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.

Time To Get Tacky!

I’m a big fan of comfort. I could live in sweatpants, shorts, pajamas, running skirts amongst a few other things. So soft, flowy, amazing. Now imagine my delight when I discovered that Christmas 2009 was going to involve a tacky sweater party. Because who doesn’t love a party that is based solely on comfort and tackiness? I have been elated and probably overly excited for the past month and a half. Part of this joy came from knowing my tacky sweater was going to put many others to shame. Shame I tell you. Not only was it tacky (because tacky it was), but it also played an array of Christmas tunes. I made everyone listen… which apparently looked like I was making them smell my sweater. Not awkward at all.

I decided that if you’re going to a tacky sweater party you have to do it right. No half-assing it for me. I decided to let Christmas throw up on me for a night and call it sexy. I’ve personally never been so attracted to myself. Amidst the madness and mayhem I forgot to get a full body shot… so you’ll have to do with the top half. In addition to the upper body amazingness I also had on knee high red/green striped socks with pom poms hanging down the side and fuzzy Christmas slippers. I realize that my description may cause some to feel intense feelings of attraction, but please try to restrain yourself. Check me out:

Ashlyn, Me and Jacqui (Schmacqui) getting tackified!

There was also a white elephant  and a plethora of wine to be had. At one point “Mr. Wee Wee” or whatever he is really called made an appearance. I surprised more than a few people and entertained comments about face peeing for the next several hours…

It was one amazing night all the way around.

Amazonian Update.

Update! (original here)

Last weekend I attended a “classy” Christmas party… involving a cocktail-ish dress and some big ‘ol heels. I was totally rocking it. Didn’t feel like a half-naked beast one bit. BUT, last night at my friend’s tacky sweater party someone made this comment about my height to my littlest sister. Now he may have been hitting on her, and she does have a boyfriend who was present, but nonetheless:

Random Guy: Your sister is a giant. <pause> Last week she was wearing heels and WHOA she was just staring down a the top of my head. <pause> <pause> Now, you… you’re just the right size.

For starters, what guy in the right mind starts hitting on one sister by insulting the other? Anyone, anyone? And two, I’m a giant? Rude. Maybe next time I’m staring down at the top of his head I’ll conveniently mention his need for a moisturizing scalp shampoo, because whatever he was using surely wasn’t doing the trick.

P.S. Tacky sweater photos coming soon.

‘Tis the Season.

The holiday season is upon (or up-on) us. Depending on whether you choose to clothe yourself in festive wear or not. I love the Christmas decorations, yule tide tunes, garland and twinkle lights. It doesn’t bother me one bit that KOSI 101.1 starts with the carols on November 1. I like it. I also thoroughly enjoy the cheesy songs that blast through every retailer’s speakers for the month of December. And maybe, just maybe, I aspire to like the mistletoe. We’re not there yet, but someday there may be hope.

Plus, with the holidays comes holiday food. Spiced nuts, peanut brittle, cookies, rum cake, snowman dip, kolaches, kringla, spiced cider, pumpkin spice coffee creamer, pies, and everything else.  YUM. Is it weird that I’m so focused on food? How some people think pay check to pay check… I think meal to meal. And the holidays just amplify that by a hundred.

All this being said, I’m having a little trouble boosting myself into the holiday season. I feel like giving, but shopping not so much. How blasphemous right? A girl, that doesn’t want to shop. The crowds and feeling like a herd of livestock in the mall is what is keeping me away. There is something not all that appealing about feeling like one of the herd in a stuffy, germ infested shopping mall around Christmas. I’m often tempted to squat down on my hands and knees and begin mooing – a cow costume would only add to the effect. If I wasn’t afraid people would think I was either 1.) giving birth or 2.) having some sort of episode I just might try it.

Maybe I need to make cookies and decorate them with festive sprinkles, or sleep with Christmas songs playing so they are engrained in my mind. Maybe I need to pay a visit to santa… though I’m not sure how high on the creeper scale that would rate. Maybe I need to buy a leotard and dance around to the nutcracker, or maybe I need to just give it up this year.