December Traditions

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by Laura

My most vivid memories of growing up center around specific holidays. My parents took the time to create traditions for each celebration day.  Perhaps this is why so many couples argue when it comes to Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they want it done THEIR way because those memories are what makes it feel special and that is what makes it Christmas!  

This is so true for me.  Christmas Eve means church and driving around looking at Christmas lights and sleeping in the living room with my sisters.  Christmas morning means waking up and getting every one in the living room before we opened up stockings.  There was bacon on Christmas morning and wrapping paper everywhere and apples and oranges in the stockings.  

Deviating from these things was difficult for me early on in our marriage because there was so much association with Laura’s Memories=Christmas. When you add my husband’s completely different memories and traditions into that and merge the two, it can be stressful to make the day feel special for both people.  

Very little Eric on Christmas Morning

We had to work really hard and talk almost ad nauseous about our expectations and what each person wanted to do from December 24 until the 25th was over.  I believe there will always be a little nostalgia and sadness that our new family together doesn’t do things exactly how I did as a child, but I love the new memories and traditions we create as husband and wife, and now our children will come to know our traditions as what makes Christmas special to them.  

Our advent wreath and devotional

In our family we begin Christmas preparations early by doing a devotional every day centered around the advent wreath.  After dinner we pull out the matches and we light the appropriate numbers of candles, turn off the lights, and read a special book in the glow of the flame.  We also started doing a children’s  Jesse Tree  devotional three years ago which follows the story of how Jesus is woven into the entire Bible from beginning to birth.  Each day we have a Jesse Tree reading and put the complimentary ornament on the tree.  This year I made 25 felt ornaments for our Jesse Tree!

There are many ways to uphold your own traditions, begin your own, and create special memories with your children and I encourage you to do so!  The more traditions you have in your family the stronger their association to your family will be.  

We were just reading in a book recently that kids whose families have nightly or weekly traditions are more likely to stay at home or want to be at home so they don’t miss out.  This makes us all the more motivated to want to make our family feel fun and alive for our kids.  

New Years Eve is approaching!  What traditions do you remember from your own child hood and what do you do now as a family?   

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DIY Fall Door Hanger

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By Angela

I regularly change out some wreaths/ decor around my house. I had moved some of my wreaths and door hangers around so I found myself without a festive wreath for my front door. Because I like to “shop” from my house first, I looked around to see what I had that I could use and searched Pinterest for some inspiration!

I had an old rusted dustpan. If you don’t have a rusted dustpan or time to make up a rusted dustpan. Spray paint a metal dustpan a fall color- brown, burnt orange, mustard yellow (That would be a great color).


I attached some jute so that I could hang the dust pan. You should never be with out jute in your home- ever! 🙂



I had some fall flowers. If you don’t have any spare flowers, they are on sell at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s already! Because if you haven’t noticed Christmas has taken over the stores and I am over here still enjoy fall!!


I tied the flowers to the dustpan with the jute.


Then covered with a burlap bow to give it a more finished look. Burlap ribbon is another very useful item to have around.


Hang it from a wreath hanger. Simple. Unique and people will stop and admire your delightful handiwork when they enter your home. dust-pan-wreath-on-the-door



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Family Pictures: 10 Steps to the Perfect Outfits

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by Laura

You don’t want to admit it and neither do I, but it is time to get those pictures taken for the Christmas cards!  Family pictures can put fear and trembling into a lot of moms, and I know a few husbands who would rather have a cavity filled without novocain than take pictures. 

There’s the outfit picking, the photographer prices, and then the ordeal of getting  You know this gold standard? The picture where everyone is looking at the camera, no tears in the eyes, and everyone is super happy about the clothes they get to wear?  HA!  

Growing up as a photographer’s daughter and doing some very basic photography myself I can see how the outfit really does help pull the entire look together, so I’ve come up with 10 things to consider when planning outfits for your family portrait.  

1. Location


If you are taking pictures in a grass field, an urban setting, or inside with a backdrop, you are going to want your outfits to contrast and compliment the background instead of blend in.  If you are wanting some outside nature photos, you might want to steer away from wearing the exact color of the grass you are sitting in.  If you want to take pictures on the steps of a museum, kaki colored clothing might not be your best choice.  This doesn’t mean you have to have a super bright or opposite color, but just enough different that you aren’t all blending in.  

2. Formality


Think about how formal you want your picture to look.  Are you going for casual t-shirts and shorts, all out with dresses and heels, somewhere in the middle?  Our Easter picture above was pretty formal, and this was, believe it or not, the best picture of all of us together.   

3. First Piece 


Next step is to pick one piece that you want to build the families outfits around.  Maybe it’s a shirt of your husband’s, a skirt of your daughter’s, or even a bow tie for your son.  Start with one piece and work from there. For our family pictures coming up I loved a new checkered shirt of Eric’s, and so I decided to start with this.  

4. Color Story


 Now you’ll need to decide what you are going to do with the other members of the family, so let’s create a color story.  Do you want a more neutral look with whites, browns, creams? Do you want soft colors, bright colors, or statement pieces? Once you have thought through a color story, walk into each person’s closet and choose a few different items that go with that story.  Think compliment, not match.

For me, I found Eva and Malachi’s complimenting pieces easily, but I had a hard time choosing a top for me.  I found four that I liked and each one brought a different feel to the picture. 



See what I mean?  The navy makes the outfits cool and would look great in an urban setting.  The teal softens my look up a little but still adds a color pop.  The Grey sweater softens up the picture but won’t look great in the background we are going to, (state capital), and the Tan is also a nice soft color but again, will not be a good fit for our location.  I’m torn between the navy and the teal.  Which would you choose?  

5. Fashion Formula 


Apply Angela’s Fashion Formula to creating each person’s outfit.  1.  Neutral.  2.  Color/Pattern/Texture 3.  Completer.  You can read more about it here.  Especially if you are going with a more neutral feel to your family pictures like we did in California picture above, the fashion formula is going to take your look from blah to wow!  

If you love neutrals or even gravitate to one color, each person’s outfit needs to have texture, (think knits, lace, overlays) or patterns, and slightly different colors so that you are not the amoeba family.  You can add sweet neutral accessories that keep your look soft, but give an individual look to each person.  

6. Lay it out


Bring all the options together into one place. At this point in the process begin to lay out the items or hang them up to see how they look all together.  Does anything clash?  Are their competing pieces?  Is it too loud, too blah?  

7. Pop not blend


Here is where I look at each piece next to the others and make sure no two people are going to blend together.  See me and my cute friends together? Because we are wearing jean jackets we meld into each other.  

In a family picture if I am wearing a navy shirt and my daughter has on a navy dress we will blend into one big blob, but if we choose complimentary outfits we will each have our own shape to our own body lines and each outfit stands apart from the others.  I especially do this with the pant/skirt choices.  Again, If I have on olive green pants and my son is hugging my leg in the picture with an olive shirt, we blend instead of pop.  

8. Take a Picture  


Now on your bed, or the floor, or your curtain rod, lay out all the clothes with pants, skirts etc, and take a picture. You might be surprised how things look in the picture vs. how they look in real life.  That awesome detail you love in your shirt doesn’t show up in the picture, do you want to keep it or change it for something else.  Notice your husband and son’s pants are the same color and don’t pop, think about what you can do to change it up.  

9. Try on clothes


At this point in the process you should be pretty settled on what everyone is wearing, but try on any clothes that haven’t been worn before to determine if someone needs an undershirt, a different size, tights, or is completely uncomfortable with your choice.  Better to have knowledge and tears before picture day!  

10.  Accessorize  


My favorite part of pictures is deciding on the accessories which is the “completer” part of the Fashion Formula.  Shoes, belts, scarves, jewelry, hats, cardigans, jackets, ALL these things pull the looks together.  Here’s my friend’s family who used a coral necklace to continue the color story of her son’s shirt throughout the picture and it looks ADORABLE!


Ok!  You guys are ready for family photo season!  Best of luck friends!     


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Visit a Pumpkin Patch

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by Laura

All over the nation pumpkin patches are filled up with cute round pumpkins, cute kids, and cute kids holding cute pumpkins.  IS that enough CUTE for you???  


This weekend, our local garden center had a Fall Festival. While we were there, I watched my kids grinning their faces off on their way down the bouncy slide, I smelled fresh hay, and I ate 2.00 hot dogs.  It was the simple moment I needed in an overwhelming world.  


I’m not sure if you guys are overwhelmed with kids and activities in full swing, presidential election posts on social media, responsibilities and pressure to make good life choices, but I am.  So some prayer and pumpkin patches helped calm my weekend, and brought much thankfulness.  


I am thankful for fall and cider.  I am thankful for round cute pumpkins that bring all the nostalgic feels.  I am thankful for sweater weather.  I am thankful that I live in America where we bounce on houses and not Aleppo where we would experience houses with bomb attacks.  


We are turning down the overwhelming knob in our family, and we are turning up the peace, prayer, and thankfulness, and this weekend at the Pumpkin Patch we experienced some relief.  


So, get yourself to a pumpkin patch or an apple orchard soon!  Make some family memories, find smiles on hayrides, and let’s all agree to turn down the noise of the world this week, and turn up the peace.  

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Pumpkin Patch Pudding

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by Laura

The leaves are changing colors up here in Midwest land while my Vegas friends are experiencing their new season, Wind.  No matter what kind of weather you are in, these little pumpkin patches are a very sweet treat for you to whip up with the kids this weekend.  

What do you need to make these?  15 minutes and a few ingredients.  

  • 2 boxes instant pudding
  • 1 package oreos
  • candy pumpkins
  • green frosting
  • plastic cocktail cups



Whip up 2 boxes of instant pudding and let it set in the fridge for five minutes.  I told you guys this was easy.  I didn’t even know you could make pudding in five minutes, but who am I to question these things.  


Crush up 1 package of Oreos in a food processor, blender, or a ziplock bag and some agression.  

Layer the pudding and crushed Oreos in a small cup.  You can tap the cup as you go to disperse the pudding and Oreos.  On the top use some green frosting to create a vine and then place your pumpkins on the vine.


This recipe makes about 14 pudding cups.  You can eat them immediately, but if you have to wait keep them in the fridge. 


They are so fun for a pumpkin carving party, classroom treats, or a surprise neighborhood drop off.  Have a happy fall with this totally adorable treat!  

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