dsc_3031I always feel a bit conflicted at this time of year, wanting Thanksgiving to feel like the culmination of autumn, magical celebration of harvest and gratitude that it is.  At the same time, I look out my window and see snow and Christmas cheer and I sort of want in on that too. This year I am finding ways to bridge the gap a bit. I’d had an itch to create these felt acorns for quite some time, and split the stash two ways: Some into festive fall/Thanksgiving Day napkin rings and the rest into tiny Christmas ornaments. Both seemed to fit the blurred lines of the season quite well. (:
img_2986First, let me share how I made these sweet ornaments:

Acorn caps
Felt balls
Gold thread + needle
Hot glue gun + many extra glue sticks
dsc_2985Mind you, I had to search far and wide for these acorn caps! You’d think they’d be a dime a dozen in the fall, but I literally looked beneath every oak tree I knew and they simply did not exist this year. I learned a very important lesson: Apparently oak trees drop acorns in a cyclical pattern, and this was a down year across Minnesota.  Luckily, etsy came to the rescue and I was able to purchase a whole slew of acorn caps and have them delivered to my door step.
I didn’t have the gumption to felt my own wool balls this time around, so I took a short cut and ordered these. After a little trial & error, I found that the 15mm size seemed to fit my caps most perfectly.
dsc_3001Step 1: Using a small bit, drill two holes through the acorn caps
dsc_2994Step 2: Bring thread through the cap so that both ends face out, make a loop and tie a knot.
img_2974Step 3. Add a very large glob of hot glue in your cap. More glue will help even out the proportions of the felt balls and acorn caps. (:
Easy as that! I have big plans for these ornaments to do double duty as gift toppers at Christmastime…
dsc_3007Now back to those napkin rings. When it comes to Thanksgiving, I probably do better on the decorations committee than wrestling the bird. I mean, cooking that turkey is just so much pressure! So I thought it would be fun to add a little pop of color to our Thanksgiving table.
For the rings, you will need the same supplies as above, plus:

Lace trim
Cheap plastic shower curtain rings
dsc_3004Step 1. Cut burlap into long 1.5″ strips, add a glob of hot glue to the end and wrap tightly around your ring. The burlap got a bit too distressed for my taste during the wrapping process, so I was sure to give all the rings a trim before proceeding to the next step.
dsc_3008dsc_3010Step 2. Tie apx 5″ of lace to the ring and secure your acorns! Note that I used twin acorns for this project. You could achieve the same effect by drilling holes in caps and wiring acorns one by one to the ring. (:
dsc_3012I played around with several different ideas, trying colorful fabrics and washi tape on the rings themselves, but I just kept coming back to the ubiquitous burlap + lace. It’s so very fall and I love that it stays neutral to let the pretty wool felt do all the singing. (:
And one last little outtake of the junior crafting crew behind me as I hot glued the afternoon away. Perler beads are all the rage here right now. Fine motor skills for the win. (:
img_2981Happy Thanksgiving dear ones. So grateful for quiet crafting time to keep me sane and for small beauties in this weary world. xoxo.

Am finally getting around to sharing a bit about Penelope’s 1st birthday. By the time the 3rd baby rolls around, folks, I believe it’s all about efficiency. Which is why her first birthday invitations were delivered in the form of text messages and although the party was totally thrown together at the last-minute 2 weeks after her actual birthday, I think it was the most simple, meaningful little morning yet. No pomp and circumstance, just a small gathering of people who matter, a straightforward eucalyptus crown and an almond buttercream cake to celebrate this beautiful, sprightly baby girl of ours. (:

Reflecting back on this year, all I can say is that it was the hardest one ever. Everything from adding a 3rd ring to our circus, to passing through a vicious period of purple crying, I had never been so sleep-deprived in my life…we were juggling way too many balls all at once and I honestly dropped every single one of them at some point, save for the baby (thankfully). The ugly truth is, I was completely blindsided and walloped by post-partum depression/anxiety. One day I threw a full-blown temper tantrum on the kitchen floor upon discovering all of my frozen breastmilk accidentally defrosted, and on more than one day I said terrible horrible no-good things to my husband. I will fully admit that I even ran away from home a few times. The feelings of shame, inadequacy, and failure were too much to bear. Yet the reason I feel so compelled to speak out and share my story over and again, is because I so sincerely hope that you or someone you love would never suffer so long as I did in silence. The day I finally spoke up about how low I had been, was the day two precious friends of mine listened and encouraged and loved on me enough to poke a few holes in my dark, lonely cave of brokenness and let in glimmers of light and hope.

This year has been one of refinement, of hitting my rock bottom more than once, of being hollowed out, shattered, and rising up again from the ashes. Motherhood is the toughest, most self-sacrificial, yet most beautiful and fulfilling vocations I could ever imagine. I am so grateful for the heaps of grace my husband and kids have extended to me in this year when I have not been my best, and for the deepened friendships and faith I have gathered along the way. Being so vulnerable as to reach out and ask for help, of sharing honest words and receiving prayers of healing are the things that make life really real. Like broken bones healed stronger than they were before they were injured, I am owning where I have been with the hope that my story could help another to know they are so not alone, of shining a bit of light in a dark place, or if nothing else embracing and appreciating that I am a more compassionate human and wholly present mother than ever before.

With this perspective, you can see why this was so much more than just a birthday party. It was a celebration of beauty and love, of survival and resilience, of grace and healing, and an overabundance of joy!

dsc_2453dsc_2513dsc_2384dsc_2405dsc_2415dsc_2500dsc_2551dsc_2547dsc_2582Penny was gifted the cutest little lady bug scooter. I love that its on casters so she can glide in every direction. It has quickly become a favorite around here. Mostly I just love that this is the only photo of the two of us from that day…Sort of lame candid, but it sure is special to me.

And because you need a keepin’ it real photo every now and again, this is the true state of my kitchen after serving brunch for 10, plus my brother’s new puppy. This beagle baby can light up a room I tell you. She loved chasing and licking the girlies (probably because they tasted deliciously of frosting!), and although Graham was slow to warm up, his dog patrol armor brought out some good times.
And lastly, because I flaked on real, pretty paper birthday invitations, these photo thank you notes from Tiny Prints were my absolute saving grace! There is nothing better than to send and receive a good-old fashioned hand-written thank you note. I hope if there is anything I instill in my children, it is not to cut corners on expressing gratitude. It was so sweet to send these, sharing a cute image of Penny wearing her birthday crown, plus any chance I get to dust off my pointed pen and practice a bit of calligraphy on envelopes, I am down. (;

The sweetest of summer days have long since faded away. And because those days were so filled to the brim, soaking up the splendor of the season and outside as much as possible, I am finally now sitting down to share the last of our summer adventures. One of my most cherished memories of summer twenty-sixteen was a trip to the blueberry fields.  We packed the fam up early one Saturday morning in July and headed to the most magical pick-your-own blueberries place. Graham and Violet held a contest to see who could pick the most and Graham won by a landslide. Violet ate the most, although our dear baby Penelope was a close second. Jeff and I always joke that kids (and heck grown-ups too) should have to weigh in and weigh out at these sorts of places. It really improves the pickers’ morale to keep up a steady snack while harvesting. I couldn’t help but think about how much our Penny reminded me of a baby bear cub, sitting next to that little basket of blueberries. She was so proud of herself for tipping the whole rig over and enjoying the spilled spoils. And who could stop her? Sweet baby. xo.
DSC_3442 DSC_3456 DSC_3437DSC_3432DSC_3409DSC_3397DSC_3424DSC_3451I couldn’t believe it, we brought home EIGHT pounds of freshly picked, perfectly plump blueberries. (I have birthed babies this size!) We ate half of them on the spot, threw a pound or two in the freezer, and used the remainders to whip up this most delectable blueberry lime galette. I for one have never had a very strong pie game, so am much more drawn to this more approachable, rustic version of the pastry.  The results were so heavenly. All in a day’s work and summer never tasted so sweet. xo.

For the filling:
4 cups blueberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 Tablespoon flour
pinch of sea salt
1 large egg

Another summer in the books. With so much running about, playdates, trips, small-child-rearing, and plain work, our sweet summer days slipped away much too fast. I so easily get caught up and worn out by all of the day-to-day to-dos, that pausing to piece together these photos and words is feeling both refreshing and rusty.

In late July, we took a really lovely family trip to Northern California to visit family and friends and attend a wedding. During our 8 sweet days there, we also took a mini-trip within a trip with just the 5 of us. We stayed at the sweetest little beach cottage, picnicked daily, rented beach cruiser bikes, hunted for gourmet ice cream cones, splashed in the ocean, flew kites, and collected more than our fair share of sand.  There is something about the sweet salt air and rocky Pacific coast that tugs at my spirit more than any other place. It has become part of my fabric after honeymooning here and later living here for a few short years. I so love this place and it brings me such joy each time we’ve returned to play at the beach and dip another babe’s toes in the ocean waves.

DSC_1545 DSC_1566 DSC_1567 DSC_1592 DSC_1597 DSC_1570DSC_1623Brave souls that we are, we recently took our little gaggle on a road trip. As they say, traveling with kids is worse than traveling without kids, but way better than never going at all. This is the truth.
For instance, we made double the stops in double the time on our way to Colorado. We also choose to detour through the Black Hills, South Dakota, in effort to mix up the scenery a bit. On the first evening of our journey, we stopped at Mount Rushmore. It was a lovely time of day to visit and hike around a bit. The light was warm and soft for photos, the air was cool, and the crowds were sparse.

On Day 2, we foolishly booked a tour at Wind Cave National Park smack dab in the center of Penelope’s usual nap time. With 3 small children and 2 frazzled parents, you can pretty much do the math and figure out how this all went down. Much like an airplane, these cave tours require 30 strangers to sandwich together into claustrophobic quarters and play by all the ranger’s rules while stumbling through the dark single file. Once you’re down, there’s no turning back…And so, in order to punish us for this unwise choice of entertainment, Penny wailed for 74 of the 75-minute tour which of course echoed to exponential decibels in the bowels of the cave. The poor park ranger managed to shout over the crying in order to interject his obligatory historical/geological commentary, then promptly expedited our family up the first available elevator at the end of the tour. The. Shame. For this reason, I am offering full refunds to any poor soul who was on this tour that day with us. You know who you are. (;


Once we made it to Colorado, we joined forces with our giant family reunion crew, spent time catching up and watching flocks of cousins play. We picnicked like it was our job. We also did some soft-core hiking (in other words, the opposite of hard-core) with our kiddos. (: Since it is the 100th anniversary of our beloved National Park system, it was extra special to visit a few along the way! We drove to the tip-top highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park. Technically Jeff drove, and I closed my eyes, clung to the door handle, and prayed for guardrails. But once we reached the top and I reopened my eyes, we experienced some of the most breathtaking views. Plus we frolicked with some moose, a herd of caribou, mountain rams, and some eagles. And looking back at these photos I already so greatly treasure our picturesque little adventures. We are just like the VonTrap family!–Minus clothes sewn from curtains and perfect pitch!

On the return drive, we made it within 100 miles of home before the most epic car seat blow out ensued. From my perch as co-pilot, I turned my head to the sound of jolly coos and squeals of joy. Here are my next 5 thoughts/words/actions:
“Wait. Who gave the baby chocolate!?”
“Wait. I ATE ALL the chocolate.”
“Wait. Then…How does she have chocolate all over her face/hands/mouth/clothes/car seat!?”
“Wait. That.’s NOT chocolate.”
“Jeff. PULL OVER!”
We learned a super valuable life lesson that day…NOT to feed your baby prunes on a road trip. And to ALWAYS pack extra wipes.

Meltdowns and poop stories aside, we had a most lovely trip. Somehow the hassles fade and the bright shiny memories of togetherness always remain. We are gearing up for trip part deux soon. Only this time we are flying…A flight or two with 3 small fries can’t be any worse than a cave tour, right!? (;
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