Merry Christmas.

Stecker Christmas Card

Oh, yes, it’s Christmas.

There will be hot chocolate, smoked ham, rum cake and lots and lots of laughter. We might even throw in a few gifts too! Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from our house to yours! xoxo

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Finally Friday.

My homemade gingerbread cookies

Well, hello there.

Did you notice that it’s December 20 — which means only 5 days until Christmas. Or, if you’re my family… 4, since we celebrate on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

Growing up I was always worried about how Christmas would work once I got married. My family, being just the 4 of us in Colorado, developed our own set of Christmas Day traditions and giving them up when I got married wasn’t something I was real excited about. Luckily for me, Christian’s family had always celebrate on Christmas Eve… meaning I didn’t have to give anything up. Truly the best of both worlds.

My world has been all over the place this month. I started out in Iowa for my Great Uncle’s 90th birthday and have since returned and attended a slew of holiday parties/comedy works laugh fests/dinner with friends and still have a packed weekend ahead. Let me lay it out for you… I’ve got another holiday party, a showing of the Nutcracker, a dinner, lunch downtown with family and a Nuggets game. All packed into 4 little ‘ol days. Holiday hustle and bustle? I’m your girl.

I hope that this coming weekend is packed with hot chocolate, gingerbread cookies and as many twinkle lights as you can possibly tolerate. In the mean time, here are my finds from around the interwebs:

As you may well know, I’ve already developed my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe… but after reading this post on the science behind the cookie (and that he went through 32 lbs. of flour and 1,500 test cookies to get to the perfect one), I’m just the tiniest bit interested in tooling around with my recipe just to see what happens.

Back in my dating days, I used to think about writing a blog about all the mishaps, the weirdos and the flat up ridiculous stories that resulted from my dating escapades. Turns out, I didn’t have to because Amber is doing just that… only better.

I feel really overwhelmed when I look at my calendar. I see my days in hour-long increments overflowing with things to do. That’s why I really appreciated this post on not being over-committed and overwhelmed. Now if only I could take the advice and apply it successfully.

The holidays bring out the best in people — but it also bring out a lot of discussion on religion, the role of Santa and a lot of other stuff I don’t really want to get into. This post on Santa¬†(and Jesus) and the way Christian’s relate to and ultimately use Santa was really interesting to me.

Are you looking for some good circuit workout ideas to help negate your overload of cookie consumption? Here’s a great round-up of 50 different circuit workouts. There’s bound to be at least one in there for everyone. I, personally, have many of them tagged and added to Pinterest boards for New Year inspiration.

Ever feel like everyone around you was given an instruction book on life and you’re left wondering what the hell to do and/or how to pull it all off? Turns out, everyone feels like that and nobody was given a guidebook to life — even those people who make it seem like they came out of the womb 10 steps ahead of everyone else.

P.S. Have you seen these t-shirts? I’m thinking I may need to purchase one.

Tis The Season.

There is something magical about Christmas. The whole season makes walking into Target feel like something wonderful is about to happen. The chill in the air and the twinkly lights makes me giddy with joy. The faith that goes into that one day a year makes me feel heavy with anticipation on Sunday mornings.

So, here I am 6 days out from Halloween and I can’t stop thinking about Christmas cards. Since I’m a full-blown grown-up this year — with a house, husband, dogs… it’s probably time that I send out Christmas cards of my own. Not that I have a picture picked out or any real plans to take one. Isn’t that the point of Christmas card shopping? It’s with the best, most true intentions – beautiful natural backdrop, perfect happy smiles… then it gets down to the wire, you pick the photo of your family wearing Mickey Mouse ears at Disney World and call it a day.

Obviously I’m still in the beautiful intentions portion of this time-table. And, here’s what I’m dreaming over… I’ve narrowed it down from 44 to 6. If that tells you anything about my 1.) love of pretty designs and 2.) love of Christmas.

I’ll be spending the next couple weeks widdling 6 down to 1 — so stay tuned for the final pick! Do you send holiday cards? What’s your current favorite?

My Favorite Things – December.

I love the month of December… I look forward to it all year. Really I enjoy May – December. January – April, not so much. So many wonderful things happen in December. People care, they take time to share cookies with their neighbors, tacky sweater parties and Christmas. Some people also go a little crazy, but I choose to keep the freaks at bay.

So while I enjoy a month of gaining back each one of the pounds I lost prior to the wedding (gingerbread cookies, cough, rum cake, cough), here are a few of my favorite things this month:

Big Bang Theory. I cannot get enough of Sheldon, there has never been a better played TV character. Swoon.

Bio Oil. Mix a few drops in with your lotion and voila moisturized skin.

Barefoot Contessa Chocolate Chip Cookies. Crispy, salty, chewy goodness.

Living Room Bootcamp. A solid workout without having to head to the gym. Particularly helpful on days like today when it’s 9 degrees outside. Brrr.

Dreyer’s Peppermint Ice Cream. Something about those crunchy little peppermint chunks gets me every time. Every Christmas my family would order a bucket of peppermint ice cream from the Schwan man, and each evening we would get a precious scoop of creamy goodness. Each bowl is chalk full of memories.

Twinkle Lights Everywhere. I love the way they can make even a simple tree or a boring staircase feel magical. I wish they could be around all year long.

*photo credit

What are your favorite things this time of year?

Merry Christmas!

So, I’ve taken a month or so off… let’s just call it a Christmas present to myself why don’t we. Not sure what happened between quitting Nablopomo and now, but let’s say it was full of fun and frivolities along with some holiday cheer and a few cocktails. Mmmk?

I want to wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS. Take a moment to whip out the maternity pants (oh have I not told that story yet… it’s to come), eat some rum cake (you’ve never heard of rum cake? I’ll share the recipe), and spend time with the people who matter most. I love you all… each and every one and promise to be better in the new year.

Xoxo.

I’m starting early this year.

I'm pulling out all the stops

The Christmas season came and went last year without it actually ever feeling like Christmas. I had a hard time “getting into the season”. Christmas is my very favorite holiday (well that and Thanksgiving), so I’m taking every precaution to make sure I find myself full of holiday cheer from the beginning. I decorated my office with peppermint twinkle lights, a mini tree, window clings and a festive candle. I hung stockings, wreaths, snowflakes… and decorated all the side tables in my house. I did this all yesterday. A full week and a half before Thanksgiving – the official date for when Christmas decorations become acceptable. I say screw it, who made up those silly guidelines anyways?

I’ve also bought tickets to not one, but two Christmas concerts… Christmas at the Ranch in early December and then Trans Siberian Orchestra a few days before the actual holiday. I also heard rumors of caroling. I can’t sing, but hey, whatever it takes – holiday music has to put me in the mood, right?

In addition to all of that, Christian and I adopted two Angel Tree Kids — giving is good for the soul and DEFINITELY in the Christmas spirit.

Now I’m left with presents. You have to figure that starting this early will give me plenty of time to come up with good ideas, really immerse myself in Christmas giving and build the excitement for the coming month. Right? Right?

I’ll keep you posted, but this is my plan of attack for now. If you can think of anything else I’m open to suggestions.

*Photo Credit: Makumbura

Wassailing.

My friend Kaitlyn lives in Indiana… and she has brought to my attention the art of Wassailing. Now, I live in Colorado and have never heard of such, Wassailing, in all my years (except in a few select Christmas numbers). Ahem:

Here we come a-wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a-wand’ring
So fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

– Here We Come A-Wassailing

For those of you that don’t know (I was one of you only a day ago), how Wassailing works , according to Kaitlyn is “we go to a house, sing and then go in for an hour and eat/drink/socialize before moving to the next”. This may not be the “classic” definition, but it’s there’s and I like it. Kaitlyn’s night went a little something like this:

House 1: Wine! Good Start!

House 2: Singing “Deck the Halls” and shaking Jingle Bells. Lots of food, Lindt chocolate and bubbly or beer!

House 3: Singing “Jingle Bells”… more food and a variety of alcohol.

— Updates sent via text message throughout the night for the sole purpose of making me insanely jealous.

Seeing as the Christmas spirit has all together skipped me this year, I think the one thing that could have saved me was Wassailing. I mean, really, I’m not so into public singing, as dogs are the only ones that can hear me and occassionally a window shatters. But really, on Christmas, who cares about the details. I’m sure I could be persuaded with a glass of wine and some Lindt chocolate to do just about anything, including sing. And, if by chance I won’t sing at the first house… a glass of wine will surely have me singing by the second. Right? Then a glass of bubbly and I’ll be belting out “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by the third.

Now, don’t go getting all crazy here. I’m not planning or dreaming of ¬†singing songs about Christmas intoxicated. Not cool, being Christmas and all. But you know a glass of wine here, a hot toddy there, can’t hurt.

So, here’s to Wassailing, the lost art form at Christmas that I believe needs to be re-instated. Looks like I have a WHOLE year to plan. Food, drink, social festivities and singing like an idiot. All things I enjoy. Wassailing 2010 here I come.