Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Tis The Season: Easy Holiday Party Ideas

Happy December everyone! We are all wound up with Christmas cheer over here, especially now that the temperature has finally dropped below 80 degrees!  (Once it hits 60, I turn the gas fireplace on, regardless.)

We kicked off December with a bang....we had three Christmas parties and a parade on the calendar last week.  And even though I feel like I'm running on the backup Mama battery pack, we had a great time and made some memories.

I love to throw ANY party, but a Christmas party really just fills my heart. I used to do an Ugly Sweater Party, but OH MY STARS, those are almost as common as Santa Claus himself now. (I'just regret throwing out all those puff paint sweaters I made in the 90's because I'd be making a fortune right now.)

Last year I did a "Mama's Only" Pajama Party and we had a blast. Everyone seemed to really appreciate coming in their stretchy pants, so I decided to keep the theme this year. Last year, we did a "Sock Swap", so everyone bought a cute pair of socks. This year's theme was "My Favorite Things", so we all brought a gift (within a $15 limit) that was a "favorite" of ours. This was super fun because there were so many different items. There was swapping, switching and stealing over candles, lotion, cookbooks, tumblers, coffee, and bath bombs. We had a blast! You could go a million directions with this: scarf swap, book swap, jewelry swap, cosmetic swap, etc.....

Since we were already in our pajamas I decided to go with the theme and do "breakfast for dinner". I found some ideas on Pinterest about a Waffle Bar, and went with it. It was truly the EASIEST menu, because I really didn't have to cook anything!  I bought a bunch of toppings and mixed up some waffle batter and poured it in Dixie cups! Everyone was on their own to make their waffle!

I got the idea from Pinterest to line the counter with brown postal paper.  (Which I got at the Dollar Tree!) This was the BEST idea, because it caught the mess of all the batter and toppings! 
I borrowed a waffle iron from a friend so I had two stations. I'm sure the batter amount would change based on the waffle maker, but for a traditional round one, I found that 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup of batter worked well. The 5 ounce Dixie cups were a perfect size!
And you can go crazy with whatever toppings you like. This could really be endless. For spreads, I settled on whipped peanut butter, strawberry jam, hazelnut spread, and flavored cream cheeses. For toppings, there was fruit, chocolate chips, whipped cream, pecans, cheese, and bacon. (TIP: Cook the bacon in the oven! Easiest thing ever! Cover a pan with foil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes on each side. I had seen this on Pioneer Woman but didn't expect it to really work for me. But it did and I'll never fry bacon again!) I didn't take a picture of the syrups, but I served honey, caramel sauce, regular syrup and powered sugar. 
The waffle bar was SO FUN and easy....this would be a great Christmas Eve or Christmas morning tradition too! on to Christmas Party #2! My friend Ashley took a fancier approach than my PJ Party, and hosted a Christmas Tea. And GEEZ LOUISE, she knocked it out of the park! Just look at how beautiful her table setting was!

She had this catered by a tearoom in Plano called Into My Garden. (They have an onsite tearoom, or they'll bring everything to you.) Everything was ABSOLUTELY delicious! We all laughed because at first, the sandwiches, breads, and scones doesn't look like much food, be we were stuffed by the time we were done. Ashley is a tea lover, so she had several different flavors and knew how to do it right!

This was such a fun girly party! Plus, having it at her house was small and intimate, where we could chat. (Because restaurants just get louder as you get older, right?) If having it catered isn't on your radar, this party idea could easily be recreated with a few breads, sandwiches, and some tiered serving dishes! (I'm sure Pinterest has ALL SORTS of ideas for you...)

Here's our attempt at a group picture using my self timer.........

Finally, we attended a Pancake Breakfast that my friend Jorie hosted for the boys. (This is our forced attempt at making this an annual tradition.) We arrived at her house at 9:30 a.m. (in our pajamas of course) and she fed us reindeer pancakes and we watched Christmas movies; The Grinch for the boys, then Fred Claus for the mamas. It was super cute and would be an great idea for any size group of kiddos!

Just look at that Rudolph pancake perfection!

I know the holidays are filled with endless obligations and commitments, but I love the memories that come along with it. There have been years when the parties just couldn't happen (like the year I had vertigo or the time we lived in a hotel for Christmas), and I'm CERTAIN this will be the case in future years. So the years that they DO happen make me super thankful!

I hope you're rockin' around the Christmas tree this season, and I'd love to hear any party ideas of yours!

Monday, November 21, 2016


Well, it's FINALLY feeling like Fall around here....better late than never, right? But October certainly did not. We still pretended that it was Fall and did all things October in short sleeves and flip flops. Here's my tardy attempt to catch up on one of my favorite months!

I finally participated in one of those "bulk cooking" days with my Home Group. My friend Melissa set it up, did all the shopping, organizing, and prep work. This was a massive effort ya'll. I pretty much brought my apron and a check. We voted on 8 recipes that are freezer friendly, and worked like dogs for about 5 hours. I admit-it was more prep work than I thought it was going to be.....but that's the whole go home with 8 meals that all you have to do is take out of the freezer and warm up! And of course, we did have a BLAST cooking, dancing, and singing in the kitchen while we worked.

Pretty sure my friend Emily was burning something at this moment. 
I was the "rib prepper" and sliced and broiled 8 racks of ribs. I was pretty much a vegetarian by the time I was done. #overit

I'd love to tell you that I've enjoyed each scrumptious meal. Sadly, our deep freeze decided TO BECOME UNPLUGGED at some point and I lost 7 of the meals. Awesome.

Moving along. The famous "State Fair of Texas" was in full swing last month and sadly, we had NEVER been. After going, I can say this is something I would mark on the "Do Before Kids"....or "Wait Till the Kids are 12" List. Ya'll. I know it's famous, and a tradition in some families, but Lawd have mercy. We spend a fortune, parked my new car in a gully FOR TWENTY DOLLARS, and there wasn't really much Greyson could enjoy because of the crowds. I know they have a lot of the barnyard stuff for the littles, but even that was SO CROWDED. I did indulge in a fried bacon-wrapped hot dog. But I think we'll put this one to the side until G is big enough to not need a leash.

We did enjoy the Pig Races!
And got our first picture with "Big Tex"!

This was an entire exhibit made out of can goods. G simply REACHED behind the rope to touch one and I about DIED.  
We've been trying to keep our Friday night family dates going and our favorite new area/collection of restaurants is Watters Creek in Allen. They have the cutest little play area and tree house that Greyson loves. This MIGHT be my favorite picture of all time. 
You could caption it with so many things, but I'm thinking: "Just SHUT UP you little duck!" 
Greyson has made his Christmas choice at Toys R Us. Sadly, Santa will NOT be bringing this.
He warmed up to the ball pit at The Coop.
And he participated in his first presidential election. This actually made me a little emotional, picturing him voting many years from now. 
I've had a blast so far with my little gig with the Collin County Mom's Blog. We've been spoiled with dinners, facials, and a super fun launch party! My first post was published a couple weeks ago and you can read it here

Both sets of our parents came for Greyson's birthday weekend, and we all went out to eat at one of my favorite new spots, Hash House a Go Go. 

The food is delicious AND enormous! 
There's nothing quite like having ALL of your parents around....ours get along so well; it is quite a blessing. And duh......I love having four sets of extra hands! 

We finally made it to the Arboretum to visit the acclaimed pumpkin patch.  Oh how I love the Arboretum. G is like a free spirit out there, so when we arrived, I told him I just wanted to get a few good pics and then he could play. He pulled this out the first shot.

Yes, Please, and Thank You
 I did grab a couple more cute ones before he went wild!

The rest of the month was pretty much chalked up to Halloween. Holy Smokes, when did Halloween become a SEASON?! When I was a kid, we dressed up ON Halloween and called it a day! I do LOVE all the celebrations though, so I'm not complaining!

First up was the "Noah's Ark Parade" at Greyson's school. So clearly he had to dress like an animal. It was completely adorable.

Despite his facial expression, he was SUPER into his monkey costume. Too bad it was 90 degrees so he didn't get to wear it again! 
After he spotted me in the parade, he lost it, so I made a scram for the door. 
Next up was "Boo at the Zoo" at the Fort Worth Zoo. This was the a super fun event....all the kiddos were dressed up and they had trick-or-treating and a little Fall Carnival. I've never been to the Fort Worth Zoo; it is BEAUTIFUL and amazing!

We went with our #doubleBFFs, Jorie and Preston. Jorie and I met in breastfeeding class when we were pregnant and then gave birth to our little guys 5 days apart!

Greyson went as a train engineer. ; ) 


We were all melting....literally and figuratively by this point. 
The next night we walked down to our neighboorhood's annual Halloween block party. It was so much fun! Greyson was thoroughly obsessed with the bounce house. I was getting worried, because it was getting rowdy in there, but he DID NOT want out. At one point, a seven year old climbed out and was like "Whew, it's getting crazy in there....."  I took that as the cue to rescue my toddler.

He went as a firefighter, but with the heat, he only wore his jacket long enough for me to snap a few pics. 

"Stop where you are.....I can take it from here."
The fireman and the fire dog. 
The next day we had a birthday party at a gymastics place and it was so fun.  G was running around like a wild man, and then at one point, I found him like this.....

I feel you buddy.
Nothing a piece of chocolate cake couldn't fix.......

And that's how I feel too my darling.....
We went straight from the party to our church's "Trunk or Treat", which I have discovered to be quite the trend. Traditional trick-or-treating has almost phased out.  (Which makes me kinda sad.)  BUT, I have to say.....this truck or treat thing is fun.  It's essentially like tailgating with a theme. That's pretty much two of my favorite things EVER behind my husband and child. Our home group did a Candyland theme and it was really cute. We loved walking around and playing all the games at the different trunks! SO FUN!

My favorite was probably Noah's Ark trunk....they had beanie babies that you threw in the boat to get candy...hilarious!

Needless to say, by the time Halloween day rolled around (the next day), I was DONE. We didn't even go trick-or-treating. I put G to bed and called it for Halloween 2016.

October was a total blast and it's so fun to watch how much Greyson enjoyed all the activities this year now that he's a little older. 

I'm so excited to be headed into the holidays! 'Tis the Season...right?