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THANKSGIVING RECAP

11.30.2015


How was everyone's holiday? Ours was pretty great. Above is the only picture I have from that day, sent to me by my brother-in-law. While I wish I had more photos to share, I'm pretty in love with this one. Trying to squeeze that many people into a group selfie was pretty fun :)



Here's a short video of the kids having a blast after dinner. And after dessert I'm thinking! **Warning: This probably will not be in the least bit interesting to anyone not directly related to us :)

The day after Thanksgiving? Well, let's just say Adelaide was feeling pretty much exactly the opposite of how she was feeling on Thanksgiving. I guess all of the excitement and the late bedtime wore her down pretty good, and she let us be aware of that fact all. day. long. But, by Saturday she was back to her old self and danced the night away at a quinceanera. 

We rounded things out with a quick visit to see the one and (not) only Santa Claus! I may or may not have bribed her with sweet tarts to get her on his lap. Hey, whatever it takes. I love that it looks like she's smiling and nothing but happy to be there. But look closely and you'll see the stealthy grip keeping her arms down rather than reaching out to me that can only have been perfected after many years of practice. Good job Santa!


My holiday to do list is already getting longer than feels manageable and things just seem to keep being added. That is the way of things isn't it? I did however get a couple of gifts bought and wrapped (though Adelaide already unwrapped one...). So now I'm going to go try to knock a couple more things off now, first up being to finish up a Christmas gift guide/wish list type of thing that I'm planning to post on Wednesday. If I covertly add "take a nap" to the very top, does that mean I have no other choice but to do just that??

What sort of things do you already have on your holiday to do list?

IT'S THAT'S TIME OF YEAR AGAIN - WHAT I'M THANKFUL FOR...

11.25.2015


Sorry I'm running so late today guys! But you know, the day before Thanksgiving equals heaven, cause it's baking day :) It was quite a busy and productive day I'd say, with one cheesecake, one pumpkin roll and a batch of divinity down and lots more fun to be had tomorrow! Man I love Thanksgiving!

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, it's about time to start thinking about why it is that we stuff ourselves full of food every 4th Thursday in November. And as much as I'd love to steer clear of the obvious, it's just what I have to go for, because it's just really the thing that I'm very, very most thankful for. My family. My extended family. My sweet little family of four (I'm talking about Bowser, all of you who started counting off and wondering if this was some sort of little announcement :) I'm just beyond grateful to have so many wonderful people to share my life with and so thankful that Adelaide has them too.

And while I'm at it, one more thing... I'm also so thankful for the natural ups and downs in relationships. Being at the peak of a particularly high high right now sure makes it so clear as to why we muddle through those lows. Every single day isn't going to leave you feeling like you've got this amazing life spreading out before you (though you do), but on days like these, when it does feel exactly that way, it's really awesome. And it builds up in you so you have something to pull from on those other days, when it's a little harder to see. I'm so thankful for this time of year and the way it really helps you zero in on the multitude of things that make you so very lucky to be you and have exactly what you have.

I hope everyone has a safe and warm Thanksgiving, spent with those or thinking of those who mean the most to you. I'll see you back here on Monday and maybe I'll even have some shopping to share with you :) 

So, what are you thankful for this year? I'd love to hear from yall!

DIY SLAT TREE CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN

11.23.2015


Running around in the sprinkler, Six Flags, movies, bike rides, swings... what are your memories of summer vacation as a kid? I enjoyed the typical summer antics, but I also indulged in some not-so-typical summer activities, such as making a Christmas countdown chain. You know, those little paper chains? Yeah, I made one of those to count down the days til Christmas during summer vacation on more than one occasion. So, needless to say, the Christmas countdown is a tradition that is near and dear to my heart, and I am so excited to start it up this year with Adelaide. So, if you're looking to get a countdown going this year too, now's the time to get to thinking about it! Remember, you don't just have to get it made, you've also got to get whatever surprises you want to use all ready!

To start you'll need to cut 1x2's (or whatever you have lying around) into the following lengths:


I started out planning to make just enough space for 24 days, so the countdown would start on the typical day of December 1st. But, it just looked funny with the shorter board on the bottom, and I didn't really want to have blank spots or uneven spacing, so I just decided to go with the longer board on bottom and increased the countdown to fit 28 days. Even better!

Next, get your slats spaced out evenly...


And nail 'em in. Brad em in? I used Jordan's brad nailer. He picked it up at Harbor Freight when we were building Adelaide's playhouse, and has been loving it. And it's super easy to use, even for a novice like mio. So, if you know of anyone in the market, it might make an excellent Christmas gift. So anyway, just put a couple brads in each one for now so that you can still wiggle them around a bit to make sure they're level a little later.

    


Next, it's time to figure out a base. I went with this weird setup, because it was something I could put together myself without the use of any additional tools or hands on deck. It's really sturdy, so I'm thinkin' I musta done something right :) And if you're not in love with the way it looks, it could easily be covered with a cute tree skirt. That was my plan going in, but once it was all painted, I was totally fine with how it looked. So, for the base... first this:


Then this:

Here's a close up of how I attached these. Just a few brads in at an angle. Maybe not the most professional way of doing things, but #1, it worked, and #2, you won't even notice them once it's painted. In my book that equals a perfect success.


Now that you can stand it upright, it's time to make sure all of your slats are level and shoot in a few more brads just to make sure it's all nice and sturdy.


You should now have something kinda like this, only with the bottom board being longer. See what I mean? It just looks a little goofy with that shorter board on bottom.


Time for a coat of paint (and a swap out of that goofy looking short bottom board if you're me ;)...


Now all that's left is a bit of decorating. I found these cute little clothes pins a Michael's for $1.50/package, as well as the star on top which I just slapped a quick coat of paint on. Bada bing, bada boom! (There just miiiight also be a tiny version of the tree hanging around becuase attempt numero uno was a little ill conceived, ha! Porch decoration anyone?)


And finally, I made the little numbers using my Cricut and I found these cute little polka dot craft paper bags in the dollar section, now known as "Bullseye's Playground" at Target. Did yall know that's what it's called now? Well, now ya do! Told you I'd be back there :/ 


For filling the bags, I'm thinking I'll do a mixture of sweet treats and activities. The activities I've come up with so far are: Bake Christmas cookies, hot chocolate and a movie, go look at Christmas lights... I've got a little ways to go! Any more suggestions? Pleeeease and thank you!

MOMMY DAUGHTER STYLE - THANKSGIVING

11.20.2015


Less than a week guys! Less than a week until it'll be time to devote a whole entire day to thinking about all the things in our lives we have to be thankful for, maybe watching a little football and of course, stuffing ourselves to the point of extreme discomfort. What could make that day any better? Well, I'm glad you asked. Coordinating your outfits, that's what! And of course I am here to provide you with a little bit of inspiration. And fear not, all of the following outfits feature either an elastic waistband, or no waistband at all. Because that is the very most important prerequisite of any good Thanksgiving outfit.

When putting together coordinating outfits, it helps to have neutrals available to make the process super simple. I promise, if you have black, white, gray, brown or cream in your closet, you can come up with something that will coordinate and look ahhh-dorable with few to no additional purchases necessary.

But can we just pause for a quick second to note how little my baby girl looks in this photo. 


Awww! My little sweetie pea, sugaree, lovey, baby girl... Am I getting carried away?

Okay, moving on then.


   
Me: Sweater (old, similar and similar), Jeggings, Shoes (old, similar-ish and similar-ish), Necklace, Lipstick (number 30)
Adelaide: Sweater, Shirt, Shorts (Old Navy, no longer on site, similar and similar) , Tights, Shoes

If you're a lunch-ing kind of family, or just like to keep things caj, this is a great and easy way to go. Choose the same neutral for all peeps involved and then decide on a lovely fall color to incorporate in some way for each person. I am loving the maroon, burgundy, oxblood (whatever they're calling it these days) everywhere this year, so I pulled that in a lot.

   
Me: Sweater, Skirt, Booties (old, similar), Lipstick (number 30)
Adelaide: Dress, Tights, Boots

Next up is a slightly more dressed up, but still comfy and easy option. Midi skirts are big right now, and with a cozy sweater and some booties you've got a great option. Again, choose a neutral to keep consistent through all outfits, here it's brown with the shoezies. Can you tell I spend my days talking almost entirely to a toddler?

   
Me: Dress (old, similar and similar), Sweater, Booties, NecklaceLipstick (number 30)
Adelaide: Dress, Boots

Finally is the most dressed up version I myself would ever go with. Since we host Thanksgiving at our house, it's a busy day full of cooking and various preparations, so being comfortable is key no matter what level of "dressiness" I'm going for. Here a loose dress and cozy sweater would be super easy to run around in all day, but throw your hair in a bun and add heeled booties and a necklace, and you'll instantly look put together and ready for a nice dinner. 

Now I just need to decide which one to actually wear on the big day... more likely, Adelaide will choose which one she wants to wear on the big day and I'll just work around it. This little girl you guys... she is majorly developing her own taste and has strong opinions when it comes to what she wears. One of the first things out of her mouth each and every morning? "I need a dress." I'm kinda loving it and maaaaybe I'm already daydreaming about going shopping together and lending her things out of my closet when she's older. Probably just one more illusion that will be shattered. My naivete and idealism just keeps getting shattered time and time again lately!

But you know what? I don't even care, cause this: 


Also, just to make a long post even longer... I'm participating in Flashback Fashion Friday over at Adri Lately again. Check it out if you're in need of more fashion inspiration or just want to do a bit of perusing! I'm going to throw back to a post from this time last year when it was actually cold. Check out the full post: My Kind of Wine.




ON LIFE BEING ONE BIG COMPETITION

11.18.2015


The 25 Things You May Not Know About Me post I did on Monday got me to thinking. Particularly the part where I said "I'm not outwardly competitive... but feel like most things are a competition". Now I know I'm not the first to talk about this, nor will I be the last, but I still feel like throwing my thoughts out there. 

In a world where we are completely immersed in other people's lives via social media, the line between the virtual portrayal of one's life and real life can be kind of muddy. Is there anyone who participates in social media who's not guilty of putting something out there that may be just a little deceiving? Okay, sure, there probably are a few people out there. But I'd venture to guess that the majority of people skew things from time to time in order to create a social media image that suits them. I'm certainly guilty of it sometimes. I don't think it's always intentionally deceptive. It's natural to want to present yourself in the best light. Even if that light is rose colored.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with documenting the very best moments of your day or your vacation or whatever. That's how it's always gone, right? I mean, who wants to take photos of their crabby and whining child at the pumpkin patch? No, you take one or two photos while they're actually smiling (or at least not crying) and you leave those whiny/crabby moments to be recorded only in your memory (hopefully to be forgotten ;), leaving you with only pleasant memories to look back on fondly in the years to come. It's a good system. The only difference now is that we're not only changing the way we remember things years later, we're sharing it in real time with everyone we've ever known, everyone they've ever know and maybe even a few complete strangers.

Between Pinterest-perfect photos of everything and seeing only the tiniest snippets of the best of the best moments in other people's lives, it can be really hard not to compare. For me at least. And once you start comparing, it's probably not long before you start competing. Not in a "I win! You looooose!" kind of way, but more like chess. Okay, go with me here, it's analogy time. You know how in chess... let me just be honest, I've never played chess and don't know the first thing about the game, so I'm basing this off of what I've seen in movies and TV. So anyway, you know how in movies when people are playing chess, they make their move and then hit that little button thingy and that means it's the other player's turn? That's what I feel life is like in the age of social media. You post your perfect and maybe slightly misleading pic of your family outing or whatever, and pressing send or okay or share is like hitting that chess button. Like, okay, your move. It's like a competition to see who can create to most picture perfect virtual life. It's easy to feel like you've got to be as good a mom, or as pretty, or as crafty and on and on and on, and like you have to document all of it in order to keep up. 

But, it's also completely awesome to be able to follow the lives of people you may have never known otherwise, or don't get to see as often as you'd like. It's fantastic to be able to type in "toddler activities" or "potty training" and come up with hundreds of suggestions that can be super helpful.  But it can be hard to see those pictures that make someone else's life seem so perfect without comparing it to your less-than-perfect real life, even if for just a second. Or read those toddler activity suggestions without feeling like a less-than mom when you don't actually do any of them or try it once and feel like it was more work than it was worth.  

It's just so, so important to remember exactly what all of these things really are. Entertainment. Fun. Inspiration. And to remember that behind that perfect photo is a real, less-than-perfect person. Each and every one of is unique and awesome in our own way. No one is "better". For every awesome thing about you, there is something awesome about me too. Let's enjoy all the photos and ideas and reading all the stories, perfect and imperfect alike. Let's let them motivate us and bond us, but never undermine how lovely (like that? wink wink ;) our real lives are. And most importantly, let's remember it's not a competition.

Wow. I feel like a preacher now.


xoxo,
Nikki

MOMMY DAUGHTER STYLE + 25 THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT ME

11.16.2015


 Me: Sweater, Shirt & Boots: F21, Jeans: Old Navy, Necklace: Charming Charlie
Adelaide: Sweater, Shirt & Boots: Old Navy, Jeggings: Target

Okay, I'm just going to admit it, I like coordinating with Adelaide. Heck, I like matching her sometimes. And I'm eating up the opportunity while I can :) I know it'll be very uncool one day. It probably already is, but me and my cheesey self do. not. care. However, it's totally possible to coordinate like we did today, which is still super cute, but without any worries of looking like a big ol' dork, in case that's something you're worried about.

On to the next order of business... Anyone else read US Weekly? Man I love being nosey into the lives of the rich and famous. One thing I look forward to reading each week (if it's done by someone I like) is "25 Things You Don't Know About Me". It tends to be pretty interesting and telling I think. So, I thought I'd do one myself, only I'm changing the don't, to may not, because I tell all kinds of things on here regularly, so there may not be many secrets left. Here we go...

1. I have green eyes, though Jordan likes to say they're hazel. Nope, I say they're green, so THEY'RE GREEN!
2. I was accepted into the pastry chef program at the Art Institute, but I chickened out and didn't go. One of my biggest regrets.
3. I don't believe there's any such thing as having "no regrets". I just don't see how it's possible, but maybe that's just me.
4. I don't wear perfume for fear that it would be too strong and I would be one of "those people" who knock you out with it.
5. I have an irrational amount of concern about my feet looking big.
6. I love skee ball and flowers.
7. I talk to myself. A lot. Like, have full conversations, acting as both people involved. It's probably a little cray cray. 
8. I hate Christmas afternoon. After all of the build up, it's super depressing for it to all be over.
9. I have visited 44 of the 50 states. It's my goal to see them all.
10. The most wondrous thing I have seen so far is the Giant Redwoods in California.
11. I am a pancake snob. 
12. I drink coffee every morning.
13. I loved being pregnant.
14. I rode on the back of a motorcycle from here (Texas) to the arctic circle in Alaska and back. 35 days and 10,116 miles.
16. I went to England by myself for two weeks when I was 19 years old.
17. My favorite band is The Shins.
18. I love to bake. (Duh, see # 2)
19. I have a sense that I "belong" in New England and have since I was young.
20. I don't like a challenge.
21. I'm not outwardly competitive, but I constantly compare myself and feel like most things are a competition. It's a bad, bad mindset for sure.
22. I only had two serious boyfriends, one of whom is now my husband.
23. I love to have company and am always happy to host anything at my house.
24. I have a bit of social anxiety and find making friends to be quite difficult.
25. I don't eat anything that lives in water. Fish, crab, shrimp, none of it!

Okay, your turn. What's something I don't know about you??

TAKING A TODDLER TO THE MOVIES

11.13.2015


The smell of popcorn is wafting through the air. Maybe even a little vinegar is mixing in there too if you're a pickle person. Or pregnant. You sink down into the seat as the lights dim and a set of previews chosen specifically for you begin to roll. Isn't it the best?

Going to the movies was a huge part of my childhood. We went as a family regularly, always leaving the theater to have a long conversation about our favorite characters and parts, our overall review and of course to discuss what we might like to see next. Fast forward to when I met Jordan. Our very first date-type of outing was to the movies. In the early days I really made Jordan work for it, being the hard-to-make-conversation-with person that I am. At some point I mentioned that I was wanting to see a particular movie, and being the sly dog that he is, he asked me to go see it with him. A few months later, once Jordan had bagged me, the truth came out. He hates going to the movies. Even if it's a movie "he wouldn't mind" seeing (the highest rating any movie ever gets from him), he still never actually wants to go. Like, never. Bait and switch... 

Now, if you watched my Haul Video, then you know we're slightly Peanuts and Snoopy obsessed in our house. So you can imagine my excitement when I found out that there was going to be a Peanuts movie! Finally, a movie he would want to see! What better chance would I ever have to get him to take Adelaide to the movies?! So after a few subtle reminders and maybe just a teeny bit of guilting, I got him to agree and we went last Tuesday. Of course my excitement outweighed his once again. Overall, I would say it was a successful trip. Here a few tips I came up with based on our experience:

1. Know your toddler. This is probably the most important thing. If your child can't sit through a 30 minute cartoon, then how on Earth would you expect them to sit through a two hour movie?! Remember, previews are going to tack on an extra 20-25 minutes to the running time.

Speaking of previews....

2. Skip em. If you're going with someone else, send them on into the theater while you stay out in the hall letting your toddler burn off some energy before going in. Have the person in the theater shoot you a text when the movie is actually starting. If you're alone with your toddler, just peek in every few minutes. Remember, you have a good 20 minutes after the start time before the movie will start. Don't waste valuable snacks or calm, interested and engaged time on the previews.

Speaking of snacks...

3. Be prepared with lots of options. We got a big popcorn to share and gave Adelaide her own little cup full to hold. It was great until she had put away her third cup full. You know how you can get that yucky feeling if you eat a boatload of popcorn and nothing else? Well, you want to avoid that. So bring some other snack options. We brought a fruit puree pouch and a bowl of grapes.

4. Avoid opening weekend. The last thing you need to worry about is whether any of your toddler's little issues may be bothering someone else. The more full the theater is, the higher your chances are of spoiling the movie for others, which just is not cool. Opening weekend, really weekends in general are going to be far busier than weekday shows. Steer clear if at all possible.

5. Try an afternoon, weekday matinee. We went to a 4 o'clock show on a Tuesday and were one of only 3 groups there, so we were able to spread out really well. I didn't have to worry about Adelaide's running commentary or warnings to the characters to "Be careful!" bothering anyone else. From my own observations, it seems like most people with preschool aged children and daycares out on field trips choose the earlier matinees, so those tend to be pretty busy. And people with school aged children probably won't be able to make the 3-4 o'clock shows. 

Speaking of times....

6. Consider going after nap time. You don't need to add crabby and tired to the list of potential issues.

7. Sit in the back. If you need to step out for a quick breather (which we did, twice) or a trip to the restroom, you won't have far to go and you won't have to worry about bothering anyone else with your ins and outs.

Like I said, our trip went pretty well, but it was very clear that that particular outing was all about me and what I wanted to do. I don't think we'll go again until Adelaide is expressing an interest herself. And I can't wait until that day! I'm dying for a willing movie-going partner ;)

Any more tips to add? How old were your kids when you started taking them to the movies successfully?


TARGET DOLLAR SPOT SUCKED ME IN AGAIN!


I have an ridiculously large haul video up on my YouTube Channel from our trip to the Dollar Spot at Target yesterday. Check it out but don't judge ;)

Also, full post coming shortly about our trip to see the Peanuts movie, so check back if you don't see it yet!

DATE NIGHT STYLE - WIDE LEG JEANS + POLKA DOTS

11.11.2015




Tee: F21, Jeans: Gap, Shoes: F21

Ahhh, date night. Pre-child, I took issue with that term. What makes going out to dinner on Friday night any different than going out to dinner on Wednesday night or out to lunch on Saturday? Just because you deem it "date night", does it suddenly become "special" or sacred in some way? When you live with your significant other, and therefore do most things together, is there really any such thing as a "date" anymore? In my opinion, either there is no such thing, or every time you go out is a date, and as such no particular outing warrants a special label. Either way, it just doesn't carry the same meaning as it did way back when, when you were still being courted. 

However, add a child to the mix and suddenly going out sans said child does take on a special and sacred meaning like never before. Now a special label is totally warranted. Now it is totally different than going out to dinner on Wednesday or lunch on Saturday, because now you don't have to spend 15 minutes before you leaving packing a healthy side, milk cup and about 20 other things that you'd never dream of leaving the house without when you have a child in tow. Now there is no kid's menu, and there is no tiny attention hoarding human demanding a string of endless options to stay entertained long enough to "enjoy" said meal out. And miraculously, you can actually carry on a conversation with your date. Uninterrupted. Holy-freakin' significant and sacred indeed.

Also, I'm participating in my first ever link up for Flashback Fashion Friday over on Adri Lately



DIY CRATE WOOD PLAYHOUSE - PART 5: THE INTERIOR

11.09.2015


Hey guys! I hope everyone has enjoyed all of my posts on how we built Adelaide's playhouse. Today I have the final post in the DIY Crate Wood Playhouse Series: photos of the inside! I absolutely love how it all came together, and Adelaide has been really enjoying it as well. 


First up is the play kitchen I made. I grabbed this old entertainment center off VarageSale (looove this app!) for ten bucks. I took the many, many samples  of blue/green/turquoise/aqua paint that I've collected over the years and mixed them to make the paint color. I removed the old glass door on the left side and replaced it with two small doors cut out of plywood to make the refrigerator. I moved the hinges on the door for the oven so that it would open down, and painted the inside black. The sink is a stainless bowl that came in a set that I've had for years, and the faucet we got from my FIL who had it lying around. The stove top... I painted the black square, used my Cricut to cut the circles for the burners out of this paper and used the knobs that came with Adelaide's dresser (I bought new knobs for it) for the stove controls (controls? For the life of me I can't think of a better way to describe that. Stove knobs? Whatevs, you get the point). 


These lights are soooo adorable! They actually put out a decent bit of light if we're out after dark, but even during the day they really add so much charm to the inside! 

    



Adelaide is only 2 and she's already getting quite a bit of use out of the playhouse. I can only imagine the fun she'll have in there in the years to come! If you have any questions about anything related to the playhouse, please feel free to ask and I'll do my very best to get you some answers!

I also did a quick video tour of the playhouse over on my YouTube channel, so check that out if you interested. If you know anyone who you think might be interested in this series, do me a solid and share this ;) I've even got super convenient share buttons down below to make it easy as pie!

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission (we're not talking a new wardrobe here, more like snack money :). Regardless, I only recommend products  I use personally and believe others may enjoy as well. Thank you for supporting the companies that support me and my family!

DIY CRATE WOOD PLAYHOUSE - PART 4: SIDING & FINISHING TOUCHES

11.08.2015


Today I have lots of photos of the finishing touches going up. I don't have photos from when Jordan built the stairs or railing, as those were being finished up well after dark the night before Adelaide's birthday. The paint job I did on those railings in the dark.... let's just say there was a lot of touching up that went on the next day! Don't forget to check out DIY Crate Wood Playhouse - Part 1: The Platform, DIY Crate Wood Playhouse - Part 2: The Windows and DIY Crate Wood Playhouse - Part 3: The Frame

Here's the siding going up. Jordan routed out a strip on one side of each board so that they could stack like so: 

   


The windows, door and corners got trimmed out.


A couple of extra supports were added to the platform posts for good measure. I don't think you can ever have too many supports.

   

The whole thing got a prime coat before it went bright white with some leftover gray paint.


Jordan built a hybrid ladder/stairs. The goal was to make it steep enough that Adelaide would have to keep her hands on it as she climbed, but angled enough that we didn't feel she would be in danger of falling backward. So far it has worked brilliantly. No accidents (knock on wood). 


And the railings:




And a little music wall down below. Also, underneath has been a great place to store some of Adelaide's outdoor toys.


Add a roof and there you go!


Coming up next will be the final post in the series, DIY Crate Wood Playhouse - Part 5: The Interior.

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