I love love LOVE real Christmas trees, but growing up we always had a fake one. My grandmother, however, would always buy a real tree every year, and I loved going with her to find the biggest, most perfect one at the tree lot. This year, we finally started this tradition of our own. Things were crazy last holiday season with our preparations to move across the country, so I settled on a little bitty tree from Target with a few pretty ornaments. But this year, this year we are settled in California, and I’ve had time not only to order embroidered stockings for each of us and make some handmade decorations (here, here, here, and here)…but to pick our our first real Christmas tree. The night we got back from Big Bear we went to the lot and picked this tree out. Kipling came too, and I think the one we chose has a lot of character. And a lot of perfect Christmas tree smell. Christmas trees are pretty high up there on my favorite things in the WORLD list. And so far, Kipling hasn’t tried to eat it, so I think we have a winner.
I hope you are having the merriest holiday season so far!
Since Whitney had the entire Thanksgiving weekend off, we used the opportunity to make a quick trip to Big Bear. It hasn’t snowed enough for snow activities (minus fake snow tubing), but we wanted to check it out anyway. We did some Christmas shopping at their annual Christmas boutique, which had a lot of vendors with handmade items for sale. We grabbed lunch in the village, and while we were eating, some of the rain that was falling turned into snow flakes. It was super cold, but the scenery was beautiful. After a walk through the shops in the Village and cup of coffee to warm up and waken us up, we made the short(ish) drive home (but not before stopping to play in a little patch of snow). We’ll definitely be returning again to go snow tubing or skiing (both of which I’ve never done). But it was a nice little getaway just the two of us.
It was getting dark as I snapped these. Isn’t the sky and reflection beautiful?
We set my camera on the car and used the self timer for this one (we were on the side of the road).
Whitney threw a snowball at me as he took his first picture of me in the snow…
Had to make a little snowman with the dirty snow.
Whitney still throwing snowballs at me…
He really wanted a photo of a snowball coming at him too.
We spent Thanksgiving day at my grandparents’ house with my aunt, uncle, cousins, brother, his girlfriend, and niece (Kipling got to come too!). They ended up ordering the meal from Boston Market (which was actually really good by the way), and we brought desserts. I made this fudge and The Pioneer Woman’s pumpkin pie and caramel apple pie, which was a huge hit, from her holiday cookbook. We played boardgames and with the dog outside before sitting down to feast. It was a nice, relaxing day spent with family…our first big holiday to spend with my family here in California. I didn’t take many photos on Thanksgiving day, which I’m a bit upset about. I don’t even have photos of the food or most of the people we celebrated with! I get a bit self conscious snapping photos outside of my home, which I really need to learn to get over (but also, hey family, y’all can take pictures too! ;p). Oh well, life goes on, and without further ado, here are the photos I did take (mostly of my niece and Kipling…they had a blast together).
Playing washers in the backyard.
I won’t be here for my niece’s birthday this weekend, so we gave her a gift early. It’s the same wooden owl I got for myself to add to my collection. When you blow through it, the owl makes a “hoot” sound. She loved it.
Kipling was worn out after a day running around in the backyard, and she passed out immediately in the backseat on our way home. I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as well! Can you believe it’s December? Almost the end of the year…and almost Christmas!
Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so excited and thankful that we get to spend today with family and eat a bunch of food! We were going to try and cook the entire meal to have at my grandparents’, but it was turning out to be too much of a hassle. So instead, they are ordering the meal from Boston Market, and we’re bringing desserts! I made fudge, a pumpkin pie, and an apple pie. They weren’t without their frustrations (I have a really difficult time with the pre-made pie crusts), but they smell good, so cross your fingers!
Anyway, Thanksgiving is late this year, which means December is only a couple of days away. I’ve always wanted to put together an advent calendar, and regardless of us having no (human) children, I went ahead and made one this year. I had grander plans for it, but we have no room in our apartment, so I ended up just stringing it. Maybe next year I’ll fulfill my entire plan. But for this year, here’s what I did:
I bought 24 muslin bags (wedding section at Michael’s), and did the same thing to number them as I did with my Christmas banner (traced with a stencil, painted gold, and sprinkled with gold glitter).
In each bag I have a Christmas activity for us to do. On the days I won’t be here (I’m making a trip back to Texas for my sister’s graduation), I put some fun activities for my husband to do by himself and a few other surprises. I filled the bags knowing what days (like the weekend) would work best for certain activities, but my husband doesn’t know, so they will all be a surprise (Whitney if you see this, stop reading now please )! Plus, I’m sure as each day comes, I’ll forget what activity I put in the bag.
If you want to do something similar (this is great for both kids and adults alike), here are some activities I chose:
*decorate the Christmas tree
drink hot cocoa and watch a Christmas movie
*build a gingerbread house
*wrap Christmas presents
*get Starbucks and walk around to see the Christmas lights
*go ice skating
*bake cookies together
*fill a stocking for Kipling
I also threw in a few “date” ideas that aren’t necessarily Christmas-y, but they give us an excuse to spend time doing something special together. I’m so excited for this next month, and I really hope we’re able to make time for all of these things this season. After all, it’s my absolute favorite time of year.
Have fun putting together your advent calendar for this year! The countdown to Christmas is about to begin!
If you’re looking for an easy, last minute dessert to whip up for Thanksgiving tomorrow, here is one of my tried and true favorites. It’s so simple to make, the actual recipe is called “Easy Fudge” and only contains 4 ingredients (5 if you want the nuts). I make it every year, and it is delicious. My niece requested it this year, so of course I had to make a batch.
(from my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook)
*1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
*1 package (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
*1 square (1 oz) unsweetened chocolate
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*1 1/2 cups chopped nuts, if desired
Butter square pan. Heat milk, chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring continuously until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla (and nuts if desired). Spread in pan and refrigerate until firm.
So easy. So good. You should make it. I made it this morning and am now off to make two pies!
I wanted to make these last Christmas, but I finally got around to it this year. I love animals, and I love Christmas, so it seemed like the right thing to do. I first saw the idea here, with the original tutorial here, but I simplified it a little.
Here’s what I used and what I did:
plastic animals//screw eyelets//spray paint//ribbon
1) I gathered my animals! I bought 6 large animals instead of a bunch of tiny ones. Luckily for me, I found them on sale at Michael’s for just $1 a piece (remember how I hate paying full price)!
2) I took screw eyelets (I found them in the frame hanging section at Target) and simply screwed them into the backs of the animals (no drilling necessary). The screws have a point, so it just takes a bit of pressure as you twist to secure them in. Make sure you place the eyelet in the animal’s “center of gravity”, so it hangs properly.
3) I spray painted them! I just used a glossy white paint, but you could choose any color you want. I think the white makes them very Christmas-y. They will require several coats of paint, and when you flip them over to paint the undersides, make sure the animal/newspaper is completely dry or else they will stick. I did not use any glitter or sealer on mine.
4) I put a ribbon through the screw eyelet and tied it in a bow.
This is our first year getting an actual tree (a real one at that!) and not a little baby tree, so in addition to our growing collection, I wanted to make some “handmade” ornaments to adorn it. I think they’re super cute and can’t wait to hang them on our tree!