It's so strange that Christmas has already come and gone.  Is 2013 really tomorrow already?  I am a little delayed in sharing some Christmas photos, but I'm finally getting around to it!  Ryan and I had five Christmases this year, not too shabby.  Unfortunately, I did not take my camera out for all of them...but I definitely did not miss out on the opportunity to snap some pictures at my dad's side of the family's Ugly Christmas Sweater party :)

We had a lot of fun, but I don't think my sweater was ugly enough...I'll be on the hunt for a new one for next year!

In the following days, we had Christmas with our immediate families.  We scored some excellent gifts, ate some delicious food, and went to a wonderful Church service on Christmas Eve.  But before Church, we took our traditional family photos.

On Christmas day, we went up to Dubuque to celebrate with my mom's side of the family.  We enjoyed more good food (I was ready for that part to be over) and the whole family (minus Brad) was there, so that's always awesome!  A couple of my cousins and I sang Christmas carols and then we opened gifts.  Everyone is always so generous.  Later that evening, Ryan and I went to his Grandpa's house to visit with his Grandpa and his aunt and uncle.  All in all, it was a blessed Christmas day.

Our Christmas celebrations ended the day after Christmas when we had lunch with Andy, Ashley, and Tom at Thunder Bay Grill.  I love friend time...but alas, no pictures were taken.  We exchanged gifts and Ryan got some delicious beer and Ashley got me the Raygun shirt that they are no longer allowed to print that depicts a basketball player, intended to be Fred Hoiberg, with some other Iowa State-ish items and I love it! :)

I hope you all had wonderful Christmas celebrations and that you enjoyed time with family and friends.

Happy New Year!



Is it truly less than three weeks until we leave for Cancun?  Oh my goodness!  I feel like, even though I really have done a lot of research, I haven't really thought much about the vacation basics...like what to pack, what temperature it's going to be, how much cash we need.  But I've got time, it will be just fine.  I'm getting very excited!

We will be arriving on a Thursday afternoon to our all-inclusive resort, the Grand Park Royal Cancun Caribe.  This resort comes complete with a swim-up bar (one of our top requests), a roof-top lounge, and beach front property for lots of reading in the sun!
While we're there, we plan to visit Tulum, some Mayan ruins set right on the beach, which is rated one of the top 5 beaches in the world, according the Trip Advisor community!
And even though we'll be travelling while it's freezing in Iowa, that's not even the best part.  The best part is that we'll be taking the trip with our best friends and we cannot express how excited we are!
Any one have any advice for our stay in Cancun?  We do hope to visit the clubs, but not sure which one.  Any suggestions?

P.S. It's OK, you can be jealous.


Des Moines Weekend Recap

About a month and a half ago, my sister and I decided to take a shopping trip somewhere. We settled on Des Moines for the good shopping and good food (and ease of driving as opposed to Chicago).  This past weekend we hit the road and shopped 'til we dropped!  The bonus of going to Des Moines is that several of my good friends live there, so I got to do three of my favorite things in one weekend: shopping, spending time with my sister, and hanging out with friends.

Friday night Emily and I checked into our hotel, then went to Jordan Creek and crossed a lot of things off of our Christmas shopping list.  Around 7:30, we decided we could probably go eat so we put our name in at the Cheesecake Factory.  While waiting around for seats, we got a little goofy playing with Emily's Altoids wrapper AKA "Old-timey mustache."

Once we were seated, we couldn't wait to order some drinks (and for the bread basket to come out).  Then our awesome waitress gave some suggestions and we had a delicious meal.  Oh I love the Cheesecake factory...

We stopped by Trader Joe's earlier for a bottle of wine and spent the night enjoying coffee mugs of Cab Sauv and good conversation.  

Saturday morning, she talked me into working out, bless her heart!  It was my idea to bring work out clothes and then I totally wanted to bail when the morning got there.  But alas, we headed to the gym and got a great start to our morning.  Then we went to Valley West Mall so I could check out JCPenney for swimsuits (yay Cancun!) and walked around.  After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we made our required Trader Joe's stop and stocked up on deliciousness (have you tried the Cookie Butter?!) before parting ways.

After Emily went home, I headed over to Ashley's!  We spent the afternoon catching up and watching American Horror Story.  Then we met Nick and Emily R at an awesome Asian restaurant called Rolling Wok and enjoyed a rocking dinner...I can't wait to eat there again!  Tessa joined us that evening for a fun night with games and cookies.  It was so nice to see everyone!

Sunday morning, before I left, I took a picture of Ashley and me (and our tired eyes) to prove that I actually hung out with her, lol, since I totally failed to take any pictures on Saturday.
I got home in time to watch the Bears game with Ryan and found out my Redditgifts secret santa gift had arrived!  It was a wonderful gift that I actually had my SS get for Ryan, and he loved it.
I hope you had a great weekend.  On the docket for me: hanging with the Little this week, friend's dinner on Thursday, Christmas celebrations Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday!  Happy Week Before Christmas!


What I'm Listening To

I feel like I am at a total loss of creative things to post about!  But I think my blog was more interesting when I kind of just posted whatever I felt like...not always just recaps and recipes.  So bear with me, you may get a wide array of random posts, but hopefully that will result in more frequent posts.  I am sure I am listening to some "overplayed" songs, but I don't listen to the radio often, so when I hear one I like, I Shazam it and make a play list.  So here you go:
1. The Lumineers - Ho Hey

2. The Civil Wars - I've Got This Friend 
3. Taylor Swift (feat. Gary Lightbody) - The Last Time
4. Regina Spektor - Don't Leave Me
5. Bruno Mars - Locked Out Of Heaven
The first time I heard that Bruno Mars song, I really REALLY didn't think I liked it, but now, I thoroughly enjoy it.  There are lots of other songs I like right now, just can't think of them :)  Happy Thursday night!


It's Been Awhile

I want to say that I haven't done a whole late lately, but that's not really true. I think that some of the things I have done haven't warranted pictures, and I have a hard time posting without any pictures. But I did notice that I failed to post about Thanksgiving weekend, and I have a couple pics from that!

On Thanksgiving, we went up to my Grandparent's house and spent the day with my dad's side of the family. All of the food was fantastic! No one was missing an ingredient, no one overcooked the turkey, it was wonderful (a rare feat at big family dinners). But even better, it was beautiful outside, so we got to spend a lot of time together outside after our big meal. I love my family.

Thanksgiving night, our friend Shawn and his fiance, Tara, stopped over to see the house and catch up (it's been awhile).  We enjoyed some awesome Mangria, which was really strong, but fantastic.  I recommend it. :)
The next day, Mom and Emily and I scored some excellent ugly Christmas sweaters at Goodwill and then did some mall shopping.  Later that night, Ryan and I spent a fun night with Laura and Jason.  

Oh, I forgot to mention that we made our first Apple Pie for Ryan's Thanksgiving at work, and it was awesome!  Even I liked it!  We attempted a second one for Thanksgiving, but didn't cook it long enough.  I think there was a difference between the glass pie plate and the stoneware one.
Our weekend finished off with another dinner with Ryan's family and then on Sunday, my choir performed at Pioneer Village for their annual Christmas walk.

The next weekend, my friends and I saw the new Twilight movie.  It was terrible, TERRIBLE, so we needed to get some drinks and martinis at Symposium did the trick!
Ryan and I saw Lincoln the next night.  Now that was a good movie!  And Sunday, I went to see my Little's choir concert.  

And finally, this past weekend was the Quad City Singers annual Christmas concert at Lavender Crest Winery.  I had a great time and I think we performed really well.  Saturday morning, I drove to Galesburg to meet my best friend Ashley for breakfast.  It was so great seeing her and talking with her.  I missed her (and still do) so much!  Sunday, I decided to be really productive and make some crock-pot freezer meals while watching the Vikings beat the Bears.  It's so weird to be sad and happy at the same time!
I think that's enough catching up for now...Happy Wednesday!!