Friday, December 18, 2015


I turned 31 on Monday, which I think is such a weird age. I'm not at all depressed about how old I am; the year I freaked out about my age was when I turned 27. It physically hurt to say how old I was when my kinders asked on my birthday. I have no idea why that birthday had me all sad, but it's nice to have that "scary age" stuff over with already!

I'm not one to make a big deal about my birthday. I don't really like being the center of attention, so I don't typically gravitate toward throwing a party or having a big gathering of friends. All I really care about is that my birthday gift is not combined with my Christmas gift. I'm a big stickler about that one. As much as I love Christmas, my birthday is a separate entity, so my gift should be, as well. I'm sure people who were born in the other 11 months of the year don't have a combo birthday/Christmas gift. Why should people with December birthdays get the shaft?!

So what did I do on my birthday, you ask? Victor ran out to get the fixins to make me breakfast early Monday morning. I enjoyed a sesame seed bagel with whipped cream cheese (my JAM right now), scrambled eggs, bacon, and a large glass of pulpy orange juice. I also got to open my gifts from Victor and Max; Victor got me the fancy camera I've been asking for for 2 years (!), and Max got me a lovely Willow Tree "Child of my Heart" figurine (so precious, and I was so surprised by this--I LOVE Willow Tree figurines!).

After Victor went to work, Max and I did the week's grocery shopping. Then I spent the rest of the day cleaning. I tackled the back half of the main level of our house, which includes the family room, eat-in kitchen area, kitchen, and mudroom. I swept/vacuumed, dusted, mopped, cleared clutter, put away toys, cleaned counters, did many dishes, and made my birthday cake, all while occasionally playing with Max, making/cleaning up lunch, and navigating naptime. I tell ya, these adult birthdays are WILD!

Later that evening, we went out for a Mexican dinner with Victor's parents, brother, brother's fiancee, and fiancee's brother (did you follow that?!). We came back to our house afterward for cake and ice cream.

Max helped blow out the candles. His skills have improved dramatically since his 1st birthday party!
My 2 favorite guys
32 candles: 31 + 1 to grow on

He didn't like that cake one bit.
It was a lovely day. I couldn't have asked for anything more! I joked earlier about how the day was wild, but seriously, I actually went to bed that night looking forward to taking a nap the next day.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Album Giveaway Winner!

Happy Monday, y'all! As promised, I'm here today to announce the winner of Little Blue Sailboat's first-ever giveaway! In the spirit of the season, I'm giving away a copy of Dave Barnes' Christmas album, A December to Remember, one of my most favorite Christmas albums ever! 

And now, without further ado, the lucky winner is:

Dottie Millwater of Dottie Millwater Photography!
(winner chosen using a random number generator)

Dottie and I have been pals for the past 7-ish years. In fact, the first time I met her was when she invited Victor and I to her company Christmas party in 2008, a very fancy affair (Victor and I had only been dating for a little over a month!). The rest, as they say, is history! She's been a great friend and an awesome supporter of Little Blue Sailboat from day one. She takes all of our family photos, as well, and is a very talented photographer!

Here's Dottie, myself, and our sweet families last May
Dottie and I just spent most of last Saturday together. We went up to the vintage barn together to find a dresser for her house (I also scored a gorgeous mirror for our dining room!). Later that afternoon, we piled our families into our SUV and headed down to Old Town Alexandria, VA for the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. We were so stoked for such a cool experience, but the 30-minute drive ended up taking an hour and a half, and by the time we got to the parking garage (where Dottie had pre-paid the parking fee), the lot was completely full. In fact, pretty much all of the traffic in Alexandria was due to the streets being backed up with cars waiting to find parking in the garage! We abandoned our hopes to see all the boats on the river and headed up the hill to find parking close to where we had dinner reservations. Even though we didn't get to see the boats, we still had a great time at dinner and walking around Old Town beneath the lighted trees. We took zero pictures, but we made great memories!

Thanks to all who entered!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Decking the toddler-safe halls...

I now feel whole and complete after fully getting all of my Christmas decorations out and displayed today. It took me a bit longer to get everything situated this year since it's the first time I've had a toddler to consider while decorating for my favorite holiday; last year, Max still wasn't crawling yet (at least not until Christmas Eve), so we didn't have to adjust much. Things that usually go in front of the fireplace had to find a new home this year since I knew Max would inevitably end up eating glitter or breaking something if I kept the same design scheme. The sacrifices we make for our children...

I still am not 100% sure how I'm going to display the Christmas cards that are sent to us. Usually I hang wide ribbon from a Command strip on the wall and clip the cards down the ribbon using cute mini clothespins, but I am envisioning that being ripped off the wall almost immediately. I'm either going to hang them from our stairway banister or do a gallery wall in our family room (where our permanent gallery wall is waiting to be created). I also have a lighted garland that still needs a home, but other than that, everything is out!

Here's a tour, room by room! The photos were all taken on my iPhone since I don't have a nice, fancy camera to take beautiful pictures with. But, my birthday is 10 days away and Christmas will be here in 21, so a girl can dream!

The tree

We bought this artificial, pre-lit tree last year at Costco, and she's a beaut. My family always cut down fresh trees growing up, but until recently, Victor and I were typically traveling over the holiday and didn't want to have our enjoyment of a real tree cut short, so we opted for artificial. There's been talk of perhaps beginning the tradition of chopping down the family tree next year as a family of four. Not sure what we'll do with this gal when that happens, though.

Max is very intrigued by the tree and all the ornaments. Only non-fragile, non-dangerous ornaments are within arms reach of this guy. He loves all the "balls." Most of our ornaments are from my childhood--ones I made in school or ones that were gifted to me. I also have several from former students, as well as some that we have acquired on our travels. My tree theme will always be "nostalgia" or "a trip down memory lane." Also, fun story: while I was positioning our tree skirt, Max kept climbing on my back, lifting my shirt, and blowing raspberries on my back. Never a dull moment!

The family room

I learned the hard way that my pretty stocking hangers were a no-go this year when Max repeatedly pulled Victor's stocking down yesterday. Thankfully, he pulled on the light-weight one and not the heavy, clunky snowman one. Since I'd rather not have any stocking-holder head injuries, I got some Command hooks for our stockings. Might need to use those for the next couple of years. Also, the basket of Christmas movies needs a new home unless I want the DVDs all over the floor every day.

I made our stockings, but I think next year I might get some for the kids from Lands End to match the two that Victor's mom got for us a couple of years ago.

The lighted garland on the mantel is from HomeGoods.

The cute little festive birdies are from Target.

I bought these holly berries a couple of years ago for another craft, and had some left over to put in the vase that lives on our built-in shelves.

I got these cinnamon-scented pinecones from Target. They smell divine. And how cute is my late grandma with Rosie Red at her 80th birthday party? Has nothing to do with Christmas, but I had to mention her--miss that woman!

The kitchen

I found this Santa wall hanging at the vintage barn I love a couple of weekends ago. I couldn't go home without it!

This garland is from Target, as are the banner hanger Command hooks! Genius!

Got this sweet little sled from the barn, too. I felt it was too big to hang on the tree, so it's on the china cabinet instead.

That cute sweater basket usually holds candy canes, but I haven't bought any yet, so it's holding more of those yummy-smelling pinecones. My mom gave me the milk glass candle holders.

I put more pinecones in those red votive holders too. You can't see 'em, but you can smell 'em...why not?!

These tea towels are from HomeGoods.

The living room

These are Max-level and Max-proof. He can play with these all he wants. Also, say a prayer for that wilting plant back there. We tend to forget about it.

I purchased this simple Nativity scene from a coworker's friend years ago. I love it, but would like to get a full one someday. I love the Willow Tree Nativity pieces.

Victor's brother brought these pieces back from Israel a few years ago.

The dining room

HomeGoods has some lovely table runners. This was one of them. I had a hard time choosing. Also, it was only $12.99!

Pretty much all of the decorations in this room used to adorn the floor in front of our fireplace. They won't be returning there for a couple of years, I believe, so luckily they look nice on the dining room table. The tall wooden tree in back is from the vintage barn. The other two are from Target a couple of years ago.

This cute guy is from Pier 1.

This one's from either Target or Pier 1.

The entryway and other bits

I hang our wreaths by placing an upside-down Command hook near the top of the inside of the front door, then drape the wreath over the door using fishing wire, thus the magical illusion that it's just "floating" there. Our wreath hangers were ripping our door frames to shreds, so I came up with this trick years ago. This way, it works year round!

Meet me at the mistletoe!

Jingle bells on the door are always a necessity.

I always have this photo board up, but I displayed Christmassy photos for this time of year.

I bought this at TJ Maxx in October and it's been in our garage just waiting to be hung! I LOVE it! You can't really tell from the photo, but it's glittery.

I wouldn't be my mother's daughter if I didn't have some holiday cheer in the powder room!

And lastly, our Advent calendar. DIY instructions here!

Well, that's all, folks! I haven't put any decorations upstairs or in the basement, but there's always next year! I have always intended to move towards a more white-heavy decorating style when it comes to Christmas decor, but I just can't seem to stay away from the reds and greens!

Linking up with Astleigh and Rachel today for the Every Girl Link Up!

Hill Collection

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Reminder: Christmas Album Giveaway!

Hi all! I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving and safe travels if you ventured away from home! We returned home from Cincinnati, Ohio Sunday evening, and we've taken our time to get back in the swing of things, hence the lack of posting from me. I'm working on getting our house decorated for Christmas, but that's proving difficult since I have to rethink the placement of a lot of things because...toddlers. I also need to do a Thanksgiving recap/photo dump.

But more importantly, I need to remind you of the GIVEAWAY that ends TOMORROW! I'm giving away a copy of Dave Barnes' Christmas album, A December to Remember.

I love every single song on this album. It features old favorites like "White Christmas," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas;" as well as original tunes like "So, Santa," "Peace on Earth," and the incredibly beautiful "When Love Was Born." If you enjoy fun and beautiful Christmas music, you are sure to love this album, so get entered!

Here's a silly "infomercial" that Dave recorded to promote this album when he released it a few years ago. I think he's hilarious. You can hear some of the album's songs play in the background, too, so it's like a little preview!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment stating something you love about Christmas.  You can comment here on the blog in the comments section, under the link to this post on the Little Blue Sailboat Facebook page, under the link to this post on my personal Facebook page, or send me an email at You only have to comment one way to be entered, but I have to be able to contact you afterward if you win, so don't comment anonymously!  Good luck!

Please submit your entry by midnight on the evening of Friday, December 4, 2015 (that's tomorrow!). I will announce the winner on Monday, December 7, 2015! Happy entering!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our First Friendsgiving

It was the morning of Sunday, November 15, 2015. Victor, Max, and I were eating breakfast and browsing through the ads in the Sunday paper when Victor randomly stated, "We should have a Friendsgiving next weekend." After a quick consultation with our calendar, we settled on Sunday, November 22. Texts were sent, attendees were confirmed, and a menu was created. I honestly can't believe how quickly it all came together!

Over the course of the following week, I was doing my research on common Thanksgiving fare and searching for fun recipes. Our get-together turned itself into a potluck of sorts, as our guests immediately offered to bring certain dishes to share. Since we were hosting, I offered to make the turkey and gravy, as well as the Crockpot mac 'n cheese I had made for a football party months earlier that got rave reviews. 

While I didn't hesitate to volunteer to make the turkey, I was still super nervous because I'd never cooked such a large bird before. I attempted to do a whole roasted chicken years ago and it turned out terribly, so I've been a little gun-shy with anything in the realm since. But gosh darn it, I'm almost 31 years old, a soon-to-be mother of two, and I like to consider myself a little Suzy Homemaker--it's about time I learned to roast a turkey!

Armed with some advice from my mom, a recipe I happened upon in my November issue of All Recipes magazine, and a 19 lb. Butterball turkey from Target (they had the best deal at 99 cents a pound!), I was ready to tempt fate.

Long story short, the turkey turned out beautifully and deliciously. Everyone else's dishes were equally scrumptious. We had turkey, gravy, mac 'n cheese, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a ham. There were plenty of leftovers, and I thought ahead and used some coupons to buy some Ziploc brand food storage containers so people could easily take some home. For dessert, we noshed on pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, and apple pie. We had a gaggle of toddlers and babies running/crawling around our basement, and Max cried every time one of his friends left. We all had a great time and we're looking forward to making this a yearly tradition!

Here are some photos from our gathering. The lighting isn't the best in our basement, and these are all iPhone photos, so please forgive the quality!

I only take credit for the turkey, gravy, mac 'n cheese (not pictured) and salad (also not pictured).

My pride and joy! According to my MIL, this is how Martha Stewart carves her turkeys!

They wouldn't stop hugging each other! 
...or high-fiving!
Plenty to play with!

Have you celebrated "Friendsgiving" with your "framily?" We've been rolling with this crew for about 8 years now, and we've celebrated each couple's wedding and the birth(s) of each family's child(ren). It's amazing how much can change in just a few short years!

I'll be taking a break from blogging for the rest of the week so I can focus on enjoying the holiday with my family in Ohio! Have a joyful Thanksgiving with those you love most, and we'll see you next week!

Don't forget to comment on this giveaway post to be entered to win a copy of A December to Remember by Dave Barnes!