Monday, December 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 - belated!

I know we just celebrated Christmas! But, I'm behind, OK?! (smile)

This Thanksgiving was probably the best in terms of it feeling the easiest. I started hosting dinners when my Mom passed away. We now always host - and whomever can come is welcome - friends, family, our door is always open. It is fun because sometimes small and sometimes big.

I really love doing it, but I've always felt stressed. That first year, in particular, I was so worried. So many dishes that had to be done at the same time! Not knowing what recipes were good, how the timing would go. This year, I felt like I finally have it down! Practice really does make a difference. I've learned to do whatever I can in advance (I always make my pies the weekend before and put them in the freezer). I chop away like a sous chef in advance so I have things ready on the day of preparation. It does help that my mother-in-law makes things I've never attempted, or am not good at. We almost never eat gravy so I never make it, therefore, I'm not very good at it. Plus, we cook the turkey on the Traeger so we don't have drippings anyway! I've never tried making rolls and hers are so good, so I haven't had to!

Here is what we made this year:

The turkey is always the star of the show. The Traeger just rocks the turkey. It is so flavorful and tender.

The slow cooker stuffing was a new recipe and I will most definitely make it again! So easy as it cooked in the crockpot and it was quite good! The pumpkin chocolate chip cookie pie was also good - not too sweet, but amazing with whipped cream. It was a pie Bill actually liked - score!

I might try a new cranberry sauce recipe next year. Sorry, Pioneer Woman. Hers is just a little runny and I seem to forget that every year and still make it!

Rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy and another pumpkin pie contributed by Francie and Marcie. So good.

Carson and Elyse had fun on the swings.

You people with your awesome family dinner pictures! I don't know how you do it. Maybe one day I'll get a wide angle lens. Hey, maybe I'll use my new lens for my iPhone next year!

 Having these blonde kiddos together made my heart smile.

They had a ball together (Jaxin in the mix too, just not pictured)!

Yes, love my dinner photo? - people's backs. Oh yeah.

The kids were playing so hard. Carson was hot and took his shirt off.

Someone had to copy. They looked so cute with their sweaty, blonde hair and matching black pants. 6 and 3. Grandma Kathy is smiling down on them for sure!

Elyse on the run again.

Sweet baby boy had a fever.

Look at those long locks!

 It was a great Thanksgiving. Hope yours was too.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Baby Eli

It has been fun over the months watching our co-worker, Megan, progress through her pregnancy. As her due date drew closer, she asked if I could come take pictures of Baby Eli when he arrived. Eli came the Friday before Christmas. I got a message last night and Elyse, Bobbe and I got to go over for a quick photo session. Bobbe kept the kiddos entertained while we worked to try to get Mr. Eli to sleep. He was not wanting to snooze and it was fun to get creative. We tried for the "nakey baby" snuggled up picture, but he wasn't having it. Mama was a good sport holding him to keep him to keep him happy with a damp lap.

Fun times and precious baby boy!

Love this face!

I think this if my favorite!

He was hungry!

Little parts.

He was actually about to cry, but it looks like a grin!

Beautiful mother and new son. Look at his bottom lip!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Sitting in the quiet of the morning, waiting for that moment when we hear her. Excited to see if Santa has come to bring her a present, fill her stocking and FINALLY be able to open presents under the tree. Last night she was begging for Mommy to open a present. It was so cute because we'd had family and friends all day giving her presents she could open. She just didn't understand why there were some she couldn't. Sweet girl.

Here is Elyse's first visit with Santa this year. Before, whenever I mentioned seeing him she'd say, "No, I'm too shy". Twice, we actually saw him and she cowered behind my legs. Until this day, when it was suddenly all her idea.

He asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She proudly said, "Doc McStuffins!" He reached underneath his chair and gave her a little doll. She looked confused, "That's not Doc McStuffins!" (Cute !!)I intervened and explained and Santa gave her a stuffed bear and she beamed with pride!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Bill, Courtney and Elyse

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Night at the Nutcracker

I have loved every stage of Elyse's growing up. I do miss her being a baby, but I definitely love the things we can do together now as she is growing up.

Marcie and I took her to her first performance of the Nutcracker. She did just awesome. She made it through almost the entire performance. There were probably five to ten minutes left when she said (loudly), "Is it all done yet?" I whispered to her asking if she wanted to go and she said, "Yeah, I need to go night-night!"

It was a very fun night. Marcie suggested us all dressing up. And that turned out to be very fun! Marcie added glittery eyeliner to my eyelashes and all three of us wore red lipstick (Elyse's was a very light version). Elyse was very excited about her new dress ($6 at a consignment sale!). Plus, her velvet jacket from Grandma Deanie still fit - two years now!

We went to a nice dinner at Budd Bay. I was SHOCKED to see my girl eating clam chowder - WOW!

Poor Marcie - Elyse ran her nylons not once, but TWICE climbing onto her lap repeatedly.

In front of the Washington Center Christmas tree.

Christmas magic.

We had a hilarious escapade on the sidewalk, with two of the three of us tripping and falling. We were laughing so hard our sides were splitting and tears were streaming down our faces. Elyse did NOT think it was funny however!

Great night with two girls I love.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Tree - Splurge or Steal?

I am forever trying to balance my great need for nice things and keeping things reasonable. Case in point. Years ago, on a recommendation from Martha Stewart, I discovered the Fraser Fir. To me, it is the perfect tree. It has the perfect form, strong branches, pleasant scent, fuller than noble, needle retention - must I go on? Love them.

Living in Washington State, we have easy access to Christmas Tree farms. They are everywhere and literally I have several to choose from just in the nearby radius of my neighborhood. However, the frasers aren't as common, so I've come to learn to pay for them.

Last year I spent $70.00 on our tree, including shaking off the needles and netting. It really is ridiculous though, isn't it?

This year, we both agreed that we would do something different. Maybe we could get our special fraser fir every five years? Something to make it more special?

Cue - Ames Christmas Tree Farm.This was by the far easiest, cheapest, Christmas tree expedition ever! Ames has been around for years, although we'd never been there. It is very simple - very primitive. Cash only. Saws and chainsaws allowed - you can even bring your dog! Prices are $15 for Douglas Fir, $20 for Grand Fir and $25 for Nobles - same price for any size!

I couldn't wrap my mind around the noble. I know people love them, but neither of us have never cared for them. We found a Grand that had a few sturdy branches for the heavier ornaments. It was still HUGE. And best of all - FIFTEEN DOLLARS. Stop it!

Guess what, our fifteen dollar tree looks pretty darn great!

The finished product.

Merry Christmas!


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