merry christmas!

merry christmas to you and your family! may your day be filled with joy, laughter, love, yummy food, great spirits, and sweet hugs!

today we celebrate the birth of jesus christ and the love of God! we are so blessed to know how good and great God can be & we are very thankful to be touched by His grace.

glory to God in the highest! peace on earth and goodwill to men!

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xoxo

christmas popcorn

every year, i kind of do the same thing. maybe one day i will switch it up and make something different but as of now, making christmas popcorn for the neighbors is so fun and easy!!! i stress easy because this mama doesn’t have much time anymore, especially during the holidays!

this treat requires very simple ingredients: 2 microwavable popcorn packs, 2 bags of white chocolate, pretzels, m&m’s, and christmas sprinkles. i popped the popcorn and then melted the chocolate. my favorite way to melt chocolate morsels is to boil two inches of water in a pot, put a broiler on top and then another small pot in it to melt the chocolate. i melt small batches of chocolate to ensure it doesn’t coagulate or seize, plus i prefer to make small amounts of christmas popcorn to ensure each nook and cranny gets coated with yummy goodness!

i put out a large sheet of wax paper and spread the popcorn out, poured copious amounts of m&m’s, dumped a handful of the broken pretzels, and then drizzled the chocolate in a zig zag pattern across the mixture. after the chocolate, i then dumped a generous heaping of sprinkles all over the popcorn. it transforms into a yummy, sweet, decadent treat for the holidays! mmmmmmm

after the chocolate dries, i then packaged it into mason jars…wide mouth mason jars are best but i only had regular mouth jars on hand. i had pre-dressed them up in festive paper, ribbon, and string.

ta da! yummy, easy gifts for your awesome neighbors! {we are so lucky to be surrounded by awesome neighbors!} i love the holidays – ’tis the season of giving out sweet treats and fun gifts!

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[dressing up the jars]

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[the simple easy, unhealthy ingredients]

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[melting chocolate]

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[i would turn around and this candy thief would sneak m&m’s off the counter! i had a picture of her totally laughing, sneaking the candy but it was so blurry…wahhhhh]

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[before mixing]

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xoxo

diy advent calendar

i have always waited around for olive to reach an age where she understands certain things and rituals. i have always wanted to make an advent calendar for her but i wanted her to enjoy it and understand what it is about.

i loved advent calendars as a kid. it was a christmas favorite of mine. i always looked forward to the little surprises behind the doors and wondered what sweet treat lay hidden inside.

i decided that this was the year to make an advent calendar for little miss olive. i already had most of the supplies in my crafting closet but i needed a wreath stamp and let me tell you how hard it is to find a wreath stamp! well, at least a design i had in my mind and that was going to fit inside the muslin bags i already had. i searched and searched online, in craft stores, and tried different shops to see if they offered the right sized wreath and shape. all i wanted was a round shaped wreath that looked real, christmasy, and would fit inside the size of the bag. i.could.not.find.it. isn’t that crazy?! i found a stamp that i really liked but hesitated on the sizes because i wasn’t sure which one would fit and it’s so hard ordering online because i couldn’t visually gauge it!

so i gave up and decided to not waste any more of my time trying to buy a damn stamp! maybe next year i will embellish on the design but this year, it was going to be simple and plain with just numbers on the bag.

when i say this is easy and quick, it’s super easy and quick. i stamped each bag {24 was my magic number of bags}, trimmed the extra strings on it, and then strung it onto red and white twine. ta da!!!! simple, festive, advent bags to help your cutie countdown to christmas day!

i eventually decorated the twine with green garland to add an extra touch of holiday magic and filled each bag with candies, toys, and random goodies! let me tell you, olive looooooooves her advent calendar. it helps her learn her numbers but she absolutely loves opening up each bag every day and i find such joy in watching her do so! it’s so darn cute!!!! she’s so patient, doesn’t peek inside the bags and always waits for us to say it’s time to open up her advent bag!

we do this every day as a family after hc comes home from work. it was really important for us to do this together and revel in olive’s joy! plus, she’s sooooo sweet about it. she always says thank you and will come up to us and say, “i love it! i love my toy!”. oh my goodness…i love her so much!

well, that was my easy, simple, diy advent calendar for christmas! i am hoping to find a lovely wreath stamp or holly stamp by next year and make our cute little muslin bags more fun and festive for the season! yay!

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[supplies: ink, stamps, bags, twine, and goodies to fill the bags with]

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[muslim bags stamped with numbers]

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[free hand stamping]

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[pj’s, coffee, and crafting…yesssssss]

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[i have boxes of stuff in my crafting area and found some fun things to fill her bags with!]

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[i asked her to stand next to her advent calendar and this sour look is what i got]

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[i asked her to look at the camera and she gave me the blank stare. oh olive! i decorated the twine with green garland later to make it more festive!]

xoxo

holiday gift guide

oh the holidays. it’s a lot of ‘what should i buy?’. you’re lucky if you get a list from the recipient…that definitely makes it easy! i put together a list of fun items you can get your little babe. obviously it’s girly biased but hey…when you have two girls, it’s a no brainer i will err on the side of girly gifts but i do feel that some of these items are unisex!

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1.this oeuf sweater is amazing. i pretty much love anything they sell! it’s cozy, cute, and fun! i love the love script on the front and olive would pretty much live in this. every child needs a fun, cozy hoodie like this one!

2.bunniclub. you need to check out this shop. she’s quite fabulous and totally talented. she makes the most adorable little stuffed animals for your little babes. i only wish i could buy every single dolly she makes. they are that cute!

3.ok, kid and kind’s clothing line is soooooo freaking perfect. i love her collection this season. every piece is beautifully designed and will become a staple within your kiddie’s wardrobe. you won’t regret dropping those pretty pennies for her clothes.

4.oh this shop is so good. if you need blankets, swaddles, bibs, hats for you baby that are unique and gorgeous. you will loooooove this shop, littleandluxe. they are all designed by the maker herself. i love the pretty eye catching colors of every item she makes. anyone you gift these to will love it!

5.booandbear is the cutest pillow shop. she has more than just pillows but her hand sewn designs are refreshing and adorable. these pillow will brighten any kid’s room! every pillow is so whimsical and pretty. a perfect gift to anyone decorating their kiddo’s room!

6.we have one of these mobiles and i can’t express in words how how i love it! it’s so pretty, whimsical, and magical. it livens up any nursery/room and adds a special touch to the total decor. babyjives offers so many styles and color options, you will definitely find a mobile to go with anyone’s space!

’tis the season

i was excited to do our annual christmas decorating bonanza! ok, so this year…it was so easy and fun with olive but it was hard to manage ellie! most of the time she just happily laid on the couch and observed us but there were times i needed to hold her and that slowed me down a bit but in the end, we got it done!

at first it was a bit stressful because hc seriously struggle with the tree. the lights in the middle of the tree went out. ugh. so he bothered with that for a bit but once he was done, it was smooth sailing after that! we blasted christmas music, drank, and decorated!

decorating is a lot to juggle with a baby and at times, it seems stressful {well, at least that’s how i freakin’ feel!} but overall, it was totally fun and olive seriously had a blast! it was so, so, so sweet to see her so excited and intrigued by everything. she loved the tree and had so much putting up the ornaments! she loved looking at every single one and telling us what it was…oh, the joys of childhood. it melts my heart.

well, we totally deck the halls with bough of holly…fa la la la la la la la! our house turned into a magical, festive wonderland! gosh, i looooooooove this season!

merry christmas!

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[sweet baby ellie just chillin’]

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[my sweet babe ready to decorate]

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[hc fussing and fixing the lights]

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[olive hanging ornaments]

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[admiring the prettiness]

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[her favorite ornament]

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[she said, “ohhhhhh, snowman!”]

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[a wedding decor turned ornament]

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[this sweet face…i loved watching her amazement]

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[i love her!]

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[this picture is super blurry but i love it just the same…a sweet capture]

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[pj’s all the way!]

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[ellie is so sweet and calm]

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[putting up the star]

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[way to go olive and dada!]

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[ready to put together the train for under the tree]

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[this was her favorite part]

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[these two babes melt my heart]

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[my favorite, favorite picture…it’s the most wonderful time of the year]

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[my most favorite people]

xoxo

christmas eve

2015

ahhhhhh! it was finally christmas eve and we were so excited! i love the holidays and the joy that comes with it!

like i said in a previous post {now that the cat’s out of the bag!}, I have been sooooooo tired from this pregnancy! writing blog posts, decorating, planning, going out, whatever it was took five times as long having a toddler and being so exhausted every day. there were days where i didn’t want to do anything and that is soooooo unlike me. i am the energizer bunny. i can plow through anything and come out winning like a champ with extra energy to spare. hahaha! throw in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy during the holidays and i was ko’d.

anyhoo, our morning started calm and quiet. hc made a delicious breakfast quiche to start our day out. we just relaxed and completed odds and ends before we headed over to my parent’s house. while the girls slept, i made christmas popcorn and packed them into mason jars for our neighbors and saved the rest to bring over to my parent’s house for our family to munch on.

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[hc made a festive christmas breakfast]

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[yummy christmas popcorn]

once we arrived at my parent’s house, cooking our christmas eve dinner was in full swing. we hung out with everyone, sporadically helped out with dinner, the kids played, and everyone was just having a great time together. it’s always so fun to have my brother huy around and his fiancé tashina. they are so quirky, fun, and oh so creative. i love their style and the kids love them so much!

my sisters did such a great job setting the table and the kid’s table. it’s always so pretty and festive. once dinner was ready to be served, we all sat down, my dad says a blessing, and we get to manger manger the delicious meal my sister kim cooks! after dinner is when the kids get soooo antsy because they want to open presents! i must say, though, my nephews do ask but they are so patient and understanding. we won’t open presents until we are all done with cleaning up the table, the kitchen, and the dishes are all washed, cleaned, and dried.

of course the kids always go first! r and b are tooo cute when they open up their gifts, we always get hugs and thank you’s. sooooo sweet! each present for olive, we had to get started. someone would tear off a little piece or corner and away she would go. she definitely had fun opening up her gifts! she loved the big stuffed kitty aunt thuy bought her, one of her favorites! she also looooooved b’s roller skates! they were too small for b but olive wanted to put them on and she was amazing in them! she held her balance well, she would jump and land on her feet, and every time she fell, she would say, “whoa whoa whoa!!!!”. it was too stinkin’ cute!

the best part of the evening? being able to tell our mom and dad and famille that i am pregnant! i was sooooo excited, i could hardly wait! after the kids opened up a majority of their gifts, i decided to give my parents our present from us. my dad was the one to open it up. as he did, a big smile crossed his face…seeing what the shirt said. he held up the shirt {a white toddler tee that said big sister in vietnamese} and my sister kim asked, “who gave that to dad?”. i said, “we did! i am PREGNANT!!!!!”. there were gasps and cries of joy! oh i was sooooo happy to tell everyone the news! there were tears and hugs and lots of smiles! it was so awesome to share the news and see the elation on everyone’s faces! little r asked if he could have a boy cousin! hahaha! we will see little one, we will see!

oh what a merry christmas eve it was! it felt fantastic to finally share the joyous news and just let my prego belly hang out! i was soooo tired of hiding it! after we opened up all our gifts, i sliced the buche du noel cake and served the french classic treat to everyone and we just reveled in all the goodness around us. it was quite the blessed evening and we couldn’t wait for christmas day to share the news with hc’s side of the family! hooray!

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[my shirt says: santa, i know him! looooove it]

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[kids table! how fun!]

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[grace and hc]

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[buche du noel]

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[buffalo check greatness]

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[tashina, thuy, and r]

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[huy and tashina]

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[classic…of course olive is grumpy]

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[olive was so afraid of her dada]

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[so silly. i love it]

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[love these two]

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[desserts…fruit and cake!]

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[loving my dad’s outfit!]

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[she really enjoyed opening presents!]

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[she looooooved her stuffed kitty from super aunt thuy]

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[she loved bouncing around on the it]

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[dad holding up the ‘big sister’ shirt!]

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[christmas eve isn’t complete without a pj party pic!]

xoxo

wee christmas

it was the annual wee christmas party!

hc’s friend’s dave’s mom {got that?! ha!} and dad host a christmas party every year called wee christmas. they have been doing this for decades. ever since i have been dating hc, we’ve attended every party. i love going to this. pat and pete are such warm, welcoming people and i love all of their friends, children, and grandchildren.

their house is always so festive and fun. they literally decorate every room in the house. christmas trees, santa’s, something festive and fun everywhere. it’s like santa’s house inside. there are always lots spirits to go around and tasty apps. i love visiting with everyone and every year, there are always the same faces with some new ones stopping by once in awhile.

olive was not comfortable, as always. she clung to me for dear life, although she did lighten up a lot faster than usual. she was intrigued by all the decorations and kept wanting to point out every santa figurine she saw. so, since she couldn’t point out all the santa’s in my arms, she actually wanted to get down so she get could get a better look at all the fun decor. totally fine by me! although she stayed super close, at least i didn’t have to carry her for a long period of time! phew!

soon, food was served and we ate and mingled some more. i had a great time getting to know a few new faces at the party and catching up with some old acquaintances. right after dinner is served, santa makes his appearance! santa visits every year at the party, reads a story, and hands out fun gifts to the little ones.

it was quite adorable when maggie called for olive to sit in her lap and olive obliged. i tried to snap a good photo but with so many crazy kids, it was hard to get a pic without someone’s arm or face right.in.front.of.my.camera. hahaha! olive was quite content until santa showed up! ohmygawd. total freak out! she immediately burst into tears! she was soooooo scared! even in my arms, she kept crying. she wouldn’t look at him and wasn’t happy until we left the room and she was far, far away from him! ha! no presents for her!

after santa, desserts were served and olive was a happy camper again. she stuffed her face and became a cute sweet babe again. hc and i were having a great time but alas, we had to go because we needed to pick up grace and didn’t want to get out there too late and get home even later.

as usual, we had a fabulous time at wee christmas. we enjoy going every year and look forward to it always. merry merry indeed!

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[my love]

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[olive loving the ‘munny’]

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[she loved the little wooden horse and all the wonderful vintage toys in the basement]

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[it was so sweet, maggie called for olive and she came over to sit in her lap. how sweet!]

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[here’s santa!]

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[she was terribly upset! no santa!]

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xoxo

christmas brunch

hc, olive, and i had a wonderful, casual afternoon hanging out in the city. it was my birthday and we hit the city to enjoy an afternoon of festive fun. brunch was at my favorite place, southport grocery! yummmm!

it was bustling inside but not too crazy packed like it usually is…it’s probably because we were a bit past lunchtime, so it was perfectly busy. we sat in a corner and throughly enjoyed our time together. i ordered my usual, the southern and as usual it was deeeeeelicious. i stuffed myself silly, rich enjoyed his spiked beverage and meal, and olive had a blast drawing. she loves to create fabulous works of art!

after we noshed on our yummy meals, i perused the shelves of the grocery store to see what items i wanted to buy to put in our gift baskets for our neighbors. did we want to create a dinner theme? a breakfast theme? a dessert theme? we went with the breakfast theme. breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day! i could eat breakfast all day! so, we picked out a yummy pancake mix, maple syrup, a peach spread, christmas sprinkles, and holiday cookies to top it off! it was all so cute! they do such a great job packaging it all up.

all while i was getting the gift baskets together, hc was chasing olive down and feeding her. she was so into her drawings earlier, she wouldn’t eat any of her food but once she was done, hc got her to eat most of her meal while she ran around the store. eep! she’s a funny one.

after brunch and basket making, we traipsed around southport and shopped a bit for gifts and christmas goodies. it was such a wonderful, beautiful afternoon. we had a great time together…it was a very joyous, eventful day. we were elated from an appointment we had earlier in the day and we were on cloud nine, thankful for all the blessings we have in our lives. thank God for the wondrous gifts that he brings.

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[olive checking out the kids menu]

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[selfie]

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[such a silly babe]

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[she’s very good at ‘cheers!’]

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[soooooo yummy]

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[perusing]

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[she’s soooooo silly]

xoxo

merry merry

merry christmas everyone!

may your day be filled with love, laughter, and meaningful hugs. i love christmas because, 1. it’s jesus’ birthday 2. being able to spend time with family. it’s such joy to be with your family, enjoying life, eating delicious foods and cookies, and watching your little ones open up their presents. it seems like the world pauses for a day and we are able slow down and revel in the joy all around us.

hooray! jesus was born on this day! i remembered, as a kid, how magical it was to attend church, listen to the story of jesus’ birth, and celebrate it afterwards with friends and family at our church. such great memories. i love the moments created around the holidays. the feelings evoked, the love, the reasons behind why we celebrate christmas, and the joy you feel with everyone around you being so happy and loving. i hope olive looks back on her holidays, and it brings a smile onto her face like it did and still does for me.

merry christmas my lovies. i hope your day is filled with many fabulous moments, lots of love, cookies, hugs, kisses, and euphoria. happy day!

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xoxo

holiday downtown

we made our annual trip downtown to field’s on state. yes, i still call it that. call me old school. it’s still comiskey park, sears tower, these landmarks will forever live with me in their original names. it’s not like i don’t like to lead change, think differently, or i am not open minded. it just irks me that some family or some company pays more money so they can have their name etched into these chicago landmarks. yes, sears was named after sears robuck and co {the largest retailer at the time} but there is history behind it all. not just the fact that someone dumped money towards the building and says, “ok, we are now naming it blah, blah, blah”. ok, ok. enough venting.

we started our day with lunch at the french market. i love going there. there are so many fun little shops and yummy eats. we walked around trying to figure out what we all wanted to eat. we purchased the kid’s meals first and let them eat while all the adults mulled around, trying to figure out our palette of the moment.

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[working the runway]

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[sooooooo many delish goodies]

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[my favvvvvvvvvv]

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[i snapped this pic because of the above lights but now i find it funny because the three girls in the picture look like me and my sisters in a less sophisticated way. thuy is to the left, kim in the middle, and that would be me…yes, with the colored hair]

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[love these little rug rats]

i decided to go with a vietnamese favorite, banh mi. unfortunately, it was an ok meal. there just wasn’t the right kick to it. my favorite banh mi is from ba le up in argyle or really, my aunt vuong’s banh mi. my aunt’s sandwich is the most delicious, hands down.

we walked around, i bought the kids candy and purchased some hot, freshly made sugared donuts for everyone to eat. i love going there on the weekends too because it’s so quiet. the market’s busy time is monday through friday {since it’s down by the train station}. so, on saturday, it’s chill and crowd free and you can casually walk around without waiting in line at any booth.

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[banh mi]

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[mowing down a hot dog]

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[being all cute while we wait for our freshly made donuts]

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after our little lunch fun at the french market, we headed down to fields on state for some holiday fun. we typically head to the eighth floor to see the tree in the walnut room. we snap some pics, relax on the sofas, and just chill for a bit before we head downstairs to their ornament room. we love going there to nab a few ornaments for our tree.

before we actually did all that fun stuff, the kids wrote their letters to santa. it was so cute. reagan was so serious about it and olive intently wrote hers with beautiful doodle marks. after their letters were dropped off in the mailbox to the north pole, we headed on up for some christmas tree fun.

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[she was loving the felix in a box]

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[writing letters to santa]

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[in deep thoughts]

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[hanging out on the ‘clean’ carpet]

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we perused the different trees and we were trying to figure out what ornaments we wanted to buy. hc found his ornament right away! it was a glass red fire engine truck. of course! it was a perfect ornament. i thought – hmph…he scored a cool ornament right away. i looked and looked but i was having a hard time finding an ornament that i really liked. i finally walked into a room that they had in the far back and found a whole bunch of ornaments that i loved! give me a dessert ornament any day and call me a sucker! i chose an ice cream cone ornament as my decor of choice!

after we hit the ornament room, we cruised downstairs to grab a drink and a bite to eat. oh my…there was a line for everything! everything! i went to starbucks and it was quick to order but it took over 15 minutes to get my drink! bananas! anyhoo, after our stint downstairs where the restaurants were, we all decided to call it a night. we all gathered our treasures for the day and headed home.

it was a lovely day {the temp was amazing…60 degrees!}. we had a great time spending the day in the city with our family. it was fun, yummy, and festive. i love going downtown and seeing all the pretty christmas decor and experiencing the hustle and bustle of the chicago. it’s all part of the cray holiday season!

xoxo