Merry Christmas from the Holmes Family

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Merry Christmas from the Holmes Family to Your Family. 

We hope you have had a wonderful 2023 and have even more blessings in 2024.

Our 2023 Holiday Home

Welcome to our 2023 Holiday Home. This was our first Christmas in our new home, and I was so excited to decorate all of the new spaces. Most of my decor has been collected over the years, but I did purchase a few new items to go with some of the new spaces in our home.

Hope you enjoy a little peak into our new home and check out the video tour over on Instagram

This Christmas puppy was a new purchase this year and the boys loved seeing it every time we came home and walked up on the front porch. 

This table is a new piece that we purchased to fit this space and I loved having a new piece to decorate this year. 

I came across this cute little deer when I was shopping at the garden center for mums during the Fall and could not wait to include it as part of my Christmas decor. 

My Mom made this advent calendar 2 years ago for the boys. We put Hershey's kisses in each of the pockets, and both boys get 1 piece of candy after dinner each night until Christmas. It's the highlight of their day! 

This cookbook is new to my collection this year and I made a Chocolate Peppermint Cake recipe from this book for Christmas Day. 

This light up Christmas tree was my Grandmother's and I believe it's at least 30+ years old, if not older. It's one of my favorite pieces to showcase each year and I loved having it in the kitchen this year on a stack of festive cookbooks.

Everyone needs a hot cocoa I right?

Fun little festive area for doing dishes.

One of the cutest little pieces of decor in our home. 

Our littlest elf's favorite Christmas decoration is this snowglobe that plays Santa Clause is 
Coming to Town.

Our 2023 Christmas Tree

Easy & Healthy Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

Thursday, January 19, 2023

I came across this recipe the other day in The Anti-Inflammatory Diet Slow Cooker Cookbook. I ended up tweaking it to fit our family's tastes and needs. 

I added sausage, used cannellini beans instead of kidney beans, omitted a few ingredients, and switched up the seasonings a bit as well. It actually turned out really good and was super easy to prepare. I love when I can throw a bunch of things into the slow cooker and then dinner is ready just a few hours later. We will definitely be adding this to our dinner rotation.  

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

— 1 lb sausage browned
— 1 can cannellini beans
— 2 carrots diced
— 1 zucchini diced 
— 1 can fire roasted tomatoes 
— 1 tbs lemon juice
— salt
— pepper
— Italian seasoning
— 2 bay leaves
— 4 cups of chicken broth

Brown and drain the sausage. Then add to your slow cooker all the ingredients. Cook on low for 6 hours and then enjoy! 

My Breastfeeding Journey and My Breastmilk Ring

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Every woman's breastfeeding journey is different and today I wanted to share my journey and to also share how I celebrated breastfeeding both of my boys for 13 months each.

When I first became pregnant with my oldest son, I had plans to try and breastfeed, but I was so nervous I would not be able to do it. TMI, but I am very small chested, and I was in the world am I going to be able to breastfeed him. Also, I have heard a lot of my friends struggles and have heard that many breastfeed during their maternity leave, but when they head back to work it's so hard to continue to pump at work, so they quit after 6 or 8 weeks. So when I started breastfeeding my goal was to take it day by day. I set my goal to be...let's try this for a month, then let's go another month. Every month I said...let's just see how far we can go this month, and I'll stop when it's time. I was so very lucky both employers I worked for were very flexible with my pumping schedule and provided a nice Mother's Room to use. 

My oldest son, who is 5 years old now, came 6 weeks early. He was 5 lbs 2 oz, which was a good size for a baby delivered at 34 weeks, but he was sent to the NICU for 11 days, and they wanted to make sure he was getting as many calories as possible so he could continue to gain weight. This meant they wanted to feed him via bottle (so he would not burn extra calories trying to learn to breastfeed) and they wanted to supplement with formula while my milk came in. Once my milk came in, I was allowed to breastfeed him 1x a day, but then all other feedings were to be via bottle, and they added formula to my breastmilk to give him a boost in calories. 

We continued to have to add formula to my breastmilk for every feeding even after he finally came home from the hospital, until he was 4 months old. This made it extremely difficult to breastfeed, so I turned to pumping exclusively so I could continue to give him my milk, but also be able to add the formula to boost his calories. I got to the point where I was actually more comfortable pumping than breastfeeding, so I made it work and I exclusively pumped for 13 months and had enough in the freezer to give him 2 bottles of breastmilk a day 12 months through 15 months. 

My youngest son, who is 19 months old now, was born via scheduled c-section at 39 weeks due to medical complications. I was able to breastfeed him right away, and he had no trouble latching. But my milk was not coming in, and he was starving and losing weight. So we started him on formula to supplement until my milk came in. After he was 4 days old, I was released from the hospital and he was sent to the NICU at the Children's Hospital to continue to monitor his medical condition. 

At this point I started pumping when I was not in the hospital and he was getting my milk in a bottle when I was not there. I honestly never got comfortable breastfeeding him either, and I got more milk by pumping than I did feeding him directly, so I got into the routine of exclusively pumping for him as well. 

I told myself I would not exclusively pump my 2nd child, because it was hard enough to do this while only having 1 child, let alone now pumping for a newborn while also having a toddler to care for. But then the formula shortage happened, and I was so afraid I would not be able to find formula, so again I made it work and I exclusively pumped for my 2nd child for 13 months and also had a nice freezer stash to continue to be able to feed him.

Why did I choose to pump for 13 months? Well I wanted to get them both to 12 months and then I discovered I could not just stop pumping and I had to wean myself down slowly, or else I would get clogged ducts. So I ended up spending about a month, just pumping when I was starting to feel uncomfortable, to wean myself off completely. I started pumping 1x per day, then every other day, and then finally 1x per week.

When I stopped pumping it was bittersweet. I was so happy to be done with my pump, but at the same time, it was sad my babies were growing up, and weren't relying on me for their sole nutrition. I never thought this was something I would be able to accomplish, and it was a lot of work, so I wanted to commemorate my breastfeeding journey with a breastmilk ring. I found this one from Keepsake Mom and immediately fell in love with it. 

It was a process and took a few months for them to process my milk into the stone, and for them to make my ring, but I am so happy with how it turned out and absolutely love wearing it. Every time I wear it, it reminds me of my boys being babies, and the love and dedication I put into providing them both breastmilk for their first year of life.

Pork Tenderloin, Sweet Potatoes & Apples Sheet Pan Recipe

Thursday, January 12, 2023

This is one of our families favorite recipes, and it's perfect because it's a 1 sheet meal, so it's easy cleanup! It has great flavor and is savory from the pork and sweet from the sweet potatoes and apples. It's also nice to be able to pop in the oven and then have time to catch up on a few things while dinner is cooking.

Pork Tenderloin, Sweet Potatoes & Apples Sheet Pan Recipe


-- 1 8oz pork tenderloin

-- Salt

-- Pepper

-- Chili powder

-- Cinnamon

-- Olive oil

-- 2 large sweet potatoes

-- 3 apples (my favorite is Pink Lady apples)


Place the pork tenderloin on sheet pan and season both sides with salt, pepper and chili powder. Then drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the top to keep it moist. Place in the oven under the broiler on high for 7 mins on each side.

While the pork is under the broiler, dice your sweet potatoes and apples into ~1 inch cubes.

Once the pork loin has been broiled on both sides, remove from the oven and place your sweet potatoes and apples around the pork loin on the sheet pan. Drizzle olive oil over the sweet potatoes and apples and then season with salt, pepper, chili powder. You could also include some cinnamon if you wanted a more sweeter taste.

Place the sheet pan into a 400 degree oven for about 30 mins or until the pork tenderloin reaches 145 degrees.

First Birthday Puppy Themed Party

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Today I want to throw back to about 4 years ago, for my oldest son's first birthday party. We had a First Birthday Puppy Pawty, and I wanted to share the details in case anyone was looking for birthday party theme ideas. Over the new few months I'm going to share all of the birthday parties we have planned for the boys over the last few get ready for some fun party planning posts!

My first baby turning 1 year old was so bittersweet. I was so sad he was no longer going to be a "baby," but I had so much fun planning his first birthday party and I could not wait to celebrate and watch him dig into his cake!

Around 9 months, he started to love all things dogs (which is funny because our youngest is following into his brother's footsteps and loves all things dogs and kitties as well!!) Dog was actually one of his first words, behind Dada and Mama of course. It's funny because he actually called most animals "daw. Since "daw" was his favorite animal, a puppy themed party just seemed perfect. I started off by finding the cutest birthday invitation on Etsy which fit the theme perfectly.

Since our house is kind of small, we only invited close family, and it was just perfect. We served pulled pork and sloppy joes from crock pots, warmed up a few cans of green beans on the stove, and heated up a few pans of mac and cheese from Costco in the oven. If you are looking for an easy way to serve a crowd, I would highly recommend this menu as it involved very little prep, was easy to keep warm, and guests could serve themselves whenever they wanted.

*Note: I cut the #1 with my Cricut using glitter card stock from Michaels. I then taped a wooden skewer to the back of it, and stuck it into the cake. It was the first thing he grabbed of course.

You can see his full reaction to the cake in my Instagram Reel I'll be posting later this morning. 

The cake turned out so cute and was so tasty. A co-worker recommended Holly (A Cake for Leroy), who made a puppy themed cake and cupcakes for her daughter's birthday a few months prior. She had brought some of the cake into work and it was so delicious I immediately asked her for contact info. I had found the puppy centerpiece on Etsy (similar one here), but had no idea how I wanted the cake to be decorated. I sent pictures of the cake topper, and some of the party decorations to Holly and she suggested the gradient. She actually made 2 smash cakes for me, and I froze one of them to use a week later for his smash cake session (pics to come).

Holly also made these adorable puppy cupcakes. I sent her a photo I found online of what I wanted, and she made them exactly like the photo.

I didn't go super crazy with decorations because as I mentioned our space is super limited, but I do love a fun centerpiece. After browsing some inspiration on Pinterest (let's connect!), I saw where someone had used their Boon grass drying rack as a grass stand for a centerpiece. Since I actually have 2 of them I thought it would be perfect. I found the little dog at Home Goods and spray painted it blue (it was originally gold). The little balloon dogs I found at a local home decor store, and the little fire hydrant was an ornament I picked up at Michaels. I thought the fire hydrant ornament would be fun to have on our tree as a reminder of his first birthday, and the little dog decorations I still (4 years later) have displayed in his bedroom. The flowers came from Costco, and the blue mason jars and the burlap table runner were used as part of the centerpieces at our wedding. 

This banner was actually used at my baby shower, and is also stilled used as a decoration in his room. For his birthday I wanted a cute way to display the photos from his monthly photo shoots, so I figured this would be the perfect way to display them. I cut out numbers with my Cricut from royal blue glitter card stock and just attached to the photos with pieces of photo adhesive. I then attached the photos to the banner with gold paperclips.

We had a lot of fun opening presents, although Little Man really didn't get the concept of opening presents. But his cousins/friends had fun helping him, and he really enjoyed playing with and eating all the wrapping paper 😂

It was a fun party and the next day I immediately started thinking of the theme for his next party. I'm a girl that loves to plan parties!!

Any guesses on what the theme for his 2nd birthday party was??