Friday, November 29, 2013

9 small business picks for black friday

Today is Black Friday. You were probably up at 3am getting read to go shop till you drop. This year I encourage you to shop local this year for the whole shopping extravaganza. I've chosen 9 shops with amazing black friday, small-business saturday, and cyber monday sales, I hope you take some time to go check them out!

1 | Little Hip Squeaks
2 | Keal Designs
3 | Kindred Oak
4 | Hello Apparel
5 | Arrow and Aspen
6 | Ryan and Wren
7 | Freshly Picked
8 | Salt City Emporium
9 | Bip & Bop

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


It's Wednesday and I'm just now posting a recap of our weekend. So much going on! Plus I woke up this morning sooo very sick. Sore/raw throat and a horrible wracking cough that I feel all the way down in my chest. Yay Thanksgiving, lol.

We did have a fabulous weekend, filled with fun family (on both sides!) visits. Steve's dad and brother spent the weekend hanging out with us at our house, and Sunday we went to Anchorage to welcome my little sister home from college with a lovely lunch a my parents house.
bonfire yay!

Monday we went to Anchorage for new tires (worst way to spend money!) and shopping with my little sis. I nabbed some perfect leather boots at Nordstroms by Sam Edelman. I'm so excited to finally have a pair of neutral brown boots that I can wear both in winter and summer.

Tuesday Riggs and I did our normal Monday chores and ran a few errands. I got to wear my new boots and Riggs had so much fun getting to walk by himself at Target. I wasn't in any hurry and it wasn't nap time so we tried the whole walking thing out. It actually went really well! I just can't believe Riggs is old enough to be walking in the grocery store with me:(

For the last half of our shopping at Target, Riggs tugged this wicker basket behind him, and I let him fill it with a few things that he really wanted and we 'needed' anyway. Mostly Christmas candy (that was discounted using the cartwheel app) and a letter 'R' ornament. The funniest part was watching other shoppers reactions as I pushed the cart with Riggs trailing behind dragging his basket. So funny!

I hope everyone has a lovely (and safe!) Thanksgiving holiday filled with good food, family and laughter. And also, I hope every one is ready for Christmas taking over my blog space...I've been waiting soo patiently!

Friday, November 22, 2013

five friday favorites

Somehow it's Friday again already and I'm here to share five of my favorite things from the week. Time just gets lost in some magic vortex at this time of year and I wish it would slow down just a little. I still can't believe it's November, and yet in reality it's nearly December! Crazy!


I simply love this photo, everything about it. Mama's baggy tshirt, baby in only a diaper, their hands meeting between them, and that sweet squishy kiss. I am so very thankful I get to be a mama and I savor moment just like this and hold the memories of them close to my heart.


These earrings, just gorgeous! I want them, like now! I think I would wear them all the time.


I love the idea of a neutral pinecone garland. It can carry you from autumn all the way through Christmas. This DIY is so simple and sweet. Love!


These 'energy balls' (as we call them) are a favorite around here. Both Riggs and I just love them! A single batch never lasts more than two days. We get kind of piggy with our granola bites :)


This post is a great reminder this time of year to make time for things that are truly important. Go read it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

24 Children's Book to Read in December

Last year as I was scrolling through Pinterest one night before bed, I found an idea that I just loved and couldn't wait to add to our yearly Christmas traditions. I knew it wouldn't work too well right away, since Riggs was under a year and wasn't really too interested in opening presents yet. 

This year I'm so excited to begin this new tradition, and I hope Riggs will enjoy it as much as I think he will! I've been collecting books to use for this project and have quite a nice pile going already. I try to get books out and put them away according to the season, for example if the book is about winter, we keep it in a box until it's actually winter. There are many books that don't really fit into the seasonal criteria, and we keep those out year round (Goodnight Moon, Nobunny's Perfect, etc). 

I think a Christmas Book Countdown is a perfect way to introduce new Christmas books every year, and to increase excitement for them and for the time of year. Also I would have loved opening a present every day, even if it was a book I had already read last year. Some of the books I've collected (and still have from when I was little) are too wordy for Riggs' attention span, so they'll have to wait for later years. I've included 24 books in this list that we'll be reading this year, books that are perfect for toddlers from about 1.5 to 3.

1. My First Christmas by Tommie Depaola - This book is a great introduction into the Christmas season with simple illustrations and words that are easy for a little one to understand and follow.
2. The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree by Stan Berenstain - I love the Berenstein bear books so much, and this one is a classic. I loved it when I was a kid and I know Riggs will love it too. 
3. A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree by Collen Monroe - This is a beautifully illustrated and written story about a tree that hopes to get picked every year. We decorate our tree right after Thanksgiving so I wanted to include a few books about the Christmas tree early on in the month.
4. Christmas in the Manger by Nola Buck - This is a great introduction to the real meaning behind Christmas for toddlers. 
5. The Littlest Elf by Brandi Dougherty - I saw this book for the first time this year and added it to our collection. The story and illustrations are very cute and I think little kids like to hear about other kids(/elves lol) being too little to do certain things just like them.
6. The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Patricia M. Scarry - This was probably my sisters and I's very favorite Christmas book when we were growing up. I have so many memories of reading it and I'm pretty sure we wore out the scratch and sniff patches with in a year or two.
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess - Everybody loves this book and I want to read it to Riggs a few times before watching the old version of the movie with him.
8. A Christmas Goodnight by Nola Buck - This is a sweet story in which the character says goodnight to each of the pieces of the Nativity. It's nice to have a bedtime themed book to include in our normal bedtime routine. 
9. Merry Christmas, Little Critter by Mercer Mayer - Riggs LOVES the Little Critter books so this was a must. I actually got a copy at Target that included stickers too.
10. Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren - This is a beautifully illustrated story by the same author who wrote the Tomten books, which we already love. 
11. Room for a Little One by Martin Waddell - Another Nativity story that's sweet and simple.
12. The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett - Jan Brett was (and still is) my favorite author of Children's books and her Christmas books are all so good. 
13. Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant - This book includes many old fashioned Christmas traditions that are fun to read about, and it's by the same author of another book we already love, When I was Young in the Mountains
14. Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I love all books by Wilder and this is just another that I hope Riggs will love too.
15. If You Take a Mouse to the Movies by Laura Numeroff - I actually read If You Give a Moose a Muffin first, when I was little, but I've grown too love this book too. It's a playful story and I think Riggs will like it, although I don't think he'll fully understand what 'going to the movies' means yet, since he's never been.
16. Duck and Goose It's Time for Christmas by Tad Hills - Duck and Goose are Riggs' favorite, so I've been planning on getting this book nearly all year. I'm sure he's going to love it!
17. Merry Christmas, Curious George by H.A. Ray - Everybody loves Curious George (especially Riggs) so I thought this was a great one to include on the list. I think it would work for all ages too, it's such a classic!
18. Little Critter's The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore/Mercer Mayer - I bought pretty much every Little Critter Christmas book I found, since Riggs loves them so much. The illustrations are so cute and full of personality and detail. Riggs loves to look for mouse and 'itsy-bitsy' in all the books.
19. Santa's Favorite Story by Hisako Aoki - I love this book! Santa goes for a walk in the woods to get in shape for Christmas deliveries, but ends up falling asleep. When he wakes up, he tells the animals a story about the true meaning of Christmas. 
20. Santa Claus is Coming to Town by J. Fred Koots (Steven Kellogg) - This is a classic and a must for every Christmas book collection!
21. The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer - This book isn't really about Christmas, but I wanted to include all sorts of books and this one was perfect to read on Winter Solstice. It's a little old for Riggs but he usually likes books about the seasons.
22. The Christmas Owl by Angela Muse - A sweet book about an injured Barred owl. Any child who loves owls will love this book!
23. The Night Tree by Eve Bunting - This book is so beautiful, I just love it! I think we might go decorate a tree in the yard for the animals after reading the book this year.
24. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore/Jan Brett - I love this version of the classic Christmas Poem and figured Riggs would enjoy hearing it more than once. 

So there you have it, our Christmas Countdown picks for 2013. Please share any of your favorite Christmas books for kids that I haven't included in the list!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving crafting with Riggs

Riggs and I did an easy little Thanksgiving-themed craft today together and it was fun! I realize now looking at these pictures that we forgot the poor little turkeys feet! Maybe we'll add them tomorrow.

Riggs loves it when I trace his hands and feet, so I thought I'd trade his hands on colored paper and use them for feather on a pilgrim turkey! He colored on the papers as I was cutting out all the hands, and helped me glue some of the paper together. He also ran around a little bit and played with his car while I was cutting out the pieces for the turkey's body and face. I was actually surprised at how much fun I had working on such a simple little craft, haha.

Daddy was home from work early because of the cold (-20 when he left his work around 10am!) and took some pictures for us. And yes, in case you were wondering, I wore my pjs all day long. 

big smiles while I was tracing his chubby little hand

he was so excited to be able to use the glue stick

our turkey is finished! He waved it around and smiled and laughed and kissed it a few times before
throwing it on the floor and moving on to something else. True toddler behavior right there ;)

I hung it in his room and when I put him in his crib for his nap he laughed and pointed at it.
Glad it brought him a little bit of entertainment, and I had fun working on it with him!

Later we snuggled in together for some reading. It was truly a lovely day. I'm feeling a little bit of cabin fever from being cooped up in this cold. It never got warmer than -15 today, and that's just a bit too cold to take Riggs out in for more than 15 minutes. Just going out to do the chicken chores burned my throat and nose so bad! I hope it warms up soon so we can get back to our outdoor routine! How do you keep busy inside with a toddler when the weather just doesn't cooperate with outdoor playtime?

Monday, November 18, 2013


Despite the cold temperatures, we had a wonderful weekend. Saturday Steve had to work, but Riggs and I went over to Sarah and David's to visit and to take some family pictures for them. Riggs and Lyla were so incredibly cute together, I just loved seeing them interacting so well!

Sunday daddy was home, but I was pretty sick so we stayed home from church and had a very lazy day. Steve was amazing and helped with Riggs most of the day, despite being sick himself. I felt miserable, but it warmed my heart and brought a (weak) smile to my face to look over and see the two of them snuggling it up.

It had 'warmed up' to about 10 above in the afternoon, so Steve took Riggs out for some skiing in the yard. I made sure to have some warm sugar cookies waiting for when they came inside. I made them in shapes to go along with one of Riggs' favorite books right now, The Tomten and the Fox. It's a beautiful, quiet story about what happens on the farm while we humans are fast asleep.

Riggs loved the cookie shapes, especially the little tiny 'Tomten's' I made just for him. He played with the fox and the little Tomten for a bit before eating them, so cute!

We woke up this morning to really cold temps. It was 15 below zero when I went out at 9am to feed the chickens. Brrrrrrr. I went right back inside to make them some warm oatmeal - I think they earned it for having to hang out in such cold temps all day and night! Those are some tough chickens!

Friday, November 15, 2013

five friday favorites

I can't believe I'm finally back to posting two days in a row! It's a miracle, haha. I've been in sort of a meloncholy mood and reading so much my eyes are burning and raw. But my laptop has been calling, to me, as I knew it would at some point, and so here I am.

I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you from this week. Next week I'll be focusing on Thanksgiving favorites, and then the week after and for the entire month of December I'm pretty sure it will be all Christmas posts, all the time. You've been warned! :)


Before it snowed, my parents came out for an afternoon walk and dinner. 
I love this picture Steve snuck of me and my mom talking while Riggs walks with us.


I love this Essie nail color called 'carry on' so much. It's perfect
for fall with it's dark, rich hue and warm colors always help to warm
up my pasty skin :)


Need I say more?


Reading these books (or actually re-reading them). 
I have been reading every spare moment I have reading, thinking
about potential plots as I drift off to sleep and dreaming about 
the characters nearly every night. I don't know why but I really love
these books. Maybe because the characters are so real and no one is
one hundred percent good, they're all a little flawed.
I'll probably have to re-read them again before the final book comes out...


I saw this yesterday on someone's Facebook and went on Pinterest
to find it and pin it. So very true and something to keep in mind if you're
a non-parent judging other parents. We've all been there, right?

I remember when I was pregnant, making lists of things I would 'never'
do once Riggs was born. Ha. Hahahaha.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

grocery shopping, planning and budgeting

Grocery shopping. It's something I both love and hate to do.

There's something so therapeutic for me in walking slowly through the store, looking at all the items just waiting on the shelves. No matter how many times I've seen the aisles of Fred Meyer, I still love to explore them and see if there's anything I 'need' waiting there for me. I add things to my cart more freely at the beginning of the trip, then slowly put things back as I linger longer and longer in the store, thinking, I don't really need this...or that...or that. My family teases me about this, but I know I can't be the only one who does this!

I don't really plan out meals, and so sometimes grocery shopping can be tough. I've tried to plan meals in the past, but it just doesn't work for us. Steve's work schedule is just too irregular, and I hate for food to be wasted when he has to work late and picks up food on the way home. I usually have a few meals in my mind at the beginning of the week, and often I'll pick a recipe or two that I want to make, so I add the ingredients to my grocery list. But that's as far as my 'meal planning' goes.

I also tend to buy lots of one item I know we use a lot when it's on sale, such as peanut butter, bread, or frozen fruit, so I've had trouble with figuring out a weekly budget amount for groceries. Some weeks we spend less than $50, and other weeks (that include Costco runs) we spend $200-$300. I feel like everything balances out for us and that we've been getting better and better about eating whole foods (rather than boxed or 'convenience' meals) and eating out less, so we're in a good place financially when it comes to our food budget. But I'm always open to ideas on how we can save even more, or be more efficient about grocery shopping/planning.

How do you go about grocery planning, budgeting and shopping? I'd love to hear about the different ways other mamas do things!

Groceries are expensive up here in Alaska and since we chose to purchase organic options when available that adds even more to our bill. I was curious to see how our prices compare to others around the country (and in other countries!) and so I thought I'd share this weeks grocery trip purchases and bill with you. We spent $52.01 including tax for everything you see in the picture, and you can see the individual prices on the receipt. What do you think? How do these prices compare to how things are prices where you live?

Monday, November 11, 2013

our first (real) snow

I went to bed last night with the biggest smile on my face. Why, you wonder? It was snowing! Big fluffy flakes that were quickly collecting on the yard and the branches of the trees. I looked at the weather report and saw that it was supposed to snow all night. And it did! We woke up to "-nowww!!" as Riggs called it when he looked out his window and saw it. 

We had to go out and play in it and it was especially fun since Steve had the day off too. It was the perfect ending to a truly lovely weekend. I am so incredibly thankful for my family and just so 100% in love with life. 

As I was pulling Riggs in the sled and taking pictures, I couldn't help but remember the last time we had played out in the snow in his sled. How much can change in just seven months! Riggs seems so so so much older than he did then, and I'm looking forward to what winter playtime will be like for him now that he can walk.

When he was walking along pulling his own sled, I had a sad moment thinking that he looked like he was twelve. HOW did my baby get so big and independent?! Tomorrow he will be 22 months old, and that means only two months (eight weeks!!) until he turns two. Gulp. I'm trying so very hard to live in each day as it passes and not to wish them away. I wish I could hold on to them and make them last just a little bit longer, even the hard days! They are all so precious to me, each one a blessing from God.

I want to take a moment to wish a very happy Veterans Day to those who have served our country and to their families as well. I am so very thankful. Today I was especially thinking of my own family members who have served in various branches of the Armed Forces - Grandpa Wes (Air Force), Grandpa Clarence (WWII vet, Army), my brother-in-law John (Navy), my cousin John (Marines), cousin Will (Air Force), Uncle Larry and Uncle John, and many, many more. I thought of all our friends who have served or are still serving today. And I just want to say thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, to every single soldier who has served in the past, and to those who are serving today.

On a final note, I had to share this funny picture that Tutka totally photo-bombed. Happy Monday!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Favorite Winter Gear for Infants and Toddlers

Colder weather can be a little intimidating when it comes to getting outside with your littles. Riggs was a winter baby, and we never let the cold stop us from getting outside, even when he was just a few days old!

The key to having a pleasant cold-weather experience with infants and toddlers is in the gear. Our favorite cold weather essentials are wool and down, for Riggs and for ourselves. We really got into wool when Steve first started his apprenticeship as a Lineman. Polyester cold-weather gear just wasn't a safe option for him at work since he has a high chance of electrical shock at his work. Polyester is made of recycled plastic, and melts right to the skin.

Natural fibers like cotton and wool became his best options at work, especially for his base layer that he wore against his skin. He found that he stayed much warmer (even in temperatures well below zero) with wool layers than he had with polypro and so we both started choosing wool whenever we could. When Riggs was born, we chose wool for him too!

Quality winter gear can get expensive, but it also lasts much longer and has good resale value, so it's something we work into our budget, saving money in other areas to make up for it. Many times you can find these items used and in great shape, especially in infant sizes since they're actually 'used' very little.

Favorite Infant Picks

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

ONE | Stonz winter booties - We loved these for when Riggs couldn't walk. They cinch on over almost any layer and are wind and water resistant, so they really keep their little feet warm. They're also great for the transition period when your baby is learning to walk. 
TWO | Smartwool Balaclava - This is actually adult sized, but Riggs has a very big head so it fits him just fine. Balaclava's are essential for really cold days, as they protect the neck and chin. When it's below 10 degrees, Riggs wears a balaclava under his hat and hood.
THREE | REI snowsuit - A full zip snowsuit is essential for babies and young toddlers, as it's easy to get on and off and doesn't allow snow or cold to creep into their midsection as they're wriggling around outside. 
FOUR | Smartwool hat and mitten set - We had this set in a few different sizes and loved it! The mittens for small babies are just a mitt with no thumb, but the larger sizes have a thumb. They are very warm and cozy and we sometimes use them as liners for bigger mittens when it's really cold.

Favorite Toddler Picks

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

ONE | Cosilana Organic Wool Pilot Cap - These are an essential baby/toddler item (in my opinion) if you live in a cold climate. The wool is so soft and it's a thin hat that works well under hoods. They come in a few different colors too.
TWO | Columbia Snow Bibs - I know that snow 'pants' are popular these days, but I prefer traditional bibs, both for Riggs and myself. They're just more practical, since they come up higher to keep snow out and stay on better for busy toddlers. I was so happy to find Riggs' at a second hand store for only $7.
THREE | Wool Lobben Boots - Hands down my favorite winter boots for Riggs! They are so warm and cozy, plus they're sooo cute. These are expensive new, but they have great resale value. I was shocked to find Riggs' pair on Craigslist for around $30, and I nabbed them as quick as I could. 
FOUR | Patagonia Down Mittens - These are simple, warm mittens with a velcro closure that makes them easy to put on and off. We use them over the Smartwool mittens and they work great together. Another great option for mittens that I could find online are the 'Head' brand zipper ones at Costco. We have a pair of them and they are very warm and easy to get on and off as well.
FIVE | Engel Organic Wool/Silk Long Underwear - These are a wonderful base layer for infants and for toddlers. I usually put them under a thicker pair of wool longies (that I make myself using old sweaters) under Riggs' snowpants and he never gets cold. This wool/silk blend is so soft and gentle against their skin.
SIX | Bogs Classic Insulated Rain Boot - We don't have these personally, but my sister got them for her boys as winter boots and they love them. I prefer the plain black, but they also come in cute prints too.
SEVEN | Patagonia Reversable Puff Ball Jacket - We love this jacket! It's thin and easy for Riggs to maneuver in and I love that it has a hood to keep his neck and head extra warm! I love that it's reversible too, so it always matches what he's wearing. There's also a heavier, warmer version of this by Patagonia that's great too.

Girl Picks

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

ONE | Patagonia Down Mittens - the same ones I mentioned above but in pink! So cute!
TWO | Patagonia Reversable Puff Ball Jacket - the same one I mentioned above except in this adorable Ikat print. I tend to like Patagonia's girl prints better than the boy prints, they're always so cute.
THREE | REI Snowy Creek fleece union suit - We don't usually choose fleece items, but for a newborn this would be a great option, especially layered over a warm wool or cotton pajama. I just love the bright color and the hearts.
FOUR | SmartWool stripe beanie and mittens set - Girls version of what I mentioned above. Sierra Trading post has a few different versions of these sets from different seasons for great prices.
FIVE | Stonz booties - This polka dot print was so cute I had to share it here. You can also purchase a warm liner for these boots on the Stonz website. 

Hopefully this post has been somewhat useful! There are great options from other brands that are similar as well, these just happen to be our favorite picks. Please share any of your favorite must have items that I haven't listed here!

Monday, November 4, 2013

my little skier!

We went up to Hatcher's again today in the warm sun to enjoy some time in the snow. We brought along Riggs' skis to try them out for the very first time. I was a little nervous to see whether he would like it or if it would cause a meltdown. You never know at this age!

His grumpy face as I went to get him out of the carseat didn't give me too much hope, but at least Tutka and I were excited!

We got his snow clothes on and strapped his skis on and then we were ready to go!! He really wanted to try his poles so I let him for a minute or two before putting them back in the truck and really getting him out on the trail to get used to his skis. He did so good and had so much fun, I was just beaming with pride!

I was really happy we managed to pass two kind ladies who were out walking so that we could get a picture together. Do you ever ask strangers to take pictures for you? I'm shameless when it comes to pictures, I just love them too much!

I love his little grin! He did so well and made it about half a mile up towards the mine before he asked me to pack him up into the Ergo. I must have looked a little funny with him in the pack and his little skis hooked to the straps, but it was worth it! We had such a good time and it was beautiful weather to be out in.

When we got back to the parking lot, Riggs had fun running around in his long johns before he had to get in his carseat. He napped on the way home and then enjoyed some lazy time on the couch cuddling with Tutka and doing a few puzzles on the iPhone. Such a lovely way to spend our Monday :)