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Nadine

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Holiday Rewind

Since it has almost been a month since Christmas, I figured I would go ahead and post about ours. Technically we still have one more Christmas to celebrate with Laura next weekend, soooooo we are dragging out the holiday as long as possible around here. Don’t worry, all my decor is put up.

Anyways, back to the holidays. We visited Santa the Saturday before Christmas.

That Sunday, my sister and I went over to my mom’s house because her best friend (my Godmother) was stopping by from Pittsburgh on her way to NOLA to visit her son. My mom made spaghetti, and we hung around and chatted for awhile. Zoe had fun running from, and chasing around my mom’s dogs. Pretty sure Mac is the size of one of her dog’s heads. They are big girls!

Christmas Eve was spent at Chris’s parents house, as we do every year. We also made cookies and set them out along with some carrots for Santa. Guest appearance from Anna to decorate the cookies.

And in true parenting fashion, Chris and I spent Christmas Eve night cussing and throwing pieces of toys around trying to put them together way too late in the evening. I managed to get the easel built while Chris put together the Frozen castle and Sven.

It was all worth it to see this sweet face Christmas morning. She was beyond ecstatic!

I was also spoiled this Christmas with some Ugg slippers and beautiful jewelry from one of my favorite boutiques. Zoe has really enjoyed playing with her Frozen castle. I think her favorite present was the dress up center from my sister. We have multiple wardrobe changes every single day around here. You never know what princess you might dine with.

We really did have a wonderful Christmas, and were far too blessed. And yes, that is Zoe wearing a dress with no tights Christmas day, and the day after. Because Alabama weather does what it wants.

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2020

Image result for keto diet meme

Hey guys! I know, I sort of dropped a book post and a trip recap on you after not being around for a few weeks. I kept meaning to get up a few weekend posts, my favorite books from 2019 and Christmas…but none of that happened.

Can you believe that we are over half way through the first month of 2020?! January usually feels like it lasts a year to me for some reason, but not this year. I am not one to make resolutions, or have a word or theme for the year. I don’t think I have ever stuck to any resolutions or remembered my word past the first few days. I do usually try to reset my diet for a month after the holidays. The past four years I have done Whole 30. While I feel it is a great reset tool, I don’t love it and didn’t want to do it again this year.

The stress of the last several months changing jobs, buying/selling a home, moving, getting a new car, Zoe’s birthday, the holidays, a long trip, life….it has all contributed to a weight gain for me. That and I didn’t work out a single day in December. Me, the girl who faithfully works out 5 days a week.

I decided I was going to have to start 2020 with something more drastic. I picked January 6th, the Monday after we came home from our trip. Because can you really start anything on any day but Monday??

I am doing Thomas DeLauer’s 30-day Intermittent Fasting Challenge, along with following the Keto diet. I have fought hard against both these things for so long. I tried IF a few months ago, but I didn’t do it right and I felt like shit after day three and quit. I did a lot more research this time around, as well as eased myself slowly into it. Thomas DeLauer’s challenge is to do IF every other day. This is totally manageable, and I find that I am actually doing it a little more often than that. I will probably go full blown IF next month.

I thought that 16 hours was just so long to go without food. I am one of those people who gets hangry, and can get shaky and have a headache if I go too long in between meals. The first few days were a little rough, I am not going to lie. But I realized if I can push past the 30-45 minutes of discomfort I feel between 9-10am, I am fine again and actually have laser sharp brain focus until I break my fast. This has helped me reduce my caloric intake, since I am not eating anything at breakfast. I don’t even really like breakfast anyways, and have always struggled with it.

Then the whole keto thing. Chris did Keto when I was pregnant with Zoe. What a time to cut out carbs, right???? I obviously didn’t follow along with him, but I supported him and made meal modifications for him. (Basically we just ate different sides.) He was really successful and lost a lot of weight. I know so many people who have been successful with keto. Basically everyone who has tried and stuck with it has seen significant loss.

So this is the end of my second week, and I am down 10 pounds from my pre-Christmas weight. I still cant find our scale from when we moved, so I went out and bought one this week so we can track. I had a doctor appointment the week before Christmas, and that is the weight I used as my starting weight, even though I probably gained a few pounds on our trip…as one does.

Obviously, this isn’t a lifestyle that is sustainable forever. I mean, it could be, but that isn’t how I want to live forever. I will probably adjust and modify as I go.

I will share some updates along the way, and if I get brave enough, I may share the horrendous before pictures. This isn’t just about weight loss for me though. While I am hoping to drop some weight, I have been having horrible hip pain lately. The only thing I can contribute it to is less movement and extra weight.

Let me know if you would like me to share some low carb recipes. One of the things that has made this easy, is trying out new recipes each week. We have had some really good stuff so far! I don’t really feel like I am depriving myself of much. Besides coffee creamer. God, I miss the coffee creamer. I am still bitter about it and blow it kisses as I walk by it in the store. Dramatic much?

I am just putting all this out there to hold myself accountable. Did you make any goal or diet changes for 2020?

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Gatlinburg Trip

Every year, Chris’s family goes to Gatlinburg after Christmas. We went several years prior to Zoe, but haven’t been since she was born. I figured that this year was a great age to start going on trips like this!

View from our chalet
The little white specs is downtown Gatlinburg. Crazy how high up we were!

We were up there for 7 days and we got to do a lot of things that we love! We walked around downtown a few times, being sure that we stopped by a few of our favorite stores, grabbed a farkle dog and foot-long corn dog at Fannie Farkles, had hot chocolate from the Donut Friar, and played many games at the Space Needle arcade!

Zoe was obsessed with all the snowmen around downtown, and needed photographed with all of them. So cute!

The arcade was definitely one of Zoe’s favorite things to do. Is she our kid or what?

We went mini-golfing at Crave, which was a really cute indoor/outdoor place that was ice cream themed. We even got Zoe an ice cream bowl with her name on it for home.

We visited The Island in Pigeon Forge twice. The first time, we shopped around the stores, Zoe’s favorite being the toy store! We played games at the arcade there, got some yummy cheese fries at Poynor’s Pommes Frites, rode the merry-go-round and Zoe talked me into riding the huge Ferris Wheel….despite my crippling fear of heights. Which was honestly challenged the entire trip with all the switchbacks and steep mountain roads with no guard rails. White knuckle driving at it’s finest! I was proud for conquering that fear, and got some amazing pictures and views from the top!

View from the Ferris Wheel

The second visit to The Island involved eating at Paula Deen’s restaurant. OMG!!! The food was so so so so good! We lucked out and only had about a 15-minute wait and were seated right next to the windows with beautiful views of the whole area. When we were leaving, the wait was up to almost 2 hours.

One of my favorite things about the trip was getting to meet up with Andrea!!! I don’t even remember if it was on her blog, or on Instagram that she mentioned she was going to be there at the same time as me…and as soon as I read that I messaged her immediately. A meet up had to happen! We met in The Village in Downtown Gatlinburg and had hot chocolate and donuts from The Donut Friar. Chris and Zoe were with me, since we were going to do other things down there after and both of them even commented on how sweet and genuine she was. She brought Zoe a dog that has basically followed us around everywhere since. And you know pictures had to go down. We are bloggers!

We ate at No Way Jose’s and Loco Burro in downtown Gatlinburg, Mama’s Farmhouse and Bennett’s Pit BBQ while we were there as well.

We went gem mining twice. I am on the lookout for a really cool way to display these for Zoe in her room.

And we visited Ripley’s Believe It or Not and the Aquarium while we were there.

My favorite display at Ripley’s was Hogwarts made from matchsticks! Incredible!!!!

I hate that I didn’t get to go shopping at the outlets, or eat at Apple Barn while we were there. We will just have to make a trip another time soon with Zoe! It was insane how crowded it was at Christmas this year. It is always really crowded, but it seemed even more so this time! I would like to visit another time of year when we can fit more in.

And I have to share the amazing views the last day. We were above the fog. It was so thick, you couldn’t see anything driving up the mountain the night before. And in the morning, it almost looked like a white lake. Incredible!!!!

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Books

Hey all! Happy New Year! (Half a month into the new year, whatever). Today I am linking up with Steph and Jana for the first SUYB of this decade! I want you to take note that I have TWO books from Netgalley read this month! I am really trying to clean off that shelf!

For I Have Sinned (Charley Davidson 1.5) by Darynda Jones

For I Have Sinned (Charley Davidson, #1.5)

I am officially obsessed with this series. Dare I say I like it even better than Stephanie Plum?! Crazy, I know! For I Have Sinned is such a short read, I had it done in like 30 minutes. But man, does it pack an emotional punch!!!!

Bottom Line: If you like cozy mysteries, definitely check this out. There is a paranormal vibe to it, but done very well.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2)

I loved The Kiss Quotient, and really tried to leave that one behind so I didn’t go into this one with too high expectations. I loved Khai, I really did. And I really like his brother Quan. Esme went back and forth for me as the leading lady. I liked her alright, and I really liked this story…she just fell a little flat for me. Maybe I was mad at her for keeping her secret for so dang long. Ohhhh and Khai’s mother!!! Loved her too!! I also enjoyed that we got a little bit of Michael from the first one in here.

Bottom Line: So I didn’t love this quite as much as the first, but still a really good read and I cant wait to read the third!

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

The Honey-Don't List

I love Christina Lauren, so I was really excited to receive the ARC of this one. I finished it in just a few sittings, it was that good! It sort of had The Hating Game vibes a little bit. Now, I do want to say two things I took issue with while reading this book. I feel like the attraction build up fell a little flat. Like I wanted there to be more, it sort of was just sudden. Also, James does something that I don’t think I would be very ok with. I understand he mostly had good intentions, but it was sort of anti-climatic for being one of his major hurdles of the book. But the plot of an HGTV show and two assistants having to work together to keep their intolerable bosses inline was a good plot.

Bottom Line: Read it!

**I received a copy of The Honey-Don’t List from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

Shrill by Lindy West

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman

I have seen a lot of raving reviews for this book, so I thought I would check it out. I didn’t know who Lindy West was before reading the book, but she seemed like an interesting person. While I appreciate that she has a platform to speak out for the things that she stands for…and I think that is great, I just didn’t care for this book. I couldn’t really connect with her. The writing was awful and all over the place. Several chapters talked about her being overweight and all the fat shaming, and I get that. But it was to the point it was self indulgent and just seemed like complaining.

Bottom Line: I think if you are a fan of hers, you would probably like this book. The writing style just wasn’t my cup of tea. I love that she has a platform and I know lots of people can relate to her. I just felt like the book fell flat and I couldn’t really connect with it. I got bored and sort of skimmed through parts.

Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen

Brooklynaire (Brooklyn, #1)

This is my first from this author. I liked her writing style. I really wanted Nate and Becca to get together! I liked how witty the characters were, and I really love a good friends to lovers story. This one was done really well, and I am excited to check out the rest of the series and other books by this author. Even after this book was over, as I was reading another, I thought back to this one. That is definitely signs of a good book to me! My only complaint is that at the end, I felt like it was just a little rushed. There was so much back and forth and then boom! Over!

Bottom Line: Cute, read it!

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson

The Dating Charade

So I started this book while I was in Gatliburg around Christmas, and this book took place in Gatliburg at Christmas! So I was extra excited about that! This is one of those love stories where if they were just honest with each other and communicated properly in the beginning, there probably wouldn’t be much of a story. But that is how life is, isn’t it??

This one started out really good for me, and then quickly sizzled. I will say that the books focuses a lot on the children and it has a lot of serious issues it brings up with addiction, neglect, emotional issues, fostering, adoption, infertility, etc. So this isn’t really a romcom in my eyes. It also isn’t really a romance novel either. There was hardly any page time between Jett and Cassie and zero romantic scenes.

Bottom Line: This one was just ok for me. I wanted more steam. I wanted more laughs. The author made a lot of attempts to make funny scenes, but I didn’t find them very funny. If you want a love story minus all the steam and romance, this would definitely be more your speed.

**I received a copy of The Dating Charade from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.**

Currently Reading

Parental Guidance by Avery Flynn

Parental Guidance (Ice Knights, #1)
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Shenanigans – The Last Before Christmas

Coming in at you hot from another holiday filled weekend! I really am going to miss when Christmas is over this year. Everything is happening so fast, and I don’t feel like I have had near enough time to watch all the movies, sing all the songs, eat all the treats, and do all the things. You know? In fact, our Christmas cookies still haven’t been made yet. They may happen Christmas Day. Just as long as they are gone before the diet kicks in, am I right??

I have said it before, and I will say it again…Zoe is way cooler than I have ever been.

I have been trying to read a few of Zoe’s Christmas books when we have some down time. We have really been enjoying How to Catch Santa. It is really cute!!!

We got to visit Santa on Saturday. Zoe was so excited! The past two years, we have taken her to Bass Pro Shop. It was fine, but it was always crazy crowded and you always spent 2-3 hours waiting around in that store for your chance to spend 30 seconds getting a picture snapped from far away. This year we got lucky and Chris got on at the exact moment someone cancelled their appointment with Santa at The Summit. Their experience is so much better! When you have an appointment, you get up to 5 minutes with Santa. They will take pictures of just your kid and of your whole family, or any combination you want. The Santa was really friendly, and the set was gorgeous! I know where I want to go again next year!

After our Santa trip, we decided to go to Twisted Root for burgers. Zoe loves her a burger. Is she my kid or what?! I ordered the Spicy Goat with goat cheese, bacon and chipotle. Why have I never had goat cheese on a burger before???? SO GOOD!

After we ate, we were trying to decide what else we wanted to do that day. Chris had been helping a coworker with a new car a few days ago, and noticed that a lot of dealerships around here had some really good cars at good prices right now. When I got my Explorer a few years ago, I was also looking at Infiniti QX60 as well. Chris was like, we could just go down and look at this one real quick. Annnnnnnd guess what came home!!!!

This car was waiting for us there. It had every package/option that I would have picked had I built it myself. The ride is soooooo smooth! Much smoother than the Explorer. And there is so much more room in the backseat. Zoe’s carseat was always squished up against my seat before, but now there is a huge gap and I can actually slide back some. I took it to my mom’s house last night with high winds and pouring rain. Normally I would be having anxiety the entire drive (it’s an hour.) And not once did I get nervous about the winds or the rain. So worth it.

In other things we did this week. Chris and one of his friends changed out our kitchen sink and faucet after our contractor went MIA on us. Why are contractors so damn sketchy??? They did such good job!

We also got our new dishwasher installed!!!! Things we get excited for when we are adults, right??

I have been driving Zoe through other streets in our neighborhood every night to look at Christmas lights this entire month. On our way home from dance Thursday, I decided to change up our scenery a little and go to a neighborhood I know goes all out. She loved it!!! I really loved the Home Alone house and wish i would have gotten pictures of the other side with Marv, Harry and the Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animal sign!

I have been keeping up with Jerry the Elf all month. He hasn’t done anything too crazy or messy. Mostly just finds new places to hide, and has brought Zoe a few fun things like a coloring book, candy cane, Christmas necklace and this delicious Santa donut. Of course, there have been a few mornings I have woken up and realized I hadn’t planned anything out and scoured Pinterest quickly to figure out what I could do with him before I got Zoe up. She has really enjoyed waking up each morning to go look for him. It is how I get her out a bed easily. I am actually going to miss threatening her with him come December 26th LOL.

Zoe has been fighting off getting sick for about two weeks not. Flu, strep and a few cold strands have been flying around the area. I think one is finally taking her down. Last night she started crying about her ear hurting, something she hasn’t complained about since getting tubes two years ago. Annnnnd of course, I woke up this morning with a cough. Today was supposed to be her last day at school for the year. Guess we will be skipping out in favor for a doctor appointment and some rest. If you need me, hopefully my ass will be parked right here soaking in the last of the Christmas magic.