Christmas traditions are the best! But it is kind of hard to establish your "own" traditions when you're just starting out. Actually, I have never thought about it before until one night at small group we started talking about it. The couple who host our group and the couple who lead it have given us great food for thought and lots of ideas. 

I know AW & I have just been living off the traditions of our families, which is fine because Christmas is partially about being with family, but we decided we'd try to start some of our "own" traditions. 

And I want to share them with you for ideas for your own family, especially if you have a "new family" like we do!

The first "tradition" (can it be an actual tradition if this is the first year we've done it??) was to participate in our church's annual walk-through-nativity. This was such a great experience! We just started attending this August and through our Sunday School class & small group have made friends and gotten to know great people! And this was another way that we got to be a part of ministry and get to know even more great people we probably wouldn't have met otherwise!

Annually our church sets up multiple scenes of the Christmas story and beyond and it lasts for three nights and total there are 4,000-6,000 people that walk through. At the end they are served cookies and hot chocolate and there are live animals. It's free and it's really neat. Also, it is a great way to remember the "reason for the season"...JESUS!

AW and I were Joseph in Mary when they take Jesus to the temple and Simeon gets to see Jesus before he dies just as God had promised him. It was really fun and we got to be with some really sweet families for the evening! 

The only drawback...no live animals were in our scene. The next seen over had a CAMEL!!! Yes! A real, live camel! The two 10-year old boys in our scene were even more bummed than I was about that aspect =)

The next tradition is something that I LOVE! Christmas lights! AW & I cooked a big breakfast dinner last Friday night and then drove around town for 2 HOURS looking at lights! It was wonderful! We then came home and had hot chocolate and watched "White Christmas".

There is a house near where we live, that sits on a big hill and they go all out with the lights...here are some pics from their house (WARNING: I'm obviously NOT a photographer & I do not have a professional camera):

This tree is in the middle of Star Lake and I love it:

This is a lighted nativity that we saw:

Now, this next photo that I am about to show you is very crappy quality BUT it is proof that people should stop making/selling/buying blow-ups! They are SO TACKY!!! AND how much bigger can they possibly get??? Soon the blowups are going to take over Christmas all together...Seriously disturbing:

Now, for the grand finale. There is a house that my BFF's, Stephanie, mom discovered several years ago. She was driving around our younger sisters so they could see some lights and she happened upon this little Christmas gem. I feel guilty laughing at it because they put out the Christmas story scripture in front of this monstrosity so I know that they are reaching out but this thing is really...overwhelming:
Yes, it is a giant angel that is set up on a hill with spot lights...I'm sorry but it creeps me out a little and always gives me a laugh. Don't judge me.

Now that you probably think I'm evil from laughing at this Christmas angel telling the Christmas story let me try to redeem myself by sharing another 1st year "tradition". I found an advent wreath (which was quite a task!) and a man in our small group gave each husband this little book. It has a reading for every night in December to keep our family focused on the true meaning. It's been wonderful to read from this book and the Bible (almost) every night this month:

And this last tradition is another first and I'm not sure how long we'll carry this one on. Decorating a gingerbread house. I'm not sure when I became so Type A (maybe you're laughing) but seriously when something isn't perfect I kind of melt down or give up.

Well, I thought this was going to be great! We bought the kit and I feel fairly crafty and AW is pretty handy so I figured we could handle decorating a house made out of COOKIES for crying out loud...apparantly not!

They get you all excited with the box and even tell you to email in pictures of your house. I'm thinking how fun! Ours is going to look so great...yeah, right.

Here are the pictures on the box, including some "decorating ideas":

Just so you know...these "ideas" are RIDICULOUS! Let me show you a close up:
First of all, who can manipulate icing to look like perfect little icicles?? NO ONE!
Second, they have literally cute a green gumdrop to be berry leaves for the decoration on the roof....GIMME A BREAK!

Here's our roof:
Yes, the peppermints are falling in (we even lost a few) because the stupid roof is sliding off. How nice.

Anyways, after I had a minor major freak out over the fact that it wasn't turning out perfectly it was actually kind of fun. Trust me, the Lord knew what he was doing when he gave me AW because he laughed at my ridiculousness and then reminded me I wasn't being graded and it wasn't the end of the world that it didn't look just like the box.

Here are some happy pictures (post-freakout)....

AW working hard:

Me working hard:

The finished product:
Not so bad but I definitely won't be emailing in a proud picture to this company that sells false dreams of the perfect gingerbread house.

It ended up being fun and we drank more hot chocolate and ended the evening watching "It's a Wonderful Life".

I hope you have fun establishing Christmas traditions for your own family and I hope you have a 


Home for the Holidays

I love Christmas! Love, Love, Love it! But if you're reading this you probably know me & then you know that! It really is the most wonderful time of the year. With Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" playing on the radio and possessing me to shopping, shopping, shopping to family time and lots of fun parties, Christmas is the best!

Another part of Christmas that I love is decorating our home!

At the church that I work at they had a funeral and some of the flowers got left behind so I took home a vase full:

I just hope they looked a little better for the actual event...so sad.
But I was able to spread the flowers all around our apartment and it really added some cheer:

A few on the mantle...

Some on the coffee table:

Several in the kitchen:

And of course some on the dining room table:

And the best part was after all the flowers died & I threw them away I used the big vase for my Christmas centerpiece:

Which made my Christmas table setting complete:

Here's our mantel before:


And of course the grand finale...THE TREE:



Be Proud, Stand up those Cakes!

So, please forgive my lack of blogging. Currently my life is being consumed by exams! aaaahhhh!!! NO! Not...EXAMS!!!
So, as you can see I am currently delirious.

Not really, they haven't really been so awful. Just the usual time-consuming, stress-inducing exams but I'm optimistic no permanent damage will be done.
So, I have a new craft to share. I must admit though, that once again I stole the idea...but hey, isn't that what good ideas are for? Stealing...umm, I mean borrowing?...Well, either way.

I got the idea from here.

It's a non-traditional cake stand! What fun!

Seriously, it's fun. 

All you have to do is:

1. Find a plate that you like (you can even paint one to use. Hint: World Market has plain white plates for $2-3!)

2. Find something that you like to use as the base. It can literally be anything. You'll see...

3. Use a strong adhesive (Hint: Steel Epoxy is cheap and VERY effective. Additional Hint: It's a little messy)

4. Bake something yummy to put on your new cakestand!

I preferred to use a mason jar that I bought at Hobby Lobby (duh!) that I filled with some pretty, clear beads:

After I attached the plate I baked some yummy chocolate chip pumpkin mini muffins to put on it for my Christmas party:

Here's a pic of the food table with other plates that are not permanently attached to mason jars (I forgot to take the pic pre-party so it's mid-party & as you'll see, some cookies have already been snagged =)

Now, go be creative & make your own!