Monday, December 30, 2013

Sibling Gifts 2013

Since we started making sibling gifts they, along with our other handmade gifts, have become one of my absolute favorite parts of Christmas.  The children are excited about making them and it's the first gift that is opened after Santa's gifts!  This year was all about the pillow!

Grace loves mustaches so Harris and I came up with the idea to make a pillow with interchangeable mustaches.  Since I have zero sewing skills, we enlisted the help of my Mom who did all the sewing for both the children's gifts.  Harris designed the mustaches and the face of the pillow, stuffed the pillow and helped cut out the mustaches.  He also made a little pouch for the mustaches that aren't being used.  He was delighted with the results as was Grace.

Several years ago, Al and Marilyn found this plaid, insulated shirt at a stadium that they were visiting.  After trying to find the owner, they kept the shirt and sent it to Harris.  Wouldn't you know that it became his favorite shirt and in fact, there is a period of time where every picture I have of Harris he is in this shirt!

It was a sad day when he realized it no longer fit him, but he didn't want to get rid of it.  Grace had the idea to make a pillow out of it to commemorate his favorite shirt.  I think the pocket was a stroke of brilliance.  It's perfect for little notes or tokens!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Friendship Story

(I don't know why I looked crazed and she looks fantastic-pretty typical)

Eight and a half years ago our little family packed up and left the South, something I didn't ever expect to do, and moved to a state I never expected to live in.  It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Bryce and after a lot of praying, crying and goodbying we left.  We landed in our wonderful town, in our not so wonderful house (at the time) and without our incredible group of friends.  I was homesick, lonely and terrified that our house would never be what we dreamed it could be when we bought it (turns out it has been and more).  I was also overwhelmed with a 3 year old and a 9 month old.


A few months after we moved my Mom came to visit and one day she took the children out for a walk to a nearby mini park.  When she came home she informed me that she had made me a new friend and that she would call in the next couple of days.  Well.  I thought my Mom was crazy and probably told her as much.  I thought that no one would call a complete stranger whose Mother they met at a park.  However, I was wrong about Kristin.  I vastly underestimated her because call me she did.  The first time we talked on the phone for an hour and I knew that I had met my first real friend in our new town.  Turns out Kristin and Tim's children were our children ages and our daughters even shared a first name.


Since that day eight years ago, Kristin and I have shared much of our lives together.  My children don't remember a time when they weren't a part of our lives.  We've laughed (lots), cried, vented, and talked almost everyday.  We've shared dreams, frustrations, sadness, and big moments in our lives.  And last night we met them for pizza on their last night in our town, for tomorrow they are moving to follow their dreams all the way to Tennessee.  To the South.

I'm so excited for them but I'm sad for us.  I know now that a move doesn't end a friendship and we are already planning and talking about trips back and forth.  I'm so thankful to Kristin and her family for helping to make this town of ours home and I can't wait to hear about the friend that will help make Tennessee home for her. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Menus

One of my very favorite meals of the Christmas season is Christmas Day breakfast.  I love the excitement in the air, family gathered round our table, the contentment of having all morning with no where to be, the light shining in our dining room and last, but certainly not least, the food!

We always gather together as a family in our pajamas for Christmas morning breakfast- even those who are driving to join us come in their pajamas!  It's a fun tradition that we've been doing since we got married (maybe even before?).  This years menu was perfect and I don't think it needs to be changed at all.

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Breakfast Casserole (made the night before)

Cinnamon Rolls with Eggnog Icing (also made the day before)
Candied Bacon and Regular Bacon
Gingerbread Waffles with maple syrup

Hot Cocoa for the children with marshmallows and peppermint sticks

Our Christmas Eve dinner is our more "dressy" meal.  We eat before we got to our church service and then have dessert once we get home.  We don't have a traditional dinner, though we've tried to find "the" menu.  We've tried everything from lobster to steak to seafood gratins but nothing has struck gold with us yet.  The problem is that we want a special dinner but we don't want all the clean-up!  To spend hours cleaning up in the kitchen on Christmas Eve, especially when you've got other matters to attend to, is frustrating.  Therefore, I've looked for something that's extraordinary but can be made ahead.  This year, I'm not sure that I struck gold but it sure was tasty!  I think perhaps it can be tweaked a bit to make it just right.

Also, years ago, Bryce used to make an Eggnog from scratch that was really tasty.  However, we somehow let that go and it has been years since it appeared on Christmas Eve.  No longer!  He once again made a delicious and tasty Eggnog that will always be on our Christmas Eve menu (there is absolutely no comparison to store bought.  None.)

Christmas Eve Dinner

Homemade Eggnog
Cheese Plate (Champagne aged cheddar and Wensleydale Cheese (Cranberry) with red grapes

Lobster Mac and Cheese
Boston Lettuce Salad with pomegranate seeds and  Champagne Vinaigrette

No-Bake Miniature Cheesecakes

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

I hope that everyone had a lovely and beautiful Christmas.  We certainly did.  We even had a snow shower Christmas Eve, which added a touch more magic to an already perfect night.

Grace made cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve day.  I'm pretty sure that this "Baked For Santa" stamp is now one of my favorite things.  However, the words became almost unrecognizable once cooked.  Maybe shortbread cookies next year?

My sister and her family joined us for Christmas Eve dinner and church.  I believe my Mom was thrilled to have all her family together.

For dinner I used my favorite Christmas china- it always makes me happy to pull it out every year!

Christmas Day the children were up and raring to go by 7:15 (they both swear that they were awake by 6:30).  Here's the obligatory "sitting on the stairs waiting to run in and see what Santa brought" photo. Can you tell how excited they are?

We all had breakfast together in our pajamas!

The children have both declared this as the best Christmas yet.  Both children seemed thrilled with what they received and gave.  I was particularly smitten with this duct tape bow that Grace adorned my gift with.

 Later in the afternoon, we went to my Mom's house for Christmas dinner and even more present opening,  It was a full and perfect day!  I hope yours was the same.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

From our home to yours...

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Magic

The other day Grace commented that she didn't want to become a teenager because "they don't believe in Santa or other magic."  She then went on to say, "I want to believe in Santa."  To me that is at the heart of Christmas magic, believing in the idea of something that might not make sense or something that doesn't quite seem feasible like Christmas miracles, Santa or a universal feeling of good will that lasts for just one day.

This year, for the first time, I didn't do the Advent Calendar with the children.  I made the decision because it was something that I had started dreading.  For me, it felt as if it was one other thing to fit in in an already busy season and after ballet practice, school, homework and dinner I sometimes simply couldn't find the time.  Also, I have to admit that the last thing I wanted to do was give the children a treat every day during a month where they are going to be getting lots of treats.  The children have so much they don't need a daily "gift."  Our advent calendar usually consisted of a lot of family experiences too and I've found that we've still done many of them but when we could fit them in.  I know this sounds very Grinch like but I've found that it's been ok.  No one seems to have missed it, the magic of the season has not disappeared, and I'm much more relaxed instead of trying to create this magical, beautiful Christmas for everyone.  In fact, I've discovered that Christmas is magical without me creating anything at all!

I'm curious.  How is everyone feeling about Christmas this year?  Flustered?  Relaxed?  Ready?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Framed Christmas Art

Years ago, when the children were in preschool, they made hand-print Christmas art.  It's obvious that lots of care and attention went into making the Christmas tree and wreath (it's also obvious that a lot of help came from the adults) but they are such a wonderful reminder of that sweet, sweet time and of their precious hand-prints.  I love them and have pulled them out every year to display on our cork board.  However, I started to notice that the backing was getting little tears in it and the art was getting bent in our Christmas bins, and I was worried that they would get ruined over time.

My solution was to have them framed for permanent Christmas display.  I had the construction paper backing cut off and a simple red frame put on.  I played around with mats but ultimately decided that simple was best for this project.  I hung them behind the sofa on two hooks that normally have a much larger piece hanging on them but it works perfectly for the Christmas season!

This is what is usually going on while I'm trying to take pictures...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Outfits

I always enjoy picking out the children's outfits for church on Christmas Eve.  Usually whatever we buy also subs in for other "dressy" events we have during and after the Christmas season.  Grace is more of a jeans and sweatshirt kind of gal at this moment in time, but Harris loves to get dressed up.  Whenever he gets a blazer or bow-tie  he wears it fairly frequently and in his opinion it's even better if Bryce has something similar.   It's very cute if you ask me. 

This year we went with a red and gray theme.  Grace's skirt and cardigan (I got them 30% off!) are festive and pretty without being too cutesy or frilly and she will be able to wear them separately later on.  Bryce has a gray jacket so when I spotted this one on sale I knew it would be great for Harris!  He loves it!  The plaid shirt compliments Grace's outfit perfectly too.

P.S.  I know these are pretty poor photos- I just didn't want to spend more than 5 minutes taking them! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I Love Snow Days

Yesterday was a snow day!  It was great snow for playing and building in and the children did just that for most of the day.

Awesome forts were built behind which snowballs could be hurled at one another!  We have a snowball maker which is great for making quick, perfect snowballs.

I love snow days.  I love how it's an excuse to sit by the fire and read a book.  I love how the children get bundled up over and over again to go outside.  I love how quiet it is when it snows and how stunningly beautiful it is.  I love that our roads get cleared really quickly.  I love those first few moments as the children learn that there is no school and they have the unexpected gift of a free day.  I love that Bryce plays in the snow with the children.  I love that feeling that just for one day everything can be put off and nothing has to be done.  I love snow days!

Monday, December 9, 2013

An Airstream Christmas

Last year, my friend, Ashley, gave me an Airstream card that she had dug up from the Moma archives. I loved it so much that I mounted and framed it so that it can become a permanent part of our Christmas decorations.  Having plaster walls makes it hard to hang non-permanent pictures on the wall so I always switch pictures that are already up for the holiday season (or use 3M hooks!).  It fits in perfectly in our kitchen, and I just love that we have a fun reminder of the Airstream during the Christmas season! Thank you Ashley!

(not sure why the color in this photo is so off!)

Also, I couldn't resist buying an Airstream pillow when I spotted it at Pottery Barn.  

Yesterday, we had our first snowfall of the season.  We simply had to run over and put a wreath on the Airstream.  We're thinking she might even make an appearance in our Christmas cards this year!

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