Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Festivities

Josh and I attended a beautiful candelight church service on Sunday morning.  The service was quite special and I'm so glad I had this opportunity.  Also, I could have spent the whole morning singing the beautiful Christmas songs.  The song service is always my favorite part of church services, but Christmas songs have a special place in my heart and I could sing along for a while.

Then, I spent some time  Sunday evening wrapping gifts.  I love taking care to wrap gifts beautifully, and it was quite a luxury to have enough time to do this.  I also like it when my gifts under the tree coordinate, so I get metallic wrapping paper on sale at Target every year, and then spice up things with ribbon.  Since I had quite a lot of ribbon leftover from Cassie's wedding programs back in August, I used the ribbon to adorn the gifts.  I'm a little partial, but I think it turned out quite lovely.

Last week, we had a blizzard...which makes everything feel like Christmas (I posted about the storm as it was happening here).  I love how beautiful the icicles and fluffy snow looks in frozen tundra.

On Christmas, we were up in Minneapolis with the Huntley side of the family (see our Thanksgiving festivities here).  To spice things up, I challenged all the cousins to wear ugly sweaters (I had my awesome shirt from this holiday party earlier in December).  I think we should do this every year. 

We're one good-looking bunch

Yummy desserts

Awkward family photos

Josh rocks this sweater.

A toast to our Kappa legacy!

We ended the night at Josh's parents' farm with a game of Monopoly.  It's kind of a tradition to play as a family during the holidays.  I'm not competitive, yet I won this year.  Score!  $20 for me!


We still have two Christmas celebrations this week.  Sophie can't wait to wear her Mrs. Claus outfit for them.

Capture December Pinterest Challenge: Days 19-27

Here's an update to my Capture December Pinterest Challenge (see days 10-18 here and days 1-9 here).  I'm still loving it.  The challenge forces me to take photos of things other than Sophie (however, she still makes cameos in some of my photos).

19. Candy canes - I still haven't made anything with them, but I might dress up a dessert this weekend with them.
20. Tree topper - Thanks to Target's Christmas clearance a few years back, I scored our tree topper.  I love it.
21. Peace - I'm on vacation until January the alarm is set to "off" until then.
22. Tradition - Water with three lemons - that's how I like to order my water at restaurants.  My mom and sister also subscribe to this...and we all got the same thing when we were out to dinner at El Azteca.
23. Scarf - Sophie scored her festive holiday scarf when she got her haircut last week.  She was a little shy about showing it off.
24. Favorite part of Christmas Eve - Josh and I like to watch a movie together on Christmas Eve (last year we went to the movie theater; this year we stayed in). 
25. Morning - We spent most of Christmas Day on the road (first two hours up to my in-laws' farm, then two more hours up to Minneapolis, then back to the farm).
26. Grateful - My mother-in-law put together a scrapbook for my sister-in-law with all of Kalli's noteworthy photos from her childhood.  Since Kalli is pregnant (with a Kappa legacy!), Pam thought it would be fun for Kalli to have this to share with her little girl.  I love thoughtful gifts like this.
28. Nighttime - I'm in relax mode and enjoying a lovely cup of Amy's Blend Tea from Caribou is a perfect way to end the day.

Caribou Coffee is Open!

Caribou Coffee opened today in Ankeny (909 SE Oralabor Road).  It's kind of a big deal in my book.  I've been anxiously awaiting the grand opening...for a few months now (I first blogged about it here in October).  Every time I drove on Oralabor, I drove on the furthest south lane just to get a look at it.  The shop is beautiful (I forgot to take a shot of the beautiful can kind of see them in the photo below) and smells like new construction and coffee...which is a glorious combination.  I got my usual warm coffee drink: skim vanilla latte.  Because it was the first day of being open, I wasn't sure if they'd get it right, but the team nailed it.  I am so happy Caribou has finally taken roots in Ankeny, and I look forward to enjoying lots of drive-thru (and sit-down) cups over the years to come.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas is Almost Here!

Christmas is in three days, and I can't wait.  I'm pretty pumped.  Though I'm not totally done with my Christmas shopping, I'm close (closer now that I spent the majority of today getting some last-minute gifts).  Before I went shopping with my mom, sister and niece, my sister snapped these pictures for us.  Every year, I put a small picture in an ornament for our Christmas tree, and I needed one for this year's ornament.  Thanks for the pictures, Dina!

My niece also wanted to take a couple of pictures with me...a "normal" picture and a "fun" picture.  You can guess which is which.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Carrie Underwood Concert in Des Moines

Carrie Underwood performed in Des Moines last Friday night.  Since Jessica's husband was out of town, she offered to take me instead.  I obliged, of course.  Who wouldn't?  The concert started off pretty great.  Newcomer Hunter Hayes opened for her and sang one of my favorite songs, Wanted.  Watch his official video here.  He was adorable.

While we were waiting for the big show to start, we were upgraded from section 205, to section 101.   Basically, we could see Carrie's facial expressions up close (no need for those big screens).  We were happy girls!  The concert was wonderful even though I'm pretty sure Carrie lip-synched a couple songs in there (I don't blame her; she had a cough and rough voice).  However, we were lucky we saw her when we did because she canceled her show on Saturday night in Kansas City.  Thanks for a good time, Jessica!  Our seats were WAY better this time than our tickets to see Rascal Flatts at Iowa State Fair were this summer...

The Iowa Winter is Here

Winter is officially in full force here in Iowa (and the Midwest, really).  Starting at 6 last night (the precipitation started falling at 4), the area was under a blizzard warning.  It was supposedly to last until 6 PM today, but was extended to 9 PM.  The wind is still blowing like crazy, it's pretty chilly, and there is quite a bit of snow out there.  We got about 13 inches of snow.  Here are some shots from last night and today.  It really is like a winter wonderland out there.  I like it a lot.

Sophie's first steps in the snow this year.

We can buy her all the toys we want, but she loves plastic bottles best.

Pretty sure this is Sophie's way of letting us know she likes the snow.

It's bright white out there!  Now I remember why I have blackout curtains in my bedroom.

A perfect day for a big pot of chili.

My dear friend, Michaun, and her husband (and sweet puppy Ted) planned to stay the night at our house last night on their way from Chicago to Lincoln, Nebraska.  Due to the poor driving conditions from the blizzard, they had to stop last night and stay at a hotel in the Quad Cities.  Today, they've been stuck on Interstate 80 after this nasty pileup.  A trip that should have taken them a little more than five hours (to get to our house from Chicago), has taken more than 24 hours.  Winter sure did come in fast and furious this year!

Capture December Pinterest Challenge: Days 10-18

It's December 20, and I haven't missed a day yet of the Capture December Pinterest Challenge (read my original post here, and days 1-9 here) from A Content Housewife.  Below are days 10-18.  Enjoy!

10. Wrapping paper - a look into my gift wrap box (thanks to awesome prop sales over the years)
11. Green - Chat Packs from my Christmas work party
12. A beautiful sight - Sophie in a Mrs. Claus outfit is truly a beautiful sight!
13. Family - we're planning our Christmas's a bit hectic
14. Christmas tree - one of the trees in the lobby at work
15. Favorite holiday song - Joy to the World screenshot from wikipedia
16. Outside Christmas lights - Josh and I drove around the neighborhood and found some beautiful lights.
17. Presents - I haven't wrapped anything yet, but I do have these awesome Lisa Frank name tags to put on my presents once they're wrapped.
18. Stockings - I dream of matching stockings, but until our family is complete, I just can't justify them.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fab Finds: Happier Bride

My dear friend, Minna, just published a book, Happier Bride.  I'm so proud of her and I hope you'll take a minute to check it out.  If you're planning a wedding (or know someone who is) this book will be your lifesaver.  Minna is ultra-organized and quite the researcher.  She's done all the work for you (like created free downloadable excel documents for your vendor contacts, guest list, and budget).  Her book offers simple tips on how to make your special day memorable, save money, and have the happiest day of your life.  Really, isn't that what every bride wants?  Check it out (and follow her on Pinterest).  I think you'll love it.

get your copy here

Wedding Thank You Cards

Cody and Tiff's wedding has come and gone, but this week I worked on their wedding thank you cards.  The thank you cards are below (along with images of their invitations and programs) and I love how they turned out (their photographer, Shana Drake, did a beautiful job!).

thank you cards
wedding invitations
wedding programs

Holiday Parties

Saturday night, I attended my first holiday party of the season - an ugly Christmas sweater party.  I love these parties.  You don't have to get stressed out trying to look your best; instead, you get to have fun dressing a little goofy.  It's stress-free.  Anyway, a college friend, Rachel, invited me to the party and it was great reconnecting with a few friends from undergrad as well as meeting new friends.  I don't really get out much, so this was a nice break for me.

Learn more about the earrings here

Then, tonight was our department Christmas party at work.  It was held at the Gramercy Tap in the Kirkwood Hotel building downtown.  Lindsay, one of my favorite co-workers who has been on maternity leave since October, was there and it was so fun seeing her.  She doesn't look like she just had a baby - I'll need to get some pointers from her one day!

My little buddy, Nick

Deanne (she's a Kappa, too!), Lindsay, me and Brittainey

Deanne, Barb, me, Lindsay, and Leah

Christmas conversation starters, perfect for Christmas parties

Capture December Pinterest Challenge: Days 1-9

I've been faithfully participating in the ACH Blogger Challenge (I mentioned it back here). Below are my pictures from Days 1-9. I like how the Instagram photos fill nicely in this grid from PicFrame. It also makes it easier for you (my reader) to not have to scroll through so many photos (I'm thoughtful like that). It's been fun to try to take a photo each day of a new thing. I take a lot of pictures anyway (iCloud loves me), so this makes it fun to do it for a purpose.

1. Your view today - assembling Christmas cards (they turned out as beautifully as I had thought here)
2. Favorite Holiday movie - Elf (here's a link to my favorite clip)
3. Red - who doesn't love a little Stella and Dot?
4. Joyous - Sophie was yawning and we were both about to go to bed. It was the most joyous part of our day.
5. Today's temperature - the grass is still green here in Des Moines and the temperature was in the 50s
6. Shopping - The Mara Mi line at Target is one of my favorites!
7. Bright - I had a photo shoot and it was supposed to feel like everything was bright!
8. Ornaments - Wal-Mart saved the day for my ugly sweater party where I scored an awesome snowman shirt and these stunning Christmas tree earrings
9. Something your reading - Real Simple's The Simple List is my favorite part of any magazine and I look forward to it every month (and a cup of Amy's Blend tea from Caribou makes it even better!)

I'm really looking forward to the rest of the month.