It seems that everyone has their own set of family traditions over the holidays. One of my friend's family reads The Polar Express to each other on Christmas Eve, no matter how much time has passed since they were kids believing in Santa Claus. Brian's family watches It's a Wonderful Life together every year.

This got me thinking about my own family's traditions when I was younger. I remember my sisters and I would take pictures in front of the Christmas tree each year with our dog Misty. Year to year, you can see how we passed down our Christmas outfits to the next younger sister..and oh what lovely outfits they were. For the sake of not further embarrassing myself and sisters I will only post one picture. I remember my older sister would always wear her "Acme" t-shirt on Christmas morning, without reason. One person in my family would be appointed Santa that year and would be in charge of distributing the gifts. These yearly rituals, no matter how small, would become our traditions.

Even though I hated getting dressed up for pictures or going to midnight service on Christmas Eve, I now appreciate all of those things we did together as a family because as each year passes it is getting harder to get together. It has become increasingly challenging to schedule gatherings now that we all have our own families and spouse's families schedules to consider. Sometimes I wish it were simple again and weren't such a chore to get the whole family together. I wish my dog Misty was still around and I wish my sisters and I could take a picture each year in front of the Christmas tree (minus the overload of plaid and lace dresses). So while I remain envious of the lucky families who still carry out their yearly traditions and get together with ease, I am moving my focus to building new traditions. Traditions that may embarrass Lily as she gets older (she'll appreciate it later), but nonethelesss, traditions that we have built together and will always carry out as a family.

So what will our new yearly traditions be?

Collecting meaningful ornaments?

Making a gingerbread house?

Or getting Lily to pose in matching pajamas with her cousin?

Only time will tell!

feelin crafty

This year, in an attempt to be crafty while saving a few dollars, I decided to make a few gifts for my sisters. We're not supposed to be exchanging gifts, since we are doing a secret santa gift exchange, so technically I'll say these are from "Lilyan." Hopefully they won't read this until after Christmas, otherwise the surprise is ruined! Oh well, I just had to share the great ideas I came across for my gifts:

Bandana Aprons - found from the DIY section of Ashley Ann's blog. (Not only is she creative, but she shares the same first and middle name as me...one of many reasons why I love her site)

These were so simple, it makes me wonder why I haven't thought of this before? Oh, that's right, because I am not creative in the slightest....although I do aspire to be! Anyways, all you need is some Heat n' Hold tape, Fray Check, ribbon, and a bandana. Follow the instructions from the link above and voila! An instant apron that is basic, chic, and costs about $5 to make.

Recipe in a Jar - found from the Dec 2009 issue of Food Network magazine.

Now this idea, although simple in thought, is not so simple when trying to find specific ingredients. Did you know yellow lentils are NOT the same as yellow split peas? Or that blue cornmeal is IMPOSSIBLE to find anywhere? After numerous trips to numerous grocery stores (Whole Foods, Wegmans, Giant, Safeway & Bloom) I finally found yellow lentils (Toor Dal) at Grand Mart. I have yet to find blue cornmeal, so I finally settled with yellow cornmeal. Once I got all, or most, of the ingredients I needed, I assembled 3 Recipes in a Jar by layering the main ingredients and attaching a recipe card to each.

Blue Cornbread with Pineapple
  • 4 chopped dried pineapple rings (found at Whole Foods)
  • 1 c. dried blueberries (found at Wegmans)
  • 1/2 c. fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1 c. blue cornmeal (I substituted with additional yellow cornmeal)
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 2 tsp. baking powder + 1/2 tsp. baking soda + 1 tsp. salt
Recipe card:
  • Butter an 8- or 9-inch sq baking dish and line with parchment paper. Stir the Blue Cornbread with Pineapple mix, 1 c. buttermilk, 2 eggs and 4 Tbs melted butter in a large bowl until just combined. Pour into prepared dish and bake at 425 until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 25 mins. Cool, then slice into squares.

Curried Lentil Soup
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried chile pepper
  • 2 tsp. tumeric + 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder sealed in a plastic bag
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
  • 1 c. red lentils
  • 1 c. yellow lentils
Recipe card:
  • Heat 3 Tbs. butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 4 smashed garlic cloves and 1 diced red onion; saute 6 mins. Add the contents of the spice bag, the bay leaves and chile pepper from the Curried Lentil Soup mix and cook about 3 mins. Add the rest of the soup mix and 8 cups of water or chicken broth; simmer until the lentils are soft, about 1 hour. Season with salt.

Super-Chunky Christmas Cookies
  • 1 c. toasted shredded coconut (I used shredded coconut and toasted it in a pan on low heat)
  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chunks
  • 1/2 c. chopped cashews (I left these out)
  • 1 c. white chocolate chips
  • 3/4 c. red and green M&M's
  • 1/2 c. Dutch-process cocoa powder (found at Wegmans)
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour + 3/4 tsp. salt
Recipe card:
  • Beat 1 1/4 c. sugar and 1 stick butter with a mixer until fluffy. Beat in 1 egg and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Add the Super-Chunky Christmas Cookie mix and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet and back at 350 degrees until set, about 12 mins. Cool on a rack.

This is such a great gift because you can use any recipe that you love. Of course it helps if the recipe is appealing in a jar. Now it's time to test out these recipes on my own. I'd hate to give a gift that disappoints!


Christmas Countdown

Yikes! I just realized that Christmas is 2 weeks away. I haven't even begun my Christmas shopping! Luckily this year, we are doing a secret santa gift exchange within my family (sisters, parents, brothers in law). That means I only have to buy one gift for the person's name that I drew and also means that I will have tons of money (ok, maybe not tons) left over to shop for Brian and Lily! Now if only I had time to shop...

What do you get a 11 month old for Christmas? She's at that age where she'd be happier with the box or wrapping paper than the actual gift, but of course I can't just wrap up empty boxes....or can I? No that wouldn't be nice of me, especially on her first Christmas! So here are a few ideas that I have so far:

(her favorite show & she'd love being able to crawl in and out of this thing)

(I know... boring... but she'll thank me later when she's smart!)

Baby Dolls
(she's a big fan of giving her dolls kisses...and chewing on their feet)

Sports toys
(soccer ball from me, golf clubs from Brian I'm sure)

So it looks like Brian and I have to get started on our shopping! I plan on being crafty this holiday season by making a lot of small homemade gifts for stocking stuffers, but with only 2 weeks left, we'll see what I can do!


first snow!

I can't believe fall has already passed, but I am so excited for the snowy days this winter. I hope there are tons of snow days like we had this past weekend. Lily absolutely LOVED the snow! She was trying to eat it and loved crawling around in it. Finally we had to carry her, against her will, back inside after she kicked off a shoe and shook off a glove.


there's a first time for everything!

My first time cooking the turkey:

Lily's First Thanksgiving:

Lily's first teeth! Finally at 10 months old:

(oh, that's right, she refuses to show them)

Lily's first Christmas tree outing:

Lily's first Christmas photos:

(here's one for now!)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving break! It was such a blessing to be able to spend the past 5 days with our family. This year I am so thankful for the many firsts that I have been able to see Lily enjoy!

when did i become so domesticated?

....oh right. when i got married and had a baby. I'm actually loving this new lifestyle of mine. Not that I didn't expect to, but I thought at the very least that I would miss all of the partying and spontaneity. I really don't though. If anything, I value my time spent with my friends more. Since its not an everyday or every weekend occurrence, anytime I am able to get together with my close friends, I really take advantage of those moments. As for the late night drinking...we'll have our nights here and there, but I'd much rather spend a full day hiking, shopping, cleaning, cooking...anything but dealing with a hangover. A few weeks ago I woke up at 7am and met a couple friends at Great Falls for a 6 mile hike. 

I was back home by 10:30am and still made it to church. By noon I felt so accomplished! Back in the day I would have still been sleeping and coping with all of the shots I took the night before. So last week, I went hiking again and this time Brian and Lily came along with some of my fam. Even though this hike was intense and had me questioning why we brought Lily to such a steep hike, I felt so refreshed and happy to spend that time with my family. 

I know Lily has changed me. I just hope it's been for the better! Sometimes I'm scared that I'm losing myself and becoming this different person. One who actually enjoys making and freezing big batches of soup. One who has been watching Martha Stewart make the perfect turkey so I can learn for this year's Thanksgiving. One who sings Mickey Mouse Clubhouse tunes because it's Lily's favorite show. One who's idea of a night out includes going to Target then picking up Pei Wei to go. So, yes, maybe I am slightly different than before, but I don't care. I love learning to cook and I love watching Lily dance when I sing her favorite songs. I love nights out with our little family even if its just to Target. I truly love everything that has come out of being married and having a child. Maybe I have lost a part of my old self, but from what I've lost, I've gained so much more and I'd never trade that for anything. 

a great reminder

Today I came across this post from a blog I follow. This was a great reminder for me today that I need to stop worrying about life's uncertainties. I need to live life to its fullest as God intended me to!


what's new??

I feel like lately I have nothing to blog about. Well, nothing interesting. Do I write about my 12 hour work days? Or about the Skins and how they aren't even mediocre this year?  I'm tired of long work days and sick of the Skins losing. That about sums it up. Although, not everything has been quite so bad. There have been a lot of great things that have happened lately:
  • Lily turned 9 months old! At her check-up, Lily was 28.75 inches, 18 lbs 5 oz. Still no teeth, but she's loving real food that she can mash with her gums, like pieces of cooked carrots & chicken. She's also standing on her own for brief moments and when she drops something on the ground she is starting to say uh-oh...and when you ask her how big she is she raises her hands up high over her head. It's amazing watching her learn new things every day! 

  • My best friend Sarah got married! I am so thankful to have been a part of her wedding. Despite the rain, it was a beautiful fall day and Sarah made a gorgeous bride of course!
  • My friends Tiffany and Kris got married. It was so nice to see friends that I haven't seen in ages and the keg stands that took place at the reception definitely felt like old times again! 
  • New cars!! Brian and I are officially the proud owners of 2 new cars! It was definitely time for me to trade in my clunker for a car that could actually fit Lily and 3 additional passengers. As for Brian's car...well it was OK...but we wanted an SUV to take to our snowboarding trips this winter. So, last Friday, we went up to Nissan and stayed from 6:30pm to 12:45am...and happily left with a 2010 Xterra and 2009 Altima. 

  • HALLOWEEN! Lily's first Halloween was great. She was the cutest cow and it was fun being able to take her trick-or-treating with her cousins. Surprisingly she didn't mind being in her costume for hours!



I ♥ ♥ ♥ Fall.

Fall is absolutely my favorite season. I'm loving the cool weather and the bright colors of the changing leaves. Whenever I think about how much I'd love to move out of Virginia, I always think about how I'd miss the change of seasons. This weekend we went to Cox's Farm. I forgot how much I loved that place! Sometimes I wish I lived out in the country or on a farm. There's something so peaceful about it. Granted there were a million people there on Sunday, but still, the scenery itself was enough to make me want to invest in a farm house.


cutie pie

8 months, 1 week, and 5 days old!

Yikes! I'm so behind... with a lot of things, but mainly with posting baby updates. Lilyan is all over the place these days. She can crawl all the way across the room in what feels like 5 seconds and loves to stand up and bang on everything in sight. There's no stopping her and the pseudo baby gate we made out of couch cushions just doesn't do it's job anymore. She barges through the cushions like she's on a mission!


To help distract her from the t.v., anything plugged in, the kitchen trashcan, basically everything, I went out and bought her this cheap sit-to-stand activity walker at Babies R Us. She loves it! Sure, it occasionally tips over and the music can be annoying, but if it can keep her attention long enough for us to finish dinner or get ready for work then I'm all for it!

I'm also loving the baby babbles she makes now. She's saying dadadada and mamamama and pop pop pop. Of course, I like to think she knows what she's saying. Then there's the possessed growling noise she makes. Which can be cute at times, but when we're at church and she's looking over my shoulder at the people behind me and growling....not so cute. It's actually kind of creepy..especially when she's making this face:

She's also trying a lot of new foods lately. She reallyyy loves her Yo-Baby yogurt, puffs, and yogurt melts. The best part is watching her concentrate on picking up a puff or yogurt melt with two fingers. Then when she finally gets one, she slowly brings it up to her mouth only to completely miss and stick it to her cheek. The worst part is watching her apply that same concentration to bite-size pieces of trash or coins that she finds on our floor. Ughh..it stresses me out! Now I'm constantly on the look out for anything that didn't make it to the trash or piggy bank.

My little baby is getting so big. She seems so tall to me now! Although as fast as she's growing, she has yet to sprout any teeth. I swear the past few months she has had all the signs of teething, except for the teeth. Oh well, they will come when they are ready! I'm loving this fall weather and can't wait to get her out to the pumpkin patch and in cute hoodies and fall outfits. Hopefully our busy schedules will actually allow us to get out and enjoy the fall before winter comes!