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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Year In Review: 2016

So many people are saying that 2016 was one of the worst years they can remember. With multiple terrorist attacks, a vicious election, police bashing, a new emergence of racism, numerous celebrity deaths, endless memes, and so many annoying slang words like: "bae," "Killary," "dabbing," "goals," "squad," "fleek," "yaaasss," and "basic," taking over our social media feeds, people have officially had enough of this year.

I'm trying to look on the bright side, and think about all of the good things that have happened in our lives this year. Like the Cubs ending their 108 year losing streak and finally winning the World Series. Celebrating our first wedding anniversary. Getting our brand new sectional sofa. Finally finishing our hallway renovation. And our fun vacation to Colorado, where we saw the Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time, and rode to the very top of Pike's Peak. Now, that's what I call #goals.

Yes, some may say 2016 was a horrible year, but since it's New Year's, it's time to reflect on some good memories we've had and prepare for a fresh start in 2017.

Though I've blogged a little less than years' past and completed less crafty and home projects than I would have liked, it was still a pretty great year, and today I'm sharing some of my favorite blog posts from 2016. Click on a post below to view.

Happy New Year all, and on to 2017 and new memories made!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Donating via "Give Back Box"

This year, I'm ending 2016 on a good note. This comes in the form of donating my old clothes to Goodwill via a program called Give Back Box.

Let me put it this way: Did anyone else end up with shipping boxes after the holidays and don't know what to do with them? Well, Trent and I did - we ordered a lot of our presents to each other online this year, so we had a few shipping boxes left over.

Normally, we would take them out with all of our recycling. But just recently, I saw an ad for Give Back Box. The idea is pretty cool. If you have leftover boxes from the holidays or ordering things online, you can fill them with clothes or other items you no longer need and send them to Goodwill for a donation. And the shipping labels are completely free - you just go to the website and hit the button for "Print a label," then fill in your name and address into the online form. It generates a shipping label, and you can take it to the post office and send it off!

I decided to participate in the program, since I have been wanting to get rid of some clothes in my closet. I'm running out of closet space, and hangers. :)

So today, I had the day off work and ended up sending a couple of Amazon shipping boxes full of old clothing (and a purse) I no longer wanted.

It not only gives you the satisfaction of helping people that might not be able to afford brand new clothes, but it lets you start fresh and clear some space, too, without making the trip to a Goodwill store (specially if you live at least 20 minutes away from one, like we do!).

And it doesn't matter how big your box is, or what the weight is. You can pack those boxes full of clothes, accessories, or household items, and the shipping is always free.

So, if you're interested in donating, you should totally go to the Give Back Box website and get started. Happy 2017 everyone!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

DIY Christmas Gift Baskets

Hello all, and hope you had a wonderful Christmas! We were pretty busy, with about 4 different Christmas celebrations over the weekend! And now that it's over, I can finally share what I gave our relatives for gifts this year.

The past couple of years were pretty easy when it came to deciding what to give. In 2014, I gave framed engagement photos to most of our relatives. And last year, 2015, I did the same with our wedding photos. 

Well, we didn't get professional photos taken this year, so I had to get a little more creative with my gifts. :) My decision was made, though, when I stopped into Target and saw these wire baskets in the dollar spot for $3 each:

I decided to put together my own "gift baskets" for everyone, by finding little items and filling each basket with them. I thought these would be pretty fun, since you can not only use the items inside, but you can use the baskets, too. Plus, they look pretty festive. :)

I put together a total of 13 baskets and filled them with things like candles, Christmas mugs and dish towels, chocolate, hot cocoa mix, and a few other random items I found like socks and blankets.

I tried to put about the same amount of items in each basket, but for larger families, I put maybe an item or two extra. Most items I just picked up at Target, Wal-Mart or the Dollar store. For a few, I put in $10 Starbucks gift cards, depending on who I thought might get some use out of them. 

If you wanted to make your own, I think a few other fun things to put in them would be copper moscow mule mugs, travel-size lotions, or Christmas ornaments.

I think they went over pretty well with everyone - at least I hope so! I had fun putting all of them together. Anyone else do something similar this year, or in the past?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas to All

So, it's almost Christmas again! Today's Christmas Eve, and our whole weekend is being spent with family...and many Hallmark Christmas movies, too.

I'm pretty sure by now our tree is overflowing with presents. We're gonna need a bigger living room. :)

Last night, we travelled out to Riverside Casino by Iowa City. We had dinner at the restaurant there and exchanged presents with Mom's side of the family. 

Here are most of us younger cousins! It's safe to say a good time was had by all.

Hope everyone's holidays are Merry and Bright! 

Whitney and Trent

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cold Temps, and A Christmas Decor Update

Everyone keeping warm out there? We're in negative temps right now. It's COLD. Needless to say, I'm not stepping foot outside today if I don't have to!

This is the temp right now...feels like -25 degrees out there!

We were supposed to go to our friends' Ugly Christmas Sweater Party last night, but they decided to postpone it, because the weather was pretty bad. Blowing snow and ice on the roads. So, instead we went up town to the bar with Trent's brother for a little bit. Trent still donned his ugly Christmas sweater :) They're supposed to have the party on the 30th now instead, so hopefully we'll be able to go then, and take some fun pictures. :)

Now for a Christmas decor update! We never got any lights up outside this year. :( Trent's been working 6 days a week for the past month or two, so we've been too busy to put them up. Oh well - there's always next year.

I did get the front porch decorated with some of the usual decor items. I didn't get a picture yet, though...but maybe before Christmas I can still get one.

This weekend I've been home watching movies again. Today we're both home, and hope to get some cleaning done. Trent already vacuumed this morning. I'll be spending the afternoon washing dishes. Woo-hoo.

Most of the Christmas presents are done and under the tree. I think we're running out of space for them!

After Christmas, I'll share a little post about the gifts I put together. I did kind of a different theme this year.

Well, it's back to movies and the dishes. Have a good rest of the weekend, everyone! :)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Preparing for Christmas

It's that time of year again. That time when we only have a few short weeks left until Christmas. I feel like it creeped up so fast this year. Wasn't it just yesterday we were watching the Cubs play in the World Series?!

So, what do you do to prepare for the holidays? Decorate, buy gifts, wrap presents? It seems like there's always so much to do this time of year, and sometimes it's hard to find the time to do it all.

I always try to put the tree up around Thanksgiving, and that was no different this year. Decorating the inside of our house was the easy part for me. This year, we are a little late in decorating the outside, though. I was out of town most of last week, and then it suddenly got reaallllyyy cold, and snowed a few inches on us. So we're not exactly bursting at the seams to get out there!

This weekend is our town's Christmas walk, where they also have a light decorating contest - citizens get to vote on who we think has the best Christmas light display.

This year, sadly, we don't have any lights up yet outside. With Trent starting a new job and working a lot of hours, we are going to have to wait until Sunday to put our lights up. I think we're going to go a lot simpler this year, and maybe just focus on the front porch area. That's enough, right?!

On the plus side, with the gifts, I feel like I'm ahead of schedule. I have most of my gifts bought, with just a few more things to pick up and wrap or put together.

What about you? Are you ahead of schedule in some things but not others? Are you excited for Christmas this year, or in a 'Bah humbug' kind of mood?

Here's hoping we get the porch and outside of the house decorated over the weekend!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Short Stay in Omaha

Last Tuesday, I left for a work conference in Omaha, Nebraska. I had never been to Omaha before. I'd been "through" it, on our way to Colorado. And we definitely drove through the entire state of Nebraska on that trip, which let me tell you, was a blast. Haha. Actually, it isn't the most exciting state to drive through...lots of fields and cows.

But we had a pretty good conference, and I got to stay here for about 5 days. Even though we spent the whole time in the Hilton hotel downtown, the hotel was huge and very nice. It was a nice place to spend time at my first time in this city.

The rooms were very nice and comfy. Though I am not a fan of sleeping on those fluffy pillows. They kill my neck! Ha.

This was my view from the room - please excuse the reflection of the curtain in the window. It wasn't a bad view - those are the two tallest buildings in the city of Omaha.

Here's a little bit better picture of them. At night, the tallest building in the city had the word "Joy" displayed in lights, probably for the Christmas season. I thought that was pretty cool.

There were a few other highlights for me at this conference. It actually snowed a little bit while we were there, despite the weather having no snow in the forecast at all. There were small flurries, which we saw outside the window one day. It didn't accumulate to anything, but it was still cool and unexpected to see!

Almost every meal, we ate at the hotel restaurant downstairs, and the breakfasts and dinners there were all very nice. The food was amazing. Almost everything I had, I liked. 

One night, I got a thin crust pizza, and it was a lot bigger than I thought it would be! I ended up having to take a few slices back to the room with me, but the box the server gave me was huge! Carrying it up to my room, I felt like I was making a pizza delivery!! Haha. 

Delivery, anyone?

To top it all off, the box the leftover pizza was in, was actually too big to fit in my hotel room's fridge. So I had to finish off a couple leftover slices, then toss the rest. :)

I also had my first Risotto one night at the restaurant. At first, I was a little skeptical to try it, since I had never had it before, and it looked a little strange. But it was actually pretty decent. Not too bad, just very filling.

A couple of cool things about this hotel, was that they have tons of artwork all over, several different sculptures, and there is a really pretty, huge outdoor fireplace right outside the restaurant.

We had a view of it at breakfast one day, and it looks even cooler at night. It was probably one of the largest fireplaces I've ever seen!

We had a pretty good conference overall, and even though we didn't get to really explore the city while we were there, I got kind of a first taste of Omaha, which was cool anyway, to at least be in a new city. 

I got home Saturday mid-day, after a 5-hour drive, and I was happy to be home and get to sleep in my own bed, as I always am after these trips. It's always a long few days.

Glad to be home, for sure!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

First Snowfall

Happy Sunday! Today's my first full day being back home after a long work conference in Omaha this week. I got back yesterday afternoon. (More to come about the conference soon!) Today, after finally getting a full night's sleep, I woke up to the first snowfall of the year. 

This morning, I'm watching a movie while the snow falls down. Even though they've only been saying 1-3 inches, now it's looking like more than that.

It's so pretty when it's falling, and as it first starts to cover everything outside. But, I'm not looking forward to driving in it!

When I first put the tree up for the season, I discovered that the top lights went out. Trent thought it was a fuse, but after looking at it closer, nothing seemed to get them to come back on. So, we picked up a small string of lights from the store, and I added them to the top of the tree.

They blend in pretty well, don't you think? Now the tree looks the way it should be again. :)

I guess we will continue to watch the snow fall and see how many inches we end up with!

I have a feeling we're going to get a lot more than the 1-3 inches they say we'll get. :)

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