Wednesday, November 30, 2016

25 Ideas for Christmas Family Fun

We are all in full blown Christmas mode and it's exciting to see all of the sweet Christmas things that are going on in my community.  We've started decorating our house, but are finding that trying to decorate with a super busy baby and a 3 year old helper slow things down a bit.  It's sweet and I'm glad we are decorating together.  I'll have to give you a little Christmas house tour when we get finished.  

We have lots to look forward to this month so I made a Family Fun To Do List of things we hope to get to do in December.  Nothing stressful and we aren't trying to cross every single thing off the list.  It just gives us ideas of things we can do if we want to do them.  We worked on the list together and made sure to get input from everyone.  I'll post the list somewhere in our kitchen to remind us of the fun that awaits.

25 Ideas for Christmas Family Fun

1. Pick out a real tree together and decorate it
2. Decorate the house for Christmas - inside and out
3. North Pole Breakfast Dec 1
4. Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows
5. Do our candy advent calendar to countdown to Christmas
6. Celebrate St. Nick's Day Dec 6
7. Read Christmas books everyday
8. Make a few homemade ornaments with each kid
9. Decorate a tree in each of our bedrooms
10. Breakfast with Santa & his reindeer
11. Gingerbread house decorating party
12. Decorate cookies with friends
13. Christmas movies and cartoons
14. Bake cookies to deliver to our neighbors
15. Have friends over for dinner
16. Candy Cane Duplo building class
17. Bake Christmas treats together
18. Visit family for Christmas
19. Drive around to see Christmas lights
20. Wear Christmas colors
21. Hang up all of the Christmas cards that arrive at our house
22. Send out photo Christmas cards from our family
23. Eat candy canes
24. Listen to Christmas music at home and in the car
25. Look for ways to spread Christmas JOY wherever we go

Here are some things we've done in the past 
for a few more ideas of fun things to do with your family this Christmas:

What are your favorite things to do with your family this time of year??

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My Current Favorites

I realized I had several new things I was loving using and wanted to let you in on these great items.  I'm excited to share some of my favorite products with you and maybe you'll find something you can't live without.

1. Booties
I got these Lucky Women's Basel Bootie in Brindle Leather for my birthday and they're wonderful!  They're so comfy, cute and I wear them all the time.  They aren't heavy, they zip easily and they come in 12+ different colors.  I'd love to have them in Toffee or Dark Green.  They're over $100, but they go on sale regularly, you can use coupons on them and they're definitely worth the investment.  What's your favorite bootie this season??  I'm in the market for a new black or gray pair.

2. Christmas Baking Items
I'm loving the Christmas sprinkles, cute cupcake liners and delicious baking goodies that are out this time of year.  I stocked up to make some of my favorite cookies.  Mini M&Ms are a must at my house and I love the mixes of Toll House chips with red and green colored chips. 

3. Great Mascara
 L'Oreal Paris Voluminous Extra Volume Collagen Mascara
Several bloggers have recommended this mascara so I picked it up to see if it would live up to the hype.  It goes on really smoothly, plumps your lashes just as promised and looks great without using much mascara.  It's definitely a way to get beautiful lashes QUICK!!  My only caution would be that it is definitely not water proof.  If your eyes water a lot, you cry easily, etc. this probably isn't the best mascara for you because it's a mess when it gets wet.  It does not move if your eyes stay dry.  I really love it and wear it several times a week.  I have also added a layer of water proof mascara on top of the L'Oreal to help keep it in place.
Voluminous Extra Volume Lashes in action:

4. Best Hair Products
I feel like I'm in a good place with my hair right now.  I've finally rebounded from several bad hair cuts, major chops and post partum hair loss.  Hooray!  I have some products I've been loving and they're so affordable.
Suave Refresh and Revive dry shampoo is under $4 and is one of my favorite dry shampoos.  One bottle lasts a long time, doesn't have a last strong smell and works great.  It's been my favorite for a long time now.
Suave Sleek Anti Frizz cream is under $3 and is a great way for me to kind of seal my hair once I've styled it for the day.
HSI Professional Hydrating Smoothing Hair Mask for All Hair Types has really helped reduce the frizz in my hair.  I shampoo my hair and then generously apply this mask to it in the shower.  Let it sit on my hair for 5 minutes and rinse.  It's $15 for a GIANT tub and definitely worth the price tag.  I use it twice a week and my hair is shinier, healthier and less frizzy.  Yay!!

5. Taking Notes
I'm a list maker and am always writing to do lists, grocery lists and lists about lists.  It helps our life run smoothly and keeps me organized.  My favorite list writing paper is actually these oversized, lined index cards - Oxford Ruled Index Cards.  They're 5x8 in, blank on one side and lined on the other.  They're really inexpensive and are the perfect size to tuck in your planner or purse.  And they're more durable than just writing on a piece of paper.  Olive loves to hold my list while we grocery shop and so writing my list on an index card helps kid proof it to ensure I can read my list while we shop.

What are some of your FAVORITE products right now??
Anything I need to know about??
Leave me the details in a comment below.

It's time to link up with my favorite ladies for Tuesday Talk!
Join us with a favorite post from the week.

Polka-Dotty Place

Monday, November 28, 2016

November Recipe Round Up

I've got lots of yummy things to share with you today.  I always feel like I won't have many recipes to share with you and then I start looking through my November picture files.  I cooked 4-5 nights a week this month so that ends up being some great meals to share.  I worked a little harder on fixing cute kid meals, eating salads and as per usual we ate a lot of mexican.  All of my recipes are quick, tasty and are crowd pleasers at my house.

Here are my favorite meals from the month:

// 1 //

This STRIPED SALAD was gorgeous and delicious.  I had different versions of it all month long.  I usually added a drizzle of Olive Garden's Light Italian dressing.  Turkey pepperoni is our favorite on salads, pizza and my toddler loves to eat it plain.

We bought deli turkey to eat for lunches all month long.  I packed turkey sandwiches for my husband and then would chop up turkey on a salad for my lunch at home.  It was delicious and the protein helped keep me full.

// 2 // 
Build Your Own Nacho Bars are always a dinner favorite.  The more toppings the better!

BAKED TACOS are becoming a staple in our dinner rotation.  These had shredded chicken, refried beans, onions, sweet peppers, sharp cheddar cheese, black olives, jalapenos and salsa inside.  Baked at 350 for 15 minutes or so and then served with all the cold fixings.

// 3 //
Breakfast for dinner is a great way to eat an inexpensive meal at home.  We don't have this every week, but we did have it a few times this month.  I finally found our waffle irons after we moved so it was great to get back into the waffle making routine.  I also picked up bacon when it was on sale so it really was a tasty dinner.  We did regular, chocolate chip and blueberry waffles.

// 4 //
I love to plan festive food for my kids around the holidays.  They get so excited for cute meals and seem to clean their plate every time.  I did the ice cube tray meal for Halloween and then we had it for several days following because I had all of the ingredients on hand.

 I served a flag meal on election day with all of my daughter's favorites.

// 5 //
 I shared the recipe for Baked Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal and it's soooooo good!  We ate it several times this month because it was so easy to whip up.  The entire family loved it!

 Then we had Election Day sundaes while we stayed up until 3:30am to wait for things to be official.  I always make the Triple Chunk Brownies in a box, vanilla bean ice cream, mini M&Ms, Hershey syrup and sprinkles.  They were really tasty!!

What have you been cooking this month??
Any yummy recipes you'd like to share with me??
I'm linking up with three of my favorite cooking ladies today
and we're all sharing our best recipes from the month.

Katie @ Cup of Tea
New Recipes to Try November

Whitney @ Come Home for Comfort

Stephanie @ Wife, Mommy, Me
November's Must Make

Linking up with Christy Jordan of Southern Plate's Menu Monday

Head over to their blogs to see what delicious meals they are sharing this month!
 We've also started a Pinterest Board called
New Recipes We've Tried and Loved!
Be sure to check it out and get some great ideas for meals at your house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

So Thankful

2016 has been a fun year for our family.  Our happy times far outweighed the sad times and we're feeling sentimental as we think back on all the blessings from this year.  Our most memorable moment was probably becoming a family of four.

In 2016 we're thankful for:

Living in Indiana
Fletcher joining our family
Buying & updating our new house
Kevin's job going well in year 2
Two healthy cats
Making new friends
Fun times with friends
Making memories with our family 
What's at the top of your thankful list for this year? 

 We've loved our first fall in our house and the kids have had a blast with all of the leaves in our backyard.  They've spent hours raking, jumping, collecting, sweeping and trying to eat the leaves.  Free fun for everyone :)  They'll be sad when the last few piles get raked up, but I'm guessing there'll be snow to play with in the not so distant future.  

We enjoyed working through our long Fall Family Fun list for the last three months and apparently forgot to do anything related to apples, landscaping or date nights.  Whoops!

I gathered my favorite leaf pictures from this Fall for this post.
I'm thankful for all of these sweet memories and would love to frame a few of these to decorate with every fall from now on.

 Sweet chunky Fletcher loved the leaves!
I think I'll make him wear this little hat with ears every day.

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!!
Thank you for reading and following along with my blog.  I'm thankful for YOU!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with family or friends.
I'm taking a Thanksgiving break for the rest of the week
 and will be back with a fun recipe round up post on Monday.
Eat some rolls, mashed potatoes and pie for me!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

I have THE BEST recipe to share with you today!!  It's so easy and you probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now.  You can serve it for breakfast, snacks or dessert!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

We are huge oatmeal fans at our house - cookies, breakfast, baked, crisps, etc.
The kids and adults love it all so I knew we'd love baked oatmeal.

I'm always on the hunt for QUICK AND EASY breakfast ideas and this one is perfect.
It's delicious for a day or two so I love that you can cook once and get several meals from it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal Ingredients:

A friend posted the recipe on facebook and I had to give it a try.
(original recipe from Perfecting the Pairing)

1 1/2 c quick cook oatmeal
1/4 c brown sugar (+a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1/2 c milk
1 T butter
1 egg
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 t vanilla
1/2 t cinnamon (+a little extra to sprinkle on top)
1/2 c canned pumpkin
1/4 c chocolate chips (+a few extra to sprinkle on top)

Dump all ingredients (except the chocolate chips) into a bowl, 
stir until well combined and then add chocolate chips last.
Pour into a greased baking dish.  Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top).
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until everything is set (not shiny)

I loved baking mine in a circle pyrex dish so that I could cut triangle slices of baked oatmeal.  It was so pretty and fun to serve in slices.

This was so good that I made it TWICE in one week!!  We all loved it and I can't wait to try different flavor combinations - cinnamon sugar, banana, berries, etc.

And since we're talking PUMPKINS today, I thought I'd share my favorite little pumpkins.  Olive was a pumpkin her first Halloween and I wanted to make sure Fletcher got a chance to wear the costume.  Problem was it was a 6 month sized costume and he's long been out of that size.  So I squeezed him in it just for fun and snapped a few pictures.  

Olive 2013 and Fletcher 2016.  Sweet little pumpkin babies!

 It's time to link up with my favorite Tuesday Talk ladies today.
Be sure to join us with you favorite post of the week.

Polka-Dotty Place

Monday, November 21, 2016

Prepping for Thanksgiving FUN

Happy Monday!!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  We had a great time with friends, family and loved the cool weather that rolled into town.  I did a grocery store run and got some Christmas shopping done.  Our most exciting news of the weekend was that Fletcher decided to start CRAWLING!  Hello baby proofing every single room. 
I'm excited to spend the week focusing on Thanksgiving and all the things we're thankful for this year.  My husband gets his Fall/Thanksgiving break which means he has the week off.  I'm looking forward to getting to see him more even though I'm sure he'll still go into work some because he's been SUPER busy this semester.  


I thought I'd show you some things we're working on this week to prepare for Thanksgiving.  You can bet we'll be enjoying one last hurrah for Fall donuts, eating chili and enjoying time with our family.

1. Color Your Own Tablecloth
I picked up this fun table cloth at Wal-Mart this weekend. It's under $2 and it's really cute.  There are turkeys to color, mazes, word searches and I think kids of all ages would have fun decorating this table cloth at Thanksgiving dinner. 

2. Fun with Candy Corn
I found these FREE Candy Corn Preschool Printables from This Reading Mama last year and we have loved them ever since.  They are so easy for little hands to do and we had a great time working on them.  We named letters, counted, practiced patterns and fine motor skills.  

We made a rule that Olive could snack on the broken candy corns and then save the whole ones for the candy corn activity.  She did great with this and didn't eat her whole bowl of candy.  Baby brother was happy eating a spatula and puffs :)

3. Play-Doh Mats
I found these FREE Fall Number Mats on 123Homeschool4Me and they were so much fun!
We printed them out in color and then slid them in plastic sleeves.  You could also laminate them, but it was easier for us to do it this way.  My three year old loved them.  I did two sheets in one sleeve so she just flipped them over when she was done.

We stuck with one color of play-doh and she did great!  We counted apples for the tree, traced the numbers with our fingers and then practiced her fine motor skills by rolling out long pieces to make the shape of the number.  We have played with these mats for the past few weeks!

4. DIY Thanksgiving Place Cards
We are still brainstorming ideas for our turkey place cards this year.  I'm not sure if we'll go the hand print turkey route this year, but you can bet they'll include some cute kid art!  We are thinking about using cupcake liners for our cards so we need to get busy and start making them.  You can see all of our ideas from the past few years here

We have also been enjoying reading through our new Bible Stories book called:
BedTime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories by Bonnie Rickner Jensen.
I have been looking for a devotional to read with our young kids that would hold their attention, have good illustrations to go with the stories, and included Bible verses.  I love that this devotional has stories that rhyme.  My kids both really enjoy it and each story gives us lots to talk about.  The book has a built in bookmark so it is really to keep track of where we are reading.  The book is really beautiful and each story is spread out over several pages.  The illustrations are pretty and I appreciate the Bedtime Prayer with each story.  It's a sentence that give you a good starting point for your bedtime prayer that also ties into the Bible story you just read.  I'd definitely recommend this devotional to families with little kids.  The stories are short enough to hold their attention while still be detailed.  This book would be a great stocking stuffer for Christmas!

*We were gifted this book by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review of it.

What fun Thanksgiving things are you working on this week??