Christmas Day

I am grateful for the chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and recognize the impact it has on my life. I am also thankful for the opportunity to be with family and friends, to reminisce, and enjoy a day together.

This year was different than the last few years have been. Our dear friend Dayna's father is in the final days of his life as he battles cancer. Typically, Dayna's family joins us for dinner, as well as her parents and my mom. But with her dad's health situation they spent the day with her siblings, their children, and her parents, which was exactly where they needed to be.

So our day was much quieter. We still had dinner with my mom - Prime Rib, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, brussel sprouts (blah), frog-eye salad, homemade rolls, and banana slush with banana cream and coconut cream pies for dessert. The meal was delightful! We exchanged gifts and had fun chatting with my mom.

The quieter day also gave me time to reflect on what is important, what I value, and my many blessings. I am so grateful for Christ's sacrifice for me. I am thankful to be surrounded by people that love and support me. Life is good!

Merry Christmas!


Stockings were hung with care

We have a variety of stockings in our house. Two are hung on the mantel - the cross-stitched with love ones (mine and J's).

My stocking that K made for me two years ago

We have baby stockings hanging from the corners of the TV hutch. Four puffy, playful stockings hanging over the french doors to the deck. There are three or four more in the downstairs hanging from various surfaces.

But not a single one of these stockings is actually filled on Christmas morning - they are for decoration only (I'm too afraid to use my cross-stitched one - it's too beautiful!). On Christmas Eve we each place our stockings out on our designated seats in the family room. Mine is an Odie stocking (Garfield the cat's dog buddy) that says "The More the Merrier" that I've had for 20 something years. We each take turns filling the stockings of the other two, while our sock remains hidden beneath a towel. The last person to fill the stockings removes the towels and turns out the lights.

Christmas morning we go through our stockings first, which contain practical items such as hair dye, shower gel, lip stuff, and other needed items as well as a few fun items like iTunes cards, movie tickets, and goodies. J's sock always has an orange, because that's what her childhood stocking contained.

I love our stocking tradition and also enjoy the variety of stockings that grace our home.


Winter Wonderland

The snow has arrived! Our neighborhood is coated in a snowy, white blanket that has enhanced the Christmas lights and other lighted decor. Mabel and I took a ride through the neighborhoods and captured a few favorite sites (she hung her head out the window while I tried to find strategic spots to take the photos without looking like a stalker). Enjoy!


The Feast

Growing up the Christmas Day feast centered around a turkey with all the fixings. As an adult, our meal consists of prime rib, scalloped potatoes, and a lovely array of salads and sides. At one time we also included ham for those that weren't prime rib fans, but we've either converted people or they take the ends, which are cooked more.

The funny thing is, I can't remember when or why we started having prime rib, but I'm certainly happy with the decision. I wish I could take credit for the meal, but my contribution involves frog-eye salad, slicing potatoes for scalloped potatoes, frying bacon for the green bean casserole, and making the pretzel salad. The heavy lifting for the meal is handled by J and she does a fabulous job (although every year she stresses about getting it done enough without overcooking it).

The excitement over the anticipated meal is building as the days count down. I'm just grateful I'm a grown-up and DON'T have to eat the brussel sprouts. I'm off to dream of prime rib and other delights.


'Twas the week before Christmas

And the packages are shipped!! Time for the happy dance. Best part, it didn't cost an arm and a leg to ship everything. I think I'll need to try this again next year :)

Life is good!


It wouldn't be Christmas...

There are so many things that symbolize Christmas (spiritual, humorous, fun, celebratory, etc.). This post looks at the lighter side of what celebrating Christmas means to me.

It wouldn't be Christmas if...

  • I didn't start listening to Christmas music on November 1 (I get my iPod set up when the trick-or-treaters stop coming)
  • We didn't watch the movies Elf, Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Christmas Story
  • We didn't make cookies or gingerbread houses with kids, which means cleaning the house before they get there so everything looks nice and then cleaning the house after to remove the stickiness
  • I wasn't wrapping and shipping presents to my brothers the week before Christmas
  • We didn't experience at least one White Elephant gift exchange
  • We didn't start decorating AT LEAST a week before Thanksgiving (that way when December arrives, we can enjoy the decor - or that's the story I'm sticking with)
  • I wasn't begging on New Year's Eve to leave the decorations up until the weekend after
  • We didn't attempt a Christmas photo with the dogs
Barkley, Cleo, and Mabel - 2002

Mabel, Gracie, and Hazel - 2011


To Snow or Not To Snow?

One of the things I love about living in Utah is the chance of a white Christmas. I recognize that I can celebrate Christmas without the white, fluffy stuff, but there is something so perfect about finding piles of glistening snow on Christmas morning.

The problem is there are no guarantees and as much as the weather people try to predict it, they don't seem to have a clue either (until it shows up).

But I am definitely dreaming of a white Christmas. We've had two storms that have produced a significant amount of snow, but they had big gaps between them with warm days that melted the accumulation. But hope lives on and I have fingers and toes crossed that Christmas will dawn with an amazing covering of white goodness!


New Traditions = New Treats

Over the years we have made a menagerie of gingerbread houses (some were technically graham cracker houses). We loved this tradition and looked forward to it every Christmas. As the Wheatley kids got older, we still enjoyed this tradition but one year switched to making cookies. The next year, we decided to make goodies for the Wheatleys to give as neighbor gifts. I poured through my cookbooks and found a variety of options. Boy did we have fun!!

Since then, we have continued this new tradition with a twist. Each year the kids picked a favorite from the previous year and then I added a couple new items. We've made:

Melted Snowmen sugar cookies
Oreo Snowmen (similar to these)
Nutter Butter Reindeer (similar to these, but with two pretzel antlers)
Plus, we've made Corn Pop Candy, spritz cookies, Peanut Butter cookies with Hershey Kisses, and other fun stuff.

I can't wait to see what we pick this year. I've heard rumblings of the Oreo Snowmen making a comeback. Good times!!


Gift Wrap

I love to shop, but wrapping the gifts is one of the necessary items on the list to do. And yet, I have pinned many a beautiful wrapping idea on Pinterest. Given enough time, and energy, I can wrap a gorgeous package. So why don't I? Time, energy, I have no idea!

But just like other paper products (scrapbook paper, cards, etc.) I am attracted to it and find it very hard to resist buying. And I like buying ribbons and bows to match, not that they get used.

So yes, I have an addiction. And while my wrapping jobs would not grace a cover of Martha Stewart, they use lovely paper and usually have a coordinating or at least a matching tag.

Here are a few of the wraps I dream of including in my package decor some day. Enjoy!

Brown paper wraps tied up with ribbons (The Haystack Needle)
Lovely sheet music and bling (Paige Smith Designs)
Button tree - LOVE it! (Decoratrix)


My Christmas Card to You

Merry Christmas!

I'm amazed how quickly the year has passed. The puppies have grown from cute bundles of energy to 50 pounds of energy. Mabel has decided that the puppies aren't so bad, as long as they don't wrestle around her, then they need to be put in their place.

At work I made it through an exciting year of scrapbook conventions where I saw lots of friends, bought supplies that I still need to use, enjoyed teaching a few classes, and worked with amazing people. Work also brought change as I switched from the Events team to editorial just two weeks ago. I will miss working with everyone in Events but look forward to new challenges with editorial.

On the home front, I learned to knit, which I'm not very good at or very speedy, but at least I'm trying. We vacationed at Disney World and Harry Potter World in September with Brianna and Dayna and had a blast. Harry Potter World was all we had hoped it would be. Fishing wasn't spectacular this year, but a few trips were taken. We celebrated K's 50th birthday with a fun backyard get-together.

And so another year comes to an end. 2012 was a good year and I'm looking forward to 2013. I hope you had a wonderful year and your holidays are filled with love and memories.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The hounds send their Christmas wishes to you as well!


Gifts of Christmas Past

It's amazing how memory works. I can remember the Christmas I received my first bike - blue with a little white basket. I remember the doll from my childhood that I loved as if it was a real baby. And I remember a beautiful cabinet my grandfather made to hold my tea sets. And yet I can barely remember the gifts from the past few years. Yes, I'm getting older, but is that really the reason?

What I do remember are the feelings from each Christmas as we open presents together and then later with extended family. The excitement and hope that what I am gave someone will be enjoyed. Trying to capture that perfect expression in a photograph and hoping it isn't blurry. And then sitting together afterward enjoying each other's company.

And so I will continue to remember the past, meaning my childhood, and keep the feelings of the recent past tucked away in my heart, because that's what really matters at this age.


The party is here

Each December we play host to two holiday parties - an office party and a family party. The great thing about these parties is there isn't much to plan.

The office party is a large group - managers and guest (about 38 people total). We have dinner (everyone brings something - we provide the house) and then engage in a rousing White Elephant gift exchange. The gifts brought over the years have been memorable. One year it included hub caps from one of the attendee's truck that another attendee took off when he arrived "late" to the party. Then there was the year that things were taken from offices in the company and regifted, which prompted a lot of labeling of items the next year with tags such as "take this and die." The one rule is no animals because of a mouse incident and a beta fish. It is a loud and very fun evening with a few gifts worth taking home and the usual list of suspects that you know will show up at a future party. This is the party that motivates us to finish the decorating as quickly as possible because it is usually held the first weekend of December.

The family party is on Christmas Eve and the participants vary depending on who is in the area and who is visiting family in other states. The menu is the same: homemade pizza, chips and dip, seven layer dip, chicken nuggets from Chick-fil-a, chilled shrimp, orange frappe to drink, and a variety of desserts. This party also includes a White Elephant gift exchange that has provided a plethora of stories over the years. There was the year that granny ended up with the Monthly Doos calendar (pictured below). Or the ever stylish maxi-pad slippers. But the best is the gift that keeps on giving - Homer Simpson boxers that are accompanied by a photo of the previous year's recipient. There's always a few musical type toys that the kids love (singing Santa or carols that are mooed instead of sung) and gift cards that make less appealing gifts the target to acquire.

The calendar Granny ended up with
Close up of the Homer Simpson boxers
Once the gift exchange is over, we move to a more refined celebration that includes singing a few favorite carols and recently has the kids acting out the story of Christ's birth from Luke in the Bible.

These parties are some of the things we look forward to in December, but it is also nice to sit and enjoy a quiet evening with just the Christmas lights on and Christmas music playing. Balance is a good thing, especially during the holidays.

One note, after writing this I noticed a theme - White Elephant gift exchanges. Hmmm, might need to incorporate other types of parties. Nah! They're so much fun!!


Advent Calendar

In October when I was at Gardner Village I found this adorable Advent Calendar (I have since seen them in two other stores in Utah - Sprinkler World and Evan's).

It comes with colorful pockets (already put together in four designs), cards for each day (plus several extra), and cards with instructions and supply lists. Each card contains an activity and scripture for the day. If you use the kit as is you fold the cards, stick them in an envelope, and string them on the red ribbon (also provided).

I decided to take it a step further and add additional decor to each envelope. It was fun decorating and I used up a lot of my stash.

I sent this to my brother's family for them to enjoy this holiday season and hopefully future holidays. Because you can remove the cards, you can change up the order each year and even mix in the extra cards to vary things up.

I recommend this kit - it was simple and fun, even if you don't add extra decor to the envelopes.

Happy Holidays!


Visiting Santa

I remember visiting Santa when we were young in his little red house with white trim around the roof, windows, and door and a small, wood porch on the front. It was about the size of a small playhouse - enough room for his big chair, a black bucket with mini candy canes. and a little table. The little red house originally was located at the back of the lumber yard and later moved to a place on the way out of town (that I thought was totally random as it wasn't really associated with a business, but I was older then so I didn't care as much).

I don't ever remember waiting in line to see Santa - we usually just walked up and sat on his lap (Paradise wasn't a very big town and was mostly retired people so there weren't tons of kids). I also don't remember telling him what I wanted for Christmas, but I'm sure I did because I remember going through the catalogs to mark the pages with things that looked promising.

I do remember thinking how cool it was to see Santa. And I loved getting a candy cane. I feel bad that kids these days don't get a candy cane - that seems like the quintessential thing to get from Santa! Christmas as a child would not have been complete without a visit to Santa and his cute, red house.

This isn't the exact house, but pretty close to what I remember. Ahh, the memories!!


Welcome December

I can't believe December is here already and yet, at our house it definitely feels like December. The house is decorated (well, except the rest of the ornaments on the last tree downstairs), the lights outside come on automatically now, and the kitchen counter graces a selection of candy and goodies.

December is my favorite month! It is full of traditions, color, festivities, and love. I look forward to once again recording the events and things I love about this month through words and photos.

Welcome December and bring on the fun!

Words to live by:

"I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year." (Charles Dickens)

"What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." (Dr. Seuss)

"Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind." (Mary Ellen Chase)

"The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear." (Buddy the Elf)

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14)





About This Blog

My posts are random. They cover a variety of subjects, but are mostly about things I enjoy, am inspired by, or catch my attention at that moment. I don't ever want to offend anyone by anything I write. This blog is a way to express myself and the interests I have. I hope you enjoy what I share.

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