Happy Friday and Happy first day of December! Bring on all of the holly jolly holiday cheer!

Our December is kind of a crazy one – I’m traveling three weekends in a row – but that seems to be the way the holiday season goes sometimes, right? I am happy to be kicking the month off at home, however, and the next couple of days are going to be filled with holiday fun with our friends! We have a cookie exchange party on the agenda as well as an ugly sweater party and I’m really looking forward to everything! I still need to whip up some cookies and figure out what side dish I’m going to contribute to Saturday night’s potluck party but hopefully I’ll come up with something soon.

Until then I wanted to share my usual Things I’m Loving Friday post with you guys! Below you will find a short roundup of a few things I’m loving most this week.  As always, I encourage you to join in the fun and tell me a little bit about something that’s making you smile right now as well.

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

Things I’m Loving Friday

  • Our First Real Christmas Tree

Real Christmas Tree

I know some people have very strong feelings about having a real Christmas tree in their homes but I’ve never really been that person. Ever since Ryan and I began living together, we’ve had a fake Christmas tree and that suited me just fine. Well, this year something came over Ryan and he really, really wanted a real tree. Our fake tree is in my office because my office has a big bay window at the front of the house, making it the perfect place for a tree you can see inside and outside which was great until we had a child and became more aware of the fact that we’d be opening Christmas presents in my office. Not exactly the cozy Christmas morning we envisioned!

Even though we are traveling for Christmas this year, Ryan wanted to get a jump start on a new tradition and we now have a fantastic-smelling real Christmas tree in our living room and I am such a big fan. I was a bit of a Grinch about the idea of a second tree in the beginning (it seemed like a lot of extra effort when we won’t even be in town for Christmas) but I don’t think a day has passed since we put up the tree that I haven’t commented on how much I love having a tree in the room we use the most (outside of the kitchen). It’s so festive and warm and merry. And the smell is unbeatable! While the tree in my office is covered in our memorable memento ornaments, we decorated our family tree with a bit of a color scheme in mind (silver, gold, white and pops of faux-cranberries) and both trees make me so happy!

high waisted frayed ankle jeans

I had such high hopes for the Madewell jeans I ordered on during last week’s mega-sales. I was so ready to fall completely in love with them after so many rave reviews but I think I got my sizing all wrong because the two pairs I ordered were too big and now I’m bummed because the 25% off sale is over. Womp, womp. On the bright side, I impulsively added a pair of Joe’s high-waisted jeans into my cart during some Nordstrom sale shopping and I LOVE them!! I wanted something with a high waist and a frayed ankle hem and they are fantastic!  The fabric is comfortable and movable without feeling restrictive or too jegging-y. If you’re looking for a flattering fit for a body type with hips and a booty, check ‘em out! And just FYI, I think they fit true to size.

healthy turkey pot pie

When I was on a mission to use up all of our Thanksgiving turkey, I used it in place of the chicken in this healthy pot pie recipe and we LOVED it. Talk about a comforting meal! I love the way the recipe still had all of the rich, creamy flavors of traditional pot pie but didn’t feel heavy in my stomach. A winner for sure!

recommended books

I finished reading two books last week and really enjoyed both of them but with all of the Thanksgiving craziness, I forgot to mention them on the blog! The first book was All By Myself, Alone by Mary Higgins Clark and if you’re looking for a quick read with an intriguing plot, I highly recommend this one. I wouldn’t call it a literary masterpiece but it’s a breezy read and filled with plenty of suspense and interesting characters. The book takes place on the ultimate luxury cruise and includes murder and romance!

The second book I read was First Family by David Baldacci and it was a good one! I’ve been really into political thrillers lately and this book begins with the kidnapping of the first lady’s niece. It includes lots of twists and plot developments that kept me reading late into the night.

  • Gift Giving Jump Start

Gift ideas for teachers

(Disclaimer: This shout out is part of my sponsored partnership with CVS, a brand I’ve been working with for years and regularly use in my personal life as well!)

I feel like I’m in a pretty good place with gift giving for everyone other than my family right now. (I need to get on that one!) We finished shopping for the four tags we pulled off of our church and my gym’s giving trees and I assembled a gift basket for Chase’s beloved Mrs. Lindsey, his Burn Boot Camp childcare BFF whom he’s adored since she began watching him when he was only eight weeks old. Lindsey is so important to me and to Chase and for the past two years I’ve enjoyed putting together some kind of a holiday surprise for her to show her just how much we care. For this year’s goodies, I tried to focus on some of her interests (healthy living and beauty) but still include a Visa gift card and some items to help her pamper herself during this busy time of year.

healthy CVS snacks

I ended up getting everything for her gift at CVS, including Essie nail polish, an Invisibobble (the no-crease hair tie I LOVE), a nourishing face mask, mint macaron hand cream, a pine-scented candle and plaid fluffy socks. I also wanted to be sure to include some healthy snacks and since CVS makes it easy to shop for healthy treats (they carry 175+ organic items!), this was an easy order to fill! I included Larabar Bites (the chocolate macaroon flavor is so good and so addicting), Gold Emblem Cranberry Almond Rice Pop Clusters (free from artificial ingredients, preservatives and flavors whole grain like CVS’ entire Gold Emblem Abound line) and a Graze salted caramel snack box packed with 7 grams of protein. And yes, I couldn’t resist throwing some peppermint bark in there for good measure.

  • Friday Flashbacks

Holiday Pretzels (A recipe that’s so simple it may not even deserve to be called a recipe. With only three ingredients, it’s a salty and sweet treat that’s sure to spread joy to loved ones around you this holiday season! Wrap them up in festive tins or gift bags for the perfect edible gift.)

Easy Holiday Pretzel Treats

Bodyweight Tabata Workout (No equipment needed for this intense tabata workout!)

Bodyweight Tabata Workout (No equipment required)

Question of the Day

What is one thing you are loving this week?

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Disclosure: I’m proud to be working with CVS Pharmacy to help spread the word about #BetterHealthMadeEasy and how to #FindYourHealthy. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified at CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers.

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