Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Tree Bags

Friday, December 26, 2008
Last year, the day after Christmas, I made one of the best investments ever - Christmas Tree bags! Year after year, on the day after Christmas, I struggled to shove my artificial Christmas trees back into their original boxes. What a pain! Even after the tree was back in the box, the task often involved two people - one to hold the box tightly together, while the other taped the box closed, praying the oversized tree wouldn't burst through the box. Last year, as I was perusing the day-after-Christmas sales, I found these bags for 75% off. Perfect! They are large bags with zippers, handles, and even wheels on the bottom. What a great invention! I bought three bags - two for my large tree (who ever said a tree needs to be stored with all its parts together?) and one for my smaller tree. I have to tell you, cleaning up my Christmas decorations is a lot easier now!

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

More Traditions

Thursday, December 25, 2008
Over the last month or so, I have talked several times about traditions surrounding the holidays. I thought I'd post one last time about Christmas traditions in my family.
  • We each open one present on Christmas Eve. Last night my present was a new Office calendar. I love that show!
  • We get up and ready for the day before opening presents. That means showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed, etc. I think it stems from the fact that my mom didn't like the messy pictures of us Christmas morning having just rolled out of bed :-)
  • We take a "stair picture" before heading downstairs to open stockings and presents. We used to do this so that we would all gather before going to see what Santa brought... but the tradition carries on! Here's our 2008 stair picture.
  • After opening presents, we have creamed egg on toast (a white sauce with boiled egg pieces, served over toast). It's tradition in my mom's family - something my grandma would make on holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions.
Today was really nice. I enjoyed spending the day with my family - opening presents, playing games, talking, lounging, eating... I was super excited to get Season 4 of The Office and Season 1 of Chuck :-) I was also stoked about my new 19.2 volt Craftsman cordless drill. Wahoo! I've been needing one of those! I got lots of other great things from my family and friends - thanks everyone! I also lucked out from a present my mom got... Because she got a new Bosch for Christmas, I got her 6 quart KitchenAid Mixer :-) Time to start baking!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Smelly Shoes

Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Remember this post? Where I talked about how I hate WalMart, but went shopping there anyway? Well, I thought about doing this follow-up post, and after hearing the story, my family convinced me to blog about it. So here ya go.

After braving all the holiday shoppers and lines two weeks before Christmas, I went to work the following Monday excited to show my office what we had purchased for the families we were sponsoring. I took over our conference room, proudly displaying the clothing, books, toys, gift cards, etc. on the conference room table so that everyone could see what they had contributed money toward. As I was setting everything out, one of my coworkers came in to admire all the gifts. She noticed the shoe boxes and wanted to see the shoes we had purchased. I immediately told her how we had tried to find shoes that would be considered "cool" for a 13 and 14 year old and opened one of the boxes of shoes. I was astonished to see that the shoes inside the box were not the ones advertised on the outside of the box, but were dirty, holey, SMELLY, used shoes. I almost vomited from the smell. Just my luck. I've never purchased a pair of shoes without trying them on, let alone not opening the box, but WalMart only had like one or two options in size 10 1/2, so I just put the box in my cart. I know, I know, it wasn't exactly WalMart's fault that I bought used shoes (they were the ones that got ripped off by another customer), but they didn't open the box either! Needless to say, I had to go back to WalMart to exchange the shoes. I sure am glad my co-worker wanted to see what the shoes looked like - can you imagine if we had just wrapped the box and sent it off to be opened on Christmas morning??? Just one more reason why I hate WalMart!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Little Laugh

Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I saw this on YouTube last week and laughed my head off. Thought I would share!

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Gardens Aglow

Saturday, December 20, 2008
Every December, the Idaho Botanical Gardens are decorated to the max with Christmas lights. The gardens are so pretty during the spring and summer, but I just LOVE the lights at Christmastime. Tonight Jen, Jami, Andrea, and I walked around the gardens (in the freezing cold!) admiring the lights. We topped off the night with a stop at Starbucks, where I enjoyed a white peppermint hot chocolate. Mmmmmm.... It's like drinking melted peppermint ice cream. Gotta love those Christmas drinks!

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22 Degrees and Smiling

This morning was the annual Christmas Run. This is my third year of doing this race. It is definitely one of the most fun races of the year because people dress up in the coolest costumes... Santa, reindeer, presents, Christmas trees, the abominable snowman, Charlie Brown, etc. This year there was even someone who dressed up as Jesus!

So I was kind of dreading how cold it was going to be for the race this year. We've had some unbearably cold weather lately, and the forecast called for the temperature to be between 2 and 9 degrees this morning. Can I just tell you how happy I was when it ended up being in the low 20's instead!?! I actually got kind of hot during the run and wished I had put on one less layer! Anyway, it turned out to be a good run, and I was happy with my finish (even though I walked a little when I got a side ache). Here's a picture of me, Beki, and her friend Bryce at the end of the race.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kettle Corn

Wednesday, December 17, 2008
A few weeks ago, Val and I were talking about what gifts to give to neighbors, coworkers, etc. for Christmas. She mentioned that she was making homemade kettle corn for her neighbors this year. Perfect! I decided to try my hand at making kettle corn (using Val's recipe). So last night, Camille and I made up 8 batches of kettle corn and I was so happy with how it turned out. Of course, we had to try some of each batch to make sure it tasted good (all the while watching the Biggest Loser finale)! I even bought gourmet popcorn kernels from a local popcorn shop, and special popcorn bags :-) Here's the recipe if you want to give it a try:

vegetable oil
1/4-1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup popcorn kernels

Cover the bottom of a large, heavy pot with oil. Put three kernels in the oil, cover with a lid, and then heat over medium-high heat. Once the kernels pop, you know the oil is hot enough. Then, pour in the sugar, mix it around to melt it a little bit, pour in the rest of the popcorn, and then cover the pot again with the lid (I used a pot with a glass lid so I could see the kernels pop). Shake the pot constantly over the heat until the popping slows to every 2-3 seconds. Pour the popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle with popcorn salt (popcorn salt is finer than regular table salt). Mix and enjoy!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Luncheon

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I took the day off work today to host a Christmas luncheon and ornament exchange with my good friend Katrina. We invited several ladies from my old ward to join us for a festive lunch. We had a yummy spinach salad, crock pot chicken, homemade rolls, ribbon jello, and cranberry cake for dessert. It was so nice to see my old friends again - I miss seeing them at church every week! We had a great time eating, talking, playing a Christmas trivia game, and doing the ornament exchange. Thanks everyone for a fun afternoon!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Sunday, December 14, 2008
We have had freezing cold weather over the last week or two, so I wasn't surprised to hear that we were going to get snow this weekend. In fact, I woke up extra early this morning to shovel the walks. Unfortunately, that was over two hours ago, and it has been snowing constantly since, so you can't really tell I shoveled! Oh well. As much as I don't like the cold, it was kind of fun to wake up this morning to this winter wonderland.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Help

Saturday, December 13, 2008
Most people who know me know I hate WalMart. I hate the lines, all the people, the layout of the store, everything. Well, almost everything. They do have some of the lowest prices in town. Regardless, I try to avoid WalMart at all costs. The only time I really ever shop at WalMart is when I am spending other people's money and am trying to make it spread as far as possible. Today was one of those cases. Each year, our office buys presents for a student family who needs a little extra help at Christmas. This year, we banded with a couple other offices and were able to raise enough money to help give Christmas to two families. I was excited to be able to take the money we raised and go shopping! Jami and I braved our way through the pre-Christmas WalMart crowds to get shoes, clothing, underwear, books, hygiene items, toys, music, etc. for the families. We also had enough money to purchase $50 gift cards so they can purchase food or other necessary items. Shopping for a cause like this sure makes it easier to shop at one of my least favorite stores!

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

What's on the Top Shelf of Your Closet?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I finally got around to switching my bedding this weekend... out with the fall, in with the winter. The only problem was I needed to find space to store the fall bedding. I remembered I had a shelf in the top of my closet that wasn't being used - perfect. I have to stand on a chair to get to the shelf, and even then, I can hardly reach the shelf, let alone see what's on it. As I reached to put the bedding on the shelf, I felt something already on the shelf. That's weird - I hadn't put anything there. I proceeded to pull down these two really old knives that must have been left by the previous owner. Kinda creepy, but kinda cool too. Both are sheathed and one looks like a bayonet. My dad has agreed to research for me to see what kind of knives they are and to see if they are worth anything :-)

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Another Perfect Season

Sunday, December 07, 2008
Well, my Broncos had another perfect season... for the third time in five years if I'm not mistaken. Unfortunately, our 12-0 record and a #9 overall finish didn't land us in one of the BCS bowl games - something about strength of schedule. Bummer. Well, I'm glad to see us heading to the Poinsettia Bowl to play #11 TCU. It should be a good game, and I'm hoping my Broncos whomp them to show the nation we are the real deal. I'll definitely be partying on December 23rd!

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Christmas Fondue

As you probably know, I love fondue. It is definitely one of my favorite things. I started a tradition several years ago to have friends over for dessert fondue after the First Presidency Christmas devotional. I had a couple year hiatus, but started up my tradition again this year. Not only was the food delish, but we had a great time together. We talked and laughed for over three hours, and I was sad when everyone left to go home. That's one thing about the Christmas season... I love sharing my fun traditions with good friends!

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For Stephanie

Look who I ran in to :-)

Of course we talked about blogging, so your mom suggested we take a picture (with the camera I always carry for just such instances) and post it here!

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Nativity

Saturday, December 06, 2008
For several years now, the Hickories subdivision has put on a live nativity for the community to enjoy. I attended last night for the first time and it was amazing! Everyone was dressed in character and played their parts perfectly. We had guides walk us through a village... there were different tents set up where people made bread, sold their goods, worked on carpentry projects, etc. We were then led to Bethlehem. Along the way, we saw the shepherds watching their flocks (live sheep!) and an angel appeared and told them of the birth of Jesus. We then came to the different inns that were too full and had sent Mary and Joseph on their way. Finally, we arrived at the stable, where Mary and Joseph sat with the baby Jesus, and angels sang to commemorate the birth of the newborn baby. It was a beautiful production, and I could tell it was a lot of work to put on. I thank all the people who volunteered their time to make the nativity a success. It really got me thinking once again about the true reason for Christmas.

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Another Tradition

I have been making gingerbread houses every year at Christmastime since I was just a little girl. We used to make one large house as a family, but have each made our own houses for several years now. My mom seriously is the greatest. A couple weeks ago, my sister Beki had 17 people over to make gingerbread houses - yes seventeen! And my mom made enough houses for them each to decorate their own. Not only that, but my mom asked if I wanted to invite some friends over to make gingerbread houses with me! I decided to invite a couple coworkers and their kids to enjoy our family tradition. Jacob, Noah, Mandy, Justin, Jami, and I had lot of fun decorating our houses! I thought my house turned out pretty cute, and will be submitting a picture of my beautiful house to the Bossy blog gingerbread house contest :-)

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Wesabe

Friday, December 05, 2008
Earlier this week, Jen told me about this really cool budgeting site - wesabe.com. The cool part about it is that it pulls in both my bank account info and my credit card info, so all my spending/income information is all in one place. The site then allows you to tag each transaction and then it groups the data together so you can see where you are spending your money. I am really trying to be better at spending & budgeting, so I'm excited to see how this tool will help me. If you have a minute, check it out!

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Team Building

I know, I know, my mom spoils me. People tell me that all the time! Here's the latest example (but stay tuned - tomorrow's post will have another!) Anyway, a week or so ago I mentioned to my mom that I needed to make a bunch of sugar cookies to bring to a team building activity I was organizing at work. The next thing I know, my mom calls and has already made the cookies! Not only do I benefit from not having to make the cookies, but my office benefits because my mom's cookies are way better than mine (well, I'm sure they would be if I ever made any!) Thanks mom!

This afternoon we got to enjoy the fruits of my mom's labor :-) We (the systems group in the Registrar's Office) thought it would be fun to decorate cookies as a team building activity and then share them with the rest of our office. I seriously work with the best group of people. We work well together, accomplish a lot, and even know how to have fun together. Here we are (Terri, Diana, Ross, Jami, and me) with our finished cookies!

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

First Thursday

Thursday, December 04, 2008
There is a party downtown Boise the first Thursday of each month. Downtown businesses allow local artists to use their stores to feature their paintings, ceramics, jewelry, photographs, and other artwork. I was excited to go to First Thursday tonight because I knew two people who were displaying their art. Krista, a fashion designer in my ward, made these cool dresses from everyday materials. My favorite is the paper plate dress.I was also able to visit a display put on by my co-worker Aubry. She is in her final semester as a graphic design student at Boise State. She and several other seniors put on a really great portfolio show. I really liked Aubry's work, and know she'll go on to have a successful career.

Overall, I had a great time perusing the art at the galleries. It's hard for me to appreciate all the different kinds of art (seriously, how can gluing some fuzz on a paper be real art?), but I love the passion behind each of the artists. Tim, Jen, and I topped off our great evening with a trip to Costa Vida!

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