Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Very Teddy Christmas

Teddy here...

I had a great time this year and just wanted to share my favorite things about Christmas.

Teddy's Favorite Things are...

1. This T-shirt that my Grandma got me.I know, I know. I'm completely adorable.

2. Hanging with my cousins who all love me and dote on me. Here is a picture of me with Christina. She put a bow around my neck. I am so manly that I totally rock it.3. Turkey giblets and heart. It's tradition - every year Grandma cooks up the giblets and heart and shares them with me. Mom thinks it's gross, but she obviously doesn't have the advanced taste buds that we do.
4. Presents under the tree for me! This year I got homemade peanut butter doggie cookies from a special family friend. Yum. She knows what dogs like!5. Being spoiled. I usually don't get too much table food, but around the holidays everyone seems to enjoy sneaking me little bits of turkey, ham, pumpkin pie or whatever under the table as a little treat.

Hope you all had a good Christmas and got lots of treats!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Very Merry Christmas

We had a beautiful, wonderful, fun-filled Christmas!

This year we got not only one, but two Christmas dinners.

Feast #1:
Feast #2:You know, when I took these pictures, I thought it would be fun to document all the great food we had...but now looking at them I just feel like a little piggy to see how much I ate. Ah well, it was delicious.

On the 23rd, we ate at my mom and dad's house with the Sister Missionaries. Mom wanted to make an early traditional Christmas Eve dinner so that we would have leftovers for the holiday.
And on Christmas Eve, we all migrated to Stephanie's house for a wonderful and bounteous buffet...

After eating tons of delicious food, we played a fun game in which we all got tags hung around our necks with the name of a character from a Christmas movie. After we figured out who we were by asking each other questions, we split into teams and played movie quote trivia.
Then we had the traditional grab bag gift exchange. And I got.....SOCKS!!!!
The kids all got lots of fun things...But Brianna got the best prize - a delicious-looking box of candy.
Here's Aunt Jennifer with 3 of the coolest nieces ever.And Uncle Scott with 5 cool nephews.
Christmas morning dawned with plenty of gifts under the tree.Despite planning on having a simpler Christmas and less gifts this year, we were very blessed with lots of wonderful new things. (If you look closely, you can see that I got LOTS of new socks - yay!)
I have SO many Favorite Things about Christmas, but here are just a few...

1. The fact that our families love food. It's an important part of our traditions, and one of the ways we show love.

2. My husband's thoughtfulness. As one of my gifts, Scott took me on a little date to the quaint downtown where my parents live. We went to a local bead store and he patiently shopped and looked with me and waited while I selected some awesome beads to make myself some jewelry with. It was a perfect gift because not only did I get the beading supplies, but I got to spend time with him, too.

3. Traditions. I love all those little things that we do every year that make the season special.

4. Pie crust cookies. A bonus of making your own pie crust.5. Watching cheesy Christmas movies on TV.

6. Being in Maryland. Really, it is THE most beautiful place. I love the rolling hills, the rocky outcroppings, the green (even in winter), the trees, the purple mountains...it's gorgeous and it's home and I miss it.

7. Becoming part of history. One day we got to hang out with Michael and Stephanie and their family in their basement they're finishing and watch them put up drywall. Michael is putting a time caspule in the wall and we get to have our picture put in there. We even got to write out initals on the wall - SK+JK!

8. Watching my mom and my husband cook together.

9. Talking about the gospel with my Dad while we did the dishes together.
10. Spending time with family. My most favorite part of Christmas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We're just having such fun with our families right now that I have left off my daily blogging for December. I'll update soon with lots of Favorite Things to share, but for now, I am just enjoying the experiences!

We watched this wonderful video last night as part of our Christmas Eve. It's a beautiful depiction that celebrates not only the Savior's birth, but His life and teachings, His great sacrifice for us, and His resurrection. He lives! I am so thankful for His love for me and for this time of year to pause and reflect on the wonder of His birth.

I hope your Christmas was full of wonder, excitement, joy, warmth , love of family and friends, and the peace that comes from feeling the love of our Savior. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Having Too Much Fun To Blog...

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Home For The Holidays

Well, after a quick 7 hour drive, we are Home For The Holidays! (It was quick to me - I slept some...poor Scott, it's really not fair.)

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Pulling up to Mom and Dad's house. Even Teddy was excited - he popped his little head up to watch out the window as we came down the street. And when we let him out of the car he ran straight to the front door and started pawing to get in! He loves his Grandma and Grandpa.

2. It feels like Christmas! The Christmas tree, the nativity set, the greeting cards displayed from friends and family, special holiday decorations I've seen my whole life, being with family... I got a rush of Christmas cheer as soon as we arrived and have been buzzing with it all day.

3. Yummy treats. Remember the other day I said I was trying to "be good?" Yeah, that's so out the window.

4. Laughing. We always laugh a lot when we get together. Both of my parents have very fun senses of humor, and combined with Scott and his hilarity, it makes for lots of giggling. I love it.

5. The guest room. We call this room "the cave." It is in the middle of the house and has no windows. You can go into this room at any time of the day and fall dead asleep. We always leave here well rested!

And I'm headed to the cave right now... good night!


Today was spent in preparations. Preparing others for their holiday by making them gorgeous, and preparing myself for our trip! I had hair appointments all day and then spent the evening packing.

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. My awesome friends who come and let me do their hair. I have the best "clients." They're all my girlfriends, and we always have a great time chatting while we beautify!

2. How sweet my little fur-ball smells after being groomed. Teddy got gorgeous today, too. I gave him a little makeover - we clipped his nails, brushed his fur and trimmed up some of his stray ends. He looks fabulous! And he smells so good. He really never gets stinky (thank goodness) and I always think he smells sweet, but his mango-scented grooming spray smells especially yummy!

3. My packing checklist. Last year we went home in November for Thanksgiving, in December for Christmas, and in January, unfortunately, for a funeral. Each time I forgot something. Grrrr. So I sat down and wrote out a packing checklist of everything that I need. I keep a copy of it in my suitcase and it makes getting ready so much easier. Now the hardest part of packing is trying to figure out which clothes to take. Or maybe just which clothes to leave home, since I always take entirely too much. One of the benefits of driving - I fill that car right up!

4. Self-Rising Crust Pizza. Cheaper than delivery and faster too, since it only takes about 20 minutes to bake. Doesn't taste quite as good, but it'll do when you've had a busy day and you need pizza for dinner.

5. We're going home for Christmas tomorrow! Yay!!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Simple Christmas

We did all our Christmas shopping today. Yes, I said all. In one day. And it was fun, relaxed and successful!

We decided to have a very simple Christmas this year. I didn't decorate the house. I didn't bake. Our families decided to skip the sibling gifts this year, so our shopping list was a lot shorter. We aren't getting a ton for each other.

Before you start to feel sorry for us, let me explain...

We are going home to Maryland this year (yay!!!), so we didn't feel the need to decorate. We figured we'd just go enjoy my mom's tree and everything, since: 1. All our decorations are in a storage unit on the other end of town and 2. this isn't our house and I just wasn't feeling the same motivation to deck the halls as I normally do.

I didn't bake because: 1. I am trying to be good. 2. Scott is trying to be good. 3. we'll have plenty of yummy treats in Maryland to ruin all our plans of trying to be good!

We're keeping the gifts smaller this year because: 1. I didn't want anything. (Remember, that's why I'm blogging about all my favorite things this month) 2. Scott never wants anything. Seriously. This man could live in a cabin in Alaska with nothing more than the shirt on his back and a pocketknife and be happy. (In fact, he has informed me more than once that were we not married, that is what he would be doing.)

I know every year won't be this simple. I don't want every year to be this simple. Especially when we have children, I want to do all the decorations, baking, trimmings, traditions and stuff.

But for this year, a simple Christmas just felt right to us.

It has been so blessedly peaceful.

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Chivalry. I'm lucky to have husband who drops me off at the door before parking the car so that I don't get my hair wet in the drizzling rain. Because, you know, I might melt! He also always gets the door for me and is just generally a gentleman.

2. The mall at Christmastime. I just love the hustle and bustle. It reminds me of the song, "Silver Bells."

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing

Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you'll hear

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

Strings of streetlights, even stoplights
Blink a bright red and green

As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch
This is Santa's big scene
And above all this bustle you'll hear

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling, hear them ring
Soon it will be Christmas day

I could appreciate it even more this year because we were not hustling and bustling. We walked around leisurely, listening to the Christmas music, admiring the decorations and watching all the families and people buying gifts for their loved ones.

3. When things ring up at the register even cheaper than you thought they would be. Today our purchases rang up $7 less than what the tags said. When Scott asked the cashier about it she said that everything was an extra 20% off or something. Score!

4. "Merry Christmas!" I love to hear people wish each other a Merry Christmas. I'm not offended if someone says "Happy Holidays", but it warms my heart to hear people acknowledge the true meaning of the season, even if they're doing so subconsciously, and even if it's while we're all out participating in the commercial aspect of it all.

5. A simple Christmas. Not only are we not stressed out and rushed this year, but I feel like we have been able to spend more time thinking of our Savior and the wonderful gift of His birth... which is why we give gifts at this time of year in the first place- to remember His gifts to us.

Here's hoping that your Christmas - whether lavish or simple - is just what you need this year, and that you are able to feel our Savior's love during this season.

Merry Christmas!

The Comforts of Home

As much as I love traveling, especially to visit family, nothing beats the comforts of home. Being gone for several days helps me appreciate even more those little everyday things that I normally sometimes take for granted.

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Our memory foam mattress topper. If you don't have one of these, and you're not one of those lucky people who have a memory foam mattress, go get one. It makes your bed ten million times more comfortable. They're inexpensive (we got ours at Walmart) and really improve your sleep. We LOVE ours. So does Teddy. He literally cannot wait for bed every night. When he's ready, he will catch our eye, trot toward the bedroom and then look back to make sure we are following so we can lift him up onto the bed. Then he'll bark if we don't join him. He likes the pack to stay together. Comfortably.

2. Crushed ice. Trivial, I know. I just really like my ice in tiny little crunchy slivers. I'm so glad the ice-maker here pulverizes it for me!

3. Pomegranate & Mango Body Wash. This comes in a big bottle, so I never take it with me when I travel. But it smells soooo yummy. And a lot of times I can pick it up for $1 or even free with a coupon when it's on sale. That makes it even more comforting!

4. Our ottoman. I'm a sloucher. I have to put my feet up and just burrow in when I'm watching TV or on my laptop. We have an ottoman that goes with our couches and so I'm used to being halfway horizontal whenever I'm "sitting". It always surprises me how many people don't have ottomans. They most likely all have better posture than me, but I'm more comfortable!

5. The sound of the rain on the roof. What's more comforting that being all warm and dry and cozy inside with a cute man and a sweet dog while listening to the rain fall on the roof? Safety. Comfort. Peace. Ahhhhh.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Scott. I missed him.

2. Teddy. I missed him.

3. Scott. I really, really missed him!!!!

4. Teddy. I really, really missed him!!!!

5. Sleeping in my own bed.

It's SO good to be home...


Tonight I illustrated the fact that I know very little about children. I decided I wanted to dip pretzels with Tyler and Ashley, so I melted the chocolate and peanut butter chips, and propped them up on some kitchen chairs to help me at the counter.
I showed them how and fully expected that they would do it just like I showed them - dip your pretzel, swirl it around and put it on the plate.Then I quickly realized that this was going to be nothing more than a fondue dipping party......that got messier......and messier.But the kids had fun......and definitely needed a bath by the time we were done!The results are delicious!Poor baby Claire didn't get to have any fun...Give her a couple of years, though. I'll get her into all sorts of trouble!

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Adventures in Pretzel Dipping!

2. Good Customer Service. Josephine and I went furniture shopping today. The man at the outlet we went to was warm, pleasant, helpful, not pushy and gave her a great deal on her new bedroom furniture. Love it!

3. A new TV show. Ben and Josephine have been watching Leverage and introduced me to it tonight. I am a sucker for a good TV show, and this one just might make it onto my favorites list on my sidebar.

4. Chocolate Overload. As if gorging ourselves on chocolate-peanut butter pretzels wasn't enough, Ben made brownies tonight, too. We ate them warm with a big glass of milk. Heaven.

5. Missing Scott. I have to say, as much fun as I am having, I'm ready to go home tomorrow. I miss my cute husband. We have been talking on the phone several times a day though, and it reminds me of before we were married and I was in OH and he was in MD and we talked for hours and hours. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and I am FOND of that man!!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Designing Vicariously

I love anything to do with design. In college, I took courses in both Fashion and Interior Design and loved them. I considered both both as potential careers but settled on Hair Design because I felt it would give me more flexibility. And because I'd already been doing all my friends and family's hair since high school. And because I absolutely love it. But I've continued to play with other kinds of design on my own.

Living in a borrowed house right now that is 100% furnished doesn't give me a lot of opportunities to decorate. And I miss that. So I am totally enjoying living vicariously right now since Ben and Josephine are letting me help them come up with a design plan for their new house.

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. White walls. Let me clarify - white walls in a brand new house. There's something so refreshing and optimistic about the possibilities of clean, white walls. It opens up the imagination to what could be.

2. Paint. Yep, once you appreciate those pristine white walls, it's time to paint! I love color and am not afraid of it. Deciding on the color scheme for anything - a room, a piece of jewelry or someone's hair - is very exciting. We picked out the paint colors for the whole house today and it's going to be gorgeous.

3. Shopping. Oh, I do love to shop. (I AM a complete bargain shopper, so that helps, right?) Josephine and I had a fun trip and got bedding, towels, decorations, all kinds of fun stuff! I really enjoy helping someone else shop as much as shopping for myself. (It's a cheap thrill!)

4. Accessorizing. This is the most fun part for me - of a room, an outfit, whatever. My mom still teases me that when I was younger and lived at home, when she sent me to clean my room I didn't clean it - I decorated it.

5. Dreaming of the future. I'm always collecting ideas for future rooms in future houses we may have. Right now it mostly consists of pages ripped out of magazines and stuffed into a green hanging file. But I just read this post by Liz at Mabel's House and am inspired. A design binder like hers is so my next project for January. By the time I have my own house again in 20 months, I'll be ready to decorate my space again to my heart's content!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Aunt Jennifer

So, I'm in Omaha Nebraska, helping Ben and Josephine get moved and settled into their new house. It's a beautiful home and we're having a great time unpacking, arranging furniture, picking out paint colors and planning all the interior decorating. But you might be able to tell from my list of favorites today what the best part about being here is!

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Waking up to the sound of the laughter of the cutest 2 year old and 4 year old known to man. Really, that was the first thing I heard as I began to regain consciousness this morning, and it just filled my heart with happiness!

2. Feeding the most precious 6 week old ever her bottle. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing when it comes to babies. I'm a bit intimidated by them if truth be told. But little Claire gobbled all her milk up and then burped nice and loud, so I must have done something right.

3. Kissing baby Claire's head and getting hugs and snuggles from Tyler and Ashley (when they slow down enough to give them.) Cute. Just cute.

4. Helping the kids unpack their boxes of toys. Each newly rediscovered toy was just so exciting! As every toy emerged, they would exclaim "WOW!!!!" (We should all be so delighted about all the stuff we already own!)

5. Finding toys in my bed when I climbed in to get settled and write this post. I think they left them here as a little gift to remind me that they love me. I'm sure I'll need to give them back tomorrow.

I love being an Aunt!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

13 Hours

I rode from Ohio to Nebraska today in a 22-foot U-haul. My brother and sister-in-law bought their first house after moving to NE and Ben came back to OH to pick up their stuff and drive it out and I came with to help keep him awake. I hope this makes any sense at all because I am really tired now.

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Peanut M & M's and Dr. Pepper. Essential road trip snacks.

2. Clean rest areas.

3. Radio stations that play Christmas music and houses along the highway that are decked out with Christmas lights.

4. 13 hours of stimulating conversation with my awesome brother.

5. The fact that we made it all in one piece!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Git 'R Done

After a lazyish day yesterday, today I got busy. Cleaning house, doing laundry, paying bills, filing paperwork and generally being the household Office Manager, Accountant and Housekeeper.

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Making lists. I started the day with a list of things to get done and crossed them off as I went along. I am a list-maker. I always have lists going...things to do, things to buy, people to call, ideas, errands to run... I feel so gratified when I cross things off that if I do something that wasn't on the list to start with, I'll write it down and cross it right off just for the satisfaction!

2. Cleaning house. I actually enjoy tidying my house. It's fulfilling. Yes, I know I'm strange.

3. All my laundry done at the same time. I realize all the moms out there are snorting at me, and I know that my day will come (hopefully)...but for right now I am taking pleasure in the fact that I can do all my laundry in one day!

4. Having my ducks in a row. I can't abide clutter or papers piling up. My dear husband calls it OCD, I call it being organized. Either way, at least I know where everything is!

5. Jammin' to some tunes while I work. Oh, dear, I just totally dated myself by using the phrase "jammin' to some tunes", didn't I. Oh well, I AM a child of the 80's and just to prove it, I cranked up the 80's music while I buzzed around today. It was, like, totally rad!

***I can't take credit for how pretty the house is, because it's not mine. The green couches and our photos are basically the only things I brought with us. I will, however, take credit for the sparkling windows and mirrors, lack of dust, clean counters, made beds and fluffed pillows. Scott will take credit for the clean toilets. He always does those! :) ***

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pajama Day

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Having a "pajama day." Once in a while, I just need to stay in my jammies all day and not worry about putting on makeup or doing my hair. It's a nice break.

2. When my husband tells me he thinks I'm cute at the most random times. Like when I'm in my flannels with a naked face and crazy hair. I don't get it, but I appreciate it!

3. Eating ice cream for breakfast.

4. Painting my nails a funky color.
5. Having a date night at home on a weeknight. Scott made delicious gourmet hamburgers and we opened a bottle of sparkling grape juice and turned off all the lights and watched a movie together.

Today was a good day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Visions of Sugarplums

We worked a looooong day today, and I'm dead tired but I had to get my post in before I nestle all snug in my bed...

At work today, the conversation turned to food (as it always does - it's sort of the running joke that we ALWAYS talk about food!) and we started discussing some of our favorite holiday treats. Food is a BIG part of any celebration for both of our families, and the Christmas season brings with it some favorite delights that I look forward to every year.

Today's Favorite Things are...

1. Egg Nog. Mixed half and half with ginger ale. Oh yeah.

2. Peppermint ice cream. With hot fudge, of course.

3. Fudge. A few weeks after we got married, Scott was bragging to me that he had "the BEST fudge recipe." He went and pulled it out of his recipe box, looked, and my mom's name was written on the top. (He had gotten the recipe from her years ago!)

4. Christmas Quiche. Our traditional Christmas morning breakfast.

5. Buckeyes. I started making these a few years ago when I became an Ohioan. Even though in my heart I am and always will be a Marylander, this chocolate and peanut butter confection has won over a corner of my heart for Ohio.

Now I'm off to bed, with visions of buckeyes dancing in my head...

What dances in your head this time of year?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Road Trip

Because of our job, Scott and I spend a lot of time in the car together, driving all over the state and beyond for work assignments. I've learned to love and look forward to this part of my days...

Today's Favorite Things are:

1. Seeing the sun rise. Most days, we have to be Somewhere Far, Far Away by Very, Very Early. And, I am NOT a morning person. That said, when necessity hauls my groggy butt out of bed at the crack of dawn, I do always manage to appreciate seeing the beauty of the sunrise.
2. Rush, Sean and Neal. I am a conservative girl living in a liberal world. Gotta stay in touch with the voices of reason!

3. Nap time. My wonderful and self-sacrificing husband always drives, so sometimes I get to sleep on the way to or from work...or both. I keep one of these in the car for such purposes: (Wait...is he always driving because he is so gallant or because he doesn't like MY driving? Oh well, either way I get extra sleep!)

4. Chatting.
Sometimes when we're home, we're so busy going different directions (or watching too much TV, I'll admit it...) that we don't talk enough. Being trapped in the car together for hours kinda remedies that! Today we spend the trip talking about our favorite things about Christmas, childhood memories and plans for our future holidays together. It was my very favorite part of the day.

5. Coming home. There's nothing better than walking in the door and having the cutest little dog in the world leap into your arms and give you kisses!