Winter Highlights!

So I’ve been trying to post my December and January Highlights for WEEKS MONTHS now, but seeing as how February is now over and Spring is almost here (yay!), I figured I’d just summarize the last three months into one wintery post :) I have lots of highlights from our trip to France for Christmas, but first, BOOKS!

In December and January I read 10 books (and DNF 2). I also read a short story prequel to The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight A Grimm Curse Hello Goodbye To Win Her Favor The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things brokenhearts Faires Vampire Academy Winter A Worthy Pursuit

did not finish The Distance Between Us by Kasie West or Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid, even though I was looking forward to that book so much! I really enjoyed his first novel, Let’s Get Lost, but his new book did not have the same feel or voice to it and the main characters drove me insane. It felt too much like a John Green novel, so if you’re a fan of his you might enjoy Never Always Sometimes.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Reads of 2015 (December)
Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My To-Be-Read List (January)
A Grimm Curse (Grimm Tales #3) by Janna Jennings (February)

What I Watched

Reign

I started watching Reign on Netflix in January. Even though it’s not the best show, dialogue and plot-line wise, I am obsessed with the costumes on Reign. They’re definitely not historically accurate, but they’re so pretty! Also, Anne Shirley plays Queen Catherine of France! I haven’t watched it in a while, though, so I’m not caught up on this season.

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In February I binged watch Chicago Med (it’s still in season one, so I only binged like 9 episodes). It has an ER feel to it, and the drama of the show is more focused on the patients than the nurses and doctors (although they have their drama and relationship problems, too. It’s just not as dramatic as Grey’s Anatomy).

What I Listened To

Like so many other people, I jumped on the Hamilton bandwagon a few months ago. I love how upbeat the soundtrack is, and I only wish I lived closer to NYC so I could actually see the show performed on Broadway. Maybe one day they’ll start touring and come down to NC?

I also fell in love with two new (to me) podcasts. Astonishing Legends covers unexplained disappearances, treasure hunts, time travel, urban legends, and other weird & interesting topics. I got my husband into this one, too, after we listened to a 4-part series on the Oak Island Money Pit. I can’t listen to these podcasts at night, though, because I’m just like Catherine Morland and my imagination gets scared easily…

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I also started listening to Stuff You Missed in History Class, which also has it’s creepier episodes, but overall it factually covers some famous and not so famous history lessons. One of my favorite episodes that I listened to recently was about the Great Vowel Shift and a brief history of the English language. Each episode is only about 30-40 minutes, perfect for me to listen to while doing housework or driving across town.

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Highlights

  • Killian is now 4 months old!

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  • We did a lot of traveling this winter. For Christmas and New Years we visited my in-laws in France! We were blessed to be able to stay for 2 whole weeks and I’m so happy that we got to see lots of extended family and friends while we were there. Here are just A FEW of the pictures from our trip:
  • In February, my best friend Jae visited us for a whole week!! It was so nice getting to spend time with her, and she helped me organize and clean house which was a huge blessing to me (boxes of Christmas decorations had taken over our kitchen counters).
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  • Killian’s first trip to Florida! I’m from Florida, and some of my family still lives there. Last month I was able to fly down to Tampa with the baby to visit my extended family for a week and it was so nice! I hadn’t seen a lot of my mom’s extended family in a few years (not since my wedding, actually), so it was nice to catch up and introduce them to the French Fry.

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    Four Generations! Great-Grandpa, Grandma, Mommy, and Baby :) (and we didn’t color coordinate on purpose)

Looking Forward to in February

  • Birthdays! Matt, Solo, and I all have our birthdays in March. Mine is actually next week! We don’t have any big plans, but I’m excited for cake & presents (aka BOOKS because my family knows me so well).
  • Family visits. My parents and my sister are both visiting us later this month, and it’s always nice having them here. Since the weather is warming up now I hope to take them sight seeing at some of the outdoor attractions here in town. There’s a WWII battle ship and a Civil War battleground that I know my dad will enjoy, and then there’s always the beach :)
  • Finding a job. I’ve started job hunting now that Killian is a little older. I’m not looking forward to leaving him at daycare, though!! *cries*
  • Moving! Our lease is up in about a month and I’m excited to move to a less-crowded home (right now we’re in a 1-bedroom apartment!).

Whew! Those are my condensed highlights from the past three months. I wish I could have made a whole post just about Christmas in France, but I’ve done that before so I guess it’s ok that I abbreviated our trip in this post instead. You can read it here :)

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Fall Bucket List

Pumpkins

Our carved pumpkins from last year :)

I know that we are already a month into the autumn season, but I’m just now getting around to sharing my Fall Bucket List!

Fall is my favorite season, and I’m especially excited about it this year because in a few more weeks we will be welcoming our little baby boy into our lives and I can’t wait to experience all my favorite holidays and fall activities with him :)

2015 Fall Bucket List

  • Carve some pumpkins
  • Go apple picking
  • Make homemade apple pie and berry cobbler
  • Decorate our apartment for fall
  • Have a Harry Potter marathon (complete with HP themed snacks)
  • Make crock-pot apple cider
  • Finish crocheting Little Baby French Fry’s baby blanket
  • (speaking of babies…) HAVE A BABY!
  • Read some science fiction
  • Go on a hayride (Matt really wants to do this)
  • Prepare some freezer meals for after baby’s arrival
  • Go to the farmer’s market before it closes
  • Take our first family photo

I’ve technically already put up our autumn decor, but I haven’t posted any pictures of it yet, so that’s still coming :)

What are some of your favorite fall activities?

Where I’ve Been

It has been nearly 3 months since my last post and I’m finally ready to explain where the heck I’ve been lately. Prepare yourself for some not so fun stories, but I will start and finish this post off with happy things, don’t worry!

Since I don’t think I ever posted a wrap-up post from February, I never got the chance to squeal about some of the big, exciting things that happened for me and my husband at the beginning of the year, so let me just do that real quickly right now:

  • My husband was offered a job in Wilmington, NC which he took! He’s been working now for 5 months and he really enjoys it.
  • We officially relocated from Maryland to North Carolina at the end of March and we love it here! We’ve made so many friends and are almost finished settling into our place (this month I’ve been restoring and repainting furniture and I’m hoping to unpack the last few boxes in the coming weeks).

And the biggest news of all is:

  • We are expecting our first child!

    Mother's Day

    Family photo back from Mother’s Day. Matt thinks he looks goofy here but I think he looks like a proud Papa :)

  • And…

    It's a Boy

    Little Baby French Fry is due on October 26!

I am officially 21 weeks along today, and I am finally enjoying the “honeymoon phase” of pregnancy. After my first trimester I was beginning to lose hope that I would enjoy anything about being pregnant, and that’s all thanks to those lovely hormones that give some women morning sickness and others, like me, an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. I was never diagnosed, but I can tell you that I had early pregnancy depression and it turned my world completely upside down. (Yes, here come those not so fun stories I warned you about)

We had been trying to conceive for roughly two years, but earlier this year we weren’t actively trying due to Matt’s new job and our impending move. So it came as a big surprise (and for me I was in disbelief for a while) when the tests came back positive. WE’RE HAVING A BABY! Of course we were both happy, but a few days later I started feeling worried; Was this the best time? Would we be financially secure? What if I couldn’t find a new job when we moved? Would I be a good mom? Why am I not happier?

These thoughts plagued us both for the first month, but while my husband handled his stress by working hard and solving all our housing problems, I tried as hard as I could to feel happier and more positive but to no avail. All of the normal things I loved to do suddenly turned me off. Reading made me nauseous, I had no desire to write anything for my blog and I even avoided social media (and not for good reasons), and I gave up my attempts to finish my 25 Things list because I no longer cared about anything.

Finally, after a few weeks, I told my husband about how I was feeling because the last thing I wanted to do was isolate myself with those dark feelings. He was nothing but supportive and encouraging. He reassured me that this was all hormone-related and that eventually I would feel like myself again. Honestly, I only believed him half the time, but I would try every now and then to pick up a book or watch one of my favorite TV shows or crochet, and if I couldn’t do it, I tried not to focus on any repercussions (i.e. not updating my blog for months or finishing my 25 Things list before my birthday).

It was really hard. People asked me regularly what I was reading lately or why my blog was so silent, and I hated telling them, “My pregnancy hormones are making me depressed,” because shouldn’t I be happy about having a baby? I wish someone had told me that it’s not uncommon to feel depressed during pregnancy. At least that would have made me feel less ashamed.

But long story short, eventually I did find myself again. After going from reading a book a week to not reading a book for over two months, I finally picked something up and finished it. My husband was happy the old me was back, but he was never once negative or pessimistic about what I had been going through; he was constantly supportive and there for me, even when he was living in NC and I was still up in Maryland. I will be forever grateful to have him as my husband, and I know he’s going to be a great father to our little boy :)

So now I’m finally ready to return to the world of blogging. I won’t be posting as often as I used to, but I will try to post twice a week. I even have a Top Ten Tuesday post lined up for tomorrow!!

Thank you to all of you who read this post or who have encouraged and congratulated me over the past couple of months. I really have missed the friends I’ve made through blogging, and I’m sorry I disappeared but I’m very much looking forward to posting, reading my favorite blogs, and participating in blogosphere events again!

<3 Maggie

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon

mountvernonLast week my husband and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary :) Since our anniversary is so close to Christmas, and because we’re trying to save up money right now to find a new apartment next year, we decided to take advantage of the closeness of Washington, D.C. to celebrate. One of my favorite attractions in the area is George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and my husband had never been before, so when we saw that they were holding a Christmas event there last weekend, we quickly reserved some tickets and bundled ourselves up for the colonial festivities :) (no, seriously, we were freezing!)

The estate offered a lovely variety of 18th century holiday festivities including caroling, chocolate making, silhouetted portrait demonstrations, live colonial-style music (featuring a hurdy gurdy!), blacksmith reconstructions, and 18th century dancing (my favorite!). The evening was topped off with a Christmas-time reenactment and a little fireworks show from George Washington’s backyard.

Unfortunately, it was really dark outside, so my pictures didn’t turn out as great as I hoped they would, but I’m still going to share them here :)

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Making old-fashioned hot chocolate.

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Colonial music, featuring a hurdy gurdy.

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The blacksmith hammering out a J-Hook.

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Super blurry, but you get the idea :) It was really fun watching the people closest to us dance–they messed up quite a few times but still had fun (which is reassuring because I know I’d forget half the dance steps, too!).

Next year we plan to go back with the rest of the family. And I’ll be sure to give the 18th century dancing a try, too! ;)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope you all enjoy some quality time with your families to ring in the New Year :)

It’s A Wonderful Life!

Christmastime is upon us!!

Normally we buy a tree and kick of the Christmas season one or two days after Thanksgiving, but this year we had to delay a week and it was hard! But finally we have Christmas-fied our house!

On Thursday night we went and bought a tree, but we couldn’t decorate it until Friday night.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Decorated Tree

Isn’t it pretty?!?! I’ve always loved “traditional” Christmas trees, as I call them, with the multicolored lights and various types of classic and homemade ornaments. Last year in France we  had more of a red, white, & wood mountain-themed Christmas, which was lovely and totally fit the region we lived in. But this year I’m super excited to have a Christmas tree like we always had growing up. The last time we spent Christmas at my parents’ house was before we moved to France!

Per tradition, I also made Christmas cookies and then last night we watched one of my all time favorite Christmas movies, It’s A Wonderful Life. I laughed, I cried, and I felt all warm and fuzzy when it was over :) Such a classic!

The Christmas cookies I made were de-lish-ious. I did not make the recipe, but I’ll share it with you since I’ve had several requests :)

Hidden Candy Cane Kiss Cookies by Once Upon A Cutting Board

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They look amazing, right?!

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The recipe itself is actually super easy.

cookies

My cookies came out a little different from the picture, but when you eat them straight out of the oven, the peppermint kiss just melts in your mouth and it is DELICIOUS.

The one problem I had with these cookies is that when I ate them the next day, they were too hard for my taste (but still yummy). I just heated them up in the microwave for 10 seconds and they were once again perfect.

I definitely plan on making these cookies again before Christmas, but I want to try adding some cocoa powder! Chocolate + peppermint = <333

Click here for the recipe!

What are some of your Christmas traditions? Do you have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe? I’d love to try it!

November Highlights

Oh my gosh, it is December already!? Whaaaat!

October was a big month for me, but November was just as busy and eventful. This month brought some great, new changes to my life, and it was also a bit of an awakening for me as well. My blogging and reading time entered a bit of a lull, but if you keep reading on you’ll see that it’s been worth it :)

November Highlights!

This month I read 7  books! (Which might not seem like a lot, but it surprised me because I felt like I hadn’t read anything this month)

thebeautifulamerican thetroublewithflirting waroftheworlds thewonderofallthings
            robinhood weddingnight somethingstrange

I still need to get my review up for The War of the Worlds, and later this week I will be hosting a blog tour for The Beautiful American, which I am so excited to talk about!

What I Watched In November

Like I talked about last month, Matt and I have been binge watching Supernatural. We watch a couple of episodes most nights, and right now we are halfway through Season 5. The first two seasons were amazing! I am totally in love with Sam and Dean and I LOVE their relationship. I think the fact that they are brothers as opposed to best friends makes the show so much better. But seasons 3 and 4 were kinda disappointing. Season 5 is better, but honestly, every time Castiel pops up, I know the rest of the episode is going to go downhill (except for the Trickster one! Oh my gosh, that’s one of my favorite episodes so far).

I also started The Blacklist, and I think I’ll be binge watching the rest of Season 1 next month (I have SO MANY QUESTIONS!).

I saw The Maze Runner finally (and broke my cardinal rule by seeing the movie first), and loved it, but I also saw Nightcrawler with Jake Gyllenhaal and was creeped out. Good movie, but not the kind of thing I want to see twice.

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My most viewed post from November was my update on my 25 Things list! I’m slowly crossing off things from my list of 25 Things For My 25th Year, and I’ve done some pretty big and exciting things throughout the past couple of months!

Favorite Memories From November:

  • I GOT A JOB! Woooooo! I talked about this in my 25 Things Update post, but I’ve been employed for nearly 3 weeks now and I love it so far. My husband and I are very thankful for God’s provision.
  • YALL Fest!!! I could go on and on about this amazing experience, but I sort of already did that ;)
  • Thanksgiving! This was my first Thanksgiving in 3 years that I got to spend in the States, and since it is my favorite holiday, I was very excited about it! My grandfather came to visit us for the long weekend and it was really nice getting to spend some time with him. I spent Thursday morning watching the parade and cooking up all my favorite dishes from last year.
    thanksgiving

Biggest Challenge From November

NOT ENOUGH READING TIME! This is the one downside to working full-time: I don’t have as much time to read and blog. My commute to work is about 1 hour and 15 minutes, so I’ve been listening to audio books to make up for it, but not all of the books I want to read for reviews, for example, are available on audio book. Hopefully this month I can catch up on my TBR pile :)

December To Be Read:

I listed most of my TBR for next month on last week’s Top Ten Tuesday post, but I also plan on finishing the books on my Back to the Classics list, which includes North & South, The Journey to the Center of the Earth, and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Things I’m Looking Forward To In December:

  • Matt and I celebrate our 3rd Anniversary later this month! Hopefully we can spend a 3 day weekend somewhere nice.
  • CHRISTMAS! But mostly Christmas decorating! I love Christmas, but I really love getting ready for Christmas. Usually we would have gotten our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, but we were busy visiting family, so we’re doing that one night this week instead and I AM EXCITED! Matt and I have a tradition of decorating the tree, making Christmas cookies, and watching It’s A Wonderful Life :)

What were some of your favorite moments/books from November??