Magical Lapland | Bucket List Family Trip

Imagine it.  Brooklyn, sometime in the 1980s.  I was just a kid and happened to catch some tv segment about families visiting Finnish Lapland to meet the big guy in red in the "real" North Pole.  It looked magical then but our family did not go on vacations no less fancy international ones to play in the snow so I filed it away in the back reaches of my brain.  It wasn't until years later that I was bit by the travel bug that I realized this was a real thing that lots of people did.  (Mostly Europeans.  Lapland is not on the travel map of most Americans - likely due to the distance and general lack of marketing to Americans).  I have been waiting for my kids to be old enough to enjoy the experience and it was finally time.  Off we headed to Finnish Lapland.

There are many ways to visit Lapland but we opted for the easy way out - an organized tour.  Normally that isn't really our thing but this made the most sense because we wanted to get the most out of the short time we had there (we didn't want to the kids to miss more school than necessary).  We ended up going with a company called Canterbury Travel.

Our charter flight left from Gatwick outside of London and off we went flying North to the
Rovaniemi airport.  We then drove about 90 minutes to the town of Lusto. We arrived in the evening to a landscape of twinkling snow and settled into our one room log cabin which could not be more charming.

It had a blazing fireplace, a drying room and a sauna and we used all three as much as we could in the time we had.  The tour company arranges snow suits for everyone involved and they kept us very toasty warm. The only problem was getting them on and off 2 wriggly children 10x a day.  

There is very little daylight in Lapland which makes photography a challenge but it was beautiful day and night. In our 3 days there we rode in reindeer pulled sleighs, got pulled by husky dogs, played with Santa's elves, met St. Nick and Mrs. Claus, drank lots of hot berry juice, roasted smores, pulled the kids on sleds, made snow men and snow angels and just generally walked around in a winter wonderland.  It was a magical trip and I highly recommend it!

While I fully expected to enjoy it, I was surprised just how much I personally enjoyed the outdoor activities.  The reindeer farm was a highlight - learning about how the animals are raised and how the farmers care for them was fascinating.  Even without Santa's magic, I would gladly return there in a heartbeat to see and do more at a more relaxing pace.

Sadly we never got a view of the Northern Lights.  A good reason as any to return!

Christmas Mail 2019 | Wake Me Up Before you Cocoa

Another year, time for another Christmas mailing!

This year we sent out 2 single serving tubes of yummy hot cocoa + marshmallow bits. Just add hot milk and enjoy.

This year I totally splurged on the postage but I will warn you postage rates have gone up a lot since the last time I did something bulky like this. We hand delivered a bunch to save some $ but then just bite the bullet on the rest.

As usual, I designed the card (thank you selfie stick for this year's family portrait) and put Luke to work in helping putting it all together.  It's a labor of love for sure. We hope our family and friends enjoy a warm cuppa on us.

Test Tubes
Marshmallow Bits

Rainbow Stripe Desk Makeover

If you are following me on Insta, you might remember this little french provincial style desk we picked up for $20 bucks at a flea market. Aggie actually chose it so it was an easy sale. I shared a photo of her standing next to it proudly and soooo many people messaged me to say they had this same desk growing up in their bedroom. Not surprising since it was a big seller for years from Sears. It originally sold for $79!

Obviously I couldn't leave it as it was.

A couple of coats of chalk paint, a little refresh of the hardware and some rainbow stripes  for the top.  This was exactly the kind of makeover this piece needed to give it a updated look but didn't require much effort.  Aggie loves her new desk and it adds some great storage for all that paper that 6 year olds seem to create in their wake.

Gingerbread House Decorating Party

I'll admit that I have done zero holiday decorating thus far (Bad Blogger Award™ 5 years straight, thank you very much!), but I do have some fun holiday inspiration to share from last year. We threw a Gingerbread Decorating Party for our daughter's 6th birthday and it was a total blast. An insane kid sugar fueled rave kinda blast, but a blast none the less.

We purchased gingerbread kits from Ikea ($4 each) and loads of extra candy.  I made the gingerbread houses the night before so they would be set up firmly by the times the kids arrived. I was fully prepared to hot glue them together if my royal icing didn't solidify but thankfully that wasn't necessary.

Because I'm extra, there were a few little DIY elements to amp up the style. First were the kid sized "OH SNAP" aprons which I whipped up a few days before the party.  Second was this fabulous cake made by my sister who clearly gets me.  And finally I found a Buddy the Elf costume for Oscar to wear while he ran around and terrorized the guests. I regret nothing!

It was a crazy party but it was a major hit with my kids so mission accomplished. Perfect for a December birthday girl. Now it's a year later so it's time to get started on this year's birthday bash.

Favorite Things | Gift Inspo

It's that time of year again - holiday shopping begins. I always promise myself I'll get all my holiday shopping done by end of November (so I can enjoy the holiday fun in December) so it's total crunch time for me. Coming up with thoughtful ideas can be a challenge so it's the perfect time for this year's edition of Favorite Things!

Thanks to Melissa of 320 Sycamore for inviting me to play along with some wonderful company.

Without further ado, here are my Favorite Things for 2019 Gifts in no particular order.

1. Embossing Label Maker Yes this is that old school clickity-clackety one you might remember from your childhood. I treated myself to one earlier this year and I am labeling EVERYTHING. The best $10 bucks I spent this year, hands down. No batteries, charging cables or downloads - just load in the labels and get to embossing. It's so much fun. Perfect for the organizer (or the wanna be organizer) in your life. Get one for yourself too!

2. Faux Fur Collar Glow up your look and keep cozy warm at the same time. This faux fur collar will take your plain old wool coat to the next level. Comes in lots of fun colors too and is steal.

3. Cordless Vacuum Ok so this one is a splurge but think of how much more enjoyable vacuuming will be without having to run around plugging and unplugging. Ok so this is more of a "gift to yourself" type of thing but sometimes those are the best kind!

4. Tiered Tray Trust me on this one, everything looks better on a tray. Just fill it up with whatever you need for your holiday buffets and your guests will ooh and ahh at your decorative prowess. This is also a fun way to gift baked goods as a great hostess gift. Just grab some sweets at your local market and throw a bow on this tray to win guest of the year. If you aren't a tiered tray kind of a person, a great wooden bowl or cutting board also does the trick.

5. Thermal Carafes Ok so this isn't the sexiest gift but if you know someone who entertains a lot, they will love you for this! These things are magic. You put hot coffee in and it stays hot all day. Yes, ALL DAY! That might not seem like something you need but it's so helpful to be able to make coffee (or tea or hot cocoa or hot apple cider, whatever) BEFORE guests arrive. It stays hot and doesn't burn. This particular style is especially fun because you can write on the side with chalk to let everyone know what is inside and has that pretty farmhouse feel.

6. Wood Letter Board These are just fun little adds to your d├ęcor. In fairness I do love a good pun so maybe Im biased. I have a felt one as well but it gets a little linty so this wood only board is a better option. Its a fun gift for the person that has everyone.

That's it! My favorites little gifts for the year. I hope I've sparked some inspiration. If you want more, pop over to some of the other bloggers' playing along in the fun. Hop over at Fancy Farmgirls and Imparting Grace for more ideas.

disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links but all opinions expressed are my own.

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