Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Cheer!

Well Christmas has come and gone and while I miss it already, it was truly the most magical Christmas EVER.  Experiencing holidays through your children is amazing, but there's just something extra special about Christmas!  Sloan totally got it this year and P just copied her excitement, which was so stinking cute!  I have so incredibly much to be thankful for.  2016 has been so good to us and I have a feeling 2017 has lots of good things in store for us as well!

We had a low key, but perfect Christmas Eve!  We ran a few errands and baked cookies for Santa during the day and then went to a late Christmas Eve church service.  Sloan was so cute, she got so excited when the pastor talked about the Christmas story.  I felt my heart swell just knowing that she's understanding the true meaning of Christmas.  Phayre was absolutely hilarious.  Dancing every time we stood to sing and making a break for it up the aisle's every chance she could.  She keeps me on my toes that one.

We came home and got goodies set out for Santa (milk and cookies) and his reindeer (carrots and oats).  Eric read the girls The Night Before Christmas and then we tucked their happy little hearts into bed.

Once the girls were in bed, Eric and I finished up a few things in the girls' new playroom (which was a Christmas surprise!), filled their stockings, and set out all of their Santa gifts.  I felt giddy setting everything up for them!  I'm a mom!  Like a real mom that stays up late on Christmas Eve setting up all of the Christmas magic for my kids.  It was just so fun, I really do love this time of year so much!  Eric and I drug our tired bums to bed shortly after midnight and I couldn't sleep.  I was too excited for the girls to wake up!

I woke up at 7:30 on Christmas morning and immediately woke Eric up, "BAAAAAAAABE!!! It's Christmas!!!"  He asked if the girls were up and when I told him "no" he looked really confused as to why I was waking him up.  I was just so excited!  I ran downstairs and made myself an iced coffee and made sure everything was perfect for the girls.  Shortly after 8, Phayre finally woke up.  I ran into her room the second I heard her and decided to just wake Sloan up because I couldn't wait any longer!  Sloan was so excited that it was finally Christmas morning!!

Eric and I carried the girls downstairs and Sloan immediately saw the new playroom (which used to be my office).  She ran up to the glass doors and said, "Well this is COOL!"  The girls absolutely loved their new playroom and kitchen (don't worry all of the details will be on the blog next week!).  We had to beg the girls to come out of the playroom just to open their stockings and presents!

Watching the girls open their stockings and presents was downright magical.  So magical that I didn't take one single photo!  I know, so not like me!  The girls loved all of their gifts and got SO excited every time they opened one!  Their excitement was contagious, it was so much fun for Eric and I.  It was such a perfect morning!  Sloan's favorite gifts were her Calico Critter Cottage and Elena scepter.  Phayre's favorite gifts were her baby doll and Daniel Tiger figurines.

Some family came over for brunch and the girls got to open a few more presents.  I made an eggs benedict casserole and it was a hit!  Everyone had seconds and obviously it paired perfectly with mimosas :).  (I added some diced gouda cheese to the casserole before baking, it made it extra gooey and creamy.  So good!)

We spent the rest of the day playing and cooking.  It was relaxed and happy and really just perfect.  We spent hours playing with the girls in their new playroom.  P was so worn out she begged to go to sleep right after her bath at 6:30pm (an hour and a half before her usual bedtime!).  I put P down and then snuck Sloan out for a surprise movie date.  We saw Sing and it was so darling!

I hope that you all had a very happy holiday spent with loved ones!  And holy moly it's time to get ready for New Years Eve!!  Bring it on 2017!



Sloan taking P's picture :).

See full playroom tour with links to everything here!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My favorite ever {super flavorful} sugar cookie recipe!

Decorating (and eating) sugar cookies is one of my absolute favorite Christmas traditions!!  I'll be honest, doing them with toddlers can be a little hectic :).  We usually split up the mixing, baking, and decorating so it can take us a day or two to finish them.  Decorating the cookies with my girls is my faaaaaavorite ever!!  We chat and show each other what fun designs we're doing.  I can't wait for B to be able to join us next year!

I'm not kidding this is the best and most flavorful sugar cookie recipe ever.  I mean, I hate to toot my own horn, but... Toot.  Toot.  I actually like the cookies better without frosting because they're so flavorful.  This is the perfect amount for a family, but I usually double this recipe if I'm making cookies for friends or neighbors.

***The lemon zest is the real secret to this recipe.  Lemon juice just doesn't taste as good, make sure you zest your lemon!  And if you don't have any almond extract, you can just use 1tsp. of vanilla extract, but it tastes better with the almond extract!

What you'll need:
-3/4 cup softened butter (1.5 sticks)
-4 oz softened cream cheese (half a brick)
-1 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/2 tsp. almond extract
-zest of one lemon
-3 cups all purpose flour

What to do:
1. preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and egg together.  Once combined, add the salt, baking powder, vanilla and almond extracts, and lemon zest.
3. Add flour and mix until combined.
4. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface (dough should be about 1/4 inch thick) and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
5. Bake on parchment paper for 7-9 minutes.  I bake mine for exactly 7 minutes so that they're still soft and chewy!  Transfer to a wire wrack and let cookies cool completely.
6. Decorate with frosting and sprinkles and enjoy!

I hope you love them as much as we do!!  Happy Holidays from my family to yours!

For icing, I like the kind that hardens a bit and doesn't stick if you stack the cookies.  I use a super simple recipe:

-2 cups powdered sugar
-4 tablespoons milk
-4 tablespoons light corn syrup
-optional: food coloring

Mix the ingredients together and decorate your cookies!

I usually make the icing in a large bowl and then split it into four or five small bowls.  Then I add food coloring to the small bowls to get the colors that we want.  The girls like to spread it on with little knives, but I like to put some icing in the bottom corner of a sandwich size ziplock bag, cut the tip of the bag off, and pipe it onto the cookies.

Decorate with sprinkles and enjoy!!

Our 2017 Christmas cookies.

My favorite {easy} Christmas crafts!

One of Sloan's favorite things to do is art, so my early childhood education degree comes in quite handy!  I taught preschool through college and eventually taught second grade (for only a year because I got pregnant and decided to stay home!).  Art is the fun part of teaching so I love that I get to do my favorite crafts with the girls now.   I know I'm a little late in the month sharing these, so maybe pin this and come back to it next year if you don't have time this week!

***Lot's of you have asked me to share some preschool activities and crafts and I promise I'll work on that in the new year!!

I saved all of Sloan's Christmas crafts from last year and pulling them out this year was so fun.  It was fun comparing how big her hands have gotten and how much more artistic she is!  I love activities that don't take a lot of prep or parent involvement, but more importantly I love activities that are cheap!  We do have a lot of art supplies on hand, but I try to always use things that we already have before going out and buying things.

One of my favorite Christmas crafts are popsicle stick tree ornaments.  They're cheap, easy, and they hold a toddlers attention for a long time!  We made them yesterday afternoon so I thought I'd share!  Sloan loved it and worked on them for close to an hour.  P sat and played with pom poms for awhile, she was so interested in what Sloan was doing.

Popsicle stick Christmas tree ornaments
What you'll need:
-popsicle sticks (I had green popsicle sticks left over from last year.  If you can't find green ones you can have your toddler paint them green or just use them without paint.)
-glue (I used hot glue to attach the popsicle sticks and elmer's glue to attach the "decorations")
-decorations (we used rhinestones, pom poms, and sequins)
-stars (for the top of your trees)
-string or ribbon

I hot glued the popsicle sticks together while Sloan was napping.  This will ensure they'll stay glued together for years to come.  I also hot glued the string to the back of the trees so that they can be hung on the tree.  It was also nice having everything ready to go right when she woke up.  I split the "decorations" up into silicone muffin cups so that it was easy for Sloan to grab them, but not messy.  She squeezed elmer's glue onto the trees and decorated them.  Easy as pie and it kept her busy for so long!  We're keeping a few and giving the rest to grandparents and uncles!

This tiny little topknot kills me.  It needed to be documented.

Have I ever mentioned that P always curls her toes and that Sloan did too when she was a baby?  Also needed to be documented.

Cookie cutter stamping
This one is probably the easiest and cheapest!  It's also a great activity to do year round, I only do it at Christmas because I only have Christmas cookie cutters (I'm not much of a baker!).  Just simply put a little paint on a tray or paper plate and let your child stamp the cookie cutter into the paint and then onto a piece of paper.

Handprint art!
This is something I do every year and for most holidays.  It's cute and always fun to look back on their little hands and feet.  I don't have any photos of the ones the girls made this year, but I've gotten all of my ideas from Pinterest.  Check out my holiday board on Pinterest for some fun ideas!

Cutting snowflakes
This one seems like a no brainer, but I never see people do it anymore!  Sloan has been practicing cutting like crazy so we're going to attempt cutting our own snowflakes tomorrow!  I can't wait to put them on our windows!

Glitter pinecones
Another super easy and fun craft!  My friend Liz actually reminded me of these, I remember making them when I was little!  Here is an easy tutorial.

Image via

I hope you have fun doing one or some of these activities with your little ones!  Happy Holidays friends!!



Monday, December 19, 2016

Sloan and Phayre

Every once in awhile I like to do a little sister snapshot and share little things about the girls, things that I know I'll love to look back on and remember.  I wish I did this more often!  But ya know... life happens and I'm usually busy blogging about the embarrassing things I've done.  The girls are changing so quickly and are both in really fun stages right now!  Each day they prove to me just how opposite they are!  They are busy and into everything, but they are so sweet and funny too!  They are quite possibly the sweetest sisters and I'm so thankful that I finally get to experience sisterhood through them!

Sloan Eloise .  Three years and seven months

It's no secret that Sloan is my sassy child.  She has been since the day she was born.  She's basically a short scrawny version of me.  She reminds me so much of myself that it actually scares me, teenage years could be really scary people!  While she is sassy, she is also so very sensitive and sweet.  She's incredibly thoughtful, witty, and loyal.  She protects Phayre and worries for Phayre the way I always have with my little brother.  The other day P was a little under the weather so I took Sloan to a birthday party by herself, she grabbed two of everything and asked me to put them in my bag for Phayre.  Down to the balloon animals, she asked for an extra for her sister.  She loves P so much, she really is the sweetest big sister.

Sloan is SUCH a princess.  She will only wear dresses (and loathes pants), plays dress up daily, and is hell bent on making her sister into a princess as well.  She chases P around the house with princess dresses and demands she wear them.  She's very theatrical and spoils me with lots of concerts.  Every day she spends time in her bedroom "organizing".  "Organizing" consists of Sloan laying out several outfits, which include bows, jewelry, sunglasses, cold weather accessories, and shoes.  I pretty much feel like all I do is put her stuff away, but it's her most favorite thing to do so I go with it :).  Her outfits come in handy considering she demands to change her outfit at least three times a day.  The laundry you guys.  The laundry might kill me.

Sloan loves words, she always has.  She copies everything I say and loves using big words.  When she's unsure of a words meaning, she'll use it in a sentence and then gage my reaction to see if she used the word in the right context.  I love when she uses words in the wrong context, I think it's so funny.  The other day we were in the car and she said, "Oh no Mama!!  The snow is turning brown in the street.  That is making me so nervous!  Like, I'm just so nervous about all this brown snow."  I laughed and she gave me a funny look and said, "Wait, am I nervous mama?"  So we had a conversation about what nervous means and she hasn't stopped saying it since.

Sloan has been and (I hope) always will be a Mama's girl.  She loves me so much and is so loyal to me, she truly is my little bestie.  One of my most favorite things about her is how affectionate she is.  She's constantly holding my hand, giving my kisses, or asking me to cuddle her.  Lately she's been asking me for another baby.  I told her that when you want a baby, you have to pray to God and ask him to bless you with a baby.  Everyday she says, "Ok mama it's time to pray for a baby!  I want a boy baby and then later another girl baby."  I keep telling her to be patient and enjoy P for awhile longer.  Plus she's dreamin if she thinks she's getting two more siblings :).

Sloan Eloise really is wonderful.  She is such a three year old when it comes to her emotions and her ability to be rational (please tell me four will be better!), but she makes up for it by being so incredibly funny, loving, and kind.  She loves preschool, is shy when you first meet her, loves her family and friends fiercely, is so good at playing make believe, loves Elena of Avalor, and wants to do art all day long.

I joke about three being a hard age and hoping that four will be a little more emotionally stable, but if I'm being totally honest I am so deeply sad that she'll be four in four and a half months.  My sweet baby is growing up so quickly.  Oh what I wouldn't give to go back in time and hold my tiny Sloany just one more time.  Although she still very much loves to be held... I told you she's my affectionate kid :).

Phayre Golda  .  Sixteen months

Oh sweet Phayre Gold Brown.  Phayre is at my most favorite age right now.  She can walk, understands everything, and is starting to talk like crazy!  BUT, she doesn't yet have an opinion, doesn't throw fits, and doesn't know how to talk back!  She calls herself Phayre Bear and calls Sloan "Didi".  I'm not kidding, it's my favorite thing on the planet.  She runs around all day long yelling, "Didi!!  Didi!!!, Diiiiiiiiii Diiiiiiiiii!!!!!!!"  She follows Sloan around and copies her every move (especially if it's something naughty).  P is so easy going and happy, you can't help but smile when you're around her.  Her giant blue eyes don't hurt either ;).

Phayre dances ALL day long.  If she hears anything that even resembles music she starts dancing.  A commercial or a phone ringing?  Baby sister starts busting a move and I LOVE IT.  She also loves to twirl, it's the best.  She is into everything and makes it her mission to leave a trail wherever she goes. She exhausts me in the cleaning up department, it's a good ting she's so happy and cute.  P is also so freaking accident prone.  She is constantly getting hurt, we joke daily about putting her in a bubble.  She is by far the most resilient kid I've ever known though.  She can bounce back remarkably fast after a pretty bad tumble!

She loves Daniel Tiger, although she'll only sit through about six minutes of the show.  Her favorite toy is her babydoll stroller, she pushes it all around the house and gets so upset when Sloan tries to play with it.  She has two favorite blankets and always falls asleep cuddling a baby doll.  She LOVES babies so much.  Whenever we're with friends who have a small baby she whines and gestures to hold the baby.  It's kinda like a knife through my heart when I see her holding other babies :(, I cannot believe how big she's getting.

I like to think P is a mamas girl, but as soon as Eric walks through the door she's all about him.  She gives the worlds best welcome home hugs.  Seeing Eric's face when she comes barreling across the room to hug him is one go my most favorite parts of the day.  Speaking of P running, her one adorable thigh role has quickly disappeared.  I miss that thigh role!  Don't worry though, P is still a fantastic eater and a chunky girl.

Phayre is such a little sister.  She idolizes her big sister (she's such a copy cat!) and is so easy going.  She just fits into our family so perfectly, I'm so so thankful for her.  I'm absolutely dreading her turning 18 months because then I know she'll be closer to two than one.  I don't want my baby to grow up!!  Just stay little for a bit longer my sweet P.

These photos were taken by my very talented friend Lindsey from Lindsey Wiatt Photography!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Snow, snow, and how 'bout some more snow?

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that it's been SNOWING.  I mean I've only posted like 9827 photos of the girls in snow, someone should seriously take my phone away.  We have been having so much fun playing in the snow, eating the snow (the girls, not me), and enjoying cozy activities inside.

I was born in southern California and moved to Oregon when I was five years old.  I grew up wishing that we could move back to California so that we could enjoy year round sunshine.  As an adult, I am so appreciative of Oregon!  We get to experience all four seasons and it really is so beautiful.  I love that we're raising the girls here.  While I wish winters were a wee bit shorter and I could go for a few less rainy days, I really am loving this snowy winter.  I hope that we raise the girls to love their home and all of the seasons.

While we've been playing outside with pink noses and freezing fingers A LOT, we've also been spending so much cozy family time inside.  We've baked our very favorite chocolate chip cookies twice (decorating sugar cookies is next on our list), watched countless Christmas movies, and played so many board games (candy land is our jam).

If you're looking for snow gear, these snow bibs that I bought for the girls are awesome (here is the boy version), and they're so reasonable!  I am obsessed with this sweatshirt, if you're having a cold winter you need it too!!  I also love this coat and these snow boots (for women)!

I cannot believe Christmas is in a week?!  All of my Christmas shopping is done, everything is wrapped and waiting under the tree!  I even have all of our stocking stuffers ready and waiting.  A part of me can't wait for it to be Christmas so that the girls can open all of their gifts, but the other part of me feels like this year flew by WAY too fast.  I think I will just be eternally mad at time for ticking away much too quickly.

Whatever your weather is like, I love you're enjoying it and spending lots of quality time with family!  Merry almost Christmas!!



Saturday, December 17, 2016

A little 'me time' with Aveeno

It's no secret that I am knee neck deep in mommy hood.  I love my girls and I wouldn't want to spend my days any other way, but the truth is-I don't get very much "me time".  I mean if we're really telling the truth, I don't even get to shower as often as I'd like sometimes!  Finding time for myself can be hard, but I've actually been trying really hard to be more conscious of my own needs and find time for myself lately.

I found myself very quickly after having Sloan, but I've had a much harder time after having Phayre.  I've really felt lost in the mix of a toddler and baby.  Postpartum was much crueler to me the second time around!  It's taken me a long time really get my groove back, but call me Stella because mama is finally feeling like herself again!

Taking care of myself and doing things that I enjoy (without my children) has been the perfect recipe for finding myself again.  I've actually started reading books again!  Like real grown up books without pictures!  I've also been making plans with my friends and leaving the girls with Eric more.  I get uninterrupted time with my girlfriends and Eric gets alone time with the girls, it's really a win win for everyone.

I'd have to say the biggest factor contributing to me finding myself again is taking care of myself.  I've been working out a few days a week, eating better, and taking the time to get ready (and actually shower regularly!!).  I may not be dressed to the nines everyday, but I really do feel better when I take enough time to shower and get ready for the day.

I've always been super honest about my love of sleep!!  I have always slept in until the girls do, they're my little human alarm clocks.  Lately, I've been setting a real alarm and waking up before the girls do.  I get a shower in (where I can actually wash my hair and not just rinse my body off) and then get ready for the day.  I don't spend hours getting ready, I give myself just enough time to put a little make up on and dry my hair.  It was hard at first, but now that I'm used to it I absolutely love being ready when the girls wake up.  I feel so much more prepared to take on the day when I'm showered and ready to go.

I think the reason I'm able to get my tired bum up and out of bed is because I absolutely love my new body wash.  I recently found Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Yogurt Body Wash and the apricot honey scent is sooo good.  It's seriously ridiculously good, I always rub it into my hands and smell it for awhile before washing my body.  It rubs on super creamy and leaves my skin feeling moisturized and soft.  I love that it doesn't leave my skin feeling stripped or damaged, especially during the colder months when my skin typically suffers from the colder weather.

As soon as I hop out of the shower, I sit on my bed and lather myself up with Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Yogurt Lotion (in the apricot honey scent because duh it smells so yummy).  I absolutely love this lotion, not only is the scent so good, but it also leaves my skin feeling so soft and hydrated.  I had some dry patches on my arms and since using this lotion, they've totally gone away.  I take my time and really make getting ready feel like "me time".  It just puts me in a relaxed and happy mood which is a perfect start to my day!

I am obviously such a big fan of the new Aveeno yogurt body wash and lotion.  They've become a part of my daily routine and I can't say enough good things.  By using products that I love, getting ready in the morning really does feel like "me time".  It's just a tiny chunk of my day that I dedicate to myself and that feels really good.  The active naturals boost skins wellness with the same vitamins and proteins that are found in rich yogurt.  The yogurt also features the new ACTIVBIND Complex, which is a formula that maintains all day hydration.

Bottom line mamas, I really urge you to make the time to take care of yourselves.  Taking a little extra time to take care of your skin and body will lead to a better overall feeling of wellness.  And get out without your children!  Enjoy a little alone time or time with your friends.  You'll come home feeling so refreshed and ready to squeeze your babies!

Here's to us mamas!  May we find ourselves in this crazy, messy, and beautiful thing we call motherhood!



Share your #momentforme with @aveenous.
I partnered with AVEENO® on this post. all opinions expressed are 100% my own.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Snow Day!

We've had a few snowfalls already this winter, but they never seem to stick!  While it's so magical to watch the snow fall outside of our windows, it's always more fun to get to play in it!  Yesterday it snowed buckets and by dinner time our neighborhood looked like a winter wonderland.  I half expected the snow to be melted by the time we woke up this morning, but to everyones excitement there was still tons of snow!!  We raced through breakfast and bundled up!  The girls played and played and Eric and I ran them up and down our hill in the sled.  I love snow days so much!!  Today has been so special, I know I'll remember it forever!

I put my COOL Mom pants on and let Sloan play in the snow in her Elsa dress.  She was running around saying, "I am Elsa the SNOW QUEEN!!!  Welcome to Arendelle!"  It was adorable and I love how special it made her feel!  P's favorite activity was shoveling her mouth full of snow!  We even ran the girls across the street to our neighborhood park and let the girls go down the snowy slides.  It was a blast :).

After P took a face first tumble into the snow we ran inside to warm up.  We laid all of our gloves and hats by the fireplace and watched countless Christmas movies while enjoying popcorn, homemade chocolate chips cookies, and hot cocoa (well iced coffee for me, you know I never ever drink hot coffee!).  See I told you, such a special day!

Blog Design by Get Polished