OH CHRISTMAS TREE + OUR SIMPLE HOLIDAY BUCKET LIST

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I cannot believe it, but happy DECEMBER! We kicked off the month yesterday by starting our service advent calendar, stacking up a pile of books to donate, and celebrating our elf, Sven the loving elf’s, arrival. I just know this month is going to flyby — it always does. Since our un-fancy fall bucket list worked so well, I figured we would do the same for the Holiday Season. Here’s what’s on everyone’s list: 

ME | Mail our Christmas cards next week, plan a fancy date night with ma boo, see the Nutcracker, Narnia (at the Seattle Children’s Theater), or go on a Polar Express ride.

JOHAN | Lots of Christmas movie nights!

OZZIE | Go sledding.

ESPEN | Gingerbread houses and visit with his buddies that moved a little while ago.

TILLY | Make my friends Christmas gifts and see Santa.

GRIFFIN | Do a hot cocoa stand and zoo lights!

POPPY | Run away from santa (just kidding! – by Tilly).

This time of year (dark and cold) it’s easy for me to be a homebody without a list of things to do! Looking forward to checking things off over the next several weeks.

What’s on your bucket list for the Holidays!?

Now for a few pics from the tree hunting excursion we went of after church last Sunday.  

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The opposite of the Mannequin challenge, HA! A few snaps before this, Espen had jumped into the shot and photobombed. It wasn’t long before they all wanted a picture of them doing the same. Love these kids.

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(Poppy must have tooted?)

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Totally impressed with the tree wrapping machine…

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…And the little train ride they got to go on.

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And a few posed pics with the oldest because it’s hard to get him in front of the camera most of the time. Realizing how far we are moving from the making babies stage of our family but so thankful for healthy, thriving kids that entertain and impress me daily. It’s bittersweet but mostly sweet.

XO, Rae

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ME | buffalo check coat (on sale!), jeans (on double sale), black boot (also on sale)

ESPEN | sweatshirt (similar), check shirt (similar), jeans, black rain boots

TILLY | black coat, dress and boots (similar) from Boden and on sale

GRIFFIN | jeans, shoes

POPPY | jean jacket (same one in a darker wash), boots

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FAVORITE STOCKING STUFFERS FOR THE KIDS

Come Christmas morning, our stockings are mostly stuffed with gum, chapstick, socks, and starbucks gift cards, but I always love including a few special surprises too. Since we’re doing the 4-Gifts again this year it also leaves a little wiggle room in the stocking budget. Here are a few potential stocking stuffers (and a couple gifts) that have caught my eye lately.

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one | Pillowfort zebra head from Target. Love the bear one too. Actually, love them all!

two | Blue monster beanie from Crewcuts.

three | Star Wars Doodles book from Amazon.

four | Emoji bobbies from Crewcuts.

five | Toy army guys from Amazon (or just about anywhere). Perfect for target practice ;)

six| Stainless steel teething keys from Kleynimals… We’ve outgrown the need for teethers, but love these and they make great baby shower gifts too so had to share! 

seven | Pizza purse from Crewcuts. 

eight | Colorful xylophone from Land of Nod.

nine | Pro wrestling dolls for the win! Too expensive for a stocking but such a fun gift.

ten | Wood fridge play food from Land of Nod. They have a pantry set too.

eleven | The cutest knee-high socks from Bobo Choses.

Years ago, in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, my mom realized she had totally forgotten about buying stocking stuffers. Like any good mom would do she rallied, headed to Rite Aid and filled a shopping basket with deodorant, toothbrushes, drugstore underwear and the like. From that year on (and now even as an adult), our stockings always included a slightly upgraded version of my mom’s Rite Aid finds and I don’t think anyone would want it any different! Funny how traditions sometimes get started.

Do you have any stocking stuffer traditions?

XO, Rae

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THANKFUL FOR THANKSGIVING

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Welp, we spent Thanksgiving bunked at our family cabin, gobbled till we wobbled (and not just on Turkey Day), drove 8 hours to see our college team lose the apple cup (but still had fun), walked the festive streets of Leavenworth, mediated an unnerving amount of sibling squabbles, and made lots of new memories. Thanksgiving, for no particular reason, isn’t usually my favorite holiday, but this year was so good it has me reconsidering my holiday rankings. Here’s a few pics from our long weekend –>

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(Thankful for this guy of mine — insert heart emoji.)

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(Taking a cue from my kids who see any and all public floors and grounds as a place to play, snuggle or rest… I think they are onto something!)

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(We packed feathers, googley eyes, and brown bags for any downtime we might have on our trip and love the name tags and headbands Tilly made out of them! Nothing fancy but totally perfect.)

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(The room I used to sleep in as a kid with siblings and friends. So sweet to see my kids in there together.)

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(A quick snap with Papa and Gigi at the cabin on the last day as we cleaned and packed!)

Yep. Thanksgiving is officially moving up on my favorite holidays list… Hope yours was even sweeter! 

Now if we can just get a handle on all the sibling bickering!? 

XO, Rae

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MINI CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) POT PIES

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I’m not a huge fan of stew-like dinners you guys, but the chicken pot pies we made last night were so tasty almost everyone went back for seconds. Since the meat in this dish can easily be substituted and we’ll all be needing ways to use up leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, I thought I would share! 

MINI CHICKEN (OR TURKEY) POT PIES

Makes 8 individual pot pies, takes 50 minutes start to finish

You’ll Need:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 8 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large potatoes, diced small (or use frozen diced potatoes)
  • 1 large carrot, diced small
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 chicken breasts or turkey meat, cooked and chopped (or sub for a rotisserie chicken!)
  • Basic pie crust (I used almost 3 boxes of store-bought — 6 round sheets) 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 Ramekins 
  • Mini alphabet cookie cutters, optional

Here’s How:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Melt butter in a large sauce or soup pan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in flour and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue stirring over medium heat for 4 minutes.
  2. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Pour in milk and cook for 4 more minutes.
  3. Remove pan from heat and add potatoes, carrots, corn, mushrooms, and meat.
  4. Cut pie crust into 8 circles big enough to fit inside the ramekins (optional) and press into the bottom of each. Cut 8 more circles slightly larger than the rim of your ramekins and use cookie cutters to personalize. Set aside. 
  5. Fill ramekins with mixture and cover with pie crust, folding edges around the outside and crimping with a fork. Brush with egg and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until crust is golden brown and crispy. Let cool before serving!

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There were a couple nights last week that Johan played with the kids outside while I cooked in a quiet kitchen. Being able to dice, boil and dish without someone clinging to my leg, resting on my hip or sitting on the counter chatting my ear off was like a little slice of heaven.

That being said, I do love sharing the kitchen and dinner duties with a little helper or two and Griffin happens to be the most passionate about it. Especially this time of year when it’s dark, cold and rainy outside.

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Don’t let the giant pretend bite of food fool you. Despite all of his cooking efforts, the only part of the dinner he ate was a few nibbles of the cooked pie crust. Stinker. I’ve never heard of a cooking enthusiast that doesn’t like eating though, so I’m holding out hope that he’ll outgrow his picky palette!

Anyone else dealing with a  picky eater lately?

How do you use up turkey dinner leftovers?

XO, Rae

 

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LOVE DOES, ADVENT ACTIVITIES + PRINTABLE

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There is a mile long Thanksgiving to-do list sitting next to my keyboard as I type this, but there is so much that happens between Turkey day and Chistmas, it’s hard not to jump ahead a little. One of my favorite upcoming traditions is our daily advent calendar (25% off at Land of Nod) and this year we’re stuffing it with trinkets, sweets, festive activities and simple service projects.

Looking forward to spreading love and cheer this advent season. Hope you’ll join us and download the printable below or pin for safe keeping!!!

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Sign me up for this advent activity!!!! And Poppy’s adorable faces.

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(PSARyan and Wren clips are a fave… perfect for stocking stuffers and holiday outfits!)

LOVE DOES, ADVENT ACTIVITES, PDF I made one sheet editable so you can fill in with your own ideas and traditions. Simply open in Adobe, click on the text box and type. The font I used is BEBAS (it’s free to download) or use a current favorite. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Some activities are super simple while others are more involved and I’m sure we won’t complete them all, but I do hope it’s a fun addition to our advent calendar that sticks around for years to come. And that my kids will see that L O V E   D O E S. It shares and serves and gives, celebrates and encourages, and is incredibly resourceful and creative. And without it, all the gifts and glitter of the season don’t matter too much. It’s a good reminder for me too!

Now time to get back to my Thanksgiving checklist…Happy Monday!

XO, Rae 

 

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