Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Neighbor Gifts

Neighbor gifts are a Utah thing.  Sure lots of people put together homemade goodies for their friends & family, but they are not necessarily passing them out to all their neighbors.  Here, neighbor gifts are for your actual neighbors.  Which for us, just happens to include some of our closest friends! Each year I look forward to the knocks on the door in the early evening, or coming home to some goodies left on our porch.  The last week of December is filled with visits from neighbors.  Christmas cards are exchanged, gifts are given, and everyone is full of cheer!  Sometimes a cocktail may even be tossed back if everyone is feeling particularly festive!

The last two Christmases we have made a couple batches of my Grandma's fudge recipe; however, there is another neighbor who does fudge each year as well.  And while my fudge is obviously best (pats self on back), I wanted to do something more unique this year.  Most of the gifts given contain some type of sweet or treat, which I obviously love, but sometimes it's nice to have a little wild card thrown into the neighbor gift mix!  We have been doing lots of home brewing lately, so we decided to bottle up our ginger beer!  Cocktail mixers for all! Cheers!!!

Since we constantly have fresh ginger beer in our house, we have been drinking Dark & Stormys as well as Moscow Mules on the regular.  I'm hoping all our neighbors enjoy some tasty libations over the holidays as well.  The red & white topped glass bottles were perfect for a Christmas gift.  The thought is that they just might be returned to us in hopes of some refills.  Keenan's Pub may be an operating speakeasy soon, ha!  I found the tags at Papersource, which added the perfect little touch!  Plus, I love any reason to use some fancy baker's twine.  I'm so pleased with how these turned out!

Merry Christmas!  And cheers!
with love,
The Keenan Family

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cookie Baking & Memory Making

Christmas is nearly here!  The anticipation just keeps building, especially for a particular three year old little boy.  We frequently talk about "the plan" for when Santa arrives...  Most of his pretend play revolves around Santa, elves, & the Grinch, and he can be heard throwing out phrases like "coo of a dove" & "tore open the shutters and threw up the sash" on the regular.  His excitement is contagious!

We've been busy with all sorts of Christmas fun, and I simply do not have time to blog it all.  I so wish I could for memory keeping sake, but alas, you don't all need pictures of our zoo lights (where Liam oohed & ahhed over every. single. light.) nor our candy cane hunt (which thanks to this event, Liam now eats a minimum of one candy cane a day).  Just let it be noted, the Christmas fun is in full swing!  Somehow I have managed to fit in all sorts of festiveness without feeling one bit stressed.  AND all my Christmas shopping was finished a few days ago.  I'm nearly done with my wrapping, so the next few days will truly just be about enjoying my family and this wonderful season.

That was a lot of unplanned chit chat...  What I really wanted to document was our day of sugar cookies!  Yes an entire day!  Our elf, Tinsel, pulled out all the cookie cutters to let Liam know we needed to get some cookies made in anticipation of Santa's arrival.  Making everything from scratch is a must for me, so we started early in the morning with the dough.  I use the exact same recipe that I grew up with.  So much nostalgia comes with the whole process.  The tastes, the smells, everything! 

The dough must chill for a few hours, and that wait time is just painful for a toddler!  I like how it spreads the activity out and forces Liam to slow down.  He did however run to fridge multiple times thinking that surely the dough must be cold enough.  Eventually we pulled out the rolling pin & the flour and prepared for some serious mess making!  Liam's actually a pretty clean kid and is a rule follower, so I knew I wouldn't have to worry about my house being covered in various cookie bits, simply the kitchen table.  There were angles, snowflakes, bells, stockings, & snowmen.  But the Christmas tree shape was his favorite.

The baking process (the whole 6 minutes) was another painstaking wait, because Liam was ready for the main event.  The mac daddy of it all.  The ultimate part of sugar cookies.  The decorating!  We whipped up some frosting, and then whipped up more.  One can never have too much frosting.  We grabbed all the sprinkles, and let Liam have at it!  I love his independence and desire to do things for himself.  He honestly decorated cookies completely unassisted.  He licked the frosting knife every few minutes and had sprinkles everywhere.  He was meticulous, yet messy.  But the pride he had for each and every cookie that he decorated was the most heartwarming thing!

Santa is going to absolutely love this cookies!!!  My recipe is all about deliciousness, with no regard for aesthetics.  Sure we could have done some fancy royal icing with pretty designs, but the overuse of sprinkles atop a far more tasty frosting is much much better.  I have personally already eaten far too many!  I look forward to this cookie tradition over the years to come.  I cannot wait to have more little hands in the frosting, more giggles, & bigger messes!  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Stitch Fix #10

Another month, another fix.  This one was disappointing... again.  I know that I'm picky, so I'm not overly frustrated.  I'm actually already anxious for my next fix, and hope that my stylist can deliver in the new year!  I didn't keep anything, but am still here to share what was in the box in case anyone of you think I made some terrible decisions and want to pin these items for your own fixes.  Since this is such a busy time of year, I barely had a chance to snap some pictures of the goods.  And because I wasn't too excited about any of the items, I wasn't really into this photo shoot.  So today I bring you day three hair after playing in the snow all morning.  Obviously, I'm looking glamorous!  Here we go...

Leota Kenton Dress
This dress photographs well; I'll give you that.  It was also flattering and gives a lovely little twirl.  And it was nursing friendly!  Regardless, I kinda hated it.  The print was so not me, and I did not like the material.  Plus this was a bit dressier than I was wanting.  I need dresses that I can pair with leggings or tights and wear daily.  

Skies are Blue Lans Button Down Tunic
Hated this.  I'm particularly didn't like the back detail and this color of plaid would not be my first pick.  I'm drawn to more reds & blues.  

41Hawthorn Gideon Polka Dot Sweater
This was a nice sweater, but I don't need more sweaters.  It didn't wow me in any way.

Market & Spruce Ivy Split Neck Print Blouse
My stylist seems to think I need an entire closet of this style of blouse!  There seems to be at least one in every fix.  While I like them, it's not exactly a wintery piece.  With the thin material, I would be freezing!  Plus, I'm not a big fan of this print nor the colors.

Octavia Beacon Chunky Yarn Infinity Scarf
A very cozy scarf!  But alas, I already own a red cable knit scarf, so no need for another!

So there's my pretty "meh" fix.  I think I may start requesting a specific stylist.  So if you have one you love, then please please share!!!  Even though my last two fixes haven't been anything overly exciting, I still love this service.  It is most definitely worth at least one try!  Use my link to get started and my closet with thank you!!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter Storm Echo

We had thee best snow day!!! On Monday at 7am, Liam woke up and rushed out the front door to see 11 inches of fresh snow on the ground, and it was still falling like crazy!  The roads were a disaster, so Conor decided to work from home and enjoy the day with us!  The sun had yet to come up, but our whole family was outside taking in our wonderland.  Shoveling.  Snowplowing.  Sledding.  Snowman making.  The highlight of the morning was watching the joy on both of my boys' faces as Liam pulled Finn around in the sled.  He was gentle, yet still made sure to give Finn quite the ride!  It is quite the effort to get them both dressed to head out in the snow, but the payoff is so worth it.  Especially since my little outdoorsman will stay out for hours at a time!

Midday, we took a little break from all the snow to sneak in some naps (just Finn & I), and get some homemade chili simmering (Conor & Liam).  Chili has become one of our snow day traditions!  Then on a whim, we decided to join in on a Candy Cane Hunt!!!  The park was covered in 2,000 candy canes, & Santa Claus arrived on a firetruck for a visit.  I have no idea how this was our first ever candy cane hunt, but it will surely not be our last.  I think next year I may organize a small one in our own neighborhood!

It continued to snow all day and through Monday night.  Overall we received about 1.5 - 2 feet of snow in just two days.  Everything has been blanketed in white, and it is absolutely beautiful!  The temperatures are supposed to stay cool, so we don't have to worry about it melting anytime soon.  Plus, there is more snow in our forecast.  Looks like we will most definitely be having a white Christmas.  I love how the snow makes everything feel a bit more festive & cozy!  Plus, now we can hit the mountains and get Liam back on his skis!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Very First Gingerbread House

Ooh this weekend was a good one.  Full of all sorts of Christmas festiveness.  We kicked things off with a holiday potluck at one of my mama friends' house.  Conor said it was practically my "work" party; indeed, it was!  So many toddler & babies, so much food.  A real good time.  We had both boys asleep by 7:30pm that night, so cheers to that!

The highlight of the weekend was our gingerbread house making.  Liam was with me when I picked up the kit at Trader Joe's the day before, and did not stopped talking about it from that moment on.  When I told him we could finally put it together on Saturday morning, he squealed with delight while jumping up & down.  Liam helped me whip up the frosting, and then Conor took over the project.  Came to find out, this was Conor's first gingerbread house too!  I was filled with Christmas joy watching the two of them build it together.

Liam was extremely focused.  He was overly excited yet patient.  The sprinkles were by far the most exciting part, because they went everywhere and bounced off everything.  There were multiple licks of icing, yet no candy consumption.  Color me impressed.  Meanwhile Finn tried to stretch his chubby little hands as far as possible in hopes of snagging some of the sweets...  At one point he finally succeeded and had himself a fistful of icing!  I licked those fingers just seconds before he could!

And ever since we have finished this adorable little house, the chatter about it has not stopped!  It may just be Liam's favorite thing right now.  He often tells me that he wants to play with it, yet he knows that he has to keep his hands off for it to stay intact.  He wants to show it off to everyone and is terrified that one of our cats will destroy it.  And every so often I hear a meek little voice say "I have something to tell you.  I was a little bit rough with my gingerbread house..."  We'll go assess, and typically some new piece of candy will be broken off.  He just cannot resist the urge to keep tinkering with his house.  He recently broke the dog candy off, but informed me that he didn't like that piece anyway, ha!

And to finish off our delightful weekend, we madea trip up the Olympic Park in Park City.  We were hoping to see some of the Nordic Combined World Championship, but we were just a tad late.  Instead we did some pretty epic sledding!  I'm fairly certain this is not allowed, but once the place cleared out there was no one to tell us otherwise!  We have a huge winter storm (Echo!) coming our way tonight, so I'm hopeful that we'll wake up to plenty of snow and can put a few more miles on the sled.  The forecast is calling for about 8 inches!!!

I'm excited for the week ahead since we have a candy cane hunt on the agenda as well as Liam's Christmas Program for school!  I seriously cannot wait for that!  And all the fresh snow on its way will make it even better.  Pajamas all day long and more hot cocoa than our tummies can handle!  So even though tomorrow is Monday, I'm pretty pumped about it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The North Pole Express 2015

I thought last year was magical.  I had no idea it would get even better.  This Christmas season has proven to be the best ever now that we have a three year old!  Since I love a good tradition, we took Liam (and Finn!) on the North Pole Express again this year!  We read the book over and over again, as it is one of his favorite Christmas ones (and mine too!).  The night before our train ride, I whipped up some hot cocoa with a ridiculous amount of marshmallows.  We snuggled up and watched the movie together, just building anticipation for the excitement of the next day!

We grabbed our blankets, piled in the ol' 4-wheel drive sleigh, and headed up to the Heber Valley Historic Railroad. Liam absolutely loved it and I'm fairly certain I had near as much fun as he did.  I love reliving all of the Christmas magic now as a parent.  Conor mostly watched me watch Liam; two little kids riding a train to the North Pole together.  The conductor punched our ticket, a chef brought us cookies & cocoa, and we sang our little hearts out.  A potty break was necessary (Liam hit the cocoa a little too hard), and he tried his hardest not to lose his ticket while traveling between train cars. :-)

Unfortunately, Finn didn't love our little trip as much as mom and Liam.  He was still mesmerized by all the lights, sounds, caroling, and visits from the Claus family; but only in spurts.  His new tooth seems to still be bothering him, so he had his moments of fussy during the trip.  Conor & I passed him back & forth between bits of chocolatey goodness and he wiggled his way through the whole adventure.  He finally settled once we got home later that night after a quick stop in Heber City for pizza (as we did last year) and a good 40 minutes in the car with many a jingling bell from santa and too many uncomfortable tears from our little Finn.

This is a tradition we will most certainly continue (at least as long as we live in Utah) and I can't wait to watch the boys experience it again each year as their understanding and wonder of the season grows!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Finn: 7 Months Old

I fall in love more everyday!  This boy is mostly smiles & belly laughs.  He is easy going & relaxed.  He puts up with a lot, from his parents as well as big brother.  He truly just seems to be happy to be a part of our family and simply just fits the mold.  While I do wish that I had more one-on-one time with him, I know that much of his happiness comes from just being around Liam.  Finn's personality makes for a perfect & joyful second child!  Now for some fun facts about our little giggle machine...

Eating: He isn't a food lover yet.  He does go pretty crazy for a piece of fruit leather or some mandarin orange slices, but otherwise he's still on the fence about this whole solid-food business.  We are still going strong with breastfeeding!  Having already nursed a child for 2+ years, I have full confidence that Finn & I will also hit that milestone!

Sleeping:  Wakes multiple times a night as expected at this age.  Having the perspective to know this is normal and will very likely be lasting for some time makes it much easier for us to deal with.  He did have a rough week when his first tooth popped through where he just did not want to be put down, at all...  This made naps and nighttime very difficult.  But thank goodness, that awful stretch was short lived.  Cosleeping makes the nights feel a lot easier, although I do miss Liam's snuggles most nights as Conor tends to finish the night with him in his bed after he wakes to go to the bathroom and/or just come find one of us.

Likes: Practically everything & everything that has an ounce of excitement to it.  He is happiest when he has anyone's full attention, but especially daddy's or big brother's.  Liam has been trying to "wrestle" with Finn lately, and I have been shocked at how Finn not only tolerates it, but at how much he enjoys it most of the time.  He also wants everything & anything that Liam is playing with, and luckily Liam tolerates that pretty well himself! He loves big smiles and daddy's funny faces, jumping on our laps as we hold him and, perhaps more than anything else, being with us in the shower as the warm water splashes on his chubby little self in our arms. In fact, he likes the shower so much that if he spots one of us in there while the other carries him past he does everything he can to practically jump out of our arms towards the water. We think he's going to love those fun waterpark afternoons with big brother just fine when summer rolls back around.

Milestones:  It was a big month for Finn!!!  He learned to clap (a whole month ahead of Liam), and that is his most favorite activity!  He loves to clap.  He loves for other people to clap.  He loves the word clap!  I think it is the first word he seems to understand.  We can ask him to clap, and he'll do it right on demand.  Phew, that was a lot of clap talk.  He also had his first little bottom tooth pop through (Liam had 2 teeth by 7 months), and he did not handle it gracefully.  Let's hope the rest come in a bit easier.  And lastly, Finn is almost mobile!  I predict he will be crawling by Christmas!  And lastly, a stranger squeezed his scrumptious cheeks for the first time.  It was bound to happen.  Everywhere I go, people comment on those cheeks.  So the first random squeeze is in the books!

Nicknames: Finnier, Finnaroo, Finner, & Huck (Yep, I'm still trying to make this last one happen).

I am so smitten with him each day!  I can't get enough of his sweet smell or contagious smile.  He has the deepest brown eyes, and a strawberry blond mohawk that make him uniquely Finn.  Oh how we love watching him grow!

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