Tag Archives: Christmas

A Month In 5 Minutes

Well hello again!

Did you miss me Blog? I promise I’ve been thinking about you often, but life just kept getting in the way. Then it had been just so long that there was almost an awkwardness when I came to  my keyboard and I didn’t know where to begin, so it was easier to just avoid you all together.

But it’s time to break the silence!

Rather than feel overwhelmed with trying to write a post for everything major that happened in December, I thought I’d start small (by copying whata fellow blogger did) and share just a few clips from the last month. I promise to try and not take more than 5 minutes of your time!


Here we go…

Since I last posted, the weathermen (for once) finally got it right, and we had Icemaggedon hit Dallas over the weekend of December 6–and just in time for us to take Christmas card photos!



This was the worst ice I’ve ever seen in Dallas! The sidewalks, roads, and even objects were layered in thick, thick later of slick ice. We had a great time playing with cookie sheets as make-shift sleds until someone got hurt! (Sorry Baby Z! Mommy lost her balance when trying to catch your brother!) 


When we put the sleds away, we decided to take our chances in an even bigger sled–our van– and head to NorthPark for some time out of the house. We couldn’t let a little ice stop an annual tradition; especially since this would be Baby Z’s first trip to the Trains at Northpark!



After the ice cleared away, we had one more threat of severe weather, but it never came. We enjoyed the rest of December wrapped up in holiday parties, play dates, and events.


Then the Christmas festivities began!

It’s almost impossible to believe that this was Baby Z’s first Christmas. He was born so closely after Christmas that it’s strange to think we’ve spent the whole year with him and we hadn’t celebrated a Christmas together as a family of 4.


This Christmas felt like the official first of many. Although it was a joy to spend the last few with the Little Man, now that he’s beginning to believe in the spririt of Christmas, it made it all that much more exciting and real!

Gingerbread Trains were built. The Polar Express was watched well over a hundred times. We left cookies and milk out the night before, and discovered snow the next morning on our fireplace from Santa’s boots. Christmas morning was magical and I’m already excited to see what next Christmas will bring with a almost 2 and 4 year old!

My Christmas gift to Tim was a night at the Gaylord Texan. I had it all planned out! We spent the afternoon with the boys and his parents at ICE walking through 9 degree temperatures. After a little sightseeing and photos, we went our separate ways. The boys with their NaNa and Grandpa and Tim and I to the Gaylord’s steakhouse.

Unfortunately, half way through dinner I became extremely sick. My $45 steak into a doggie bag and up to the room where I spent the rest of the night in the fetal position on the bed. But at least we captured a few pics before the evening went south!



Christmas lasted through January 1st as we waited to celebrate with the Hurst’s until we were all together again.


And finally…this happened…DSC_0099

We officially have a walker!

Welcome 2014!

I am excited you’re here!


On Into Christmas Afternoon

Having both families within 15 minutes of each other is such a blessing, and I don’t ever take it for granted, but it makes for interesting holidays at times! 

I’m always so grateful that diving our holidays don’t involve airplane rides or car trips, 
and we don’t even have to pack a bag unless we just want to. 

On Christmas Day, we have the easy job of dividing up our day into two parts. 

Christmas morning was spent with my family, 
and Christmas afternoon was spent with Tim’s. 

Christmas #2
We joined the whole crew including the “new additions” for an amazing Christmas lunch before diving into the stockings and gifts. 
Papaw & NaNa with the Little Man.

Awesome Uncle Brian!

This was a new face from the Little Man I’d never seen before!
He was soo thrilled to be holding his cousin Davis.

And when he was able to hold both Davis & Adelyn, he was in Heaven!  
(I can’t wait to see what he does when the baby is actually his own brother!)

While we were enjoying our meal, we had a very welcomed and pleasant Christmas surprise. . . 
This was right as the snow was starting to fall, and I was so afraid we’d miss pictures of it, I grabbed the camera and headed outside. I wish I’d captured some photos once the snow had really covered the ground, but in Texas, you take what you can get! 

Our Christmas Family Photo!
Presents. . .Round 2!

Brian’s role as Santa has slowly been replaced (which I think he’s thrilled about).
The Little Man knew who each stocking belonged to! 
The day was long, but this was by far one of the best Christmas’s I’ve had in a LONG time! 
Although I loved it last year, turning Christmas around and having it be about the kids made it that much more enjoyable. 

I can’t wait to see how the next few Christmas’s unfold 
as we add more and more children to the mix!

How has Christmas changed for you as kids have come along? 

Twas the Morning of Christmas

My husband and I have a little bit of a different opinion of when Christmas decorations should come down.

I personally feel like decorations should come down the weekend immediately after so that I can begin the process of cleaning. It’s difficult to want to do a big cleanup after Christmas when you know the tree’s going to make more of a mess and boxes will still have to be put away. In our house, we even have to rearrange some furniture once the tree comes down. Besides, how are Christmas decorations related to New Year’s? Do we really need the decorations up to ring in 2013? 

Tim, on the other hand, thinks it’s important to wait until after the New Year. He’d prefer to take everything down sometime around January 6th or 7th once the holidays are long past. 

We decided my doctor’s appointment would settle the argument. If I was in any way dilated or showing progress of this baby coming before January 14th, we’d take it down this weekend. . . 

I lost. 
To stop my itchy fingers from running in there and tearing the tree down, I thought I’d recap our Christmas for you. That’ll keep me occupied for a little bit at least, and let you sneak a peek into someone else’s home on Christmas day!

Christmas Morning
Although we welcome anyone to come over and join us, we made the decision to always have Christmas morning in our home. Not only does this help create memories, but it helps us as parents introduce Santa and other traditions to our kids. 

So, on Christmas morning, we woke up and start the first morning ritual of popping the homemade cinnamon rolls into the oven and opening our stockings. 
Tim and I both shopped for each other, 
and I had been slowly shopping for Mark throughout the last few months.  
Christmas #1
My family arrived around 8:30am, 
and we spent some time enjoying breakfast and each other’s company. 

GrandDad & Grammy with the Little Man. 

Uncle Andrew & Aunt Helen enjoying our first Christmas together in 3 years

Then. we let the presents begin!

Our Christmas tree! 

A rare photo of me. 
(Inside was my much-wanted new GE Slow Cooker!)

One of his favorite toys from the morning. . .so classic & simple! 
After Christmas #1, we jumped in our car for a 

Auto Reply: Merry Christmas!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! 
And clearly, my family needs to get into the Holiday Spirit! 

With Baby #2 scheduled for 3 short weeks away, I’ve decided it’s time to take a little break and spend some quality time with my husband and Little Man for Christmas. 

I’ll be back in a week to fill you in on all the chaos, but until then, I hope you’ll take the time to do the same. Life is continue on the other side of your computer screen, and I know you don’t want to miss it! 

Merry Christmas!! 

Last Minute Gifts for Mom (& In Time For Christmas!)

Still struggling with what to get the “Mom” in your life? 

With only 5 days still Christmas, you’re not to late to find some amazing gifts that will bring a smile to her face on Christmas morning. 

Here’s some of my favorite Christmas gift ideas that aren’t too late to either be shipped or purchased locally. 

And Remember: You can order gifts through Amazon.com by Friday, December 21st 6pm CST to receive your items by Christmas Eve! 

For the Cook
(Nest is located on McKinney at Knox in Uptown Dallas!) 
For the “Fashionista”
(Simply Adorable Jewelry is locally owned and operated, and carries many of the same items as Charming Charlie’s! Contact Jessica for information on how to make purchases before Christmas!)
For the Organizer

For the Blogger
For the Mom Who Just Needs Help

KneeBouncers.com is currently offering 20% off their memberships; that’s 1 full year for $44! 

Find out more about this AWESOME site on my Dallas Moms Blog Review

(My Little Man can’t get enough of it!) 

Subscriptions to make a mom’s life easier, and when great deals come along, you can’t pass them up! Other subscription ideas would be to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas Arboretum, and the Dallas Zoo! 

What’s that one special Mom gift you’re hoping will show up under the tree this Christmas? 

Our Christmas Card for 2012

I LOVE Christmas Cards! 

They’re not only fun to give, but they’re fun to receive! 
Our 2012 Christmas Card by Shutterfly.

I don’t know about you, but every day you’ll see me making a mad dash to check our mailbox for any cards that may have been delivered. 

It’s so much fun to see the new family additions, vacation photos, and (now rarely) read about a family’s year in review all coming straight to my front door. 

Way, Way better than Facebook! 

I’m a little sad looking at our Christmas card display this year. It seems that the cards are getting fewer and fewer; for reasons I can’t possibly imagine. So, when The SITS Girls decided to do a Christmas Card link up, I jumped on board. 

If I can’t magically make cards appear in my mailbox, I can at least snoop on other people’s Christmas cards and meet some friendly new faces, and maybe even get some great ideas for next year’s card! 

So, I’ve now shown you mine. . .
won’t you leave me your link so I can see yours? 

And, find out what else we’ve been up to this Holiday Season that wouldn’t fit on this year’s Christmas card:
A Leisurely Morning at Northpark
A Meaningful Christmas Ornament Exchange
Ice at the Gaylord Texan

Deerfield Lights In Plano

Growing up in Richardson, the Spring Park neighborhood in Garland was the place to go for lights. Each street had it’s own theme, and almost every house was over the top with decorations. I haven’t been since high school, but I hear that Spring Park is still a Christmas destination. 

Now that we have a little one of our own, we thought seeing the Christmas sights might be a fun activity to do on a chilly, overcast evening. Instead of heading to our old destination of Spring Park, we decided to head north to Plano to another, more recently popular, neighborhood called Deerfield. 

If you’re looking to go see Holiday Lights this year, make the drive to Deerfield!

The History
According to the DHA, when Deerfield was being built, it was considered to be the “Celina” of Dallas with only fields and farms surrounding the neighborhood. To encourage buyers to come purchase the new homes in their neighborhoods, the builders set up a friendly Christmas light competition. 

The 1st place winner would receive $5,000, 2nd place would receive $2,500, and 3rd place won $1,000. With only a few homeowners, winning was a very real possibility, so homeowners went all out! From people & pets dressed in costume to “snow” covered lawns using cotton. 

Since everyone began owning so many Christmas Lights, the tradition continued long after the buyers discontinued the contest.

Getting There
Located between Ohio (AKA Hillcrest) and Coit, just north of Legacy, you’ll find a neighborhood that really knows how to get into the Christmas spirit! 

You can start your sightseeing on a number of streets, but my advice would be to start on Legacy and head north on either Archgate Drive or Colonade Drive. 

Deerfield is divided up into 2 main sections with cul-de-sac’s on both sides. Make sure to use the main thoroughfares but visit the side streets and cul-de-sac’s for some up-close views of some beautiful lights. 

Once you’ve reached Quincy Lane, head over to the other street and go south (either on Archgate or Colonade) to see the opposite side of the neighborhood. 

There are 2 streets where the neighborhood has made a 1 way during the holidays. Old Pond Dr. and Hallmark Dr. are only accessible from Archgate, and are westbound only. 

There are several main entrances to the lights, so your best course of action is to use your phone and pull up the Deerfield Homeowner’s Association Holiday Map.

Don’t Miss It! 
The Highland Park Carriage Rides are amazing, and it’s something you shouldn’t miss out on, but if you’re unable to get a reservation, Deerfield also offers Carriage Rides! 

Ranging in price from $145-$225 for 50-55 minutes, you can tour the best Deerfield streets via horse and carriage. Small carriages can fit 2-6 people where wagons can fit groups as large as 20. If you can get a larger group, splitting the cost makes it extremely affordable! 

At the very tip of the Deerfield neighborhood at 4665 Quincy Drive is a home you won’t want to miss! Who better to put on a Christmas Light display than the owners of Gordon Lights

Since 2007, the Gordon Family has been synchronizing their Christmas light display to music on a personal radio station frequency you can hear from your car. In exchange for being entertained, they ask that you make a small donation to Operation Homefront via a small box located near their sidewalk. So far, they’ve raised over $17,000 to date. 

Warning: The Gordon Family’s home is located close to the entrance on Ohio and Quincy which often causes a backup of cars coming into the neighborhood. It’s also located right in front of a cul-de-sac which can make parking very limited. Be prepared to be patient if you want a great view, or get out of your car and view the lights while listening to the music out of someone else’s car. Chances are others will be doing the same! 

What’s your favorite place to go look at lights? 

A Leisurely Morning at Northpark

If you’re looking for a free way to celebrate the holidays with your little ones, make the trek over to Northpark Mall this season and take in the sights! 

It was the perfect place to go on a slightly chilly morning with a little guy who can’t walk. 

Everything is so festive and just plain ol’ pretty! 

From the decorations and lights at Nordstroms. . . 

To the over the top window displays. . .  

And how can you not love a Santa made of Twizzlers and marshmallows driving reindeer made of dates. . . (at least I think they’re dates!)

It had been awhile since we visited the mall, so when I strolled the Little Man over to the ducks and turtles, he was completely memorized that there were animals indoors. He also wanted to get into the water with them, but thankfully that battle’s a little difficult physically for him right now! 

Northpark has also gone above and beyond to make it a family-friendly atmosphere with one of Texas’s best Santa’s, live music and dancing, and two different entertaining puppet shows happening every half hour. 

And when it was all said and done, we headed over to visit the Trains!

This wasn’t our first Train visit of the year, but it entertained him for a good 45 minutes before we headed upstairs for some lunch. 

I honestly thought a visit to the mall would have bored him to death, and I’d have to deal with tantrum after tantrum, but with so many new things to see, it made for a great outing. Especially since we got there at 10am on a weekday before it got crazy busy! 

If you’re planning on heading that way, 
here’s a few activities to keep in mind to help you plan your day.

Things to See & Do At Northpark During Christmas: 
  • Storytime with Santa everyday at 10:30am.
  • Have lunch at the new Breadwinners cafe across from Bookmarks Library.
  • Listen to a variety of school choirs and concerts starting at 11:00am near Dillard’s every hour. 
  • See Santa everyday from 11am-7pm; get your tickets in advance and be prepared to stand in line!! 
  • Live Puppet Shows next to Dillard’s and Nordstrom at the bottom of every hour.  
  • Storytime at Bookmarks for babies and toddlers at 10:30am & 3:30pm (Check schedule for details)

Help in the Kitchen

My long list of holiday parties starts this weekend, and for the first time, I actually feel less stressed about this season compared to others. 

One reason, I don’t have to figure out what I’m going to wear. When you’re 33 weeks pregnant, nothing really looks good, so you just accept it and put on whatever is in your closet. 

Another reason, I’ve given myself permission to not stress out in the kitchen! 

Normally, you’d find me the morning before an event flinging flour across the room, yelling at my husband, and (sometimes cursing) at how terrible my “easy to follow recipe” turned out and praying no one notices the imperfections when I arrive. 

But not this year. . . 

Similar to how my solution to a stress-free dinner are freezer meals, I’ve discovered some great standby’s for those occasions when cooking and baking will destroy your family isn’t an option. 
* * * * * 
Elke’s Market Cafe is a new favorite of mine except I have to drive a little to get there. I was first introduced to one of their Pecan Praline Pumpkin Pies at Book Club, and loved it so much that I made a trip up to Allen the day before Thanksgiving to buy a pie for our big family lunch

They’re a little on the higher end for pricing, but for a special occasion or if you want to cheat and try to pass it off as your own, it’s definitely worth it! :) Elke’s does an amazing job of having some party staples, but making it completely unique. For example, if you need a party dip, they offer flavors like Pecan Cheddar, Brisket Queso, Smokey Almond Jack, and Spicy Artichoke Dip. ($4.50-1/2 pint, $8-pint)

They also serve a large variety of sweets like their cakes, pies, cobblers, and cookies. A typical 7 inch round cake will cost $16, but how can you go wrong with Coca-Cola Cake, Texas Chocolate Pecan Cake, Creamy Coconut or Lemon Lime Pie

* * * * * 
Honeybaked Ham is one I’ve already shared with you, but it’s a definite on my list. And yes I know Thanksgiving has passed, but think more outside of the box than just a ham or turkey. If you’re expected to bring an appetizer or snack to a holiday party, try the Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Or if you need a quick dessert, I’ve had the Carrot Cake and it’s moist and delicious. A few of my DMB contributors tried the Cheesecake Sampler and vouched that it’s legit as well! All of these serve at least 6-8 people (but easily more!) You can find a full menu here
* * * * * 
Festive Kitchen is by far my local favorite! We were first introduced to Festive Kitchen 2 years ago when my son was born. A church member had brought over some of their dinner items as a “new mom” meal for my family. Although she brought a complete meal, for some reason, the mixed green salad in particular has stuck in my mind as one of the most delicious salads I’ve ever eaten. 

For whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to try any of their other foods until recently. You may recall that Festive Kitchen was amazing and provided the DMB contributors with a complete meal the week before Thanksgiving. 

Pork Tenderloin, Carrot Souffle, Pasta Salad, Au Gratin Potatoes, Garlic Rolls...my mouth is still watering. 

Since then, I’ve used them a few times for some other events where I’ve had to bring a food dish and was short on time. (For our Ornament Exchange I brought Cranberry Salsa with Blue Chips, and it was a hit!)

For our upcoming Christmas parties, I’m eager to try a few of their other menu items, and what I love about Festive Kitchen is their list of possibilities is endless! They have over 10 appetizers to choose from, and that doesn’t include their seasonal selections; Red Bell Pepper Hummus, Bacon DipBacon-Apricot Zingers, Parmesan Flans, and Bite Sized Crab Cakes

They also make desserts easy with choices like their Gourmet Cookie Dough (Voted the “Best in Big D” by D Magazine!) with flavors Chocolate Chip Pecan Coconut, Cranberry & White Chocolate, Red Velvet, Snickerdoodles, and more! Or their easy to serve bite-sized cheesecakes, Red Velvet Cream Cheese Brownies, Apple Cinnamon Dessert Bars, and Pecan Pie Dessert Muffins. 

And remember how I said you could cheat by claiming it to be your own? Well, the Festive Kitchen helps by selling pre-made pie crusts. . .in a pan. . .READY TO BAKE! 

* * * * * 
Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to bake and cook, but when every small minor task is so physically demanding, at some point you just have to give in and let the professionals do it. 

It’s not worth my sanity! 

So this holiday season, go out, and enjoy those holiday parties without the stress by checking out a few of these local Dallas “ready-to-eat” options! 

Do you have any favorite places I need to try? 

****I was not paid for promoting any of the companies mentioned above…they are all just really delicious and felt I had to share my findings! 

Getting Back to Greeting Cards

As Thanksgiving ended on Thursday, we decided to begin the Christmas decor roll-out as a way of entertaining the Little Man. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as amused by the Christmas tree as we thought he’d be, so what I thought would be an evening of fun, turned into an evening of avoiding all of our Christmas ornaments being broken. 

After he went to bed, I started looking through the boxes of decorations trying to decide where to start, and quickly became distracted when I got to the box with all of the past cards we’d received. 

Each year, I can’t help but go through the cards we’ve gotten over the years. Although some are actual greeting cards with hand-signed notes, I’d say 85% are photo cards. 

I LOVE photo cards because they make a great keepsake to look back on, but at the same time, Christmas cards no longer have as much of a sentimental meaning as they used to; they’re personal…but also not. 

I can remember being Jr. High looking forward to helping my parents send out Christmas cards. We’d go through our Rolodex (who remembers these!?) and flipping through deciding who we were going to send a card to.

I’d help sign and address the cards make sure to leave a little personal note inside of each card. 

I miss the days of selecting a card with just the right meaning to go towards that special person. Now it seems like all I do is select the best photo from the past year and stick them in an envelope. 

Last year, when I got involved with 52 Weeks of Mail, my passion was once again sparked for greeting cards! 

Although you’ll still find a photo card from me in your mailbox, don’t be surprised if you also receive something more personal like these new Hallmark holiday cards. . . 
You’ve sold me on any card that adds glitter! 
Can you believe how hi-tech even cards have become?!
I love these pop-up cards right now because that’s why my son is obsessed with; anything with pop-ups!

I also encourage you to Shop Small, and consider some amazing greeting cards from some of the local Dallas businesses or on Etsy. 

Some of my favorite local stationers are Southern Fried Paper who specializes in creative, unique letterpressed cards like these. . .

Or bell’Invito, a letterpress and engraving company who specializes in personalized cards and a new line of DIY stationery. . . 

So this year as you’re preparing to send your family’s photo cards, think about making it a little more person with some holiday greeting cards too. You’d be surprised at how a more personal card can help you reconnect in ways a generic photo card never could!

 * * * * * 

To help you get inspired this holiday season, I’m giving away a sample pack of Hallmark holiday greeting cards; several of which you see above!

Simply leave me a message below that you’d like a chance at winning the giveaway, and you’re entered! 

For an additional entry, tweet or share this giveaway on Facebook, and leave me a separate message letting me know you did so!

I’ll choose one lucky person at random on Tuesday, November 27!

Merry Christmas and Season’s Greetings!!