Thursday, November 9, 2017

Christmas Book List

I know we still have Thanksgiving ahead of us, but we are so ready to make the house extra festive for Christmas. Plus, now’s the time to start snagging a few new books before the rush of the holiday chaos. We’ve been picking up a few things here and there, including ordering a few new Christmas reads for our book shelves this season. We have a lot of books we switch out based on the seasons and holidays. The kids always have a difficult time waiting for the next season once I begin shuffling things around. Since I picked up a few new books this year, my plan is to wrap them and set them on their wall shelves and we can open a book leading up to Thanksgiving week.

The newbies on the shelf this year are so dang cute and I’m head over heels in love with Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht. I especially love this read because it’s one of our family traditions to pick a real tree every year for our living room. I love being able to smell the sweet pine scent throughout the room and it brings back so many memories of when my family would go hunting for the perfect tree every Christmas. It was always an event and when we found THE tree it was definitely a moment just like in Christmas Vacation, with it all aglow!

When it comes to displaying our books, we often put our new additions in the playroom. I love adding a string of battery powered twinkle lights on the shelf. It makes the whole room feel that more cozy once the sun begins to set. We also place all our paperback books in a basket for the kids to read on their own and we always have a few scattered in each of their bedrooms so we’re not moving books to several places before our nightly bedtime routine.

This year I added The Night Before Christmas to our book collection. I know its a classic and it may be surprising we didn’t already own a version, but the story is longer and I didn’t feel like our kids had the attention span to thoroughly enjoy and understand the story. I feel Kensi is old enough now, and Finn loves to do everything his big sister does. I found this version of the classic tale and we love the illustrations. They’re so whimsical and a have the perfect touch of Christmas magic. Finn has already called dibs on his favorite Christmas book, Gingerbread Pirates. This one I’ve shared multiple times over the last couple years and I’ll share it again this year because it’s just so good!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

We kicked off Halloween weekend by going to our local aquarium for trick or treating under the sea. Kensi happened to get a My Little Pony mask in her Happy Meal earlier this week and took it upon herself to make her own costume. She paired her new mask with parts of my old dance costumes. Finn didn’t want to dress up at all this night so we opted for our skeleton jammies. He’s crying here because we took away the iPad while Livie just goes with the flow. Being the third child she has several costumes to choose from so we put her in Kensi’s parrot costume from 2013.

The kids loved being able to see a few of their favorite characters, getting lots of treats and playing games. Mike and I were impressed by the scuba divers in full costume carving pumpkins under water. That takes some serious skill!

Saturday we hosted our Halloween party. We love doing this every year and encourage everyone to come in costume. Mike and I dressed as Chip and Joanna Gaines, but it was a total dud. No one knew who we were even with my Waco t-shirt, Mike’s tool belt and #demoday hat. In fact, he was asked if he was Bob the Builder or Al from Home Improvement. ???? What? Needless to say we didn’t get pictures of us or Finn for that matter. He originally requested to be a dragon so I painted his face. Once he saw his reflection he flipped out. Tears rolled down his face, turning his cute green dragon into some sort of yellow streaked swamp monster. I cleaned him up and we were lucky he was willing to wear pajamas. Kensi asked to be a panda bear, and the cutest little panda. Of course she was most excited about having her face painted....a current favorite right now.

When Tuesday finally rolled around I was ready to move past Halloween. Our weekend was busy and we were exhausted, but we managed to get all our costumes done and trick or treat like champs. We did a family theme with Room on the Broom. It may be one of my favorite themes we’ve done and it started because Finn wanted to be a frog so we ran with it. Kensi was the witch and her costume consisted of this gorgeous star tutu, a handmade cloak and a hat. She was so excited to have all the best accessories with her broom, wand and cauldron which she used as her trick or treat pail. Finn’s costume was extremely simple since I knew he would only wear the bare minimum. I paired olive green pajamas with homemade frog eyes on a headband. He’s crying in this picture because he didn’t want to wear his eyes. Of course.

Olivia was the dog and I had a difficult time finding pieces to create a brown dog, so I opted for black and made simple puppy ears, which she didn’t want to wear either. You win some, you lose some. Mike went as the bird and wore a homemade mask covered in crepe paper to look like feathers and I went as the cat. We had so much fun and we had way more trick or treaters than expected. We ran out of candy only to refill and run out again!

We had so much fun this halloween, but we are so excited to move onto the next holiday! I know Thanksgiving is next, but we are ready to begin decorating for Christmas. I’ll probably slowly begin upstairs in the kids’ rooms and maybe try and sneak a few pieces here and there before we fully begin decorating Thanksgiving weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Ghoulish Chocolate Tart

Chocolate screams halloween for us and when I came across this recipe for a dark chocolate ganache tart I just couldn’t resist making it. Ganache is incredibly rich and creamy, melting in your mouth with every little bite. I love making ganache for cakes and it’s what my mom always uses to make her favorite chocolate sheet cake that gets baked up for almost every family gathering. I love the decadence of it and it’s beautiful sheen once set.

Ganache can seem intimidating, but it’s incredibly easy to make. It’s basically hot cream poured over chocolate chips. This recipe in particular is simple and versatile, allowing anyone to make it uniquely their own with simple add ins (vanilla, mint or orange) and fun decorations.  I used a basic powdered sugar + heavy cream frosting, mixing until I reached my desired consistency. I really want to perfect my piping abilities to make better decorations for desserts and this was a fun little way to practice. Add a pinch of salt on top before serving for a little something extra to cut through all the sweetness!

Recipe for Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart from Live for Cake.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Festive Fall

Ah, I m so in love with this season and everything that comes with it. I’m pumpkins obsessed, sprinkling them throughout the house and I can’t get enough of our cooler nights that feel so crisp after a hot summer. I’ve learned I need to pace myself in this season of life especially when we have so much going on. I very much dislike feeling rushed, but when fall rolls around it can feel like the perfect date you’ve been waiting for all week. The days leading up to it seem to feel a lifetime away, but when it finally arrives it slips through your fingers quicker than you can remember getting picked up.  That’s how fall is for me. My favorite season of the year. I’ve been waiting and now it’s here and I feel rushed, trying to cram everything I can into these short blissful months.

This October alone was quickly filled with birthday invites, church happenings and Halloween festivities. However, something is different about this year than our previous years. We decided to prioritize our family. Even though we may have a lot going on, it also means slowing down. We consciously decided back in the summer to fully enjoy more at home and less out and stop consuming ourselves with a bunch of stuff to make the season fun. We focus on spur of the moment fun like heading to the park with gorgeous weather that calls for hot cocoa afterwards. Having dinner picnic style on the living room floor while watching one of our favorite halloween movies, making apple cider donuts and having a sugar fight, or going on a scavenger hunt at the pumpkin patch and making a picture from the items we find. It doesn’t need to be extravagant, just enjoyable and most importantly, memorable.

Which brings me to one of my favorite quotes...

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

This is how I want to live my life, I want it to be full of these types of moments (that take my breath away) rather than panting, trying to catch my breath because I’m constantly being rushed. How awesome is it that we get to choose how we live. We can slow down, we can speed up, we can stay still.

This week was evident of us slowing down and it felt so good! We had a cold front move through that was enough for the furnace to kick on, flannel sheets were needed and all the cozy blankets were pulled out of the closets. Somehow we all managed to snuggle into our bed and having all our babies wiggle under the covers (without squishing for of the others) was so sweet and cozy! All the kids were also able to dress in sweatshirts and sweatpants and tights (oh my!) and embraced all the warm layers. We headed to the park and I just love these little swing shots I was able to capture from our slow + fun park & hot cocoa adventure.

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