Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Christmas Eve!!

Christmas Questions 

Borrowed from Upside Down Grace
When do you start decorating for Christmas?
Usually right after my birthday, December 3rd. My husband isn't a huge fan of all the hoopla but he puts up with it for me.

Christmas attire, casual or dressy?
Casual. I'm really not that big of a fan of dressing up in general. I think it looks weird on me.

Best gift you ever received?
Best? I'm not sure I could say one was the best. But some memorable ones are my scrubs and nursing gear for nursing school and my Nikon.

Worst gift you ever received?
Hmm...gosh, probably just clothes when I was little and didn't like getting them. Now? Gimmie the clothes!!

Snow, love or hate?
LOVE. I can't help it. When it snows I just get giddy. Now that we're in Portland it doesn't really stick to the ground. I miss the crunch you can feel and hear when you walk in freshly fallen snow.

Favorite Christmas song?
Silent Night. It was my Grandma's and I inherited it.

Least favorite? 
Santa Baby. By far.

Best Christmas movie?
The Christmas Story. But I also love National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause, and Home Alone.

Probably Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, just because I think it's kind of boring.

Christmas tree, real or fake?
Growing up, all but one were fake. This year, our first Christmas in our new house, we put up a real tree. I did a whole post about it!

Do you have a favorite ornament?
I guess I would say the ornament for our first Christmas together (married).

Family traditions?
Well, we're not able to do my favorite tradition anymore. Every year we would go to my mom's parents' house. Since we lived out of town we stayed there. They had a big party Christmas Eve with the whole family. The kids exchanged names and opened those presents then. The adults split up into men/women and played the steal-the-gift game. My grandparents have passed away and now my brother has a wife and daughter, so we have been doing Christmas at my parent's house. The only traditions I can think of that we do is open a present Christmas Eve, that's always PJs and then on Christmas morning, you can open your stocking when you first wake up. I can't wait to have my own traditions.

The easiest and hardest people to buy gifts for?
I'm just going to say that everyone is hard to buy for. I'm not a great gifter. It's kind of hard for me. Especially because when I go shopping I tend to have tunnel vision for things I want!

Do you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas?
Just the one on Christmas Eve. Everything else is Christmas day.

Clear or colored lights?
I used to like both equally but I'm on a clear light kick right now.

Travel or stay home?
Usually travel. This year we're staying home.

Themed or homey decorations?
Um, themed? I just like what I like :)

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Tree Debacle

Real tree or fake tree? It's a question that every family who celebrates Christmas (and puts up a tree, I guess) has to answer. I had never really thought about it, honestly. We had a fake tree all but one year when I was growing up, my grandparents had a fake tree, it was just what people did. Sure, in all those Christmas movies they go to the tree farm and pick one out, cut it down, and haul it all the way home on the roof of their cars but that was just Hollywood, right?

Since graduating college five years ago (Oh my gosh has is really been that long??) I've been away from home every year. One year I put up a mini fake tree but the others I didn't bother. I mean, if I wasn't going to be home it seemed kind of silly. This year is the first year that I've stayed in my house for Christmas. The first year without seeing my family. When I found out I wasn't going to see my family for the holiday it was rough. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I have a lot of preconceived notions about how it "should be". That was hard to take. So, needless to say, a tree was a MUST have this year.

I started looking online for fake trees and found that there was a large selection of pre-lit trees. That's a whole other story! I immediately knew I didn't want one of those because what do you do it your lights go out? You have these lights on your tree that don't do anything and then you have to buy lights anyway. I was just going to get a normal, plain-o, unlit tree. Then my mom asked me how the cats would do with a tree. I was in such a tizzy to make my house Christmas-y that I hadn't actually stopped to think about that part. Oops.

We ended up deciding to get a real tree to see how they did with one before shelling out a ton for a fake one. So we spent $30 on a real tree over a $300 fakie. I figured that if it didn't work out we would only be out a few bucks. So how has it worked out, you ask? Not as bad as I thought it might go, actually. Pepper has totally left it alone. Penny, who we were really worried about just climbing inside and making a home, has just been curious. She liked to lie under the tree and watch the lights, swat at the low hanging (shatterproof) ornaments and garland and occasionally nibble on the tree. She's drank the water out of the tree holder a few times and played in it but she has never tried to jump up into the tree or knock it over. I would call it a success!

We got our tree from a lot, not a farm but it is real nonetheless. We read online that you're supposed to saw off the end of the stump, then put it in the tree stand with water. Travis hadn't banked on that and wasn't exactly excited to have to try to find his saw. But he succeeded and we moved the tree inside to the living room, shedding pine needles the whole way. That was fun to clean up!

So if you find yourself asking the age old question- real tree or fake tree? I would tell you, honestly, either. The smell is divine but the needles are kind of a pain. My cats seem to be doing relatively well with it.

What do you think? What do you have to do to make it seem like Christmas in your house? Do you put up a tree? And of course- real or fake?

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Sunday, November 25, 2012


My top three favorite holidays, in order:
1. Christmas
2. My birthday (this list has not changed since I was about 12, so YES, my birthday is a holiday!)
3. Thanksgiving

It's like a delicious, fattening countdown since Thanksgiving is every fourth Thursday in November, followed by my birthday- December 3rd, and then Christmas- December 25th.

When I was growing up, we never had a specific tradition for Thanksgiving. Several years we just had an awesome meal at home, then we went to my dad's side of the family for awhile, then one year my mom and I went with some family friends to New York to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (worth it!!), then we started going to the house of a family friend for potluck type meals. All were fun and all were spent with people we really liked, eating yummy food and talking. So, I suppose that's the common thread.

Last year I had to work (I work nights) and we had only been in Portland for four months so we didn't do anything. This year I was hoping to have it be meaningful again. I would say that was a success. Plus, it gave me motivation to clean the house!

We invited my friend Ashley and her husband over to eat with us. Then we had to decide on a menu. That was harder than I anticipated since we're vegetarian. Luckily, Ashley & Craig have been vegetarian as well, so they didn't mind not having a turkey. I tossed around the idea of Tofurkey but it seems from the online reviews that it does taste a lot like turkey. That's one thing people who aren't vegetarians don't really understand. Sometimes, we just don't like the taste of meat, so I may not want a meat substitute that tastes "just like the real thing". For me, beef and turkey are like that. I never liked the taste. Surprisingly, T doesn't like turkey, either. I would say he's about 90% vegetarian. So, given all that we scratched the fake turkey off our list. Next we looked at a pumpkin gnocchi or butter nut squash gnocchi or faux chicken pot pie. We let our guests make the decision, as they all sounded good to us. They chose the pot pie. One thing you're not supposed to do when hosting an event or having a dinner party is to try all new recipes. Well, since we don't really cook any of this stuff normally, that's exactly what we did.

Appetizer: Pear & goat cheese bruschetta
Main dish: Faux chicken pot pie
Sides: Mashed potatoes, Biscuits (Travis' grandma's recipe), Green bean casserole (brought by guests), Fresh greens & parmesan salad, Stuffing, Pumpkin muffins (brought by guests)
Desserts: Pumpkin pie, Apple Pie (crust from Travis' grandma's recipe), Vanilla ice cream (brought by guests)
Drinks: Spiced apple cider, White zinfindel wine, hard cider (brought by guests) and beer (brought by guests)

I know you're dying to hear how everything tasted since we'd never made it before. My favorite was the apple pie. I could have probably eaten a whole one by myself. So, so, so good! Everything else was really good as well, except the bruschetta and the pumpkin pie. The bruschetta chutney recipe called for apple cider vinegar. I think I would halve the amount called for in the recipe next time or just put goat cheese and a pear on top of the bruschetta and call it good. The pumpkin pie didn't seem to have set enough somehow and then we used a store bought pie crust instead of T's grandma's recipe and it burned. Still, I don't recall a Thanksgiving where I just ate one plate but that's all any of us could shove in. It was so filling. After dinner we played Cranium, did Rorschach tests (who doesn't do those for fun?), and chatted. And ate pie of course. MMmmmm. Pie.

Evolution of an Apple Pie
Start with a great recipe
Chop and peal apples until your hands are wrinkly
That looks about right
Mix the dough for the crust
Roll it out and smush it into the pan
Take a minute to be proud. It's your first pie crust!
Get the yummy filling ready
And finally, make sure the cats help as much as possible

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Night of the Living Dead

     Travis told me this morning that last night I woke him up because I was yelling gibberish. He said I sounded kind of scared. Then I got out of bed and walked to the middle of our bedroom. I just stood there for a minute, then started swinging my arms around. He said my name and I stopped for a second. I said, "Oh." Then walked back to bed. He asked me if I was okay and I started talking gibberish again and laughed. He asked me again if I was okay and I said, "Um, yeah, I was just having a dream about a gymnastics girl who was doing gymnastics out in the middle of the floor," and I pointed out into the middle of our bedroom. He said, "Well, I guess it's a good thing I woke you up, then." I would say so! Can you imagine someone, rather uncoordinated, trying to do a gymnastics move while sleeping? Pretty sure I would have broken an arm or leg. I dont't remember any of this. When I came down stairs this morning, Travis said, "I think you were having weird dreams last night." I agreed but said that I couldn't recall what they were about. That's when he told me what happened.
     This isn't the first time something like this has happened. Not by a long shot.
     As a baby and toddler, I had night terrors. I would just start screaming and crying and nothing could wake me up. I can't imagine how much that much have scared my mom and dad.
     As a young child, I would sleep walk and sleep talk. Most of the time it wasn't dangerous, but the chance was always there. The most common thing was to walk to the end of my parents' bed and just stand there. Creepy, right? My mom would just guide me back to bed. Once though, while my mom, grandma and I were traveling we stayed at a motel. I was in bed with my grandma and my mom had the other bed. My grandma woke up because she didn't feel me by her anymore. She couldn't find me in the room but the door was open. I had wandered out into the parking lot and was just standing there in my nightgown. That's the one that scares me the most. I could have gotten hurt or kidnapped or lost. We were just driving through a town, we didn't know anything about it. I certainly would have freaked if I woke up in some field or something.
     As I've grown up, the sleep walking has turned into just "active sleeping". I move a lot while asleep.  Sometimes Travis will tell me that he woke up to my arm just hanging there, right above his face. I have also kneed him while sleeping. Oops...
     I still talk in my sleep but don't usually yell. Sometimes it's gibberish and other times it makes a little sense.
     I really want to record myself sleeping sometime to see if I do anything. Maybe if I do I'll put a little snippet of it up here :)
Do you do anything weird in your sleep? Are you a sleep walker or talker?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Visit to DC

     I feel so lucky that I am able to fly several times a year. I know not everyone can and we may not be able to forever but it's nice to be able to see family. This time I flew to the DC/Baltimore area to see my brother's family. My sister-in-law's name is Amon. They've been married for 5 years (already?!) and have 2 little girls, Ellie (who is 2 1/2) and the newest, Olivia (who is 4 months). Olivia's baby dedication was on Sunday. Since I haven't been able to come see her yet, I was psyched that it worked out so I could go for her dedication when my parents would also be there AND it coincided with my dad's birthday. Travis had to work so he couldn't come (Booo!!) but was there with us in spirit. Next time!
     I worked Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights and got off on Friday morning. Generally, when I fly on the same day that I get off, I just end up staying up. It's not worth it to me to sleep for just an hour. I feel like it just makes me more tired and groggy. So instead, I downed a Red Bull at 5AM and powered through. After going home to finish packing, Travis drove me to the airport and I was off! I got in a little before midnight, Mike & Amon picked me up, we said our "Hello"s and I was out like a light.
     Saturday morning I woke up to, "Momma! Momma wake up!" Ellie was ready to get up, which meant I was, too. When the 2 year old is awake, everyone in the house is awake! :) Later that day we went to Great Falls, which is different from the kind of water falls I'm used to. These falls are part of the Potomac River. The river picks up speed as it narrows through Mather Gorge and then tumbles down the numerous jutting rocks. Doesn't look like a fun place to go kayaking!

     Sunday was Olivia's dedication. I know not everyone knows what a baby dedication looks like or what it is, so I will give you an idea. After they are born, many babies are baptized or christened. A priest or preacher holds the baby up and sprinkles water on its head symbolizing Christ's blessing and the acceptance of the baby into the family of God. Not all Christians believe infants need to be baptized, however. In fact, it can be a pretty touchy subject depending on who you talk to. My brother's church is non-denominational and chooses to do a dedication in place of baptism, saving baptism for when the person is old enough to make their own choice about their beliefs. The baby dedication takes place during a normal church service. The family is called up and introduced. The pastor either holds the baby or puts their hand on the baby and says a prayer over the child and the parents. It's called a dedication because the child is dedicated to God. The prayer basically asks that the child be blessed by God, that they will grow up well, that the parents will have wisdom and that the baby will be raised in the Christian faith. The whole church joins in silent prayer, possibly extending a hand toward the baby and family. Then you're done!
   After the dedication we headed back to Mike & Amon's house for a play date with our cousin Bobbie, her husband BJ and their son Khi. The little kids sure had fun but we big kids had fun watching them play, too.
    Monday was my dad's birthday. I was so excited to be able to be with him for his birthday again. It's been a long time since I've been able to celebrate with him. We made a trip to Ikea that morning. If you've never been there I highly recommend it. No, not all of their products are heirloom quality, exactly but they are at least good enough or better and usually priced well. We have plenty of things from Ikea. My mom and dad don't have an Ikea in St. Louis so they are always psyched to make a trip when they are near one. For lunch we had chocolate frosted angel food cake, my dad's favorite. Yum! Later that night, I got to sit in on my brother and Amon's small group- they're doing a book club of The Hobbit. I haven't read it but it was interesting to hear them talk about it. I just may pick it up at some point. The movie is coming out soon and it might be fun to read it before seeing the movie.
   We went to the National Zoo Tuesday and saw all kinds of animals. It's always interesting to go the the zoo with little kids. One minute they're oohing and ahhing over the animals and the next they are crying because they want to stop every foot and look at a rock or piece of dirt. I forgot how short the attention span of a 2 1/2 year old can be.

    I had a blast visiting my family. The core-family was back together again :) I only wish it could be more often!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Things I'm Loving Right Now

My adorable, awesome husband

MAC Cremesheen Glass in Imperial Light- so silky!

MAC Pro Longwear concealer- seriously the best concealer I've ever tried
Michael Kors 'Runway' Chronograph Watch (On my Christmas list!)

The Office -currently I'm watching Season 6