Saturday, November 28, 2015

Christmas Traditions to Start This Year

Being a relatively new family, we are always looking for new, fun, & hassle free traditions to start. When you come together with your husband in marriage you both bring different family traditions, which can be fun unless they clash/take place the same day & then you have to either meet in the middle or form completely different ones.

I got pretty lucky because both my husband and I have very few traditions even during the Christmas season. Which means, we pretty much have free reign to start whatever tradition we feel like!

Tons of great Christmas traditions for families! Especially the one for when you get the tree! So stress-free!


I have been researching and found/thought up these Christmas traditions that seem fun and are also hassle free!

Month Long:


  • 25 days of Christmas book-a-thon. Read a different Christmas book every night before bed starting December first.
  • Friday night Christmas movies.
  • Drive around & look at Christmas lights. Google to find out if your city puts on a light show, & definitely go to that! They are so fun to see!
  • Early Christmas brunch with grandparents. This is from my family. We always celebrated Christmas early with my grandma. It was nice because then on Christmas day we were able to just lounge around all day in our PJ's. I love a good lazy day!
  • Snowy Chocolate Pine cones. We're not big gingerbread fans, so these pine cones are a fun alternative.
  • Write a letter to Santa. Take it one step further & receive a letter BACK from the North Pole! (http://www.santaclaushouse.com/santaletteronly.asp) 
  • Advent Calendar with thankfuls. We always did the typical chocolate a day advent calendar, but wouldn't it be nice if to get a candy you had to do more than just wait a day? We are all about expressing gratitude this year, so we are saying one new thing we are thankful for each day til Christmas.
  • Make Christmas candy.
  • Host a cookie exchange.
  • Send out Christmas cards.
  • Make Tamales. This is our weekend-before-Christmas tradition. Plus they make great gifts! My favorite are Cinnamon Raisin Tamales! Sooo delicious! If you are interested, let me know in the comments and I'll post a recipe. I would love an excuse to make them a little early this year ;)

The Day you decorate the tree:

  • Go out to eat! We like to make whole day of it. And quite frankly, after spending a couple hours picking out, setting up, and decorating a tree I am not in the mood to cook a gourmet meal as well. We either do Chinese take out, or a Japanese style Tepanyaki restaurant. I couldn't tell you why-- it's just tradition!
  • Make hot cocoa.
  • Listen to Christmas music while decorating.


Christmas Eve:


  • Game Night! I've seen a lot of posts with all sorts of fun Minute to Win It game night ideas. They look like a ton of fun & plus it'll wear kids out which is perfect before Santa comes ;) If you do invite people over for games, keep it simple and follow it up with the next tradition:
  • Pizza on Christmas Eve. this is my husband's family's ONE Christmas tradition. We will keep it alive, but modify it by making our pizzas (w/store-bought dough-Winco sells great pizza dough!)
  • Pre-make dough for Christmas morning sweet rolls. This really doesn't take long, I typically do this while everyone watches a Christmas movie. Takes like a half hour max.
  • Make cookies for Santa. We are trying a new cut out cookie recipe this year. I will link it here the 2nd week in December if it's a success.

Christmas Day:

  • Put sweet rolls and a breakfast casserole in oven so it can cook while everyone opens presents, then enjoy a delicious (no fuss) Christmas morning feast!
  • Make a special dinner. We like to do Mexican food. For special occasions I will either make carnitas or chicken empanadas.
  • Read the Nativity Story.

There you have it! 20+ Christmas Traditions that we love! It may seem like a lot, but they really aren't too stressful and help you get the most out of the holiday season. I LOVE December because it really is soo family focused! I wish we had traditions like these year-round! (maybe we'll start some ;)

Let me know some of your favorite family traditions below!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers

Christmas is soo close! We are so excited to be starting traditions with our little family. David is only 16 months so he won't really remember much of what we are doing now, but I still think it's important for US to get in the habit of these traditions.

One of these traditions is, of course, Santa Claus. There are a lot of people I know who are anti-Santa Claus (including my mother-in-law). Their viewpoint is usually one of two things, (1) it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas and/or (2) they feel like they are telling a lie and prefer honesty.

I disagree. I think it only takes away from the meaning of Christmas if you let it, by having Santa Claus take it's place, BUT adding Santa Claus in addition does no harm (in my opinion). Also, I don't feel it is a lie. I think it will teach them to believe in things that seem impossible and even intangible-- that concept of faith in things we can't see is an important & difficult one to understand. I also want my children to stay innocent. It may sound silly, but I think a belief in the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus will keep them from growing up too fast!

Plus, I was never mad at my mom for carrying on this tradition. I never called her a liar. I remember, my mom even used to tell me that if you had the hiccups it meant you were growing! No where have I ever seen proof of that--it was probably a lie.. but I'm not mad, I just look back at it and laugh.

And my last argument in support of Santa Claus is that it is fun. It's just fun for kids and parents alike.

So here is a list of stocking stuffer ideas that Santa may or may not be choosing from this year for our cute toddler!

Great list of stocking stuffers for toddlers! Christmas stocking stuffers


  1. Crayola Bath Dropz 
  2. Munchkin Five Sea Squirts 
  3. Munchkin Wind Up Swimming Penguin Bath Toy 
  4. ALEX Toys Rub a Dub Star Crayon 
  5. Munchkin Caterpillar Spillers Stacking Cups 
  6. Toysmith 5" Turbo Buggy Pull Back Race Car 
  7. Hot Wheels, Vehicle Bundle of 4  
  8. Costume Jewelry (Santa probably won't choose this one for our son, but he might for our future daughter in a few years)
  9. Kazoo 
  10. Playgo Mystic Rainmaker Rattle 
  11. Harmonica 
  12. Crayola Washable Finger Paints 
  13. COSMOS ® LED flash light up Spike Ball
  14. Flow N' Fill Spout
  15. Fruit (banana, apple, orange)
  16. Individual sized cereal boxes
  17. Goldfish Crackers
  18. Small stuffed animals
  19. New binky/pacifier
  20. Bubble bath

Friday, November 20, 2015

Pregnancy Update 18 weeks!

I am 18 (18 1/2) weeks! This baby is finally starting to kick. I felt her for the first time last weekend! It is finally starting to feel a little more real, although I am not really showing much at all (yet).

Stats so far:


Weeks: 18.5
Gender: It's a girl!!!!!
Weight Gain: 2.5 pounds
Stretch Marks: 0
Symptoms: Lack of appetite, bloating 
Cravings: Mexican Food, mainly chilaquiles (found this recipe on Pinterest, soo good!) Also, asparagus, fruit, and last week I was craving salt & vinegar chips pretty badly. I ate them 3 days in a row! They still sound good, but I don't want them as desperately as I did last week.
Missing: Energy. There are so many things I want to do in a day (mainly work out) but I have been soo tired!
Exercise: Cardio 3 times a week for a half hour and free weights so far only 2-3 times per week. I'd love to up it.
Diet: Fairly normal, minus the 3 days of salt & vinegar chips. I have been trying to incorporate more salads and have made a kale smoothie a few different mornings. I just feel like I need more veggies, so I am working on it!

All in all I am pretty happy. I am worried about weight gain, because although I haven't gained much & am not in maternity clothes yet, I am almost at the half way point so I know it's just a matter of time before the weight gain starts to pile on. When I was pregnant with David I gained a little over 45 pounds! Healthy weight gain when you start at an average weight, is between 25-30. That is my goal. Since my weight is finally starting to go up, I am just making sure I keep exercising (which I didn't do with my first pregnancy) and incorporate veggies. I am also trying to keep junk food to a minimum & am paying attention to hunger cues. I am a huge lover of food and tend to overeat during pregnancy when I think something tastes good. I want to make sure I am only eating when I am actually hungry. 

I am hoping this strategy pays off and makes for a smooth post-partum recovery! Wish me luck!

My next update (with picture) will be at 20 weeks, although it could very well end up being at 21 weeks because we will be out of town that first week in December. But I will keep you all posted!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide

We are having two Thanksgivings this year! You heard me right, TWO! Why? Because it sounded like a good idea.

When you're fairly new in your marriage, holidays are typically spent alternating between in-laws. So for example, last year Thanksgiving was with my mom, so this year it is with Scott's family. While it is great to spend time with family, we have been wanting to do a Thanksgiving on our own.

Well, my brother & his wife are coming into town the weekend before Thanksgiving to visit us and to meet my sister's new baby. This gave us a great idea! Why not do a mini-Thanksgiving for the 6 of us? (well technically 8, but the babies won't eat much).

For some people the idea of two Thanksgivings is a little much. It's stressful, expensive, etc. But for us the second one we won't have much to do, other than maybe bring a dessert, and the first pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving will be more of a very casual potluck style version with a bunch of twenty-somethings that just so happen to be family. Plus, we get free reign on the food we serve! We won't be held back by tradition where you make the same exact thing every year, because this is a first time event.

For the last week or so, my sister & I have been searching Pinterest for some great Thanksgiving recipes and this is the menu we've come up with!

Main Course:

Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide


Side Dishes:

Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide



Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide


Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide


Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide


Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide


Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide



Crescent Rolls by Pillsbury


Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide


Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide



Dessert:

Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide



Pecan Pie by Sara Lee ( yes, not homemade)


Pumpkin Pie by Costco
(we really can't make everything from scratch now can we?)

Drinks:


Martinellis Sparkling Cider 
(3 packs sold at Costco)




This is our pre-Thanksgiving menu thus far. I know some of you may be thinking we are missing a couple of KEY Thanksgiving dishes. Maybe some sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce or some stuffing, for example? Nope. Like I said earlier, we are not going to feel obligated to make something because of tradition. 

My sister & I are the main cooks of this little shindig, and we just are not huge fans of those things. But that's the beauty of a potluck style Thanksgiving. If one of our 8 wants something not on the menu, they can easy make it & bring it. We won't be offended ;)

We do however, want to add something to the dessert menu that includes chocolate. So let us know some of your favorite chocolate desserts in the comments below (and some of your favorite non-desserts as well ;)

Thanks for stopping by & Happy Thanksgiving!!



Pinterest Inspired Thanksgiving meal guide












Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Thanksgiving Must Haves

It is snowing for the first time this winter here in Utah and it is sticking! I was born & raised in Southern California & normally hate the cold winters, but for some reason I am happy about this crazy weather day. Maybe it's because I am reminded of how close all the holidays really are.

Speaking of holidays, I read a lot of blogs and for some reason I haven't seen any posts about Thanksgiving! It's like everyone got too excited about Christmas and just skipped right over it! Don't worry you guys, I may have posted a Christmas ornament tutorial yesterday, but I have not forgotten about our country's lovely food centered holiday! (Sure it's about more than just food, but what is a Thanksgiving without turkey?!)

The other night I actually had a dream we were hosting Thanksgiving & were completely unprepared. All we had made was the turkey. I was scrambling to make some last minute mashed potatoes--without gravy =(  as everyone was walking in the door! Oh, what a nightmare!

Don't catch yourselves unprepared, Check out these 8 Thanksgiving Must Haves!

Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!



Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!


How great is this OXO Good Grips Poultry Lifter?! I've always used a combination of forks & tongs to move a whole chicken/turkey and it's always a nightmare! For how cheap this is, it's definitely worth it!

Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!

For some reason, no one ever has these, but really how smart is the Godinger Ceramic Double Warmer Chafing Dish with Serving Stand? It's not even half as expensive as some of those electric warming dishes, but still keeps your food warm & looks nice.


Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!

A lot of people like to bust out the "good" china for holidays, and I agree. Definitely a great idea when you have a SMALL family gathering, but if you're hosting a large family get together, I'd opt for Reflections Plastic Silverware, 160 Pieces. It looks nice and it's less clean up. We hosted a family brunch the other day with only 10 people, but we definitely did disposable plates & silverware. No one will be offended, so why not make your life easier?

Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!

A good roasting pan is essential for Turkey Day, but we live on one income over here so I'm not about to spend over $100 on one, which is why I like the Cuisinart Stainless 16-Inch Rectangular Roaster with Rack. It's got great reviews and is half the price of most.

If that's still a little out of budget you can either use one of your cooling racks & stick that in the pan or crumple up some sheets of aluminum foil & put them in the bottom of the pan to lift that turkey!

Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!

Most people have a turkey baster, we actually didn't. I think it got thrown out in the move? So I actually went and purchased this one, OXO Good Grips Angled Turkey Baster with Cleaning Brush, because it was the only one they had. I was actually pretty surprised at how much I liked it. 

First off it comes with a cleaning brush that reaches all the way in there, but also, it has a little plastic stand attached (see in picture above) that lets it rest on the counter with the tip pointed up so you don't get drippings everywhere. Such a basic item, but I love it more than ones I've had in the past.

Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!


For reasons that should be obvious, a Top Chef 2-Piece Carving Set makes the list of Thanksgiving Must-Haves!

Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!


So I actually saw one of these at Costco the other day, but couldn't see find the price. Crockpot's always get me excited for some reason. I love the idea of the Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System because you can have multiple going at once and doesn't take up as much space as a bunch of separate crock pots. I imagine putting a breakfast casserole or overnight french toast in there to make it so I don't have to cook breakfast Thanksgiving morning on top of everything else!


Be prepared this Thanksgiving & check out these Thanksgiving Day essentials!


Okay, so while this could be used for Thanksgiving, this is something I'm personally purchasing for the day after. I have always wanted a OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer (I know I'm a dork). And I was watching Chef Anne on Food Network make these delicious looking salt & vinegar chips! Ever since I've been thinking about how perfect that would be for all the leftover potatoes I always have lying around after Thanksgiving. They normally start growing roots & get thrown away, but not this year!

I hope you all have a fantastic holiday season! Let me know some of your favorite essentials in the comments below! And while you're commenting, I'd love to hear a favorite Thanksgiving tradition! We are trying to implement family traditions this year since our family is growing!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, November 9, 2015

DIY Paper Pine Cone Christmas Ornaments

With Halloween over and Christmas candy filling the shelves at the grocery store, it is almost impossible to not hear someone say "let's wait til Thanksgiving's over before we start celebrating Christmas."

Honestly, I think I'm just as sick of that complaint as they are at seeing Christmas music start early. I say, why not start Christmas early?! People tend to be a little more jolly, and a little more giving, so why not?!

Erlene, from My Pinterventures, must feel the same way because she coordinated a Christmas ornament gift exchange between 80 other bloggers across the U.S.! Can you imagine?! And the best part is that one of the requirements was for the ornaments to cost less than $10 to make. That means you get over 80 ornament tutorials to choose from that are all fairly cost effective! Different tutorials will be shared everyday from November 1st-14th. I will link some of these at the bottom!

I love doing crafts during the holidays, so I obviously HAD TO sign up for this!

My partner for the exchange was Audrey from Munofore. Audrey didn't really have a specific theme or color preference for her tree, which really just gave me free reign.

Where do you begin when you can really do anything? I thought back to the Christmas/winter classics.

Easy DIY paper pine cone Christmas ornament for cheap! It looks so complex but is really so easy & will definitely impress! Perfect for an ornament exchange!


Supplies:


  • Styrofoam egg 
  • 1 sheet of holiday themed scrap-booking paper 
  • Straight pins 
  • Ribbon 
  • Scissors
  • Dab of hot glue (optional)

How to make a paper pine cone for Christmas

  • Turn your paper over. Measure & cut 1" x 1" squares. (You'll only need about half your paper in squares)
How to make a paper pine cone for Christmas

  • Fold top two corners down of each square to make a pentagon shape. Reserve 1 square as is for bottom of pine cone. 
Easy DIY paper pine cone Christmas ornament for cheap! It looks so complex but is really so easy & will definitely impress! Perfect for an ornament exchange!

  • Find the narrow end of the egg, pin top point of pentagon to center and then place two more pins on either side. Repeat until top is covered with 4 pentagons. Then move to wider end and pin square paper using 4 pins to cover bottom (this part of step can also be done toward the end as well).
Easy DIY paper pine cone Christmas ornament for cheap! It looks so complex but is really so easy & will definitely impress! Perfect for an ornament exchange!

  • Beginning at narrow end, take a pentagon and hold about 1/4" to 1/2" down from previous row. Position it in between gap from two pentagons from previous row. Using two pins, pin in place (no longer pinning top point down, just one pin on either side). Repeat with 3 more pentagons until gaps from previous row are covered.
Easy DIY paper pine cone Christmas ornament for cheap! It looks so complex but is really so easy & will definitely impress! Perfect for an ornament exchange!

  •  Take 4 more pentagons and fill gaps in current row. 
  • You will be doing a total of 8 pentagons per row in the same manner as above until completed.
Easy DIY paper pine cone Christmas ornament for cheap! It looks so complex but is really so easy & will definitely impress! Perfect for an ornament exchange!


  • When you get about 3/4 of the way down, it's time to add the ribbon. Cut your ribbon long enough to hang your ornament. Give it a little extra length because you will start pinning it into place at this point. I cut mine about 11" in length. Use two pins to pin in place.
  • Continue pinning pentagons, occasionally covering ribbon as it comes up.
  • As you get to the bottom there will be a lot of overlapping, that is fine. The pine cone is finished when you can see no more styrofoam.
(Optional):
  • Place a dot of hot glue at bottom of pine cone and press either side of ribbon into it to secure into place. 
Easy DIY paper pine cone Christmas ornament for cheap! It looks so complex but is really so easy & will definitely impress! Perfect for an ornament exchange!

Alright, so there you have it! A very simple yet impressive looking handmade ornament! I hope you enjoy this and as promised here are a few others that are participating in the exchange as well!! Happy Holidays!
Christmas Ornament Exchange DIY Ornaments