Wednesday, December 28, 2011

{ m i a }

I've been a bit of a goner these past few days.
I just wanted to check in and let you know that I am, in fact, alive.
I'm having a serious case of mind clutter and writers block. 
Give me a few days and I'll be back full force.
Until then, my friends.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

{ recipe: chocolate truffles }

Do you give your neighbors gifts during the holidays?
We do! It's one of my favorite things to do...
I've always done edible gifts and this year 
I decided my sister-in-law's chocolate truffles were the way to go!
She brought them to my house back in the summer 
and I seriously devoured like five in one sitting.

They are so easy. Here's the recipe:

1 package of Oreo cookies
2 packages of cream cheese
Chocolate for dipping
Decorative accents of your choice 
(sprinkles, melted colored chocolate, M&M's...etc.)

1. Crush the Oreos (I used the food processor because I'm lazy).

2. Add and mix in the cream cheese.

3. Mold into balls. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 
I let them refrigerate overnight so they would be sturdy and hold together 
when I dipped them into hot chocolate. 

4. Dip in melted chocolate morsels.
I prefer to use the kind you buy at the craft store 
because they tend to result in a smoother consistency.

5. Decorate as desired.
I used melted colored chocolate. 
Just melt and pour into a bag with a small incision in the corner and go nuts.
Polka dots would look cute if you have more patience than I do.

White paper bags are my go to gift wrapping supply. 
They are so versatile!
For these presents I wrapped some red yarn and made pom poms.
I bought the tags from Target after the holidays two years ago. 
They came in a big tin and I just rediscovered them a few weeks ago. 
Cute right? After holiday deals on Christmas stuff are the best.

There are a lot of ways to make yarn pom poms but
here is a tutorial showing you exactly how I make them.
They make great substitutes for bows if you want your gifts to stand out from under the tree.

Speaking of wrapping gifts... t-3 days until Christmas and I still haven't wrapped any
(except these of course).

PS: My sister-in-law Michelle is a stay-at-home mom to a little girl she calls Sunny, 
and though the recipe for chocolate truffles hasn't made it on, 
she has a recipe blog where she records some yummy gems. 
Head on over! You might find something you like!

{ christmas decor }

Do you think I'm a procrastinator because I just put out our Christmas decorations?
I don't. You wanna know why?
Because we try our best to keep them up until the Epiphany.
Long past when people start dumping their trees on the curb,
ours continues to be lit up in the night. 
Until those three kings finally make their way to the manger.  

So anyhow, let me show you how I've decorated our little home this year. 

Let's go in order:

The Front Door Wreath

Did I mention I've been loving yarn covered wreaths. 

The Tree

After all that drama (read about it here)
I ended up absolutely loving our tree. 
I think having special and pretty ornaments to hang up on it helped me become a fan. 

I love this bald angel from The Christmas Tree Shoppes.

I made these gingham ones last year and I. love. them. 
I was inspired by a magazine picture.. but I can't track it down. Sorry!

These bearded little fellows are from Ikea. 

 A mini stocking from the Christmas Tree Shoppes

And fat Santas from Target.

These two are some of the special ones in our collection. 
They come from my mother-in-law every year.
She gives us one or two and I have so enjoyed that she builds our collection. 

The "Mantle"
Without a mantle, it was difficult to have a focal point in our living room
until we placed an antique record player
and it has become one of the places I focus on when I decorate. 

This year it includes a stenciled sign and a bird cage full of acorns. 
(don't mind the empty picture frame)

Last year I started collecting the stub of our Christmas tree.
I just ask the guy to give me the piece he cuts off... 
I plan to write the year on each one and put them out each year.

I have a thing for weird looking Santas and this skinny one is my absolute favorite. 
He was thrifted, of course. 

The Stockings
We don't have a fireplace or a mantle, 
so my makeshift place for stockings is a branch spray painted in white 
and hung with ribbon from the window frame. 

 The Nativity Scene
We got a wooden hand-carved nativity scene for our wedding 
and I love putting it out each year. 

 The three kings will start inching closer next week!

Other Little Details

The Kitchen
I keep it simple in the kitchen.

The Cardholder
Painted shutters and mini clothe pins. Easy peasy.

The Bathroom
I love my Christmas shower curtain
and an Elf reference cannot be missing.

I love my house during Christmas. It's just so nice to feel festive every where I go.

What about you? When do you put up your decor?

Monday, December 19, 2011

{ christmas tree cutting diaster }

You might know that I am yearning for tradition in our family. 
I am constantly trying to think of ways to make memories for our little family
and to do things that we in hopes that we can repeat them each year. 

Yesterday was set aside on our calendars as the day we would get our Christmas tree.
I had been looking forward to this day since the day after Thanksgiving and it was finally here!

I decided we would finally cut our own tree.
This is something I had wanted to do for years and years..
but we'd put it off until Jacob could at least walk around.

So after 9am mass, off we went to tree farm.
Perfect weather conditions, perfect company.

Let's just say the experience had a promising start
but I did not foresee how it would unfold.

In my mind, I had envisioned this day would be simply faultless.
I thought we would be all bundled up as we walked through the aisles, maybe hold hands, 
and the Snake would run about looking around in awe of the fields of trees.  
I thought we would pick out of perfect tree and ride the wagon back to our car.
We would smile and laugh the day away... and, at first, we did.

But soon... we couldn't figure out which trees were what price.
We walked and walked. and got lost in all that greenery and the employees weren't too well informed.
Soon the boy got restless and he wanted to walk.
A few minutes later, his little hands must've been numb because he started freaking out.
Falling, crying, wanting to be held, wanting to walk. 
We just couldn't make him happy.

Yet, I was dead set on making memories... 
even making these boys pose for a picture as things were going downhill. 
That kind of looks like a smile on Jake, right?

We grew more and more frustrated. We had driven 40 minutes to this place 
and needed to pick out a freaking tree (we only had approximately 200,000 choices). QUICK!
Then it hit me: it was no more than 32 degrees and, 
though the Snake was pretty bundled up, 
his little fingers and nose were red and nearly chapped after just 15 minutes.

We went back to the start so we could "take a break" 
and sit in the car for a few minutes to let our babe warm up again,
but we quickly concluded that it was just not going to work out.
It was awkward to wave goodbye to the farm owner 
as we drove away without a tree on top of our car,
but there was no way that we could put our kid through that again.

I'm not sure why I am so set on creating these picture perfect "traditions" 
to the point of making my family suffer through freezing temperatures. I know it's not fair. 
I just feel like I want my son to look back on a childhood filled with great family times. 
More and more these days I'm realizing that I need to adjust my expectations to reality.

If I'm not more flexible about my expectations, the only family traditions 
we're going to have going on are meltdowns and frustrations.

We did end up getting a tree today...
from the same place we have gone to every year of our married history.
From a parking lot in front of a McDonalds in the town Phil grew up in.
They guy held it up the first tree he saw and these were my exact words:
"I've seen 25,000 trees today. That one will do."

And you know what? It looks fine.
Maybe we'll try the tree farm again next year. Maybe not.
For this year, I'm perfectly content
with simply having a pretty tree to hang our small collection of ornaments on.

In the end, my husband made sure to remind me, Christmas isn't about a tree.
Christmas is about loving your family and friends
--and not about what tree looks like, that's for sure--
but most importantly Christmas is about the birth of a little baby who came to redeem the world.

That is what I am going to focus on this week.
That is what  our family tradition will be this year (and always).

{ a special get to know from my friend alyss ! }

Well you'll see in a minute that this isn't the regular Monday post.
Instead of the regular ol' Get To Know questions, 
I asked my friend Alyss from Roots
to write a little something about what Christmas is like in her world. 

Alyss is such a fun, young mama... her little boy, Jude, is the cutest little guy! 
I wish we didn't live on opposite coasts because 
I'm pretty sure our boys would be great pals if we lived closer together.

I'm so glad Alyss sent this over this morning 
because I really needed some encouragement to get me through the next hectic week. 
I am seriously hoping her glass-is-always-half-full attitude rubs off on me. 
Read on, my friends! Thanks Alyss.

1. Christmas Adam means the day before Christmas Eve. You know, 'cause Adam came before Eve?
2. I start playing Christmas music in July.
3. I could live off of cookies, ice cream, and all things sugary.
4. We have a lot of mixed family situations between my husband and I.
5. My idea of a great party is one where all my worlds collide.
Bonus 6: I love lists.

Ok so now that we've gotten that out of the way, 
here's another list that I'm gonna throw at you (See #6). 
Here's what my Christmas season looks like:

1. Christmas weekend before: cookie party with friends 
and Alex's aunts, uncles, and cousins at our place.
2. Christmas Adam afternoon: breakfast with my mother-in-law at her place 3 hours away.
3. Christmas Eve morning: brunch with father-in-law and husband's siblings at our place.
4. Christmas Eve night: dinner with parents, sister, and grandma at her place.
5. Christmas early morning: hubs, son, and me quiet time at home.
6. Christmas normal morning: coffee and gifts with parents and sister at their place.
7. Christmas mid morning: controlled chaos with dad's family at my parents' place.
8. Christmas afternoon to evening: dinner at my grandpa's house with his wife's family.
9. Christmas late night: collapse amongst torn wrapping paper and kid toys at our house.

As you can see, Christmas is nothing short of busy. We decorate those cookies like there's no tomorrow the weekend before Christmas. We surround ourselves with the people we don't get to see on actual Christmas day. We pack the presents into the car early Christmas Adam morning, throw together a few bags worth of clothes and supplies for our little fam, and wiggle ourselves into our seats ready for some serious driving and hauling. We say our prayers for please-God-no-tantrums as we leave the house early Christmas morning, ready for cheeks to be pinched. And we gussy ourselves up for a not so kid friendly Christmas dinner.

Then we collapse at home. Our pillow talk is always the same that night.
"I can't believe Christmas is already over."
"Whew, that was crazy."
"Wow, our parents outdid themselves again."
And lastly...
"Wanna slow it down a bit next year?.... Yeah, me neither."

My personality has always tilted toward the I-want-to-do-it-all side. Christmas is no exception.
It's a magical holiday and I want to experience that magic with every person that I love.
There's happiness and glee and joy and every other synonym you can think of on December 25th.
On that day, I fill my tank for the year.
I basically stock pile so that I can keep that Christmas magic with me for the next 365 days.
Can you truly imagine if you treated every day like it was Christmas?
Gave a little grace to those people that constantly need extra grace. Youknowwhoimtalkinabout. Gave before receiving. Smiled despite the family drama. Enjoyed the day despite life's struggles.
Celebrated the birth of our Lord Savior.
What if we treated 365 days of the year as if it were Jesus' birthday?
His birth was the birth of hope for His people. Why save that for only one day of celebration?
Let's extend Christmas beyond December 25th.
This Sunday, stock pile that happiness and that joyful celebration.
Lord knows that's what I'll be doing. Merry Christmas friends!

Friday, December 16, 2011

{ lovely things } week of 12/12

This is a promising upcoming weekend. Can I tell you everything that's taking place?
My Erin Condren planner is scheduled to arrive sometime today. 
I have been giddy since I got the email notifying me that it was shipped. 
I haven't been this excited in a long time!! 

We have a playdate scheduled on Saturday morning... 
truthfully it's more of a playdate for us since we just want to hang out with our friends. 
The fact that Jake will get to hang out with one of his future best friends is just a plus. 

My grandmother is flying in on Saturday evening. She's staying for a whole month
She's the coolest and I can't wait to hang out with her.

We're finally getting our Christmas tree on Sunday.
We waited this long so we can keep it alive and healthy until the Epiphany... 

I am GIDDY for this weekend to start... but first here are some lovely things:

a. I had a little guest post at Royal Daughter's yesterday. Check it out!

b.This sign from Plum Street Prints is a great reminder to hang in a playroom. 

for my neighbors' gifts.  They look sinfully good, don't they?!

d.I'm in love  with this DIY stenciled Christmas sign

e. I'm sharing a first-time Christmas tradition at Everything Under the Moon today. 
I hope will become a yearly thing in our household. 

Tell me, what are your weekend plans?
Enjoy every minute of these days of rest. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

{ following that good ol' motherly instinct }

After almost two months, I went back to the gym this morning.
I had taken some time off to get used to my husband's new work schedule...
(and I have a gut to show for it.)

There is a small childcare room at my gym 
so we rushed out the door this morning at 8:35 so I could drop off my boy 
in time to make it to a 9am cardio class.

Well, let's just say it was an epic fail. 

I had brought the Snake once before in the afternoon and he freaked out.
Cried the entire time.
I blamed it on being tired, possibly hungry, and being the first time.
I thought it would be different today because
he's a chirpy and active little fella in the mornings.
My thought process, went something like this:
"There are plenty of toys and, worst come to worst, there are videos he can watch.
Plus there are a bunch of other kids to keep him entertained."
I was sure he would be fine for an hour.

I was wrong.

He spent 40 minutes straight crying and sitting by the door.
I swear I could hear him over the loud, thumping music...
but I might have just been hearing the sound of my own guilt.

Finally, twenty minutes before the class was over, I could take it no longer.
I dropped the weights, put back the step, 
and just picked him up.
I just couldn't take it any longer...

Don't get me wrong. I am all for "toughening" him up and not coddling,
Considering he's sporting a black eye this very day
which is the result of taking a fall into a broomstick that was on the ground
(Can you see it in these pictures? It's actually subsiding.)
My feeling on this matter is "boys will be boys..."
I practiced a moderate version of the crying out sleep training method
and I don't think bumps and bruises will kill him.
I don't consider myself "a coddler."

But you have to know... my kid doesn't cry when I leave him places.
In fact, he waves good bye and shuts the door behind me.

So when he sobs at the gym,
I know something is off,
and my motherly instinct tells me he feels some sort of fear when he's in that room.
I don't know what it is or why he feels that way
and I definitely don't understand it...
but I accept it.

I was reading a book of reflections for mothers the other morning
and, in light of today's ordeal, I've been thinking about one of the lines written:

"With motherhood, though, 
and with staying home in particular, 
I quickly learned that 
it wasn't about me, after all. 
In fact it wasn't even a little bit about me. 
It was all about the babies." 

Danielle Bean, the author, goes on to recognize that it is a real sacrifice a mom 
especially because you have to give up many things one might enjoy.
(Of course, she writes about how worthwhile of a sacrifice it is
and how one should still pursue their talents and hobbies in a way that fits your family's lifestyle.)

What struck me even more, though, was that she follows up saying:

"During the early years, it helps to keep in mind that you're in the throes of making a profound and life changing adjustment."

Now those aren't necessarily earth shattering words...
but they're exactly what today's episode revealed to me.
It's time for an adjustment.
While I may love the gym, it doesn't fit my family's lifestyle right now.
Maybe in the future, maybe not.
For now I have to find an alternative route to being healthy and (hopefully) fit.
Am I disappointed? Of course. Would I like it to be different? Yes, ma'am I would.
But, for now at least, it's all about that baby sleeping peacefully in his crib.

This may cause criticism and judgement from some of you who are reading this 
or from family and friends who might disagree with how I am choosing to deal with this situation,
but in the end, I'm following my motherly instinct 

and truthfully what's most important is that I am entirely comfortable with it.


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