Friday, November 30, 2012

Evelyn's First Thanksgiving

Better late than never! I totally forgot to post pictures of Evelyn wearing her "First Thanksgiving" onesie from Grandma!. I had taken pictures, but by the time we actually had dinner on Thanksgiving Day, she had spit up on the shirt and had to be changed. pictures of  Evelyn stuffing mashed potatoes in her mouth while wearing her special shirt. 

Sometimes her eyes look blue to me and sometimes they look brown. Bella absolutely has Steve's coloring, but is starting to resemble my facial features more. It will be interesting to see if Evelyn is the opposite and has my coloring with Steve's features.

Our happy little baby. It's kind of funny how hard it is to get her to laugh. She's happy, but not giggly; maybe Evs will be our pensive child.

This face just makes me smile - thinking, looking, and figuring stuff out.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It's All Silly Up In Here!

 We've been cleaning and decorating and organizing like crazy around here, so I took some time today to take pictures of the girls having fun! 

Evelyn is so close to crawling! Low-hanging ornaments are providing a lot of motivation, so she's been trying to shuffle and reach for the new "sparklies" on the tree!

She's enamored by the shiny ornament!

"I can totally get that!"

"Mama! Look away!"

Bella's best impression of a superhero!

She's started saying, "I gonna kill _________". We've told her that "kill" is not a nice word, but I'm thinking it may be a losing battle. She sees things like the Beast fighting with the wolves in order to protect Belle, so in her mind, "kill" is not necessarily a bad thing. I may chill on that as time goes on...not sure yet.

Trying to make her "mean" face, but cracking a smile! Love this kid!

Mothers, lock up your sons!

The only way we could convince Bella to pose for the camera was to let her take a picture of Mel and I, too. Sadly, this was actually the most flattering one she took. We need some serious work on our superhero poses!

Christmas Gifts For Grandparents

I never know what to do for "grandparent" gifts at Christmas time. I love being able to get gifts for our parents that they would really enjoy, but it's also fun to do a gift for them from the girls. I run out of ideas quickly, and feel like I wait too long to do something fun.

I saw an idea online for the "12 Days of Christmas" theme and thought it sounded really fun! I'm not gonna lie; this project took a ton of time! It was pretty easy, it wasn't expensive, but it was very time-consuming. Even planning ahead for about a month, I still found it a little stressful at the end to wrap and sort and get it all together in one box! Once it was all done, though, it was so worth it!

Here's the breakdown of the gifts. I combined ideas from a few different websites and our own brainstorming. Some of the gifts followed the theme of the "Twelve Days" poem, and some of them just followed the number of gifts that correlated with the day.

Each tag says, "On The _______ Day Of Christmas our 'grand-girls' sent to us..." and then followed with a description of that day's gift. Day One was a single "kiss" on the cheek; I put lipstick on Bella and had her kiss a piece of paper, and we also included a few Hershey kisses. 

Day Two followed the original poem with two "turtle doves" - a bar of Dove chocolate and a couple of turtle candies.

We brainstormed Day Three on our own and decided to include three of Bella's drawings. We tried to do a mix of personal things from the girls that the grandparents would really enjoy and fill in the other days with little gifts. Ideally, the pictures would have been Christmas-themed, but we had to have them done by the time Steve's parents get here on Friday, and Bella hasn't done any Christmas projects at school yet.

Day Four followed the theme of four calling birds, but with a twist. We turned calling birds into calling cards, and that became notecards. The gift was four Christmas-themed post-it note packs. 

Day Five was a small can of pineapple rings. So many of these gifts are really cheesy, but we just rolled with it! 

For Day Six, I wrapped a package of six votive candles that were balsam and cinnamon scented.

I haven't made these yet, but instead of swans a'swimming, Day Seven will be seven sugar cookies that Bella and I are going to decorate together. I found a swan-shaped cookie cutter online for only a few dollars. I had great plans to make these from scratch today, but saw the recipe included almond extract and cream of tartar. Who knew sugar cookies were so complicated! I'm going to have to run to the store before I finish these!

My very favorite gift!!! (And totally Mel's idea!) In the poem, the eighth day of Christmas is eight maids a'milking, so Mel came up with the idea to take pictures of Bella with a milk mustache. Bella doesn't exactly pose patiently for pictures, so I was really nervous about tackling this project. We had yogurt for breakfast this morning, and she had a great little "mustache", so I decided to just go for it! Bella was already wearing red lipstick for the Day One lip mark, and I think she was feeling very "diva-ish". I told her we had to take pictures for a gift for Grandma and Mimi, and she did great! 

I arranged the pictures like a film strip, so it would be a higher impact of seeing her little faces right next to each other. How adorable is this!?! I can't believe how well she did and how great she mimicked the ideas I gave her!

By Day Nine, I was starting to run out of clever ideas of how to stay true to the poem, but that could apply to Bella and Evelyn. This gift is really just something that I thought Steve's mom and my mom would enjoy: lavender sachets. 

 I had just bought lavender in bulk at the farmer's market, so I cut fabric squares, put in a few tablespoons of lavender, and tied each one with a ribbon. They came out really pretty, even if they have nothing to do with Christmas or the original poem!

For Day Ten, we strayed from the poem, but stuck to the number ten..."ten precious fingers" and an ornament of each of the girl's handprint. I used a salt dough recipe that I found on a few different blogs, and then baked it once the girls had done their prints. 

It was a very simple idea, but I ended up having to do about 5 different batches- for the first one, I made the ornaments way too big and they turned out like paperweights! Two batches puffed up like toaster strudels instead of baking hard. I finally got six circles made - each girl made three for each set of grandparents and one for us. Whew!

Day Eleven was my "weakest" of the blogs I read said something about "eleven bees a'buzzing", so I did that and included some honey. I wanted to find a pretty little jar of local honey, but I was buying my supplies from Wal-Mart, and they're not exactly the ideal location for local or organic food. Lesson learned.

 Of course, my Type-A personality sealed this envelope before I had the idea to take pictures of everything. Steve and I sat down and really thought of things that each set of grandparents did specifically for Bella and Evelyn. We wanted the lists to be unique to each side, and include the special little things that they do so wonderfully for the girls. We have truly been blessed with incredible grandparents for our girls!

All of the gifts laid out and ready for packaging. I wrapped each one with it's tag and then they went into a brown paper bag with a note of when to open it.

Steve's parents will be here on Friday, so they'll be able to take the box home with them and start on the 13th of December. My parents will get here on Christmas Eve, so I think I'll mail theirs in time to start opening gifts on the 11th and be done by the 23rd, when they leave to come up here.

All done! I'm so excited for each of our families to open these gifts! Next year, we may just save up to buy plane tickets for Bella and Evelyn to visit!

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Two posts in one day; I'm doing pretty good! I'm trying to make sure I stay on top of posting when so many fun things are going on this month! It took us all weekend - two kids make decorating difficult - but the house is finally done!

Our mantel...golds and reds with our stockings hanging, too! Evelyn got her new stocking this year!


A beautiful nativity that my mom got me a few years ago. Bella's little hands tend to break a lot of the pieces while she's playing, but glue heals them again! One of the angel's wings is barely hanging on and all of the sheep are missing at least one leg; I'm going to have to invest in some more super-glue soon!

My "rustic" dining room table. I'm not sure how practical it will be to actually eat on, but it's pretty for the time being! 

These stockings always make me wish I knew how to knit or crochet! Steve's mom has made one for each of her kids...and then their spouses and the grandkids! (I know, right?) I can't wait for Evelyn to get hers this year! They're in Bella's playroom window, and I think she assumes she's getting double stocking gifts this year!

I love wreaths! If I were filthy rich, (well, first I would travel more, but THEN...) I would buy wreaths! I love big, natural ones that are filled with berries and fruit and different types of branches! Okay, I'm done with my little moment there.

I love this nativity scene by our front door! Steve's mom has been buying me the different pieces for a few years now, and it's so simple and beautiful. Bella has the hardest time keeping her little fingers off of this set because of the little sheep! We currently have a headless wise man that is creeping me out.

Our advent calendar in the playroom! I moved these socks to three different places in the house before I found a spot that I liked them in. I'm so excited to start this with Bella in December!

O, Christmas Tree

We found our tree! We decided to splurge a little and get our tree from a nursery in hopes that it would last longer. Last year, our tree never soaked up the water from the tree base, and looked very pitiful by the time Christmas morning actually rolled around. Hopefully, our tree will survive longer this year!

This is when Fred Astaire should start singing, "Heaven, I'm in heaven..." I love the smell of Christmas trees!

Rows and rows and rows of Christmas trees = my happy place.

Daddy and Evelyn

We found our tree! It's big and fat!

Literally skipping with joy! I love to see her braids bouncing up and down!

Sweet, little innocent face. She loved running between the trees!

In front of our tree.

Very bright and a little blurry, but the whole family!

Evs approves!

Bella watching Daddy get the tree ready. She was so excited about every aspect!

Mel and Evelyn waiting for the fun to begin...

I love this picture! Bella loves helping Daddy with everything!

My first Pinterest project! I took my old tree skirt and made a new one with strips of burlap and red fabric. It took me hours (hours!), but I love it and it looks so beautiful under our tree!

Our tree with lights and the tree skirt. We'll add ornaments tonight once Mel and Steve get home. I love how fat our tree is and I love how it looks in our living room!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our "Do-It-Yourself" Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving was a huge hit! It was our first time attempting to make a dinner like this without any motherly supervision, and the meal was delicious!

Laying out the ingredients for our peach gateau, or as I like to call it, "peach ghetto". This was Mel's new recipe that she wanted to try...homemade creme fraiche, nutmeg cake, it was amazing!

How Steve and Bella spent the morning; it was a perfect day for lounging!

Working on the dough for pumpkin pie.

Mel and Evelyn with some snuggly time.

Bella loves "helping", and actually did a really good job rolling out the pie crust!

Steve was in charge of the stuffing; I love it when he gets involved in the cooking!

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do! And usually, when you are holding one child, the other one wants some lovin', too.

I think Bella may have peed in excitement at this moment! She loved seeing the characters in the Macy's parade!

Planning out our dishes. Ten years from now, my children will read this and laugh because I'm sure I will still be doing the exact same thing!

We soaked the turkey for twenty-four hours in a salt brine from my Martha Stewart magazine and then cooked it with bay leaves and melted butter. Oh my goodness!

All done and ready! You know it's going to be good when it takes two people to lift!

Mel working on the homemade rolls. We really loved doing things from scratch using recipes from our family, Steve's family, and food magazines. It was so much fun to cook!

Matching aprons! They were super-unflattering, but still cute!

Mel's plate - roasted turkey, stuffing from Steve's mom, cranberry-orange relish, corn pudding, rolls, and a few other yummy things that wouldn't fit! The relish and corn pudding were new for us!

We invited a few families over to join us who didn't have family in town either. I only got one shot of the table, but this is Mel with Melanie and Caleb. Oh, and the beautiful flowers that Steve brought me!

Evelyn's first Thanksgiving! I think this moment was the point of no return for Evelyn and food...she loves tasting new things!

Playing with the mashed potatoes...what a beautiful, little face!

Steve put some cranberry sauce on his finger ans let her suck it off; she made a great sour face before digging in by herself!

The entire day was just so much fun. It took about six loads of dishes to clean everything up, but it was worth it. We had a really fun time with our guests, and we had the house back to ourselves by about 7:00.

When we put Bella to bed at night, we took some extra time to thank God for whatever she wanted. Her answer was, "toys, Mama, Ashley, and the horses on Ashley's shirt". Yep, it was a good day.