Friday, December 19, 2014

Family Holiday Fun - Christmas Train

Being relatively new to Orange County means that I am still learning about all the hidden gems that are available to me. I'm even more unaware of all the family fun activities to do with my little ones.  So, when my friend M. insisted that I go to the Christmas Train in Irvine I was a bit hesitant.  The boys are so little they don't have a clue what is going on and while I did want a picture with Santa, did I really want to go on a full blown family outing to get one...the answer was, "Sure, why not". M. assured me this was a night not to be missed, especially since we were getting VIP tickets which meant a much smaller crowd.  I was IN!  

As soon as we pulled up, I could feel the magic taking over my body.  As a firm believer in Santa, I was overcome with excitement to board the train to his village and say hello. We arrived for the first ride to the North Pole and climbed in as the lights sparkled all around us. Alllllllll abooooooaard!

As the train made its way through the park, I had a smile from ear to ear as my little boys were mesmerized by the millions of twinkling lights all around them. 

Don't think for a second I didn't have a nice hot cup of cocoa at this table after seeing Santa!
We passed the Christmas Tree Farm...

Made plans to stop and decorate a cookie after seeing, "The Big Guy"...

 Entered a magical cave of lights...

Then....Clarke and J.R. sat on Santa's lap and asked for peace on Earth...and for their mommy to stay home with them each day and no longer have to go to work...we'll see if he delivers on that one...

The train was not only a great way to travel, but it was absolutely beautiful! There was not a tree branch left unlit.  After visiting Santa, we enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies all while basking in the warm glow of Christmas cheer.  It was a lovely way to welcome the holidays and I can't thank M enough for thinking of us.  Good lookin' out girl!!

This will surely be our yearly tradition and I can't wait for the boys to get older and get as excited as their mommy! What Christmas traditions does your family enjoy? Starting any new ones this year?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Vintage Christmas

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"...and with the decorations making their way down from the attic, I always love to find vintage holiday items and transport back in time.  First up, appreciating vintage ornaments and their worn colors and patterns.

How about a homemade Christmas-like-heaven smelling candle (courtesy of my Thriving Mommy) in a vintage glass? They add a special touch to each room, makes the house smell great and can stay around long after you pack up your tree.  More to come on how to make these cuties yourself!

Can you imagine serving cold eggnog and warm baked cookies on these old trays? I am not a real cat person, but something about these holiday kitties just makes me giggle.  Santa, your snacks are served!

I loved finding these old Christmas ads at a flea market and was even more exited that they were already laminated and ready to be put up in my Christmas kitchen.  I only wish I could get my hands on that ice cream block with a tree in the middle!

We hope you enjoy the last days of holiday prep before jolly ole' St.Nick comes to town and are able to appreciate a few vintage finds of your own!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Make Your Monday - December 15th

Em stayed busy preparing to return to work on Monday.  Despite a few tears here and there she remained positive, focusing only on the good things.  Her boys  must have known she was going to be a working mommy again because not only did they sleep in their cribs for the first time ever, but for 11 hours straight! OH YEAH! Nic tended to her sick Mama Friday, and went out on the town with a couple of coworkers Saturday. Despite the hangover she had Sunday, she still managed to get to Home Depot to finish up some projects!

We ask you again, what thoughts do you practice? Are they ones that bring you joy? You can choose whatever you want, but remember, the choices you make will determine the outcomes you face. Why not make your life wonderful starting with the thoughts you think? Ones that are filled with joy, gratitude and happiness.  With the holidays coming fast, now is the best time to start retraining your brain in an effort to enjoy all that you can and prepare for the best start to 2015 you can create!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Peppermint Bark Pretzels

I always enjoy making different holiday treats to share, especially when they are easy and delicious. Knowing that Shell's Christmas Crack was sure to make a second appearance this year, I wanted to add another new treat to the mix. While peppermint bark and peppermint bark brownies were my go to gifts, I decided this year, I would add a salty spin...pretzels!

I gathered my few ingredients, large pretzels, candy canes, wax paper and my favorite, white chocolate chips from Trader Joes. 

Before I got chocolate dipping, I put my candy canes in a Ziplock, grabbed a meat cleaver and began beating those things into a dusty pulp.  I smashed and smashed so they would be prefect for sprinkling.

With my garnish ground, it was time to melt the chocolate.  I dumped half the bag into a microwave safe bowl and heated for 30 seconds. Then I stirred away to even it out.  Next, I added the rest of the bag to the already melty chocolate and warm bowl, then stirred again. I popped it back in again for another 30 seconds, stirred and done!

I took my first salty victim and dropped him in to the warm, creamy, white chocolate pool and submerged him deep into the depths. 

I then pulled him out gave him a little shake to even out the coating and set him safely on my wax paper.

I then took his other salty associates and coated them in sweet, sweet white chocolate.  When they were all covered, I grabbed my candy cane dust.

I generously sprinkled each pretzel with candy cane dust and was excited to see large and small chunks alike.  I couldn't wait to taste the sweet and minty blasts that these treats would provide.

Once the pretzels were garnished and glorious I left them to cool and harden...well, I did try one...or two...

Once cooled, I put them on a plate and slowly watched as they disappeared. Now that I know they are a hit, I can't wait to whip these up again (taking only minutes), package them and share them with coworkers, friends and neighbors alike!

Do you have any Christmas recipes you use each year? Do you too love a sassy take on the traditional pretzel like I do?

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