Happy New Year, friends! Long time, no “see”! I had such a great end-of-year break, and even took a longer break than usual. It wasn’t really planned, but I felt myself winding down and losing focus on house-related projects about halfway through December, and then after I wrote my How Did I Do On My 2023 Home Goals? post, it just felt like a natural close to my blogging year.
My longer break was fantastic! I didn’t do even one single home-related project. I didn’t even give my home-related projects a thought. I was focused on other things, and determined to hold off on consuming my mind with thoughts of home-related things until after the beginning of the new year.
Here’s how I spent my time over these last two weeks.
I spent time with family
I mean, that’s a given. That’s what people do at Christmas. My family got together at my mom’s house, and we had great food, great conversation, and a wonderful time together.
Once again, just like at Thanksgiving when we do a very non-traditional brunch, we didn’t have a traditional Christmas meal. This year, we decided on Mexican (or probably more Tex-Mex) food. My mom made a wonderful Tex-Mex-inspired casserole, along with refried beans, Mexican rice, tortillas. But my absolute favorite was a hominy casserole that she made.
Here is the recipe. I think many of you will want to save this since it’s quick and easy to make, and a great side dish for a crowd.
Oleo. 😀 That cracks me up. I always know that any recipe that my mom has that calls for oleo almost assuredly came from my grandmother. 😀 Obviously, I’d swap that out for some real butter. But it’s super simple and so delicious!
Another favorite recipe from this year is one that I made called Saltine Cracker Toffee. Have y’all had this amazing marvel? I went to a Christmas party and this was one of the many desserts, and I was amazed at how delicious the toffee was. When I asked the hostess if she made it and how it was made, she started out with, “Well, first you line a pan with saltine crackers…” She’s 92 years old, and I immediately thought, “Oh, poor thing didn’t understand my question.” 😀
Well, she understood just fine! This toffee is made with saltine crackers! I came home and googled the recipe so that I could make it for our Christmas meal. And it’s also super simple to make and tastes amazing. But while that recipe says to bring the brown sugar to a boil for three minutes, I didn’t do that because my friend, the hostess of the party I went to, said that she only heats it enough to melt the butter and mix the sugar and butter together really well. So that’s what I did. No boiling. And it turned out amazing!
I got into my exercise routine
I made it a point to get into an exercise routine during my break, and I got so much use out of our home gym! I feel better coming out of this holiday season than I ever have in the past. I got so much use out of my rebounder, my rower, and my kettle bell.
I’ll gradually work in all of the other stuff, but for now, at least I have a basic daily routine that I can stick with. I’ve been pretty consistent with it over the last couple of weeks, so just getting into that daily habit is a huge step.
Not only did I do those things in the gym, but I also started walking every day. Remember how I told y’all last year that I’d love to have a walking track in our back yard? A few people wondered if that’s actually something I’d use, and I’m here to tell you that I’d definitely use it! I did laps regularly around our back yard, and every time, I thought how much easier it would be on my feet and shins if I had a level, smooth surface to walk on.
So now that I’ve established this walking routine, I’m much more serious about this vision for our back yard that includes a walking path!
I made a ton of jewelry!
My obsession with making necklaces is definitely slowing down. I’ve gotten most of it out of my system, but only because I’ve literally purchased all of the beads that I like from JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby, and there’s nowhere else to go in this city. I have purchased a few things from Fire Mountain Gems online, and I even have an order on the way right now. But I think it’s way more fun to shop locally and be able to see all of the beads right there in front of me, and touch them, and hold them. Buying online isn’t nearly as fun for me.
So by the time I started winding down, I had almost 90 necklaces. 😀
When I only had about 20 or 30, I was storing the necklaces in this drawer in our bathroom, and it worked out just fine.
But now that I have so many, there’s no way I can fit all of these in a drawer. So I’ve been trying to come up with a storage solution that makes them easy to see. I think I may make something using a dowel rod that sits on top of the counter like this. That way, once we have our bedroom with our wall of IKEA wardrobes, I can easily transfer the necklaces onto a shelf in one of those wardrobes so that they’re convenient, but hidden behind doors.
But I also moved on from doing only necklaces to making earrings. I started off making super simple earrings like this…
But I quickly moved on to more challenging designs, and learned that this cluster design is my absolute favorite to make. I love how they look on as well, but they’re just so fun to make. I enjoy the process so much!
So I ended up making a few pairs of this style. I made these with these iridescent stones (I can’t remember what they’re called).
These gold nugget cluster earrings were my first that I made.
In all I made six pairs of cluster earrings. Here are five of them.
But these are my absolute favorite. I tried to hold them up, but Felicity was very curious.
So you can see them here. They’re like clusters of fun and happiness on my ears! 😀
Y’all, I took some serious advantage of online sales this year. I mean, I became a shopping fanatic. I bought lots of shoes, pants, sweaters. I couldn’t stop! Those sales were calling me! 😀
Since I’m not a fashion blogger, y’all may not now this about me. But I love shoes so much!!! If I lacked all self-control, I’d buy new shoes every single day. I LOVE SHOES! So here are the new shoes I bought while taking advantage of amazing sales.
First, I bought three new pairs of Franco Sarto shoes. Franco Sarto is one of my top two favorite brands of shoes. I wish I could buy all of them, but I stuck to these pink patent leather (faux) Mary Jane flats, these tri-color lug sole loafers, and these black patent leather (faux) lug sole loafers.
Have I ever told y’all how much I love lug sole loafers?
And I love pretty details as well, like this silver detailing on the backs of these loafers.
My second favorite brand of shoes is Keds. Yes, Keds. And I bought two pairs of Chelsea boots (which are so comfortable!), and a couple of pairs of shoes for spring and summer.
I love Keds because they’re constantly doing collaborations with Rifle Paper Company, which produces such fun, colorful patterns. These are my favorite ones I’ve ever purchased. These colorful embroidered floral shoes are from about two seasons ago, and they’re still some of my favorite shoes. I need to get these cleaned up and ready for spring!
And then finally, I got myself a new pair of brown boots with chunky heels.
I almost never buy shoes at full price. I wait for amazing sales, I search and search to see who has the lowest price, and then I pounce. 😀 For example, these cute little Franco Sarto Mary Janes were $115 on the Franco Sarto website.
I don’t like paying over $100 for a pair of shoes if I don’t have to, so I searched and searched, and found that Belk was having an AMAZING holiday sale on shoes. So I got them for around $50. That’s just how I shop, y’all! 😀 You’ll rarely find me paying full price for anything like that. I’m too cheap for that!
I also discovered a brand of jeans that actually fits me!! I don’t know if any of you have the same problem I have, but all of my life, I’d had trouble finding jeans that fit me properly.
Well, for some reason, the Facebook algorithm started feeding me ad after ad for a brand called Judy Blue. It’s a brand that isn’t sold in big stores, evidently. So I started getting ads for these random boutique stores selling Judy Blue pants, and they’re all saying how amazing they fit, how stretchy and comfortable they are, and on and on. So I finally gave in and bought some.
They are AMAZING!!! I love them so much that I’m pretty sure I ended up buying about 10 pairs from various online stores. I mean, Facebook has me dialed in now, and they feed me ALLLLL of the Judy Blue ads. And I love them so much that I’m tempted to buy them all! This store, Moco Boutique, is the main place I’ve purchased them (on sale, of course!), and their descriptions are very accurate as far as sizing. So if you’re like me, and you have trouble finding jeans that fit properly, you might try Judy Blue! I still have to hem every pair I get because I’m five feet tall, but I’m used to that. 😀
And one more thing. I discovered another new-to-me online store that I can’t get enough of. It’s called Quince, and I kept getting ads for this store on Instagram. They finally wore me down, and I ordered one of their $50 cashmere sweaters. This black V-neck Mongolian cashmere sweater was the first one I ordered.
I loved it SO MUCH, that I ended up buying three more! I now have this sweater in black, navy blue, cream, and crimson. They are so soft and comfortable to wear. They’re warm without being too heavy, especially for the type of “winter” we get here in central Texas. But since they’re not super thick, they’re also great for layering. You could put a shirt under it, and a blazer over it if you live in colder areas.
I was so impressed with those sweaters that I branched out and got this one as well. I absolutely LOVE it! This a much thicker and heavier sweater than their cashmere sweaters.
So anyway, that about wraps up my end-of-year break — time with family, great food, hours and hours making necklaces and earrings, way too much online shopping, discovering my new favorite brand for denims, and discovering a new favorite online clothing store. Do you notice what’s missing? Movies. I only watched one Christmas rom-com, thought it was stupid, and decided I’d rather spend my time on other things. 😀 But enough of all of that. Now it’s time to turn my attention back to house projects and get stuff done! I’m so excited about what this year has in store.
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.