Family Photo Books

Hello strangers! I know I've been MIA lately but I just couldn't bring myself to post about pretty little projects or decor considering what was going on around me. We are very fortunate to be healthy and safe sheltering at home but the last few months have felt like a decade. Things seem to be improving - albeit at a snails pace - so I'm feeling a bit more myself these days although we have a ways to go.

So one of the few things I've been able to accomplish in this time was catching up on my annual photo books. I love these books - not only because they get our favorite photos and memories of these years out of the digital world and into our hands but also because the kids love to look at them and talk about our fun times. Especially now when we can't do as much - its nice to rehash our favorite trips and holidays.

I won't lie that a lot of time goes into pouring through all of the year's photos to cull it down to our favorites but it's so worth it!

For those that are curious, I always use Blurb for book printing. Specifically the image wrap hardcovers in 8x10 size with ProLine Pearl Photo Paper. I'm a pretty picky customer about photo printing and paper quality and have always been pleased with the outcome. My only complaint is that they slightly changed their book size at some point so they don't all line up perfectly but its the kind of thing only I would notice.

They are a little more expensive than some of the bigger companies like Shutterfly but I think their quality is worth the cost. With a discount coupon (or you could use this link to save you 30%), the cost isn't so bad.

For the record, this post isn't sponsored - I just really like their product and have been using them for 10 years so I feel very comfortable recommending them.

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.

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