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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Speed Wrapping, Heart Shaped Waffles, and Christmas Presents

Christmas, over already? It sometimes feels to me that there's such a commercial build-up to Christmas and then it's gone before it barely happened. Does anyone else think it's a little strange that the stores are putting out Christmas decorations just days before Halloween and then on the December 26th everything is gone? 

Christmas may be over, but I have a pocket full of memories to carry with me such as...

My husband's wrapping skills. I'm terrible at wrapping presents but he's amazing at it.  

We put off our wrapping till Christmas Eve so a little speed wrapping was in order...

 As hubby wrapped I cooked our favorite Christmas Eve dinner: pumpkin waffles, apple maple chicken sausage, and scrambled eggs. 
This Target pumpkin pancake & waffle mix is amazing you simply must try it. (I mix it with some regular whole wheat flour and substitute canola oil instead of butter and soy milk instead of regular milk)

We used our heart shaped waffle maker. Yes, we are that cheesy and we love it. 
 Per tradition, we each opened a present from each other on Christmas Eve, he opened new pajama pants he really needed.  

 And my Christmas Eve present...prints from a photo shoot we did with Walters & Walters. I L-O-V-E them! 

Christmas morning brought it's own memories and new traditions and the best part was I shared them with one of God's greatest gifts to husband...

 More presents were in order including a Jason Gray CD hubby picked up at a recent concert while I was waiting in the inevitably long line that always forms in ladies' room during large scale events. Smooth move- I had no idea he was Christmas shopping during intermission. 
Jason Gray's single Remind Me Who I Am is on this CD and it's currently one of my favorite songs...

 It may not seem like a song fitting for a Christmas post but it's so fitting if we really think about the message. Christ coming to earth to reach us and save us which we celebrate at Christmas is the perfect reminder of who we are to Him. 

Perhaps less deep, but still a part of this post a new holiday tradition...Pear Pie. I based it off a recipe from Clean Eating Magazine and it's soooooo good! I enjoyed several helpings at Christmas Day dinner with my family but it's all whole nutritional ingredients so I figure it wasn't a bad choice when it comes to second and third helpings. 

At the Osborne family Christmas celebration I was surprised by a sewing machine. I'm on the hunt for good creative projects to get me started. Recommendations? I sewed a lot as a kid but it's been years so I'm hoping I'm not too rusty.  What's a bobbin again? 

Christmas has come and gone, but the moments of joy, laughter, and love remain. 

Now I'm on to figuring out non-lame New Year's plans that will still let us be in bed but 10:30PM. Yeah, we're kinda old sometimes. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas (Break)

Christmas break. Those two sweet words evoke a sense of peace and calm. Or if you're in your first year of teaching the under 6 crowd it means the sniffles, a box of tissues and pjs all day. Just my luck, I catch a cold the first day of Christmas break. It's really not so bad because now I just have an even more valid excuse to waste time on Pinterest, right?

Despite my husband's prodding that I lay down and rest, my A-type personality wouldn't let me relax for long yesterday. I made Pear Pie for the first time. I based it off a recipe I found in the Nov/Dec Clean Eating issue. Which reminds me of teacher gifts...

Cookie dough wrapped in butcher's paper & wrapping paper and then rolled up in a magazine with a ribbon. Cutest teacher gift ever, right? Pinterest worthy and I'm totally going to borrow this gift giving idea. 

I never realized how much teacher gifts meant till I was on the other side. It's such a blessing when parents make a point to thank you for the time, love, and energy you're investing in their children. I was overwhelmed by their gratitude. 

Got to love the backwards "S" and the lowercase "i" among all the uppercase letters!

And I was so surprised by how spot-on this gift was...
...someone knows me very well! A monogrammed Tervis Tumbler with a Duke Blue lid is definitely very Mrs. Schneider. I'm going to be using this a lot next semester. And maybe I should add some Emergen-C immune booster to my water to help me stop getting these colds. I hear it works. 

And on the topic of surprisingly spot on husband came home the other day with this bouquet of flowers and I was floored at how perfectly it complimented our decor. He's good about stepping out on a limb and trying new things, like this lily-iris-purple carnation-golden rod-eucalyptus arrangement that actually works really well. I could take a cue from him on the whole trying new things concept. 

From healthy dessert and cold remedies, to gifts of gratitude and flowers I've got to say: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas Break 2011. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Decor

This is just my second Christmas as a married gal and my first Christmas out of college. We're in the stage I like to refer to as "building". We don't exactly have enough room to fit a Christmas tree, and there is no mantle on which to hang stockings (which raises the question as how Santa will get here. Especially with our security system. Would a sleigh and jolly old man set off a home alarm system?)

Despite our building stage, I love our little apartment home. It's exactly where I want to be right now and filling it this season are a few subtle touches of Christmas...

...such as these ornament filled lanterns. 
I have a thing for classy lanterns ala Pottery Barn. I actually snagged these for a fraction of the cost at Home Goods. And the ornaments (to coordinate with the silver, blue, and green touches of our apartment decor) were an after Christmas buy at Target. $20 worth of Christmas balls for $3. I felt like I had won the lottery. 

I have two very wonderful and style smart friends who I practically grew up with. Going over to their home I admired their mom's Christmas tree filled with ornaments in shades of blue. Ever since then I've been sold on the idea of non-traditional colors for Christmas decor, particular cool shades like blues and greens with plenty of sparkly silver touches.  

Ever since I spent a year working for a wedding designer, I've had a thing for the look of mercury glass. Maybe it's all those platinum wedding centerpieces gone to my head, but I just love mercury glass decor. I found these look-almost-identical-to-mercury-glass-without-the-price tag candle sticks at Michael's for $7. The pillar candles also came from Michael's and I got two for $3 with a 50% coupon. I like that I can keep these up throughout winter because they aren't necessarily "Christmas-y).

Though I'm always all over Christmas balls, glitter, and Christmas glitz, I don't want to forget the real Love behind this season. My mom gave us this Willow Tree Nativity set last year, and I love the simplicity of the figures. 

When I found this free printable from AKA Designs on Pinterest the other day I knew I definitely wanted to add this to our Christmas decor.  What I like about this printable is that it's 1) easy, 2) reminds me of the true reason for Christmas and 3) has a modern look with the chevron and white background. Oh, and it goes well with our green inspired living room decor. #score  I printed it out on cardstock and used a silver frame I already had from Pier One. 

Linking up for some blogging Christmas parties...

Tell me about your Christmas decor!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Baby

Merry (almost) Christmas from this little Santa baby.

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of doing a baby portrait shoot. It was an overcast Sunday morning, Christmas lights were twinkling on the tree, the aroma of pumpkin coffee lingered and everything was set for a relaxing weekend portrait shoot...

"Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle" (beautiful quote displayed in their home).

These tiny hands have taken hold of so many hearts. 

Mom and Dad's present under the tree this year: baby Landry. 

In his adorable cowboy themed nursery. 

...Sweet moments...

Welcome to our world, Landry! You have a wonderful road ahead of you, little one!

Linking up with other photography lovers over @
Sweet Shot Day

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Downtown Greenville

Just the other weekend my husband and I made a weekend trip to South Carolina to visit my cousins and their sweet husbands.  

Here's a few highlights from our Saturday afternoon spent in Downtown Greenville...

We made a stop at a beautiful little cafe called Luna Rosa. The service was wonderful and if it hadn't been a chilly December afternoon I'm sure we would have followed our meal with scoops of their gelato- it looked so sweet and delicious! Next trip, if it's warm weather, I'm making a point to try their Strawberry Shortcake Gelato. 

I thought this mug was just about the coolest coffee mug ever with it's shape and handy grip. Very IKEA in my opinion.

My cousins- they are gracious southern women. 

After lunch we hit the town walking again. 

They have one of the most beautiful parks I've ever seen right there in the city. I liked it even more than Central Park in NYC.  And the best part about it is that's it's a completely revitalized park. It was once a questionable park, a place you wouldn't want to be after dark. But now it's a charming place to be, revitalized and abuzz with locals out for an afternoon at the park. 

There is definitely a great artsy vibe in Downtown Greenville, including this little area on a side of a building that looked simply meant for photographs. 

What are your favorite southern cities? I definitely want to discover some more! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels for Christmas

I love a good Christmas cookie. Growing up I remember my mom making sugar cookies and letting us decorate them with royal icing. Between the sugar and the creativity it was kid heaven. But now that I'm a bit older I'm always in need of changing up the traditional Christmas cookie. One year it's 7-layer cookies, the next it's cake balls. This year I decided to really shake things up and make a treat that's not even technically a cookie. 

Christmas-y chocolate dipped pretzels. Salty. Sweet. Oh yum!

I decided to use whatever chocolate I already had on hand. We rarely eat candy, but somehow we always seem to wind up with a lot of it. I used Hershey's bars leftover from late August s'mores nights and tossed in some dark chocolate truffles I've had in the pantry for several weeks now. 

Warning: don't try to melt your chocolate in the microwave- it's way too easy to burn it. In college I worked in a gourmet chocolate store and if there's one lesson I've learned it's that burnt chocolate is not a treat. 

I melted my chocolate on the stove top. I poured the chocolate into a sauce pan and on very low heat just let the pan warm up as I stirred the chocolate. After a few minutes I turned the stove top off so as not to let it over heat and burn the chocolate. 

Christmas sprinkles!

I found these in the dollar section of Super Target for yes, you guessed it, a dollar. 

Dip the pretzels in the melted chocolate (I used a spoon to help me scoop some of it onto the pretzels). Then dip your tasty chocolate covered pretzel in some festive sprinkles.
My thoughts at this moment: do I really have to wait for it to dry?

Lay your pretzels on aluminum foil and allow to dry for about an hour (or you can put them in the fridge to quicken things up).
While classic Christmas cookies are always in style, if you're looking to bring something just a little different to a cookie swap these are a great option. I bagged them up in tiny plastic treat bags, tied them with ribbons and have been giving them to friends, family, and co-workers. Oh, and eating plenty myself.