We're Going on a Tree Hunt

One of my favorite traditions growing up was going up to the Santa Cruz Mountains the day after Thanksgiving to cut down our Christmas tree.
Kevin and I continued this tradition when we first got married, but haven't gone since we have had kids....until this year! The past 4 years we have gone to Home Depot, but this year we decided to resurrect the tradition of cutting down our tree!
The drive takes over an hour, but it is beautiful & scenic.
My favorite part of the drive? Listening to Christmas music!
Since we get our tree the day after Thanksgiving, this is the first day that I "allow" Christmas music to be played, so the drive to get our tree is filled with my favorite Christmas music!
Once you get into the mountains & past the windy roads, you come to a beautiful clearing, filled with Christmas trees!
There are several Christmas Tree farms, but my family has gone to the same one for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, they closed down last year, but they owned another tree farm a mile away, so we went to that one this year.
This tree farm was much more hilly & diverse than the one we were used to, but that's okay, we were up for an adventure!

This is the one! Our tree, before we cut it down:

My dad, Jimmy and Kevin carry the tree to the truck:
Kate helping Kevin & Jimmy carry the tree back to the truck:
The Larson Family 2010 Christmas Tree!

I still have to put up the garland on our staircase & put up our stockings.
Our new house doesn't have a mantel on the fireplace, so I am trying to figure out where to put them. Right now they are just laying on the dining room table!

Are your decorations up?
Do you cut down your tree, go to a tree lot or (gasp!) put up an artificial tree?

We had a fun time cutting down our tree & I was so excited to introduce this tradition to my girls because I have so many great memories with my family cutting down our tree.
I asked Kate if she had fun cutting down the tree.
Her response? "I like going to Home Depot better."
Oh snap. Hopefully she changes her mind by next year!

And, don't forget....The Virtual Cookie Exchange starts the week of December 6th!


It's Cookie Time!

Mark your calendars.
One week from today:
I am going to have a Cookie Exchange!

{Well, it is more like a Cookie Recipe Exchange, since we can't all get together in person and actually exchange cookies, but you get the idea!}

I don't know about you, but during the holidays, I LOVE baking & making cookies to give to family, friends & neighbors.

I love trying out new recipes, so I thought I would host a

"Virtual Cookie Exchange"
I can't wait to get new cookie ideas & recipes from YOU this Holiday Season!

Won't you join in?

{You can grab a button on my side bar}

On Monday, December 6th, I will put up a blog post with one of my favorite cookie recipes and I will have a linky up so you can link up your favorite cookie (or cookie bar) recipe!

It can be a recipe you have already blogged about, or you can post a new recipe.
It doesn't have to be a Holiday Cookie recipe (but it can if you want it to!)
Have you been wanting to spill the beans on a secret family cookie recipe? Now is the time!
Post your favorite cookie recipe or a "tried & true" cookie recipe!
Cookies, Cookie Bars, Brownies....I can't wait to see what recipe you share!

Be sure to comes back next Monday to link up (or to just check out everyone's recipes!)

Start digging through your cookbooks & recipe boxes...
It's time to make some cookies!


Thanksgiving 2010

We had a great Thanksgiving this year.
Every year, we have the same Thanksgiving plans.
For the past 45 years, Kevin's family has gone to Golden Gate Fields on Thanksgiving to watch the horse races.
Here is part of our group at the races!
We had 10 more people in our group, this is just Kevin's immediate family (parents, siblings & their kids!)

The girls were both excited about the races this year & couldn't wait to see the horses!
Kevin let Kate pick the horses to bet on, here she is holding her ticket.
Cheering on the horse, hoping that #3 wins.
Claire just hanging out:
Claire loved cheering on the horses....well really, she just loved having an excuse to yell & be loud! :)
Claire with 2 of her cousins, Alexis & Megan:
Megan finally getting Claire to smile.
We had a really good view of the track from our box:
Golden Gate Fields is beautiful:
The kids were getting restless inside, so we took them down to the track to get a closer look at the horses:
It was COLD out there! We have had a cold streak the last few days. Brrr!
When you are outside, you are really close to the track. I didn't even use my zoom lens on this shot!
After the races, we headed to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner!
Can you guess who picked out their Thanksgiving outfits? The color should give it away!
Yep, Kate picked them out.
Aren't you proud of me for buying more purple clothes?
We attempted a family picture, but Kate wasn't cooperating. *sigh*
We had a delicious meal at my parents house (I didn't take any pictures of the food or during dinner) but my mom cooks an amazing Thanksgiving meal! Thanks Mom!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebrating with loved ones!


So Very Thankful

Our Family
Our Friends
Our Church
Our Jobs
Our Neighbors
Our Home
Our Health
....and so much more (including Pumpkin Cheescake!)
*Photo courtesy of my friend Marcie*

Life is good.
I feel so very, very blessed.
I have a heart full of thanks.

What are you thankful for?

"I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High." Psalm 7:17

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls

Have you ever made the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls?
If you haven't....you need to! They are A-mazing!
On Monday, a few girlfriends and I made over 300 of them!
When I got the Pioneer Woman's cookbook for Christmas last year, I knew I wanted to make her cinnamon rolls. So, when my friend Becky sent out an email last month to myself & a few of our friends asking if we all wanted to get together and make them, I said Yes!

We met Monday morning at our friend Susan's house.
Everyone had different assignments on what to bring.
One batch of cinnamon rolls makes about 7 tins (with about 8 Cinnamon Rolls in each tin)
Because there were 6 of us who were making them, we 6x the recipe.
That makes A LOT of Cinnamon rolls! But the thought was to keep some for our families & give some to friends & neighbors!

The night before Becky & Susan made the dough (which I was very thankful for because whenever I use yeast, it is a fail)

The first step is to roll out the dough...work it Becky!
Then pour 1.5 cups of melted butter on it like Susan is doing:
Then sprinkle sugar & cinnamon and roll it up!
Then, slice them up!
The middle ones turned out best!
Put them in a buttered tin & then bake them!
After you bake them, you make the glaze...which is full of powdered sugar, coffee & maple flavoring.
I am not a big frosting person, but this stuff was GOOD!
Here are some more pictures from the morning!
Kelly & Bridgette:
The boys helped out for a little bit:
Kate looking on (we had my younger sister come to watch some of the younger kids because between all of us, there were 10 kids there)
Kelly perfected the rolling & cutting, look how pretty this batch is!
The table of cinnamon rolls waiting to go into the oven:

Chaos in the kitchen:
So much fun!
2 hours later, we had 45 tins of cinnamon rolls!
Which is over 300 rolls!
These are perfect to make before the holidays because they freeze great & they make a great gift to give to neighbors & friends...wrap them in cellophane, but a bow around it & Viola! you have a perfect holiday treat!

(Partial) Group shot:
It was such a fun morning & we are going to do this every year before Thanksgiving!
Hooray for new Traditions!
Making Cinnamon Rolls is fun & easy, especially when you make it with a fun group of friends!
Can't wait to make them again next year!


A Rainy Weekend

Our weekend plans got rained out.
I was supposed to have 3 photo shoots this past weekend, but they got rained out until next weekend.
I was bummed at first because I wanted to get all that editing done this week while I am on Thanksgiving Break.
But, based on how crazy last week was, it was a good thing it was a Rainy weekend.
We needed a couple days to just relax as a family & get Kate healthy.
So, I declared Saturday a "Rainy-cold-stay-in-your-pajamas-all-day-kind-of-day"
And, that we did!
So, a lazy day it was. And, it was much needed.
You see, we thought Kate was over the stomach flu.
She hadn't gotten sick since Wednesday morning.
She was fine on Thursday and Friday.

At 4 on Friday my new washer & dryer arrived.
Aren't they pretty?
I couldn't wait to try them out, but I needed to get the right kind of detergent for them since they are front loaders.
So, off to Target we went (but I dropped Claire off with Auntie Bots because she is awesome)
I was going to drop them both off, but Kate wanted to go with me.
We go to Target & then to Starbucks to get " a buy one get one free" holiday drink special that they had going on. I got myself & Beck a Caramel Apple Spice (YUM!) and Kate asked for a Horizon Organic Vanilla Milk. She hadn't had dairy since Wednesday (I always wait to give them milk/dairy when they have upset tummy's)
Starbucks is less than 5 minutes from out house. And as we were driving home, Kate starts crying, tells me to pullover because she is going to get sick. I was in the middle of an intersection and couldn't pull over, so I grabbed her raincoat that was on the passengers seat and told her to use that as a bucket. Well, that didn't work and Kate's carseat became the bucket.
I am STILL trying to get the smell out of my car. *shudder*

Kate was fine the rest of the night & was feeling good on Saturday, which is why we decided to just lay low and hang out in pj's while it dumped rain outside. And, there was even lightening & thunder which is rare for us!
After dinner, we decided to snuggle up & watch "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"
I made the girls Hot Chocolate & let them drink it in the Family Room!
I love this movie!
And, I let them eat popcorn while we watched it.
It was a fun evening!
How do you like your Hot Chocolate?
Kevin is a marshmellow guy , but I am all about the whipped cream.
We had a good day, we thought Kate was better, but about an hour after she went to bed, we heard her crying & I knew what was about to happen. I ran upstairs & but I was a few seconds too late. I guess her tummy wasn't ready for the hot chocolate.

Kate wanted to sleep in our room after that, so we gave her a bath & I made a "nest" for her in the office area of our bedroom:

Let's just say I am SOOOOOO glad my washer & dryer arrived. I have done 10 loads of laundry over the past 3 days and they are quick & efficient!

We skipped church on Sunday & had another semi-lazy-rainy day.
Kate acted fine & seemed back to normal, but I learned my lesson...no dairy for her for a few days.
I cleaned out closets because the Good Will truck came this morning.
It feels so good to get rid of stuff!!! But, I must admit, I was a little sad with this batch of items because Kate's crib bumper was in one of those bags. So sad to part with it (I kept the quilt) but there is no reason to hold onto it anymore.
We went to my parents for dinner to celebrate because it was my mom's birthday.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
Kate picked out these "party outfits" for them to wear to her birthday dinner.
You can see the tile that Kevin & I put in last month in that picture! It looks much better than the orange tile!
Speaking of orange, check out Kate's turkey that she made at preschool. She is so proud of it.
I hope this week is much more uneventful for us than last week, especially because it is Thanksgiving and we have a lot of fun family things planned. Hoping and Praying we stay healthy!
Our week has already started out good..Both girls slept in until 8am today!
And, we had fun morning making the Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls with friends...more on that tomorrow!
(Speaking of the Pioneer Woman, did you see the Thanksgiving Throwdown between her & Bobby Flay last week? LOVED it!)

Happy Monday & Happy Thanksgiving Week!


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