Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Empty House

This morning my in-laws left our house & headed back to Michigan. My Christmas decorations are down, the tree is in the garage waiting for a new storage bag, & my Christmas dishes are all boxed and put away. My everyday dishes & non-holiday related home decor have been put back in their appropriate places. The floors have been vaccuumed, the shelves have been dusted, & the holiday cooking is finally complete. The only remnants of Christmas remaining in my house are a few leftovers from Christmas gatherings, a GIANT bowl of candy that Santa left in my stocking, and a few pair of shoes that I don't have room for on my shoe shelves so they are currently resting on our bedroom floor.

It's hard to believe that Christmas has come and gone in just the blink of an eye. I wait each year with such anticipation for the wonderful time of year that Christmas is and then just like that it's over and we've moved on to the next holiday. I certainly love the holiday and all the joy & peace that comes along with it, but right now I couldn't be more thrilled that the holidays are over. Stress is inevitable with such a busy time of year & the Christmas decor (aka Christmas clutter) seems to get quite overwhelming by the time Christmas morning actually arrives.

Tonight Hubby is headed out for an extremely short business trip (he'll be back in time tomorrow for New Year's festivities). I have plans of fixing left-over Chicken Tortilla soup for dinner, letting my precious Bogey boy in for some well deserved inside time, and curling up on the couch to possibly watch movies all night long. Sure, there's still cleaning & organizing to be accomplished but that can all wait until next year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Weekend Rewind~White Christmas Style

Wow...what an amazing Christmas Break!!! Hubby & I spent so much time with both of our families & we realized throughout the course of 4 days just how incredibly blessed we are. God has poured out countless blessings & we are in such awe of how He showers us with love everyday. Thank you God for sending your precious baby boy to this earth. What a priceless, sacrificial gift! on to all the gatherings--Christmas Eve morning we have always gone to my mom's parents for presents in the morning & pizza for lunch. Things were no different this year and we headed down about 9:30 for our first of many Christmas's.

Romo--Nick & Millie's precious dog...he is too cute!!

My Grandpa--he's a huge Dallas Cowboys fan! Don't you love his new stocking hat!

Hubby & his St. Louis Cardinals garden knome...I think it will be staying in the house during the winter months.
Christmas Eve afternoon we headed back home to prepare for the evening's festivities. We hosted Hubby's parents, sister & brother-in-law, & nephews for our family Christmas. I made chili & chicken tortilla soup which resulted in super-easy cleanup! We had a great evening & the boys loved all their gifts!
Jackson...the box boy!

Uncle Nicky & Aunt L got Hunter "The Tickle Monster" book & Laugh Kit. It comes complete with a fun box & Tickle Monster gloves. I highly recommend it for any small child on your list!

I started out with the gloves...but then Hunter took over! Isn't he just adorable!!

and again...
and again!

In addition to the Tickle Monster we also had a Dr. in the house. Hunter loves to play dress-up so this was the perfect gift from Mamaw & Pappy!

Hubby also got a new golf bag--he was very happy!

The big gift of the night went to Hunter...his first power-wheels Artic Cat. He was so surprised & we had cleaned out our garage so he could ride around in it. The temperatures were below freezing so no riding it outside!

He loved giving his little brother a ride!

After all the family left, Hubby & I were left to play Santa for each other. We stuffed each other's stockings and I know that I went to bed with visions of sugarplums dancing in my head. I have never been able to sleep in on Christmas morning & as a 26 (almost 27) year old woman it's no different. I woke up before 7, but forced myself to stay in bed until exactly 7:00 am. It was then that I realized Hubby was actually awake as well so we pulled on our robes & went to the living room to exchange our gifts. This is one of my favorite Christmas moments--Hubby & I opening our gifts to each other with no one else around.
Hubby and his wonderful self! Clothes & shoes were on his Christmas list so that's what he got! Don't you love the tongue sticking out?!?

Just so Hubby isn't the only one with a pre-shower photo on here, I give you my lovely greasy hair, greasy skin shot; however, it was more than worth it.

As I was finished opening my gifts Hubby mentioned that there might be one more present for me hidden in the tree. With my "Eagle Eyes (as he likes to call them)" I located the little black box tied with a red ribbon almost immediately. While I was certain it was jewelry I was not expecting what was inside! It was my other wedding band to go on the other side of my engagement ring. WOW!!! I was seriously speechless! We had gone to the jeweler to try it on back in the Summer but I was certainly not expecting it now! What a fantastic Christmas morning surprise from my wonderful Hubby!
Christmas morning also brought more excitement as about 3-4 inches of snow fell overnight. I honestly don't know if I've ever seen snow fall overnight on Christmas Eve to wake up to a white Christmas morning. It was incredibly cold so the windchill was in the single digits but it was certainly fun to have White Christmas!

Due to the snow, our lunch plans with my mother-in-law's family were cancelled so we packed up the car, Bogey jumped in the back, and we headed down to my parents' house several hours early. We helped get dinner ready, wrapped some last minute gifts, & played cards until my brother & his wife arrived late afternoon. We had such a great time & shared lots of laughs!

My parents' Christmas tree...yes it's real & yes it's about 14' tall!

One of the stacks of presents...we opened presents for what seemed like forever, but no complaints here!

Me in some of my new attire by my parents' fireplace!

My dad playing Santa with Romo on the left & Josie on the right. Bogey was outside enjoying playing in the snow with his doggy cousins!

One of the many laughs from the night came from this package....this was a gift to me from my parents. Hmmm...I wonder what's inside?!?

The other hysterical laughter came from poor Romo. My mom bought him some doggy booties & he was so tired he just let Millie put them on him while he went back to sleep.

He was not quite sure about the boots and it was hysterical to see him walk around in them. He looked like he was walking on his tiptoes! Poor Romo!
Saturday afternoon we had my dad's family Christmas that was back at my parents' house. We had a great time & everyone was able to make it except for my cousin Kevin who was celebrating with his wife's family in Tennessee. It's always a great time when we're all together & this time was no different.
My two very mature cousins...remember the Tickle Monster book? My mom also bought it for my 4-year old 2nd cousin Alyssa. I think my cousins had more fun with the gloves than she did.
At least Alyssa was able to enjoy the book.

Josie turned one on December 26th so we had to have a candle!
To complete our Christmas weekend celebrations we headed to Webb City with Hubby's parents to have Christmas with my father-in-law's family. We had a gift card exchange & we ended up with gift cards to Lowe's & Target...not too bad if you ask me! We spent most of the afternoon just hanging out, eating yummy food, & opening gifts.
Jackson is also starting to take a few steps...we all clapped & cheered for him!

Hunter also decided he needed to wrestle with me--I had to break out my Tickle Monster fingers even though I didn't have my gloves.
Whew...well there it is! Our Christmas recap. It was a wonderful 4-day weekend that flew by in a flash but the good thing is we have another long weekend with New Year's coming up on Friday! Woohoo! It's back to the real world of work for me today and trying to play catch up. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas & were able to spend some quality time with those you love the most!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!!

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! When I was a little girl Christmas Eve Eve was always the start of our Christmas celebrations as my entire family (both mom & dad's sides) gathered at my great aunt's house for dinner, games, & a few presents. I can even remember Santa Claus coming to visit me and all my cousins and he would always have a special little gift for each of us. As the years passed we eventually started having an ornament exchange & recently the celebration has been moved to after Christmas so we can all still gather together. Althought the gathering isn't taking place tonight, Christmas Eve Eve will always hold a special place in my heart as the official start of Christmas.

While I may not be gathering with a big group of family & friends, I still was able to open my first official Christmas present today. My parents' always buy a gift for the ladies that work here in our office. I normally get to help shop for the gifts with my mom and I also normally end up picking out my gift as well (even if I don't realize it!). For the past couple of years we have picked out a great purse to match the personalities of each lady, but this year we opted for boots. As they each opened their gifts they were thrilled with our choices & I think that most of them even fit properly! I tried on several pairs of boots when we were making our decision so I really had no idea what boot would be in my box. I ended up with this adorable little suede pair by Jessica Simpson! Love them!!!

Today is the last day of work for me & then I'm off for my 4-Day weekend!!! I doubt I'll be posting anymore so Merry Christmas to all my fantastic bloggy friends! I hope you are able to rejoice in the miracle of Jesus' birth & spend some much needed time being refreshed by the family & friends who love you so! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Traditions Old & New

T-minus 3 more days until Christmas and I couldn't be more excited. Tomorrow is my last day of work for the week & I've actually managed to get most everything done well in advance so the stress & chaos of cooking or wrapping at the last minute will not be experienced by me this year! Woohoo!

Last night while Hubby was watching the Polar Express with our nephews I managed to make some homemade cinnamon rolls that are now in the freezer waiting to be popped in the oven for Christmas Eve & Christmas Day morning. (ok confession, they're not totally from scratch as I did cheat and use the frozen Rhodes bread dough...God's gift to a breadmaker if you ask me). They smelled wonderful baking in the oven last night & I certainly had to control myself to keep from pulling one straight out of the pan. I did this last year and I think this will be a new tradition so we can have something special for breakfast before we head out into the craziness of travelling from place to place during Christmas.

I've got all my presents purchased, only 2 presents left to wrap, and only 2 real quick things left to make as far as food goes. Wow...I don't know if I've ever been this on top of things!

This year we are starting a new tradition with Hubby's immediate family. For the past couple of years we have just kind of celebrated whenever we had a free moment, I kind of thought this was crappy and this Christmas should be just as important if not more important than several others we attend. So...this year we claimed Christmas Eve night as ours. None of us had other plans so after we have Christmas with my mom's parents that morning we will head home & have Christmas with them. Hubby & I are hosting and decided on chili & chicken tortilla soup as the meal because it's super easy and there is very little cleanup! I'm so happy that we will finally have a designated time & it won't be something that gets pushed behind all the other Christmas celebrations.

Hubby & I have so many things to be thankful for this Christmas...I hope as the years go on we are able to continue creating our own special traditions while still maintaining some of those old traditions that are so special. God has poured out his blessings in so many ways & I know that sometimes I am so ungrateful for what He has given to us. Thank you Heavenly Father for sending your precious only son so that we might have a Savior who would be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, & Prince of Peace. I hope you all experience Jesus in a special way this year. What a blessed time of year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Weekend Rewind

Well...Rock Chalk Jayhawk...our Wolverines didn't pull out a win; however, the weekend was great otherwise!

Friday we headed out and met up with Brandon's aunt & uncle for dinner. We went to Jack Stack BBQ in downtown KC and it was so yummy. We followed that up with a trip to the Power & Light District to look at the lights and we grabbed some drinks at a local sports bar. We then headed to the Country Club Plaza as things were closing up just to grab a few pictures with the beautiful lights. It was FREEZING cold so I was definitely glad to get back in a warm car.

A beautiful tree in the Power & Light District.

Hubby & I in front of that beautiful tree.

The Country Club was FREEZING!!!!

The whole group at the plaza...I just love their lights at Christmastime.

Saturday we got up bright & early to headed out to the KU game. I chose not to support Michigan and just went for neutral black/white so as to avoid any unncessary heckling. I atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse was just incredible. I felt like I needed a secret password just to enter because it seemed like some sort of secret brotherhood! Hubby commented that it was the only place he'd been where you couldn't hear the band...and he was right! They were just more background to the cheers from the crowd. I am happy to say that Michigan definitely put up a good fight as KU played terribly during the entire 2nd half. It was well worth the trip just to experience the atmosphere once. We managed to get home around 7:30 or so on Saturday night just in time for us to hit the couch and basically crash...Hubby & I were both exhausted as we didnt' sleep very well the night before.

Brandon & Jacinda...realizing one of his lifetime dreams!

Allen Fieldhouse starting to fill up! We had general admission seats but there doesn't hardly seem to be a bad seat in the place.

The scoreboard...I think this was the only time Michigan was ahead in the entire game. Oh well, at least it wasn't a blow out!

Can I just say that Brandon's aunt & uncle were amazing?!? They were so incredibly hospitable & were so concerned about making sure that every aspect of our trip went off without a hitch. They took us around looking at beautiful Christmas lights in some local neighborhoods, let us spend the night at their house, took care of getting us tickets to the game, dropped us off at the door, picked us up as close as they could get, and even made chili for us after the game! I was so thankful for their generosity and hospitality!

Yesterday we had an extremely productive day. After church & lunch we grabbed some Christmas presents for the furry members of our family & then headed home. I headed out to tackle my huge grocery list for the rest of the week and came home to knock out several things that needed to be done. Batch of chili...check, seasoned oyster crackers...check, 3 pans of cornflake potatoes...check. I only have a couple more things to crank out and then my cooking will be done. I also managed to wrap a couple more presents which means that I only have 2 more presents to wrap before I'm completely finished! Woohoo!

Last night for dinner we invited 2 of our neighbors over to have a Pizza Appreciation party in honor of the garage incident from last weekend. We just ordered a few pizzas and I threw together a batch of brownies. It was a nice relaxing & informal night. I am so thankful for friendly, helpful neighbors...what a blessing!

I can't believe that Christmas in on Friday...I feel like a little kid in a candy store awaiting Christmas day. We have 7 Christmas celebrations in 4 days and I'm so thankful that we will be able to spend time with all of our family members. Tonight we're watching our nephews so my sister-in-law & her husband can get their Christmas shopping completed...should be a fun evening!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Rock Chalk Jayhawk vs. Hail to the Victors

Today I am taking off work at noon so that Hubby & I can head to Kansas City with our friends Brandon & Jacinda. We are spending the night with Brandon's aunt & then tomorrow morning we are getting up bright & early to drive on to Lawrence, KS for the KU vs. Michigan basketball game. I have never been to a big time college basketball game...and from what I hear this is going to be quite the experience. Their team chant Rock Chalk Jayhawk starts out something like a performance by thousands of monks & ends in a shouting tone so loud you can't hardly understand it...yup, that's where I'll be tomorrow morning. Brandon is a diehard KU fan, complete with the gigantic blow-up Jayhawk that makes apperances in their front yard on special game days! Jacinda, one of my best friends from high school, must really love that guy!

So anyways, Brandon & Jacinda will be cheering for KU while Hubby & I will be routing on the Wolverines (even if they basically have NO chance). I am a Wolverine fan by default as Hubby is convinced he was born a Michigan fan simply because he spent 3 years there during the formative years of his life age 2-5...I have tried to convince him that doesn't make him a Michigan native but I get nowhere. Hubby & I will be decked out in Michigan gear sitting next to our friends fully decked out in KU gear...honestly, I haven't fully decided if I'm picking a team or not as I really have no desire to be heckled the entire game for supporting a team which I'm only supporting to support Hubby..make sense?

To make the trip worth it we are having dinner in downtown KC tonight and will most definitely get to see all the Christmas lights in the Power & Light District and maybe even a drive-thru the Country Club Plaza. I'm avoiding most shopping areas at all costs due to the fact it is the weekend before Christmas & I'm done with my shopping and thus have no need to continue on when I'll most likely just be tempted to buy for myself. We'll see if my self-control is in full force or if I fail...I'm betting on fail! ;o)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Tis the Season for Giving

For the past several years, all of us girls that work for my dad have exchanged names and purchased Christmas gifts for each other. It's always fun to pick out something for someone else, but this year we decided on something a little bit different & a lot more rewarding. We pooled all the money we normally spend on each other & decided to adopt a family from our local community. Each year the local churches get together to provide food baskets for families in need and the children in those families are then divided among other families, Sunday school classes, or other local people which then have the responsibility of buying gifts. So...that's what we did...we adopted a local family that has 3 children: a 15 year old girl, a 13 year old girl, & a 4 year old boy.

Yesterday we all took a long lunch and headed to Walmart to fill our cart full of necessities & fun things for everyone. In a surprise from my dad, he volunteered to match the funds we had so we were easily able to buy several things for each child. We bought a complete outfit for everyone (pants, shirt, jackets, etc.), new socks, toys for the little boy (Legos & Transformers), & shampoo/conditioner, lotion, shower gel, & body spray for the girls. As we were leaving Wal-Mart with our cart full of gifts we all discussed how this was so much better than spending time searching for the perfect gift for each other.

The next dilemma was wrapping--however, we quickly decided to wrap each item individually in tissue paper & then place each child's gifts in their own HUGE box that we would then wrap as well. I sit at my desk right now--behind me are 3 huge boxes full of goodies and wrapped in fun Christmas paper. I'm so excited to deliver them to the drop-off location tomorrow & I can only imagine how excited these kids will be when they open their box to find not one, but SO many things just for them!

I love this time of year for so many reasons but one big reason is the opportunity to play Santa Claus for so many who wouldn't be visited by him otherwise.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend Rewind

Just another crazy, fun-filled December weekend! Friday night we had some friends over for pizza & games. It was our first official double date with them and based on our crazy laughter I can almost guarantee that more nights with them will be in our future! We played cards and I am most definitely proud to say that the girls definitely dominated the boys! We won 3 of 4 games of Pitch! Woohoo!

Saturday morning I had to work & then Hubby met me and my parents at our local chinese restaurant. It perfectly fits the definition of hole-in-the-wall and/or dive...but it's sooooo yummy! We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around and I was able to get some wrapping started. Hopefully I'll be able to come close to finishing that up tonight!

Saturday night was my office Christmas party. We ate way too much & had a great time with all my co-workers, my parents, and my grandparents ( who are always invited to the party since they started the business!) It was my grandma's first official outing since her stroke at the beginning of October & she did so incredibly well! I think it definitely gave them more confidence & I know they were both so happy to have a meal out of the house!

Hubby & I in front of our Christmas tree

The "girls" at our office...the only other official employee is my dad! Love these girls!

Hubby & I in front of the fireplace
The next part of our weekend gets a little bit interesting & before I even begin the story let me state that I have Hubby's full permission to post this story on the blog--plus it's actually quite funny now. So...yesterday I had a meeting after church so we planned to drive separate cars. It's a little hard to explain what happened next but I will do my best...Hubby has a routine of backing out of the driveway and when he is even with our tree in the front yard he hits his garage door button to close the door. Well, yesterday morning this is just what he did...unfortunately I had not hardly even begun to back out of the garage. My wheels had not yet crossed over the laser beam so subsquently the garage door hit my car...yup, hit my back glass and promptly went back up. My car came out without even a scratch but the garage door was a different story. Everything seemed ok at first glance, but 2 of the 4 guide wheels were completely out of the track and it was impossible to get the garage door down. After quite a bit of frustration Hubby decided we would go to church, secure our house as best we could and he would deal with it after he came home.
I do have to say that I handled the entire situation very well; in most cases I would have freaked out but it became very clear that me freaking out would do nothing to help the situation!
When I got home from my meeting, I saw what was possibly the most beautiful thing ever--Hubby & 2 of our great, fantastic, superb neighbors assisting in the complete dismantling & realigning of our garage door! Can I just say Thank you God for wonderful neighbors?!? In a little less then 2 hours they were able to get the door almost completely back to normal! Hallelujah!!! Hubby was having nightmares of a huge repair bill and possibly even a brand new garage door...thankfully I think the most we will be out is maybe 5 or 6 large pizzas! With all the help I was even allowed to snap a few photos...just FYI: Garage doors should not be in 4 big pieces!
Half-way there...

Getting closer...

Time for the bottom two pieces to go back on!
Hubby, I love you dearly & am so glad that we can now laugh at our experiences! It certainly could have been a lot worse!
After the garage door fiasco we headed out for our Small Group Christmas party. We had dinner at a fantastic local Italian place & had a white elephant gift exchange! We came home with a soup mix & a basket full of yummy chocolate goodies. After dinner & gifts we went a bowled 2 games. Hubby & I both pretty much sucked, but we a had a great time! I just love our small group & am so thankful for God bringing them into our lives!
The gifts for our exchange!

Brandon opening his soup mix! I'm pretty sure no one stole that during the course of the night!
Before we headed to the bowling alley, we went and visited a local Christmas light display that is certainly very well-known. This picture does absolutely no justice to the full display as it is fully set to music & I cannot even imagine how many lights he has on display!
Wonder what his electric bill is each month!
More shopping, wrapping, & parties are on tap for this week! Oh how I love the Christmas season!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Making a list...checking it twice!

Well, the countdown is on...Christmas Day is 2 weeks from today! Can you believe it? It never fails...December seems like the fastest month in the year!

So...yesterday I took a 1/2 mom day and went Christmas shopping with my mom. We actually tackled quite a few things on both of our lists plus I was able to find something for our office Christmas party on Saturday night. I had been seriously struggling with finding an outfit that was stylish/trendy but also still looked similar to something I would wear. Whew...Banana Republic came to my rescue & I'll be sure to post pictures in my rewind.

As for the Christmas far I've managed to take care of Hubby's parents, his sister & husband, the boys Hunter & Jackson, my sister-in-law, 1/2 of my mom's gift, 1/2 of my brother's gift, & most all of Hubby's gifts. This means I don't have a whole lot to take care of but it's enough that I really need to start cracking down. The unfortunate thing is that I absolutely refuse to go to our nearest shopping mall on the weekends so I guess we'll be postponing any shopping until at least next Monday. However, overall I'm really pleased with my progress and hopefully I'll be able to knock out the rest of the gifts very soon!

We've got another typical December weekend filled with parties & lots to do! Maybe I'll manage to get a few presents wrapped since my guest bedroom is starting to fill up fast!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Greetings!

Yesterday was a big day for me...I actually dropped all of our Christmas cards in the mail. I think this might be a record for me as far as earliness goes. I'm always a last minute girl when it comes to finally getting them signed, sealed & delivered. I had big plans of trying to have a family photo shoot with Hubby, myself & Bogey--however, time slipped away and in the end I decided I would just use my most favorite sequence of photos! No, they're not Christmas, no they're not professional (unless you count my fab mom), and no they're not perfect...but they're so us.

A formal picture of Bogey sitting and looking at the camera would go against every thing that our precious furry son is all what better way to show him off then in his most natural state of chaos!
It's been a very busy week at work and I can't believe it's already Wednesday. comes a random list of tidbits:
~It is sooooo cold here today--highs in the teens with windchills near 0. I was even able to convince my dad/boss that it shoud be jeans day since it's so stinkin' cold!
~I'm getting my hair done tonight--I love hair day! I may go for something a little bit different in the color department.
~Hubby & I have also been able to take care of most of our Christmas shopping! Woohoo! I'm also taking a half-mom day tomorrow and hopefully I'll be able to mainly finish up!
I love this time of year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Weekend Rewind

Well as always, it seems this weekend has been centered around lots of yummy food with friends & family. Friday night we had dinner at Doe's Eat Place, a very casual but wonderful steakhouse, in honor of my grandpa's birthday. The food was great as was the company.

Yesterday Hubby & I were able to spend most of the morning/afternoon just hanging around the house and catching up on some various things. I baked chocolate chip cookies--even with all the cookies from the exchange Hubby was still craving his favorite--and we cooked up another batch of chili (more on that in a minute). We left the house late afternoon to try and get a bit of Christmas shopping done and we were slightly successful as we were able to pick one item up for my mother-in-law. We then met up with some friends to head to dinner in Branson, when we got there the restaurant had about an hour wait so we went and did a bit more shopping and I was able to check my sister-in-law off the list. Woohoo! We had dinner at a placed called Texand Land & Cattle and it was also super yummy.

This morning we had church, grabbed a quick lunch and we've been able to just relax and watch football this afternoon. I may have managed to catch a nap. ;o) We also let Bogey in for the afternoon because it is super cold & extremely windy outside. I always feel sorry for him during the winter months; however, he is an outdoor dog and I know he's just fine.

Tonight we are headed back to church for the all-church Christmas party. We are having a chili/soup cook-off (the reason for which we made the chili). I've actually been asked to be a judge (even though we're entering) and the lady organizing the judging said to just skip over mine when I come to it! We are also blessing & praying over all the gifts we purchased for the foster kids before they are sent out to their homes. It will be so awesome to see this huge pile of gifts that are going to certainly bring a smile to so many childrens' faces!

We've got another busy week followed by another busy weekend which is pretty much the norm this time of year! However, I just love all the holiday happenings!

Friday, December 4, 2009

And the festivities begin...

Note: I am apologizing in advance for any picture overload you might experience from this post!

Last night was my first official holiday gathering of the Christmas season. Hubby & I seriously have lots of plans in the next few weeks & I'm so happy to be able to share in the holiday season with so many wonderful friends & family. Before I get to all the goodies from the cookie exchange last night, I wanted to show some pics of our Christmas decor as it's finally finished.

Tree in the front was so beautiful with the yellow/orange leaves still on it and the lights shining!

The completed version of all our outside decorations! Way to go Hubby!
And now onto the inside of the house...I tell myself every year I'm just going to add a little bit of Christmas cheer & leave my normal decor out; however, that never happens as I just love Christmas and rather enjoy having my house completely decked!
Entryway table
One of my new purchases this year...I just love these silver sequined deer!

Our beautiful (even if artificial) tree...we don't have a theme to our tree, it's always just a collection of our ornaments from over the years. We have 3 different Hallmark collections, ornaments from our vacations, ornaments I've made & just various ones I've purchased over the years...I love it and it has so much personality!
The shelves in our living room
Our dining room shelf...I made the JOY letters with scrapbook paper, cardboard letters & spray paint! The potted artificial poinsettia is also new...I love the glitter around the top of the pot!
My cake dome/platter filled with ornaments and some snow! This worked perfectly as a centerpiece for the cookie table last night.
Some funky trees in our bedroom

A festive grouping next to our mantle...the only thing that hasn't happened is the hanging of our stockings...mainly because we don't have any stocking holders! I'm hoping that if I leave them here long enough then Hubby will get the point!

Our mantle...I mixed it up this year & am super happy with how it turned out.
Now on to the cookie exchange festivities...
Yup, that's me taking a picture of myself in the bathroom showing off my cute little apron--my mom bought it for me in honor of the party! I just love it!

My cookies...Mint Crinkles--you can find the recipe in yesterday's post.
The spread after Round 1. I had 7 of my most favorite ladies in the world come over & we had some fabulous goodies. I provided goody bags for them to take home extras!

The whole group....mainly it was girls from my small group/church but also some friends from college. It was the perfect group & we had such a blast!

And now for a funny picture...sorry my hand is in your face Mel! Can you tell that my mom & are related?!?

I was discussing my Swiffer Sweeper & they thought it was the perfect opportunity for a photo! Apparently I look like I could be in a commercial!
It was such a fun evening & a great time to have a girls night out. God has blessed me with such incredible women who support me & lift me up each & every day.
This weekend is busy as well, the holiday festivities have officially begun!