Penny's Passion: November 2015

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weekending -- Thanksgiving One

Happy Cyber Monday!  What a weekend!  This was a nice, long weekend for me since we're off work on Friday after Thanksgiving.  I'm so grateful we get Friday as a holiday and I don't have to use a vacation day.

So how was your Thanksgiving?  Ours was great!  We had a house full of family and it was fantastic!  My youngest nephew, Liam, is 2 months old already and I just can't get enough of him.  He's adorable!

Nephews and Niece

Thanksgiving was a beautiful 72 degrees.  The kids played outside for a bit and we didn't have to worry about anyone traveling home in bad weather. Mom and Dad were staying the night so Mom and I could hit the stores on Friday.  Thursday night we scoped out the ads to map our plan of attack.

On Friday, we woke to rain.  Not just a little rain, I'm talking about it pouring rain.  And it didn't let up all day long.  We didn't let the weather slow us down, but wow was it a challenge to be out and about in that weather.  Friday was also my mom's birthday.  It was great spending the day with her!

Kayla joined us in the afternoon.  We all worked on getting items on our Christmas list checked off.  It was tough focusing on buying for others and not picking up some stuff for yourself.  Did you shop over the weekend?  Did you buy more for others than things for yourself?  Even with the rain, we turned it into a fun day!

After Mom headed home, Kayla, Eric and I made one last stop at the Galleria.  Kayla and I got our picture taken with Santa (kinda) before meeting up with Ian for dinner.

Saturday Eric worked and I tried to get the house back to normal before we drug out all the Christmas decorations.  I also spent some time doing some online shopping.  Now it's time to step back and do an inventory.  I have completely lost track of what I've bought and what I still need to get.

In the evening, Eric and I joined some friends for dinner and a concert.  We picked Triumph for dinner.  This is a great little restaurant near the Fox Theater, where we would be seeing Michael McDonald.  Fun times!!

Michael McDonald was great to see.  His voice, in my opinion, is definitely showing his age a bit.  But if you love The Doobie Brothers like I do, it was so fun to hear him sing.  The concert reminded me of a PBS special.  I kept waiting for someone to step out and ask for a donation.

Sunday was Kayla and Ian's second wedding anniversary.  Happy anniversary guys!  Here's to many, many more!

The Christmas trees went up on Sunday. It's trees, plural.  I love our trees -- all five of them.  Right now we have a bunch of naked trees sitting around.  My friend, Carol, is coming by on Monday to make them spectacular.  It will be so wonderful walking in the door after work and seeing her creations!  I'll definitely be showing them to you in a future post.

Now it's on to face the week.  December is such a magical month.  I'm so hoping we make the most of it and truly enjoy the season.  Hope you join me!

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
More Pieces of Me
Bella and the City
A Cute Angle
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home
Tuesday Talk
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Five on Friday - November 27, 2015

Happy Day After Thanksgiving!  Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I know we had a winner of a day and my belly is still full from our feast.  We were blessed to have lots of family visit us.  My mom, Kayla, and I are hitting the stores today in hopes crossing some names off our Christmas lists.

Today is also a special day because it's my mom's birthday.  Happy birthday Mom!  I'm lucky to be able to spend the whole day with her having fun shopping.

So before we head out the door for some retail therapy, here's my five for this week.

1.  Pentatonix Sings Joy to the World
Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, I'm ready to bust out the Christmas tunes.  Have you heard Pentatonix's version of Joy to the World?  Love it!  Check it out here ~

2.  Wooden Advent Calendar
It's that time of year for the advent calendars to make their debut.  When Ian was little, one of the highlights of December was adding ornaments to our felt advent calendar.  It was a tradition that meant so much to both Ian and I.  This Melissa & Doug Countdown to Christmas Wooden Advent Calendar looks like one you could have in your family for years.  Love this one!  Click HERE to purchase and start your own family advent calendar traditions.
Check out these adorable phrase bracelets by Amy Waltz Designs.  Are they not the greatest!?!  If you are looking for that special Christmas gift that really sends a powerful message, this could be just what you're looking for.  If you were getting one, what would yours say?  I'm loving the one that says, "I choose to be happy".  

Gift / Gift for Her / ONE BlessingBand / Mantra Bangle / Power Phrase Bracelet / Gift for Her / Unique Gift / Positive Jewelry

4.  Call Santa
Would your kids like to phone in their Christmas list straight to Santa?  Here's a fun number to reach him.  Santa's message is adorable!  

5.  So true....

Hope your Black Friday is all you want it to be!  If you're going out shopping, remember to be kind ~ Santa might be watching!

Linking up with:
High Five for Friday
5 on Friday 
The Jenny Evolution
The Evolution of Mom
Why Girls Are Weird
Ins and Outs
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!


From our house to yours

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Eve

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving everyone!  If you are anything like me, you are running around today trying to tie up loose ends in preparation for the big feast tomorrow.  I'm a list person and have about 1243 5 in my purse right now I'm trying to work from.

I love lists!  They keep me grounded and feeling like I'm accomplishing things.  They can also help me remember what's important in life.  When my friend's daughter, Haley, turned 21 I wrote two posts (HERE and HERE) of thoughts I hoped she would carry with her.  Every now and again I go back and read them just as a reminder of things important to me.

This week a list resurfaced that I hadn't seen in a couple years. I first saw it way back in 2013 when my friend Tracy sent it to me, Carol and Sherri.  Sherri was cleaning up some emails this week and sent it back to us.  It's by Regina Brett - an author and columnist.

As we head into the holiday season where stresses can run high and emotions can be worn on one's sleeves, I thought it might be nice to reflect on these 50 items and just let them sink in.  Think of them as your drama shield.

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don't ask, you don't get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift..

If you love these, you might want to check out Regina's book God Never Blinks:  50 Lessons for Life's Little Detours.  I'm adding this book to my Christmas list.  It would be the perfect book to have on the night stand in our guest bedroom.

To purchase, click HERE
Good luck getting ready for Thanksgiving and safe travels if you're hitting the road.  See you soon!

Linking Up With:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekending - November 20, 2015

Hello - My name is Penny and I'm a procrastinator.  There, I said it.  I took off last Thursday and Friday to get totally prepared for Thanksgiving and, well, I'm honestly no further along being ready for Thanksgiving than I was last Wednesday before I took vacation.  But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy my last few days.  Here's what went down.....

My husband, Eric, works in a grocery store and you can imagine how busy he is this time of year.  He had to work on Saturday and Sunday, so I knew if I wanted to spend any time with him over the next couple weeks I needed to take vacation on Thursday and Friday to take advantage of his time off.  So that's exactly what I did!  Thursday we were going to clean and reorganize our pantry.  It's started, and over half done.  But not COMPLETE.  I thought I could finish it on Friday  Saturday  Sunday  sometimes over the weekend.  Nope.  Didn't happen (the procrastinating mentioned above).  Monday.  Definitely going to finish it on Monday.  I did get the front door decorated for fall.

Since Eric had to go to work in the afternoon on Friday, we turned the a.m. into date morning.  We headed to Panera for our favorite breakfast sandwich on asiago bagel.  Yum!!  Just what we needed to start our date.

Next it was on to our movie of the week - Mockingjay Part II.  Loved it!  After four years, the story is done.  If you haven't read the books, I would highly recommend them.

Friday when Eric left for work, I hit some shops looking for something to wear to our Saturday evening event.  I was trying to match a pair of pants I had purchased a couple weeks ago.  Like a fool, I didn't take them with me and brought apparel that didn't remotely work.  So I loaded myself (and the pants) back in the car for round two of shopping.  After trying on 1349385 items, I decided to ditch the already purchased pants and go a completely different route.  The final product was this gorgeous Chico sweater with a pair of black velvet pants hanging in my closet.

To purchase, click HERE
I paired it with a gold blouse and a statement necklace.  Round two of shopping was worth it -- loved the way the whole look came together.

To purchase, click HERE
Saturday morning I met some friends at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows for their Girls' Day Out event.  One of the rooms in the Shrine was set up with decorated Christmas trees from around the world.  They were so beautiful!  Take a peek at some of them.

From there, I headed out to meet some friends Sharyn, Eric and Audrey for lunch.  Sharyn and I have been friends since grade school and it's always a great time to get together with her family.

We dined at a place I hadn't been to before - Twister Ranch.  Loved it!  This is a cute little corner restaurant very close to Soulard Market.  Everything they serve comes with a side of ranch.  Not just any ranch,  They have their own secret homemade ranch recipe and it's in every dish on their menu.  In addition to their classic ranch, they also have dozens of ranch flavors.  Fun place!

Saturday night, Eric and I attended the annual NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Gala.  It's such a great organization doing so many things that it was an honor to attend.  Their mission is to improve the quality of life of persons with severe and persistent mental illnesses and their families, and promote and provide community support, education, advocacy and understanding.

They had several amazing items on their silent auction.  Have you participated in a silent auction lately?  This was the first time I participated in one that you could do on your smart phone.  What a great idea!  You bid from your phone.  If someone outbid you, you received a text and could rebid without leaving your seat.  This is how our table looked before the silent auction closed ~

Remember THIS POST when I talked about my fall goals?  One of them was to lay on the couch one whole Sunday afternoon and watch football.  Check that off!  Sunday I literally laid around all day watching TV.  Yes, the pantry chore was still needing to be finished.  But being the procrastinator that I am, laying on the couch watching TV just sounded like a better thing to do.  Thank heavens my husband is as understanding as he is!!

So how was your weekend?  Hope you enjoyed the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I'm going to have a fun week getting ready for company.  Thursday will be a fun day!  So let's get this week started!

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
More Pieces of Me
Bella and the City
A Cute Angle
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home
Tuesday Talk
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Five on Friday - November 20, 2015

Hello Friday!  You came way too fast this week.  I took yesterday and today off work in hopes of getting some of my Thanksgiving preparations done.  Let's just say I still have a lot to do.  I got caught up in cleaning out the pantry yesterday and the day was gone before I knew it.  Of course, now I have a bigger mess than when I started!  Hopefully today I'll just power through and be done before I know it.

We did take a break last night to have dinner with the neighbors from our old neighborhood.  We hadn't seen them in several years - way too many years - and it was wonderful catching up with them.  Definitely will not be waiting that long again to get together.  Thanks Kathy and Ron for a fun time!

Now, with no further ado, here's my five for this week ~

1.  Kaboost Chair Raiser
Check out this chair raiser!  This would be the perfect thing to have around during the holidays when kids arrive.  It would easily store away when you don't need it and be a life saver when you did.  This baby will fit round or square 4 legged chairs.  It holds up to 300 pounds (for the big kids) and the rubberized feet are non slip and won't scratch floors.  Need one for Thanksgiving?  Click HERE to get yourself one.

2.  Deeper
Do you have a fisherman in your life?  Looking for a great gift for them?  Well, I have the product for you!  The Deeper Wireless Fishfinder is a small, self-contained wireless transducer that streams sonar images to the operators of an iOS or Android smart device via a Bluetooth connection. The highly portable design and superior feature-set make the Deeper a must have for anglers in every fishing condition.
Deeper Smart Portable Fish Finder (Depth Finder) for Smartphone or Tablet, suitable for Ice Fishing, Kayak, Boat and Shore Fishing. Compatible with iPhones and Android devices. The World's most versatile wireless sonar.

3.  Adele
Let's hear it for Adele's much awaited album, 25, that is being released today.  Yay!!  If you're an Adele lover like I am, here's a couple other Adele happenings you won't want to miss.  Adele is the musical guest on SNL this week.  Matthew McConaughey will be the host so you'll have something nice to look at before she makes her appearance.  And this one you might want to set your DVR so you don't miss it -- NBC will be broadcasting a one-hour Adele Live In New York City on Monday, December 14.   The special was taped at her one night only performance at New York's Radio City Music Hall on November 17.  So happy she's back!

Click HERE to purchase the CD
4.  Fleece Lined Tights
We had a little cold snap here so it was time to bust out the fleece tights this week.  These are on sale right now at Urban Outfitter ~ 2 pairs for $20.  My legs stay toasty warm when I'm wearing them.  The office where I work is so cold I might just have a pair on until spring.  Good thing they are so comfortable!  They would also make a great items to pop in someones stocking.

Click HERE to purchase

5.  This is a little bit me....

Okay, back to my chores.  If all goes as planned, we're going to try to see the new Hunger Games movie this weekend.  Are you planning on seeing it?  I'm also meeting up with a friend and her family for lunch tomorrow.  Hope your weekend is fantastic!  Stop back by on Monday to see my Thanksgiving mantle and hear all about the weekend.

Linking up with:
High Five for Friday
5 on Friday 
The Jenny Evolution
The Evolution of Mom
Why Girls Are Weird
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thinking Out Loud Thursday -- November 18, 2015

Welcome to this week's Thinking Out Loud Thursday!  Me and Vanessa over at X-tremely V are so happy you stopped by.  Hope you link up below and share with us what you're thinking out loud about today.

Doing a little thinking out loud about myself today.  My birthday was Monday and that event always makes me a little reflective on exactly where I am in life.  I tend to make a little "Things I Want To Do Before My Next Birthday" list.  Some ideas are big, some are small and some are just plain silly.  Do you do that around your birthday?  I feel like a list keeps me operating more intentionally than just going about things willy nilly.  Let me share just a couple things from my list.

A big item is to organize my Pinterest boards.  I really wish I would have thought through the whole scope of what I would be using Pinterest for when I started.  I had a handful of very generic boards like "Favorite Recipes".  Well, that board quickly became populated with every recipe that looked remotely good.  BAD IDEA!  I should have thought bigger picture and set up a different board for each category of food I would be saving recipes for ~ like soups, candy, appetizers.  You get the picture.  So, for the next 12 months I am hopefully going to get all organized in my Pinterest world, which will save me time in the long run when I'm looking for stuff.  Anyone have a favorite way of keeping your Pinterest boards tidy?  Any clever names for your boards?  If you want to follow me (and see how cool my boards are going to be), click HERE.
Next is loosing some weight.  I know, I should save this one for a New Year's resolution, but I've already waited too long to make this a priority.  Over the last 6 years, I've let 30 extra pounds take residence in my body.  Well, the evacuation notice has been posted pounds.  You need to go!  Ian is graduating from law school in May and I would like to loose them by then.  I'm giving serious thought to ordering this bad boy so when I'm sitting on the couch catching up on my Shonda Rhimes shows, I can at least be burning a few calories at the same time.  
Click HERE to purchase
Another thing high on my list is I want to write more letters and send more cards.  I've said this before and, honestly, haven't done that great of job.  What really brought this to the front of my mind was a couple things I got for my birthday.  My friend Linda wrote me a letter and put it in my birthday card.  I'll truly treasure it for the rest of my life.  I've read it every day since it arrived and it makes me so happy Every.Single.Time.  I'm still crying each time I finish it.  But it's a happy cry, the kind that's good for the soul.  My friend Jane wrote just a few words in my card and, again, they touched my heart.  I loved their messages!  And I want to tell the people dear to me how much they mean to me and give them the same joy I felt when I read Linda and Jane's message to me.  I'm ordering THESE today and getting started.  Nothing is better than spreading some joy!

Click HERE to purchase
Thanks to all my friends and family who made my birthday special.  From my friends at work who brought me a bagel and my favorite chocolate cookies, my neighbor and her kids who sang me happy birthday on my voicemail, my nephew who sent me a happy birthday text, Eric, Ian and Kayla for their very thoughtful gifts and a birthday greeting from my brother, Ernie, who sent me this picture of my nephew, Liam.  #meltedmyheart  It's been a great, great birthday!

So what's on your mind today?  Link up below and share with us!  

Enjoy more Thoughts for Thursday at

Monday, November 16, 2015

Let's Make Snickers Fudge

Recently at my church, there was a new book club formed.  Our first official meeting was last week and one of the members, Judi, volunteered to bring a snack.  What she presented to us was this magnificent Snickers Fudge.  I'm telling you what, I would show up at any meeting if this stuff was going to be there!  It is just that good.  No, it's not good -- it's GREAT!

I promptly came home and pulled up Pinterest, typed in snickers fudge and found just what I was looking for.  The recipe I followed came from Six Sisters' Stuff and it was G-O-O-D!  The directions below are taken straight from their website.

Now, don't let the ingredients intimidate you.  There are four layers and each layer has it's own ingredients and directions.  But you can do it!  Overall, it's not that hard and you will be so pleased with the outcome.  Totally worth the extra effort.

Here's What You Need
First Layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Second Layer:
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1-1/2 cups marshmallow creme
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Third Layer:
14 oz. bag caramels, unwrapped 
1/4 cup evaporated milk

Fourth Layer:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

Here's What You Do
1.  Spray a 9" x 13" glass pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2.  FIRST LAYER:  In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips and peanut butter.  Heat in the microwave in 30 seconds and stir.  You may need to microwave one more time (I had to).  Pour in an even layer into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Place pan in freezer.

3.  SECOND LAYER:  In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Stir in the sugar and evaporated milk and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately stir in marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla.  Add peanuts and stir until incorporated.  Pour mixture over the chocolate layer from the freezer and spread evenly.  Place back in freezer.

4.  THIRD LAYER:  Add the caramels and evaporated milk to a small saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until caramel is melted and smooth (apparently you could do this in the microwave, but I did mine stove top).  Remove pan from freezer and pour caramel over the second layer.  Place back in freezer.

5.  FOURTH LAYER:  In a small bowl, combine chocolate chips and peanut butter.  Repeat microwaving intervals used for the first layer.  Stir until creamy and pour in an even layer onto the top.

6.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and cut into squares when ready to serve (they are super rich, so cut them small!).  Keep refrigerated.

So, a helpful hint - Before you start making the recipe, make sure you have a flat spot in your freezer to put the 9" x 13" pan.  You don't want your fudge to be all crooked!

Also, when I want to make my cuts uniform, I lay a rule across the pan and make little tick marks.  Do this on both top and bottom, horizontally and vertically.  Then you just have to connect the marks with your knife to have nice, even squares.

I took this to work when we celebrated November birthdays and it was a hit!  Love it when what I bring disappears and people ask for the recipe.  Thanksgiving guests -- get ready.  You will be seeing this at my house!

Handmade Tuesday's with Kristen

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weekending - November 13, 2015

Like many of you, the events of Paris cast a spell of shock, sadness and fear over the weekend.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who are going to be affected by the horrific acts of the terrorists.

The symbol: A simply-drawn peach sign containing the Eiffel Tower has become the international symbol of solidarity following the horrific terrorist attacks that occurred across Paris on Friday

Here's how my weekend went down.

Friday night I got to celebrate my birthday with my friends Sherri, Carol and Tracy.  We met at Sherri's to enjoy a little bonfire action.  We roasted hot dogs and made s'mores.  What a relaxing way to end the week.

After dinner around the fire pit, we moved the party inside to cap off the evening with wine and conversation.  Spending time with friends is really the best!

Saturday morning needed to be a productive one!  I had baby shower invitations that had to be in the mail Monday.  Mission accomplished!  Love the way they turned out!  More will be shared on these later.  Oh, and see that adorable mug -- thanks Sherri for the birthday gift!

Saturday afternoon was spent at the mall with my daughter-in-law, Kayla.  I had some birthday coupons that were burning a hole in my pocket.  Kayla is a great shopper and can always find things I need to come home with.  I had a $15 birthday certificate from Ann Taylor that I didn't have a bit of trouble using.  Definitely had shopping success!  

All that shopping left us starving, so we met the guys at Rosalita's for some delicious Mexican food.  No photos.  We were so busy telling our shopping stories that my food was half gone before I ever thought about a picture.  And let's face it, half eaten Mexican food really wouldn't have been a very attractive picture.  

Speaking of birthday coupons,  Click HERE for a great article by All You on things you can get free on your birthday.  I still have several freebies to cash in before the end of the month.  Love birthday month!

Sunday was so beautiful outside!  We hung out during the day and decided when the sun went down to catch a movie.  The pick was The 33.  It wasn't the best movie we've ever seen, but it was okay.  Probably one you could catch on Netflix.


I'm looking forward to dinner with Eric, Kayla and Ian on Monday.  We're headed to one of our favorite spots - 1111 Mississippi.  It's been forever since we've dined there - I'm really looking forward to visiting again.  Now let's get the week started!

Check out what others were up to this weekend.
More Pieces of Me
Bella and the City
A Cute Angle
The Quinntessential Mommy
How To Get Organized At Home
Tuesday Talk
This post contained affiliate links.  I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase.  Thanks!