As mentioned in my previous post, I was in major party planning/preparation mode in October and the first two weeks of November. In addition to managing that, Zach coerced me into trying Crossfit for the first time.
Although election season was pretty painful and embarrassing for most people, I found myself so proud to be an American on election day. I am so grateful to live in a place where...
- We have choice, an opportunity to stand up for what we believe and be heard.
- Men and women have equal voting rights.
- Communities can convene at local facilities to vote - quietly, orderly, respectfully and without opposition, resistance, or persecution.
- People from every community come together to make this system possible.
- We share sample ballots and pens and clipboards no matter race, age, or ethnicity.
- We are not only offered the chance to vote, but also bottles water and coffee (reg and decaf with all the accoutrements) provided by a local church while we wait.
- I can forget my ID and someone kindly holds my place in line.
Speaking of home, Al's birthday party was held on Saturday, November 12th at our house. She wanted to invite friends over for a night of worship, sweet treats, and just... have some outdoor fun so that's exactly what we did. I am going to write a separate post sharing all my party throwing tips/tricks and every last detail/photo, but for now I'll just share a few.
At first I was looking for a cool venue to rent for this, but we decided to redo our lower patio instead of paying for a rental. We've lived in this house 3 years and have really never touched the lower patio off of the basement. I grow herbs down there in a planter during the summer and that's really all we've used it for since our outdoor table, grill, etc. is on the upper deck off of the kitchen.
Here is a "before" photo where we just have old, weather-worn outdoor furniture, some string lights (half falling down), and some pavers being overtaken by weeds and moss.
- cleaning up all the pavers and removing all the weeds
- repainting all the outdoor furniture
- repainting an old, faux mantle my MIL gave me last Christmas and hanging it on the wall
- adding pom-pom garland to the string lights on the ceiling
- adding textiles, decor, and accessories
The party food table included Krispy Kreme doughnut holes, brownie pie, assorted mini cupcakes, parfaits, chocolate covered oreos, and apple pecan oatmeal cookies. I made everything from scratch except the doughnut holes and cupcakes.
Post-party leftovers. :)
Sweet 16! I made this print a few months back and it couldn't be more appropriate for our Al. :) She is a gem and we are so proud to be her parents.
With Allie turning 16, I just felt so nostalgic... looking back at old photos and marveling at how much has changed since Zach and I got married. I put together a little collection of some of my favorite photos (there are SO many it's hard to choose), but take a look and see Al through the ages. :)
While we were celebrating Allie's birthday, my friend Whitney (who lives in NYC) was celebrating her art show opening at Hathaway Gallery. Her show, titled Cosmic Nostalgia, is on display in Atlanta for the next few months and I just had to go by ASAP!
My parents made two quick visits to our home this month - before and after their annual Christmas tree run to NC. It was good to see them before Thanksgiving and have them in town!
A few new things for me this month include learning calligraphy/hand lettering.
In food news, I got two, new awesome things this month: the Paprika recipe app and the Autoimmune Wellness Handbook.
The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook is a wonderful resource for people who are concerned about health and think they might have an autoimmune disease. It has so much great information and is an awesome way to educate yourself on this health issue. It does include some recipes in the back, but personally... none of these really catch my fancy and I prefer some other autoimmune cookbooks when it comes to finding AIP recipes.
And speaking of food... due to being so laser focused on Allie's party, cooking took a little bit of a back seat for me for a few weeks. Don't get me wrong - I still was doing AIP, but doing it has efficiently as possible. These Epic Bars were my lifesaver, providing quick pre-packaged protein I could take for lunch instead of having to prepare food.
- Do it on a Monday so you have Sunday to prep.
- Iron all linens (make sure nothing still has a stain or crumble on it), make place cards, and set the table (if possible) on Sunday so it is done and not a last minute stressor.
- Have atleast 2 or 3 dishes you can make completely a head of time so you don't have to fool with it the day of.
- If trying new recipes - have a simple back up plan. For me, since I was trying a new dessert and was really unsure how it was going to taste, I had some simple, chocolate covered oreos (gluten/dairy-free ones :)), in the fridge ready to go should I need to supplement the dessert.
- Leave time to clean the kitchen before guests arrive so its not a hot mess/requires a massive effort at the end of a long evening and all you really need to do is load the dishwasher and relax!
- Make sure the dishwasher is empty. I know this is a first world problem, but it's a major downer to have a giant mess in the kitchen and then realize the dishwasher is completely full and has not been turned on....
- Create a relaxing, cozy ambiance by appealing to all the senses - great music, warm candles, soft lighting (none of that bright white fluorescent stuff), enticing smells and of course, delicious food!
We had a seriously awesome time catching up with the Joiners and are so glad they are back living in Georgia! Welcome home guys. :)
Some other dishes I have tried this month include the following. Please note: I am totally obsessed with cranberries and incorporating them in multiple dishes. :) Aren't they just so beautiful?!
Not a good pic cause it was night time so no natural daylighting, but this dish is so simple- cinnamon sweet potato, apple, cranberry bake.
Leftover pie for two :)
My parents log cabin where I grew up. My parents have lived here since I was 5 so it's a little surreal to go back and things be just as they were like... 25 years ago. :)
And this foxtail fern is so cool looking, even though it is kinda like the plant version of an octopus (eww). My dad is like... Mr. Green Thumb and has so many plants growing in his yard, many of them originating in my grandmother's yard from many years ago.
So cute right?
This year he even made the tables and benches out of pallet wood and spent many months collecting the assorted, old wooden chairs.
This year we had about 30 family members together for the holiday. It's a full barn y'all!
My plate. This is the first Thanksgiving of my life I haven't divided in and gorged myself on casseroles and desserts.
Eating my very first gluten-free biscuit, the biscuits I have been making for Allie for months now. She was SO excited to watch me taste it! haha
And what's Thanksgiving without an afternoon nap? :)
On Black Friday, it's becoming our tradition to head to the beach and enjoy a relaxing day at the coast. I like going to Ponce Inlet because it is usually pretty deserted without all the touristy hubbub.
We bring only the essentials, aka Chipotle. :) This is what eating gluten/dairy/legume/nightshade free at Chipotle looks like. LOL (ps. In full-disclosure I did bring my own plantain chips since I can't do the corn ones.)
One of my favorite things to do at the beach is walk the shore. It's so relaxing and beautiful and I love doing it with Al and my MIL. Allie picked up some treasures along the way.
Zach, Al, my MIL, and I headed home Sunday morning - listening to the new (and amazing) Brett Eldredge Christmas album the whole way (you should get it), and as soon as we pulled into the driveway, operation "get ready for Christmas" began!
We put up the tree and stockings and decorated together while the Christmas tunes filled the air. I made some GF/DF chocolate chip cookies and we sat in front of the fire watching The Holiday and soaking up every ounce of Christmas coziness and cheer. I am just so so grateful for these seemingly small, but incredibly beautiful moments of quiet, comfort, and peace.
And speaking of stuff, I am a big online shopper so I did the bulk of my Christmas gifting on Cyber Monday. I mean... it's just so convenient. If you live in Atlanta and there is a way to avoid traffic/lines, you DO IT. No questions asked. :) For me, I think I enjoy the gift wrapping part of gift-giving just as much as the gifts themselves. I love searching for a new theme each year and the perfect packaging products. This year I am making little yarn pom poms to top the gifts. Pom pom fringe at Allie's party... on the mantle... pom pom garland on the Christmas tree...Can you tell I am totally digging the pom poms this year?!
The first little gift collection under the tree :)
Now that December is here I am planning for the holidays. This is the first year Allie will be with us for Christmas Day (YAY!) and that we will be hosting the family at our home in Georgia. I am excited to do some new things, try some new recipes, and give/serve our community this month!
Happy Christmas y'all!