Monday, November 28, 2016


Every holiday I want to get a picture of our family....if it happens..'s always one that never works out. Why?

I pulled the girls onto the porch right after Jeff prayed for dinner.

Turkey butter because it's Thanksgiving and it's turkey butter!

My beautiful Grandmother and Mother in Law.

...aaaaaand all the girl cousins. {minus one because she was home sick}

Did you guys see this crazy kid's turkey cooking video?
{Click that pink link to watch.} I still laugh so hard when I watch it.

Taking it easy before the guests arrive...

The most handsome-est turkey carver in all the world...make that universe!
He also has a birthday today. I am most grateful for him..he makes my life happy and full.
I love him so very much.

My sweet and lovely sister...just last week lost her baby...a little boy...she was 20 weeks along.
Not an easy thing to go through...she wrote this beautiful little post on her Facebook page.
{ on the pink link to read.}

Our house transitioned from Fall to Christmas this past weekend.

I love cedar's so dainty and festive. It's my favorite!

"I can already see it now year you're going to want a fake, junky Christmas tree."
First world problems.

Sorry I broke tradition kids...I promise we will always have a real tree...
...but let me say, it was nice to walk in and quickly purchase a pre-cut, reasonably priced tree from a giant box store that starts with an M rather than walking in the rain this year to cut one down. ;)

Look! A Christmas-pick-out-a-tree-photo and No mud! ;)

He is such a fun dad...he always has been.

Old, vintage ornaments...some my great grandmother's, some antique store finds.
I love them all.

Christmas with a two year old is just perfect! Toddlers are fun. It's such an awesome stage of life.
Everything is exciting and new.

...and he fell asleep looking at the Christmas tree.

Love long weekends..but it's nice to get back in the swing of things around here.
Happy Monday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Our menu always stays the same.

One of my favorite-est paintings...Doris Lee's "Thanksgiving".
It resides in The Art Institute of Chicago you know.
It's not a huge painting...but a fun one to stand in front of.

I love the little kitchen!
It's adorable, cozy and the floor is perfect....and the babies in the highchairs....
....but not the cat...the cat has to go. {sorry cat lovers everywhere}

Our Thanksgiving menu the past 14 years for the most part, has remained the same.
I love tradition...I love that we can look forward to the same-once-a-year meal.
Very American {and a little Italian}

We start with a fruit and cheese spread.

Mashed Potatoes
Pecan Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Corn Pudding
Cranberry Sauce
Crescent Rolls
Good old...Brown and Serves! ...because you just have to.

Pumpkin Pie
Oreo Cheesecake
Pecan Brownies...{one day I will share the recipe. These bars are to die for!}
Coconut Bars
Pecan Nut Cups
...and keeping my Grandmother's tradition...Egg Nog for the first time of the season!

The desserts will vary...and everyone in the family pitches in for the meal.
I don't do ALL the cooking!

This year my girls have been in the kitchen with's fun.
I love having them.

We will be hosting almost 50 people.
I love it!

Whether you are having a quiet Thanksgiving or a loud and crazy day...
Hope your's is a blessed one.

...and in the midst of all the chaos and the talk of Black Friday {sheesh! it's getting out of hand}
Remember why we are celebrating this holiday in the first place.

This is a day to give thanks.
Thanks to God for all we have been given.

I listened to a great sermon from Francis Chan yesterday while I cleaned up the house.
It was very convicting and put my materialism into perspective.
It's called Lukewarm and Loving It.

If you have a chance...I encourage you to click on the pink link above.
Put it on while you cook dinner or's worth the listen.

HaPpY Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's been 168 months exactly, do not cook turkey on Thanksgiving and sometimes you need a boy to do the mixing....

Exactly 168 months ago today we moved into our house.
It sure doesn't feel like 14 years ago.

Sammy was 6 months old the day we closed.
We had 3 little boys and plush, fluffy, baby blue carpeting in the bathroom. Yuck!
It was torn up the first week we lived here. Ha!

The girls took my camera this morning.
They were outside for a bit and then did a little photo shoot with Frankie.
They spiked his hair and made him pose! Ha!
I didn't even know they were doing it! They showed me the pictures after they finished.

{The first 4 photos in this post they shot}

They even dragged his puppy into sweet.
...I'm thinking this window will be washed tomorrow morning. ;)

Turkey sugar cookie baking is happening as soon as dinner is cleaned up.
They mixed and stirred and eventually called in a brother with bigger muscles to finish up the job.
Sometimes a boy is handy for that last cup of flour or opening up the tight jar.

For lack of a turkey picture, let's pretend those chicken legs are really turkey legs, okay?
Do not cook your turkey on Thanksgiving.
To save time...cook it the day before!

I've been doing it for quite a few years now and it is a lifesaver!

Three reasons it's better to cook it the day before-
1. It frees up the oven on Thanksgiving.
2. You won't have to worry about the turkey because it's done ...which is the biggest part of the meal.
3. Your turkey will actually taste better! Yes, really!

Cook it Wednesday. Let it cool. Slice it. Store it in the refrigerator.
{keep all of the juices from the turkey as well}

Thursday in the late morning, put your turkey and the juices into a roasting pan or crock pot.
Let it sit and simmer until it's time for Thanksgiving dinner.

My secret to a perfect turkey....BUTTER!
Butter makes everything better..even turkey.

Smother your turkey skin in butter and spices as it cooks.

Happy Tuesday Everyone!

Also....Tomorrow we cut down our Christmas tree!!!! I'm just a little excited!

And here..... 7 ways to be organized {and a little creative} for Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Jeff, this year, let's NOT do any home improvement projects the week of Thanksgiving."

Saturday afternoon as a husband and wife were cleaning up the garage and the house...

"I do not want to do any projects this week.
We always end up doing a last minute project and stressing the day before people come."

{ the one time 10 years ago, when Jeff hung crown molding in the living room and
I cooked all day with little kids at my feet while the baby screamed
and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade played in the background...
....that's the stress I'm talking about!}

"Good idea. No projects."
"I just want to enjoy the week...focus on the holiday."
"Sounds good to me."

"Hey, look at how bad these built ins look...they're all chipping and gross and so 1970's."
"I know...I've hated them since we've moved in."
"You keep saying how you are going to build new doors on them."

"Do you want me to just rip them down? I can do it right now! What do you think?"


So on a Sunday afternoon while other families rested and relaxed...
....Jeff and Liz once again began a home improvement project the week of Thanksgiving.

This one is a involved knocking down walls and busting out a ceiling.
We are in transition. This spring our little project will be complete.

But for now...we have a little extra space where the bulky shelves were.
...and a little extra painting to do this week. ;)

Happy Monday.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Wrapping up the week....

Yesterday my sister in law and I took the kids on the train into Chicago.
The train ahead of our's hit a pedestrian ...which was really sad.
....and also made for a veeeeerrrrryyyy long train ride for us.

It was 73 degrees in the city. 73 degrees!!!
Millennium Park is so pretty in fall.

Jeff..can we go to the opera please?please?please?


They were walking together like this down the was the sweetest!

The girls cousins with a little photo bomber...seriously, he jumped in every one of their pictures.

Walking through Chicago you can't help but sing in your head..or even out loud!
"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....."
Wreaths are everywhere...lights are being hung everywhere... skating is ready to go this weekend...and the TREE!!! is in Millennium Park!

But Thanksgiving is next week....and that's what we are focusing on, right? *cough*

The windy, windy city...

If you have a baby or toddler and are wondering.... should I buy a Tula?
The answer is Yes!

This is the one I have right now and I LOVE it! It's actually my sister's...we traded for the time being.
She has my small one, I have her toddler carrier.

I can carry 24 pound Frankie forever and my back and shoulders feel just fine!
I can switch him to the front or the back.
Their weight is distributed so evenly...and the padding on the Tula is so thick and comfortable.

Another reason I like the Tula as opposed to the Ergo or other carriers....
...there is padding for the baby's legs as well.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Appreciate and be grateful and gather herbs and make homemade trail mix.

I've been praying about my wife status lately. I want to be a good one. A better one. A thankful one.
I want Jeff to be happy that he married me, not sorry.

I started wondering... do I show gratefulness towards him? Does he know how thankful I am?
I tell him I appreciate him, but do my actions and attitude match up?

He does so many things for me, for our family...yet I often times choose to complain
about the what he doesn't my new kitchen windows I'm waiting for,
my new sink sitting in my garage,  the wall I want knocked out,
the new flooring for our family room...etc.
But I'm not complaining! wink, wink ;)

Not only Jeff, but everyone in my life. Am I grateful for all that people do for me?
Big things, little I appreciate them?

The more we take the time to notice all that people do for us, the more humble we become.

Thankful people are happy people.
To become a happier person,  keep track of all the things others do for you.
Make a list. Write them down. Keep a journal. Thank them!

Do NOT keep a mental list of all that you have done for others!

When you focus on what you do or what you've done for people,
that's exactly where it stops...with you.
It builds pride and entitlement in your heart.
You will become a miserable person inside and out.

Remember One Thousand Gifts?
Ann's book was such an inspiration. If you haven't read it, you really need to.
It will give you perspective.

My lavender started blooming again. In northern Illinois. In November!
We gathered a bunch more herbs out of the more little harvest this fall.
This little spurt of warm will be over very shortly...then it's frigid weather until April/May.

Now about the homemade trail mix...
It's a way to trick my mind into believing 

I'm eating something's really just glorified M&M's. 


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Inside my brain for 30 minutes....will you please stop with the tortilla chips already!

Tortilla chip breath.
Salsa breath.
Joining me.
One and a half tiny inches between us.
Peering over my shoulder.
My privacy is gone now.
I think a piece of chewed chip was just spit onto my keyboard...
"What's that a picture of mom?" says hot chip breath.

I want to be alone right now.
I can't be alone right now.

My nerves...they feel fried.
I'm internally twitching and having a breakdown privately in my head.
I look calm on the's a lie.

The crunching is getting louder even though it's staying the same...crunch, chew, ChoMP CHOMP!!!
It's like the Chinese Water Torture with tortilla chips.

Is it bedtime yet?
It's still three hours away. THREE WHOLE HOURS AWAY!!!

I thought putting a movie on would give me free time on this quiet corner of the couch.
Who was I kidding?
Only myself.
They all want to sit by me. No one is even watching the movie.
Why am I popular?
I am a celebrity in this house.

I moved into the dining room of the chip breaths has followed me.
Make that two chip breaths....aaaaaand here comes the littlest mister.
The movie is on and no one is watching.

They have gathered around me.
I keep switching windows on my computer so they don't see what I am writing.
I was writing on marriage...but now I am writing this.
But I can only write this a little at a time because they are surrounding me and reading.

I am engulfed.
And they can read.
Why did I teach them how to read anyway?

Little hands just went into my freshly poured glass of water.

"You're a nice mom."
Really? You had to say that now? ...great, I feel bad.
Mom guilt.
"You are a nice daughter." I say.
I mean it.

I click onto Pinterest so things look casual...everyone joins me.
Of course.
"Who's baby is that? Wait, can I see that? Who is singing? What does that say?"

I want to scream.... I JUST WANT TO WRITE FOR 5 MINUTES!
I don't scream.
Why? I could, right?
I feel bad telling them to go away.
So I don't.

They just want to be by me.
They want my company.

My life feels like a community life.
Everyone is welcome to it.

I love them. I really, really love them.
They are my life.
They are amazing.
They are such a huge blessing.

But sometimes... SOMETIMES....a mom just needs a few minutes to herself.

{*all photos taken this weekend around our house}