Wednesday, December 29, 2010

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things … At Christmastime!

Hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! Can’t believe it’s already over…I’m so not ready to see all the decorations come down yet. :( But then again I never am. I had a very nice Christmas this year though! Not only Christmas day but the whole season has just been a lot of fun. For some reason I’ve always thought the days leading up to Christmas are almost more fun than Christmas day itself. Anyone else agree? … I guess it’s the anticipation. Since the season is wrapping up, and in just a few days we will enter a new year (hello 2011…can’t believe you came so fast!), I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorite things about the holiday!

Our Christmas Tree ~



I don’t know about you, but to me it’s just not Christmas without a real tree… what can I say? It’s how I was raised. My mom has always wanted an artificial but it’s a concept that my dad, my sister, and I just cannot grasp. Every year since I was young we always try to get the biggest and fattest tree we can find. This year however I think we might have gone a bit overboard as we didn’t realize just how tall this tree was until we got it into the house. We came to that conclusion after the top bent against the ceiling lol. My dad had to cut it a bit just to fit the angel on…but I think it turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. :)

Christmas Ornaments ~



Over the years my family and I have garnered quite an extensive collection of Christmas ornaments… as you can see lol. What I love most about them is how so many of them have a story or a special significance. It makes our tree feel personalized.

My mom bought me the castle ornament above because of the special significance it has for me. When I was a kid my favorite thing to watch at Christmas was a cartoon called “Christmas Everyday”. It’s about a little girl named Tilly who is given a magic castle to hang on her tree. The Christmas fairy who lives inside the castle grants her the wish of Christmas everyday…and of course chaos ensues. I don’t know if any of you have seen or remember this, but it aired on TV in 1987 and my mom taped it for me. It may be a little silly but even now at 26 years old it just isn’t Christmas till I watch it! So my mom bought the castle ornament in honor of my love for this cute little Christmas cartoon. :)

 Spending time with friends ~

The holidays are always a great time to get together with friends you don’t get the chance to see that often. My sister and I were so happy to have our good friends from Austin, Amanda and Amber, make the trip to our town to hang out for a bit! We had a great time talking and laughing, going out to lunch, exchanging gifts, and decorating sugar cookies! :)


Me, Amanda, and my sister, Cecily, at the bay in my town.


Me, Amber, and Cecily


Our um…adorable…sugar cookies lol. :P They were actually pretty delish!

My dad’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cake ~


It’s just not Christmas unless I have a slice of my dad’s White Chocolate Raspberry Cake. It’s a Christmas tradition in our home. This is a photo of the cake he made this Christmas. It was heavenly!

Our kitchen table all set for Christmas dinner ~



These are a couple photos of our kitchen table right before we sat down to eat this Christmas. A special touch was that we used my grandma’s red Christmas table cloth she always used when my sister and I were young.

The smell of the holidays ~

Spice Aroma Therapy (Homemade Potpourri)

My mom used to make this homemade potpourri in her pretty glass teapot. I remember loving the smell, it smelled exactly like the holidays. This is perfect for when you have guests over or when you just have a relaxing evening at home. Simmer your favorite combination of these ingredients in your infuser with a full teapot of water.

Whole Nutmeg

Cinnamon Sticks


Vanilla beans

Apple Slices

Orange Wedges

Lemon Wedges

Bay Leaves

Hot Chocolate ~


Who doesn’t love hot chocolate? If Tx didn’t get so hot I would drink hot chocolate all year round. :) A couple weeks ago my family and I bought some of this Hershey’s Bliss Raspberry Hot Chocolate for our Christmas movie night. It was pretty delish actually! We topped it off with gingerbread marshmallows…too cute!

While instant hot chocolate can be good, let’s get real, homemade is just way better. Here’s a great recipe I found on one of my favorite food blogs Just Cook Already. My sister loves anything with sweetened condensed milk in it so I knew it was a good recipe to try. We made some the other night and it was really good, rich but not too sweet. Give it a try!

Hot Chocolate ~

(Recipe found @

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
5 cups warm milk* (warm in microwave or in pot on stovetop)

In a large pot, stir together the condensed milk, vanilla, salt and cocoa powder.Slowly whisk in the milk. Heat through on medium-low until warm.

Top with marshmallows, homemade whipped cream, or marshmallow fluff.

Home For Christmas by Nsync ~


Yes, you read that right…Nsync. Believe it or not but these guys did a great job with 1998’s “Home For Christmas”, and it’s honestly one of the best Christmas cd’s I’ve heard. They really do the originals like “The First Noel”, “The Christmas Song”, and “Oh Holy Night” (which is beautiful with their 5 part harmonies) justice. And they also have great originals like “It’s Christmas”, “Under My Tree”, and title track, “Home For Christmas”. This cd has a lot of good memories attached to it for me. I bought this tape (yes, tape ;) in Christmas ‘98 and my cousins and I loved it. And still to this day we listen to it every Christmas. I like to think it’s the memories attached to it that really make it so special. :)

Boo Humbug by Rene Gutteridge ~


This book has become a holiday tradition for me! About month ago I wrote a review for the first book in this series called “Boo”. Well “Boo Humbug” is the fabulous Christmas edition, as well as the final book in this quirky and hilarious series by author, Rene Gutteridge. The tag line is "Christmas is scarier than you think". For those of you who've never heard of the "Boo" series, they center around a newly converted horror writer named Wolfe Boone or "Boo", as he's referred to in the books. "A Christmas Carol with a horror twist" says the back cover. This crazy Christmas installment of the "Boo" series finds Skary resident, Lois Stepaphanopolis, gathering the towns people together to put on a Christmas production "like no other"...that doesn't end up going quite as planned. This book, as well as the whole series, is sure to keep you laughing out loud the whole way through. "Boo Humbug" became my favorite book to pick up around the holidays. You can't help but be entertained by the witty dialogue and crazy antics. It’s a great book to get you right in the spirit of Christmas.

To purchase "Boo Humbug" Click Here

Hallmark Channel Christmas movies! ~

The Hallmark Channel has been giving Christmas movies everyday since early November. To be honest, I thought I would be sick of them by early December. But now it’s a few days till January and I’m still loving them… thank you Hallmark! :)

 My mom’s tendency to decorate EVERYTHING for Christmas ~


Yes, that is the Pillsbury Dough Boy with a Santa hat on. My mom decorates everything for Christmas…even the cookie jar gets a festive holiday touch. ;)

Wrapping gifts while watching “A Christmas Story” on Christmas Eve ~

I may not be very good at it but I love wrapping gifts! My favorite thing to do on Christmas Eve is wrapping gifts while watching “A Christmas Story” on TV.

Baking with my mom and sister ~

Nothing beats being in the kitchen baking and cooking at Christmastime with two of my very favorite people. :)

Sirius XM’s Christmas stations ~

As I’m typing this I’m listening to Amy Grant sing “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” on Sirius XM’s Christmas station. :) All season long Sirius devotes quite a few of their stations to playing nothing but Christmas tunes. They even have one that just plays Christmas songs by all Christian artists. Maybe a little cheesy…but I must say I will be sad to see them go after New Years.

The lyrics to Oh Holy Night ~

The lyrics to this beautiful Christmas song always make me stop and remember the true meaning of Christmas. The powerful and sacred words remind me of why I’m celebrating…who I’m celebrating. It reminds me to worship my Savior, Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a baby to die for the sins of the world. This good news is felt in every note of this song as it proclaims our Savior. This is one of the most worshipful Christmas songs ever written.

“Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother. And in His name all oppression shall cease.”

The Bay in my town all decorated for Christmas ~


In the tiny town I live in we really only have one attraction…and that is our pretty bay front. It’s where people go to fish, go boating, jog, or just take a stroll. It’s really nice all year round but at Christmastime, I think it just becomes even more pretty and calming.

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