December 31, 2013

Christmas 2013: A Few Of My Favorite Things

I know it's really cliche to say this but honestly, the best part of Christmas truly is being around allllll of your family. Whether they're completely normal, or not. ;)

We don't get to spend a lot of time with my dad's brother and sister and their families but we do every Christmas eve and I really cherish that time with them. Christmas morning is always spent in our pjs with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, aunt & uncle. Mimosas are flyin' at 9am, along with eggs and bacon and gifts. Christmas morning always has been and always will be my most favoritist day of the year. 

Later on Christmas day, we always venture over to Beau's parents' house to eat dinner and open gifts with his parents, sister, and brother-in-law and of course, the triplets. Now that the triplets are involved, it's already so much more fun! 
Me & Sam

Whew! Got all that?! I can't imagine what Christmas will begin to look like once we have our own kiddos to throw into the mix!

Anywho...all that to be said...while quality time with the family and a mimosa-infused breakfast is the absolute best part of Christmas, the presents given on Christmas day also make it pretty freakin' sweet, too. I mean, I'm not gonna lie. I still wake up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning because I want to know what's in all those packages!

I don't know if I really was a good girl this year or my family just tried to be extra nice to me but I'd like to think I made it to the "nice" list. I was truly spoiled this year.

Here's a look at my top contenders:


Under Armour Micro G Pulse Running Shoes : I've had all kinds of running shoes and Under Armour continues to be my favorite. I'm no marathoner or anything like that, so I really don't even know what to look for in a good running shoe but I like that these are super light, make my size 10 feet like smaller than most tennis shoes and Under Armour always has to cutest color combos. Always an added bonus!

The Fit Bit Force: I swear angels sang when Beau gifted this to me on Christmas morning! I've wanted an activity monitor for a long time now and after doing a lot of research on the one that was right for me and my workouts, the Fit Bit Force could not be any more perfect. I will be doing a full review of it very soon (hopefully this week) but you should know I was sold on the following features: watch function, silent alarm clock (vibrates on your wrist), tracks calories burned, steps, distance, active minutes, flights of stairs climbed, and...the best automatically syncs to your smart phone. At any point in time, I can look at the Fit Bit on my wrist or the app on my iPhone and they will always be accurate with one another. It's magical. I swear.

Kate Spade Bright Spot Darla Wallet: I snagged this beauty in our annual girl's gift exchange and let's just say it's been the perfect addition to my purse. I love that it's nice and small (smaller than my iPhone), but fits credit cards, cash and coins. Plus-it's hot pink. #winning

You might be a redneck if....Si-Cology 101 by: Si Robertson (and all the rest of the Duck Dynasty books) is at the top of your Christmas list. I really don't think this one needs much explanation so lets just say I can't wait to put my nose in this baby.

You might also be a redneck if the "Sweet Tea" necklace is on your Christmas list, right underneath 'said' Duck Dynasty books. It is what it is and I LOVE it! Thanks, mom! :)

There's no ifs, ands, or buts about it...if you get the Uncle Si book, a sweet tea necklace and a "Hey Y'all" pillow for Christmas...consider yourself to be president of the Redneck Association. Kidding. I love being from Texas...I just find it hysterical that most girls ask for heels, purses and clothes for Christmas and I'm all over here like "I just want the Duck Dynasty books!" The adorable "Hey Y'all" pillow is a gift from my "Midwestern" (as she calls herself) bestie, Katie. I know it's from Hobby Lobby but I couldn't find it online to link to it. Just know they have them there and it makes the perfect addition to any living room.

Ahhh...The North Face Shell Jacket: I've had my eye on one of these for a while now but never wanted to bite the bullet and buy it for myself. I love that fact that it's so can wear it with a t-shirt, or even with a cute top and it doesn't look tacky. Not to mention, it's the perfect weight for the Texas "winter" weather we are currently having. Now if only they would go on sale I could grow my collection...

This baby.....THIS BABY....I swear is God's gift to every woman in America. With tile floors and a dog that sheds like cray, vacuuming 2+ times per week got real old real fast. The Roomba 780 has been and will be quite possibly my favorite gift of all time. Here's a quick video of the first time we played with it so it doesn't show much but just know this baby is too legit. Too legit to quit, actually. It cleans any room you choose, you can block rooms off with these little tower things and you can set it to run every day at a certain time. Y' even leaves the vacuum lines on the carpet! Perhaps I'm easily amused but I am already obsessed with the fact that I have clean floors every day at noon.

Eeep! Navy blue Fiestaware!! Never in my life did I think I would ever ask for Fiestaware for Christmas...that's so 1990...let alone dishes in general...until I laid eyes on these pretties. I can't wait to mix them with other colors in the collection and brighten up my kitchen!

And finally...the Canon 50 mm lens!! My heart exploded when I saw this! Though I still need a little practice (judging by all these photos taken with it), I can't wait to see all the possibilities I can create with this puppy! Do you have a 50 mm lens?! Tell me your secrets!!

My cup runneth over this Christmas. Quality time with friends and family and pretty sweet gifts...I cannot complain one bit.

How was your Christmas?! Did you get everything you asked for?

December 30, 2013

The Gift of Giving

I don't know about you but finding and giving the most perfect gift for that perfect someone gives me an abnormal kind of high. I adore seeing the looks on faces of friends and family when they open gifts they actually like and want. This would also explain why I start my Christmas shopping every year in September. Picking out the perfect gift is time consuming!

Not to mention, when you start in September, it spreads out the spending so you don't drop your entire bank account in one month.

My #1 rule when it comes to giving gifts: give them something they would want, and give them something you would want.

#2 gift giving rule: refuse to buy something just to "buy it".

I truly believe gift-giving is an art form. You either got it, or you don't. You know the people I'm talking about...

While I know Christmas isn't about the gifts, it is a little added bonus to the holidays. Wouldn't you agree?

Here are a few gifts I absolutely LOVED buying and giving:

Gifts Given

Kate Spade Bangle: I LOVE giving these for gifts because A) what girl doesn't love a little KS? and B) there are so many unique options. I have the Bridesmaid idiom bangle, the bow bangle and the hand in hand bangle and am equally obsessed with ALL of them!

Fit Bit Zip: This was actually given in our family gift exchange and my sister-in-law, Julie, was the lucky winner of it. This tiny little thing tracks steps, calories and distance and syncs automatically with your smartphone. Beau gave me the Fit Bit Force and it's safe to say I have been obsessed with it ever since so I figured anyone would love having this little gem! (Full review on the Fit Bit Force coming soon. Besides my iPhone, I'm not sure I've ever been more in love with a piece of technology!)

Pottery Barn Austin Throw: I saw this baby and knew instantly it would be given to one of my best girl friends. New marriage...I mean, sure we all have plenty of blankets but I'm a firm believer that you can never have enough good blankets.

Carter's Footie PJs: Hmmm I wonder who these went to?! I may not have kids of my own but with the triplets around now, I have truly began to LOVE me some Carter's! Great prices, the cutest outfits you ever did see AND they have a large variety to choose from! Trying to find three similar, but not matching, outfits for my precious nieces is rather challenging at times but luckily, Carter's usually has me covered! P.S.- I've decided baby footie pj's are just about the most adorable piece of clothing to ever grace this planet. I dare you to disagree.

iPad Air: No explanation needed.

Starbuck's K-Cups: Sure, we buy ourselves K-Cups all the time but rarely do we spoil ourselves with the Starbucks variety. Who wouldn't want to be their own personal barista every morning?

Monogrammed Copper Mugs: I found these babies at William Sonoma and knew instantly they'd be a hit for the person on my list who already had pretty much everything. Plus, the etched monogram added such a classy touch!

Under Armour Golf Polos: I don't think any guy can ever have too many golf polos and from testing out every brand under the sun, Under Armour definitely takes the cake. I'm pretty sure Beau has just about every color they offer by now. These are my go-to when I'm lost for gift ideas and he LOVES them. Win/win.

Nylabone Treats: Also referred to in our house as "Dog Crack". It was all I could do to keep these in Oakley's stocking and keep her from pulling it off the mantle every single day for the entire month of December. Sister LOVES her some Nylabone treats. And the fact that they aren't raw hide makes me love them, too!

Lilly Pulitzer Agenda: For the busiest person I triplet-birthing sister-in-law! I have LOVED my Lilly jumbo agenda SO much and between feeding babies, feeding herself, doctors appointments and everything else, I knew my sister-in-law would probably appreciate this more than anyone.

Keurig K75 Platinum: I gave one to my mom and one to my brother and future sister-in-law because after we received ours earlier this year, I knew instantly I'd be buying a couple as gifts. I still can't believe I went as long as I did without purchasing this precious, precious kitchen gadget we so love and cherish. Seriously...this was probably the gift I was most excited about giving because it does the one thing money technically can't buy...simplification.

It's safe to say I like giving gifts that I have and would love for others to have, too. Stay tuned...tomorrow I'll be posting my favorite gifts I received this Christmas. I must have been a really good girl because my family spoiled me this year! ;)

What were some of your favorite gifts to give?!

December 26, 2013

Vest Obsessed

Happy day after Christmas, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas...I know I sure did! I also believe I gained another 3+ pounds...easily. Thank GOODNESS I'll be back to eating yeast-free starting in January! (More on that later!)

Also-this is totally out of character for me to say but I think my liver officially hurts. It's probably a good sign I should stick with high-quality H2O for a while...

Anywho...while 99% of you are off work today and most likely shopping it up, hitting up the best after-Christmas steals & deals in all of America, I'll be sitting behind my desk wishing I was out there dealing with the crowds and scouring the racks. Ok-no. I don't ever wish for dealing with a crowd. But I do wish I could spend the entire day in my pj's, in front of the fire, shopping every possible site the internet has to offer. I'm strongly considering starting my Christmas shopping for 2014 tonight...hmmm...not a bad idea...

And with all of that, I bring you what may or may not be my favorite outfit to wear all winter long. Y'all know me...I'm not the fancy schmancy type...I'm all for cute, comfy & practical. I'd be lying if I said I didn't wear this outfit once to a neighbor's Christmas gathering, and then again the next night to dinner with my girlfriends. #noshame 

I'd also be lying if I said I didn't brave the mall on Christmas Eve to go get another one of these puffer vests, but in navy blue. Hey...if the vest fits, buy it in every color.

Long Sleeve Burnout Tee | Vest (found online at Old Navy in plus sizes only but they carry it in all sizes in stores.) | Jeans | Boots | Sunglasses | Necklace | Ring | Watch | Clutch | Nail Polish | Photography by Beau :)

P.S. - who's shopping the beloved VS Semi Annual Sale this week?! 
I'll take this, this and this. Please & thank you! ;)

P.S.S. - if you're out scouring the interwebs today looking for the best after-Christmas deals, I did all the research for ya here. You're welcome.

December 25, 2013

Triple the Christmas Cheer

Taylor | Samantha | Mallory

Merry Christmas from the most precious nieces a girl could ask for!


December 24, 2013

Merry Kissmas

Christmas kisses from our family to yours! May you have a joyous and blessed Christmas filled with lots of love...and food. And for your sanity, wine, too.

December 23, 2013

Steals & Deals

Steals & Deals

Just like any other American, I know I'll be out sifting through hundreds of emails on December 26 to decipher who has the best after Christmas sales. I thought I was a crazy deal shopper before (also see: I never buy anything full price) but this year, I think I've hit an all time low...or high? I was proactive and did research. Mind you, I absolutely hate research...but give me some good retail therapy kind-a-research and I'm all over it like white on rice. I even made a list (checked it twice) and already know what sites I'll be hitting up to save some big dinero.

GAP - not sure on exact sale, but I read they've had really awesome sales previous years.
Express - 50% off everything online (Faux fur lined military coat...who doesn't need that?)
The Limited - 40-50% off + virtual dollars (Sweaters for less than $30! Oh happy day!)
Old Navy - 60% off (Ahem...monogram sweater? Yes please!)
Macy's - 30-50% off (Due for a new pair of boots? I know I am!)
Kohl's - 30-50% off (Just ordered these nude LC heels and am border line obsessed with them!)
Victoria's Secret - SEMI ANNUAL SALE!
Kate Spade - additional 25% off all sale items! (Code: DECEMBER25)

Nordstrom - 50% off boots (I need these...right?!?)

Holiday Decor:
Home Depot
Target - 50% off (I'm sure Beau would approve of this purchase...)
Hobby Lobby - 50-80%

Home Goods:
World Market - 15% off everything (Code: CHEERS15)

-iPhone 5C - $30 with $30 Target gift card - yes, you read that right...
-iPad mini - $299 with $30 Target gift card - treat yo'self!

Oh-and Oakley's on the hunt for a dress to match her new bow. If you find one on sale, let a sister know, would ya?! ;)

Will you be out scouring the stores? Or shopping behind a computer screen like moi?

December 20, 2013

(I Think) I've Been Good


I'm not perfect, by any stretch to the imagination, but hey, I think I've been a good girl this year. It's only fair to wish for a few things I typically wouldn't buy for myself, right?!

Here's to hoping new tennis shoes and running pants get my flabby tush back in the gym 4+ times/week.
Here's to wishing for a few new rings, this year, instead of earrings...thanks to a janky earlobe.
And cheers to maybe being able to tell time out of a watch that doesn't have a shattered screen.
Is that so much to ask for?!

What are you hoping to find in your stocking this year?!

December 19, 2013

Bowel Movements, Chili & Babies

The past 2 months have been utter chaos. I'll openly admit I've been a bad, bad blogger (forgive a girl, would ya?!) well as a bad wife when it comes to cooking and looking my best for Beau (aka: taking this jello booty of mine to the gym more than once/week and for more than just 30 minutes at a time.) I'm not going to jump the gun or anything here but I've worked out twice this week and made two new recipes. Say what?!

It appears I may or may not have gotten my groove back. But like I said, let's not get all "Stella Got Her Groove Back" here...we still have to get through Christmas...and New well as my mom, my husband, my brother, my sister-in-law and my dog's birthdays in January before I can make a full-time commitment to these things again. Yes-half of the most important people in my life just to happened to be birthed in the month of January, and all within 21 of days of one another. And it all starts 10 days after Christmas. Buh-bye bank account...

All this to say, I have a new recipe for you. If your crock pot is your BFF during the winter months, and you enjoy a good, and I mean goooooood, chili recipe, you might want to stick around.

The original recipe came from the one and only, PaleOMG...basically my hero for all her healthy creations, however, I had to amend it just a tad thanks to sensitive taste buds. No lie...if you want in the hottest thing you've ever had in your entire life/you won't crap right for a week (tmi?)/I went through a gallon of water and an entire box of Kleenex from wiping my nose, follow this recipe to a tee.

If you want a little bit of a kick, but would still like to have normal bowel movements and not have to own stock in Kleenex, you can follow mine. I like to call it the gentle version of PaleOMG's Pulled Pork Chili Recipe.

And because who doesn't want to think about chili after I just mentioned bowel movements twice in less than a minute? (Sorry for the visual...) Let's get started.
Pulled Pork Chili
*as amended from PaleOMG

  • 3 pound pork tenderloin
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 T paprika
  • 2 T garlic salt
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 T red pepper flakes
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (14 oz) can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 (14 oz) cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 C chicken stock
  • Avocado, sliced (for garnish)
  1. Place your tenderloin in the crock pot.
  2. Make 3 slits in tenderloin and press peeled garlic cloves into holes.
  3. Sprinkle in paprika, garlic salt, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, and salt.
  4. Toss in diced onions, peppers, tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes.
  5. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on low. 
  6. Once your tenderloin is tender enough, shred it with a fork. 
  7. Garnish with sliced avocado (and/or sprinkle grated cheese over it, if you eat dairy) and en-freakin-joy!
I've been eating on this stuff for 3 days now and am obsessed. Did I mention it's yeast-free, gluten-free and if you skip the cheese on top, it's dairy-free, too? Oh yes...

Coming later this week...quite possibly the most adorable picture/video I snapped of the triplets this past weekend. And when I say "adorable", I mean the cutest damn thing you ever did see.

December 17, 2013

Christmas Ova Here. Christmas Ova There. Christmas Everywhere Shake Yer Derriere.

Whoop there it is! 

Ok back to 2013...

So the very second I saw this on Pinterest, I knew, without a doubt, I would be recreating it for my kitchen table. I love that it's so farmhouse-y and simple, yet festive. Not too big, not too small. Not too short, not too tall. Just right.
I just so happened I already own the soda crate, so that part was easy. (I bought it from an antique market 2+ years ago and has been shoved in a closet ever since...) For those of you who don't have an old Coke crate laying around your house, you're in luck because Etsy has you covered for days...

I purchased mason jars in stock when we moved last year because, well, who doesn't need 36 pint-sized mason jars in their kitchen at any given point in time?

The little flameless votives are from Target. I like the Threshold brand, because the wick is black, giving it a more realistic look, if you will. Mind you, turning on all 6 of these babies takes longer than it took for me to create this entire thing, but hey...whatever it takes to complete the look, right? Do yourself a favor and buy remote control flameless candles if at all possible...mmkay?

I stuffed the mason jars about 1/2 way full with fake moss to lift the candles a little bit. (Beau's genius idea, actually. Hey-he's good for some things, I guess...) The greenery, shimmery garland, cranberries and white pinecones are all from the Target Christmas section. They were el-cheapo and the cranberry twig things (what ARE those really called??) came in a pack of 48 so I added the remaining 40 to my tree. Well...more like 30 by now thanks to a fake cranberry twig eating ridgeback...not to name names...

I shoved a little burlap under her and voila! I know I say this every. single. time but I really mean it this time...easiest project evvvvva.

Thanks to a bazillion and one gifts to buy and lack of time to do, well, anything these days, the poor outside of our house is just plain naked when it comes to Christmas decor. Sorry, 27 foot tall Santa...maybe next year? All that to say, I've really been enjoying our little bit of Christmas we have going on inside Casa de la Howard. It's not much, but it means a lot to us. :)

Yes, my dog has a monogrammed stocking. Get over it. ;) Yours can, too

CHRISTMAS. IS. NEXT. WEEK. in case you forgot.
2013....where did you go!?


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