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Boxes make great toys.

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And great forts, also.

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It took me an entire week to decorate my tree.
But it eventually got done.

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I was tired of the garland we’ve had for the past 3 years,
so I decided to do some bunting instead.
I used plaid flannel and fleece and hot glued it onto twine!

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I like it much better.
And so does this little monkey:

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Thankfully, the monkey has resisted swinging on the tree.
Both I and my decorations thank her.

If anyone still reads this,
and is interested to know,
the answer is no: i did not die.
I have just had zero energy 😉
I had forgotten how tiring and nauseous the 1st trimester can be,
but I keep telling myself I’m grateful for it!
It means little baby is getting what he/she needs.

So, here is a quick update of what I’ve managed to get done in between my many, many, many naps.

Monkey on Thanksgiving morning.
That orange ring in her hand…
that thing is gold.
It’s one of her favorite toys right now.
I don’t get it either.

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“Corn Flower” table decorations for Thanksgiving

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Wiggins Tree Farm to get our tree!
We went with Michelle and Alex – it was a lot of fun.
Once we established that pointing out prospective trees by saying
”That one!” really didn’t work.
Oh you mean the tree next to that tree, past all these trees, over yonder in the distance?
Yeah, I know exactly which one you mean.

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Which is why I “tagged” our #1 pick with my sunglasses.

SONY DSC It didn’t occur to me until after I’d left that it was very possible that I could lose both the tree AND my sunglasses.
Preggo brain on display!

Julia even found her own Charlie-Brown-sized tree.
We would have bought it for her room, but it was one price for all trees.
There was no way we were paying the same price for a rinky-dink tree 😉

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Catching a ride back to the car with Uncle Alex.

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Julia is thinking: “Mom, did you even look in the mirror before you walked outside this morning?  That hair is quite special.”

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And that brings us to today.
When I finally had the energy to string the lights on the tree.
Only to open up the box and realize I had bought 700 white wire lights.
White wire.
On a green tree.
So off to Target we went to exchange them.
Julia is fascinated by the lights.

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And, finally, while researching what to make for Christmas morning,
and deciding on Monkey Bread,
I also decided I wanted to make my own Buttermilk Biscuit dough for the bread.
I was shocked at how easy it is!
I also did a fair amount of reading on what constitutes the BEST buttermilk biscuit.  It is fascinating.
No surprise, America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe uses the best method.
(Thank you, Cyndi, for that fabulous cookbook!)
Kneadless (ha) to say, after spending all this time staring at biscuits,
I kneaded one. (ha again)
Badly.
So I whipped up a batch in under half an hour.
I didn’t have cake flour on hand, but I used all-purpose and they turned out wonderfully.  I will definitely be making these again.
Seriously – so simple.

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Buttermilk Biscuits
Source
: America’s Test Kitchen
Makes: 12
Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
1 c. all purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 TBSP (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled cut into cubes
3/4 c. cold buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use soured milk – 1 TBSP lemon juice or white distilled vinegar per 1 cup milk.  Combine and let stand 5 minutes until thickened.)

1.) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Pulse the flours, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a food processor to combine.  Scatter the butter evenly over the top and pulse to combine, about 12 pulses. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a fork or work the butter in with your fingers.)

2.) Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Stir in the buttermilk with a rubber spatula until the mixture forms a soft, slightly sticky ball.

3.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and quickly form into a rough ball.  Do not overmix.  Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 12 even pieces.  Quickly and gently shape each piece into a rough ball and place on an ungreased baking sheet.  (The baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 2 hours.) Bake until the biscuit tops are light brown, 10-12 minutes.

For Halloween, I took my little scarecrow on a modified trick-or-treating tour.
She’s still too little to do the whole neighborhood
(not to mention eat all that candy)
so we did a driving tour to grandparents and aunts and uncles.
Our last stop was at Sean and Mary’s (and Mich and Alex were there too.)
They fed her so much candy she was running around the apartment like a nut.
And when I put her in bed once we got home,
she just laid there saying “hi!” over and over again to herself.
Sugar rush?

It was a lot of fun, though – so glad we did it!

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And, yes, no Halloween would be complete without
SNOW!
Everyone knows snow in October is the best thing ever.
😛

Well, it’s snowing here.
In October.
So while I lit a fire, played Christmas music and drank my coffee,
I set to work on finishing Julia’s Halloween costume.
I feel like I’m jumping all over the calendar.

Julia is going to be a little girl scarecrow.
I found the inspiration here.
Because it’s going to be cold, I’m going to have to customize it a bit.
The full ensemble is forthcoming,
but for now here are a few pieces.

No-Sew Tutu tutorial

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Scarecrow Hat Inspiration
(I made a few alterations, mostly because I have never made a hat before and didn’t know what I was doing. 🙂 )

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She seems to like it,
and most importantly: everything FITS!
Can’t wait to take my little scarecrow trick or treating

I’m back tracking a bit.
Earlier this month, my lovely friend, Margie, got MARRIED!
I couldn’t be happier for her,
though I’m more than a little sad Bernie took her far away from me.
Far as in Tennessee.
I’m still trying to work through this!
Also, I wish I had pictures from the wedding,
but I left my camera card at home that weekend.
I was pretty mad at myself.
And I wasn’t able to get a ton of shots at the bridal shower,
but I got a few beforehand of the decorations.
It was such a fun time celebrating.
And now I just have to figure out how to easily get to Tennessee.

Coffee Filter Flowers

These were so much fun to make!
I hot glued them onto branches,
and stuck them in vases and mason jars filled with pinto and black beans.

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I liked them so much I kept them and am using them around my house for everyday decor.

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For favors:
Pumpkin Spice Sugar Scrub

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And here is beautiful Margie opening her gifts.
Behind her: pinwheel fans!
(thank you Pinterest for endless inspiration)

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Sewn Paper Garland

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Yarn wreaths on the windows!

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and Fall would not be complete without
Salted Caramel Apple Cupcakes

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It was a fabulous time celebrating a fabulous lady.
Love you, Margie!

I’m trying to enjoy autumn to the fullest.
Here are a few ways…

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

This is it.  This is THE best pumpkin bread.
I love it so much, I’m giving my other pumpkin bread the boot.
It’s been my favorite for years and years,
but this is officially my new favorite.
And whatever you do, do NOT skip the cinnamon glaze!!!
It is essential.
I also chose to omit the Pecans, as I’m not a fan of them in bread.

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And I am super excited about these single-serving mulling spices.
There have been so many times I’ve wished I had spiced cider but didn’t feel like making an entire gallon of it.
This works perfectly – just heat up a cup of apple cider, and steep the spice bag in the same way you would tea!
Brilliant.
I found this at Wegman’s…though I’m sure it’s sold other places.

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Later on this week…

Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt!
(in which I WILL use the pecans)

I so love October.

Tomorrow my baby turns one.
Sunday was her party,
seeing as Thursday is not a very good party day.
Here are some pics of the fun.

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And now for my party sources
(seeing as almost nothing was an original idea):

Garland Idea
Iced Coffee with Coffee Ice Cubes
Hanging Fans Inspiration
Cupcakes in a Jar using this cake
Smoky Beef Tacos (though sadly I do not have pics)

Special thanks to:
my mom. 
I could not have pulled this party off without her.  From using her house to keeping Julia from killing herself, my mom was (and is) my hero.

my dad.
he took about as much interest in this party as he would have in any of his own.  he was mowing the lawn 2 hours before everyone arrived, even though I told him he didn’t need to.  and when Mom sent him to cut flowers for the mason jars, he did a pretty spectacular job. 🙂
And even though he was unsuccessful in hunting down a baby pool, we still had one grand party.  😉

michelle.
she came over early and basically prepped all the cake ingredients so we could layer them.  she also brought guacamole, which everyone understands is essential to any party.  she is the very best SIL I could ask for.

cyndi.
brought food AND helped replenish all the food as it got eaten. 

meg.
she not only helped me make decorations, she took several of the photos above so I could enjoy the party.  she also helped me get coffee out of my brand new white dress. 🙂

and to everyone else.
a party is not a party without friends to attend it. 🙂
thank you to all our family and friends who came and blessed Julia on her 1st birthday.  We are so grateful for each one of you!

House Party . Com

Anyone ever heard of this?

Done this?

I’m curious but, as always, skeptical that there may be a catch…

A free party seems too good to be true.

But, maybe the “catch” is in the application process…maybe few are selected?

If anyone tries this, invite me! 🙂

It was a good day.
”Julia” got me a shopping spree, Starbucks for breakfast,
and she took care of herself all morning.
😉
We went to church and then Hibachi afterward with the Smiths.
And we finished the day by going to watch the Phils play.

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It was a good day.

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We had a fabulous day celebrating with family and friends.
We had Italian Easter at my parents – Mom made Aunt Rae’s meatballs and sauce with cavatelli (to die for.)   For dessert – cannolis, Italian cookies, and Chocolate Torte that Michelle brought.
Church was amazing.
The weather was gorgeous.
And overall, it was one of the best Easters ever! 

Collective Reminiscings

The Smittys

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