Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day (and Post) of 2010

Not sure how it is already the last day of 2010!?! Time goes by so fast these days.
I'm definitely enjoying my Christmas break with my little ones. Yesterday (and today) was/is a weird weather day and we are experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Yesterday, I took the kids to the park. That's right, the PARK, in DECEMBER, in the WINTER! And to top it off, I didn't even need a coat! It was a "tad" windy (understatement) but a very nice break from playing inside.

Enjoy ringing in the new year and reflecting on 2010!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

First Christmases are the BEST!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas season. I have learned over the past four years that holidays with kids are CRAZY!!! Super exciting but CRAZY!!! Kids make the holidays so much better. The "firsts" for my kids are just extra special to me. Here are both of my babies on their first Christmas...

This was Jeremiah, December 2006, for his first Christmas. He was nine days old so you can imagine how excited he was! :-) He slept almost the entire time...

This is my Ava girl, December 2010, for her first Christmas. She turned 7 months old on Christmas day and while she didn't sleep the whole time, I think she wished she was. :-)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm dreaming of a GREEN Christmas...

This year, I got the bright idea to "wrap" all of our presents in empty product boxes that we would normally discard. These boxes are pretty enough as is so I reduced the amount of wrapping paper I used this year and before these boxes get sent to the recycling center they will serve one more purpose. Don't worry, family, you will not be getting cereal, crackers, or ziplocs for Christmas. There is something much better inside!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let's shop, Dad!

Another one of my favorite Christmas traditions is the "Daddy Daughter Shopping Trip". This tradition started several years ago when my dad needed help shopping for my mom and grandma. Ever since then we just make it a date! This year we had a few extra helpers since all the grandkids went with us too. As much as my dad grumbles about the crowds or about the shopping lines, I think he secretly loves shopping with his girls. ;-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Annual Bake Day

My sister-in-law, Amber, and I get together for a Christmas bake day every year in December. This has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Yesterday, as we were making our goodies, we were trying to remember when we started this tradition as well as how the tradition has "evolved" over time. We've decided that the tradition started in 2002...we think...based on a holiday recipe magazine that Amber purchased for our first Annual Bake Day, which we cook out of each year.
Keep in mind that our Annual Bake Day started when there was only one kid between the two of us and now there are four. So you can imagine that the noise level and stealing of munches is at an all time high! Some other things that have "evolved" includes the pre-baking grocery shopping. Yep, we used to even grocery shop together for bake day prior to making all of our goodies. (Again, you can imagine why that has changed since we had kids.). :-). Our first couple of years we both had HUGE ambitions of what we would bake in one day. Now, we tell each other, "Only 4! The limit is FOUR!". We are talkers so we do just as much talking as baking so really four is all we can fit in. :-)
This year's goodies include:
Surprise Sugar Cookies with Snickers
Spiced Nuts
Pecan Puffs
German Chocolate Bars
Ritz Crackers with Peanut Butter dipped in Chocolate
Peanut Putter Cookies with a Resses Buttercup
White Choc Cranberry Biscotti
Ginger Snaps

Thanks, Amber, for the FUN tradition! Can't wait until next year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Moving beyond curly ribbon

My Christmas post yesterday was about my lack of creativity when it comes to wrapping presents. Today, I want to show you the bows I have made for some of the packages under my tree. These fun bows are made from magazines! I learned how to make them at the last MOPS meeting I attended and fell in love with the idea. With just a few little folds, a stapler, and double sided tape you can make these bows too! My favorite thing about these bows is that they are GREEN! Recycling and reusing my old magazines is also a cheap way to decorate my Christmas packages.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

It's my signature...

We are right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Christmas. I am frantically wrapping all of the presents trying to get them all finished and taking inventory along the way making sure I haven't forgotten anyone. Tonight, the hubs and I are spending a quiet night at home, wrapping presents and watching movies.

If you have ever received a package from me then you know it always comes with curly ribbon. I really like how fun curly ribbon looks but to be honest I use it because it's easy, quick, and cheap. :-). It has sort of become a joke in my family about my use of curly ribbon. My sister and sister-in-law both use super fancy ribbon and just make presents look so picture perfect that you really just don't want to open it. Which brings me to the real reason I use curly ribbon...I'm just not that crafty or creative to use the fancy stuff. However, I LOVE receiving the fancy packages! :-)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Four Years Ago...

Exactly four years ago tonight, this was the size of my belly thanks to my baby boy, Jeremiah. Tomorrow we will be celebrating his Birthday. While this really has nothing to do with Christmas amongst all of these "Christmas" blogposts but this is what OUR December is like and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

More Holiday Baking!

It has been CRAZY around here all month but especially this last week. Our church was holding their annual Christmas Dinner yesterday and I needed to bring something to the dinner. I usually like to try new recipes or make something special but quite frankly, I just ran out of time. So I went to the pantry, grabbed a cake mix and tub of icing and decided to make cupcakes. But these are no ordinary cupcakes... I went looking for something to jazz these puppies up! What did I find,you ask? About 2/3 of a bag of som leftover cranberries that I used in another recipe. I cut the cranberries in half and threw them in the batter. I had to jazz them up some how; not only in flavor but in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Old Ornaments...

I was digging through some stuff in storage and I came across a box of my old Christmas ornaments that I used to hang in my tree when I was little. Some of them are pretty special and some of them explain a little about who I was as a kid. For instance, I used to LOVE the Chicago Bulls. LOVED them! And for those of you who know me now know that I am not a sports fan - don't watch them at all. So the fact that I LOVED the bulls makes me kinda laugh. The other ornament that sort of defines me as a kid is the string instrument ornament. I played the viola for 8 years. At one point my little tree that I put up in my room was filled with string instrument ornaments. You will also see homemade ornaments some by me and some from others. My Grandma B. used to make these big stuffed bows and then decorate them in some way. They were ornaments and she would put them on top of our packages.
It was fun running into these ornaments. Although they don't make it on my tree anymore, they still hold a special place in my heart. :-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Get the Gold Guy, John!"

As you know, we just celebrated our 10 year anniversary. Ten years ago, on our honeymoon, this is one of the beautiful places we visited. As cheesy as it sounds, there is nothing more spectacular than New York City at Christmas time. One of our favorite memories from our trip was the day we visited Rockefeller Plaza. You can just imagine the people around this very popular tourist attraction. Many couples/groups were getting their pictures taken in front of the famous Rockefeller Christmas tree. Matthew and I LOVE to people watch - especially when we are visiting other places. The FUNNIEST lady was desperate to get her picture taken in front of this tree. She caught our attention with her heavy New York accent dictating to her husband just how to get the best photo. She apparently REALLY loved the gold statue as well. Over and over she would repeat, "John, John, get the gold guy, John. John, get the gold guy!" If only I could some how stream the sound of her voice begging for a picture with the gold guy... It. was. HILARIOUS. And now, this phrase from this complete stranger on a random day in NYC, makes it into our weekly conversations one way or another.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ten wonderful years.

In all the hustle and bustle of the holidays we always stop to take some time for us. It is always so crazy this time of year that I wonder HOW IN THE WORLD did we prepare for a wedding AND take a 10 day honeymoon in the middle of it all!?! I can't believe it's been 10 years. I guess time really does fly when you're having fun!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Happy Anniversary Eve

It's almost our anniversary and I thought I would share with you the story of one of my favorite ornaments. This is one of the oldest ornaments "we" as a couple own. On November 6, 1999 Matthew asked me to marry him. I was really sick that day Matthew had a big day planned for us. It was a Saturday, I laid in bed most of the day, Matt came to my house and watched TV with me, we were supposed to go to Silver Dollar City that night to see the Christmas lights. I told him that I didn't think I could go because I was SICK. Little did I know he had a whole evening planned and I was about to ruin it. Even my mom was like, "I think you'll be okay to go, just get some rest so you can go tonight." I thought that was a little strange that she was pushing so hard for me to go to Silver Dollar City if I wasn't feeling good. Now I realize that everybody knew the plan but me. So, we went. We walked around looking at all the lights, listening to all of the music. Silver Dollar City has the cutest little chapel and at Christmas time you can go in and sing Christmas carols. We went in but there was no one inside, just us. We sat on the front bench looking at the lights out of the big windows in the front of the chapel. Matt was a little fidgety, kept looking behind us then leaned over and said, "I have a question..." I looked at him in a matter-of-fact way to hear what the question was and he got down on one knee.

We finished our visit to Silver Dollar City that night with me sporting a new piece of jewlery and we stopped to buy a little something to remember the night. I love this ornament. I love that it is the place that Matthew proposed and at the time we purchased it, it made me feel so happy to see "The Murray's"...that was going to be us! I was getting married!
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Painted Just For Me

I love little village sets that people put out around Christmas, especially the elaborate ones with all of the accessories. When I got married, my sister-in-law painted me a beautiful set of Christmas houses. Here are just a few of those houses. If you notice in the picture, she even painted one that resembles my dad & grandpa's old service station. While I don't have a big, elaborate village with all of the accessories or even a cool place to put my village, they are still special to me and still displayed in my home at Christmas. One day I'll have a place for them...maybe when there aren't so many little fingers around to break them. :-)
Thanks, Amber, for painting these for me!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Our Sunday School lesson today was about God's promises and the Christmas Story. God promised a Savior would be born of a virgin. And He kept that promise... Today we talked a lot about Mary and as a mother myself, I can't imagine what Mary thought after she was visited by the angel that told her she was pregnant.
I'm a virgin, HOW am I pregnant!?!
Will Joseph understand?
Am I adequate for this job?
I'm scared.
Society will reject me.
Will Joseph be rejected too?
Am I really pregnant (you don't really "feel" pregnant for a few months)?

I also think about Mary when I start feeling sorry for myself. Mary's story puts it all into perspective. If I start feeling wronged or life just isn't going right for me, I think of Mary and her story. Mary was faithful, humble, a woman of God. She was engaged to be married, which was a big deal at the time and required a divorce! She was a virgin but pregnant with God's Son. Do you think Mary grumbled about life not being fair? I don't think so. Don't you think there were skeptics? Absolutely! Joseph could have made a fool out of her; could have had her stoned. But he didn't He loved her, He loved God and was a faithful and righteous man. God took care of Mary and Joseph. The night Jesus was born, there weren't even any beds available for Mary. She labored in a barn! With animals around! Talk about "unfair"! Mary did everything right and STILL had faith that God was with her. She was doing what God asked her to do and serving Him with such faithfulness.

So do I have the right to think my life is "unfair". Nope.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hand-painted Tradition

Every year we have taken Jeremiah to Firehouse Pottery to paint a Christmas ornament to hang on the tree. Last year, my sister-in-law took him to paint one for us. This year, Jey and Ava will both get to add to the tree - cant wait to see what they create. Here is what we have collected so far!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Every tree has a story...

Matt and I aren't ones to put a tree up in everyroom or do a TON of Christmas decorating...until this year. :-) We have our main tree in our living room, one in Jeremiah's room now that he is old enough to want one, so of course we had to put one in Ava's room, and now the basement. Check out our pretty trees!

Matt has been working so hard to finish the basement and while there is still some things to be done, it's definitely liveable. We have really been enjoying some family time in the new space that we HAD to put a tree up to enjoy! This tree was purchased probably 3 or 4 years ago on a Black Friday Special and has been sitting in storage since. This tree makes me realize that I LOVE prelit trees. We decorated this tree with glitter pipe cleaners. We just made curly Qs and stuck them at the end of the branches. You will also find our hand-painted ornaments on this tree!

This is Miss Ava's tree. Last year my "burley, manly-man" dad picked up a pretty, sparkly, pink tree for my neice, Miss Zeda. So grandma and grandpa thought it was appropriate that Miss Ava have a matching "girly" tree. I stuck a big silver bow on top with some pink baby blown glass ornaments that I purchased 90% off after last Christmas. As she gets older, her tree will quickly fill with ornaments that suite her just fine!

This is Jeremiah's tree. This small little tree acutally used to be the tree that I had in my room when I was a kid. I still have it and was so excited to put it in Jey's room. Last year was the first year we put a tree in his room and this year he definitely remembered! After Christmas last year I found some "Cars" ornaments and decorative lights to stick on his tree so he was super excited about those. You can also see several ornaments that he has made, which make this tree extra special. The other thing I love about this tree is that he decorated it...and you can tell. :-)

Lastly, is the tree that can be found in our living room. This is our main tree and until last year was the ONLY tree we put up in our home. A special thing about this tree is that it was one of the many Christmas trees used in our wedding. We bought this tree at an after-Christmas-sale the year before we got married because we knew we were going to have a Christmas wedding. I was really sick that year but my dad took me to get this tree because he knew I wanted to buy a "cheap" tree so bad for my wedding. The look of this tree has changed a little - it used to be blue and silver (which were the colors of my wedding). I love this tree and I love the reason that I even own this tree in the first place.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let the Baking Begin...

One of the reasons I love December is that I have an excuse to try all of these recipes that I wouldn't normally try. I've started a collection of recipes that I want to make this holiday season, some being given as gifts and some for my family to enjoy. Rest assured there will be blogging to come regarding these goodies!

Yesterday my son, my niece, and I baked a batch of cake mix cookies. As you can see they decided to decorate them with m&ms, or eat the m&ms as I decorated the cookies quickly before they ate all of them.
After we were done, I was able to fill my new Christmas cookie jar with its first batch if cookies!

Cake Mix Cookies
1 box of cake mix, your choice
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil

Mix ingredients together. Drop a spoonful of dough for each cookie. Bake at 350 for 10-12 min. Decorate with icing, m&ms, sprinkles, ect. Be creative!

*The cookies pictured above were made with a Devil's Food cake mix and decorated with m&ms.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Countdown Begins...

It's December 1st! Time to start the advent calendar! When I was a kid I LOVED advent calendars and/or other Christmas countdown activities; like the Santa picture where you added a cotton ball every day until Christmas and by the 25th the Santa had a big, full cotton ball beard.
When I became an adult and got a house of my own with my own Christmas decorations of course I had to have an advent calendar. It took me awhile to find the right one and I absolutely love it. This year, now that Jey is old enough, we will be starting a new advent tradition. Notice that each number of this advent calendar is printed on a little door? I have filled each door with little prizes or activities to do throughout the Christmas season. This should be fun!