Full of Thanks | Our Weekend

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ah, dear blogland. How was your holiday? How was your weekend? It feels good to be back here.

We had a change of plans for Thanksgiving dinner this year as C had come down with a fever the morning before (Wednesday) and we didn't want to jump the gun and pass any germs along to little cousins. If you know me, you know my (potentially borderline unreasonable) love of Thanksgiving and the traditions that come with it, but we rolled with it and my sweet in-laws came over with turkey and stuffing in hand on Thursday to join us for dinner at home. It made it feel festive and was nice to spend time with family even though we were a bit out of sorts.

C was actually feeling mostly better by Thursday and completely better by Friday, so Friday evening we got the all-clear from the pediatrician to head to our hometown to meet up with more family who were all in town for the holiday weekend. We had birthday cakes and sang, played, laughed, and opened presents.

Making gingerbread houses!

On Saturday I drove back yet again for an afternoon spent with my mom, aunts, cousin, and sister-in-law. We shopped, ate at our favorite diner, and laughed til we cried while consuming every type of pie you've ever heard of. Half of Sunday was spent in our jammies playing, I picked up our grocery order, Steve hung lights outside, and we headed to the bookstore and dinner before calling it a night.

 Truffle heaven in one of the shops in the mall.

Making a fairy house together.

How did you spend your weekend? I hope whatever you did, it was alongside your favorite people. 

Finally, two quick blog-related announcements: 

-The Women Who Inspire series is on hold for November and December, as it's just too busy a time for myself and others and I didn't to add yet another thing to our feature ladies' plates. We will be back with the series in the new year, and I'm so excited!

-Stay tuned for my third Holiday Gift Guide later this week - for the men in your life!

Hope your Monday is treating you well!


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Good morning (or afternoon, depending when you read this)! I promised a gift guide a week until Christmas, and this week's is all about the people you really couldn't live without: your girlfriends. 

In full disclosure, most of my friends and I don't exchange gifts at the holidays anymore because many of us have kids and we've started choosing gifts for them instead. With that said, I whole-heartedly believe our friendships are one of the most important parts of life and, if you're able, it's fun to pick out something pretty for your BFF! Bonus: All of the picks below, with the exception of the tee, are under $20. 

1. Stainless steel tumbler (with lid) in "Marble" // I'm into the marble look on pretty much anything, and I think this tumbler is so pretty. Really useful for the mom constantly on the go (and who of us aren't?). Plus, just $15!

2. K, See Ya sweatshirt // $17.99 for the cutest (and sassiest) tunic-length sweatshirt ever. Throw on with leggings and your outfit is done, and your message is heard. ;) And check out the fun back!

3. Champagne Gummy Bears // Infused with real champagne, ladies. Enough said. Would also make the perfect hostess gift!

4. Whiskey in a Teacup // Because we all like to pretend that Reese is our BFF, grab a copy of her new book for your actual BFF and she'll love it. 

5. Cozy fringe blanket // I haven't yet met a woman who doesn't appreciate a cozy throw blanket. I literally can never have enough of them. And... wait for it... this one is just $8.99!

6. Cute and Funny Tee // I am, apparently, into clothes with tongue-in-cheek messages scrawled across them -- and this little tee is no exception. I love its "motivational" message, lol.

7. Grown up friendship bracelets // Madewell can do no wrong when it comes to jewelry, in my opinion... or anything, really. I love this entire celestial line and these grown up friendship bracelets are precious! On sale for $16.50 right now.

8. Personalized tassel keychain // One of my most used items ever, a tassel keychain will save your girlfriend the hassle of losing her keys. I love reaching in my bag and knowing exactly where my keys are -- and I really love that this particular option can be personalized (maybe a nickname?). It's just $16 with personalized tag and comes in a bunch of pretty colors.

Do you and your girlfriends exchange gifts for the holidays? Would love to hear your favorite thing on this list, and some fun ideas from your own! Hope this was helpful for anyone planning to shop this weekend. 

Speaking of, I will be signing off for the rest of the week to enjoy Thanksgiving, so I'll see you back here next week. I am so very thankful for each and every one of you who takes the time to visit this little space. Cheers!

Holiday Bucket List 2018 & Our Family Traditions

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Happy Tuesday! TWO more days 'til Thanksgiving... can you believe it? This is my favorite holiday of the year and always has been. The Lucky Lifestyle got its name because I feel lucky every. single. day. and believe recognizing and reveling in your own wonderful fortune is the key to happiness and contentment. It empowers you, and very importantly, that helps you spill over and help/empower others. And a holiday dedicated to giving thanks? I'm so there for it. The company of loved ones and tasty food isn't so bad either. ;)

As much as I love Thanksgiving, I have a confession: I am all aboard the holiday train early this year. We decorated the house (this past weekend...which was so much fun except for the part where Hadley accidentally smashed a snow globe and cut her pinky, poor girl), baked cookies, watched four Christmas movies (not counting all of the cheesy ones I've indulged in on Netflix), painted ornaments, and had Christmas dance parties. So we've already crossed a few things off of our Holiday Bucket List this year, but there's still so much more to enjoy! 

Here's our list (feel free to save/print if you need inspiration!):

As for holiday traditions, here are a few of the ones we've started:

*Every year we go to a holiday village about an hour away. It's completely decorated in lights and so magical. We actually got engaged there (10 years ago tomorrow!), and we've gone back every year since. We eat dinner and then stroll around looking at the lights, and usually grab a treat. It's my favorite.

*Hosting Christmas dinner. We've taken up hosting Christmas dinner for a few years now, and I really look forward to it. Happiness = those I love most gathered in my home.

*Driving around looking at lights with hot cocoa. Steve and I did this before we had kids, and we've done it every year since Carrington was born (even when she was just 2 weeks old!). We love to get some hot chocolate and drive around local neighborhoods taking in all of the lights.

*Bake Christmas cookies. My mother-in-law got us into this one! She's a big baker and we've been trying to keep up this tradition each year. We started the year Steve and I got married - I had my aunt, mom, and MIL over to bake cookies and it's such a fun memory. We baked and baked and then enjoyed our treats with glasses of eggnog at a folding table since we had no real furniture at the time. ;)

What are your favorite holiday traditions? Anything new on your bucket list this year?


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingle-ing too, come on it's...

Oh, hi! Don't mind me over here, just prematurely (although I believe that's debatable) singing all of the holiday songs, watching Elf, baking cookies and maybe even beginning to decorate. Eeek! Seeing my kids' joy and anticipation of the holidays makes me remember the wonder of being a child, and each year I get more and more giddy as this season of all things festive begins. Beginning this week, I plan to dedicate one post a week to holiday gift ideas for your friends and loved ones, in case you need some ideas this year. I had a few people ask me what I've picked up for the girls, so I thought I'd kick things off with some tried and true gift ideas (we already have and love these!) for the toddlers/preschoolers in your life. I'll link whatever I can!

Tried & True Gifts for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Kinetic Sand - my girls will sit and play with this for hours. This is not a drill!

Magna-Tiles - endless possibilities and encourages creativity.

Puppets - soft and perfect for pretend, my girls love to bring them in the car.

Dollhouse/playhouse - probably the most used toy in our house. We've had ours for 3 years and it is still used daily (love the Hearth & Hand one, but this is similar to the one we have and love)!

Sidewalk Chalk - how cute are the unicorn horns? They also have donuts and ABCs!

Duplos - another most-loved toy in this house, endless creative possibilities.

Dress Up - boy or girl, everyone loves to play dress up! C is obsessed with the idea of a wig recently, so Santa will be bringing a fun Repunzel braid this year.

Tent - a soft tent or playhouse will serve endless uses, I promise. This is the one the girls have and love -- it's so cute!

Ice Cream Cart - H received this for her birthday this summer and the girls still play with it almost daily. It has a great learning component, which is cool.

Play Tools - these are great to whip out when little ones want to be involved in projects around the house. The girls love to "fix" things with their set (we don't have this workbench, but I think it's so cute!).

Bonus! A few of a couple of joint gifts we've picked up for the girls this year:

Face Paint Kit - The girls love to get their face painted, so I thought it would be fun to have a kit of our own to experiment with on snowy days.

Pie Face - Have you guys played this? It looks like such a silly game, but I can just picture C giggling and giggling, so it was a must have!

Woodzeez Tree House - Not a real tree house (though they would love that), but a fun new little play set to play pretend with all their characters. It's their favorite thing to do!

Best Friends Necklaces - Because, I couldn't resist.

Hope some of these ideas have been helpful if you have little ones to shop for! Can't wait to hear the tried and true favorites (and what's on your list this year!) in your house. 

Our Weekend + LOFT Sale + This Week's Menu

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

How was your weekend (and, at this point, your Monday)? I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! It looks like a mostly rainy, chilly one over here -- and in that spirit, keep an eye out tomorrow for a list of ways to keep kiddos, if you have them, busy during these long days when the weather is yucky and bedtime seems lightyears away. ;) 

We had a great weekend. Friday night the girls and I hit the playground before Steve came home -- check out that beautiful November sunset.

 Saturday was really low key with grocery pick up, a (solo!) trip to Target, lots of playing and dinner at Panera. The girls were begging to start decorating for Christmas, and as excited as I am to do that, I'm not quite ready for it -- so we compromised and put up some fun decor in their playroom! 

Sunday began with breakfast in bed which C & H thought was the coolest thing ever, and around noon we drove the two hours "home" to visit some of our best friends who just welcomed a baby girl to their precious family! She was so sweet and it was so nice to see them. Then we had the bonus of meeting up with our parents and my brother's family at our favorite diner for dinner before heading back to NJ. I was asleep by 8:30 that night! #old

I know many of you love to shop at LOFT, so I just wanted to send a little shopping PSA out into the world that their tops and dresses are 50% off during a flash sale today! Here are some of my favorites: Love how unique this textured sweatshirt is, I'd wear this olive peplum top all the time, check out the back on this top - perfect for the holidays, this is pretty much the kind of thing I live in, and I feel like this dress would be the most flattering ever.

I can't forget this week's menu:

Monday - Tomato soup & spinach pie

Tuesday - Crockpot french dip sandwiches with fries

Wednesday - Pasta with sausage, spinach, and sun dried tomato

Thursday - Chicken stir fry with rice and broccoli

Friday - Leftovers

Saturday - Out

And finally, I came across this little snippet of advice about parenting in the trenches and thought I'd share for any of you who have little kids. I appreciate anything that gives me perspective, and thought this might do the same for you, too.

Have a happy Tuesday!

Five on Friday: DST Edition

Friday, November 9, 2018

Are you ready for the weekend? I sure am! DST has been kind of cruel over here and I think my body is still adjusting, because I've been useless at night. It's kind of crazy how one hour can do that, you know? Thank goodness for coffee, and for Friday. ;)

Jumping into this week's Five on Friday thoughts:

1. California. With a heavy heart, thinking about our friends and family on the West Coast, who have endured a horrendous mass shooting and devastating fires this week (beautiful image via).

2. An upstairs update. A few months ago we added a couple of pieces to our landing space at the top of our stairs. We have this sort of smallish, open area instead of a traditional long hallway upstairs, and for almost two years it was empty. As the girls' toys began to accumulate more and more upstairs, I had an "aha" moment and finally bought one of these (the most useful things ever if you have kids and want toy storage that blends in!), along with these cute storage bins (they're filled with toys!). I found the piece above it at Bed Bath & Beyond and just really loved what it said. Finally, that big ol' barn artwork from Kirklands reminded me of my hometown and adds a bit of a personal touch to that large open wall. Plus, I love the colors! So there you have it, a quick upstairs update.

3. The perfect winter cocktail. I spotted this on Natasha's IG over at Hello Happiness and had to screenshot it. How yummy and festive does this sound for the fall/winter?

4. Holiday Gift Guides, coming at ya! I had a few questions/comments from readers and friends after I mentioned that I was finished holiday shopping for the girls. Luckily, shopping for others ranks up there among my favorite things to do, so I put together a few holiday gift guides to get you started (or to help you finish!). First up will be a guide for Preschool-Age Girls & Boys, coming next week!

5. Did you vote this week? I took the girls with me to vote on Tuesday (their second time accompanying me!). It's always a rewarding experience to do so. Everyone at my polling station looks happy to see kids there, and I feel good that they see that their parents care and that we all can and should have a say. Plus, they got stickers and on the way out a firetruck was pulling back into the station attached to where we vote, so they got to watch that and talk to a couple of friendly firemen. 

Wishing you a happy, healthy, safe, fun weekend, friends!

Instant Pot Chicken Dumpling Soup

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Chicken and dumplings always reminds me of diners with my grandma... and not in a bad way; in an incredibly warm, fond, satisfying way. I'd say it's comfort food at its finest, and when I came across a recipe recently that translated this classic dish into soup (think the tastiest homemade chicken noodle soup, but sub dough-y dumplings for the noodles), I knew I needed it.

The best part is, while most soups like this take all day in the crockpot, this recipe is for the Instant Pot! If you don't already have one, consider investing -- especially for these chilly fall and winter months that will inevitably beg for a big bowl of soup.

The original recipe actually calls for turkey, but if you prefer chicken like me (and my family), just sub two boneless/skinless chicken breasts. Another fun tip I found out first hand: if you find, midway through cooking, you're out of baking powder (oops), baking soda can be subbed at 1/4 the amount of the amount of baking powder that is called for, plus a little vinegar to react with it. For this recipe, I subbed 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and a 1/2 teaspoon vinegar and the dumplings turned out great. Another great bonus of this recipe: thanks to the fresh sage, your whole house will smell like Thanksgiving!

Recipe is taken and adapted a bit from Cooking Light, found here. Enjoy!

Fall Weekend + This Week's Menu

Monday, November 5, 2018

Good Monday morning! How was your weekend? 

Ours was pretty glorious. I kicked it off Friday evening by going to Target (in the pouring rain) to pick up the girls' big joint Christmas gift. I am officially done Christmas shopping for them! Now I can turn my focus to the family members and friends we choose gifts for, as well as to finding a way for the girls to get involved with giving back this season (if you have suggestions or favorite family traditions, I'd love to hear them!), and simply enjoying the season with them. I can't wait to fill an advent calendar with fun activities (and maybe some chocolate). Later Friday night Steve and I watched Leave No Trace, which got a 100% (!!) on Rotten Tomatoes. It was surprisingly captivating considering it's pretty slow-paced and quiet. I wouldn't say it was a favorite of mine, but I can appreciate why the critics liked it. Have you seen it? 

Saturday we played all morning, cleaned the house, ordered the next week's groceries online, ordered Christmas cards, and after naps we went to Chipotle for dinner and then Barnes & Noble. And, speaking of holiday gifts, have you checked out B&N? They have a fantastic gift section (especially for kids). I'd love to keep them thriving and in business so I'm thinking I'll pick up some holiday gifts there this year.

On Sunday morning I ran to Target to get a few random essentials and then swung by ShopRite to pick up our grocery order on the way back. We played and after H's nap, we got bundled up and went for a walk in the woods. The girls had the time of their lives. They love being outside and exploring, and I love how curious and brave they are. What a gift it is to be able to see the world through their bright little eyes. On the way home we picked up a pizza from our favorite spot and ended the weekend with a movie night: The Grinch. We are so on board the holiday train early this year. ;)

On to this week's menu (if it requires a recipe, it's linked!):

Monday - Instant Pot Chicken dumpling soup (didn't get around to making it last week!)

Tuesday - Chicken stir fry with rice & broccoli 

Wednesday - Crockpot "zuppa toscana" soup and salad

Thursday - Morningstar "chicken" nuggets & rosemary fries

Friday - Tortellini with vodka sauce & peas

Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday - Out

I hope you all have the best start to the week. Let's do this! 

via @ThinkGrowProsper

Five on Friday: Hello, November

Friday, November 2, 2018

Happy Friday & Happy November! 

Oh, how I love this month. 

There is so much to look forward to. The beginning of holiday festivities, Thanksgiving (!!!), my nephew's birthday and friends' birthdays, and it all culminates for us at the end of the month when my first baby turns FIVE. I can't believe it.

How are you kicking this month off? We have another low key weekend ahead and I'm so excited. Hopefully it'll be a good mix of productive, relaxing, and fun.

On to this week's Friday Five!

1. The little mermaid & the littlest mermaid. Did you have a good Halloween? Our girls had the best time trick-or-treating. The weather was absolutely perfect, our neighborhood was packed, and the candy was flowing. ;) Hadley made out the best since she's the exact height of most candy dishes -- while the adults and older kids were talking, she was busy stealthily scooping up handfuls. Ha!

2. Holiday cards. From Halloween straight to the holidays! Have you thought about your holiday cards yet? Maybe you've even ordered them! I just started browsing and there are some really fun designs. Sites I've used in the past are Simply to Impress (one of my favorites -- affordable, fast, great service!), Tiny Prints, and Minted. And don't forget, if you're going the digital route... Paperless Post has gorgeous options!

3. IT Cosmetics Sale. I've talked about my obsession with this product a few times here, but if you haven't tried it yet... now is the time! IT Cosmetics is having 25% off your purchase of $30+ through tomorrow. I'm putting together a "favorite products" post about my favorite makeup/skin care finds, and this is top of the list!

4. November Giveaway. To express my gratitude during this month of thanks for you, and your support of this space, I'll be hosting a little giveaway later this month! Keep your eye out for the announcement here on the blog, as well as over on Facebook (make sure you like The Lucky Lifestyle page, if you haven't yet!).

5. Thanks for supporting Kelly & Women Who Inspire! Thanks so much for your support of and great feedback for Kelly, our incredible October feature in the monthly Women Who Inspire series. If you missed it, you can check it out here!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and start to the month! 
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