valentine’s day ’19

i was quite excited for valentine’s day! we had a fun filled day planned out and although it was the only day that was warm that week {50 degrees amongst the 20 degree other days}, we were pretty much spending the day indoors. our morning started with olive’s parent teacher conference {the teacher had such great things to say about olive!} and we cruised back home to cook a late breakfast and surprise the gals with valentine’s day gifts!

after a delicious heart shaped pancake, bacon, and hash brown meal, we just went about our day finishing up cleaning, the girls played with their new trinkets, and getting random errands done.

as the day wore on, thuy stopped by to spend the afternoon and evening with us, i started to set up the girl’s dessert table for some festive treats. we then decided it was time to start dinner, so while hc prepped the pizza dough, sauce, and cheese, olive cut out the heart shaped pepperonis! she also helped place all the pieces onto the pie before it went into the oven.

dinner was savory {the pizza was sooooooo good hc and olive!] and desserts were even sweeter! soon our day was coming to an end. it started out so great with wonderful feedback for olive at school, hc whipped up a decadent heart themed breakfast, we had fun shooting cute pics for the kiddie dessert table for two, and creating heart shaped pizzas for dinner! it was such a relaxing, slow, peaceful all day celebration. i couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend valentine’s day! it was perfection!

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[i gave these pink pails filled with goodies to the girls for valentine’s day]

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[they were loving their surprises]

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[she’s so sweet]

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[she loved her gift!]

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[she loved the magic marker]

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[yummy heart pancakes, and bacon and hash browns, for breakfast]

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[i had so much fun setting this up for the kids!]

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[sweet vanilla cupcakes for the girls]

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[my favorite]

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[pink milk]

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[that face of should i touch the frosting or not?!]

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[mmmm, got it!]

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[delicious raspberry bars…my favorite!]

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[she was throughly enjoying the frosting]

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* *** *** *** *

H E A R T  S H A P E D  P I Z Z A

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[olive cutting heart shaped pepperoni’s]

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[she’s like POW, heart shaped pepperoni…booyahhh! hahaha!]

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[now for the toppings! we made cheese, pepperoni, bacon, and mushrooms]

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[hc hard at work! always the consummate cook]

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[it’s done!]

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[ellie checking out my sister’s phone. you’ll love the next pic!]

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[a picture with the pizza and ellie showing us a picture of the pizza! LOL]

xoxo

holiday downtown

we did our annual holiday trip to macy’s on state this past weekend! we did our usual routine of eating up on the 7th floor, shopping for ornaments, and just shopping around the store.

we love to buy ornaments from here every year, grab a little candy from the shop downstairs, and just take in the hustle and bustle of the season. dan, agata, kim, terry, the boys, thuy, mom and dad came out this year. we stayed at the department store for several hours and then headed home to our house to decorate gingerbread houses! before we left, we were able to admire one of their animated windows at macy’s. olive was so enamored with all the trumpets and christmas lights and wonderment all around her! her and ellie were so amazed as we walked the streets!

once home, we tidied up a bit and then kim and fam and agata and dan came over. kim brought over wine, cheese, and paté to nibble on. the boys brought food over to the house and the kids ate dinner. we had ordered pizza for everyone else and once all the consuming of food was done, we set up the gingerbread houses for the kiddos!

the kids had a blast! olive looooooved decorating her house. she was so excited and looking forward to it for days! olive did such a great job decorating her house – she didn’t even get frosting on her fingers! a big thank you to dan for being her structural engineer and making sure her roof didn’t fall down. thanks for holding the house together while olive decorated around you!

overall it was a great, fun festive day with the family! i love being able to spend the time with them during the busiest season of the year. that is what matters most during this crazy month! we soaked in the holiday mood and created some good memories together.

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[she’s so funny]

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[hey grace! i’m only going to take a pic of you while you’re eating. oops]

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[olive is so silly!]

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[she loooooooved riding the escalators!]

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[picking out candy]

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[olive’s stash]

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[my sweet girls]

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[ready to assemble her house!]

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[all the goodies to decorate with]

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[the cutest cousins]

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[olive’s house]

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[reagan’s house]

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[putting on her adornments]

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[reagan’s house looking good!]

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[olive was sooooo dang careful with her decor and she didn’t even get frosting on her fingers!]

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[reagan and his masterpiece]

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[she did such a great job!!]

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xoxo

christmas concert

olive’s holiday concert day had arrived. she had been practicing all season! it was too cute when she would give us a sneak peek into one of her songs. i was so excited to see her perform.

we arrived barely on time for the drop off. the morning started off easy and with plenty of time but, honestly, i don’t know what happened. i thought i had all the time in the world and then before i knew it, we were going to be late! gosh…mama brain! i felt bad…it was totally my fault for losing track of time and i totally snapped at olive. i asked her to put on her shoes and she completely mixed the shoes up and was standing there with the wrong shoes on her feet and didn’t recognize it. i yelled and she cried and i felt bad. i didn’t want her feeling this, so i apologized and she smiled, which was better but darn it. i hate it when i have a failing moment like that. it hurts my heart that i hurt her feelings.

once we dropped olive off at her classroom, i scurried upstairs to grab a seat. oh, it was full. i scanned the room and spotted a couple open spots in front and dove in. i nabbed third row, which wasn’t too bad since i was so late. i blanked out and forgot to ask the teacher which side olive was on {due to my tardiness…i forgot}. i sat there for a second and debated on going over to the other side but gut told me to stay and i was right! olive was on the right side and i had a great view of her!

my favorite moment {after the concert} was during the rudolph song, i noticed olive not doing the antler gesture with her hands every time they said reindeer. i just thought she was blanking out or getting tired. she did all the other moves throughout the song but the antler one. after the concert, she said to me, “kiki, did you see? i didn’t make the antlers because i am already a reindeer!” oh my gosh…this girl melts my heart! i should have known better! she’s so clever! i loved that she knew that she was already a reindeer and it was unnecessary to make the gesture! she’s too cute!

the kiddos did such a great job singing. it was so cute and so fun to watch! olive did so well. she knew all the words, i could hear her voice, and she did all the gestures. it was such a fun time watching her with ellie! what a great job olive! you practiced and your hard work showed through your concert great performance! way to go!

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[had to blur out the other kids…so don’t mind the odd pics]

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[she saw us and waved! they were getting ready to perform!]

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[after the concert and the sly poses she was giving me]

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[this one is my favorite…she was going for the vogue, pouty, drama look. hahaha!]

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[other parents were probably like, “what up with the poses?!” ha!]

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[walking down the stage to and getting a reindeer candy cane]

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[so cute!]

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[my sweeties]

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xoxo

thanksgiving ’18

preparations for thanksgiving this year was feeling good.

olive’s birthday party was done and done. we were gearing up for turkey day and black friday weekend. food was purchased, plans were finalized, desserts were bought {sheesh…who has time to bake?? not i said the cat}.

we did our usual, in the morning we go to aunt wendy’s house for an early turkey treat and then we head on over to my parent’s house for another gobble gobble dinner.

i am quite thankful my sister kim basically does all the prep and cooking. like seriously…without her, i’m not sure who would do it. we have hc’s family obligations during the day and i always feel bad i can’t be there to help out more. once we arrive, though, i jump right in to help with whatever i can. she’s such a good cook anyways, no one would want me in the kitchen full time. hahaha!

well, both sides of the family get togethers were wonderful, fulfilling, yummy, and so good. life is great when you’re with family. another beautiful thanksgiving on the books. we are so incredibly thankful.

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[three out of four looking at the camera is good enough]

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[ellie loving aunt wendy’s couch]

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[jump, jump, jump]

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[aunt vicki and jane]

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[sisters eating together]

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[plate o food]

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[uncle eddie and jane]

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[i’ll be sad when i can’t put her hair up like this anymore]

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[olive and hannah]

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[uncle steve and danielle]

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[some sorta shot]

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[hc and grace]

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[she’s so fun!]

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PART DEUX

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[the cutest cousins]

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[hc, ba, and terry]

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[sisters]

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[the family that buffalo checks together, stays together]

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[mom in her element]

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[we’re getting more photo time as a family of 5]

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[beautiful arrangement by kim]

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[agata and dan]

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[i kept screaming, ‘cheek to cheek!!!’…this was as close as they got to ellie]

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[so delicious]

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[cookie decorating]

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[i said, ‘olive, show me your cookie’. she picked it up aaaaand…]

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[her face…too cute when her decorations started falling off! she was like, ‘ohhhhhh no’]

xoxo

happy 4th 2018

boy oh boy, it was a hot one!

we draaaaaagged ourselves out of bed {at least us girls, hc gets up early every day} and quickly got ready to head to the 4th of july hinsdale parade. i knew it was going to be a warm day but dang!!! the humidity was BRUTAL. we just sweated and sweated at 9 o’clock in the morning.

we parked hc’s jeep and walked our way to our usual meeting spot. hc had made ‘special’ beverages for us but little did he know, i am not a rum kind of gal. eep! i wish i was ’cause it was so warm and i needed a cool drink! it was a little bit miserable for the girls. i don’t know if it was too hot, they were not feeling good {because they were very sick the days prior}, or whatever it was, they were grumpy. ellie wanted to be held the entire time {holy hotness} and olive was super whiney {she kind of is in general but we won’t stress that part}. so, before the parade ended, we left. it was just too much. the heat, the sweat, the crying…it was time to go. although i still had a great time watching the parade, as i do every year!

once we got home, we wiped off, we cooled off, and everyone felt so much better. phew! hc and i started prepping a few things. we didn’t have to do much with everyone coming over, because our 4th parties are usually: everyone bring something, so it’s less stressful and so much easier!

i made festive ice cubes, frosé, and a mozzarella salad. we had a lot of salads on the menu. we had potato, mixed greens, coleslaw, pasta salad and i am sure i am forgetting another salad of some sort! hc had the fun task of grilling the burgers, corn, and dogs on the hot, hot grill. yay! what a trooper!

we stayed inside to stay cool, we hung out, and eventually the kids lit some ‘fireworks’ outside. olive was not a fan. she’s so sensitive! she was so afraid and worried someone would get hurt! she ran around screaming.

despite the high temps, it was a wonderful day! it started out hot and stressful but ended up being relaxing, fun, and very enjoyable. plus, it’s always fun to be with family! it was another great 4th on the books!

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[waiting for the parade]

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[ohmergawd i was sweating soooooo much]

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[we ran into this cute little family]

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[sister sister]

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[summer loving]

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[go cubs go!]

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[my sweet, spunky girl]

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[she loves dogs…animals]

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[checking out the parade]

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[my festive babes!]

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[festive ice cubes]

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[frosé]

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[tomato basil and mozzarella in balsamic oil]

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[cousins]

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[aren’t they sweet?!]

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[french macaron thief]

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[i love, love, love these two]

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[so much love]

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xoxo

easter baskets

i try to be creatively proactive with the holidays because if i don’t make a conscious effort, it seriously slaps me in the face unexpectedly. hahaha! then, honestly, i get disappointed i didn’t fair better. innately, i have always loved holidays.

growing up catholic vietnamese, my parents were very religious. so, holidays were all about church, jesus, mary, and celebrating the life of. absolutely nothing wrong with that because i am all about being catholic, respecting my religion, my faith, and the idea of just doing/being a better person and preaching the word of the Lord. easter is all about jesus being resurrected and that is it in a nutshell.

buuuuuuuttttt, i have always looooooved the frilly aspect of it. the commercial, american way of celebrating religious holidays. i love it for the fun, whimsical notions. i like easter baskets, the easter bunny {i adored the easter bunny as a kid!}, and the cute, fun decorations that come with it!

so, with that being said…i had the best time creating easter baskets for the girls. it’s definitely hard to shop for them when they are with me! i had to hide stuff or tell them that they don’t get what they did see until easter. olive was like, “okaaayyyyy”. i am so blessed olive is so compliant and sooo freakin’ well behaved. she just plain listens to me!

i created their baskets the other day and was so pleased with how they turned out! i wanted to limit the candy {although they still get a few treats!}…because i tend to go overboard every year with that and focused more on fun things they would use or like.

voila! useful, fun, pretty, reusable easter baskets! i’m in love. i can’t wait to give these baskets to the girls!

happy creating my friends!

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counter clockwise: garland: hooray everyday // book: little owl’s colors // bunny: target // unicorn horn chalk {not online but in stores}: nordstroms // mini melissa’s unicorn shoes {they’re not available online but similar ones here}: nordstrom // macaron bath bombs: nordstrom

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https://www.target.com

xoxo

valentine’s day ’18

one day, maybe a month or so before valentine’s day, olive asked me if we could have a valentine’s day party. well, ok! i thought it was so cute that she asked! i then inquired who she would like to come to this party, and she, without hesitation, said, “reagan, bennett, and terry!”. alrighty then. i thought it was hilarious! so i text my sisters and let them know what olive had asked and who she wanted to come to the party. my sister kim said, “well, i didn’t want to come anyways!” hahaha!

so, we had our family over for a fun little party! of course we kept it simple. wink. wink. in all seriousness, it really was a simple and easy party to get ready for! olive and i did some food prep before everyone came over. we cut up some ingredients for the apps and olive helped me cut out heart shaped pepperoni for the heart shaped pizzas hc was going to make!

i decorated the kitchen area and we waited for hc to come home from work. he started pizzas while i started apps. we had mozzarella sticks, jalapeños filled with cream cheese, and guac dip. the heart shaped pizzas turned out so cute and delicious and after dinner, we served a yummy cake!

after dessert, we gave the kids their valentine’s day gifts and the kids played and had a ton of fun. olive is always excited to hang with her cousins! our evening was short for it was a school night. so after a couple hours of visiting, we wrapped up our evening and said our farewells.

the party turned out so cute {if i do say so myself} and a good time was had by all! it was definitely a day of love indeed!

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[kid’s table]

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[she’s such a ham!]

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[heart pepperoni]

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[hc and terry]

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[my girls]

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[cousins]

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[hc and kim twinning]

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[look at that pout face]

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[present time!]

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xoxo

holiday program

olive’s pre-k holiday program was this past week! the last day of school before winter break. i was looking forward to this for weeks. olive practiced her songs with us, at home, several times. although, at first we didn’t realize all the songs she sang were part of her holiday concert! we just thought she was learning fun songs at school.

well the day had come and i dressed olive up in the cutest, most festive holiday outfit i could rummage out of her closet. she looked so darling in her tutu playsuit and reindeer antlers.

 we scurried to her school as early as we could because we wanted to nab a seat as close to the stage as possible. we were close…we scored second row! the kiddos paraded in and olive looked so confused and nervous. the teachers sat the kids down and after an announcement, the concert began.

olive had stage fright! to make matters worse, her nose was runny {we’ve been dealing with a little cold} and she was very bothered that she couldn’t wipe her runny nose and it tooooootally bothered me that i couldn’t get up there to wipe it for her!!! poor olive just stared blankly out at the crowd when they started singing their first song. she stared and stared throughout the first few songs and then finally started to warm up and sing along.

the concert was a success! olive was too cute and subdued during the whole concert but sang along for a majority of the songs. it was so fun to watch all the kiddos. of course there was a run away boy who circled the stage and the girl sitting next to olive was so excited and animated! it was hilarious to see how reserved olive was and how boisterous her classmate was! total opposites!

once the concert was over, we were able to take photos of our babe and then she was able to join us and we were able to leave for the day. although olive was really bummed there was no school after the concert! she wanted to stay for school and was a bit upset…awwww, that was too cute.

i was so happy to see her first holiday school program. it completely warmed my heart to see my baby girl perform! it was a great moment that filled my soul with joy.

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[i forgot that i had left her with her bunny!]

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[she was nervous!]

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[she’s not quite sure what to do yet]

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[finally warming up and joining in!]

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[they’re all done! hurray! it was an awesome holiday concert!]

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

turkey day ’16

it was turkey day! yay! i love thanksgiving! it kicks off the holiday season and i love the holidays!

i took a pretty long break posting on the blog. one, i was soooo busy with thanksgiving coming up, planning olive’s birthday, hosting olive’s birthday party, and just living life. things just got a little hectic but i am finally catching up!

we did our usual routine – hc’s aunt wendy always has turkey ‘dinner’ ready by 1:30pm so we always head over there first to visit with his family. we got there a bit earlier and hung out and visited with everyone. olive was, of course, a bit shy and quiet around everyone but as soon as her sister grace showed up, she was all giggles!

once food was served, we just sat around and chilled. we ate, talked, and caught up with life’s happenings. olive started to warm up with everyone and really took to kait! kait is sooooo darn sweet with the girls and had so much fun playing with olive. olive’s giggles and smiles were proof she adored kait too!

after a few hours at aunt wendy’s house, we had to leave and drop grace off so she could continue on with her festive celebrating with her step dad’s side of the family.

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[how adorable is kait with ellie?!]

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[chef wendy]

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[not yet warmed up to anyone]

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[daddy is hungry and ellie is bored]

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[trying to hide from the world]

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[gramma jane]

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[my baby]

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[sister besties]

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[auntie missy]

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[giving thanks to the chicago cubs]

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[kait and morgan]

***************************************************************

we then headed to my parent’s house to continue our thanksgiving tradition of eating dinner at 7. we do that every year and our holiday always works out so perfectly. once we got there, i dove into helping my sister with the cooking {as much as i can because i am no cook!} and drinking! thanksgiving would not be complete without a good bottle of wine! yum!

we drank, we cooked, we laughed, and the kids played. it was a cozy, fun, warm evening together. my brother dan decided, this year, to fry a turkey! it would be our first time doing it! it was the highlight of the night…putting a turkey in a deep fryer and boy, that sucker cooks that bird super fast!!

olive was quite spent from a few active days with very little naps that she was totally agreeable to a nap at my parent’s house. baby girl slept for several hours but she so needed it as it would be another late night for her!

more family came by and soon it was a full house {close to 20 people}. it was pretty awesome because i don’t think i held ellie once. all the ladies and gents took turns holding the baby…who doesn’t love a cutie baby like ellie? she’s so darn sweet!

dinner was ready by 7 and we all sat down to eat! my dad said a blessing and we got to chow down. the food was super good, as usual – my sister always does an amazing job with the menu and the delicious dishes!

overall, it was a wonderful, wonderful thanksgiving. the holiday feelings were all there. i love how festive it feels and looks, i love seeing family, i love being together on this special holiday, and i love eating and drinking together…hahaha, who doesn’t?!

i am thankful for our health, our family and friends, our blessings in life, and most of all, thankful for our two beautiful, healthy girls.

happy thanksgiving indeed!

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[super auntie thuy]

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[yummy turkey stuffing]

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[working hard in the kitchen]

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[kitchen cooking shenanigans]

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[family time]

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[face time with huy]

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[dad loving the face time with huy]

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[olive being grumpy from her nap]

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[i love this babe…i know, i say it all the time but she’s amazing]

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[these two…so sweet]

via tandeminlove.com[she always has this wide eyed look…]

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[our first time frying a turkey…well, dan fried it and it turned out awesome!]

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[mama]

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[thuy brought home sake from japan]

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[yummy chocolate silk pie]

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[he’s sooooooooo sweet with her]

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[i love these two]

xoxo