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  1. Advent

    December 12, 2013 by frecklesandsunshine

    Advent Wreath

    Growing up, we celebrated Christmas, but no one would have called us religious. We weren’t church-goers and chose to spend the days around Christmas with family and friends rather than at church. This doesn’t mean the holiday wasn’t special or that we didn’t have important traditions. We did, they just didn’t really center around the birth of Christ so much as they did around the ties that bind us together as family. 

    Now that I have my own family and I’m married to someone who grew up in a religious family, Christmas looks a lot different than it used to. It is still a special time to gather with our family and participate in fun family traditions, but it also very much centers around the celebration of the birth of Christ. 

    Weaving these different backgrounds together is a challenge sometimes. I want to pass on the traditions I enjoyed as a child, but at the same time I want to honor the more religious traditions Tim’s family enjoys and that I have come to embrace as well. I also want the girls to have more of a religious education than I did so they understand the spiritual meaning of the holiday.

    (more…)


  2. Kate, 5 months

    December 9, 2013 by frecklesandsunshine

    Whew! It has been a busy couple weeks. We traveled to Champaign, IL for Thanksgiving. It was lovely to spend the holiday with family. Then, as soon as we got back to St. Louis, it was time to start preparing for Christmas. As usual, the years are short and the days are long. 

    In the midst of it all, our baby girl turned 5 months old. Everyone tells you that the time flies by and that’s true. I have to say, though, it seems more true for Kate than it did for Olivia. Maybe it is because I have another child to share my attention or maybe we are just busier as a family, but gosh, wasn’t she just born yesterday??

    Kate, 5 months

    Keep reading…


  3. A Day on the Farm

    November 25, 2013 by frecklesandsunshine

    I’ve always loved to travel. Whether it is a short day trip or a long backpack through Europe, I’m thrilled to explore new places. The opportunity to explore and discover new things is one of the advantages to having lived in three different states in three years. 

    Living here in St. Louis, I can make these discoveries almost daily without even leaving the city or county limits. I had been to St. Louis before we moved here but really only as an airport stop before driving on to Champaign where Tim’s family lives. Now that we have two beautiful girls our travels aren’t as exotic as they used to be, but witnessing the joy of discovery through their eyes is totally worth it. 

    A couple weeks ago, Olivia, Kate, and I ventured out to Purina Farms. Nestle Purina is headquartered here in St. Louis and they have a “farm” on the outskirts of town. Since we had been reading and studying about farms with a preschool learning kit from our local library, Purina Farms seemed like a good place to expose her to some farm animals even though this isn’t a real working farm. Add in the free factor and we were sold. 

    Purina Farms is about a 30 minute drive from our home, but it is just far away enough to feel like a “trip” and to lend it a more rural feel. 

    Purina Farms

    Keep reading…


  4. Pumpkin Pecan Baked Oatmeal

    November 18, 2013 by frecklesandsunshine

    We woke up the other morning to the tiniest bit of snow. Just a dusting on the car after some overnight rain/sleet/snow. It was a hint of what’s to come. Autumn days are dwindling. Halloween has come and gone. Thanksgiving looms.

    Do not, for one hot second, think that this means I’m done cooking with pumpkin. 

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    Au contraire! Along with everyone else on the Internet, I am here today with a pumpkin recipe. It is still fall, the season of warm, comforting meals. Stews and soups. Thick meat and potato type dishes. And let’s not forget about breakfast. My go to hot breakfast is oatmeal. In high school and college, I was a big fan of the packets of instant oatmeal, but these days I tend to make it from scratch. Up until recently this consisted of boiling some water on the stovetop and throwing in the oats for a quick bubble. 

    Keep reading…


  5. Saint Louis

    November 12, 2013 by frecklesandsunshine

    We are coming up on our first full year here in St. Louis. It is hard to believe that we are already at that milestone. At this time last year, we knew we were moving. The wheels were in motion and, in all honesty, I think I was just trying to keep up with everything that was happening. A move, a new baby, sell the house, buy a house, and on and on.

    Yikes.

    Just a few months earlier, under the bluebird skies of Colorado, I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that we would be living in St. Louis by Christmas. Yet that is exactly where our life took us. You really just never know, I guess.

    It has taken me a while to get adjusted to our new home. Our new city. Our new state. I still miss Colorado. Things are different here. Some things are better, some are worse, some are just…different.

    The things that I have found that I like? Well, they are just downright awesome. Here are my current top 5, in no particular order:

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    1. There’s a ton of free stuff.

    Seriously, who doesn’t love free stuff?? Plus, most of the free stuff is kid and family friendly. Visiting Gateway Arch? Free. The St. Louis Zoo? Free. The St. Louis Art Museum? Free. The St. Louis Science Center? Free. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There can be some hidden costs like paid parking, but the small fee you might have to pay to park is still much less than what you would pay in other cities to visit similar sights.

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    2. The St. Louis Cardinals

    When we lived in Colorado, we became Denver Broncos fans, or at least I did. Why? Because Denver is a football town. Yes, they have the Nuggets and the Rockies and the Avalanche, but above all else Coloradans love their Denver Broncos. The same concept applies to St. Louis and its dedication to its baseball team. During the World Series, you felt out of place if your weren’t wearing your Cardinal red, whether you were going to the game or not. We were lucky enough to go to a few games this season and Tim was even luckier to be able to attend three World Series games. Even though we didn’t win the series, the energy that surrounds this team and its dedicated fan base is enough to make a baseball fan out of me. (Sidenote: One of Olivia’s many goals for when she “gets bigger” is to go down on the field and “play with the boys.” She loves going to the games.)

    3. A sense of community

    So, I have to admit, it has always made me crazy when people from the Midwest go on and on about how awesome the Midwest is. Its so family friendly! Everyone is so nice! People are more down to earth! And on and on. Ugh. As someone who is from Phoenix, I would look around at all the Midwestern transplants and wonder, “Well, if the Midwest is so fabulous, why did you move here??” It pains me to admit, they may have been right. At least in part. I think any place you live is what you make of it. If you want it to be family friendly, it can be. You can be down to earth in Des Moines just as easily as you can in Phoenix. However, people here are nice. Within our first week in our new house each of our neighbors came by to introduce themselves and give us a small welcoming gift. At our first neighborhood gathering, people were warm and enthusiastic about our little family joining the community. People here smile and say hello. They hold doors for each other. They offer to help you out with your groceries when it is raining and you have your infant in the shopping cart. People here care about their neighborhoods, towns, and cities. It’s a nice place to live.

    ted drewes

    4. Food

    What I’m NOT talking about: Provel, Gooey Butter Cake, and Toasted Ravioli. I realize these are St. Louis institutions in terms of food, but…just…no. What I AM talking about: Italian from The Hill, BBQ, and beer. Yes, I realize we left what is arguably the capital of the craft beer industry, but St. Louis has some quality beer as well. Although Anheuser Busch is the big dog in town, we prefer Schlafly and Urban Chestnut. There is also quite a bit that I am interested in trying, but haven’t gotten to yet. The list includes Ted Drewes, Bosnian food, and a St. Paul Sandwich. St. Louis is also a big enough city for us to have found our spots for various types of cuisine that we enjoy. We found our Chinese, pizza (without Provel!), and Indian places that we frequent regularly and that has made all the difference in a place feeling like home.

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    5. A Sense of History

    To say that the city of St. Louis is significant in the history of the United States is a bit of an understatement. In fact, this area was significant in Native American culture prior to European exploration. It was the jumping off point for the Lewis and Clark expedition and the gateway to the west during Westward Expansion. St.  Louis’ proximity to the Mississippi River means that it was an important port town as well. There is so much to see and learn here about our nation’s history and I find it to be rather awe inspiring to stand on the banks of the river and think about Lewis and Clark pushing off to head out on such an significant journey.

    As we continue to get to know St. Louis and explore all it has to offer, I’ll share about our adventures in more depth. We have no idea how long we will call this place home, but we are making a home here. And you know what they say…

    Home is where the heart is.

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    Pssst St. Louis! What are we missing? What’s on the must-do list?

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