Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Just a day or two late. ;)

We had a wonderful Christmas with our little family. We decided not to travel anywhere for the holidays, and I have to say, that I have never been more pleased with a decision. Packing up tons of stuff, dragging 3 kids plus said stuff through the airport and sitting on a plane with them for 5 hours, dealing with time changes etc, sounded exactly the opposite of fun. So we were more than happy to be sticking around for a nice relaxing holiday.

To be honest, we didn't do much. I took Asher downtown to the Lionel train store and to Bryant Park to see the big tree and ice skaters, the week before we took the kids to see Santa at Bloomingdales (never again, we will stick with SantaLand at Macy's from here on out), and Nate and I were out and about the city throughout the holiday season, so I feel like we got our fill of holiday cheer. However, we never once made it to the famed tree at Rockefeller Plaza, or to the window displays down 5th Ave, and I feel perfectly ok with that.

We stayed in on Christmas Eve... decorated gingerbread cookies, delivered the cookies to neighbors while caroling (Nate brought his mandolin and Asher wore suspenders, it was pretty awesome!), kids watched A Muppet Christmas Carol while I made rolls and other dinner preparations, had a nice Christmas Eve dinner, Nate told the Christmas story, the kids opened their pajamas, and down to bed they went. I did have to resort to telling Asher that if he got out of bed one more time, then Santa wouldn't come. How mean am I? At least it worked. :)

When the kids went down, that is when the real fun began. Seriously. The night of Christmas Eve is possibly one of my favorite things in the world... getting everything set up for the kids, making it a special, memorable sight... it's the best. I have such wonderful memories of staying up with my mom and sisters, wrapping stocking stuffers and setting out the presents, then turning off all the lights except for the tree... it is honestly one of my favorite sights. I remember waking up in the middle of the night when I was a kid and coming out to see the family room just like that, tree lights on with all the presents set out, it was so magical looking and so exciting. Seeing it now just brings back all the excitement I would feel growing up.

We watched While You Were Sleeping while Nate got to work setting up the tree house we got for the boys. I think it took about 3 hours. Not fun. But it turned out really cute. I finished with all the wrapping and got everything cleaned and set up nicely. I was so excited for the kids. Unfortunately, Asher woke up at 4:30 am, rearin' to go. We sent him back to bed, although I don't think he actually went back to sleep. When 6:30 hit, both kids were up for good, so I came out, turned the tree lights on, got the oven ready for the cinnamon rolls, and the camera ready. We had such a fun time opening gifts and playing with toys. The kids played and played all day long, with naps for everyone inbetween, except for Sayer who refused to fall asleep. After a nice little nap myself, I got to work on the rolls and peppermint chocolate tart for dinner. We met up with some families from the ward down in our community room for Christmas dinner and games. It was such a nice evening. The kids had fun with their friends while the adults had fun with white elephant gifts, board games, and plenty of good food. The day was a perfect mix of relaxing and being festive with friends. We did miss our families, but now that the kids are older, it makes everything so much more fun and magical, so we didn't mind being on our own as much.

Last night we had a huge blizzard, which was very fun to watch. I was supposed to start my cake decorating class today, but it got pushed back to tomorrow because of the storm. I heard this morning that some of the subways weren't running at all. It's crazy how this city shuts down when it snows.
Here is our little Christmas Eve dinner table.  We don't even have 4 chairs, so I had to move the table over to the couch.  It was pretty ghetto.  I sure do miss having my nice Christmas dishes and goblets.  Oh well. 

The boys checking out the tree house on Christmas morning.  I love their jammies.

Playing with their trucks. 

Barty had a blast rolling through all the toys and wrapping paper.  He had plenty to keep him busy. 

Anyway... we hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with magic, love, family and friends!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

4th Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange

My good friend Natalie has put on a Cookie Party for the last 3 years.  Unfortunately, she moved to LA, so I asked her if she would mind if I carried on the tradition.  She said of course, and so, the 4th Annual Christmas Cookie Exchange was born.  It was so fun to organize and put together. I decided that I wanted to go all out and make it really cute and memorable for the ladies. Believe it or not, even though there is SO much to do this time of year, it's sometimes a little hard, to feel the holiday spirit here.  I haven't really figured out why that is, except that it's just different from what I am used to.  Different place, and different people.  I think it's a little different for everyone.  But I like to think that I helped everyone who came get into the Christmas spirit a little more. ;)  I had more than a few people comment on how festive and fun it was, so I think I can call that a success!

Either way, it truly was so fun to put on. Sure, it was a little stressful.  Especially when I went to the room that I had reserved to finish setting up around 6:45pm, only to find people in there saying they had it reserved, and their boss had it reserved after that. Excuse me?!? Yeah, I cried. Thankfully, we got it all straightened out, without me having to move everything that I had already spent an hour bringing over and setting up, and a lovely time was had by all.
My sister in law, Lizza, knew that I was doing a peppermint theme, so she sent me the cutest red and white striped straws.  I was so excited to use them, until I discovered that they were too short to use. :(  Tragic.

The spread.  I made sour cream sugar cookies, spinach-artichoke dip, and then had fruits and veggies, pita chips, water and Izze sodas.  To be honest, the sodas were my biggest splurge.  Nate made fun of me a little for getting them, but I pretty much had my heart set on that "look".  I also wanted to have the banner above the table, but it didn't work with the window.  Oh well.  My inspiration came from here.

The "stands" are pasta boxes and canned food wrapped in wrapping paper.  Awesome huh?!  The center stand is my flour jar filled with soft peppermint candies.  I also used the wrapping paper to spruce up the water bottles.  That, and unwrapping all the peppermint candies were probably the most time consuming parts of the preparation.

Everyone brought such yummy and beautiful treats!  The chocolate marshmallow cookies on the left got second place in the best tasting contest.

Peppermint egg nogg cupcakes won for best tasting.  We also had a "prettiest dessert" contest, but I don't have any pics of the winner, which was the mini raspberry tarts.

Yes, this is my Christmas tree that I brought over.  (the party was held in a room in the building next door to mine)

The favors are homemade peppermint bark and english toffee, in clear pillow boxes, wrapped with baker's twine and ribbon.  I thought they turned out pretty cute.
And now, I'm already looking for another excuse to throw a party. ;)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Come Come Ye Saints

A guy in our ward, Mark Abernathy, did an awesome arrangement of this song, which him and Nate played in church a while back. Then, a little while after that, they recorded it to go on Mark's cd. You can listen and download for free here. It's awesome!!