Thursday, December 28, 2006

I <3 Christmas Ornaments

This year we got some great Christmas ornaments as gifts.

But even though we got a bunch of ornaments as gifts, I couldn't help but buy a few of my own.

Can anyone figure out what the theme seems to be?! Apparently we're carrying the beach theme all year long into our Christmas celebration. But come on, Santa Claus and snowmen on a beach?! It really doesn't get any cuter than that!!

I am getting to be very proud of my ornament collection. Specifically, my S'Mores ornaments. I have 8 of them now, and each year I add more to the collection. This year I got one from Aunt Lori and another from my parents.
I can't wait to see what new themes the S'Mores folks come out with next year!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Recap

This year we spent Christmas at our own home for the first time! Robin and Jack arrived Friday evening so we were able to spend quite a bit of time with them. On Saturday, Phil and Jack did projects around the house all day which involved quite a few trips to Lowe's, of course. Robin and I went to HEB that afternoon to pick up all the ingredients we'd need for the rest of the weekend and Christma dinner. That night we had homemade pizza and black cherry cobbler while we let Robin win at Phase 10. On Sunday, we did some last minute Christmas shopping (nothing else like being at the stores with the other slackers who waited until Christmas Eve to do their shopping too) and then some major baking preparations for Christmas day. I realized this weekend why I don't cook very much. It takes soooo long. Don't get me wrong, the finished product is AMAZING but I just don't have the patience for all the prep-work that goes into homemade meals. I think 30 minutes total including prep and cooking is all a meal should require. Hence, my lack of skills in the kitchen.

Needless to say, I learned a lot. Robin taught me the difference between wet and dry measuring cups, I got to whip the whipping cream (pretty much unsupervised, which may account for the whipping cream all over the kitchen floor, appliances, my sweater, etc.), help make the doughs for the pies and cinnamon rolls, etc. I never thought I'd remember all these recipes, but one of my favorite things about Christmas was the "Family Cookbook" that Robin put together with all the family's favorite recipes.

Christmas morning was fun. Robin got up around 4:30 to put the home-made cinnamon rolls in the oven to "Bread Proof" (I can admit I had no idea what bread proof meant before this weekend) and then was up again a few hours later to continue preparing them. The rest of us got up around 7:30 and celebrated our Christmas morning by unwrapping our presents and stocking stuffers. We then proceeded to play Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) for about an hour, which was one of Robin's gifts. It's actually pretty fun but I don't think I could ever master the "Expert" mode. My legs just aren't made to move that quickly, or maybe it's the eye/foot coordination that I lack? Anyway, it was fun watching everyone try to beat each others' scores.

Later that morning, Brad, Stacy, & Logan showed up after having their own Christmas morning in Austin. Logan was in her adorable Christmas dress and showed us how she has mastered the art of opening gifts. Smart girl.

One of Logan's other favorite activities is trying on other people's shoes and walking around in them. First she put on her mom's sneakers, then my house shoes, and finally my black boots. I think she liked them best because the heels made noise on the floors.

Later we all sat down to Christmas dinner. It turned out really well, thanks to everyone's contributions. The menu consisted of: Ham, Company Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, Ambrosia, and Green Salad. And luckily, we have LOTS of left-overs since we made so much! Actually, I'm headed to the kitchen now to warm up a plate for dinner. YUM!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Office Christmas Party

When you work at a company of 15,000 employees, you can't have your holiday party just anywhere. You have to rent a convention center to accommodate everyone. So last night we got all gussied up and headed downtown to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center for Phil's company's holiday party. One of Phil's co-workers and his girlfriend came to our house before the party and we carpooled (yes, we've seen An Inconvenient Truth). We ran into a nice little traffic jam on the way downtown in which Phil's road rage emerged, but we all helped to keep it in check. We ended up parking about a block away in the mall parking lot; I think we got lucky with our parking spot because one of his other co-workers who we met there said it took them 45 minutes to find a parking spot!

We arrived at the party and posed for a quick shot outside the bathrooms before heading in.

We of course headed to the buffet tables first to check out the spread. They had h'ors deuvres in one room and we took our pick from the cheese and crackers, artichoke spinach dip, and chicken skewers, and headed into the main room.

We found a table and sent the men to check out the buffet table. They came back with pasta, roast beef, turkey, salad, chips & queso, tamales, and 7 layer dip. While the guys were in line getting food, Tracy and I went over to the dessert table and made up some big ole plates of yummy desserts. I ended up eating too much dessert too quickly and realized I needed more solid food in my system so we went back for more pasta. It's so easy to indulge when it's all free!

I wanted to take a photo next to the great set-up with the professional photogaphers (Christmas trees, fireplace, stockings, etc.), but after finding out that the least expensive photo package was $35, we decided we could just take a photo at our own house in front of our own tree for free. Plus, you had to pay up front so if the photo was not to your satisfaction, you'd already bought it!

The most entertaining part of the party, surprisingly, was the concert. They had booked the Foreigners to play. While I had never heard of them before, I think that is simply due to my age, because once the concert started I realized I had heard most of their songs. The lead singer kind of reminded me of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith with his long hair and tight pants, and the lead guitarist was definitely balding in a major way, but they did put on a pretty entertaining show. Plus, what other Christmas party puts on a full blown concert?!

I am sure that many of you are pretty jealous right now that we saw the Foreigners LIVE... but if you don't want to admit it because it may date you (Amity...), we understand.