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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

my thanksgiving tables

One thing my mom always taught me was when you were hosting a holiday to prepare for it days in advance. That was great advice my friends :) So today I set up and got all my tables for Thanksgiving dinner ready.

The table in the dining room was pretty easy. 

One day last week I stopped into World Market for some last minute things and picked up the table runner, turkey decorations, bud vase and paper place mats. At first I wasn't completely sold on them but now they are on the table I love how they turned out. One thing I love about my family is how informal they are ;) They won't mind at all eating off pretty plastic plates. I got these at Costco and thought they would look nice over the place mat. Napkins are from Michael's. The flowers I bought at our local grocery store and just picked out a few different types of flowers and once I got them home cut them different lengths and arranged them. It was actually really fun and I just think they are beautiful.

Now finding space for another table took a little thinking. Our "homework room" is actually a formal dining space so I just took our long desks, pushed them together, moved out the drafting table, put a tablecloth and runner over the desks, surrounded them with chairs and now we have an extra giant table! 
I also redid my chalkboard :)

I was actually surprised how good it turned out. This table will most likely seat most of the kids so I put down these cute activity placemats for them to doodle on.

 I also placed white jars with crayons and markers on the table for them to use. Add a few pumpkin and fresh flowers and that's one nice looking table.

We are also going to be using the 4 bar stools but I had to leave a space for my family to eat the next few days. I will set those settings up Thanksgiving morning.

When planning my tables I knew I wanted a few things...
fresh flowers for the centerpieces
comfortable seating
fun space for the kids

After my tables were finished I really felt like all my items were checked off. Make a list of what you want for your tables then follow those guidelines to make it a reality. For us incorporating children is so important because I want them to look back on these holidays and remember how much fun they were.

And if you were wondering how I got all this done...
arts and crafts thanksgiving clearance items from Michael's ;)


Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

can't help myself

I am completely aware how cheesy portrait studio pictures are...yet I just cannot help myself anymore ;) 

When Amelia's Christmas dress arrived in the mail last week I just knew I had to take the kids to get their pictures done because it is seriously gorgeous. Thankfully I had already planned and color coordinated their outfits so we were good to go! 

And the pictures are adorably cheesy...and I love it! :)

these are all of course pictures of pictures hence the brightness and yellowness ;)

Amelia's dress is from Stellybelly
Asher's shirt and tie from Kohls 
Aiden's sweater from Children's Place


Monday, November 23, 2015

my thanksgiving menu

This year I am hosting my first every Thanksgiving in our brand new home. To say that I have been excited would be the understatement of the century ;) Last year at this time we were preparing to move and life was insane. I remember walking through this house with just the frame up imagining Thanksgiving 2015. What would it look like? What would we look like? What would we be doing? I imagined the kids sprawled out in the living room watching the parade as Cameron and I prepared the house for guests. I am hoping that is exactly what it is like :)

Thanksgiving 2014

So when it came to planning and hosting my 1st ever Thanksgiving I turned to Pinterest of course ;) One thing I love about my family is they all love to help. So everyone is bringing a dish {or 2} to help cut all the cooking time down for me. First thing I did was browse Pinterest for yummy recipes. Then I planned the menu, picked out what I was going to cook and then sent texts to my helpful family asking them to cook a particular dish. Of course they all said yes! So here's our hopefully delicious and successful... 

Thanksgiving Menu

What I am making: 


I have never ever made a turkey so I'm a little nervous. I looked at all different recipes and decided that I was going to brine it. Then when I headed over to World Market last week for some table decorations I found a brining kit. So I'm just going to follow these directions to a delicious turkey.

I wanted a few new dishes to our Thanksgiving menu and since everyone in my family loves mushrooms I went with this. Looks amazing and hello it cooks in a crockpot! Can't get much easier then that.

We all brussel sprouts and bacon {who doesn't love bacon} so when I found this simple recipe I knew it would be a hit!

Just look at the pictures in the recipe...hello deliciousness ;)

I wanted a few yummy appetizers and this one caught my eye. I'm going to serve apple slices and pretzels with it.


This is a family favorite in our house! I am mostly incorporating this dish because my kids are insanely picky and I know that this is something they will actually eat ;)


Everyone in my family loves pumpkin pie but I wanted to do something a little different from the traditional. So after looking at a million pumpkin pie recipes I decided on this one. Mostly because it looks easy and delicious. I will let you know how it turns out!

The other items on the menu include:
Green bean casserole
Dressing
Ham
Sweet Potatoes
Mashed Potatoes
Jalapeno Popper Dip
Cheese and Cracker Tray
Purple Cabbage and Apples
Fresh Salad
Homemade Rolls
Pistachio Tort
Pecan Pie
Homemade Cranberry Sauce

I hope this menu will be something all 20 of my guest will enjoy!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

girlfriends

It took me until I was a mom and in my late twenties early thirties to realize how important girlfriends are and how much we need them. I have a great group of girls I can turn to...some here in town, some farther away. Each one is special and each one knows how to make me feel better when I need it.

The funny thing is, all girls need girlfriends...even the littlest of girls.


Amelia is more then happy to play with her brothers and their friends most of the time. But she still needs girlfriends. That friendship is just a little different. When she gets together with her best friend "Maribel" they are seriously the cutest thing you have ever seen! I swear...these 2 could keep me entertained for hours watching them play together. It's just a sweeter type of play then when she plays with her brothers. The thing is, she really needs that {and it doesn't hurt that her best friend is one of my best friends daughters}.

I think when little girls don't have sisters it's more important then ever for them to have good girlfriends. I had a sister, therefore I never really had that longing for a good friend. I mean I lived with my friend. As I got older {don't worry my sister and I are very close} it became more clear to me why I needed more girlfriends. I needed more opinions, more point of views, different life experiences to learn about. My sister and I growing up had the same life experience. Though our lives have drastically changed as adults, we still have the same view of how life should be. I needed more and was lucky to have found that. Recently one of my best friends has been going through something and seeing all of us friends surrounding her with love and support has been very powerful to me. You don't have to be family to love someone. You don't have to be family to feel deeply for people. Friends can be family. Growing up I never would have believed this but now I believe almost more then anything else in my life.

"There is nothing on this earth more to be prized then true friendship."
~St. Thomas Aquinas

Friday, November 20, 2015

{friday favs} young living oils

I am very new to this whole "oily fiasco" going on with moms all over the country! I did know that I wanted to try something new to help out little ailments with the kids. So I did a little research and found that Young Living Oils was the way I wanted to go on this journey. 



And I absolutely love them! I really have no idea how to use all of them so that's where Pinterest comes in handy ;) I do know that how I am using them so far works great for our family.

Like this morning...we are all dealing with a cold/allergies and am just plan worn out. So I decided to diffuse purification and got it going before everyone woke up. The house smelled so yummy and our morning routine was a lot smoother. Coincidence? I think not.


The diffuser right now, is my fav way to use the oils. I diffuse lemon a lot because it makes the house smell so clean. My other go to, of course, is Purification. 

Amelia has been having a hard time falling asleep at night {sometimes} on preschool day. One evening I really needed help to get her to sleep, mostly for my sanity ;) So I rubbed the lavender oil on her temples and wrists and then diffused it in her room. Guess what?! She fell asleep soundly and slept all night. Coincidence? I think not ;)

Our other favorite oils right now are peppermint {upset belly} and thieves {immune system}. I put a few drops of thieves in my coffee in the morning for a little immune boost and the peppermint I use when the kids complain of a belly ache. I rub it on their temples and wrists and seriously this stuff works. It's quite shocking. All I have used so far are the oils that come in this starter kit


but there are so many more to try. I have just barely gotten my feet wet in this whole "oily" life style.

If you are interested in getting your starter kit message me...I have a special link for you :) Also if you know about oils please give me some advice! Right now Pinterest is my best friend for all oil information.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

storing memories

Once upon a time I was a huge scrapbooker. I loved spending hours working on elaborate pages that one day my whole family would enjoy looking at. Then life really happened...as in the boys got older {like I said in the last post, the older they get the harder life gets} and adding a new family member, well scrapbooking became impossible. I still love taking pictures and just could not handle the fact that they might never been seen. Plus my poor house was being over crowded with photo albums and giant scrapbooks.

And that's when I discovered photo books :)

I absolutely love my photo books and here's why:
1. They take up almost no space
2. Easy to make and I can almost always find a great coupon to which they cost me nothing-$10.
3. They are so fun to look at because not only are there pictures but there are stories with those pictures.
4. My family really loves them! I have never seen my kids pick up a photo album or scrapbook I made and ever look at it. However, all the time our photo books are all over the living room floor because someone has been looking at them :) That makes my heart so happy.


When I first started making photo books, I made them by seasons. Then I wanted to be more personal so I decided on each kids birthday I would make them a photo book of the past year for them. At the end of the book, Cameron and I would write them a special letter about their last year and what it meant to us. They love these books! The boys cannot wait to get theirs in the mail every year around their birthday. Again, makes my heart smile :)


This year I am trying something new mostly because all these little photo books are beginning to stack up ;) I'm going to invest and create one big book of our whole year at the end of the year. Most of the books I buy at 8x8 but last year after our Disney trip I went ahead and made a 12x12. It was gorgeous! That's when I decided that every year I would just make a big 12x12 of the whole year but also keep making the kids their little 8x8 just for them.

Now there are lots of sites to make photo books but I love Shutterfly. One of my fav things about it is how you can use so many coupons at once ;) For example, in my recent Christmas card purchase I used so many coupons that I ended up saving $85! Kinda crazy ;)

Nowadays everyone takes pictures with their phones and what makes me sad is thinking that my kids might be missing out on all these special memories because I didn't take the time to create them into something they can hold. Get your pictures and create something beautiful that generations of your family can look back on and smile :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

i really can do this

Parenting older kids always kind of scared me. I looked at tweens and teens and to be honest, thought they were weird ;) I wanted my kids to stay little forever.

But they didn't.

And honestly I couldn't be more happy about it. I love my big kids. I mean of course I love them, but I really love spending time with them. I love that we don't have to rush for bedtime anymore because they are older and stress me out a little less in the evenings. I usually put Amelia to sleep and then spend a little time with the boys. We talk about their day or really whatever they want to talk about. We read books together and laugh and talk all about them. Cameron usually puts them to bed a few nights a week and talks about guy stuff with them. We recognize that there are a lot of changes about to happen to them and want them to feel comfortable talking to Cameron about them. So he started those conversations with them already so they don't feel ashamed. It's just really fun and I am more and more looking forward to them getting older...something I honestly didn't think I would.

The thing with having kids of different ages is you get to appreciate where each of them is at. I think back and I believe if we would have had Amelia back when the boys were little I wouldn't really be enjoying time like I am now. Raising little kids is tough but it's more of a daily grind kind of tough. In then end I promise it's easier then raising bigs. As they get older it isn't so much about making sure they stay alive but making sure they are good people. Good human beings that will one day make good choices and be great adults. I always catch myself when I am talking to Aiden because he is going to remember all of this. He is almost 10...I can remember a lot from when I was 10. Cameron and I as parents have to be really careful what we say to him and how we say it. 

Through this whole world of parenting one thing that is important to us is creating a safe home environment and sharing our love of Christ. With these as our basic model we can grow from there and create fun traditions...things only our family does to make this time in our children's life special. 


Something that I read on Instagram months back really changed my view of motherhood. It was from Jen Hatmaker. She said

"Trying to remember when my car was filled with tinies and car seats and sippy cups. Now it is crammed with giant-bodied teenagers and tweens. It really does go very, very fast. I love Big Kids. You will too, Mama of Littles. Enjoy them now, but's don't worry...you won't use up all your best years while they are young. You'll enjoy them later too. Parenting is not an exercise in scarcity. There is always more to look forward to. Even when they have driver's licenses and college applications in the mailbox. We don't have to white-knuckle any season! The next one is precious too..."

And even though my bigs are not quite tweens yet I truly believe this is true :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

hip hop

Asher is in a Hip Hop dance class at the same studio Amelia takes ballet. He has been wanting to take this class for awhile but finally mustered up the courage this year. 

And I am so happy he did because he is really good. Like for real, this boy has the moves. 

I look at my kids and love how brave they are about trying new things. I wasn't like that at all as a kid {and still not really as an adult} so when they want to try something new without fear I am in full support! He could careless that there are only 2 boys in a class of mostly girls...he just wants to learn. Or that most boys his age aren't taking a dance class...that means nothing to him because he really enjoys it.

More then often I find myself drawing inspiration from my kids. I too want to be fearless and brave without fear of what others might think. 

Dance on my sweet boy...dance on!

group shot from their Halloween dance...obviously mine is the skeleton ;)

Friday, November 13, 2015

{friday favs} homemade fancy coffee

I've been wanting to do this series of post for awhile now so I figured I might as well start this week or it might not ever happen ;)

Friday Favs:

Homemade Fancy Coffee

There is almost nothing better to me then a yummy cup of coffee. I use to have no problem zipping through Starbucks to indulge {anytime of day} on a cup of deliciousness. That was until my husband so very nicely brought to my attention how much I spent there in a month on our credit card bill. It made me a little sick at my stomach. I didn't want to be spending that much money on drinks but I really really LOOOOVVVVEEEE them!!!! And then I found this while browsing Target one day


And my life changed ;) I was hoping that it wasn't too good to be true but y'all this stuff is delicious! It's like the real deal! If you love fancy coffee and own a Keurig I highly recommend buying. You will not be disappointed. 

And then last week during my weekly Target trip I saw this


and yes it really is as good {if not better} then Starbucks. And I can make it at home and enjoy anytime I want with no guilt. Poor Starbucks isn't seeing me much these days but my wallet, husband and I are all much happier ;)

Happy Weekend!!!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

{Recipes} my favorite breakfast

My love for meal prepping has made it's way to breakfast :)

This breakfast I am sure you will love because it's super easy to prepare, it's healthy and most of all delicious!

Overnight Steel Cut Oatmeal

I followed this recipe from Pinterest. You seriously will not believe how easy it is. Here are all the ingredients


 I use coconut milk just because we don't drink cows milk. I've also used almond milk and it's equally delicious. I add Chia seeds which isn't in the originally recipe but's its equally delicious. As for the fruit my favorites are raspberries or mango but we have also had blueberries, blackberries and strawberries. They all taste great so I usually just go with what is on sale at the store that week.

Here's the base measurements

  • 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

I double the recipe for 4 mason jars


Put it in a bowl and mix together {I just sprinkle the Chia Seeds on top}


I prep and put whatever fruit I am using that week into the mason jars. Then scoop out the mix and pour on top. Seal the jars and stick in the fridge. This is a weeks worth me. Or if I am feeling nice I let Cam have one and alternate this breakfast with my Acai Bowl ;)
When I'm ready to eat it, I sprinkle sliced almonds on top and drizzle agave nectar over it. It's so delicious! Swear!!!!



Wednesday, November 11, 2015

my little tag along

Everyday {but Wednesdays} my little tag along and I spend every waking {and some non waking} hour together. It's kind of crazy the stuff you get use to when you spend that much time with someone. 

Like yesterday as I was talking to the school nurse on the phone and she was standing next to me talking non stop. I can still function with extra background noise but you know what I found out...other people can't ;) 

Or the way she says "Mommy" literally 5 thousand times a day and each time she says it she says it at least 5 times. It's never just "mommy" its "MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY!!!!!!!!"

I think it's funny :) I love seeing people get that look of crazy when she is about to take them to their breaking point and they have only been around for say 5 minutes! Ha!

I just love my little tag along and all her idiosyncrasies. And as crazy as this may sound I actually really miss her those 5 hours that we are not together on Wednesdays. Life just isn't the same without her tagging along :)



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

{DIY Decor} Fall/Thanksgiving Decorations

This year we are hosting Thanksgiving for our families in our new home. I am so excited and cannot wait to have everyone over! I am also so excited to plan my first every Thanksgiving menu and cook my first ever turkey {more on all that to come}. So as much as I am anticipating Christmas and covering my home in Christmas decor I just cannot skip Thanksgiving this year. 

I am totally okay with that though :) I love Thanksgiving and everything it represents and stands for.

So let's start with the entryway

Wreath: Target {bought many, many years ago}


Thanksgiving Sign, Wheat, Pumpkin & Raccoon: Hobby Lobby {All brought from the old house}
Flower Arrangement: TJMaxx {new; just bought this year}
Pumpkin: Target {new}
And the little Indian girl in the canoe Aiden made in preschool.

I always try to save and incorporate the kids project or art into all my holiday decor. I think it adds a little something and it makes them feel special when they see it :)

The chalkboard art idea was from Pinterest.

Now let's move into the dining area...

Try and find fun ways to spruce up areas in your house with seasonal decorations. I could just leave this area the same all year and it would be fine but changing it makes it more fun and more noticeable.


A decorating tip I picked up from I Should Be Mopping the Floor  is to use coffee cups! I found this cute owl cup a few years back and it's perfect for this time of year. This little Indian girl and pumpkin Asher made in preschool. I also change out this fake chalkboard print for every holiday. Such an easy and cost effective way to decorate.


The "Happy Thanksgiving" sign I picked up off the dollar aisle at Target and the pumpkin is from TJMaxx. I wanted to display my cake holder here...mostly because it's pretty big and I don't have anywhere else to put it...but wasn't sure what to put in it. 

Then I remembered that I had picked up these napkins and plates on clearance at Michael's and voila!

Moving into the living room...

Decorating this mantle has been so much fun for me. Like I've said before, at the old house our TV hung above the mantle so I never really could decorate it. Believe me that I'm taking full advantage of my new mantle ;)


The pumpkins I picked up at TJMaxx; Banner off the Target dollar aisle; Signs from an instagram store called Southern Junk. She seriously has the cutest stuff!

The fall trees I got at a cute little antique shop here in town; pumpkin from Target and wheat from Hobby Lobby {from many, many years ago}.

I love all the holidays and changing seasons and most of all love taking the time to transform my home into a place that reflects that. Even if you just change a few things around your house I promise it will make a big difference!