Nov 11, 2015

Celebrating Fall

While the Christmas decor is going up in the stores, and Christmas music is already playing on some stations, I refuse to give in. And I applaud Nordstrom for not decorating until Black Friday and REI for paying their employees to spend Black Friday outside.

To me, now is the time to celebrate Fall, Harvest and Thanksgiving. The Fall Decor is still very much up in our house and I am determined to pass my love of Fall on down to the girls. 

That's why I have planned Fall activities each weekend leading up Thanksgiving. Usually, one craft and one baking activity, because Fall, to me is a yummy baking season. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I have a strict rule that I only listen to the music after Thanksgiving dinner is over. I can't say that about movies - Hallmark is running Christmas movies not stop and I may or may not have recorded several over the weekend and watched a few with the girls. What can I say, I'm a sucker for sappy love stories and even worse when Christmas magic is included in the plot. 

And I'm thinking forward to Christmas and prepping where I need to. Thanksgiving isn't that far away, which means Christmas is right behind it. Plus, watching the movies has me moving on my next stocking. 

Any how, this past weekend, the girls and I thought up all the reasons we have to be Thankful this time of year. I got the idea from Pinterest, of course. And by girls, I mean London, as Sydney isn't quite there intellectually. 

London came up with a great list of 11 items long, that included Friends, Family, Food and Pets. From there, we traced hands and London and I cut them out, then London labeled them. Sydney worked on her scissor skills on the scrap paper and both colored too. I cut out the tree trunk and let them go at it in taping the hands up. Their enthusiasm was uncontainable. 

Before I knew it, they were taping up the scraps of paper, anything they could get their hands on. They were so proud of it and couldn't wait to show Daddy when he got home from hunting Sunday evening. While I know the tree doesn't resemble the nice ones you see on Pinterest, I love it that much better because the girls had so much fun with it. 

And on Sunday, we started the process of making pumpkin thumbprint cookies. Unfortunately, I started it so late and and didn't read the directions ahead of time, so the dough and filling are still chilling in the fridge. But we'll get the cookies made soon, I'm sure. 

Nov 6, 2015


We started celebrating Halloween Friday evening as soon as I finished my run for the evening. Sydney's daycare was holding it's annual Halloween carnival that night. It was much later in the month than it has been in past years, but it got the girls geared up and ready for Trick-or-treating the next night. 

London wanted to go as a Mermaid this year. She's quite interested in Mermaids this year and really wants to see a real one. I recently found the DIY for a Mermaid Tail Blanket on Pinterest, so guess what both girls will be getting from Christmas. I'm thinking of making London a pillow that says "A Mermaid Sleeps Here" as well. 

We recycled London's old Minnie Mouse costume for Sydney. Unfortunately, it was on the snug side for her. London wore it when she was just 2 so we were almost a year late on passing it along to Sydney. The ears were definitely too small so they kept popping off her head. I felt a little bad, but a the same time I think this is our last year telling Sydney what she will be. Her opinions are growing so I'm sure she'll want to pick out her costume next year. 

I wanted to make sure we carved pumpkins this year, as this was my favorite thing to do when I was little. I bought each of the girls a carving kit and designs at the grocery store during our Saturday errands and as soon as we were done unloading the groceries, we set about hollowing out and carving the pumpkins. The girls each picked out their designs, and making the marks necessary for me to follow along with the knife afterward. Sydney chose a Goblin and London choose a witch. Unfortunately, the candle in Sydney's wasn't strong so I wasn't able to snap a picture, but London's turned out nicely. 

Since we don't get trick-or-treaters, we took our Jack-o-lanterns with us to our old neighborhood, as we had plans to go out with McKenzie. This was Sydney and McKenzie's first official time trick-or-treating, after all.  We went over early to have appetizers, drinks and tacos for dinner, then got the girls dressed up in their costumes. We made a simple loop, but the girls raked it in. Each girls' plastic Jack-o-lantern was at least half full when we got done. 

London and Sydney were really into it, and by the end of the night so was McKenzie. Although, I think all the girls had even more handing out candy back at McKenzie's house after we got back! Each girl would give each trick-or-treater a handfull of candy and we were soon out of it, which wasn't so bad, The lights were off by 7:30 pm and we just sat around catching up while the girls played. We were home by 9:30 pm with all of us falling into bed quickly. 

London definitely can turn it on some time - I just wish I could get this reaction out of her every time I want a picture! And I wish I could get Sydney to stand still more!
Best Friends!
And boy did we all enjoy that extra hour of sleep the next day.

I also did what I could to excite the girls about Halloween throughout the week. This mainly involved watching new movies, including Hocus Pocus and Casper. London is a fan of both now. I may have to start building a Halloween DVD collection just so we don't have to deal with commercials any more!

Now, bring on Thanksgiving. I have grand plans to celebrate this "lost in the shuffle" holiday. We'll see how well I actually do! 

Nov 3, 2015

Fall Decor Tour

Dining Table
Happy November! Can I just say how happy I am October is over?! While it is usually a fun month, 2015 was not exactly kind to our house. While we had fun celebrating Sydney's birthday and Halloween multiple times in multiple ways, it was also a trialing month plagued by illnesses, a dying appliance and busy schedules both at home and work. 

I have pumpkins scattered throughout the front yard
We still don't know what had the girls sick off and on throughout the month, but a bland diet mixed with probiotics seemed to kick it in the butt, finally. But 4 weeks of off and on illness with many interrupted nights' sleep left both Cameron and I exhausted. Add in the fact that October was a warmer than usual month and all I can say is I am ready for "cuddle on the couch with a heavy blanket and relax" weather more than ever. 

My lamp is hidden in this display at the front door
Then again, I've been ready for that weather since before the First day of Fall! I even decorated for Fall back at the end of September - and I still haven't even gotten my Fall Decor out of storage. I have mainly used what I grew this summer! And I had a nice, quick weekend project of painting an old oil lamp Cameron's mom gave us to give it a little more pop. 

The "Before" of the lamp"
And the "After" - this baby is going to find a home in the house permanently once Fall is over
I harvested all my gourds and pumpkins at the end of September and have been able to decorate the inside and outside of the house, using them all and even sending my mom home with a few!

This is the display I have under the TV
My Fall pumpkin spice candles have also be lit many an evening or weekend and at London's request we did make Chili and cornbread for dinner one night. And luckily, cooler weather seems to have arrived. On November 1, we work up to clouds and it was soon raining consistently into the evening, throughout the night and when we woke up yesterday. I hope the rain returns soon. 

Two cake stands that sit on a console table behind our loveseat in the Family Room

It also appears I chose to harvest the last of my tomatoes, jalapenos and peppers on the right day - Halloween. We haven't watered in a month, but these plants have still been producing like crazy. But I finally called it quits for the year, going so far as the butcher the plants in my last harvest attempts and pulled up all the tomato gates. Now I'm just trying to preserve the last of these vegetables. 

Dining Room Buffet - the dried gourd we found on our property the first year we lived here. 
The two green pumpkins were my favorites. They were huge and heavy!

Oct 31, 2015

Sydney's 3rd Birthday Party

Until the girls have opinions, we've sort of just done for Sydney's birthday what we did for London at that age. Which meant, for Sydney's 3rd birthday, we returned to Fairytale Town. I remember how surprised and easy London's 3rd Birthday party was, which was perfect that year as Sydney wasn't even a year old and we were toying with the idea of selling our old house and moving, so we'd already been doing a lot of work on it in preparation. 

And while Fairytale Town is still a great venue, this time the party required more work on my part. Unlike when London turned 3, Fairytale Town no longer offers food as an option with the party package and they no longer provide the cake. While they would have noted who gave what gifts during present opening, we opted to take the presents home and open them there. 
This little girl could hardly wait to get her hands on this cake - baking it the day before was agony for her!
I was glad we scheduled the party on Sunday versus a Saturday so that I could get all the prep done the day before versus trying to do it all in the evening before after a long day and week of work. I did kept the food to a minimum and mainly to snack foods. I've discovered kids don't eat at birthday parties. The only hiccup in this plan was that our oven died on me in the middle of baking the cake. Thankfully, I was able to finish it in our Toaster/Convection Oven, but it ended up being dryer than I like cake to be as a result. 

The biggest hassle was transporting the food into the park. Thankfully, we shop at Costco each week and get the big boxes to transport the food back home in the back of the car. I was able to use that week's box to carry the majority of food from the car into the park. The only problem there is that the parking lots are a bit of a hike to the park entrance. Only when we were leaving was I informed that they did have a roller table or wagon I could have used, but at that point there wasn't as much to transport and I had more help since we were all leaving. When we had arrived, only Cameron and I went back to the car to get the food. I had my parents staked out at table within the park so that we had a place to keep the food until the party in the castle took place while Vicki took the girls around the park to play. 

The girls and their friends had a blast, of course, going down all the slides, climbing on the playground equipment and seeing the animals. 

And it really was worth it when Sydney lit up at her crowning within King Arthur's Castle. Or when she finally was getting close to eating her cake. She did have a little trouble getting all the candles blown out. 

And this time, while they had games for the kids like at London's our hostesses also did some wand and sword making with the kids. The only gripe I have there is that the materials used were cheap and the girls' wands barely survived 5 minutes at home. I'm not sure if any of the boys' swords did. For the amount of money we paid, some sturdier materials should have been more reasonable, but then again, I know most of the money goes back into the park, which they are improving and adding to more and more. 

This year, we also kept the guest list small, which worked out well. It was just the right amount of people and the kids had fun, especially Sydney, which is all that mattered.

This was taken after Sydney left Mckenzie high and dry in the crooked mile alone. McKenzie wanted to walk it. Sydney thought running would be fun!