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Friday things

Well, Christmas is over and all through the house, everything is everywhere. We have been slowly putting things away since the holiday hustle and bustle has ended, but I still feel overwhelmed with "stuff." I really want to cut our possessions more, but I can't seem to get a handle on what needs to go and what needs to stay. We have cut our Christmas decor down to one small tote instead of the three large ones we had. (I can't even believe we had that much crap!) -Seriously! 

Minimalism is always a work in progress, but one thing is for sure, we have changed one habit that I think is a great change for us. We have begun to be more conscious of what we spend our money on. We started now, but our goal for 2017 is to not purchase anything other than needs. Needs over wants. Nothing more. Needs being food, water, etc. A year of living more mindful and with less. It can be done! Hopefully on the blog I can share our progress in this step toward downsizing and being more minimal with our lives.

This coming New Year's Eve we are having a small get together with friends and are going to ring in 2017 with a bang! I can't wait to share the pictures.

Here are the things that made this week great!

1. Tree

With our recent visit to the Trees of Mystery, The Bean picked up a Redwood Tree in the gift shop. We have recently replanted it into a terracotta pot and given it a home-for-now in the window. We hope to be able to plant it permanently real soon.

2. Oatmeal

When we attended the Fill Your Pantry program we snagged some Rolled Oats from the Greenwillow Grains vendor. We cut into the bag this past week and enjoyed a breakfast of them. I have plans to make some no-bake cookies with some of them soon. Maybe New Year's Eve?

3. Kitten

This little kitten has been a mess lately. She has been really getting to our older cat, Meia, and wants to play, but she plays so rough. We are hoping a scheduled spaying will calm her down a bit and the two can get along.

4. Gift

My sister, Kendra, recently sent us a Christmas care package and the wooden board this cookbook sits on was part of that care package. It is actually sitting upside down to hold this book. The clothespin holds a photo and acts as a picture frame. Not sure exactly how I want to use it yet, but for the time being it is working as a great holder for my new cookbook. Check this cookbook out here.

5. Christmas recap

We spent an evening shortly before Christmas at The Grotto in Portland, with MacKenzie, Charlie, and Addison (here). We had a great time and I loved this picture of us taken by MacKenzie.

We ate that evening at Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que and I couldn't help but share the names of their BBQ sauce. The "Devil's Spit?" Clever!

Santa left The Bean a few Star Wars figures he has been wanting and packed his stocking full of fun things he can actually use. And some candy, of course. The Mr. and I sported out new Arkansas jackets from my parents and The Bean grabbed a quick photo of us as we were cleaning up the wrapping paper mess. We actually needed new Arkansas gear, so these were perfect! GO HOGS!

Note from S. Claus and his unfinished milk sits on the fireplace. The Bean left him a cupcake and Santa was quite stuffed by the time he hit the west coast, so he just took a few nibbles from the cake and left with a flash. Next year our Christmas might be slightly different as The Bean is going to be 14! I hope we can still hold onto the magic, but time will tell.

We will keep our gingerbread house a few more days and then it must retire to the compost bin. For now, it sits on the mantle looking quite delicious.

...And remember this thought

Have a great weekend, and an even better New Year!

A Macy's Christmas and (Thanksgiving recap)-recipe

Even though it's three days after Christmas I wanted to do some sort of post on the last year for Santaland at Macy's in Portland, Oregon. Our tradition of going to the Portland Macy's is going to be coming to an end at the end of 2016. Macy's has sold their building and set to shut down their store location in Portland in spring of 2017. We are saddened, but it also gives us a chance to open up a new tradition of driving to the Seattle location and visiting the Santaland there instead. Here is the SNS post dedication to the Santaland Macy's in Portland, Oregon.

The Bean has been coming to the Santaland at this location since he was four. It's a really sad thing for him to see it all go away. I've been trying my best to tell him that we can start new memories in Seattle. I don't think it will fully set in that the Seattle Santaland will be great until we actually go there in 2017. In the meantime, we are drying tears and enjoying great memories in Portland,

The best part of this visit to Santaland is that we got to share the last year with family. If you follow me on Instagram you know that we had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with the visit of Will and Kayla. There's lots more in this post about their visit too!

The entrance to see Santa Claus is called Holiday Lane. Toy soldiers stand guard at the start of Holiday Lane and are as tall as The Bean.

The Bean loves placing his stamped letter to Santa in the Believe Meter mailbox. It's one thing that will never fade, no matter how old he gets. Before we left, The Mr. and The Bean stood and looked at everything and remembered all of the years we had been there. The Mr. actually came to Santaland at Macy's when he was growing up and had some great memories of the place.

Portland courthouse.

We rode the MAX Train while we were in Portland and come to find out, this was the first time my brother, Will, has taken public transportation.

Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

As far as Thanksgiving goes, Will and Kayla landed on Thanksgiving day and we started cooking Thanksgiving dinner at about 6:00 a.m. They were set to land at noon, but got delayed in Dallas, so they didn't land until around 2:30 p.m. After getting the rental car and getting to our house it was well after 4:00 p.m. before we actually sat down and ate Thanksgiving dinner, but that didn't matter to us, it was great just having them here to spend a holiday with. And the meal was great!

The shape of the rental car reminded us of the car on National Lampoons Vacation.

We had to stop at A & W to have some original root beer.

We visited the state capital in Salem, Oregon, and afterward headed up the Cascades to play in the snow for a bit before it got too dark.

We all had a blast sledding down the hill. We all ended up crashing at the bottom, but the snow being so fresh it softened the blow a bit better.

The Bean was having a blast! Living in Oregon, where it snows a ton, does have its perks!

We headed to Crater Lake the following day and stopped off at Harry & David for a little snack. We decided to spend the night at Union Creek once we got into the area. It was pretty late, so we wanted to take advantage of the full area of Crater Lake without being pushed for time.

If you are a regular follower of South North South, you'll remember, our stay at Union Creek and road trip to Crater Lake back in May

Driving up to the top of Crater Lake wasn't too bad, but driving back down we started getting into some heavy snow.

It was worth the drive though to see Crater Lake in the winter. The last time we went (here) it was after the snow had begun to melt off and it was actually warm. The view of Crater Lake at that time was amazing!

We were pretty bummed that Will and Kayla didn't get to see the lake, but they had a blast in the snow regardless!

This picture is the one I shared on Instagram and I couldn't help be love it enough to share here on the blog too. Crater Lake is such a wonderful place! If you have a seasonal bucket list going, be sure to add Crater Lake to it for each season.

After leaving Crater Lake, we stopped off at Prospect Pizza. This place is the best! A tiny hole in the wall pizza joint in the middle of nowhere, but their pizza is some of the best!

A short and quick view of a whale passing through. We waited around for a bit to see if she would peek up again.

She finally came up and made a bigger splash. See her at the bottom left-hand corner of the picture above. 

First time for Will and Kayla to be in California, so stopping at the state line was a must. Remember, we are all from the south, so these moments are a big deal!

We arrived at the Trees of Mystery a short time later after crossing the state line. For the SNS family we've been here before, but we love the Trees of Mystery, so we were excited to show Will and Kayla 

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox standing tall at the entrance of the park.

We rode the sky tram up to the top of the mountain and Will was quite scared that it would break. The valley below is a pretty good drop, so it did cross all of our minds. Once we got leveled out it wasn't that bad of a ride. We've been on the ride before (here), but I don't think you could ever get used to riding it.

That evening we drove up to Portland to stay the night. Their flight was leaving early in the morning, so staying up in Portland seemed like the best plan. The picture above was at about 3:00 a.m. and everyone was tired, but we were sad that they were leaving, so it almost trumped the tired feelings.

We said out last goodbyes. I am still sad that they are gone. I really enjoy spending quality time with my brother. As we have gotten older we have gotten closer. I value him a lot.

We watched their plane leave. They didn't know that we watched them the entire time until we couldn't see the plane anymore. I felt it was important.

We headed back to the motel room to relax for a few more hours and The Bean crashed right out on the room couch as soon as we walked back in the door. 

And that was it. We gathered out things, ate some continental breakfast, and headed home.

A few days later we headed to the Christmas tree farm to pick out a good Christmas tree for our little family. We scored the perfect one! I also made some delicious turkey soup with the leftovers from Thanksgiving. Similar to chicken soup, but replace the chicken with turkey.

Thanksgiving Turkey Soup:

Leftover, fully cooked turkey removed from the bone (At least half the bird)
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
10 yellow potatoes (cut into one-inch cubes)
1 large white onion (cut into one-inch cubes)
6 celery stalks (cut into small crescent pieces)
1 bag of baby carrots (cut in half)
3 springs of parsley (chopped)
6 cups of water (and an additional six cups as it cooks)
1 tsp. dill (fresh or dry)
1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tbs. onion powder
1 tsp. seasoning salt
4 bay leaves
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper (to taste)

Add everything to a large stock pot and cook for 30 minutes. Add the additional six cups of water and cook for another 30 minutes. Serve! 

One of the best things about Christmas is receiving cards from friends and loved ones. 

Side note:
The Bean really enjoyed peeling away the days on his Fair Trade Chocolates Advent Calendar. I picked this up at the local co-op. 

Under each flap it shows different countries and how they say "Happy Holidays."
Snag one next year here. Also, we got the best gift from Will and Kayla after they left. Part of their Christmas gifts was this gift card to Shari's to eat. It was great and my brother said, "You can go eat at Shari's and pretend we are there eating with y'all." Wonderful! I just love gifts with thought!