Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I've spent a lot of time thinking about 2014 and what I want my year to look like... I've made goal lists, skipped the resolution and chose a theme instead, planned big moves and small ones while leaving room for spontaneity, all while writing myself into a daze. I'd dedicated myself so much to 2014, in fact, that I wasn't thinking about the beauty of 2013. The year was done in mid-December (in my little head) and I was onto the next year -a year that holds lots of promise.

Then, I remembered 2013 held a lot of shit and smiles and soul. And, instead of being done with 2013, I spent a week being reflective and in love with the way 2013 went down.

We moved dad and missed him but thanked God so deeply for his safety. We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and wins and losses. We vacationed in Bishop, in Cabo, in our own backyard. We lost weight and gained insight. We rushed through the busy-ness that's life while stopping to smell the roses and pausing to squeeze each other a little tighter. We took leaps of faith over tiny streams and huge canyons only to remain impressed by His goodness. We reached out and made new friends while we missed some of those we love most. We dedicated ourselves to saying yes more than no and we grew from the experience. We kissed shopping goodbye (for a few months) and loved the pause from our want-need cycle of consumption. We loved a little wider and a lot deeper.

2013 was good to us. And us to it. 

2014 will be the same. Filled with more than our little minds can envision while remaining so much the same as we know life now. And, that's good with me. Cheers to #TeamThomas2014! 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Say Hello to My Sweet Friend (Said Like Scarface)

Sometimes blogging does weird things and you sign up to help someone out who you really don't want to help. Other times, you have the chance to introduce people (like you) to one of your favorite blogging finds (and friends) and you couldn't be more thrilled. This is one of the latter times. 

I met sweet Katie from A Beautiful Little Adventure a few months back and was captivated by her ability to throw nerves to the wind and be vulnerable in the way life is messy. As you all know, I love a girl who can own the mess that is life because, well, that's my M.O. It's Katie's too. 

I sent Katie some questions to answer, but first, I have to share the posts of hers that are my favorite… Not because she isn't wonderful, but she's humble and girl's got lots of lovely going on in her space that you need to know. 
Love Story Series (This will restore your faith in love, no doubt)
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And, without further ado, Katie from A Beautiful Little Adventure

Wedding moment you'd relive over and over and over
When Ryan and I first got to talk to each other privately after the ceremony. It was during photos and we were so giddy and happy. I love those photos of us because you can see our child like joy!

Favorite piece of marriage advice:
Make sure to schedule date nights!

Least favorite
Don’t go to bed angry – when Ryan and I fight we it’s easy to lose track about what started the argument. We get lost in the hurtful words or the fact that I KNOW I am right (and I usually am ahem!). Sometimes it’s best to just go to bed. 99% of the time we wake up not caring one ounce about that silly fight.
Three favorite ways you spend time with Ryan. 
Exploring new places together, taking long walks with Maggie, or cuddled up under blankets watching our favorite TV shows and chatting over drinks.

You're stuck on a desolate island, beauty product and cocktail you NEED in order to survive.
BEAUTY PRODUCT –Lipstick. It makes everything better! 
COCKTAIL – Vodka, diet sprite, and a splash of cranberry

Cupcake or nachos? Nachos (unless the cupcakes are super gooey chocolate peanut butter)

Three fashion staples for this fall/winter season:
In the winter I rarely go out of the house with out my riding boots (black or brown) and a chunky infinity scarf. But, as soon as I go home I change immediately into the softest sweats and slippers!

What's your spirit animal? 

GIF that describes your life right now

Most bizarre blog post you've ever written.
Most bizarre blog post you've ever written.
Right here. It wasn’t bizarre for readers, but it was bizarre for me to write. This was the first time that I told this full story. It was freeing but also scary to be that vulnerable. Oddly, I’m a very private person – my personal Facebook barely shares much more than pictures. But my blog is like a different realm. I just let is all hang out. This post was in a way, my ticket into the realm of “Be proud of you story”

Best Maggie May picture and fact.

Well first of all EVERYTHING about this sweet baby Maggie is the BEST! J But, we call her treats “Quesadillas”. So picture what any normal dog does when you say “do you want a treat?” Maggie does the same, but replace the word “treat” with “quesadilla”. She goes balls to the wall crazy dancing on her hind legs

Most valuable blogging lesson you've learned. 
Stay true to yourself and stop comparing.
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You guys, isn't she precious? I'm ready to take a little trip back east to get my cocktail and quesadilla on with Katie AND Maggie. We're off to celebrate for the weekend, but please take a moment to go over and meet Katie for some fun weekend reading! 

Friday, December 27, 2013

27 Years of Avahah

Avahah: [hebrew in origin
a type of love. a willed type of love. 
love that will not end because of denial, trials, zapped efforts, disease. 

Jason and I married at the ripe age of 22. We were just babies really -still are at 24 and 25- running down the aisle promising life together through the good times and the bad, in sickness and in health. Saying love lots, sharing kisses over clinking glasses, dancing close under the strings of beautiful white lights, love, love, love. 

I thought the good looked like babies, houses, sex, successes at work and home. And the bad like small disappointments, frustrations over the details, a tense discussion or two every once in a great, great while. In sickness we'd be fighting stomach flus, surgeries, maybe a minor bout of skin cancer or kidney stones. And in health: the gym, tan, laundry routine. 

Then, just three short months after our wedding, we celebrated (if you can call it that) the 25th year of my parents' marriage with the biggest serving of the bad and in sickness one could imagine: dementia. 

Dementia didn't care about their plans, our plans, the kids, the life together, the love. All it cared about was destroying the mind of a strong, witty man. And, it has. 

This is where those vows live most bold: in sickness and the bad. Those vows, when lived out, breed a willed, unending love that doesn't give a damn what dementia's got in store. It's a love that screams I will force myself through ALL. THE. THINGS. -good, bad, sick, health- because I'm stronger, greater, bolder than any circumstance. And, it is. 
That's what you see here. You see avahah. It sounds so much like "ah ha!" That's because it's like magic. It's like "Ah ha, I'm love. I'm not conditioned. I'm raw, and fitful, and I refuse rejection.

We're all looking on saying, "Ahhhh." Because, it's "ah ha" Avahah love. And we haven't seen it often. But, I see it. It looks like twice a week visits despite good or bad days. It looks like coffee and cupcakes and M&Ms every visit together even if he isn't using his best table manners. It looks like letting him do his thing despite how absurd it looks. It looks like them -dementia or not. 

Avahah that trickles down from them to us: the kids. To them: the friends. To you: the readers. Love that makes you want to hug a little longer, run a little faster, adventure a little bolder. Ah ha, that love! 

And, today marks 27 years of that love. That Avahah. May I have just a glimpse of that love in my own marriage Lord? 

Happy 27 years of Avahah Mama Bird and Popsicle!
You two are a tale of deep, devoted love and are changing lives with your story. 
We, the kids, the friends, the readers, love you and your avahah. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Today I Celebrate You. [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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Today you've got a free day, so share what's pressing on your heart!
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The reason for the season is that trite little cliche people love to say to remind you of the importance of all those things beyond the gifts and traditions and trees and sparkles and lights. And, while Christmas is about remembering Christ's birth out of God's love for us, I believe it's also about celebrating the people in our lives and their significance in creating who we call me. 

Tomorrow I will spend the day immersed in family and the love that makes us so, in the gift of Christ and the hope in His birth, in the joy of the sparkles and season and fun of watching them open things from me (while getting gifts of my own!). But today, I celebrate you. 

Oh friends, I wish there was a way to make you understand the beauty of planning a series and having it blog your expectations out of the water. It's like getting EVERY single thing on your wish list plus a Target gift card. 

While I was away in Cabo (recap to come so soon), you were all keeping yourselves busy with the #12daysofblogging. I missed enjoying the festive fun live with all of you, but loved the awesome tan I have under my flannels while I'm catching up on your posts. Today, I celebrate you by sharing some of my favorite traditions and decorations as shared by ya'll! 

A Fellow Daughter of a Mom who Collects Snowmen - Duh, Danae

The Poinsettia Cocktail - A Beautiful Little Adventure 

Again, thank you so dearly for participating with us. Celebrations are so much more fun with a big group of friends and you provided just that! A link-up isn't successful without excitement and participation, something only you sweet souls could pull together. And you did. Today, I celebrate you. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fight the Cold with Flannel [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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Hi friends, today we're talking cold winter fashion.
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I live in southern California where we hardly have winter and EVERY year I feel unprepared without fail. EVERY YEAR. This includes wishing I had thicker socks, that my coats ALL had hoods on them, that I had electric pants I could plug in like my blanket and they'd heat right up... But, alas, I don't.

The one thing that makes up for the shivering that I do most of the cold winter mornings is the cozy flannels I wear to bed every night. Anyone that's been around here for any length of time knows I'm flannel's number one fan and I'm a deep believer that everyone should own a pair, or five.

Every year my mom and I buy a new matching pair which never fails to be the highlight of all cold winter nights. This year we went with a pink skull and flower print pair from PJ Salvage. We even wear it open with our bras and sexy abs showing since the model did too. (That is a bold-faced lie)

Since getting married, Jason's been converted to the fuzzy flannel loving team. And, of that, I am proud.

How do you keep warm in the winter cold? 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fagenog, As in Faux Eggnog [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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Cheers folks, it's cocktail day!
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When Erin and I planned the series I was sure this day would come easiest. And, here I sit, still struggling with what to share. Then I remembered that I don't like eggnog and I thought, I should share that fact because no one will believe I hate it. But, alas, the truth is out: I hate eggnog. 
It's not the spices or the rum or the creamy goodness, it's the raw eggs. I can't get over it, thus, I've got a complex that renders it impossible for me to enjoy. 

But this post isn't about me hating eggnog as much as it's about the faux eggnog I've mastered. It's got the creamy goodness, the spices, and the rum all without raw eggs. And, truth be told, Jason didn't know the difference when I served it to him! 

-2 cups half and half
-1 frozen banana (or you can use ice cubes and sugar/stevia if you don't have banana on hand)
-Sprinkle of nutmeg
-Pinch of pumpkin spice
-Dash of cinnamon

1. Place all ingredients in blender.
2. Blend on high speed.
3. Pour in mug.
4. Garnish with sprinkling of cinnamon and cinnamon stick.

If you're daring (like me), spike this baby with whiskey or rum and you'll be in happy town before you know it! And, if you have a moose-head mug like Uncle Eddy's be sure to fill it with faking, the always appropriate moose mug drink!

Cheers dolls! 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Wishlist: His and Hers [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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Today we're talking wishlists. 
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We're still busy enjoying the Mexican sun and margaritas while lounging on the sand, but that doesn't mean we've forgotten that Christmas is right around the corner. And, just because we're grown-ups doesn't mean we haven't got a wish or two for what ends up under that tree.
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This has been done in true His and Hers style, unlike our vlog from last week!
And without further ado, here's for the ladies! 

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Hopefully Santa stops by and checks up on our lists! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Treat Dipped in Caramel Goodness [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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Treats. Treats. Treats!
Today, we're talking holiday treats. 
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Growing up we always went to Disneyland at Christmas time. Every single time I had to have a Minnie Mouse Caramel Apple because it was tradition. The tart, crisp crunch of the green apple combined with the chewy sweetness of caramel dipped in the semi-sweetness of chocolate and topped with crunchy walnuts had me

Then, last year I was reading Lulu the Baker when she wrote about caramel apple place cards. Oh my heart. Caramel apples. So, when the opportunity to make them for my friends and family presents itself, I seize the moment with much enthusiasm and creativity. 

Some tips: 
  • Let it cool. Before dipping cool the apples, after dipping between EVERY layer cool it off, cool, cool, cool. Keep them in the fridge until time to serve... This will ensure all the layers stick together. 
  • There is such thing as an apple too small. You want apples that are just a bit larger than the size of your fists -this promises the perfect apple to topping ratio. 
  • Don't be shy with toppings. No such thing as too much. 
  • Be careful what you set the apples on when you refrigerate them. The caramel sticks so keep them on wax paper or a baking mat (such as silpat) will come off clean. 
  • Caramel is good. Chocolate is better. Every layer after that catapults you into phenomenal. 
First you'll need your apples and caramel -I use the baggies of individually wrapped caramels that you can buy at the grocery store. It's a pain to unwrap, but I've found that stuff works the best. Major Alert: don't use the sheets that wrap around the apple -they don't stick that well and the caramel is too thin. 

Then, refer to tip 1. Refrigerate. LET IT COOL. 

The chocolate dipping and topping rubbing begin. When done, pop that puppy back into the fridge for the layers to set up. I did this in six different mutations all of which I've got here to share with you!
Rocky Road
Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Mini Marshmallows
Chopped Walnuts
White Chocolate Drizzle

White Chocolate
Cinnamon Sugar Sprinkle

Hot Cocoa
White Chocolate
 (though, I'd try this over with just plain chocolate) 
Mini Marshmallows
Hot Cocoa powdered mix
(I'd also add a chocolate drizzle)

Apple Cider
White Chocolate
Apple Cider powdered mix

Peppermint Bark
Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Crushed Candy Canes
(I'd add a white chocolate drizzle) 

Semi-Sweet Chocolate
Crushed Graham Crackers
Mini Marshmallows

And the whole round up for ya'll to see. 

The favorite of the bunch was the apple cider. I fear it'd taste too repetitive, but instead it was the perfect mix of tart and tangy with the sweet of the white chocolate. 

Another trick that will present itself once your pretty little apples are all ready for party time is how to cut them. This little post will give you the way that's worked best for me with all flavors and toppings of dipped apple. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Timely Tradition [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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Today we talk beloved Christmas traditions. 
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If I told you about all the traditions I grew up loving, this post would be miles long. Mostly, these traditions come in the shape of pointy toed cowboy boots and flannel pajamas wrapped up and put under the tree -I told you, I'm a sucker for them every year. There's jewelry that I adore and celebrate with a Mexican feast each year to remember that one time we got engaged for Christmas. And a stocking stuffed awkwardly full with books and perfume and little funny gifts because Santa knows me well.

My family loves tradition so December seems to create a bit of autopilot in my schedule as the year comes to a close... This year I wanted to be more intentional in acknowledging and celebrating the joys that come as a result of those memory rich traditions. If I had to pick a most beloved all the traditions in our land, it's easily the annual family calendar. 

This DIY photo calendar tradition started many decades ago when my teenage (at the time) sister decided to try something new for the family. She took a dozen photos to Kinko's where the employees blew them up, copied them, and bound them with month pages. Wah Laaa! Family calendar version one came into existence. 
Thankfully, with the age of smart phones and the Internet, making the calendars has become easier. With two sisters living thousands of miles away, one brother in college, and busy lives, we have used the web to make the photo calendar a yearly tradition that is enjoyed outside of the Christmas season. Not only does our family put one together, but once we were married we started a Thomas Annual Calendar tradition that, for now, includes us and Hazel. The thought of having the calendars when our kids are old enough to be interested warms our hearts! 

This year I opted to put together our calendar using the Tiny Prints web interface. It's simple, upload your pictures, select your design, fill your templates (or if you don't want to, choose Storyboard and it'll do it for you!), then order! 
A few of our favorite features on Tiny Prints' calendars are:
  • The text boxes for writing fun quotes underneath your pictures. We don't do this every year, but had a few we loved so decided on quotes for 2014. 
  • The unlimited number of pictures you can have on a page. Obviously there's a ridiculous amount of Hazel pictures each year, so we decided to do a month dedicated to her sweet mug. It's fun to see the collage!

  • Their full page spreads are GORGEOUS. And if you're photo isn't high enough resolution, a little yellow warning triangle will appear to let you know (I used another application to make another calendar that doesn't offer such a service and I ended up with low resolution, grainy pictures that irk me half to death).
  • You can put pictures on important dates... Like birthdays, anniversaries, special memories. Our September always looks especially festive because there's quite a few big dates to remember. 
The best part: you can order as many as you need to knock out a big group of family in a single effort. I ordered 6 for my family this year and was happy to mark so many off my shopping list. Regardless of what features you use or how your design your calendar, these are fun for years to come (no, we don't throw any of ours away!). 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Ain't Christmas Without... [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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How about some fill in the blank for you fancies today? 
It wouldn't be Christmas with ________.
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Most of my friends have a video they watch every year while they're growing up... Like Elf or White Christmas or Miracle on 34th Street. I grew up with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. There was no such thing as December without Clark Grisswold and his family and insanity. So, who better to help me share the ten things that make Christmas official. 

1. It wouldn't be Christmas without that house that uses ALL THE ELECTRICITY.

2. It wouldn't be Christmas without a FULL schedule of holiday traditions. 

3. It wouldn't be Christmas without a calorie-packed assault on your months of dieting.

4. It wouldn't be Christmas without visions of Sugar Plum fairies dancing in our heads.

5. It wouldn't be Christmas without attractive employees at every store in the mall.

6. It wouldn't be Christmas without family bonding in the car.

7. It wouldn't be Christmas without presents from the crazy Aunt Bethany.

8. It wouldn't be Christmas without surprise family drop-ins.

9. It wouldn't be Christmas without old-fashioned home cooking. 

10. It wouldn't be Christmas without a Christmas miracle. 
And we all know, it wouldn't be Christmas without a smart-ass, GIF-filled post from Amber. 

Have no fear, 
It's Christmas y'all. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Bling Bling: A Christmas Treasure [#12daysofblogging]

This post is part of the #12daysofblogging Christmas series being hosted by myself and Erin from Hooley with a Z. There's an opportunity to link-up at the bottom of every post and, of course, we'd love for you to join. For more information on #12daysofblogging check out this post.
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Today is sharing a Christmas treasure. 
Ahoy matey's!
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I'm a woman who puts big emotional value to my things… Why? I guess because I'm so sensitive and sweet (eh hemmm, sarcasm). Mostly because I am a hoarder and I pretend that it has something to do with emotions. But, one thing I surely know is my engagement to Jason and the accompanying ring made me one happy girl with a big treasure-filled heart.

So, here we are, Team Thomas, telling the tale of our engagement. Please enjoy Mr. T's presence… It's not promised again. Though the red wine seemed to help. 

Here are the pictures we promised… The first two are the before shots. 
Literally, Mr. T with his tequila shot. 
And me, Ms. M at the time, with my unknowing grin.
And now, us, as newly-engaged, young loves who are running towards married life. 
(This is the picture that Jason says is his favorite!) 

And finally, the important facts you just learned: 
1. We're linking up with Erin from Hooley with a Z.
2. There's not really much he said/she said here because we're in agreement about our engagement. 
3. Red wine will get Mr. Thomas on camera… At least during Christmas. 
4. We're going back to Mexico this week… Three years after we got engaged. This is so sweet.
5. Jason's sneaky. I'm oblivious. What a combination. 
6. Talking to the parents before you get engaged is important to both Thomases. 
7. We still to this day do not agree about baggage checking on flights. 
8. The only person to ever get any crazy Mexican food-bourne illness is AMBER. 
9. Awkward is the same thing as romance.
10. We didn't do shots then, we do them now. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. 
11. We're more in love now than we were back then -despite the madness and work that comes with marriage. 
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And, before we're all off for the weekend, meet my new dear friend Lauren from Pink on the Cheek. She's got uh-mazing style that makes me want to spend the weekend looking through her closet and having her revamp mine… But she's also got tutorials that aren't so much helpful for the home crafter as they are for the blogger (hello, photo editing tips and monogram creating instructions!). 
Hi loves, I'm Lauren and I love to feature and promote other blogs, small businesses, handmade shops and wonderful companies. I love talking about blogging tutorials, my married life , and my personal style. Want to gossip about blogging? I'm your girl.

My Favorite Christmas Tradition: My Mom will start in October insisting I don't get her anything for Christmas. She says for me to save my money and she doesn't need anything. But I love seeing her face on Christmas morning when she opens a present she wasn't expecting!
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