Christmas Salsa

I have hardly done any Christmas baking or crafting this year (or any year since having babies?) but I did manage to whip up some cranberry salsa to hand out as gifts. Ok let’s be honest. I started making the salsa but was running short on time getting myself together so Zack had to finish it for me. I am one of those thoughtful but inept types. Didn’t they turn out cute though?

christmas_salsa

I’ve been hoarding these little jars leftover from my MIL’s jam for a long while now; they’ve been sitting quietly in this cabinet ready to go. This salsa is a really nice alternative to homemade sweets but still feels “seasonal” with the cranberries and oranges. It goes great topped on chicken and probably pork too!

Eat and be cran-merry!

(Ugh, that was the worst).

Cade Turns 2!

Well, he turned two over two weeks ago. It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged, hasn’t it? How do we start back up again? Reintroduce ourselves? Just pretend we weren’t away?

We hosted Cade’s party on his actual birthday, December 3rd, which was especially sweet. If it were up to Cade, it would have been Thomas The Train themed. But since Mama is driving this front engine, I chose a Colorado theme. I like that much better. He’ll probably hold it against me into adulthood, as he should. I’m the worst!

Zack and I created cute invitations but when we went to print them, the colors I spent carefully selecting turned out totally wonky. Apparently my taste is much too nuanced for the cheap printer at the library. I’ll take that as a compliment because I’m low on those anyhow.

Come on in, it’s party time.

front_door

Sidenote, we finally ordered a new front door. It should be installed sometime soon, can you believe it!? What color should I paint it? Navy? Ok I will. I think that’s a great idea!

Anyway, back to the party? A closer look at the invites.

cade_sign

Let me pause and mention that the craft closet organization I did this summer made all of the little party crafting so easy to pull together. If only the rest of my life felt that way…

For food, we had white bean chicken chili simmering in the crockpot, cornbread muffins, chips and salsa, veggies and hummus, and mac and cheese for the kids. I wish they’d eat something besides that but oh well.

setup

Here is an up close of the paper plates because I was overly thrilled to find these at Target – on clearance no less! I thought they looked liked mountains and matched my original color scheme perfectly (until the library printer shenanigans, of course).

mountain_plates

Anyway, probably nobody noticed but I took delight in them. Here is the rest of the party setup. The empty bowl awaits the much anticipated mac and cheese!

setup2

I had the cupcakes made at the local bakery and they turned out mostly cute.

cupcakes_top

I made the mistake of keeping the glittery red washi tape on the example for the bakery and their fondant printer turned it into a weird army green color. It was kinda gross looking but what can you do? This is the only time washi tape has failed me, by the way. Washi tape is the best!

I had Zack print a few extra copies of our invite stripped down to “Cade turns 2″ that I used as decorations. These also doubled as Thank You cards for later. Aren’t I so super smart?

cupcakes_center

In the past, we’ve always offered beer for the grownups. Nobody drinks them. What sleep deprived parents of busy toddlers really need instead is a stocked coffee station. Coffee is life!

coffee_station

I borrowed the mugs and tray from a friend and added my new creamer and sugar set. Why did it take me so long to buy these, I have no idea. I also added fresh flowers from Trader Joes. Believe it or not, I bought the flowers a week BEFORE the party and they are still going strong even as I blog and in spite of much neglect. Go get yourself some!

Funny story about the treat bags:

treat_bags

I made them in JULY. I’m not exaggerating. I was inspired after organizing the craft closet and they took me an evening to make. I felt a little foolish doing this six months in advance but soon after cross country season arrived and I was an exhausted lunatic until mid November when the season finally wrapped up. I’m really glad that all I had to do is pull these out of the closet come party day.

I had the best intensions to blanket stitch the iron-on appliques more securely, as well as add the kid’s name with iron-on letters. I figured I had plenty of time but of course that did not get done, now did it?

Inside the treat bags, I included three Colorado-themed coloring pages I found on Pinterest, ROCKy mountain CANDY (Get it? I think I’m SO clever sometimes but then when I unplug the garage door opener to check my outdoor Christmas lights and proceed to stomp around fuming wondering WHY IN THE HELL WON’T THE GARAGE DOOR CLOSE OR OPEN OR DO ANY EFFIN THING?!! until after much wasted time and cussing, I remember to plug it back in and realize that I am, in fact, not clever whatsoever), plus a toy car from the Target Dollar spot that doesn’t go with the theme and yes, that really bothered me. Still does. So does this entire run-on paragraph so why not end it with an incomplete sentence?

treat_bag_contents

I was originally going to have the kids make their own rock candy or put together some sort of take home kit…but then I decided it was easier to order some off of Amazon instead. Yay for two day shipping!

rock_candy

You can barely see them below, but I whipped up a few poofs and hung them over the food station. They are easy and fool-proof to make and always add a little pizzaz. Yeah, you know, pizzaz.

Here is the birthday boy, blowing out his candle!

bday_candle

Actually, he mostly sputtered in its general direction.

He is wearing Amelie’s hand-me-down Colorado shirt by All Things Bean that I used as inspiration for the tote bags. Basically, I copied.

BUT LOOK HOW CUTE HE IS? Seriously.

bday_boy

Cade is not much for parties, to be honest. He doesn’t like the commotion and he cried during the Happy Birthday song – second year in a row. Poor guy. (Amelie, on the other hand, loved it all.) Maybe next year, we’ll let Cade play trains in his “spot” and eat cupcakes for lunch in peace and quiet. That’s more his style!

Cade, we love you so much. Two years with you has been two very blessed years for us. Sniff, sniff. All of the heart eyed emojis in the world for you, my sweet guy!

Happy birthday, Cadey-Cade!

Happy Halloween!

ROAR! Can you spot two adorably fierce dinosaurs in the “wild”?

dinosaurs

Their tails wagged when they walked. The cuteness made my eyes cross!

In full disclosure, I thought I was being such a fun Mom when I surprised the kids with their costumes one day in the car. I had bought the dinosaur costume for Cade and I picked out a wolf ears/tail set for Amelie. But Amelie really wanted the dinosaur one instead so I let her “trade” with Cade. Cade lost his sh*t! So much crying! Rightfully so because he just got his costume stolen right out from underneath him.

I learned two lessons: Cade is not a baby anymore, he has opinions!! And secondly, everything needs to be the same. I thought that was a “twin thing” but it’s a general kid rule. I’m still learning this Mom stuff…

Before we headed out to trick or treat, I set out our candy for the neighborhood kids.

front_step

It looked so cute all aglow after dusk! Let’s all be amazed by my geraniums that I planted months ago that are still going strong!

About to head out to trick or treat with friends. I love this wagon. I have put miles on this thing.

dinosaur_wagon

Amelie brought her bucket from McDonalds instead of the cute Halloween bag I bought her but you win some, you lose some…

The kids loved trick or treating. I wish I would have taken pictures of the entire group all dressed up. Next year! Once the sun set, all of the pictures I took turned out blurry and dark. But trust me, it was so sweet watching them. These are the moments I want to remember forever. <3

A look back:

2013 (Amelie’s first), 2014 (Pregnant with Cade), and 2015 (Cade thought this was all no fun and wanted to go home).

 

Fall, y’all!

I’m back. Do not be alarmed!

It’s been quite a month, you guys. My kids have been sick, my husband has been sick, my cross country kids have been sick and I’ve been sick. A deep throat infection plus intolerable ear pain? Check. The stomach flu? Check. A bee sting and reaction? Check. A sinus infection? Check. “Just” a cold? Check. It’s been rough.

Until now, I’ve been limping through my most favorite season of all, Fall! Let’s skip and clap instead!

Admittedly, it still feels like summer around here but I pulled out the fall decor anyway. First up, my tray filled with fall; with my go-to gold-stemmed pumpkins, a gold candle (a Christmas gift) and a new ceramic squirrel from Target. Isn’t’ she cute?

fall_tray

The hutch adorned with a few clearance pumpkins from last year:

fall_hutch

and with my favorite picture of the kids ever:

fall_hutch_upclose

And lastly, Cadey-Cade and I picked out pumpkins and spruced up the front step while Amelie was at preschool.

front_step_fallI couldn’t bare to take out my summer flowers just yet; the geraniums and jungle grass are still so happy! We added a few real pumpkins to our fake ones, along with mums and pansies. On our To Do list. A new front door. Before the snow flies!

I have more Halloween decorations to put up now that it’s officially October. I plan to post about those too but then again, you know me better than that. Right?

 

Tidying The Craft Bin

I was so inspired mid-book to get to tidying, even though the author stresses NOT to do that. But I couldn’t help myself; the train got moving and who am I to try and stop it? I decided to tackle my craft bin instead of starting with clothes (like she suggests) mostly because I was working with an undetermined amount of time (nap time) so I figured my craft bin was the smallest and most manageable category to take on first. I didn’t like breaking all of her rules but I had momentum and I didn’t want to get in my own way!

This bin. It stressed me out. Also, a sneak peek of the current state of our office: horrendous. Be careful, it might eat you!

craft_bin

See, the lid won’t even fit on the bin anymore. Something had to be done. Like, yesterday.

I pulled it all out and got to sorting.

craft_mess

I also made a point to gather up my other craft items stored all over the house such as gift bags, tissue paper, cards/stationary, craft paints, etc and address it all at once.

Holy hell, it took a long time.

I thought this would be a breeze to sort it all but it was time consuming. I really tried hard to think about my current needs and not let my old hobbies or future possibilities persuade me. I wanted to focus on The Now. A long time ago? I used to make my own cards. I kept every scrap of paper with plans to use them up in their entirety. But in this phase of my life I buy the adorable cards/gift tags from the Target Dollar Spot and if I’m feeling really crafty, I slap on a piece of washi tape to fancy it up. I hope eventually Amelie/Cade and I will make a bazillion crafts together but currently our crafts are simple and uninvolved. Crayons. Random paper. Attention span of 13 seconds. I figured pairing down craft supplies is just what I need right now. I can always buy bits and bobs as projects with the kids come up. Typical of most purging experiences, I discovered a few forgotten gems that I’m excited to play with and discarded supplies that felt like items on my To Do list instead of enjoyable crafting adventures!

Initially, the bin seemed like the right choice to store everything together but I was finding that it was too big to haul out and too cumbersome to dig through. Currently they are all living in Cade’s closet (which still needs doors, by the way):

cade_closet_after

Marie Kondo emphasizes discarding before organizing and that makes perfect sense to me. It’s difficult to put any systems in place if you haven’t fully addressed what needs to stay or be discarded. For now, my crafts supplies are contained to the office at least.

Eventually, I’d like to move all of my craft supplies to the downstairs linen closet but for now, Cade doesn’t need this entire closet and things are put away in a kind of orderly fashion.

Onto clothes! Oh dear.

Happy 4th of July!

4thofJuly

We had a sweet day starting with a big breakfast, then hiking, swimming, grilling out and finishing with smores!

Amelie is so excited to see her first fireworks tonight! I’m excited to hear what she reports back. She already told me her favorite one is the  “blue one” before she even headed out to see them with Dad and Grandma. I’m so thankful for our freedom and my little cuties!

Happy 4th of July!

 

Gimme Gold

This post was not worth writing and certainly is not worth reading, ok?

I’ve had this letter opener for at least five years.

letter_opener_orig

It did its job, you know, opening letters and stuff. But, it kinda bothered me. So I fixed it.

letter_opener_gold

Ahhh, much better.

 

The Book Nook

I know it was only yesterday when I first mentioned this book but I’ve already finished reading it!

It’s true, I really can read!

THE BOOK: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 9.28.24 PM

 

I seriously love the cover of this book, by the way.

My feeble thoughts: Here is what I liked: I loved the Japanese lens she brought to tidying such as showing gratitude/respect for our things and our home, like thanking our handbag for working so hard for us today and all the blessings we were able to carry inside of it.

Of course, I adore her famous question: “Does it spark joy?”. It’s funny what little things spark joy for me. Currently, it’s these reusable snack bags that I have for the kids. I love them so much! I know, it’s a little weird.

I could relate to her stories and urges to tidy, especially a child.

I appreciated her main strategy: tackle by category, not by room, do it all at once (which is the complete opposite of my strategy that I declared in this post), and what category to start with first, next, and last. That was helpful and something we are actually implementing currently! Stay tuned!

Lastly, I like the word tidying. Don’t you?

What I didn’t like: I felt like she over-explained everything. I wasn’t too keen on her personal stories, even though I found myself relating to a lot of them. I didn’t love the writing, although it had a genuine Japanese voice to them, which I appreciated.

Grade: B for writing/content, A for inspiration! I could have done without the over-explaining, the meh writing, and the silly anecdotes but would have hungrily devoured more tips, lists, strategies, and pictures on how she folds her clothes. Please show me your sushi-inspired sock drawer! Yet, still, I walked away completely inspired to get my house/yard/life/mind/body in order, stat. SPARK JOY! Get rid of everything else!

Would I recommend it to a stranger on the bus (trying to make his way home)? Yes! This subject excites me so I want others to read it and take on the tidying mission with me.

What I am reading now: You know what? I never finished “Savage Girl” and I’m still reading “Stones from the River” that my MIL lent me PROBABLY FIVE YEARS AGO. It’s a good book, I don’t know what the hell is taking me so long to read it.

Wow, it’s been a minute since the last one of these, huh?

Just One Thing

Remember my Spring Cleaning “series”? You don’t? This is so ridiculous but neither did I. I always get embarrassed when I creep back through old blog posts of mine. Oh, the dumb stuff I’ve written (and continue to) during the life of this blog! And the pictures too! Makes my ears feel hot. I try not to think about it.

Anyway, I searched “spring cleaning” to reference in this post, and lo and behold – there was an entire series dedicated to it! I could write those same posts again: Clean out the purse! Clean out the car! Clean out the fridge! That’s the thing with spring cleaning. It needs to happen over and over again.

In the past few months, I’ve declared a new spring cleaning mission. I set a goal to get rid of “Just One Thing” Per Week. It doesn’t matter what – big or small – and it doesn’t matter if it’s trashed, sold, donated, or composted. I was going to write “or consumed” but upon further thought, that didn’t seem like the healthiest option.

A few weeks ago, I worked feverishly to clean up the Play Area. And even though I took four car loads of trash to the dump, I counted that as my “Just One Thing” in an effort to keep momentum.

My focus is diffused; sometimes I’m working in the office, sometimes I’m trying to tackle the kid’s clothes but mainly, I’ve been working in our garage. I think it might be a stretch, but I’m really hoping to clear enough out so we can park BOTH cars in there by winter time. It’s my pet peeve to have so much stuff stored in your garage that you can’t do the one thing garages are designed to do – “store” your car! Now, I’m one of those people. Doh.

Other things on my list:

  • kid’s clothes
  • kid’s toys
  • paper work
  • wedding dress
  • breast pump
  • craft bin

So it’s sort of spring cleaning-esque, but with an emphasis on moving stuff OUT without worrying too much about cleaning or organizing just yet. I’d like to do that too but I also recognize that my organizing efforts have been in vain because I have too much stuff. I’ve been shuffling items from one room to the next, getting nowhere.

This week I’m working to get rid of all of the scalloped edging since we replaced it with metal. I’ll be so happy when this is all gone!

edging

Has anyone read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo? I have it reserved at the library and I’m hoping to find lots of inspiration and tactics I can manage as a busy Mom. It really is hard to stay on top of the stuff with kids – the churn is massive and the time to manage it is minute!