January 8, 2014

Christmas in Iowa

Here is a blog post featuring pictures from our Christmas trip to Iowa. They are mostly of Zoe- shocker. I was also using my new digital camera from Santa aka my in-laws but I'm still not used to using it so much. I have been taking it everywhere with me trying to get in the habit of using it! 
We decided to drive to Iowa this time- despite the weather and having to spend the night along the way. But Zoe was surprisingly good! She took all of her naps and when it was bedtime she drifted off to sleep. It really helped to stop and spend the night and we also stopped to eat every meal. So Zoe got to run around each time we stopped.
The weather was unusually cold in Iowa so we stayed in A LOT. We arrived on Friday evening and didn't go out until Christmas day which was a Wednesday. We were the first family to arrive and everyone was there by Monday afternoon. Zoe started every morning by watching cartoons with Great Gaga. Usually in her chair and eating cereal. Even though we didn't go out much we had a great time visiting with family. We watched some tv, played games (cards, puzzles, naming all 50 states and a few capitals), ate lots of good food, read, and played with Zoe. We ventured outside on Christmas day so Zoe could be pulled in the sled and she also crunched around in the snow. Grandma Strawn was kind enough to get her a pink snow suit but we didn't have any boots for her so she had to go in sooner than she would have liked. I think Zoe would have stayed outside all day if we let her! That evening we also went to Scranton to have Christmas dinner. We got to visit with even more family members and have some more good food. The next evening we decided to get some Chinese food to-go and went to visit Grandma Duff at her home in Scranton. The next day it was time to go home! I'm sure I am leaving much more out but I had a great time and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Zoe bundled up, ready for the cold.
Great Gaga showing Zoe the Christmas tree.
It snowed the night we got there!
Zoe watching cartoons with Great Gaga in her chair.
Papa reading to Zoe.
Zoe in Kirk's boots.
Great Gaga reading to Zoe and Charlotte.
Little stinker watching cartoons while eating breakfast.
Learning how to rock in the rocking chair.
Great Gaga reading to Zoe.
Zoe discovering the presents under the Christmas tree.
Lots of pics of Zoe opening her presents. She went nuts for this Jack-In-The-Box from Erik and Regina.
Trying to carry all the gifts at once! 
Emily opening a gift.
Charlotte and Mary opening gifts.
*After this I went upstairs to put Zoe down for her nap so I missed getting pics of everyone opening their gifts!
All of Zoe's great uncles, papa, and Nick took her to play in the snow.
She actually loved it and was saying "weeee!" She also liked walking around crunching in the snow.
Christmas dinner in Scranton!
Zoe and Great Gaga watching cartoons together- see a pattern?
Sitting in her second favorite chair.
And you get all seven takes because we are just that fabulous. All of the Strawn grandkids and one great grandkid!
Zoe reading the paper in Great Gaga's chair.
Leaving Jefferson.
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January 6, 2014

December 2013 Favorites

Eek better late than never I suppose! I have been under the weather with a mystery illness. I suspect I had some kind of cold that turned into laryngitis (who knew that was a real thing?!). Anyways, Nick had a lot of vacation time and my mom came to visit starting New Years Day so I had lots of help.
These are in no particular order. As you can see there are a lot of food items. That is because we did a LOT of traveling in December and most of these things were easy to take with us in the car. I have also added my Christmas gift favorites! Obviously, I appreciate each and every Christmas gift but these are the ones that I have been using the most or come in handy.
December 2013 Favorites:
1. Que Pasa Corn Tortilla Chips- I am very particular about my tortilla chips. They can't be too thick or too thin, too this or that, etc. I had been buying a different brand but the last bag was so salty I could barely eat the chips. This brand was new to Kroger so I decided to try it. Although the texture is thicker than I like they have a delicious flavor. These come salted but I do believe they have a salt free version and a gluten free version.
2. Wholly Guacamole Minis- I absolutely love guacamole. I can eat a big bowl of it as a meal! When I first started buying the pre-packaged stuff it came in two separate packages and I could finish one by myself. Then without warning they switched it to one large package. That was way too much for me (even if I shared with Zoe) and I felt bad about letting the rest go to waste since we all know it gets brown quickly. So when I saw the minis at the store I decided to try them out. My days or having guacamole for lunch are gone but these are the perfect size for a snack. I just wish they made the minis organic.
3. Mossimo Dolman Long Sleeve Tee- I found a long sleeved tee at Target that I liked (the sleeves were actually long enough!) but I mistakenly picked this one up in grey. I ended up liking this one better though and also got it in black. I would have picked it up in more colors but those were the only two offered. They are not long sleeved on me so I don't know if that is a typo on Target's part but they still look great. They are comfortable and SO soft. Very easy to dress up or down.
4. Kids Christmas Sing-Along CD - While Zoe and I were shopping for Christmas ornaments I parked her next to one of those big CD preview thingies- sorry I have no idea what they are called. Anyways, she started bopping her head to the music and attracted all kinds of attention from people walking by so I had to get a CD for her. They were all about $10 so I picked a kid's double CD and she really seems to like it. My satellite radio only has two Christmas stations so I play this when a dud comes on.
5. Target Muddy Buddies- I usually make these (and the original Chex mix recipe) but I didn't have time as we were traveling a lot. I have tried the tiny boxes sold at the deli and I'm pretty sure these are the same but in a larger package. FYI- I have also tried the actual Chex brand muddy buddies and these are way better. The Chex brand just doesn't have enough coating and these do.
6. Jesus Christ Superstar- This musical has been on my musical to-see list forever but I just have never seen it. I pretty much always have a rule of seeing the musical live before I see the movie but this was an exception. Nick was working really late hours and I wanted to put together Zoe's play kitchen as soon as it arrived. Of course, something stupid like boxing was being recorded on our DVR so I went to the list of pre-recorded shows. Nick mostly has control of the living room DVR so it was mostly his stuff. It was either this or an Ugly Betty I have seen a million times. It started a little slow (I mean it is based on a Bible story) but the music was SO SO SO good. I really don't know why I expected anything else considering it's Andrew Lloyd Webber but the music was so catchy. Maybe I wasn' giving it my full attention but I didn't think it was as funny as it could have been. Like, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, that is hilarious! But I suppose the music, dancing, acting, and the costumes made up for it. It's one I will have to see live to get a true feel for it hint, hint Nick.
7. Cascadian Farms Purely-O's- I bought these in the past for myself but never thought to buy them for Zoe. My mom got them for her on one of our recent trips. Zoe loved them! We actually both love them in the morning when we are in a rush. They are also great to take on the go.
8. Seventh Generation Skin Boosting Serum- This was another product I kind of bought on a whim. I was looking for a facial lotion at Walgreen's. I know they have higher end lotions like this but I needed something quick. The beauty consultant saw me checking them out and she said I had to try it. She was right! To me this seems more like an oil than a serum. But that may be because I bought the hydrating kind. Even though it is an oil it doesn't make my face look oily or add to the oiliness. I had some dry patches on my face (as well as my neck) and this cleared it up. It didn't get rid of my dry skin as quickly as I would have liked but that was probably because I was in arctic temperatures most of the month. I mix a little with my spf moisturizer in the morning and use this by itself at night. I have also used it as a spot treatment on my neck, feet, elbows, and hands. Next time you are in Walgreen's do youself a favor and pick one out!
9. Kroger Simple Truth Organic Animal Crackers- Technically I bought these at the end of December but they were Zoe's favorite. She was spoiled in Iowa and had lots of sweets (which she normally doesn't get here). She's also learned how to say cookie so I gave in and bought her some. She doesn't get them every day and she has to say please. But I have them ready when she yells, "cook!"
Christmas Favorites:
1. Ugg Australia Bailey Bow in Pink- When I saw Zoe's I had to get a pair for myself. We love to match! And these were perfect for our trip to Iowa.
2. Leopard Spirit Hood- Once again, Zoe and I love to match. These keep your head so warm, therefore you are warm. The sides can be wrapped like a scarf or just worn to the side for your hands.
3. Lorac Pro Palette- I have used this on my eyes every day since I got it. It is perfect for every day but has some dramatic neutral colors in it as well.
4. Kendra Scott Cassie Bracelet in Onyx- This is another accessory I have been reaching for often. It goes with almost anything and it can really dress up a simple outfit.
5. Nordy Girl Sunglasses Case- If this doesn't scream Jessica I don't know what does.  
6. Zoe's Pink Snowsuit- This was an early gift to Zoe and it kept her warm and dry in Iowa. We may be able to use it during this cold front come to think of it.
7. Batiste Dry Shampoo Wild Trio Pack- After Zoe and I went to see Santa at the Galleria we had to do some shopping in Nordstrom. This caught my eye and I used a gift card to buy it. I love Batiste and I figured the travel sizes would be a good way to try three new scents.
8. Razor Sweet Pea Scooter- I have never owned a scooter so I used some Christmas money to buy this one. I like it because the base is wide and the handle bars adjust to my height.
9. Reindeer Balloon- I bought this balloon at Kroger after I saw Zoe eyeing it. There is a string attached to the neck so you can "walk" it. Zoe carries it around, gives it hugs, feeds it, and calls it Ray Ray.
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