Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you had the best Thanksgiving! I can't believe it's already come and gone and now we are full fledged into the holiday season. This Thanksgiving was a bit different for us and kind of bitter sweet. We've had somethings going on that I don't know where to begin, if I want to begin, but just know that we are all ok and our little family is so strong. I am so incredibly thankful for my two greatest blessings and even when things don't go as planned, God has something in store for us so much greater than we could ever imagine. We are remaining faithful in Him to guide and lead our steps in the right direction. I know that I hate when people leave things dangling out there like that but it felt weird not mentioning something but too soon to really explain. I'm really not sure if and when I'll be at that point to expand more, I hope you understand.

For this week, my favorites are going to be a little different around here. At first I thought about doing five things I'm thankful for, but I did that last year and it wasn't the easiest thing to narrow down. I've decided that I'm going to share five things that I love about Thanksgiving instead. I kind of feel like Thanksgiving gets pushed to the side with the excitement of Christmas coming on strong, but there are so many things to love about this special day.

1. Being thankful: that might sound silly because isn't that the whole point of Thanksgiving? Well yes, of course it is, but as much as I try to be thankful all year long, I really enjoy this specific season to be intentional and really reflect and truly count my blessings. 

2. Togetherness: this Thanksgiving was a bit different for us and for the first time ever we went out somewhere to eat. I'll be sharing more on a full recap sometime next week, but regardless of where we went or what we ate, the important part was being together. It also makes me miss my brothers, brother in-laws, and those that couldn't be with us because of living in different states or other things going on. It was so nice getting together with the family that is around and those that we could spend time with. 

3. The excitement: I might love the holidays just a little more because it means being out of the office and having an extra day off. I tend to act like a kid the night before knowing all of the fun that's coming the next day. The best part is seeing the excitement in my nuggets eyes. Being able to experience things with them and see their joy is really what it's all about for me. 

4. Traditions: there are so many fall activities that we've taken on as traditions that sometimes I tend to wrap all of fall into feeling like we're celebrating Thanksgiving. Our thankful pumpkin has been a lot of fun, although we've had to play catch-up some nights when we forgot to do it. Oops. We also love going to the Philadelphia parade on Thanksgiving morning and kicking the day off with that. It was really cute because a few weeks before, A saw a picture of some of the balloons from the parade and asked if we were going again this year. I hope this is something we can keep up with for many years to come and as long as the weather cooperates.

5. The food: Thanksgiving really kicks off all the eating this seasons brings and there is just something so great about this meal. My mom wasn't able to join us on Thanksgiving so we are having dinner with her over the weekend and this is just a meal that I don't get tired of. I get tired from it but not of it ;) I really think that sometimes the turkey tastes better a day or two after, and one of my favorite things to do with leftovers is make it into a sandwich. I have bacon and avocado joining in on it this year and oh boy I can't wait. Now that I think of it, I could probably tie excitement and food together if I really wanted to.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a great weekend ahead! I am truly humbled by the many blessings we have in our lives and so much to be thankful for each and every day. 

How To Throw an Elf on the Shelf Welcome Breakfast

North Pole Breakfast
If you've been reading this little space of mine (and always a huge thank you for those that take the time to visit) then you know two things about me. One, we take our breakfasts very seriously around here especially on the weekends, and two, coordinating our elf Alvin's welcome breakfast is one of my favorite holiday traditions now. 

I know not everyone does a welcome breakfast or some call it a north pole breakfast and others do a farewell send off instead, so however you decide to celebrate your elf or keep it as simple as possible is completely up to you. I am always a firm believer in doing things that work best for your family. 

I wanted to share more in detail about our welcome breakfast and how I prepare for it in case anyone else is looking for some ideas. Of course I will be sharing more over the next few weeks with how our breakfast goes this year so be sure to stop back to see all of the festive fun. 

1. PICK A DATE: for us, the weekend of Thanksgiving has always worked out perfect to do our welcome breakfast. It's the weekend we dedicate to decorating, finding our tree, and really kicking off the Christmas spirit. That also means we need to commit to figuring out places and things for our elf to get into each night, so make sure it's a time frame that works for you. 

2. PICK A THEME: this isn't necessary and it sort of just happened for us, but the past two years I have themed his welcome breakfast. The first year we did pancakes and pajamas and I loved it so much that I'm looking forward to recycling it in a few years. Last year we did a holly jolly breakfast and the verdict is still out on this year's theme. I know, I know, time is ticking, but I have my favorites narrowed down and a general idea with where we are going with this.

3. COORDINATE THE MENU:  this is a big one for me because if your kids are anything like mine they want to eat within the first 15-20 minutes of waking up. Last year we made snowmen pancakes that had bacon wrapped scarves and there was no way I was waking up at the crack of dawn to do all of that. So what did we do? We prepped. The bacon and sausage links were cooked the night before along with all of the fruit being cut up.

4. DECORATIONS: again, this isn't necessary and might be a bit over the top, but I want this silly little breakfast to be a memory my boys think about when they're older. Adding in some extra details makes it feel even more special. Majority of all of the things I pick up for this are from the dollar store, so there really isn't much being spent on this other than some time and planning. My husband and I sneak downstairs after the boys are in bed to get the table set so that we aren't running around first thing in the morning. This has also turned into some fun memories for him and I.

5. SMALL GIFTS: another thing that's become part of our breakfast tradition is having a few small gifts for the boys to open up from their elf. These are usually from the dollar store or Target's dollar spot and mainly some sort of craft project or a new Christmas book.

6. HAVE FUN: above all else have fun together! My favorite thing is seeing their faces light up when they come down the steps and seeing that their elf friend has arrived. We take a few of our obligatory pictures and some videos to share on insta stories (you can find me @beautifully_candid to see the fun this weekend) and then after that it's phones and cameras away and enjoying our special time together. It's funny how many memories this silly little elf has brought into our home.

Neon Colors in The Fall and Black Friday Event

Thank you PinkBlush for sponsoring this post. All opinions remain my own.

I'm sure we are all wondering how this time of year snuck up on us so quickly, but seriously, how is it Thanksgiving week already?! This is one of my favorite weeks for so many reasons and we are looking forward to all of the fun and memories to come. As much as I love this time of year, it's also becomes so dreary, gets dark so early, and leaves me feeling less than accomplished in my days.

For some reason, this season just didn't really feel like fall to me. Our leaves never really peaked around here and most of them ended up turning brown or are already completely bare. The weather was so up and down that it couldn't figure out if it was still summer or if winter was making an early appearance. 

Of course we still indulged in all the fall things and had a great time doing it, but once the height of those events are over, my longing for spring comes into play. I still love Christmas though, so if we could find a way to still have Christmas but skip over the cold and dreary months that would be fine with me. 

I'm not so sure wearing neon colors in the fall is something I would have typically thought to do because I always tend to gravitate towards those typical fall colors and patterns. When I saw this hooded top with the bright floral print, it got me thinking, even though this time of year can change with the scenery from pretty flowers and lush green hues (if you live in an area that experiences this) then why not add some color to brighten your mood. 

I love that this top has a hood and the fabric is so soft and forgiving that it makes for a great casual piece to wear on those days when we've probably all eaten way too much over the holidays. I love that I can just throw this on with a pair of leggings or jeans and can chase around after the boys. PinkBlush is currently having their Black Friday sale with 40% off when you use code BLACKFRIDAY. I'll also be hosting a fun giveaway over on my instagram (@beautifully_candid) later on today for a chance for one lucky winner to receive a $75 gift card to their site. Be sure to stop on over for more details and to enter for your chance to win!

Hiking in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park and Bastei Bridge

Last month when Eric and I were in Prague we tossed around the idea of trying to also visit another country. We loved everything about the city but it's not overwhelmingly large and after spending several days there we felt like we accomplished all that we wanted to see. The great thing about Europe is, a lot of the countries are so close together that it's like driving from NJ to PA or NY.

We thought about making a day trip to Austria but by the time we would have caught a train and logistically got there, we would have spent more time commuting than actually being able to enjoy it. I jumped on google and typed in attractions near Prague and the site for Northern Hikes came up. Their video immediately drew me in and after finding out it was only two hours from the city, they provided transportation, and part of the trip was spent in Germany—we decided it was the perfect thing for us to explore. 

The funny part is the name is so confusing because this park doesn't haven't much to do with Switzerland, at all. The park is located in the north-west part of Czech with picturesque scenery and the Elbe River running through it. It also serves as a place where The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was filmed. 
Elbe Sandstone Mountains
Unfortunately the day we went it was a bit dreary and damp out, but we made the best of it. After we explored the park we headed over to the Elbe Sandstone Mountains of Germany to walk the Bastei bridge and see all of the rock formations. I loved being down in the park and close to everything but there is something about being elevated and having a view from above. 

Because of the weather there was a smoky effect around the bridge and stone areas that were really cool sights to see. The foliage was just starting to change here but I could have imagined this being amazing a few weeks later. This part of Germany (which is the only part I've ever been to) reminded me of something out of a fairy tail. There were smaller tudor style houses and some of them were painted bright colors. It was extremely clean and very well manicured. On the way back we got to drive on the the Autobahn highway, and surprisingly, cars were not going as fast as I would have imagined. We love being outdoors and exploring nature so this adventure ticked off so many things for us, but boy did I sleep good that night.

For The Love of Stripes

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You all know me and my love for stripes, so it's probably no surprise I'm sharing yet another find. I realized I have a few things from Prague that I forgot to share (what kind of blogger am I) and one of them was this look that I wore out to eat one night. 

It felt like ages since I shopped at Forever21, I don't know if it's my old age setting in ;) but I just don't seem to have the patience anymore for rifling through racks, and that place is one that overwhelms me. I got sucked into a promotional email from them and ended up clicking on it which brought me to stumble upon this top (no longer available). 

Of course the stripes drew me in and the trend with the dramatic sleeves made it even more appealing to me. I really liked the big pearl button detail on the cuff of the sleeve, and after finding out that this was a web exclusive, I was enticed a little more. The free shipping is what did it for me and I decided to go for it, because if a website offers free shipping, 9 times out of 10 I will find something to purchase from them just to take advantage of it. 

You probably know another love of mine which is mirrored sunglasses (we all have our weakness, right?). So when I came across this pair I knew I was packing them for our trip. They felt like the perfect compromise to my over the top colors of bright blue, purple, and pink, and the grayish/silver tone to them felt suitable for the fall and winter. 

I also love my denim distressed so when I came across these black jeans (currently on sale and 40% off with code STYLE) with those fun rips, it felt like the perfect thing to wear with this top. I've also worn this top to the office with black dress pants, and no, those do not have rips in them.

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