Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cookie Baking

Tad started a new job back in May, and due to the nature of his job (working from home three days a week and doing remote work), he has a large team of coworkers whom he has not met in person!  He thought it would be nice to send Christmas cookies to them this year.

So that's what I've been doing the last few days... cookie baking and candy making!
Each box contains a variety of cookies, including double chocolate peppermint bark, chocolate fudge, peanut butter fudge, Christmas M&M cookies, and peanut butter cookies.
These are most of the boxes, but not all.
We are going to run to the post office first thing this morning!  I hope these boxes will be a blessing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trip to Marbles Kids Museum

On Saturday, we decided to take the whole family to a children's museum in Raleigh (Marbles).  We had heard lots of great things about it from friends who had gone, and we thought our kids would be old enough to enjoy it now!

The first exhibit had tons of fun activities for the kids to do, including a grocery store, cars to drive, an ambulance, a stage, a veterinarian's office, a school, a fire truck, a bus with a slide, a helicopter, a farm, and more.

Jude was in train table heaven!

Vera liked pretending to be a doctor and administer shots!

CC liked driving the ambulance!
There was a puppet stage with lots of puppets to play with, as well as a larger stage with a bunch of costumes.  Almost all of the exhibits had corresponding costumes, which was so much fun for the girls!
There was a small enclosed area for kids under 18 months, which Jude enjoyed thoroughly!  Part of the wall was a fish tank, and he was really excited about watching the fish swim around!

The veterinarian's office was so fun.  The kids got to take care of dogs and cats, giving them "baths" and needed medical care!
One of the coolest parts of this first exhibit was the farm area.  The stuffed animals were so cute and the kids enjoyed feeding them with bottles, checking for eggs under the hens, and doing other "farm-related" activities!
There was a little gardening area where you could pick vegetables.

As we moved on through the museum, we came to the splash area.  The girls loved playing with the water at this exhibit!

We went through another couple of exhibits, including a submarine, before we came to the 2-level pirate ship.  How cool, right?
The girls took turns swabbing the deck.
Upstairs there were lots of cool exhibits as well.  The kids really liked the "gym" area, where they got to play on tumbling mats, play basketball, and watch a hockey game (bigger kids were playing).

Another fun area that we didn't get any pictures of was a room that taught kids about how money is earned.  There was a pizza place where they could assemble pizzas and deliver them on a bike, as well as a pet sitting service, a bank, and a slide!  It was really fun.

Towards the end there were some "bigger kid" exhibits, such as a place to build your own little car and race it, and tool benches with REAL tools!  Vera played with that a little bit while CC and Jude played with the GIANT Legos!

We spent 2.5 hours at Marbles, and we still felt like we were keeping the kids moving along through all the exhibits!  Some families could probably spend all day!  We definitely want to go back again sometime!  It is a really fun museum and we made some great memories.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Family Photos 2014

Back in August, my sweet friend April (of April Danielle Photography & Design) took our family's photos! I don't know how I've been so blessed to be friends with so many amazing photographers, but I am truly thankful.  I try to "give back" to my friends and family by taking pictures for them as well (though I am far from a professional!).

April is absolutely amazing with kids.  She put my girls at ease right away and they loved hanging out with her during our photo session.  She got all of us to smile and laugh throughout the session, and she even helped me be less stressed about everyone running around!

I absolutely love how all the photos turned out!  I had a hard time picking my favorites for this post!
This is one of my favorite pictures of Jude EVER!

Vera looks so grown up!

I love their sisterly bond that April captured!

CC just looked like a little doll in all these photos!

Visit April Danielle Photography & Design on Facebook for more pictures and more info!  April primarily works in central and eastern North Carolina, but she is willing to travel if you contact her about it!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ginger Spice Cookie Soap

I've been experimenting with all kinds of homemade soap combinations, and I really liked how this particular one turned out!  Ever since my Homegrown Collective box came last month, I've really been enjoying soap-making.  I made a bunch of different bars to give away as gifts, and I decided to share this "recipe" with you!

This soap really reminds me of a cookie.  It's sweet, but not too sweet, and the ginger scent is so Christmasey.  The goat's milk soap base I used is very moisturizing, and to top it off, there is oatmeal in it as well for added moisturizing benefits!

Using a melt and pour soap base makes soap-making SO easy.  You can easily triple this recipe to make three bars at once, if you like!  That's what I usually do, since I have three soap molds.
Ginger Spice Cookie Soap

4 oz. melt and pour soap base (I like this kind)
5 drops Ginger Spice essential oil blend (if you don't have this blend, see note below)
1 Tbsp. oatmeal

Prepare soap mold by sprinkling oatmeal in the bottom.  If you don't have a soap mold, you can use something else, like a muffin tin, a bowl, or a small box, as long as you line it with freezer paper. (Here are a few clever ideas.)

Grate soap base with a grater (it's nice to use one that is dedicated to soap-making).  In a double boiler or a glass bowl placed securely over a pot of water, melt grated soap base.  Stir constantly with a popsicle stick or wooden dowel while it is melting.

Remove from heat.  Add 5 drops of Ginger Spice essential oil blend.  Stir to combine.

Pour melted soap into the mold.  The oatmeal may float to the top, and that's okay!

Allow to cool at room temperature until hardened.  Pop out of the soap mold.  If you have trouble getting it out, stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes and then it should come out without a problem.

You can wrap up the soap to give it away (I love to use brown kraft paper), or you can use it immediately!

Note: If you have a stash of essential oils, but not Ginger Spice, you could try making your own blend using orange, cassia or cinnamon bark, ginger root, and clove bud.  I'm not sure about the ratios, but play around until you like the fragrance.  Then add 5 drops of your blend to this soap recipe!

Don't forget: you can use code "FEATHERSHOLIDAY" to get $2 off any bottle of the new Christmas blends (no limit on how many bottles) from Rocky Mountain Oils, including Ginger Spice, Christmas Tree, and Candy Cane!   All of these oil blends are fantastic for diffusing!  Code valid through 12/25/14.

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Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post, but it does contain affiliate links to the essential oil company I use and love.  If you choose to purchase oils through my links, it will help support my family and this blog.  Thank you! 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas at the Beach

Over the weekend, we were blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas with Tad's side of the family!  His parents were so kind to rent a beach house for us for the weekend so we could all spend some extended time together!

We loved reading Christmas books together.
The weekend was so relaxing (as you can see below, I actually had time to drink hot coffee and read a few cooking magazines)!
The back yard was sandy (obviously), so the kids had a good time digging and playing!
Drew (8) dug a really big hole!
CC had such a fun time.
Jude was content to sit on everyone's laps the whole time we were outside.  (Vera would not have done that at that age!)
We had a fire pit, which was so cozy!

Tad, the girls, and I walked down to the ocean.  It was windy, so the waves we really high!

Cordelia was delighted by the beach.

Love my sweet husband.  :)  It was awesome to have so much quality time with him this weekend!
Vera loved the beach too, but she did get a little scared by a crab we saw!
Back at the fire pit, Jude loved being thrown in the air by his Uncle Jed.

Naturally, we made s'mores!  We are particular about our chocolate.
Aunt Angela and Jude
"Just one more cracker, Mommy!"
Vera wanted to roast her own marshmallow.
That evening we had soup (buffalo chicken chili, beef stew in mashed potato bowls, and minestrone) for dinner.  After dinner, the kids got on their new pajamas and decorated the tree!

Earlier in the day, they painted ornaments with Grammy.  CC is hanging on her painted ornament.

Before bed we had a family sing-a-long!  We sang lots of Christmas carols and worship songs accompanied by Uncle Jed on the guitar.
 The next morning, we had to get a picture of all the cousins together!
They were much more cooperative than last year!
Our tree looked so pretty and we loved the double-sided fireplace!
This year, the adults drew names for gifts, and all the kids made gifts for one another.  They seemed much more focused on giving rather than getting, and I think that was partly because they had helped make the gifts!  It was so sweet to see.

Tad gave his dad a SUPER hot salsa, and while Dad pretended like it wasn't that bad, he downed more than several glasses of water (while hiccuping/crying) in the kitchen!  Quite entertaining for the rest of us!
We had a lovely brunch that morning with fresh fruit, donut holes, lemon poppyseed scones, goat cheese eggs, chocolate cherry granola, chocolate chip pancakes, and bacon!

Great way to start the day!
The kids enjoyed some hot chocolate in their special mugs that Angela painted their names on.

Too cute, right?

Later in the afternoon, Haley helped Angela and me make some sugar cookies.

We did a few crafts before dinner too.  Washi tape is always a hit!

 I folded the cloth napkins to look like Christmas trees, and I made monograms for the place cards.  Love how it turned out!
Angela decorated the table with ornaments and shells.

Everyone was hungry... and it was a good thing they were!
We had Caesar salad, sweet potato casserole, loaded baked potatoes, lima beans, green beans, peas, bread, and filet mignon!  Scrumptious!
The cousins all played so well together and it was so sweet to see how much they love each other.  CC loves her Haley!
On the way home Sunday night, we had a flat tire (boo!), but we made it home on the spare!
We have so many wonderful memories from this weekend, and we are thankful for our extended family!

The group photo is on Dad C.'s camera, so I'll add it to the post when I get it!
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