Thanksgiving

2013 ThanksgivingIMG_5205 IMG_5206 IMG_5212 IMG_5220 IMG_5224 IMG_5231 IMG_5236 IMG_5238 IMG_5242 IMG_5246think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy. - anne frank IMG_5273 IMG_5259 IMG_5262 IMG_5215 IMG_5245 IMG_5266

By the end of the day, I decided that my boots were overrated and bare feet on chilly ground was the way to go. The sun was setting on what couldn’t have been a more perfect first Thanksgiving at our home. I was nervous, I’ll admit it. I’d only ever cooked one other turkey before and this one was 24 pounds so I felt in over my head, but determined to make it happen. Thankfully The Pioneer Woman came to my rescue, on just about everything I made for our feast. God bless that woman, I’ve convinced myself that I just need to go ahead and get her cookbook! Her mashed potatoes and Chocolate Pie… are to DIE for.

Anyway, we had some of our bestest friends in the whole wide world join us. They are like family to us. We love their kids. They love ours. Something special happens when you see someone not related to you by blood love your children. It’s unspoken, but a bond is made. We’ve been through a lot together. These friends, they’re as good as family.

Pete and Joseph headed out to the Thanksgiving Parade in the morning. I ran around like a chicken without a head (in my pajamas!) all morning, actually for two whole days, peeling apples, boiling potatoes, trying to figure out what Ree means when she said I need to “brine the turkey”! But three o’clock rolled around and it actually happened.

I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Tuesday night I let my writers at Still Standing know that I would be taking a few days away from facebook (we have a group there so we can stay in touch), and the minute I shut down my laptop that night, I felt free. I woke up, not too worried about work, or pumping out designs for my shop. Just free.

So we built a fort in the living room, me and Joseph.

We read books.

Played.

Talked about Thanksgiving.

And he “helped” me make the apple pie. He stood next to me eating apple peels as I tore the skin off. I remembered doing the same thing with my mom so many years ago.

I made butter crust for the first time.

And it just felt good to be cooking. And baking. Bare feet, with some country music flowing through the kitchen because for some reason Christmas tunes didn’t feel quite right.

I kept thinking how much I couldn’t wait for Thursday, because Pete is finally getting not one, but FOUR days off, after weeks of working seven days a week, and long hours at that. We are thankful, thankful for the work but we all miss him. So we are soaking in these days.

Today we wasted no time and grabbed a tree today, and replaced our scant fall decorations with some of our old and treasured Christmas decorations and ornaments.

I. Love. This. Time. Of. Year.

the end.

ps – I’m giving away TWO $50 gift certificates to my shop. One on facebook here. One on Instagram here.

Hot Cocoa!

Some friends came over yesterday and it was so nice to just relax and be able to catch up. We made our Queen bee shirts and watched the babies play, talk and made some hot cocoa. I had enough hot chocolate mix for one person, so I looked up some ways to make hot cocoa on your own so we could all have some. I found a few recipes and this is what we did:)

Hot Cocoa Recipe

WHAT YOU NEED:

1/3 c cocoa powder

1/3 c sugar OR 4 tsp stevia

4 1/2 c milk/ half-and-half

optional: cinnamon, whip cream, marshmallows, peppermint sticks

1. Mix the cocoa powder and sweetener of your choice together in a sauce pan.

2. Add in one cup of the milk to the mix and heat on low setting. Stir frequently until the cocoa powder is dissolved.

3. Add the remaining amount of milk and stir for about 10-15 seconds.

4. Throw in some marshmallows or peppermint sticks or whatever you might like in your hot cocoa and enjoy!

It’s been ICY cold today. It should be a sin to be this cold and not get to enjoy snow;) Anyway this makes about 3-4 cups. It’s so good!!! I love it because it’s not too sweet and it’s creamy. This recipe reminds me of that Mexican hot chocolate my mom used to make, Abuelita.

Thanksgiving Doodles

free thanksgiving hand drawn doodles at Small Bird Studios, by Franchesca Cox

After today I will most likely be taking a week or so off of blogging, and running around my little kitchen like a mad woman diving head first into this Thanksgiving goodness. Tomorrow I have big plans to run to the farmers market and grocery store to find the last few things we need to get our feast ready.

#ICANTWAIT

I love Thanksgiving. I love that we have a whole day to devote to being thankful. I’m all about finding thankfulness in the small things, everyday, but it’s pretty rad to have a whole holiday for it and a FEAST to top it off :)

Anyway. I’m going to be capturing little moments here and there on Instagram, maybe posting a few updates on my facebook page but nothing over the top. I’m soaking in the holidays. For years these types of days and weeks hurt. I’m here to tell you, that the sting is not as raw as it once was. It feels good to feel alive again friends. Maybe that’s what all this is about. Being okay with stepping away for a little while. Maybe it’s growth or change. I’m not sure, but I’m following this string of light in my life right now. It’s pleasant. It’s peaceful. It’s new.

I know so many of you that frequent my blog are dreading the holidays because of recent losses and heartache. My heart goes out to you. I can honestly say that on some level I understand. I wish for your sake that the holidays would fast forward. The holidays tend to magnify the pain.

However you are spending the next week or so, I hope it is a gentle time for you, surrounded by those you love and who love and support you.

To download these images, click here, here and here. I made them into PNG files so that you can use them on your blog, layer them on digital scrapbook paper, upload to Facebook/ instagram or even print them out. Please note that these are for personal use only.

Happy, happy Thanksgiving friends.

Visit my shop

Hand Drawn Christmas card by Small Bird Studios

Real Life

The holidays are a strange beast. On the one hand they are my favorite, favorite time of year. It’s almost like people in general are friendlier, more giving, more forgiving, more compassionate. There is also this unseen magic that fills the streets, shops and stores, parks and walkways. The music seems to help creating this atmosphere that I wish I could bottle up and release like an Airwick, any time of the year when things got a little dull. On the other hand, they have a way of highlighting all the painful wounds of grief that are so easily ripped open this time of year.

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It always feels strange entering into such a time in the year that families get together and do fun things like Christmas parties, gift wrapping, gingerbread man decorating, parades… with one little one always missing. It’s not even something I talk much about outwardly anymore, but inside a mother never forgets the silhouette of all her children. In her heart she can see them together, as they should be. I find Joseph volunteering her name more and more into our daily conversation. It’s sweet is what it is. Pure sweetness. We make life what it should be. We include her when we can, we are sad because she can’t really be a part of all this. But more than anything we are so thankful.

Real life, after all, has blessed our socks off.

In real life, I am finally breaking up with my notion that Thanksgiving decorations are overrated. They totally are worth every penny. Plus Michael’s had a bunch on sale (80% off!). So that definitely made the purchase easier. Anyway, our house smells and feels like Fall. And it is absolutely MAGICAL!

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Real life is also rainy days that make it hard to take good pictures, and hauling two kids from H.E.B. to the car with a 24 pound turkey and a ham entertaining to watch. Not to mention the rain was soaking right through my cute leopard print flats.

Real life is a pile of books sitting next to my laptop that Joseph handpicked for me to read to him tonight. I brought them with me, when I moved spots to write tonight. Thinking about his little hands picking them with intention, and expectation. His heart, how he still needs me.

Sigh.

Being a mom. I will never get over how amazing this gig really is.

Real life is the time change making a shift in everyone’s sleep patterns and Bubby’s happy-go-lucky play style. He woke up at 6:30 this morning and then refused to play until nine. All the while Evie is playing but every five or ten minutes I find her searching for her play buddy. It was kind of sad! We went to the park with a friend and that more or less got him going, but this time change – not a fan. I never thought I’d say that about the time change that actually gets us more sleep.

Real life is putting something out for the world to see, and then cringing because I didn’t do this or that. Obsessing over every detail, and questioning if it was ever ready to be seen by someone other than myself.

Real life is waking up refreshed. Renewed. With promise. And encouragement. And so much love.

Real life breaks my heart, churns my soul, questions my beliefs and magnifies my doubts.

But real life is what I am thankful for tonight. To feel. To love. To give. To play a big or small part in someone else’s story.

To be.

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This post is sponsored by Fotor.

Treats

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Oh my goodness. Halloween was by far the best it has ever been since being a mama. We had a pretty busy day last Thursday. And on top of all the hustle and bustle of events before that actual evening, it was raining. Not just any rain either – it was the kind of rain that makes you wonder why you ever left your door step and also makes you wonder why you don’t invest in a good umbrella! I ended up spending a few hours before meeting up with the family at Chic-fil-a. Bubby skipped dinner out of his necessity to play and burn all his excitement over this sugar infested holiday. It’s one of the best, I tell you. Where people actually SHARE chocolate. I’ve tossed my “cleaner”-ish ways of eating out the window these past few days. Something about candy, it just welcomes all the grains, and pastas and starchy foods with open arms. Ahhhh….

That evening we visited Pete’s Grandma with a few other family members in the nursing home where she lives. We gathered in this large room, with a pool table and the kids had a ball. They were all dressed up, and even though we didn’t do the traditional trick-or-treating it was good.

One of those moments where you are so glad cameras exist. And these memories can last forever and ever.

October Baking

Last year I started a little tradition with Bubby to get a big ol’ Pumpkin shaped cookie from Panera bread once October and they start making them. When he didn’t quite finish it this year, I realized why he probably didn’t finish the sugar fest before him. I took a bite and honest to goodness it wasn’t that good. I don’t want to bash Panera because I am am BIG fan of theirs, but this inspired a new idea… to start baking our own “Pumpkin cookies”. When I read about how a friend was using “Pumpkin cookies” to honor her son’s memory, it was like it was meant to be. So we did.

We busted out the sugar, flour, bought some new sprinkle packs, and got to baking. I found a pack of Halloween shaped cookie cutters for around $1 at Wal-mart.

The cookies did not last long! :)

They were so much fun to make!

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Halloween Pinning + a Freebie!

Tonight I spent an undeniably wasteful amount on Pinterest, and I thought I would share my Halloween finds with you!!!

First of all, I found this first one at Laura‘s blog. Beyond brilliant.

source+tutorial

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Ummm.. if I was brave enough to dress up on Halloween, these oxfords would be a little fun to wear.

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I must try this!!!

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If God ever gives us another little girl, well she will be wearing a ridiculous amount of tulle all year round, but definitely Halloween. ;]

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And since it’s too warm to drink hot apple cider and hot cocoa in south Texas, might as well stuff something cute in your coffee cup for the season!

::

Last but not least, I made up this little printable that I hope you enjoy. Can you picture it in a old country-style white frame…?? smarvelous.

Download this 10″x8″ print here

Pin It

Followers Fest Link Below. Lots of new friends to make, and a ton of inspiration.

Bring. it on.

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Fall Card Freebies

Hello beautiful readers! I decided to post something a little light hearted and happy today…

Fall Freebies!

Oh and a sweet video at the end of my little man gettin’ ready for Halloween with his super scary lion growl… hehe ;] (Actually posting this for the grandparents and family, in case they didn’t see it on facebook yesterday!)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy using the fall cards as much as I enjoyed making them :]

You can plug in your own photos into them using a photo editor

Download 7″x5″ card here

Download this 5″x7″ card here

Download this 7″x5″ card here

How to use these cards:

To use them you will need a photo editing software.

{Get a free photo editor for Mac here and PC here}

1. Download & save the file to your computer.

2. Open the file in your photo editor, and open the image you would like to use in it.

3. Make sure your image is high resolution, otherwise it may not print correctly (pixelated).

4. Pay close attention to the recommended dimensions and crop your photo accordingly.

5. Copy/ paste your photo onto the image file & VOILA!

6. Print anywhere you like.

ps- Lately I’ve been finding some killer printing deals at Snapfish!

Big Love & Enjoy!

And here is my little man in all his scary goodness… ;)

XO

Dewberry Farm + a winner

Dewberry Farm. What a place.

We had the pleasure of going with my youngest brother and my mom last Saturday.

Apparently everyone and their mama knew about this place before I did.

Since having a little one around I take interest in things like carousels, pony rides and pumpkin patches. He changes just about everything :]

And yes, we did the whole ‘pumpkin patch’ thing again.

I couldn’t help it. Not only was Saturday a spectacular day… I was having serious cabin fever last week. Working from home will do that to you.

Hope you enjoy the photos :]

Loved watching his little face light up with the sight of so many pumpkins… :]

Wishing you all a happy Saturday today!

XOXO

ps – the winner to the Dandelion Dream giveaway is #15 Jill! Please email me at fran@smallbirdstudios.com so I can get you & Erin in touch with one another :)

Hello Autumn! Gift Exchange

Hello lovelies…

I think we could all use a little lift don’t you? Mary, Natasha, Holly and myself have pulled together to bring you a fabulous fall themed gift exchange. We even have a cute little button for you to grab, to help spread the word (please see right sidebar).

This gift exchange is open to ALL bloggers, I hope you’ll consider joining in! :)

Just to make sure no one gets overlooked, please sign up at one of the following blogs:

Small Bird Studios (yay! You’re here!)
Caring for Carleigh
My Angel Baby…Aiden William
Viva la Vida

And be sure to just sign up once, if you sign up on one of these blogs, you’re signed up on all of them.

Just a few rules for the gift exchange…

- $15 limit

- Partners will be picked and posted on these blogs above by October 29th. It is up to the partners to get in contact with each other and exchange mailing addresses.

- All items MUST be shipped by November 7th.

There will be a follow up link up that partners may participate in to show off their gift on November 21st.

So are you in? Be sure to grab the button to help spread the word——————–>

*please please only sign up if you will be able to follow through :)

Pumpkins

Well friends, we found our pumpkin patch yesterday. Okay, it was sort of a pumpkin patch, but I loved it all the same. It’s at the same family orchard that has seasonal fruits like persimmons, figs and blackberries.

They have a little picnic canopy, a baby swing and a children’s playground area. I love going in the morning time, when I get up early enough to beat the hot sun. It’s Texas ya’ll. We’re praising God when it gets down to 80 degrees right now :)

Hopefully in a week or so Bubby’s Halloween costume will be coming in and I’ll be making a trip back to this little ‘pumpkin patch’ to snap some more piccies. AH! I think I will die of overexposure to pure CUTENESS. ^_^

XO!

ps- don’t forget to enter the giveaway… :)