Our Fun Countdown to Christmas Recap!

As one of my Pinterest projects, I created some countdown to Christmas activities. My goal was to have a fun Christmas/winter activity each day from December 1 through Christmas. Below is a photographic recap of some of our activities.

Here are the activities written out for each day.

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I put the slips of paper in this bucket and my plan was to select a different activity each day. This didn’t always happen, ha!

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Cereal necklaces!

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Countdown chain I created. Will took off a chain each morning-it was the first thing he did when he came downstairs each morning.

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We had a blast at our community’s Christmas parade!

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Will insisted on making orange snowflakes!

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Daddy’s work Christmas party-playing Ring Around the Rosy with some kiddos.

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Making peanut butter pinecones for the birds!

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Christmas jammies!

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On the hunt for a Christmas tree.

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Decorating our tree.

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Donating toys to Salvation Army and another organization at our local toy store.

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Reading books with a winter/Christmas theme.

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Last year’s personalized ornaments for Will and Harper.

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Cookie dough in preparation for cookie day!

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Candy cane fruit!

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In our Christmas pajamas, driving around looking at Christmas lights.

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Christmas lights display at the park.

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Annual cookie day!

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Decorating sugar cookies.

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Visit with Santa.

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Making cinnamon applesauce ornaments.

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Crafting a gingerbread house.

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Making the Pioneer Woman’s delicious hot chocolate.

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While these activities were lots of fun, it was difficult to do one activity each day (especially on work nights). We did our best to complete the list but there were a few we didn’t get to. Next year, I plan on creating more of a winter bucket list where we can pick and choose different activities (and not be on such a time constraint of one activity a day). I also love the idea of reading a different Christmas book each night-maybe next year?!

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Weekly Pinterest Project: Week 21-An Organized Pantry

In preparation for 2014 and all the organization projects that people tackle, I thought I’d share this quick pantry organization post. I absolutely LOVE to organize! My mother-in-law has been wanting me to organize her pantry for a long time, and I finally got around to organizing it. We went to Wal-Mart (my least favorite place in the world but pretty much the only place to shop where my in-laws live) and purchased all the white bins they had. When we returned home, I took everything off each shelf and had my mother-in-law go through and throw out any old food. We found some cans from 2009-oh, my!

I organized the pantry similar to how ours is organized, using white bins and sorting food by canned goods, pasta and rice, baking supplies, etc. Using the bins really helps to corral the items and keeps things much more organized. I told her I will be checking in with her periodically and making sure everything is still in its correct place, ha! My father-in-law even created labels for the shelves to ensure that everything stays organized (after these pics were taken).

Here’s the before, with my mother-in-law doing a Vanna-ish pose:

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And after:

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My next goal is to organize our bonus room/playroom and all the toys my kiddos received for Christmas!

Five on Friday~Christmas Edition

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Happy Friday!  I hope y’all had a wonderful Christmas! We are still home with family celebrating, so this post will be brief:) Linking up with Darci and friends!

{one} Here’s Will and Harper all dressed up for Christmas Eve service at Mimi and Grandaddy’s church.

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{two} Christmas morning brunch at Mimi and Grandaddy’s.  Yummy  baked French toast!

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{three} Opening gifts at Mimi and Grandaddy’s.

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{four} Then it was Christmas at Grammy and Grandaddy’s.

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{five} The rest of our week, we’ve been visiting with family, eating lots of yummy food, hiking, and catching up with out of town relatives.

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Weekly Pinterest Project: Week 20-Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments

Welcome to the 20th week of my Pinterest project, where I try out one of the zillion pins I have on my Pinterest boards, ha!

Will and I (and Harper!) made some cinnamon applesauce ornaments. It was a super easy recipe-mix one cup of cinnamon with three fourths a cup of applesauce and combine to form a ball.

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Organize and sort cookie cutters, ha!

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Talk to Mimi on the phone while waiting for mommy to stir the applesauce and cinnamon…

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Once the mixture has formed into a ball, place it on a cookie sheet between two pieces of wax paper and roll out to approximately 1/4 inch thick.

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Take off top layer and press cookie cutters into dough. Switch over to parchment paper after trying unsuccessfully to get the cookies onto the baking sheet. Poke holes into ornaments with a straw.

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Bake at 200 degrees for approximately two to two and a half hours.

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Thread red ribbon through baked ornaments and attach to Christmas cards as a way to make them fancy:) (These were the Christmas gifts we gave our babysitters-pictures of the kiddos from our fall photo session, a gift certificate, and these wonderful smelling ornaments)

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We enjoyed making these ornaments but most of them ended up cracking while baking and had to be thrown away:( Next year, we will make a different type of ornament.

Christmas Traditions

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Happy Friday! I’m linking up with Kelly to share some of our Christmas traditions. I love creating new traditions in our family (and continuing some from my childhood) and it’s even more fun with kiddos!

For the past several years (I’ve lost track but it was before Will was born, so over four years), we have participated in an annual cookie day at our neighbor’s mom’s house. Nana, our neighbor’s mom, is also our babysitter, and her husband, Pops, are like a third set of grandparents to our kiddos.

Anyway, each year, we head to Nana’s for a day of cookie baking and decorating. Nana begins baking by eight each morning and we usually don’t finish until after five. We make cookie dough and bake it there, but a lot of us make dough ahead of time. This year, I made three batches of a family recipe called Sandies, a shortbread chocolate chip cookie. I also made a triple batch of brown butter snickerdoodles, one of my favorite cookies! The brown butter gives the cookie such a unique taste. It’s much easier for me to make the dough ahead of time, especially since Will and Harper come with me.

Will loved decorating the cookies this year and was so excited that we had orange colored frosting, his favorite color!

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Here’s a small sampling of the cookies we made. A few years back, we kept track of how many cookies we baked…it was over 1,700!!

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When I was little, my parents took us out driving to look at Christmas lights. My husband and I have continued this tradition with Will and Harper. The other evening, I put Will and Harper in their Christmas pajamas and we drove to a local park, which has a fun display of lights each year. Miss H. fell asleep a few minutes into the drive but Will loved seeing all the cool light displays! One of my favorites was this hay bale teddy bear.

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For my son’s first Christmas, I bought a personalized ornament from Lisa Leonard Designs. I love her jewelry and decorations and decided to continue buying a special ornament every year for each kiddo. This is a new tradition for us since my husband and I didn’t have an ornament each year when we were young. Now Will has four ornaments (yikes, he’s getting so big!) and Harper has two. The gingerbread ornaments were last year’s selection.

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Since I grew up on a Christmas tree farm, it was a given that we headed outside to select a tree each year. My husband used to go to a tree farm as a kid but his parents eventually got an artificial tree. This is one of my favorite traditions! We go to a local farm that is owned by one of my former co-worker’s family.

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I buy Will and Harper Christmas jammies each year. Here they are sporting this year’s pajamas:) In order to get as much wear out of the pajamas as possible, they start wearing them right after Thanksgiving.

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In addition to our cookie day, we help my dad make sand tarts each year. Sand tarts are a family recipe-a thin sugar cookie that you brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar or red and green sprinkles. For the past several years, Will has helped us decorate the cookies.

My husband and I were discussing our family holiday traditions the other evening. He grew up with the presents under the tree prior to Christmas. In my family, none of the gifts were under the tree until that morning. His stocking gifts were unwrapped; mine were always wrapped. It’s so fun to learn what types of traditions we had growing up and merge the two with our own family. What are some of your favorite traditions?

Five on Friday!

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Happy Friday! I’m off work until next year, ha! I’m so glad to have lots of time off to spend with my family during Christmas:) The break will be really nice! I’m linking up with Darci and friends for Five on Friday!

{one} We visited Santa at our favorite local toy store last weekend. I wasn’t sure how Miss Harper would do. We had a trial run with Santa in November at my school’s holiday breakfast. Let’s just say that Harper was not impressed with Santa. At our second Santa visit, Will reluctantly sat on Santa’s lap while Harper pulled some books off the shelf to read. I handed Santa the book she was reading and she decided to hop up on his lap to hear the rest of the story! Yay! I loved this Santa visit because he really took his time talking to each kid. Plus, you brought your own camera and could take as many pics as you wanted.

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{two} I made a natural baby soap/wash last week as part of my weekly Pinterest project. The soap was so easy and very cheap to make. I have used it with Harper and Will in the bathtub. While it is nice, I prefer to use it as a hand soap. Making this soap has gotten me interested in making homemade laundry detergent. Any good recipes out there?

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{three} Last weekend, we got a tiny amount of snow. Will desperately wanted to go sledding, so he attempted down a little hill at Nana’s (we were there for our annual cookie day). Amazingly, he was able to sled and had a blast! Harper opted to stay on the hill and observe:)

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{four} Our favorite toy store (where we visited Santa) hosted the well-known silhouette man, Tim Arnold. I signed up Will and Harper to have their silhouettes masterfully created. Tim was amazing! I held the wiggly kiddos on my lap (one at a time) and within five minutes, Tim had crafted beautiful works of art. If you have the chance and he comes to your area, I recommend getting silhouettes done. They are such a treasure!

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{five} I made these fruit candy canes from strawberries and bananas for the kiddos the other evening. They loved eating this fun shaped fruit!

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I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays:)