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This Past December…
What a whirlwind! Anyone else feel like December just flew by?
We started the month with Neal’s office holiday party, I volunteered at the Junior League’s Winter Dreams home tour event, and we got ready for our holiday travels! December 30 marked our 1 year anniversary of arriving to Bentonville, which felt pretty huge to us and has been a good time to reflect on how we’ve changed and grown over the past year.
New on India from Indiana
- Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings – The best gluten free chicken and dumplings!
- Best Gluten Free Cookies for the Holidays – Recipe roundup of some of the best gluten free cookies to make during the holiday season.
- Gluten Free Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs – One of my favorite recipes on the blog. These meatballs are a hit with anyone I’ve made them for and are easily made in the slow cooker.
- Homemade Egg Drop Soup – There were a few weeks where I craved egg drop soup like no one’s business. Originally inspired by this recipe from The Defined Dish, we tweaked this Homemade Egg Drop Soup recipe until we made it our own and I can’t get enough of it.
What I Read in December
- The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – This is one of the most popular books on Amazon with over 13,000+ reviews. Both Neal and I read this over the Christmas break and we are going to put her method into practice in the new year. I feel like in the next months I’ll be asking myself “Does this bring me joy?” a lot!
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – Paulo Coelho has been speaking to my soul lately, and this book is no exception. This book is a quick read about a young man that goes on a journey across continents and encounters a wise mentor.
- A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – I’m late to the game on GoT, but I started the first book this month. I refuse to watch the show before finishing the first book, so I have no idea what to expect. So far, so good!
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – I finally got around to reading this book and LOVED it! I devoured this book in about 2 days. I just wish I had been reading it on a tropical beach! This book is so much more detailed than the movie and gives more insight into the characters. Can’t wait to read the next two in the trilogy.
- Belgravia by Julian Fellowes – This book is by creator of Downtown Abbey–one of my absolute favorite shows! I’ve just started it a few days ago, but so far there are big twists and character development is interesting. Not really a book that makes you think, but a fun read.
Makeup Remover Towel – I got this makeup remover towel in my stocking from Neal’s mom and am so obsessed. It somehow removes dirt and grime from my face better than a regular wash cloth with Cetaphil. I just wet it with water, scrub with one side to cleans and exfoliate with the other side. I tone as usual, and when using Cetaphil my cotton ball would have dirt still on it, but now it is clean. I don’t get how this works but it is amazing.
Jojoba Oil – This is what I brought for the Favorite Things Party with girlfriends in Indy. I love using this jojoba oil for oil cleansing and feel that it has helped balance my combination skin. Since using it, I’ve been able to wear less makeup. Makeup also doesn’t seem to slide off my face anymore during the day. I’ve also had this is a great carrier oil for essential oils, but haven’t used it for that yet.
Organic Lip Balm – My absolute favorite lip balm. I make sure I have a tube in my purse, at the office, and in my bedside table. The ingredients are clean and its affordable. I love the sheen it leaves and my lips just feel so freaking soft after using this lip balm! This variety pack has so many yummy flavors, but my favorite is the Eucalyptus Mint.
I was off my cooking game last month and into the beginning of this month. Towards the middle of the month, cooking started to feel fun again! I created some fun recipes that I can’t wait to share in the near future like sweet potato kale tacos, cilantro lime sauce, and easy stovetop white cheddar everything bagel macaroni and cheese with broccoli. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite recipe from this month, but I am so obsessed with the sweet potato kale tacos. They’re smoky, hearty, and healthy.
We had a chili cook-off at work and my Honey Habanero Chili tied for 1st place! I had a blast trying everyone’s chili. Each recipe was so different but delicious in their own way. I think I ate about 3 bowls of chili for lunch that day, haha!
We made our way back to Indiana and Michigan for the holidays! With Dobby in tow, we left Arkansas on Friday, December 21st to make the 9 hour drive to Indianapolis. We stayed at a friends house for the night and were both able to spend time with our friends. I had a much needed girls night with some of my best friends. My friend Rachel hosted a Favorite Things party and it was a blast! Each person brought three of their favorite things, we drew names, and whoever name we drew got one of our favorite things. It was such a fun way to share small things that we love and to try some of our friends favorite things. We ended the night with karaoke at Monkey’s Tail in Broadripple. I finally got to sing “Hot in Hurr” by Nelly with my laaaadies and we were told that we crushed it! Oh yeah!
After our brief night in Indianapolis, we packed up our things and Dobby and headed to Huntington to stay with my Nana. We had our nephews memorial service on Saturday. It’s still hard to believe he is gone and will be hard for awhile. We had our large family Christmas at Nana’s house on Sunday with my sisters, my brother and his family, my mom, and Nana. Dobby was not sure sure about my brothers infant daughter who was very curious about him! Christmas at Nana’s is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season and I cherish the time we get with my family.
We made our way to Michigan on Christmas Eve to spend time with Neal’s family. It was so relaxing and great to spend time with them. Neal was home in October, but I hadn’t seen his family since July. We left on the 26th to go down to my hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana to spend some time with my mom before heading back to Arkansas on the 29th. It was a whirlwind trip but so worth it to see everyone!
Dobby’s December Update
Sweet Dobby, he had one hard month! He had to go back to the vet to check for the 3rd time to see if he had a UTI, and when we found out he didn’t, realized he was still having accidents in the house due to stress. I feel you Dobby, there has been a lot of stress lately. The vet suggested we try out prozac for his anxiety + reactivity, and after a lot of thought and research, we’ve decided to try it out and see how he does. Fingers crossed it helps him relax and doesn’t have any negative behavioral side effects. We hope it doesn’t diminish his playful attitude, we just love our energetic, playful pup!
To help with his anxiety while we travel, the vet suggested we try spraying Adaptil pheromone travel spray on a scarf before he is put in a stressful situation. Well, Dobby didn’t have any festive Christmas scarves and since we had blown through his budget, I had to get crafty and make one! It was actually pretty fun, and I loved seeing him in something I made. I think little boy is about to have a whole wardrobe of scarves this upcoming year. The spray did not seem to help though, so that was a bummer. But hey, at least he looked cute!
Overall, Dobby did really well while we bounced around the midwest. He had more trouble meeting dogs while on a leash than off a leash, so we’re thinking his reactivity might be more about his leash and not dogs. He actually had a lot of fun playing around with Neal’s mom’s dog. I have a cute video of them playing and chasing each other. My brothers baby was very interested in him and he wanted nothing to do with her! Poor baby girl, Dobby was the perfect size for her too!
He is the funniest dog. He blessed us with some hilarious photos this month. I just can’t get enough of this little boy. How did we get so lucky?!