Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas traditions: the new

I can't believe I've been living here for a year and a half!  We have started a few of our own traditions in our own little family, so I thought I'd share those with you since I already shared my childhood traditions.  

My roommates are the best; we have such a great time together, and decorating for Christmas isn't an exception.  We start as soon as we all return from Thanksgiving with our families.  Every year, over the past 3 Christmases [even before I started living here], I've helped decorate for Christmas.  And every year, our display grows.

2011 [and yes, that's my cat on the roof with my roommate]

close-up on a couple of my favorite guys in our yard

[And a daytime shot.  In our zoo, we have a golfing moose, some candles and presents, a polar bear, bumble, garfield, a snowman, some penguins, and an igloo.  We hope to have rudolph soon too!]

This is our Christmas inspiration.  This is my roommate Jeff's parents' house.  It's amazing!  We get lots of their hand-me-down lights and figures which is great.

In addition to decorating outside, we also have a Christmas tree.  Even though it is artificial [come on, we're all 20-something singles, we have to slack somewhere!], it does have some great ornaments.  This year, we also decorated our dining room.  

Here are a few of our indoor decorations from last year.  I love that advent wreath my parents bought me, I already hung it up for this year!

And what is a roommate-family Christmas without gifts?  Usually, the day after Christmas we have our own Christmas morning and exchange gifts.  I'm also in charge of the stockings and I love filling them. I just made new ones and hung them over the mantle.

I haven't decided if I'm going to post about gifts like I did last year and here and here.  Over the past year, my blog has grown a bit and because I've shared it on Facebook and Twitter, I'm not quite sure who has read/reads it on occasion and I don't want to ruin surprises!  Even if I decide not to post, you can check out the types of gift I give here.

And of course, we couldn't make all of our decorations happen [inside and out] without all of this:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas traditions: the old

Since becoming an "adult," my Christmas traditions have changed a lot.  I'm very lucky to live only an hour and a half away from my parents so I can still participate in some of our "old" traditions, and I am also so happy to be starting "new" traditions in Connecticut with my friends and Mike's family.

now that's a blue spruce

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, Christmas begins.  We don't celebrate "black friday" in my family, we celebrate "green friday."  Every day-after-Thanksgiving, my family and I head out to rural Connecticut and cut down our own tree.  I'm all about full tree that have strong branches that can hold tons of ornaments.  My parents and I have TONS of ornaments.  Part of that comes from my parents both teaching for 30+ years... kids LOVE giving their teachers ornaments for Christmas haha.  Also, my mom has bought me a few different Hallmark series over the years that add to that bunch.  I have "daughter" ornaments, Barbies [that thankfully ended this year because I have 19 on our tree], cats, dogs, and Mickey Mouse's Christmas Carol.
25 years of daughter ornaments

Barbies and puppies

aaaand what a typical box of miscellaneous ornaments looks like

In addition to decorating our tree, it has always been my job to put out our "village."  Since before I was born, my parents have bought one piece for our Department 56 village each year.  We stopped buying new pieces around 5 years ago because we ran out of room, but it is fun to put it out in a new design every year.

Finally, Thanksgiving weekend is all about seeing my friends.  Working such weird days/hours, I don't have a chance to get home too often, so I only get to see many of my friends on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the 4th of July.  I was so happy to see so many of them in the short 24 hours I was home, and I am so thankful that we have all been friends for so long.
hibachi - my favorite!

I cannot believe we've been friends for 15 years

enjoying some hard cider at a great hometown pub with Christmas lights across the river

Linking up with Jane for insta-Tuesday!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Welcome to iLand!

I'm soooo excited, my iPad was delivered on Friday!  I finally went for it and I'm SO happy I did.  I paid for most of it with my Chase Freedom card.  
Sidenote: If you are looking for a credit card, definitely consider Chase Freedom.  I've had mine for a little over a year and racked up $330 in cash back.  I got $200 back for spending $500 in the first 3 months [which sadly is down to $100 now with Chase's promotion], but come on, $100 for spending money you probably would anyway? Awesome!  Plus they have 5% cash back each quarter which is great.

Moving on, I love my iPad.  I only got an iPad 2 because it was much cheaper than "the new" iPad and I only got the WiFi one because I figured I would be using it at home or work a lot, and when I use it on trips, I will just download the books and games I want before I leave.
That reminds me, I cannot wait to use it when I head to Florida in five days!!

One of the major reasons I bought it was cooking and baking.  Tonight I loved having it in the kitchen while I made Paula Deen's corn fritters.  They were delicious!

They are delicious with a side of maple syrup of dipping.  I know it sounds weird, but it is such a good compliment.

Of course I also bought it for my cat.  How funny is Roxy?  I'm so happy I bought a few Friskies games for her.  Between her and Mike playing cribbage, I think they like it more than I do!
[Pardon the SVU in the background.]

I hope everyone had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend!  I can't wait to share all of the Christmas prep that started this weekend with you!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

untraditional thanksgiving desserts

This year, it was my job to make a few different desserts.  In addition to Thanksgiving, we also celebrated Mike's goddaughter Maya's birthday.  Mike and I made three different desserts that were pretty untraditional for Thanksgiving.  Don't worry, there were also pumpkin and apple pies!

1. Pear Mousse
- 2 3 oz packets of lemon jello
- 2 cans of sliced pears
- 2 tubs cool whip [thawed]
- 8 oz cream cheese

- Make the lemon jello according to the directions and leave it out until it reaches room temperature. [You just want it to cool but you don't want it to set.]
- Put the pears [fruit and juice] in a blender until smooth.
- Add the cream cheese and lemon jello and blend again.
- Pour blended mixture into a bowl and fold in cool whip.
- Put in refrigerator for 12 hours until firm.
Mike did a fabulous job with this one!

It almost looks like ice cream.

2. Bright Pink Frosting for Cupcakes
- Wilton pink gel food coloring
- 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup butter [at room temperature]
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups confectionary sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk

- Cream shortening and butter
- Add and blend vanilla
- Add sugar one cup at a time, mixture will be appear dry
- Add tablespoons of milk one at a time
- Add about 20 drops of food coloring and blend in
- It should be a fairly thick consistency [perfect for piping]

I love this frosting because it doesn't take like pure sugar.

3. Shortbread Cookies
[I will be sharing this recipe in a guest post on Kristin's blog sometime in December, so be on the lookout!]
Thanks to Amanda, my pumpkin swap partner, for the sprinkles that made these cookies so festive!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Every year, I am thankful for my parents.  I am thankful for their unconditional support and love.

I am always thankful for my friends.  I'm very lucky to still have many of the same friends I've had since kindergarten as well as many friends I made in college.

I'm thankful for my health, my job, and my happiness.  But this year, I've come to realize that the reason I can be thankful for all of those things is because of one man.

 This year, above everything else, I am especially thankful for my boyfriend, Mike.  I have had the courage to lead the most fulfilling and exciting life over the past three years because of him.  We met when I was in college [I was his sister's roommate, actually], and we started dating during my junior year.  Since then, he has given me the support to finish college, start and thrive in an unexpected and rewarding career, and move to a new place.

This guy would follow me to the ends of the earth. [Quite literally, actually, as in the coming years we hope to move to Florida or somewhere in the south so I can grow my career.]  I cannot wait and see what our journey has in store for us.  

Because of him, my family has also grown exponentially.  Each and every one of his family members have welcomed me into their family and coming from a VERY small family, I am so happy to become a part of theirs.  I was so lucky to spend this Thanksgiving with them.

I am so happy AND THANKFUL that we have each other and I couldn't ask for anything more.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!
I can't wait to share a few of my recipe desserts seen here [Mike and I were in charge of dessert]

Mike and his lovely goddaughter, Maya

Maya and her brothers

It was also her 5th birthday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


There are so many holiday things starting and I'm SO EXCITED!
Great submissions for our holiday card contest at work.  
The top left are the 4 winners.


The new addition to this year's Christmas Zoo.
Why yes, we are those neighbors everyone hates because our house glows so bright.

Just finished looking at my December schedule.  I like don't work next month - it's awesome!

RIP Hostess - yup, did this last Friday.  

More photos from visiting my baby cousin this weekend.

Sorry if this makes me seem like a b****, but you reeeeeally shouldn't make sweeping declarations on facebook that HAVE what you hate in them.  Can anyone spot it?

Linking up with Jane today!!
Have you entered her giveaway over at The Vintage Apple?  ModCloth is THE GREATEST.  Ever since Adria sent me a lovely print from it last year, I've been obsessed!

Monday, November 19, 2012

training starts today

Alright, I've put this off long enough.  I'm starting my january half marathon training tonight.

I even put a little button in my sidebar that's been taunting me.  Yeah, countdown, I see you - I know I have less than 9 weeks to go.  I just hate running in the dark AND my iPod is currently MIA.  

So many reasons NOT to run, but as soon as I get home, I'm putting on the Under Armour, ear band, headphones, and head lamp, and heading out for my 3 miles [because that's what Shape tells me to do]. This workout worked well last year... until I started slacking around Christmas - but if I had followed it completely, I definitely would have been completely ready.  

Now, all I need are some sweet jams to run to.  Any suggestions, ANYONE?? Please help!

Okay, here's my motivation.

I can't wait to go to DISNEYLAND in 2 months!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

weekend update

Fairly busy weekend around here.  

I had a great date night with Mike last night: we drove across the city to Five Guys for dinner and then went to the mall.  We bought a few Christmas gifts, a birthday gift for his lovely goddaughter, and of course some Mrs. Fields cookies.  Mike insisted that I buy myself a present too, so I bought some mango body butter.  It's delicious.  

Today we went to visit my cousins and their adorable baby, Sammy.  He is the sweetest - and he wore the Toy Story shirt I bought him for his birthday!  

Now it's time for college football, a Pizza Hut big dinner box, maaaaybe ordering the iPad I've been dying for, and replacing some outlet and light covers around the house.  We are upgrading to these, a little nicer than the typical plastic off-white.

Beginning to get all of our Christmas stuff out!

cute little cowboy!

smiley Sammy!

Sammy having so much fun with Mikey

Annnnd, I've lost control of my Christmas gifts AGAIN.  It's only been a week since I had everything organized - guess I need a new strategy.

Hey friends, you should also join this site - share your birthday with other bloggers! :)
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