And So It Begins, Our First Time Planting 400 Christmas Trees


If you caught my stories last week then you saw we had 400 seedling and transplant evergreen trees delivered to our home. In case you're really far behind, or new around here (welcome!), we are in the process of doing a full home renovation and getting our 28 acres of land situated. We already have about 100 full grown trees but we knew going into all of this we wanted to plant even more Christmas trees and eventually build a barn and get some animals later on down the road.

Sometimes I question if we're completely nuts, but regardless, one thing I do know is, we're complete amateurs here. This is our first go-round with planting this amount, of anything. The good thing is, it wasn't as overwhelming as I thought it would be. We did have some extra helping hands from our neighbors which ended up being a great blessing. I get a little ambitious at times, but planting trees with a baby in a baby carrier isn't the easiest thing to do.

If you remember, Christmas trees were always something we had in mind when we started the long and rigorous process of looking for a house. It's not every day a property hits the market with trees already on it, a good amount of land, and a house that's workable for your family. When everything falls into place you just know it's meant to be.

Like most crops, there's a certain window for planting and getting everything set. That's no different with evergreen trees and we wanted to make sure we didn't miss it. We actually looked a little late (we're learning a lot as we go) because some of the trees we wanted were already sold out for the season. You can order trees as early as fall but they won't ship until April. Thankfully we were still able to get some great trees. We went with Colorado Blue Spruce, Balsam, and Douglas Firs to kick off our first round of planting.

We had no idea how these things were going to arrive. When you think 400 trees you think, wow that's a lot, at least for us we thought so. We didn't know if they would come on a flatbed, individually packaged, who knew. We did know the transplants would be between 12-24 inches in height and the seedlings would only be a few inches. After you really think about their size, 400 doesn't seem so bad when they're tiny. When they arrived they were in regular brown boxes and wrapped in plastic to keep their roots from drying out. These trees made the trip from Michigan and we ordered through NurseryMen.com. When I first laid eyes on them, I was kind of shocked. 400 trees fit in three boxes. Like how?! But they did. And they were ready for planting.

Since the delivery arrived later on in the day, we weren't able to plant them right away. The shipment came with a sheet that gave a lot of great information and different pointers for planting your trees. We soaked the roots in water so they didn't dry out until we were able to get them in the ground. And yes, that's 100 seedlings fitting into my glass pitcher.

Let's talk about crowded spaces for a minute. You know when there's that awkward person that just stands a little too close to you? Like when you get into an elevator and there's only you and one other person, and that person stands righttt next to you. This may or may not have happened to me on Monday. I mean, let me have a little space, please. Anyway, I could go on a continued tangent about this and so many other odd scenarios that have happened to me. I have to envision this is how my trees feel that are already on the property. Why is that you say? Well here's a little tidbit about evergreen trees. Each tree should be planted about 8 feet apart to allow them to grow properly. The ones that are fully grown already were only planted 6 feet apart by the previous owners. We wanted to make sure these new ones have ample space to grow. We took some string to make sure the rows were straight and started from one end to the other. Eric cut a piece of wood that was 8 feet long so we could use that as a marker and not have to actually take out a tape measure each time. Once we had the right space identified we spray painted the spot with a circle so we knew that's where the tree would go.

So here's what I was thinking when I envisioned planting 400 trees...we'd be out there with shovels, digging holes all around, I'd have my gardening gloves on and my rain boots, and then we'd end up packing the dirt back in the holes once the trees went in. Little did I know that's not exactly how you plant these trees. If you saw my insta stories then you might have caught my videos showing things more in detail. When you plant a Christmas tree, you don't actually dig a hole like a traditional plant. Instead, you make a trench in the ground, put the tree in, and make sure the roots are tucked down in there. Once your tree is in, you take water and dump it into the trench to saturate the roots. You then tamp (stomp) around the ground the close the trench back up.

An interesting fact about evergreen trees that most people don't know is, they only grow about a foot each year. These seedlings and transplants that we planted won't even be ready to cut down for another 6-8 years depending on how big you want the tree to be. When I shared that in my stories most people were shocked to hear and didn't realize the lengthly process from seed to ending up strung with lights in your home. We've gotten a lot of questions asking if we will be opening this up to the public to come and cut trees down, and as of now, the answer to that is no. In the grand scheme of things 400 trees is so minimal compared to legit tree farmers that have hundreds upon hundreds of trees that wouldn't be cleared out in one season if people came to cut them down. We are however looking forward to our friends and family sharing in this experience with us. And you never know, crazier things have happened, so we aren't sure where all of this could lead us.

It was so amazing to see our boys helping right along side of us and the same excitement they shared for this new venture. We also had baby C out there because of course he couldn't miss out on the action, too. We're so excited for this new journey and look forward to seeing these trees grow right along with our boys each year. 

Looking Back at Easter Weekend-First Egg Hunt & Almost Blowing The Bunny's Cover

Well here we are, another holiday under our belt with so many great memories made this year. Is it crazy that I'm already looking forward to next Easter? Probably. It's one of those weekends that was so good that you can't wait for more. I should probably back up a bit though. Why don't we start with Good Friday.

We started the day off with decorating some eggs. I've shared before that I'm not a fan of the smell of vinegar but decorating Easter eggs still needs to be a tradition. For the past several years we've been using paint markers that have worked out really well for us. We learned from past years that it's better to leave the eggs out for a bit or wipe them really dry so the sweat from them doesn't make the marker run.

We talked about wanting to host an egg hunt for the boys and some of our closest friends. It seems like each month the weekends fill up so fast and coordinating with each other becomes harder and harder. The boys had off on Friday, which most kids did, so we threw the date out there to some of our friends and thankfully it worked for everyone. If you know me or you've been reading this little space for sometime, then you know I cannot resist an opportunity to put any type of party/breakfast/throw out some decorations together–little event on. This time it was no different. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect with putting an egg hunt together since we've only attended them or done a small one for just our boys in the backyard. Now that we have some space to work with, we knew that being able to share in this with our friends and family is important to us.

The boys were so excited to help me with getting things together and couldn't wait to stuff over 150 plastic eggs with some treats and goodies. Although, I'm pretty sure they wanted to have a leg up on knowing what was inside of them. I was onto them, though. I had a little something up my sleeve too and waited until those little buggers went to bed and filled my own stash of eggs with some treats they hadn't seen yet. I wanted them to have some surprises, too.

I knew I wanted to do special seating for the kids and have always loved the idea of a pallet party. You mainly see it done for adults so I had to improvise and come up with a way to pull it off for kids. The key thing is, pallets are obviously made out of wood and I didn't want anyone to get hurt. So how do you pull a pallet table off for kids, you say? Wellll, when you have a husband that's a quick thinker and gets things done, it makes being able to bring your creative ideas to life a little easier. We had an extra piece of drywall in the basement and used that as the table top so the kids wouldn't be touching the wood. We covered it with a basic plastic table cloth and then got out brown packing paper and let the boys draw anything Easter related on there to use as a table runner. I love how it came out and the kids had a blast sitting around it.

We had lunch for everyone complete with carrot shaped pb&j, bunny mac n cheese, chicken nuggets, chicken salad, egg salad sliders and some veggies and fruit as well. Oh, and who could forget some peeps and cupcakes for the kids.

We had such a nice time visiting and catching up with our friends, and it was so great to see the kids having fun hunting for eggs. We had so much fun that we're hoping to make this a yearly tradition.

Saturday we spent the day with our friends that stayed over night with their two little boys. A was supposed to have a tball game but it was rained out. Thankfully the rain only lasted part of the morning and the rest of the time we sat outside around the fire pit, roasted up some peeps (I forgot to get regular marshmallows, or my kids ate them all), and my mom and sister came over to cook and prep things for Easter. Baby C also turned 5 months and I seriously can't believe how fast it's been going.

Easter Sunday is always a special time filled with so much hope and gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid for us. Ever since A was a baby we made the decision to wait and do Easter baskets after church instead of having the kids wake up and get them. For us, we just want to really try and focus on the important meaning and not have it be all about candy and goodies. We also read some of our Easter stories during breakfast before heading to church.

When we got to church it was such a nice surprise to see they randomly had some animals outside that of course the kids loveeeed seeing. They had a sheep, a few goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, and a llama with an awesome scarf on.

After church we headed back home to get ready for everyone coming over. I snuck into the house and tried to grab the boys baskets to set them out before they got inside. I usually do it before we leave for church while Eric is getting everyone in the car, but it didn't work out like that this year. I thought Eric was in the basement with the boys while I was upstairs. I jetted across the downstairs with three baskets in hand only to stop dead in my tracks when all of the sudden I hear, mama?? Sure enough I find A standing next to me with a confused look on his face. I didn't realize he ran into the house to use the bathroom and caught me red handed with baskets in tow. I wish I could have seen my face but I know it was a cross between shocked and a what the what am I gonna do now. I quickly said, oh hi buddy! Look what I found in the back room that the bunny must have left you guys! I wanted to carry them over so you can see what's inside. He kind of gave me this look of confusion and then got sidetracked with getting a glimpse into his basket. I let out a sigh of relief and wondered if he bought my excuse or not.

We went outside for some family pictures because the blooms around our house have been beyond beautiful and we couldn't pass them up. It almost feels like a dream when I walk outside and find myself continually giving praise and thanks for where we're at.

The boys wanted to bring their baskets outside which we thought was a great idea because it was seriously the perfect day weather wise.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of eating too much, spending time with family, and actually being able to sit down and relax. That doesn't always happen when you're hosting but this time around it did. And you better believe both Eric and I took advantage of it.

We took a bunch of family pictures together and my grandpop had us cracking up. He's 92 and is one of those people that you can't tell him anything because he's been around so long he somehow knows it all. My dad was taking this picture of us and he refused to look at the camera. He was yelling at my dad telling him, don't you know, it's a rule, all good photographers will tell you to never look into the camera. Come on now, that's old school, you have to look away and capture a candid. Well ok grandpop. I told him he'd be perfect for blogging and then I completely lost him.

Later on that night when I was tucking A into bed, he decided that Easter basket sighting wasn't good enough for his logic. He asks me, mama, how did the bunny know I wanted certain things or that I like baby chicks? He tells me, he isn't Santa and he's not Jesus, so how does it work? Here I am again, practically a deer in headlights trying to figure out how I'm going to save the Easter bunny for this kid. He then says, I think I might know. Now I'm thinking, Oh, thank God, this could be ok. I ask him, what do you have in mind? He says, I think he drops all the stuff off for the Easter basket outside and then you have to carry it all in and decide what we want, but what happens to the things I don't like? Ok, ok, I can roll with this. I go along with his idea and tell him that the other things the bunny drops off that I didn't think they would like we donate to other children who might not get baskets. He then rolls over and says, that's a kind bunny. And you know what, I can't disagree with him ;) 

Making Food A Memory

Oh, the invigorating smells of spices that fill a room with fragrant aroma. There's something special about cooking for your whole family, and even better when they enjoy it. I always feel like I conquer a big mom win when I make something that my whole family will eat. Does anyone else have kids that bring out all the dramatics when it comes to new food? My kids are usually thrown off by texture or color of something. However, I've never really been one to cook something separate for my kids and have always encouraged them to at least try it once before they say if they like it or not. I would say 8 times out of 10 they usually end up surprising themselves, and guess what...they like it!

This post is sponsored by NJMOM and RWJBarnabas Health. As always all opinions remain my own.

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of the 2019 Wellness Cooking Series classes at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health facility. I got to taste some delicious dishes that were inspired by cultures from around the world, and learn more about why the chef chose to share these dishes.


Not only was it informative to learn how to prepare some new and creative dishes, but I also enjoyed learning a little bit more about the history. We were provided with several handouts to take home with us and one of them highlighted the elements of flavor and how each category is broken down. They also touched upon how spices have been of major importance for many nations, dating back years throughout history. Some wars even broke out over spices because of the importance they played in those regions, and helped to define their culture.

The dishes that were prepared were inspired by Northern Africa, Greece, and Morocco. My two favorites were the Lemon Chicken Skewers that was Greek-inspired and the Vegetarian Tagine that was Moroccan-inspired. They were bursting with flavor and really gave that party-in-your-mouth experience.
What I also really liked about this whole experience was how RWJBarnabas Health provides these cooking series’ to everyone, to be able to come to become inspired, learn new and exciting things about various cuisines, and sample lots of tasty dishes. I also really liked how the chefs that were showcasing their dishes at this class were apart of the culinary division of a non-profit called Elijah's Promise. It's a local organization that brings the community together and believes that food changes lives.

One of my favorite takeaways from the class was something the chef shared. She explained that food should be an experience. I loved that so much, because it's so true. If you think about it, we could all probably find a certain smell or a dish that brings us back to a specific time and place. It could be culturally related or maybe something specific a relative or grandparent made. For me, I can always remember my grandmother cooking us scrambled eggs and bacon every time we came over. It's not the most glamorous dish, but that simple meal brings me so many memories. It could have been 2pm in the afternoon and sure enough, we knew we were getting some eggs. My grandmother was 100% Hungarian so we also grew up with dishes like Stuffed Cabbage and Halushka. My grandfather was 100% Czech so we got to eat things like Goulash, which I got to taste firsthand when Eric and I traveled to Prague. The rest of my background is Italian which made our trip to Italy even more special, along with having the chance to enjoy those savory meals.
Do you have a certain dish or smell that takes you back to a special memory?

A big thank you to the team at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, for having me be a part of this cooking experience.



Some Bunny Loves You

What do you get when you bring three brothers together and an extra fluffy hopping friend? Easter adorableness overload.

Easter week is always a special week for us. It's a time of reflection and thankfulness for the ultimate sacrifice that our Savior paid for us. It's also a time where we create some of our favorite family memories as well. We had a very special visitor this weekend that I think has all of us wanting our own rabbit even more now. Yup, that's right, our friend brought over her sweet bunny, Marty, for the boys to take pictures with. 

If you've been following me for awhile then you know this is one of my favorite times of year to take pictures of the boys. It's a tradition we started 4 years ago now and don't plan on stopping anytime soon. You can see some of our previous years here, here, and here

This year was extra special for us since it's baby C's first Easter. He's wearing the same outfit that his brothers all wore for their first Easters. I knew it would be a little big on him but it ended up working out pretty well. It fit him fine in the length and then I just rolled the sleeves to make them work. 

You can imagine the boys excitement when they knew the bunny was coming. It was really cute because A wanted to help me with the setup and backdrop for these pictures. He set out the hay, the eggs, and those extra large carrots. He did find out my hiding place for things though. He followed me over to a closet where I had everything and then said, ohhh, so that's where you keep things. Oops. Time to find another hiding place.

When the bunny arrived the boys were immediately glued and wanted to hold him so bad. He was a little wound up because he was just driving in the car and needed to get some energy out. We thought it would be cute to have him sit in a basket but that didn't last too long because he had other plans. Which was fine. The best piece of advice I could give is, just go with the flow when kids and animals are involved. Both can be so unpredictable.

Even with him hoping out of the basket, the boys loved watching his every move and were still itching to hold him. We tried to switch it up and have little nugget hold the baby but he got so upset when his big brother handed him over. It wasn't because he didn't want his little brother, he just wanted to hold that rabbit so bad.

Look how happy he was once he got to hold him.

Of course we couldn't pass up an opportunity to all get some family pictures and capture these special moments together.

Do you have any Easter traditions you look forward to?

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends! I hope everyone's been having a great week. They keep on seeming to fly by over here. I was solo parenting for a lot of last week and part of this one. Eric and A went on a big boy trip to go visit Eric's brothers in California while I was home with my little nugget and baby C. They had a great time and got to enjoy that beautiful Cali scenery and warm sun. It's one of my favorite places to visit so I'm already looking forward to the next time we make a trip out there with all of us. 

Other than that it was a typical week for me filled with doctors appointments and everyday life. They have us taping baby C's lip area down now. It's the center part right under the tip of your nose, and can I just tell you it is so hard for me to get the hanging of making a knot in the center of these tiny braces rubber bands. I've had them flinging all over the place, shooting off into the air never to be found again, popping me in the face, it's kind of comical and also frustrating at the same time. I know it's all a process and when we first started putting in his NAM and making the strips for that it felt like we would never get the hang of it, and here we are, three months later of him wearing it and we could practically do it in our sleep. Actually, we have had to do it in our sleep when he pulls it out at night. 

Anyway, here's a look at some of my favorites...

Girls Brunch: 

My sweet friend hosted a girls bubbly brunch over the weekend and it was the perfect break and social interaction I needed with my friends after having the boys by myself. When she found out I wasn't able to find a sitter for them she offered to have them come along which was so sweet of her. Thankfully they were really well behaved and little nugget made a new bff. Her adorable corgi, Reggie, is just the cutest and most dapper little man. Little nugget followed him all around and also fell in love with one of her cats. Her food was delicious, complete with a tater tot bar. Yes, please!

Special Time With The Nugget: 

As I mentioned Eric and A were away so I got to soak up a lot of one on one time with this sweet guy. It was a great week weather wise so we had a lot of walks and times of kicking around the soccer ball. It worked out well because I brought the baby's swing outside and he got to swing away while I ran around with the nugget and was able to keep an eye on the baby. I also took him to a workshop at Home Depot where he got to build a birdhouse and absolutely loved being able to hammer the nails. Give that boy a hammer (of course with supervision) and he is so happy. We finished off with a lunch at Chick Fil A and then my mom and sister came over for dinner that night.

Flowers In Bloom: 

The flowers really started to pop up all over the place around here and we are loving these new sights. I know my allergies won't be thanking me in a few weeks, but for now, I am enjoying every moment of it. I seem to get really bad when the trees start budding not necessarily flowers. It's been so fun to see baby C taking in so many first experiences. I think no matter how many kids you end up having there's something so special about enjoying these times with each of them. I shared more about our flower fun here.

T-Ball: 

We've been t-ball strong over here and I am so happy that A has been enjoying it. It's a breath of fresh air from his previous soccer days. They're getting ready for their first game so it will be interesting, and fun, to see all of them out there trying their best. Little nugget is a hard age when he's just not old enough to make the team. He's been a great sport though cheering his brother on from the sidelines. It will be fun next year to see them together again. That's one of the great benefits of having them close in age.

Favorite Finds:

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I'm happy to say that the boys Easter baskets are set. I love being able to cross things off my list earlier than expected. That rarely happens. So when it does, it's a beautiful thing. I did almost forget that I needed a basket for the baby but was able to grab one that thankfully wasn't picked over. Some of my favorite staple items and new finds that I'm adding to their baskets are things like these sunglasses, this 3D puzzle that I think A is going to love, new flip flops, The Easter Bunny's Helper book, and Happy Easter, Mouse. For the baby I got him new hanging toys for his carseat, socks, and a set of bandana bibs. I have a bunch of other little things I'll be adding too, like garden gloves, work books, some gummies, sidewalk chalk etc. 

Baby C is also turning 5 months over Easter weekend (how is that possible??). I couldn't resist this adorable bunny cap for his monthly picture. You guys know I can't resist a good pair of sunnies and when they're on sale that's an even bigger win. I know these might be a little out there for some, but they were really fun to me and sometimes I enjoy a pair that's the nigger the better. If sunglasses are a thing for me then there is no point in having a bunch that all look the same. I have been loving these oversized mustard frame ones (they also have them in brown) and almost every time I wear them I get a compliment when I'm out somewhere. I also love these half red frame glasses (also available in tortoise and taupe). I will say, they don't really seem red to me though. They are in the red family but my initial thought of them is that they're closer to coral which is perfect for summer. And these prices, you can't go wrong. I also hit a sale on this grey open front cardigan that has been perfect for these in between days. Not to mention, I'm sure I'll also get a lot of use out of this in the fall. I have been loving pieces that I can wear over multiple seasons.

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I hope you have a great weekend! The boys might be getting a special visit from a very special fluffy friend. If you've been following me for a while then you probably know this is one of my favorite Easter traditions. Stay tuned to my stories for some behind the scenes. 
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