Fresh Cut With Love-Oh Christmas Tree

There's something about coming through your door with a fresh cut Christmas tree that fills the air with a crisp pine scent that greets every room in your house. There's a magical feel that helps bring holiday cheer to life after it's adorn with lights and holds your favorite ornaments.

A fresh Christmas tree has always been something Eric and I enjoyed ever since our first Christmas in our own home. I grew up in a house with a fake tree, which I loved, but always thought having a real one just had that Christmas feel written all over it.

I mentioned this awhile back, like circa 2016 (old-time blogger here ;) that Eric and I had this huge blue spruce that blocked the front of our house. It was over grown and needed some major attention. We knew we wanted to get rid of it but felt bad just chopping it down without a purpose. We decided to wait and cut it down for our first tree and used the first 9 feet of it. I have to wonder if that was some sort of foreshadowing for what was to come. 

Fast forward to now and having some trees on our property (see the foreshadowing?) that are great options for Christmas. You might remember we planted a bunch more in the spring to add to the already mature ones that have been growing for years. So many people have asked us if we would be opening this up to the public, but the reality is, we just don't have enough.

What we wanted to do was make this extra special for our family and friends to have an experience and create memories together. After all, this time of year is prime for those memory making moments, right? The day after Thanksgiving some of our friends came over and we started a tradition that hopefully we can keep up for years to come. We basically spent the whole day outside, Christmas card pictures were taken (I'll share that soon), and captured moments all throughout our fun.

I thought it would be cute to have a little hot chocolate bar setup on the porch, and the boys wanted to leave a tip jar out to try and make some money. I couldn't shoot down their entrepreneurial spirit, so I thought, why not. Our friends are cool, and would probably think it was cute.

This was my first time making crockpot hot chocolate and I think it came out really good. Let's just say there was none left at the end of the day. Although, I'm pretty sure my guys had more than one cup. Sneaky, sneaky. What I love is, the money they did get they told Eric and I they wanted to give it to buy more trees for us to plant and also wanted to donate it to their speed the light outreach at church that is raising money for families in Chile. My heart could not have been happier in that moment. It's those little things that are huge for parents that remind us maybe we're doing something right.

We thought it would be fun to add to the experience and have our friends tag the trees they wanted. We also wanted to make it really official with tree nets for when they drove home. Eric went searching for a tree baler, and I mean, we love our friends and all, but man those things are expensive brand new. The deal finding guy that I have happened to snag one for an amazing price the day it was listed. It came from a former local tree stand that decided not to sell trees this year. Now tell me that wasn't meant to be. The guy told Eric a story about how it was 42 years old and they used it every year. We love that it has a story to come along with it and a bit of vintage charm.

Once we all tagged our trees the fun continued when we took out the saws to let everyone cut them down. Of course with the utmost precaution. It wouldn't be an adventure without someone taking a while to cut one down, breaking out the two man saw to use (which I forgot to take a picture of, #liveinthemoment), someone bending a bow saw, a tree that got stuck in the baler, one not fitting on top of the car, and a partridge in a pear tree.

The best part was also creating memories with our little guys and sharing their excitement for it all. It was so cute to hear them countdown as Eric was sawing and then heart them yell, timber, once he made it through the stump. Let me just tell you though, those trees look a lot smaller out in their natural habitat. Ours pretty much takes up half the living room and is perfectly imperfect in every way. I can't complain that the convenience of just walking it into the house wasn't nice, though. We also decided to have a really tall one in our entryway that's 15 feet, but you'll have to stay tuned for that, because it's only halfway decorated (I'm so behind this year #lifehappens). I'm hoping to share a peek of the trees in my stories this week.

Starting and continuing traditions around this time of year are some of my favorite things to do, and this one is pretty high on the list. It's so special to know that our friends and family are able to enjoy our trees in their homes and share their Christmas moments gathered around it. Because at the end of the day, it's not all about the perfect tree, but who's around it <3 

Favorites & Life Lately

Happy Friday, friends! I hope it's been a great week for you. This one seemed to fly by at lightning speed and I know that I need so much more time for things. I decided I'm going to share some of my favorites here mixed in with a little life lately update. With the holidays in full swing and some already behind us, I really want to focus on family time. 

We have C's palate surgery on Monday and the thought of him having to go through recovery and everything again makes me anxious. He's such a strong and resilient little boy, but it's never easy to see our kids go through anything that brings them discomfort. We've also heard that the palate surgery is more intricate than his lip surgeries since those were more so primarily cosmetic. This time around they are reworking muscles and doing a lot more that will affect things long term, like his speech and sinuses. If you could keep us in your prayers for next week I would really appreciate it. 

Here's a look at some favorites and what we've been up to...

Thanksgiving: 

I know, I know, I'm wayyy behind here, but like I said, I wanted to focus on family time and I think most of us, and our readers, aren't really around during the holidays so I wanted to make sure I was soaking in all the family fun. I was really happy we were able to jump back on board with our Philadelphia Thanksgiving parade tradition because we skipped out last year since C was only two days old. It was super windy this year and they weren't even able to have the balloons up, but there was still plenty to enjoy and we all had a great time. Where we stand, we were able to be back home in time to catch the ending of it on tv and plenty of time to prep and get dinner finished.

Tree Cutting: 

The day after Thanksgiving, I know it was black Friday, but other than Eric waking up to head to Lowe's for a few deals (so adulting) we did not brave the crowds or really need anything else. We took our Christmas card pictures, that I'm excited to share, and then everyone cut down a tree from our little tree patch. It was such a fun time and I'm really glad it all worked out. I'll share more about us actually cutting our tree down and all the fun in another post. The boys helped me setup a hot chocolate bar and wanted to put out a tip jar to help raise money for us to be able to put back into planting more trees. 

Our tree might take up half our living room (it was so deceiving outside), but we are loving perfectly imperfect tree and the story that goes along with it. I completely under estimated the amount of time and work it would take to decorate a house this size and definitely need to start earlier next year. Eric will have to be on board with me breaking things out before Thanksgiving ;)

DIY Advent Calendar and Decorating: 

You might remember that I used this flea market find painters ladder for C's first birthday party. I got so many compliments on this and really like the character it has. I wanted to find a way to incorporate it into our Christmas decor. I found this mitten countdown garland and thought it would be perfect to use for this. It comes as one long strand but I just cut it up into sections and it worked out great. I made little slips to put inside the mittens that have all different things on them for each day. Some are little them stay up a little later, read the Christmas story, do something kind, bake cookies, and some of the days I have little gifts for them. I'm hoping to do a full post next season and even share some printables for you all. Let me know if that would be something you've be interested in.

So about this whole decorating thing, I LOVE when the house feels festive. Since we moved 4 days before Christmas last year (I can't believe it's almost been a year) we did very minimal decorating last year. This year I knew I wanted to go all out. If you watch my insta stories (always a HUGE thank you) then you might have seen the debate Eric and I had over how many trees to have. We compromised on 3, and a half. I say half because my little flocked tree here counts as something, right? This is a peek at our office and I really love how it came out. I went with a primarily black and white theme that features our renovated fireplace.

In Case You Missed It: 

I got my act together and was able to get three posts out this week. Look at me go! I shared more details about C's first birthday party if you want to check that out. He's so sweet and it was so great to celebrate everything about him. Our elf, Alvin, came back and we've been having some fun with him and enjoyed his welcome back breakfast. I shared a funny story on my instagram about the boys touching him and trying to get his magic back. You can head there (@beautifully_candid) to hear more about it.

Favorite Finds: 

This section includes affiliates links. Thank you for your continued support and happy shopping. 

I think it's near to impossible not to do some sort of shopping around this time of year. I'm probably that oddball blogger that doesn't put out a lot of gift guides because there are just sooo many of them this time of year. Don't get me wrong, I love getting inspiration from my fellow bloggers, but for now, I'll leave that up to them. 

What I can do is show you some things I've recently got, and if you like any of them, then that's super cool and we both have great taste ;) 
I've been all about cozy sweaters and sweatshirts lately that I love being able to dress up or keep them casual. This HAPPY sweatshirt has been worn by me more than I would probably like to admit. It's so comfy. I snagged a few of these clutch wristlets that will be great for gifts. This black circle mirror made its way on top of our mantel and I could not love it there anymore. I had another mirror up there for the time being that I picked up on a major sale for $14. I knew it wasn't the mirror for there but for the price I was silly not to grab it. We'll save it and use it in one of our rentals. These modern stocking holders were perfect to keep the look I was going for.  The boys had these smart robots on their list and since they were on sale we picked them up for them. We had a sweater party coming up soon and I couldn't resist picking up this fun and festive sweater. I have so many people ask me where I picked up C's little beanie. It's seriously so cute on him that I got another one in a different color for him. And yes, I got with coordinating hats with him in mind. 

I hope you have a great weekend! 

North Pole Breakfast-Elf On The Shelf

Guess who's back??? It's that joyous time of year when all the little elves make their way into our homes to help bring even more magic to this season.

We've been doing elf on the shelf for almost five years now (craziness) and have always had a lot of fun with it. Sure it can be annoying at times, like now, as I'm laying in bed typing this out and turn to my husband and say, babe we have to move the elf! Thankfully he has to head downstairs anyway so it looks like I'm off the hook for tonight. This whole experience tests parents in their abilities to be quick thinkers, because if your little ones are anything like mine, they ask a lot of questions about our elf friend.

What I think is fun about all of this, is that you can be as creative with it as you would like to be. Some people do a great job at the silly things their elves get into every night, and others keep it simple with just moving him around. If our boys are extra good our elf leaves them a little marshmallow in the morning. We've always tied it back to explaining to them that Santa, and the elves, are also God's helpers.

My strong point in all of this comes into play with his welcome back, north pole breakfast. Not for anything, I know we all love getting inspiration from each other, which is why I share this, but I do pride myself in feeling like I was kind of one of the OGs for going all out with these before the breakfast portion of it really caught on ;)

I always go with a little theme for the morning and make sure there are plenty of sweet treats along with our families favorite, pancakes. This year the boys wanted our no food coloring green pancakes and that's exactly what they got. We were between two themes this year and when I told Eric the options, it was hands down, "so be good for goodness sake", and I kind of love it. We need all the goodness around here.

Our elf, Alvin, always brings a few things for the boys and this year it was a mini gingerbread house kit and a really fun ninjabread kit.

It was so great to see the baby enjoying some of the fun this year. He was teeny tiny last year and was only a few days old. I still can't believe I pulled it off last year, but I remember making a promise to myself that I would still do everything I could to make the holidays special for my big boys. And much like I mentioned last year, C did enjoy those pancakes this year.

The boys have really been into candy canes lately so I wanted to add them into the mix. I found a box of starburst candy canes that they have been loving. I should have picked up more because they have been a big highlight for them.

What I also really enjoy about doing a welcome back breakfast is the time it brings us all together as a family. The mornings during the week can often feel really rushed with getting out of the house and getting everyone where they need to be, on time. It's nice to have a day to sit back and enjoy a slower pace.

We're excited to see all of the fun our elf gets into this season and the memories it brings for our crew.

First Birthday Party Recap - Onederful You

It's already been a few weeks since C's first birthday party and I am still feeling grateful for all of the support and love that surrounded us. When I was first thinking about a party theme for him, my mind kept drawing blank. I feel like a theme for the first birthday party can be tough because it's hard to really know what your little one is really into. And let's face it, most first birthday parties are for the parents and the family to celebrate.

Since C has gone through so much in his first year with his cleft journey I really wanted something that was simple and focused on celebrating him. Sure there are a lot of cute ideas out there, but when I was getting inspiration a lot of it didn't feel right.

You all know I love a good Pinterest inspired party, and putting parties together is kind of my thing, or at least something that I enjoy. We still had an amazing little celebration for him but I decided to take a less is more approach and focus on things that we already have and making the focus be about how (w)onederful he is.

Most of you know that we have a little tree farm (if you can consider it that) and these trees have been an integral part for our family. I thought it would be cute to take some of the tree clippings and make a little banner out of it to give the decor an extra touch. I picked up this one balloon that was perfect to hang above it.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we went to a local flea market where I scored a few finds. This little wooden crate I picked up that we used for his first birthday shoot, and this old paint ladder I got that was perfect to highlight his monthly pictures. I've also turned it into our advent calendar for the season, so stay tuned for that.

This little table was a piece that we've had for awhile that we originally had our tv on in our bedroom. Over the years my style and taste has changed and I really wasn't feeling it for my bedroom. I didn't want to get rid of it because I knew it would come in handy again. We used it for C's baby dedication back in July and it happened to be the hottest day, ever. No really, it broke a bunch of records and was beyond hot. Anyway, this little table had some wear and tear to it and almost melted that day. You can probably see some glue dripping on it in those pictures. I decided to give it a little tlc with sanding some areas down, giving it a fresh coat of paint, and using drawer pulls from a previous house that we renovated that was part of the original kitchen. It became the perfect little piece to display his cake on. If it was long enough, I would consider keeping it as a buffet in my dining room.

simple first birthday decor
Who doesn't love a good sweet treat at a party? I always thought donut boards were so cute but I didn't want to spend a lot of money on them. What's the next best thing? You make it yourself. And in all honesty, would it even be a party if I didn't give Eric a project to do? The answer is, no. I gave him the direction, dimensions, what I was going for, and the amazing guy that his is executed it for me. My sister hand painted the lettering for us and I love how these came out. We also had to break out the cupcake holder my father in-law made for A's first birthday, because at this point, it's now a tradition to use.

Since C has a November birthday the weather around here is already cold at that point. I love having an outdoor party, and maybe one year we'll get lucky, but more than likely his parties will be indoors. It was funny to see all the changing light in the room throughout the day and it was already dark outside by the time we sang happy birthday to him.

My sister made his cake for him which I was so happy about because she is amazing at making cakes. She says she doesn't enjoy it, but she's so good at it. I was very thankful she was on board with making his. And guess what? He LOVED it. Here's the proof. He cried when we took it away to cut up.

I couldn't resist getting him this little crown and adorable onesie. I think he looked just as handsome as ever. I was so thankful he got in a great nap that day and was so happy after he woke up. It was so cute to see him with all the attention on him celebrating this amazing milestone birthday. Motherhood has a tricky way of allowing us to feel so many emotions at once. I've said it before that it can be such a joy and a struggle to see our little ones grow. I am so incredibly proud of my little guy and so thankful for everyone who celebrated with us both near and far to share in his special day. 
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