Monday, December 31, 2012

Stuffed Mushrooms, Baked Pancakes and Taco Soup

Lately I've had more mediocre attempts with food than I did anything remarkable. (The only reason I share the recipes I didn't like is to give others a chance to try it and also just share my flops as well as my wins). Anyway, my only winning recipe as of late was for Green Bean Stuffed Mushrooms and they went over extremely well. I've never dealt with stuffed mushrooms so I was also pleasantly surprised! (Thank God because I made them for a crowd of Christmas dinner guests. I always try new recipes for crowds, what is wrong with me??)

Green Bean Casserole Stuffed Mushrooms
(This is not my image - all of the pictures I took of them were awful but they looked a lot like this)
3 turkey bacon strips, diced
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 can (14 1/2 oz) French style green beans, drained
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup condensed cream of onion, undiluted
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp pepper
1 cup dry bread crumbs
30 whole baby portobello mushrooms
cooking spray
1 can (2.8 oz) French fried onions

1. In a small skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Place the green beans, 1/2 cup cheese, soup, water, nutmeg, pepper and bacon mixture in a food processor; process until blended. Transfer to a small bowl; fold in bread crumbs.
(I didn't want to process them in a food processor. I kept imagining eating mushy green bean casserole so instead I mixed everything, with less water, in a large bowl. I was really happy with how it turned out)
2. Remove stems from mushrooms; discard stems or save for another use. Spritz mushroom caps with cooking spray; place in ungreased baking pan, stem side down. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, turning once. 
3. Drain liquid from caps; fill with green bean mixture. Top with remaining cheese and fried onions. Bake 8-10 minutes longer or until mushrooms are tender and filling is heated through.

Baked Blueberry Pancakes
The Recipe
This was a Pinterest find that I wanted to try out and it really didn't impress me. The batter was very bland and it's only redemption was the blueberries. I very well could have done something wrong because I really like my other baked pancake recipe (found here). Hopefully it turns out better for you if you try it! 

Fiesta Turkey Tortilla Soup

Four 14 1/2 oz cans chicken broth
3 cups shredded cooked turkey
One 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
One 15 1/4 oz can drained whole kernel corn 
1/2 cup medium salsa 
Five 6 inch corn tortillas
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Simmer cans of chicken broth, cooked turkey (I used chicken), black beans, corn and salsa for 10 minutes. Cut corn tortillas into 1/4 inch strips; bake at 400 degrees for 4-6 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in fresh cilantro (I used a couple of tablespoons of dried cilantro because it's what I had on hand). Serve with tortilla strips and additional salsa. 

This recipe had another slightly disappointing turnout. It reminded me a lot of the Chickadilla Soup I tried and loved a few weeks ago (I've recently renamed it "Enchilada Soup" because saying "Chickadilla" makes me feel like an idiot.) It didn't have a lot of flavor and felt like it was just lacking. It's good for when you need to make something quickly but it's not my favorite.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


In an effort to take more opportunities to make light of my failures instead of let them totally defeat me I'm starting a new endeavor that I think 90% of you reading this right now have experienced.
I'm calling it Pinteresting. (That name sure puts me off to a good start...)

My challenge is to make more use out of my Pinterest boards and actually DO as much as I can. I'm starting on the 1st of 2013 and my goal is to do at the very least one thing a week, whether it's a recipe, craft, children's activity or clever little household tip. Ideally, I'd like to do one of each but I'm kind of having a baby right now (I wish I meant that literally - I mean any day around the 1st of the year) and taking on juggling my current life, a newborn and a new side project is quite laughable.

This is meant entirely to be fun and I'm actually looking forward to it...for now.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas 2012

These are a collection of pictures my husband took of Bella (at my ever so sweet and persuasive coaxing). I'm taking only a moment to say it, but I am so proud of his talent. He's not a professional or anything which leaves so much room for him to grow his raw eye for photography and all things creative. 
Ok, the moment's over. Now to looking at Christmas pictures.
(And any editing done was by me on a free please don't judge...)

Bella has started doing this silly hard blink that I think is hilarious.

First attempt...oops

It's so hard to believe that next year we'll have a 3 year old and almost 1 year old. Oh, things are getting so fun :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Food as of late

I haven't kept up with posting my "winning recipes" for months. I wish I had because I've tried so many recipes since September (Shh, I know, I said I'm really behind) that I wish I had shared when I could remember what they were. So this is a super basic and short post sharing a couple of the recipes I've tried as of late.

For Thanksgiving we bought two small turkey breasts that we made for two separate meals. I used two separate recipes, just for fun, and this is my verdict:

Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast
The recipe
We oven roasted this turkey breast and because of my poor planning I wasn't even able to follow the directions all that well and this turkey still turned out delicious. It was a mini Thanksgiving!

The recipe
I'm sure this turned out well for someone out there, but it was really not very good for us. It had the texture of roast beef and little to no flavor. It's another example of something that should just probably not be made in a crock pot.

Chickadilla Soup
( Sorry, no picture)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
30 oz diced tomatoes
10 oz mild enchilada sauce
4 oz chopped mild green chilies
1 quart chicken broth
2 15 oz cans of black or pinto beans
10 oz frozen corn
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp cumin, chili powder and salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients into a 6 qt slow cooker. Mix. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or on High for 3-4 hours.
After a few hours, once chicken is thoroughly cooked, remove from pot, shred and return to pot for remaining cook time. Add serving options per taste. 

Serving suggestions: tortilla chips, hot sauce, sour cream, lime wedges, fresh avocado, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro.

I loved this soup. It's from Kashi where their tagline says, "A kid-friendly recipe with good stuff inside" and they were for real. Bella helped me make it and ate it really well - all 7 days it fed us. It says it freezes well so I made it for a friend after she had her baby and I think it froze well for her. This is definitely one of my favorite new recipes. 

Basic Cranberry Sauce
Basic Cranberry Sauce Recipe
The recipe

I really am not a fan of cranberries or cranberry sauce but for our mini Thanksgiving that I mentioned earlier I was interested in trying this recipe that involved orange juice and honey. It turned out well but hasn't won me over to cranberries, yet. 

Hearty Quinoa and Corn Chowder
Hearty Quinoa & Corn Chowder Recipe
The recipe
This new chowder I tried is seriously worth doing. Just take my word for it. I did replace the bell peppers with mushrooms only because we love mushrooms and don't care for peppers. 

Green Chili Enchilada Bake
The recipe

I made this last week and didn't have the sour cream the recipe called for. I wasn't totally happy with it and thought of several things I wanted to add - enough so that I made it again this week. It's almost funny how many changes I made to it by the end. The original recipe is linked above. Below I'll post my own wacked out version of it. 

Green Chili Enchilada Bake: Take 2
1 cup reduced fat sour cream
3/4 cup salsa verde, mild
12 white corn tortillas broken into 1 inch pieces
2 cups cooked chicken
1 15 oz can black beans, drained
shredded cheese (why would you ever measure cheese, just dump it on)
1 box Rice A Roni Spanish Rice 
1 can Rotel (mild) in place of diced tomatoes with the Spanish Rice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. 
2. Prepare Rice A Roni Spanish Rice
3. Combine all ingredients into baking dish, including prepared Rice A Roni. Top with cheese.
5. Bake for 22 - 25 minutes until cheese is melted. 

I will add that my husband said several times that he loved this version compared to the other. So, it's not just my pregnant self that liked it a lot. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Belly Chronicles

This pregnancy has been night and day different from my first pregnancy. Allow me to list the ways:
Here we go again!
Taking her temperature, unprompted

1. This time I was sick all through the first trimester, which I didn't experience with Bella (thank God! I feel terrible for anyone who suffers from morning sickness now. It's like motion sickness that never goes away...).

Park date, 2 months pregnant                           
2. I swelled up and gained 50 pounds with my first one, this time I was able to keep the weight gain under control and experienced very minimal swelling (again, thank God!).

Baby traveled to London!

And Paris!! (I was feeling pretty bloated and gross here, unfortunately) 
 3.  I've officially outgrown my shoes which didn't happen last time. So that sucks. 
4 month belly

4. I've been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions during this last trimester and they weren't that terrible at first. Just a tightness that was unpleasant and uncomfortable. But they've gotten progressively worse and last all day. Now my contractions get more tight and wrap around into my back. They also create a tightness in my chest that feels like that massive weight of anxiety you have during an anxiety attack that makes it feel impossible to breathe (which during an anxiety attack creates more anxiety...go figure). It also has started causing a tightness in my jaw, like I've had something really sour, and my face and chest to flush. It's all really impressive. And I feel like such a whiner about it all until I really list this all out. Then I think I deserve a pat on the back for not spontaneously melting or something equally weird but probable at this point.
5 Month Baby Girl!
5. I have an outtie. That didn't happen with my first pregnancy either.
5 Months Pregnant
6 Months Pregnant

6. "Pregnancy Brain" hasn't been a real problem, per say, but it's definitely occurred more this time than last. I almost actually went to the store with no shoes. I got to the car and wondered why the foot pedals felt weird until I realized it was because I was barefoot. I did make sure Bella had shoes on, so that counts for something.

3 Davidson Girls

7. The end of this pregnancy is kicking. my. ass. It's literally causing butt pains. My pelvis feels like it's going to crumble into pieces and I promise I'm not exaggerating. It feels like someone put a bowling ball in my gut, punched my pelvis repeatedly, pulled the muscles in my inner thighs, put a layer of tissue paper between my jeans and the baby and then told me to go walk it off. I have no idea what's happening to my body anymore.
The belly and I ran our first 5k at 7 months! Insane? Yes. But the feeling of accomplishment made any level of insanity totally worth it.

8. I don't really have a problem with hormones but this time they were a little harder to control. And with that, I need to take a moment to politely expand my thoughts on this particular topic.

That title has some slightly strong language but nothing exaggerated or anything. Hormones are completely unfair. I don't even mean the hormones themselves are unfair (I'm starting to imagine these really cartoony little beasts). What's unfair is how most people react to and treat women who have any level of elevated hormones. I remember getting so angry with myself and apologizing extensively for crying in front of my husband. My sweet husband would every time tell me to never apologize for anything like that. He would go on to say we should live our lives closer to that anyway; feeling raw emotions for what they are and reacting accordingly. When something is heartbreaking - show it. When something overwhelms your heart with love - show it. When something makes you so angry your skin starts to burn - show it (with some discretion, probably). And he was right, that genius of a man. I remember explaining to him, in a defeated state, how no one takes someone who is hormonal or even potentially hormonal, seriously. My feelings are invalidated, my thoughts pushed aside and I am not taken seriously altogether because someone can very easily think or say, "Ahh, she's hormonal."
That is wrong. It is belittling. I had someone laugh and tell me my reaction and feelings about something were just my hormones so that this person could avoid responsibility. I didn't say anything because I let myself believe her but that is unfair.
This is all to say that I have learned from this pregnancy and this experience with my hormones that I need to be more careful about how I treat other women who may or may not be "hormonal". And to be more vigilant about standing up against the "Oh, she's hormonal" write off.

Now that that's been said, let's get back to how hormones destroy your very being, laughing and crying and screaming the entire time. My own hormones haven't been like extreme mood swings that feel like someone's driving me off a cliff against my will. It's more like a filter has been completely removed and any feeling I experience, whether it's anger, frustration, embarrassment, excitement, joy, love, all of it is processed differently. It's like my body has no idea how to handle this feeling and the only thing it knows to do is make me cry uncontrollably. (I'm not much of a crier and I am an UGLY crier. So this all was a terrible adjustment...and eventually just a big joke.)
              Some examples:
 -We went to see Brave, which was fine, nothing totally heartwarming or heartbreaking, just a decent movie. I cried the entire time. Why?! I was thinking about the struggles my girls and I will have. How much I love them. How exciting it will be to see movies like this with my girls for the first time. Oh no, the mom's a bear. I'm crying about it. Ridiculous. Luckily, I wore those awful 3D glasses the whole time so it was harder to notice until the credits rolled. And I'm still crying.
               - A friend colored my hair for me and it turned out differently than I had envisioned it in my head. It wasn't my friend's fault, we just had a breakdown in communication and I didn't clarify what I was wanting more clearly. So my hair comes out totally different than I had imagined and I feel horribly ugly (oh, and fat because I'm 6 months pregnant and hadn't showered in 2 days). Normally I would have either said it was great and went home and colored it (which I've done in the past). Or I would have told her that I didn't like it but I'd let it grow on me. Or I would have said I didn't care for it but I'd let it grow on me and went home and cried...which was a small part of what I actually did. My response? I started to gently tell her that I didn't like it and then broke down sobbing like the hormonal idiot I was trying not to sound like.
            - Palmer and I ran our first 5k together (At almost 7 months pregnant, I know, what's wrong with me - but it was awesome) and they had the runners all horde together in a giant mass and wait to run in waves. In all of the anticipation and excitement, I started to cry. Good Lord someone get the pregnant lady out of this 5k - she's insane and crying.
            - During the race I fell down in front of, oh, 80 - 100 people. I wasn't hurt but I was really embarrassed. So, naturally, I start crying like a toddler.
            - This pregnancy has done something really terrible to me, and no it has nothing to do with my privates. It's made me totally terrified of scary movies which I have always loved. I LOVE a great scary movie! If it is so scary that it keeps me up at night, I happily chalk it up onto my list of Greatest Scary Movies, and then try not to pee my pants for the next 3 nights. It's a wonderful time. But these hormones, these terrible, soul stealing hormones have come and made me unreasonably afraid of the most unoriginal and silly...everything. Pictures, movies, games, TV shows. That exciting ride your imagination takes you on after taking in something scary was suddenly turned into that tunnel in Willy Wonka's factory. Anything even remotely troubling is intensified and how does my body react? Crying. I get so scared I cry.

        So, you get the idea. I had a hormone problem this time around.

8 months pregnant
Baby. There's no more room there.

9. However, with my last pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia towards the end and I'm so thankful I've not had any real medical complications, besides having to buy new shoes.
9. Months. Pregnant.
10. This baby is WAY more active than Bella was! It's so hard to catch it on video but we did our best with this one.

11. With my last pregnancy I also dealt with some terrible depression in the last few months (which bedrest doesn't help). This time I struggled quite a bit during the second trimester but I was able to fight it off and it wasn't as severe as it was in the last trimester of my first pregnancy. These things I am so very thankful of.
We used a video to announce our news to our families for Mother's Day. Ta da! 
This baby has been to Europe, ran a 5k and is going to an AMAZING concert this Sunday (unless she has other plans, which would be fine with me.) all within the womb, which is no small feat. She'll have a lot to brag about when she comes out. :)

We are so terribly excited to meet our little bird. This post was never intended to whine and complain about pregnancy but only to make fun of all of the insane things that happen to your body (and your brains). I've kept my complaining to a bare minimum because the realization that I truly am blessed to be able to do any of this has been a harsh one. Being a mother was a given in my life, but that it would come easy for me was not. I have so many friends and have known too many people who have not had the same experience as I have and it breaks my heart. There's no way I can witness a friend lose their pregnancy or try for months and months to get pregnant and then let myself moan and groan (publicly) about the ailments of being pregnant. Not to say I can't be miserable and complain, or that anyone else can't vocalize their discomfort, but I do try really hard to keep everything this post has whined about to myself...until now. :)

I love this little girl so much.

This room is ready for a baby.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Advent Adventure 2012

I. Love. Christmas. And I'm even more excited for everything Christmas because I have a child who can really experience all of my favorite things (no pun really intended)  and express her thoughts about them for the first time.

That being said, this year I wanted to do something fun for the advent countdown. So after pulling out my saved scraps from magazines and Pinterest pins featuring creative advent calendars, I was thrilled to find a cute and easy little mitten countdown at Hobby Lobby (half price, so a total of $3)! All of the ideas I had saved for advent required more time and crafty work than I really wanted to put in so I was really relieved to find these mittens.

I did want to make the countdown something special and interactive so on the back of each mitten I added an activity that we will do each day. Some of them are crafts, some involve making food, some involve doing something nice for someone else and some are just simple activities out of the ordinary, like eating a meal next to the Christmas tree.

Bella was totally thrilled about it but I'm not sure if she really knew why. I think part of her just knew it was something new and exciting :) Palmer, my husband, is genuinely excited about it too. He told me he looks forward to seeing what new thing we're going to do each day and that was a pleasant surprise. Being so terribly pregnant and uncomfortable, I've not been able to do or plan anything very exciting for a while. And I've been feeling really guilty about it. So to have something the whole family is truly enjoying through the whole month of December really is special. (Wow, I reached a new level of cheesiness)

So anyway, every morning the first thing we do is go downstairs, unpin a mitten and see what we're going to do that day.
I lied. The first thing we do is take 30+ minutes trying to get out of bed without getting Bella's morning poop on the sheets. After that we take down a mitten.

So begins December...

Day 1: 

"Watch Christmas movie with egg nog and cookies!"

We made pumpkin snicker doodles (using this recipe) and watched a rather lame compilation of retro holiday cartoons that was streaming on Netflix. It went exactly how I had hoped it would. Bella loved it all. The snicker doodles were perfect. It was the third cookie I've made that I've thought, "Holy crap. I, the self proclaimed notoriously bad baker, made this". The egg nog was okay (low but when I asked Bella if she liked it she said she did. I asked her what she thought it tasted like and she said, "Milk!". She then drank all of hers. Then the rest of mine. And finally held her head back for a comedically long amount of time patiently waiting for the last few drops of daddy's to ease out of his glass.
She also really enjoyed the cartoons even though I thought they were a little lame. Through the cartoons she was introduced to the story of Rudolf which was exciting to see her take in.

So our first day of advent was a total success. We're on day 4 now and I'll be posting a little about those as I can.

Until then, let the Advent adventure continue!

Day 2: Have a meal by the Christmas tree!

Bella's haste getting down the stairs to our mittens that morning was so cute. She unpinned it and let me read the back of the mitten to her. When I read it and explained that we could have dinner by the Christmas tree she had a big smile on her face as she looked at the mitten. 

Eating on the floor next to the Christmas tree was something I didn't anticipate her enjoying so much but her excitement over this tiny and simple event out of the ordinary is a great reminder that sometimes the littlest, easiest things can mean so much more to a child. 

Day 3: Make cinnamon rolls for breakfast dinner!

I had planned to take a picture of her holding a numbered mitten to attach to each of our documented December days, but my little stinker has been expertly picky about when she gets her picture taken and what she'll agree to do for the camera. And holding up a numbered mitten is not something she's been agreeing to.

Anyway, day 3 she slightly more casually made her way down the stairs to our clothesline of mittens. However, she was very excited when I told her we would be making cinnamon rolls...for dinner! The insanity!
(They were originally intended for breakfast until I read ahead how long it would take to make them)
Even more insane...making cinnamon rolls from scratch!
This craziness is coming from the lady who was surprised to have made a cookie that wasn't terrible only 2 days before. 

So after Googling what "proofing" dough meant and fumbling with the disturbing idea that active yeast is actually something that comes to life or something, I dove into this recipe for Pumpkin Maple Rolls.

It took me all day to make these things and I still have cinnamon under my nails, but that part I'm not complaining about. I didn't really care for how they turned out, but my husband loved them and I so wish I could have got a picture of Bella literally stuffing her face with hers. She hit a moment of crazy, maybe it was a sugar rush, and shoved as much as she could in her mouth, eyes wide and darting around as she chomped on that cinnamon roll over and over. So, with that mental image, I think I'll give the recipe a nod of approval. :) And that was how we wrapped up Day 3!

Day 4: Take a treat to a neighbor!

Well, I feel terrible. We packed up 6 of our best looking cinnamon rolls and I told Bella we would take them to one of our friends in the neighborhood, or maybe even the mom we see across the street that we've never met, and we didn't. Part of it was my discomfort with approaching people with "gifts" of any sort. The fear is complicated but it boils down to the basic fear of rejection. BUT, I added that to one of our mittens so that we could both experience the joy of that random (and simple) act of kindness and to get myself over those kinds of situations that cause me to hesitate. 
However, as I get further and further along in my pregnancy (36 weeks!!) I've been experiencing progressively worse pelvic pain. I will not use this Advent post to go into details about...uncomfortable things like that, but it's been terribly painful to move around this week. I decided to wait until Palmer came home from work to deliver them as a family and after a call to the doctor and last minute visit to make sure the pain wasn't due to anything serious, we lost time in our day to do it. I've made myself promise not to let it go though - Day 4 was a great opportunity to teach Bella the greatness of kindness. And to put myself into another opportunity to beat the anxiety of it. 
So, Day 4 is to be continued...

Day 5: Take treats to daddy's work!

Not much explanation or many pictures to go with this day. We surprised daddy with his favorite kind of sugar cookies I just found the recipe for. You ready? They're sugar cookies...with cream cheese. I don't even want to share the recipe but I feel  like I should. So, you're welcome.

Day 6: Find a special ornament to hang!

My initial intent with the "find an ornament" idea was to buy a special ornament just for her, wrap it and hide it in the house for her to find. I couldn't find an ornament that I liked enough to be her special ornament and my "extra fun" budget was low enough that I couldn't really justify buying a random ornament that she may not like next year (like the Baabaa or Dora ones I was looking at). 
So, we changed it up and made an ornament, which was a much better idea anyway. 

I was lucky enough to find a recipe for sugar ornaments that was extremely easy and I had everything for it (it's really exciting when that actually happens). So those were our plans and she didn't let me forget about it :) 
Huh...I wonder why I can hardly ever get her into focus.

(I'm really irritated that it rotated some of my pictures...I'm sure everyone noticed.)

Baby belly photobomb

Ta da!

Totally pleased with her finished product

Yup, totally pleased

PS: Writing on sugar is hard.

Day 7: Make a craft as a family! 

We had every intention of making a craft. But this is what actually happened:

The snowflakes we were going to decorate and hang on our tree outside ended up serving a much greater purpose being thrown into the air. 
I was laid up on the couch so this craft totally worked for me. 
Yet another reminder to me that kids don't need elaborate plans to make the best of anything :)

Day 8: Write a letter to someone!

Lucky for us, Saturday, December 8th was Bella's Grandpa's birthday! We called to wish Grandpa a Happy Birthday and that evening we asked her who she wanted to write her letter to. She said, "Popop" (which I had to clarify which Popop she meant - she calls her Papa and her Grandpa the same thing now which causes some confusion sometimes) so Bella wrote a special letter to Grandpa!

Daddy helped Bella transcribe her letter 

"Dear Poppop, Happy Birthday. Cake. Puppy Diggy here. I'm drinking milk. I love you!"

We mailed the letter the next day because...

Day 9: Make a card for someone and mail it!

Bella chose to make a card for Nana and Papa that day! 

She told me that she was drawing a kitty with a fork. Sure, why not!

I have no idea what she was talking about in this letter. She talks in sentences much better than she used to but this letter doesn't quite show that - silly girl :)

Her mailbox attire looks way weirder than it really was. She did grab her purse and dress heels for the trek but I promise I did have a shirt on her; I'm not sure what happened to the neckline.

I think we all really enjoyed collaborating on a real letter. The fact that we wrote down exactly what she said may be a little bit over her head but she still enjoyed it and loved decorating it. 

Day 10: Watch a Christmas movie with homemade popcorn!
Pay no attention to the repeat outfit from the day before...
I was excited for this day because it meant we were going on the hunt for the real Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which I was pretty sure she would enjoy. Family Video's holiday movies were completely picked over but Hastings had a lot to choose from and all of it was in stock, which was really great for us. I wasn't sure how I was going to explain to Bella why we were going home without the "deer show".
I realized later that the "homemade popcorn" part of the activity was much more ambitious than I cared to be. So we just made regular popcorn which was literally just as exciting to her. 
I asked her what she thought when she first heard the popcorn pop and this was her reaction. 
She was loving the Island of Misfit Toys 

Day 11: Bella chooses what's for dinner!
Somebody didn't want to wait for Mama to get to the bottom of the stairs today. She also didn't feel like getting dressed (again) which, hey, neither do I half of the time. 
I read the back of this one to her and didn't even explain what it meant before she replied, "Cookies!".
"What?! You want cookies for dinner?!"
"I was thinking we could go to the store and you could pick something out, like a pizza or cheeseburgers."
"No, cookies!"
That's all it took to convince me. 
Cookies for dinner made for one happy girl. 
Day 12: Candy with Breakfast!
Weeell, we had a busy/lazy/I'm not getting off the couch after noon day. So we didn't get our mitten taken down until after naptime which meant we got to have candy for a snack!

Baabaa got some treats too, the big mooch! 
Day 13: Watch Christmas movie with a holiday treat!

Her reaction to watching the "deer show" again? (That's how Bella refers to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer)

This reaction is funny because this is what actually happened:

She didn't nap, despite my solid reasoning that she should, and when naptime was over she came down the stairs trying very hard to be cheerful and even perky. Her eyes looked exhausted but the height of her raised eyebrows and cheery smile were trying to persuade me otherwise. She sat next to me while I finished watching a show and I kissed her periodically while we cuddled, which she never does anymore. Then when I leaned to kiss her head again I noticed she was out. 
When she woke up from her short nap the proposition of the deer show made her cranky, so she had a tea party with daddy instead. Oh well!

Day 14: Make a gingerbread house!

Oh boy!!
I wanted to be terribly adventurous and make our own gingerbread for the house so I used this recipe and altered it to work for our house.
I was especially excited about this mitten's activity because Bella has been really into the story of the Gingerbread man, especially the book about the Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett. 
There are so many cheesy captions I've come up with for this one. 
Going pretty well!
I'll take a moment to add that Bella loves egg nog - especially when we put rum in it. JK about the rum.
Adding finishing touches
The next day we visited my parents where we made gingerbread people to go with our house. 

Day 15: Wear new Christmas PJs to bed! 

She was a little tired...

My original plan was to buy her new Christmas PJs to have waiting for her under the tree. Then I found they were $10+ for a new nevermind. Instead she spent the night at her Nana and Papa's where she wore some Christmas PJs they had there so we were able to follow through with the mitten plan - mostly.

Day 16: Read the story about the birth of Jesus!

She was so over posing for the camera.
We are fully aware that we are some of the luckiest people alive to have parents that live close enough that they can take Bella when we need a sitter with no hesitation and even more lucky and grateful that they keep her overnight. That being said, she had spent another night with Nana and Papa because we had tickets to a concert this night but I let them know what the mitten had said and she read the Nativity story with Nana.
To make up for missing out on two mittens in a row, we also read it the next day, too.

It was nice enough out that we had a book and hot chocolate picnic with leftover gingerbread. Not bad for December! 
Day 17: Send a letter to a friend!

I asked Bella what friend she wanted to send her letter to and she immediately replied, "Bibbit". (I don't know how "Emmett" has gone into so many variations. She refuses to try to say it correctly.)

"Emmett, Merry Christmas! Baabaa is at Nana's house. Me so happy to see Baabaa. Send Emmett letter in the mailbox. Bye! Bella"

Day 18: Unwrap a book to read!

Surprise, surprise, I couldn't get her to pose with the number. I think this time we can let it slide.
Bella was SO excited to finally be allowed to open a present! 

And her special bedtime book was...
Llama Llama Holiday Drama!
She wasn't as excited as I had maybe hoped...but I think it had more to do with it being bedtime. Unwrapping a special book is something I hope I can keep a tradition. I have so many books in Bella's collection that have small notations inside their front pages that my parents wrote to me. Those books mean more to me now than they ever have before which is why I hope to do the same for Bella. Maybe she won't care about silly little kids books when she's older or maybe she'll treasure them like I do. Either way, you can't go wrong with a good book and a note from Mama and Daddy. 

Day 19: Daddy picks what we do!

Well...we have no pictures and no real memory of actually doing this, whoops!

Day 20: Go see a Christmas light show!

I had made this mitten thinking we could drive to one of those fancy little music/Christmas light demonstrations somewhere but we had a surprise that kept us home bound for the day...

We took full advantage of our first snow of the season! 

Bemmetts did NOT like the I tossed him in for a picture.
I have to post this picture of 10 month old Bella and 2 1/2 year old Bella. I still see that little baby sometimes. :)
Day 21: Decorate cookies!

We actually ended up making and decorating cookies over two different days (not even including this one, whoops). Silly girl is so busy I can't keep her attention long enough to do some things like that but she really enjoyed the time that did keep her attention.

And Baabaa supervised
We finally got around to decorating them. Lo and behold...I don't think she actually ate a single cookie; she only wanted to eat the frosting. 
Day 22: Visit Crown Center!

(Boy we fell behind on the whole "picture of the mitten" deal)

Going to Crown Center is one of my favorite Christmas traditions! They have some of the same holiday attractions set up as they did when I was little. 

The countdown to Christmas! 
"Nice to meet you..."

The escalators easily may have been her favorite thing here.
Totally admiring the gingerbread village. This was kind of insane - it's all actual edible gingerbread and candy made by a local bakery. As Sweet Brown would say: "Ain't nobody got time fo that."


The belly
Watch out, Daddy! There's a snowball headed straight for you!
This girl is loved.

And we love her

Day 23: Go look at Christmas lights and drink hot cocoa!

We had to catch up on these photo ops on Christmas day - pretend you didn't notice.

For some unknown reason, the end of December starts getting a little crazy. (Surely it doesn't have anything to do with Christmas or preparing for a baby or any little thing like that). So I don't know that we even did anything this night, but we did drive around and look at Christmas lights on Christmas night, so we sort of followed through. 

Day 24: Write a list of 5 things you're thankful for and mail them to our family!

I got this idea from elsewhere and thought it was a really great thing to do on Christmas eve; maybe even making it a tradition. I could easily go into the why's involving taking away some of the focus on presents and taking a moment to reflect on our blessings, all the cheesy stuff. But I'm not going to because we didn't even do it. Whoops. We spent Christmas eve with my parents playing games and opening presents. Lots of laughing, relaxing and talking about our next Christmas with an almost one year old and an almost 4 year old. I personally didn't have to write my list to remember what I'm thankful for. Oh shoot, that was pretty cheesy. Sorry.

Well, here's pictures from our Christmas eve.
She (miraculously) fell asleep before dinner. I have never in my life had to actually try to keep her awake enough to go eat and open presents! What?!
She loved delivering presents!
My grandma made her a little cat that is totally adorable! 
Oh my gosh this picture cracks me up. It's slightly awkward and Bella's face seemingly smashed into my belly is hysterical. 
Bella has started doing this slow, hard blink that totally cracks me up. 

My little Jackie O

Her new friend


Good thing there were only 25 mittens. She was super underwhelmed about posing with them.