Wrapping Up December

On the 18th, Craig and I went to the WCA Christmas banquet. Here’s Craig in this smashing bow tie that I learned to tie exactly 10 minutes before we had to leave by watching a youtube video seven times. Seriously. I’m pretty proud of this tie. The man is pretty snazzy too.

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The banquet kicked off Craig’s two weeks worth of Christmas break. It also kicked off our “I KNOW. Let’s paint the dining room right now!” project. We painted it yellow. There is no more, and I repeat, NO MORE peach on our walls. Not one drop of it. Nor is there any country blue floral border to be found anywhere. (There are country borders in two bedrooms upstairs, but those will be taken care of some other “break”).

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The yellow goes with the orange, like so:

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And our carpet is still teal green, but there’s not a lot we can do about that. If you knew us in Colorado you would know that we had orange walls in our kitchen, wrapping around into our living room. We had sage green walls in the living room and down the hall. We had a yellow ceiling over the whole thing.

And without even thinking about it or realizing it, we just recreated that house in reverse. Seems like we’re just your plain old orange/yellow/green kinda folks. We’re okay with that. I did decide to keep the ceilings the same color as the walls in that room, so in this I am showing signs of maturity. There is hope.

By the way, I LOVE painted ceilings. White ceilings totally miss out on the whole party.

And, because we now have totally bare windows, it is time to finally do something about it. I’ve started the next two hobbled Roman shades for the dining room.

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And here we have the obligatory Christmas jammies/stocking shot (and no, we don’t give our kids beer for Christmas, though in this photo it looks like we did just exactly that):

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This one really likes her new lap quilt:

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And now I’m baking a cake and getting ready for M10 to turn into M11 tomorrow.

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And that’s been our last 10 days in a nutshell.

Christmas Quilt

Megan DDP Day 17

I was wrapping a few presents the other day when it occurred to me that I’d taken care of our primary gift for Maddie and C9, but not for Katie or Millie. Katie was easy to fix. Millie? Not so much. She likes movies. That’s about it. I found the movie Up for about $10 last week and it is now on its way to our house. Doesn’t seem like that great of a primary gift, so today I looked at my growing stash of cool fabric and decided to make her a movie watching quilt. Here it is in its pre-washed glory. I LOVE it. Love it more than the picture shows even. It’s going to be smashing after it gets washed and looks more quilt-ish. I plan to wrap it with the movie in the same box.

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Wedding Laugh

Did I mention we celebrated 13 years of marriage this past Monday? No? We did and I’m talking about it over at WORLDMag.com today.

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Thirteen years ago on December 12, Craig was sitting with me in the snack area of an Oklahoma Walmart while I scrambled to write my half of our wedding vows.

Thirteen years ago on December 13, we rehearsed what was to come the next day, followed by my scrambling to get some bridesmaids dresses finished. (I’ve always had problems with procrastination.)

Thirteen years ago on December 14, I scrambled again—to get to the hair stylist, to get my suitcase packed, to get to the church on time. Once I finally got there, my hair was ruined from rain, my bag was askew from literally throwing everything I had into it and sitting on it to get it closed, and I was crying.

Not exactly a picture-perfect beginning to a wedding.

To a wedding, no; but to a marriage (or “mawiage” in the movie The Princess Bride), it probably was a realistic picture of what was to come. It didn’t take us very long to realize that marriage would not solve all our problems or fulfill all our goals. I believe our first big argument took place two weeks later on Christmas Day.

Looking back, December doesn’t seem the smartest month to get married—particularly when that is the same month one is graduating from college and preparing to move 12 hours away from home. Truly, December 1996 was not a season of peace for us—it was exciting and stressful and hopeful and completely nuts.

Fast forward 13 years to a Monday night in the middle of December: It is our anniversary, as well as the end of finals week at the seminary, which means Craig has an exam to take and a paper to write. It is also the beginning of finals week at the school where he teaches, which means he has test-review preparations to make and final papers and exams to grade.

And I say, “I know you are busy. Let’s just stay home so you can study.” And he says, “I can study later. Let’s go out to dinner.” We get child care secured for our four kids (something else that is different from 13 years ago) and spend four hours in the middle of this crazy month eating grilled chicken sandwiches and sharing a piece of cheesecake, walking and window-shopping around a crowded mall.

It is exciting and stressful and hopeful and completely nuts.

I suppose that’s the way life is. Thirteen years ago I thought it was just that one weekend, but now I know better. And I’m OK with it. If the exciting and stressful and hopeful and completely nuts continue together, I’ll take it. In fact, I’ll take it for another 13 years, please. And another . . . and another. . . .

The Gift Table

I have a little set up this year that is totally working for me. When we put up our Christmas tree, I had to move a table away from that window. It was too big to take down to the basement, so I just put it to the side in the dining room. It quickly became the gift table.

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By “gift table” I mean this: Each time I’ve received something pre-Christmas from someone I’ve put it on the table. Having my collection all in this spot reminds me that I still need to write thank you notes for those things. It also gives me a real good chance to look whats cool and what I love the most. Also on this table is a little basket where I keep brown craft bags, a Christmas stamp, green stamp pad, and red Sharpie marker. I keep a stash of homemade Christmas votive as well as tea wallets. Whenever I’ve needed a last minute gift for someone (oh yes, the choir instructors need teacher gifts too!), it is so easy to quickly stamp a bag (or have one of my kids do it), slide the gift in and presto! Fast gift.

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And yes, the purist in me would put the stamped design on the other side of the bag, but the “let the kids help, for crying out loud” in me says, “Hey, it’s done and it works.”

Speaking of gifts I’ve received, I’ve been the very happy recipient of several goodies from Penzeys this year. I loves me some Penzeys. I also loves that I live less than a mile from one. I also love that I have friends who know I love Penzeys. *grin*

Penzeys Goodness

Trading Spaces

Megan DDP Day 14

You see all those books on that shelf to the right? They were all upstairs this time last week. And all of our homeschool books were in the dining room. Now they are upstairs. And Craig’s old office is a lovely shade of Lucky Shamrock Green. Photos of that will come later.

 

Last Minute Angel

Megan DDP Day 13

A little last minute angel wing action was the project of the day on Sunday afternoon. Two hours, 3 poster boards, two sets of $1 store garland, and a whole lot of staples and presto: three sets of angel wings just in time for the 4pm call time at the church. Whew!

 

A Heapin’ Helping of M&M Cookies!

I was recently asked to share my recipe for M&M cookies. I’ve shared my chocolate chip cookie recipe before and it is very similar, but I have slightly modified that recipe since moving to Missouri. (I guess the altitude did affect my baking a little bit when I lived in Colorado. Who knew?)

M&M cookies are pretty much a family favorite for holidays because they are just like our normal chocolate chip cookie with a bit of color added in. And it changes easily from season to season, thanks to the makers of M&Ms who happily sell us the current season’s colors every holiday. So nice of them, don’t you think?

Yum!

Here’s my recipe for a double batch of chocolate chip M&M cookies:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 C sugar
  • 2 C softened butter (real butter, not shortening or margarine)
  • 1.5 C brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 5 C white flour
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 packages of colored M&Ms

I add these to my Kitchen Aid mixer in exactly this order and the process goes like this:

Sugar, then butter. Start mixer on low. Begin adding everything else. When I get to the flour I add it 1/2 C at a time and do stop the mixer in between to avoid a culinary snowfall in my kitchen. It has happened before and it’s not a pretty sight. After I add in the package of chocolate chips, I scoop the cookies out onto a cookie sheet and hand a bowl of M&Ms to my kids with these instructions: Please do NOT eat the M&Ms (yet). Try to get 9-10 M&Ms on each dough ball.

Put the trays in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Pull them out at 10 even if they don’t look completely done. Leave them on the cookie sheet while the next pan cooks. They will continue to firm up on the hot cookie sheet on top of your stove.

Take them to your next party and try not to eat any before you go. I triple dog dare you.