Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Top Ten of 2015!

2015 - our first full year in Sweet Home Alabama.
Here are the most popular posts from the year, in ranking order...

How gorgeous were these local summer peaches from our CSA? 

This seasonal post shared a phenomenal peach crisp recipe. Since it's now winter, you can recreate it with a frozen bag of peaches from the grocery store. I think I might have to do that right this instant.


This was my first experience with gardening! My mom, Parker and I hit up the spring sale at the Botanic Gardens and prettied up our yard. 

Max has always done a lot of business travel, but this year was a doozy. This post outlined my top tips for getting through the days/weeks without Daddy in the house. 

My first post in the Taco Tuesday series! A crockpot recipe that is so easy it's ridiculous.


Our house, covered in snow!

It was a Winter Wonderland in March when we experienced our first (and second) Snow Day! Everything in the city shut down, Max had the day off work, and everything looked gorgeous blanketed in white. 

The most popular (and also incredibly easy to make) Taco Tuesday recipe! A play on CPK's BBQ Chicken Salad, and a party for your mouth.



In an effort to teach my (then) almost-two-year-old his colors, I set off on a series of color weeks, each one with color themed crafts, foods, and activities. Apparently orange was the favorite color of them all!



I hosted several giveaways throughout summer and fall, but the Freshly Picked Moccasins giveaway was hands-down the most popular! 


This Friday link-up detailed my current favorites as well as a demo on this letter-resist toddler painting. 



The most viewed post of the entire year! We had a (yummy and delicious) blast using cool whip and food coloring to dye our Easter Eggs this year. The tie-dye effect was so pretty and it was such a fun time that I think we'll have to repeat for Easter 2016. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Advent Calendar Fun - Part 2



December is almost over?? Say it isn't so.

Before it's officially 2016, here's our Advent Calendar update, Part 2...

7.   Hang stockings and decorate tree

8.   Create handprint reindeer ornaments

9.   Make hot chocolate with marshmallows and sprinkles

10. Read The Gingerbread Man and bake gingerbread cookies

11. Shop for a toy to donate to an Angel Tree

12. Decorate gingerbread houses

13. Attend a performance of The Nutcracker


14. Christmas Craft

15. Read about the nativity

16. Play with the felt Christmas Tree

17. Watch the Christmas Parade downtown

18. Dance to festive tunes

19. Pop popcorn and watch a Christmas movie 
*This was a big deal as it was Parker's very first movie, ever! Our little family of three watched A Charlie Brown Christmas all together. 

20. Drive the Galaxy of Lights at the Botanic Gardens

21. Bake Christmas cookies and deliver to neighbors

22. Walk the Tinsel Trail downtown

23. Rudolph Day


24. Open one gift under the tree and read The Night Before Christmas
This version by Mary Engelbreit is my favorite; the illustrations are gorgeous. 


Parker was all sorts of sad to put away the advent calendar... and I can tell you, I'm all sorts of sad that my morning coffee no longer looks like this:

We're currently taking down the Christmas decorations, and everything is looking so naked and bare! Is anyone else thinking this at their house?? Perhaps I can just leave up the garland??

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Nutcracker 2015

When we were just newlyweds, Max and I started attending The Phoenix Ballet's Nutcracker each year at holiday time. It was a fun tradition, and I was thrilled to discover last year when we moved to Huntsville that they also have their own (albeit much smaller) ballet and symphony orchestra. Our traditional would continue! Parker was one-and-a-half last Christmas, and we decided to introduce him to The Nutcracker. He made it through the entire performance, though got a bit wiggly at the end (and thank goodness for intermission and being able to stretch all our legs midway through!). At the time, Sweet P was obsessed with Exit signs and excitedly pointed them out even after the ballet began. Oops. This was also Parker's first time experiencing applause, and oh my word did he have a blast joining in the clapping. Definitely the best part for him.


So this year, we decided to give it a go again with our now two-and-a-half year old. We figured we had a pretty good shot since we are still a television-free household. A live performance, we guessed, would be captivating for a little man who had never seen a tv show or movie. But, just in case, we spent all December reading different versions of The Nutcracker, listening to Tchaikovsky, and talking about what would happen when we attended.



When the big day rolled around, Parker knew we would be wearing fancy clothes, going the mile and a half down the road to the Von Braun Center, and staying very quiet in our seats as the lights dimmed and the performance began. We arrived early and he was also all sorts of excited to see the orchestra pit! Parker has been obsessed with classical music for months now, and he's fascinated by most all the instruments (especially violins and cellos).



All our front loading paid off, and Parker was the best little audience member you could possibly imagine.  He was all about it. He seriously watched the entire performance. We did get a bit of whispering during the second act, but it was to explain what was happening: I see dancers! Now there’s a dragon! He also had to tell us that he wanted to also see the dancers at home, please. Just like last year he got a kick out of the applause and went crazy joining in each time. We ended up visiting the orchestra three different times (before, during intermission, and after) and Parker even made buddies with the conductor!



It was a gorgeous day, accented by the even more gorgeous fall leaves on the ground. 


My heart is just so full being able to share this tradition with our sweet little guy. So happy for many more trips to The Nutcracker to come! 

Friday, December 18, 2015

(Holiday) Friday Favorites!

Happy one-week-until Christmas!! I've been feeling like Santa's helper around here, dressing in festive gear, munching on holiday goodness, wrapping up presents, and handing out holiday cheer like the sweet gift below...

 1. 
These little guys went out to my hair dresser and Pure Barre teachers. Baby sparkling wines? With a cute straw? Who could say no to that. 
(Cards and straws from the dollar section at Michael's, Prosecco from Target)


 2. 
Sipping on holiday drinks only adds to the festive feeling - especially when said beverage has extra whipped cream. 

3.
This happened. Mini gingerbread houses. All. The. Heart. Eyes. I used the template from this tutorial for the dimensions, with the leftover dough from gingerbread men that Sweet P and I made (I used the same gingerbread recipe I used back in October). I can't even tell you how much more fun it is to drink coffee with a tiny gingerbread house on top! Bonus, the coffee will taste a bit gingerbread-y. 

4.
I doubled up two of my favorite essie polishes and, oh my word, I have the most festive nails that will take me right through NYE! I started with a base of my tried and true matte good as gold, with the sparkly rock at the top on top. Holiday fabulous!


5.
 We've had the best weather lately. Sunny and in the 70's... so I've had awesome opportunities to try out the new (incredible) 50mm lens that Max gifted me for my birthday back in October. And this little man? My favorite Friday Favorite of them all! 









Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Elfing Around



I purchased our Elf on the Shelf in December of 2012 when I was six months pregnant with what everyone assumed would be a girl. The only elves left at Target were girl elves, so I picked one up, imagining our future daughter searching for it at holiday time. Much in the same way, we also ended up with a pink nasal aspirator. I was nine months pregnant and at Buy Buy Baby, where they only had pink ones in stock. So I purchased one, and the next week gave birth to a baby boy. We actually still have the nasal aspirator, and I chuckle each time I see it. And, this is how Parker happened upon having a girl Elf on the Shelf (which I actually don't think is that out-of-the-ordinary since most of the adults he encounters at play dates/story times/classes are women, so having a girl elf watching him follows this structure). 

Despite the fact that we've had our elf three years, this is the first year she's actually come out (partially because we were moving last year, and partially because this is the first year where Parker could really get into it).



Our elf arrived (via "hot air balloon") the day after Thanksgiving, and I pointed out she was a girl elf. Parker promptly named her "Lady" (so pragmatic and practical). Since then, I've had way too much fun with Lady's antics. I told my husband that I missed my calling as a professional elf stager. Here are some of my favorites...

Mini Pancakes


Gone Fishin'

Nutcracker Buddy

Hanging Around

Pilot Elf (I purchased the outfit on clearance post-Christmas at Target last year when everything is 80% off... totally the time to add to your elf's wardrobe!)

My biggest find, however, is sticky velcro. The elf is made of felt, which sticks to the velcro incredibly well. So I place the velcro stickers wherever I want the elf to be, and presto!

And then there was my favorite day. The day Lady brought donuts.
 You bet I made those babies! Simply take cheerios and decorate as you would real donuts (powdered sugar, chocolate icing, and cinnamon sugar, yum).

And while I love Lady, this little guy has to be my favorite elf of all.
Happy Holiday Season! 

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