Holidays · photography

Christmas Is Coming

Hello friends! I couldn’t resist getting some cute pictures of our kids in their Christmas jammies, just because, and I love how they turned out!


I just strung up some lights in Adelina’s room and danced around like a monkey to get a few decent shots… ha. Photographing kids can be so tricky! But I just love these sweet Christmas portraits I got out of it ❤

In fact I ended up printing them out and putting them above our mantel for the season.

We started December out with lots of cheer and fun, and then the last week has been… not as thrilling. Poor Jonas has been dragging a cold for weeks, and it got to a point where he was coughing so much at night we took him to the doctor and he finally got some antibiotics. So he started improving immediately, and I was so glad to give him some relief finally! Then a few days later… he woke up caked in vomit. I prayed it was just food poisoning — he was fine throughout the rest of the day (other than being really tired), and I had been feeling queasy myself and we had both had the same lunch. But then, two days later, his sister woke up vomiting (“is yucky mama!”) and spent the rest of the night throwing up the entire contents of her poor tummy. Luckily it was a quick 24-hour bug, but it explains why she had been complaining of not feeling well for several days… (“je me sens pas bien…” — I thought she was just trying to get hot chocolates and special treatment, poor girl!) So anyway, I’m praying we’re out of the woods now, especially because her Christmas dance concert is this weekend and she’s been so excited about it for months!

Seriously though… winter is rough with little people. I swear I’m never taking them out in public again, ugh! I try so hard to give them vitamins, get them good sleep, wash hands, etc (although clearly I’m going to need to start carrying around hand sanitizer…) and we got to church or the library and all my efforts are destroyed. Blah!

That being said, in the meantime, I’ve had so many extra opportunities to snuggle these sweet kiddos and baby them a little extra, and I’m not complaining about that! The loads and loads of extra laundry though… Pass!


We sure love these two ❤


Holidays · Home Decor

Deck the Halls! Christmas 2017 Home Tour

This town home of ours is quickly becoming a little paradise. I’m so grateful for a place to call our own that suits our needs and that we are slowly sprucing up. I feel like it’s a little diamond in the rough that just needed a little extra loving!

I realize few people dislike Christmas so saying “I love Christmas” isn’t much of a statement at all, but gosh dang it I LOVE CHRISTMAS! I love the lights and the glow and the cheer and the air thick with feeling, and the people trying to be just a little bit better to each other.

And I love that we get a whole month dedicated to trying to draw nearer to our Savior, one that’s especially heavy-laden with warmth and feeling. All the decorations aren’t just pretty things: they originally had specific meanings. Evergreens — everlasting hope and life. Red, the first Christmas colour. A friend shared this the other day: “It was used first by men of faith to remember the blood shed by the Saviour for the world. Christ has given his life and has shed his blood so that every man can have access to the gift of God, eternal life. Red is deep, vivid, bright, it’s the greatest colour of all, it’s the symbol of God’s gift to men.” The bells, ringing with joy at the good news, the lights, pointing to the Light of the World. (For more on how we’re working to teach all of this to our kids, check out this post for some ideas!)

With all that said, the decorating and the little traditions and the Christmas music sure are just plain fun, too! So off we go!


I’m still working on finishing our stockings, but I love our little matryoshkas on the Christmas mantel. (And yay, we have a mantel!!)


That painting up there is called Little Lamb by Jennedy Paige, and there is a beautiful description and story that goes along with it, you can read it here. It’s also special to me because our Jonas looked so much like this baby as a newborn ❤

There’s a funny story about this noël sign below: I got it from a local craft fair last year, but the artist hadn’t added the trema on the e so I just added it with chalk! Ha. I realize in the US most people just spell it “noel,” but I had to get it just right in our french-american household!


Our tree is nothing fancy, but I still love it (and it nearly gave up on us this year after a heating-vent-melting-the-feet incident… but my husband saved the day with a hairdryer, ha!) We got it for our first Christmas with real jobs, after college 🙂


I made the tree skirt a few years ago, we have several Christmas things I made with this cute collection of fabrics! The ornaments are a collection of memories like I’m sure most of you all have. The cowbell is from Andrew’s mission to Switzerland (which we went back to visit this summer, and now I’m in love…), the footprint ornaments are each of our kids (red for Jonas, purple is Adelina — we made hers at a DIY-pottery painting shop, but the second time around we were nowhere near any of that so I just ordered a package of paintable ornaments from Amazon and did it at home the day before we went to get his first casts! I’d like to get it glazed sometime so it’ll be a little better preserved.)

Adelina made the little jingle bell ornament at our library’s story time last year, back when she pronounced it “beaglebells!” ❤ And that western star up there is a nod to the Cowboy State we’ve been living in the last five years now. It’s also unbelievably heavy and needs a lot of help to prop up and stand up there ha!

Then we have a cozy corner or two and a basket full of Christmas books. I’m still working on building our collection, and the library is helpful too — we always find some fun books there! (I’ve written about this tradition and some resources back here)

IMG_3539_edit (3)IMG_3551_editIMG_3376_edit

(Do you like miss relaxation’s cameo above? Ha! I made the red print pillow covers, and the text ones are finds — I love the reindeer one especially!) Then there’s our advent calendar and the piano area with some Christmas music we’re practicing 🙂


And this year I may have gone a little overboard and… decorated our kitchen for Christmas! But come on, who doesn’t need little mini-wreaths for their kitchen cabinets?! I love this version over here, and this was my original inspiration.


Yes, one of our kids chewed off the corner on our Christmas card… ha. I’m honestly not sure which one did it either! I’m also super excited to get those counter tops and back-splash (re)done — it’s happening very soon and then we can finally finish painting the kitchen! And let’s not forget the countdown chain to Omi & Opi’s house 🙂 I plan to tape Christmas cards we receive to this pantry cabinet — I LOVE getting Christmas cards! And sending them, of course!


And we had to throw in a little festivity upstairs too… Yes, Adelina has a homemade “Christmas tree” in her room!



Ha! And there’s my friendly little pillow in the guest/Jonas’ room. My MIL is an awesome enabler of my sewing passion, she found this cute pattern! (more here)


Well there you have it, thanks for stopping by!


Holidays · Motherhood · Traditions

First Day of Advent: the Christmas Season is Here! + a DIY Acts of Kindness Manger for Kids

December is upon us! I wanted to share something I did with our three-year-old today to help us have a more Christ-centered Christmas and build a new family tradition. Scroll down for details!

service manger

The halls are decked (I’ll share a mini Christmas home tour soon!) and the advent calendar is stuffed with a scripture study schedule and little chocolates (had to sweeten the deal for Adelina this year!).


It’s kind of struggling to handle the chocolates, ha! Those are some teeny pockets!


Gifts are finished or in process — I’m making my daughter a baby doll diaper bag and it is coming along sooo cute, I can’t wait to see her face when she opens it up and unpacks all the fun little items! (changing pad, fabric diapers, little minky “wipes,” baby bottles and baby food…) We got a fun surprise of having to buy a new washer and dryer last night so… Merry Christmas to the grown-ups! Ha. But still, I’m really looking forward to enjoying this season.

Speaking of which: it’s time to Light The World with acts of kindness!

For day one, we made a giving manger out of popsicle sticks and a baby Jesus out of modeling clay. Adelina’s was way cuter than mine and she actually came up with a much better concept to get the manger to stick — she’s amazing!


You’ve probably seen this concept around: children get to put a piece of straw in the manger every time they do an act of kindness or service. On Christmas Day, they can place the baby Jesus in a manger filled with love ♥️

I first encountered this back when this company launched their gorgeous book and manger set. But back then my daughter was like two months old so it was a bit hasty ha, and then this year when I was finally close to building up the gumption to purchase it, they had sold out! So I decided to DIY it, and honestly I love how it turned out, especially because my daughter had a blast making it with me! She saw me working on something and pulled over a chair, and ended up doing much better than what I had planned. So yay for creating memories together 😉

The way to make it is pretty self-explanatory from the picture: we cut several in half to form the base, then went outwards hot-gluing the craft sticks on alternating layers (had to keep cutting the end ones a bit longer each time). The last few layers we stopped going outward.


The little box you see to the left was my first attempt at a manger, but Adelina had a much better idea when she started layering them on top of each other — way sturdier ha! The straw is just raffia from a craft store that I cut up into decent-sized pieces, and we made the Baby Jesus out of modeling clay, it’ll dry out as we leave it out over the next few days. I’m seriously impressed at how well she made it — I threw mine out after seeing hers!


And there you have it. I love the homemade feel, and I love that we made it together and that she made the Baby Jesus all on her own — it’s that much more special ❤

Today’s prompt is, “Freely ye have received, freely give,” so my goal for the day was to give more freely of my time and attention to these sweet children of mine. And I’m so glad for this beautiful Christmas season!

Here are some more resources:

The Giving Manger — my original inspiration
The Last Straw — children’s book
#LightTheWorld campaign and ideas
A Year of FHE made an awesome kid-specific version of the LightTheWorld calendar
The Last Straw online story to print out and read
Straw for the Manger children’s story
And here are some more ideas I’ve written about for an intentional Christmas!

Food · Holidays · Recipes

Thanksgiving 2017

I hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving! We hosted ourselves this year, with my sister and her husband coming up to join us! Naturally, I made WAY too much food… which we then ate for days and I haven’t cooked all weekend so that’s been kind of nice 😉 And man, it was good…


I really had fun this year setting a beautiful table. It was basically all DIY and I think it really turned out lovely!


Those are dollar store charger plates spray-painted an aged copper color, (as well as some rocks and little pumpkins) and those napkin rings are toilet paper rolls with twine glued on, topped with this cute little printable on brown paper! The table runner is a roll of wide burlap “ribbon” sewed together three across. Plastic silverware and napkins are good ol’ Walmart and the placemats are from IKEA. I really liked that blue and orange/copper combo! I will say the spray-painted chargers looked awesome, but even after several days of drying they still felt a little tacky and as soon as we lifted the plates off, paint peeled up with them. So… probably a one-time deal only, ha! But they looked awesome!

I spent half the day Wednesday prepping and making pies (cherry and apple… I LOVE a good tarte aux pommes! My sister brought the pumpkin pie, don’t worry, we didn’t skip the classics!) with Adelina and it was really fun to spend so much time with her. She made her own little mini apple tart, and loved playing with the dough and assisting in every way possible. Oh, and cranberry jello! It’s this delicious creamy, mousse-type concoction a friend’s mom makes and we’ve been hooked ever since! Adelina really liked the little rubber molds we used, and licking all the foam off the top, obviously…


Jonas made himself useful by snacking while we worked, and Andrew had the day off so he ran interference and support!


Unfortunately, once she got home from her dance class, Adelina was getting really grumpy, and that night she woke up a mere two hours after bedtime crying — and wouldn’t go back to sleep for two hours. We realized she had an ear infection, poor girl, and she was miserable. I’ve never dealt with this until this week and we were both desperately googling home remedies. We eventually got her back to sleep and in the morning she felt a lot better — although it was still rough: she spent half of Thanksgiving Day asking to go to bed, which if you know her, you know that’s definitely a shock.


A dear friend saved the day by dropping off a little roller of essential oils that really seemed to give her some relief. Even if it was just a placebo, I think having something to give her and apply helped her feel like I was doing something about it, you know what I mean? Either way, by the next night she was good to go.

But all that meant we started Thanksgiving Day totally exhausted, and suddenly Jonas was really grumpy too… yes, he was sick too. No ear infection though, just a nasty cough. Thanksgiving happened anyway though, in between all of the craziness, and both kids were actually napping by the time we sat down for dinner so it was strangely calm. Honestly, I actually really missed them 😦 But this is real life, right?

Adelina cuddled with Papa and watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the morning.

Then, Sylvia & Kyle arrived early in the afternoon and she was thrilled to see them, as were we! They came bearing gifts from the “big city,” A.K.A. things we can’t buy at our little local grocery store: sparkling apple cider from IKEA (have you tried it? It’s really good! Less sweet than Martinelli’s and seriously perfect) and brie and prosciutto raclette cheese! (yes, we’re nuts, the day after thanksgiving we had another feast: raclette. Mmmmm. The whole house smelled like stinky feet for about a day but it was so worth it, ha!)

We made two little appetizers while she helped me put finishing touches on all the food. These cranberry brie bites were divine. I don’t have a pretty picture but seriously, pin that recipe for later because it’s amazing. I did ours with puff pastry instead of crescent dough though, and we omitted the nuts because my brother-in-law is allergic. Even sans nuts though they’re so tasty! The other one was crackers with ricotta, a little apricot jam and prosciutto.

The Turkey came out perfect and right on time, so I threw literally everything else in next and we got ‘er done! Yup. A Thanksgiving feast cooked all in one oven. Admit it, you’re impressed. Ha!


And then we sat down to eat after Andrew carved the turkey!


We really need something better than a pyrex measuring cup for gravy… ha, someday! I made sweet potatoes this year — we usually feel pretty meh about them but Jonas loves sweet potatoes and I felt brave. I asked around and someone shared a divine concoction that did NOT disappoint. Jonas loved it, and my sister and I finished up the rest ha! No pretty pictures of that one though, sorry. Here’s the recipe though! I asked for help on Facebook and came up with this winner — thanks Andria!


And how about this divine apple tart….


It’s a rustic french recipe that I use, but I like to drizzle on some salted caramel sauce before putting it in the oven. It is soooo good! (And yes, I totally serve it with extra sauce after, too!) Here is the recipe for the salted caramel sauce although be careful when adding the cream after the sugar has caramelized: the recipe says to remove from heat and then add the caramel, but I find that tends to make the whole thing harden and clump. Instead, keep it on heat but just turn it down so that you can slowly incorporate the cream without hardening the caramel. Once the cream is mixed in, you can take it off and add the salt and vanilla.

We did have to take a break of a few hours before attacking the desserts, ha! And you can see in the corner there a little thankful tree I made, but with all the craziness we never ended up putting leaves with things we’re thankful for… such is life, I guess. We did talk about gratitude with Adelina throughout the week though, so that’s something.


Anyway, there’s our Thanksgiving in a nutshell — a little crazy, but still delicious, and I’m grateful for all the family time we got over this long weekend! Now to recover from a three-day lack of sleep and the cold I now have… ha!


Giving Thanks

I’ve been busy preparing for Thanksgiving, drawing up the menu, shopping for food, getting tableware and decorations ready (did you know you can just spray paint dollar-store charger plates and voilà?!) and throughout it all I’ve been struck by how wonderful it is to be able to do this all. And how grateful I am for these wonderful people in my life.

I’ve been feeling a little frustrated at what feels like a lack of direction in my life lately (who AM I?! Ha…) but then I thought yesterday, maybe what I need right now is to simply remember the good things in my life. Gratitude. That is a good exercise.

Food — enough money to not be hungry, living close to a store where I can just pick it up and put it in my cart. Home, material comfort — much more than we really need, I know.

Family — those beautiful people up there, and the ones who raised me and set me on good paths, the ones I shared homes and college apartments with. The ones who shaped the ones I love. Dear friends who brighten my life every day.

Faith — a knowledge of Heavenly Parents who love me, a Savior who made everything possible and a faith community where I can grow and learn. Truth, with a capital T, that makes things clearer when I doubt. The Spirit that teaches me, stubborn as I am.

We made this cute little gratitude rock with Adelina the other day, you pass it around the dinner table and say what you are grateful for.


She loves it, and it’s been a simple way to start to teach gratitude. But it’s so much more than just saying nice things: gratitude is an attitude, a way of seeing life for the things we have rather than what we don’t. It’s knowing when to feel content and when to strive for more without forgetting the good we’ve already achieved. Growth without shame.

I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday!


Our Little Red Riding Hood and Supporting Cast — Happy Halloween!


Adelina has been in love with Little Red Riding Hood lately — last week we were reading it every night — so I asked her if she wanted to be le Petit Chaperon Rouge for Halloween and of course, she thought it was the best idea ever!


We made a trip to our local Ace Hardware for some fabric (love our small-town Ace!) and voilà — we had a costume! I loved this especially because it’ll serve for years to come, she definitely has room to grow with it, and I took special care with details so it’ll be a great dress-up piece too. Here is the tutorial I based my design off of, with some modifications 🙂


We were going for a more classic French vintage vibe and I think it turned out so perfect. (Those are technically foxes on her dress, but they were gray and I think they totally worked as wolves!)


And then we have our little hunter. I had grand ideas of getting him a traditional French hunting cap, a cute jacket, maybe a horn or something, but really… he’s a baby and doesn’t care. So we just handed him an old-fashioned wooden pop gun and called it good! (side note: those things are super fun, they make a very satisfying pop noise, which I may have driven my husband insane with… ha!) He wasn’t feeling so hot lately so he’s just in some cute monster jammies and a cap. Done.


He still had the energy to be adorable and mischievous, of course.

And here’s the whole crew!


Andrew may have terrified a few little girls… oops! We reused an old werewolf mask from a dance show several years ago (Thriller-themed, obviously!) and that was that. And I figured if I had to be an old lady, I could at least be a classy Mamie. Ha!


We just did the downtown businesses trick or treat, it’s earlier in the day so it’s easier for little people, plus they have some pretty good stuff. Our bank serves up amazing hot apple cider… mmm… and the movie theater was handing out fresh buttery popcorn!




After making the rounds, we came home and had dinner, then handed out candy to trick-or-treaters (probably Adelina’s favorite activity of the day) under this gorgeous fall sunset.


And then we wrapped it all up with a monster green glow stick bath! Just throw some glow sticks in the tub and turn out the lights — so entertaining.

Side note: how do you handle the candy overload? We got some non-candy treats and little toys, but there’s still SO MUCH candy. I had her choose five pieces of candy to keep when we got home and put away the rest for later (AKA mom & dad tonight… ha!) but I’ve heard of kids turning in what’s left of their candy to the Halloween fairy in exchange for a toy or book. Kind of a cool idea, I think. How do you do it?

I have dreams of being the cool house someday that serves chili and soup and cider out of their garage for the parents to stop and hang out while the kids play. We had some friends that did that back in Casper and it was so awesome. Maybe next year!

Anyway, there you have it. Happy Halloween!





Independence Day 2017


We headed down to sunny St George to visit family for the fourth of July, and it was blazing hot, but the trip didn’t disappoint! We spent as much time getting wet as we possibly could, because that’s how you cope with the heat in my book.



(Ha ha. I love cousin photos) Water play, and eating snow cones on the patio or relaxing inside my in-laws’ beautifully air-conditioned home! (she was a lot happier about this than she looks)



Ahhhhh. How I miss air-conditioning (there are very few homes in our area that have it, people just go without since the winters are so long).

I’m sure many of you can relate to this next photo… This is what happens when you try to get a picture with your child: the only one where you’re smiling is the one where you have crazy eyes because you’re trying to get them to look at the camera. Oh boy!


Jonas loved exploring (he was fascinated by that vacuum cleaner hose!) and of course getting kisses and cuddles from everybody. And yogurt.




I love having all this attention around them too — Andrew and I actually managed to sneak out on a date night! We saw Wonder Woman, and it was awesome. I loved it! I think what I loved most was that she was a mind-blowingly powerful fighter (all those slow-mo action scenes were sooooo cool, and watching her bring justice upon bad guys is incredibly cathartic!) but she is also vulnerable, sensitive, innocent in the best of ways (her reaction to the first baby she’s ever seen just melted me!), and compassionate. The much-discussed no-man’s-land scene is perfect ❤️ She brings the best of femininity to an awesome superhero, and that’s why I loved her the most. She embraces her AND without embarrassment or complication: “well what do mortal women wear when they go into combat then?!” I loved her relationship with Chris Pine’s character! I could also go on about spiritual analogies — they were abundant — but I’m turning into my dad ha ha so I’ll just stop at how much I love how she comes to her decision that humanity is worthy of love and of her saving. And I loved the movie.

Anyway! Adelina loved running wild and playing with her cousins. Sophia sure is patient with this girl!


Of course, we ate our share of appropriately-themed patriotic foods (below, a jello-raspberry-angel food cake trifle) and wore red white and blue…


Because what are holidays for if not dressing up your kids in cute clothes? Ha! I look forward to getting more into the history and meaning of holidays as our kids grow older — with Adelina I think it was limited to “yay hot dogs” this year (ha) but really, how do you explain abstract concepts like “freedom from tyranny” and “the pursuit of happiness” to a 2-year-old? We’ll keep working on that one, to be honest, with packing and traveling, I kind of dropped the ball and was just looking forward to relaxing.

It all ended with some good ol’ fashioned at-home fireworks. We let Adelina stay up late with the cousins and I think it went pretty well! I have some great memories of fireworks with my dad when we lived in Virginia, and trying so hard to stay awake even though we were exhausted and couldn’t keep our eyes open! I think she’s on the right track to making those memories herself 😉


The next morning, the 4th, we packed up and headed home, full of Fiiz soda and jello trifle and hot dogs and chips and everything else that goes with Independence Day picnics. We skated into town with enough time to put the kids to bed and enjoy our small town’s INSANE fireworks display — and this is before the actual fireworks show started!

(This doesn’t really do it justice but it’s a taste — everyone was lighting up the sky with these crazy aerial fireworks! And yes, our kids seriously slept through the entire thing.) Next year is going to be a blast.