Monday, December 22, 2014

Life Lately...In Pictures

As is the case with most everyone this time of year, we are busy.  Seems silly to even mention.  But, I'll give you a little photo show of what we've been up to...

St. Nick came to visit.

He brought matching pjs and new ornaments...

We received a Jesse Tree this year.  Guess who didn't even know what one was until this Advent season?  Me.
We've been doing some crafting...decorating letters to be exact (cardboard c, p, j, and s).  It went as you might expect it to go :).  Quickly and messily.  

But, we've had these guys picking up our spirits all season long thanks to Aunt Sammie.  Sometimes they bring us juice.  Other times, hot chocolate, but they're always welcomed with open arms (don't worry, Sophie has one, too).

Taking a little break to take care of some business.

We made a gingerbread house.  Actually, Target made it, and we put it together!  So much easier.

And the next day, it saw a natural disaster of sorts.
John Paul had a tiny birthday party for his second birthday.  And, aside from eating lots of candy candies (candy canes), blowing out candles was his favorite part!
 Well, the confetti ice cream was a bit hit, too.
Beyond parties, he's just been watering his cows.
Sophie turned six months old...and has gained a pound and grown an inch or two (17 lbs, 27 inches).
 She is just the best.
We've spent a ton of time in the kitchen baking everything from Spitzbuban to peanut brittle and homemade cookie butter.
 John Paul had a second birthday party with a yummy cookie cake and sweet family.
 Look at all the boys on this side...
 Once again, he was obsessed with two little horsies he received.
Peter's been a pretty good little Santa, chanting "ho ho ho!" all around.
And, I've dressed them in matching sweatshirts every few days (the same one).  They'll thank me some day!

A sweet friend sent this to provide a little relaxing bathtime.  She made it (it's not a cupcake you eat but one you put in the bathtub)!
I needed it.  I guess that means that I haven't really done this Advent what I hoped to do (slow down). I'm embarrassed to say how many journal entries I've done.  Don't ask!

I hope you've been full of blessings (be they peaceful or busy).  Have a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Not Just Another Catalog: Zingerman's!

You know the story.  Around the holidays catalogs come in from out of nowhere...sure, there are the regulars, but then there are piles of those you have never seen before.  Zingerman's was one of those we received this year.  I had never heard of the place.  Actually, the name sounded familiar, but I couldn't remember why.  Then I saw that it was based out of Ann Arbor, and I remembered my sister telling me of this "amazing deli" she went to once while there...yes, it was Zingerman's.

It wasn't just any catalog.  Every picture came in the form of artwork, and each description made you want to buy a product, even if you'd never liked it before. 

A bacon club?  Amazing.  
Fresh baked breads?  Even better.

So, I caved.  I ordered a few Christmas gifts but really wanted to order something for our family.  This arrived a few days later...
And, its contents...

My grandfather is a bit hard to buy for (he has everything he needs), but he has always loved sardines.  When I saw these highly rated sardines, I knew he needed them.  Plus, a few pages away I found these macaroons - my grandma's favorite.  Perfect!

As if their marketing and packaging (I'm a sucker for detail-oriented, fun packaging) wasn't enough, I opened their newsletter to find this article.  As a former FFA member and current rancher, I was sold.
So, I contacted them to tell them how much I loved their company, and they sent me their sugarplums from Portugal to review.
 And, since I was receiving these, I decided to go ahead and place an order of my own.

We are a salami-loving family.
This stuff is incredible!  I cannot recommend it enough.  We've already polished off two.

Then we ordered a couple more gifts... especially for the boys. 
 I had this waiting for them when they woke up from naps.
Hot chocolate, a marshmallow of both kinds and two sugarplums.
I would be lying if I said Carter would touch the sugarplum.
But the marshmallows, he hasn't stopped!
 He even suggested this...
John Paul didn't want much of the sugarplum either (and Peter was still asleep).
But, Jeremy and I tried one (our first taste ever) and they were great!  Very sweet and reminiscent of Christmas - a special treat.

There is something for everyone at Zingerman's - everything from baked goods to olive oils and fruitcake to parents-to-be gift boxes.  Their customer support is incredible, and they have made something as ordinary as food extraordinary with a bit of extra attention to detail.  

It will no longer be in the pile of "where-did-this-come-from" catalogs!  Zingerman's has made our Christmas a bit more delectable, and I have a feeling they will for years to come!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

There's No Mixing Up our New Water Bottles

The boys received some fun mail a few weeks back.  Inside the box they discovered their very own water bottles.  These amazing little juice/milk/water bottles from Personal Creations have not left their sides.  

I don't know what it is about having theirr name on something, but it's important to my kids.  If their name isn't on a particular item, they'll find a way to get it on there.  Take Carter's little bike for example.  No name.  So, what has a black permanent marker "C" on it now?  That bike.  For Halloween, his fireman jacket wasn't marked.  Before we left the house, it had to be written on: "Danger.  Fireman Carter."

So, you can see why these are so special.  What's equally as cool, for Carter, is that they have two different lids.  One for your normal everyday drinking and another for when you're on a hike or in the desert without any form of hydration in site.  Cue Carter's rough and tough backpack.  In no time, he clipped his new water bottle on that thing and was off on an adventure!
Whether they're working in the firewood wagon...

or just playing outside...
they get thirsty.

 And, nothing beats a water bottle that is sure to not get mixed up with the rest.
Thank you Personal Creations for making our lives a bit more simple and for giving the boys their very own it-has-my-name-on-it water bottles.
They're a huge it!
You need some, don't you?