>> thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of my two favorite holidays. There's something special about the tradition of 20+ people all gathered together, eating elbow-to-elbow at tablecloth-clad card tables in Nanny's little house. There's laughter, lots of catching up, a spirit of gratitude in the air, and, of course, pie. Fine, I'll say it: it's really all about the pie.

As usual, our Thanksgiving festivities were divided between two different days. We spent the actual day with my in-laws, but something out of the ordinary for us was that my sister and niece Molly got to come along too since my brother-in-law worked all day. I was a proud auntie getting to introduce Molly to everyone, and my sister just fit right in.

Big family gatherings weren't something I grew up with, so marrying into such traditions has been a blessing. I know for sure that I want my future kids to know what it's like to regularly visit extended family and celebrate holidays together.

 On Friday, a few of us siblings got together for what I'm referring to as "sibs-giving" at my sister's house. We enjoyed another full spread of traditional Thanksgiving food and took turns holding my sweet niece. We missed celebrating with my brother and his family as well as with my parents this year, but the holiday was still full of special memories and blessings.

Now I'm flipping the switch in my mind from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Tomorrow I plan on dragging out the tree and decking the halls. According to Facebook, most people have already decorated for Christmas -- like, weeks ago -- but I'm pretty set in my tradition of holding off until the weekend after Thanksgiving.


>> on being homely

This year I am getting to share a classroom with one of my best friends, Chrissy. Working with her has been so good for me for so many different reasons--namely, she's an excellent homemaker and has started rubbing off on me! Her home is beautiful and she does such a good job keeping it picked up and clean. She also loves to cook and puts a lot of thought into the dinners she fixes for her family.

Almost every day she asks me what I'm going to cook for dinner that night. A lot of times, I don't really have anything grand planned. I've always relied on boxed dinners or quick and easy meals to fill in the gaps between the well-thought-out dinners. That's not how Chrissy works, and I admire that about her. I've found myself not wanting to let her down when she asks me what I'm making for dinner! It sounds silly, but a change for the better is taking place in me.

I've been trying lots of new Pinterest recipes lately, and will stop by the grocery store on my way home from work if there are ingredients I need that I know I don't have at home. Honestly, it's just dinner, but the extra time and effort I've been putting into it has made me feel better about myself.

One of my favorite new recipes from Pinterest is this Cheeseburger Soup. Obviously, it's not at all healthy, which means it's extremely delicious! It's the perfect time of the year to be trying out new soups, and believe me, this one is a keeper.


Another thing I've been doing better at is cleaning. I've finally found a routine that has worked for me the past couple of weeks so far. I do the majority of my cleaning on Sunday afternoon. Come home from church, eat lunch, relax for a few minutes, then get busy for a couple of hours. I get all the laundry done, including towels and bedding. (And while I'm talking laundry, I just have to say it is absolutely blissful to lay down at night on sheets that have been freshly washed with Gain Hawaiian Aloha detergent. Blissful. Mark it down. Buy the detergent.) I have been choosing what needs to be done the most, such as cleaning the bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming, or mopping and focusing on one or two of those big tasks to take care of while the laundry is going. I am doing a better job throughout the week of keeping the kitchen tidied up as I cook, as well as putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher and starting a new load when it gets full. The hard work put in on Sunday, along with the daily bed making and kitchen tidying makes for a very pleasant home to live in throughout the week.

All that being said, I still have a long way to go before I'm really good at this whole taking care of a house and husband thing. For every toothpaste spot I wipe off the mirror, there's a new cobweb appearing on a light fixture. It seems the blinds on the windows need cleaning way more often than I'd ever care to even think about, but I still dream of white grout lines on my tile floor and a home that smells of freshly-baked cookies when visitors come in. 

Even if that scent is from a scented wax warmer and not actual cookies...baby steps.


.my two nieces.

The past few weeks have changed my life. My heart is even more full with the addition of my two nieces.

Welcome to the world, Mia and Molly!

Mia was born October 20.

Molly was born November 2.

Aunt Martha is so proud and very much in love!