Tag Archives: Christmas

Sorry, Frosty

I recently wrote about how much I love Christmas music. Well, I have a confession to make… even though I could listen to Christmas music non-stop (which I have been for the past month and a half…), there are some songs that I honestly cannot stand. If these songs come on my Pandora stations, they are sure to get a thumbs down. Or if they come on the radio, I will either quickly pull up my Pandora app on my phone or if I’m in my car I’ll put in my Garibaldi Christmas CD or just halfheartedly sing along. I know. So terrible. I’m slightly ashamed.

 So which songs get under my skin? At the top of the list is “Frosty the Snowman.” Does that make me a grinch? I think part of it is because I never learned this story/song as a child past “Frosty the Snoman was a jolly happy soul….”, and another part is that to me this song has nothing to do with Christmas (is Frosty here just because he’s made of snow?). While I know the lyrics now as an adult, I just don’t have any interest in it. Sorry, Frosty, I don’t think we can be friends.

Another one that I really can’t stand is “Grandma Got Run Over by  a Reindeer.” I mean, really? How is this a Christmas song? Thankfully I will hear this song only a few times a year, guess it just isn’t a popular song request (can’t imagine why…). I also struggle with “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause.” I guess it’s cute-ish in theory, but definitely not my favorite. Pretty much the only version I will listen to is by the Jackson 5. Little MJ has some awesome Christmas music.

Now, my next one isn’t necessarily a specific song but anything by The Carpenters. I can’t take it. Everything they sing sounds so…. meh. Do they intentionally sing every song slower than normal? I will literally roll my eyes whenever their songs come on my Christmas stations and try to hit the skip button as quickly as possible.

One last song that just doesn’t do it for me is “Silver Bells.” For some reason I’ve just never been a fan of this tune.

Sigh… I feel so much better getting this off my chest. Are there any Christmas songs you could do without?

Things I Love: Christmas Music

Confession: I really really love Christmas music. I saw this on Pinterest the other week and thought it was just about perfect:

Time to Rock Around the Christmas Tree

Time to Rock Around the Christmas Tree

If I can make it to Halloween without listening to Christmas music, then I’ve shown serious self-control. This year, I had one week where I got over-excited (pretty sure we had a cold front come in) so I had to play some holiday tunes for a few days before listening to more Monster Mash for Halloween. But once November 1st hit, it was on. Christmas music full time. Thankfully Chip has fully accepted this part of me and no longer complains when there is constant Christmas music going on (although if he gets command of the radio/itunes, he’ll go to anything not Christmas).

I’ve just about always loved Christmas music. There have been some classic favorites over the years and also a few new ones each holiday season. So get ready to Jingle Bell Rock with me and check out my list of favorite Christmas songs that Buddy the Elf would be proud of. Please note: this list was extremely hard to keep to just 10 and I apologize to all the songs I had to leave off.

Garibaldi:

I have been listening to Garibaldi’s Christmas CD pretty much my entire life… it was always our Christmas morning tradition to listen to this while opening gifts. Nothing takes me back to childhood memories around the tree faster than this CD can. Please note: this music is so old that this was the only song I could find on YouTube. I was hoping to find Las Posadas, but no such luck. If you’d like to hear it, let me know. This CD is always in my car.

O Come All Ye Faithful:

This has been a favorite of mine over the last few years. I appreciate how simple the lyrics are while speaking to the Christmas story so beautifully, especially with the verse “Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning; Jesus, to thee be glory given; word of the Father, now in flesh appearing: O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.” Nat King Cole’s version will always be a favorite, but I love how Josh Groban has the song crescendo to the last verse.

Sleigh Ride:

Let’s be real. This is a classic; it’s not a holiday season without this song. There are lots of different versions out there, but the Boston Pops Orchestra is my favorite. You just can’t beat the brass instruments coming in around 1:45. Makes me want to do a good jazz square. Harry Connick Jr. also does a great rendition of this song.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen:

I wasn’t really a big fan of this song too much growing up, but it has become a favorite over the last couple of years. The lyrics just hit me at “God rest ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay, remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day to save of us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray. O, tidings of comfort of joy.” Such a great reminder of what we’re really celebrating when it’s so easy to get caught up in the buzz and sparkle of the holidays. This MercyMe version is one of the best (in my opinion), but you should also check out Glee’s cover.

Little Drummer Boy:

Little Drummer Boy is one of the most underrated Christmas songs. I really like this version by Jars of Clay, but MercyMe and Josh Groban also do a great job with this song.

Do You Hear What I Hear:

Another song that I feel is too underrated. One of the things I love most about this song is how it builds the story through each verse. My favorite goes to Carrie Underwood because she actually does all four verses. Best dramatic version is definitely Glee, although it drives me crazy that they don’t do the last verse of the song. #angryelf  Destiny’s Child also has a great cover (but skip the last verse) and Whitney Houston can’t be left off of this list, either (she also does all four verses).

Joy to the World:

Over the last few years, this has been my favorite Christmas song. It’s such a great declaration of the feeling we should feel because of Christ’s birth: joy! While not 100% accurate lyrics wise, I absolutely love Mariah Carey’s version of this song. Get ready to clap along, it’s just about impossible to resist. Also, shout out to Mariah for another favorite – All I Want for Christmas is You.

O Holy Night:

This has been a favorite of mine throughout the years. From about 6th grade to too far into high school than I would like to admit, NSYNC’s version was my favorite (I’ll never forget buying their Christmas CD at Target with my dad and brother). Mariah Carey’s is also up there at the top of the list. If pop music isn’t your style, Nat King Cole can’t be beat.

12 Days of Christmas:

An awesome cover of one of the oldest songs out there. Love the creativity in the lyrics and the ending to the song is pretty darn brilliant.

Need a Little Christmas Now:

You want an instant Christmas dance party? Listen to this version by Glee and be sure to have the volume up. Makes me want to go get our Christmas tree now.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Christmas crafts, decorations

Happy 2013, everyone! I had been meaning to have this post done earlier, but somehow didn’t have the time. So although it’s a little delayed, here’s a quick post on a Christmas craft project Chip and I did for family gifts and as well as some of our holiday decor this year.

Last year, Chip and I baked two different types of bread and mailed them out to family as a gift. It was fun, but definitely wore out our little oven and also meant our families had to eat the bread pretty quickly after receiving so they would get to enjoy it before it went bad. This year, we decided to do a small variation based on an idea I saw on Pinterest. Instead of mailing out already baked bread, we decided it would be fun to layer all of the ingredients in decorated mason jars to send out. This also had the benefit of allowing our families to bake the bread whenever they chose since the packaged ingredients have a three month shelf-life.

First things first, we had to choose which bread we wanted to send. After doing some searching on Pinterest, we found a chocolate oatmeal bread that looked promising. We tested it out ourselves and liked it, so the decision was made pretty easily. Next, Chip went to Costco and bought our ingredients in bulk to be cost efficient. It was pretty entertaining to see him come home with huge bags of flour, sugar, oatmeal and chocolate chips! We next went to Hobby Lobby and bought just about all of the mason jars they had in stock… Hope they didn’t mind!

We got to work one Saturday morning and tried out a first mason jar to see how we should best layer the ingredients. That’s when we hit a roadblock. The site I found from Pinterest said to use a one-quart mason jar. However, there was a total of five cups worth of ingredients. That’s more than one quart. Fail. We tried super compressing the ingredients to see if we could somehow defy the laws of matter and get the five cups to fit into one quart, but that didn’t work… shoot. While I was starting to get flustered that our gift idea was going to go to waste and that we had bought 14 mason jars for nothing, practical Chip spoke up and reassured me that it would not be tacky to send a smaller one-cup jar along with the mason jar. Problem solved. So Chip went off to Hobby Lobby to get some small jars while I re-packed our first mason jar. By the time Chip came back, I had decided which way I wanted to sort the ingredients so they could look as cute as possible. Before I could get started on the second jar, however, Chip stepped in proving that his efficiency minded personality is valuable. He (politely) bumped me out of the kitchen and set up an assembly line of bowls full of all of the ingredients for this bread. Chip then worked on the first two ingredients for each jar and passed them on to me as he finished them so I could then add in the next two ingredients before we switched again. This helped us work so much faster; so thankful for the ways his mind works differently from mine! I’m not sure how long it took us to finish, but it was a surprisingly smooth process.

Chip's assembly line

Chip’s assembly line

Chip working on the mason jars

Chip working on the mason jars

Completed jars!

Completed jars!

With the jars filled and ready, I then cut the fabric I bought at JoAnn’s and fitted them over the tops to make them look a little more festive. I then filled out some labels from Hobby Lobby with the steps on how to bake the bread. We then divided up the jars and shipped them off! They all successfully reached their destinations before Christmas (nice job, mail system) and we’ve heard lots of sweet compliments from our family (although lots of the ingredients did get jumbled up despite how tightly we did each layer… boo). We hope everyone has (or will!) enjoyed this gift!

Baking instructions on the back of the jars

Baking instructions on the back of the jars

Since this was only our second Christmas as a married couple, our Christmas decorations are still a little sparse. We buy a little something new every year, so I know we’ll slowly build our supply of holiday decorations. Here’s a glimpse of what we had up this year in addition to our Christmas tree and wreath on our front door.

Simple centerpiece on our dining table

Simple centerpiece on our dining table

back when we were dating, Chip got me a basket of Christmas candle tumblers; it didn’t take him long to realize my love for the holidays! The little snowman is from our day at Clay Casa last year when we decorated a few ornaments together.

Decorations on our wine cart

Decorations on our wine cart

 

Reindeer candle holders on our TV stand

Reindeer candle holders on our TV stand

This year, we decided to display our Christmas cards on a mini-clothesline in one of our kitchen windows. This is another idea from Pinterest (what would we do without that site?!) and I love how it adds color to our kitchen and let’s us see all of this year’s pictures.

This year's Christmas cards

This year’s Christmas cards

Below is the awesome chalkboard tray Haley made for us as a Christmas gift. We love it! It’s definitely going to stay in our kitchen with different notes on it throughout the year. Behind the chalkboard tray is a candle holder we’ve been looking for forever to hold our wine corks (found it at Kirkland’s). We like saving our wine corks and writing on them with the date and event (like our birthday dinner at Fralo’s, etc.), so we may need to get another one of these candle holders!

Chalkboard from Haley

Chalkboard from Haley

Lovely Christmas cards from friends and family

Lovely Christmas cards from friends and family

Cubulooted

We wrapped up our Christmas in Tucson with an evening of Scrabble. While that may sound a little boring, let me reassure you that it was played in full Lopez fashion… very competitively. We really had never played this classic board game while I was growing up, but my family has really gotten into it within the last few years. One of Chip’s first visits to Tucson back while we were dating also ended in a game of Lopez Scrabble (wouldn’t blame him if he questioned my family at that point!) and we always try to play at least once whenever we’re in town.

We’ve played in teams before, but we’ve learned it’s best to separate all of us and play individually (especially my dad and brother who can be particularly obnoxious when on the same team). Every time we play, my dad will make the argument at least twice that Spanish words should count (sorry, dad, they don’t) as well as a few other new rules he thinks would improve the game and help expand our minds against following the rules. This year, his big pitch was for phonetic Scrabble. We all shot that idea down pretty quickly, although he did still try throughout the game to get us on his side. Chip at one point played “tiki” and my dad tried so hard to add an “r” to the end to phonetically spell “ticker” as “tikir.” Nice try, dad.

His best move, however, came after someone had played “cub” and another had played “looted.” There was one space in between these two words, and my dad thought it would be genius to place a “u” in between and spell “cubulooted.” When my mom asked him to use it in a sentence, he hesitated but ultimately the guys came up with a sentence along the lines of “my campsite was cubulooted by some bears….”. Mmm, don’t think so.

Mom trying to keep a straight face while my dad makes some rule change suggestion

Mom trying to keep a straight face while my dad makes some rule change suggestion

Christmas Day Scrabble

Christmas Day Scrabble, Game 1

Desserts and port to end a great Christmas trip

Desserts and port to end a great Christmas trip

Port courtesy of Becker Vineyards

Port courtesy of Becker Vineyards

We played two rounds of Scrabble and Chip managed to win both. We had a great time eating some of the leftover desserts (chocolate chunk cheesecake and banana foster cake) as well as a new coffee cake I had made from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate book. We also had a bottle of port to share that Chip and I had bought during our anniversary trip to Fredericksburg this past May.

We had a great time in Tucson with my family and I am so grateful we were able to celebrate Christmas with them!

Sunrise on our way out of Tucson

Sunrise on our way out of Tucson

Sunset in Texas

Sunset in Texas

Christmas in Arizona, Part 2

One thing I love about Christmas Eve with my family is that the structure of the day really hasn’t changed much over the years. I love that we have so many little traditions that we’ve been able to keep. The day got started with another big breakfast at home (we’re big breakfast people) and then the guys went off for their second round of golf of the week. My brother first started playing golf while in high school, so ever since then it’s become a tradition that the guys go off and play a round in the morning and come home later in the afternoon; I’m not sure how they got away with originally suggesting this as a tradition but it has the benefit of keeping them out of our way in the kitchen!

Thanks to Southern Living's cookbook for our dessert recipes!

Thanks to Southern Living’s cookbook for our dessert recipes!

I had brought two dessert recipes with me that I wanted us to try out for Christmas Eve – a chocolate chunk cheesecake and a banana foster cake. One of my biggest problems in the kitchen is that I don’t read a recipe from start to finish; I usually just read about halfway or three-quarters of the way through and assume I can do the rest… so while we were finishing breakfast I finished reading the cheesecake recipe and saw that one of the last steps was to let the cheesecake sit for eight hours… which meant we had to start baking now. Oops. Luckily the first half of the recipe was relatively easy, so we had the cheesecake in the oven pretty quickly. While it baked, my mom and I went and took the dogs for a good, long walk so they would have a little less energy while we would be busy in the kitchen. We got back just in time to take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it chill for the necessary amount of time.

Cheesecake fresh out of the oven

Cheesecake fresh out of the oven

Next up was the banana foster cake. The recipe for this one was relatively simple and we had the three layers ready to go in no time. What turned out to be a roadblock for us was the icing… After using up all of the icing we made, we weren’t satisfied with how the three layers were hidden, so we decided to make another half of a batch. That extra bit of icing made a big difference, but I’m pretty sure my mom and I could both use a lesson in cake decorating! We chose to garnish the cake with a bit of powdered cinnamon and cinnamon sticks. We then put it up on display high out of reach from Wrigley to make sure it wouldn’t be ruined or eaten before the meal.

Glaze on the three layers

Glaze on the three layers

Icing and sliced bananas between the layers

Icing and sliced bananas between the layers

In need of more icing

In need of more icing

The finished cake

The finished cake

The desserts took up a bit more time than we had anticipated and we were surprised it was already 2:00 in the afternoon and we still had to shower and get ready as well as cook our actual dinner meal. Luckily all of the items my mom had planned for dinner were pretty quick, so we got everything ready in pans on the stove top and as soon as the guys got home from golfing, we got everything cooked within an hour.

Thankful for a fun day in the kitchen with my mom

Thankful for a fun day in the kitchen with my mom

Chip, Alex and my dad out on the golf course

Chip, Alex and my dad out on the golf course

Dinner was delicious. Along with our ham, we had some homemade mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, a side of green beans, a side of carrots and a salad. I’m so glad several of these recipes were from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof cookbook so I can make them now, too!

Christmas Eve table

Christmas Eve table

Chip's contribution to the meal: taking the ham out of the oven

Chip’s contribution to the meal: taking the ham out of the oven

Dad's contribution to the meal: carrying the ham to the dining room

Dad’s contribution to the meal: carrying the ham to the dining room

 

Glazed carrots, homemade gravy and homemade mashed potatoes

Glazed carrots, homemade gravy and homemade mashed potatoes

Green beans and cranberries

Green beans and cranberries

With the meal we prepared

With the meal we prepared

My grandparents joined us for dessert later in the evening, which was so good. I’m definitely going to have to find an excuse to make these again. Big thanks to Chip for being the brave one to cut the desserts, he did a great job!

Dessert time

Dessert time

Perfect slice

Perfect slice

Doubling up on dessert

Doubling up on dessert

Two thumbs up

Two thumbs up

We spent some time all hanging out before going to midnight mass over at St. Pius. My family has been going to midnight mass for as long as I can remember. While I struggled to get through it when I was a kid and jealous that it was okay for Alex to sleep his way through mass but, as the older sibling, I had to stay awake, it’s now a tradition I love and enjoy. It just feels special getting there an hour early (need to make sure we get a good seat and don’t end up outside!) and sing Christmas carols as a congregation and then welcome in Christmas Day with the priest’s homily reminding us of the significance of Christ’s birth. The service was over around 1:00, so I was more than ready for bed by the time we got home!

Christmas morning

Christmas morning

I may be 25 years old, but I still get really excited about Christmas morning. I saw something on Pinterest this week that I think sums up Christmas morning well: “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.” We definitely made a mess opening our gifts, especially with Wrigley around who loves to tear up paper.

Wrigley looking for his gifts

Wrigley looking for his gifts

Penny on Christmas morning

Penny on Christmas morning

My parents with the gift I made for them

My parents with the gift I made for them

I saw this jCrew vest on Pinterest months ago and it was sold out everywhere in San Antonio... thanks, Chip, for tracking it down in Indiana and getting it for me!

I saw this jCrew vest on Pinterest months ago and it was sold out everywhere in San Antonio… thanks, Chip, for tracking it down in Indiana and getting it for me!

Toasty toes in my new slippers

Toasty toes in my new slippers

My dad gets a shout out for some fun gifts he got us this year… first, one very important thing to know about my mom is that she is a mamma bear to her core; don’t ever threaten her cubbies. Now, when I was in high school, I had my heart set on going to Notre Dame. I did a summer program there, loved the campus, applied early action, etc. So when I was first wait listed and then later rejected, my devastation was nothing compared to my mother’s grudge. We joke about it now (I’m pretty happy with how my life has turned out since going to Trinity!), but my mom still will not mention Notre Dame by name and will simply refer to them as “the other school.” Since Notre Dame will be playing Alabama in the BCS game in January, my dad got us all Roll Tide shirts which we all sported for the rest of the day. Nicely done, dad. You know your wife so well! ;)

Mom with her Roll Tide shirt

Mom with her Roll Tide shirt

Chip and Alex ready to support Alabama

Chip and Alex ready to support Alabama

Thanks, dad!

Thanks, dad!

Dad also got us some official Duck Dynasty duck calls... yes, we harassed Wrigley with them.

Dad also got us some official Duck Dynasty duck calls… yes, we harassed Wrigley with them.

My dad is usually the one in charge of our big breakfast on Christmas morning, but Chip and I offered to help out this year. Chip took care of the bacon, sausage and eggs while I made some homemade blueberry pancakes. In case you haven’t noticed, food was definitely a big component of this trip home! After breakfast, we were able to skype with my cousin Denisse and her family in New York. It was so fun to see them and how excited her daughter Isabella was about Christmas!

We spent a good part of the afternoon in the backyard playing some badminton. We had played earlier in the weekend and after my parents beat the team of Chip, Alex and myself, we decided a rematch was in order (we’re just a smidge competitive). Sadly, the parents won again; I’m convinced it’s harder to play when you have three people on a team instead of two! The guys stayed outside and played some more while my mom and I went back into the kitchen to reheat some of Christmas Eve’s leftovers and add in some new dishes. As if we hadn’t had enough dessert yet, I also had a coffee cake from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate book that I was determined to try out. While it didn’t turn out as pretty as the picture, it sure did taste good.

My parents on a badminton break

My parents on a badminton break

Alex and Chip playing some badminton

Alex and Chip playing some badminton

It was really intense badminton

It was really intense badminton

We spent the rest of the afternoon packing everything back up for our drive to San Antonio the next day, but we saved some time in the evening for a family game of Scrabble, which will be featured in its own separate post.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!

Trying to get a family photo on Christmas Eve... we bribe the dogs with food.

Trying to get a family photo on Christmas Eve… we bribe the dogs with food.

The Lopez Family

The Lopez Family

Trying to get Wrigley situated

Trying to get Wrigley situated

The Nance Family, Christmas 2012

The Nance Family, Christmas 2012

The Nances

The Nances

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!