Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Gatherings

I am currently suffering from a bad case of the after Christmas blues! I love all the anticipation and preparation for Christmas, but am always sad when the whirlwind of activities comes to an end.  I thought I'd take a moment and share with you some images from our family Christmas gatherings.  This year we hosted not 1..but 2 Christmases!

The first one was Christmas morning with my family.  My sweet brother Mike was staying with us from California, so it was only fair to put him to work too.

Nothing makes me happier than a warm beverage on a chilly day...and chilly it was! This warm apple cider and hot chocolate bar did just the trick. 

This Wolfgang Puck recipe for spiced apple cider was a winner.

Our hot chocolate bar included pirouettes, fudge, marshmallows, whipped cream, m&m's, stir sticks made by dipping spoons into melted chocolate and sprinkled with peppermint, cinnamon, crushed peppermint and a variety of gourmet hot chocolate packets.
I bought these tin containers from the dollar spot at Target and painted them with chalkboard paint for a fun little twist.
We used this old shutter to display Christmas cards. 
Try something new this year! I never would have guessed I would be capable of making this, but was quite pleased with how it turned out! This centerpiece was the anchor on the table.
Our main tree
Lots of presents
I didn't get too many pictures fom Christmas #2 with Josh's family, but here are a few.  We decided to do an italian themed dinner. 
I made homemade lasagna.  Yum!
We also had these fun drinks, which we nicknamed "The Grinch."  They were Prosecco with a scoop of lime sherbert.
This is the newest member in Josh's family, Levi.  I could hardly handle his cuteness!
We had a white Christmas this year which doesn't happen too often in Texas!
Wishing you all a very happy new year and a blessed 2013. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Traditions

This is my favorite time of year! Hands down.  I love the anticipation that fills the air. Having a job that allows me to work with children, reminds me of how magical it can be.  Growing up, my family had traditions that I looked forward to each year.  My favorite one was getting together with my mom's side of the family on Christmas Eve.  We had our Christmas meal at Pappasitos followed by a $10 gift exchange at my grandma's house.  As a child, I recall driving home from our outing and looking in the sky for "rudolph's nose." We still, to this day, do this and I look forward to it every year.

 Last year Josh and I realized that we had not started any traditions in our small family. Not shortly after that realization, I stumbled upon this beautiful blog post from Cara Carroll at the First Grade Parade.  She talks about how her family does one random act of Christmas kindness (RACK) each day leading up to the 25th.  I was completely and utterly inspired by this.  Isn't that what this season is all about? Giving and filling others with joy and kindness.  Isn't that why we celebrate Christmas in the first place?  Because the Lord was so good and generous that he sent the ultimate gift, His son, that would one day save us all? I know that I am guilty of getting caught up in gifts and material things.  I needed a heart check.  Josh and I decided that this was something that we wanted to adopt into our family as a tradition.  We did it last year and are doing it again this year.  Not every RACK we do is big, and in fact, many are quite small...returning baggage carts at the airport, taking donations to goodwill. And we are not perfect at doing them all, some days we have to do 3-4 in one day, and some we might not get to at all.  The point is that we slowly learning to take the "I" out of Christmas and learning to make it about others. 

Below is our calendar of what this looks like for our family:

Friends, let me take a moment to share my heart with you. I greatly struggled with this blog post. I mean, a lot.   I continually went back and forth on whether to post it at all. Our pastor recently preached on Matthew 6:1-2 (below).  The last thing I want is a pat on the back.  I prayed about my decision to post this and ultimately decided I would.  Our family has recieved so much joy and blessing from this tradition. It would be selfish of me to withhold that from you.  If hearing this inspires even one person to pay it forward, then it was worth it. 

6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trendy Trees

I love the airport! I love that everyone has a story and I love trying to figure them out! Anyway since I'm trying to kill a few hours between flights and my book is less than amazing (The Curious incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) I thought I'd pass along a little tree decorating inspiration. Which do you prefer?