Lighting up Christmas

When I was a kid my grandparents would take my sister and I around the neighborhoods and we’d look at all the Christmas lights while staying comfy, cozy in the car.  I loved that tradition and CSP & I have continued it.  The other night we took Zoe to Starbucks, bought hot chocolate, and then toured around looking at all the lights.  Zoe loved it!  She was fascinated by the lights!  IMG_6185  There are so many houses that really do it up! IMG_6186  Next year I’ll take my big camera and get some really good pics.  These just don’t do these displays justice.

The Charlotte Observer had an article in the paper on December 12th that listed all of the best displays by county so I made my list based off that.  We were so impressed, especially by displays synced up with music on the radio!  www.lakeparklights.com is a very impressive display.  We finished our night at our favorite display: http://www.goholidaylights.com  FullSizeRender-7  Talk about bright!  And we were parked at the top of the hill!  Something else that impressed us is that most of the displays collect donations for various charities!  Hopefully next year we’ll have our kidlet to take with us!

And finally, Christmas

This year we celebrated Christmas Eve with my family and we were supposed to celebrate Christmas Day with CSP’s side.  But his Gramy had a stroke the week before Christmas.  So his parents went to be with her in Minnesota.  And then Gramy died on Christmas Day.  So once his parents came home from MN we had our Christmas.  I put my Christmas PJs back on, played Christmas music, left all our decorations up, and we cooked a big Christmas dinner.   We had a lot of fun.   Here are some pictures.  Our tree:   I like to decorate the top of our antique record player    Here’s the mantle:   And here is a present from CSP’s parents:  SUCH a cute pug ornament!  

How to play Dirty Santa- the Gigi way

We have a relatively new tradition in our family.  The grown ups don’t buy gifts for each other, we just buy for the kids.  But Gigi still wanted the grown ups to be able to unwrap some presents so she decided we’d start playing Dirty Santa.  She collects all the gifts for us and draws up the numbered slips.  Here are her rules (they vary slightly from traditional Dirty Santa/White Elephant rules).

Everyone who plays draws a number.  If there are 10 people you have numbers 1-10 on slips.

Player 1 chooses a gift.

Player 2 can choose to steal Player 1’s gift or choose a gift from the pile.

Player 3 can choose to steal Player 1 or Player 2’s gift or choose a gift from the pile (and so on down the line).

If you draw a present that has a name on it you have to give that gift to the named person and choose another gift.

If you draw a child’s gift you have to gift that gift to a child then draw another gift.

There are 2 rounds.

If you drew #1  you get to choose 3 times.

If there are leftover presents in the dining room that Gigi didn’t see during the Dirty Santa game then there will be a competitive round of Dominos or Cranium, etc to determine the winner of the leftover gift.

Once the game is over you may trade your present with other players if they are willing to trade.

Everyone goes home with fun stocking stuffer type presents!

Christmas 2010

I confess I was a terrible photographer this year.  For one my ISO sensitivity was set too high on my camera and I forgot to change it so all my pics are WAY noisy.  Sigh. Also, I was having too much fun to take pictures!  This was the first year we split Christmas day.  CSP had to work late on Christmas Eve and didn’t get home til past 8 pm.  Normally this would be the year his parents would be with us on Christmas Eve but with CSP’s schedule and the fact that they live an hour away we just pushed the visit to Christmas day.  Early Christmas day CSP had to get up at the crack of dawn and go BACK into work 😦 for a couple hours.  He is a grocery store manager and on days the store is closed they still have to check the freezers to make sure they don’t lose product.  Sure enough he lost a case and had to spend way more time there than we’d thought cause he had to pull all the product and get it into another freezer so they wouldn’t lose it.  I’m so thankful CSP has a good job but it sure can make the holidays a bit of a mess!  He didn’t get home til well past when I thought we’d be at my sister’s house.  So we quickly loaded the car and hit the road.

We missed breakfast but were in time for lunch, presents and Dirty Santa. We brought Jake and Joey a soccer goal that had to be opened in the garage. Papa & Sara help Jake open the soccer goal CSP & I gave him & Joey for Christmas But we did end up inside too. Jake, Joey & Papa around the Christmas tree at Marc & Sara's Momo is such a trooper.  She’s still in pain from her hernia surgery last week and has a swollen spot the size of a large lemon (looks like she’s smuggling fruit in her pants!) but she hung in there! Momo I made yummy Spiced Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins. It was my first attempt at stuffing a muffin and they turned out great! I made yummy Spiced Cream Cheese Stuffed Pumpkin Muffins I’ll post the recipe soon.

I can’t believe it but I’d never played Dirty Santa before!  At least that I can remember.  It was so fun!  Gigi provided all the gifts since it was a surprise to the rest of us that we’d be playing.  Most of the presents were for the boys and that was just fine- it was more fun stealing presents than actually getting a present!  There were 9 of us and most of us are super competitive, watch out on game night!   Papa opened his first and it was a Jacob’s ladder.  He instantly wanted to trade that bad boy in and when everyone else would be deciding he would chant behind us “Jacob ladder.  Jacob ladder.”  He kept forgetting the ‘s.  Marc chose to open a present and wound up with a box of candles.  He was trying to read the box to find out what scent but some of it was in French.  He said “Ooh citronella!  Citronella is French for creamy!”  Bahahaha!!

We left Sara’s at about 4 and swung back by our house before heading out to CSP’s parents’ house.  We ran in, grabbed presents and Zoe and hit the road.  Zoe is still in a crate when we’re gone and we didn’t want her spending all day and night in there!  We made good time and beat the snow.  Whew!  CSP was seriously sweating the weather on the way there. In-laws' tree CSP was worried about the snow that had been predicted so our time at his parents’ was shorter than planned.  We opened presents first then had a wonderful dinner.  WHO KNEW that the hit gift of the night would be the one I spent the least amount of money on?   You can go online and spend about $10 each on one of these.  OR you can do like I did and buy a full dozen at the Dollar Tree!  Everyone on my list (who drives) received one of these and they are raving!  I know I LOVE mine.  I have short arms, yo!  I keep one in each car and one in the house for cleaning tall mirrors, windows, the tv, etc.  LOVE.   Everyone also like their Scentsy plug ins.  I just love when people love the gifts I give them!  Instead of wrapping paper or gift bags this year I used reusable grocery/tote bags to package up my presents.  Going green at Christmas!

Dinner was fabulous as usual.  My in-laws and my aunt and uncle are all serious foodies.  You’re not gonna get tv dinners over there!  They made Beef Wellington.  I’ve always heard Gordon Ramsay yell about it on Hell’s Kitchen but I’d never tried it.  It was so neat!  Looked like a little meat present on my plate. Beef Wellington for Christmas dinner.  Side dishes not pictured but nommed. CSP loved it so much he ate the leftovers for breakfast this morning! Dessert was creme puffs. Mom of CSP made cream puffs for Christmas dinner dessert One had egg nog whipped cream inside and the other had peppermint ice cream with hot fudge. We went home with full bellies to say the least!  Zoe was on her best behavior all night and slept like a log when we got home.  She just has the best time when she can go visit people and get some loving.  6 humans to love on one little pug= heaven for her!

I can’t believe it’s the most wonderful time of the year already!

While I am anti Christmas songs pre-Thanksgiving, it is Christmas card list making time again!  Now, I can’t promise that I’ll actually be able to find my Christmas cards in the sea of boxes in the garage, take a cute Christmas themed pic of the pugs &/or us, and get my long list of Christmas cards filled out and mailed in time for them to arrive before 2011.  But I sure will try.  If you’d like to be on the receiving end of some of my paper based holiday cheer then be sure to email me with your address if I don’t have it.  hey shanny at gmail dot com.  No spaces.  If you aren’t sure if I have your current address then go ahead for safety’s sake and send it to me.  If I have not sent you my new address and you’d like it, please let me know.  I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week already!  Then Christmas season will be here!  Help me prepare!  Don’t dilly or dally!