Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter break at the cabin!

A couple of days after Christmas, we headed up to the cabin for a couple of nights. The kids came and went as their schedules allowed, and we LOVED having the time up there together. It felt like we were thousands of miles away from the hustle and bustle. Just exactly what we needed!

This is a rare sighting for us... two moose just laying in the snow. In fact, we've never seen moose in the middle of winter, so this was pretty great to see!

Some of the family like to ride the snowmobiles, and all of us like to snowshoe. Its such a great workout, and there is nothing like having a great workout in pure, crisp mountain air. I love it!

Mike and Whitney
(Whitney is 8-1/2 months pregnant!)

I think this next photo will end all discussion as to why I don't wear hats...

Bob and I

Mike, Robbie, Rachel, Bob, Caitlin, Logan

Mike and Robbie

Bob and Rachel

Rachel and Robbie
Caitlin and Logan

We had lots of snow to play in, and it snowed even more while we were there. We sortof hated to head back down the hill towards home and "real life", but it was wonderful while it lasted!

Now that I'm home, I need to start thinking about taking all the Christmas decorations down. Tomorrow we'll work on getting the tree down (I hope)!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A wonderful family Christmas

We had such a nice Christmas together as a family. We had all of our family there, except for Wilson, who is on his mission in the California Roseville Mission. The married couples even spent the night on Christmas Eve, which made it that much more fun for everyone!

It was snowy and blustery on Christmas Eve, but even so, the guys went out for a jaunt on the golf cart. It was way too cold for me to want to go out, but I loved watching them drive away with Christmas tunes blasting on the radio. 

On Christmas Eve, we had our traditional soup. I love that we do that. It feels so cozy and warm, and tastes just right with all the treats and snacks that we find ourselves eating that night!

ALWAYS after every meal, Mike and Whitney pop right up and start doing the dishes. They are so thoughtful to even think to do that. It feels so normal for them to be doing the dishes, that quite often I just go about doing whatever it is I'm doing, and I forget to thank them. Thank you, thank you, thank you, you two!

Who doesn't love family games.... especially when everyone looks like this!?

After we played games, we went downstairs and did some sort of video dance game (my kids will roll their eyes that I can't remember the name of it... I'm the least video-gamish person that you'll ever meet, besides my husband). Its not often that you'll catch all of us (especially Bob and I) in a dance-off. Fun times! We burned off a few of the massive amounts of calories that we had consumed over the holidays!

The highlight of Christmas Day was talking to Wilson. Here he is as Bob is Skyping with him. Its so much like we're just sitting around having a great conversation. I loved it! For those who aren't familiar with the rules of being a Mormon missionary, they aren't allowed to call home at all during their two year mission, except for Christmas and Mother's Day. So, we soak it up when we are able to talk to him. He has been an amazing letter-writer, so we have felt so blessed to be able to hear all about his experiences. He's really been a hard working missionary, and I couldn't be more proud of him!

And here are the two brothers catching up. Doesn't get much better than that!

It was the best kind of Christmas for me... just hanging out together as a family and staying close to home. I loved every minute of it!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Family Christmas party

We had a big family Christmas nativity gathering at our home last night. It was great, as usual, to be together as a family and remember why it is that we celebrate Christmas -- the birth of our Savior.

The nativity was done by the littlest family members, the great-grandchildren. They did a fantastic job. I love this little photo of Joseph not being able to contain himself as he bends down to pick up the "baby Jesus". So sweet!

After the nativity, we always eat yummy appetizers and treats that we all help in making and bringing. I ended up bringing the same old, same old this year...

Christmas Peanut Butter Kiss cookies. They are simple to make, and always seem to turn out. Plus, by changing the colors of the sugar crystals, they become very festive for many a holiday!

My favorite recipe to use for the cookies is the following:

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies
Makes about 5 dozen

1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
3/4 to 1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c.Bisquick baking mix
granulated sugar, or to make them festive, use colored sugar crystals mixed with white sugar
60 Hershey's kisses, unwrapped

Beat sweetened condensed milk, peanut butter, egg and vanilla extract together until smooth. Add Bisquick and mix well. Chill at least one hour. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 7 minutes. As soon as you remove from oven, place a Hershey kiss on each one, pressing down into cookie. Let cool. We like them straight from the refrigerator!

One of the other things I did that was easy and festive, was to wrap a decorative plastic tape around the water bottles. I saw the tape at Home Depot (of all places), and bought it not knowing exactly what I was going to use it for. It turned out to be just the right size to cover the blue water bottle label! I like that the tape is plastic so it didn't get torn and messy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Home Tour

Since there are just a few days til Christmas, I figured I had better get the Christmas decorations post up, like I said I would. Crazy to think that in a week, I'll be starting to take things back down and packing them safely away for next year!

This is our family room mantel... 

And just below the mantel on the hearth...

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago on how to make the wreaths I have going up the stairway (a new addition this year that I love!).

Every year we get a new Christmas book or two, and we add them to the collection that line the stairway. When our kids were young, we used to read them throughout the month of December. Now we'll get to do that for the next generation of kids. Our first grand baby is due in less than a month! Yay!

I already posted our Christmas tree in an earlier post, but this is the little area to the side of the tree...

Living room decorations...

Basement mantel...

Our bottle brush tree collection. One of my favorites....

This is a ceramic nativity that my husband painted when he was in grade school. I love it's vintage chippiness, but most of all I love thinking about him painting it as a little guy. Such a treasure to me!

My sweet dad...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The true spirit of Christmas in my inbox

I've been running around all day long, like a chicken with its head cut off. I don't know why, but there are so many little things that I still have on my list to get done. When I got home from running a bazillion errands, I looked at my emails and saw that this video had been sent to me. I watched it, and suddenly that list of little, inconsequential things didn't matter so much. In fact, I'm pretty sure I can cross them all of the list, and no one will ever notice that they weren't done.

I am so grateful for this little reminder that magically appeared in my inbox. What a wonderful gift -- to be reminded of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. I think I need to watch this at the beginning of every day til Christmas (just to make sure I start off with the right spirit!).

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A finished batch of wood Christmas signs

Just finished a whole slew of wooden signs for gifts this year. They are so simple to make. I have some others in mind, but who knows if I'll get to them before Christmas!?

As usual, I began with a 1x12 pine board, graciously cut to size by Bob. I like them about 18" long. I paint them with a really watered down brown craft paint that acts as a quick-drying stain. 

After the brown dries, I cover it with whatever color I wanted the sign to be. These below are minty green and light blue. Hard to see in the photos, I know. I give them a few coats until the sign is solidly covered.

Then, I design a stencil using my Silhouette vinyl cutter. This time, I did two different designs. I made one of the designs based on a sign I actually purchased last year, and the other design is my version of a printable I saw online recently.

After designing the vinyl stencils, I cut them out on the machine, and applied them to the painted boards. I then pulled out the lettering, and painted over the openings in the colors I wanted the finished lettering to be in. It takes several coats, since you want to paint with a really dry brush (to avoid bleeding under the vinyl stencil).

The best part of the project is peeling off the vinyl. I can usually count on Bob to help me with that, as we watch something on TV together! :)

The color on this top one doesn't show that well, but its the same green as the bottom photo.

And the finishing touch is the back of the sign. Usually, with the layers of paint, the back gets kind of cruddy (a descriptive word borrowed from Bob). I like to cover that with layers of Christmas-y card stock. Sometimes I make copies of old Christmas book pages. I glue them all on, hodge-podge style, and then put a picture hanger on, and voila. Done.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Snowshoeing trip

We returned last night from our 2-night getaway for our anniversary. It was heaven, being "away from it all" and spending the time with the one I most love to be with! We thoroughly enjoyed just relaxing and having no schedule. On Friday, we stayed in our p.j.'s til 2:00. I don't remember the last time I did that! We just pattered around, played Colorku (a fun, different version of Sudoku), read, watched TV together and ate. Heaven, I tell ya!

Friday, we went out snowshoeing, which is one of our favorite winter past times. 

Bob leading off on our snowshoeing expedition

When Bob takes the lead on our snowshoeing expeditions, we refer to it as "extreme snowshoeing". We go straight up mountains, and straight down, and rarely follow a trail. We just go up and over fallen logs and whatever else happens to be in our way. In this next photo, you can see how high above me he is on the hill. It is practically straight up. Thankfully, when he blazes a trail, he usually makes little steps for me to follow, so my workout isn't quite as extensive as his.

Snow falling

Our cabin, nestled amongst the trees

To get in and out in the winter, we generally park at a parking lot partway to our cabin, and then unload our Mule (in below photo). We know that if we're in the Mule, we can make it through any road conditions without slipping or sliding. We're not quite so sure about that if we drive up in anything other than the Mule. We've been known to slide here and there in the truck!  :)

Bob in the Mule

Couldn't ask for a better getaway, even if it was short. We'll take what we can get these days! And I definitely couldn't ask for a better getaway partner! Oh, how I love that man!