Tree Trimming Party

Every year, my mom and stepdad host a tree trimming party. I look forward to it every year. It really gets us in the Christmas mood! They get a beautiful tree, make some delicious food, and invite the family over to decorate the tree. I must admit, it’s a genius idea!

My mom had the house decorated beautifully and ready for our arrival. I decorated the chalkboard when I got there by compiling a few of my favorite pinterest chalkboard designs!

Once everyone arrived, we chowed down. It’s so funny to watch Turner. He is just one of the gang, eating and chatting it up!

And then, there was the decorating! Turner hung out with “the men” while the ladies trimmed the tree.

We had so much fun! We are even MORE excited for Christmas (if that’s possible). I know Turner is still young, but Stew and I are loving every second of this holiday season with him! So much more Christmas fun to come!

Christmas Tree Obsession

This morning was a very productive morning! Every weekend, I spend about an hour prepping baby food for the week. I’ll steam veggies for a puree, or make a batch of oatmeal, or cook up some pancakes to freeze. This morning I made my go-to baby pancakes and even had time to take pictures of them! I typed up the recipe to share with you. Here it is!

I had time to play around with my new Canon Macro Lens too! I’ve been wanting this for a looooong time! The photos I shot will explain my obsession. It’s incredible, and it’s pretty inexpensive as far as lenses go!

I captured some great shots of our little man in all his snuggly glory.

This holiday season is the best I’ve ever had! I’m absolutely in love with this munchkin. Everything is so exciting to Turner. He is absolutely obsessed with our tree! He left it alone for a while, and then rediscovered it last night. All he wants to do is pull the ornaments off and play with them. Morning, noon, or night…it doesn’t matter!

We got so much done this morning, that I think we can take it easy for the rest of the day! It’s the perfect rainy day for snuggling. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Oh Christmas Tree!!!

I’m so proud of myself. We actually waiting until AFTER Thanksgiving to get a tree! Mostly because we were hosting this year, and I didn’t want to be frowned upon. There was actually a little thing on Facebook that said, “Like this if you still wait till AFTER Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas”. I wished there was a “Dislike” button at that moment. I won’t lie…I started listening to my Christmas music shortly after Halloween (despite the 80 degree weather).

Last Christmas was a hot mess. Turner was eating every 5 seconds, and I was so exhausted that I didn’t even WANT to decorate. I know, not like me. This year we are back in action!

Saturday, after Turner’s nap, we went to Lowe’s to get our tree. Don’t hate! Lowe’s has great trees, and they’re the cheapest in town! And, NO, I didn’t plan for a Stew-in-20-years look alike to be in the background!

Then, it was back home for nap number 2. While Turner napped, we pumped the Christmas carols and put the lights on. That’s always the boring part, so we decided to get it out of the way!

Dexter was in charge of vacuuming up the pine needles. He was not too excited about helping with that part.

When Turner woke up, we put the decorations on the tree. All he wanted to do was throw the tissue paper around and roll the balls on the floor. Fine with us!

And here’s the finished product, along with a shot of our house all lit up!

We ended the night with some rough housing and a little taco soup. It was a day to remember, for sure! I love making memories with our little family!

Ok, I’ve waited long enough! Time for Dark Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream and Homeland! Have a great week!

So Very Thankful

This Thanksgiving was one for the books! We had 19 people at our house (including two adorable babies) and a TON of food! My cousins, who I haven’t seen in years, took the long drive from NJ, with all of their adorable kids, to celebrate with us.

I spent the week prepping and getting the table set. I spray painted some of my mini pumpkins from Halloween with a winter white and then a top coat of silver sparkle. I was so over the orange by Thanksgiving. I decided to incorporate more silvers and whites as a nice segue to Christmas! Having the table set early gets it out of the way and lets me just focus on the food the days before Thanksgiving!

The food was a big hit! I made the most delicious turkey! Here is the recipe. I will DEFINITELY be using this every year! Each person was in charge of a few dishes so it wasn’t all ME! This post had our basic meal outline. Splitting it up definitely lowers the stress level for everyone! It left plenty of time for morning PJ playing and snuggles!

Once everyone arrived, it was non-stop eating and playing! We had a BLAST! Turner got to meet his second cousin, who is just a few months younger, and they hit it off great!

We even managed to get a family picture!

It was a Thanksgiving to remember. We have so much to be thankful for! Stew is healing super speedy and we have the most amazing baby! We are definitely blessed!

Countdown To Thanksgiving

We started hosting Thanksgiving in 2011. We LOVE entertaining. We go all out. Just ask the people in our Supper Club! Last Thanksgiving, I was planning on hosting, but Turner decided to show up almost two weeks early! He was only 5 days old last Thanksgiving. So we went to my mom’s instead. My, how life has changed in a year!

This year, we’re back in action! Here is my game plan! Having a timeline makes it completely stress-free! I just do a little bit each day.

I do a lot in advance. That way, all I do Thanksgiving morning is bake the turkey! We always have different veggies each year, but we have the staples too! We ALWAYS start with Nanny’s Italian Wedding Soup. Sorry, I’d share that recipe, but you know how that ends…

I use something similar to this recipe for the Turkey. I make a few changes and sort of do a combination of recipes. But that’s the basic idea! I make the herb butter in advance and just take it out the night before so it’s nice and spreadable by Thanksgiving morning. I use this Food Network Digital Thermometer for the turkey too. This is a MUST! It ensures that the turkey isn’t overcooked and dry! And, if you order it withAmazon Prime , it will be here in time for the big day!

I also make buttermilk biscuits (minus the cheese), cranberry relish, Harvest Pie (I use store bought dough and omit the nuts), and cornbread pudding. Considering we will have 19 people, I’m also having everyone bring a dish too! We’ll have a sweet potato dish, broccoli rabe, mashed potatoes, green beans, and few others!

Today is cleaning, laundry, set the table, and decorate the house day. Typically, we decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving. BUT, in my defense, Thanksgiving is a week later this year!! That means we would have less time to enjoy the Christmas decorations! So pump up the Nat King Cole, and let the fun begin!! Happy Thanksgiving prep week!!

Trick or Treat!

It was Turner’s first Halloween! You may have guessed from my previous post, but he was Clark Kent (thanks for the idea Allison)!

It was bloody hot out, so I couldn’t put his costume on until the afternoon. We got dressed around 4 so I could get some good pictures before the sun started going down! He looked ADORABLE, but wouldn’t keep his glasses on worth a darn. That didn’t stop me from trying with all of my might (hence the blurry pictures)!

Then, we loaded him up in the stroller for our big outing! My mom and stepdad came over to “trick or treat”. By trick-or-treat I mean stopping at our neighbor’s house and then walking around the block. But it was still fun! Turner was captivated by the kids running around screaming! It was awesome seeing all of the decorations and kids dressed up! We never are out while kids are trick-or-treating. We usually stay home the whole time to give out candy!

Once we got home and put Turner to bed, Luke and Suzy (Stew’s brother and his wife) came over to join the festivities. It’s a tradition in our house to make dinner and drink wine on the porch with friends while we give out candy. It sure makes trick-or-treating fun! Each year it’s a different crew on the porch, but it’s just as fun!

This was the best Halloween yet! Turner made it extra special. Maybe next year Stew and I will have time to plan a costume!! One holiday down. Now onto birthday party planning!!

Halloween Madness

Is it a full moon? Is it daylight savings? Is it Halloween? What on Earth!? Our house is nutty! The past two days Turner hasn’t napped. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal. But this kid loves his naps! I usually put him in his crib and he plays for a few minutes and then passes right out. The past two WEEKS, he’s been occasionally waking up at night (teething?!) Two nights ago, he woke up at 3 am HYSTERICAL, and it took us almost 2 hours to get him back to sleep! Here is a glimpse of my morning so far, and yes he is in PART of his Halloween costume…I guess I gave it away. I promise I will take happy costume pictures later (hopefully after he has a nap in him)!

And for some Halloween flair…

Look closely, you can see the tears streaming down his face…poor baby

Then, I ask myself, what can I add to the mix? A crying baby just isn’t enough. How about WASPS in the house??? Yes. You read that correctly. I have killed 16 wasps in two days in our house! Something tells me there’s a nest in the crawl space and they’re coming through the vents. Trick-or-treat at your own risk kids! More Halloween fun later…

Pumpkin Carving Party

Every year we have a pumpkin carving party. Each year it’s different. Last year was a huge fest! We had two rooms filled with people carving pumpkins and TONS of food. I made everything Halloween themed (Batty Bites, Snake Stromboli, Witches Brew, etc). This year, it was a smaller crowd, and I have an 11 month old running around, so I wasn’t as adventurous. This was my plan:

*Evite invitations (bring your own pumpkins, carving utensils, and festive dish)
*Large Plastic Tarp to cover rugs (easy cleanup)
*Pumpkin carving kit
*Halloween Cupcake Stencils
*Festive plastic utensils, cups, plates, and napkins from Target

I definitely cheated on the menu. I’m usually a homemade sorta gal. I was way too busy this year to do all that! I made a few dishes and had people bring a dish. There was plenty of food for everyone!

*Chili (similar here)
*Corn Muffins
*Chocolate Cupcakes with Halloween Stencils
*Roasted Acorn Squash

Turner loved Aunt Suzy’s big shiny pumpkin…

After Turner went to bed, the tools came out! We don’t mess around with pumpkin carving in this house! I’m a bit competitive when it comes to things like this (gasp!)…I always find the hardest stencil for my pumpkin! This year, I chose the witch. I like the challenge.

When everyone was done carving, we cleaned our pumpkin seeds and roasted them so everyone could take a goody bag home. It was a blast. It was a great, inexpensive, way to celebrate the season with friends! Can’t wait for trick-or-treating!

Pumpkin Everything!!

I can’t believe Halloween is LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!! I am so excited to trick or treat! Tonight is our annual pumpkin carving party. I’ll have that blog post up for you in the next few days. In the meantime, I have some pumpkin pictures for you! Turner has the cutest festive outfits, including his BOO U sweatshirt and Great Pumpkin shirt (both from The Gap). Here are some photos. Many more to come!

Not only does he dress the part, but he eats the part! I got these Halloween pancake molds from Williams Sonoma a few years back. Stew and I always eat Halloween shaped pancakes the weekend before Halloween. This year was no exception! The only difference was they were healthy! I used this recipe.

Stay tuned for more Halloween fun!

The Pumpkin Patch

I’m back! My blog has been down for the past few days! Luckily, I’m employed by a website guru (don’t get a big head now!). Anyway, he  got my site back up and running!

I would have posted this last week, when we actually went to the pumpkin patch, but better late than never 😮 I’ve been waiting forever to take our little munchkin to the pumpkin patch! He wasn’t that excited. He was more interested in playing drums on the pumpkins than picking them. That was ok though. It made for some great pictures! And this post is ALL about the pictures. Who’s ready to get some pumpkins??!!

When we got home, Turner was ready for a nap, and I was ready for some apple cider donuts. So, I found this yummy recipe and decided to put my own spin on it! I switched out the flour and used a mixture of spelt flour and almond meal. I also swapped the sugar out for coconut sugar. They came out tasting more dense, like muffins, because I used the Doughnut Maker. But they had great flavor! I’m sure they would be just as delicious fried the old fashioned way. I stored them in a tupperware and they were even better the next day! Here’s my recipe.

Healthy Apple Cider Donuts

1 cup apple cider
2/3 cup Coconut Palm Sugar
2 Tbsp Coconut Spread
1 cup Almond Meal
1 3/4 cup Spelt Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Plug in the doughnut maker to heat up. Boil the cider until it reduces to about 1/3 cup (6-8 minutes). Turn off the heat and whisk in the sugar and coconut spread. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer and set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl, sift together the almond meal, spelt flour, salt, baking powder, and spices. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions. Mix until just combined.
Do a test donut to check the heat and timing. It took me about 5-7 minutes to cook through my donuts. Scoop about 2 Tbsp into each donut well and close the lid. Cook for 5- 7 minutes until cooked through the inside. Serve with a steamy beverage and enjoy!