i looooooove sunday brunch

i don’t know what it is about sunday brunch that i love so much. sundays have always been a day of relaxing, a day of ease, a day to do much of nothing. or if it is something you do…it involves food. brunch or slow cooking is usually where it’s at and we gather. we gather with friends. we gather with family. no pressure, just a go with the flow attitude. it’s almost like a mental preparation for the upcoming week.

we were looking forward to hanging out with these two fabulous guys. it’s so great to have friends like matt and johann. they are kind, smart, supportive, and so much fun to be around!

we met up with them right outside their place. the weather was amaaaaazing. sunny, warm, and perfect. we walked over to a brunch spot matt recommended but for some strange reason, they were closed?! it even said ‘brunch on sundays’ boldly across their windows…hahaha! really? ya fooled me!

well, that pushed us to go to o’donovan’s down the street and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. they have a large outdoor space and the weather was fantastic…it was meant to be! the best part? there was noooooo wait. whaaaaaa?! on a day like today ~ sunday and it’s brunch time and there’s no wait? sweet.

we got cozy in a perfect little spot and ordered drinks ~ extra spicy bloody mary please! the restaurant had a breakfast buffet and we were set. drinks were flowing and copious amounts of food were on our plates, we were having a great time, just how sunday brunch should be!

then a man came by our table, a magician! we said no to tricks but yes to balloon animals! the gentleman made a mouse for ellie and a butterfly for olive. the balloon animals were a hit! olive was soooooo happy! she is such a good girl to begin with and she will always sit around and chill with us without causing any trouble but the balloon animals entertained her the entire time! score!

after brunch, we headed back to matt and johann’s place. on our walk back, we bought some girl scout cookies {yum!} from a couple of girls and sponsors selling them on a street corner. i mean, c’mon…who would ever pass up girl scout cookies?! once we were back at their place, we enjoyed nespresso and cookies while olive pranced around entertaining herself.

after an hour or so, we gathered our belongings to head home. it was time for both girls to nap and a car ride would be the lullaby that they needed. we said our goodbyes and headed home. we had such a great morning and afternoon with our two dear friends. brunch time with buddies is the best. i love sundays like this, i crave sundays like this, and i am such a happy camper when we can pull in beautiful days like this.

cheers to sunday brunch! clink! clink!

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[o’donovan’s chicago]

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[waiting 5 seconds for a table…there really was no wait on this gorgeous day!]

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[it was so beautiful out and we had a fabulous time sitting alfresco]

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[bloody mary extra spicy please!]

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[best thing ever at the restaurant…a magician who makes balloon animals!!! win win!]

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[guncle matt with ellie]

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[guncle johann with ellie]

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[precious babe with her daddy]

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[inside matt and johann’s lovely place]

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[ellie matching the decor]

xoxo

happy love day!

our valentine’s day dinner was low key for us but snazzy fun for the girls!

sometimes hc and i will get out the weekend prior to valentine’s day for a fancy dinner with just the two of us but this year we weren’t feeling it. we were too busy and didn’t really put any thought into it. i know, i know…we should probably be more focused on us and do more fun stuff like that and we will. i desperately cling onto the innocence of my girls and love spending all my time with them and hc.

so, we decided to keep it simple with us and do something fun for the babes {ok…i did something fun for the babes!}. i concocted, in my head, a valentine’s day themed dinner for them. i shopped a week prior for cute little items for a festive table spread {target is my friend} and dug through my vday box of decor goodies in the basement {i am a hoarder of anything holiday}.

i grabbed fresh balloons on valentine’s day and came home to assemble the fun table for the girls. i put presents and cards inside their valentine’s envelope, i filled pink glass jars with bubble wands, candy, and toys. they had heart shaped plates, with heart design cups, with heart shaped strawberries, and heart shaped sandwiches. i sprinkled the center of the table with more toys and decor. overall, i loved how it looked! so festive, fun, and cute {if i do say so myself!}!

olive loved it all! she was so entertained by all the goodies, ate her fun food, and had a blast playing with everything. she especially loved going into her envelope and finding her card and presents!

as for our dinner, hc made the most delicious heart shaped burgers everrrrrrrr. the entire dinner was yummy and perfect! we had the best valentine’s day dinner all together. it was fun for the girls, relaxing for us {key word…relax}, and super fun spending it together!

i loved how we spent our holiday evening. it was perfect and cute! it was low key, full of love, and we celebrated as a family…how it should be! happy valentine’s day indeed…not just on the 14th but every day!!

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[festive, festive, festive!]

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[candy hearts, games, toys, treats!]

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[at first, they kept staring at everything! ha!]

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[checking out their goodies!]

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[hearts galore]

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[love these fun babes]

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[gorgeous flowers from the hc]

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[cute little heart burger hc made for dinner!]

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[she was so excited to open up her envelope and see her gifts!]

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[she looooooooves trolls]

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[gathering her goodies]

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xoxo

makey valentine’s day cards

yayyyyyyy! it was our yearly ~ let’s makey valentine’s day cards for everyone!

i love doing this every year with olive and love that she has fun decorating all the cards. i can’t wait until ellie is old enough to do this with olive, it’ll be cuteness overload when that happens!

i rummaged out all the fun decor i had stored away and created a fun little space of heart explosions, lots of red, and crafty stuff galore. olive was so excited to dig into all the valentine’s day goodness. she started out with painting the heart cards but became restless and went crazy with the stickers. she totally loved putting all the festive stickers all over the cards and loved the little, what she called alien, poms! those were her most favorite items, although they were just for fun and wouldn’t mail very well in a flat envelope! ha!

ellie joined in on the fun for a bit but soon olive finished up all her valentine’s day cards in style. this mama then addressed and mailed them out to all her sweet little friends! we hope all her buddies enjoyed their sweet little surprise in the mail! olive wants to know if you will be her valentine?! muwah!

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[long story: i bought one heart envelope on sale {super cheap, yearssss ago} and ordered it to get embroidered with olive’s name. it arrived not embroidered! i was super upset but apparently i must have ‘deleted’ the personalization part of my order and that was why it arrived blank. i called the company and figured out what had happened and i wanted to order another one because i wanted olive’s name on it! the customer service person was soooooo nice and helpful and told me to not bother to send the other envelope back because it was so inexpensive and it wouldn’t be cost efficient to send it back. well, thought, what will i do with an extra envelope? i almost gave it away but ended up keeping and found it in my valentine’s day box of decor this year! how perfect?! i then got the second envelope personalized with ellie’s name! it was meant to be!]

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[copious options]

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[she loved her ‘aliens’]

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[painting away]

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[she did such a great job!]

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[i love her]

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[she’s so fun]

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[gahhhhhhh, i love these girls!]

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[i couldn’t help but post every pic of her making the cards…she was so into it!]

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[her favorite items from the day!!]

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xoxo

heart pies

mmmmmmm yum yum!

i made heart pies the other day in lieu of valentine’s day! every year, i try to think of something fun to make/bake in celebration of valentine’s day. thank goodness for pinterest!!! i definitely need it to be easy and fun, stress the easy part…’cause this mama ain’t got time for that. bahhhahaha!

i found this idea and thought, perfect! easy and fun! just what i wanted. i bought the ingredients and waited for a good moment in time {maybe ellie’s nap?} to execute this cute recipe!

you could either make your own pie crust or buy the store bought kind. it depends on how much time you have carved out for this type of activity. i was stressed for that so i did the latter but i highly recommend making your own pie crust…it’s more delicious that way {my favorite pie crust recipe is here}. i felt the store bought pie crust was a bit too bland, good but homemade is always better!

anyhoo, time was the factor so pre made pie crust it was! i rolled out the dough, cut out the hearts, filled each heart with cherry filling, buttered the edges, fluted the edges with a fork, then brushed the tops with egg, and then sprinkled it with sugar! phew! that was a mouthful!

the best part when i was making these pies? olive! she wanted to help and i was over the moon! it made my heart so happy to see her interested and so eager to help me put together the pies! she rolled out the dough, she cut out the hearts, she helped scoop out the pie filling, flute the edges, and she even cut the x’s onto the pies! yes, i gave her a sharp knife and she x’d all the pies! she did a great job handling the knife {with my guidance of course!} and i was so proud at how well she cut into the dough and made the x’s! such a big girl!

she was so excited that she had helped out with making the pies and was even more excited to watch the pies bake! i told her that once the pies were done, she could eat one and that just made her eyes sparkle! my heart was so full seeing her eyes light up when i gave her a sweet little cherry heart pie pop! she devoured every morsel! yum!

i definitely want to make these again…maybe round pie shapes instead? we had so much fun baking together, i can’t wait to conjure up some more creative treat ideas so olive and i can have more mommy and me time! yay!

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[ellie chillin’ while olive and i make pies]

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[mama’s little helper]

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[rolling the dough]

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[she loved pressing the dough into a heart shape]

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[she was so excited to see the heart shape she pressed!]

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[the sweetest face]

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[my favorite jelly jam]

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[spooning on the filling]

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[buttering the edges so the pie seals together]

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[sealing the heart]

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[the finished product!]

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[devouring her pie pop]

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[she’s the cutest]

xoxo

teeth time

it was check up time!

i have been taking miss olive to the dentist since she was 18 months old{?} and let me tell you that it really hasn’t gotten any better with each visit…haha! this time around was a weeeeee bit better, she actually volunteered to sit in the chair buy herself and i was quite surprised! i couldn’t believe she was being so independent! they gave her sunglasses and she thought she was so cool, sitting in the reclining chair and chillin.

the assistant then put on her mask and gloves and that freaked olive out and she started to whimper. the assistant then started to clean her teeth and that caused her to nervously cough and cough and cough and gag a bit. she started crying and wanted her to finish but the assistant still needed to floss and brush her teeth and olive was not having it. we safely made it through and olive was so relieved but little did she know that dr. albert still had to pay her a visit to double check her teeth! this time around, we decided to put olive in my lap since she didn’t do so well with the assistant. here, olive cried and cried and dr. mira checked her teeth…ugh, poor babe. i know dr. albert deals with a lot of screaming kids but i felt so bad for her too…it was a no win situation!

well, all was well {olive has a bad overbite due to her teeth coming in so randomly when she was a baby that different teeth overlap over and under in the front causing her crooked bite} and olive checked out ok! we need to floss a bit more in the back and brush a little longer on her back molars!

we love coming to brush pediatric, for multiple reasons…the wait area is so cool and olive has a blast with all the toys, everyone is sooooooo nice. the whole staff is so sweet and loving towards my girls. dr. albert is so great with olive, kind, and very helpful with tips and how to better take care of her teeth and lessens my worries about her crooked bite {she always reassures me to wait for her permanent and there is no need to worry now…so true!}.

i am glad i have been taking olive to the dentist since she was a babe. it helps grow her comfort with ‘strangers’ looking at her teeth/mouth and helps us to keep healthy habits for her!

via tandeminlove.com[playing while waiting]

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[she thought she was cool and then they started checking her teeth…]

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[the fear started to take over]

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[a bit relieved it was ‘almost’ over!]

xoxo

play time!

i love getting together with kim!

it’s always fun to get the kids together and visit with kim. this time around, she and the kids came out to our place. we were so excited to have them over. brady and brooklyn were so cute with ellie…they were loving the baby!

they were running behind, so i decided to dress up olive and snap some fun pics but while we were finishing up – they arrived! i knew i should have gotten ready before i took pics of olive. i kept thinking to myself, get dressed and freshen up before i started the whole pic thing with olive but instead i just went for it, thinking i had time to change. nope…in comes kim and the kids and there i was feeling sloppy. hahaha! c’est la vie!

the kids played, had fun, doted on ellie while kim and i caught up with life. they were having a blast and it was soooooo cute to watch brady and olive together. i was so surprised how receptive olive was to brady. the past few playdates, olive was overwhelmed by brady’s affection and energy. she didn’t know what to do with him, so she would just stare at him from afar. but this time around, she was super excited to see him! while i was dressing olive, i told her brady was here and she excitedly went out to say hi to him and they immediately started playing together. oh so sweet.

we then had lunch and served desserts. the kids had a blast eating their cookies and what not. i can’t tell you how cute it is to watch them! they were all being so darn adorable and sweet! after a few hours of playtime, it was time for them to go. we had such a great time together…kim and i are such mamas! we love spending time with our kids and we love spending time together with our kids! we do agree we need a night out with just us gals – wine and uninterrupted conversations!

i am sure the next time we get together, it will be with the kids but one day we will squeeze in that girl time, one day soon!

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[beautiful brooklyn]

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[the chaos surrounding ellie]

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[sisters…she loves her so]

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[they all wanted to entertain ellie]

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[beautiful ladies]

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[lunch time]

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[dessert time!]

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[studying her dessert]

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[hugs and kisses goodbye]

xoxo

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

’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

swantastic

happy birthday olive! 11.27.13

my baby girl turned T H R E E!!!!!!! oh my goodness. she’s graced this earth for three years and life has never been better. i can’t explain in words what it’s like being her mama but i will try. she brings me sooooo much joy, love, life, and happiness. the moment she entered into this world, she has challenged me mentally, physically, and emotionally…ALL for the better. my life made complete sense once i had her. don’t get me wrong, my hubby charming is THE best guy out there. he completes me. i LOVE him and can’t imagine life without him…like seriously, he can never leave my side but olive elevated everything. she took my life to a next level i never knew existed. it blows my mind i gave birth to a part of me…an extension of me that is so much better! {because she’s a mix of me and the hubby, so what could be better than that?!}. ok, ok…enough. i feel like i can drone on and on so i won’t and will stop. but man, being a mama is pretty damn awesome.

anyhoo, her birthday party planning started out as a simple thought. i really did have the intent to buy a birthday cake and some balloons. then i thought, why not make it a swan party? oh yeahhhhhhhhh. then it snowballed out of control. because it’s me. and i tend to go overboard, get all type a, and then my creative mind gets.out.of.control. the ideas don’t stop. i think of one thing, to the next, then the next idea, and the ideas don’t stop rolling in! {for example: our wedding was a diy monsoon ideas}

well, as you will see in the pictures – my simple cake idea and balloons festered into a pretty darn cute swan party!

i crafted a lot of what you see and shopped big and small for the rest of the details. two hours before the party, i was literally icing sugar cookies for the party {something i usually would never do. i, typically, am too stressed to do such a thing, because i am always running around tying all the details together}, so scroll down to the pic and read my story behind why i was doing such a thing before the guests arrived!

the party time rolled around and the guests started to roll in. of course, in doan fashion, my family was late and hc’s family was early or on time. soon everyone trickled in and the fun started to happen! we had music blasting and libations flowing. olive immediately warmed up to everyone {she was excited it was her birthday!} and had a lot fun playing with her friends and cousins.

we served food an hour into the party and dessert shortly thereafter, although there was no rush and everything was timed just right. we socialized, mingled, drank, and celebrated miss olive. it’s always so joyous to have friends and family over, under one roof, honoring a festive occasion.

the party lasted all afternoon and early evening. we enjoyed every second of it. olive did so well…no nap and no meltdown but it’s her party and she can cry if she wants to, cry if she wants to…haha!

oh, we had such a great time and i know olive did too. she loved all the presents and cake and balloons and pretty much everything! all in all, it was a total success, if i do say so myself. everything turned out great! so, maybe next year i will stick to my thought of keeping it simple, just getting a cake and balloons for her fourth birthday…or maybe not. eep!

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[dyyyyyyying over her outfit]

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[trying to check out her shoes]

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[she’s the sweetest!]

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[my birthday girl]

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[pretty gold glitter dipped feather garland]

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[mini party hats]

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[enjoying her place setting decor]

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[the biggest balloon everrrrrrrrr]

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[diy swan straws]

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[handmade swan from turkey]

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[chair wing decor]

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[laser cut swan place cards, tucked with a feather, and topped with a handmade spray painted gold glitter crown]

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[long story: i had ordered swan cookies through a shop and she cancelled last minute, well she didn’t even contact me! i contacted her and was told that due to an emergency, my order was cancelled…i found out the day before her party! i was so bummed but i really didn’t have time to make cookies myself. well, i am super crazy and decided to do it anyways {two hours before the party!}! i bought ready made dough and shaped it out, baked them, and frosted them holding a crying baby. yes…i frosted these with one shaky arm and a baby in the other arm. ellie didn’t want to be lying down…what a time for her to be fussy! so, tada! my impromptu swan sugar cookies!]

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[just another view of the decor]

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[the swan dessert table]

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[family…lan, my sister thuy, kim, and our mom]

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[simple cake…my kind of style]

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[cake topper by hooray everyday]

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[a little overexposed but i still will take it! mom and my brother dan]

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[i used white ceramic swans and filled them with succulents]

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[i had a lot of fun making this balloon garland!]

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[papa the king]

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[me and my mama]

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[swan table centerpieces]

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[having a blast with her cousins and friends]

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[the best and the coolest nephews!]

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[as smiley as she gets…hahaha!]

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[eyeing her cake]

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[questioning everything]

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[always sooooooooo shy]

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[we got a tiny smile out of her!]

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[my heart melted into a puddle]

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[uncle dan, olive, ellie, and cousin reagan]

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[yummy dessert is served!]

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[this babe slept for most of the party!]

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[i looooooooooooove her]

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[auntie missy and ellie]

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[me and my babe]

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[i love these kiddos]

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[so typical olive]

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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