52/52: Goodbye 2014!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
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Happy New Years Eve everyone!!! I just have a sec to post the last of the 2014, 52 Week Project photos! I'll be back tomorrow (or maybe the next day?) with a little personal recap of 2014.

51/52: Christmas Morning

A new bike, new legos, and a bunch of wrapping paper were the favorite gifts among our kids this year. After we had a semi-peaceful Christmas morning in our home, we drove 3 hours south and joined my parents and sisters for another Christmas celebration and a delicious dinner. And a week later, I'm still trying to clean up the aftermath....all good problems to have! 

50/52: Merry Christmas Eve!!

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This was the first year in a long time we didn't go to Midnight Mass. I missed it a lot, and usually look forward to it all year long. The vigil Mass was still beautiful, and afterwards we spent Christmas Eve with some of our dearest friends. We have so much to be grateful for, especially our Loving God who meets us each Christmas as an infant, born in the humblest of circumstances.  

49/52: Advent Begins and Picture Books

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
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 It's hard to celebrate all the wonderful feast days and traditions of Advent when you're sick, but for the most part, we did ok. There were a few traditions that I just didn't get to this year, and a few that started off strong, but I didn't end up following through on (example: Wisemen Adventures. I lasted 1 week). My favorite feast day during Advent is December 6th, the Feast of Saint Nicholas. The kids put out their shoes before bedtime, and in the morning, they're filled with chocolate gold coins, they each receive a new ornament, a book, and new Christmas Pajamas (book links and pic below). 

Well, as anyone with a toddler in the house understands, the ornaments on your tree aren't really safe. Such was the case this year, and poor Riley's new ornament was the victim of our toddlers curiosities. She received a porcelain piano this year, and unfortunately, despite our best efforts to put it high up on our tree, our little houdini shattered it. She was understandably devastated. To help make it up to her, we took what was left of the piano and put it at the top of the tree and told her this year, it would be the topper instead of the star (and you can see it in the middle photo above). I think it helped her feel better, and next year, we'll just try and stick to ornaments made of steel. 

(No affliate links because I have no idea how to do that)

1) The Miracle of Saint Nicholas
2.) Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend (ok, and while I really do like this book a lot, they refer to Saint Nicholas as a pastor, and I wish they would have referred to him as a Bishop since that is what's accurate....so I change the words when I read it). 

(Not pictured, but new to our collection this year)

3.) Lucia, Saint of Light
4.) Prayer for a Child
5.) The Little Fir Tree

Still my favorites from past years:

6.) The Legend of the Candy Cane
7.) The Legend of the Poinsettia (and all books by Tomie dePaola)
8.) Humphrey's First Christmas 

And next year I already want these book:
6.) The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas (by, William J. Bennett)
7.) The Donkey's Dream (I tried to get this book this year, but it's been out of stock)

 And every other book on this list that I don't already have :)

48/52: Post Dentist Trip For Ice Cream

Monday, December 22, 2014

One of my biggest fears is going to the dentist. It's not because I'm nervous about possible procedures, or actually being in the dentist office, it's because I have trouble trusting that what they (specifically, the ones we've seen) say is honest. In the past few years, we started seeking second opinions, and I wasn't surprised to hear that the opinions of each dentist are different. We took our kids to a dentist who recommended a procedure for both of them that we did not think they needed. And so through one of Ryan's co-workers, we found a dentist who we love and trust. He disagreed with the original diagnosis my kids received, and has been encouraging and great to work with. 

One of the hardest things about moving to a new city, is finding all your people....a dr, a dentist, all of those people who help you to stay healthy. We've been in Sacramento 6 years, and although we've taken our kids to the dentist, it wasn't until this past year, we found someone we trust. That's a great feeling!! So after their first appointment with our new dentist, we celebrated with some ice cream! Because what better way is there to celebrate a good dental report than with some sugar? 

47/52: Orange County Part Deux

46/52: Orange County


We went to Orange County back in November, and the good news? It was a great time and we always love visiting the beach. The bad news? We all got a stomach bug.....and some of us have been sick, in one way or another, since this weekend.

45/52: Still here....barely

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Helllloooooo! Hmm, let's see, where to begin? One thing led to another and somehow 7 weeks later, I'm here! I don't have too much to say right now because it's midnight, but I promised myself I would get one post up before bedtime. Must-stop-the-cycle-of-procrastination! The year is almost over so I've got to get caught up.....this week!! I will do it! 

44/52: Nevada City + Almond Butter Sandwiches

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Last week we took family pictures. There were a few mishaps, that involved last minute clothing changes due to me not trying Riley's outfit on her until the day of the pictures and realizing that it was way too big! If there's a patron Saint of Family Pictures, then He/She helped me out because a run to Target an hour before the pictures saved the day. Then on the way there, Luke unexpectedly fell asleep, and if there's anyone you don't want to have to wake up, it's him! And sure enough when we got there, things were not pretty. Bribes of candy galore and ninja Turtle everything weren't even working but eventually, about 20 minutes into our pictures, he snapped out of it. We took our pictures up in Nevada City at Hirschman Trail (near the pond) and it was gorgeous! 

And since Luke wasn't exactly excited about taking pictures, I didn't take any of him in Nevada City, and instead, we have his most recent accomplishment: making almond butter and jelly sandwiches. 

43/52: Major Blog Slacker + Saints

My head has been operating at about 3 brain cells/hour lately and in my spare time, I've been powering through Gilmore Girls! So...the little blog has been on the back burner. Hoping to jump back in for November and post a little more frequently. 

We celebrated Halloween and All Saints Day on the same day (3 costume changes in one day was a little exhausting) so for this week, we have some Halloween Costumes. We've got Mary Poppins, A Ninja Turtle, and a Penguin (who is getting harder and harder to photograph). 

 And below, we have Saint Michael the Archangel, and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. For Riley's Saint report this year, we read this book on Saint Elizabeth's life. I knew I would end up having to do a lot of the reading out loud, and I initially wasn't that excited about it. But!! The book ended up being SO good, and had me in tears at several parts as I read about this generous Princess who served Germany. Even though it's a chapter book for children, I thought it was an equally great read for adults. And her Feast Day is coming up on November 17th!     

The kids with their principle, Sr. Maria Rose, dressed up as Saint. Bernadette :)

42/52: A Little Family Picture Prep

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I buy almost all of my kids clothes at consignment shops or Target, but the one time of year I invest a little more is when we take family pictures. Which we're suppose to do this Saturday...more on that in a minute.  I'm having the hardest time finding something for my daughter this year. She's 8 and everything is way too bright, too short, or looks like something a teenager would wear (or maybe shouldn't be wearing?). There are a lot of great online stores, but I was really hoping to buy something she could try on first, plus I waited until the last minute so anything I ordered wouldn't arrive on time. I've basically got a day and a half to find her something, or at least come up with a backup plan. Although, according to the forecast, I may have more than a day to figure something out because it's suppose to rain. The weather has been gorgeous lately, and I've been looking forward to our pictures for months, so naturally, I shouldn't be surprised that it's suppose to rain. 

Our annual Family Picture is something we all look forward to...but trust me, it isn't without stress! There's always a kid who isn't listening, or things aren't exactly as I wanted them to be, but I always look back at them and am so glad we made the effort to get it done. It's fun to watch how our family grows year to year. I'll try and post some of our past family pictures on the blog here next week. 

Do you take yearly family pictures?  

41/52: Super Brief Update!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I unintentionally took a little break from the internet these past few weeks. But then I missed it too much, and am back to my overly-addicted ways. 

We've been making attempts at adding a little fall decor to our home, complete with decorative gourds and pumpkin everything from Trader Joe's. I also hit a bit of a breaking point with all the clutter in our house and went on a major purge-sesh, filling bin after bin of old clothes and toys. The battle to simplify never ends.      

That's it for now. I'm off to get my adrenaline pumping with the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and work on some All Saints Day Costumes!   

40/52: Library Cards

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
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I recently noticed that majority of my pictures for The 52 Project are taken in our home. Which is great and wonderful since that is where we spend much of our time, but we also go out quite a bit. I'm an extrovert, so I can only be home for so long. But here's the thing....it isn't easy to lug my camera around so I don't bring it out much in our day-to-day life. So that will be my challenge over the next few weeks, to make the effort to bring it along so I can document more of the things we do outside the home. 

We'll start with the library. We make at least one trip a week to the library because it's close by and it's free. Our local libraries also have great children's areas which is a bonus! And ever since they started making library cards to add to your key chain, I hardly lose our card anymore....another bonus!  

I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

The Evolution of a Mediocre Cook

Monday, October 6, 2014
Growing up, I somehow missed the fact that I would need to learn how to run a household one day. Even if you don't grow up to get married or have children, everyone needs to learn how to budget, cook, and clean, right? Well, I didn't learn much in those departments. Especially the cooking department. I came into our marriage having cooked maybe 10 meals my whole life. And Ryan? All he knew how to make was rice. There was one exception however: pancakes. We both knew how to whip up some bisquick style pancakes. It's a bit of a wonder how we survived, really.  

It's not that I didn't like cooking, it's that I was clueless as to how to do it. I didn't know how to hard boil an egg, chop an onion, or what the words broil and roast meant. Pathetic! Meal Planning? I laughed at the idea! I'm just never going to be that type of person, I would say.

Even though I was convinced I would never be able to plan a weeks worth of meals, I was determined to learn how to cook dinner a few times a week. So during the first year of our marriage, I spent a lot of time watching the Food Network. I learned how to chop onions, make a few sauces, and saute some vegetables. Giada, Rachel, Ina and Paula..they became my beloved teachers. My experiments were not without multiple fails (I remember one incident in particular involving Kale, and haven't been able to eat it since), and those 30 minute meals always took more than an hour and would end in a dish explosion all over the kitchen. But slowly and surely, we started to eat more home cooked meals. I'm fairly certain they didn't taste great, but I was proud and we began to feel like real grown ups.

As the years went by, I learned how to cook a few more dinners, but I wasn't a "natural" in the kitchen. I could never tell what "secret ingredient" to add, or what particular spice was missing, and never would I veer from my sacred recipes to try and make it better. Ryan continued to encourage me to meal plan for the week, I would make attempts, fail, and again be convinced that I could never shop for a whole week in advance.

 2008 - we made our first Thanksgiving Dinner. Thankfully, we didn't burn the turkey!

Then a few years ago, I met friends who are really good cooks! Watching them cook is like watching an artist...the medium is food and the dishes they create are not only delicious, but are presented in the most beautiful way. They just know how to pair ingredients, and hardly have to follow recipes. And lucky for us, they invite us over often! And lucky for me, I felt like I was getting free cooking lessons. I would watch their technique, ask questions, and then try and copy it at home (again, not without multiple fails). I've learned a lot from these beloved friends, everything from how to make simple meals, to a few more elaborate ones.  

All that to say, that over the past 9 years, I have finally become less of a disaster in the kitchen. It's a pretty well known fact that I'm not a naturally gifted chef, and probably never will be, but what I do know is that I'm more confident in the kitchen, and making multiple meals for my family isn't overwhelming like it once was. And meal planning? It only took 7 years, but I can finally do it! In fact, I can't imagine not having a weekly meal plan. 

We usually make the same 10-15 tride and true dinners throughout the month, and throw in a few new meals every once in a while if it starts to get too boring. We also try to stick with fruits and vegetables that are in season since it's usually what's best for our budget. 

So I'm curious, did you learn how to cook growing up? How to budget and meal plan? It's really too bad that schools don't teach Home-Ec anymore. I'm really hoping to teach both my girl(s) and boys as much as I can on these topics...if anyone has any tips, I'd love to know!

One last thing! Speaking of food and cooking, here's my latest obsession: Roasted Delicata and Butternut Squash! My daughter and I eat it like candy (the boys aren't the biggest fans). With the delicata squash, we chop it up into 1-inch pieces (skin on), take out the seeds, spread it out over a roasting tray, toss it in your preferred oil (we usually use avocado or olive oil), season with salt and pepper (we do the same with the butternut squash, except I remove the skin and mix it in on the same tray) and roast it in the oven at 425 for about 30ish minutes. I check on it and when it starts to caramelize is when I take it out. Delish!

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