Category Archives: Holiday

I can’t believe it’s already 2012! I hope you all had a happy new year! Our new year was spent the way it is every year. At home. We really enjoy just being with each other for the new year so we usually make some sort of dinner and watch a movie. This year was no different. We got our traditional shrimp ring from Publix (which I missed so much while I was in Chicago because they don’t have Publix there) and ended up cooking hot dogs. We thought about grilling, but with all the prep for little Miss Carly, we were just too tired. So we watched friends reruns while we made dinner. We ended up watching the episode where they have to name all 50 states in less than 6 minutes. Colby immediately said, “I bet I could do really well with that.” Long story short, we, too, played the 50 state game. Now, Internet, before I go further, I have to say, between Colby and I, he is the smart one, but on the last day of 2011, I was the smart one. He missed 8 states and thought Washington DC was a state. I missed 5. I was quite entertained to feel smarter, intellectually, than my husband, but the glory didn’t last long when I realized our missing link was Utah. After that, we took the pooches for a walk and then watched the movie “Crazy Stupid Love” which was actually pretty good. I love Steve Carell and he didn’t disappoint, though I do miss him on The Office. The movie ended 5 minutes after midnight to which, yet another new year, Colby and I said, “We made it to midnight!” Then we went to sleep. Lame. I know. We’re oldies, what can I say?

I try to blame as much on the baby as I can, so in doing so, I blame the baby for the fact that I have yet to pick up my camera this year… Since we’re all of 36 hours into it and all haha! We are still waiting for her to arrive. COME ON CARLY! My due date was yesterday but she has decided that I have to take her to court to evict her. Apparently my eviction notice means nothing to her. Hopefully I won’t have to be induced but if she isn’t out by the end of next week, I will likely have to be induced by Friday of next week because they don’t let you go past 42 weeks.

So, until then, I will probably be slower on the blogging. I REALLY thought she’d come before the end of 2011 and I thought I was good with my 3 weeks of prescheduled blog posts to last me through the end of the year, but Internet, I’ve found myself on the second day of 2012 having to write this blog post. Thanks a lot Carly. Fo realz. haha!

This year, as many of you have read about a zillion times, has been really different for us. since Carly is due on New Year’s Day, we weren’t really sure how to plan for the holidays. Really, she could come any time now. And maybe by the time this post actually posts, she will have come. The above is a side by side of the Christmas cards we sent out this year. I wish I had had the time to put more thought into it, but I just didn’t have time.

To be honest, I’ve not had much time to do anything. I thought once school was done, I would have time to just veg and relax until she arrived, but instead, I’ve found myself even busier with trying to schedule blog posts on this blog, my life and living blog, and fulfilling wreath orders on my Etsy store. I still have so much to do, like, I don’t know, prepare for Carly’s arrival! Hello, me! Wake up and get cleaning! I went through a short nesting phase that I thought would come back before her arrival but I still haven’t found the desire to clean everything. Instead I keep hoping my hubby will… but then I realize, um, yeah, he has a day job too. hahaha!

So anyway, I admit I haven’t put a lot of time into Christmas planning this year. In all reality, I could be in the hospital on Christmas or over Christmas. One thing that’s really struck me this year, though, is just how far we’ve gotten from Christmas being a Christian holiday. I don’t know where Christmas got derailed on the Christian holiday train, but somewhere along the lines, it was nationalized as an official holiday and people who were not religious celebrated it anyway, without the spiritual meaning. Before we all knew it, it became about Santa Clause and spoiled kids. Do kids even know why we bring gifts to the tree? Do kids even know why we have a tree? I remember growing up and learning that we put lights on the houses because it made it easier for Santa to land his sleigh. There is a lot of magic that kids believe behind Christmas and it is fun and special, but it’s so far away from what Christmas is all about. Last year, we sent out Christmas cards and I wrote inside of it from a line from Charlie Brown Christmas. It was from Linus but really taken from Luke 2:8-14. It says this:

And there were, in the same country, shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were so afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” That’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.

I wish that remained the focus of Christmas. It may not be the popular thing to do, but we will be raising our children up to celebrate Christmas for Jesus, not for Santa. We will teach her about who Santa is and what many children believe (so she doesn’t spoil it for other kids) but our conviction is to teach the importance of Christmas and the real reason we, as Christians, celebrate Christmas. I’m certainly not coming down on anyone for doing it their way. We all have a way to do things. This is just how we will be doing it. Millions of Christians celebrate with both Jesus and Santa and there is nothing wrong with them doing it their way. Again, this is just our conviction.

With that said, Merry Christmas 2011. Next year, we will have an almost one year old baby girl to celebrate with.

I know I’m way over a week late, but at least I’m here! Last week was Thanksgiving and we had a lot going on. If you read my “According To Jen” blog and kept up with my pre-Thanksgiving day posts, you saw that I do the majority of my cooking the day before so I have less to do the day of. I also decided to do what I’m calling a “progressive dinner” where we have multiple courses spanned out over about 5 hours or so.

The Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, I started having a sore throat. Wednesday morning when I woke up to get to cooking, I was sick. Now, I knew taking this on was going to be a challenge because I was 34 weeks pregnant, but to be sick with a nasty cold on top of that just sucked. I’m not talking just any cold. I’ve NEVER had a cold like this. Aside from the sore throat, I couldn’t stop sneezing, my eyes wouldn’t stop tearing, and my nose was just leaking snot. Gross! I know! Who would want to eat at my house, much less eat food I cooked, when I’m clearly germing everything up? Nonetheless, I pushed through with lots of tissues, lots of running out of the kitchen to sneeze and TONS of incessant hand washing. My family, who is apparently unaffected by and unafraid of germs, still came and feasted with us anyway!

Now onto the good stuff. Well, actually, let me first say, I FORGOT, yes FORGOT!!!! I forgot to take a picture of that beautiful turkey when it was done cooking. OMG. It as the most gorgeous turkey I had ever made. I took a before picture but by the time it was done cooking I had completely forgotten to take a photo. It was probably a combo of prego brain, being sick, and being busy. So lame! Anyway, now onto the good stuff. For those of you who don’t read my According To Jen blog, we also decided to do a “progressive dinner;” not the kind where you go to different houses, but the kind where you spread the courses out over several hours. Overall, the progressive dinner was fantastic. Not only was the food spread out over the day, but I didn’t overeat to the point of feeling miserable. Actually I didn’t feel miserably full at all. Now my family? Yeah, my dad and little brother ate themselves silly. After dinner when my mom and husband were cleaning, they were both out cold on the couch and floor moaning in food misery.

We served the appetizers starting at 1:30. We did things a little different and set up my dining table in the living room up against the back wall, decorated it nicely, and set out all of the refreshments on it. We had a crock pot with the chili queso dip working as well as another crock pot with the meatballs and little smokies in it. We also had punch, plates, cups (complete with a Sharpie to write your name on your cup so you wouldn’t mix your cup up with someone else’s) and some other delicious snacks that my little brother’s girlfriend, Corrie, made.

It was a pretty lax day, though I was still kind of busy in the kitchen. A few things didn’t turn out so good, like my black and tan trifle, my stuffing, and my rolls, but since I only cook them once a year, it was sort of to be expected. I’m definitely going to have to work on those things.

Unfortunately, being sick AND hugely pregnant had its disadvantages.  I also forgot to photograph the tables. So instead, I’ll leave you with a few detail photos of the pine cones we hung from the banister, the burlap wreath I made (and am selling on Etsy in case anyone wants one) and the Thankful Tree I created. When I get time (if I EVER get time) I’ll edit the other photos and post them.

Click here to see more about the DIY “Thankful Tree”

Click here if you’re interested in purchasing a handmade burlap wreath.

Click here for more on the DIY candles.

As I sit here and reflect on this past year, I can’t help but be grateful for the things God has given to me in 2010. Above all things, God has given me freedom. He’s given me the freedom to pursue my passions and dreams. You see, two years ago, I was listening to a web cast of Jules Bianchi talking about how many people want to open studios or go full time in their photography businesses. She talked about making a plan basically saying, “What can you do now to ensure you can be full time in a year?” That was a very puzzling question that I had ZILCH for answers to. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. I prayed that God would someday give me the opportunity to no longer work for corporate America so that I could not only focus on my business, but have the chance to just be a student so I could finish my BFA. Well Internet, I’m happy to sit here before my computer screen, typing to you, to tell you that two years later, my dream has come true. I am not only focusing on my business full time, next Wednesday, I will start the first day of the rest of my BFA.

This year, I attended my first bridal show, my grandma died, I sat in limbo waiting for news of whether or not we’d get the TriCare contract, the news came and I lost my job, we are still in the process of selling our house in a short sale, I moved back to Florida, and am very blessed to be where I am. There is only one thing missing. My husband. He’s still working in Chicago until he can secure employment down here in Jacksonville. I’m still praying that he will be here soon, but it’s easy to grow weary of it after 5 months of being apart. So… With that said, it’s time for another “Dear xxx,” letter.

Dear 2011,

First and foremost, I pray to God that you bring my husband down here with a great job that has great benefits. I’m also hoping you bring me a baby, because let’s face it, I’ve been married for almost 5 years, I’m going to be 27, and I’m ready to be a mama! So bring it! Stork and all! Please also bring me 15 wedding bookings (one down, 14 to go) because I think that’ll give me a great start here in the Florida market, while also allowing me to keep my head on straight, you know, with school and hopefully a baby and all. Please bring us blessings and prosperity in the things we put our hands to. Please also sell our house, because I’m tired of having it lingering over our heads. Lastly, bring us another house that we can rent so we can have a fence, because, well, my dogs are a lot nicer when they have a yard to run around in.

-Yours Truly

Well Internet, I wish you all a happy, blessed, prosperous New Year! Please do NOT drink and drive. I’ll be second shooting for Dana Goodson Photography today and I would hate for you to hit and kill me on my way home. So don’t do it!

I know this is a little late, but it’s better late than never! I had an amazing Christmas. Probably my second favorite Christmas ever. It’s funny how as we grow up, Christmas can become better than it was when we were kids and getting “stuff” that eventually would get thrown away or donated. I remember one Christmas where I got the Barbie Motor Home and I was SOOOO excited. That was the “it” Christmas gift and I got it! Needless to say… I don’t play with or have the Barbie Motor Home anymore. Christmas has become more important and fun for me because it is about Jesus’ birth. I get to be with family and, as a family, praise God for His son’s birth and all of the blessings he’s given to us.

On Christmas Eve, Colby and I went to the Christmas Eve service at church. Later, we met my family at Applebee’s (eww) for dinner and then they came over and we ate snacks and chocolate peppermint cookies while watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer! That is by far, my favorite Christmas movie ever. I not only got to sing my little heart out during the movie, but I added a spanish twist and rolled my “r’s” haha! It was awesome!

On Christmas day, my parents, my little brother, and his girlfriend came over in their pajamas and opened gifts with Colby and I. I tell you, I haven’t seen our Christmas tree THAT full of gifts in a long time! We had a fun time letting the dogs open our gifts for us (Jayda LOVES wrapping paper and helped everyone open their gifts because of her love for it) and give each other all the little things we thought would bring laughs, smiles, sentiment, and “Oh SWEET!” expressions to our faces! After that, I made open face croque madames for breakfast and everyone left… That is until later. My parents and Colby’s step brother came over for my first Christmas roast. I was so burnt out from Thanksgivings big shabang that I didn’t want to go all out for Christmas. So I made a Guinness Roast that was delish. My poor mom and dad wanted other sides though, so my mom slaved away in her kitchen all day and brought it all over to our home for dinner. We had a TON of food!

This was the first Christmas I chose to keep my camera tucked away in its rolling bag home. I get so wrapped up in making sure we get pictures of everything that I forget to enjoy things as they happen. So this Christmas, I decided to just enjoy myself. Because I don’t have any photos (other than cell phone pics), I will leave you with a photo of Colby and I’s 5th Christmas ornament!