Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Recap

Well, another Christmas has flown by. We had a wonderful time celebrating this very special holiday. The 24th and 25th were filled with copious activities, scurrying from house to house. it was wonderful to spend quality time with family and friends.
We spent Christmas Eve with Todd's parents, sister, brother-in-law, and niece. Maddie joined the celebration around 8:30 that night after celebrating with Dad and his mom's family. Our niece is now nineteen months old, so she is now starting to get the hang of opening presents. It is so fun to watch. Maddie received a Barbie electric guitar from his sister and brother-in-law. She loves it! Todd and I can't wait to repay the favor of noisy gifts for our niece's birthday. Hee hee...
Santa came at some point during the night. Maddie found proof at the bottom of her Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Watching the magic and excitement in her eyes is one of my favorite things about Christmas. Her yelling "Santa came! Santa came!" through the house reminds me of my childhood. I cherish these years because I know they will not last forever. Santa was good to all of us this year. Despite the poor economy we were still spoiled. Santa Todd left not one, but two blue boxes from Tiffany's under the tree for me. I received two shiny charms for heart tag bracelet.

Mine is an "M", not an "A". Apparently there was a theme among the men we know this year. They were all told not to buy jewelry due to the poor economy and high cost of baubles. But they all ignored their wives. My mother-in-law received a new bauble as well as our friend Jamie. I think we were all excited that our husbands chose not to listen to us!! I also got my Cricut cutter (YAY!!) and cannot wait to use it! I have been coveting them ever since they arrived in to the scrapbooking market. Todd and I received our Thule cargo bin for the top of his car. This will be essential for any travel we do with two kids and a dog.

Todd was giddy with his new Thule toy. He never expected to get one and could hardly contain his excitement when he opened it.

Santa brought Maddie a pony, Madame Alexander doll, and some American Girl outfits. We were pleasantly surprised at how excited she was with her Santa gifts.

In addition to Santa gifts she received lots of darling clothes, a new Olivia book (one of her favorite characters), and many new toys.
Due to my bed rest and the pending arrival of our little one, Todd and I decided to do something different for our parents this year. Normally we buy lots and lots of gifts. Instead we went small this year. The "big" gift to both sets of our parents were 12x12 leather bound photo books that we made at Snapfish. Each book contained photos of our families from the past several years. There were pages of the kids and grandkids, family trips, holidays, our wedding, etc. Our parents were so touched. The books may not have cost the same as gifts from past Christmases, but they were the most treasured. Their reaction definitely gave me the warm and fuzzies! My mother-in-law cried. Very hard for pregnant me to hold back my own tears with a reaction like that!!! But I was so touched that she was so moved. Words cannot describe.
After the gift extravaganza we went to our bonus-family's (the Switzers) house for Christmas dinner. My parents and Grandma joined us for this entertaining and delicious holiday feast. We had a great time gabbing and noshing. Plus it was great to see the men in the kitchen doing all the work while the women got to catch up. How often does that happen?!? Celebrating the holidays with our bonus family has become another favorite holiday tradition of ours. It feels so good to watch all three families enjoying eachother's company and celebrating together. It puts an ear-to-ear smile on my face. Here are some photos from Christmas and Christmas Eve:

I also have a recipe to share with you. I made this decadent dessert for Christmas. It was super-tasty and rich! Yummy in the tummy!

Mississippi Mud Pie (

2 pints vanilla ice cream

2 tbs. bourbon or Kahlua (I used Kahlua)

1 Oreo cookie crumb crust (ready-made from the grocery store)

fudge sauce (see following recipe)

2 pints coffee ice cream

whipped cream

Soften the vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, then spread it evenly in the pie crust. Top with half the fudge sauce and freeze for an hour. Soften the coffee ice cream and spread over the now firm first layer. Mound the coffee ice cream in the center as necessary. Top with the rest of the fudge sauce. Decorate with whipped cream and cover loosely. Freeze overnight or at least for four hours.

Fudge Sauce Recipe

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (remember, if you have a dog, keep this out of their reach!!!!)

1/2 C brown sugar

1/4 C granulated sugar

3/4 C heavy cream

1/4 C light corn syrup

2 tbs. butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tbs. bourbon or Kahlua

Combine chocolate, brown sugar, granulated sugar, heavy cream, and corn syrup in a bowl and microwave three minutes. Whisk every 30-60 seconds. When the mixture has thickened somewhat, whisk in the last three ingredients.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twas the Night Before Christmas

Here are the photos I promised. This is our family Christmas tree. Some people prefer to have a tree that looks like it belongs in a showroom. Ours is packed full of memories. Memories of Christmases past, trips and vacations, family members, etc. Plus I have several vintage goodies that I have found over the years. Our gold star sits on top. Having a gold star tree topper was something I dreamed of all throughout my childhood. It was not until I became an adult that my wish was fulfilled. Here are some of my favorite ornaments:
These were hand-me-downs from my grandma. I remember them being on her tree when I was a child.
These are from my/our travels: Yosemite 2006 Kaua'i 2008
Maui 2006
Richardson Grove Camping Trip 2008
Yellowstone 1996
I also love to collect chipboard houses and bottle brush trees. Todd says I have enough at this point because they now fill the mantle. But let's face it, a girl can never have too many! This year I created some "snow" and back lit the village with small, white lights. Some of the houses have been gifts from Todd, and the trees were Christmas gifts from my parents. I created the little pink and blue gift boxes this year while on bedrest. I thought the trees needed some presents!
For the past twelve years I have been slowly collecting the Dept. 56 village. All of the buildings have been gifts. I write the year and the giver on each box so I can remember who they came from and what was going on the Christmas I received them. Like I said, Christmas is all about memories for me! This year I put the village in our dining room hutch. Todd and I agreed, this is the perfect home for the Village.
The pub was an early Christmas present from Todd this year. We both loved it. We're not Irish. But we figured our Scottish ancestry was close enough :)!
Here's our ledge in the dining room. Gail's trees at the cabin were my inspiration. The flag banner was a project I began right around Christmas last year, but did not finish until this spring.
Here are some other tchotchkes that I have around our home:

More of Grandma's hand-me-downs. These three little statues are some of my favorites.

My pink marabou tree (a gift from my mom). I think I can safely say this is not Todd's favorite! I made all of the little ornaments on it. A project I found in Somerset Studios Magazine.
Here are our stockings. Todd's is from his childhood. This is probably his favorite Christmas decoration hands down. Here are a couple little do dads that I whipped up. I stumbled upon this photo last year on another blog and it inspired me. It's amazing the things you can create with your "spare" time while on bedrest.

Bed Rest

I know I promised photos of our Christmas decorations quite some time ago. But as soon as I finished decorating our home I was put on bed rest for contractions (pretty much every time I do something I have a contraction.) SIX WEEKS OF BED REST! You have no idea how difficult this is for someone like me! I want to be up doing things, running around. Being so pregnant and slow is frustrating enough, but now to be confined to the bed or couch?! UGH! But you do what needs to be done to ensure the health of your unborn child. So no matter how much I complain, I want what is best for Luke. I am just one of those people who can be very type A when it comes to cleaning the house, getting projects accomplished, keeping busy, etc. Therefore, when anything slows me down I find it very annoying. I tend to go stir crazy after a while. Plus poor Todd!!! In addition to working he now cooks, grocery shops, takes Maddie to and from school, and cleans! Bless his heart, he tries so hard! He even buys the organic foods I like. I do have to admit, I have cheated here and there. Todd has taken me on a couple short shopping trips and out for a couple of meals. He knows I just need to get out of the house and breathe in some fresh air. It can get depressing being couped up inside every day with no sunlight or fresh air to breathe. The weather has been too cold to open all the windows, which can be stifling at times.
Other than the contractions my pregnancy is going well and everything seems to be developing just fine. Luke moves all of the time. He is now so big that his movements sometime hurt. I am convinced he thinks my bladder is a punching bag. He is already so different than Maddie. She moved just enough to let me know she was there and doing O.K. She never kicked hard. Very mellow. She was that way as a baby and is still that way (most of the time!) Luke constantly stretches (which leads me to think he is very quickly running out of room) and I often feel a foot, elbow, or knee poking out my side. But all of this movement makes me very excited to finally meet this little person in my belly (only three and a half weeks to go.) Plus the thought of not feeling as if I have to go to the bathroom every five minutes sounds like heaven to me at this point! Maddie keeps asking when her baby brother is coming. Even her patience is beginning to wain.
While camping out on the couch I have done quite a bit of scrapbooking and movie watching.

My mom and Darin have loaned me a stack of movies. So far I have watched:

Becoming Jane

Little Miss Sunshine


Fool's Gold

The Heartbreak Kid

The Holiday

Nanny Diaries

Forgetting Sarah Marshall


So I Married an Axe Murderer

Lucky # Slevin

Juno and Forgetting Sarah Marshall have been my favorites. So I Married an Axe Murderer has always been a favorite. A classic Mike Myer's comedy.

Tilly is now my couch buddy.

She even has her own blanket (to prevent the couch from turning white due to her thick winter coat). She has become a lot calmer since we no longer have Mischa. Although it was sad to send her to a new home (by the way, she has been adopted and we wish her huge success in her new home) it has been a blessing in disguise. I can't imagine how we would have survived two crazy dogs while I am on bed rest. Speaking of dogs, we are dogsitting Liyongo for two weeks while his mom and dad are in Omaha visiting family for the holidays. He is so easy to take care of, just a lazy hound dog. Plus Tilly loves having her "boyfriend" around.

Maddie is now on winter break. She had a blast her last day of school. Her class had Polar Express Day. They wear their PJ's to school, eat junk food, and watch Polar Express. Such a fun day! She was so excited to show off her new jammies and slippers. And I can't believe I did not get any photos this year! She looked so cute and cozy as she skipped off to school with her Toddy.

Speaking of Maddie, we bought her her own Christmas tree this year. After six Christmases she has quite the arsenal of ornaments. Todd thought she would enjoy having her own tree this year. She could not wait to decorate it. I did lend her a few of mine to fill it up. Many of her ornaments are animated and she enjoys listening to their different tunes. We have restricted her to one ornament at a time to maintain our sanity (really, how many different Christmas carols can you hear playing simultaneously before you lose your mind?)

The Santa tree topper is one of my mom's old decorations. She used it as a tree topper when I was Maddie's age. I love that she now has it on her tree. This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions, bringing out old family treasures from the past and relishing in all of their precious memories. Maddie had me chuckling while she decorated her tree. I had to keep reminding her that she needed to put ornaments on the backside of the tree as well as the front. She kept telling me,"No Mommy! I want them all to go in the front of the tree." She wanted to see all of her ornaments on the front. After some cajoling we compromised. All of her favorites went on the front, while the others went on the backside for people to see from the street. Plus there was no way all of her ornaments would have fit on the front.

I think tomorrow I will post the deco photos. This post is long enough as it is, and Christmas Eve seems to be fitting. Merry Christmas Eve-Eve!