Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wish List Wednesday || The Ultimate Toddler Gift Guide + Stocking Stuffers

That's right -- I have the ULTIMATE toddler gift guide for you today in case you're looking for a present for the little tot(s) in your life. I've walked our house and yard and compiled a list of our very, very favorite toys that have grown with our kids and they actually play with often. So without further ado...
Christmas Gifts for Toddlers


Outdoor Toys  

Under $25  

Stocking Stuffer Ideas


This year we are celebrating Christmas in Florida. So instead of toting down a bunch of packages of more toys Matt and I decided to get the minis one big joint gift -- a power wheels version of Matt's truck. Our neighbor has this and our kids completely light up when they play on it. I found it on super sale during Black Friday and shipped it directly to my parents house (to assemble, charge and top with a bow -- thanks mom & dad!!). Now someone talk to me about helmets...

Other Gift Guides:
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sparkling Caramel Apple Cider

Over the weekend I whipped up several batches of the most amazing and festive drink ever -- Sparkling Caramel Apple Cider. I posted some photos to Snapchat and Instagram and the requests for the recipe came flooding in. So most of you now have the recipe and many of you have already made the cocktail and raved about it too! But for those of you who want to pin this away for your future Christmas party, tree decorating, Christmas card addressing, Christmas day drink, etc., here ya go...

**Also, I made a slight tweak to the sugar rim since posting to social media, substituting out the pumpkin pie spice for cinnamon! I am always revising and experimenting with recipes to perfect the blend of tastes -- and I think I've officially nailed it.  Enjoy!
Sparkling Caramel Apple Cider 
1 750 ml bottle of prosecco
1 cup caramel flavored vodka
6 cups apple cider
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
1 tbl cinnamon
3 tbl sugar

Make the sugared rim. Combine sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow dish. Wet the rim of each glass, all the way around, with water. Dip each rim into cinnamon sugar to coat. Set aside. In a large pitcher stir the prosecco, vodka, and apple cider together. Add the chopped apples to the pitcher, or to individual glasses.

WARNING: Pace yourself! This drink is sneaky sweet and you can't really taste the alcohol so I highly recommend sharing your pitcher with friends. The first pitcher I whipped up was for tree decorating...and the tree definitely did not get decorated that day. 

The next day Matt and I hosted a few families for dinner and I decided to whip up another batch for the ladies. Everyone agreed this is THE best drink of the season.
Originally I used pumpkin pie spice for the rim of the glass but after a few batches switched to cinnamon. The cinnamon gives it a sweeter kick instead of spicy.
One more note: I picked up the Caramel Vodka from the ABC store. When I arrived home and opened the truck door the groceries had all shifted and the bottle of vodka came tumbling out and shattered all over the driveway. I cleaned up all the pieces and ran back to ABC. The cashier looked confused to see me again and questioned why I was buying a second bottle of vodka 11 minutes apart. I explained the incident and she told me that if I had brought the broken bottle back to the store some managers will replace it for free!!! I really hope I never bust another bottle of booze, but I noted the return policy for the future!
Also, make sure you find a container large enough to house your cocktail. I ran out of room in my pitcher both times I made it over the weekend. And once you've had a few glasses the drink fits perfectly back into the Apple Cider container and you can pop it back into the fridge. Just make sure to clearly mark "SPIKED" on the bottle so no one pours a glass and gets a surprise!
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Monday, November 28, 2016

2016 Thanksgiving Weekend

We had a great Thanksgiving weekend -- five days away from work and school was exactly what we needed! We crammed so much fun into our holiday and it was definitely one for the books!
We kicked off the long weekend again this year with Matt's family at their mountain home. They have the loveliest, coziest cabin in the mountains which such pretty views. And the kids have so much fun there.
We arrived the day before Thanksgiving and gathered in the cabin with lots of family that came in for the day. It was so nice to spend time with family we don't see very often.
 
 
 
THE swing. This swing has been passed down through the family and has so much history. 
 
Later that evening we enjoyed the most delicious crab melt dinner. I'd never had a crab melt before and am definitely a fan. It's basically a crab cake on top of an English muffin and loaded with butter -- all my favorite ingredients baked together.
Since we are going to be in Florida for Christmas this year Auntie Ann gave Caroline and Thomas their Christmas gifts a little early. Caroline received a scooter and Thomas received a bike.
They each loved their gifts but there were many brawls over the scooter. They are both so obsessed with it so on Thanksgiving day we took it to the park to ride.
We also learned at the park that Thomas loves sliding down slides...on his belly...face-forward. It was the most hilarious and terrifying thing to watch and we couldn't stop laughing as we caught him at the bottom of the slide over and over (approximately 40 times).
Round two on that 12 month dress!!!
Last year Matt's mom began a new tradition of covering the dining table with a drop cloth. Each year we each add a little something to it in permanent marker. However, the cloth went missing from last year so we started over this year.
Matt's sister Ann lives in New York City in a tiny apartment so it's not very often she gets to cook but when she does...oh gosh, it is GOOD. She made our entire Thanksgiving dinner and we all licked our plates clean.
 
For the second year in a row we marked Thomas and Caroline's height on the post outside. It was awesome to see how much they've grown in a year!
We headed back to Charlotte on Black Friday to pick out our Christmas tree, do some shopping and decorate for Christmas! 
 
Thomas had lost a contact moments before we arrived to the Christmas tree lot and was way off balance and wobbly because of it. Sissy stayed next to him the entire time to make sure he didn't fall down or run into the trees. She is the best big sister of all time. It amazes me how much they love and care for one another. 
There she is -- our Caroline sized tree! In a brief Grinch moment we actually considered not getting a tree this year because we've officially run out of space in our home for one. Our living space is completely at capacity with hi-chairs, ride-on toys and more. However, after two minutes of discussion we decided we couldn't forego a tree so instead we picked up a teeny tiny tree. It was the smallest one on the lot which was a little sad but also better than no tree!
On Saturday we had some friends over after the insane Ohio State game. I've never seen Matt experience so many intense emotions in the last 3 minutes of a game. It was quite the win for the Buckeyes!
The weather was beautiful so we sat outside around the fire pit, let the kiddos bounce around, and the ladies drank Sparkling Caramel Apple Cider. For snacks I set out some pirates booty, a goat cheese log drizzled with honey and some crackers.
For dinner the kiddies had mac & cheese and hot dogs and I made sausage and cheese tortellini soup and rolls for the adults.
On Sunday we relaxed, watched Christmas movies, decorated the tree, addressed Christmas cards and ran a few errands. It was a great Thanksgiving vacation.

Previous Thanksgivings
2015 Thanksgiving
2014 Thanksgiving
2013 Thanksgiving (aka BEST THANKSGIVING OF ALL TIME)
2012 Thanksgiving
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