Saturday, November 29, 2014

'tis the season

this is a sponsored post for the lovely people at acorn influence. as always, the thoughts and opinions are all my own.

thanksgiving (and the black friday craziness that follows) is officially over. don't get me wrong, i love the thanksgiving holiday. i love the delicious meal, time spent with my kids, parades and football. i love taking time to verbalize with each one of my children how thankful i am for the people they are and who they are becoming. i'm thankful for so many things and i thoroughly enjoy the time to revel in that thankfulness.

still, when the day is over, i am happy to move on. i'm still thankful, but i try to cultivate thankfulness throughout the year, not just on one day so i am not sad to move on from thanksgiving to my favorite of all holidays, christmas. there is just something magical about christmas, with the twinkling lights, the music, extra excuses for family time and adventures, beautiful church services, some of the greatest movies ever and giving to others in as many ways as is possible.

this weekend kicks off decorating in houses everywhere. we wrapped up all our decoring today and i am loving every second of our christmas splendor. here are a couple of things that make decorating for the holidays even more wonderful.

1. christmas music

there are so many amazing albums out there to chose from. the possibilities are truly and wonderfully endless. there is one album, however, that makes me think of christmas with my family. it is purely instrumental and provides the greatest relaxing christmas background music ever. this won't get you dancing but it will be just the thing to listen to while cuddling by the fire and drinking your favorite beverage.

2. winter scents

i love the smells of christmas. i love the smells of fresh cut trees, baking and cinnamon. i can't get enough of it. i'm too busy shopping for christmas gifts to make a special trip just to find scented candles at various stores. i am, however, in target nearly everyday and they conveniently have my holiday scents covered. i pass through the air care aisle every time i am in the store and pick up some new scents to enjoy. i love the winter pear scents and the evergreen scent i conveniently place by my christmas trees (especially the fake ones.) i can pretend that the crisp woody smell comes from my beautiful tree without having to deal with the falling needles. if you are like heather and live in sunny southern california, these scents are even more important as the christmas trees down there don't have that woodsy smell once the shipment of "fresh cut" trees arrive to the coast. these scents are the perfect solution. there are also a ton of really lovely candles that make decorating simple...and your whole house will smell like christmas. it is a little slice of holiday heaven.

3. letting the kids help...really

i will admit, i have been pretty crazy in the past about somehow creating a "perfect" christmas tree with "perfect" decorations. i'm learning to let go and let some of my perfectionism die so that my kids can actually enjoy decorating too. this year, the bottom portion of my tree is filled with unbreakable ornaments that are all clumped together. it is not perfect, but my kids got to help. my two year old walked around for hours pointing to the tree and saying, "i help mommy." i can look at the tree and smile (and shake off my inner cringe) in order to allow my kids some of the enjoyment of the christmas preparations. letting the kids in on the fun might just make your decorating more fun than ever. 

4. embracing the crazy

decorating, baking, wrapping, shopping, caroling, partying...december is full of it all. the month whizzes by in a flurry of activity and the joys of the season. embrace the fun and the crazy. savor the moments as the month goes by all too quickly. take some time to curl up and watch "elf" with your kids and to bake cookies with them. embrace all that the season has to offer, the wonderful and the crazy. you won't be sorry and your family will have memories that will mean ten times more than any gift they will ever unwrap.

Friday, November 28, 2014

monthly must haves: heather's november picks

i have had so much fun sharing my favorites every month. if you missed octobers you can find it here.

1. amazon prime

i am truly obsessed with amazon prime. i order everything from them, from clothing to toilet paper. it's less expensive than my go-to target, in many cases, and it's to my doorstep in two days. plus, their online, instant streaming has a great selection and i am loving finding new series' to have access to over 1 million songs to stream free with membership. click here for a free 30-day trial. you will love/hate me. :-)

2. rodan and fields--accute care

i had been hearing a lot of buzz about this product that people were claiming was "botox in a box" so i was thrilled when robin jermain from rodan and fields reached out and asked if i wanted to try it. there is one spot on my face that holds a deep wrinkle, my smile lines. i have always struggled with it, because one part of me loves that it came from smiling a lot, but the other, almost 40 part of me wants them to go away forever. i would never think of trying something like actual botox on them, because, well, i would like to be able to actually smile and show expression. enter the strips. i simply put them on my clean, dry face and went to bed....and the results were amazing. even in one night i was surprised at the change. clearly, rodan and fields has a game-changer on their hands. the strips sold out fast, but contact robin and she will hook you up to get them as soon as more is released. you can thank me later. 

3. ruby ribbon cami

genelle and i are both hooked. these camis are pretty darn close to a miracle. you can ditch your bra and still have the shape and support that one provides (no uni-boob) *plus* the added feature of a cami with support that will truly take an inch off your waistline. yes, please.

4. stamina in motion elliptical

i have been looking at some sort of exercise equipment to have at home that i can use for cardio when i can't get to the gym or outside for a walk or run. most of the equipment i found was big, bulky and super pricey. this mini elliptical is the perfect solution for me.

5. lock laces elastic shoelace and fastening system

my shoelaces always come untied and i hate having to take the extra minute it takes to tie laces (i know, first world problems). these elastic laces are *awesome*. they come in tons of colors and once you put them on your shoes, you simply just have to slip your feet in and go. love.

6. infiniti pro by conair curl secret

i am not gifted in the hair style department. i am not one of those gals that knows how to throw my hair into an effortless up-do and curl my hair. i think the last time i tried, i burned myself and then got asked if i had a hickey on my neck. good grief! this curl making masterpiece is so very simple to use and makes these awesome curls that i would never be able to do on my own. it's fantastic. 

7. del monte can safe storage container

everyone has something that they don't want to have out in the open in their home, some type of valuables, extra cash or jewelry. this gem is wonderful. it may look like a can of fruit cocktail, but it opens to reveal a little safe. they even make containers that look like cleaning products, soft drinks or even books. i think it makes a great housewarming gift or a gift for a graduate as well. 

disclaimer: although we received some products for free, many are purchased on our own dime and *all* are products that we love and the opinions are all our own.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pumpkin pie pancakes

this recipe comes from another fantastic mother of five. it has quickly become a part of our family thanksgiving and christmas traditions. they are delicious and the five kiddos rave. holiday win!

pumpkin pie pancakes

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

2 large eggs

1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

combine flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt and sugar. wisk in buttermilk, pumpkin, eggs, oil and vanilla. pour batter in 1/3 cup fulls. enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

holiday gift guide: 30+ hottest gifts for kids

it's that time of year.....let's start shopping! after lots of research and toy testing, we came up with this awesome list of gifts that is sure to please every kiddo on your shopping list. enjoy!

games and entertainment:

a classic that your kids will have hours and hours of fun with. i love watching this childhood favorite come alive again through my boys.

as a theater kid growing up, my friends and i enjoyed hours and hours of karaoke. we would have done anything for this modern system with color screen, dual mikes and a record function. it's your own mini recording studio! 

  disney's karaoke series: frozen 
karaoke + frozen? enough said.

munchkin mozart magic cube
the mozart cube is my go-to gift for infant/toddlers. it's been an instant hit every time. 

leapfrog leapband
this fun band is the number one item on my boys christmas list. the boys love that they get a fun watch that has a super cute dino they can play games and interact with. i love that they get rewarded for making healthy, active choices. it's a fun fitness tracker for kids. love.

arts and crafts:

as i have said before, i love introducing my childhood favorites to my kids. i was a huge spirograph fan and now it's a big favorite with my boys, too. it's easy to use and portable, which mama loves

  classic etch a sketch magic screen
yep. a classic. both of my boys love this and their favorite place to use it is in the car. a non-noisy, non-electronic toy that keeps them entertained for hours? yes, please.

foster you little ones creativity at any age with this easel. melissa and doug are known for their quality products and this is no exception. this easel with be a creative outlet for the little one on your list for years to come.


my kids love constructing things. they will throw sheets over chairs if there is nothing else to play with. these play sets give them something create to do in a confined space. it's a win.

legos are not just for boys anymore and this adorable cruiser is top of the line. what a little girls dream!

have a kiddo that is as into legos and minecraft as mine? this gift is sure to be a huge hit!

outdoor fun:

a sand and water table provides hours of enjoyment for kiddos and make you the hit for any play date.

skywalker trampolines round zoo adventure bouncer
i am always looking for a way for my kids to burn off some energy. this is a great bouncer for both inside and outside the house.

  can you imagine air power soccer disk-light up
coolest toy ever. this disk turns all surfaces into a type of air hockey table and floats along as you kick or hit it. it can be used both inside and outside for hours and hours of playtime.

bikes and other ride-on toys

no matter the age or ability of the kiddo on your list, we have you covered. from balance bikes to scooters and battery operated cars, these are the hottest of the year.

my boys and their buddy had so much fun on this awesome scooter last weekend. it's easy to use and can pick up quite speed with an easy learning curve.

playing house:

boy or girl, kids love to make believe. my boys have loved playing house as much as my daughter has and playing house has been a part of our lives for years and years. these will encourage imagination and will fill your days with some sweet memories.

  melissa & doug vacuum up playlet

bed tents:

if you have been following our instagram account, ( you will know that it is no secret that i am a huge fan of the pacific play bed tents. boys and girls alike love them for use on their beds and they are the perfect companion for travel. i don't know a single kid that wouldn't be happy with a bed tent. they come in a varienty of styles, but these are ours and our product testers personal favorites. 

indoor play:

with the cooler winter months, our kids are spending some quality time indoors. we need to have plenty of indoor activities available for their entertainment. here are a few of our absolute favorites.

this is just classic. no bells, no whistles. just fun.

my kids have all learned their letters with the help of this toy. learning and playing combined. done.

the frozen story comes to life with this play set. i think my daughter will have to fight with my youngest boys for this one.

anna or elsa? why pick? with this awesome gift set you get both! i don't know a single frozen fan that wouldn't be thrilled with this gift!

if you haven't had the chance to see the new disney animated flick, big hero 6.....go now. it's so fantastic and i can't wait for it to come out on dvd so we can enjoy it again and again. my boys have had so much fun playing with this fun action figure and transforming their new favorite super hero, baymax. 

as kids are learing to count coins and begging to earn money for the endless list of things they want from the toy store, this simple bank is a dream. it  counts the amount of what they have dropped into the bank and keeps a running tally and the kids can see how much they are saving and can't wait to earn more. this is a favorite gift to give in my house for holidays and birthday parties. get a paint pen and make it a personalized treasure. 

awesome for indoor or outdoor play with plenty of room for a couple kiddos, they will have a blast in this easy to assemble tent.

disclaimer: although we received some products for free, many are purchased on our own dime and *all* are products that we love and the opinions are all our own. also, from time to time we do use affiliate links in our posts.