Meet the Sullivans: November 2013

November 27, 2013

25 Christmas Activities to Do with a Toddler

We are all SO excited for Christmas this year! Owen was almost a year old last year, so he was definitely able to join in on most of the fun, but I think he'll really enjoy our traditions this year. I want to make sure we fully enjoy this holiday season and immerse ourselves in all the fun there is to be had. As a part of using our advent calendar that I shared with you yesterday we'll be completing at least one of these fun activities each day.

There are 25 activities on this list, but that doesn't mean they need to be done each day! Feel free to even just pick a few and try to do those. A list like this can be overwhelming, so I have a little note in each drawer of Owen's Advent calendar with the name of that day's activity, but I'm reserving the right to switch them around to fit our schedule and mood. And there is a great possibility we might do two activities in one day, and that we might do some twice!


1. visit Santa.
2. write a letter to Santa.
3. shop for our Operation Christmas Child box.
4. bake Christmas cookies.
5. decorate the tree.

6. make a homemade card for our OCC box. 



7. string a popcorn garland.
8. make holiday scented playdough together.
9. buy canned goods for a local food drive and drop them off.
10. attend Christmas art class at Scribble Me Happy.
11. pick, buy and donate a toy to Toys for Tots.

12. finger paint using Christmas colors. 



13. make an in door snowman
14. paint with Christmas cookie cutters
15. make a snow man pizza for dinner
16. watch Christmas shows and movies


17. bake and decorate gingerbread men after reading The Gingerbread Man
18. pack, wrap and mail OCC box. 
19. make a north pole smoothie 
20. attend Holiday music classes


 

21. frost and decorate ice cream cones as Christmas trees.
22. make a handprint Christmas ornament
23. visit the Union Square Christmas tree in San Francisco  

24. walk Eucalyptus Avenue in San Carlos and see all the lights
25. make a holiday snow man lunch




We can't wait to get started!

November 26, 2013

Our New Advent Calendar

Our beautiful new advent calendar from Personal Creations came late last week, and Owen and I had such a fun time setting it up! Last year, at just 11 months-old, he wasn't old enough to appreciate, anticipate or help use an Advent calendar to count down the days of the Christmas season, but this year I know he's going to be really into it!

For the last several weeks months I had been looking for the perfect way for us to count down the days in Advent leading up to Christmas, but hadn't been able to find one I liked. So, when the nice people at Personal Creations contacted me about reviewing one of their Personal Creations Christmas gifts it was perfect timing, because they had exactly what we had been searching for!


I think Owen really likes opening up the drawers on the calendar where his little treats and a special message will be hiding! He has been calling it his "puzzle" since we set it up. The drawers are so easy for him to open and put back in too, so it's really an activity he can be 100% involved in. 



Inside the drawers this year I put either a chocolate kiss or a Christmas sticker, and a little message saying our Christmas Advent Activity for the day (each one is from a list I'll be sharing with you all tomorrow)!


I also really love that the calendar can stand all on it's own, which means we don't have to put any extra holes in the wall to hang it. We found the perfect home for it in front of the fireplace in the living room. And of course, isn't the personalization nice? I think it would make a great gift for a new family, much like us! You can use the code SRCH25BT for 25% off your order, and personalization is always FREE!

We just can't wait for December 1st so we can get started!

Are you counting down the days until Christmas? What will you use to keep track of the days left until Christmas?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

November 25, 2013

Quick and Easy Homemade Bread Crumbs

Store bought bread crumbs are one of those convenience foods where you think, "It is so much easier and faster to buy them than to make them....". And when you're in a rush, or buying ingredients for dinner at the last minute, you're probably right. But nothing rivals the taste and crunch of fresh, homemade bread crumbs in a dish. And it's just so easy to make a bunch and keep it for a few weeks.

Just like my feelings on shredded cheese -- it is worth the extra couple of minutes to just do it yourself. Trust me, this is 20 minutes or less of food prep you'll be really glad you took the time to do!

This is so simple and easy I feel dumb evening explain it to you, but here it goes...

Ingredients
1 loaf sourdough baguette (best if day-old), torn into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. 

Place all ingredients into a blender (I use our Vitamix) or food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Spread out evenly onto two baking sheets. Bake until the crumbs begin to brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool. Then transfer them to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

November 22, 2013

Five on Friday | Top 5 Christmas Movies

Good Morning! I'm linking up with the lovely ladies behind The Good Life, Carolina Charm, A. Liz Adventures, and Hello Happiness for 5 on Friday today!

I could have totally spent this whole post boring you with details about our oil change yesterday, and how we spent two whole days at home (without even stepping foot outside the house) this week, or the pro's and con's of the preschool I toured this week.... But I thought it would be fun to chat about our my Top 5 Favorite Christmas Movies instead! Way more fun, right?

FIVE
The Family Stone
There are so many of my favorite, great actors in this movie! SJP, Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton! I think the movie successfully portrays the unconditional love of a family, but also how hard it can be to be new in a close knit family. The awkwardness in some of the scenes is HUGE, but I just love it.

FOUR
It's a Wonderful Life
A Christmas classic true and true! It's hard not to cry during this movie and for easy to feel all warm and fuzzy at the end!

THREE
Elf
Will Ferrel is hilarious, juvenile and fantastic in this movie! My favorite thing about this movie is watching how other people look when they see Buddy the Elf do things like eat old gum off the subway or put maple syrup on spaghetti. And Zooey Deschanel has a gorgeous voice!

TWO
Home Alone
I remember watching this a lot growing up. It such a fun movie to relive each year! I still cringe when the one burglar steps bare footed on the nail. Ouch!

 ONE
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
I love everything about this movie! The uncomfortable family dynamics, the beautifully tacky Christmas lights, the comedy and the awesome 80's clothes. We're saving this movie to watch on Thanksgiving day while we all get everything together for Thanksgiving, and I can't wait!

Honorable mention:
 
Die Hard
I asked Keith what his favorite Christmas movies are and of course Die Hard was at the top of his list. He swears it's a Christmas movie, and you know what? He's not alone. There are plenty of other people like him out there who agree! We found this guy's 5 Reasons Die Hard Is the Best Christmas Movie Ever Made to be the most entertaining! 

I'm dying to know your favorite Christmas movies! Is there one I left of the list that you just love?

November 21, 2013

Thirsty Thursday | Limoncello Champagne Cocktail

Want to know something totally random about me? My very favorite cocktail is the whole wide world is a lemon drop martini. I'm such a huge fan of the refreshing, citrusy libation that we served them as the signature cocktail at our wedding reception! I've never made one at home (maybe I should?!) because I just don't know if mine would be as good as the ones you can order at a restaurant, or worse, what if it were great and I wanted to make them all the time?

Anyway, when I saw this concoction made from limoncello and proseco I thought it would be a great alternative to my favorite martini, and it was!

recipe source: The Comfort Cook


Ingredients:
1 (750ml) bottle champagne ( I prefer Mumm or Chandon)
4 oz. limoncello liqueur, chilled (store-bought or homemade)
1 pint fresh raspberries
About 8 sprigs fresh mint
 
Directions:
  1. At least 15 minutes before serving: Chill four wine/cocktail glasses in the freezer or refrigerator. 
  2. Place raspberries on a plate and freeze.
  3. Remove chilled glasses, add limoncello (1 oz. each), and top off with champagne. Add raspberries and mint leaves.
Cheers!

This champagne cocktail is great all year 'round in my opinion. It would be pretty served at a bridal shower, great for a summer party and festive (especially with raspberries or cranberries) at 
Christmastime! Feel free to change out the berries for which ever flavor or color scheme you're going for!

To see all of the previous Thirsty Thursday posts just click the link!

November 20, 2013

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...

I'm linking up (a day late!) with Jen at Down with the Dearmore's today as part of her These Are a Few of my Favorite Things Link-up Party!

Christmas list
one - I'm in love with the navy striped, gold-dipped duck bag. It would surely make toting around all our junk feel much fancier.
two - Perfect for Christmas Eve egg nog.
three - I have a thing for throw pillows, which only grows more intense at Christmas.
four - I saw this on Jen's list and fell.in.love! It would be perfect for Christmas parties and Christmas Eve, so I might have to buy it for myself ;)
five - So, I also have quite the growing collection of coffee mugs as well and obviously I'm drawn to metallic gold. 
six - We borrowed this lens for our Disneyland trip and it was amazing. I've been wanting on ever since.
seven - Cozy and cute!
eight - In my attempt to get rid of plastics in our kitchen, this glass water bottle will bring me one step closer.
nine - This book sounds so good! Has anyone read it?

I'm trying really hard to not buy anything for myself for the rest of the year, and so far it's going really well! Instead of buying the things I've been eying online I've been adding them to my Christmas wish list, which is obviously just growing and growing!

November 19, 2013

Owen is 22 Months!

Our sweet, energetic little boy turned 22 months yesterday!! That's just two (what I'm sure will be busy and fun filled) months from being TWO! It's hard to believe he is almost two whole years old, because I feel like we just brought him home from the hospital. There's also the fact that every so often I still feel like a new mom just learning as I go.


What's new with Owen...

The bedtime routine. Owen is picking up on the bedtime routine (books, bottle, bed) and has been falling asleep really easily -- often on his own in the crib. Gone are the days when we would have to coax him into sleep with shushing and bouncing / rocking excessively. He no longer needs all that. Reading a few books in the chair are all he seems to need to put him in the mood for bed these days. He'll even say, "Nigh-night Mommy (or Dadaay). Yove You!" when we leave the room.

Singing Carols! He's into singing "Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells"!! You can see that video and hear my beautiful awful singing voice on my Instagram.


Weaponize it. He is all the way a little BOY. Example: I gave him a peeled full size carrot and after taking one bite he decided it was no longer a snack and turned it into an imaginary sword.

Just like his daddy. Still loves Star Wars! Keith introduced him to the movie one night when I was out and now Owen requests it. He wants a lightsaber.


Explorer. He loves going outside for a "walk", but we usually only make a few houses down the street before he gets distracted by a plant, stick or rock.

Chatty Charlie. He is saying all sorts of things and surprises us often with a new word or phrase we didn't think he'd pick up on.


Working on Patience. He always wants to be the first to get stamps at the end of Gymboree class, so as soon as he hears the teacher say "stamp" he runs over to the wall where she gives them out and sits down. It's so sweet to watch him sit so patiently, with his legs straight out in front of him and toes pointed (he likes getting the stamps on his feet), waiting for his turn to get his stamps. 

Potty. Went poop on the potty for the first time all on his own (first time EVER on the potty too) on my birthday. Happy Birthday to Mommy!


A recent conversation at the park:
Owen: "Boss coming."
Me: "The "boss" is coming? Who's the boss?"
Owen: thinks for sec, then points to himself and says "Owen?"
Me: "Noooo, mommy's the boss"
Owen: looks disapoointed, then says "Owen boss too?"

Loves to read books and sing songs. Still tries to eat the crayons when coloring.


Eats. Broccoli, carrots (cooked and raw), apples, bananas (sometimes), and strawberries. Cheese pizza is still his favorite food next to his bottles of milk.

Loves. dogs, trucks, trains, birds, seeing people doing work outside, wearing a hat, chocolate milkshakes, books and talking!

Busy, busy, boy. Other than running errands we've been keeping busy with: trips to the park, Gymboree class, visiting Curiodyssey, going on walks, feeding the birds in the backyard with B, reading books, cooking together and crawling around, pretending to be lions!

We definitely buy a whole lot less gear these days for our little guy, but we're overflowing with TOYS! Keith and I both have a hard time going out anywhere with O and not coming home with something for him

Owens Faves 22 mo

Owen is really into playing with toys that he can do with someone or that allow him to play pretend. He loves cooking with me in the kitchen with the little set that came with our Citrus Lane box this month, and he really likes to use his tool set to fix all the things around the house. We made play dough last week and we've been using it as pretend food with his kitchen pots and pans. Dinosaur Roar is his favorite book these days and he requests it before bed reach night.

Dear Owen,

Everything is new and exciting to you these day my sweet, boy. You're a breath of fresh air to us all, and a reminder of all that is good in this world. Every moment with you is an adventure. We love you very, very much!

xoxo, Mommy

November 18, 2013

Wrapping Up the Weekend

I never know what to call these posts! Although it is technically still our weekend I'm doing a little weekend wrap up now. I've been under the weather all day, so I know nothing too exciting is going to happen between now and bedtime!


Friday - After Keith was done at work we swung by a mall that has a Target to pick up a few things there and a few other places (read: new video games because Keith's Playstation 4 was coming on Saturday) in the mall. I hadn't been to that particular mall in years, but I might go back every now and then, even though it's a much longer drive from home than our regular mall, because Owen LOVED riding the little cars they have there. The only way we got him off them without a complete meltdown was the promise of a hot dog and french fries at Five Guys. He also loved the play space, but I almost had five heart attacks while he played because it was overrun with big kids who almost tramped him.


Owen's November Citrus Lane box also came on Friday and we had lots of fun opening it up! This month's box was filled with all sorts of fun things: Green Toys Stock Pot & Utensil Set, which I had on O's Christmas list (check!), a Zoo Plate from Skip Hop, some adorable and seriously useful Bumkins Reusable Snack Bags, lip balm from Purlisse for the mamas, Organicasaurus Baked Organic Corn Snack from Good Boy Snacks and a voucher for address labels from Tiny Prints! Amazing stuff, right?!

If you'd like to sign up for a box follow this link and you'll receive $10 off your order (and I'll receive $10 off my next box too)! Makes a great gift for the little ones (and moms!) in your life!



Saturday - Keith worked :( Owen and I met our friends Shannon her daughter Amelia at Starbucks before all heading over to a preschool for a tour. While I really like the school I'm still not ready to commit. I don't feel like we've found the perfect school for us, although this one was pretty close. I know what I want for Owen (and us), but I have some work to do in finding it.

Keith's Playstation 4 came and he got right to setting it up as soon as he came home from work. I'm pretty sure he's spent every free moment (which isn't much!) playing it since it arrived. It's like his second son or wife or something. 

Saturday night Keith and I had a date night planned while Owen hung out at home with his B and cousins Nick and Natalie. When we got to the restaurant the wait was 30 minutes so we went a few doors down to this place called The Living Room for a drink while we waited. The place is set up like a living room with various groups of couches, arms chairs, coffee tables, fire places and televisions -- it really reminded me of Central Perk. Our dinner at Vesta was amazing! We started with the garden lettuces and shaved fennel salad, and the burrata plate. Then we shared the spicy mushroom and garlic pizza. We both loved the place and we'll definitely go back again.


Sunday - We went out for a family run early in the morning, and then after getting showered I went out to do the grocery shopping. We basically stayed home the rest of the day, played, took naps and watched football (Keith, not me!). 

Monday - I've pretty much spent all day sleeping and sitting, nothing to document. Owen and Keith on the other hand have been having a ball playing at home like wild men, running errands and playing at the park.  

And I also want to share the WINNER for the Mother's Therapy Organics giveaway I was hosting last week! Congratulations Elizabeth! Your prize should arrive very soon!!






November 15, 2013

Five on Friday | Christmas Sheets and Playdough

Morning! I'm linking up with the lovely ladies behind The Good Life, Carolina Charm, A. Liz Adventures, and Hello Happiness for 5 on Friday today.

This is a really random list of things that came to mind as I sat down to write this post:

- ONE -
I hate when nap time gets interrupted and get seriously pissed when someone wakes my child from his nap, or distracts me from my goal of doing glorious noooothing during that hour (to hour and a half). I also feel completely selfish and guilty when I want to rip the UPS delivery man's head off when he knocks (loudly) on the door almost waking Owen and tearing me away watching Nashville from my cozy spot on the couch. The person who calls and wants to talk while O's sleeping? I don't answer. I guess I feel like nap time is my "me time", and I really enjoy it and I'm overly protective of it. It's not healthy, these feelings. Anyone else feel this crazy "Nap time is MINE!! rage" that I feel?

- TWO -
I'm going to decorate Owen's room for Christmas this year. I bought these sheets from Pottery Barn Kids and they inspired the whole idea. I'm working on a little garland for above the crib to put in place of his blue bunting and I may have already bought a few things from the Christmas section at Target.... Having said that, I'm beginning to feel anxious about Christmastime. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmastime, and maybe that's the problem. I love it too much. So much actually, that I build it way up in my head that I want to do this and that, make this, decorate that, buy that for her / him, watch that, etc. that I'm worried I won't be able to make it all happen in the 25-ish days of Christmas. #firstworldproblems

- THREE -
Owen and I made play dough for the first time yesterday. I'm probably the last blogging mom to do this, but it was so fun and simple I'm happy to share the recipe if anyone wants it. AND It has been too long since I've written a solely Owen-related post, but worry not, there is one coming next week because our boy will be 22 months on Monday! Also, I'd like to point out that Owen wore a Halloween t-shirt all day yesterday. Some people are already decorated for Christmas and I'm the lady at the park with the kid in Halloween clothes in mid-November. See? I just can't keep up!

- FOUR -
We have a date night planned for this weekend and I'm SO excited!!! I love dating my husband and just catching up without that other sweet man in my life interrupting us with "Mama! Mama!! MAMA!!??". We're going to a cool pizza place and to see Saving Mr. Banks. Should be a great movie! 

- FIVE- 
Making this pretty little concoction (Limoncello Raspberry Prosecco Cooler) is on my short list of to-do's this weekend! It looks so pretty and refreshing. I imagine it would be the perfect cocktail for a holiday cocktail party too!

November 14, 2013

Thirsty Thursday | Glowing Skin Green Smoothie

Ever since the Vitamix found it's way into our life we have been having smoothies for breakfast every morning! When Keith is in charge of the smoothie making he usually chooses to make a chocolate protein smoothie (add banana, ice and peanut butter to it and you've got Heaven in a glass), while I usually opt for the green / fruit variety. 

My standard green smoothie (example 1 and example 2) is a combination of fresh spinach + a mix of frozen mango / peaches / berries / pineapple / bananas / oranges and coconut water. Lately though, I've been trying out a few more specific recipes aimed at certain healthy benefits. I've been loving the ones found in this book, Superfood Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Nutrient-dense Recipes (Superfood Series)


The recipe below is Kimberely Snyder's recipe for the Glowing Green Smoothie. The greens and fruits can be substitutes for whichever ones you prefer, and the fruits are included to balance out the flavor of the greens, so use whichever fruits you like best. Ideally you should have 2 types of greens with 2-3 types of fruit, plus the fresh lemon. I also switched out the filtered water for coconut water.


Ingredients
1 1/2-2 cups water
3/4 pound organic romaine lettuce, rough chopped, about 1 head
1/2 head large bunch or 3/4 small bunch organic spinach
3-4 organic celery stalks, halved
1 organic apple, cored, seeded, quartered
1 organic pear, cored, seeded, quartered
1 organic banana, peeled
1/2 fresh organic lemon, peeled, seeded

Directions
  1. Place water, romaine, spinach and celery into blender. Start blending at a low speed, slowly working up to your blender's max speed.
  2. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Stop machine and remove lid.
  3. Add apple, pear, banana and lemon to the container in the order listed and secure lid.
  4. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed high.
  5. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.
The smoothie stays good covered in the refrigerator for a few days. I made a big batch and stored it for a few mornings. Each morning I would reblend the portion I wanted to have with a handful of ice and it was amazing! No joke, I felt hydrated, energized and refreshed each morning I had this smoothie! Makes a great snack too!

FYI: It also help to have a cute little assistant, preferably still in pajamas, helping you make your smoothie. 


Just kidding, it really just makes the washing, chopping, blending process more difficult, but it does make it a whole lot more FUN! And this way you have someone really super CUTE to enjoy your smoothie with when you're all done!


Next week we'll start mixing up some holiday drinks!! What is your favorite holiday beverage?

November 12, 2013

Peter and the Starcatchers

On Sunday afternoon we celebrated my mom's birthday! My sister and I took my mom up to San Francisco for lunch and to see Peter and the Starcatchers. The weather was cool and it was such a fun time!

We didn't have plans for where we would eat before the show, and just figured that we would find something fast and easy. We ended up in a neat little place, Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen. The menu was really interesting (like chicken fried quail and waffles and monti cristo hand pies), and it was fun knowing the restaurant (and some of the menu items) were inspired by the legend of a prominent Irish San Franciscan, Jasper O'Farrell.

My sister, Kathee and I at lunch.

We were in a rush, so we all ordered some version of the grilled cheese. This wasn't just a plain old grilled cheese though, it had three kinds of cheese on whole wheat sourdough, with roasted garlic and tomato jam. It was amazing, and so were the champagne cocktails! I had the Sparkling Paloma (10 Dolin Blanc, Combier Pampelousse, sparkling wine)!

After lunch we hurried over to the Curran Theater to catch the show. Fun little fact, my 80-ish year-old grandpa was an usher there when he was a teenager!

The show was wonderful! Here is a little synopsis from the play's website:

PETER AND THE STARCATCHER is the most hilarious-filled evening of madcap fun! In this 5 time Tony Award winning play, a dozen brilliant actors play more than 100 unforgettable characters using their enormous talent, ingenious stagecraft and the limitless possibilities of imagination. This swashbuckling grownup prequel to Peter Pan will have you hooked from the moment you let your imagination take flight.

The first half felt a little slow just because they were on a ship for the entire time. And it was a tiny bit dark. Things really picked up after the intermission! I was surprised to see that some people had young children there -- maybe because they though it was a Peter Pan story and based on a "children's" novel? -- and I imagine it was boring for them. Lots of the jokes went over my head!

Like I said, the second half was really entertaining and funny. The actor who played Captain Hook was really fantastic. Our seats were way far back and I forgot my glasses, so I could barely see some of the actors, but he really stood out! And we loved the ending! It was sweet and tied right in with the classic Peter Pan. I was excited to read later that Walt Disney Pictures is making the book into a movie AND that Gary Ross, the director of The Hunger Games, signed on to direct the film. Neat right? It is bound to be a great movie!

We had such a wonderful time celebrating my mom's birthday and I hope we'll have more San Francisco adventures (more lunching and hopefully some shopping!) again very soon!