Things I’m Loving Friday #452

Good morning! Happy Friday and Happy NINE days ’til Christmas! Anyone else in full-on holiday chaos mode? Rhett and Ryder are officially on winter break (Chase is done with school on Tuesday) so we’re leaning into the holiday magic with an intense ferocity now. I’m genuinely looking forward to two weeks of a looser schedule, Christmas-cookie making, holiday crafting, play dates and kid fun but I also very much know that brother battles, moving stress and unpredictable hiccups will find their way into our Christmas magic, too. That’s all part of the holiday season though, right!?

We still don’t have a set move-in date for the new house but our lease is up on our rental house at the end of the month sooo it’s go time. We were triple crossing our fingers and hoping to be in the new house for Christmas but have since let that dream go and know that Christmas morning in the rental house will be wonderful, too. The boys don’t care and they make it easy to keep our minds on what matters this holiday season. It’s looking like we’ll be moving week between Christmas and New Years and I’m so ready to get in, get organized and make our new house a home. I’m sure I’ll take you guys along for the wild ride but I also recognize that this blog may be a bit all over the place as we enter 2023!

Now let’s keep things on track and dive into this week’s roundup of Friday favorites, shall we? See below for a short roundup of things that are making me smile this week! As always, I welcome your comments and would love to hear about something that’s making you smile right now, too!

Things I’m Loving Friday

Earlier this month, Ryan, the boys and I headed out to one of his coworkers’ houses on a chilly Tuesday night to meet Santa. Ryan’s coworker does something amazing every year and pays the Birkdale Village Santa (if you’re local you know he’s fantastic!) to come to her home for an hour or two to meet with children and even arranges a professional photographer to take pictures. It’s such a kind and generous tradition and we’ve felt so grateful to be a part of it! The professional photos were emailed out this week and they are so cute! We laughed when we saw the pictures of Rhett giving Santa a stare down. He managed to give him some high fives as well but that was just about as close as he wanted to get to the strange bearded man everyone else seemed to adore.

The smile you see on Rhett’s face in our family photo above is 100 percent because he’s in my arms and NOT Santa’s lap! Ryan and I also get a big kid out of listening in to hear what the big kids tell Santa they want for Christmas and Chase’s number one wish is a bald eagle stuffed animal whereas Ryder told Santa he wants “presents.”

Easy to please!

You know those recipes you look at and instantly know they’re going to be fabulous based on appearance alone? That was the case with these M&M cookies Chase’s friend Maddie brought to our house for our family to enjoy during a play date earlier this week. One bite told me my premonition wasn’t wrong and I instantly texted Maddie’s mom for the recipe. She directed me to Picky Palate’s Perfect M&M cookies and you better believe Rhett and I already picked up all the ingredients we need to make them this weekend! I’ve tried simply adding holiday M&Ms to traditional chocolate chip cookie recipes and they always fall short, so I have a feeling THIS is the recipe I’ve been looking for all along!

My rating: A- / Genre: Historical Fiction 

I’ve been on a thriller kick lately (see my latest thriller recommendations here!) but I was feeling a pull back to my original favorite genre: Historical fiction. Fiona Davis novels always deliver a blend of intrigue, well-researched history and imaginative storylines involving real people (in this case the historic Frick family). I absolutely love the way her novels often provide a deeper (fictional but also semi-true) dive into well-known names from history but the main characters are often people on the periphery. I loved this book, as I’ve loved her others, and thought it did a great job of blending history with romance, mystery and interesting factual information.

The Magnolia Place jumps back and forth from 1919 and the 1960s and follows the lives of two women who are connected by the Frick mansion, an expansive and impressive home-turned-museum known for its impressive collection of art. In 1919, Lily, a model for artists and actress-hopeful, finds herself in a precarious situation. She cannot believe her luck when a fortuitous misunderstanding lands her the jobs as Miss Helen Frick’s personal secretary, a job she’s wildly unqualified for but motivated and determined to do well; at least until she can earn enough money for a train ticket to L.A. to chase her dreams of becoming an actress. Miss Helen is the daughter and heiress of  industrialist, financier and art patron Henry Clay Frick, with a reputation for being difficult and demanding. After a secretive deal presents itself between Lily and Mr. Frick, Lily stays on to help run the household longer than anticipated and quickly finds herself immersed in family secrets, matchmaking, romance, valuable stolen jewels… and danger.

Fast forward to the 1960s and Veronica Weber is a model on the cusp of making a name for herself after landing a job with Vogue, set to shoot in the Frick mansion-turned-museum. A photoshoot-gone-wrong finds Veronica trapped in the Frick home along with Joshua, an Frick museum intern and art enthusiast. When Veronica unexpectedly discovers what appears to be a scavenger hunt of hidden messages in the museum, she needs Joshua’s help to get to the bottom of it and ends up on a journey that may finally reveal the truth behind the infamous murder mystery that has followed the Frick family for decades.

We’re always looking for ways to get the boys in the giving spirit, especially around the holidays and one of the small things we did this year was some ornament crafting for family and friends! I ordered everything I needed to make the ornaments from Amazon (wood pieces + Mod Podge + circle hole punch + foam paint brushes) and followed this tutorial! They were so easy and I think they came out so cute!! (I may have made one of the boys to include in Ryan’s stocking, too!) I do think printing out the pictures in a smaller size than 4×6 would’ve been helpful and eliminated the need for a hole in some of the pics themselves (I made the hole with our electric screwdriver), so just keep that in mind if you decide to follow the tutorial, too!

For today’s Friday Flashback posts, I wanted to roundup my holiday gift guides in one place for easy access since “gift guide” has been the most popular search term for the past couple of weeks. You may also browse fast-shipping gifts through my Amazon shop if you need something last minute!

PBF Gift Guide 2022

Gift Guide for Her

Gift Guide for Guys

Question of the Day

What is one thing you are loving this week? 

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