Friday, December 28, 2012

Invincible summer and some soup

Packed up the Christmas stuff last night.

I usually wait until New Years Day but I was feeling ambitious yesterday. A little claustrophobic too, perhaps. The holiday decor was crowding me in and the house needed to take a long, deep breath.

Anyway, it was time.

It seems like it gets to be more work every year--this whole packing up the Christmas stuff. But, I'm okay with it. I love transforming the house every few months. When the mantel is finally clutter free and all cleaned off, I get quite excited. I imagine it's the same if you were a watercolor painter who was just given a clean, white canvas, and someone said "Okay, GO!"

With summer on the brain, I just couldn't help myself....

The giant ship, white lantern and two starfish in frames are from TJ Maxx--golly, I love that store.

The shells were all from our cruise when we stopped in the Bahamas--such good reminders of the fun we had there.

The vintage lantern on the left was a sweet gift from my Mama and Terry back when they got married.

I found the tall sea-glass bottle at a local antique store.

Last year, I decided that the best way for me go from "surviving" Michigan winters to actually enjoying them is to have a better attitude about it. Part of that is determined by how I decorate our home. If I can keep a beachy, warm feel inside our home even though it's blustery and snowy outside (which it currently is), then I can at least imagine that it's summer. It's surprising how much it lifts my spirits!

And it doesn't hurt to try a yummy new soup recipe to warm up during these chilly winter evenings!

Source: via Shannon on Pinterest

This one is really tasty, although not super filling. I would add a ham and cheese panini to make it a full meal.

So, that's 'bout it around here!

Stay warm friends.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas highlights

It's been a whirlwind of Christmas parties and events these past couple o' days.

I'm on day 10 of being sick with a cold. It started the day after arriving home from our cruise (thank goodness I wasn't sick on vacation!). I had absolutely no voice for three days, followed by lots of snot, congestion, and now this nasty cough that keeps me up at night. With three parties in a row over the weekend, I just have not had enough sleep yet to kick it out of my system.

Here's a few highlights from our weekend...
(I forgot to take pics at all the parties, so these are only from my sisters house and our house)

Thankfully, today was the first day we didn't have a party or have to go anywhere. Just a quiet morning at home with our little family of four, opening presents, wearing our PJ's all day, catching up on sleep in the afternoon, reading the story of baby Jesus, doing crafts, and playing with our new toys. 

I'm reminded just how blessed I am and how faithful our God is.

I pray your Christmas was blessed and filled with joy this season.

And in case you like watching a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds singing out of tune, this video is for you...
(Kensie's in the black dress with the white fuffy headband)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My sister knows me well

Sisters from left to right--Lauren, Katelyn, Gretchen, Me

My sister, Lauren.

She's two years younger than me. Out of all five of us siblings, we are the closest in age.

However, we were not very close growing up. In fact, I remember despising each other at times. We each had different skills and interests that we excelled in. But there was always this sense of "competition" between who could be better at their certain skill set. We would quietly steal each others clothes and find out later when a picture would turn up of me wearing her shirt without permission, or her wearing my hat--boy do I remember how mad that made me! We would race each other to the shower in the mornings before school to maximize the time spent getting ready. And we especially had a hard time "sharing" the same friends.

But, ever since we both graduated college, got married and moved on in life, we are truly two peas in a pod. 

Sisters and friends for life.

It's more than just understanding each other. We've walked through rough times together. We've bonded on so many more levels than I ever knew existed. Part of me wishes we would have been nicer to each other in our growing up years. But the other part knows that looking back doesn't matter. What matters is the now. 

One thing we definitely have in common is decorating. Really, anything home-related. We've been known to tell the other about a new light fixture we just bought, only to find out the other already bought it! True story.

And when it comes to home improvement, nobody does a better job than Lauren and Dave (her hubby).

Just to give you an idea, here's what they've done to their house...

 This is not a joke. Their old house is hiding in there somewhere!

Anyway, this is how much my little Lauren loves us...

While Greg and I were on our cruise, sneaky little LoLo brought her hubby to our house to get to work. When Greg and I arrived home last Saturday night here's the first thing we saw..

In case you're not sure what your're looking at...

It's a BRAND NEW FREAKING GARAGE DOOR! Purchased and installed by Lauren and Dave.

Ours used to be a lovely poop brown color, with a motor that decided to quit working this past July. We wanted to replace it before winter know how projects go around here. Wasn't gonna happen.

Anyway, Lauren got us the exact {carriage style} door I would have picked out myself!!

This is just one example of how well my sister knows me. She knows my style without even asking, she studies my life and knows that Greg does not have extra time to work on our house, and she knows I absolutely LOVE surprises. :)

Thank you LoLo. 

I love you little sis.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cruisin' with friends

We've never been on a cruise. So when our college buddies suggested the idea of taking a trip all together (sans kids) we were all in!

The timing was absolutely perfect. All of our kids were just the right age to leave behind. Not old enough to be in school yet, but not babies either. And more importantly none of us girls were pregnant! Perfect timing.

And I know what you're thinking. 

Didn't you just go on vacation to Mexico not too long ago?? Umm yes. Yes we did. Greg had a work-related trip that turned out to be even better than our honeymoon!

For people like us, who rarely go on vacation, we felt incredibly blessed to take two tropical vacations just 2 months apart. And as I've mentioned it before, our marriage has needed them this year. Big time.

So without further adieu, I give you the... 

{3 letters from each of our last names} 
Cruise 2012

(be sure to scroll down so you don't miss the funny video)

So excited to spend a week together!

This was my FIRST visit to Florida. Our ship left out of Miami.

Dressing up for formal night!

The guys were in heaven...

The food was goooooooooooooood. To say the least.

So great to spend a solid week with my hubby again.

Playing cards is a MUST with this group. 

The dynamic duo winning their trivia game!

Lots of fun times spent here listening to comedy and karaoke. Justin and Aaron even shared the spotlight singing a hilarious rendition of "Let's Make Love"....

We were dancing fools.

Spent a couple days playing some beach volleyball. We have a pretty competitive group with some serious skills so that made it extra fun! And surprisingly it only resulted in one injury. Greg getting a bloody nose b/c he blocked a ball with his face. Awesome.

Allison suggested we take this same pic in 30 years. How fun would that be?!

Greg, Aaron and Cathi body surfing in the Bahamas. They were a bunch of 12 year olds out there. So funny to watch them.

We got as close to Atlantis as we could just to snap a pic in front of it. Looks like an unbelievable resort!

I love me some cappuccino.


Our last night on the ship. We were extra giggly that night!

Learning the wobble dance.

Tuckered out and heading home.

After hearing about the horrible events on Friday in CT, we definitely gave our kids extra hugs when we finally arrived home that night. In the midst of having such a great trip is was such devastating news to hear.

I will also say if you've never been on a cruise be prepared to "recover" afterwards! I was still swaying back and forth like crazy for a solid two days after we got off the ship. No one from the group got sea sick but make sure to pack some meds for motion sickness just in case!

Other than that it was a total BLAST! There is so much to do on a cruise it's unreal. I think going with a group makes it more enjoyable b/c you might do more than if you were just with your spouse. That's my opinion anyway. 

Now, it's the mad dash for Christmas!! I still have some shopping to do and we have back to back to back parties leading up to the 25th, so you may or may not hear from me until next week.