Family & Kids

Our Annual Christmas Eve Movie Night

Christmas Eve Movie Night commenced without a hitch and as always, it was a good time!  This year we watched Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I set up a super simple snack table with a mini gold tree as the centerpiece, a couple of movie clapper boards, some boxes wrapped in a fun Christmas pattern, and a few ornaments.

I served pigs n’ a blanket, popcorn with movie theater butter and different seasonings, frosted cookies, peppermint bark, and a nice mix of candies: gummi bears, peanut M and M’s, whoppers, and sweet tarts.

But the best part was spending the evening together and with our extended family!

Merry Christmas Eve!

Trolls Gingerbread House


We finally completed our 2017 Trolls gingerbread house.  And BONUS: we were able to break out the leftover Halloween candy to add to the stash that came with the gingerbread kit.

I used my trusty glue gun to assemble the house a couple of days ago, so tonight all I had to do was spread the icing along the house and let the kids place the candies where they wanted to.  They were very excited and up for the task!

Soon after starting, my daughter asked if she could taste one of the candies and of course, once I said yes, she began a routine of 1. place a couple candies on the house….then 2. place a couple pieces in my (her) mouth!  My son quickly followed suit.  I eventually stopped them because I didn’t want them getting all sugared up before bedtime, but I did let them enjoy a few pieces because after all, we only do this once a year and we’re #makingmemories!

It turned out really cute!  My daughter said her favorite part was placing Princess Poppy at the door of the gingerbread house.

My son said his favorite part was eating the candies!

My plan is to let the icing dry overnight, then place it on a large glass cake plate on the kitchen island to display it for the rest of the Christmas season.

How to Put Together a Thanksgiving Table for Young Children

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. I look forward to the great food, cooler weather, and spending time with our extended family and friends if we’re able to do so. And as I mentioned in another post, Thanksgiving night also marks the beginning of my Christmas decorating, so I look forward to it each year.

As I shared here, my babies recently turned 3 years old and these days, they are Mr. and Ms. Independent. In Thanksgivings’ past, hubby and I have either spoon-fed them their Thanksgiving dinner or sat them in their high chairs so they could feed themselves, but this year, I decided they should have their very own Thanksgiving table.

This table was super easy to put together so I thought I would share 5 quick tips in case others are looking for ideas to put together a table for their little ones too.

1. Select an appropriately sized table.

I like this one from Ikea:

Or this one from Amazon:

2. Pick a tablecloth.

This doesn’t need to be anything fancy and in fact, unconventional items work best since most traditional tablecloths are made for large tables.  I like to use pre-cut fabric, wrapping paper, or even kraft paper works well.

3. Add pops of color using colorful plates and kid-friendly centerpieces.

For this table, my kids and I made a DIY turkey by painting a pumpkin and attaching eyes, a beak, and feathers to it.

4. Create a custom place card with your child’s name on it

There are so many options for this.  I like this edible style made from cookies:

Image from sweetcreationsv Etsy shop

Or this traditional one:

Image from

5. Put an age-appropriate craft on the table.

This can be any type of craft, though I would keep it simple and holiday-themed (think pumpkins or turkeys). For our table, I chose coloring sheets that I made on our computer using free printables.

We are now officially T minus 9 days away from Thanksgiving and I can’t wait!  Here’s to hoping my little ones enjoy their table and Mr. Effortless and I aren’t wishing we had strapped them in to their high chairs!

What to do with all that Halloween Candy?!

I know many parents are ready to throw out all the leftover candy a few days post Halloween.  You don’t want your children consuming all that excess sugar, and you definitely don’t want any of it to make its way into your mouth.  But I wanted to share this idea with you before you toss it all out.

One of the holiday activities I like to do with my kids is to put together and decorate a gingerbread house.  We usually buy the ready to make kits that come with everything, but let’s be honest….there’s never nearly enough candy in those kits.  In years past, I’ve gone to the store to buy more candy to supplement what comes in the kit.  But this year, I realized that if I just bag up the leftover Halloween candy and store it out of reach in the back of my pantry, when it comes time to work on the gingerbread house:  (1) I’ve already got a great variety of candies at my disposal, (2) I don’t end up spending more money to buy additional candy, and (3) bonus for me, I don’t inhale pounds and pounds of the sweet stuff!

Image source: Cooking with My Kid


I used to have a love/hate relationship with gingerbread houses.


I loved the thought of making one, but no matter how much of the icing glue I used, I could never get the house to stay together for long, so I would end up frustrated and agitated.  And it doesn’t help that I like instant gratification either.  Who wants to start building a house, stop for several hours so that the “glue” can dry, then come back some time later to begin putting on the candies?  Not me, and especially not when my kids are working on it with me.  I needed a one session and we’re done with this type of gingerbread project.  So last year, I started using my trusty ol’ glue gun to piece the house together and it worked like a charm.  I was able to assemble the house in about 10 minutes flat and then we were able to get right to the fun part….decorating!

Image source: Tailrace Centre

We never eat the gingerbread house.  I use this as a memory-making activity for the kids and I, so while using real glue makes the house inedible, that’s not a concern for us at all.

This year, Mr. Effortless picked up this fun Trolls-themed gingerbread house kit for the kids and I to work on, cause’ he’s thoughtful like that.  The kids are really excited about it, and with my glue gun handy, it should be a stress-fee event.

So if you haven’t already tossed (or eaten) your leftover candy, consider putting it away and saving it for a fun project to do with your loved ones.



2017 Fall Bucket List – Update no. 2

Hi there!  Now that Halloween is all said and done, it’s time for another update on our 2017 Fall Bucket List. I posted the first update here.

1. Paint pumpkins – CHECK!

Me and my kiddos and their auntie painted these cute pumpkins to match my kids’ Halloween costumes.  Aren’t they adorable?!

As you can see, my baby girl worked on the cookie pumpkin, but I realized that the shade of paint I chose was much too dark, so I gave it one more quick coat after she finished and it was perfect!

2. Attend a fall festival – CHECK!

Get ready for cuteness overload!!!


Man, I love these kids!!!

9. Make a homemade pie – CHECK!

In case you missed it, I posted a delicious no-bake double-layer pumpkin pie recipe here, and it was sooooo good!

When I initially added this item to the bucket list, I envisioned making some sort of fruit pie….apple or berry topped with a thick and flaky crust.  But in the spirit of #allpumpkineverything, I decided to make this pumpkin pie and it did not disappoint. As I pointed out in the initial post, I much prefer sweet potato pie over pumpkin, but this was insanely good!!  And BONUS: one batch of filling makes 2 pies, so you have an extra one for sharing if you so choose.

Here’s what’s left on the bucket list:

3. Take photos in a pumpkin patch – EPIC FAIL!

My hubby and I took our kids to two different fall festivals and a Family Monster Ball (this is where they won the 5 and Under Halloween Costume Contest) and none of these events had a pumpkin patch!  There were pumpkins, but not a full on patch.  In fact, we picked up the pumpkins that we ended up painting at one of these festivals, so after that, going to a pumpkin patch sort of fell to the bottom of my to-do list.  But in my defense, we were pretty busy this month with our kids’ third birthday party plus all of the fall events that we attended, so I kind of didn’t mind not going this year.  We’ll try again next year I suppose.

6. Bake pumpkin bread

7. Attend a football game

I’m still planning on knocking these two items off the list this month, so I should have one final update to give to complete my 2017 Fall Bucket List.

Do you make a Fall Bucket List?  Have you checked off all the boxes on your list yet?

Farm-Themed Birthday Party

My family and I spent this past weekend celebrating our sweet babies turning 3 years old. I have enjoyed picking their party themes the past couple of years but as they are getting older, I can see that I’m going to have to relinquish that control at some point and let them select their own themes. And knowing my twins, they won’t agree on what that theme will be, so I’ll probably end up having to coordinate two different parties.

As I mentioned in this post here, I planned a farm-themed party this year and we celebrated with a handful of our kids’ friends and parents, and some of our family members. The weather was gorgeous; a bit hot for October but there was no rain (thank goodness), just sunny skies with a nice breeze, which was important because all of the festivities were held in the backyard.

Let’s go over the events for the afternoon shall we?

We kicked things off with a farm-themed lunch. We feasted on pigs in a blanket with two different dipping sauces, farm-raised turkey sandwiches, chicken feed AKA cheddar Chex mix, farm-fresh deviled eggs, and fresh-picked apples. The dessert table featured mud cups AKA chocolate pudding with crushed Oreos), Cow Tales candy, and a chocolate and vanilla marbled cake with chocolate ganache that featured two fondant pigs bathing in “mud”.

The take home gifts were another yummy treat: sea salt and caramel chocolate-covered Oreos, and they were delicious!

Next on the agenda were the games. We started with a chicken egg hunt. While the kids were eating, I hid plastic eggs filled with treats around the yard. I showed the kids a framed picture of my chicken friend Henny and explained that she had laid eggs and that they needed to find them and put them in their goodie bags.

I used leftover plastic Easter eggs for this game, so they were all brightly colored purple, pink, orange, and blue eggs. It was funny watching the kids gather the eggs. When my daughter would find a blue egg, she would give it to my son, and when he found a pink or purple egg, he would give them to her. My daughter was the only girl at the party, so after a while, all of the little boys started giving her all of the pink and purple eggs. It was very cute!

The second game they played was Hot Potato. I should really say the second game they attempted to play was Hot Potato. I went back and forth about this game because I thought the kids might not get the concept of someone getting out each round, and I was right. As the first kid was left holding the potato when the music stopped and got “out”, all of the kids attempted to leave the game because they thought it was over! Mr. Effortless tried to explain the rules a few times and help them to reconvene, but needless to say, we ended that game fairly quickly!

Next we played a pig roundup game.

We sectioned off a corner of the yard with a mini fence to serve as a pig pen.

I purchased a pack of pink balloons, blew them up, and glued pig faces to each one. I scattered the pigs around the yard and asked the kids to help round them up and put them in the pen. The idea of this game was great; the kids loved running around and picking up the “pigs”, that is until they started popping from being poked by the grass as the kids attempted to pick them up! It was actually pretty funny, but I was afraid someone would be traumatized by the popping pigs. Most of the kids were troopers though, and as the balloons popped, they would just run and find another one to pick up. Everyone except for my daughter. After the first one popped on her, she was done!

The last game was an old-fashioned potato sack race and this one, like the Hot Potato game, may be better received when the kids are a bit older. Everyone understood how to play, but a couple kids were simply uninterested in getting in a sack so they sat that game out. My daughter completed about half of the race then determined that she could jump no more. My son and one of his buddies finished like champs though!

After we finished the games, each child was able to pick a walking farm animal balloon to take home with them. I found these on Amazon. They were a big hit and my kids still have a couple of them left in the house that they’re using as punching bags!

At the end of the party, we all went inside the house to sing happy birthday and eat cake, then all of the guests went home.

We’re very grateful to the friends and family that came over to celebrate with us. It was a beautiful day, and most importantly, my kids genuinely enjoyed themselves.



2017 Fall Bucket List – Update no. 1

I posted my family’s 2017 Fall Bucket List here.  Now that we’re about half-way through October, I feel like it’s time for an update to see what’ve we’ve checked off of our list so far.  Let’s jump right in.

4. Host a Halloween-themed movie night – CHECK!

The initial plan was to invite a few people over for this movie night, but we ended up doing it impromptu so it was just the fam and I. I never realized it before, but there aren’t a lot of non-scary Halloween movies for young kids.  “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” seemed to be on most people’s top 10 lists of Halloween movies for kids, but hubby and I weren’t sure this would keep our kids attention as it was a bit slow going.  They seemed to be more interested in the snacks than the movie anyway, so hubby and I threw on Men in Black while they played and ate popcorn.

5. Enter the kids into a Halloween costume contest – CHECK!

I was probably the most excited about this item on the bucket list.  We took the kids to an event called the Family Monster Ball which included dinner and dessert, dancing, fun, and games hosted by a local DJ, and costume contests for the adults and kids.  Our kids had a great time dancing and playing with the other kids, and my hubby and I enjoyed watching them.  There’s nothing like seeing your children running around with huge smiles on their faces.  There were about 15-20 families there, which made the event more intimate and interactive.

Here are the kiddos getting ready to leave the house, costumes in hand:

And here they are at the ball:

We entered our kids in the ages 5 and under costume category and they took home the win!!!  The winners were chosen by applause and it seemed like everyone was rooting for my babies!  They took home bragging rights and a $50 gift card.

8. Make pumpkin chili – CHECK!

I posted about this delicious chili and cornbread recipe here. If you’re looking for the perfect fall recipe, this is it.

10. Decorate the porch for fall

I don’t usually do a lot of decorating on our porch with the exception of some type of wreath or monogram on the front door, a few topiaries in pots, and a throw pillow or two, so I kept it simple with my fall décor as well.

I just put a scarecrow wreath on the door, I leaned a few scarecrows on the columns that I picked up on clearance at Michaels, and I updated the covers on my throw pillows with some fabric I had leftover from a previous project.  The two pumpkins you see in the first picture are the ones the kids will be painting, so we’ll have number 1 on the bucket list checked off soon too.

So that’s it, so far we’ve hit 4 out of the 10 items on the list.

How are you and your loved ones celebrating fall?

Halloween Inspiration: Costume Pairs


I have great childhood memories of getting dressed up for Halloween with my sisters and running door-to-door with the neighborhood kids, all of us trying to collect as much candy as we possibly could. Sometimes we had store-bought costumes and other times we created our own outfits with sparkly wigs, lots (and I mean lots) of makeup, and mix-matched clothes. It was always so much fun seeing all of the different costumes while we were out. Then, at the end of the night, my sisters and I would race back home so that we could dump out our goodie bags and do some trading with one another so that we could get more of the candy that we each really wanted! Fun times!

Nowadays, safety is a major concern for most parents, so I don’t think that many kids today run wild on Halloween the way I remember as a kid. And I get it, I’m a parent too and my kids’ safety is a top priority. But I want my kids to grow up really enjoying the holiday, whether it be going door-to-door with mom and dad, enjoying a church festival, or celebrating the occasion with friends at school. Mr. Effortless and I do what we can to help them get into the spirit and dressing up in cute costumes is a must!

Here is the fam and I a couple years back, dressed as a family of pirates:



I’m a sucker for clever costume pairs: Popeye and Olive Oil, a Crayon Box with a Crayon, or Colonel Sanders and a Bucket of Chicken:

And check out this family representing In-N-Out Burger:

Last year, my son was the Cookie Monster and my daughter was a giant cookie. They were a perfect pair and they received tons of compliments.

The Cookie Monster costume is available on Amazon and you can find the cookie costume at Target stores.


No matter how you choose to celebrate, I hope you enjoy the time spent with your loved ones!