Tag Archives: Christmas tree

‘Tis the Season

This year’s holiday season is looking very different from last year. This time last year, I had just left my job at Bromley and didn’t know what to do next. I spent the holidays resting while trying to figure out what kind of job I felt I was right for, and also feeling a little guilty that at 25, I had left my job without a plan as to what would happen next. This year, I’m in a job that has been such a good change for me. I’ve now been at the Southwest School of Art as their Executive Assistant for a little over six months. I work with some really amazing people and am inspired by the creativity of this place. I may not be done with our Christmas shopping or have our Christmas cards out in the mail like I did by this point last year, but I am so grateful for all that has happened in the last 12 months.

December has been a whirlwind and I find myself needing to take time to savor this season and remind myself of the huge purpose of Christmas: the birth of our Savior. It’s so easy to get caught up in the commercial side of Christmas (hello, previous paragraph and my uncompleted Christmas shopping), which feels so cliche. I am thankful that Christ frees me from these petty worries and struggles and that we have had some really sweet moments this month celebrating the Christmas season. Last weekend was my favorite weekend of the year that started with the Trinity Christmas concert on Friday, and ended with the Redeemer Christmas party on Sunday. It was all extra special this year since my parents were in town to join us on these traditions for the first time. Yes, it was fun getting to sit in Trinity’s Laurie Auditorium together and listening to great music, but it was so special getting to serve alongside my parents at Redeemer Christmas boxes the next morning, sharing our traditional lasagna dinner as we decorated our tree in the evening, and having them come as our guests to the Redeemer Christmas party Sunday evening.

At the Trinity Christmas Concert

At the Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

Trinity Christmas Concert

With a few of the Youthies at Christmas boxes on Saturday morning

With a few of the Youthies at Christmas boxes on Saturday morning

Lunch after Christmas boxes at the Pearl. Chip and my dad unintentionally twinning.

Lunch after Christmas boxes at the Pearl, Chip and my dad unintentionally twinning.

Molly and Wrigley helping us pick a Christmas tree at Home Depot

Molly and Wrigley helping us pick a Christmas tree at Home Depot

Ready for dinner on Saturday

Ready for dinner on Saturday

Our tradiitional dinner while decorating the Christmas tree: homemade lasagna

Our traditional dinner while decorating the Christmas tree: homemade lasagna

One of my favorite meals of the year

One of my favorite meals of the year

Our new ornament of the year from our trip to Napa in August

Our new ornament of the year from our trip to Napa in August

The ornament we received our first year as a married couple

The ornament we received our first year as a married couple

The first ornament Chip got for me back when we were dating

The first ornament Chip got for me back when we were dating

Our failed family photo

Our failed family photo

There we go

There we go

Christmas 2014

Christmas 2014

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

I hope you are all getting time to enjoy this Advent season. It sometimes means consciously ignoring the to-do list and muting all of the holiday commercials on TV, but it is so good for the soul.

A Full Weekend

Last weekend was a wonderfully full, holiday-packed weekend. As busy as it was, it left me very happy and grateful for the Advent season and the community we’re surrounded by.

Friday kicked off with our youth group high school girls sleepover. After meeting for dinner at the Quarry and going to the Trinity Christmas Concert (always one of my favorite events of the holiday season), we spent the night at Haley’s house decorating Christmas cookies (which quickly transformed into Little Mermaid cookies), laughing at a hastily attempted lip dub to “Roar,” and watching a bit of Pride and Prejudice before falling asleep for the night.

Decorating cookies

Decorating cookies

Christmas cookies

Christmas cookies

Little Mermaid cookies

Little Mermaid cookies

Saturday morning, Chip and Matt were kind enough to bring over some breakfast tacos before we all left for the annual Redeemer Christmas boxes outreach event. Here’s a video that was shared based on last year’s turnout. I’m so encouraged that this year we had even more people volunteering than last year and were able to make more boxes in less time. It’s pretty awesome to see so many groups from San Antonio come serve together.

Once we finished Christmas boxes, Chip and I went back to the Behams house before we all packed into Chip’s truck to go get our Christmas trees at Home Depot. Now last year, we went to a cute little Christmas tree farm and bought some (way too expensive) trees. This year, we toned it down a bit and got some serious deals! And let me say, the quality of the trees at Home Depot was really good so be sure to check them out.

Loading up at Home Depot

Loading up at Home Depot

Chip and I then came home to set up our tree and start cooking our traditional lasagna for dinner. We usually have “something” happen when we’re trying to get our tree up. Our first year as a married couple, we got into a nice little argument over whether or not the tree was straight. I will admit that I had Chip go back and forth half a dozen times in adjusting the tree so his frustration was understandable. Last year was pretty uneventful, but we made up for it last weekend. While Chip would lift the heavy tree up, I was trying to move the base around so we could get the tree in more easily. Unfortunately Chip brought the tree down before I was fully out of the way, which means my right hand was still on the edge of the stand… I’m not going to lie, it definitely hurt, but thankfully my fingers barely even bruised and were just more scraped up than anything. The sacrifices we make for Christmas decorations…

Christmas tree battle wounds

Christmas tree battle wounds

Once the lasagna was in the oven we got started on decorating. This is probably the fullest tree we’ve had so we ran out of lights about halfway through. Thankfully Chip offered to run to Target real quick to get us a few more strands (pretty sure he didn’t want me to go to Target because I totally would have come back with more Christmas decorations). We started putting up a few of our favorite ornaments when Matt and Haley came over to join us for dinner and dessert, which was a coffee cake from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate book – I’ll be sharing that recipe later!

First Starbucks red cup of the year - perfect for decorating the tree

First Starbucks red cup of the year – perfect for decorating the tree

Wrigley couldn't believe we ran out of lights

Wrigley couldn’t believe we ran out of lights

Chip decorating the tree

Chip decorating the tree

O, Christmas tree

O, Christmas tree

Wrigs wasn't ready for the picture

Wrigs wasn’t ready for the picture

Love these two boys

Love these two boys

Redeemer Christmas Party

Redeemer Christmas Party

Sunday evening was the Redeemer Christmas Party, which we always really enjoy. It’s fun to get dressed up, eat a nice meal, listen to a Christmas sermon, and sing along to some jazzy holiday tunes. This year we were able to bring one of my former coworkers and her husband with us and had such a great time catching up with them and hearing all about their sweet baby girl. The Christmas party was a wonderful way to wrap up our very full weekend and also remind us the true reason for this advent season and that however busy we may be with “holiday” events, we don’t make Christmas happen. God does. And for that, I am extremely thankful.

Christmas in Arizona, Part 1

Just about everyone knows that Christmas is my favorite holiday. Ever since I was a little girl, Christmas was always a really big deal in my family and my parents did a great job making it feel like a very special time of the year. When Chip and I were planning where we would be for the holidays, I was extremely excited that we would be spending Christmas in Arizona this year.

We had been planning on spending all of last Friday in the car for our 12 hour drive to Tucson with the hope of getting in sometime in the evening. But about a week before our trip, Chip thought it would be a better idea to do half of the drive Thursday afternoon once he got off work so that way we would get an extra half of a day in Tucson on Friday. I don’t get to go home very often anymore, so I was more than okay with this new suggested plan!

Everything loaded up in the car

Everything loaded up in the car

While Chip was at work on Thursday, I spent the morning finishing our packing and got the car loaded and ready for the drive (between the two of us, I’m definitely better at packing than Chip is… I thank my semester abroad in Chile for this skill!). We got on I10 around 3:30 in the afternoon with the plan of spending the night in Van Horn, which is pretty much halfway point from here to Tucson. Overall, the drive Thursday was very smooth and after one quick stop for dinner, we were checking into the hotel a little before 10:00. Wrigley did great in the car, but was a little confused in the hotel and being in a new space so he (and in turn Chip and myself) didn’t get the best sleep that night. Oh, well, we still love you, Wrigley. We were up early on Friday and soon back on I10 for the remaining six hours of our drive.

Little bit of Starbucks to get us going

Little bit of Starbucks to get us going

We made it into Tucson sometime after 1:00 on Friday, so of course we had some lunch from Eegee’s. My brother had flown in a couple of days before we did, and my parents had decided to wait to get a Christmas tree until we were all in town. Once we finished our late lunch, we all got in my brother’s truck and drove to the lot where we’ve been getting our Christmas trees for the past who knows how many years. I’m sure we were an entertaining bunch, walking around and looking at the different trees and debating over who was picking out the best one (props to my dad for loudly and boldly pointing at a tree and saying it was bent… my dad doesn’t always realize when he’s being loud and obvious, it’s one of his many charms). In the end, we got the tree I had chosen (of course) and brought it home.

At the Christmas tree lot

At the Christmas tree lot

Dad, mom and Alex waiting for our tree

Dad, Mom and Alex waiting for our tree

Getting the tree in the stand

Getting the tree in the stand

Wrigley offering to help

Wrigley offering to help

Doesn't look like you're helping much, Dad ;)

Doesn’t look like you’re helping much, Dad ;)

While the guys got the tree set up, my mom and I worked on our dinner: homemade lasagna. My dad dropped a few hints that he liked this tradition Chip and I were starting of having lasagna while decorating our Christmas tree, so my mom and I thought it would be fun to make together. We put in a little more meat and a little more cheese than normal, something I’m sure the guys didn’t mind at all.

Once we were done eating, it was time to decorate the tree. My mom is a pro at the lights, so we let her handle that part before jumping in for the ornaments. It had been a couple of years since I got to decorate the tree with my family, so it was fun getting to look at some of our old childhood ornaments (Chip thought my hair looked “full” in some of my elementary school picture ornaments… thanks). With the tree decorated, we spent the rest of the night relaxing together and watching a couple of episodes of Duck Dynasty. We got my dad into the show and were excited to show it to my brother; we had a feeling he would like it! We still can’t get my mom into it just yet, but she was a good sport and sat there with us while we laughed at the antics of the Robertson family.

Mom and Alex putting up some ornaments

Mom and Alex putting up some ornaments

Almost done with the tree!

Almost done with the tree!

Alex giving approval on my dad's placement of the angel

Alex giving approval on my dad’s placement of the angel

Our stockings over the fireplace

Our stockings over the fireplace

A favorite part of Christmas since my childhood: Santa's Marching Band

A favorite part of Christmas since my childhood: Santa’s Marching Band

Relaxing and watching TV

Relaxing and watching TV

The view on our walk to breakfast

The view on our walk to breakfast

Saturday morning, we walked over to Le Buzz for an awesome breakfast. All of us (Wrigley included) love the food there, so we try to make our way over whenever we’re in town. You really can’t go wrong with the food there. I highly recommend the egg sandwich, chorizo skillet, oatmeal and granola bars to anyone. After breakfast, the guys went golfing while my mom and I took the dogs on a nice, long walk before heading home. We spent the afternoon cooking a dinner with recipes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook. The homemade tomato soup we had with our meal was especially good; I’ll definitely be making it for us again soon! My grandparents joined us for dinner and the guys spent some of the evening playing dominoes. After dinner, my parents went to a work Christmas party while Chip, Alex and I stayed home and watched Ratatouille (very cute movie!).

We had a big breakfast at home Sunday morning and caught the noon showing of The Gaslight Theater’s Scrooge. We’ve seen Scrooge here a few times now and it never gets old. We also loved the “Andy Williams Christmas Olio” after the show; hooray for carol singalongs!

Ready for Scrooge to start

Ready for Scrooge to start

Sunday evening we went and had a very special dinner at Anthony’s. While I was in high school and my dad’s business was beginning to do well, we started the tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve at this restaurant. It’s been fun to come here year after year and see how much God has continued to bless my family while sharing a very nice dinner together. This was Chip’s first time at Anthony’s and it was a lot of fun getting to share stories with him from different years there at the restaurant.

With Chip at dinner

With Chip at dinner

The five of us at dinner

The five of us at dinner

With my mom after dinner

With my mom after dinner

The Lopez/Nance clan

The Lopez/Nance clan

Alex with mom and dad

Alex with mom and dad

I love these guys

I love these guys

We're really cool

We’re really cool

This is what usually happens when my brother and I take a picture together

This is what usually happens when my brother and I take a picture together

I love my little brother

I love my little brother

More to come from our trip to Tucson!

A Saturday in December

I have fallen sufficiently behind in my blogging… oops! Prepare for a flurry of Christmas related posts.

We had a very full Saturday a few weeks ago. We started our day off with Redeemer‘s annual Christmas Baskets service event. Along with the Edison soccer team, a group from UPS, some YoungLife students and a bunch of other groups, we were able to put together over 6,000 boxes of food to be given to families throughout San Antonio. I was able to work with some very fun people that morning while Chip was out delivering some of the boxes with a few other guys from the church. I was at the sugar table for most of the day, working first with some of the senior high girls and then with Rachel Chaney’s awesome kids.

The super cool girls of the sugar pile

The super cool girls of the sugar pile

After the Christmas baskets were completed, we went back to the house to get ready for the rest of the day. We had been planning on going Christmas tree shopping with the Behams that afternoon, so while we waited for Hailey to drive back from a quick trip to Austin for a baby shower, Chip and I cooked some homemade lasagna to have later for dinner and worked on rearranging some furniture in the living room. Last year, we decided it would be a fun tradition to have a special meal for our Christmas tree decorating. This isn’t a special family recipe or anything, but it is extremely tasty. It was much easier making it the second time around, mainly since we now knew how long it took from start to finish (definitely didn’t anticipate that last year and we were just about starving by the time the meal was ready). Once the lasagna was in the oven, we started working on the living room.

Chip had suggested a few times that we try moving our TV out of the corner of the living room and up against the wall. It took me some time to be convinced; once furniture is set in a spot, I’m just not good at envisioning it in a different place. However, making space for our Christmas tree seemed like a great reason to try this rearranging out.

Unplugging the TV from its old spot

Unplugging the TV from its old spot

Chip getting the TV re-set up

Chip getting the TV re-set up

We finished getting all the TV cables connected and DVDs put away just as Haley and Matt were getting to our house in the afternoon. Chip had found a Christmas tree farm out in Pipe Creek, so the four of us and Wrigley got in his truck and made the drive out. This farm was pretty awesome. They had trees planted in even little rows that you could just walk around and saws to help you cut down your tree. Unfortunately, these trees weren’t your typical Christmas trees… as in the didn’t smell like Christmas. One of my favorite things about real Christmas trees is how it can make the whole room smell like the holidays. So much to the guys’ disappointment, Haley and I both chose the pre-cut Frasier Firs they had displayed in the front instead of sawing down our own trees. You just couldn’t beat how good those smelled!

The guys ready to find our trees

The guys ready to find our trees

Christmas tree farm

Christmas tree farm

Serious about finding a tree

Serious about finding a tree

Frasier Firs

Frasier Firs

Haley modeling her wreath

Haley modeling her wreath

Dinner time

Dinner time

With our trees and fresh wreaths loaded up in the truck, we drove back to San Antonio and shared the homemade lasagna together. We added a salad and some bread to the meal and finished the evening off with some fresh chocolate chip cookies and Duck Dynasty.

Once the Behams left after dinner, Chip and I got the tree set up and ready for the lights and ornaments. We’ve collected a few special ornaments over the years, which are shown in the pictures below. With Christmas music on in the background for inspiration, we were able to get the tree decorated pretty quickly. All in all, it was a great day!

 

Hello, Christmas tree

Hello, Christmas tree

Wrigley testing out the tree skirt

Wrigley testing out the tree skirt

Part of our tree

Part of our decorated Christmas tree

Our first ornament, a gift from Chip when we first started dating

Our first ornament, a gift from Chip when we first started dating

An ornament we received as a gift after we got married

An ornament we received as a gift after we got married

We bought this after we saw The Lion King Musical at the Majestic

We bought this after we saw The Lion King Musical at the Majestic

We bought this ornament this year when we saw The Nutcracker at The Majestic

We bought this ornament this year when we saw The Nutcracker at The Majestic

A gift from my goddaughter, Isabella!

A gift from my goddaughter, Isabella!

Ornament for our love of wine

Ornament for our love of wine

Proud Trinity grads

Proud Trinity grads

One of the ornaments we bought on our honeymoon in Italy

One of the ornaments we bought on our honeymoon in Italy

O, Christmas Tree!

O, Christmas Tree!

O, Christmas Tree! O, Christmas Tree!

I hope at least a few people started to sing that Christmas song as they read the title of this post :)

As many people know, I absolutely love Christmas. Some might say I’m obsessed, but I’ll just say I love the Christmas season. While Chip and I were getting married this past May, I was already looking forward to our first Christmas as a married couple and how we would blend our different family traditions to make them our own. One particular aspect of the Christmas season I was very excited about was getting our first Christmas tree. After years of growing up with a fake tree complete with color-coded branch instructions, my family got our first real tree when I was in sixth grade. It changed my life. Okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ll never go back to a fake tree! Nothing beats picking out a tree on a cold day and the smell of a fresh tree when you come home. Chip also had real Christmas trees throughout his childhood, so this was something very easy for us to agree on. We had decided that the weekend after Thanksgiving would be the perfect time to go pick out our tree together and decorate for the holidays.

Ready for the big tree-finding day, we first spent the morning with the community of Redeemer Presbyterian Church helping put Christmas baskets together that would later be distributed to families throughout San Antonio. After the Christmas baskets event, we made a quick trip to HEB to get the needed items to make ourselves homemade lasagna and chocolate bread. Once we finished at HEB, we went to three (yes, three) different Christmas tree lots. The first tree lot we visited was the best we saw that day. For those out looking for a tree, this lot is located behind Health Link, which is in the same shopping center as Magnolia’s Pancake Haus. As soon as Chip and I walked into the little tented area, we were greeted by the smell of fresh pine. It was wonderful. The trees there were all very fresh, but Chip wanted to compare to a couple of other lots just to be sure that we were getting a good deal on a great tree (I reluctantly agreed). So off we went to two other tree lots.. and both were nowhere near as good as the first! The trees just all seemed drier and had so many loose needles… two terrible qualities for a Christmas tree! So off we went to the first lot once again. We walked around for a bit and Chip found a tree that was still wrapped up and hadn’t been opened by anyone yet. But Chip felt there was something special about this tree. So we asked one of the employees there to cut the rope off so we could see how the tree looked “opened”… and it looked perfect!! We agreed pretty quickly that this was our tree. Although for a second, we did think about buying this tree….

Are we at Rockefeller Plaza?

…. but realized that this would be a smidge too big for our house… haha This thing was huge! And $800.. a little much, right?

Anyway, we gladly took our tree home. While Chip worked to cut off a few extra branches at the bottom of the tree, I got started on our homemade lasagna. After getting the initial steps done, it was time to bring in the tree! I’ve seen my dad and my brother put our tree up year after year and watched them spend some time trying to get the tree straight while my mom and I instructed them on any needed adjustments. I had no idea the straightening process would be such a project! We got the tree up in the stand pretty quickly, but it wasn’t quite centered. After what I thought were minor adjustments in direction, our tree was tilting a lot more than when we originally got it up. I’m thankful that Chip tried to be patient with me and listened to all of my “mm, no. I still don’t think that’s right…” comments and working with me in order to get it just right. It was not an easy process at all and I wasn’t sure if we would even get to decorate our tree or if we would just give up after finally getting it centered! Luckily we were able get through the somewhat grueling setting up process the second time around. By this point, it was 6:30 and the lasagna had yet to go in the oven. After quickly putting the rest of it together, we were extremely happy when the lasagna was done an hour later. It turned out so good!

Homemade lasagna!

Wine, complete with Santa topper

By the time we finished dinner (with some wine and while watching Elf, of course!), I made the dough for our chocolate bread and we were ready to decorate the tree! Now, hanging the Christmas tree lights was always my mom’s job back home. I was excited and also nervous to now have this task for our own tree! Luckily I had years of watching and learning from my mom to help me out. :) Between our solid white lights interwoven with twinkling lights, the tree is well lit!

Lights on the tree!

As far as ornaments go, we only had a handful that we had bought while we were dating, like an ornament from when we saw the Lion King musical at the Majestic, an ornament Chip gave me for our first Christmas as a couple and a few ornaments we bought in Rome on our honeymoon. So we went and stocked up on ornaments a couple of months ago during a trip to Home Goods, but I wasn’t sure if we had enough. It actually turned out to be the perfect amount! Here’s a look at the completed tree!

Our first Christmas tree!

We both love our tree and are so happy with how it turned out. We’re looking forward to enjoying it for the next few weeks!