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Photo Cards for Christmas 2015

After two years of sending out zero Christmas cards, we caved in and bought Christmas cards again this year for Christmas 2015.


And I totally caved (eek!) and got some gorgeous gold foil cards from Minted. Which I told myself I was never going to do.

First of all, Marisa Vasquez Photography did a great job on our family photos. Thank you Marisa!

Second of all, the Minted photo cards were so pretty and classy.

One of the reasons I stopped sending out cards in years past was because I was trying so hard to stick to a strict holiday budget. Cards are so expensive, stamp prices are always going up, and we figure we can send cards out every other year.

Of course, once the cards from our friends started to arrive (I love that I know I’m going to get Lesli’s card first!) I wished so much that we had made a card too. Even though it costs money, it’s like a small gift to friends, a gesture of love and reaching out, even though you hardly get to see each other anymore.


There is something very touching and lovely about receiving a Christmas card. The family photo cards are a double bonus. Brilliant. Before we used to send a card and a newsletter, and now it’s possible to send a photo as the actual card. Friends and family can (hopefully) keep it for years to come.


This year, Christmas 2015, we are going minimalist with Christmas gifts to the kids. With four kids in one room, we have no space for more toys. So we are giving gifts that are an “experience.” Which means quality time together as a family and fun memories.


This decision also leaves us with a little more money in our Christmas budget for cards.

Here are our top three cards:




Which one is your favorite?

For the next two days, you can take advantage of the Black Friday deals at Minted. You can click here to see the pretty cards.

Now if I can only find my list of addresses!

Where is your favorite place to buy holiday cards? Have you tried Minted yet? What do you think?








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Fall Photo Candy

As I was searching for photos to add to my high school writing class’s fall e-newsletter, I came across some great photos that Andy took years ago. I thought I’d share them with you too!

OK, so this one is first because it just took my breath away. I don’t think I appreciated these almond tree farm photos from our trip up to Visalia (back when we only had one child.) But now when I see this photo, I am so awestruck.


How many pumpkin photos have I seen? But I just love this one!


Just in case you need an idea for a pumpkin carving contest, this frog pumpkin was our award winner at a family event a few years back. Hello Froggy!


I found that spectacular green pumpkin (and the two smaller pumpkins on top) at Underwood Family Farms. They always have amazing pumpkins to choose from. And so many fun things to do with the kids.


Andy says he took these pictures years ago when he was on his way to work really early in the morning.


This one is pretty too.


Finally, here’s a fall photo that really makes me want to sit down with a mug of apple cider and read the classic novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in front of the fireplace. Or listen to the Frankenstein audio book while I’m doing dishes, because that is more likely to happen.


And just one more fall photo! Candles from our friends Jake and Annie’s wedding. Awww! Such a beautiful evening

Need a craft to do with your kids? Check out this cat craft and this tree craft. And here is a recipe for yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes with cream cheese icing. Here is one for our favorite pumpkin soup.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful fall season. We sure are glad the weather is cooling down here in Southern California!

By the way … which photo was your favorite? Leave a comment and let me know you were here!



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Peonies in Bloom


My next-door neighbor, who is one amazing, spunky, 85-year-old German woman from Belgium, loves to tell me all about everything. She comes over to chat a few times a week, always with some gift, like a small bowl of meat loaf, potatoes, and corn, or her latest egg salad.

I think she is absolutely wonderful.

So my neighbor (Let’s call her Eve) loves gardening and flowers.

She also knows how much I love flowers, and she’s probably observed that I am not very good at keeping them alive, so she keeps dropping off books for me to borrow about gardening and such.


Last year we had a great conversation about peonies.

I bought her a bunch from Trader Joe’s when they were in bloom. After I handed them to her, she taught me a special fact about peonies that I would like to share with you.

“In German, this is called pfingstrose. It is the Pentecost rose. The flower has this name because it blooms at the time of Pentecost.”

This year, Pentecost Sunday lands on May 24.


And here they are.


Showing up everywhere.

I admit that I didn’t know much about Pentecost until I looked it up. It’s the story from the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles, and today it is celebrated 50 days after Easter.

A few more facts about peonies that you will find interesting (if you love them as much as I do!)

Peonies are used in a lot of Chinese art
Peonies are the national flower of Taiwan
Peonies are the state flower of Indiana

Peonies bloom near Pentecost, about 50 days after Easter, which marks the end of the Easter season and the arrival of the Holy Spirit.

I have wanted to write about my wonderful neighbor Eve for quite some time now–but I didn’t know where to begin. She is like a grandmother to me. And grandmothers have really cool things to teach us about the world. I promise I will write more about Eve and her husband soon.

Buy some flowers for your next-door neighbor and you never know what will happen!

I hope you enjoy your peonies this season.


And I wish you a blessed Pfingstsonntag.

What is your favorite thing about peonies?

Is there something very special about peonies or another flower that you can teach me?

Please share!



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