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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    A Look Back.



Getting Into The Spirit.

The holidays are in full swing here at our house, and have been for a few weeks now – but I’m just now realizing I haven’t actually shared any of that yet.  Holiday posts are some of my absolute favorites to re-read years later (second only to vacation posts).  We got our tree pretty early this year (the 3rd!), which has been fun for maximizing festivities.

I’ve been so looking forward to this Christmas, since Halloween was such a booming success this year.  Cullen’s first Christmas he was right around Graham’s age – way too small to have any idea what was going on.  And last year he was kind of into it, but not really much of a participant.  But I had high hopes for this year!

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I talked up the Christmas tree for weeks ahead of time, and he loved spotting them out the car windows or whenever we were out shopping.  I told him over and over again that once we got ours, he’d get to put the star on top.  Cue excitement.

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He patiently waited for me to do the many, many strands of lights, and circled me around the tree like a shark.  Of course part of my holiday vision was this lazy Sunday afternoon where we listened to Christmas music and all wore festive but not-too-matchy outfits and it all made for the perfect family photoshoot.  The important stuff, right?

So naturally, it ended up being Thursday night at 7pm in horrible lighting, and my son was wearing a ragged, stained white onesie.  Tis the season of my current state of life, friends.

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I did the first half of the work with the lights and garland, and then I fed and cuddled Graham while Casey and Cullen did all the ornaments.  Casey started by asking Cullen where each one should go, but he just wanted to put all of them on top of each other in the exact same spot – ha!

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He loved pulling each one out of the box, and it was fun to see him get excited about some of my old ornaments from circa 1986. 

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Ragged, old onesie or not, it was a really fun family evening and that was all that I really wanted.

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So when I was growing up we always made a big thing of putting the tree topper on – in our house it was an angel that my mom had hand-sewn.  Ours is a gold star from Target, but hey – whatever.  So getting to put the tree topper on was a big deal, especially in a family of multiple kids.

So of course I made a big deal of Cullen finally being old enough to help me do it.  Although he has participated in years past…

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Are you ready for this year’s most ridiculous tree-topping fail?  We got all excited and ready to go…

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Reached out…

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And then realized that the stool was way too far away and the toddler was waaaaay too heavy to hold out that far.  I almost dropped him into the tree!!

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So I moved the stool in and went for it again…

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Double fail.  Poor kid just wanted to put the star on top!

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So we called in the big leagues.  Success!

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Here is the rest of our décor this year.  Our mantle is lined with twinkly lights and adorable holiday cards, and four (!) stockings are hung with care.  Happy that our stockings were still in stock this year so we could get a matching one for little G!

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Some ornaments, holiday candles, and a little Santa friend on our sofa table.

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And my usual hurricanes full of ornaments across the dining room table.  Simple but pretty.

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Our decorated tree in all her glory.  I have called this empty corner of the living room the “Christmas tree corner” since we moved in way back in May, and it’s so fun to watch it come to be.  It is also really fun to decorate our new house because we love it here so much, and it’s nice to finally be able to picture ourselves living here many Chistmas-es to come. 

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(Gratuitous baby-sleeping-in-front-of-ornaments photo)

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Mistletoe.  Always.

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And finally, the advent calendar!  This was a gift from when Cullen was born, and I knew he’d be old enough to do it this year.  He is really into moving the Santa every day, but I made the mistake of telling him that we’d open all the presents once Santa reached the 25.  So despite moving him to the correct number each morning, you can guess where Santa mysteriously ends up by the end of each day…

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And last but certainly not least – the annual Santa photo.  I didn’t go the year Cullen was a baby, but we did go last year and he was scared and cried.  I had a feeling he was going to love it this year, but you never know for sure.  I talked it up big time, and he didn’t miss a beat.  He marched in there and jumped straight onto Santa’s lap before I could even take his coat off.  I was so proud, since he can actually be somewhat hesitant and shy around new people.

We didn’t get a good picture – Cullen looks confused and Graham looks insane – but the smile on Cullen’s face through the ten minutes in there was well worth my $23.  He chatted up Santa, showed him the Bert figurine he carried in, and told him all about the basketball hoop he hopes to get this year.  Such a sweet thing to watch!  And bonus points to Graham for not crying a single tear.

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So that’s how we’ve been celebrating so far this year!  My family arrives tomorrow, and the real celebrations kick in then.  It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

PS – Fun stuff over on Babble today!



Giving Thanks.

You know what the good thing is about always being a week behind?  You guys thought you had ready every last Thanksgiving recap, but no – there is still one more!  But I can’t just skip it because these are some of my favorite posts to look back on month (and years!) later.  So here we go – our day of thanks!

Have I mentioned here before that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday?  I’m sure I have, but I’m telling you again.  I love Christmas through and through, but it doesn’t get better than Thanksgiving.  The cooking, the National Dog Show, the pumpkin pie, the second serving of pumpkin pie – THE best. 

I did all our shopping and planning early in the week, but I didn’t actually start any cooking or prepping until Thursday morning.  We slept in late and enjoyed a lazy morning in our pajamas. 

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The boys played in the playroom together while Casey and I got started with the cooking.

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Knock on wood, but I’m amazed at how independent Cullen is these days.  He will happily play in his playroom and do puzzles for several hours without much adult interaction. 

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Occasionally, the tickle monster stops by…

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Feeling grateful for ALL the members of our little family. 

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While the boys played, I got to cooking.

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We hosted and cooked Thanksgiving dinner the year that Cullen was born too, and it is one of my favorite holiday memories.  It’s been so long since I spent a whole day cooking, and it was so nice to just be home as a family with no real agenda or schedule.

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Casey is a really good cook, and I love the rare chances for us to spend time cooking together.  We made a KILLER pumpkin pie this year, and I had hoped to post the recipe in time for the holiday, but no dice.  Next year, I promise!

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I had turned the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on for Cullen to watch in his playroom, and at one point I heard him shouting and yelling for me to come in. 

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He had spotted some familiar friends rolling down one of the floats.  So cute. 

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I have such sweet memories of that first Thanksgiving with Cullen, and this year I couldn’t stop thinking about how thankful I am for Graham.  It is so amazing to be blessed with two sweet boys. 

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Someone didn’t want to be put down during naptime, but the cooking needed to continue!  Babywearing for the win. 

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Cullen went down for naptime of his own, and not long after our long-distance guests arrived!  Casey’s parents came to spend the holiday with us and finally meet Graham.  Such a treat!

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They got a chance to get to know Graham while big brother snoozed.

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And once he woke up, it was all smiles. 

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This guy cannot get enough of his grandparents.  Lucky kid. 

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Around 4pm our friends arrived, and Casey and I got to work putting the final touches on our Thanksgiving meal.  Around 5pm, it all hit the table.  Glazed ginger carrots…

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Angela’s Lentil Walnut Mushroom Balls

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Skin-on mashed potatoes…

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Orange-cranberry sauce…

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Sourdough stuffing with fennel and capers (my favorite!)

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And roasted Brussels sprouts – yum.  Sadly, Graham did not appreciate these.  :/

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Table set and ready to go!

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Sadly, Graham had the world’s biggest meltdown the minute the food hit the table, so I spent most of our dinner bouncing and shushing and trying to calm him down.  But I was just happy to have had fun cooking, and to share all our food with people we love. 

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Grandparents who flew a long way to join us, and a family I am so thankful for every day. 

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And Seattle friends who have become a second family to us out here. 

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Finished off our evening with delicious homemade pumpkin pie – gingersnap crust for the win. 

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I shared my slice with a hungry little turkey.

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I ended my day feeling very full of both food and love.  I love Thanksgiving because it is a fun day of cooking and family time, but also because it is a day where I am reminded of all that I have to be thankful for.  And this year, that feels like an awful lot. 

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Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, too!

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