Happy New Year!

Happy New Year's from my family to yours! I hope you all have a safe and fun night. We are spending ours in the comfort of our home with my sister and her fiance. Eating good food and having good drinks. Amelia has been entertaining us by teaching Mark how to dance. Enjoy!

Ashley Elizabeth

Our 2013

2013 was a great year! We made a lot of great memories. I still can't believe how fast this year has gone by though. This was my first full year as a stay at home mom and what a fun one it was. I watch the most adorable and fun kids around. It's been a year of ups and downs, but I feel really great about where we are right now. I'm looking forward to all of adventures 2014 will bring us (along with a big family vacation). 

January: We kicked off the new year at my Grandma's house, as we do most years. We aren't big on hitting the town so we usually have snacks, play games, watch the ball drop and bang pots and pans outside. The rest of the month was spent going to parks and recovering from the busy holidays.

February: Our Amelia turned 4 years old this year. Since I didn't watch kids full time until later on in the year, Amelia and I were able to have a lot of quality Mama/Daughter time. We went to story time at the library, had tea parties, picnics in the living room, walks to the park and tons of time to snuggle. February we finally got some family pictures taken, and they turned out great! 

March: This was a fairly laid back month. My sister is a drummer in the Portland Police Highland Guard and they usually play around Portland on St. Patrick's Day. I was able to go out with them this year. Super fun night! We also celebrated Easter. Amelia had a blast participating in the Easter egg hunts. 

April: We finally caught the pesky squirrel that had taken up residence in our attic crawl space. Thankfully he isn't able to get back in. My sister Erica received an award at work and my sister Grace and I went with her to her awards banquet. She is a 911 operator. We did some local day trips, one to Cascade Locks. My little sister Grace's best friend Celine visited with her sister from Switzerland. We walked a ton around our town and enjoyed some great sunsets. Amelia worked her buns off for their performances in June. 

May: I turned 28 on the 1st. Amelia was in her first parade with the ballet studio she belongs to. We celebrated Mother's Day with my mom and my Grandma. Amelia got her hair cut for the first time ever. It was down past her little buns. We explored some of our favorite spots in our area. My mom had surgery to remove her gallbladder and then two more surgeries to fix a leak. Mark, Amelia and I escaped town for a weekend in Hood River. We love that area of the state. 

June: We kicked off a busy summer with Amelia's ballet performance Russe Classique (a Russian ballet). We took Amelia on her first ever real train ride on the Oregon Coast. We went to the beach a couple of times with family. My baby sister Grace turned 21! Mark turned 37! We spent a lot of time outside in our kiddie pool. Our butterflies hatched. Mom, Amelia and I went to Coeur D'Alene. It was a busy month, but very fun! 

July: What a fun month! Amelia did mutton bustin' for the first time ever. I was honestly shocked that I was able to talk her into it. She went on some carnival rides for the first time as well. Mark, Amelia and I went camping and exploring over near Parkdale, Oregon. I played a bit of tennis with Amelia. Mark and I were given tickets to see John Mayer. Suck a fun date night! We released our butterflies. Amelia and I went to my friend Carrie's wedding on the coast. My sister Erica competed with the Portland Police Highland Guard at the Highland Games. I love watching them play. We were going non-stop this month! 

August: What a great month spent with family. I started planning a family reunion back in 2012 and it was such a blast! We camped out one weekend with the entire family to celebrate my Grandma's 90th birthday (Sept. 4th). Mark's family also came to town in August from Florida. We spent a wonderful week in Bend, Oregon with them. We went to Crater Lake (Amelia and my first time). We celebrated our wedding anniversary. We also celebrated my mom's birthday. 

September: My Grandma Grace turned 90 this month. My sister Erica also celebrated her birthday. Amelia and I made another trip up to my mom's and I drove through the worst lightning storm to get there. Amelia also set up camp in our living room a few times. 

October: Let me start off by saying Amelia had the best Halloween costume EVER! My mom made the entire thing and it was absolutely beautiful! My little Scarlett. Amelia and I went to Colville with my sister and her fiance to get my mom. We went to Sandpoint, ID while we were up there too. We visited pumpkin patches and carved pumpkins. It was a really fun month. Mark, Amelia and I also had a very grand tea party in her bedroom. 

November: This month we really got in the holiday spirit. Mark and I hosted our Thanksgiving this year and had my Grandma and my sister Erica over. My cousin Rick came to town with his kids and Amelia loved playing with them. We finally took Amelia to the Macy's parade. We've talked about it every year, but this was our first year actually going with her. Mark and I also got to go on a date.

December: We kicked off the month with Amelia's performance of The Nutcracker. December was magical. We made Christmas gifts, decorated our home, spent time with family. We saw a skiff of snow. We participated in a canned food drive parade. We saw Santa and went shopping. I love this time of year. 

I hope 2014 brings as many memories and fun adventures as 2013 did. Happy New Year!!!
Ashley Elizabeth

Our Christmas

This past week has been miserable, with the exception of our Christmas celebrations. As I write this I am wearing the same clothes I wore all day yesterday, my dirty hair is up in a messy bun and I'm still lounging on the couch... I'm a hot mess for sure! Really though, the worst possible time of year to get sick is Christmas time. I won't bore you with the details of my constant hacking, instead I will just sum it up for you in one word... HELL. With that being said, Christmas was still as magical as ever and we had an amazing time.

We spent Christmas Eve over at Mark's brother's house. He and his wife just bought a new home and it is quite beautiful. It was a fun relaxing evening spent chatting and watching the kids play. I've been watching our little nephew on Thursdays for quite a while, but he won't be coming over often now that they have moved further away. The kids get along really well so I was happy they got to hang out together.When we got home we set out cookies and milk for Santa and a carrot for his reindeer, and Amelia scurried to bed. We had been watching Santa on the Santa Tracker App and he was getting close so she wanted to be asleep before he got here. As soon as those little eyes closed Mark and I turned into crazy elves. Mark baked a cake and I started a sewing project. We stayed up until 3am sewing, baking and wrapping presents. Boy were we exhausted. We were spending Christmas at my Grandma's house, but Santa came to our house. Amelia was excited when she woke up.

She was helping Rudy open his Christmas present... mice toys
Amelia had quite an unusual Christmas list this year. Scooter, barn, Jasper kitty (an orange kitty like my sister's cat Jasper), a doctor kit and a clothes line. Yep, a clothes line. We woke up Christmas morning, got ready, packed up the car and headed over to my Grandma's house. The living room was of course packed full of gifts. My family LOVES giving gifts. This year a lot of gifts were handmade. We are quite the crafty bunch.

Amelia got all of the gifts on her list and then some. Our Christmas mornings take quite a while. We each take turns opening gifts. It's so exciting to watch everyone open their presents. We don't like to all do it at once. Amelia is such a polite little girl too. She never rips into gifts quickly, but slowly opens each present and then gets up and gives a big hug and a 'Thank You' to whomever the gift is from. I love it. 

I got some incredible gifts this year. My family once again went above and beyond. I do have one favorite gift though. My mom and sister Erica took Amelia to a pottery place where you can paint pieces and have them fired. Amelia made me an amazing tray and I still can't stop looking at it and smiling. I LOVE IT! Isn't it the most darling thing ever! It is on display in my china hutch. 

We usually do a Christmas craft of some sort; gingerbread houses or gingerbread men. This year I did as much as I could before laying down for a nap on the couch. Amelia's cookie was AWESOME though. 

So that was our Christmas. I spent most of the day avoiding my family so they wouldn't get sick. It really was a wonderful day even if I was feeling poorly.

How was your Christmas?

Do you have a favorite gift that you received?
Ashley Elizabeth

I did not ask Santa for this...

I can't believe it's been a week since my last blog post. Christmas preparations had me running around like a crazy lady and then it started... the sore throat, the hacking and the feverish chills. It hit me like a train and it still has me down. Christmas day was magical as always, but I spent the majority of the day after we opened gifts sleeping and coughing and coughing and sleeping. I did not ask Santa for this! I promise a full Christmas post will be on it's way soon. Unfortunately Amelia has come down with this sickness too and we've been all sorts of lazy. I will share two pictures though from my phone (I haven't uploaded the pics from my camera yet). I hope you all had an amazing Christmas. I'm looking forward to catching up on all of the blog posts I've missed.
Christmas morning at my Grandma Grace's house
What we have been doing non-stop
Ashley Elizabeth

The Christmas Spirit

Today my mom and I braved the crowds and headed out to do some Christmas shopping. I feel so unprepared for Christmas this year, but I think that's because a lot of my gifts are either handmade or were purchased online. I am realizing as I get older I prefer to just shop from the comfort of my home. This time of year I really love greeting those I come in contact with by saying a very cheery 'Merry Christmas'. Mom and I were headed into Home Depot when we saw this amazingly festive guy. I tried to snap a photo as he walked by but it turned out blurry... so I decided to just walk up and ask him for a picture. He gladly obliged.

There are years where I get into the Christmas spirit a little more than others. My Christmas excitement has definitely increased since having Amelia. I love Christmas movies and music and have both playing non-stop around Thanksgiving time. Here are a few of my favorites.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is my absolute favorite Christmas movie. The Holiday is one of my favorite movies in general. The rest of these are just awesome movies that I really love. 

I love Christmas music. I am a fan of all of the classics. Since most of you know all of those songs, I thought I'd share the not so common songs that I absolutely adore. 

Christmastime - Smashing Pumpkins (one of my absolute favorites)

Winter Song - Sara Bareilles & Ingrid Michaelson

Something About December - Christina Perri

And I can't resit posting this song! Amelia and I are serious Gaga fans. I don't let her listen to this song yet, but that doesn't mean I don't blast it every chance I get. I like a little inappropriate with my Christmas music. 
Christmas Tree - Lady Gaga

What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Mine is The Muppet Christmas Carol.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
I really love Christmastime and Winter Song. Two of the songs posted above. 
Ashley Elizabeth

A Warm Glow

Last night I was determined to get some of those gorgeous pictures you see of Christmas trees lighting up an entire room. You know, the ones that glow and scream Christmas. I have been having issues with the focus on my camera and it really needs to be sent in for repair, but I haven't brought myself to do that yet. I can't imagine being without a camera for who knows how long. So... here are my photos, but bare in mind that my focus is far from perfect... which totally pisses me off! But I still had to share them because I think they are cute. Typical mom, I know... all photos are cute of my child.

Ashley Elizabeth

High Five For Friday

Why is it that when you need time to go by slowly it goes by a million times faster than normal??? Seriously! Christmas is NEXT WEEK!!! I have a million things to do and not enough time to do it all in. Here is a recap of our week that flew by.

1. We took Amelia to see Santa and her pictures are absolutely adorable. I think this is my favorite Santa picture thus far. 

 2. Last weekend Mark and I went to an ugly sweater party to celebrate my friends (twins) birthdays. It was a lot of fun to get out of the house and see the girls. I don't get out much these days and it was refreshing. And yes, Mark is wearing a woman's vest. It was sexy!

 3. We went out to dinner with my family. It was a lot of fun.

 4. Mark made us homemade crab cakes and smoked salmon cakes. They turned out pretty good! He's a really good cook.

5. Our elf was of course a little silly and naughty this week.

Please join me next Tuesday for my new monthly link up called "Where I Come From". This link up is designed to share with the blogging community where we are from. Take us on a mini vacation via a blog post. Share photos, stories, favorite places, unique sites... and whatever else floats your boat.
Ashley Elizabeth

Boys Behind the Blog

So I've been reading these 'Boys Behind the Blog' link ups for a while now and I always enjoy them. This is the first time that I asked my husband if he'd want to participate... and he said yes! Linking up with Mallory and Stephanie. Also, thanks to Brianna at Endlessly Beloved for linking up and introducing me to this. And now I hand the computer over to Mark.
Mal Smiles

1. What is your favorite cereal?
I really like brown sugar mini wheats right now.

2. Pancakes or waffles?
I don't like regular pancakes, but I do like really thin ones.  I make them thin like crepes.  I don't like how dry they are regular.  I like waffles too.

3. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
I like any tradition where everyone gets together at the same time.  It seems to be too rare an occasion.  So, hanging out on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

4. Finish the sentence... All I want for Christmas is...
to be with my family, especially my beautiful 4 year old daughter.

5. What was your best moment of 2013?
Honestly, its been a rough year.  However, I feel like I have taken a big step forward in starting my Acupuncture practice.  It has been a long time coming.  That and just watching my daughter grow up, she's growing up fast.

Ashley Elizabeth

Oh Christmas Tree

Let me start off by saying that finding a Christmas tree is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I love bundling up and heading out with my family to cut down the perfect one. This year was no different, I was beyond excited to kick off the season with some lights and ornaments... let's just say that things didn't as I had hoped... and let me also mention that I'm kind of picky when it comes to trees. My sisters are just as picky... we blame our mom. After all, she always has spectacular trees.

It was a cold rainy day... I mean, full on rainy downpour. If you've ever spent time in Oregon you know that we get a lot of rain. We are used to this. We dress accordingly and head out in true Oregonian form... without an umbrella or a coat with a hood. We decided to go to a tree farm that we used to go to a few years back. They had the most beautiful trees. So we arrived, got out of our cars and immediately felt a bone chilling wind... Great, not only do we have to deal with rain, but wind as well. So we traipsed through the mud, my pink tennis shoes looking a little more brown than normal. It was so hard to see anything. My glasses were covered in rain droplets and when I tried to dry them (it was hard to find a dry spot of clothing to wipe them with) they fogged up. Awesome. Anyway, after quite a while of searching for the perfect tree... we found it. Yeah, it was a little taller than our house allowed but that is what a chainsaw is for. My sisters both found trees they liked as well.

The boys cut them down and we headed out after paying.

We went to another farm to get Amelia's tree. The other farm had smaller trees that were the perfect size for her.

There wasn't an inch of my outer clothing that was dry. We were definitely chilled to the bone. Since Mark and I don't own a truck or SUV, my sister and her fiance brought our tree to our house. I was so excited to get it set up. The farm had bailed them for us and when we finally cut the twine off... I wasn't thrilled. The tree that had looked so marvelous in the pouring down rain... SUCKED! My little sister Grace had set her tree up before coming over and her tree was worse! Chris and Grace decided to go and buy a new tree the next day (at the place where we got Amelia's tree), but I decided that we would make our tree work. So... it sat there for a few days. I attempted to put lights on it and noticed that not only was this tree ugly, but it was dying. Sitting in the recliner I could check the water level of our tree and even look through it and out the window on the other side.
Definitely NOT the shape or fullness I was hoping for
Just sittin' in my chair, checking the water level in the tree stand
See what I mean... it totally sucked. Mark and I both agreed that we needed a new tree. I'm quite certain that our tree wouldn't have survived until Christmas. We did cut it up and use the greens for wreaths so it wasn't a total bust.

So now we are at round two of tree hunting...
Bright and sunny day with a little snow on the ground. Totally gorgeous! We went to the tree farm where we got Amelia's tree. The hardest part of picking a tree this time was that they are all SO perfect. We walked back and forth until one in particular jumped out at us. It was the tree of my dreams. 

Okay, so here is the best part. Once the massive beast was in the house, the boys realized that it was too tall. It was going to be a pain to take it back outside, so they decided to trim the tree inside... with a chainsaw. 

Yep... Amelia was so exhausted from her Nutcracker performances that she slept through the whole thing... and they fired that baby up two separate times.

Here are a few pictures of our decorated tree.

So there ya have it... our journey to find the perfect tree. 
Ashley Elizabeth

We Made It - Link Up

On Tuesdays I get to watch the most adorable little two year old girl, Dylan. She is so cute and her and Amelia have so much fun playing together. I love crafting with the kids, and since it was the last time we were going to see Dylan before Christmas, we made a present for her Mom and Dad. I am a sucker for hand print and foot print art. Amelia and I do tons and give them as gifts to my mom (what Grandma doesn't want a hand/foot print craft???). I asked Dylan if she wanted to make snowmen or reindeer... and she chose reindeer. They turned out super cute and she was so excited. Before I share these photos I must tell you that Dylan's mom is an AMAZING photographer. If you are in the Pacific Northwest and looking for someone to capture beautiful moments for you, Kati is definitely someone you should contact. You can find her by looking up Creative Juices or by clicking HERE. Below are the photos she took of Dylan with her art.

Please link up below and share your latest recipes, craft projects, DIY tutorials and anything else that you've made. 

Ashley Elizabeth