Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family Traditions

Now tell me Hank, why do you drink? Why do you blow smoke? Why must you live out the song that you wrote? Sorry.  The title of this post reminds me of Hank Williams Jr.  My sincerest apologies, really.

Justin and I completed our Christmas Tour 2011 on the weekend before Christmas.  We drove 546 miles, saw 3 families, some friends, and then wrapped the 5 day weekend with an awesome concert.  It was a long, tiring, really great weekend.  I don’t think that we have ever seen all three families consecutively for Christmas before, so this was a first.  Each family does Christmas a little different, and each family has their own traditions.
This is the second Christmas that Justin and I have spent all by our lonesome.  People asked me all the time, but what do you do all day, all alone.  Well, I will tell you. Our Christmas celebration starts on Christmas Eve.  Usually there are last minute errands that need ran, and the house always needs straightening up. (I swear little gremlins come and destroy the house when I am not looking.)   I think that Christmas Eve is synonymous with baking, so I made Cookie Dough Bites this year.  Very tasty even though there is technically, no baking
For the second year, we have attended a Christmas Eve service.  We attend the one that Megan sings in, it is a beautiful service.  At the end of a busy, hectic, holiday season, it centers me and gets me focused on the real reason for the season.  
Christmas morning, we sleep in and lay around until we decide to get out of bed.  We go open presents and our stockings. After we open presents and ooh and ahh over them, I will cook breakfast.  During the time between breakfast and lunch, we talk to each our families.  Then we take the morning to play with our new stuff.  Then I cook dinner.  This year I cooked a Creamy Italian Chicken Pasta.  I got the idea from Pinterest.  I know it’s not your traditional Christmas dinner, but I will discuss that in a few.
It was a very enjoyable laid back day.  I didn’t get out of my pajamas.  I love our family very much, and I miss them terribly on Christmas.  (It helps since we get to have our own private Christmas with them, the weekend before, but still...)  But it is great to spend Christmas not rushing, not stressing, just enjoying the day.
With all the thought of our Christmas and Christmas with our family, it has gotten me thinking about traditions.  Which traditions that I will take from our families, and which ones I will replace with new ones.  Now I haven’t gotten it all figured out, but here are some things that I definitely want to incorporate into my family’s traditions. Now keep in mind, some of them are for the future.
  1. Italian dinner for Christmas Dinner – This is a BB original.  We always attend several Christmas dinners before the big day.  So I get a little tired of ham, not to mention all the effort that goes into cooking a big Christmas meal.  I want to cook a good, filling meal for my family, but I also don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen.  That’s why Italian is the perfect choice.  You can easily make a Lasagna the day before, and just throw it in the oven.  Serve with some garlic bread and big salad. Bingo!  This year, the chicken and sauce was cooked in the crock pot, and all I had to do was boil some noodles.  Christmas dinner is 30 minutes.  I think this plan will free me up to have more time on Christmas morning with my family,
  2. Reading the Christmas story BEFORE opening presents – This one is stolen from my parents.  Every Christmas, we would read the Christmas story before we were allowed to open presents.  Now when I was little, I would shake all my presents, arrange them in the order that I would open them, and then wait for the Christmas story to be read.  Yes, I was still very focused on the presents under the tree, but it made me very anxious for my dad to get to reading that Bible!
  3. I want to continue to think quality or quantity when it comes to presents.  I always want to take the time to think about the recipient, and choose something that is specially meant for them.  They say, “it is the thought that counts”, well I think that is totally true.
  4. I like to leave my Christmas tree up until after New Years.  I don’t know where this came from.  I like the idea of Christmas lasting and bringing in the New Year.
  5. This is a future one.  Once Justin and I have children.  I want to set up the manger a little differently.  I want to set up the manger that is empty, except for the animals and the shepherds.  I want to put Mary and Joseph (no baby Jesus) in a separate room and the kings in a room even farther away.  Before Christmas, I want to make a point of moving Mary and Joseph closer to the manger every day.  And finally on Christmas Eve, they arrive at the manger.  And the Christmas morning, Baby Jesus is “born”.  The wise men then began making their journey to the manger to arrive on New Years.  I read this in a book, and I thought it was a brilliant idea.
  6. I want to continue to have stress-free relaxing Christmas Days!
I think that is all for now.  Expect a post this week, showcasing some of my Christmas presents and new projects!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Most Wonderful Ornament that I Never Made

I have been making ornaments for about 3 years now.  I try to make a different kind every year.  One year is was paint that was swirled inside a glass ornament.  I actually loved those so much, that  I did them two years in a row.  They looked something like this.  The designs that emerge from the swirled paint are pretty awesome.  My tip here would be to allow plenty of drying time between colors.
Last year, I made some quilted ones.  Like this.   Here is a picture of one of them I made last year.
These are really cute.  You can use all types of fabric combinations and really personalize it for the recipient.  These take some time, so be prepared.  My tip here would be to buy an astronomical amount of straight pins.  It is amazing how many pins are used to make each one.
Now I bet you are on the edge of your seats wondering what this year’s ornament will be.  This was the plan.  I was going to monogrammed them and tie ribbons on the top of them.  And there were going to be wonderful.  I bought all the materials in advanced.  I was ready to go.  I sat down to work on these last Saturday night.  It was not the best time for crafting, I had come off an emotional roller coaster of a week, and had already had a couple glasses of wine at a girls luncheon.  Anyways, I couldn’t the etching to show up like I wanted it too.  Now, I have done some research and learned of my mistake(s). 1.) I didn’t leave the etching cream on long enough.  The kit instructions say only one minute, but everywhere else clearly states 5 minutes.  2.)  I may not have waited long enough to see if the etching would become more prominent.   I quickly gave up, cried a little, and moved on.
This has left me with two thoughts regarding the Holiday season.  Although I do not have cute little ornaments to hand out this year.  Christmas will go on as it always does.  What matters most is that I am going to get to spend time with my family and friends this holiday season.  Yes, I am sure they will be a little sad, that they aren’t going to get the awesome ornament describe above, but they will get over it and still love me.  And that is what matters, that I will be around people that love me this Christmas.
I have also learned to slow it down.  If I had waited a little longer before I gave up, I may not have had to give up.  Who knows?  There could be a beautifully etched ornament in the box that I hastily put away while I was discouraged.  So my advice this holiday season is to slow down and enjoy all of the work and effort that goes into the holidays.  All the shopping, baking, and crafting, slow it down and think about the person/people that you are going through all this effort for.  Remember how much you care for them, and how appreciative they will be once they receive the fruits of your labor.   That is what will make the holiday more enjoyable and meaningful.  And if your family doesn’t get that ornament, well there, is always next year. 
Slow Down, Enjoy The Season.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yarn Fairies's Debut

Exciting things are happening.  I know that I already work full time doing my “real adult” job as an underwriter.  I know that I am already behind enough on my housework, that I don’t necessarily need a new venture in my life.  But I am ignoring all of that, and I have started to brainstorm about the future of Yarn Fairies.
Megan and I love to knit and crochet.  Megan first learned to crochet from her grandmother.  I first learned to knit from Jill.  Then I taught Megan to knit, and she taught me to crochet.  I think we both do them interchangeably now.  The funny thing is, Megan and I make a lot of stuff.  However, we don’t wear a lot of the stuff we make, which is very odd. This creates a big problem.  What do we do with all the stuff that we love to make? 
Well, last December Megan started to get orders for furry, curly scarves, quite a few orders, actually.  I even helped her complete some of the orders.  It was during this time, that the idea of doing this for money came to fruition.  So we would talk about it from time to time, but nothing ever came of it.   In the fall, we decided that we would participate in the Holiday at Smokerise Christmas Festival and gauge the response from the attendees.
That show was on December 3, 2011.  So after months of knitting, crocheting, and planning, the day had come.  We were so afraid that our table would look empty and pathetic.  We were worried for no reason.  We had so much inventory that we had to brainstorm ideas to display all of our items.  See our booth!

I am glad to report that the initial launch of Yarn Fairies went very well.  Megan and I made a profit and covered all our expenses for getting and setting up the booth.  We did not sell everything.  I think, more importantly, this was an excellent learning experience, and we have some ideas to make our next show even better.  I think, most importantly, we had a great time! 
What is next for Yarn Fairies, you may ask?  Well, we have determined that we want to do more shows.  We think that fall and winter are probably the best seasons to sell hats and scarves.  We are interested in making some summer items, but we are brainstorming the best way to bring those to the customers.  We have just recently created a Yarn Fairies Facebook page.  We currently have 5 like!!  Yes, I know.  We have reached the big time!   Maybe an Etsy shop is our future.  Who really knows? The sky is the limit. 

P.S.  I am excited about the Christmas presents I have been making.  Stay tuned for some pretty cute pics to come.  Don’t want to spoil the surprise and post them early!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

5 Day Weekend! A New Trend??

Last weekend was kind of amazing.  First, it was five days long.  Second, it was the weekend of Thanksgiving.  Third, it was my First Anniversary.  Fourth, it was the weekend of the Iron Bowl.   I have been waiting to do this post until my anniversary present was resized.  But then I decided, I would just post a picture from the website.  I know my readers are creative enough to imagine how wonderfully I wear my present. So today I blog.
 Let’s start at Thanksgiving.
All of the food was fantastic.  My dad smoked a turkey and a Boston butt, and we had all the trimmings to go with.  The dessert was out of this world. 
I made a pumpkin cheesecake using this recipe.   I also learned a few things.  1. Graham cracker crust will not easily slide into a cute pumpkin baking dish.  If you try, you will make a huge mess and crust will break and go everywhere.  2. You can never really soften cream cheese enough.  It seems that it will always be hard to work with. 3.  Sometimes you have to ignore cooking times, and trust your gut.

Sandy made a cake.  What is so special about this cake?  It is a chocolate cake with raspberry filling iced with a butter cream frosting.  The inspiration for this cake came from my wedding cake, which I absolutely loved. 

Thursday night was filled with Vampires and LeighAnne.  We went to see Breaking Dawn.  Then Justin, Holly, Terri, and I take off to Dothan to follow a lead on some $15 boots.  It was a close call, but we got the boots.  The crowds were insane.  See below.  But all of our Black Friday shopping was done and we were home in bed by 5am.  Crazy.

During the Boot Madness

Seriously, Like 10 mins later.

Friday before we returned home to Atlanta, we did get spend a little time with Justin’s newest cousin, Eden.  So precious.

Our first anniversary was fantastic, just know that.  I will give you a rundown of the gifts that we exchanged.
My gifts to Justin
1.      I found this idea on Pinterest.com to make a book out of a deck of cards.  Each card has a reason why I love him.  It was pretty cute, and I realize that I have a lot of reasons. 
2.      I put together pictures from our first year of marriage together in an album.  It showed that we have had quite a few adventures this year.
3.      I found all the cards, letters, poems, etc that we have written to each other over the years and put them in one massive binder. 
4.      I secretly read the Grapes of Wrath.  This doesn’t seem like much, I know.  But this is Justin’s favorite book that I have been avoiding reading for years and years.  Justin never thought I would read it.  He was totally surprised to find out that I already had.

Pinned Image

Justin’s gifts to me

1.      A message in a bottle.  Justin wrote a beautiful poem and put it in a bottle. BTW, I almost never got the poem out.
2.      Laugh with Lola.  Lion Brand Yarn Company does a comic strip in every other newsletter.  The comic book has all the comic strips together.  A great paper gift for the first anniversary.
3.      This beautiful ring.  I have been keeping my eye on this forever! Seriously, I have wanted this ring for over a year.   I am in love with this.  So it was hard for Justin to surprise me with this, so I got it a little early.  Which is totally okay by me.

As you probably know, the Crimson Tide defeated the Auburn Tigers with a convincing win!!

Sunday, I had a great catch-up breakfast with Kaitlin.  Then Justin and I spend the rest of the day cleaning and getting our home ready for Christmas. 

This was a really great weekend.  I really could get used to the two day work week, and five day weekend...