Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the night before . . .


. . .  the night before Christmas -- or as Grace calls it, Christmas Eve Eve.  I decided I'd try to give my neglected blog some love tonight, but I keep getting interrupted by creatures still stirring about. Since I've been absent for most of the month, I'll give you Twelve Things that May or May Not Be Related to Christmas.

1.  It is not looking good for a white Christmas at the Blue House.  We have not had more than a few flurries all month.  I love the snow, and the kids are anxious to do some sledding.  But until then, God has replaced the beauty of snow with some spectacular sunsets.  This picture needed no editing.


2.  Something I haven't shared here is that Marc and I have been following Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover for almost a year.  We started by cutting up the credit cards and have paid cash for everything this year.  While it's taken some getting used to, we are so glad to be going down this path.  In the past we never really budgeted for Christmas, but this year we set aside some money each month so we'd be all set in December.  I set the number a little low however, because I kept reading how all these bloggers used Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards.  One blogger said she was able to earn enough gift cards to pay for Christmas.  I knew I'd never be that successful, so I just planned on supplementing our Christmas budget a little.  Well guess what?  I hate Swagbucks.  The auto-fill feature on their search bar drives me coo coo, and the search results aren't as good as what you get from Google.  So I stopped using it for more and more of my searches until finally I just forgot about it -- until December, that is.  I was encouraged that we had money set aside, but when I started adding up costs for gifts, a tree, treats, cards, and so forth, I realized the $5 Amazon card I earned was not going make up the difference between what I wanted to spend and what I had available.

3.  I solved the problem by cutting out one of our biggest expenses and by getting creative.  Sadly, it was our Christmas cards that got the axe.  We didn't get them sent out last year either, so we'll probably get dropped from some lists this year, which is really sad because I LOVE Christmas cards.  Even the ones that people love to make fun of -- no Grinchiness from me when it comes to Christmas newsletters!  So I apologize for not sending you a card or at least posting it on the blog.  {sniff}

And the creative part?  My Pinterest addiction served me well this month.  I made many of our gifts this year and tried out several new recipes.  The peppermint bark rice krispy treats in the top photo were a life saver when I found out last minute I needed a treat to bring to a party -- so easy!  Another great find was this Christmas popcorn recipe that we used for gifts for our Sunday School kids. 


I'm telling you, you need to join me in Pinterestland!

4.  It's been a great month for my Baylor Bears!  Our first Heisman Trophy winner, Robert Griffin III (RG3), is a real class act -- he's smart, humble, and obviously a gifted athlete.  We celebrated the news by hanging our Baylor flag.  (How nice -- our school colors work nicely with Christmas decorations!).  Sic 'em Bears!


5.  Despite all my great planning efforts, things still got a chaotic this December.  The problem was that my planning didn't allow for health related problems and a misdiagnosis that rendered me useless for a week.  It was not fun and I had more than a few crying fits, from pain and the frustration of not feeling well and having a million things to do.  But God is good and there were blessings in this trial, just like any other.  One of the greatest blessings was having an awesome husband step in and help with so much.  He even took Ryne and Grace to their homeschool Christmas party.  Love you, Honey!  Another blessing was that because I did do a better job of planning this year, I was still able to get through most of my to-do items.  Except for the baking -- that will be our Christmas Eve project!

6.  December has been heaven for our attention-loving Grace.  First, she got to ring some bells on stage with the symphony orchestra.  Marc was invited to a reception for corporate sponsors and their families, and after the reception they got to watch the rehearsal for the symphony's big Christmas program.  Marc and the kids had a wonderful time, especially when Grace was asked if she'd like to go on stage.  I stayed home because I was feeling awful but wish I had sent the camera with Marc.  Grace also sang a solo at our church Christmas program (maybe I'll have time to post the video tomorrow), and wrapped things up by showing us her best ballerina moves at the ballet school open house.


7.  I changed my Christmas mantel for the first time in more than a decade.  Do you ever read the blogs that have mantel parties for every season?  That's so not me.  I find something I like and then stick with it for a good. long. time.  But even I was itching for some change this year.  I just used stuff that I already had on hand, and it turned out nice and simple.  I'm still tweaking decorations -- today I found these little gnomes I brought back from my childhood home in August.  My sister thinks I'm crazy, but they were some of my favorite decorations when I was a kid.


8.  I had the best gift wrapping session ever this afternoon.  Marc took the kids out to do their Christmas shopping, so I had the whole house to myself.  I spread everything out on the kitchen table, popped in a favorite movie I should have mentioned in my list of favorite movies, and nibbled on some chocolate between wrapping.  So much better than in the middle of the night before Christmas!

9.  When I was done wrapping gifts I took a few minutes to play on the computer.  I read this post by Pioneer Woman and laughed so hard I cried.  Actually I cry just about every time I laugh, but I'm talking tears rolling down my cheeks, laughing out so loud the dog got scared. It was a great afternoon.

10.  We're staying home for Christmas.  Just our family.  Enjoying having Marc home for two weeks of vacation.  Looking forward to some of our favorite traditions like gingerbread pancakes on Christmas morning (although we might change it to brunch after church), finding our Dutch wooden shoes filled with treats, and singing Happy Birthday to Daddy and Jesus after a dinner of prime rib.

11.  Usually we are with Marc's mom for Christmas and she makes the prime rib, so I'm a little nervous about trying to pull this off on my own.  I'm also nervous about the birthday cake recipe I'm making for the first time.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you might be able to figure out what kind of cake it is. I repeat: You really need to join me in my pinning addiction. : )

12.  I always end my Christmas newsletters (on the years when I do actually write them) with the following:

As always, we find joy in our crazy, everyday life, but we remember the real reason for our joy: the baby in the manger who grew up to die on the cross that we might be “filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I hope you have a blessed Christmas day, bloggy friends!


  1. Merry Christmas! Mom and I had the tears and laughter going yesterday after reading PWs blog, too.

  2. PW is a riot. I want to be her when I grow up.

    Did I read that it is easiest to get a Pinterest account if invited? If so, would you invite me?

    I'm sad to hear you've had a difficult month health-wise, especially a misdiagnosis. Hope you're feeling better.

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Such a nice update from the Blue House! That photo is what I call a 'cottoncandy' sky and we love 'em around here too! No snow for us either. :-(

    We are rebooting our budget as well and it's funny how shocked my hubbs was at just how much we need to save for bday parties, gifts for neices/nephews, Christmas! But when you take it out a little at a time it sure does hurt a lot less!

    You've gotten a good lot of things accomplished this Christmas season - you're way ahead of me in the blogosphere! I'll have to look into the pininterest thinamajig if you say so - lol!

    Hope you've had a wonderful Christmas (but don't expect card from us either - lol!)!!