Saturday, December 31, 2011

We had an absolutely lovely Christmas celebrating the Savior coming to bring true freedom to the world. It was everything I hoped my baby's first Christmas would be. No, I didn't get a picture of the three of us together. And no, Jack didn't sit sweetly through the candlelight service on Christmas Eve (As a matter of fact, he snagged a runner in my new Anthro tights in the process.) But overall, I really couldn't have asked for a better holiday. A healthy and joyful baby, a wonderful husband, and my entire extended family combined to make it one of the best for me--ever.

{You hear that, Family? I know you're reading. I said, "the best EV-ER."}

Jack in his red wagon from Sugar and Granddaddy on Christmas Eve.

How many adults does it take to get a toddler to smile when he wants to play with toys?

Chillaxing in his PBK Anywhere Chair from Santa on Christmas morning.

Hereby resolving to wear more lipstick in 2012.

Have a fabulous last day of 2011.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Oh what fun it is to...make memories!

I feel like without even being intentional, wonderful Christmas memories are made during this season we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Growing up, my family always celebrated Christmas eve worshipping the Lord at our church. We opened gifts from one another before we left for church, and afterward, we drove around to look at Christmas lights before heading off to sleep so Santa would come.

Some of this tradition has carried into my little immediate family. We love spending Christmas eve at church, focusing on the true meaning of the season and go to one of our families' churches if we are traveling. Since we are usually traveling, we pick a specific/special night before Christmas to drive around and look at lights.

Tonight, my guys before we left to look at lights.

There is a particular house we found a couple of years ago, and we'll probably go back every year. The first year, we had no children, the next year I was pregnant with Jack, and this year, he was asleep in his carseat. I love that progression. I can't wait for the year that Jack realizes how awesome it is. Check out last year's display:

2010 Wizards in Winter from chapel creek lights on Vimeo.

Their light display from last year. Pretty incredible!

Memories are free. Memories don't have to involve clever printables, perfect recipes, or picture perfect moments. (I have pictures that will never see the light of day right after Jack's arrival in this world to prove that wonderful memories are not picture perfect.)

What are your favorite Christmas memories?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh what fun it is!

I'm linking up today (11/9) with Kelly's Korner about side dishes!
Below are two of my favorites posted last year. Thanks for stopping by!

I daresay that most everyone has wonderful Christmas memories of gathering with their families to exchange gifts, but also to eat. Good or bad, I have a feeling that it's not exclusively Texan to associate celebrating with food!

Like all families, we have staples at our family lunches, and I wanted to share just a couple today. In particular, these are hard to mess up, delicious, and always garner compliments when I carry them to potlucks or other friendly gatherings. They're also super quick, which is perfect if you are short on time. I am perpetually short on time. If you are like me, these dishes are right up your alley.

{But you may not be like me, which is cool too. I think you would still enjoy them.}

A total rarity: ready with precious time to spare for family photos before church this past Sunday.
This is especially a sweet season for us to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
The Lord has magnified my joy since this boy came along!

We do not do jello salad. (Not a fan.) Instead, we dig in to a super sweet version of a fruit salad. It's a great red color due to the strawberry juice that will perfectly match your holiday table or buffet and looks beautiful in a cut crystal bowl. Also, we love spicy food, but even though my family would totally have Mexican food for Christmas lunch and dinner, we are traditionalists, so Grannie makes turkey and dressing for holiday lunches. The corn dish below is a great spicy addition alongside her usual spread.

Fruit Salad

1 (21 oz.) can of peach pie filling
1 (20 oz.) can of pineapple chunks, juice drained
1 (15 oz.) can of mandarin oranges, juice drained
1 (24 oz.) carton of frozen strawberries in juice, or 2 (16 oz.) small cartons (I looooove strawberries.)
2 bananas, sliced (optional)

Allow the strawberries to defrost. Pour the peach pie filling into a large mixing bowl and add the other cans of fruit. Add the strawberries with their juice and stir gently to mix it all together. If you add bananas, I recommend slicing them and adding right before you serve the dish.

This is sweet enough to be a dessert on it's own and goes well served with angel food cake or pound cake. I also make it for ladies' lunches.

Out of this World Corn Casserole

3 (11 oz.) cans of shoepeg corn
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1/4 c. milk
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, grated
1 fresh jalapeno, diced
jalapeno juice, to taste (optional, from a jar of jalapenos)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Over low heat, melt together cream cheese, butter, and milk. Drain corn and stir into cream cheese mixture. Add jalapeno and mix well. Pour into a casserole dish and top with the grated cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

I included this one in our church cookbook. If it's church cookbook worthy, you know I'm not playing around here.

There are 1000 recipes in this book. I've made 3 of them so far.

I'm linking up with the Duchess of Fork today, where everyone is posting about food at the holidays. Join the fun over there! And if you make either of these recipes, please let me know what you think!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Entertaining: Hosting a Cookie Exchange!

One of the "sweeter" parties that I've thrown involves dozens and dozens of cookies! Last year I hosted my first cookie exchange for the Senior girls in my Bible fellowship class, and I've decided to do it again this year because it was so much fun. Who doesn't love cookies?

Source: via Jodi on Pinterest

Mine probably won't look like those, but aren't they beautiful?

I created a Facebook event to invite the ladies to my house. That's a very appropriate channel, knowing my audience! They are always on FB. (I might be right there with them, but that is another post entirely.)

I've asked each girl to bring 4 dozen cookies of any kind. Decorated, bar, regular, whatever! I've seen several party "logistics" ideas online calling for 6 dozen and specifically only decorated Christmas cookies, but that seems like a lot of cookies and way too rigid rules for this lady. I am an equal-opportunity cookie exchanger. No cookie left behind!

This merry banner was first thing I bought on Etsy a long time ago. So fun!

For decor, hopefully I'll have all of my Christmas decorations up by then. (Then, in this case, would be only 4 days before Christmas Day.) I'll be using my Spode Christmas china. I have service for 24, which will be more than enough for a party of this size. I'm on the hunt for red and white polka dot napkins, so if you have any sources for those, I would absolutely love to hear them.

Santa watches me cook. He's one of my favorite decorations.

I'm serving mostly savory snacks, like finger sandwiches, sausage balls, and some chips and dips. I may add a few bite-sized sweets, but I imagine there will be enough cookie sampling to satisfy each sweet tooth. For drinks, I'm planning on hot chocolate, coffee, soft drinks, and water.

I've ordered these windowed bakery boxes from and will have ribbon for the girls to tie up their packages before they take them home. I might even spring for some of that ubiquitous red and white baker's twine. I'm not stressing over it though.

I think it's important to keep in mind that celebrating Christmas with our friends doesn't have to be a Pinterest-worthy event. More than anything, it should be a fun night celebrating the birth of our Savior with some laughter and cookies thrown in for good measure.

I'm linking up today with another new mom, Nina, at According to Nina! She and four others are hosting a blog link up for fun holiday ideas. Hop on over to see more!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

S. Claus Himself

This weekend was so fun and filled with Christmas activities. We determined earlier in the month that this past Friday would be the night we took Jack to see Santa at NorthPark. (NorthPark Center and the Galleria are the premier shopping locales in DFW, if you're not familiar. They are fancy.) I knew that they had a system set up to see Santa, whereby you go and get a number, then have your pic made in the order in which your number is called. (For Santa's hours, see here.)

Since I worked on Friday, I ran over to NP at lunch to shop for myself grab a number for Santa. At noon when I picked up our number, the college kid passing them out estimated that it would FIVE FORTY FIVE PM before that number was called. For us, that was fine since B wasn't meeting me at the office until that evening, but I felt bad for parents who thought they would just show up at lunch and wait in line.

He and Santa both did really well! At first, he looked at Santa like, "WHO are YOU?" Then he looked over at me like, "What is happening to me?" Then I convinced a couple of smiles from him. I was already walking to pick him up right around the time he started whimpering at the weirdness of it all.

{This is a picture of the picture, since I decided not to pay $60 for the digital copy.}

I love that little boy sooooo much!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Baby Boy's First Christmas

Baby Boy's First Christmas

This year brings a new experience - buying gifts for our little man's first Christmas! Above are a few of our potentials. One of my favorites is the tug boat. I found it in a toy store in Santa Fe a few weeks ago, and it caught my attention due to its great texture. It will definitely be under the tree. It's made of recycled plastic, and he'll have a blast with it in the tub. I think Santa may be bringing a Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair (not included up there)--that is, if the elves at PBK get busy between now and December 19th. Backordered!

Mommies, what has been your tiny tot's favorite gift in years of yore?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Household Happenings

Well, another weekend has come and gone, and I've tucked my baby in for the night. It's time to prepare for another week off at work in coal mines. (Not really, my office is completely above ground, and I have a lovely window view. The biggest workout my muscles will get is walking to the Ladies in heels.) I think the hardest time to be a working mother is Sunday night. How do I leave this face on Monday morning?

My handsome son, after a riveting game of peekaboo on Saturday.

Jack is in one of the sweetest stages right now. Each day he learns just a little bit more. This morning as I was talking to my senior girls in Sunday school, one of them mentioned that her mom tears up when they talk about her leaving next year for school. I related that I've been pondering Jack's growing independence quite a bit lately--that every day for the next 18 years Jack will do something a little more on his own, and at some point, he'll leave our home. (At that point they were all, "Aww, baby Jack!) And then I added, "So go easy on your mamas! They've been watching this happen slowly for 18 years!" It is such a fulfilling, beautiful, yet heartbreaking experience to watch your child grow from helplessness to self-reliance.

I love, love, love those girls, by the way.

But my baby is only 9 months right now, so I kind of need to just get a grip and enjoy his milestones. Waving bye, bye! Clapping! Baby proofing is imminent. He is all over the stuff I have on the coffee table, and for that matter, he's all over the living room. I let him tear up the junk mail we get each day to his great delight. And? Can we talk about him crying for "MAMA" when his grandmother picked him up out of his high chair at Sunday lunch?

I may or may not have thrown up my hands signaling a TD with a loud yell in the middle of the restaurant on that one. That's my boy.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

In Honor of December 1st

I give you what might be the creepiest/most awesome Christmas music video of all time. George Michael making moony eyes at his faux ex-girlfriend while they are on a ski trip with her new boyfriend? Awkward and totally 80s?

It's ALL in there.

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