goodbye 2013, you were swell

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what a year it was!

we welcomed a son and became four
we said goodbye to a house, a city, and a state, that we were only just coming to know.
we started over, again.
we started businesses and new jobs.
eleanor began her third year of life and we ate cake.
we began our cincinnati story in the comfort of my parents home. and then found our own.

2013 was full of joy and had it's fair share of struggles. it was perfect in that it was life lived fully. cheers to another year passed and the beginning of a new one. 2014 is bound to be great and i'm looking forward to a fresh start.

merry merry

well friends we are heading out tomorrow for a two week trip to belgium and dubai! i will be popping in for a brief moment to post the kids weekly portraits but aside from that it is bound to be quiet around here. i just wanted to wish you all a wonderful holiday from our family.

tree hunting 2013

diy stamped christmas wrap

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i wanted to try something for our wrapping this year that could include eleanor who loves anything related to paint and messes. we tried our hand at potato stamping some paper to wrap my mom's mother's day gift this year and after some success i figured we could try again with something a bit more involved. i bought foam board and cut it into a few fun shapes: a santa hat, a star, and a tree. i then glued them to wood blocks big enough for toddler hands. we grabbed a roll of kraft paper and a couple stamp pads and i let her go. her favorite was the star and she prefers white. i love that every gift we give this year will have a touch of eleanor in it.

holiday wish list for little her

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we are employing the, "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" rule of holiday gifting again this year and i thought i would share some inspiration here.

want: i'm so excited to give this ukelele to e for christmas
need: a new backpack bought at this local shop
wear: a cozy cardigan
read: another book from our favorite illustrator, jon klassen, bought here

tree hunting

we went on our annual family christmas tree outing on sunday. my family has been going to the same farm for around 15 years, big tree plantation. we have watched that christmas tree farm grow and grow over the years and dare i say, i think it has outgrown us. the farm is owned by a family and i am so very happy for them that business is so great but it was just so incredibly busy this year that it lost some of it's charm and fun. that being said we did manage to find trees and to have a good time, which is easy with this bunch.

tree hunting 2013

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tree hunting 2013

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tree hunting 2013

tree hunting 2013

tree hunting 2013

these sorts of family holiday traditions are so much more fun with children. seeing how excited eleanor gets when she sees christmas trees and hearing her ooh and ah over houses covered in lights (no matter how dismal or tacky) makes my heart so happy. christmas is a time for magic and there is nothing like having children around to remind me of the beauty in simple things. i am so grateful for these two and their affect on my sight.

my sister in law took some pretty stunning photos from the day. have a look here.

we gave thanks

a few photos from our thanksgiving...

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>>>printable placemats for the girls

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>>>mom's tablescape

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>>>i made that turkey! (and stijn carved it like a pro)

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>>>the most beautiful apple pie (ahem, i made that too)

i hope you all ate way too much food and enjoyed your family and friends as much as we did.

happy thanksgiving!

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so many things to be thankful for on my favorite holiday!

- my husband for all he is and all he does
- my two beautiful and healthy children who make every day better
- my wonderful friends, i love living life with you
- my incredible family for their constant love and support (and for just being the coolest)
- our beautiful home
- the opportunity to start a business and be creative
...
- but mostly today i am thankful for no dietary restrictions!

gobble gobble loves!

lettering by molly jacques

holiday wish list for him

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we are employing the, "something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read" rule of holiday gifting again this year and i thought i would share some inspiration here.

want: we got rid of our record player when we moved to the u.s. since converting the plug would have meant some wonky sounding tunes. this record player would be a great replacement
need: a new computer bag
wear: a great flannel
read: a design retrospective

watercolor easter eggs

watercolor easter eggs

eleanor is really into coloring and painting so when i saw this idea on mpmk i thought it might be fun to try. as with any project that i try to accomplish with a toddler it rarely goes as planned. eleanor loved dipping her paintbrush into the watercolors and would often dip it into each color before painting her egg but the activity didn't hold her attention for very long and she seemed to be more interested in mixing colors that in using them. so we did! we dropped food coloring into water until her little heart was content and we painted a few eggs in the process.

watercolor easter eggs

christmas

put a bird on it
brown paper packages tied up with string
santa's helper

we had the perfect christmas!
we woke up christmas morning and celebrated with just our little family
before my brothers and my parents joined us for a day of food, presents,
movies, booze, more food, and all day pajama wearing.

more photos here

sinterklaas

dear sinterklaas
eleanor left her note to sinterklaas by her shoe with a carrot for his horse and a beer for him.
we'll see if he comes to the house tonight...!

christmas traditions: tree hunting

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there are few questions as important in determining compatibility as, "fake tree or live tree." you may think i'm joking but i assure you that this is no laughing matter. in fact, i can recall at least one year in a previous relationship where this incredibly important decision was met with serious contention. i was relieved to discover that stijn and i were on the same side and therefore would not be finding ourselves having serious conversations and debates on the subject, the implications of which cannot be foreseen. thankfully we agree that a live tree is the way to go.

my commitment to live trees is rooted in a long standing strasser family tradition, hunting for that perfect tree at big tree plantation. for as long as i can remember, the weekend after thanksgiving we have made the pilgrimage to morrow, taken the carriage out to the fields, picked out a tree and cut it down, and then sipped hot chocolate while our tree was packed up for us. some things have changed over the years. we each buy our own tree now that we live in separate homes and we no longer listen to the chipmunks christmas album in the car on the way home but the tradition is just as cherished.

last year we were living in switzerland and couldn't very well fit a tree in our luggage so we went along for the ride and the nostalgia. this year we have travel plans to europe planned in the beginning of december followed immediately by christmas in cincinnati and so sadly it once again doesn't make sense for us to have a tree but that didn't stop us from joining the family as they all picked out their trees this weekend.

christmas tree hunting

christmas tree hunting

hopefully sometime soon we can have our own live tree and continue this tradition for our children.

more christmas traditions here and here

2011 in review

14 weeks
january: we announced some exciting news.

february: we discovered that the little peanut growing inside of me was a girl.

Trail (Wadi Rum)
march: we traveled to jordan where we rode camels, camped in the dessert, and floated in the dead sea.

april: we celebrated easter in zurich and found out that our little one was going to have a cousin!

la sagrada familia
husband and wife
may: we traveled to spain, celebrated my 31st birthday, and were married in switzerland

romily
june: we celebrated stijn's 33rd birthday and took one last, very pregnant trip home to see dear friends marry.

july: we not so patiently waited for the arrival of our baby girl.

eleanor faye
august: we welcomed our beautiful eleanor faye (after 32 hours of labor) and began to see how much joy and love a little person can bring into our lives!

september: eleanor received belgian and u.s. passports and stijn was granted a green card.

eleanor and moemoe
october: my best friend came to visit, eleanor took her first trip to paris, and we traveled to belgium to introduce her to her family.

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november: we flew to the u.s. for thanksgiving and to introduce e to her american family.

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december: we took the train to zermatt where eleanor saw snow for the first time and we traveled to belgium to celebrate her first christmas.

2011 was another amazing year of love. a 365 day lesson in being open and adaptable, the year taught us what it means to be a family. it brought weddings and babies, and adventures to places only dreamt of. it brought new friends and tested friendships with old ones. it brought motherhood, and with it many more dreams for the future. when i look at the summary of what each month brought i am amazed by the themes of family and travel. i believe that these will always be the focus for our little family of three. my wish for this next year and all the ones that follow is that they be filled with more of the same!

christmas

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hopefully everyone had a lovely holiday. ours was just swell. we celebrated with family here in belgium and thanks to skype, also with my family in cincinnati. i think eleanor is a fan of christmas. she celebrated by rolling over, now in all directions, and spent the day moving across the floor.

friday

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to all of you who celebrate/are celebrating, merry christmas and happy hanukkah friends! we're off to belgium to be with family. have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Darlin' (Christmas is Coming) by Over The Rhine on Grooveshark

christmas traditions: ornament

my family has it's share of holiday traditions and now that stijn and i have our own little family i've been thinking a lot about which traditions i would like to keep and what traditions i may want to begin.

eleanor's first ornament

stockings are my favorite part of christmas at my parents house. my mom fills our stockings with what others may consider whole gifts. they usually contain some version of the following; a book or two, a dvd, socks, jewelry, always a toothbrush, and always our ornament. every year my mom buys us each an ornament. the idea being that when we grew older and into our own homes with our own trees we would have a box of ornaments to take with us. the best part of decorating a tree is opening that box of ornaments every year and remembering where each one came from. this was a tradition i always knew i wanted to keep for my own family and this year, for eleanor's first ornament, i ordered a little ceramic dish with her name and birthdate imprinted on it.

ornament from paloma's nest

christmas traditions: pajamas

my family has it's share of holiday traditions and now that stijn and i have our own little family i've been thinking a lot about which traditions i would like to keep and what traditions i may want to begin.

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every year on christmas eve my mom gives us pajamas. matching pajamas. typically flannel plaid matching pajamas. we all wear them to bed and while we open gifts on christmas morning. nerd alert! this is obviously one of those questionable traditions. to keep or not to keep? as my brothers and i have gotten older the tradition has become even funnier. some years we would come over to spend the night at my parents' on christmas eve waking up the next morning as we did when were kids. typically with one of my brothers (i won't embarrass him by saying which one) waking us up at 5am. "guys, is it time?" other years we would actually drive to my parents house in the morning wearing said pajamas. could you imagine needing to stop for gas?

one year we took my dad on a scavenger hunt to find his gifts. one part of the hunt included riding tandem bicycles to a friends house. i cannot even imagine what this looked like to people. a very tall family wearing matching plaid pajamas riding tandem bicycles down a busy street. unfortunately there is photographic evidence of this.

another year my mom decided to do things a bit differently. we lovingly refer to this as the year the pants went horribly wrong. in all the years we've been donning our christmas pjs they have been a different version of the same pant. in an effort to mix things up a bit and appease those of us who enjoy a different style she ordered tighter fitting pants. on christmas eve like all other years came the big reveal. we opened the packages and uncovered neon orange leggings. my brothers came downstairs and lets just say the pants were a bit revealing. in between the laughter and tears my mom screamed for them to take them off. forever burned into my mind is the image of my 6'4" twin brothers dancing around in neon orange tights.

last year my brother asked my mom about the pajamas and she confessed that she hadn't bought any. i guess she figured we had grown out of the tradition. apparently not because my horrified brother went out and bought us all a pair.

i haven't decided yet if this is a tradition i will carry on in it's pure form. i'm thinking my version will include a christmas pajama for everyone but maybe without them matching. we picked up these candy cane pjs for eleanor when we were in cincinnati to be her first christmas pajamas. they don't come in adult sizes so i'm still on the lookout for stijn and myself.

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