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Category Archives: Holiday

A Visit to Santa ~ 2014

The town we live in has some great Christmas celebrations, increasing the holiday cheer around these parts. A family favorite is the Country Christmas where local craftsmen and women come to sell their wares and the carolers and music-makers come out by the dozens. Two of our favorite things to support! Also, Santa makes an annual visit and it’s a lot cheaper {free!} and quicker than the mall Santa. {Two excellent points in my book.}

We showed up downtown early to snag a spot in the local brewery/restaurant for dinner. Despite our early arrival of 4 o’clock, there was a 45 minute wait. Fortunately, they have a new system where you give them your phone number and they text you when your table is ready. Genius, I’m telling you. So we leisurely strolled through shops and snagged an adorable pilot-snowman-flying-an- airplane for Evey’s Christmas ornament, as she’s in love with the snowmen this year. Lights up like a Christmas tree when she spots one.

snug as a bug

Steve’s parents came just in the nick of time as our table opened for dinner. We got settled in to enjoy a brew and brat {well, I did} when Lucie literally broke down. This kid is one of the happiest, jolliest people I know but she just lost it in the din that filled that space. I have to admit, I thought it was rather noisy myself, but, as an adult, it is a little easier to cope with. Steve and I took turns eating and holding her outside, but she was nearly inconsolable, poor thing.

Which leads me to the next stop of the evening. Even THAT jolly, old man didn’t help her. In fact, I’m pretty sure he made it worse.

santa visit

Evey was hamming it up for camera. {At least she didn’t react like last year.}

hamming it up with santa

Presenting~ the whole family and Santa. Lucie still wasn’t having any of it and, I think, Evey was bored at this point. At least mama and daddy are enjoying themselves. {Although, I’m about to lose my phone.}

family and santa

And that’s a wrap! {Note: Evey’s little poodle that quickly turned into a weiner dog in about 5.6 seconds flat.}

ready to go

{A big thanks to my mother-in-law for the photos, that just wouldn’t have happened without her.} 🙂

Toddler-Friendly Gingerbread House Alternative : Christmas Tree Cones

We enjoyed some quiet time this morning constructing cone Christmas trees. This is a fabulous way to do holiday frosting and sprinkles with toddlers. Because unless you have a gingerbread house that is as sturdy as bricks, I can see it becoming very frustrating for little hands. Those things make me frustrated, for heaven sakes.

cone tree decor

detail cone tree

I won’t include a tutorial on these because that would be silly. I will, however, suggest that you place a small amount of sprinkles in a separate container from what they came in if you don’t want the entire thing on the tree {or floor}. A small muffin tin worked perfectly for this.

muffin tin use!

cone trees

I don’t think she enjoyed herself one bit. 😉

cheesey!

Ever since her daddy told her that choo-choo was inside her birthday hat, anything that is conical has the potential for becoming a train tunnel. This was no exception.

choo choo cone

She’s telling me there’s a ‘choo-choo!’ here. 🙂

choo choo

Finished it off with a little gingerbread star that she happily decorated and munched on for her morning snack.

cookie decorating

gingerbread star

Christkindlmarkt & German holiday traditions

Germany has bequeathed many Christmas traditions to Americans.

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Fir trees were first used as decoration in Germany during the Middle Ages when they would bring the only living greenery into their cold homes during the winter months to brighten things up a bit. The first Christmas tree was set up in the 15th century by bakers in a German town square with little breads and fruit for the children to be eaten on New Year’s Day.

advent calendar

Source

Advent calendars were first made by German Lutherans in the 19th century. Originally, they simply marked with a chalk line on the wall. Eventually, they began using paper calendars with little windows to open, and then large boxes with smaller boxes that had little treats nestled inside became part of the anticipation of Christmas Day.

first santa claus

Source

The image we have now of Santa Claus was illustrated by a German cartoonist by the name of Thomas Nast. {Before his image was rather frightening to young children!} The jolly round man was featured in Harper’s Weekly, giving us the modern image of Santa Claus. Although it is typically the Christkind {Christ Child} who brings the gifts, he also visits little children on Christmas Eve. {Martin Luther changed this tradition in the 16th century so that Christ would be honored with having brought gifts rather than St. Nicholas.}

stille nacht

 Source

The hymn Silent Night was composed by a German man, Franz Gruber (actually an ancestor of mine!). It is one we all love to sing come Christmastime.

nutcrackers

 Source

And the hand-carved, wooden nutcrackers {nussnackers} that come in various shapes and sizes started in Germany. Not originally Christmas themed, they were often found in toy shops with carved toys and puzzles and given as gifts. It is not exactly known when they took on a seasonal significance but Tchaikosvky’s Nutcracker certainly had an influence. They gained in popularity in the U.S. after World War II when GIs brought them back to the States.

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And, of course, the cookies! Gingerbread, pfeffernusse, zimsterne….yum!!

 

Christmas market in Heidelberg

Come late November, Germany is dotted with Christkindlmarkts. These are quaint markets filled with artisanal shops found in town squares. You can find there a variety of glass-blown, wooden, and cloth ornaments, Christmas pyramids that spin by the heat of candles, and other delightful handmade trinkets. Scents of spiced wine and apple cider permeate the air surrounding it, as well as baked goods, such as gingerbread and stollen, all for sale at the markets.

Also, very long sausages.

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I was privileged to attend one while I was studying abroad in Rome. It is one of my fondest memories from my semester abroad.

Heidelberg

Heidelberg castle

inside the warming hut

It was SOOOOO cold there. They had these warming huts you could jump in for a few minutes to get the feeling back in your fingers.

studying in Germany

And I’m so glad I chose to go rather than stay in Rome and study for Finals!! Okay, we did a little of that too in our little German gable. 😉

 

Turn Verein

The near-to-us city of Sacramento has a replica Christkindlmarkt that they hold every year at the home of the German club, the Turn Verein. We went there this past weekend to enjoy a taste of our German heritage.

They had stalls set up with many of the things you would find at a market in Germany, including baked goods, smoked sausages, gingerbread cakes, handmade nutcrackers and other Christmas gifts. It made me a bit nostalgic for the time I spent in Germany.

visit with St. NickEvelyn was fascinated by St. Nicholas. {She did a little better with him than she did with Santa last year.}

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We enjoyed some of those long Nuremberger sausages for lunch while Gram and Evey worked on their selfie shots.

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And Daddy and Lucie checked out the cool ceiling fans.

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The biggest hit was the model trains they had set up in one room. They were erected by the Sacramento chapter of European Train Enthusiasts.

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Evey made a stop before we left to draw a few holiday pictures with Gram and Pumpkin in the children’s room.

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look at what I made!

Frohe Weihnachten!

Moments {Vol. 5}

I was a bit MIA this past week with all the holiday festivities….here’s a bit of what was happening.

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Evey and I snuck away for a mimi-daughter date last weekend. It’s very important to me that she doesn’t feel neglected despite all the attention that I must give Lucie these days. She loves going out for little treats at “the mermaid” {Starbucks}. Fills my heart up too. <3

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Lucie got some special mommy time this past week too {thanks to my awesome brothers and wonderful MIL!}. We went down to San Francisco to see the Houghton Hall exhibit at the Legion of Honor. There were beautiful artifacts on display from an English manor house à la Downton Abbey. We snapped a photo in this gorgeous mirror in honor of all the lords and ladies who had viewed themselves within it.

do you want to build a snowman

Evelyn has been rather obsessed with snowmen lately. I think I mentioned that she was heartbroken after reading The Snowman and finding that he melted at the end. We’re doing our darndest to fix this childhood trauma. Steve’s latest attempt was to build her this snowman out of paper towels, tape and a popsicle stick. She’s been bringing it to bed ever since. 🙂

grilling the turkey 1

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Turkey Day was wonderful in every way. We had a quiet evening at home. Steve cooked the bird on the grill which fantastically  left the oven free for me to cook the other additions.  We had a wonderful array of foods we feasted on…and will be for the next week or so. 😉

listening to carolers

The evening after Thanksgiving we went up to Grass Valley for the opening night of the Cornish Christmas festival. We feasted on Cornish pasties and hot chocolate (with whipped cream, of course!). Evey enjoyed the carolers and is still talking about them.

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Lucie, our outgoing, little extrovert, refused to be fed as she preferred to engage with the passerby.

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And speaking of hot chocolate and whipped cream, we enjoyed some again {not complaining} this weekend as we watched our newest Christmas film. One of our Christmas traditions is watching a new (to us) Christmas movie while wearing our new Christmas pajamas. Hot chocolate while viewing just heightened the experience. It will have to be added on in the future.

new kitchen!

Christmas came a wee bit early for Evey this year. A friend of mine was selling this kitchen set for a song as her daughter has outgrown it, and we jumped on it! This girl loves to bake so hopefully this will fulfill some of her need to be in the kitchen when it is difficult for me to involve her in what I’m doing.

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And this one. She used to be such a good sleeper but has now thrown me for a loop. Ever since she began to discover the world around her, no longer is she interested in sleeping at night. We have regular conversation (loud squuuuuealing!) every morning sometime starting between 2 and 4, and she usually goes back to sleep once everyone else begins to get up. Needless to say, I’m a bit blurry-eyed and fuzzy brained-right now. Tips for ending this madness??

Around the Web ~ 11.23.14

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Just a few links this week as we’re busy getting ready for the upcoming holiday….

{Thanksgiving Edition}

I love these detailed instructions for how to *really* get ready for Thanksgiving. If the impending holiday is making you anxious {and wanting to rip your hair out} then you should really turn here for a few moments and take a look.

I don’t know about you but it is important to me to raise my children with a sense of gratitude for the gifts they are given {material and otherwise}. MaryRuth has put together a wonderful list of 6 tips for how to raise thankful children. Taking note.

Sweet treat ideas for your Thanksgiving table. Or one of these ten Apple Treat recipes.

Shauna Niequist has some spot-on tips for hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. She mentions keeping your candles non-scented during the feast. Nothing worse than mixing scented candles and food smells. Just. don’t. do. it.

If you’re interested in what we’ll be feasting on, head over to the food blog for a Thanksgiving edition of Weekly Eats.

 

Annnnnd that’s wrap. Enjoy your week! {Especially your Thanksgiving feast!}

Around the Web ~ 11.16.14

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Anyone else thinking about what will be on their Thanksgiving table in less than two weeks? (!!!) The Vintage Mixer together with some other food bloggers hosted a virtual Thanksgiving meal to bring us some great options for the feast! Also, The Kitchn has some lovely options too, based on a harvest-inspired menu.

Another thing well on its way is Advent season (starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving). Elizabeth Foss has a great collection of Advent books to read with your kids through the season. Already putting in requests from the library.

This is wonderful little list of daily affirmations for wives that will help us in living our our vocations all the better.

Is There a Catholic Way to Eat? Daniel Rabourdin of EWTN‘s ‘Theology of the Table’ seems to think so and I’m inclined to agree with him. {Plus, it’s infused with French-ness and we all know I will be happy to get on board with that! ;)}

Have you heard of the fallacy of relative privation? It essentially claims that trivial difficulties in our lives shouldn’t be of concern to us because there are bigger problems in the world like world hunger. This post, ‘On Whataboutery,’ explains why these things do matter and are worthy of our attention and prayer.

The Hard and the Holy — a beautiful reflection on how what is difficult in life can also be our means of holiness.

 

Have a lovely week!

Halloween Toddler Play

E the Pooh

Is a week too long to wait to share with you our Halloween? I don’t think so, and I couldn’t resist filling your feed with at least a few photos of Evelyn{Winnie} the Pooh Bear and her sidekick, Tigger.  😉

L the Tigger

 

We went to the Fall Fest at the school where I used to work the night before Halloween. Evelyn had a blast (albeit a tad overwhelmed) participating in all the carnival games and activities. They chose an Alice in Wonderland theme that was equally cute//creepy. Part of their display includes a well-thought out and executed haunted house. Let’s just say, I never thought of flowers as nightmarish before.

Pooh and Tigger with daddy

face painting

We tried out the “toss the ping pong ball into the teacup” game. Evelyn thought she was supposed to play fetch with the teachers across the room attempting to catch the errant balls. {Sorry, ladies, that my daughter was your means of exercise for the evening.} Steve wanted to know why the cups weren’t filled with beer. I think it would be a good suggestion for next year for all the parents who make it through the exercise.

tea cup ping pong

 

chalk painting

Her favorite activity of the evening was the cake walk. And it wasn’t because of the cake reward. For some reason, this girl really likes to walk in circles. There is an activity at her dance class where the teacher puts dots down onto the floor in a circle and the kids are supposed to walk, run, etc. on them while a song plays. Well, Evey attempts to re-create this scene daily with her books, down to the “stay there, dot” mantra that her teacher says while placing each one down in an attempt to keep the kids from running off with them. The cake walk was a souped-up version of this. We skipped, hopped, ran, twirled for half an hour, round and round, and when her card was drawn, she did not care. She just wanted to keep walking. Her cousin, Owen, knew what was up — he ate all the frosting off his cake and left the rest for his dad.

 

Panda and Pooh

Halloween night was cold and rainy. We haven’t seen cold weather in these parts for months and, of course, it arrives with a vengeance on Halloween night. We managed to find a break in the rain and scurried around the neighborhood with a bucket that was about half Evelyn’s size.

rainy Halloween

trick or treat Pooh

Despite offers to assist her with it, she carried it the whole way. She did an excellent job with her “trick-or-treats” and “thank yous,” especially for someone who is not quite two. Although, we did try to go into a few peoples houses with hostesses we liked.

with daddy on Halloween

sugared Pooh

Her favorite thing, though, was handing out the candy at our door to the flood of trick-or-treaters who came by. (They really upped their game this year.) She was at the door before they rang the bell and carefully dropped a treat into each person’s bag. {One thing I have to highly recommend: get some treats for young children. I picked up a box of Goldfish crackers and I had several people thank me for having something that their toddlers could eat. You could do fruit snacks too.}

the gang with mama

daddy and L

Lucie just enjoyed being outside, wrapped snuggly against mama, and looking at the trees. Or chilling with daddy on the couch. 🙂

Ave Maria

our-lady-of-the-rosaryHail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Rosary is a special devotion in which we pray for the intercession of Mary to her son, Jesus, while meditating on the “mysteries” of Christ’s life, especially those which intertwine with Mary’s. It is normally said using a set of beads which helps us keep track of each decade we pray.

{For a superb way to pray the Rosary with children, check out Catholic All Year‘s Facebook post on making and praying chocolate Rosaries! 🙂 Also, what praying the family Rosary looks like in Kendra’s house.}

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annun_angelico_grtJoyful Mysteries

The Annunciation ~ And [Gabriel] came to her and said, / “Hail, full of grace, / the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28) 

The Visitation ~  In those days Mary arose / and went with haste into the hill country./ to a city of Judah, / and she entered the house of Zechariah / and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, / the child leaped in her womb; / and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:39-41)

The Nativity ~ She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in Swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there Was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged. (Luke 2:7)

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple ~ When the day came to purity them according to the law Of Moses, the couple brought him up to Jerusalem so that He could be presented to the Lord “Every first-born male shall be consecrated to the Lord.” (Luke 2:22-23)

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple ~ On the day they came upon him in the temple Sitting in he midst of the teachers, listening to them and Asking them questions. (Luke 2:46)

weddingatcanaLuminous Mysteries

The Baptism of Jesus ~ And when Jesus was baptized…The heavens were opened And He saw that Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him, And lo, a voice from the heaven, saying, “this is My beloved son, With whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16-17)

Jesus’ First Miracle ~ His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.” Jesus said to them, “fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. (John 2:5-7)

Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven ~ …and preach as you go, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give with out pay. (Matthew 10:7-8)

Transfiguration of Jesus ~ And he was praying, the appearance of his raiment become Dazzling white. And a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is My Son, My chosen; listen to him! (Luke 9:29, 35)

The Last Supper ~ He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you” and likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22: 19-20)

pietabougereauSorrowful Mysteries

Agony in the Garden ~ And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground. (Luke 22:43-44)

Jesus is Scourged at the Pillar ~ And so Pilate being willing to satisfy the people, released to them Barabbas, and delivered up Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)

Jesus is Crowned with Thorns ~ And stripping him, they put a scarlet cloak about him. And platting a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand… (Matthew 27:28-29)

Jesus Carries His Cross ~ And bearing his own cross, he went forth to that place which is called Calvary, but in Hebrew Golgotha. (John 19:17)

Jesus is Crucified ~ Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost. (John 19: 28, 30)

assumptionGlorious Mysteries

The Resurrection ~ You need not be amazed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the one who was crucified. He has been raised up; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. (Mark 16:6)

The Ascension ~ Then, after speaking to them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into Heaven and took his seat at God’s right hand. (Mark 16:19)

The Descent of the Holy Spirit Upon the Apostles and Mary at Pentecost ~ All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Spirit prompted them. (Acts 2:4)

Mary’s Assumption ~ A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, With the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. (Revelation 12:1)

Mary is Crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth ~ “You are the glory of Jerusalem…you are the splendid boast of our people… God is pleased with what you have wrought. May you be blessed by the Lord Almighty forever and ever. (Judith 15:9-10)

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Veronese, Battle of Lepanto c1572

By Mary’s intercession, through the recitation of the Rosary, the course of history has turned at some very powerful moments in history. In 1571, on this day, the Ottoman Turks (Muslims) were resisted against all odds by the Christians at the Battle of Lepanto. Europe would look very different today if this had not occurred, as the Muslims were set to extend the Ottoman Empire and force the Muslim culture and religion (really, one and the same) on all. The Pope at the time, Pius V, had requested all the faithful to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, asking that the victory be theirs. Under the command of Don Juan of Austria, they destroyed the Ottoman ships, and it was attributed it to Mary’s intercession.

The Rosary is a mighty “weapon.” We would do well to pray it for a very similar situation in the world today.

undoer of knots

I have witnessed Mary’s influence in my own life using this powerful weapon. Over the course of about a year or so, I had been undergoing some horrible, and ever-growing, anxiety due to a bad situation that had occurred in my life.  My roommate at the time introduced me to a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots. {A novena is a set of prayers said over a nine-day period, usually for a specific intention.} A Rosary is said at the beginning of each day’s prayer, after which a prayer was said that asked Mary’s help in “undoing the knot” that was in my life. I was praying to be released from the heavy burden I felt on my soul of a past hurt and the anxiety it was causing me. Each successive day, I could literally feel the weight being taken off. The tears that poured out of me after I finished my prayers every evening were like a release of the flood of emotions and anxiety that flooded my soul. I finally was able to talk about the burden I carried. My heart was being cleansed to allow for love to enter in once again. It is amazing how palpable spiritual things can be at times to our very being.

A Taste of Christmas

The month of December flew by much faster than we wanted it to here. But there was much joyous anticipation of the Christmas season, followed by proper celebration.

We set up our tree on the very first of the month, eager to decorate for the season.

noble fir

We picked out a few new ornaments to adorn our tree, including a stitched house to remember the purchase of our first home, a flashy bbq to commemorate Steve’s favorite new hobby, and a wiry, red trike – Evelyn’s new favorite mode of transportation.

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While decorating the tree, Evelyn scared entertained us with her dancing moves on top of a box and played with her new nativity set.

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We were greeted with a snow day on the first Saturday in December (sadly, the only precipitation we’ve had all month). It was Evelyn’s first and she was thoroughly enthralled by it.

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That is, until she touched it with her bare hands. 🙂

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Evey didn’t get a chance to meet Santa last year so we took her to the Country Christmas in town to visit him this year. Aaaaaand this is how she felt about him.

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Maybe next year.

She’d much rather be held by Gram, but who could blame her. 🙂

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Evelyn and I attended a luncheon with her grandma and great-grandma (my mom and grandma) at a nice hotel downtown. We had a wonderful time dressing up and enjoying a lunch with some of our favorite ladies.

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The dress Evelyn is wearing was mine when I was her age and was made by my mom. My mom brought some photos of me wearing it to share (unfortunately, I don’t have a copy on me now).

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Steve and I stole a few moments one evening to drink egg nog together and decorate Christmas cookies. It was a nice at-home date.  🙂

xmas cookie decor

Then there was the flu. (Which you don’t need to see photos of…..)

Christmas celebrations, up next!

Life Lately — Pumpkin Edition

We’ve been rather quiet here at Muffin Dome lately. My only excuse is this adorable toddler that I’m chasing around all day, refilling all the containers and cupboards she is incessantly emptying. 😉

Happy Fall!

 

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The little pumpkin cap on her head is one of my first knitting projects. I’ve been working on caps lately and they are turning out better each time. It was fun to dress up our little ‘pumpkin’ for a trip to the pumpkin patch to pick her very first pumpkin!

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We took a hayride out to the patch to pick our pumpkins. (I remember the same ride last year — it seemed a lot bumpier and I was afraid I was going to go into labor with our little darling in the middle of the patch!) We found the perfect pumpkins!!

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This was Evey’s first Halloween (she came 9 days after last Halloween). A few months ago I picked her up a sleeveless blue and white gingham dress at H&M, perfect for the warm summer months. Then, when she started walking, her first pair of shoes were red Saltwaters. A light went off one day when she was wearing the two together. She looks just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. A perfect Halloween costume!! So it was decided way back in July what she would be this year. And she played the part just perfectly. Except she got an update to her wardrobe for the colder months ahead….red BOOTS! (Which she absolutely adores and asks to wear nearly every time we go out.)

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She couldn’t wait to get started trick-or-treating! She was tugging Daddy out the door the minute he returned home from work!

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Much more fun than eating the candy was playing with it, pulling it in and out of the bucket, laughing so hard she was cracking everyone up!

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Although, she did try out her first lollipop. 🙂

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Stay tuned…more to come of our Fall adventures later!

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