Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Recap

We had a wonderful first Christmas as a married couple! 

On Christmas Eve, my parents and siblings came over for dinner. We had delicious ham, mashed potatoes, deviled eggs, Broccoli Almondine, and candied carrots. Yum!

We made a huge batch of deviled eggs so that we could bring some to the other side of the family for Christmas dinner the next day.

Hubby also made a huge batch of his homemade egg nog for Christmas day. I wish I could share the recipe, 'cause it is to die for!

It was a great evening with family. We laughed, played a game, and then headed off to the Christmas Eve service at church. My sister stayed the night with us and we woke up very early Christmas morning! My family arrived by 7 am since we had to make an 80 mile drive at 10:30 am to go visit hubby's side of the family. 

We were very blessed this Christmas. 

My siblings and I.

Some of our favorite gifts include: these wine/mixer books (pictured above), a Columbia jacket I received, sausage stuffer hubby received, Twilight series Blurays, a salon gift card (me), t.v. trays, set of Christmas plates, and many more thoughtful gifts. 

Everyone loved the Kahlua and Frangelico that we made! It's always so fun to see loved ones light up when they open your gifts.

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Recipe: Delicious Toffee

I just got finished making this delicious toffee for all of our Christmas celebrations this weekend!  It is amazing & very simple to make. I thought I would share this great treat with you. 


  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup finely chopped almonds


In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until the butter is melted. Allow to come to a boil, and cook until the mixture becomes a dark amber color, and the temperature has reached 285 degrees F (137 degrees C). Stir occasionally.

While the toffee is cooking, cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
As soon as the toffee reaches the proper temperature, pour it out onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate over the top, and let it set for a minute or two to soften. 

Spread the chocolate into a thin even layer once it is melted. Sprinkle the nuts over the chocolate, and press in slightly. Putting a plastic bag over your hand will minimize the mess.

Place the toffee in the refrigerator to chill until set. Break into pieces, and store in an airtight container. 


Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's OK Thursday

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK....

...that my sink is piled high with dishes because I am too full & tired to clean them (my husband made an amazing birthday dinner for his momma tonight!)

...that I only sent Christmas cards to grandparents this year

...that I ran out of stamps for one of the Christmas cards and have not made it to the store to buy more. So this card is not going to make it by Christmas, and I decided that it's OK (life is busy!)

...that I was given all next week off work since my bosses are off too. Although I am nervous about not making money, I decided that break was much welcomed.

...that I am not as excited about my birthday (which is a week from today) this year because I feel old becoming 24.

...that I broke the lid to our coffee pot this morning because I was half-asleep and couldn't snap it on right. It was cheap anyway.

...that I made my husband a honey-do list today of things to complete while I was at work all day. What a good husband, he did them all and more!

...that most of my plans for next week consist of doing nothing.

...that I have been thinking I was finished with Christmas shopping but still have one more present to buy.

...that I didn't wait even five minutes after the babies woke up to give them their Christmas gifts today because I was too excited. They LOVED them! I gave all three girls a pair of these adorable Disney princess slippers:

Only 3 days 'till Christmas...!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I am Blessed

So while I've been at work this week hubby has been home relaxing. He has two weeks off of school, and until today, I was enviously jealous of him. Well, I still am. But I found out I get 10 days off myself too! So, take that hubby. You get to hang out with me on your break next week! I am giddy with excitement. 

But with his time off, my sweet husband has been very thoughtful.

He made an amazing dinner last night. It was, like, yum, so good. 

Pot roast. Yummy sauce. Carrots, potatoes, and onions that soaked with the rest in the crock pot all day. Wow, he must really love me! I ate it all before I realized I didn't take a picture. Oops.

But the cutest part was that I stopped by the house and was asking him to make dinner. He told me he "didn't feel like cooking so he would see." But, as I walk into the kitchen I smell deliciousness and see the crock pot on the counter! He tricked me. He already had dinner going. What a keeper! I am blessed.

My chef-of-a-husband has been busy today preparing to make his mom's birthday dinner tomorrow night. He is going all out. I will be sure to show you the end results. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Traditions

Some of the most special memories I have of growing up are traditions revolving around Christmastime. I loved the warm presence of my parents and siblings as we recreated things that were special to us each year. With Christmas this weekend, I thought I would share some fond memories of things that my family and I did to make Christmas special, as well as things that my husband and I have started (while dating; this is our first Christmas as a married couple!).

Family Traditions

My siblings and I. Christmas 2010.

On Christmas eve we were allowed to open one present. We got to pick the present, but usually my mom (knowing what each present was) would hint to one that was not a majorly huge Christmas present so we would still have lots to look forward to on Christmas day. Some years we opened our present before church, and some years we opened it after, but we continued this tradition the whole time I lived at home (until 2006).

We always, always, always went downstairs to see what Santa brought us together as a family. My parents liked to torture us...usually they would shower while we begged and waited for them (mind you, this was still before 7am). Then finally the time would come to head downstairs and we would all go together (while my dad video taped). This made it so exciting and created so much more anticipation for us as young kids! Plus, it was really special to open our Santa gifts together.And my mom enjoyed watching as we opened our stockings.

After stockings, we had breakfast. As long as I can remember this breakfast consisted of cinnamon rolls, eggs, bacon/sausage. Stephen and I had my parents over to my place last year for Christmas and we made this same breakfast for them (we were engaged; and yes, even divorced my parents are still celebrating Christmas as a family. It makes things so nice).

Once we eat we move on to the Christmas presents from parents and family. My mom says "slow down" or "this is going to quickly" while we take turns opening our presents. This is different from my husbands family. They will all open presents at the same time and that is what they have always done. But I'm with my mom on this one, I like to savor Christmas.

There are some other fun traditions we have done for many years like: even as kids my mom, errr Santa, would put lottery scratch-it card in our stockings, receiving and ornament each year from grandma, as well as the tradition of my siblings always trying to find where my mom had hidden the gifts before Christmas. 

Hubby and I

We are still creating traditions and I am sure we will create even more new ones once we have children, but we do already have some. With our large family and both of our parents being divorced, we celebrate Christmas just the two of us on Christmas eve. This is a special time for us to give each other the gifts we have picked out. This makes our time secluded and even more special since Christmas Day for us is quite similar to the movie Four Christmas with all of the different households we make our rounds to. We wouldn't change a thing, though.

Another Christmastime tradition for us is the Nat King Cole Christmas CD. Hubby grew up listening to this CD and introduced it to me when we had our first Christmas together. It is old and that's why it's great. So much meaning and spirit. We have it on while we decorate the tree and many other times throughout the Christmas season. 

We will be building new traditions together in this first Christmas of our marriage, and we will also continue some others like making cinnamon rolls for my family this Christmas.

Only five more days...

What are your Christmas traditions?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

8 Days!

Well, the one week countdown until Christmas is on! I am soooo excited. 

We are busy making Christmas and birthday plans with our family. We are blessed to have many birthdays around this wonderful time of the year! My MIL's birthday is the 22, SIL's birthday is the 26, and my birthday is the 29. This week my hubby will be making a birthday dinner for his mom and we will happily cram into our little apartment to share a special meal together. Then Saturday we are having my family over for Chrirstmas Eve dinner and then again Christmas morning (before we head south to see hubby's parents and fam). 

Speaking of birthdays, I got home a bit ago from a birthday party for the now-four-year-old girl that I nanny for. There were 23 kids! I am tired. It was impossible for me to just chill and hang out. I took care of the twins (they are two) the whole time. But it was fun. Unfortunately, the birthday girl has been feverish all day and she was not in the mood for the party that was being thrown for her. But, her sisters had fun anyway!

I am currently enjoying a glass of wine while hoping that my best friend (the one home from Boston for the holidays) will come over. We went to dinner last night and had a great time. We are completely different but  I love her more than words can say. I have known her for 23 years, her entire life, and we have shared many ups and downs together over the years. She was my Maid of Honor at our wedding in July, and boy were those special times. 

Happy weekend!

Friday, December 16, 2011

5 Question Friday

Here are this week's questions and my answers to them:

1. What's the best Christmas present you've ever received?
Three years ago, my mom surprised my oldest brother and I with a cruise to Mexico for Christmas. I'd have to say that was the best present yet...:) I was just about to turn 21 and my brother, Nick, was graduating from high school that year. I'll never forget that spring break trip to Mazatlan, Cabo, and Peurto Vallarta! 

2. Worst/Funniest White Elephant gift ever received?
Hmmm..I have to think about this one. It has been many years since I have received a completely awkward or odd White Elephant Gift. I participated in an exchange my freshman year of college and received a lava lamp- pretty cool gift! However, I know I received some funny gifts doing this as a kid, but I just can't remember what they were.

3. Is your Christmas tree plain and simple (white lights and matching ornaments) or is it wild and crazy (colored lights with lots of ornaments collected over the years)?

Our Christmas tree is a "memory tree". My MIL started that term years ago with my husbands Christmas trees growing up because they were full of random ornaments that brought back special memories to them each year. So, our wild and crazy tree has colored lights, random ornaments we have received throughout the years, candy canes, snowflakes that complete our "memory tree". 

4. "How" do you iron your clothes? The old fashioned iron/ironing board way, the shower, back in the dryer, etc.

We do own an ironing board and an iron, but I have to admit that I have never used either of them. If something is wrinkled I just toss it into the dryer. Although I am funny about drying my own clothes- most of them get hung up to dry. This started back when I was young and became frustrated when my mom accidentally would shrink my clothes. My solution to this problem was to hang everything up and I haven't stopped since. I do dry my socks and sweats and a few other things, but that is it. Almost all of hubby's clothes go straight into the dryer though. He doesn't care and plus it's easier that way. :)

5. How much baking do you do for Christmas and what are your "must make" items? (I'm looking for recipes here, peeps...)
I love to bake, especially at this time of the year. Some of my holiday favorites are Gingerbread cookies, toffee, cinnamon rolls, and Muddy Buddies. So far I've only made the Gingerbread Cookies this year, though. But that is about to change! 

Today has been a great day so far. I've loaded up on coffee, got my Christmas cards in the mail, and am excited for the weekend. Hubby is now off for two weeks from school. I am so jealous!! Thank you to my new followers who have left sweet, encouraging comments on here. You make me smile!

Happy Friday, everyone! Only 9 more days until Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stream of Consciousness

Today was a long day and I could hardly wait to get home to my hubby and enjoy our evening together. I only live 8 miles from work but I drive into Portland so it usually takes me 30-40 minutes to get home at night. Tonight? It took me 2 hours. I am beat and very, very frustrated. I have no idea why there were so may cars on the road. I know tomorrow is the last day of school, so why were the roads so busy tonight?

Hubby dragged me to the store to buy ingredients for his eggnog that he has started to make every year. He is now making it in the kitchen as I sit and struggle to keep my eyes open.

Christmas is only 10 days away...let the countdown begin! 

I opened the mailbox today to find that I received my annual angel ornament from my grandma. Meet Viola:

I am so glad it is almost the weekend! And, my best friend is home for the Holidays from Boston!

Time for bed, Night!

It's OK Thursday

Its Ok Thursdays

It's OK... wake up (extra) tired Thursday morning because of a fun date night to Zoolights the night before. watch and wait for the mail man to arrive so I can explain that they stuffed my box and it wouldn't open. wish today was Friday. still have not sent out Christmas cards. Or purchased them yet. Oops! Better get on that... have mixed feelings about my little (21 year old) brother getting accepted into the business school at my rival college. I'm proud. But, really?! wake up ten minutes early for work and end up leaving five minutes late. Rare for me. I'm always early.

Head over here to learn more and linkup your own It's OK Thursday post.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Merry us!

Hubby and I decided to get ourselves a flat screen t.v. this year for Christmas. You can read the story here.

We also did a makeover on an awesome desk that we turned into a t.v. stand. It works perfectly!

Our t.v. arrived yesterday while I was at work, and I arrived home to it all set up! We watched a couple of shows last night to enjoy the beautiful picture and sound. We love it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Not Me! Monday

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by Mckmama.You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

It definitely was not me who got in a fight with my husband over a meal he made me Friday night. I had a bad headache all day long and did not whine and complain about the dish since (it was something I previously had not cared much for). I would never be so ungrateful and rude. It most definitely was me who asked for forgiveness later. I felt horrible since he had spent days preparing the meal and was so excited about it.

It was not  me who photographed my cute husband reading last night. I would never take such a random picture.

To read previous Not Me! Monday posts click here.

Happy Monday! ~Christina

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Little Weekend Project

This weekend we headed 80 miles south to visit my in-laws and catch up with everyone. We stayed Saturday night at Stephen's grandparents house, but we also visited with his dad and step-mom and his mom and step-dad while in town. His grandpa's birthday is on Wednesday this week so we went out for lunch on Saturday to celebrate. I should have taken some pictures..silly me.

This morning (Sunday) we woke up to homemade biscuits and gravy (I won't eat it anywhere else..his grandparents make the best!) before the Stephen and his dad set up the Christmas lights on his grandparent's house. His grandma and I were keeping warm inside and drinking our coffee.I mentioned that our new tv was arriving tomorrow and that we still didn't have a stand for it. Hubby's grandma is the queen of good deals and fixing up furniture. She has a space in a local antique shop and purchases many items, fixes them up, and resells them. So when I mention that we need a stand she instantly replies "well, let's go look at Goodwill" and before I know it we are in the car headed there. 

At first I did not see anything that I liked or that I thought would be sufficient. But right before we were about to leave we spotted a few more pieces of furniture. We found a desk and discussed the potential it had with a little spray paint and the addition of a shelf (for the cable box and such). Plus, it was only $9.99!  I was still slightly skeptical as we headed back to her place to show hubby. I wasn't sure if he was going to like it. But surprisingly, he knew that with a little work it would be perfect. 

This is what we started with:

Just a plain old brown desk without drawers or shelving. We decided to paint it black and also add a shelf and a hole for cords to go through the back. Oh the transformation that occurred!

Stephen, his dad, and his grandpa made a shelf and created this beautiful t.v. stand for us.

I am SO excited about it! I just love it. I can't wait for our t.v. to arrive tomorrow!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Randomness & 5 Question Friday

Happy Friday Everyone! It has been a L O N G week for me and I couldn't be happier about the weekend being so close.

It's a chilly but sunny beautiful day and as I write this I am drinking a much-needed cup of coffee. 

This weekend we will be visiting my in-laws and staying Saturday night with Stephen's grandparents. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, catching up, and having a chance to just relax.

I mentioned previously that my grandma was sick and in the hospital. She has been home for about a week now and is slowly regaining her strength. After being in the hospital for 10 days, her body became very weak. Somehow, she picked up E.coli which got into her bloodstream and messed with her organs. I am thankful she is recovering. 

I am jealous of my husband who has practically had today and yesterday off. From noon until 9pm he was home without me yesterday and he only had school until 9:30 am today. I want to be home too!

Today I am participating in Five Question Friday today and you should too! Just hop on over to Mama M's blog to find out more and link up. 

1. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
My favorite Christmas cookie has to be gingersnaps! This is a recent trend since I found this recipe.. Hubby has been requesting them often. He loves to put ice cream in the middle and make ice cream sandwiches out of them.

2. What's your favorite holiday movie & why?
Four Christmases! It is absolutely hilarious and reminds my husband and I of our crazy families (both of our parents are divorced so we have many different stops on Christmas day). In fact, we have watched The Holiday and The Santa Claus already this year but we know that we love Four Christmases so we are waiting to watch it until closer to Christmas.

3. Is there a gift that you bought for your kids that you wish you hadn't after they opened it?
Well, I don't have kids yet, so nope :)

4. What is the messiest room in your house right at this moment?
Easily our second bedroom which is our office/guest room. Man. It looks like a tornado went off in there. There are books, left over wedding decorations, my wedding dress in a huge box, Christmas presents and wrapping paper, and who knows what else. Basically, it needs some attention stat!

5. What is the furthest you have driven for the holidays?
When I was a kid, my grandparents on my dad's side lived in southern California. I remember many Christmases where we all loaded into our minivan (four kids and our!) and made the ~20 hour drive to Cali. This was obviously before portable dvd players and such, but my dad was creative. We had a very small t.v. which he would place on a wooden stand (that he made) in between the driver and passenger seats upfront. This made our drive bearable. My mom was in charge of putting in the vhs tapes and was thankful for the silence they provided.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's OK Thursday

Its Ok Thursdays

I recently stumbled across an adorable blog called Brunch with Amber.

She holds a linkup on Thursdays called "It's Okay Thursday" which seemed fun, so I thought I'd join in!

It's OK... be completely finished with your Christmas shopping when December rolls around. "track" your new t.v. that is being shipped to you multiple times a day to figure out when it will arrive. be a couple minutes late to work after turning around, driving back home, and running inside to make sure I turned the stove off. become annoyed when your husband can't seem to keep track of his travel mugs and you just bought him a new one (which he already lost...). feel guilty that I don't have to dress up for work and to realize that it is a big deal when I wear jeans to work. Perks of nannying, I guess.

...that I planned to start working out with the husband last week and still haven't yet.

...that my home was sparkling clean on Monday and now it is quite opposite of clean.

What's OK with you today?

This Week

  • We had some of our wonderful friends, Kevin and Carly, over for dinner on Monday. We have so much fun with them. We laugh, tell stories, drink wine, watch How I Met Your Mother and have the men prepare our meals. We switch off between our places each time which is just perfect. It was our turn to have them over and Stephen made Risotto. It was to-die-for. Creamy, delicious, filling, amazing. I just love being married to a chef!

  • I am consuming lots of Airborne and vitamins. One of the girls I watch has been sick with the stomach flu and a high fever. I can't afford to get sick.
  • The hubby received his number one choice for his culinary school externship! He interviewed on Monday and they loved him. He will be doing butchery and charcuterie- two things he is very interested in. I am so proud of him.
  • We are soaking in everything about the holiday season that is upon us. Our home is decked with lights, are beautiful tree, stockings, and cute decorations I have started to collect. One thing I love the most though is having the ornaments I have collected throughout my life on our tree. My grandma has given me a Hallmark angel ornament each year of my life.  I didn't grow to appreciate these until a few years ago when I realized I would have a these special ornaments at my own home when I got married. Last weekend, I picked them up from my mom and had so much fun going through them and hanging them on our tree. There are still a few that I am missing which are somewhere in our storage unit. But they are so special to me. What is neat is that Stephen's grandparents also gave him an ornament each year- his are not all one type of ornament though. We will be picking his up from his mama this weekend and adding them to our tree and collection, too! 
These are just three angels out of my entire collection. Someday I will probably have to have my own, smaller tree just to hold all my angels so we have room for our future children's ornaments...

  • I am constantly reminding myself to be grateful for the job I have. Some days I get sad that I am not in the classroom teaching like I would love to be, but I know that I should be happy just to have a job right now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Decorating Christmas Trees

I am a nanny for three beautiful little girls.  They are just getting old enough to be interested in crafts and coloring, and I am loving it! Yesterday, one of the two year old twins asked me if we could color.So instantly, I got an idea. I went into the office where they keep their craft supplies and found construction paper, scissors, and glue. I cut out a tree and a star for each of them and had them help me glue their pieces onto a white paper for the background. Voila! Now they had a Christmas picture to color. They loved this project. It held their attention longer then I expected and they even colored the back, too! 

My plan is to hang them in one of their large windows overlooking the street. Very cute!

The success of this project has made me eager to find some other cute inspiration for Christmas crafts. So, naturally, I turned to Pinterest. Here are some things I am planning to make with the kiddos:

I cannot wait to get some supplies and make these adorable Christmas crafts! Happy crafting.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Not Me! Monday

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

It certainly was not me who hid behind the bathroom door in the hall bathroom in hopes to scare my husband. And it was not my husband who squealed and laughed because he knew I was going to jump out and scare him. We are grown up and mature and never play such childish games.

I made these yummy Gingerbread Cookies on Sunday. However, it was not me who became so consumed in writing my blog post about our crazy Christmas Tree Adventure that I burned one pan of them. Nope! Not me! My husband did not look over at me and say "You took the cookies out of the oven, right? Because, if not, they are definitely burned by now." It was not me who opened the oven door to see smoking, black, crispy cookies. 

What about you? What have you not been doing? I'd love to read your posts if you would be so kind to leave your link for me. Happy Monday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

An Adventure: Christmas Tree Style

My husband, Stephen, was a boy scout growing up. So, when discussing where we should go to get our tree this year, it didn't surprise me that he suggested going to a local boy scout stand (like where we got the tree we put it my apartment last year) and supporting a group like that. We ended up going a little out of the way to a 4-H group that was selling trees for a very great price. All in all, we didn't end up cutting down our own three this year (that's okay with me) but it was freshly cut. 

This is the cute little place we picked out are tree at. The one we picked was huge, but more on that later. They also had a huge truck filled with more trees. But out of the ones leaning up here we picked the tallest, greenest, and prettiest one. Stephen has a small pick up truck, however, his tags are expired and we are in the process of getting new ones. So we ended up having to take my small car to get our tree. We though we would put it in my trunk and have it stick out a bit (my trunk is huge) but with the large tree we picked it was not going to go inside the car no matter how we tried to put it in there. 

So we moved to plan b. I was a little nervous about putting the tree on my car (my baby) but it worked out fine. Stephen tied it down and it didn't move an inch. We had a 20 mile drive home and we were totally fine. 

Once home, hubby untied the tree and carried it inside. Then the problems occurred. What a story we have about our first tree. First of all, we didn't realize how tall it was and this because more of a problem because we couldn't get it all the way inside our (cheap) stand because of the many knots down on the bottom of the tree. Also, hubby doesn't have all the right tools yet. We really could have used a hand saw (note to self: that would be a good birthday present next year). He thought he managed to work the knots off but the first time we got the tree up, and walked away, we heard it fall over. Ugh, really! Then I realized that Stephen had already put water in the stand so this was going to be a real mess. We laid it down, stood it up, turned it this way, that way, spilled water everywhere, said a few not-so-nice words, and used many towels to mop up the mess. But finally, we got it. 

Now, remind me to buy a better stand during the after Christmas sales this year. Thanks!