Wednesday, November 30, 2011

DIY Advent Calendar

I just completed our advent calendar and while it's pretty simple, I love it and it looks adorable hanging in our kitchen. There are so many to choose from on the internet, but I went with things that I had on hand. The girls had gone to bed so I can't wait to see their reactions in the morning.

What you'll need:
Craft Tags
Christmas-themed scrapbook paper, I used two different patterns, but the more the merrier
small clothespins
festive ribbon
double-sided tape
list of 25 activities typed up

All I did was fold the craft tags in half. Cut the scrapbook paper up into squares to fit on the front and the back of the tag and stuck them down - I used what I had which was photo mounting tape. I typed out the list of 25 activities and then cut those out and taped to the inside of the tag. Now once we open a tag and plan for our activity, I'll turn it inside out so the other side of the tag shows with the different scrapbook paper. I only did this because I ended up finding a very cute paper that had ornaments so in the end it will sort of look like we hung ornaments from the ribbon in the kitchen. You could totally skip the second piece of scrapbook paper and hang as usual with the number showing.

I had fun coming up with our list of activities too and almost got the girls involved, maybe next year. I had a feeling some of their requests might have been a little extravagant and this way it's a nice surprise for them also. Here's our list:

Open Christmas Pajamas
Decorate Christmas Tree
Bake cookies with their Nonna's (not at the same time)
Go to New York City! (a tradition of ours now for 9 years!)
Bake Christmas Cookies for our Friends
Watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Have Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows Tea Party
Make Fudge
Bake a Christmas Cake
Sofia’s Christmas Program At School!
Decorate a Christmas Ornament
Color a Christmas Picture
Take a drive to see the lights in the neighborhood
Decorate a door in the house
Make Christmas Cards for our families
Paint our toenails RED  - can't wait to see if Anthony joins us on this one
Bake Sugar Cookies with lots of SPRINKLES!
Make a donation to Purple Heart - the girls are going to help bag the things up for me
Go to the library & check out a new Christmas Book
Get Teachers' Christmas Presents together
First Day of Winter! Bundle up and take a walk in the cold!
Make peppermint bark
Dress up for a Christmas Party
Christmas Eve! Mass & then Dinner with Family!
Christmas Day! Family, food & fun!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Numero Due

Great, great 2nd Thanksgiving in Maryland with my family this past weekend. My parents watched Chase for a couple nights which meant I got some extra cuddle time with him. When Scott's around he just hogs him all the time! But he was a lot of fun and the girls loved showering him with attention.

He thinks Nonno Nicky is pretty funny too...

Olivia was serious about her coloring this past weekend too and made many masterpieces...

the three cugini were adorable together just doing their thing...

and Sofia had fun playing dress-up.

My mom's home cookin' was the best, I can't thank her enough for having to endure 2 Thanksgiving meals just so I could have a traditional meal at home too. Grazie mama!

What's Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie...

Or apple pie for that matter too?

Anthony and I set out to take a couple pictures of the girls for our Christmas's a little peek of the cuteness.

Proof that my dad does some work in the kitchen

Mr. Tim teaching Sofia the finer points of football...

and Olivia relaxing with Nonno Nicky while also watching the games.

Great company, awesome good, relaxing times...perfect!

Friday, November 25, 2011

M & M Cookies

Not exactly a traditional Thanksgiving goodie, but they are the Harvest Color M&Ms so that should count for something. And who doesn't love M&M cookies no matter what time of year it is?!

The best little cookie monsters! They approve

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Numero Uno

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal today at La Locanda with my father-in-law and Anthony's uncle. The girls are definitely used to the place and loved all the focaccia at the start of the meal. They were very good and I came equipped with coloring books, stickers and our phones just in case. In Olivia's case, all were needed but both girls stuck it out and had a great time.

Sofia and Nonno Mario sharing a hug

Olivia showing Zio Italo how to play the games on the phone

Mommy and Nonno Mario share the dessert, poached pear on a bed of mascarpone drizzled with Vin Santo. Very good.

Olivia and Sofia both enjoyed a scoop of chocolate ice cream for their dessert

Girls with Zio Italo, of course I couldn't get them both in the picture with him at the same time, so this will have to do.

Father and son spend Thanksgiving Day together

Happy Thanksgiving!

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Christmas card outtakes

This past weekend we took some pictures with Scott for our Christmas card. There are so many family pictures to choose from that I love but I loved these too. They just aren't going to make the cut. And I'm sure you can see why.

Only Anthony and I were loving hanging them upside down, I think we're going to re-try this one though...such a fun idea.

Trying to get a solo shot of Olivia was difficult since she was just attached to my legs. Still cute pictures but I'm going to take a single shot of her I think for the card.

Love seeing part of Sofia's face in this one. She loved being outside with her Zios getting our pictures taken.

And I absolutely love this one...if Olivia didn't look like she was falling asleep. I can't blame her, we went right at her nap time but I just thought this picture was so funny too.

These were funny too...we had to get a siblings picture. I am definitely not strong enough to hold up Antonio like Scott little brothers were harmed in the taking of these pictures.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Princess Unicorn

Sofia had her Thanksgiving Feast at school this morning and it was so adorable. Songs, drumming and snacks...oh my! Each of the kids were able to pick their own Indian name and I laughed out loud at Sofia's when I saw it - Princess Unicorn! Love it! Obviously, we're going through a unicorn phase at home.

Her teachers are fantastic, couldn't ask for a better class for my little girl. I can just tell she's really enjoying herself and loving her schoolmates and teachers.

Time to FEAST!

Eating and chatting with a schoolmate

Sofia and one of her good little buddies

Mrs. Koch's, one of Sofia's teachers that she just loves! Bummed I didn't take a picture with her other teacher too, there's always the Christmas Show next month!

Monday, November 21, 2011

crunchin' in the leaves

Doesn't get any better than watching your girls playing in the leaves and having the best time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buon Giorno, Gran Sasso!

I meant to post this picture with the ones from San Gabriele and Castelli since they were all taken the same morning, but I kind of like this one all on its own too. We were heading back home and went through a toll booth and just before trees and a curving road got this out of my sight, I had to snap a picture. Those mountains in the background are part of the Gran Sasso and it's really overwhelming to see them in person. I need to teach myself another tool in Photoshop to really make them stand out though, maybe I will experiment for another post.

But for now....Buona Domenica!! Happy Sunday! It's still the weekend and this week we're gearing up for Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Once we've visited San Gabriele, we drive up the mountain to the quaint town of Castelli. Famous for it's gorgeous ceramics, Castelli is definitely one of my favorite places in Abruzzo. I'm sure it's also known for it's incredible views from the tiny street overlooking a very large drop and the views just within the town walls. One adorable alley street after another with always something worthy of photographing.

Love this house! I started taking pictures of this house a bunch of years back and a couple years ago I had the pleasure of taking a tour of the home when the owner saw me taking pictures. She was very welcoming and the home inside was as cute as it is on the outside.

And every year on our way out of Castelli, we stop into this ceramics shop where I just drool over the adorableness. The owners are a small family where the mother and daughter are the artists and make all the ceramics by hand. I wish I could bring it all back because each piece is so unique and beautiful. Can't you tell by the big smile on my face how happy I am to go inside the shop...alone?!? Girls stay in the car with daddy and have a snack while mommy shops all by herself. It's wonderful.

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