Tag Archives: holidays

First Holiday Season at The Lodge

This holiday season was extra special for us. We’re hoping to spend every Thanksgiving and Christmas at The Lodge from here until eternity and our inaugural year didn’t disappoint. Our first Christmas season was a white one and it was filled with more joy and smiles on my kids’ faces than I’ve ever seen before.

We were able to spend just over two weeks holed up in the mountains together and it was magical and so, so very special. It seems like our quality family time happens mostly at The Lodge and to have such an abundance was the best gift of the season.

Our Christmas traditions seemed extra special this year. Alex perfected his cinnamon roll baking skills and whipped up the best batch yet! I knocked out a few more dozen of my new favorite Christmas cookie – M&M cookies. Ben decorated a gingerbread house and we cozied up on the couch in front of the fire for The Night Before Christmas.

There were so many firsts that will be on the “traditions” list from here on out.

We loved ice skating in town, finding the best sledding hill around and going cross country skiing still holds high on our list. Ben got three days of skiing in and Alex and I managed to get one, too, although it was separate.

A few days after Christmas my dad made his way out to The Lodge. We were also joined for a few visits by my cousin Jonathan, his wife, Kelly, and their almost 2-year old son, Miles, who were staying nearby. The weather was really mixed during this part of our trip and was fraught with torrential rain for a few days.

Despite the unseasonable weather we managed to get out for a few adventures around town and hosted Jon, Kelly and Miles for a few play dates to escape the rain. After taking Ben skiing, my dad and I were able to stay at Stevens Pass for a few hours and take some runs together. It was such a treat and the conditions were amazing.

This first holiday season at The Lodge was an absolute dream. Time moved so slowly and it really felt like we were able to unwind, relax, play and enjoy each other’s company. It actually did feel like a vacation.

The snowy weather made the experience that much more special. Snow is one of my absolute favorite things and I found myself rushing to the windows in the morning to see if new snow had fallen in the night. We read “Snow” as many times as possible because every time we recited it, it snowed!

My heart is extra full after this holiday season and it’s overflowing with gratitude and excitement that we are able to spend so much time out in the mountains this winter. Happy ski season!

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

So far our Christmas has been filled with joy and excitement. We have made so many memories with our family and are enjoying carrying out our Christmas traditions.

This is our first Christmas at The Lodge and it has been so magical. I hope I remember these days for the rest of my life.

One of the extra special memories we made this year was cutting down our Christmas tree from the forest on our property at The Lodge. Just as we made it to the forest it began to snow! We trudged through the ice crusted snow with our very own saw and found the perfect Ponderosa Pine. It surely isn’t like a typical Grand Fir or Fraser Fir most folks are used to, but this tree is the most perfect of Christmas trees I’ve laid eyes on.

Of course we had a very Christmas Vacation moment when we brought the tree inside and realized just how big it really was!

Alex trimmed it back and we got carried away with decorating our beauty.

Every year since Ben was born the holiday season has been more and more special and this one takes the cake. Seeing the joy now from two toddlers is extremely heartwarming. I can’t wait to see what happens after Santa comes!

Merry Christmas!

Holiday Traditions

One of my absolute favorite holiday traditions is baking Christmas cookies. I love to package them up in a cute little box and bring them around to our neighbors to spread some holiday cheer. This year was our tenth year of doing this!

Ben got really into cookie baking with me this year. We had so much fun baking sugar cookies together. I will say, though, nothing tests your patience quite like baking with a toddler! The kids loved decorating them, too. Ben also requested making M&M cookies which turned out to be his greatest idea to date – they were SO GOOD.

I ended up having more energy for baking this year than I expected, still nothing compared to pre-kids! We turned out probably 15-16 dozen cookies this year and I hope to bake more at The Lodge. I would love to bring them around to some of our neighbors and the fire station there.

Here are the recipes we used for our favorite cookies this year:

Happy baking!

Christmas 2018

This holiday season was extra special. We made so many memories and had new experiences, started new traditions and enjoyed time as a family.

Alex’s family flew out from Illinois to join us for Christmas at Suncadia Resort in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. We rented a beautiful house tucked into the snow-covered evergreens and made ourselves right at home for the week of Christmas.

Our days were spent cross country skiing, ice skating, playing with two-two-year old boys, eating, singing “The Wheels on the Bus,” making snowballs,moderating sharing of the toy guitars, downhill skiing and catching up. We were able to cross country ski out the back door of the house and that was so gratifying for me – there were a couple days where I strapped a kid to my back or hooked myself up to the ski trailer and just took off for the forest.

We also celebrated the second birthday of our nephew, Nico, on Christmas Eve. Alina put together an adorable “Wheels on the Bus” themed party for him. Both Ben and Nico love buses and the song “Wheels on the Bus” and it was perfect for a two-year old.

Hannah enjoyed cuddle time with her extended family, too, and Nico showed quite an interest in her. He is super sweet! Hannah also got plenty of floor time to practice sitting up – her newest skill she’s working on.

We’re already looking ahead to the holiday season of 2019 where we can spend it out at The Lodge and begin even more new traditions with our family. It’s so magical to be in the snow and the mountains during the holidays. Happy New Year!

Tis the Season!

We’ve been busy decking our halls, waiting patiently for Santa and decorating cookies and gingerbread houses galore. The Christmas season is SO much fun with a two year old who is just now at the age where he can truly grasp the concept and all of the activities that come along with.

The holiday season started with a really nice Thanksgiving. We wanted to have a very low-key Turkey Day, given we have a lot on our plate in December. At the last minute we ended up inviting some friends to enjoy our feast with us which ended up making the day all that more special.

Ben helped me decorate the tree and the house. He had his own ideas of how we should hang ornaments {not on the tree, that’s how!}. I ended up having a pile of ornaments to mend later on because they got dropped by an eager toddler. Oops!

Ben was so into decorating and loved seeing the transformation of the tree once it was lit. It is so endearing to watch the Christmas spirit and the magic of the season come alive through a young child’s eyes.

We turned Ben on to a few holiday movies {Elf and Polar Express} one dreary weekend. He loved sitting and watching a movie.

I hung up our advent calendar again this year and did a better job of planning our daily advent activities. Last year I didn’t keep track of planning or prep work that needed to go into a certain day’s activity, so when we pulled out the card I was unprepared. Thankfully this year I put a bit more thought and took good notes so I could keep up.

I think next year Ben will be more into it, though. There have been a few days where he just hasn’t remembered to get the activity out and then I remember when it’s too late. A few of our activities this year include: decorating gingerbread houses, writing a letter to Santa {there’s an adorable little mailbox in our neighborhood for mailing the letters!}, having eggnog as a special treat and going to play in the snow.

For the first time in a few years we’re adopting some families for Christmas. I intentionally requested young children and one of the families has two little boys that we asked Ben to help pick out toys for. I don’t think he quite got the concept {maybe I’m underestimating him} but he sure had fun picking out toys for them. I love the warm-fuzzy feeling of doing good in our community and spreading joy to others.

{I underestimated the amount of time it would take to wrap Christmas gifts for the children of three families.}

One of my holiday traditions is baking a boatload of cookies. I had a special helper in the kitchen this year. Ben was a stellar supervisor in the dough making process and he had a blast decorating the cookies a few days later. He had very strong preferences for sprinkle colors and then didn’t want to eat his creation!

Last weekend we also decorated our first gingerbread house together. Ben got to sample a lotttt of candy.

A major highlight for me from the holiday season thus far was our visit to Enchant, a holiday light festival down at Safeco Field, our baseball stadium. The whole field was turned into a Christmas light maze and ice skating rink. I had a blast!

The lights were magical and really unbelievable. I felt like I was ice skating along a river – it was a sweet, short little loop. The best part, though, was taking Ben ice skating for the first time. I grew up on a pond in Minnesota and have such fond memories of learning to skate as a very, very young child.

Alex just found out that there’s a skating rink about 5 minutes away from our mountain house. I hope we become regulars there – I’d love for our kids to grow up with that exposure, just like I had. Before this happens, though, I’m going to need to conjure up some new ice skates! My cousin’s hand-me-downs from age 12 took their last spin on the ice last weekend.

We have loads more to look forward to this holiday season. Our mountains just had a massive snowstorm and we’re considering going out to play in the powder one of these days. I can hardly wait to get Ben skiing this winter, and we’re counting down the days until Alex’s family arrives for Christmas.

 

Holiday Baking!

I consider myself to be more a chef than a baker at any point during the year. Recipes are not really my friend and I don’t normally have the patience for baking. The exception is during the holidays! I’m known to bake anywhere from 10-20 dozen cookies during the holiday season and this year is no different. I lost track where I’m at right now, but I think somewhere around 15 dozen.

20171210_231450720_iOS

We’ve delivered cookies to our neighbors, enjoyed some treats to ourselves and shared them with friends from work and at our holiday party. Now all that’s left is baking at least one more batch of something to share with family for Christmas and then bring some to the NICU and Antepartum {where I stayed during the end of my pregnancy} on Christmas Eve, a tradition we started last year.

20171216_173705871_iOS

Ben and Edina had fun decorating delicious sugar cookies last week. Thanks for the pictures, Edina!

20171214_022404444_iOS

I tweaked the sugar cookie recipe that I had used in the past and turned it into my own recipe this year and combined that with a different frosting recipe. Two thumbs up!

20171214_022514059_iOS

Additionally, we made linzer cookies, peanut butter blossoms, and new this year, Irish shortbread toffee bars. Normally I make peppermint bark but I got such a great deal on buying it from Williams Sonoma that I saved myself a little time and purchased it. It’s really hard to pick a favorite, and not to toot my own horn but they’re all really, really good this year.

20171214_022458856_iOS

Ben has become quite the helper in the kitchen and loves to watch me cook or bake. We’ve got a step stool that is perfect for him to pull up to the counter and lend a hand once in a while. He gets so excited to be included!

20171209_154044840_iOS

20171209_154108122_iOS

Fourth Annual Holiday Party

Hosting our holiday party has become quite a fun tradition we look forward to every year. We’ve learned a lot over the last few years and definitely had it dialed in this year. We tried a few new foods and continued our same laid-back approach to the soiree and it was wonderful.

{not our best family photo, but the best of the bunch!}

{not our best family photo, but the best of the bunch!}

20171217_025904406_iOS

{this year's spread included: a beautiful and bountiful cheese board; crudite platter; chicken skewers; caramelized onion, mushroom and gruyere puffs; brie and apple puffs; Christmas pinwheels;  dips from our local Greek restaurant, paired with their pita; and a big plate of cookies.}

{This year’s spread included: a beautiful and bountiful cheese board; crudite platter; chicken skewers; caramelized onion, mushroom and gruyere puffs; brie and apple puffs; Christmas pinwheels; dips from our local Greek restaurant, paired with their pita; and a big plate of cookies.}

20171217_030026996_iOS

{Having fun with the "portrait" mode on our new phone!}

{Having fun with the “portrait” mode on our new phone!}

{The chef!}

{The chef!}

{This year's signature drink was Bee Keeper Punch.}

{This year’s signature drink was Bee Keeper Punch.}

{Plenty of bubbly and sparkling rose to go around.}

{Plenty of bubbly and sparkling rose to go around.}

{The Millers arrived a little early to help taste-test :) }

{The Millers arrived a little early to help taste-test 🙂 }

I had so much fun looking back on the last three parties – my oh my how life has changed. We have a really great time putting together these parties and are so grateful to have so many friends in Seattle to enjoy the holidays with.

Third annual party

Second annual party

First annual party

Early December

This holiday season is shaping up to be quite a memorable one! Ben is at such a fun age to where he’s starting to understand so much that I think he’ll really get into things this year. We have a lot of holiday and seasonal activities planned – I can hardly wait to experience this holiday season with our family.

20171203_223354597_iOS

Earlier this fall I bought a beautiful advent calendar. I received it in the mail and was floored at how gigantic it is. The advent calendars I grew up with were the cardboard kind where you open the window each day of advent and that was that. This new calendar had pockets for every day. I was completely thrown off by how to use this calendar and ended up deciding to fill each pocket with a holiday/seasonal activity for that day.

20171201_033030717_iOS

It’s kind of nice because it forced me to sit down with my calendar and idea list and plot what I wanted to do when and really plan out the month of December. I came up with some really fun ideas and realized that there’s a lot we wanted to do and not that much time so it also brought me back to reality.

20171201_031912082_iOS

One of our first advent activities was cutting down our Christmas tree, followed by decorating it the next day. We went to Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah to cut down our tree this year. Last year we purchased a pre-cut tree from them. Last year’s tree was the most beautiful tree either one of us had ever had and this year’s blows last year’s out of the water. Our tree this year is stunning!

20171203_051352141_iOS

We picked a very typical Pacific Northwest day to go get our tree. It was POURING. Thankfully we all had our rain boots and positive attitudes. Ben loved jumping in the puddles – right now he’s obsessed with water in all forms and couldn’t get over the act of puddle jumping.

20171202_191820413_iOS

20171202_190540411_iOS

Alex was a true family hero when he tackled the acts of cutting down the tree and tying the tree on the car himself. It was a multi-person job managing Ben and it required both Edina and me to corral him and keep him from diving into a puddle headfirst. I saw photos of a friend of mine who has three kids under 5 and she and her husband brought their kids and their dog to cut down the tree {mind you, they didn’t also have an extra set of hands there like we did!} and they seemed to have managed just fine. I have no idea how.

20171202_193155234_iOS

20171202_190610024_iOS

Decorating the Christmas tree was adorable. Ben really seemed to get the concept. While he didn’t really successfully hang any ornaments, he placed them on branches or he pointed out where he thought a good place for a pretty ornament would be. His favorite part, though, was climbing the step stool and being a little entertainer.

20171203_223232888_iOS

20171203_223102017_iOS

20171203_221015426_iOS

I feel like we’re in pretty good shape for the holidays at this point. There’s a lot we need to do to prepare for the rest of the season and it is all so much fun!! This is by far our favorite time of year. We get so much joy in entertaining and spending time with family and friends, especially during the magical holiday season.

20171203_175947034_iOS

Ali’s Favorite Things 2017

Per the request of one of my friends, I put together an “Ali’s Favorite Things” list. I knew I had done this before but I didn’t realize it was three years ago already. It’s funny looking back on that list because every single one of those items I mentioned would be on my list today still. Definitely check out my original list – some goodies on there, for sure!

Big & Small Set of Kitchen Tongs

Silly, I know, but I absolutely love having a little pair of tongs around. We have four {or is it five?} pairs of tongs in our “gadgets” drawer and there are more days than I expected that all of the tongs are in the dishwasher. I guess you can never have too many tongs!

 

Fancy Measuring Cups & Spoons

Who doesn’t love a set of fancy measuring cups and spoons?

 

100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous

An update to my 2014 list – Lisa’s new cookbook focuses on weeknight meals. I have made so, so, so many of these recipes and they have become staples in my repertoire. Some favorites: chicken chili, veggie and bean burritos, snack bars and so many lunch ideas!

Speaking of food – here are a few of my favorite meals to make these days:

Killers of the Flower Moon

Ok, so, I really haven’t read nearly as many books this calendar year as I had hoped, but even if I had read a book a day, Killers of the Flower Moon would still be at the top of my list. This book is about the murders of the Osage Indians back in the 1920s and is so fascinating, disturbing and unbelievable.

 

Glassybabies

Glassybaby votive holders have become rather special in our home. We live just four blocks from the Glassybaby glass blowing studio and these little votives are a fixture in our neighborhood and now our home. They’re a signature Seattle item – most Seattleites have a vast collection. They are so beautiful, all hand made right here in Madrona and every Glassybaby supports a different cause.

 

Faux Sheepskin Throw

Pottery Barn does not disappoint with this super cozy throw. I got it as a throw but it ended up becoming a layer in our bedding because I love snuggling up with it. Our cat doesn’t seem to mind this either! 😉

 

Zella Keep It Cool Crop Leggings

Apparently these are everyone else’s favorite leggings too because they’re sold out at Nordstrom right now! These are my most favorite leggings I have ever had. Keep checking back!

 

Athleta Beyond Soft Pranayama Wrap

This is one of the coziest little sweater/wraps I’ve ever had. I love wrapping myself up in it in the morning or the evenings and being all cozy. It’s great to pair with leggings to go to the gym/studio or wear around the house or with your favorite athleisure combo out and about.

 

Lalicious Sugar Scrub

I use this incredible scrub on my feet every other day in the shower and it’s divine. I love the smell {brown sugar vanilla is my favorite}, the way it feels and the texture. Plus, it makes my feet so soft!

 

CND Vinylux Nail Polish

Vinylux nail polish has been my go-to for several years now. You have to get the top coat, too. I can get 7-10 days from a manicure with this nail polish and I’ve gotten as many as 7 days doing my own nails.

 

Arbonne Calm Daily Moisturizer

I tried to veer from this and only ended up disappointed. This moisturizer feels so light and calming on my sensitive skin. It’s really nice stuff!