christmas around our home

We go really simple for our Christmas decorating, and I love to bring in a lot of natural elements. Our most colorful things are our stockings. I thought about changing those, but I love the quirkiness of it. We have a faux Christmas tree in our front window, but we got a small real tree for our family room. I also picked up a lot of extra Christmas tree scraps from Lowes (for free) and used those to make wreaths and little garlands. Our advent wreath is pretty much like last year’s, but I used candlestick holders instead. There are a couple wooden ball garlands strung over the fireplace, and a wool felt ball garland by our small tree. And of course, we have lights everywhere; it gives everything such a cozy glow.

The girls have some decorations in their rooms. Soul and Glow hung up their deer garland on their door, and True and Brave’s room has a (teeny) vintage, white Christmas tree they put their own decorations on. I’m surprised they didn’t do a lot more decorations on our walls like they did for Halloween or Thanksgiving, but I think it’s because they’ve been focused on their handmade gifts for each other.

All our festivities start on Christmas Eve, so posting might be light here until the New Year. Besides all the family time and celebrating, I want to spend some time catching up with some projects around the house, and leave plenty of opportunities for chillaxing and having movie days in bed with the girls. I hope you cherish this special season too … one more sleep until Christmas!

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tamales for days

We’ve all been working on our tamales for Christmas dinner with my family. When we are in California for Christmas, my family comes over to our house to celebrate. Thankfully, the girls are old enough to get involved in the tamale making, they made everything go so much faster. Well, Glow sat next to us while we all worked; she’s doesn’t quite have the right tamale wrapping skills yet. I made all the fillings and prepped the masa, and it was a family affair to wrap it all. Ben, True, and I put the tamale together, and Soul and Brave tied each one. I estimated that we would end up with about 90, but I think our total count is close to 120. We’ve tried a couple already, and are happy to report that they are delicious. The best part is that we made them healthy without all that lard or shortening. Once the craziness of the holidays are over, I will be sure to share the recipe with you. Anyone else busy having a tamale making party?

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rockin’ around the christmas tree

I wrapped all the gifts with some plain easel paper roll and topped it off with a raffia bow. The girls did the finishing touches of adding some sprigs (big bunches on some) of Christmas tree onto it. Our gift tags are red card stock I cut into a tag shape, wrote some messages on them using a fine paint brush and calligraphy ink, and with twine the girls tied them onto each gift. It was a morning of making all the presents look pretty, and now they are ready to be torn open in a just a few days! We are so excited!!!

We attempted to make some popcorn garland, but I think more popcorn ended up in their belly than on the garland. In case you didn’t know (we didn’t), allow your popcorn to go stale a day before you start trying to create your garland. I think we only ended up with about 3 feet of popcorn garland, even though that big bowl (pictured above) was full of popcorn.

We host my family at our house for Christmas and these are their Christmas hosting outfits. We will be home, so they don’t need really fancy outfits, but they are just dressy enough for our special celebration. They’ll be in charge of greeting our guests, showing them their seats, and preparing a couple simple platters (fruit and cheese). We still have place cards to make and the girls tell me they still have a lot of gifts to make (they are serious about handmade gifts). There’s still much to do this week, but I also want to make sure to get some lazy time in with the girls of cuddling and watching movies.

on true: lace shift dress, c/o old navy. socks, gap kids. on brave: half-sleeve sweater, plaid skirt c/o old navy. socks, gap kids. on soul: double-knit c/o old navy (sold out, but similar). and glow: drop-waist dress, cat shoes c/o old navy.

This post is in partnership with Old Navy. I’m thankful for the support you give this space and the brands I partner with!

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soul turns 6 in a galaxy far far away

I thought it would be fitting to share Soul’s birthday today, since Episode 7: The Force Awakens was just released. The girls are itching to go watch the newest episode, but we don’t dare go in the first couple days. I’m sure it’s going to be insane at the theaters. When they started geeking out over Star Wars, it was before all the hype of the newest movie. Now, they get so excited seeing all the Star Wars stuff everywhere! I loved it as a child, and it was one of the movies that was played a lot in my home, besides Sound of Music, but I’m not a Star Wars geek like my girls. They know everything about all 6 episodes and they each have their own favorites. Can you guess who Soul’s favorite is?! Yup, Luke!

She requested a Luke party and Star Wars everything for her birthday (along with a hotel stay and swimming). I was going to attempt to make a chocolate cake from scratch, but all the recipes I found called for coffee, and I don’t drink coffee (nor do I know how to make it!). I switched it up to the next best thing, a boxed mix, and picked up Miss Jones chocolate cake and frosting. The cake part was delicious, but the frosting was a pain; it was too clumpy and I ended up pouring in a little bit of coffee at the hotel (Ben will drink it when we are at a hotel), and that helped soften and smooth it out. I baked the cake at home, brought it with us on our trip, and put it together at the hotel. I used silver sprinkles and generously covered the cake with it.

This little celebration was all set up in our hotel room at the Saguaro. You can even see some of the purple wall on the kissing gif with Soul. I brought black fabric for the table cloth, and as I sprinkled the cake, and the sprinkles fell on the table cloth, it was the perfect mess because that’s just what the table needed. The sprinkles that fell on the tablecloth gave the whole galaxy a whole other dimension. For the backdrop, I found two images from the HubbleSite (awesome downloadable images that are free!) I thought would be perfect and took them to the copy shop to get two engineering prints made. One was taped on the wall for the party backdrop (this one), and another was used to wrap presents (this one). The backdrop, the presents, and table set really made it look like she was in a galaxy far, far away! Then, there was her Luke, front and center.

She was absolutely giddy at her surprise! Soul was so excited, she ate the least amount of cake. That is so unlike her because out of the four of them, she loves low-nutrition things the most. I think we definitely made all her sixth birthday dreams come true. Ben and I have so much joy in surprising the girls for their birthdays and bringing their birthday requests to life.

Since, we were in Palm Springs, we also made sure to head over to the Ace Hotel, so that Soul could take her own set of photo booth pictures. We love photo booths so much! Ben and I even thought about purchasing one for our home (the original, old school kind), but decided against it because the upkeep would be costly. Thankfully, Palm Springs isn’t too far away, and we can keep those photo booth memories going, especially when it’s a special occasion.

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robolights in palm springs

We kicked off Soul’s birthday celebration with a stop at Robolights in Palm Springs (I learned about it from this cool blog; it’s my fave site to gather ideas of things to do in California). Robolights is this insane art/light installation by Kenny Irwin and he’s been doing this since he was a kid. The whole thing is done at his father’s residence and filled with about 9 million lights, lots of robots and random bits of discarded items put together to create sculptures. It’s pretty amazing how his parents just let him build on their property and keep adding to it. Obviously, they were really supportive of allowing him to use his imagination to bring things to life.

It was filled with lots of strange things, like robots with skulls all over the base, or a clown robot coming out of a tower, and a carousel of toilets. This is just a short list of the weird things there; the list could really go on and on. Take note, if you don’t like clowns, this place might not be for you. Some things freaked out the kids, but they loved looking at all the lights. Their favorite parts were Darth Vader things they spotted here and there. There’s so much to see there!

We went mid-week and it’s a suggested $5 donation to enter. It wasn’t busy at all, and took a little over an hour to walk through. On the weekend though, we were told that it gets pretty packed and it’s like a crawl getting through there. One Saturday last year, 2,000 people went through in one night … crazy! Now, every time we see a house lit up like crazy, the girls say, “It’s robolights!” And I just added some more lights inside our house yesterday, and they were all “It’s robolights inside! It’s robolights inside!”

When we are in the area again, we want to drive by the house to see what it looks like without all the lights. The lights get put up for the holidays, and get taken down after, but all the robots and sculptures (like the toilet carousel) stay up year round. I’m so curious what that looks like. It must be interesting to be one of their neighbors. If you’re in the area, definitely check this out. The best way to describe Robolights … it is bizarrely fabulous.

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