relax while being reminded of the many blessings in life.

Thankful for...stretchy pants because I'm going to need them after I gobble up all this food!

Speaking of food, now I've got to get back to the kitchen and all the dishes cooking away! Pray we don't burn the first Turkey we ever roast!! Happy, happy, happy Turkey Day ya'll!! 

Turkey Day Prep

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
I took a vacation day from work today, thinking that this extra time would be helpful for prepping for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast. And boy was I right. Here it is 4:00 in the afternoon/almost evening, and I still haven't cooked all the food I had on my ahead-of-time-list, I am still sporting my pajamas, and I'm just now getting around to blogging.

So without further to do, 'cause this gal has got to get ready for Thanksgiving feast #2 (tomorrow makes #3 and the one I'm prepping for) here is what my day has looked like...

  First, though you must know that it snowed. And we woke up to a white almost Thanksgiving.

 We 'oohed' and 'awwed' and took it all in.

 We even watched the huge fluffy flakes fall for the longest time.

Then the prep work began!

 And I kicked it all off by baking THREE loaves of artisan bread!

 The husband took a sabbatical outdoors to clean off the cars and clear the driveway. If you ask me he just wanted to play in the snow ;)

And inside I kept at it. Baking and cooking as fast as I could. This here is the Wild Mushroom-Bacon Stuffing that we will be serving up tomorrow!

Then I rounded out the afternoon with two quiche for tomorrow's traditional breakfast.... 

and finished up with some stuffed mushrooms.

Tonight I will be making the dessert, vacuuming the house, and maybe painting my nails! Hope you're Turkey Day prep is going smoothly!! If you're looking for any last minute Thanksgiving recipes, head over to Flour Darling!


Our Favorite Holiday Traditions!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
We take traditions seriously in our house and hold them to a high standard, especially holiday traditions, which only come around once a year. In fact, I think that's one of the reasons I love October through December so much, because of the special traditions. 

Growing up, my parents had certain holiday traditions that I looked forward to with great anticipation. And I think that's why I feel so strongly about them now. Because they make the holidays extra magical and spread that much more cheer. As a married gal now, husband and I have been figuring out the new traditions we want to start and those from our childhoods that we want to incorporate. Both of us feel that we want to get these traditions solidified before we have children, and we also know that we'll be starting new ones as children come along. It gets me super excited just thinking about it! 

Since the holidays are officially upon us, I'm going to share our favorite holiday traditions, some of which have already taken place and some that will happen later this week!


In late October we visit our local Christmas tree farm with my parents and sister to tag our Christmas trees. I've been doing this tradition since I was a little girl and I couldn't imagine this time of year without it. The only requirements involved: a special drink for the ride to and from the farm; find the perfect tree.

We have decided that we will start to decorate our home with Christmas décor the weekend before Thanksgiving. We started this because we currently spend Christmases with my parents, which means we don't get to enjoy our festive decorations as long. Since I love a fresh Christmas tree, I couldn't bear to not enjoy it at least a month long. So that's how this new tradition began. I'll be sharing our holiday décor next Tuesday!

That same weekend we head back to the Christmas tree farm to cut down the tree we tagged ourselves. This time there are a few additional requirements: You still must have a special drink for the ride to and from the farm, you must listen to Christmas music, you must buy Cherry Butter, you must cut the tree down yourself, and you must buy an ornament from their gift shop. This year we bought a laser-cut wooden snowflake. It's the sweetest. 

For a festive get together, we hosted a Pie Party last year. This year we ran out of time and weekends in November so we have decided to do some type of dessert party and maybe include some ugly Christmas sweaters one weekend in December.

Last year, our first year of marriage, we decided that we want to celebrate some holidays at our home instead of traveling everyone for them. Because we have no littles yet, we thought spending Christmas with parents would still be great. But, Thanksgiving was fair game to take on ourselves. So we now host Thanksgiving Day festivities at our home. However, growing up we always had our immediate family Thanksgiving the Sunday before. That tradition still lasts. So for our Thanksgiving feast we switch it up a bit and turn the more traditional dishes my mom makes, into something new and different. 

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was a favorite of mine growing up. It was the best to stay in pajamas and watch all the floats and people make their way through New York City while the aroma of the food cooking was wafting about. It's a tradition we now have as Hills. And I'm looking forward to it this year! The only difference is, we've added a specific Thanksgiving breakfast menu to this tradition. Now we have homemade quiche while we watch the festivities on television. And coffee is included too (of course)!

Husband grew up watching Christmas Vacation after stuffing yourself with all the delicacies of Turkey Day. And this is one of those traditions that we both agree we want to incorporate. Last year, after the meal had been eaten, we settled in to watch the movie (and also make room for dessert). This year, we're adding a little extra bit to this tradition. Pajamas! We will have new Christmas-inspired pj's to pull out and put on. Because who doesn't love a stretchy waistband after feasting?!

Christmas music was always saved until December started when I was growing up. But, now it's fair game as soon as November starts. The more Christmas music the merrier! Isn't that how the saying goes?! As a little girl my very favorite song was "Nuttin' For Christmas", a hit Christmas song from 1955. My grandmother still has the vinyl record that my mom would pop on the record player during the holidays at Grandmom's house. Other favorites were cassette tapes of Burl Ives and Patty Page Christmas songs. Their voices are classic and timeless, and I know that my babies will one day be listening to them this time of year.

Every year, my parents would bundle my sister and I up in pajamas and drive around to look at all the Christmas lights strung about our small town. We would have hot chocolate in little thermoses and Christmas music playing on the radio. We still do this, but this year husband and I decided to do it with our friends too and incorporate Starbucks! Mix and Match Mama named this perfectly, Jammie Cocoa Christmas, and because I love that name, we're calling it that too!

A new Hill family tradition is to celebrate Christmas the first weekend of December in a cabin. Because husband is one of four children, sometimes it's hard to coordinate schedules, so to ensure we are all together to celebrate the holiday, we have decided to go this route. This year will make the second Annual Hill Christmas Cabin!

The Christmas cantata at church. I just love listening to live Christmas carols. It's beautiful and really brings the cheer to life. It's special to share this time at church, remembering the true reason for the season.

We tried to do something special throughout the entire month of December last year. It was our 12 Dates of Christmas. This year, husband and I can't decide if we'll stick to it or not because of time, but we might try and I'll let you know next year if it's a tradition that stuck!

Last year we sent out our very first Christmas card and we'll be doing that this year and for the years to come. I have always loved receiving snail mail, especially Christmas cards! And from now on I will be making our Christmas cards and yours too if you like (see HERE)!

Holiday films. I'm going to try hard to always put together a short video of our holiday festivities. I hope it becomes a tradition and that I remember to do it every year! Here we are decorating our first Christmas tree as a married couple!

Baking Christmas goodies is a huge part of the holidays in my family, and it has been since I was a tiny tot. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter tops with my little sister helping Mama add the ingredients to the bowl for all of our cherished, once-a-year Christmas treats. We always make muddy buddies, chex mix, fudge puddles, peanut butter balls, sausage balls, and vanilla bark-dipped pretzel piles. My Aunt Donna's molasses cookies became an absolute favorite of mine as a teen and she passed the recipe down to me. Now I make them every time this year.

My mom is a Christmas Day baby, and her name is Merry (no coincidence). Every year we celebrate her birthday the night of Christmas and then a couple of days later to make it special for her.

And last but not least, Christmas movies will be playing in our home the entire month long (plus some of November). From the classics like White Christmas all the way to the cheesy Hallmark movies. I just don't get enough of them. In fact, sometimes I'll even DVR the holiday movies that come on television and watch them in July :)


So here you have it! A whole list of all of our holiday traditions! You're tell me what you your traditions are this time of year!! 

O Christmas Tree!!

Monday, November 24, 2014
Every year we tag our Christmas tree, then several weeks later we head back to saw it down, bundle it up, and bring it home. This year was no different. In October we searched high and low for the perfect tree and we found it, tagging it for safe keeping until our return. 

On Saturday morning, we headed back to the tree farm to collect our perfect pine. But, this is a tradition, which means there are special things involved in this process. First, you must have special drinks to go along with you on the ride to and from the Christmas tree farm. Next, there must be Christmas music playing. You must saw your own tree down. And lastly, you must buy their homemade Cherry Butter while at the farm (this is a new one I added because I love it and I can only get it once a year!).

So we did all of those requirements, and I even helped saw the tree down, a first for me. Typically we carry our tree out and down to the main gift shop, but we found a tree way back in the farm this year, so a nice man came and collected it with his truck. Thank goodness for him, because I was not excited to carry an eight foot tree uphill from where we cut it down!

This year, we had a special place to be for dinner so we threw our favorite apple-stuffed pork in the crock-pot before we left. Our house smelt incredible when we returned; it was a lovely mix of apple cider, pork, and balsam. Oh my word, was the aroma perfection!

And here is the special drink. Because what other than Starbucks would it be?! And this year, my dad let us borrow his truck to bring the tree home. Last year we shoved it in my Jeep and it barely fit, so we didn't want to chance it again this year. 

There she is, all ready to come home with us and be spruced for Christmas!

Husband took the first part of the sawing, then I followed for a bit. He finished it off though, because sawing is hard work. Hello, arm workout! But, I totally loved it!

The tree fit much nicer in the back of my dad's truck instead of inside my jeep. The only perk of having it in the jeep was being enclosed in the small space, which was filled with the scent of pine!

We got our tree home, brought it into the living room and began prepping it to be put in its stand.

First we put the tree in the stand to determine if its height worked. And it did! Then we unbound just the bottom of it to figure out which branches needed to be cut to make it fit all the way in the stand. You don't want a wobbly Christmas tree!

Then you want to cut the very bottom of the tree off because you want to make sure that it will soak up water the entire time it's in your home. You don't want dried up tree come Christmas morning, no thanks! You may be wondering why you need to cut off the bottom after having just cut it down. That's because it starts to bleed sap in the short time after you have cut it down and traveled home with it, creating a 'scab', which will keep it from drinking water. So it needs to be 'freshened up' or cut off when you are ready to put it in the stand. Of course, after it's secured you want to fill the the stand up with water!

Plus, we use this inch-thick piece to make a yearly Christmas ornament! I'll be sharing the one we make from last year's tree in a post in December!

Lastly, after you have the tree tightly secured in its stand, you begin cutting the string it was bound in. The tree comes to life right in front of your eyes, every branch springing loose! Besides the mess of pine needles it makes, this might be my favorite part!

Then we decorate it! But, I'll be sharing that and all of my other Christmas décor on December 2nd, next Tuesday! 

Do you have any fun Christmas tree traditions?? What about holiday traditions in general? I'll be sharing all of our favorite holiday traditions tomorrow! I can't wait to hear yours!!