Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas cheer in Boston...and at home

Happy Last Day of 2014! Funny, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that. Most of us have been knocked out by some upper respiratory thing so I haven't had a chance to write about our Christmas trip to Boston or our happenings at home.

I put this photo on instagram last weekend - the tree at Faneuil Hall was so, so gorgeous! And TALL!

Love these cobblestone streets through the marketplace. 

Oh look! It's Mama and Isabelle...and Isabelle.  =)

Guess who's holding Baby Isabelle walking through Boston while this one cradles her own hot cocoa? See the guys over there on the left? Love that!

It had been snowing off and on all afternoon, which made everything seem even more magical. And then suddenly it just got dark. There were twinkling lights everywhere.

Walking through Boston Common and checking out the ice skating rink. There was a man playing the saxophone so beautifully on a nearby bench but I didn't have a cent on me to give him. I made up my mind that I will always carry a few dollars on me from now on and not just rely on plastic.

Selfie with Jonah right outside Quincy Market. You can see how big and bright that tree is behind us!

I still can't believe the size of this tree, especially considering where it is. The streets are very narrow and this tree towered above all the buildings.

We went upstairs for a better view of the light show set to Boston Pops' music. It wasn't quite as thrilling as I'd imagined, but the excitement and cheerfulness of the city more than made up for that. The harbor was directly in back of us from here, and it was spectacular.

We were definitely feeling the chill by this point of the evening, but nobody minded too much. Here we were heading over to see Boston Harbor all lit up.

Most of my pictures of this were super blurry but this one is pretty good. Christopher Columbus Park - in the summer there are flowering vines covering this arbor. I loved the blue lights for winter. Shortly after this we headed back home. The kids were really hungry so we grabbed them some burgers once we crossed the NH border. The grown-ups enjoyed some Chinese food later on for a quaint little date. ;)

My gorgeous crew right there...

You can read this post to see the rest of our home all decked out for Christmas.

The next day we headed to my parent's house for our annual cookie decorating day. We've been doing this since before Caleb was born, so...about 12 years! Someone thought he'd be so hilarious to shove a meatball up his nose for pictures. Hardy ha. Off topic, but I've noticed the pictures from the iphone getting blurrier and grainier- anyone else dealing with this? I don't know if it's just the combination of movement and weird light or what.

Don't even ask, I couldn't tell you. When Grampy is near, all silliness and activity breaks out.

Bah-humbug. Doesn't he look so grumpy here? He wasn't - he was rubbing on me and purring the whole time. Silly Sneakers.

And then suddenly it was Christmas Eve night. We had just been at my aunt's house for our annual family pot luck, and then we went to my parent's church for a change. My brother's wife lost her mother earlier this year and she was sitting in front of us, crying incessantly the entire service. I felt so bad for her, the first Christmas without her Mom. I can't even imagine.
Thankfully, nobody's hair caught fire. And the church is still standing.  =)

And then Christmas morning! All the excitement and joy and hope of Christmas morning...a Savior was born into our dark world to set it right, to free the captives of sin, to declare victory over evil! Happy Birthday, Jesus! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your friends and families.

This is what our days look like recently. Yuck!

99% of our Christmas decorations are down and put away- any spurts of energy were spent on this task, ha. Then I got the brilliant idea of completely redoing our office area and my sewing nook. Brill-iant.

Have a fabulous day! Chat with you in 2015!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Breakfast and Brunch Ideas

Happy Christmas Eve! It is pouring buckets outside right now, and I have to admit, it's kind of a downer...however, we know that Christmas spirit and the TRUE meaning of Christmas aren't dampened by something as fickle as the weather. So celebrate we will!

Baking is such an integral part of our holidays. Here are some of our favorites, and a cute picture of my little helper when she was little.

These pancakes are pretty self-explanatory- there a million other images on Pinterest, too.
While I don't make pancakes on the morning of Christmas, they are a perfect fun breakfast for Christmas Eve or another day during vacation.

 This golden coffee cake doubles well and can be frozen ahead of time. Perfect for a busy morning!

This blueberry coffee cake is another winner on a whirlwind kind of a morning. It also doubles and freezes great.

I cannot find the recipe post for these scrambles egg bites, but they're a cinch: whisk together 7-8 eggs, half a cup or so milk, and add whatever extras you like: bacon, sausage, onion, cheese...anything! Spray a muffin tin (well!) and evenly pour in the egg mixture. Bake about 20 minutes. They are a great "finger food" for a crowd.

Our all-time favorite, which I will be making this afternoon for our Christmas brunch tomorrow. This overnight bake is so easy and so delicious! Maybe your family will request it every year, too!

Now for the beverages...
We are a non-alcoholic family so our drinks rely on Christmas spirit along, ha ha. We've never felt anything was missing from these fun holiday beverages.

 Holiday Punch 
This is the punch that everyone knows about (raspberry sherbet, ginger ale and cranberry juice), but we make it extra festive by coating the rims of the punch glasses with either corn syrup or decorating gel, as shown here, and dipping them in crushed candy canes and adding a dollop of whipped cream. So yummy and pretty!

If you omit decorating the rims of the glasses, simply add some crushed candy canes or crystals onto the whipped cream. Still looks beautiful!

And everyone enjoys a fun and festive glass of punch!

We also have fluted glasses filled with various versions of our own holiday spirits, such as ginger ale and orange juice or cranberry juice, or fruit punch with flavored seltzer yummy!

And of course, we will have some of our favorite sweets on hand for munching!

Our 2014 Christmas Brunch Menu
Overnight French Toast Bake 
Scrambled Egg Bites
Apple Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (my Mom is bringing this)

Holiday Punch with decorated glasses
Hot Coffee & Tea
Mimosas, etc

Chocolate Spiders
Chocolate Dipped Mexican Wedding Cake Cookies
Oreo Truffles
Spiced Nuts

You can find me on Pinterest and Instagram on the sidebar of this blog to see what I'm up to. Have a wonderful, joy-filled Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our Fun and Crazy December Days

Good morning! I am in complete denial that Christmas is this very week. December just goes by so fast, especially with those birthdays right in the middle! Here is a look at our days lately...

Of course, there are lots of goodies...

We've had special family movie nights...

We've celebrated our two birthday kiddos with family...

Don't even ask why he's holding a gun with his cake. Boys.
ha ha ha ha
He wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting...and candy canes! I ended up crushing some and sprinkling them on top, which was very yummy, by the way.

And Isabelle with her pink, pink, and pink cake.
Or rather, with her new doll...head. I can't make this stuff up!
And why does she look thirteen here?!?

With my birthday boy, who I swear was just knee-high, running around in his puffed-up Spider-man costume and looking up at me with those irresistible baby blues. Sigh. Siiiiiiiiiiggggghhhhh.

Our tradition has never been cupcakes- we bring lollipops to school on birthdays, and I've never had a teacher complain since they are virtually mess-free, ha! I was having myself a little moment because the batch I left until the morning of wasn't working- the melts wouldn't melt. That's not a good thing!

Surprise Dunkin' Birthday Donuts on the mad dash before school

I spy a dog. Can you? I've got to say, this fall/early winter has been dreadfully dark and dreary most days. This was taken on a hike at high noon. Noon for crying out loud!

Since the big guys had soccer games the night of Caleb's birthday we had already planned on doing our annual drive the next night. But...I couldn't stand not going and so after we'd put on pajamas, I told them to hurry up and head to the car. They were so excited! Me, too.  ;)

It started snowing on our way back, which made things even more exciting. I thought they'd both gone inside, but several minutes of not finding Isabelle in the house led me back out here. HA

Big baby

Helping me butter the cornbread for dinner one night

And who doesn't enjoy Diego the snake slithering through their glasses, down their face and onto their shoulder?  I know, right?

Well this may be a tad out of order...this was the official next night birthday pajama lights drive.

And then it was Monday, Isabelle's birthday. We were at gymnastics when Grandma stopped by to say hello.

This look is priceless. If you follow along on instagram then you might have seen the box that got wrapped a couple of weeks ago. The moment she figured it out...

Fast friends here. They have been inseparable!

Why not go get a peppermint hot chocolate on a random Tuesday, dreary morning after an orthodontist appointment before heading off to school? So we did! YUM! And fyi: he only looks taller than me here. But it won't be long.

 Inseparable. In-sep-ar-able. Even to dentist visits.

Fancy Dress Up Day at school. Guess Ryder was feeling fancy, too.

And twirling in her Christmas skirt at church. Oh wait, here she was asking me to get a picture of her "fancy hair."  :)

Then we surprised everyone and whisked them off to the Currier Gallery in Manchester, NH. Caleb was ecstatic about posing next to this Picasso, even though he looks like he's playing it very cool. He just couldn't believe that he was standing right in front of the famous artist's work. I wasn't expecting that reaction from him and his enthusiasm made me really happy.
 Perhaps this is a little more telling of our time at the art gallery. Ha Ha and Ha

Friday night was Girl's Night so we went to get pedis. I had never done this with her before, and it was so much fun! Except for the racy music video channel that flashed (literally) on all six screens midway through. I tried, I really really tried to keep quiet, go with the flow, all of that. But in the end, my face got beet red and my horrified, pleading eyes connected with one of the older ladies who got it, so she asked someone to change the channel. I'll spare you a pic of my toes, but we are both sporting sparkly purple nails. Oh, I don't want to forget this: she was mesmerized by the foot bath water that changes color with the lights, only she thinks it is the "magic rock" they put into the water that changes its color. She was terribly excited to inform me of that magic rock because it was the same kind they used when her Daddy had brought her over the summer, and she kept telling me to wait for my magic rocks to turn my water different colors. That had me giggling big time!

And then Saturday night our neighborhood had a fun potluck. It was at Caleb's best friend's house so we let him stay a little longer and then went back for him. What a refreshing, brisk walk home...and a nice way to work off some of that yummy food! We are really fortunate to have such friendly neighbors and it has been great getting to know them all better.

I should insert some sort of alarm here to alert you that you've fallen asleep during this l-o-n-g post that probably only means something to me. So go get up and make yourself some hot tea or cocoa and tune into the Hallmark channel because...why not?

Three more days until Christmas! Eek!
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