Our 1st Christmas at Home


Ready for Christmas picture overload? OK, here we go!

Our niece Eliza came over to play on Christmas Eve.

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In case it’s not obvious, these girls have a blast together.

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Jason was so awesome and made my family’s traditional Christmas Eve Swedish meatballs while Ginger and I chased the little girls around the house and visited before the rest of the family got there.



These two can empty a toy box in less than a minute.


Who me?


After the house got quiet, it was time for this mama to pack up the stockings.


This one is for Lucy:


For Jason (not pictured: pack of underwear. You’re welcome.)


For Alianna. She’s an awesome gift receiver. Equally excited about the socks and the owl stickers.


For me; yes I stuff a stocking for myself. (not pictured: pack of underwear. You’re welcome.)


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On Christmas morning I woke up around 9 but Jason and Ali slept until closer to 10. I made a little treat for Ali and I and she learned a new word: cocoa.


Round 1: stockings and Ali’s presents from Mom and Dad.


In addition to the stocking littles, Ali gets three gifts from us. (Side note: Jason and I gave each other a house for Christmas. And I recently got a new camera and he got a new computer; both for our work. Merry Christmas to each other!)


Good morning! It’s Christmas!


Something to play with: Mind of My Own by Frances England.


Something to Read: The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler


Something to Wear: “seaspray” Converse low tops

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New car from Grandma and Grandpa

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Yogurt as a finger food?


We got to FaceTime with my brother’s family in PA. My parents were there for Christmas. My sister’s family was driving there at the time so we didn’t get to see them.


Eli got a tractor!


Jason got some egg poachers in his stocking we he tried them out for our breakfast.


After morning nap she had a bath and got all dressed up for the rest of Christmas day.

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Sometimes “Where’s Ali?” is the only way I can get her to turn towards the camera but this is the facial response I get.


Round 2 of opening presents. She got some great stuff from her aunts and uncles (my siblings in PA).


This Leap Frog Phonics toy seemed to be Ali’s favorite of the day.


Hmm, I might be realizing where Ali gets her “Ooooh!” face from.

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Jason’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and niece spent the afternoon and evening with us. There were lots more presents, little girls running around playing with new toys, and a delicious dinner of ham, chicken, brussel sprouts, roasted beets, macaroni and cheese, rolls, berry delight, pumpkin pie…mmmm…I’m getting hungry again. I didn’t take many pictures during all that fun but after dinner I took these.

My handsome husband:


Ali checking out one of her new shirts.


The FP Little People airplane was a big hit.


Daniel and Ginger


Daniel, Ginger and Eliza


Papa showing Ali how to use Nana’s Nook


Tongue out in concentration? That’s new!


Jason’s parents: Papa and Nana


We had a wonderful Christmas. I hope you did too!


Merry Christmas!



Thanks for being readers and friends. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

Merry Christmas Eve


I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas Eve. We’re planning on our traditional Swedish meatballs and then I have a surprise gift tucked away with new PJs for all, a Christmas movie, popcorn and hot cocoa. I’m hoping to start a new Christmas eve tradition. Here are some photos from our last couple weeks of Christmas preparations.

I was excited to have this little elf to help me with cookie making this year.

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She loves pushing Dizzy all around the house.

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Ali helped me make the raspberry thumbprint cookies so she got to enjoy one of them fresh from the oven.


And a peanut butter blossom, too, because what the heck. It’s Christmas. I decided she should get to eat way too many cookies like the rest of us.


Sugar cookie cut-outs in the oven.


Next year we’re going to get a traditional green tree for all of these fun and sentimental ornaments. This year to keep them safe I made a wall “tree” with command hooks and ribbon.


We’ve been using the fireplace a lot so I was afraid to hang the stockings too close to the fire.


This works!



Our tree can’t support Christmas lights but it’s so sparkly when the sunlight shines on it that it glows!

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Ali woke up on Saturday morning, pointed to her head and said “hat.” She wore her Santa hat most of the day.


I call this “scowl face.” I was trying really hard to get her to do it the other day so I could capture it in a photo but now she seems to think this is THE face to make for every photo. Haha!


Merry Christmas Y’all!

Christmas Gift Ideas for a 17-month-old Girl



…or at least this one specific 17-month-old (in 2 days) little girl I know.



We adopted a new tradition last year of giving three gifts: something to wear, something to play with and something to read. (Can you call something a tradition if you’ve only done it once before?) I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE Amazon.com. They sell just about everything and it’s easy to find items with free shipping. I did 40% of my Christmas shopping in less than an hour this year. The other 50% will be at Target and 10% random places. Rabbit trail… Here’s what I ordered our little punkin for this year.

Something to Read:

The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler, David Lee Csicsko


This book was recommended to me somewhere along the way. It’s a simple book but helpful to start talking about different skin colors whenever Ali starts to notice that we’re all a little different in skin color.

Something to Wear:

CONVERSE Kids’ All Star Ox Tod (Sea Spray 4.0 M)

My baby has small feet! She’s still between a size 3 and a size 4. We only have a couple of options that still fit in the size 3s and only a couple size 4s. These seem like they’ll be quite versatile in a neutral olive green. (The color I got is now sold out so no picture of it.)

Something to Play With:

Frances England’s Mind Of My Own

Ali loves music and pushing buttons so turning on her CD player is one of her favorite things to do everyday. We’ve been enjoying this album a lot on Spotify the past couple of months but I wanted to get her the physical disc so she can play it in her room, the living room, the silver bullet, wherever.

I’m also planning starting a new tradition this year of a Christmas Eve family gift of hot cocoa, a Christmas movie, new PJs and popcorn. And I always end up buying a wad of small things for our stockings: socks, chapstick, underwear, toothbrushes, candy, stickers.

I’m not the least bit concerned about Ali not getting any new toys from us this year. For one, she just got a bunch of “new” toys when we unpacked all of our boxes from storage and for two, her extended family will inevitably shower her with way too many wonderful gifts. 😉 With that in mind, here are some things I put on her Amazon wishlist.

At Ali’s 18-month Half Birthday, I’m planning a little celebration and to introduce her to a potty seat and the concept of potty training. She’s been very curious about the whole process lately. After reading lots of reviews, I decided on this seat:

Prince Lionheart weePOD Basix, Berry Blue

And this book:

Potty (Leslie Patricelli board books)

Because she’s so cute when we ask “What does a cow say?” and she answers, “Mmmmmm…” a bouncy, ride-on cow:

Trumpette Howdy Bouncy Rubber Cow, White

I had the awesome choking hazard FP Little People house, hospital and vacation travel set when I was growing up. (Shh…don’t tell the child-safe police that they’re sitting out at Grandma’s house!). Now they have these short and stubby Little People. I think Ali would like this house:

Fisher-Price Little People Happy Sounds Home

And the airplane, too. She’s good at hearing and spotting airplanes and we plan on taking her on her second plane trip next year. Plus, her daddy frequently travels by airplane for work so Ali’s very familiar with the airport.

Fisher-Price Little People Lil’ Movers Airplane

Ali is pretty into anything with wheels lately. She has a little matchbox car from a cereal box that she LOVES! I’m a big fan of Green Toys (like her tea set) so I put this pink and purple dump truck on her list:

Green Toys Dump Truck, Pink

Ali has a couple of small chairs but not a child-size table. I think it would be great to have one in our playroom for coloring and Play-Doh and other activities. This IKEA one would be an option.

IKEA Children’s Kids Table & 2 Chairs Set Furniture

When Grandma asked her what she wants for Christmas this year, she said “Baby,” so I have a feel she might be getting something like this:

Little Mommy Scrub A Dub Dub Baby Doll – New 2012 Version

Ali’s plastic-coated catcher bibs have been getting really worn out. I think I’ll throw a few more up on her wish list in case any relatives still needs ideas. 😉

Bumkins 3 Pack Waterproof SuperBib, Girl G14

Bumkins 3 Pack Waterproof SuperBib

Bring Home the Bacon … for Christmas!


It’s time to tell you about my favorite Christmas present from last year, in case you still need an idea for that hard-to-shop-for someone on your list. It’s not the gift that got the most use (that would be our Keurig) but it’s the one that has saved us hundreds of greasy paper towels and time cleaning a grease splattered stove, oven or microwave…which is pretty awesome. Gifted to me by my beloved.

Meet Piggy Wiggy the bacon tray.


Microwave bacon trays are not hard to come by but I was searching high and low for one that had a lid. Without a lid the grease still splatters all over the microwave (or requires lots of paper towels), so what is the point? Then I found Joie Piggy Wiggy. Not only does it have a lid, it has a pink vented lid with a pig-face handle. It’s perfect. The grid on the tray allows the grease to drain off the bacon and everything is contained. No more throwing away 5 greasy paper towels just to cook a few strips of bacon. The grease can easy be dumped into a jar and the two parts scrub clean pretty easily. Did I mention it’s less than $10 with free shipping on Amazon? What are you waiting for … git one!

It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas…



On the eve of moving day, Jason and I went to a fundraiser dinner and a friend snapped this picture of us in front of the ginorous Christmas tree in the lobby. I would just slap it onto a Christmas card template and send it out to our friends and family this year but it’s missing a certain little cutie pie. I’m going to attempt to get a picture of the 3 of us and whip something up in time to send out. I’m also hoping to have time to do some Christmas shopping before I run out of shipping time. Yikes! So much to do this time of the year and we kind of have our hands full with unpacking and all… I did put up a few Christmas decorations as I was unpacking boxes.


I bought 3 more boxes of vintage ornaments this summer to add to my collection. (Sidenote: I still have a couple of 11×17 Wishing You a Shiny Brite Christmas posters for sale at my etsy shop, as well as some digital download prints.)



The silver wreath Jason and I made many years ago made it’s way onto our new front door.


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A year or two before she passed away, my Granny gave me two boxes of her vintage Shiny Brite ornaments. They’re half broken and the glitter is a bit corroated but I treasure them. That’s why they’re on this tree stand on the counter, away from toddler hands.

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Speaking of toddler hands, yeah, this is going to be interesting… I’ve already said, “No, Ali, we don’t touch the Christmas tree!” about 500x. Which just makes her want to touch it more, I’m sure. “Ball,” she says as she pokes at the ornaments. No picture of her with the tree yet for obvious reasons.


Posters for Sale


Now that Thanksgiving is over, it seems everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit. Here we’re getting into the almost time to move into the new house spirit. Christmas decorating is in the way, way back of my mind. I wanted to remind you that I put the Wishing You a Shiny Brite Christmas poster back in my Etsy shop again this year. It’s 11×17 and $12 plus shipping.

I’m trying something new this year. I also turned two color variations of the Shiny Brite Christmas poster into downloadable PDFs that can be printed at home on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. They’re $2 a piece and free shipping, of course.

Shiny Brite Poster – Green Print-at-Home   /  Shiny Brite Poster – Brown Print-at-Home


Posters for Sale


I recently got inspired to design a new Welcome Home Mid-Century Modern Poster (maybe because I’ve been longing for “home” so much?) I ordered a few extra so I could restock my Etsy shop. They’re 11×17 and cost $12 plus shipping if you’re interested.

Also, because I get requests for it every year I’ve added the Wishing You a Shiny Brite Christmas poster back to my Etsy shop as well. Same as the Welcome Home poster – 11×17 and $12 plus shipping.

I’m trying something new this year. I also turned two color variations of the Shiny Brite Christmas poster into downloadable PDFs that can be printed at home on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. They’re $2 a piece and free shipping, of course.

Shiny Brite Poster – Green Print-at-Home   /  Shiny Brite Poster – Brown Print-at-Home

I’ll probably mention these again as Christmas gets closer—I know, I know, Christmas decorations on October 1st—but I wanted to get them into my shop early this year so I’m ready to go.

Christmas 2011


It was by far the best Christmas ever, thanks to a sweet little someone. Precious was equally interested in the gift wrappings and the goodies inside. (My kind of girl!) She curiously watched as we opened presents and even helped a little. My family has a tradition of having homemade Swedish meatballs for dinner on Christmas eve. The were delicious, as always. After that, we decided to just go for it and open all the presents from and for my parents, and from my siblings. My parents have a tradition of giving us an ornament every year. This year Precious got a customized baby’s first Christmas ornament.

We all got adequately spoiled. Jason and I are particularly enjoying our new Keurig. (This one, if you’re in the market for one.)

Precious got a bunch of new clothes—much needed since she’s quickly growing out of 6 month size already—and some new toys and books. She got this pretty shirt from Uncle Aaron and Aunt Laura.

And this really cool crinkly, textured book from Uncle Jeff and Aunt Jess and cousin Iris.

Christmas morning at our house was very laid back. I was the first one awake at 9:30. Even Lucy slept in! I tried to wake Precious first, without success, then Jason who told me to go back to sleep—it wasn’t time yet. At 10:00 Precious started stirring so I got her up and dressed and together we woke Daddy. She waited patiently by the tree while we got the Keurig fired up with some fresh coffee.

In her stocking, Precious had a new headband and three pairs of socks.

I decided to adopt a tradition from Design Mom to just give our kids three gifts for Christmas: something to wear, something to read and something to play with. This year for Precious that meant leg warmers, a book with textures and a crinkle-rattle-mirror-teether toy. She’s been enjoying all three.

Jason and I kept it simple for each other too, with a budget of $35 for each other. (Not including stocking stuffers.) I took some pictures but decided not to post the sleepy-eyed, pre-shower Christmas morning pics. I gave Jason a pair of hand weights and a new shirt. He gave me a new hat, a strawberry corer and  a Joie Piggy Wiggy bacon tray. I’m pretty ecstatic about the bacon cooker, which was on my wish list. I like to make bacon for breakfast on occasion and I hate the greasy mess it makes. This thing is amazing! The grease drips and splatters off the bacon is is contained inside the Piggy Wiggy, where it can be drained. I highly recommend this thing if you ever cook bacon. Moving on…

We went over to my parents for lunch where we were joined by Jason’s parents, my bro- and sis-in-law Dan and Ginger, my niece Eliza, Ginger’s dad Jim and our friend Jeremy. It was a nice group. We ate a TON of wonderful foods, did a silly white elephant gift exchange for the adults, real gift exchange for the kids and relaxed the rest of the day. Jason’s parents also had a boat load of gifts for Precious including new books and toys. I’m really glad we started the tradition of just 3 gifts for our kids because the grandparents and aunts and uncles are all very generous too!

Precious with cousin Eliza

Dad and Jason (sporting his new shirt from me)


And finally, one last snap of the pretty Shiny Brite ornaments before they get packed away…

Christmas Babies


On Saturday my sister-in-law Ginger suggested we go to the Opryland Hotel to look at the Christmas decorations with the babies. My bro-in-law Dan, our friend Leila, her son Jaron, and my mom also came along. It’s a beautiful, huge hotel with massive indoor gardens, fountains, and even a river. And they really do it up for Christmas. I didn’t take a lot of pictures but I got a few good ones and Leila sent me some of hers.

Leila took this one of my mom holding Jaron and me with my baby. Precious reached out and took Jaron’s hand right before the picture snapped. So sweet!

Eliza is a tiny toddler. I love it! She’s 10 months old and a wee bit smaller than Precious but she’s going to be taking her first steps (without help) very soon.

What really struck me when I saw this picture is how much our lives have changed this year. My niece Eliza was born in February, our daughter was born in July and baby Jaron was born in October. Each came into his/her family a different way: born biologically, through foster care and through an agency adoption; respectively. We all became mamas this year—couldn’t have planned that better if we had tried. Also, I find it particularly amusing that these three babies are vanilla, caramel and chocolate.