Tag Archives: swiss mountain dog

The year of the alligator

I fielded some requests over the holidays to get back to blogging. And while it’s never my intention to go on a blog hiatus, just like skipping a few workouts, sometimes its hard to get back into the swing of things after some time off.

It’s a good problem to have, being too busy to write witty posts about how busy you are, yet keeping in mind that many of your readers have small children so your version of busy is likely laughable to them. You can see then, how one might get overwhelmed with where to start back up. But like pulling off a bandaid after you burned yourself for the fifth time with your stupid curling wand, sometimes you just have to get back to it.

It’s kind of weird, starting off 2016 without any sort of resolutions or big goals. It’s normally around this time when I tell myself I’m going to read more (never do), get organized (Finn just ate another pair of my pajama shorts), and pre-plan out our meals for the week (does anyone actually do this?).

So instead the normal resolutions, I’m focusing on faith and contentment with the hope that this strategy provides me more time to share fun, mindless updates with you. I think we all know those are more enjoyable to read than the deep philosophical journey of a newlywed couple living in paradise with a super needy giant dog anyway.

But before we get into the fun, mindless stuff, I’d like to share with you the way in which our family rang in the new year, which started out quite opposite of fun and mindless.

alligator, florida, front porch, lakewood ranch,

They say you’re supposed to call upon alligators when you’re in a crunch emotionally, or are unclear about how to heal yourself, or if you’re having disturbing dreams. They say these creatures strike clarity into our lives when we call on them.

alligator, florida, front porch, lakewood ranch,

Well I can assure you that neither Matt or I ordered up any clarity, but nonetheless we ended up with about 6 feet of it at our front door New Years Eve.

Growing up in the midwest, when you heard scratching at your front door in the middle of the night, you assumed one of two things as the culprit: opossum or raccoon. Small chance it was a tee-peeing teenager or drunk college student, but most of the time a mammal was to blame.

So imagine our surprise circa 2:30 a.m. when we heard a scratch at the front door followed by a loud baroo from our good at watching not so great at guarding Finn. It’s normally at this point when you open the front door to see what the commotion is about. Fortunately for all of us, Matt was in charge of checking it out and noticed what he thought was an armadillo out the front window. We’ll leave my habit of not latching the front door for another post, but I think we can all agree it’s a good thing I wasn’t the last one to let the dog out that night.

The remaining hour or so was spent graduating from shock, awe and perspiration, to feelings of concern and general empathy for what seemed to be a very dumb alligator who managed to get stuck on an open porch just steps away from the exit. You know you’re an animal lover when you feel sorry for something with little to nothing ahead of it on the food chain.

Sure we’re familiar with alligators having spent the last two years in Florida, but none daring enough to knock on our front door nor one so eager to start the New Year’s party a little early.

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So while Matt observed our new friend, who I named Amelia in an effort to make her less threatening, knowing full well that only a drunk dude would attempt to make a break through the small fence posts instead of the clearly marked exit, I called a wildlife rescue number half-expecting them to laugh us silly midwesterners off the phone.

Thank you for calling Florida Wildlife Rescue. If you have an immediate alligator threat, please press 1.

(giggles uncomfortably and presses 1)

Within 20 minutes, an alligator trapper was in our driveway and Amelia seemed to have made his or her way back to the pond behind our house. Matt later informed me (now holed up in the back bedroom hiding the bait) that the trapper had little more than a flashlight in hand and a Joliet area code.

It’s not uncommon for them to try and come into your house if you have a dog.

He says.

(picking my jaw up off the floor)

No way. 

I said.

alligator, front door, swiss mountain dog, florida

Ladies and gentlemen of the Home Owner’s Association, I’d like to submit the above photograph as evidence of this crazy alligator’s attempt to enter our residence on the eve of New Year’s Eve 2016. 

So you may be asking if it’s safe to visit us in this so-called paradise yet?

The answer is maybe.

While Amelia hasn’t come back on the porch since her initial attempt, we’ve seen her out back with her amputee arm waving arrogantly on a few occasions since.

alligator, florida, lakewood ranch, front porch

Matt also observed a fishing pole and noose wielding man out near the pond late last week but so far the only other news we’ve heard came via email today:

Hi Sarah,

There was another issue with an alligator. I am not sure if it was the same alligator. I am assuming it is because it was near your home. I have not heard whether they were able to trap it or not. I will see if I can find out.

So if you need us in the immediate short-term, we’ll be peering out the front window and sprinting between ponds throughout the neighborhood.

Happy New Year!

 

Currently I’m…

In the middle of a full-on middle school crush with The Mindy Project. It’s been about 4 years since I had sophisticated TV equipment so I’m on technology overload as of late. How did I go so long without this show in my life and why can’t all OB/GYNs be that funny?

Finding it hard to concentrate on much else besides my trip to Chicago this weekend. Don’t get me wrong Florida is sunshine and blazing hot temps and all but I can’t wait to get back to the city and catch up with my friends and celebrate their offspring. After this past winter, I feel like I’m entitled to enjoying above freezing temps with the people I suffered alongside.

wind chill chicago, polar vortex, nbc chicago

 

Wondering how my dog is more proficient in yoga poses than I am. Here I am practicing three times a week in a studio and all I have to do is pull out the vacuum for him to do a perfect downward dog. I’m going to see if my teacher will let us try out the “twisted swissy” next class.

finn, yoga, dog, swiss mountain dog, puppy,

Really starting to feel my age. According to this Health survey, my true age is only 25.6, but if you ask my joints, I’m feeling a wee bit older than that. It seems fitting though, to start a glucosamine supplement just a week before your 30th birthday, doesn’t it?

glucosamine supplement, exercise, joints

Really wishing I wouldn’t have thrown away the rest of Matt’s birthday cake last week.

birthday layer cake, ombre layer cake, white birthday cake, buttercream icing, blue ombre layer cake, birthday, holiday, baking,

Willing to grill just about anything if it means avoiding using my stove these days. Last night we did an entire meal on the grill and I’m not upset about it. Not one bit. We even swapped out a salad for grilled romaine just to keep it simple. Just kidding, we did it because I was too lazy to chop up the other ingredients.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto,

 

Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri

  • 1 C parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 C cilantro, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 C olive oil (I kept mine more acidic than oily)
  • 4 TBL fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 TBL water (if needed)

Place all ingredients except oil and water into a food processor. Add oil slowly until it reaches pesto consistency. Since we were originally planning on using this as a steak marinade, I made it lighter on the oil. Good news, it’s great on shrimp too.

Peel and devein uncooked shrimp and place on a metal skewer. Heat grill to medium. Baste chimichurri on shrimp towards the end of the cooking process.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto, dinner, grilling, summer recipes, two ingredient margarita, shrimp tostadas

We got two uses out of this batch. The first night for shrimp and whitefish tostadas and the second for skirt steak and shrimp the next night.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto, dinner, grilling, summer recipes, two ingredient margarita, shrimp tostadas

 

And in celebrating for Matt’s trip to Mexico we washed them down with a two-ingredient margarita I hacked up just before we sat down. Still on that lazy cooking kick if you can’t tell.

grilled shrimp with chimichurri, parsley, cilantro pesto, marinated shrimp recipe, herb pesto,

Two-ingredient Margarita

  • La Croix Lime
  • Tequila
  • Fresh Lime juice
  • Honey or agave
  • Salt

OK so I lied about the two ingredient part but in reality you can just make this with tequila and La Croix. The fresh lime juice and sweetener just helps it taste a little more traditional. The key here is using a good tequila. The stuff so good it doesn’t even taste like tequila, tequila.

I get bored talking to myself all the time. What are you currently into?

Have a great day!

Summer resolutions

I know resolutions are typically written for the New Year, but the first weekend of summer seems just as good as any, no? I mean this way at least you don’t have to worry about crazy gym crowds, indulgent foods and lots of holiday parties. OK so maybe you do but those hot dogs and ice cream trips are totally worth it.

I must admit the only reason I realized yesterday was the summer solstice is that my girlfriend had a birthday and I saw it written in fine print on the calendar. As far as I’m concerned summer started the day we arrived in Florida. I mean what else do you call 90 degree days, crazy humidity and endless amounts of sun?

siesta key beach, siesta key, florida

Matt left for a work trip today so I’m flying solo for the first time in a new city where I know few more than the dog park ladies and my favorite cashier at Target. Oh come on. Don’t judge me. You know you have one too.

Now don’t feel too sorry for me. I’ve got a lot planned for this solo adventure. Besides, I consider myself an independent woman, but even Queen Bey had a few Charlie’s Angels to bounce, bounce, bounce some ideas off of every once in a while.

Enough Destiny’s Child references in that paragraph for ya?

Never.

So in no particular order, here are my summer resolutions:

  1. Listen to summer songs on repeat. This will serve as a friendly reminder just how awful our most recent winter really was. Bare feet on the dashboard? Don’t think I don’t remember Polar Vortex numbers 1, 2 and 3 Mr. Chesney.
    chicago polar vortex snowstorm, greater swiss mountain dog, cold weather
  2. Continue to each incessant amounts of World Cup soccer. I can’t help myself. Neither can Finn.
    greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, world cup 2014, soccer,
  3. Sign up for an art class. I’ve always said natural talent is hard to ignore, but there’s always time to work on your craft.

    art class, resolutions, pottery, child

    for $9.99 and you too could have your own bluebird “candy dish”

  4. Find another new spot for Finn and I to walk sans alligators. We spotted our first alligator in the pond behind our house last week. Let’s just say I don’t plan on scheduling a play date for Finn and Gary anytime soon. This week we visited the home of the 2017 World Rowing Championships and I think we found our new spot for long walks/runs.
    greater swiss mountain dog puppy, finn, swissy, florida,

    gator free and happy as can be mom!

    5. Build a new list of local spots to try when my dinner date returns. We went to the Lucky Pelican on Friday and I finally found a place I could get on board with. Comfortable atmosphere, $.99 raw bar and lots of locals. We’ll definitely be taking family in friends back when they are in town. 
    lucky pelican bistro, sarasota, lakewood ranch restaurants, local gems, seafood restaurants,
    Bonus: Start trying to love running in the heat again.
    My running partner thrives in humid climates. I do not. So the last few times we’ve set out for a run in the middle of the day, I mentally shut down before we even began. My body hates running in the heat, but like those poor guys in the Arena da Amazonia, I have no choice but to acclimate myself eventually.

IBelieveThatWeWillWin???

Family Photos

I realized when I unpacked all of my frames at our new house in Florida that my photos were pretty Murphy-centric. And seeing as how there are two of us in this house, well three if you count the big hairy thing that barks at us when we sit on the couch, I thought we needed some photos of Matt’s family as well.

greater swiss mountain dog, sleeping puppy, swissy, puppy

Trouble was when I asked Matt if he had any he looked at me like I was crazy. How silly of me. I should have known that men don’t take photos of anything other than race tracks and German bratwursts.

matt_beach

Lucky for me, Matt’s family already had a vacation to Florida planned before we moved here. And since their vacation spot was fairly close to our new house, we were very fortunate to spend a lot of time with them over the past week.

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Have a great day!

Workout Wednesday

It’s been a while since I did a Workout Wednesday post so I figured I’d enlighten you today.

workout wednesday, simply social blog, workout tips, exercises

I’m sure you all have been wondering what I’ve been doing with all my free time lately. No? Oh that’s right you probably don’t have time to sit around and consider what I’m doing with my time but lucky for you I’ll tell you anyway.

I’m trying to make a living of this whole housewife thing but in just over 10 days I’ve determined that I really suck at it. The boxes are long unpacked, the cabinets organized and one can only rearrange picture frames so many times before she feels the eyes following her across the house. My name is Sarah and I completely suck at free time. This move has solidified the fact that I am at my best within a tight timeframe. Give me 3 hours before a big party and man can I crank things out. But if I’m faced with too much time on my hands, I can be just about as unproductive as they come.

Now I know I’m barking up the wrong palm tree as I will be begging for days like this when I’m back in the 9-5 world but in the meantime I’m going just a little bit crazy. I have managed to make a few friends at the dog park, though. Human friends for those of you assuming my only conversations are with canines recently (most are).

I do venture out beyond our local dog park each day. I may or may not have visited SuperTarget 3 times in 4 days last week. Not completely out of the realm for normal Sarah but bordering the line of excess. In an effort to curb spending and get out of the house, I’ve been getting to know people at our new gym. I’m typically not one to strike up a conversation during a workout, but when the only responses you’ve had all morning were head tilts and barks, you take what you can get. I suppose the same could be credited for this lengthy blog post as well.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn, swissy, gsmd, puppy,

After several months off from working out with my trainer, I’ve been feeling the proverbial wrath after each workout.  In fact, my triceps and pecs are fatigued just typing on my keyboard and my butt is entirely way too sore for this squishy of a chair.

So today I’m going to take you through a basic ‘warm-up’ that Matt and I do before we begin lifting. I don’t have any pictures because I was too busy trying not to let my legs burn off but it’s pretty straightforward. Try it and you too can get a body like this, farmer’s tan and all!

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Start with one mile on the treadmill or 5 minutes on a spin bike keeping your RPM above 100. If you don’t have a display on your spin bike, try to keep your heart rate above 140 the entire time.

Continue your warm up in an open fitness studio or free corner of your gym. Repeat the following body weight exercises without resting:

  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)
  • Squats-30
  • Push-ups (use your knees if needed)-10
  • Alternating forward lunges-20 
  • Push-ups-10
  • Side lunges-10 each side (20 total)
  • Push-ups-10
  • Ab exercise-1 minute (planks, v-ups, or bicycle crunches)

Congratulations, you’re ready for your workout now. Or if you’re like me, you’re ready to go home.

And to help out with that post-workout thirst or recovery the next day, I’ve been making my green juice on repeat lately.

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe

 

Easy Green Juice

  • 1/2 Banana (frozen or ripe)
  • 1/4 C chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 apple, peeled
  • 1/2 C orange juice
  • Big bunch spinach and Kale
  • 1 tsp honey
  • fresh ginger
  • Ice

Add first 7 ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend. Plop in a fun straw and drink up!

easy green juice recipe, kale and spinach juice, green juice, healthy juice recipes, green smoothie recipe

 

Have a great workout! I’m off to Target.

 

Beachin’

Yesterday we took Finn down to Venice to check out a dog beach we had heard about. And while he’s probably still mad at me for the inopportune timing of a large, salty wave that came over both of us as I attempted to get him to swim for the first time, judging by the fact that I had to wake him up this morning, I’d say he still had a blast.

Here’s a slideshow recap:

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

 

venice dog beach, florida, swiss mountain dog, beach day, gulf

venice dog beach, florida, swiss mountain dog, beach day, gulf

venice dog beach, florida, swiss mountain dog, beach day, gulf

 

Happy Monday!

 

5 things I’ve learned about Florida

It’s Monday. At least I think it is. I honestly have no concept of days of the week anymore. I just opened 4 cabinet doors in at attempt to remember where I put our water glasses after staring at the spices for at least 30 seconds, completely confused as to why they were in my water glass cabinet. This whole concept of abundant cabinet space is still new to me.

new house tour, water glass cabinet, florida, kitchen

This morning I spent 45 minutes trying to locate my house keys only to realize they were in the pocket of my workout vest. Apparently I felt it necessary to put on a light vest to walk the dog on Saturday morning when the early morning temperature said 59 degrees. This whole concept of walking outside without a coat on is still new to me. Thinking I need a vest when it’s 59 degrees is also new to me and brings me to my first observation:

  1. Humidity hates me. Yes, summers in central Illinois and Chicago should have given me some tolerance for humid climates, but one can only prepare so much. Dad and I arrived ahead of a big storm here in Florida last week so the humidity was pretty high. Not only did I completely overdress on multiple occasions, but my hair began its growth to exponential volume. I know it’s doesn’t look huge here, but this was only day 3. I can assure you that it’s expanding as you read this. Ladies, if you are looking for a new volumizing product, look no further than my extra bedroom here at the new house. I’ll fix you up real good.
    hair and humidity, florida, monica bermuda hair,
  2. Water Spouts and Tornadoes are basically the same thing. And here I thought water spouts were just those things you tried to push your friend’s inner-tube over at Knight’s Action Park so they would flip over and get their hair wet? Dad and I had just left the beach at Siesta Key on Friday to head to the airport when I got a text from Matt asking if we were safe.
    siesta key storm, water spout, tornado, florida weather, I thought it was just his way of pouting because we were on the beach and he was at work, but apparently he was legitimately concerned. My bad. Yes I suppose it was a little windy, but I did not see any swirling of clouds while we were there. Murphy’s luck typically works in our favor and I guess this was no exception. Dad got to see the beach and flew out about an hour under sunny skies. My luck ran out a little without him as I drove through the storm on the way back home, but I was fortunate to just have to deal with heavy rain.
  3. Sundays are best spent at the beach. I’ve always been one to get my errands out-of-the-way on Saturday mornings, but yesterday solidified the fact that Sundays are probably going to be less than productive for us. We are less than 15 miles from what the signs say is the “#1 beach in the U.S. of A” so I have a feeling we will be spending a lot of time there. Come visit us. We’ll need an excuse to go people watch.
    siesta key beach, sarasota, florida, gulf,
  4. Dog parks here have grass. One of the main things we looked for in finding a house down here was either a large backyard or a dog park within walking distance. Kudos to Matt for finding a nearly brand new house with both. After living the cement life for the first year or so, Finn can hardly handle the life of luxury Florida is giving him. Not only does our park have grass but it has tubes to run through, fences to jump over and poles to weave in between. Or in Finn’s case, large objects to run into and trip over while chasing toys. We’ve been spending most of our time in the park, mostly out of my fear that he will get eaten by an alligator if he spends too much time in our backyard.
    central park, lakewood ranch, dog park, finn, palm trees,
  5. Eastern time rocks. I’m sure I’ll regret this statement in a month or so, but for now I’m absolutely loving the fact that we are 1 hour ahead of most of our family and friends. Not only do I get to justify sleeping in until 7:00 because it’s only 6:00 in Illinois, but I feel like I’m ahead of the game all day because I have an hour head-start compared to what I use to have. Just think about the possibilities. First one to wish someone a happy birthday, a chance to realize tickets for your favorite band go on sale that day and watching the Today Show in real-time. Groundbreaking stuff here, folks.
    sunrise, lakewood ranch, florida, backyard,
    Now I just have to remember the time difference when I call to wish my nephew congratulations on his first communion like 4 hours too early.

first communion, owen, sacramentHave a wonderful week!

 

 

 

 

So we moved to Florida

I told you I’d check in once we got settled and even though we are anything but, I thought I would update you anyway. What can I say I like you guys more than unpacking boxes.

Dad, Finn and I arrived Wednesday evening with 1,200 miles and four states under our belts. We were very fortunate to miss the tornados that passed through Alabama on Monday and Tuesday and to find out the road we were going to take through the panhandle was closed due to flooding before we left on Wednesday morning.

alabama, road trip, driving, finn goes to florida

While I don’t recommend spending two days in the car to just anyone, my dad and I are pretty good co-pilots. We both really enjoyed seeing the wildflowers in Kentucky, the rolling hills in Alabama and the traffic enforcement in Georgia. Ok maybe not that last one so much. The good news is we still love each other after that much time together. And I’m even considering penning a coffee table book about the Illinios coal basin now thanks to the first four hours of coal fun facts from my Dad.

As for Finn, I wasn’t sure what to expect after we reached 3 hours in the car as he typically slept on trips from Chicago to Springfield, but let’s just say I don’t think he could name one out of the four states we traveled through. Yes, I realize that would assume my dog could name states or speak but you get the point.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn goes to florida, puppy, swissy, car ride

 

This dog had the entire back seat all to himself and yet he contorted himself into positions either between the front seat or with his body on the floorboards and his feet where his body should have been. And he slept. The whole time.

greater swiss mountain dog, finn goes to florida, puppy, swissy, car ride

There were a few moments he woke up though, mostly when we stopped for food, gas or bathroom breaks.

So we arrived Wednesday night to a partially-furnished house. Matt and his brother had driven straight through with the truck and unloaded it before we arrived which was 1) Crazy and 2) Awesome.

new house, florida, lakewood ranch, sarasota, swiss mountain dog

 

Since then we’ve spent all of our time unpacking and showing my Dad a few spots before he leaves.

Yesterday we visited IMG Academy where Matt’s new team trains.

IMG academy, florida, sports

And last night we took my dad down to Lido beach and St. Armands circle for dinner.

lido beach, sarasota florida, beach, visit, family

If you’re anything like me the only thing you care about when someone moves is seeing their new house. I promise I’ll give you a tour once it’s presentable, but until then I’ll share with you six things I’m really excited about with our new kitchen. Keep in mind I just saw it for the first time when we arrived so this is before putting it to use but I’m really excited nonetheless.

new house features, kitchen, subway tile, swiss mountain dog,

1. Subway tiles

2. Enough cabinet space for more than 4 wine glasses

3. An outlet in the island

4. HD-TV

5. A cool tile floor for Finn

6. Water in the fridge door

I realize the fact I didn’t have any of these before are first-world problems, but let’s just say I’m pretty pumped to get back to baking in this new kitchen. Did I mention we have a pantry!?!?

Have a great weekend!

A dog was here: Week 2

Thanks for coming back for week two of a dog was here, a photography series. I’d like to thank everyone for their submissions over the past week. And by everyone I mean my dad who alone has submitted enough entries to create a hybrid series I’m calling: Murfdog was here.

a dog was here photography series, murf

In this series, Murf documents his life of transporting iced coffee in Dasani water bottles, sporadic placement of plastic straws and things Finn destroyed when he stayed with them, including my dad’s prized robe.

I’m starting to think that this series my have more legs than the dog one, pun intended.

Regardless we’re back for week two of a dog was here. 

a dog was here photography series, pet photography, frog toy, beaver toy, swiss mountain dog, evidence of a dog

 

location: living room

a dog was here photography series, pet photography, frog toy, beaver toy, swiss mountain dog, evidence of a dog

 

location: living room

 

a dog was here photography series, pet photography, paw prints in snow, shadow of dog in snow, chicago, swiss mountain dog

 

location: Skinner park, West Loop.

 

a dog was here photography series, pet photography, frog toy, beaver toy, swiss mountain dog, evidence of a dog

 

location: bathroom

I’d love to see your photos, too! Share them via Facebook or on Instagram with the tag #adogwashere.

Happy Monday!

 

on holiday lulls

I must admit I’m feeling a bit melancholy now that Christmas is over. Perhaps it was the mid-week occurrence or the late Thanksgiving this year, but it just doesn’t seem like it should be over yet.

I am very grateful for some time off work to celebrate with friends and family, but I can’t help but feel that familiar let down now that the season and year are coming to an end. It all just flew by so fast! One minute Mariah is telling me I’m all she wants for Christmas for the 75th time, the next I’m surrounded by piles of boxes ready for the recycling bin.

Wah. Wah. Wah.

It could be that we typically plan a ski trip between Christmas and New Years, but this year our schedule just didn’t work out. Note to self: plan a vacation after Christmas next year to avoid the post-Christmas lull.

So instead of living in the lack of Christmas present, let’s reflect on the recent Christmas past, shall we?

In the last week, we cheered on the Illini to a win over Mizzou in the annual Braggin’ Rights game:

Illinois Mizzou Braggin Rights game, st. louis, broadway oyster bar, basketball, arch

Best friends were made, vans were tested for capacity limits and cousins were reunited on a cold and rainy Saturday in St. Louis.

On Monday, we shopped:

I had the pleasure of hanging with one of my nephews earlier this week where we were tasked with completing other family member’s last minute shopping. Since running errands doesn’t exactly thrill most 7 (or 29) year-olds I decided to turn the day into a scavenger hunt.

We started at Target, an oh-so familiar location for my nephew, where I picked up a few items and got a lesson on the difference between regular and SWAP Force Skylanders. Once we were ready to check out, the clue for our next location was given.

Within a few hours, we had 5 stops under our belt and were ready for lunch. We hit up local favorite McCormicks, where Owen drew in some a la carte clues to signify our trip to back to Target and the chocolate chip cookie we were having for dessert.

scavenger hunt, nephew, frozen movie date, disney's frozen

Our final clue took us to the movies to see Frozen. To fit with the theme, we bought an ICEE that cost us as much as our ticket and giggled our way through the afternoon. Frozen was a super cute movie. Funny jokes for kids and adults alike and minimal scary parts. I say that because I only had to remind O once that I wouldn’t dare let a Disney princess die on my watch. We agreed that Olaf was our favorite, followed closely by Sven the reindeer who reminded us of another big goofy animal we both know well.

sven frozen swiss mountain dog puppy

The rest of the time,  we baked:

thumbprint christmas sugar cookies, holiday sugar cookies with sprinkles, red and green christmas cookies

My mom and I share the habit of continuous baking. It’s a blessing really. As the holiday drew near, we alternated use of the oven to bake batch after batch of holiday treats, well-knowing we had more than enough to go around. Scones, muffins, cookies, quiche, cookies and more cookies. Even the boys got in on the fun by icing a few of my leftover sugar cookies. My favorite was the green present on the right that J layered with surprise sprinkles.

kids royal icing christmas sugar cookies, present cookies, snowman cookies, holiday iced sugar cookies by kids

When Christmas Eve finally rolled around, we headed to mass and then home for dinner and presents.

christmas tree christmas presents simply social blog

We traditionally change into pajamas for this portion of the evening, but Jake introduced a new wear your Halloween costume element to this year’s festivities. Who doesn’t love to watch Captain America open Christmas presents?

christmas presents captain america, christmas tree, simply social blog

As usual, we all ate too many sweets, got too many gifts and had a wonderful holiday.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. I’m off to try and sweat out some more sprinkles and reminisce about one heck of a year.

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