Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

California Christmas

When we moved to California, I never thought about what the holidays would be like. I considered what our new home would look like, what our church would be like, how the people would receive us, but never what the holidays would be like. Christmas couldn't possibly feel like Christmas without snow and blustery temperatures. Right?

Christmas weekend officially began yesterday and while the temps have steadily been in the high 50s and 60s for the past 2 weeks or so, Friday brought warmer weather. Since there would be no cozy sweaters and wooly socks this Christmas, we made the most of our situation and headed to the beach. When in Rome...

The weather was perfect. Clear skies, warm but breezy, beautiful. We packed a picnic and stayed all morning. It still didn't feel like Christmas though...

So we headed to Manhattan Beach to check out some lights. The pier is lit with twinkling lights and the whole downtown area is very festive. We needed festive.

We ate peppermint ice cream, we walked the pier, we got pretty darn close to feeling Christmas. It still wasn't enough though.

So we went to church. We found a great new church that we love and were excited to attend Christmas Eve service. 

That almost did the trick. We needed a little something more to really get there. So we opened a present before bed.

We were almost feeling it. Christmas jammies were next on the agenda. 

We were 99% feeling like Christmas had begun. Something was missing. Then we skyped our family and we were there. 

The Christmas feeling is not about climate or lights or Christmas treats, it's about family. We are missing our family. If you have yours nearby this holiday, hug them a little tighter. Merry Christmas out there!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

A tree full of presents.
Nana's red and green cookies.
My mom's spiced tea.
The Christmas ham my inlaws sent.
Overflowing stockings.
We hit the motherload today. 3 big packages were delivered to our doorstep filled with presents, treats, HAM!!, and stocking stuffers. My heart is full, but the floor in the living room by the Christmas tree is fuller. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Christmas is not Christmas without my Nana's huge spread of candies, cookies, and cakes. Every year, my cousins and I get tins filled with red and green cookies, almond bark, fruit cake cookies, and jam cake. The red and green cookies are like gold and we all fight over who has more in their tin. Nana threatens us that this is the last year she is making them, but that was 3 years ago and the cookies are always in our tins. Keep them coming, Nana! Or else. Nothing says Christmas spirit like threatening your grandmother. Fa la la la la la la la la!!!

Since I got married, I have been making some of her treats for JD. And me. Mostly for me. One of our favorites are the toffee graham crackers. They are easy and so yummy. Here is Nana's recipe:

Toffee Graham Crackers

1 c butter
1 c light brown sugar
graham crackers

Cover cookie sheet with foil and line with graham crackers. Boil sugar and butter for 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour hot sugary liquid over graham crackers until covered. Bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Cool 15 minutes and devour.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weekend Adventure: Knott's Berry Farm

This weekend we headed east to Knott's Berry Farm, America's first theme park and - fun fact alert! - the birthplace of the boysenberry. There were rides, attractions, shopping, and tons of food. The best part for us though? Free admission due to a monthly promotion. It could have been the lamest place ever, but the simple fact that it was free would have been alright with us. Thankfully, it was far from lame. It was amazeballs.

JD and I had no idea there were so many rides. We both hate roller coasters so we were a little freaked out to see this at the entrance.

And this.

There were lots and lots of scary rolling death rides, I mean roller coasters. JD and I just stood there looking at them shaking our heads saying, "no way, there is no way I would ride one of those things." We are wimps like that.

We weren't afraid of all of the rides though. We rode a train around the park at a safe speed of 5 mph. JD rode a tractor trailer ride with Beatrice and I rode a tugboat with her that spun around. She loved it. I nearly barfed.

Check out the look on my face in the second picture above. I am about to lose my cookies. And this was a kiddie ride. I am seriously a big wimp. My equilibrium is nothing to mess with.

Why go to a theme park if you hate roller coasters, you ask? A) It was free. B) Boysenberry history is fun. C) For the kids. And our eldest loved the rides. The spinnier and bouncier, the better.

Our youngest? She hated them and begged us not to make her go upside down anymore.

Just kidding. We did not take our baby on any rides except for her first time in the Bjorn forward facing. She loved that.

She loved looking at all the people with Daddy.

We rode, we walked, we ate. We were exhausted. We will definitely be going back for the boysenberries and family fun. Not so much for the rides.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stage Jumping and Gingerbread Houses

I'm guilty of rushing Beatrice through the stages of her life. It's not that I don't enjoy the current stages that she's in while we're in them, it's just that I think the next stages are going to be so much better. I want to experience every fun thing with her right this very instant, regardless of her age. I am a stage-jumper.

Christmas is no exception. I make a big deal about having her help me with the holiday baking, the gift wrapping, and the shopping because having a little person to share it with is so much more fun than doing it by myself. I pay little attention to the fact that she can't measure flour accurately or cut things or pick out gifts that do not possess glitter or picture of kitties on them. Honestly, she's not quite ready for these stages of Christmas merriment. But you know what? I don't care. I impose my development aspirations on her nonetheless. Because it's fun!

And when the 3rd batch of Christmas cookies resulted in half eaten sticks of butter and sprinkles in every nook and cranny of our kitchen due to my little helper's "help" wasn't enough stage-jumping for me, I bought a gingerbread house kit. Because things weren't quite messy enough. I really thought it was a good idea since there's no right or wrong way to decorate a cookie house and it's a craft that is expected to be messy. I figured we couldn't go wrong with this big kid activity and would create a beautiful, edible creation.

I was wrong.

She was pretty psyched when she saw the bowls of candy and icing waiting for her when she woke up from her nap.

She was doing good for about 1 minute when she realized there were bowls of candy and icing waiting for her. The temptation proved to be too much.

She ate.

And ate.

I have about 20 more photos just like these. JD and I ended up decorating that poor gingerbread house.

I ended up eating a few bites too. Temptation and all.

The house turned out, okay. There is very little candy on it and the few pieces that did make it on the final product are slipping down the eaves and angles of my poorly constructed construction.

But like with all of the stage-jumping activities I orchestrate with Beatrice, it's not about the final product. It's about the experience.

And this was a fun one.

A delicious, fun experience.