I was on a cruise ship all last week so now it’s time to get back to reality!!

Here’s our plan for the week:

Monday: Beef Bolognese with Linguine (I’ll freeze leftover sauce to make a quick future meal)

Tuesday:  Charlotte’s new ballet class is now in the evening, and this week is also T-Ball registration after ballet…ugh, busy night.  Back to the crock pot for help.  Pesto Ranch Chicken Thighs (as suggested by a friend)  with homemade ranch seasoning mix.  I’ll serve with steamed broccoli and golden skillet potatoes, all prepped in advance, of course.

Wednesday:  Mongolian Beef with Bok Choy, originally inspired by this but with tons of substitutions.  I should write a new version perhaps.  Served over brown rice.

Thursday:  Doug informed me that his work is having him go deep sea fishing and out to dinner.  Seems a bit suspicious, but elaborate enough that I’ll just go with it.  The kiddos and I will have Cheese Ravioli with Mushrooms and Spinach.

Friday:  Date night!

Saturday:  Lamb Meatballs with Toasted Orzo (and a vegetable to be determined by whatever farmers market I scout in the morning).  Side note, this is the only meal this week involving the oven on purpose since mine caught fire.  We are taking our time to replace it apparently…anyway, hopefully I can adapt to stovetop.

What are you having this week?

Last minute as always, family pajamas are complete.  Charlotte gets a twirly nightgown, Dexter has some cozy pants (he already has a long sleeve red shirt to complete the look), Daddy got some basic pants, and Mommy got some pants with a yoga waist.  All ready for tonight!


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And a look through the years….



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Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!


For the past month or so, Dexter has been VERY clear with his Christmas list, describing the particular Lego set he wants with great detail to any Santa he sees. Charlotte however has given me nothing to work with. She mentioned once that she would maybe want a baby doll though so I ran with it. I tried to find a nicer one within budget, but those bitty babies and similar are a little ridiculously priced. Even used. I didn’t want just another not so special baby doll, and it had to be SILENT for everyone’s sanity….so I settled on trying to make her one…


I went with Simplicity 2809. She said she wanted a boy and a girl and wanted them to look like her and Dexter…but didn’t want to get too ambitious so I started with the girl doll. It actually sewed up pretty quickly!! I changed the face embroidery a little and constructed it a little different than it said to (like sewing the yarn into the seam on the face instead of hand sewing afterwards and stuffing the arms and legs before sewing them on instead of having to handsew 6 openings like the pattern would have me do). I don’t know if I love it, but she does and tried to steal it already, so I guess it’s a win? Maybe I’ll make the boy doll after all.


For the clothes, I started off with a set of diapers…(scrap flannel and velcro, using the provided pattern)…

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But Charlotte was peeking over my shoulder as I worked and kept asking where her dress was so she could be a dancing girl doll (her way of saying ballerina…I’m trying to get her to change the vocabulary there and she’s not budging).  Unfortunately, the pattern had layette type things…shirts, sleep gown, etc.  No dress.  So I drafted a wrap dress out of scrap fabric starting with the kimono shirt the pattern provided.  I just shortened the shirt a little, added a skirt, and done.  Of course I finished all seams (even though doll clothes are never made with finished seams) because I wanted it to hold up a little better.


It closes with velcro so that there’s a CHANCE that she will be able to take it on and off without me doing it for her (at what age do children dress their own dolls and not just shove them on mommy’s lap and demand that they be changed?)

Of course, that wasn’t enough random side sewing.  I also had planned awhile ago to make Charlotte an apron for Christmas, since Dexter already has one, and she sort of had one but it was part of an old Halloween costume, and I sold the costume, so she was pretty sad that she couldn’t dress up in her apron when helping mommy or playing in her kitchen.  Logically, as I was going to cut the apron out and sew it up, I decided to make her doll one first…but both sewed up in about an hour so not so bad.  The pattern is Simplicity 2492 and I just drafted the doll one freehand.

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Now I swear the pajamas will be next….hopefully….

What what, a meal plan?!? Turns out being done with the school semester frees up some time, even if it’s crazy holiday season.

Here’s what we’re having this week!

Sunday: Massaman Curry (I’ve been craving Thai food for awhile…)
Monday: Steaks on the grill with Sweet Potato Gnocchi in brown butter sage sauce (a friend had a huge crop of sweet potatoes this year so we had a gnocchi freezing date)
Tuesday: Lasagna (going with meatless this time, with lots of spinach mixed in the cheese layer, and homemade red sauce), salad
Wednesday: Man-pleasing Chicken (I’ll make extra to use in the soup for Friday) with leftover sides (I’ve got some broccoli and mashed potatoes in the fridge)
Thursday: Honey Lime Tilapia with confetti couscous
Friday: Chicken Noodle Soup with biscuits

PLUS lots of cookie baking this week!! What do you have planned?

I couldn’t leave Dexter out of course, so I decided to whip him up a vest to match Charlotte’s dress.  I searched through my never ending pile of patterns and of course I didn’t already have a vest pattern, but I found this tutorial online and it was meant to be!  It’s even the right size!  I didn’t want the lapels, so I just left those out.  I basted it up to check fit and tried it on him, and he says “Great job, Mommy…but I think it needs a pocket.”   Um, okay.  I added a welt pocket instead of the faux pockets in the tutorial (how angry would he have been with a faux pocket?!?), sewed the rest of it up, and had him try it on again.  “Super, Mommy….now you just need the buttons and it’s done!”  Oh, right.  I guess I can throw in some buttons…sigh.  It turned out really cute I think and they were a big hit when I took them out in their matching looks!

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Next up, Family Pajamas (tradition around here….hopefully I finish before Christmas Eve!)  What are you working on?

I found some clearance fabric and it inspired me to sew Christmas outfits (for the first time).  Seems a little silly that I’ve never made them dedicated Christmas wear in the past…I guess I’ve just always found really cute second hand stuff and didn’t bother before.  For Charlotte, I wanted a vintage-inspired classic look, and I’ve wanted to sew a circle skirt dress for awhile, so I decided it was time.


I started with a basic bodice pattern (drafted from other patterns I own and a t shirt that fits), added some sleeves (modified also from another pattern I’ve made in the past), and finally made a circle skirt pattern (from Dana at Made).  I also cut lining for the skirt and bodice from black kona cotton.


It sewed up pretty quickly (aside from running out of thin elastic for the sleeves).  I added black grosgrain trim along the bottom of the bodice before sewing the bodice together (being very careful to keep seam allowances consistent so that it would match up as I went).  I used single fold bias tape to finish off the sleeve seems, and provide a channel for the elastic to gather them up.


Big bonus for this dress….no gathering!!  Probably my least favorite step in dress making….gathering and pinning.  For the skirt, I finished the main fabric with black bias tape, and then just did a rolled hem (using the rolled hem foot on my machine) for the lining.  I didn’t have a ton of room on the back bodice for buttons so I went with snaps to make my life easier (there wasn’t much space to overlap since I really wanted the plaid to match up nicely).  Snaps are a lot easier to attach than buttons and buttonholes anyway😉

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It seemed a little plain so I added the bow on the front.  I wish I could say this is my favorite dress ever and I’m in love with every aspect, but alas, I made the bodice shorter than I should have (poor planning, whoops) and so the skirt hits higher than I had hoped it would, and makes it overall on the short side.  Sigh.  I still love it, and Charlotte is smitten with it…especially how spinnable the skirt is, but I do wish the fit was a bit better.  I’ll have to make another with some minor changes for her….perhaps a tutorial is to come?


Now to make Dexter something to coordinate!  Action shots to come when everything is done🙂

I still vividly remember planning Dexter’s 3rd birthday party.  At the time, he was obsessed with pirates so picking a theme was so easy.  Even his second birthday was easy since the only word he said at the time was BALL and was absolutely in love with all things round….to the point where it was sometimes challenging to walk into Target because he desperately wanted to play with the concrete balls out front (and got so upset when I wouldn’t pick it up for him…).  And we know from his 4th birthday that he practically planned the thing himself.

Now Charlotte….second birthday, she gave me no help.  Third birthday, more of the same.  I asked what she wanted, she said something like “I’m 2!” for an answer, so I was on my own again.  I guess she’s just easygoing, and as long as there are balloons and friends she could care less about the details?  I should enjoy that a little I suppose.


Her ‘Singing’ Face

She does like ponies though (she often sleeps with a little beanie baby horse, and loves the vintage My Little Ponies at the gym….she’s a little creeped out by the new style ones that look like deer on acid…), so I decided to go with a farm theme.  Really, I was trying to go with whatever theme would be easiest to pull off with little planning and prep….rustic fits the bill.  You see, Charlotte was born on November 4th.  We have a habit of going all out for Halloween, so that is a busy time, and then I host Thanksgiving (and we often take the opportunity surrounding Thanksgiving to finish up big house projects).  Fall is a hard time to plan a birthday party….especially since I went with having it TWO DAYS after Halloween (and yes, I am just now getting around to posting it).  Poor girl….I imagine as she gets older the theme will be “Let’s put our costumes back on and have leftover Halloween candy” for about 10 years.  The things you don’t think about when getting pregnant….


Like every other party we’ve had, there’s lots of kiddos from babies to their 7-9 year old cousins, so all activities need to be a little disorganized and appeal to lots of ages.  We came up with Milk Bottle Toss, Lasso the Cow, Sticker Barn Scenes, horseshoes, and a Barn themed Photo Booth.  All the kiddos could choose from cowboy hats or animal hats to wear, and there were bandannas as well.  Speaking of outfits, I had a really cute denim dress for her to wear but she picked the dress I made her instead.

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For food, I made pulled pork sandwiches (it’s nice to get food done the day before and just reheat in the crockpot the day of).  I made some mac and cheese (also made the day before and baked the day of) and homemade applesauce to accompany it (the applesauce was actually ‘pie apples’ I canned a year ago…I was planning to make cinnamon apples but they were a little softer than I expected they’d be….but that’s okay because the applesauce was super yummy).  Some hummus and ranch dip (greek yogurt dill dip, actually) with fresh veggies and pretzel sticks rounded out the menu, with ‘hay bale’ rice krispie treats, ‘cow pie’ cookies (break and bake…I’m such a cheater), and store bought cupcakes (from a local cupcake shop).  Dexter was mad that two parties in a row there was no cake.  He is pretty angry that I keep thinking cupcakes are an acceptable alternative to birthday cake.

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Decor…I just picked up some quilting cotton in cow print and red gingham, and some burlap.  I used it to cover the tables (along with brown paper) and made one of those popular fringe banners.  I bought a pennant banner and balloons, and some hay bales to go in front of the photo backdrop.

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Favor bags had squeezy animal balls, farm animal tattoos, wiki stick farm animal craft, and farm animal sticker faces.  All of the ‘stuff’ for the party was purchased from Amazon….turns out they have a lot of the same things that Oriental Trading does, except you can use Amazon Prime.  Bonus.


Built in Farm Decor for the background! Chase the chickens was another fun game amongst the older children


Well there you have it.  I phoned it in a little and DIY’ed next to nothing for this party. I think the birthday girl still had a blast though, and that’s the important thing🙂

Are the leaves changing where you live? Having grown up in Florida, I’m used to greenery and soaking up the sun on the beach through December but I absolutely love having actual seasons here! Everything is the perfect shade of orange and red and yellow.
But with this display of colors comes colder weather and that means sniffly noses and little coughs aren’t far away. All of a sudden I feel everyone around here is getting sick. Several of our friends have coughs and/or fevers and it seems to be spreading, eek! So before we come down with something I wanted to boost our immune system and hope that it just skips us this time. Fingers crossed! We’ve been taking some extra vitamin C but I wanted something more, something yummy and healthy, something with cold fighting powers mixed in. Chicken noodle soup it is.

We normally buy whole chickens and if I don’t use the carcass right away, I freeze it for stock or soup. This was the perfect time to use one up. This past weekend Morgan also closed up our garden and pulled the last of the carrots. These little guys were definitely making it into the soup!


I started with the base of onions, celery and cute garden carrots (plus some extra from the store).


Then I added 8 cups of water, the chicken bones from a yummy roasted chicken and some herbs.


I had some sage, basil, oregano, and thyme from the garden and found some bits of bay leaves in the pantry.  I tossed it all in, let it boil, then reduced to a simmer for about an hour.  Right before we were ready to eat, I removed the bones, and added some pasta.  A few pinches of salt later, lunch was served!


One of Starr Lily’s favorite things is having picnics in the living room, so we got cozy on the floor and gobbled up some delicious and immune boosting soup! Even Baby Koala Bear got a spot at our picnic.


Is there something you like to eat to keep your family healthy?

So after a fun trick or treating night with dear friends,


we ended up with a good amount of candy.  We don’t eat a whole lot of candy around here so this year we decided to have some fun with it! Instead of letting it sit in a bowl and collect dust until the next “candy season,” we did some art and experiments with it all.

First we dumped it all out on the kitchen floor and sorted it.


Starr Lily sorted her “dulces” based on color, or type, or shape.  We found candies that had S’s on them (her new favorite letter) and made a separate pile for all the skittles.

Next we practiced some cutting,


and more sorting,


and pouring.


Then, we observed.


Within a few seconds of adding water, we had some awesome colors! And because she put different colors into the same bowl, they started blending! It looked really cool. I pulled out the paintbrushes and some paper and she painted with those colors for a little while, but the blending was what really captured her attention.


Eventually she poured them all into the same bowl, but she made this little work of art first.


Isn’t it adorable?  Ha! I think all her art works are great. But seriously though, look at how focused she was at getting those little papers to stick with her skittles paint!

I’m not sure what else we”ll do with the other candy.  Maybe see if they float or not? Talk about density? Maybe cut some open and dissect them with tweezers and other pincer tools? Either way, I think she’ll enjoy playing with them.

Have you done fun experiments with candy? I’d love to hear what you did.

We have a tradition of going all out for Halloween.  Now I’m not a big fan of haunted mansions and zombies and the like, but enjoy the chance to really play an awesome game of dress up.  It started back in college when we did some pretty epic entries into Trunk or Treat at our church, and there was a bit of a lull post college/pre kids when we could only convince the dogs to dress up so much, but then kids arrive and we were allowed to go crazy again.

So far, we’ve been a bluebird in a forest, King Kong and the Empire State Building, Hey Diddle Diddle, and Hansel and Gretel (along with the witch, of course).

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This year, we decided to include the dog and he was the original inspiration.  You see, I know Doug loves a good project, so I thought making the dog talk would be right up his alley, and it was….but then he just didn’t have enough time and ran into some issues and the talking dog never happened.  The rest of the costume hopefully made up for it.


We love a good theme, but something a little out of the box when possible.  It seems a waste to sew up costumes that I can just go to the store and buy, right?  Luckily our kiddos are still young enough that they don’t demand much of a say, plus they just love dress up so are happy to participate in any costume.

IMG_1106IMG_1111First I made Kevin the Snipe.  This was the one that required the most sewing and work on my part and I wanted to get it out of the way.  I started off with a basic fleece costume (there was an elastic band under the bum, raglan sleeves that I shortened, and I colorblocked it to make it match the feathers I had planned).  After I had the basic structure, I hand stitched feather boas over it to match the inspiration.  I included a few craft feathers that were stitched/hot glued for the accent colors, too.  For the hood, I started with the hood from the pattern, then added yellow fleece for around the eyes, cut up some ping pong balls, and glued them in with some felt.  I used some pipe cleaners with feathers attached for the crest and a sheet of yellow foam for the bill (painted orange at the end).  For some structure, I attached a baseball cap underneath and a pipe cleaner inside to help keep the bill from going more mask.  It still flopped a little, but it didn’t bother her at all.

IMG_1108  IMG_1117Dexter became Russell, the Wilderness Explorer Scout.  We started with a thrifted yellow shirt and a matching hat found at a local outlet store.  I made the vest and bandanna, and printed out the WE logo on some iron on paper to attach to the hat, flag, and shirt.  The flag is just felt on a stick, Doug used carpet pads with badge printouts for the sash, I made the little bead thing he had in the pictures out of felt and a shoelace.  Then we just decorated his backpack with lots of stuff on carabiners.


Mr. Fredrickson came together pretty easily with a thrifted jacket, bowtie, and cane but then we ran into a slight roadblock with the hair.  You see, Doug doesn’t have hair so we couldn’t just spray his white or something, and old man wigs are very hard to come by.  I did the best I could to make him a nice head of white hair using some headband webbing and felt for the under-structure and craft fur for the hair.  I think it gets the point across….


Last, the Up House.  Pretty essential part of the whole costume since it definitely doesn’t have the most recognizable characters.  Doug built a house facade out of some craft wood and painted it up.  We decided that just the front of the house was enough (and would make my life a little easier, too).  It had some buckles to attach around my neck, then we just tied some balloons on.


Dug the Dog was all set as is, and we were ready to set out!


Anyone else love a good family theme?