Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas with my niece...

{Christmas morning}

On Christmas morning Bryant's family came over for brunch at our house.  It's obvious when looking through the pictures who the center of attention was!  This was the first Christmas my niece was able to open her own presents and lead puppy dog around the house.  It's humorous to watch the difference between boys and girls' gifts.  From camo pants to flowered dresses and army helmets to baby dolls, it's quite clear what puts on a smile on their face!  And you don't need night vision goggles to see that... although I know two little boys who are probably using theirs as we speak.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas with my nephews...

{Christmas Eve}

We had a wonderful Christmas this year and enjoyed having my sister, brother-in-law and two nephews in for a visit.  Christmas Eve we all went to the evening service at church and then gathered at my parents' house for a delicious meal.  There were presents galore and it was a fun night of opening our gifts one at a time or for the boys two or three at a time.  Everyone met on Christmas for a matinee and then came to our house for dinner.  We had a surprise guest for the boys... one of Bryant's friends is a Germantown Police Officer and he came by just in time to have dinner with us.  What a fun night!  You can imagine the hilarious conversation and questions that were asked at the dinner table.  My favorite was when Max said, "Josh, Josh, I think I heard your radio go off.  You better check that."

{three sisters}

{opening army helmets from mom and dad}

 {Officer Josh and Bo}

{The pilot and co-pilot}

{wearing Uncle Bryant's flight suit}

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twelve Gifts of Christmas: the second through twelfth gift

Giving Twelve Gifts of Christmas this month was fun and challenging at the same time.  I spent the season reflecting on what it means to give, what makes a good gift and how much we should give. There were a few laughs too when I wanted to give our doorman in San Francisco cupcakes and then realized he probably was just going to throw them away.  Would you eat something from a stranger... especially a tourist??  And it was harder than I thought to give 12 gifts to complete strangers.  I think next year I will include acquaintances like my friends over at the nail salon, hair studio and my favorite dry cleaners. Here's a rundown of this year's Twelve Gifts of Christmas...

the first gift... mini Starbucks
the second gift... an unexpected tip
the third, fourth & fifth gift... One Year Chronological Bibles 
the sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh & twelfth gift... stockings filled with surprises 

We give because He gave first.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

It's always fun to exchange baked goods for the Holidays.  This year I made Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes for my Christmas work party.  I almost resorted to buying this year's gift but I'm glad I found the time for these little delights.  I made Martha Stewart's One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes and was pleased with how well they turned out versus how easy the recipe was.   I knew from past experience that safflower oil makes a moist chocolate cake {just note a little goes a long way}!  For the icing, I was determined to find a recipe that does not use cream cheese.  I prefer a fluffy, creamier peanut butter icing that's not weighed down.  This Peanut Butter Icing seemed to have winner ingredients and it was confirmed by my mother telling me it was the best peanut butter frosting she had ever had!  I topped them off with Reese's Minis and packed them in with green paper shreds.  These turned out so well I'll probably remake them next week for the neighbors.  See last year's holiday work gifts here and neighbor gifts here.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Twelve Gifts of Christmas: the first gift

{short caramel apple spices}

The only disappointment about the holidays is when you find yourself fighting off the seasonal cold (and if you're real unlucky, the flu).  The month of December is too short to be spent staying inside and resting...  like I have been the past two days.  It makes me feel like I'm missing out on all the festivities.  I wanted to spend the weekend buying presents for loved ones and singing Christmas carols at church, but instead I made a visit to the local minor medical office.  I really appreciate that they are open on rainy Sundays so I brought a little holiday cheer with me to show my appreciation.  And then I had the idea... why not give more of these unexpected gifts during the Christmas season?  As I'm out this month there will be plenty of opportunities to take an extra five minutes and think of others.  A cup of coffee is not expensive but the act of kindness is priceless.  What better time of year to share the love of Christ with a lost world?  Join me by giving twelve gifts this Christmas to a complete stranger and either blog about it or leave a comment sharing your story. 

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