Friday Favorites: Year End Review...

Friday, December 30, 2016

It's Friday and the end of 2016!  We are in full-on winter break mode around here...lots of jammies, daytime jammies...err...leggings and way too many cookies.  Did I mention I have to wear a swimsuit for our cruise in January? Oh dear!  I rounded up a few favorites to end the year so sit back and relax!

Here are my most popular blog posts from this year...

We had a delightful Christmas, I pray you did too!  Here's the recap...

Remember this post where I shared my favorite gifts of 2016...

Well my family and bestie delivered.  I am so excited I got a new copper french press (7), Yeti cup (2), marble and wood cutting board (10) and both Scott and I got shoes (11) :)!   This blogging is fruitful, I kid I kid!

Have you seen those favorite things parties?  You know where everyone brings their one favorite thing and normally has a limit of $10.  If I were to bring my favorite thing, it would be #9!  I love JR Watkins lemon dish and hand soap! It's my little indulgence!

And last but not least, we had a few down days between Christmas celebrations and I had a NEED to get my house back to normal. I can deal with the clutter after Christmas for about 2 days and then everything needs to find its home. I felt so much better once I got it all cleaned up.  Anyone else like me?  I love Christmas, I decorate early but when the festivities are over and the troops have left, it's time to cleanup and organize!  My kids happily helped by playing with all their new treasures!

Wishing you the Happiest of New Years my friends
Keep on keeping on!

Ps -- I am hosting my 10 on the 10th Link-up Again in 2017!
January -- 10 Random Facts about You
Grab the button and link-up on 1/10!

In case you haven't yet, follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

I am linking up today to ErikaNarci, and Andrea.  Check out all the Friday Favorites.

Christmas Recap...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Christmas 2016 has come and gone and what a blessed, fun and memorable time we had.  We are so thankful for the birth of our Savior and being able to celebrate with family and friends!  Merry Christmas to each of you too!  Today I am recapping all the fun we had from start to finish, so buckle up there's lots of photos to share...

We started Christmas off with a "Christmas Eve Before You Leave" service with Nana and Papa since we wouldn't see them until after Christmas (those festivities are about to kick off actually ;).  We enjoyed going to their church in town and seeing a live nativity acted out ending with one of my favorite Christmas traditions singing Silent Night by candlelight.

Then Solon's last day of school was Thurday and I am one of 5 homeroom moms ;) so I left the girls with Nana and headed to help with the party.  The kids made these darling puzzle piece ornaments.

After school, we picked up the girls and Daddy and headed out for Mexican - Feliz Navidad!!!!  My kids LOVE Mexican food...they eat their weight in queso and refried beans!

Say cheese....err...I mean queso!

The next morning we woke up to the biggest, puffiest snowflakes and a fresh blanket of wet snow.

So we got to work getting ready for my family to come to town!  They both flew in from Seattle and Pittsburgh and met at the lake house the night before and then drove down!  We couldn't wait so we stayed busy...

We set the table and whipped up some yummy cookies!

Then while Lucy napped we went out and shoveled and built a snowman!

Then we waited as patiently as we could at the window and then jumped up and down like crazy people upon their arrival :)

That night my mom gave us our matching pajamas and we headed out to get coffee and cocoa before driving around to look at Christmas lights and sing Christmas carols in the car.  It was a highlight of the entire Christmas season.  Some asked how we convinced the guys - there were 3 pint sized people who were so excited, they couldn't say no ;)!

The next morning was Christmas Eve and we let the kids exchange their gifts they bought for each other in the morning and then spent the day playing games like table tennis on the dining room table (similar item here).

We got dressed up and headed to church then we came home and had our traditional appetizer spread - everything from buffalo chicken dip to swiss fondue.

Then we opened presents and read the Nativity Story and Twas The Night Before Christmas before setting out 8 carrots, a couple cookies and a mug of milk.  Solon event penned a note for Santa. 

After the kids were tucked in, we played this game.  We laughed SOOOOOO hard.  I cannot tell you the last time I laughed that hard.  So fun!!!!

Then before we knew it, Lucy was our 6:30am wake-up call!  We posed for our traditional stair photo before dashing down to see if Santa came!  And he delivered....

He brought the kids just what they asked him for - a barn and farm equipment for Solon, An American Girl Dalmatian for Vera, and a chair of her very own for Lucy!  They also got a few surprises they enjoyed :)!

We spend the next 2 days in comfy clothes doing this...

...and a little make-up!

...and a little more of that!

My dad's parents drove over for lunch on Christmas Day and we all enjoyed being together.

We spent the rest of our time together playing LOTS of games everything from Operation, to Uno, to Spot It!, to Catan Seafarer's Edition and the card game Hand and Foot.

We finished my family's visit with a trip to see the movie, SING!

It was Lucy's first movie and she did great 95% of the time!  Gotta love those recliner loveseat chairs!

We had a great Christmas and are so thankful our family made the trip to see us!  So many great memories made and traditions continued.  Now off to soak up the last few days of winter break and celebrate with Scott's side of the family!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Let's Talk: Post Christmas Organization Tips...

Monday, December 26, 2016

I am linking up with Andrea and Erika to share some of my favorite post-Christmas tips!

Happy Day after Christmas - we are still heavy on the PJ's and light on cleaning up BUT in case you are ready to get started with the great Christmas put-away, here are my top tips!

If you want to finish up a craft, laminate an activity or fix a broken ornament -- DO IT NOW!  I always think I will remember or have time next year and that's never the case.  

We use the Jesus Storybook Bible and this year there was the most darling advent to go with it.  I need to laminate it and place it on a little metal ring so we are ready to go next year.  If you want the devotional, go here to pin it!

Christmas Cards.

I love them and hate to just toss them at the end of the season SO we punch a hole in the corner and tuck them onto a little metal ring like these.  My kids love to flip through the cards throughout the year.  We place our card on top and we have about 4 years worth of photo cards!

While we are talking cards, my other tip is that at Christmas is I update all my addresses in my computer that way I have a complete list of addresses.  Some years if I am in a time crunch I can print them off since its in an address template.  I have also used the list for baby announcements, etc.  It seems people move and I add to my list annually so that way I know exactly where to start next year and how many cards to order (I order a few extra and I still ran out this year).

When I pack away my Christmas gear, I label what's inside and each year I re-label if need be.  You would be surprised when you need something random in the middle of year and the last thing you want to do is dig through every box or you want to make sure your kids don't find certain things ;)!  

My husband built these custom shelves in our back room to perfectly fit our rubbermaid totes.  I love that everything is in plastic so heaven forbid there's a heavy rain and our basement has water, everything is safe!  We also hang our wreaths in front of the totes on nails!

My trusty assistant - my label maker.  Seriously organizers you get it, that skip in your step when you think of your laminator and label maker.  **Organizing nerd alert!  I actually asked for this for Christmas one year and Santa delivered :).

Last thing if you didn't use it this year, most likely you won't next year.  Place any unused items in a separate labeled tote so that you can donate or consign at the beginning of the Christmas season next year.  Most places will not take Christmas items now so it pays to be organized and ready!

Now, last but not least my house can look sparse almost bare when all the Christmas decor goes bye bye so I keep a few little items out all winter long!  I love the metallic touches and a sled by the front door with my pottery snowman.  Around our parts, its a long time until we come out of hibernation.  It's nice to make our home a haven all winter long :)  and metallic shimmers in the winter sun :)!

In case you need a little indoor excitement between cleaning up and organizing, you can always have SNOW much fun with snowballs this winter break.  Check out this post with all sorts of fun snowball games to play. 

As sad as it is to leave Christmas behind for the year, it is refreshing to organize, purge and prepare for the upcoming year and if we do it right now, we will be so thankful next Christmas :).

Also if you write thank you notes with your kids, check out my pins for some cute free printable fill-in-the blank cards :).

PS When I was a little girl, I always left a little something something in my stocking to find next Christmas, maybe I should do that for my kids - they would love it :)!!!!!

Have a great week friends, keep on keeping (#koko)


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