2013 in Review

2013 was an AMAZING year! This week, I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers writing their year in review, and I really liked that idea. 2013 was full of weddings, and parties, changes and trips, and overall it was a wonderful year! So without further adieu, here are some of my favorite moments from 2013!

  • In February I started my new blog, Our Little Ivory Tower! I wrote 47 posts in 2013, and I’m excited to see how I can grow my blog in 2014. I absolutely love having a writing outlet and a way to keep in touch with my family and friends. It has also been a great way for me to document my life and it serves as a “live” scrapbook.
  • In March my sissy moved to Colorado, which was incredibly sad, but also so exciting for her! She got a promotion working for Victoria Secret, and shortly after moving she got ANOTHER promotion and was given her OWN STORE to manage. She is doing an awesome job and loving being out in Denver!

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  • Also in March, G & I did some fundraising for the Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. So many of our family and friends helped by donating and we were able to raise $250 for the local organization to help send veterans to Washington D.C. to see the WWII Memorial.
  • In April my bestie Megan invited me to be her +1 for a work trip she earned to Austin, TX! All expenses paid, we spend a long weekend exploring Austin with an awesome group of people, as well as a couple days at an amazing resort. We were pampered, ate like queens, and had an awesome #palsweekend overall. The trip was definitely a top highlight of 2013!

TX

  • At the end of April, I helped to host my dear friend Tiffany’s bachelorette party in Des Moines, which was a blast with old and new friends.

bachelorette party

  • In May I celebrated another bachelorette, my roommate from college Katie, in Nashville! It was my first time to ‘Music City’ and I loved every minute of it. We danced to country music, bought cowboy boots, and drank till the sun came up. It was another amazing girlfriends trip!

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  • In June I got to stand up as a bridesmaid in Tiffany and Nick’s wedding. It was one of the most fun bridal parties I’ve ever been a part of and the wedding was beautiful and classy and SO much fun.

Malcom Wedding

  • In July G & I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary! He posted this on Facebook which absolutely melted my heart 🙂 He’s not a big “sharer” on Facebook, so that made it all the more special. It’s good to be me, too!

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Anniversary

  • Also in July, I was a bridesmaid in Katie and Sean’s wedding in the Quad Cities. It was a gorgeous wedding and incredibly special and truly a wedding I will never forget.

Laird Sisters

  • In August we attended my 10 year class reunion. I rode in our class float, watched old class videos from elementary and high school days, and enjoyed catching up with my classmates, some of whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years!

Class of 2003

  • In September we went out to Colorado with my parents to visit Marlee and Andrew. We went to a Reds/Rockies game, hiking in the mountains, exploring Denver and Boulder, and had a lot of family fun time.

Mountains Family

  • Also in September, we traveled to Missouri for our friends Stephanie and Horacio’s wedding. So many of our friends who G grew up with were there, and we had a great time dancing the night away and catching up with old friends.

Wedding fun

  • In October I got to go to Las Vegas for work to exhibit at the NBWA Tradeshow. Not only was it beautiful weather while we were there, I learned a lot and even had some time to explore the city.

Las Vegas

  • In November I participated in NaBloPoMo and blogged {almost} every day in the month of November. We also spent Thanksgiving in Fort Dodge with the Ivorys, and went to G’s cousin’s wedding.

Ivorys

  • In December my sister got engaged!!! Her fiance Andrew took her up into the mountains for a relaxing weekend, and ended it by putting a beautiful ring on her finger. We are looking forward to the wedding planning to come in 2014, and a wedding in 2015! I’m so excited for them and excited for Andrew to become a part of our family.

Future Newbergs

  • Also in December, I decorated for Christmas  and we went to Chicago to celebrate the holiday with my mom’s side of the family. We also got together in Cedar Falls with G’s family to open presents and enjoy a really fun lunch at a Japanese steakhouse.

Christmas Tree

As you can see, 2013 was a really exciting and eventful year. We’re expecting another fun and and crazy year in 2014, and I can’t wait to share it all with you again. My goal for 2013 is to take one picture everyday to document the year {thanks for the idea, Mix and Match Mama!}, and to take time to enjoy my family and friends, because life is too short to not be around those you love.

Tonight G & I are going to ring in the New Year together by going out for a fancy dinner at 350 First and possibly to a movie, then probably home to watch the ball drop on TV. I’m really looking forward to it! Tomorrow we will spend Jan 1 relaxing and watching the Iowa Hawkeyes play LSU in the Outback Bowl! GOOOOO HAWKS!

I hope you all have a safe and happy new year, and look forward to seeing you all in 2014!

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That’s What I Love About Sunday

It was an emotional week last week with lots of ups and downs. We were traveling through Christmas day, then home to work for a day, then back in the car to go to the Quad Cities to pay our final respects to an amazing man. On December 21st, we got the news that my college roommate and close friends’ dad had passed away after fighting pancreatic cancer for 10 months. Bill always called me the 3rd Laird daughter, and was someone who could always make me laugh and had the most warm and caring smile of anyone I’ve ever met. He loved and appreciated everyone he met, and I am so sad for my friends who will now miss their dad every single day. We went to the visitation on Thursday night, then spent the night and attended the funeral on Friday morning. It was a beautiful service and I’m so glad we were able to attend.

When we got back on Friday afternoon, I had to go back to work for the rest of the day, and then babysat in the evening. Saturday we met G’s family in Cedar Falls for a really nice lunch and our family Christmas. I must say we were really spoiled by both of our families this Christmas, and feel very blessed to have such amazing parents and siblings.

But by today, I was EXHAUSTED. I knew I needed to do some laundry and go to the grocery store, and didn’t feel like making anything too complicated for dinner. Cue up my Yummy Food and Drinks Pinterest Board and I had the perfect recipe in mind to try. One of my favorite Illinois staples that my mom and I always HAVE to hit when we’re visiting our family is White Castle. Love it or hate it, I don’t care….I love a delicious slider! So when I saw the recipe for Easy Cheeseburger Sliders, I pinned it right away! Tonight I finally tried it and must say, it is SO EASY and INCREDIBLY yummy! One of my new favorite pins!

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Photo from betterrecipes.com

Since I was just cooking for G & I, I used a smaller pan and cut the recipe in half. Only using 1 pound of ground beef was enough for us to each have a couple sliders, and still have more left over for tomorrow. Click the photo above for the original recipe, or here’s how I did it:

Easy Oven-Baked Cheeseburger Sliders

 

1 pound, 90% (or leaner) lean ground beef

1/8 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped onions

Pinch of salt

Kings Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (or slider buns)

4 slices cheddar or American cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.   In a bowl, combine beef, bread crumbs, onion, and salt.  Gently press mixture into a 8 x 8-inch pan so that it makes one large patty of even thickness.  Use the tines of a fork to poke holes throughout the meat.  Bake for 20 minutes.  As it bakes, the meat will shrink away from the sides and liquid will accumulate around the edges of pan.  When fully cooked, remove the pan from oven (keep oven turned on) and carefully drain off the liquid.

Top the meat with an even layer of sliced cheese; return pan to oven for about 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes.  Cut into 2-inch squares (or the size of the buns used), making about 8 mini-hamburgers.  Serve with dill pickle slices, ketchup and mustard.  Serves 4 at 2 sliders each.

I would use this recipe to make regular sized hamburgers again, too. It was so easy baking the meat, and was pleased how all the patties turned out the same size and thickness. You could also add bacon, or other favorite toppings for some variety, or make a double cheeseburger who wants to eat less bun and more burger!

Now I’m back to work tomorrow for the last day of 2013, and then off on Tuesday and Wednesday for New Year’s Eve and Day. After such an emotional week, today was exactly what I needed – relaxing, yet productive, with a comfort food dinner. Now, THAT’S what I love about Sunday!

Merry Christmas From the Ivorys!

Merry Christmas friends and family, near and far! We spent the last few days with family in Plainfield, IL celebrating the holiday and getting to see my cousin who is home for a short while from the Air Force. We enjoyed eating way too much and got completely spoiled with presents. We missed being with my sister who was in Colorado, and Greg’s family. But we will continue the celebration with them next weekend.

Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday!

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So This is Christmas

Apparently I’m into naming my posts after songs lately….and I kinda like it. Might see how long I can keep it up! 🙂

Tomorrow I’m hosting some Zetas from my alumnae chapter over to put together the fundraiser I’ve been working on. We sold “finals survival kits” to the parents of the collegiate Zetas, and will put them together for delivery. I’m really excited about it because we sold way more than I expected, and are going to be able to donate a lot of money. I just hope the weather isn’t bad, as many of the ladies are traveling from Iowa City and the Quad Cities. Snow, snow, stay away!

In preparation for my guests, I finished my Christmas decorating today, and even wrapped the presents I have ready so far! I really wish I would have gotten a real tree this year, but with Thanksgiving so late, it just didn’t seem worth the hassle. Hopefully next year…regardless, I’m glad to have it done and am looking forward to enjoying the pretty decor for the next 3 to 4 weeks!

See this year’s decorations below and Merry Christmas, everyone!

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These Are a Few of my FAVORITE Things!

Oh my goodness, you guys! I am SO excited for the NBC LIVE performance of The Sound of Music. It is one of my very favorite movies, not to mention I LOVE Carrie Underwood! And a LIVE TV special?!!? I’m ALL in! So in honor of my excitement…..

…..these are a few of my favorite things……

**Dory-Dog….this little puppy has given me so much joy in the three years we’ve had her. She is snuggly and cuddly, and can put a smile on my face no matter what is going on. We got a good one with this little pup, and I can’t imagine my life without her.

Dory Dog

**Chopped Salad….to me, regular salad is SO hit or miss. Salad bar salad used to ALWAYS be my favorite kind. Portillo’s chopped salad was a close second. But that was really all the chopped salad I was familiar with. Since finding Dole’s chopped salad kits, I could probably eat salad every day and be completely happy. This stuff is amazing…..try it!

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**Hand-Written Notes…..There is nothing like receiving a hand written note from a friend or family member saying hello or they miss you. Call me a hoarder, but I hold on to all the sweet cards and notes I get. Christmas time is amazing because the Christmas cards start rolling in from near and far!

**Sephora BB Cream……It moisturizes, it evens out my skin, it’s got SPF 20, and lets be honest, it just all around makes me prettier. I’ve tried other BB creams before, but this one is for sure my favorite. If you haven’t tried it, get it here!

**Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows…..no special recipe, no special kind. I just think there’s nothing as comforting on a cold winter night as a big ole mug of hot chocolate filled with marshmallows.

Oh, and of course….

….raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things….

Enjoy the show everyone!!!!! I really hope it is as good as I’m expecting it to be!

My Webtastic Black Friday

In past years, I admit I have been a Christmas present procrastinator. December just always seems to sneak up on me, and between holiday parties and decorating and baking and everything else, finding the {perfect} gifts have always been left until the very. last. minute. I spend the few days before Christmas running around from store to store, stressing out and sweating, trying to find exactly what I need. Online shopping is not an option when you procrastinate. Not even close, especially when you have to travel for the holidays.

Every year I tell myself that this year will be different. Well, GUESS WHAT FRIENDS!?! This year was different! I’ve been working on my list of gifts for people for the past few weeks. And on Black Friday, I was READY. I sat on the comfy chair at my in-laws starting late Thanksgiving night, logged into my email for all my promo codes, and of course Ebates so I could save even more, and started buying and saving like a mad woman. Like my favorite blogger always says, 

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So I shopped my little heart out, and got about 85% of my Christmas shopping done. You have no idea how huge this is, seriously! This means I will not be scooping up last minute gift cards, or running from store to store on December 23rd, so I am very, very pleased. And I scored some great deals {um, I mean, everything I bought was SUPER expensive, family and friends, so you better love them, wink, wink!} I even found the perfect wedding gift for a friend getting married in February. Can you say OVER-ACHIEVER?

For the first time in I don’t know how long, I am super excited to give my loved ones their gifts this Christmas. And I even picked out a few little things for myself. Including the Verizon Ellipsis 7 tablet, which I got for FREE. You heard that right….free. And it was even overnighted to me for Saturday delivery, also for FREE. I’ve been playing with it for a few days, and I absolutely love it. It has 4G and just goes right on my Verizon Share Everything plan, so I didn’t have to set up a new account or anything like that. It’s small enough to hold easily in my hand, but large enough to see the screen about a thousand times better than my phone. Have I mentioned I loved Black Friday this year? 

Best part of my Black Friday experience….I didn’t have to go out in the crowds or the cold. Now THAT’S my kind of deal! Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing??? 

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Mission Failed – NaBloPoMo Days 22-27

I gave up on NaBloPoMo last Friday after 21 days straight of blogging. I didn’t feel like writing, and I skipped day 22. Then, after I missed 1 day, I didn’t feel bad about missing another, and another, and another. Failing feels a little something like this:

But it’s okay. I was getting kind of burnt out and bored. And if I’m bored with what I’m writing, I’m pretty certain others are too. And that’s not good for anyone.

Last weekend was sports weekend. Friday after work we went to {one of my} favorite restaurants in Iowa City Wig and Pen. Saturday we tailgated in the sub-zero freezing temps {briefly} and then went to the Iowa/Michigan game and saw a great game! But wow those things wear you out! We came home, napped, and started watching Dexter on Netflix. It’s a pretty good show….can’t wait to keep going with it.

Now we are on the road to Fort Dodge to spend Thanksgiving with the Ivorys. Saturday Greg’s cousin {who was a groomsman in our wedding!} is getting married. So we’ve got a busy, family filled weekend ahead of us. I’m sure going to miss being with my parents and sister though!

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!!