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ladybug2I first heard about the ladybug hike in Oakland a couple of months ago and had it on my list of things to do this winter – basically during the colder months, all the ladybugs in the area gather to hibernate together in one place, and it’s a truly amazing sight!   And when I found myself with a Monday over winter break with no plans, I decided to take the girls out to see them.  We brought two friends, packed our lunch and headed out.  We followed the Stream Trail to where it meets Prince Trail, and it is really a beautiful walk, ladybugs or no.  The girls were running along the path, ooh-ing and aah-ing over the stream, the trees, and everything – you’d think they’d never been outside before!  Just when I was loosing hope that we’d see any ladybugs, we hit the Prince Trail junction and there they were.

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On every stick, leaf, branch, fence post and sign you could see.  We ate our lunch and held some ladybugs and checked it out for 20 minutes or so before heading back.  All in all a really wonderful way to spend the first half of the day.

ladybug3 ladybug4If you’re interested in doing the hike, it’s located in the Redwood Regional Park in Oakland.  Follow the Stream Trail until it meets Prince Trail and there they are.  It’s about a 3 mile hike round trip when you start from the Skyline Gate Staging Area.  We brought a bob stroller in case any little legs got tired, and it took some effort to get back up the trail on the way back, but it can be done – a regular stoller will definitely NOT work since it is a dirt path (with some muddy patches).  Happily, all the older girls (ages 5-6) ended up walking the whole thing easily – the only one that needed a bit of a push on the way back was the 3 year old.  Happy exploring!

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We made our annual trek to Half Moon Bay today to go to the mythical and glorious pumpkin patch.  I say mythical because pretty much every year before this has been a disaster – one year Ally got car sick… twice.  The next year our car broke down in the middle of Pumpkin Festival traffic.  The year after that it was pouring rain, and the year after that it was freezing, foggy and the girls were grumps the whole time.  Fast forward to this year and taa-daa!!!  We FINALLY had the pumpkin patch trip I always imagined!  We left bright and early to avoid traffic and were literally the first people there, which was 100% fine by me – I am SO over crowds while lugging kids around.  It was bright, sunny, not too cold, and we had the first pick of the pumpkins, bouncy houses, petting zoo and pony rides.  The lighting was a bit harsh to get totally perfect pictures, but I ended up with a few decent ones if I was able to get the back-light just right.  Our friends and their two boys joined us which made it pretty much the best pumpkin patch trip EVER according to Ally, and I have to say I completely agree.

Chris_2 Colin_1 pumpkinpatch_5And… Heaven forbid we don’t have a silly face picture, I present to you… Paige, who’s favorite part of the day was “the rocks”… umm, okay.

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ImageWe made some amazing heart-shaped raspberry tarts (see previous post) for Valentine’s Day, which then begged the question, “how do we share this amazing discovery??”.  I had seen a photo on Pinterest (of course) that used pinking sheers to snip off the top of a plain old paper lunch bag and thought it was a great solution – then add a bit of bakers twine and an old heart rubber stamp and viola!!  Quite a cute gift with literally zero dollars spent and zero trips to the store.  That’s a great thing in any busy mom’s book, for sure.

I’ll be using this again for all our future holiday baked goods we bring to friends – just swap the heart stamp for a Christmas Tree or ornament for Christmas, a pumpkin for Halloween or Thanksgiving, etc.  SO easy and looks adorably homemade.

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These sweet little treats are yet another recipe find from a magazine – in People of all places – but originally from the talented Catherine McCord of Weelicious.  They are extremely easy, festive and DELICIOUS.  They’re perfectly not too sweet, and work great as a breakfast on-the-go, an afternoon snack, or an after dinner treat – I just love how flexible they are!   I opted to just sprinkle powdered sugar on some, and frost some others – both are equally yummy, but I ended up preferring the frosted ones while my husband and kids actually liked the less-sweet powdered sugar coated ones, so it’s up to you.  My daughter got to help cut out the heart shapes and add the filling, but I had to do the top part myself or risk filling oozing out everywhere 🙂

You can find the original recipe HERE.

Happy almost Valentine’s!

 

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If there’s one thing I can’t resist, it’s holiday decorations, and every year it’s the same story – I wander around Pottery Barn, Target, Crate and Barrel and just about every other store longing for it ALL, but I have to determine the difference between wants and needs and I usually end up filling a cart or basket, and then putting it all back – it’s a curse!  Every year though, there are a few that make the cut, and this year these things did and I am pretty happy with my purchases, I must say.  The mantle is a collection of trees I already had, and some new ones (the tall white ones on the right) I found at Cost Plus, along with some new real maple votives I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine and just had to have (they’re from saveoncrafts.com).  The Noel sign is new this year from Target – love.

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I also found these three little wreaths at Harvest to hang from our three barstools now that we have a kitchen counter to eat at – eventually I’ll get nicer ribbon but twine works for now.

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And lastly, I saw these little houses in the catalog from Ballard Designs and couldn’t resist.  They hold tea lights and are just simple and whimsical enough for my taste (I’m not really a fan of the more ornamental detailed ones).  I am really in love with their simplicity and they look beautiful when lit.

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So I think I’m done with new holiday decor for this year and will be trying VERY hard to resist any more temptation!

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ornaments3Today was probably the most labor intensive day we’ll have, but also (I think) one of the most fun.  I wanted to think of a new way to make ornaments so we don’t end up with a bunch of similar ones year after year, so I found this cute idea on Pinterest (where else!) and adjusted it a bit to be more kid friendly.  Just cut out matching shapes from felt (I used cookie cutters I had to cut out stars, trees, ornament shapes and mittens), so each ornament has two sides, then have your kids decorate one or both sides with whatever you can think of.

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We glued on rhine stones since my daughter is obsessed with anything sparkly, but you could also use fabric paint or other little decorations of any kind.

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When both sides are done, just sew them together with a basic row stitch, put in a bit of fluff or cotton to bulk them up a tad, and put in a knotted ribbon to hang it with at the very end.  I have literally never sewn before, and even I was able to figure this out with minimal effort.  They actually turned out really cute!!  We made a few for our friends down the street so I wrote their names and the year on the back with glitter glue.  I just love how handmade they look!

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santa letter1Day 4 on our advent calendar was to write a letter to Santa!  She did a great job writing and then decorated it with stickers and a new rainbow crayon she had gotten for her birthday (which I think is pretty much the coolest thing ever).

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Her final letter read:

“Dear Santa

1. Dress Ups

2. Wizard of Oz Movie

A.”

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Then we gave it to Chippie (our elf) to deliver tonight 🙂

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