Happy Mothers Day to all the mama’s out there! I hope that today was wonderful for you.
I started Mothers Day weekend off at my parents house. My dad made a French toast, fresh fruit, and potatoes breakfast for my mom & I on Saturday.
After breakfast, my mom & I went to our favorite local flower farmer annual plant sale. I am so happy about my picks. We got them planted today (Sunday) and I cannot wait to see them grow! I swear her flowers just take root so much better than anything I’ve gotten anywhere else around town!
After the plant sale, Niko & I took the kids out to the annual Chili Cook Off & Dessert Auction at church. I REALLY enjoyed the vegetarian chili. My mother in law told me that she would ask the woman who made it for the recipe for me.
The dessert auction was fun. I couldn’t believe how much some of these families paid for these homemade desserts! One cake went for over $1000! It was to raise money for the Youth Mission Trip. (My father in law let us know today that the entire trip is paid in full thanks to the auction!) Next year I really want to enter a dessert or two into the auction. I wonder how much mine would go for?! 🤔
My father in law made & entered a “Strawberry Fields Forever” strawberry shortcake filled with real strawberries 🍓 and topped with a homemade strawberry glaze. He bid on & won that for us all to share. It was SO yummy! My mother in law bid on chocolate chip cookies for us to share. We also ended up bringing home a red velvet & cream cheese frosting cake.
We bought plain white photo frames. I wrote Happy Mothers Day in the center & the girls signed all of their names and colored with Sharpies. After they were finished, we printed out photos of Moses & the girls and put them inside of the frames.
Mia & I had gone to Trader Joe’s the afternoon beforehand to buy several bouquets of flower arrangements. I took the arrangements apart and I laid all of the flowers on the table for the girls to make new bouquets for the Babas (Ukrainian word for grandma 👵🏼) except for the roses (since they had thorns) which I split 3 ways evenly.
They ended up turning out really cute! I thought this was a super fun way for the girls to be involved. I loved doing this with Mia at Findlay Market last year and really wanted to be able to make it possible for all of the girls to create real bouquets together to gift to their Babas for Mothers Day and thought this would be the easiest and less stressful way to accomplish that.
We assembled all of our gifts together and packed them up for each Baba.
I wish I would have gotten a picture of all of the completed bouquets. They were really pretty. Both my mom & Ali were really impressed with the girls work. I really hope that we made them feel special today.
Mia & Ella each made me a few things. Mia made me a cupcake 🧁 at The Mad Potter & a really cute card. Ella made me a mushroom 🍄 at The Mad Potter, a clay bowl in art class, a bouquet of paper flowers each listing different reasons why she loves me, & a box of “coupons” for me to cash in for various things like hugs, a walk around the block, or helping me out around the house.
We went to church, then out to lunch with my husband’s parents, sister, & her two children: Noah & Milana.
The cousin crew! Ella, Sasha & Moses, Athena, Mia & Milana, Noah. I can’t believe how big they are all getting.
One of my favorite gifts I received (from Kaden) was my Ukrainian mosaic butterfly 🦋 to add to my garden.
Of course I have my Ukrainian flag flying proudly. Then I added the sunflowers for the bad-ass Ukrainian woman who was giving out sunflower seeds to the occupiers so when they die sunflowers will grow. I moved the blue & yellow flower over to this space to go along with the Ukrainian tribute to my people.
I love love love the way that it looks! The butterfly really pulls it together. I got my new plants into the ground and I can’t wait to watch them grow through the season.
Well, after this busy weekend, I’m so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open to finish writing this so I’m going to call it a night. 5 am will be here in the blink of an eye.
As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to an end I just wanted to share with you our small DIY gifts the girls made for their teachers.
Ella made a clipboard for her teacher, Mr. Vample. Mia made a clipboard for her teacher Mrs. Mcgahan.
They also made a clipboard for our “bus mom,” Mrs. Mace, because she is just the sweetest and has helped our girls (and many other kiddos) get safely to & from the bus stop each day which we certainly appreciate.
We bought each clipboard at the Dollar Tree for $1.25 each, and the rest of the materials we had at home already.
Getting teacher gifts doesn’t have to be pricey. It doesn’t have to out-do any of the other parents. You don’t have to break your budget. It isn’t a competition to be the “favorite” student, or parent. Your kid can color on a rock, or put nature together to form a portrait of their teacher. They can color a card. Kids are so creative- the possibilities are endless if you let them take the lead.
Your child just showing their teacher they care and appreciate them enough to take the time out of their busy play to make them a small gift is ENOUGH. Gifts are meant to be from the heart & that’s exactly where a homemade gift comes from ❤.
I’m a little late getting this post up, but I’ve been working around the clock making Christmas happen while taking care of a whole house of sick kiddos. After a week back at school, I’m finally finding my motivation again.
I used to be Team Halloween all the way growing up, but after having so many kids, I have to say: I think that Christmas may officially be my favorite holiday.
I love turning my home into a magical wintery Wonderland for the kids. I now dream of adding more and more to my collection over the years until my entire home is transformed for the holiday. I even considered getting rid of my other holiday decor (yes, even Halloween 😱) just to make more room for more Christmas decor storage! Maybe I’ll just go the Nightmare Before Christmas route and just live half way between the pumpkin door tree and Christmas tree door tree and be forever happy.
When you first pull up, this bow is the first thing you see on our lamp-post.
I wrapped a cute red, green, and “snow” garland that I found at Walmart around the railing then added this adorable woodsy-vibe bell from Hobby Lobby to the bottom.
On our porch, I added our “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree for the kids to decorate. I hung mini stockings on a plant stand and put the light-up “Santa Stop Here” sign from Hobby Lobby on top for some height so that people driving/walking by could see it.
The garland on the plant hanger matches the garland going up the railing. I bought those two large bows at Dollar Tree a few years ago and they are still going strong. I filled the hanging baskets with ornaments, & hung giant, sparkley snowflakes from Walmart.
I switched out the Fall mums for these holiday arrangements.
Then I added just a small string of lights to really finish it off.
I bought these stockings for our family back in 2018. In 2019, I was able to add “A” to our collection for Athena. This year, this pattern was discontinued from Target. I was able to hunt down one more “M” for Moses on Mercari which was a total sign from the Christmas Gods- last baby, last M available in this print to complete our family of stockings.
I am sitting here just in awe. I can’t believe how beautiful it looks so far and it’s only my first night decorating the tree. I am so full of gratitude- to be able to turn our home into a magical winter Wonderland for the kids, for my husband who works his butt off so I can make it happen, for overall good health and a happy, loving family. I really have so many blessings to be so thankful for that I need to slow down and appreciate in the moment. That is my wish/goal for myself this Holiday season: slow down, live hygge with my family, and really appreciate all that I already have.
Sasha, Moses, and I took a trip out to find some new Christmas decorations. We picked out a lot of new ornaments together. We decided to go with a “Mrs. Clause” theme which I now plan to use for the rest of my Christmases.
Mia picked out this beautiful tree skirt that “reminds her of snow.” In person, it shimmers for miles; the picture does it no justice.
I found this adorable mini wreath in the Target “dollar” spot to put under my Aria diffuser. It made it look so fun & festive, especially with the tree trunk cake stand it is on.
I hung this “Letters to Santa” mailbox for the kids to write their letters to Santa to send off to the North Pole.
The kids love to countdown the days to Christmas with this fun countdown calendar we found at Target a few years ago.
I kept the kids Christmas baking outfits at the table for an extra Christmassy feel.
I found this cute floral display at Kroger that went along really well with the rest of my decor. It reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West’s sister.
I didn’t do a whole lot to the bathroom but I did add a few small pieces for fun.
The kids went to get their photo taken with Santa. They got to pick out a cute frame to make to put their photo in.
I loved this mail box so much when we met Santa, I had to get a picture of it.
Ella, Mia, & I went to a Reggae Christmas show with my parents and Kaden.
It was a really fun night, except I got my first parking ticket which made me cry. I haven’t gotten in any trouble at all in almost 10 years now which is something I have been really, really proud of and I felt like I was a total failure.
We took the kids to The Christmas Ranch for the second year in a row. Last year we only were able to drive thru, but this year we walked around and rode the train. It is such a cool place! It was an absolutely freezing night though, and hope that next year we will be able to pick a night that is a little warmer so we are more comfortable walking around the village.
We went out for a night at Kings Island Winter Fest. We had a blast and enjoyed lots of hot chocolate! I always love seeing the park all lit up in Christmas lights & decor. The older kids got to walk around and ride some big coasters while the younger kids stayed in Planet Snoopy riding the kiddie rides and making Christmas crafts!
We found this cute scavenger hunt on Pinterest that we walked around our neighborhood as a family to cross the items off our list. I loved that the older kids were able to read the list, while the younger kids were still able to participate using the photos.
Snowmen Cake Pops ⛄
We made a “Copycat Starbucks cake pop recipe” that we found on Pinterest for the cake pops, but instead of pink chocolate, we kept it white and tried our best to draw snowmen on each one. They tasted pretty similar to the real Starbucks cake pops, but it was very time consuming and turned out looking more like a distant cousin of a penguin than a snowman, but the kids had fun so 🤷🏼♀️
The girls Christmas Baking Outfits came from Ikea a few winters ago.
Melted Snowmen Cookies ⛄
These were definitely more my speed when it comes to bakery item decorating. I found the idea on Pinterest, but used my go-to cookie + frosting recipe. They were a great beginner cookie design- very simple and literally impossible to mess up since the melted look is what we wanted. They ended up being really cute!
Reindeer Cake Pops 🦌
Sasha & Athena were excited to get these adorable reindeer cake pops from Starbucks on a morning coffee run with mom.
Veggie Santa 🎅
I found this idea on Pinterest. It was so cute and only took minutes to put together.
Christmas Tree Cheese bread 🎄
This was another Pinterest idea that was so simple to make and tasted amazing! I offered both pesto and marinara to dip.
I set up a dessert buffet for the kids. It consisted of a cookie tray, marshmallows, fruit, and a Christmas Cookie “Dunkaroo-style” dip. It was supposed to have pound cake bites as well, but since the kiddos were sick my Christmas party was a bust and I decided to save that for New Years since there was already plenty of treats.
I set out sprinkles for the kids to decorate the whip cream on their hot chocolate, but again… sick kids meant we didn’t get to do the hot cocoa bar either ☹.
Hot Cocoa Bombs
I got these Hot Cocoa Bombs from Hyde Park Baker. They were a white chocolate shell filled with cocoa powder and mini marshmallows. When you poured the boiling water on them, they exploded. The kids thought it was really fun and yummy!
We LOVE our Trader Joe’s Advent Calendars. They have become one of our favorite Christmas traditions over the years. Papa George (the Candy Man) always brings them for us in the beginning of the winter season which really marks off the holiday for us as soon as he arrives with the big Trader Joe’s bag filled with them.
Elf on the Shelf
Some families go all out with their Elf on the Shelf ideas, but I take a more “done is better than perfect” approach to it. I enjoy watching the kids search for Elf in the morning, that’s all. We don’t tell our kids he is spying on them or that he judges their behavior in lieu of Santa or Jesus…. it’s just a fun hide and seek game for us.
I only documented my favorite times that Elf showed up, most nights were pretty lame to be honest. It was fun though.
The kids favorite one was when Elfie “pooped” chocolate chips in a jar. I wish I had gotten a photo of that one.
Teacher Gifts 👩🏼🏫
This was the gift tag which I thought turned out SO cute!
We got each teacher a holiday cookie from 3 Sweet Girls Bakery for the “C is for cookies”. Ella’s teacher got a cute little elf & Mia’s teacher got a sweet little snowman. We also got each teacher a Starbucks gift card for the “C is for caffeine,” then put it together in a small Christmas gift bag.
I had planned to get a photo of the teachers cookies, but only took one of the one I got to treat myself after the kiddos went to bed. They were all super cute though!
As a family, this has by far been our best Christmas yet. We were so blessed to be able to give the girls *almost* everything they asked for (why is my 8 year old asking for a phone anyway?! 🙄😂).
I have really been working on being more thoughtful with my gift giving and I loved seeing each of their faces really light up with each gift.
Gift giving really has an entire different experience for both the giver and receiver when you really take the time to think about what that person wants or needs rather than just picking whatever to cross it off the list. It makes it feel so much more special and meaningful.
This was the only photo I got of any of the kids on Christmas. Maybe next year we’ll be a “matching pajama” type of family 😂.
We even had a surprise sack that Santa left our family filled with a little gift for each of us. We thought that was so thoughtful and that kids were so surprised! They loved that Santa stopped at their sign!
Overall, this Christmas has been absolutely magical. It wasn’t everything I had planned for since the kiddos ended up sick, but it was still just as magical. I already have SO many ideas for next Christmas, but also very excited about all that 2022 has in store for us!
A few years ago during the worst of my grief depression following the death of my son’s father, I began what I later learned as “Swedish Death Cleaning.”
Swedish Death Cleaning is the idea of clearing out all of the clutter from your home in order to leave less of a burden on your loved ones when you die to make it simpler on them.
I began obsessively tossing everything in my home and organizing everything perfectly in the event that I would pass. I wanted everything to be in order (even controlling from my grave, I see 🤪) so that when I was gone they would be able to find everything easily and they wouldn’t have to go through any of my things.
I got rid of almost everything in my home and found that a huge part of my stress had gone away. I found that my children actually played with the toys they had left. I found that every item left in my home has a purpose, and is used. I found that having a completely decluttered and organized home significantly cut down on waste. I found that it is much easier to thoroughly clean when you have less to move.
I learned that holding onto items for the off chance that I “might” fit in something one day or “might” use it one day even though we haven’t used it once in years was only creating extra unnecessary clutter. Why was I holding onto it? What purpose did it serve sitting in a corner or on a shelf being stored away. We aren’t supposed to hoard earthly treasures. We should give freely when we can, and if we have things that we truly are not using, we should offer it up to someone who could use it now.
With my 30th birthday approaching as well as the holiday season that will also soon be upon us, I thought I would create a gift guide to make shopping for the minimalist woman 😘 in your life a little easier.
A Gift Guide for the Minimalist Woman in your Life
Personal Care Gift Card (Massage, nail appointment, hair appointment, a facial. 💆🏼♀️💇🏼♀️ [ ⚠️TIP: Find out what salon the miminalist woman in your life uses before purchasing a gift card.]
A new candle🕯
Take care of one bill, expense, or outstanding debt. 💵 No matter how big or how small, its always nice to feel less financially stressed.
A grocery store gift card, or take grocery shopping! 🧁 It’s always nice to be able to get some things outside your family food budget.
A gasoline gift card ⛽
A new plant 🌿 real or faux!
Offer to help with something that needs finished! 🙌🏼 From finishing a project together to getting the laundry caught up for her, there’s always so much to do & not enough time to do it. An extra set of hands can be greatly appreciated.
Offer to babysit 🤱🏼
Provide an already prepared meal that is heat-able in the oven or crockpot for a night off from cooking, with minimal cleaning. OR go out for a meal. 🥗 [ ⚠️TIP: find out dietary restrictions ahead of time!]
A book or cookbook 📚 (Find out dietary restrictions ahead of time).
A Kitchen Aide Stand Mixer attachment for the homemaking minimalist woman. There are so many neat attachments that make cooking or baking from scratch even easier!
Cute reusable grocery bags
Earrings from a local artist or Etsy.[ ⚠️TIP: Etsy can sometimes have long shipping times. Plan accordingly.]
Baked goods. 🍪 Homemade is always best.
A bag of coffee from a favorite local coffee shop
I hope that this list helped give you a few ideas for creative and useful minimalist gift giving for the woman in your life! 🎁
🙏🏼 PLEASE SHARE AND SUBSCRIBE! & Also check back for my Gift Guide for the Minimalist Children & Families, as well as my Gift Guide for the Minimalist Man!