Archive for November 2016

We Gobbled Until We Wobbled...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
We landed at home from Florida and headed straight for my In-laws to join the rest of Scott's siblings for Thanksgiving! We packed a lot into 2 1/2 days.  A whole lot of eating, playing with cousins, games, more eating and some napping too ;)!

We contributed 2 pies - chocolate pudding pie and Scott's 4-H prize winning Chocolate chunk pecan pie (heaven in a pie ;) other than that my Mother-in-Law and Sister-in-law Raquel did all the cooking.  It was delicious and the table was beautiful!  Scott's 96 year old Grandma Olive was able to join us so we had 4 generations and 17 people around the table.  

Some of us missed dinner because a nap called our name.  She feasted on a peanut butter sandwich when she woke up which is just what she would want to feast on!

We spent the rest of the day playing games.  We played this one, this one and this one. We love playing games!  The kids enjoyed playing in the basement and a football game broke out after our turkey supper, I regretted participating about one run in but we had fun ;)!

Nana got all the kids pajamas...and they had cereal for Thanksgiving supper which was very exciting!

The next morning we planned to take updated family photos since 3 new grandchildren had been added since our last one! It was cold, windy and a lot of littles but we got some great ones!

Warming up in the car before we headed to see Santa at Bass Pro Shop!

They have so many fun activities for the kids to play with while we waited for our time slot.

...and as expected Lucy did not enjoy the Jolly Man!  But I love pictures like this - sweet girl!

We stopped at Zombie Burger before heading home for naps and games.

Then Nana and Papa took the biggest 5 on the Polar Express.  They all had fun visiting the North Pole and Vera made sure to tell Santa they saw each other earlier that day ;)!

We had a great time with family and just like that it was time for everyone to head out the next day...we spent the rest of the weekend decorating for Christmas and lounging around catching up on Christmas movies and laundry!

We watched this one, this one and this one and ate popcorn, a favorite of ours!

And just like that we are in full-on Christmas mode around here!  Happy Thanksgiving 2016!

Come back tomorrow -- because it's December 1st and we are kicking off December with a GIVEAWAY!!!! :)

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New Symrna Beach, FL Recap...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
We enjoyed 5 days away in sunny New Symrna Beach, Florida (Atlantic side) with my family right before Thanksgiving.  I have been going to New Syrmrna Beach, FL for almost 20 years.  My grandparents bought a bunch of timeshares back in the 90's!

My kids LOVE the beach.  Unfortunately our 6:45pm flight was delayed 2.5 hours meaning we didn't leave Iowa until nearly 9:30pm - way after EVERYONE's bedtime!  The big kids were great travelers and the little one survived (but there were lots of tears!).

The kids enjoyed watching the planes come and go as we waited for our plane to come.

Finally on board and Lucy did not sleep at all...we arrived to the beach at about 2am!

We slept in and then met my grandparents by the pool for doughnuts and coffee (lots of coffee).  The kids slept in and then promptly put their swimsuits on to swim!  My parents and cousin Madelynne rolled in shortly after.

Madelynne loves to care for my kids - I actually got to relax on vacation with so much help!

We did a whole lot of swimming in the pool - both big kids can swim independently now!  It's a game changer, we watch them and get in with them but they know how to swim!

Lucy thought she could swim and has no fear of the water...that stinker.  She loved it!

We ate out a lot and had a whole lot of seafood.  We even tried alligator...the littlest one was the biggest fan.  The rest of us, not so much.

Between swimming and eating, we hung out on the beach.  We walked, we looked for shells, we boogie-boarded.  We jumped in the waves.  We built sand castles.  We rode on a golf-cart and vespas. Pretty much - we did everything you could do on the beach...including sit and enjoy the view!

My grandparents at 86 years young! We love them so much!

Just 2 girls on the beach...we love, love, love the beach!

While we were there, they were having "Kite Fest" and giving away kites to kids.  We all enjoyed flying kites on the beach.  They had some really cool, fancy kites all anchored down to view as well.  We walked by them several times to get to our favorite restaurant on the water - Breakers.  If you go to NSB, check out the pink restaurant on the beach.  They have the best burgers, shrimp and margaritas - yum!

We also played a lot of football.  We even had our annual Turkey Bowl - the originals (my mom, dad and I) against the Newbies (Scott, Solon, Vera and Madelynne).  It was a hard fought battle, not one of us gives in easily.  There may have been a few injuries but the Newbies took home the victory 5-4. It's a favorite tradition and always full of laughs.

Lucy fell in love with the beach...

...and everyone worked hard on the sand castles.

We like to big deep holes too...not just any old moat will do!

We played bing pool-side one afternoon!  I won!

One morning it was a little windy and chilly so we rented a golf cart for 8 and a vespa and took turns riding down the beach.  You can drive on the beach there.  Solon was so excited to "ride a motorcycle".  Someday he can tell people his mom took him on his first ride ;)!

Vespa partners for life...

No vacation would be complete without ice cream!  We love ice cream...

We also snapped a few thousand Christmas Card photos.  We got a few...

...but most of the time, someone wasn't too interested in cooperating!

Just like that our 5 days of relaxation in the sun and surf came to an end and we boarded a plane to enjoy Thanksgiving in Iowa with Scott's side of the family.  The upside was the kids were excited to see their cousins so we weren't AS sad to say good-bye to the ocean.

We stayed here and ate at JB's Fish Camp and Breaker's Beach Bar and had Ice Cream here.  New Symrna Beach has a great little downtown area - Flagler Ave

25 Days of Christmas Activities...

Monday, November 28, 2016
Santa Visit 2015

Christmas is coming!  I absolutely love this time of year.  I can't wait to make the most of this season with my family, however I have found if I don't plan for it - my good intentions don't always happen.  Last year a friend (Thanks Krystal) shared this awesome idea to take an advent calendar and fill it with an activity for each day.  It took about 2 days for my kids to realize there were fun activities waiting for them and they would run downstairs every morning to see what we do that day. 

Here's our list of 25 simple ideas to do daily in no particular order...
  1. Make Christmas cookies
  2. Leave a treat for the Mailman in the mailbox
  3. Deliver Chex mix to neighbors
  4. Go get hot cocoa/coffee in PJs and drive around to see Christmas lights
  5. Visit Santa
  6. Go to Jolly Holiday Lights ( a drive thru holiday light display)
  7. Read Christmas books by only the light of the Xmas tree
  8. Read the nativity story in your bible
  9. Leave your shoes out for St. Nicholas (night of December 5th)
  10. Make Jesus’s birthday cake
  11. Decorate gingerbread houses
  12. Ride Santa train at the mall
  13. Have a Christmas music dance party
  14. Watch Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer
  15. Retell the nativity story with the little people
  16. Make Christmas ornaments for Grandma/Nana
  17. Celebrate with our small group at a family Christmas Party
  18. Perform in the Church Christmas Program
  19. Take treats to the neighbors
  20. Sing Christmas carols by the piano and drink hot cocoa 
  21. Stuff &Take our Christmas cards to the mailbox
  22. Today find one toy/books you no longer need to donate
  23. Tonight have a dinner picnic by the tree
  24. Go on the Polar Express
  25. Read the nativity story in daddy’s bible & Go to Christmas Eve Service

I keep it very simple.  I print them out, cut them into strips and stuff into certain days in my little felt Advent calendar (Similar to this).   I do look at the calendar to make sure we can accomplish the activity on that day.  Some activities are pre-planned with reservations like a trip on the Polar Express (we go on this one).  Others are flexible and smaller in nature for a busy school night.  

A trip to Starbucks in our jammies and Driving around to see Christmas Lights

Decorating Cookies...

You can be as creative as you want.  Check out what's available in your area, are there horse drawn carriage rides, main street festivals, or other things you can make a point to visit with your family?  

This year, we also blocked out 2 weekend nights for family time in our December calendar.  I want to enjoy the season with my family, they are only little once and there is no shortage of things to fill your calendar!

 What ideas do you have? 

Make sure to check out, why we do bucket lists here!

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a joyful, faith-filled life.  #tribekoko

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Window Shopping with Perfectly Port: Let's Go to Home Goods.

Friday, November 25, 2016
It's Black Friday - America's Day to Shop!  So of course I had to join in on the fun too!

Guess what time it is? 

And the crowd goes wild...or me, I am going wild because I love to bring you these posts.  

I love, love, love to window shop because the budget is slim for actual purchases.  I love Home Goods because you can find things you might find in magazines like Crate & Barrel, West Elm and Pottery Barn for a fraction of the price.  Sometimes the EXACT items might be there...don't ask my mom about the nutcracker she purchased in Germany and lo and behold, he was for sale at HomeGoods, it's still a touchy subject ;).  

So let's start with home goods for the adults...

Look at this cute little bowl (it's little, think a nice spot to hold your keys).  $5.99 cute would this be wrapped up in cellophane with a gift card for your child's teacher come Christmas?

I take my coffee french press style.  You simply pour the grounds in the bottom, pour boiling water over top and let stew for a few minutes and then press the lid down and pour.  I will never, ever go back to drip because it's that good.  I spied a copper one in Crate & Barrel last month for about $50, they were all $12.99-14.99 here (I might have wished I bought one since mine is chipped).

I did buy coffee at HomeGoods.  They sell all sorts of delicious random food.  I have a soft spot for all things pumpkin and this bag was $4.99 so it hopped in my cart and it's already gone.  It was deliciously pumpkin :).

Stainless steel water bottles are all the rage and if you aren't fixed on brand (say Swell!), HomeGoods has an awesome selection...I am eyeing this gold one for $9.99.  Gold is so in right now, it would make me want to drink more water, maybe.  How cute to make a monogram on a silhouette and affix to it - a little darling, personalized gift for a teacher, friend or co-worker!

These are small tongs and I have some friends who have these and use them to serve at different parties I have been too...I have wanted to buy these forever.  They were 2/$4.99.  They had them in assorted colors.  They would be a cute hostess gift.  They had an entire wall of kitchen gadgets.

These baskets.  I wanted all 3.  They would be darling in a playroom or family room - blankets, stuffed animals, toys, name it, baskets can store it!  The big one was BIG and the price tag was a little hefty at $49.99, the medium was $24.99 and the small was less than that.  They all nested inside one another too in case you are worried they won't fit in your car!

Run to Home Goods if you like bistro chairs, they had a bunch for $79.99 which is a steal so on that thought they might be gone but this is a good reminder that they have in style items all the time so it might be worth a check before paying WAY more some place else!

Ok now since we are to the Christmas buying season, I stopped by the kid section...

My mom has these for her hot tub and my kids LOVE them.  The brand is Green Toys and they have a good selection of them, the Seacopter was $12.99.  They have tractors and trucks, lots of vehicles!

The tug boat would be a great addition to the hot tub toys my mom has, it was just $7.99!  A darling tub or pool toy for a little person on your list!  Vera loves Calico Critters, it's like going back in time for me.  I loved this stuff when I was a kid too.  We found the little critters van for $29.99 and a family set of critters for $9.99.  

My girls have the Melissa and Doug wash and dry set and play with it all the time.  You know I love Melissa and Doug, generally their quality is top-notch.  This set was just $9.99.  

While we are on the Melissa and Doug train, let me show you these items, Vera picked out for her very own wish list (sigh I wish I could have hid them from her, because sometimes if you don't buy it when you see it, it won't be there later...just a friendly tip).

Fashion Design Activity Kit $10.99

Sticker books for $6.99 a piece...we got the one on the left as part of a friend's birthday gift!

Who doesn't love getting and giving mail.  This little set was $14.99.

My kids love their marble works that my mom gave them from when I was a kid!  Lucy has a baby version similar to the one pictured above and all the kids love to play it with her.  You can reconfigure it just like the more grown-up marble works version.  It was $19.99.  Perfect gift for a one or two year old.

Okay so now to finish with us again...because I found more, always more!

This chair...I am sure it's gone but it was SO cute.  Navy on top and a hint of gold in the legs and it was a steal at $35 on clearance.  I am dreaming of the lovely home it's now sitting in, it needed a lovely home :)!

...and can we just talk about this desk chair for $149.  Gold detail and navy!  Too bad I already have a desk chair, this one had me swooning!  They had a bunch in a variety of fabrics!

This basket - thick, chunky, braided beauty at $19.99.  Always check Home Goods for your basket needs first, their prices are hard to beat and they generally have a great selection in a variety of sizes and shapes.

I love these bathmats.  We have one in our bathroom and my feet feel happy and cozy while getting ready in the morning.  They dry well and don't slip!  This one was on the smaller side at $9.99.  Home Goods is full of towels and bedding.  I have gotten bed skirts and mattress covers there, usually much chapter than Target even.

I am a sucker for lanterns and have been digging the new distressed, grey wood look.  This was a rectangular shape and came in 2 sizes.  You could fill with gourds, a remote LED candle, berries, or ornaments.  It could sit on your porch, your table or shelf...and the big one was $29.99.

I almost bought these...$12.99 and $16.99.

I fell in love with battery operated candles a couple of years ago and now they come with timers and flickering wicks.  You never have to worry about blowing them out and they let off a beautiful glow.  These would be perfect for outdoor lanterns for Christmas.

Okay we are getting close to the check out but look at these throws - plaid is IN.  From clothes to home decor, they had a whole aisle of beautiful cozy throws for fall and winter cuddling sessions.

Vera was busy feeling the fur pillows...Lucy was working out her escape plan.

One last stop, the wrapping paper aisle.  This paper isn't just for packages, if you are looking for some art, just cut some and frame it.   We picked up some gold polka dot (because I have polka dot issues) and some rainbow paper per Vera's request for kid wrapping!  It's generally around $2.99 a roll.  My friend just picked up the cutest red and black buffalo check for Christmas.

We found these darling boxes for $3.99 a piece as we were rolling to the check out.  How cute for decor or gift giving?  These were the smallest but they had medium and big ones too in several cute patterns!

...and we made it to check out.  

(Some guy had just called Lucy a little boy, you can see she was not pleased...someday she will keep a bow in and grow hair.) 

All we left with was 2 rolls of wrapping paper, pumpkin coffee and a Melissa and Doug art set for Vera's friend's birthday BUT we had a lot of fun looking around.  I am still kicking myself for not buying the darling copper french press...

They have so much I didn't even feature, if you haven't been, you should go.  It's a sister company to TJ Maxx, which I have already featured in this post.  Many of my tips I have for TJ Maxx apply to Home Goods - buy it, if you like it (because it might not be there the next time) and shop often, the inventory is always changing.  

As an aside, people always ask me when I shop?!  

Well on this particular night my oldest was at swim club so we had an hour to wait until he was done and this store just happens to be around the corner.  I may bribe my children with snacks while I shop and there is always lots of "I want that" but I take a picture and add it to the wish list for a holiday gift!  I also end up holding Lucy because inevitably I get the cart with a broken buckle ;)!  It's my reality and life right now and I would rather go than not - if there is a will, there's a way!  I also go when my husband's home occasionally on the weekends but normally I go during the week with at least one "helpful" assistant!

Happy Window Shoppping - don't forget to follow me on instagram and Facebook and subscribe in these sidebar so you get every post in your inbox!

What have you found at Home Goods? Pillows? Rugs? Furniture?  Share with me in the comments!

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