Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Touches

I nearly titled this entire post "a hint of wood", but worried I would scare off some readers.  So instead, I bring you a few new Christmas touches to decorate with this year!  I am always looking for a bit of new decor each year, even though I don't necessarily have the space for it.  Unfortunately, our house doesn't have tons of space to decorate ...  For this exact reason, I keep nagging asking Conor for some built-ins.  Perhaps by next year, I will have all sorts of space to fill!

All of these items caught my eye; apparently I leaning towards reds and naturals this year!  I definitely don't need anymore flatware, but those joy plates would make the perfect table setting throughout all of December!  I'm especially loving the tree shelf, which I think could pull double duty in Finn's nursery.  I have an older version of the nativity scene, and it's one of the best I've ever scene.  Simple and able to handle toddler hands (albeit gentle toddler hands!).  And lastly, that merry pillow needs to find it's way onto my bed (even though it is rarely ever made).

1 . 2 . 3 . 4 . 5 . 6 

Now I'm off to finish up some Cyber Monday shopping,
and possibly throw a few of these items into my cart!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

This year was my favorite Thanksgiving since we have been in Utah!  Such a wonderful day that absolutely flew by!  Having two kids is just a time zapper.  I don't know where the day went, but it was filled with plenty of joy.  But before this little glimpse into our day, a bit about my turkey crisis to be followed by a Thanksgiving miracle!!!

So turkey crisis...  On Wednesday, I go to Whole Foods to pick up my turkey that I ordered.  I order the exact same turkey every year.  It's wonderful.  It's perfect.  I know what I'm doing.  Except this year, my turkey was frozen.  Just a mere 24 hours before it was to be served at Thanksgiving dinner.  I didn't panic.  In fact, the optimist in me believed that I could surely thaw the turkey before the next morning.  So I carried on with my grocery shopping.  Both kids in tow, Liam even had his own little cart, & I was handling it all perfectly.  At checkout, the sweet lady behind me asked if I was cooking my turkey the next day.  Sure am Ma'am!  She gave me a wide eyed look and informed me that my turkey most definitely would not be thawed in time.  The panic set in...

Can I return this turkey?!  Are there any fresh 16 pounders left?  I had one job!!!  So the sweet lady went to get a manger from customer service for me (bless her heart) and shortly after I am informed that I do not need to take the frozen turkey home.  However, he pretty much told me to run to the fresh turkeys because who knew what was left!  I scoured the birds that were left and found a beauty that was perfectly 16 lbs, phew!  Crisis adverted.  Thanksgiving could continue on!

Then our little miracle (which is a strong word choice, but just roll with it)...  Conor made a liquor store run (which I DO NOT recommend doing the day before Thanksgiving)!  Line out the doors, so I decided not to take on that challenge with both kids!  He had quite the cartful of vodka, wine, & champagne, yet was in & out of there in a fury.  As he was unloading all the booze he handed me the receipt..  One bottle of champagne $10.  I was confused.  Where was the rest of it?  I showed Conor...  It was his only receipt.  Not sure what happened when the cashier rang up his order, but apparently we only got charged for one bottle.  Free booze all around!!!  I'll cheers to that!

All that nonsense aside, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Our morning was filled with parade watching, during which I hear Liam say to the TV "Stop talking & show us the floats!"  I think he may have heard Conor say that, but oh my was I laughing hysterically at his serious parade watching.  We sipped mimosas & devoured homemade cinnamon rolls.  This year we used the pioneer woman's recipe.  It was a good base recipe which I think we will tinker with for years to come.  Our neighbors joined us for breakfast, since we would be having the big feast at their place.  Liam is so happy when his friends are around to play, so our parenting was at a minimum.  It's glorious, especially on holidays!

While Finn napped, Conor prepared the turkey & I made my apple pie.  Humble brag here, but it turned out amazing!!!  This crust recipe really is the best, and I will use it forever & forever.  The apple cider vinegar adds a nice tartness that I liked, plus I'm happy that it's an all butter recipe.  I haven't made many pies in my day, but I love the whole process.  I hope to find time to make delicious baked goods more often, and this is the season to do it!

In the afternoon we took a frigid Thanksgiving Day walk.  This has become a tradition of ours.  I love getting in a bit of exercise before the big feast.  Liam brought his balance bike and we made our way to a park to let Liam get some energy out while Finn ate some leaves (quite possibly his favorite pastime).  Then some quick showers & naps before taking all our goodies next door.  

Dark & Stormy's were the cocktail of choice, along with some of our home brewed cider.  The entire meal was delicious & the company entertaining.  Our neighbors really do feel like our family here!  I'm so happy we decided to celebrate with them!  Our traditions may be changing a bit, but sometimes for the better!  

While I could have lingered around the dinner table late into the evening, Liam was anxious to get home.  He knew there was a present waiting for him there...  The boys opened up their matching Christmas pajamas, and we watched our first Christmas movie, The Grinch!  Liam snarled at the grinch the entire time; I think he was actually a bit scared of him.  Regardless, it was the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday being surrounded by friends & family!
Now let's deck those halls and sing a little fa la la la!

Monday, November 23, 2015

I'll Bring the Pie

I am not of fan of change. I like traditions, and I do not like those traditions changing. However, living away from family for 7 years now has made me a tad more adaptable. Right now, each holiday is ever evolving. I'm figuring out new traditions with my own little family. While this time of year is my favorite, it's also when I'm most homesick. I want to be around family. I want Liam to be with his cousins & grandparents. I want that familiarity. 

So all that to say, we'll be spending Thanksgiving here in Salt Lake City. Since we travel for Christmas, we always stay put for turkey day. Typically we have cooked a big feast for just our small family, but this year we are joining with our neighbors who are practically family to us here in Utah. They live right next door, so we often keep our back fence open so that it's easy for the kids to play and we have backdoor access. They are hosting, but we are still making the turkey! This is a big big change for us, since typically we make the entire meal ourselves. But I'm excited to just focus on a couple things and to nail those dishes! Since we are cooking the turkey at our house, that will open up the neighbor's oven for all sorts of side dishes and desserts! Conor will handle the bird (with some small prep work from me) while I handle the pie & drinks! 

Every year I make my pumpkin chiffon pie, but this year I'm feeling a little crazy... Since I have been apple obsessed, I'll be making your standard American apple pie. That buttery, flakey goodness has been on my mind for days! I'm no pie expert, but I have friends in the know! One friend in particular is an amazing pie maker/all around baker and she swears by this all butter crust recipe. I'll be giving it a try and am only slightly nervous about using a new recipe for the big day! As far as the filling goes, I'm a big fan of Smitten Kitchen's recipe. For any rookie pie makers out there, note that you cannot make an apple pie right before meal time. It needs to rest! For at least 4 hours!!! So don't expect to be dusting the flour off your dress as your head out the door for your Thanksgiving feast. Apple pie needs to be tended to long beforehand. Learned that the hard way one fine book club evening.
Aside from the pie, I'll be bringing some of our home-brewed hard cider as well as ginger beer for Moscow Mules. I may even add some rosemary & sugared cranberries for a festive touch! Now if only I was talented enough to add some crust flair to the top of pie... perhaps some fall leaves or an apple...we'll see what I an pull off! 

And since I just can't handle a post with no picture, here is a flashback to Liam's 2nd Thanksgiving... My how my photography has improved in the last 2 years!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Weekend Recap

This weekend felt the beginning of the bustling holiday season.  From now until just after New Year's, our calendar will be full.  I absolutely love everything about this time of year!!!  We fall into the "respect the bird" category, and therefore don't let Christmas creep in before Thanksgiving.  However, we do get things all prepared...

I spent Saturday morning in the kitchen, baking my first batch of homemade Chex Mix of the season.  The key is a long baking time, with frequent stirring & a low temperature.  I also had some spiced cider on the stove top, and may have put on some Christmas music for just a bit (wasn't I just saying I don't let Christmas creep in?!).  Everything was feeling & smelling festive; I couldn't resist!  While I busied myself inside,  Conor & Liam took care of our exterior illumination (except for garlands).  We have a snowstorm heading our way on Wednesday, so I'm happy Conor was able to get them up before having to climb on a snowy roof.  Plus now they are ready to be turned on late Thursday night after all the turkey has been eaten!

I used to be the official light holder for Conor, but Liam is now old enough to step into that role.  I much prefer to be making goodies inside, all toasty & warm anyway.  Liam is already feeling the anticipation of Christmas and all the fun to come, while I am full of excitement about all that we have planned!  He knows Thanksgiving is almost here, and then it will officially be Christmastime!  The allusive, never close enough Christmastime!

But back to Thanksgiving... Sunday morning we went to the Winter Farmer's market, where I was hoping to snag some Fall goodies & produce for the big feast.  Well the market was a bit of a disappointment, but we did pick up another growler of ginger beer.  At least we know our cocktails will be tasting mighty fine!  Conor has been making some homemade ginger beer lately, but we wanted to try the local stuff again for a little comparison.  The Keenan ginger beer recipe is still being tinkered with!

The next few nights will be full of menu planning & grocery list making.  I hope the next two days fly by, because I'm ready for Wednesday... my big prep day!  Everything takes longer with kids in tow, especially now that I have two, so planning is necessary.  And I really just love planning.  In my planner.  If it's not in the planner, does it even really happen...? ;-)

And lastly, I put the finishing touches on Finn's stocking which is ready to be hung come Friday!
Four stockings and counting.  But not counting yet.  Just probably counting in the future.
But for now, just four!

Friday, November 20, 2015


We had another week of illness, with Conor down this time.  But as of today everyone is healthy and ready for some weekend fun!  The big event will be putting up most of our exterior illumination (except for garlands)!  There is also a Winter Farmer's Market that we'll hit up in search of all sorts of goodies to kick off Thanksgiving week & the entire holiday season!  Here's my typical bit of randomness on a Friday:
Christmas pajamas...for the adults!  This year I am eyeing these adorable leggings (which would pair perfectly with this henley).  And for Conor, I am loving this one piece...  The elbow patches make it all the more amazing!   However, Conor already owns a one piece, and I think one is probably enough!

We spend plenty of time at the library, and every so often we find some awesome books that are worth purchasing to have in our home forever.  Really, I just like that library allows me to have a trial period...  If I can't handle reading the same book for a few weeks straight, then I absolutely don't want it in our own personal collection.  So all that to say, two new library books that I'm loving are Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street as well as Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze!.

I spotted these baskets at Target and almost pulled the trigger.  They would be perfect for holding all those swaddle blankets or stuffed animals.  Now I simply need to find a place in my house that needs them and they will be mine!

I have teacher Christmas gifts on the mind, especially since this is the first year I get to put one together! At first I was thinking that I would do a festive Starbucks to-go cup and stick a gift card inside, but then I thought...what if Liam's teacher is Mormon (which is very likely here in Utah)?!  Then a Starbucks gift would be all wrong!  So now I have to get all creative or something...

I'm getting so excited for Black Friday shopping!!!  But for me, that involves sitting down to my computer and shopping all my favorite small business.  I typically hit up Freshly Picked (I love my carryall) and June & January (eyeing that hoodie jumper).  And my other go-to shop this time of year is Alpine Baby Co. (for leggings & tees).  Keep in mind that some of these small shops start their sales early and sell out quick!  I find that following them in Instagram helps to know when all sales begin.

Sara put together an awesome shop small guide the you should also check out!
So tell me, what small shops do you love?  I have some shopping to do...

TGIF friends! 
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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Being #2

Well since we touched on the first born yesterday, it seemed only fitting to check in with #2.  I had a few ridiculous moments the other day; a bit of mom guilt that snuck right up on me.  It all started with me trying to remember when Liam got his first two teeth, since I think Finn is one the verge of having some pop through.  I started reading back through Liam's monthly updates, particularly his 7 month post...  I didn't blog as frequently back then, and I only had 1 child, so I poured a ridiculous amount of detail into those posts.  I was nearly in tears by the end of it!  After reading the post, I felt as if I barely knew Finn at all.  That I don't spend nearly enough one-on-one time with him.  That perhaps I'm just doing it all wrong this time around.

By 7 months old, Liam was already obsessed with books!  He had favorites; and not only that, he knew exactly how to interact with certain books we had.  The really sad part...  We rarely read to Finn.  He goes to bed so early (his choice), so he misses out on bedtime with Liam.  Our evenings are busy & chaotic, so typically I just go nurse Finn to sleep whenever he is ready.  No huge routine.  No bells & whistles, just straight to bed.  This is such a far cry from the "bath every night & books before bed since day 1" that we did with Liam.  I want Finn to have the same love of books that Liam does.  I want him to have continuity & that special time to calm down, unwind, & reconnect before sleep.

So as of the past few nights, I read to Finn before bed.  And he loves it!  Liam will even come crawl in bed with us while I read if he happens to notice me sneaking away with Finn.  It makes me teary to think that it took me 6+ months to start this with Finn!  My hope is that we can start keeping Finn up a bit later, so that soon the boys can bathe together and do their stories together each night.  I want to bring Finn into that treasured family time.

Books are only one small example of how different life is for Finn versus how it was for Liam at the same age.  I used to spend hours with just Liam in his playroom.  Our days were slow paced, and I had only him to focus on.  That time was so special, more so than I ever realized.  Finn will always be the second child, and maybe one day the middle child.  He takes on the roll well.  His personality is so go with the flow.  He is simply happy to just be along on the ride that is our family.  He's easy going.  This may be his natural demeanor, or perhaps a bit of it was forced on him.  Regardless, he handles it well.

While I was throwing myself (and Finn) a pity party, Conor reminded me that Finn has one huge thing that Liam did not.. a big brother!  And that thing makes all the difference.  Liam is Finn's favorite thing.  Nothing that I could do alone with Finn would be anywhere near the amount of joy his brother brings him.  And while I may not spend hours of my day just ooh & aahing at his scrumptious face, I do have him wrapped up against me.  I wear him nearly all day in my sling, and there truly is no other place he would rather be.  He is within kissing distance at all times, and oh how I kiss that sweet smelling head & those chubby chubby cheeks constantly.  He sleeps there, he nuzzles there, and we are bonding even while I'm busy trying to figure out three year old logic.  So perhaps, I can let that mom guilt drift away just a bit.  

The most important thing is that Finn is loved.  He is loved fiercely.  Sometimes too fiercely (I'm looking at you big brother).    The kind of fierceness where a kiss can topple him over.  Where a bear hug turns into a barrel roll across the floor.  Finn may sustain some minor injuries, but they are because Liam loves just a little too hard.  I think being number two is going to suit Finn just fine!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My THREE Year Old

We are now three plus months into this whole three-nager thing, and it is tough!  It has completely caught me off guard.  I feel like we are on one emotional roller coaster.  One minute I think that three must certainly be the best age ever.  I'm watching Liam transition into this older boy who is funny & loving.  Our conversations are deeper and more meaningful.  We have these incredible moments together that I never want to end.  I feel like there is no possible way that I could love him more!!!

And then that moment will quickly fade, and this new boy arrives.  He is sassy.  He has an attitude.  And he is completely unreasonable.  Liam has gotten smarter and can talk his way out of things...or at least try.  He can bargain.  And he could not possibly care less about what I have to say.  If I had to choose just one word that describes three, it would be impulsive.  Always impulsive, all the time.  And many of my questions are simply answered with "just because."  That response is infuriating when I am trying to understand this little three year old of mine!

I feel like three has been a bigger shock to us because Liam was just the easiest baby & young toddler.  You all have heard me describe him as so sweet & gentle.  And of course, that is still who he really is.  However, he is experimenting with all sorts of emotions & behaviors.  He is unpredictable!  I think what has been most difficult for me, is that I feel a bit of disconnect with him at times.  The two of us are close, ridiculously close.  I know him as well as I know myself, perhaps better.  We have this crazy tight bond.  We have always been in sync with one another.  But there are days when I do not feel that way.  When I do not understand him at all.  Yet, I glimpses of memories from when I was three.  I can remember the big emotions.  I can remember crying so hard and furiously, but then not remembering why I was even upset to begin with.  Three is tough for everyone.  Tough for Mama & tough for the wee one!

But as with all things, this too is a phase.  He is still my sweet & gentle boy.  He still has an infectious smile and a gleeful laugh.  We are as close as close can be.  I know that not far off a day will come when I will yearn for the toddler years to be back.  I will miss the irrational behavior and the snuggles that surely follow.  I will miss the backtalk that leaves me laughing hysterically on the inside, while I keep a stern face on the outside.  These days are not to wish away, but to be enjoyed in some possible way. 

To all the mamas with three year olds:  you are not alone!  Four will come around eventually!

Friday, November 13, 2015


Well, Liam woke up last night throwing up, so we have a day of movies & snuggles ahead of us.  Then hopefully we are all healthy come tomorrow!  The weekends are going to just start flying by now that holiday season is practically here! As is the snow!  We need to go swap out Liam's skis & boots, since he has grown a ton since last Winter.  I can't wait to get him on the mountain.  This year he will actually be old enough for ski school, so perhaps we will try that! Anyways, we don't have much planned, so I'm hoping to make it a productive weekend of house projects.  Throw in some college basketball & football, and it sounds practically perfect to me!  Here's my typical bit of randomness on a Friday:

I have already finished our book club for December because it was amazing!!!   Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler.  Read it now. 

I tried some H&M nursing tanks, and they are my new favorites!  And at 2 for $30, you really can't be the price.  (Well actually Target can beat that price, but the Target tanks did not hold up well for me).

Did you know that Oprah's "Favorite Things" are available on Amazon?!  The whole list!  This weekend I plan on getting cozy on the couch during nap time with a big mug of coffee and sifting through all that goodness.  I'm sure I will find lots of gift ideas there!  Thanks to Vanessa for sharing this little tidbit.

I just snagged Liam a pair of Sorel snow boots on sale ($10 off)!  He had the same style last year, and they were perfect!  We spend a ton of time outside in the snow, so a good pair of boots are a must.  These are super easy to put on & they stay on.  Plus, Liam never complained about his feet being cold!

Liam is super into board games right now.  It's a great way to spend some family time together, well at least while Finn is sleeping because he just wants ALL the pieces!  We have Chutes & Ladders, Candyland, & the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game (our favorite, also on sale!), but I want to get a couple more as Christmas gifts.  So tell me your favorite board games for your three year olds!

TGIF friends! 
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Thursday, November 12, 2015

This is 30

While my birthday month continues on (I love to really stretch out the celebrating), the big festivities are over.  The big surprise was being able to celebrate with my best friend from Delaware!  Ali flew in for the weekend and jumped right into the chaos that is life with two young kids.  We snuck in cocktails where we could & went to bed early...these are things that thirty is made of!
My actual birthday was Saturday, where I was woken up to flowers, cards, & gifts from all my favorite people!  Liam was so excited for me to open my card from which included some adorable scribbles and a few answered questions.  My favorite... What I like best about Mommy: "Snuggles!"  And all weekend long I was treated to "birthday snuggles".  Conor made a fabulous eggs benedict brunch, complete with some bubbly rose!

Naps were had.  Egg nog lattes sipped.  And we took a brief drive into the mountains.  Nothing was open at Snowbird (womp womp), but we did get to see some beautiful snowy mountains on a bluebird day.  The recent snowfall has left me in such a great mood and ridiculously excited for the upcoming holidays!

More naps were had.  Tacos & margaritas pounded.  And then the big 3-0 event... drinks out a bar with just my closest girlfriends!!!  This was the one thing I really wanted to do.  I love my husband & my kids, but it is almost never that I am without at least one of them.  It was the perfect celebration!  We went to Bar X, which has been on my list of places to check out forever.  The bar is reminiscent of a speakeasy and known for their cocktails.  It's also owned by Ty  Burrell, so that's a little bit cool!  I sipped on an Old Fashioned & then later a Moscow Mule.  I chatted withOUT interruption and enjoyed myself to the fullest!  And then I even came home to a baby that had already been put to sleep.  Talk about the perfect night!
Sunday we made another trip to the mountains, this time to Park City.  They have a free trolley on Main Street, which had one little boy all sorts of excited.  He loves Daniel Tiger and has been wanting to ride a trolley forever!  He was completely mesmerized when it even dinged.  Because of his big trolley love, we're getting him this trolley as a Christmas gift.  One of his friends has it, and it's pretty adorable.  It dings, but not too loudly or obnoxiously.  He is going to be so pumped!

Overall, it was a wonderful weekend.  So special to see old friends and be loved & celebrated by my family!  Conor turns 30 in February, so we still have that event to look forward to.  We are planning a trip as a big celebration to us both.  Currently, we are deciding between Jackson Hole (we are only a 5 hour drive away) this Winter or the Oregon Coast this summer.  I can't wait for a little family vacation!

Cheers to the next decade.... because when I turn 40, 
I will have a thirteen year old!  A teenager!!!

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