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!

The most wonderful time of the year

It’s Fall y’all!  Well, not officially, but Starbucks is selling Pumpkin Lattes so that’s good enough for me!  Another sign it is Fall is that all the holiday stuff is coming out!  For instance….Scentsy‘s Holiday Collection is available now!  Scentsy has you covered for Halloween, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!  Check out some of these adorable warmers!  

 And there are lots of new Fall/Winter scents available too.  Like Autumn Sunset, Christmas Cottage, Pumpkin Marshmallow, Festival of Trees, Pumpkin Roll and more!  With less than 100 days left til Christmas you better get to shopping!  Click here to see the entire Holiday collection!

Glitter on glitter action, baby

I wasn’t planning on blogging about every manicure I get I swear.  But I just received so many compliments on this one that it begged a mention.  Christina and I went and got Christmas manicures on December 17.  This is what it looked like 3 weeks later!  It’s hard to see in the picture but the polish is super sparkly.  Glitter on glitter action, baby.   Of course after 3 weeks the new growth has pushed the polish out to the ends of my fingers and the situation has turned pretty janky, but I’m still very pleased with my Gelish manicure!

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!

Tisket, tasket

I get a few emails each day from various web sites and one really caught my eye today.  They showed a deal on a Wii game saying something like “This would make a great addition to your child’s Easter basket”.  I was floored!  Really?  We’re giving Wii games in Easter baskets now?  Isn’t that a bit much?  What happened to candy and maybe a stuffed animal?  I mean, it’s your money and all, but it just seems that we’re really throwing gifts at our kids more and more these days.  When you give a gift at Easter that is as extravagant as a Wii game then don’t you end up feeling like you have to top that at their birthday and then Christmas and the next thing you know it looks like you robbed a Toys R Us on any given holiday.  Do kids really need that much?  With this adoption we’re at the paperwork/ introspection stage where we’re really analyzing our feelings on parenting.  I don’t know how it will actually be once our kidlet comes home but we are all for a more simple approach.  No over the top birthday parties every year- some of those cost hundreds of dollars just to have the party at those kid party places.  Nothing wrong with cake and pizza at home with the family and a few friends.  I just hope when our kids go back to school after Easter that they don’t catch slack about the lack of electronics and expensive toys in their baskets.  Hopefully the candy and family time will make up for that.  We can’t be the only ones who feel this way, right?

Fuel for my addiction

Angry Birds Seasons released their Valentine’s Day update today. SUCH cute graphics! I shouldn’t be working on the Valentine levels though when I still have some Christmas levels to beat.  I STILL can’t beat Christmas level 20!  And I can’t get 3 stars on 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 23.  Must be due to my old eyes and slowing reflexes!

Going for the gold

CSP & I have been in a race since late September.  We’ve been racing to see who could earn their Starbucks Gold Card first.  He won.  He flashed that thing around at Christmas like a newly engaged girl showing off her engagement ring.  You’d think he’d been given a free pass to the Playboy mansion.  If you aren’t familiar with the program you register a gift card online then keep reloading it.  Each time you visit Starbucks you earn a star.  He goes about every day as there is a Starbucks right next door to his work.  Plus he just gets the tall coffee of the day so it’s just a dollar or so.  Me, I don’t drink coffee.  I sure do like their fancy $900 drinks though.  White Peppermint Mocha, that caramel apple cider thing, and my new favorite: salted caramel hot chocolate.  YUM.  I have the app on my iPhone and it is pretty fun seeing my iconic Starbucks cup fill up with little gold stars.  There’s a satisfying ding each time one goes in.  I finally earned my 30th star today. I can’t wait for my card to come so I can be as cool as CSP.  Oh, so why is it a big deal to get the gold card?  You get all sorts of freebies.  Free refills on coffee and tea, free shots of flavor, free drinks on your birthday and throughout the year.  And it only costs like $1738 for your free drink.  I kid, I kid.  You can reload your card on your phone which is cool.  Oh, and a Starbucks girl told me a secret.  If you’re buying more than one thing have them ring them up separately and you’ll get a star for each transaction.  Nice!  I love getting the inside scoop!

Southern White Christmas

This Christmas was the first White Christmas that Charlotte has experienced since 1947! Lonely Christmas tree on the Christmas tree lot.  You can just make out the lights It didn’t start snowing where we were until dinner, but hey- that still counts!  The day after Christmas, Boxing Day for our Canadian friends, CSP, Zoe, and I went out to look at the snow. Zoe's ready to go see the snow! We got about 3.5-4 inches in our little suburb but in our old neck of the woods they got over 5 inches!  That might not seem like a lot to some of you but that’s a big deal in Charlotte and an even bigger deal that it was on Christmas!  Plus it was floofy snow.  We usually get an ice/snow mix so it was great to have the fluffy stuff.

Here’s our snowy house :Our snowy house There’s a farm down the street from us where they turned their hay bales into a big angel!  At night his halo and wings light up.  So fun! Love this hay guy!  All dusted with snow! Snow makes even the normally boring drive to Starbucks pretty: Everything's prettier in the snow! Even the drive to Starbucks! CLick on all the pics to enlarge. When we returned home we took the pugs out to the back patio to see how they’d like the snow. Apparently pugs are not snow dogs! At least ours aren’t! Zoe was determined to keep at least one paw out of the white stuff: Zoe figures if she can keep that ONE paw in the air then she's won the battle of snow vs. pug. Kiki was kind of bored with the whole thing: Hmm, snow is cold noms. And Molly was the most pitiful of all! Molly is NOT a snow pug The snow started melting that day and was completely gone within a few days but it was sure fun while it lasted! If you’d like to see more pictures click here.

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!