the last “experience” that we did as a family this holiday season (i.e the month of december) was planned by my momma! she surprised us & took us to lunch at little greek where they are BYOB, which we love. we brought in like 3 different kinds of beer and a bottle of champagne & they were so sweet and brought us glasses to toast with which made it feel elevated and special. after a delicious lunch, we walked next door for a sweet treat at gigi’s cupcakes and then we went for a pamper session at mapleshade spa. the spa place was like in an old historic home, the downstairs was a boutique area where they sold jewelry, bath bombs, lotions, candles, etc. and then there were staircases on each side of the house that you go up to individual bedrooms-turned-massage-rooms to get a facial or a massage. this house was like an old mansion, the floors were kind of creaky and ceilings high, it was a pretty cool setup and the facial was really great. i got an anti-aging facial and she infused my skin with vitamin C and steam for hydration. i don’t remember much else because i passed out it was so good, ha! scroll on for a few more pics from the day:

lunch & BYOB @littlegreek in richardson…two thumbs up!

little greek richardson texas

@gigiscupcakesrichardso

i got carrot cake, mel got chocolate chip cookie dough and my mom got white midnight magic – check out the rest of the mouth-watering menu here

gigis cupcakes richardson texas

instagrammable opp

gigis cupcakes richardson texas

headed to mapleshade spa

mapleshade spa dallas texas

one little section of the boutique downstairs with lots of little goodies

mapleshade spa dallas texas

one of the massage rooms with a heated bed and a fireplace. it was so cozy and with the soft music playing…i passed the F out!

mapleshade spa dallas texas

we all had so much fun planning and gifting “experiences” to each other versus worrying about if we got each other enough things. i hope it was fun to read about and you got some ideas for family activities, too 🙂 going to make this a family tradition we carry on forever.

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hiiiii! hope you had a wonderful christmas! i always forget how nostalgic this time of year feels until it’s christmas eve and elf or and home alone 2 are playing in the background and the soundtracks just bring sooooo many memories back. it’s a day and time of the year especially where i really miss my grandfather. for christmas this year, we were all at my aunt carol’s house & i was soaking up time with loved ones, being comfortable and happy.

while christmas has technically passed for the year, i wanted to continue sharing the family “holiday” experiences we did last week, this one was dekel’s idea. he took us to escape room in plano. we’ve actually been before, we literally were there the same day last year  – it’s a really fun during-christmas-break activity, or any day really! it’s fun to get locked up and be challenged to think outside the box & work together to “escape.” if you’ve never been before, it’s kinda like a giant puzzle that you are working against the clock to figure out. you’re blindfolded/handcuffed and led into a room where you listen to a recording explaining the “situation” you are in and then it’s up to your group to work together to solve the clues and get to the end, which is the door that will let you out. there is a “game master” who you can talk to if you get stuck, which we did a few times, but we alllmooooosstttt made it out! we were on the last clue to break out and it was translating morse code, which we sucked at. the whole game is such an adrenaline rush and the hour goes by so quickly. last time we did “hostage,” this time we did “kidnapping” and the “operation: casino” looks cool, too- we will be back for sure.

breakout games dallas

listening to the rules and about to get blindfolded

waiting in line for breakout room plano

kidnapping game at breakout room plano

so close…

breakout room plano

next up: the holiday experience my mom planned

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& a happy new year!

hope you have a wonderful day spent with loved ones, relaxing, eating good food and having great belly laughs.

if you live in dallas and have a chance to check out the cutest seasonal coffee shop there ever was, i highly recommend deck the hall street. it’s right by 75 & ross ave. & go before the new year….if anything for the #instagrampic in front of that super cute red wall! their americano was pretty tasty, too.

deck the hall coffee shop dallas texas

keep the change ya filthy animal

deck the hall coffee shop dallas texas

letters to santa

letters to santa at deck the hall coffee shop dallas texas

#deckthehallstreet special menu

deck the hall street seasonal menu dallas texas

there were cotton balls on string hanging from the windows, which looked like snow!

deck the hall coffee shop dallas texas

don’t be a cotton headed ninny muggins

americano at deck the hall coffee shop dallas texas

garland & wreaths hung about

atmosphere at deck the halls coffee shop

deck the halls coffee shop dallas texas

americano with cream, please

deck the halls coffee shop dallas texas

#target parka with removable faux fur hood, in gray

deck the halls coffee shop dallas texas

it’s the most wonderful time of the year

deck the hall streeet coffee shop dallas texas

have a wonderful day, friends!

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this past weekend dek & i went out for brunch in downtown and as soon as we were parking we knew something was going on because we could hear drums and see antique cars and roads blocked off. we pushed our hunger down to be curious and find out what all the commotion was about and turns out it was the dallas holiday parade! we were catching the tail-end of it, but it was so nice to be right there in that moment with dekel and total strangers enjoying the festive sights and sounds on the streets of downtown. we eventually made it to our intended destination of mudhen, which is one of my favorite patio brunch spots in dallas.

where’s your favorite brunch spot?

i’m putting together a list of the ones i frequent the most & would love to try any places you recommend!

dallas farmers market

dallas holiday parade downtown

dallas holiday parade downtown marching band

dallas holiday parade downtown flying snowman inflatable

on the stairs watching dallas holiday parade

wiener dog sign downtown dallas

dallas farmers market

pretty stairs in downtown dallas

mudhen sign dallas farmers market

bikes in downtown dallas at farmers market

 

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every year a few of my best friends & i meet up to celebrate the holidays and have some of those belly-wrenching laughs. this year we gathered at my house and everyone brought something to eat or drink along with a surprise for a gift exchange. the potluck was amazing, we had a variety of dishes and wines and you know the best nights are when everyone is huddled in the kitchen around the island. there were about five crock pots lined up at one point and all of the food was so delicious! there were meatballs, brisket (i followed this recipe again), pineapple ham, mac & cheese, chick-fil-a minis, artichoke dip, caesar salad, cranberry puff pastries, pigs in a blanket, whoopie pies and yum yum cake. i’ve come to learn that hosting means you get to keep the leftovers…perks!

there were games, good laughs and memories made. can’t wait to see what next year brings for all of us.

i snapped a few photos of the party, scroll down for more if you’d like to see…

girls christmas extravaganza partygathered around the food at the girls christmas partyrosé, anyone?rose wine lovercustomized napkins that say “the benita’s” that were gifted to me last holiday seasoncustom napkins with my last namea 3-D wall décor idea i got from this postdiy festive holiday 3D wall decor ideacharcuterie board by marli, she whipped this up in under 5 minutes & it was gone just as fast!holiday party meat and cheese boardabout to exchange giftsgirls christmas party gift exchangemirelle, my love, the ringleader girls christmas party gift exchangeso many good gifts under the tree & molly actually brought a legit gift this year (ha!)girls holiday party gift exchange#socialsabotage – it was like “cards against humanity” but with things you would have to do on social media or through text message and then it was up to the person whether they would post/do whatever it was

girls christmas party photos from past years, in order from most recent:

2016- matchbox american kitchen

2015- marli’s house

2014- dallas beer kitchen

2013- bryan street tavern

2018- TBD!!!!

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i’m thankful for so many things and yesterday was an opportunity to actually say what i am thankful for OUT LOUD, i don’t do that enough and i am going to start trying harder.

at the moment, here are the top 3 things i am thank for:

1. dek & our relationship. i truly have a lover, a friend and partner in life with him and i’m so happy with where we are today. we’re stronger than ever and have a deeper connection than when we first got together. we just “announced” to our family that we are trying to get pregnant. we’re ready to grow this family of ours!!!

2. family. don’t know where i would be without the guidance of my mom, dad, sister and brother. i have unique relationships with each of them that i am so thankful for.

3. ambition. to work, to travel, to explore. i’m thankful this spark is alive in me and in my mind. i will never stop dreaming and doing things that i love and i’ll never stop reaching for the endless possibilities that i can and will creating something amazing in this life.

i’m also thankful YOU are here reading this post on my site. if you didn’t notice already, it’s gotten a little bit of a makeover (post coming soon about that!), hopefully you will find the site more visually appealing. feel free to share the top 3 things you’re currently thankful for in the comments below, i’d love to hear!

anyways, back to thanksgiving and the good stuff, the food! it was my second time hosting this holiday and probably won’t be my last, i love doing it! everyone offered to bring a dish which helped alleviate the pressure. i made a simple, but tasty brisket in the crock pot, following this recipe. it’s super easy – you just throw everything in the night before and wake up to garlic aroma filling the house and tender brisket with mushrooms marinating – everyone was drooling over it – it was insaaaannnne! i also made this white bean dip that i snagged from cupcakes & cashmere’s site, which was light and oh, so snack-able. dek made oven-baked chicken from his mom’s recipe book and we had a simple green salad with tomatoes, feta, pine nuts and pecans with lemon-garlic dressing. my mom brought smashed potatoes & gravy and pumpkin bread (dekel’s favorite!) and my sister brought an intense marbled chocolate and peanut butter reese’s cheesecake and champagne for mimosas. my aunt brought bread rolls and grandmother brought a pickle tray with olives and cranberries. it was SO nice to enjoy a casual lunch with the fam & a delicious meal gathered around a tablescape i was pretty proud of. i definitely indulged in one too many helpings of smashed potatoes & reeses cake with vanilla ice cream but it was soooo worth it!

after lunch we played some table games, our favorites are spoons and mexican train, then we migrated over to the living room to lounge on the couches and have some blonde roast coffee & pumpkin bread. we sifted through the endless pile of black friday ads and mirelle made a list of “doorbusters” we wanted to go check out that evening. after watching a painful first half of the cowboys game, i gave in and went shopping with my mom & sister. we headed out to poke around in jc penny’s, kohls, old navy and target. i scored some great pieces that i am sharing on the blog tomorrow, so be sure to check back.

my tablescape – created with garland from at home stores with pine cones and candles layered in (mandarin currant scent) & vases with eucalyptus from hobby lobby for height. mix-matched napkins are from world market and the gratitude cards are from my mom, tied with white pom-pom string.

bar cart vibes + a festive DIY (inspiration from this post)

Festive Bar Cart

white bean dip

white bean dip appetizer with veggies and pita chips

marbled reese’s cheesecake made by my sister, mirelle

Reeses cheese cake

sister pic, post lunch

post-Thanksgiving meal sister photo

2nd annual family thanksgiving selfie stick pic, 1st annual pic here

Thanksgiving family photo

hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving, enjoy the weekend!

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i know, i know…it’s not even thanksgiving yet, but in the spirit that dek & i are hosting thanksgiving lunch with our family again this year annnddd i’ll be hosting our annual girls christmas party, i wanted to sprinkle a few festive touches of décor around our home before we have company over the next few weeks. here are 5 easy, budget-friendly ways to incorporate festive touches of décor around your home:

1. customize your ornaments

if you already have a tree, great! if you don’t and you’re ready to purchase one, i would recommend a faux tree with built-in lights. then, it’s all about customizing your ornaments. i like to use wood slices or chalkboard surfaces to add personality to my tree. you could also easily hang things like this on doorknobs, the fridge door, kitchen cabinets, etc. the K is for Kaiser & P for @peanutinthecity…our pups 🙂

holiday_decor_33

2. bows are your best friend

there’s something soooo holiday about those red velvet .99 cent bows, try adding them to a window sill planter, a lamp, your cabinets….go nuts with these guys.

holiday_decor_55

3. look up: hang ornaments from the ceiling

ok, if you don’t have a hanging globe installation over your dining table like i do, you can try hanging different sized and shaped ornaments from light fixtures, doorways – you could do this with mistletoe, too.

holiday_decor_77

4. use mini trees

i have a few of these from @athomestores, here is where you can browse them, and how cool that they are funky colors like blue & mint green! i put them on our entryway table and on top of our liquor cabinet.

holiday_decor_444444

5.  create a simple, not-so-perfect tablescape

this gray table runner with silver sequins & these geometric christmas trees are what i had from last season, but any grouping of three objects will create a simple scene for any surface. you could do this with mason jars and twigs from outdoors, another idea could be succulents with ornaments.

holiday_decor_888

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today israel celebrated 63 years of independance!

last night there was a cute little ceremony with singers, food and fireworks in the little village where we live & then dekel met up with friends for a “manly barbeque” & i curled up on the couch with wine and popcor to watch black swan. anyone seen it? i loved it, but i swear natalie portman had like a total of 10 lines throughout the whole movie. what was up with her not talking?

anyways, today we spent the afternoon at dekel’s brothers house, grilling, eating, drinking and then eating some more. it’s not like im used to where there are hamburgers and hotdogs and sweet tea and that’s it. after the guys got the grill going, they put on skewers and skewers of chicken, wings and spicy hotdogs. after stuffing our faces with the first round, they begin round two. kebabs and meat patties with onion and parsley. my fav! then, unbutton your pants and prepare yourselves for round three. steaks. i kid you not, there was so much food and it was all delicious. along with all the meat there were tons of little salads, lettuce with lemon, eggplant slices covered with tahina, coleslaw and cabbage.

all in all, it was a great holiday and i was happy to be celebrating here israel’s 63rd year of independance!

 my little star of david bracelet!
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