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Our Christmas Bucket List

My favorite time of year brings so many fun things to do!  I love to do some of the same things with the kids each year.. some cost no money.. some just a little... and usually one special day. But each thing we do creates a fun memory... one we all look forward to each year. Here is our Christmas Bucket List...some things we do every year, some are new to this year!

1. Christmas tree up Thanksgiving weekend & a new ornament for the kids. I love this tradition and so do E & L. We put the tree up and they love to decorate it. When we have finished decorating, Paul and I give them their new ornament. They get so excited to see what it is. I always try to have it be something they tried to do that year or something they were really into. If you missed our Christmas tree post this year, you can catch up here

2. Our elf's arrival and a North Pole breakfast. Percy arrives sometime between Thanksgiving and December 1 each year. 
He comes with a yummy breakfast straight from the North Pole, ready to report to Santa and play some mischief!

3. Advent Calendars... they love the little chocolate ones... our elf always delivers them on Dec 1.
He is bringing these this year.....and it's the one time a year I allow a little piece of chocolate with breakfast!
4. A visit to Santa to deliver their wishlists. My kids always love writing their lists.. it is usually over hot cocoa and flipping through the toy catalog! They make their list...check it twice and we hand deliver it when we go to see Santa,

5. Annual Gingerbread Party and Adopt a Family. This is my most favorite holiday tradition. Five years ago Ella and I started hosting a gingerbread decorating party for some of our good friends and neighbors. The girls come with their moms wearing their Christmas best for an afternoon of decorating!

Each year we partner with a local organization to find a family in need of a little help for the holidays. We gather the family's wishlist and with the help of our guests coming to the party we do our best to make Christmas a little brighter for someone! Usually the week after the party we take the kids to deliver all the presents wrapped and ready to go! 

6. St Nicholas Day. We always celebrated this growing up and love carrying this tradition on with my two.  On December 5th, we leave our shoes out by the door and St. Nick drops in a special treat while we are sleeping.
7. Ice skating and hot cocoa! There are a few great spots around us that offer outdoor skating and we go at least once in December.

Of course you can't ice skate without hot chocolate, so we have to plan a stop for that after....

This is a fun coffee shop where you can make indoor S'mores
I just don't recommend a paper napkin for removing sticky marshmallow!

8. Christmas Movie night! One night in December we will do our Christmas movie night. Now, we watch Christmas movies almost every night, but one night is extra special. We will get in Christmas PJs and camp out in our family room to watch and eat fun snacks! This year I think it will be Home Alone 2-Lost in New York.... I just love that movie!

9. Drive around to see the lights. This is usually an impromptu night... we jump in the car after dinner and drive around a few neighborhoods near us, listening to Christmas music on the way. Always fun to see some of the displays people put out!

10. A special holiday afternoon... Polar Express Ride,.. The Nutcracker.. .a Christmas play. It's always nice to spend the afternoon doing something special or fancy. This is a pic of us doing the Polar Express Ride a few years ago. This year we are heading to see a Junie B. Jones Christmas play at our Theater of Youth. Getting dressed in your Christmas best to spend an afternoon at the theater makes for a pretty special holiday memory! We can't wait!

11. Neighborhood traditions. We are so lucky to live in a neighborhood with great neighbors that have become even better friends! Since we have moved in, there's a group of us that have a cookie exchange a few days before Christmas...I love getting lots of different cookies and only having to bake 2 kinds! And last year one of my neighbors organized a caroling night for the kids. It was so fun!!! Hoping we do it again this year!
I just love the magic of this season and try to fit in something special whenever I can! What are some of your favorite traditions? I always love seeing the magic of Christmas... share what you do!
We will be back with some of our favorites from the week on Friday and some tips on how to stay on track with your eating during these busy few weeks. I hope you will join us....there's always room for one more at our family table.

Weekend Wrap Up - Pumpkins to Peppermint!

Whew..what a busy couple days!! I was kind of looking forward to Monday for things to slow down a bit! Here's a little peek at our weekend...........
While I loved getting some deals online over the weekend, my emails are out of control!
I am most definitely the one on the left, but after the last week I cannot keep inbox is out of control! I need to delete and unsubscribe!
After work on Friday (and a little online shopping), we went to pick up the kids...they had a sleepover at my brother's house.  As we pulled in we found the boys building a snowball wall. Luke in shorts, but wearing gloves. Nicholas in pants and no gloves! I was freezing just looking at them!
We took the kids to meet some good friends in a local college town. Paul & Andy lived across the street together growing up and have had a 40 year friendship. Although we are in New York and they live in Maryland, we make every effort to catch up a few times a year. I am so lucky he married such a great girl... as Keri and I have become great friends! And the kids are close as cousins!
After we ate, we stopped in a cute local coffee shop for something sweet...
Friday night.....we got to decorating!!! We put up our tree and the kids decorated it.
Our ornaments are an assortment of mine and Paul's from when we were younger, things the kids made, and we get an ornament each year we go on vacation.
Here's a few from each year we went to Lake George.

Every year the kids get an ornament from us too. We try to pick something that they did that year or were really into. This year Ella got a Frappucino ornament from Starbucks... she loves getting a little vanilla bean frappucino on our Target trips! Luke has fallen in love with reading this year and I found the cutest little elf on the shelf with a pile of books.
They love getting their ornament each year and I love the story our tree tells.
Paul found his old Lionel train set and worked on getting it up and running. It's over 50 years old and electric... Luke thought it was the greatest thing ever! Maddie was not sure about it!

And I know I have talked about them before.. but seriously... these pajamas!! Love them! They also have a Papa Bear, but Paul was not feeling them.
Target has some of the cutest family PJ sets! Bonus they are 25% off this week and click here for an extra 15% off through today 11/28!
Saturday morning was pretty exciting in our house.... our elf Percy arrived for the season! He came with a fun breakfast straight from The North Pole.

We finished up some decorating.. and grocery shopping on Saturday. A good day to catch up!
Sunday we went to the Bills game with friends... so much fun!!! It was chilly...but the sun peeked out and they won!!

What's on your menu this week?
Here's our plan...
Mon- Salmon Caesar Salad
Tues- Pizza Bar with Green Salad
Wed-Almond Crusted Chicken with Brussel Sprouts & Roasted Potatoes
Th- Cauliflower Risotto with Asparagus & Roasted Shrimp
Fri- Holiday Party
Sat- Pulled Pork with Sweet Potatoes

Ella has her first chorus concert this week and she is so excited! And I will be sharing our Christmas bucket list of fun things we have planned this month. Hope you will join us...there's always room for one more at our family table.

Friday Favorites - Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Friday friends!!! I hope you all had a beautiful Thanksgiving with your families and are eating pie for breakfast! Tell me I am not the only one???   Working retail my whole life, I have always worked on this day and for the last 20 years pumpkin pie has always been my breakfast on Black Friday!! So here's to all the retail warriors out there!
I am linking up with these girls....AndreaErika, and Narci to share our Friday Favorites.

A few favorites from this week...
Our friends that visited last weekend brought a basket full of yumminess. We split these caramel apples and they were a special treat after dinner Sunday night!

We finally took the kids to see trolls! As if I needed another reason to love Justin Timberlake! What a great movie! Such fun music!! #ILOVEJT
Watching our Thankful tree fill up. I love all the school projects that come home. The stuff the kids write about being thankful for just makes me smile. 

Walking into Ella's bedroom and seeing this....
She has a picture of us taped to the lamp at her bedside. #sweetestthingever

Spending Thanksgiving at my brother's house! 
Loved being together with my family....
the kids hanging with their cousins...
a busy kitchen....
some football...
sweet placecards....
and AMAZING food....
So thankful for a great day! And to top it off, the kids were invited to spend the night at my brother's house. They were so excited! And so were Paul and I!  

So now it's the official kick off to the shopping season! Although I have a pretty good jump on my shopping!
Here are a few of my favorite deals from last night.. into this morning.
So if you have not gotten these adorable family PJs I talked about, the time is now and they are 30% off!
I need a pair for Maddie too!

Target has a great deal on one get one 50% select brands. A good deal you can get online and avoid the crowds!
My kids have really been into reading and I thought some bean bag chairs would be fun to hang out on and do some reading. I found this super cute fuzzy bean bag chair and Target. They also have an adorable corduroy one too!

And staying with Target...all apparel and accessories are 30% off, so I picked up some pants for Luke. Not sure about the other boy moms out there, but he is tough on his pants!!! I'm talking holes through the knees, mud and he is just growing like crazy! He loves the athletic style and at $6.99 it was time to stock up!

I grabbed Ella some jeans at Old Navy. The whole site is 50% off. This ballerina jegging fits her really well.
 Ballerina Jeans
And if you remember her wish to Paris were at the top of the list. Found this shirt & PJs for 50% off at Justice. Perfect for any little girl dreaming of Paris!

If you haven't checked out some of my kids gift ideas, you can read that post here.
And some adult ideas here.

I hope you all get out today and tomorrow to support your local small businesses! We have some great shops here and I plan to pick up a few gifts at Research & Design, Bella Casa and Prima Oliva. You can't beat shopping your local stores...seeing friends and neighbors out and about and be sure to stop in a local spot for lunch and coffee! 

I am excited to finish up our Christmas decorations and get the tree up and decorated.....and maybe the Elf will make his appearance this weekend!  We will be back on Monday with our weekend wrap up and a recipe for your Meatless Monday. Hope to see you then... there's always room for one more at our family table.

What's Up Wednesday

Today I am linking up with Shay. Mel and Sheaffer and sharing what's up! 

A fun post on a Wednesday each month where we will answer these questions...

1. What we're eating this week.
 This week was easy, because we are only home for dinner Sunday - Wednesday. I prepped most of my stuff on Sunday afternoon. so the dinners came together pretty quick!
Sunday-  Lasagna with steamed broccoli
Monday - Lasagna with green salad
Tuesday- Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Wednesday -Grilled Salmon with Asparagus
Thursday- Turkey and everything else that goes with it!!
This will totally be me on Thursday!! Friday and Saturday we are meeting up with some friends that are in town, so not sure where we will end up for dinner!

2. What I'm reminiscing about....
Halloween and all things Fall. I love Fall in Buffalo....I wish it would last longer. The trees are such beautiful colors, the temps are perfect, and there are so many fun things to do. Once November comes around it seems to switch to winter really fast!
3. What I'm loving....
The Look basic shawl. It is the most versatile piece!  You can wear it so many ways!! As a vest, a wrap, a poncho, even a scarf. It is super soft... perfect this time of year and even great for cooler summer nights. It comes in a bunch of  great colors too! At $42, you need this in your life. Reach out to my friends at Research and Design to get yours!

4. What we've been up to....
We had a great weekend visiting with some friends from Wisconsin, and they brought the kids some Green Bay gear!
The kids are looking forward to their Thanksgiving break & were really excited to have PJ day at school!

5. What I'm dreading.....nothing really. This is my favorite time of year!

6. What I'm working on.....organizing our basement. UGH! I went through all my fall decor as I put it away and got rid of things I don't use and organized it a little better as I put it away. But now it's a disaster as I am in the middle of Christmas I will be working on this project for a while!

7. What I'm excited about..... All things holiday!!! Making the transition from pumpkins to peppermint! My most favorite time of year! I will be sharing our Christmas Bucket List next week. Lots of fun traditions and things to do in December!

8. What I'm watching/reading....This Is Us. I watched the premiere episode back in September and loved it! And then life got really busy and I am way behind... trying to catch up!

9. What I'm listening to.....Christmas music....all day! I can't get enough!

10. What I'm wearing...this nail polish. It's from Essie and called "Smokin' Hot"...which just makes me laugh! It's a great shade for fall..a grayish-purple color.
 nail polish
11. What I'm doing this weekend......
We are visiting with some friends on Friday that will be in town for Thanksgiving and can't wait to catch up with them! Saturday I am hoping to pop into Target in the morning... they are having a great sale on stuff in the Winter Wondershop.... wrapping paper, decor....good stuff! This gift wrap collection has my heart!
 Wrapping Paper
Sunday we are off to the Bills Game with friends and I am so excited!! It is going to be really cold, but sunny so I can work with that! Go Bills!

12. What I'm looking forward to next month...Our annual gingerbread party! We have a bunch of good friends and their daughters come for a really special holiday afternoon.
I'll post all the details on this fun tradition next week! This year is our 5th annual party!

13. What else is new...not much else!

Bonus Question...What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
Every year before we eat, we go around the table and each say something we are thankful for. I love hearing what each person has to say. One year, my parents were re-doing their dining room and the walls were bare drywall. We all wrote what we were thankful for on the walls! So fun to know that under the paint holds lots of memories from that Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family! We will be back on Friday with some of our Friday favorites. I hope you will join us....there's always room for one more at our family table.

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