Nov 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you are celebrating with your friends and family and eating a ton of yummy food.

I'm starting the day off revving up my metabolism by participating in The Run to Feed the Hungry. It's the largest Thanksgiving day run in the country and benefits the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. I'll be running in the 10K as the 5K is just too crowded. Even the 10K is a bit crowded the first couple of miles. I enjoy starting my Thanksgiving off like this. This will be my 3rd year participating. And it's gearing up to be a cold one!

After that, Cameron, the girls and I are staying home. I'm sure football will be on and at some point we'll watch the Macy's Day parade that I plan to record. And we're making a full spread for dinner, even though it's just the 4 of us. It definitely will be a little strange not to be with any family and friends and we will miss them, but we decided we really needed a year where we weren't running from one thing to the next for at least one holiday.

We started the countdown to Thanksgiving Day Dinner on Monday night. After picking up my packet for the Run, the girls and I made cornbread for each of their class feasts. Luckily both girls had theirs on Tuesday. And I signed up for cornbread knowing that they could help me out in making it. They each got to make their own, versus sharing the process and taking turns. Sydney did let me crack the eggs. She's not a fan of that task. 

Tuesday night was pie crust making, cranberry sauce and more cornbread. 

And last night I made the pumpkin pie and mashed sweet potatoes, while prepping the Brussels spouts, green bean casserole and stuffing. All that's left for today is the bird, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamed spinach and the whipped cream for the pie. We'll be living off of leftovers for days, especially Turkey, since we got a 20 lb bird. But I love me some cranberry sauce turkey sandwiches and we'll likely make Turkey and dumplings and then adding to whatever is left of that to make some Turkey pot pies. We've gotten very good at using every last bit of Turkey to our benefit. We may even make Turkey broth.

Now it's time to get ready for Christmas! But the only place you will see me on Black Friday is somewhere to get a Christmas tree and then The Painted Cork that evening to enjoy good friends, wine and food while painting a Christmas scene.

Nov 25, 2014

Stick a Fork in it, Sydney's stocking is DONE!

This coming Christmas will be Sydney's 3rd, but her first with her official stocking. I've been working on it since she was a month old. And I was afraid I might not finish it in time for this year's Christmas, which had been my goal. London's 3rd Christmas was also her first Christmas with an official stocking, another Cross-stitch labor of love, that I will have to show in comparison to this one soon (I just need to dig it out of storage, which will happen this weekend!)

I actually completed all the stitching back on the 13th (and celebrated with champagne!) but wasn't able to get to JoAnn's until this weekend to get the backing fabric. It took about an hour to put it all together once the fabric was washed, dried and ironed. 

And guess what?! I'm not done with my cross-stitch stockings. While we are done with kids, Cameron and I picked out designs for our own stockings. I'll be starting his in 2015. Hopefully I get around to mine in 2017! But now it's time to focus on Christmas crafts, cards and gifts. Plus, I have a new toy to play with. Cameron got me a Silhouette Cameo for Christmas - but gave it to me early so I could use it this holiday season!

It's going to come in handy in helping me accomplish my craft goal of 2015 - completing London's Baby book!

Nov 20, 2014

A Trip to Bishop's Pumpkin Farm

OK, one last look back to October (I know, I know, November is almost over)....

No October in our house is complete without a trip to Bishop's Pumpkin Farm in Wheatland, CA. It's an annual tradition we have been doing since we found out we were expecting London. Usually we go on a weekend and meet up with friends, but with our trip to Disneyland and Cameron's trip to Canada for a waterfowl hunting trip, plus Sydney's birthday celebrations, we just didn't have a weekend we could go. So this year we went on a Tuesday evening and...



We may never go on a weekend again! It does help we are a lot closer to Wheatland now  so we can actually go on a weekday and have some time to spend there. While there were a lot of cars in the parking lot, the place was not packed full of people as it is on a weekend day. We could actually walk around inside the Cider Mill and didn't have to force the girls to hold our hands. Plus, we were able to go on the train (how could we not given Sydney's obsession with them?) without waiting in line, which made it a first for us. Plus, weekdays, there is no $10 parking fee! Only drawback is that there are no pig races on weekdays. Then again, the routine was the same, year after year, so I think we can forgo that for a while.

We didn't even feel the need to bring the stroller and allowed Sydney to walk around with us. It's hard to believe, but a year ago when we visited, Sydney wasn't even walking.

Given we live in the country now, and the fact that we don't get Trick-or-treaters (we actually have to make the effort and go somewhere to go trick-or-treating ourselves) some would think we don't need pumpkins. I love carving pumpkins, don't get me wrong, but now we get pumpkins for our fall decor instead.

This year we only got two pumpkins, a giant orange pumpkin and a giant white pumpkin. I'd never seen the giant white variety before, and I have a small obsession with white pumpkins in general, to be honest.  

Going to the pumpkin patch also finally got me in the mood to decorate the house and front porch for Fall. Took me a few days, but by the time guests began to arrive for Sydney's birthday party, it was done. Here's our front porch set up: 

We already had the dried corn stalks, thanks to our garden this year, as well as all the tiny gourds between the two pumpkins. The smaller pumpkins came from the girls' school. Each year they bring in a farmer with pumpkins and animals to pet.

What also helped me get into the Fall Spirit was the fact that the weather is finally feels like Fall. It's hard to decorate for Fall when it's still in the mid-90s! We've even had a few rainy days, which is a huge blessing for California. We'll welcome any and all rain that comes our way. Even the red wine in our house is finally getting my attention - for some reason I can't drink it when its hot.

Nov 18, 2014

Sydney's Stats: 2 Years Old

Sydney had her 2-year check up with the doctor this week. She is progressing well, as expected and is finally all up to date on her shots. She doesn't have to go back for a whole year! Here are her stats: 

Height: 35 1/4 inches (85th percentile)
Weight: 27 lbs 10 ounces (60th percentile)
Head Circumference: 46 1/4 cm (no percentile provided)

Sydney is definitely growing up quickly before our eyes. She is saying more and more daily and is quite Little Miss Independent, insisting on doing things herself. Luckily she also isn't too afraid to ask for help when absolutely necessary. 

Sydney is also following in her sister's footsteps on wanting to be a little helper in the kitchen. Almost every weekend now, I try to do some kind of baking activity with both girls to keep them satisfied. Both are good at acknowledging whose turn it is to put something in the bowl or whose turn it is to mix it up. I'm sure both will be right next to me next week when it comes time to prep for Thanksgiving dinner1

Nov 6, 2014

A Halloween Carnival

I know it's November, but October was eventful. The Friday after we got back from Disneyland was the girls' annual school carnival. The school hosts the carnival one Friday evening in the month and then asks that kids don't wear costumes on Halloween. It works out great being on a Friday evening so that the whole family can take part. Most every other activity/event is during the day and we can't always take off work to make it. The last event we made it to during the day was the 4th of July parade! And likely I won't be able to make the Thanksgivings Feasts. 

Cameron, unfortunately, missed the carnival, so he asked me to take lots of photos. He was up in Canada helping to reduce the bird population up there. He'd actually left us in Disneyland to head up there for this hunt. My mom was wonderful and agreed to drive home with the girls and I and then stayed for the week to help me out while Cameron was gone. Which meant she got to go to the Carnival. 

It's hard to believe Sydney is smiling so much in this picture. Whiel London loved every moment she was allowed to wear her Queen Elsa dress, Sydney wasn't the biggest fan of her Tinkerbell dress. At Disneyland, the night she wore it, Cameron had had to wake her up from a nap that she really didn't want to end. We also didn't put a shirt on under it and I think it itched her a bit. I had to pretend that we were going to leave her at home if she didn't put the dress on. (We'd discovered the way to get her to do anything while we were in Disneyland was to tell her bye bye. We're still using this trick when push comes to shove, but we definitely don't want to over use it and have her realize we are bluffing every time!). Once the dress was on this time, she seemed fine with it, given the t-shirt underneath.

Looks at that form!

The girls had a blast at the carnival, playing games and trick-or-treating. We made it to every room except one - that one had the cake walk and the line was out the door. The girls had gotten enough sugary treats between Disneyland and the other rooms, that I thought it best to avoid the cakes. Besides, I'd be making one the next week for Sydney's birthday.

Then she decided this was easier!

I think London's favorite room was Sydney's class where cookie decorating took place. She couldn't wait to eat her creation and it was gone within 10 minutes of being home!

Sydney didn't quite grasp the decorating concept nor did she really eat the cookie back at home. London ended up finishing it up for her. Sydney did enjoy the Red Vines that could be used in the decorating.

The last room we went into allowed the kids to walk the plank and jump into a kiddie pool full of Styrofoam packing popcorn. You can see this was a huge hit with both girls!

Nov 4, 2014

Sydney's 2nd Birthday Party

While Disneyland was meant to be the big celebration for Sydney's 2nd Birthday (and it was), we couldn't let the day pass without a little celebration at home. So we decided to host a party the day after. Plus, I wanted to put my new cake decorating skills to the test. Friday night we got the girls to help us pick up the house.

And I stayed up until 11 PM Friday night putting the finishing touches on Sydney's cake. It was chocolate with raspberry filling. Decorating definitely would have gone much more quickly had I had more than 1 of each sized tip that I used. And I knew this would be an issue going into making the cake, but I chose to invest in a sheet cake pan with cover, clear piping gel to trace the design and transfer it to the cake as well as get the letters to make the writing on the cake versus getting more tips. Maybe Santa will bring me some more tips in my stocking this year.

Sydney loved the cake and being sung Happy Birthday to, though she didn't actually eat much of her cake. She surprisingly doesn't have a large sweet tooth so while she will act interested in sweets, mainly because her sister is (London does have a sweet tooth), once Sydney gets a taste of whatever the treat is, she moves on. Chocolate has been the exception in the past and she did eat more than I expected of her cake, but she wasn't like most of the kids who finished their pieces, and wanted more. Sydney also isn't a huge fan of meat. Basically, between her and London, they can finish 1 meal together - Sydney will eat the veggies and fruit, while London will take care of the meat and dessert!

Sydney didn't quite grasp the whole "blow out the candle" concept so friend Paige and myself helped her out.

Sydney, did however discover the joy of opening presents. Once she figured out the first one, she was all about all the others and was not satisfied until all the presents were not only out of their wrapping but also all the toys outside of their manufacturer packaging. Outside putting food away, we didn't do any clean up that night. Cameron found the tornado that was our house the next morning comical, so he took some pictures to document the destruction that results after parties with kids. I just hope every one had fun. And it only took me an hour or two to pick this mess up. We really did have a lazy Sunday afterward.