Life Lately - Holiday Edition


Merry December, y'all! Here's what we've been up to during this most wonderful time of the year...


We headed up north (just a twenty-minute drive) to Valley Christmas Tree Plantation to pick out a real Christmas tree. Parker was very insistent we do a real one this year (he and I put up an artificial tree last year since Daddy was away in the U.K. for a chunk of December), and I was all too happy to agree!


Two years ago we made the one-hour drive out to Thornhill Tree Farm (read all about it here), and while we missed all the bells and whistles of that location (animals, a train, a toymaker, hot chocolate) we were happy just to be at an actual farm to see all the trees growing, and stoked that the location was so close to us.




We're still swimming in fall leaves over here, which Parker is all about. Give him a pile to jump in and he's set for the day 😉


And true to Alabama weather norms, our thirty degree days are followed by seventy degree ones.


There's been lots of festive coffee for this Mama...


And fun Christmas foods for this fella. 


Plus, the return of Lady, our elf 😊


Donuts FTW.


Happiest of holidays from our party of three!


Turkey Day Fun


We hosted Max's sister and her husband over Thanksgiving break this year, and rang in Turkey Day my very favorite way - with a Turkey Trot! I just love getting out super early and moving, and feeling like I earned that big Thanksgiving meal! 😉


It was a chilly 31 degrees in Huntsville that morning, so we layered up before heading to UAH for the fun run/walk. Sweet P was all sorts of cozy in the stroller! 



After the race we headed back home just in time for the Thanksgiving Day Parade (Max brought out a monitor and we streamed it live). We think the parade is best enjoyed with Bacon, Cheddar & Chive Scones and Bloody Marys 😊


Post-parade was a flurry of cooking! All the usual suspects - Sweet Potato Casserole, Dressing, Green Bean Casserole and of course Greenberg Smoked Turkey - once again on Oprah's list of Favorite Things this year!


Parker just loved having his Mimi and Uncle Ian in town!


We also all made it out to walking nights at The Galaxy of Lights, one of our favorite Huntsville holiday events!


Happy Holidays from Alabama!


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Super Easy Creamy Mushroom Pasta


Max was on travel earlier this month, and while he's away, I skip out on cooking. Tell me I'm not the only wife who does this?! Usually I'm all about sit-down weeknight meals, but if Max is gone, Parker and I are happy with snacking (I've even been known to make whole meals out of ice cream and popcorn, though I at least try to get in some kind of veggie for Parker). Sometimes I need a real meal though! Enter this super easy creamy mushroom pasta - no measuring, very few dishes, and really no actual recipe! It's a perfect bowl of happiness on a chilly day or night. The secret ingredient? Parmigiano Reggiano! Grating the real thing yourself makes all the difference!


Ready for the (non) recipe? Adjust as needed for how many you're feeding and if you want leftovers! One of my favorite things about this pasta is that I can make a single serving just for me!

Ingredients

Parmigiano Reggiano 
Butter
Cremini Mushrooms
Orecchiette Pasta 
Heavy Cream
Salt & Pepper

Directions

Cook the Orecchiette in salted water. While it's cooking, brown a chunk of butter in a skillet (I love butter almost as much as The Pioneer Woman does, so I use a ton). Add lots of sliced mushrooms to the butter (just a handful if you're making a single serving). Stir in a bit of cream, then add the cooked pasta and as much Parmigiano Reggiano as you can grate. Top with more Parmigiano Reggiano and also a bit of herbs for a pop of color (we still have chives in the garden so I used those). Enjoy!



I mean, seriously, are you just dying to dig into this bowl of heaven?? Thank you to parmesan.com for supplying the Parmigianno Reggiano for this recipe! 

10 Years


Ten years ago today, I met the love of my life! (The man, not the goat, obvi 😉)


It took twenty-five whole years to find him, but I'm actually so thankful for that time I had on my own. I know what it's like to support myself and to live all alone, to be successful and independent. It's so curious that I was happily living this bachelorette existence when Max came along! And, life has literally not been the same!


Max has pushed me to do things I never, ever thought I would or could (hello, diving with sharks). He's been my biggest cheerleader, with words of encouragement and actual assistance for any endeavor I'm working on - ordering supplies to teach play-dough circuits to my first graders back when I was in the classroom, setting up photo booths when I hosted staff Christmas parties, gifting me a fancy camera lens for the blog, making sure I have a battery back-up and car charger when I'm traveling solo, even surprising me with the crazy hospital grade pump when I was breastfeeding. I know without a doubt he'd enthusiastically support any idea I came to him with, and it's just the most heartwarming, comforting feeling ever.


A lot can happen in ten years - when we met, neither of us had iPhones. I know, hard to imagine right? They were still new and gaining popularity. I'm pretty sure I had a pink flip phone at the time, and I'm not at all sure how I got anywhere without navigation. 


Max hadn't finished his Ph.D. or Masters degree for that matter - so for a brief period of time, I was beating him in the degrees department 😉 I still have the desire from time to time to return to school for my Ed.D. mostly so we could be The Doctors Klein 😂


Our wedding was pre-Pinterest, and pre-hashtags. I'm actually completely fine with this. We're both from that funny in-between generation - close to but definitely not millennials as we didn't grown up with technology or social media (I believe they call us the Oregon Trail Generation). So being able to hold on to that peaceful, simpler time makes my heart happy.


The years seem to be going by faster and faster. They say this happens as you age - that each year is a smaller percentage of your total life, so it actually feels shorter. It also makes our newlywed time feel like so long ago!


Or maybe it's just the whole "having a child" thing, which makes traveling all the more complicated! Gone are the days of scuba diving vacays, carefree flights and impromptu trips - though we wouldn't trade being parents for anything. 💓


Going back ten years in the past we look so darn young! And well rested. I wish there was some way to do this whole parenting thing and get the proper amount of sleep.



To my partner, and love, and hero, and groom - Happy 10 Years!



Photowall


I've said it before - I'm the worst at getting photos printed. Sure, my iPhone is always out of space because I take so many photos, but other than posting them on Instagram or sharing them on the blog, I don't do much else with them. And real, tangible printed-out photos are just so much better. Enter Photowall. I was stoked when they reached out for us to try their site. Photowall customizes in made-to-measure canvas prints and murals. I was especially fond of their collection of maps - we have a vintage framed world map in our den, but I loved this bright and colorful painted one for a kids room:



But since we're woefully low on personal printed photos around here, I opted to do a custom upload of one of my favorite family pics, taken last year.



The box arrived and I realized there was some assembly required 😂 This was my "Oh boy, what am I getting myself into?" face. I was determined to do it myself, though, and not employ the one in the house who actually has two advanced degrees in engineering (because somebody had to take the pictures, obvi! 😉).


It was actually not at all as difficult as I imagined, and now that the frame is built and the canvas has been stretched, I really like that these steps were done here. I've ordered large canvas art prints before that arrive with the canvas loose and wavy, and there's really nothing that can be done about it. Shipping pre-assembled ensures that the canvas will be in tip-top shape once made. Score.


This is my proud face. Use code: pwamandakdccampaign2017 for 20% off your order at Photowall!


P.S. Pink sweater on sale right now here

Blossomwood Witches Ride



Last year, one of the ladies in the neighborhood started a Witches Ride as a charity benefit. She invited women to get dressed up as witches, and literally ride the streets of our neighborhood, throwing out candy to the crowd (a reverse trick-or-treat!). I was stoked to participate this year, and even asked for a bicycle for my birthday so I'd be prepared. I hadn't been on a bike since undergrad, and although it used to be my primary source of transportation back then, it's quite different hopping on one as a thirty-five year-old! 


The weekend of the ride, we had a cold spell here in Alabama and temperatures never went above the mid forties! You can't really tell by the photo below, but it was cold! (Though we felt much better once we were all on bikes and moving.)


Everyone met at the neighborhood elementary school. There were literally hundreds of witches! Add in the DJ spinning tunes and the atmosphere was so high-energy fun and festive.


Love these witches!


Pink hair selfie!



Ready to roll!


The actual maneuvering and tossing out candy while riding was much more difficult than I had anticipated! I know that in college, I could easily ride while eating an ice cream cone, or talking on the phone, or sipping a coffee... but add in tons of spectators, a costume and a lots of other riders (all going slooooooow) and it was like a crazy obstacle course of riding! But so. much. fun.


Max and Parker were waiting in our front yard since the ride went ride by our house!




I love the silly string idea! I just might need to steal this for next year!


Also, Glenda the Good Witch was perfection to me!


I met back up with my boys after the ride to enjoy the block party - complete with a live band and food trucks! Parker obviously was already eyes deep in candy 😳


We stayed and visited with neighbors until the forty-degree weather prompted us to take our tacos and enjoy them in our warm home. Side note - as of today, the temperatures were back up to nearly eighty degrees, crazy Alabama weather!


My Scottsdale friends are already wanting to set up a similar event back in Arizona! I can't say enough good things about the entire thing.


Until next year, witches! 
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