Friday, December 19, 2014

An Early Florida Christmas

With my side of the family all living up north, we started a new tradition where we have an early Christmas the first week of December in Florida. It's great for airline rates, gets everyone out of the cold and into the sunshine for a week and it's always a good time! 
There is no agenda. We like to fly by the seat of our pants around here! The "Christmas Vacation" usually starts with a few delayed flights, followed by relaxation, good food, and a visit or two to a theme park. When in Rome right? Some even take a chilly swim in the pool which is CRAZY to me, but when you live up north it's exhilerating I suppose! There is always plenty of chaos, with little cousins running around and the best part of all is having my whole family in one place. I'm sure my parents are in Heaven with their children AND grandchildren all under one roof for a whole week. My dream is to have Michael's whole side of the family join us one year.
Here are a few pics from the O'Connell, Witherspoon and Andrew family Christmas.
 Hope everyone has a lovely holiday with YOUR families. ( :

Monday, December 15, 2014

Being Festive

Tis the season to BAKE! 
 Christmas cookies are kind of like Girl Scout cookies. They only come once a year, and everyone loves a good Christmas cookie so there was no way I wasen't going to bring a bit of festive into the house by baking some myself. Now that I have a son, I am trying to start some traditions and Christmas cookies are something I want Tommy to look forward to every year.  My mom used to make these green Christmas tree cookies made with a cookie press and they were just SO GOOD! A lot of work, but good!
My cut out cookie of choice will always be stars because, well.... they're just so pretty! This year I made sure to add colorful sprinkles (just for Tommy), and sure enough his eyes lit up when he saw all those beautiful colors. He now stands at the kitchen counter pointing up to the plate of stars screaming,"Cookies!" all day long!

These little beauties are "Peppermint Crunch Dark Chocolate cookies." They are a new recipe for me that I found on Pinterest and I will definitely be making them for years to come. They're mouth wateringly delicious, and SO EASY. I mean...... way too easy not to make! All you need is......

-Dark Chocolate Cake mix (I used Betty Crocker chocolate fudge) 
-1/2 cup of vegetable oil
-2 eggs
-1 bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips

Mix the oil, cake mix and eggs together in a mixing bowl. No need to use a mixer. I do it by hand with a fork. Something a friend taught me years ago. A fork is the perfect mixer! Next add the peppermint chips. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into balls, and drop onto a ungreased non-stick cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes or until done. You will know by the cracked appearance. 
These cookies are great if you are doing a cookie exchange because they make up to 40 cookies. Enjoy!

The next cookie I'm going to conquer are adorable "Grinch Cookies" that I found over at Karttina's Kitchen see HERE. They are just too adorable and easy not to make!

What are your favortite Christmas Cookie recipes?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

In Loving Memory of Cali Rae

My dear sweet beautiful Cali,
It has been two years since you took your last breath in my arms, and my love and loss for you is as strong as ever. 
You are missed more than you could ever know. Life continues to go on, yet there is not a day that goes by that you do not creep into my mind. I don't know how you do it, but I hope you always will. It must be the love I have for you that never leaves me. 

Your brother is growing big and strong, and I can't help but think you have your sweet little hand in all of it. I know he misses you too. Afterall, he knew you the longest. Your father and I continue to love eachother, and we make sure to love Tommy twice as hard in your absence. ( :

I still get frequent visits from butterflies, and I smile every time knowing there is a piece of you in each beautiful flutter. ( : 
This past week we had our early annual Florida family Christmas and your father and I felt it was the perfect time to do something special in your honor, so we brought everyone to a butterfly garden to release what else? Beautiful butterflies! It was magical, and everyone felt touched to be a part of it. I know you were there and felt the love because later that day, a beautiful  rainbow appeared over our house. It felt like it was YOU smiling down from Heaven saying....... thank you for thinking of me. ( : We did think of you Cali, and always will. We miss you and love you to eternity.

Love and peace,

A butterfly lights before us like a sunbeam, 
and for a moment its glory and beauty belongs to our world. 
But, then it flys on again, 
and although we wish it could have stayed, 
we feel blessed to have seen it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Organic Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Growing up centerpieces were huge in my house. 
My mom created beautiful centerpieces that adorned our dining room table all year round. We would joke, because some were so big that we couldn't  even see each other during dinner,  but they were always beautiful and she loved designing them. 
 Now that Michael built us our own dining table, I can't wait to create a centerpiece for the holdays.  For Thanksgiving I want to stay away from the typical pumpkins and autumn flowers and try something simple and organic that I can carry over to Christmas. I came across these beautiful pieces which combine lots of greenery with nature. I definitely want to use acorns since Tommy loves to collect them and they are everywhere right now!  Maybe a little project we can do together. Check these beautiful pieces out!

Acorns and tea light candles
Sage and pine cones
Pine cones, pine needles and mason jars with tea lights. 
Painted white mini pumpkins and any greenery of your choice. So pretty!

Which would you choose? Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My "Sly" little Two Year Old

You are Two!
I mean how is that even possible? Happy Birthday little "T!" 
Two is a significant age. You have surpassed many preemie milestones with flying colors. Two years ago when you were lying in that incubator struggling to breathe, I would never have imagined the "sly little fox" you would become. A neighbor mentioned the other day that you have a mischievous little smile, and you do. I am hoping to stay one step ahead of you in life, but I'll admit it's going to be a challenge!

My heart just sings when you scream,"MOM," at the top of your lungs each morning when I enter your room. You blow me kisses, and sing and dance all day long. You point up to the sky at airplanes in awe, chase butterflies and pick flowers. Flowers that aren't intended to be picked, but we're working on that. Looking and smelling but not picking the flowers that is; but when you turn to me with such a proud smile and flower in hand, I must admit it's a hard rule to enforce. Perhaps there should be an exception to that rule for little boys who want to pick a flowers for their mothers. Yes, I think so!
You love to be outdoors, and can make anything as simple as picking up acorns or playing with rocks an adventure. Letters are kind of a big deal right now, and you know them all. No matter where we are, or what we're doing, you make sure to point out each and every letter we pass by. So proud of yourself you are. We're proud of you too. ( :

Happy 2nd Birthday sweet Tommy! Keep embracing life with such gusto and you will a happy little camper for many years to come. Oh, and one last thing. Please feel free to skip the "terrible twos" stage. Seriously! It's no problem at all, We love you no matter what.

MOM! and Da-deeeeeeee

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Fall has arrived!
The spiced candles are burning, the house is decorated, I've got a pumpkin bread in the oven and Mike and I are watching "Chef." Have you seen it? It's GREAT!
I just love the Fall. It's my absolute favorite season and what makes me miss living up north the most. Well, that and my family of course!
Florida has been so HOT. A cold front is supposed to be moving in, and I'm hoping it lasts. I am longing for some boots and sweater weather around here.

I took Tommy to the pumpkin patch today, and he was in pumpkin heaven! He ran around those pumpkins for an hour, and I gladly let him. I'm sure we'll return a few more times before Halloween.

Speaking of pumpkins, have you ever seen these adorable "pumpkin branches?" When I laid my eyes on them I thought they couldn't be real. But they are, and they are perfect on my mantle. I got them where else? Trader Joe's!

Started making roasted veggies last week. I've been making huge batches and passing containers off to friends because they are so easy, and just SO GOOD!
Take sweet potato, zucchini, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, red onion, califlower, a can of chickpeas, yellow squash, cherry tomatoes, EVOO, sea salt, pepper, and dried basil. Chop, mix together, and toss with the olive oil in a large pan. Heat at 400 degrees. Just keep watching and stirring every 15 minutes or so. Again...... SO GOOD!

Tommy's Halloween costume arrived and to say he is thrilled is an understatement! I mean....... could you die?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hope everyone has a fun Halloween!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Secret Winter Weapons

Flu season has arrived, and I know this, because every single grocery or drug store I walk into is offering the Flu shot. Some are even offering coupons for shopping if you get one. Wow!
Anyone who knows me, knows that I'll go the more alternative route whenever I can. I'm not a big fan of the flu shot, and while it is beneficial for some, I don't feel that it's necessary for all. The only two times I received the Flu shot, I GOT the Flu, so I steer clear of it. But.... to each his own. I figure the best way to avoid the Flu is with preventative measures, so if you are interested in staying healthy this season the natural way, please read on. 

I've stocked my medicine cabinet with the above products and I am ready to go. I swear by these products, along with lots of handwashing, and avoiding situations where the likelyhood of picking up the dredded Flu is a possibility. I avoid the mall like the plague. I mean..... why tackle the annoying crowds anyway when you can shop online in the privacy of your own home right? Thank you Amazon for carrying just about anything known to man kind! I also avoid flying (at least until my preemie boy is past the age of 2) and I use the grocery store wipes like they are going out of style!

So, are a few of my "Secret Weapons!"

-OSCILLOCOCCINUM- Try pronouncing that! Okay, this is sort of a best kept secret. I'm almost afraid to let you in on this one with the fear if will go flying off the shelves and I won't be able to get it! But trust me, this stuff is nothing short of a miracle! Michael introduced it to me years ago, and it's not cheap, but it works. The second you feel Flu-like symptons, pour a capsule of these miracle beads into your mouth and I can pretty much guarantee you won't get it. If you do, this stuff will knock it out FAST. I had a bad cold a few weeks ago and it was completely gone within 3 days. I know! They make it for kids too. I get mine on Amazon because they seem to have the best deal. 

-VITAMIN D3 (10,000 IU)- We load up on D for the winter. During Flu season, Michael and I take 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day, which has also done wonders for Michael's skin. I give Tommy the D3 drops which can also be purchased on Amazon.

-SIN JIN BAU A.I.R. Tea- I discovered this miracle tea from Tommy's peditrician. It's not sold in stores, but you can get it online HERE.  I had a friend whose two sons had the flu last year and she and her husband both avoided it by drinking this tea and taking the Oscillococcinum. I bought 3 bottles. It's made for children and adults. Tastes good too!

-BURTS BEES ALOE & WITCH HAZEL HAND SANITIZER- I love this stuff. I have a bottle in the car and one in my purse. If you can't wash your hands, hand sanitizer is the next best thing. Make sure whichever sanitizer you choose contains at least 60% alcohol.

and lastly.......

-SAMBUCUS ELDERBERRY SYRUP- This is a new remedy for me and I am so excited! I started Tommy on 1 teaspoon a day last week, and Michael and I are starting with 2 teaspoons a day soon. Google it! Elderberry is the only herb proven to fight the flu and prevent replication. I have read nothing but amazing things when it comes to Elderberry syrup and it's success preventing and healing the flu, or common cold. There are plenty of recipes on the internet where you can make your own. I'm going to try that next. I bought mine on Amazon HERE.  Read the reviews, they're great!  They also make one for kids which I also bought on Amazon for Tommy. Can you tell I love Amazon?

Stay tuned for a blog next week on oils. I am just starting to touch on that, but I am intrigued! Hope everyone stays happy and healthy this winter!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tommy Boy

Tommy is 22 months (19 adjusted). 
 I can't exactly pinpoint when it happened, but he seems to have turned into a little boy overnight! 
A strong willed little boy! 

From the moment this kid wakes up, he is running, running, running! We call him "Tommy the Terror," and he graciously lives up to the name. He's outspoken, full of energy, and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. I've been known to walk out of many a store with a screaming Tommy in tow, and I think to myself..... ,"Really? Is this really happening?" All you can do is laugh. Laugh out of pure embarrassment.

Michael and I joke and say,"Who is this young man named Tommy living in our house?!" 
 I'll admit, he IS a bit spoiled but don't babies deserve to be a little spoiled? I mean this kid works his butt off at living life to the fullest and you have to reward him for that! 

In all seriousness, we are in love with this kid! The kisses and hugs he hands out make it all worth while and he's fun, smart, happy, and healthy and we couldn't imagine our lives without him. 

Well,......we could imagine more sleep. But that's about it! ( :
Love you T! Keep being YOU and
Keep growing and dancing through life!

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Good Laugh and LINKS

It's Friday, and this made me laugh! 
I'm pretty frugal, but when it comes to handbags, it's the one luxury I won't apologize for. My Birthday's coming up, and I already have my eye on one. 

What are you doing this weekend? We're still recovering from Mike's 50th, so we'll be relaxing, getting the house back in order, taking Tommy to the pool before it closes for the summer, and maybe enjoying a movie or two. Suggestions???


-Eggs Benedict is my all time favorite breakfast, but I've never poached an egg myself.  I'll be following THESE directions, this weekend to master the PERFECT poached egg.

-Do you love domino magazine as much as I do? Buy the Fall issue HERE.

-THIS woman is smart, beautiful, inspiring AND almost 43! To top it off, she's a fellow Virgo! What was "Dancing with the Stars thinking? Seriously!

-I need THESE.

-Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I go HERE. Try it! You'll love it!

Have a great weekend!