Holiday Bucket List - Week Three

Friday, December 22, 2017

Can you believe it's the Friday before Christmas? I'm pretty sure someone moved the date, because I truly think I have another week to prepare. Alas, it's three days away and I still have a little more to do than I anticipated I would. But I'm not going to stress. Or at least try to not stress. I want to live in the moment and just go with it. Better written than done, right?

We got a lot accomplished on our Holiday Bucket List this past week. Still some things to do, but we also need snow for some, and I'm okay if those never get checked off the list! I personally can't stand snow. Give me sun and sand any day. Anyway, here's what we did this week.

Last Friday night, Joel and I took a winter walk through Powell Gardens and took in their Festival of Lights display. This was the first year for the event and we really enjoyed it and our time together. We sipped hot cocoa spiked with peppermint schnapps while walking arm in arm along the brightly lit path. (Who can hold hands with uber thick gloves!) The display is open through January 7th, so try to head out one night if possible!

On Saturday, we spent the day giving back. I purchased 20 stocking caps and gloves for men, women, and children for the winter, but missed out on the coat drive that was taking place at a local unity church. Joel reached out to the City Mission and spoke to a really helpful gentleman who said he would make sure the donations would be sent to their community center when their food truck came by later in the day. We dropped those off in his care and we hope several individuals have a little extra warmth this winter.

In addition to a donation, we donated to two different Salvation Army buckets. Our first was at Union Station when taking the Holiday Express tour. There was a sweet group of volunteer hand bell ringers playing carols and McKinley wanted to donate to them. And, they took his request of Frosty the Snowman. Then, as we were preparing to leave Crown Center for the evening, McKinley overheard another group singing carols and he wanted to donate to their bucket as well. Anything small is big to someone else. If you can find even a dollar, which is what McKinley had leftover, will help.

I blogged about our time on the Holiday Express and what a magical evening it really was. I believe this will be our new holiday tradition! It was so much fun. And, while waiting in line (which was up to two hours in length), there was gentleman in front of us with this two kids. They were hungry for a snack, but he didn't want to get out and lose his place. He instructed them to stay right there while he ran to get snacks, but Joel stopped him. He told that we would hold his place in line and to take his children with him. He would feel better about it. The man asked if he was sure and Joel insisted. It may not appear like a huge gesture, but I truly believe this is a random act of kindness. Not everyone would be so generous!

Sunday night McKinley finally wrote his letter to Santa. It took a few days of requesting it, but he did it and it was perfect! Hope you get everything you want, sweet boy!

Yesterday was our first official first day of Winter Break and we took full advantage. I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and stayed in our pajamas all day. Okay, McKinley did, but I eventually had to put on sweats to leave the house. But not before we made cookies, our annual tradition, and heading to Meme and Granddaddy's to decorate them. This was my first real attempt at using royal icing and I think they turned our fairly well. I still need a lot of practice! We attempted to watch Elf, but half way through, McKinley asked if he had to continue watching it. We moved on to Disney...

Last night, I took advantage of some alone time and wrapped a few gifts. Thankful for pretty bags and pre-made boxes. But, I did use some wrapping paper as well and always with pretty ribbon!

Later tonight we are knocking out seeing Christmas Lights. I can't wait!


Mama DIY: Jingle Bell Wreath

Thursday, December 21, 2017

One of my favorite things to make, and gifts to give, is the old fashioned jingle bell wreath. I started making them a few years ago and then McKinley got in on the action and began helping me. And, he's been giving them as teacher gifts every year since Preschool. They are a great teacher gift, actually. Nothing like giving a handmade/homemade gift. 

This year wasn't any different. We made a jingle bell wreath for McKinley's first grade teacher, but we also plan to make on for our neighbor who so sweetly gifts McKinley things throughout the year. I love gifting to our neighbors. And these wreathes are so easy to make. Follow along below.

You'll need:
Jingle bells of different sizes, stem wire (I used 16 gauge), crafting pliers, and ribbon.

Using your pliers, start with the stem wire and make a small loop at the bottom of the wire.

When you start stringing the jingle bells, start with a small one at the end. It's helps cover the loop when finishing off the wreath.

Then start stringing the bells. Go with any pattern of colors you like. I am loving these more metallic bells and the blush colors! A little modern take on the jingle bell wreath.

Your strand will start looking like this. Add a smaller jingle bell along the way. I added two after three larger ones to help balance out the look.

When you come to the end of the wire, leave yourself enough room to string the end through the loop you made at the beginning. You probably don't need this much, but you can snip off the extra like I did, after you make the loop.

Once you string the wire through, use your pliers to make a loop to close the wreath. Snip off the extra and continue to try and hide the wire behind the jingle bells.

Once you've finished off the loops, shape your wire to create the roundness you desire! It's going to need a little finesse to get to the circle you want!

Now it's time to add the bow. I add the bow to the bottom of the wreath where the loop is. Yet another chance to hide the entrance! And if you can get your mom to make it even better! Gives me an excuse to take pictures of the bow making process and have someone make a better bow than myself! My mom is an expert bow maker!

In the past, we've made the bow and then strung floral wire through the back of the bow and attached it to the loop of the jingle bell, but it doesn't lay as well. Making the bow around the bells helps it hold its shape.

And here is the final product! Isn't it so pretty? I love hanging them from doorknobs, but they also look cute on smaller trees as a large ornament! We've done that in the past when displaying multiple wreaths in our booth. 

What do you think of this Holiday DIY? Is it something you will try and make and then give as a sweet gift? What are some of your favorite things to make and give as gifts? I would love for you to share.


Holiday Express at Union Station Train

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Saturday night was on of the most magical nights! We took McKinley to Union Station to see the Holiday Express Train for the first time and I do believe this will become a holiday tradition! To see your child's face light up when he sees this glorious train, it's worth all the waiting in that incredibly long line! 

We got to Union Station around 5:30 Saturday night and found ourselves among some of the most festive families in Kansas City! Everyone was dressed in their holiday best and every single child had on their best holiday attitude! Union Station was all a glow in their gorgeous holiday decor and it can't help but put everyone in a festive mood. The wreathes and trees are larger than life. The grand hall drips in white lights that hang from the ceiling. I know I keep saying it, but everything truly is magical!

This was our first trip to the the Holiday Express and I can't believe we haven't done this sooner. Especially with a six year old who absolutely loves trains. It's only here for a limited time every year so you truly need to plan the trip. We only had Saturday evening free and so did everyone else in the metro. But like I said earlier, it was the most positive experience. No one was unruly or impatient. The line was roughly two hours long. But for us, it turns out that membership has it privileges. You don't have to wait in that General Admission line! We are not only thankful for the membership gift, we are also thankful we found this out after only about 15 minutes in line! But Union Station has you covered if you do have to wait. They have a snack cart with hotdogs, pretzels, chips, popcorn, drinks, and desserts. And, you can spike your coffee if you need a little kick to get through the evening!! 

But once you get through the line, you make your way down to the tracks, and you're greeted by a BNSF engine. And, if you're anything like McKinley, you freak out and start telling everyone there is a BNSF engine!

At this point of the trip, you can split off and visit with Santa. Or, you can be like us and head straight to the train as we've already had our Santa visit. And then it was time to take the tour! Want to come along?

And as we were changing cars, a real train came roaring by!

It was truly a wonderful family evening and I can't wait to go back next year. Like I said, Ithink we've found our new family holiday tradition!

electric toothbrush