Thursday, 21 November 2019

Our Family Holiday Bucket List & Link-Up

Holiday season bucket list.  Once again Leslie from over at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After, has me writing and showing up this week.  The topic made me pause to consider what are our families rituals and traditions have become.  Rituals are generally referred to an activity that is done at a specific time, while traditions are beliefs and behaviors mainly passed down, but not necessarily, from a previous generation.  That being said, I find that some rituals might become traditions in time, or traditions within your own family.  I would say that most of the items I've listen here on our holiday bucket list began as rituals, some inspired by our own upbringing and others just created by us along the way, but have helped shape our behaviors and beliefs around the holiday season; our desire to be together, to celebrate people around us, to be thankful for all that we have but mostly for this special time that we spend as a family unit. My girls are getting older, almost 10 and 13, and yet they still want to do these things, and it warms my heart.  This list was collaboratively created with them which was so special because it lets me know what makes this time of year special for them.

1.  The Enchanted Christmas Lights Tour:  We used to drive through the forest, but last year we decided to do the walking version of it and it was FREEZING COLD.  We actually ticked this one off, this past weekend and it was packed with people because the weather was so mild.  Record breaking number of people, with a total of 9, 200!

2.  The Santa Claus Parade:  We ticked this one off our list too this past weekend because it just happen to be on.  I was surprised that my girls still wanted to go and in fact when I asked them, there was not even a beat missed before they both said YES.

3.  Gingerbread houses & Sugar Cookie Decorating

4.  School Christmas Celebrations & Santa Pictures  -  Our years are very numbered.

Anya at her Christmas Concert in 2018.


5.  Holiday live theater show, play or movie -  This is fairly new to our family in the last 2 to 3 years as the girls have gotten older. We watch to see if we can take them to a special live performance, event or a special family Christmas movie.  We've seen Little Women, The Grinch (movie theater) and Scrooge.  This year we  bought tickets for Elf at our local theater.  

A couple of years ago we introduced the girls to Little Women.  It's now adding onto our Christmas movie watching list. 

6.  ELF on the SHELF - Ahhh!  We began this many years ago and he is coming back on Dec. 1st.  See ideas and a free letter printable HERE.  

6.  Watch our favorite movies - Elf, Christmas Vacation, The Grinch & Home Alone.  This also leads me into Christmas Eve = special family movie night.

7.  Calendars and Christmas Cards
- This is a big one for me.  I like to create family calendars for my sister, parents and my two grandmas.  Because it's two different sides of the family, different set of grandchildren, it means I have to create different versions.  It takes work and organization to get all the pictures in order and from all the right people but it's totally worth it.  It's like a year at a glance from each family and we can see how people have grown, changed and highlight the adventures they've had.   I also enjoy sending Christmas cards to families near and far.  I live in Canada so I order from Vista Print, they have great sales.

8.  Decorating the Tree

9.  Christmas Eve - Our preferred way to spend Christmas Eve and morning is at home.  We've done other versions of this over the years, but have come to understand that if possible we just want to be home, sometimes going out to look at the Christmas lights around the city, getting our favorite Christmas treats out for Santa, and snuggling in to watch a movie as a family.  We are generally busy, so this just feels soooooo special and we treasure it very much.

10.  Christmas Morning-  SANTA comes.  Okay so we do things  very differently from others.  Our tree if very bear in terms of gifts.  We have some gifts that we are giving to others, and the kids may have received, but overall, we have always hid ALL of the kids gifts.  WHY?  Because with so many gifts under the tree how is a young child to know Santa came?!?  So since they were little, our tree would go from bare to full of gifts overnight.  :)  It's just what we do.  It's not right, or wrong.  Better, or worse.  Its just the way we do things around here.  

So now it's your turn.  

What are you rituals right now?  

How have they changed? 

 I'd love to hear from you in the comments or link-up your own post below. 

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Monday, 11 November 2019

Soup, Chili & Stew Blog Hop

Brrr it's chilly out there these days.  We have transitioned from fall into winter around these parts.  When the days get shorter and colder, we naturally just want to hibernate more and eat comfort food.  In order to avoid bringing on unhealthy comfort food, chips, Nutella and left over Halloween candy, I try to cook heartier options such as chili, stews and a variety of soups.  I don't consider my repertoire of comfort food cooking plentiful so when Leslie from Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After suggested a stew, soup and chili recipe exchange, I was all over it.  If you are coming from Michelle's at Out and Back, welcome, and be sure to check out Bri from What's Brewing with Bri next, along with all the other ladies linked up below.  

I've been wanting to use my slow cooker more this year to make meal prep more manageable during busy weeks, which is like every week, so I opened up my Company Comings Slow Cooker recipe book and just picked something to try.  I decided to start with this Country Chicken Stew.  It's packed full of veggies including onion, carrots, cabbage, celery and potatoes.  It calls for chicken thighs but all I had was frozen chicken breasts on hand so that's what I threw in.  

This was a HIT with the whole family, every single person loved it and there were no offers of suggestions of how I might make it better.  It's the perfect intersection between a broth and cream soup.  I paired it up with a french bread and it was a full meal, for two night in a row.
This recipe is a keeper for our family and will be going into our regular rotation and probably more frequently through the winter months as it's the perfect soup to send for lunch in a thermos for school.

Recipe from Company's Coming Slow Cooker Dinners 

1 Cup chopped onion
2 Cups chopped potato
2 Cups sliced carrots (I just used baby carrots)
2 Cups shredded cabbage (I used left over coleslaw)
1/2 C celery (I threw in way more)
3 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I did 4 large chicken breasts)
2 Cups chicken broth (I used vegetable broth on hand)
10 oz cream of mushroom soup (I used cream of chicken instead)
1 tsp/ dried thyme
1. 1/2 tsp salt & pepper
2 Bay leaves

1/4 C Chicken broth
1/4 C Cornstarch
1 C    Frozen Peas

  1. Layer the first 6 ingredients into the slow cooker. 
  2. Combine the next 5 ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over chicken (do not mix).  Add your bay leaves and book on low for 9 to 10 hours or on high to 4 1/2 to 5 hours.  After cooking discard bay leaves.
  3. Mix the second amount of corn start into the chicken broth and then pour into the slow cooker.  Add peas.  Stir it all together.  Cook on high for 15 minutes or until peas are heated through and the sauce is thickened.  

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare the vegetables (except potato) and prepare broth mixture.  Chill overnight and assemble and cook the next day.

Enjoy!  And remember to hop on over to What's Brewing with Bri next or visit any of the linked up blogs below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Reflecting on 2019 Intentions (Part 1)

Now that November is upon us it's  time to  reflect on the intentions we set way back at the beginning of the year.  I had to go back to the original post, here, to see what I truly had intended to accomplish this year.  Most of the items I was pretty conscious of but it's always good to re-read and see how things changed over the course of a year.  Here we go.

Word of the Year:  PAUSE
Well I started off strong.  I really kept it at the forefront until I completely lost it.  When did I lose it?  I would say August and the anxiety of starting a new job started to take it's toll on the ability to just be in the moment, and then the job and school began and it was lost in the depths of darkness.  I'll be honest, just the last couple of weeks am I even being able to remember to think of the concept of PAUSE.  The sad thing is that I needed to remember it more than ever the last two months, when I felt both elated and exhausted by my new position and pace of life.  I feel like I am getting it back.  I am returning to making it a priority most of the days and am feeling hopeful that I can remember not only self-care but gratitude in the little things, like right now I am at a coffee shop, on a Sunday afternoon, by myself, and my heart rate is slow and my breathing is relaxed.

The lake is where I feel the most at peace.  

Family Time
This I feel is actually going relatively well.  The family unit is still doing many of the things we enjoy such as hanging out and watching a movies, eating supper together most evenings, exploring the outdoors with our pups, hosting friends and enjoying seasonal activities.  Mr. and I are also still going strong with our 2-3 nights a week walk with the pups.  

Learn Something New: PhotographyWell like PAUSE I was doing well until it completely went off of my radar in mid-August.  You guys I  haven't even opened up the lessons since school began, but I've kind of made peace with it.  I just can't do it all.  But not all is lost, because A) I have the lessons forever and B) I gained a lot of skills that I didn't have prior to taking this course.  I've used my camera in manual mode for months now and am super happy with the lessons I've learned.  My one regret is that I didn't take advantage of the FB group that can give you advice and inspiration as you go along, and I know I would have both enjoyed it and benefited from it. Here are just a few of the shots that I took but there are SO MANY.

Dance pictures 2019.

Action shot. I've learned that you need to have shutter speed high when shooting action shots, which does lower your light source.  You need to find the sweet spot between ISO not being too high to avoid that grainy look, but also having shutter speed be able to capture the fast pace.

Pure joy.

I took this with the remote in my hand, which you can't see. 

What is better than grandkids and grandparents.
Artistic photography.  

Hosting:  I was hoping to host more often but you know what I discovered is that I already host a ton.  I enjoy having friends and family on a large scale and on a less grandiose way.  This summer along we hosted 11 + types of visitors in a mere 7 week span.  We just hosted a pizza, veggie, trick or treating evening for our kids and their friends.  It wasn't anything fancy but it got everyone together for a good time.  What I really want is more time, which I don't know how to make.  

Reading: Well, I am going to do a part two and update you on what I've been reading.  Stay tuned and I'll update you at the end of this month.  

How are you doing with your intentions for 2019?  

Friday, 25 October 2019

Snakeskin Dress and Why I Am Jumping for Joy!

I don't want to jinx it but I seem to be back to regular programming here with a Friday post.   Why am I jumping for joy these days?  I'll let you in on a little secret, I am actually writing this on Saturday night, like five days before I am going to publish it!   I am ahead of schedule for the first time in weeks!!!!   Another reason, is that my cleaner returned after being away for a couple of months to visit her family and it just happen that those were the first two months of school starting up.  Let's just say I missed her a LOT.  When she cleans my house you guys, I have tears in my eyes.  I've had the hardest time finding a cleaner that does a deep clean.   I know I need the help but I am so OCD about house cleaning, that I would get so annoyed that I was cleaning after the cleaner.  I couldn't justify not only spending out family money, but  also our family time doing it over again.  Anyway, this post just took a random turn into my obsession with house cleaning.  What I wanted to say is that I am HAPPY to have her back in my life.  

I am also happy to share the second piece of clothing that I ordered from RW & Co this fall.  Last week I showed you a professional plaid blouse with the cutest ruffle details and slight balloon sleeves, see here.  In that same order I got this snakeskin dress  that I honestly didn't think I was going to keep but needed to boost my order to get free shipping.  Once I slipped it on  I immediately knew that it was staying put in my closet, even my husband and daughter said I should keep it.  I love the little necktie detail, the loose fit, and the length of this dress.  I added a skinny belt to cinch the waist and add some detail to the outfit.  The dress gathers with a loose elastic int he middle so it really doesn't require the belt, I just prefect the look with it.  This dress is perfect for work, night out with my book club gang, Thanksgiving dinner and into the holiday season. I also think if you have a low key wedding to attend, you could totally pull this dress off.  I purchased the dress off for  under $50 and it often goes on sale, you just might need to be patient.  Their stuff runs true to size for me every time, I am pretty consistently a small in their clothing.  

Shop This Post:
Snakeskin DressBelt:  Option 1; Option 2

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Plaid all the Way

I love the spin on traditional plaid the last few years.  Sure, I love my plaid button down shirt, and I don't plan on saying goodbye to it anytime soon, but I am enjoying the more professional styles that plaid is showing up in such as pixie pants, blazers and blouses.  When I saw this plaid patterned blouse, with the cute ruffle details, and the over sized sleeves, I knew I had to order it.  I was hoping not to love everything I ordered from RW & Co but that didn't work out for me.  This is the first item I want to showcase.  

I've already worn the blouse twice and both times I received complements.  Though I am featuring it here as a comfortable and loose fitted top, I did tuck it into my jeans and it looks super cute, sorry I forgot to snap a picture.  I paired it up with my once again favorite ON jeans, and booties because it's finally fall and I love me a good pair of booties.  I have to replace my black ones so if you have a comfortable go-to pair please let me know!  These gray ones are the perfect height for work, are super comfortable to walk around school all day or to run errands on the weekend.  Giving this look the final touch is my trusted H&B statement necklace, an oldie but I linked some similar and cheaper options below.  

I had the best day on Saturday with my family.  We really needed a weekend free of play dates, sleepovers and obligations.  We headed to the mall to buy a birthday present and to just shop around.  We made a rare but delicious pit stop at Wetzel Pretzel and shared some tasty treats.  We ended our day off with a movie night at home, watching a Dog's Journey.  So so so good.  If you are a dog loving family, like we are, it'll get you right in the heart.  

We are heading into Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, so Canadian friends may you have a wonderful weekend with the people you love.  Be thankful and merry.  

Shop This Post:
Booties (old): Bandolino (cute heel detail); Expression (affordable choice)  
Statement Necklace (old): Etereo 

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Currently: September Edition

Currently reminiscing about our summer days and  nights.  We kicked off the month of September with one last wakeboard on the lake, fun times with friends, smores and a fantastic fireworks show put on by our lake town.  We ended the month on Monday, September30th with our first snowfall.


Currently reading,  Educated by Tara Westover.  Umm, so good and yet so foreign to read about an upbringing such as this, fully being aware that this is not HISTORY, this is actually pretty current.  So far I am enjoying it immensely.

Currently watching No Tomorrow on Netflix.  Light, cute, funny, and the perfect way to end of our day.  What are your go to shows?

We also saw the last episodes of Suits and it didn't disappoint.  I have been #teamharveyanddonna forever and I love the way it was wrapped up.  

Currently obsessed with these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Just for fun, I substituted the 1 1/2 C of chocolate chips with 1 C chocolate chips & 1/2 C Crasins.  

Currently loving my job as a PreK teacher.  We have adopted a local tree, Mr. Leafy, which led us to discover ladybugs.  EVERYONE loves ladybugs and the children cannot get enough of them.  Learning all about their lifecycle, their characteristics, their living conditions, you name it, they want to know about it.  

Currently family edition.  

My mom and dad were gone for most of the month back to our old country.  We missed them terribly but were aso excited that after all these years they were able to go back together to visit their tribe that was taken from them so many years ago.  While they were gone we were fortunate to spend some quality time with my uncle who resides in Toronto and show him the beautiful landscape that we call home.  

The girls started school and are both enjoying being back with their friends and their new teachers.  Here is to a new year of learning and growing.  

Baby Otto, our nephew, turned one!!!

Currently wearing.  For the month of September we had a second summer so I wore as many favorite summer outfits as I could.  Boots, scarves, headbands, etc. are now out and probably here to stay.  Bye, bye summer clothes.

What were some of your September highlights?

Friday, 27 September 2019

Casual Fall Outfit & Sharing Clothing With My Daughter

It finally happened!  I BORROWED something from my daughters closet!  In fact I not only borrowed it but I am featuring it right here on the blog.  See this super cozy, bold, cheery, fun stripped sweater?  It's hers!  Yep, it belongs to my 12.5 year old and we are now officially going into each others closets.  By that, I mean she's gone into mine a few times and this is a first for me, but I feel like I am entering a new world.  Hahahaha.  

We ventured out to our annual corn maze family day.  This is my favorite fall tradition, well this and trick or treating as a family.  We've been going to the Rosthern Youth Corn Maze as long as I can remember, see picture below of my little ones, and we always have a blast.  It's also become a perfect backdrop for a cozy fall outfit, see here and here.  This year I wanted to showcase my favorite pair of jeans, high waisted, Rockstar jeans from ON.  I love the fit of these jeans.  I almost always buy the Rockstars from ON because they are consistent in size, structure, fit, durability and the price can't be beat.  I instantly knew I wanted to feature a cozy, comfortable and oversized sweater with them.  I don't have one but if you read my picks for fall 2019 trends last week, see here, you know that's something I want to add to my closet.  Now that I am not wearing office attire 80% of the time, I feel like I can add a few casual sweaters back into my wardrobe and I can wear them to work and around town.  This particular top came from Urban Planet but I am linking up a few other options for you below.  I am also into hair accessories since spring, so this little cute leopard print side clip was the icing on the cake.

A few of the family enjoying the day :)  

My babies and I at the maze 7 years ago.  Gosh I miss them being so little.

Anya taping her first youtube video.  

Collecting all the stamps.  4th year in a row!!!

We earned our treats.  Yummy pumpkin donuts.  

Happy weekend everyone.

Shop This Post: 

ON Jeans

Stripped Oversized Sweater:  Belong Lifestyle; Amazon; ZafulSimons