Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Traditions - Advent Calendar Day One


Today was the first day of our Advent Calendar Adventure! Today's Fun was to Visit Santa Claus for Santa Photos!  Molly and I had church with my Mom this morning so we decided to visit Santa in the afternoon. Scott refused to wait in the cold so he requested that we visit Santa indoors. We decided to head on up to Pacific Place to visit Santa and it was so much fun! 


We arrived right as Santa was coming off his break and so had time to snap a few photos in line with the beautiful decorations. Or I should say TRY to snap a few photos. My subjects were less than cooperative! 

But they were pretty darn cute and hilarious in their antics. Maggie has started running away as fast as her chubby little legs will take her. This is fun at home but not so fun when one is waiting in line for Santa! 

I'm saving the actual Santa Photo for later but I can tell you, it was epic! Both girls wigged out and started crying when they saw Santa so we had to do the drop them in Santa's lap, let him clutch them tightly and jump out of the photo. We now have a very memorable photo of crying little girls. Scott and I were giggling as we purchased them. The other parents at first tried to comfort us by saying this time is brief but then started giggling when they saw that we were laughing. We know this time is brief and honestly we are going to be a little sad when they no longer cry in Santa's lap. 


After visiting Santa, we decided to head over to Westlake Center to check out the holiday decorations. Molly spotted the Holiday Carousel and begged to ride it. Since it is one of my favorite holiday traditions, I couldn't say no. We had the best time riding it while Scott and Maggie looked on.  Our Advent Calendar is off to a successful start and I'm excited for the rest of our adventures!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas Traditions - Advent Calendar


Last year, I started a Christmas Tradition with Molly of having an advent calendar filled with activities and fun. Now that Maggie is here, she'll be taking part in our tradition. We'll be using the Smitten Mittens from last year as a holding place for our fun but I thought I'd also share our plans here. I'm planning to blog about our advent activities.

Advent Calendar Day Two - Make Cinnamon Heart Ornaments

Advent Calendar Activities

November 30: Visit Santa Claus for Santa Photos! 
December 1: Make a Cardboard Gingerbread House 
December 2: Make Cinnamon Ornaments Make Dough Ornaments
December 3: Visit Swanson's Nursery to see the Reindeer 
December 4: Make a Christmas Card for Teacher Janice
December 5: Make Christmas Cookies for the neighbors
December 6: Take the Santa Train
December 7: Explore Portland Christmas Decorations
December 8: Make Christmas Cards for Grandparents 
December 9: Do the WildLights at the Zoo!
December 10: Celebrate Grandpa Burgess on his birthday by visiting his niche
December 11: Play Snowman Factory with Homemade Play dough 
December 12: Visit the Sheraton Gingerbread Village 
December 13: Have a Holiday Adventure with Daddy while Mommy is in San Diego
December 14: Drive Candy Cane Lane to look at Christmas Lights
December 15: Color a drawing of Santa Claus
December16: Listen to a reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas
December 17: Drink Hot Cocoa at a coffee shop
December 18: Donate a gift to someone in need through a Giving Tree
December 19: Take pictures of Christmas Tree Lights with Mommy's Camera & Sing Happy Birthday to Mommy
December 20: Make a Paper Garland
December 21: Sing/Play Christmas Music & Celebrate Maggie's Birthday
December 22: Visit the Bellevue Botanical Garden Christmas Lights
December 23: Buy Christmas Cookies for Santa at Larsen's Bakery
December 24: Christmas Eve Church Service

2013 Visit with Santa
Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day


Today I hosted Thanksgiving for 13 people and my heart is full. Family and friends gathered to share the fruit of my labors (because I'm the Thanksgiving Hostess that refuses to let people bring things), enjoy time together and celebrate the day.


The food was awesome (ok the gravy was an utter fail!), the company was delightful and the kids had so much fun that all of them are passed out asleep. The food that took me days to make was excitedly consumed in less than 30 minutes, the kids lasted approximately 2.5 seconds at the kid's table before running off to play and much laughter was heard across the table.


As I reflect on today, I'm grateful for the opportunity to provide a wonderful meal to such awesome people. Throughout the day we missed my Dad and his absence was felt from the pumpkin pies to the carving of the turkey. No matter how many times he tried to teach me how to carve a turkey, I never quite got it. And I do believe Dad would have been able to save my terrible gravy. Seriously, it was congealed and just awful. I do feel blessed to have a community of wonderful friends and family that surrounds all of us with love even when it isn't Thanksgiving.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep: Day Three


Tomorrow is the BIG day and I’m feeling way confident about our meal tomorrow. I’ve baked the pies, cooked the cranberry chutney, chopped and saluted the veggies for the stuffing, made the sweet potato casserole (marshmallows to be melted on top tomorrow!) and dried out the bread for the stuffing. Things are looking good! 


The turkey has been defrosting in a cold water bath to speed up the process. Maggie gleefully got me up at 5:45 a.m. this morning so I was in the kitchen cooking away by 7 a.m. after some playtime and a big cup of coffee. I think she knew that my to do list was long today. 


Tonight I need to clean up the dining room and get the table settings ready. I might even need to iron a few napkins but that will be a joy, not a burden.

Brussel Sprouts

Tomorrow I’ll host 10-13 people for Thanksgiving and we’ll be thankful for each other’s company and hopefully for this great meal I’ve prepared. My good friend is anxiously awaiting her second child and will hopefully join us with her family for dinner. If they don’t join us, it will be for a very good reason, she’ll be having her baby! I’m kinda hoping they don’t make it because I know how much fun it is to have a Turkey Baby and she deserves that kind of fun. That and I think she’s done being pregnant. 

May your Thanksgiving Meal be full of laughter, grace and wonderful feelings. 
Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep: Day Two


Today's tasks were to continue on with the bread drying, make pie crusts and start chopping up some of the stuffing vegetables. The bread is looking delicious and is making the house smell awesome. While Molly was at co-op preschool this morning and Maggie was helping me out by taking a nice nap, I started making pie crust dough. I used my favorite recipe, which I'll include at the end of this post. 


I always love making pie dough. I once spent a year perfecting pie dough and all the tasty memories come back from that experience. I rarely make pies anymore though so when the opportunity presents itself, I get really excited. 


After making four batches of pie dough, I wrapped them up and stuck them in my very full fridge. That turkey is taking up a lot of room! I checked the time and I still had 45 minutes before I needed to pick up Molly and Maggie was taking an epic nap so I decided to start chopping! 


I use my mother's recipe for stuffing and it is a complicated beast. There is chopping and bread drying and seasonings to mind. My Mom never pre-cooked any of the veggies but I decided to roast them one year and have never looked back. I chopped the onions and celery today and placed them in the fridge. I'll roast them tomorrow for final assembly on Thursday. 


And while I was busy prepping for Thanksgiving, Molly was busy creating Orange Turkeys at school. Shortly after I took this picture, she took everything out, peeled the orange and ate it. At least it was cute while it lasted! 

Perfect Pie Crust
by Rebecca Mongrain
Prep Time: 15 minutes active
Ingredients (1 pie crust)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup COLD unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup COLD butter-flavored vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup cold water
Add the flour, sugar and salt to the food processor. Pulse a few times to mix before scattering the butter over the dry ingredients. Pulse about 6 times to cut in the butter. Add the butter-flavored vegetable shortening and pulse again, about 6 times. Scrape the edges to make sure the mixture is mixing in before adding half the water. Pulse about 5 times and then add in the remaining water. Process until the dough begins to look like coarse crumbs.
Using your hands, form the pastry to a ball. Knead the ball twice before flattening it into a 1-inch thick disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, preferably overnight before rolling out.
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep: Day One


Today is a slow start toward preparing for Thanksgiving. I had a small list of to-do's in regards to food prep but a HUGE list when it comes to preparing the house for guests.


My food list included starting to defrost the turkey and cubing the bread loaves to start drying them out in the oven. I set the oven to warm (170F) and spread the bread out in a single layer on cookie sheets. I left the cookie sheets in the oven for a few hours and then put the dried bread cubes into a big roaster pan for storage.


I brought the turkey out of the basement chest freezer and placed it in the fridge to begin the defrost process. I am behind on the defrosting process so I'll be combining the two safe methods for defrosting a turkey


I also started scrubbing down the kitchen. I find it so much easier to work in a super clean kitchen when preparing a big meal like Thanksgiving. Ideally my kitchen would always be super, sparkly clean but when preparing three meals a day for four humans, at times it needs a bit of Mr. Clean cleaning. I'm also preparing to tackle the mess in the dining room. I've created a mission control station at the end of the table and that needs to be cleared out. I'm hoping to really tackle it once the kids are in bed this evening because nap time is almost over and that means my prep time is at an end. What are you doing to prepare for Thanksgiving?

36 Months with Molly Pop!

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Photo Credit: Sweet Peeks Photography
Dear Molly,

Today you are THREE YEARS OLD! It's so exciting and you have changed so much since my last letter to you. In the past six months, you've started talking better, learned how to use the potty, visited Hawaii, lost your Poppa (Grandpa), become the best Big Sister ever, started gymnastics and have continued to be the most Amazing Molly Pop


In the past few weeks, you've conquered potty training and are quite the champ. Maybe you'll potty train Maggie when the time comes? Your many play dates now include some dual potty sitting time with your friends. It is hilarious to see you and your friends sitting on the potty, talking to each other. 


We had your birthday party at the Zoo this past weekend and you had a blast! You requested a Unicorn theme so I went with a Rainbow Unicorn theme. I even made you a Rainbow Unicorn cake! I may have reached my birthday cake pinnacle. 




We made rainbow play dough together and gave them to your friends as party favors. I've heard reports that your guests have been busy playing with the party favor all day. 


You've been going to Co-Op preschool two days a week. I drop you off one day and stay with you on the other. You LOVE it! Next year we plan to have you go to a drop off preschool, four days a week. I suspect that you'll have a grand time. 


You started speech therapy in June and you are doing gang-busters. We can finally understand you and that has helped so much with everyone's frustration levels. You love seeing Miss Deanna every Monday and I think she enjoys spending time with you. 


Earlier this month, we went to Hawaii which you loved! You had so much fun and it was a pretty great trip. We spent a lot of time in the pool, on the beach and explored a lot of Maui. 


The day before we left for Maui, was Halloween! You went as a Mermaid and Maggie as your sidekick, a Crab. You loved your costume and wore it most of the time we were in Hawaii. 


We also did our annual Pumpkin Patch visit with Ruby. You guys have grown so much in the past few years. I'm glad that you two are friends and that we have this little tradition going on. 


My friends visited from England in October and you were smitten with them. I can't say I blame you as I'm quite smitten with them too. We took them to Mt. Rainier, showed them around town and had a blast. 


You also started Gymnastics with your BFF, Norah and you LOVE it! I wasn't sure about the cost but I'm so glad that we signed you up. You are having so much fun and gaining so much skill. 


You are quite the little TV addict and your Dad and I are working to reduce your screen time. You love watching Sofia the First, Umizoomi, Super Why, Dora the Explorer and anything with Mermaids. Due to the chaotic nature of these past few months, I've been letting you watch more tv than you should but we're getting back on track. Some is ok, A lot is not. 


Oh Molly Pop, you are a joy to Mother. We love you so much even when you don't sleep and try to keep the entire household up all night. We have seen a glimpse of three and it scares us. We love you so, so, so very much and are so lucky to have you in our family. 

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep

Turkey 2.0

I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year. It's something I've done in the past but this year, I thought it would be fun to blog about my process, schedule and recipes. I've blogged about Thanksgiving in the past but it has been a few years and a few things have changed along the way.


Last week, I finalized my menu, recipes and schedule. I keep my schedule on Google Drive because once you have a good schedule, you can keep using the same one with a few tweaks every year. I also keep my menu and recipes on Google Drive for quick reference. 


Tomorrow I start in on my Thanksgiving Day preparation. I'm excited to cook with Molly and a little nervous about doing this with two small children. I know if I stick to my schedule then everything will be ok or else it will make for a hilarious blog entry.

Happy Thanksgiving

Forty Eight Weeks with Chicken Nugget

Maggie - 48 Weeks

Maggie's new activity is to roam the house with a play bowl and play felt food grasped in her hand. She likes to put the food into the bowl and take it back out again, over and over. Sometimes the felt food is replaced by a lego block. The joy on her face as she does this is so wonderful. 


This week has been a terrible week for sleep around this house. Maggie is still waking up once a night and migrating to my bed. She did sleep through the night in her pack and play one time this week and it was so nice! 


We celebrated Molly's 3rd Birthday on Saturday and Maggie had the best time following the older kids around. As the kids were running in circles around the room, she was toddling along behind them, full of giggles. Both kids were totally worn out by the end of the party. It was a great party. 
Friday, November 21, 2014

Eleven Months with Mag-Pie


Dear Maggie,

Today you are 11-months old and you are so very awesome! This month you stopped crawling and started walking full-time. You love walking everywhere. You spend most of the day walking from the kitchen to the living room to the bathroom to the den to my bedroom, over and over again. 


This month you went on your first plane flight for your first visit to Hawaii after celebrating your first Halloween. It was a month of firsts! You loved Hawaii and you loved Halloween. The plane, eh, not so much love for that. 


You are still sleeping in our room but not 100% because we want you there but instead because your sister is a hellion and keeps waking you up whenever we try to have you sleep in your crib in the room you share with your sister. 


You were the cutest little crab at Halloween! The perfect sidekick to your sister who was a Mermaid. I'm already plotting your costume for next year. Maybe your sister will be the sidekick! 


You are eating so many more foods. You pack away more food than your sister and it is impressive! You are not into straw, sippy or any other kind of cups. You like bottles and that is that. The problem is I'm cutting you off in about a month so this month we'll be focusing hard on getting you to drink out of straw cups (or something else). 


Your first birthday is coming up QUICK and I've already started plotting the celebration. I can't believe that a year ago, you literally burst into our lives with great drama. We are so blessed to have your smiling little face in our lives. 

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