Speaking of the holiday season, it is blowing my mind that Christmas is just over two weeks away. My mind is admittedly way more wrapped up in our upcoming move than the holidays at the moment. We are hoping to be in our new house before Christmas and have to be in by the end of December because our lease is up. We’re still trying to do all the things to make Christmas feel magical because we LOVE Christmas in our house and thankfully our boys make it easy to remember the magic of the holiday season is about family, love, the birth of Jesus and togetherness. The only decorations we have up in our house at the moment is a fake Christmas tree with zero ornaments but that is enough.
Now let’s keep things rolling and dive into this week’s roundup of Friday favorites! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with holiday fun!!
Things I’m Loving Friday
Pepper is our entire family’s favorite thing on the planet lately. She is just beyond adorable and with each day that passes, we’re seeing more of her personality unfold and it’s a wonderful blend of cute puppy playfulness and hysterical chaotic mayhem. We were so used to a big, floppy puppy so Ryan and I joke that Pepper feels more like a hamster to us than a dog and, truth be told, she’s been really, really easy so far. Her size makes her feel a lot more manageable as our only point of comparison to Pepper puppy is Sadie puppy who was 10-out-of-10 crazy (and I mean that in the best way because Sadie was also 10-out-of-10 wonderful). Vizslas need so much exercise and Sadie’s energy level was out of this world. Pepper is energetic for sure but her energy looks like little hamster sprints and bunny hops of playfulness that have the boys in hysterics. She loves chasing our feet under blankets, playing her own version of the “hand game” and cuddling right up against us for hours.
We took Pepper in for her first puppy vet appointment on Tuesday afternoon and our vet told us we hit the jackpot with our new girl. We could not agree more. Our veterinarian also thinks Pepper is possibly a mix of cairn terrier, Norwich terrier and chihuahua and now I’m way too tempted to do one of those doggie DNA tests on her! Whatever she is, she’s proving to be the perfect mix for our family and I’m continually blown away by how much she genuinely seems to enjoy our boys!
Our one obstacle with Pepper at the moment is potty training. She’s so small and quiet that she can easily slip away from us and sneak off to go potty in the house. She won’t go in her crate (guys, we are actually sticking to crate training this time!!) but when she can roam around the house, she’ll leave little surprises for us to find sometimes. Our vet recommended sectioning off a part o the house so she doesn’t have access to the whole house when we’re home with her so we can stay on top of her a little easier for potty training. We did the bell method with Sadie where we touched her nose to a bell we hung on the door before taking her out and she very quickly learned to ring the bell if she needed to go out but potty training Pepper is a little trickier! If you have any magical tips that have worked well for potty training a small dog, I’m all ears!
Holiday Mugs + Memories
Every holiday season for the past fast 5 or so years, my girlfriends and I have come together for a white elephant holiday mug exchange. It’s a simple way to be together, celebrate the season and leave with a little something special. I love using my holiday mugs every year and also really enjoy shopping for a cute mug to bring to the exchange! We always make the exchange “white elephant style” where we draw numbers and can swap/steal mugs which only adds to the fun. I’m already looking forward to this year’s exchange in a week or so!
Organic White Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Bars
Ice cream is my all-time favorite food and when seasonal holiday flavors come out, I cannot resist. I picked up a box of these white chocolate peppermint ice cream bars at Whole Foods earlier this week and they disappeared FAST. They were perfectly minty and creamy with a lovely crunch on the outside from the white chocolate. I would’ve preferred a dark chocolate exterior to the white chocolate but still thoroughly enjoyed these bars, especially after letting them sit out on the counter for 5 minutes or so to let the ice cream slightly soften beneath the white chocolate coating.
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
My rating: A-
Okay, Colleen Hoover fanatics, which Colleen Hoover book should I read next because I really, really liked this one!? Colleen Hoover is a mega-popular author right now and her books are often highly recommended by you guys for me to read. I’ve admittedly steered clear of her books for more than a year after I didn’t love Verity (you may read my thoughts on Verity here) but I figured I should give her books another chance. I borrowed It Ends with Us through the Libby app and found myself looking forward to reading this one at the end of each day. I found myself invested in the main characters happiness and the way the plotline developed had me thinking deeply about everything from abusive relationships to the importance of helping others. For a book I thought would read more like a love story, it was far more than that with greater depth, not-too-predictable relationship development and thought-provoking sub-topics.
The book begins when Lily Bloom unexpectedly meets Ryle Kincaid, a handsome neurosurgeon, in the midst of what he thinks is a private breakdown on the rooftop of a building in Boston. When he spots Lily, the two begin talking and their chance meeting changes everything for both of them. Prompted to share “naked truths” with each other, Lily and Ryle open up to each other and share dark thoughts they never anticipated voicing publicly, let alone to a complete stranger.
Acknowledging they want different things in life, Lily and Ryle go their separate ways but when Lily opens her own business and Ryle comes back into her life in the most unexpected way, she’s not sure she can resist the pull she feels toward him. As she begins to entertain a real relationship with Ryle, she runs into her teenage love, Atlas Corrigan, the boy she hasn’t seen since she was 16 who captured her heart and changed her life. Will a chance meeting with Atlas threaten her new-but-powerful relationship? Is what she had with Atlas still there, buried under years of heartache and pain? Is Ryle as incredible as he seems and worth putting these questions in Lily’s heart away forever?
November 2022 Top 10
Below you will find a recap of the top 10 most popular blog posts and your top 10 favorite items from November 2022! Hopefully this will help you check out some blog posts you may have missed or help you easily locate an item I’ve mentioned in the past that got buried in blog/social media mayhem.
- PBF Gift Guide 2022: Kids
- PBF Gift Guide 2022: For Her
- My Mom’s Stuffing Recipe
- My Favorite Influencer Finds
- Meet Pepper!
- Winning Cornbread Recipe
- Easy Orange Juice Marinated Chicken Thighs
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Chicken Curry
- Oreo Peppermint Ice Cream Dessert
- Oatmeal Apple Crisp
YOUR TOP 10 FAVORITES:
- Portable Charger (The ultimate charger with built-in cords — charges multiple devices!)
- Tineco Wet Vac (The only reason we have clean hardwood + tile floors)
- Dremel Electric Screwdriver (The handy tool we never knew we needed)
- Folding Travel Mirror (Great gift idea — I use mine to do my makeup at the kitchen counter almost every day!)
- Toniebox + Paw Patrol Tonies (This is the set Ryder has and absolutely adores! He’ll be getting more Tonies characters for Christmas this year because he listens to his Tonies almost every day during quiet time. I also ordered him this Tonies carrying case since we often take his Tonies on car trips and stroller walks.)
- Target Sherpa Crossbody Bag (I loved the checkerboard version of this bag so much and couldn’t resist getting the sherpa version, too!)
- Kid Knives (All of our boys love using these to “help” cut soft foods in the kitchen)
- Crayola Retractable Markers (No more losing marker caps! These are going in Ryder’s stocking this year!)
- AE Mock Neck Sweater (So soft and cozy!)
- aerie High Waisted Super Flare Leggings (I’ve fully embraced the flare trend and love these paired with a sweater or cropped/oversized sweatshirt)
Our Favorite Christmas Books for Kids (A roundup of some of our all-time favorite holiday books to read with the boys!)
Holiday Pretzel Treats (I made these for the new neighbors on our street this year! We owe them a load of gratitude for handing the mayhem surrounding the construction of our new home over the past 2 years so I packaged them up nicely and included a holiday candle in the mix as well.)
Question of the Day
What is one thing making you smile this week?
Read It Starts with Us next by Colleen- it’s the sequel to It Ends with Us!
Lauren Vickers says
The wet jet is the BOMB!! I’m telling ya’ll – it’s a wonderful gift to give or get!
I’m thankful/loving my job this week. I know how blessed I am to have a career I love and work for a company and boss I respect.
I read a lot, especially in the romance genre, and It Ends With Us is by far the best of the seven Colleen Hoover books I’ve read. Her books tend to be unbelievably melodramatic, and the writing isn’t even that good. Apologies to the readers who love her stuff; I know I’m in the minority.
I totally agree! I keep reading them, thinking I’ll maybe like one this time. Nope. November 9 was one of my least favorite books this year.
That’s so funny about Colleen Hoover because I just told a friend who wanted to read one of her books “Don’t start with Verity! It’s totally different than any of her other books.” Hopefully It Ends With Us helps redeem her for you. She recently released It Starts With Us, which is a sequel to It Ends With Us. November 9, Ugly Love, and All Your Perfects are some other good ones by her.
I’ve heard it’s so different from her other books, too, so I’m glad I gave her another chance. Thank you for the recommendations!
Absolutely adorable photos with the boys and Pepper. I agree with your Vet to section off your house if you can. Close bedroom doors, bathroom doors, etc. 🙂
Thank you Reenie!!
I was majorly underwhelmed by Verity but everyone else loves it! Glad to know I’m not alone!
Kori Daniel says
I’m loving your gingerbread oatmeal recipe, the holiday season, and the fact that Ansley Rose is now crawling! She got two teeth at once, went from army crawling to crawling fast, and she pulls up like a champ. She’s growing so fast!
Aw!! Go Ansley Rose, go!!
Pepper is adorable! So happy for you all to have him.
Also, chiming in to say -love that phone battery charger- I have bought 4 of them -some for gifts from your recommendation. Also trying the electric screwdriver for my husband this year. Thank you!
Glad it was a hit for you!!! And that electric screwdriver is so random but seriously so, so handy!! Hope it’s a winner for your husband!
I had a small dog for 15 years and I agree with the advice. I also think there is a little bit of acceptance that small dogs are going to have accidents in the house over the years-their bladders are just so much smaller than big dogs.
What helped us the most was not allowing her into rooms with rugs (which included the bathroom, which had bathmats) and making outside a comfy spot to go. Little dogs have big personalities and they’re closer to the ground, which means they get wetter, dirtier, etc. and this can deter them from going outside. We had a little covered area outside for her and I think that helped on the cold or rainy days! We also praised her a lot for going outside and in the beginning used a lot of treats to coerce her out.
I also know people who have had success in sectioning off the house and putting puppy pads down in that area. I think if you are away from the home for more than 2-3 hours, this is a GREAT idea!
Little dogs are for SURE harder to train, but they really are such loves. There is something so special about these little lap dogs that love to be carried in your arms. All the hard work of training is so rewarding in the end.
I didn’t even think about how they might feel wetter/dirtier since they’re lower to the ground but this is so true!! Thank you for weighing in and sharing what worked for you!! I appreciate it!
Kim N says
Check out this dog doorbell. My husband made the mistake of sticking it to the door right away before our dog learned to press it. So it’s still a work in progress. Our 5 month old pup knows to sit by the door that the doorbell is on – but doesn’t press it even tho we make her press it before going out. We are thinking of putting it on the ground and trying that. But this seems like a good alternative to bells that you can hear throughout the house.
This is genius!! I’ve never seen anything like it!! Thanks so much for sharing!
I just wanted to say, I so admire you keeping an upbeat and positive attitude in the midst and uncertainties of moving during the Christmas season with three little kids!! We have done the same, and it is not easy, but you make it look easy! Just wanted to send you a high five and say that you inspire me!! You’ve got this!!
Oh I definitely have my moments of overwhelm but really appreciate you saying this <3 Kids thankfully are wonderful about keeping the magic in Christmas amid the chaos and uncertainty. <3
Shannon G. says
Wanted to chime in on the potty training! We have a small dog – 20 lbs now but was 10 lbs when we got her as a pup at 14 weeks. My advice: do not let them out of your sight! If that means sectioning off a portion of your house then do that. We didn’t have kids at the time so we literally followed her around. If we couldn’t watch her, she’d be in the crate. Also, we’d take her out every 60-90 mins or so and give her a treat outside every time she went potty. It was a tough few weeks but our pup is 100% potty trained and doesn’t have accidents even when we are gone for 8-10 hours. I also think you dont/shouldn’t accept that small dogs might have accidents because they have smaller bladders. I think small dogs have bladders relative to their size and they’re also drinking/filling their bladder relative to their overall size so expectations don’t need to be different than big dogs.
Maureen Tovey says
Hi! We got our first dog a little over a year ago. We got a Norwich terrier and named him Oliver. As soon as I saw Pepper I wondered if she was part Norwich. SO CUTE. I was unbelievably frustrated with the house training. I expected it to take 2 weeks max. We kept Oliver in our large kitchen area most of the time. He was happy there and there is a door for him to go out to the yard. Our vet told us to give it 6-8 months for little dogs. And sure enough he was fully trained right at 8months. It takes time but they are smart little pups. Oliver hasn’t had an accident in months! I am happy for your family.
It’s so different than big dogs! Sadie was really fast to potty train but we’re trying to understand that it may be a longer haul for Pepper!
Sara Wilson says
Julie, Pepper is so darn cute! I am so happy for you all that you have added her to your family! I absolutely love the pictures you post of her! Every time you compare her to a hamster it absolutely cracks me up! Did you see the Twitter exchange that was going viral between a college student and her dad when her pet hamster was lost? I swear it was one of the highlights of my week!
So we moved when it was extremely hot at the end of July in 2020. I had a 4-year-old and a 9-year-old who were of course home with us every day and I thought nothing could be harder in terms of moving. Then, that December, my neighbors moved, and I thought to myself, the only thing harder than what we went through would be moving right around Christmas! But you all are handling it so well and I hope you are in your new house soon! My second son will turn 7 on December 22nd (we literally tried for a January baby but it took me an entire year to get pregnant. we also experienced a loss so of course I was thrilled to be having a Christmas baby even though I always thought that would not be ideal). It was definitely hectic and crazy, and Christmas has been crazy ever since because I have a birthday in the mix, but overall I think having a Christmas baby is so, so special! So I think the same way for your family…every year around Christmas time you’ll remember moving into your new house and it will just make it feel even more special!
We have two little girls, we would take them out after eating or drinking and tell them to “go pee” and if they did, they got a treat. We went really obsessed for a long weekend, every half hour we went outside with the dog and now she is really really good inside.
Good Luck! She is totally adorable!
OH, and our Vet gave us advice on the extended leashes, he said if you use it, always make sure you know where your dog is, because the dog can pull suddenly and they have enough leash to run into traffic.
Courtney Wilton says
I also didn’t enjoy Verity but devoured It Ends with Us and just finished It Starts with Us in 2 days! Given you have just finished It Ends with us, do It Starts with Us next as it follows their love story and you find out what happens!
Ok …. you MUST do a doggie DNA test. Can I document that I definitely think there might be a smidge of Pembroke Welsh Corgi in Pepper? The picture of her looking up at you on the brown wood floors is a dead ringer for our long line of family Corgi’s in profile and ears. She has terrier hair on her face but I swear there are parts of here that look so similar to a Corgi. I’m so glad she is a wonderful fit for your family!
My Coho recs would be November 9, Heart Bones (so underrated) and reminders of him. I didn’t like all your perfects bc of the infertility content. It was stressful and reminded me of a stressful time in my life but a lot of people love it. I just finished Just One Look by Carola Lovering and think you might enjoy it on audiobook as it’s more of a thriller.
Pepper is so cute. You lucked out with that cutie for sure!
Colleen Hoover recommendations- (I’ve read nearly all of them and It Ends With Us is great but not my favorite)- Reminders of Him, Layla, Ugly Love. I’m in the middle of the sequel to It Ends With Us and it’s great so far!
My dog, Oscar, 11.5 pounds full-grown, was my first, so I needed all the help I could get with potty training. He did really well overall, but I found I needed extra advice, so I went to google, of course. The best tip I found – and one I have often repeated to people who are potty training a new pup – was to tie their leash (attached to their collar, of course) around your waist so that they cannot stray from you and wander into another room to potty. As soon as they start to try to walk away – and you’ll feel the tug – take them outside and encourage them to potty. It worked like a CHARM. Oscar is a very quick learner anyway, but this really solidified in him that he only potties outside. I HIGHLY recommend doing this. And Pepper is adorable 🙂
Thank you for this tip!!! It’s definitely the moments she slips away when she has her accidents so I do think this would help!
I can definitely recommend getting the doggie DNA test done! I adopted my pup over 10 years ago, and always thought she was a husky mix. We just got her results back from Embark a few months ago, and it turns out she’s mostly pit, chow, and German shepherd!
Another neat thing Embark does is let you know if there are other pups whose DNA they’ve analyzed who are likely related to yours. We found one of our dog’s siblings, and there are several who are listed as likely being pup-cousins!
Pepper is so cute!!!! We got a puppy last year at 8 weeks old and the training course we used said to take her out every 15!!!! minutes for a chance to pee. I thought this was insane and it was a huge pain but it worked! She never had an accident in the house. She was trained SO fast. I will say it does take dogs until 6-8 months old for their bladders to grow. Our puppy was 8lbs when we got here and now she’s about 25. Even if you take pepper out every 30 minutes I’d bet she gets it in a week or two!
I have read all of Colleen Hoover’s books. She never lets me down. My all time favorite is Ugly Love.
Pepper is just the cutest! November 9 is my favorite Colleen Hoover book-