Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

From our family to yours... wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!



And a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Along with getting a real Christmas tree, decorating the house, listening to non-stop Christmas songs, sending and collecting Christmas cards, and seeing a Christmas show, we have a few other traditions we enjoy this time of year. I'm sure they will change over the years, but for now these are a few more of the things we look forward to the most every year at Christmas time.


Christmas Movies
We have quite a large collection of Christmas DVDs. We watch all of them every year, plus a few on the DVR that haven't made their way to our collection just yet (this year: Polar Express and 12 Dates of Christmas...they were good, but not sure that we will be purchasing either of them). Bo's favorite movie is A Christmas Story, and mine is The Grinch. We usually watch those and a few other favorites at least two or three times each year. We especially enjoy watching Christmas movies while wearing our Christmas socks.



Holiday Drinks
Once it starts getting cold outside we make some hot chocolate to sip on while we watch our nightly movies.



Bo loves eggnog, and I have finally acquired the taste after him forcing me to drink it the past few years. With enough liquor, cinnamon, and nutmeg, I hardly even notice the eggnog ;)



We usually like seasonal beers, but we still haven't found a Christmas beer that we love. This year we picked up a six-pack of Abita Christmas Ale...we thought it was just okay. Better luck next year.



This year we also enjoyed a special Christmas red champagne from our most recent Chandon club shipment. It was soo good!



Gingerbread House
I have never built a gingerbread house, and this year we finally did one together. This has been in the works for a few years now. One year I made the horrid mistake of picking up a kit at Target with pre-made gingerbread. Well, according to Bo, that was completely unacceptable. Since his whole purpose in building a gingerbread house was just to tear it down and eat it, he wanted homemade gingerbread from scratch. Which of course meant that he wanted ME to find the right kind of kit and he then wanted ME to bake it. I didn't have time for that so I gave up on the whole idea and had forgotten about it until our Holiday edition of the Food Network magazine came last month, and we saw an ad for a really awesome kit (www.cutterkit.com). The ordering and shipping was kinda sketchy - their email address didn't work, I couldn't contact anyone about my order, I never got a shipping confirmation, and after about 2 weeks I was starting to get nervous that I had been scammed (since I had already been charged for it) when one day it finally showed up on our front porch. All the way from Norway. So yea, good thing I ordered it at the beginning of the month or else we would have had to wait yet another year to do it. We had a lot of fun building and decorating it. And probably even more fun taking it apart and eating it!





We made (and ate) a lot of gingerbread men during the process :)


At Bo's request, the first-ever gingerbread stegosaurus. Such a child.

Molly also apparently likes gingerbread. After I had baked the house and was letting it cool, she somehow, very sneakily, managed to grab the entire front of the house and eat the whole thing before we could even find a crumb. Thankfully I had a lot of extra dough so I could make another one... 


Festive Treats
I really enjoy baking - especially for Christmas. I definitely get that from my mom!  In addition to the gingerbread house and gingerbread men (and the dinosaur...), I made a few other fun treats this year when I got into a Christmas frenzy one weekend in the kitchen.

I saw chocolate covered pretzel sticks on Pinterest, and pinned it as one of those things that are cute and fun but that I never actually planned to do. I've tried and failed miserably using baker's chocolate and was too intimidated to do it again, until Kristin shared her chocolate tip (aka: secret ingredient) here. So I decided to try it with the pretzel sticks, and it really was super easy. And a lot of fun. It made me want to dip everything in chocolate. Luckily I only bought one package of it. (Note #1 to Atlanta shoppers: I could only find the chocolate at Walmart Supercenter. If you know me, you know I looked everywhere else first.)



Katherine hosted our 3rd annual girls night cookie exchange earlier this month (my fav girls night event of the year!). Also found on pinterest, I made these peanut butter reindeer cookies (recipe here). Cute and delicious. I also got some really yummy treats in return!





And of course, it's not Christmas time without decorating sugar cookies. However, since I had a lot of leftover gingerbread dough and since Bo does not like sugar cookies, I made an exception this year and decorated gingerbread cookies instead. I usually make frosting too, but this year I made another exception to try Mindee's glaze, when (in perfect timing!) she posted about her family's tradition of painting cookies here.  Let me tell you, her glaze recipe is awesome and the decorating is so much fun. It is really easy to make, once you can find the ingredients. (Note #2 to Atlanta shoppers: I could only find the meringue powder at Hobby Lobby.)  Bo ended up traveling for work this week, so I ended up decorating the cookies by myself. I had a blast, and I'll definitely be doing it again, but hopefully Bo can join me next year :)



Winter Puzzle
It's no secret that we love playing board games and doing puzzles. Even though it's not really Christmas-y, we do this winter puzzle every year. It's nice to enjoy a few quiet nights together at home during all the hustle and bustle of the season.



And more...
Now that we are home in Florida for Christmas, we are looking forward to my family's Christmas traditions. It's been two years since we've spent Christmas with them, and even though Bo and I have quite a few of our own traditions that we really enjoy doing together, it still doesn't feel like it's Christmas to me until I'm home with my family.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Deck the Halls

The Christmas season officially started for us as soon as we picked out our tree in Blowing Rock.We listened to our Christmas playlist on the ipod during the entire five-hour drive back to Atlanta, and the tree went up as soon as we got home. I love decorating the house for Christmas so we got right to it. While the tree branches were settling, we managed to get everything else up and ready that night.

Here is a peak into our home, all decorated for Christmas!

A few years ago I made a wreath for our front door (inspired by Katherine's DIY post here), and it still looks just as good. This year we added some garland around the doorway that we picked up along with our tree.



I picked up a few bows and hung the leftover garland on our entertainment center.



Our stockings are hung by the.... non-fire. (Side note: That is because our couch is directly in front of our fireplace. Our rental house is setup rather awkwardly and our furniture was too big to put anywhere else. Oh well.)



We hung the mistletoe in the most convenient spot ;)



We like to have the house smelling really wonderful, so in addition to the real frasier fir tree scent, we brought out my homemade potpourri and light up my favorite Christmas candle every night.



My newest addition for this year is a nativity scene. I've been looking for one for a while and couldn't find one that was just right until this year. Hopefully over the next few years I can pick up a few more pieces to add on to it. My mom has an old stable for me back at home that I'm going to pick up next week, so until next year our little figurines are stable-less. They don't seem to mind.




After the rest of the house is decorated and the tree branches have settled, we move on to the tree, which is my most favorite part of all the Christmas decorations. I inherited my dad's condition of needing the largest tree that can fit in the house, so it takes quite some time to decorate it - and we have it down to a science now. First we put on all the lights and the star at the top. Then we put on all of our new ornaments for that year. We collect travel ornaments and this year we had quite a few new ones (but sadly I cannot find our New Orleans ornament ANY where, so we might have to go back...)

Augusta National - April


San Francisco - June

Washington DC - August


London - September


We also get a dated ornament each year from the Waterford crystal snowflake collection. I just love them, they are so sparkly.



I of course got an ornament for Molly...Christmas came early for me this year! This was an easy DIY ornament kit - here is the link to the exact same kit I used, but I got it for about half the price on sale at Michael's.




Next I put up all the keepsake ornaments that my mom has given me every year since I can remember. I love her tradition and it gave me a really great starter collection once I moved out on my own. This is the ornament she picked out for me this year. So cute!



After we have all the "real" ornaments on the tree, we put on all the "filler" ornaments - the classic glass ball ornaments. This year I was also inspired to make a few ornaments that I found on pinterest - a button ornament (here) and glitter ornaments without the mess (here). I only made one button ornament since it was a little more time consuming and my finger started to hurt from the pushpins. The glitter ornaments however were extremely easy and fast to make, so I made two whole boxes of them in a variety of colors/ribbons. They make great "filler" ornaments.





After a good sweep of the floor, I put on the tree skirt that we got the year we were married.



And then.... voila! Our beautiful Christmas tree. It's our favorite one yet.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Crazie Cathie

I have this neighbor named Cathie. And she is crazy. So, naturally, I refer to her as Crazie Cathie.

Before we had Molly, I didn't know a single neighbor. Not one. Which I blame mostly on the insane working hours at our old jobs and our crazy travel schedule when we weren't working. But after a few weeks of taking Molly on a walk every day, I had met most of the people on our street, and their dogs. Somehow I couldn't remember ANY of my neighbors' names, but I knew ALL of their dogs' names. I've gotten a little better over the past few months. Except for one of them who stuck out to me from the very beginning. And that was Crazie Cathie.

You see, Crazie Cathie was unnaturally obsessed with little Molly. I realize she is cute...(well actually, I am extremely biased and think Molly is by far the cutest and funniest animal ever created)...


...so I was used to most people walking by, introducing themselves, asking a few questions about Molly and commenting on how cute she was, etc... I'd do the same for their dog, and then we'd both move on with our lives.

But not Crazie Cathie. Oh no. She wanted to hold Molly. She wanted Molly to come play in her yard. She wanted to "babysit" Molly. She wanted to talk to me FOR-EV-ER about Molly. She had numerous daily questions about Molly's sleeping/eating/training/playing/etc habits. She showed me pictures of her old dog who looked somewhat similar to Molly. She took several of her own pictures of Molly (which apparently she shared with her co-workers). She usually sits on her front porch, and since her house is catty-cornered from my house I can see her from my porch, which thankfully is screened in so that I can attempt avoiding her by walking towards the other end of the street. But she always found me. She'd go on walks and "run into" us. She gave me her business card (which is how I know she spells Cathie the crazie way with an "ie") so if I ever needed her to watch Molly, I could call her.

And she also came by our house to give Molly hand-me-down "presents" from her own dogs...

Exhibit 1: A baseball hat. I'd like to know when, where, and why exactly a dog would ever have the need to wear such a thing. Other than to look completely absurd.



Exhibit 2: An automatic feeder. There is no way we could ever use this, considering Molly eats anything and everything that might possibly look even remotely edible, regardless of how much she's already eaten.



Crazie Cathie is extremely nice and completely harmless, but she was starting to freak me out a little bit. And she drove me absolutely bananas every single day. Not to mention the time-waste factor - I had all this new-found free time, and I didn't exactly want to spend so much of it with her.

How was I going to get away from her?! It took me twice as long to walk Molly simply because Crazie Cathie would have something to tell me or show me or give me. My only saving grace was if Crazie Cathie was smoking, because Molly does NOT like smoke. I trained her well.

I had about run out of ideas, when one blessed day Crazie Cathie came over to say good bye - she was moving! I didn't quite believe her since it took a few weeks for the movers to show up, and another few weeks for her to pick up the last of her things, but alas she is finally gone. She's shown up a few times after moving out so I am still cautious when we head out the front door. And now, after months of going on a daily walk, Molly is on auto-pilot. She only goes one way down our street, and never goes past our house on the way back. She's not taking any chances at another Crazie Cathie run-in.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dip 'n Dab

A couple months ago, a few of us girls got a groupon to Dip 'n Dab - a BYOB painting class where you sign up to do a specific painting that everyone in the class paints.  I had never done one of these classes before, and since it's been on my Atlanta bucket list for over a year now, I signed up right away. Ginny organized it for us and since Sarah is leaving us soon, we finally went last week.



None of us are painters but we had so much fun.









This is teacher's painting that we (kinda) followed along during the class....



And this is how ours actually turned out...



I will say that throughout the class, I kept going back and forth between liking mine and hating it (I am such a Type-A Perfectionist...), but eventually we all thought our paintings started looking better and better as the night went on. Or maybe that was all the wine we drank. Either way, we did pretty good if you ask me!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sarah's Going Away Party

Yes, it is sad but true: Sarah is leaving me.

Well, I guess technically she is leaving Atlanta. And all her other friends, too. But we all seem to be taking it a little personally.

Though I will miss her more than I can fathom right now, I couldn't be happier or more excited for her. Next month she is moving back to her hometown of Orlando, FL, and then taking some time off to go on an awesome trip to Thailand, New Zealand, and Australia before getting back to the real world and starting her counseling practice. I can't say I hardly blame her - I'd take off in a heartbeat too!

Last weekend she had her going away party in true Sarah form that some of us (aka: me) can no longer keep up with....complete with a keg, shots, beer pong, shots, flip cup, a few more shots....you get the idea. And for your (now cured) hangover, Sarah, you only had yourself to blame ;)


love you!
(and yes, i blurred out bo photo-bombing our picture)

me, chelsea, sarah, ginny & katherine

me & kim


me, shara & christy


Sarah is an awesome friend, and I love her to pieces. She wrote me an incredibly sweet good-bye letter about our friendship (and then forced me to open and read it in front of her the night of her party...grrrr). So it only seems appropriate to share a few of my favorite memories with her. We met over 9 years ago as freshman Chi Omega pledges at UF, somewhere between the flag football field and the volleyball courts. We were instant friends and soon declared ourselves HLP's (Hetero-Life-Partners, obviously). Our dorms were next door to each other but cell phone reception was so terrible that we got walkie-talkies so we could talk all the time - they were a blast. She and a few other close friends quickly convinced me to breakup with my silly boyfriend who was still in high school (yes, that would be Bo: my now husband) (this horrific event is also The Forbidden Topic in our home), only to meet him a few months later and realize how awesome he was and how could I ever break up with him?! (yes, we got back together a few weeks later and never parted again.) After many nights at the bars and too many orders of late-night pizza or pokey sticks, she dragged me to the Swamp to run stadiums and shed the freshman 15. During holidays and weekends she sometimes hitched a ride with me and I would drop her off in Orlando on the way - she thought my taste in music was odd; I thought her need to stop for a bathroom break during a 2 hour car-ride was ridiculous. On one trip home, we found our old rollerblades and brought them back with us...I still have the scar from one tragic fall. She was the first person I ever willingly chose to live with the next year when we were roommates in the Chi O house. I could really go on and on and on.... but we basically had a blast for four solid years and loved every minute of it. Our friendship didn't miss a beat when she graduated and moved to Atlanta, while I stayed at UF for grad school before moving up. And just for fun (and memory's sake), here are a few of my favorite pictures of us over the years...


2002

JACK house...2002

cheers to new roomies! 2003

 
Chi O Date Function: 80s Roller Skating






Senior Night 2006

Gator Basketball SEC Champions 2007


Sarah's 23rd birthday

will you be my bridesmaid?


Vegas 2009

my wedding

NYE 2010

San Francisco, June 2011

Though today we are in many ways different people from the two young girls who met back in 2002, we have grown together and not apart, and I love that about us. I know I'll still see her often and I know we will keep in touch. Our friendship won't change, but it won't be the same. I will miss the calls to meet up for a dinner date or happy hour or girls night or some other event, I will miss the go-to person she always is for me when I need her, and I will miss my spare key (actually, I may want that back...). Our visits with each other will be much more planned but no less fun. I don't think it will really hit me that she is gone until she really is.

Sarah, I love you so much! Wishing you all the best in Orlando. XOXO


PS - Just a warning for when you get married, I have quite a treasure trove of pictures for your slideshow. You're welcome ;)