Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas from Pennsylvania

After our bags were packed & the cars were stuffed to the roof with presents, Brad, Damon, & I made the four and a half hour drive to Pennsylvania to spend Christmas with the Muthersbaugh's.  We were very excited to spend the holiday with my family for the first time in four years!!!  We arrived around 10p.m. on Christmas Eve & to our surprise, Santa still hadn't arrived!!!  So, while the kids made their way to bed, Brad and I headed to Midnight Mass (it was beautiful and we were so happy to have been able to make it on time)!!!

These faces were my favorite part of the holiday!!!

We have so much to be grateful for this holiday & are so thankful to my family for opening their doors to us!  It's going to be an exciting close to the year!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Attempt... a cookie cutter wreath. 

Such a cute idea!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I have a sweet tooth...

We're heading to a Christmas party tonight at Amanda & Jeremy's house.  When Amanda asked us to bring a dessert, we jumped at the opportunity (and any reason to use my Kitchen-Aid is good enough for me)!!  Amanda is my gym buddy and after indulging in these goodies tonight, I will need her motivation to wake up early tomorrow for step class.

We made Peppermint Bark:


Brad made pumpkin pie:


And finally, my super moist, red velvet cupcakes:

I cannot WAIT to indulge in these sweets!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Heber

Yesterday was the 27th birthday of our dear friend, Heber.  Celebrations were in order for a fun filled night of friends and food.  Brad and I showed up early to Buca di Beppo's (one of his favorite restaraunts) for a wonderful surprise (or so we thought). 

Let's rewind...

At 'Girls Night' a few weeks ago, I had forgotten my jacket at Tara's house, so since she was the one putting on last night's celebration, I asked that she bring it with her... While Brad and I were shopping for a present for Heber, I texted his husband to make sure Heber didn't already have Martha Stewart's cupcake cookbook... he didn't, but little did I know, Heber was the one who answered the text... and before they entered the restaraunt, Tara yelled back for somebody to grab my coat... well, as they say, the cat was out of the bag.  Heber knew we were waiting with a big "Surprise!!!"  But, we didn't let that ruin the fun!

The Birthday Boy!!!

Great people to celebrate a wonderful day with!!!

It seems people like to bring a little snow with their birthdays. :-(

Happy Birthday, Heber!!!

The Story of Saint Nicholas

Traditions (and keeping up with them) are near and dear to my heart.  My family has traditions for almost every holiday.  At Thanksgiving we eat the same meal every year, along with the tradition of baking blueberry muffins for breakfast.  For Christmas I received the same gifts (in different variations) every year: a nutcracker, an angel, a porcelain doll, a snow baby, etc., etc., etc.  My mom hung the same old, ratty angel on the tree every year no matter how much I begged we got a new one (but it wasn't until the year before she passed that I learned that my uncle had made it for her when he was in kindergarten).  But, one thing my family has done since I can remember, that I plan to continue on for our children, is the tradition of placing our wooden shoes out every year on December 5th in hopes that Saint Nicholas will arrive that night.

The story of Saint Nicholas, throughout Germany, goes something like this:

In Roman Catholic areas of southern Germany, such as Bavaria, Sankt Nikolaus still comes as a bishop with flowing beard and a bishop's miter and staff. Houses are thoroughly cleaned and children clean and polish their shoes or boots in preparation for the saint's visit. On the evening before St. Nicholas Day, children put letters to the good saint along with carrots or other food for his white horse or donkey on a plate or in their shoes. These are left outside, under the bed, beside a radiator, or on a windowsill in hopes of finding goodies from St. Nicholas the next morning. During the night Sankt Nikolaus goes from house to house carrying a book in which all the children's deeds are written. If they have been good, he fills their plate, shoe or boot with delicious fruits, nuts and candies. If not, they may find potatoes, coal, or twigs.

Children practice poems and songs for Sankt Nikolaus and make little presents for him.  Friends and neighbors come to share in the fun. Candles on the Advent wreath and the big Christmas pyramid with a nativity scene in the center are lit. Stories are read or songs sung as everyone waits for a knock on the door. When it comes, they all know it is Sankt Nikolaus, who comes in with his big book, golden crozier, and a big heavy sack. One of the children gets to hold the golden staff. Each child (and sometimes adults, too) stand in front of the saint. Nikolaus asks each child, "Have you behaved yourself?" "Do you do your homework?" "Do you keep your room tidy?" "Do you help your parents?" Then he opens his big sack and gives presents and candies and treats for all to share. And they give him the little surprises. Nikolaus leaves quickly as he has many places to visit. He travels with a white horse or a donkey and sometimes Ruprecht, his most common German companion, is with him. 

Some areas have local customs. In Stuttgart, for example, kids dress up as Nikolaus and go door-to-door asking for sweets—much like trick-or-treating in the United States

In some parts of Germany Nikolaus has come to look more like Santa and Father Christmas and comes at Christmas, not St. Nicholas Day. The influence of other countries, television, and large department stores makes it more difficult to find holy Bishop Nicholas. Even when he comes on December 5th, his appearance sometimes shows that Germany's long-standing gift-givers, Sankt Nikolaus and the Christkindl, are being transformed.

Our shoes are out & Saint Nicholas has arrived, but we're off to dream sweet dreams and look forward to seeing what Saint Nicholas has brought us in the morning!

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!!!