Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Crystal Tree

First and foremost....


Aunt Cheryl has always been the "Christmas Guru."  Her house is always totally decked out with numerous Christmas trees and bobbles throughout the house.  My favorite tree has always been her crystal tree that is set up in their foyer.  It's consists of only her Waterford crystal ornaments and these big green bows that she made.  

This year, I got the EXTREME privilege to decorate the crystal tree!!!  I was absolutely BEYOND excited!  Here's my adventure: 
The empty tree...

Aunt Cheryl putting on ornaments!

Oh how we love Christmas decorating!!

The lights shine through the crystals and look so pretty!

Aunt Cheryl's beautiful bow!
And our finished product!!  See why I love this tree so much?!
Where was Anthony and Uncle Don while we working so diligently on the tree, you ask?  Oh, upstairs playing with....

Uncle Don's train set!

He built the platform specifically for the train, and he made the tunnels completely out of paper mache...

The proud creator! (Don's miss the cute little village he has in the center of the tracks!!)

Hope you have a Merry Christmas!!!

Love, Sara :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stocking Exchange and More Marshmallows

Being our first Christmas, we decided to start some Christmas traditions of our own.  Since we weren't spending Christmas in Houston, and I didn't want to exchange gifts early, I thought it might be fun to start a tradition of exchanging stockings.  Yes, we still get stockings on actual Christmas from parents, but this stocking is just something we will do at our home with our tree and such. :)

The night before I left town is when we planned on doing our stockings.  That day I got a package in the mail from my friend, Jennifer.  She had read my blog post about my homemade hot chocolate and marshmallow love, and sent me GOURMET MARSHMALLOWS for Christmas!!  I cannot even BEGIN to explain how super excited I was!!


I got our hot chocolate ready while Anthony finished up my stocking.  Please note my favoritest coffee hot chocolate mugs!  Mom and I get matching from Starbucks every year...for, like, almost 10 years...that's A LOT of hot chocolate! :)

Stockings are ready! No chimney? No problem!!  Just lean them against a basket!

We even put on pj's to make it feel "real!"

So excited!

Have to have my picture with my hot chocolate!

Sorry, but after we started opening, I sort of forgot to take pictures. Ooops!!  There's always real Christmas!!

Love, Sara :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Treats

One of my favorite things about Christmas is all of the little treats that everyone makes.  At my house, we have made Christmas Trash for as long as I can remember.  It's super easy, but always a favorite around our house.  

A couple of weeks ago when I was back in Dallas, I made Christmas Trash to take back to Houston.... mom's kitchen is WAY bigger, and we've learned over the years that it's easier to make with two people. :)  We made my batch and mom's batch and only had to dirty the kitchen one time. Score!

Christmas Trash (Makes enough to fill about 4 gallon-sized baggies)
1 box Rice Chex Cereal
1 box Corn Chex Cereal
1 box Wheat Chex Cereal (I never really like the wheat, so I swapped this for Honey Nut Chex in my batch!)
1 bag of pretzel sticks
3 bars of  Vanilla Almond Bark (white chocolate)
2 cups of powdered sugar 
1 large bag of M&Ms (optional)
1 stick of butter or margarine (for hands)
Nonstick spray
Wax Paper
Super excited about the new addition - Honey Nut Chex!!

Break Almond Bark into squares.  Heat in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds.  Remove from microwave and stir.  Continue heating and stirring until chocolate is completely melted.

Meanwhile.... spray nonstick spray into the largest bowl you have. (Mom and I always use a roasting pan) Pour cereals and pretzels into the bowl.  DO NOT add M&Ms yet or else they will melt when you pour the chocolate in...yucky.  Trust me - I know from experience!!

...And roll out two long sheets of wax paper.  If you put a little water on the counter under the wax paper, it will stick to the counter...most of the time. :)

When chocolate is fully melted, pour chocolate into cereal and pretzel mixture. (Sorry about the blurry pictures!)

Using two spoons, mix thoroughly making sure that you get all the way to the bottom.  Think "tongs" and kind of lift the cereal gently to mix.


Add M&Ms to the cereal and chocolate.  We then like to put butter on our hands and dig down in the pan to REALLY make sure its all mixed.  Not necessary, but totally fun.

Pour out mixture onto the wax paper and spread it out.

Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and mix using your hands.  If you need or want more than two cups...go ahead and add it!

We like to store our trash in gallon-sized bags.  You can also put them in smaller containers and share with your friends!!

And look at my sweet puppy hoping that we drop something on the floor for her!! Check out that tongue! Ha! :)

Hope you have fun making some trash!  It's a mess...but totally worth it!!  Merry Christmas!

Love, Sara :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Marshmallows With A Side of Hot Chocolate

I have a confession... I love marshmallows.  Like, love, love, LOVE marshmallows.  Just ask anyone that lived in my sorority house with me.  Our house mom would always have marshmallows in the kitchen for a snack.  She refilled the container at least once a week.  She even found a newspaper article that talked about how marshmallows are linked to happiness and posted it in the kitchen just for me!  I've tried all kinds of marshmallow brands and flavors, and I have a favorite.  Weird?  Maybe.

Now this marshmallow thing is nothing new.  When I was young (like 6 or so) I would sneak into the kitchen and get marshmallows from the kitchen.  That is until I shared some with my younger cousin Rachel (who was 3 at the time) and told her not to tell my mom so I wouldn't get in trouble.  She went straight to the bathroom where my mom was getting ready, (this is how vividly I remember this event) held out her hand full of marshmallows and said, "Sara gave me these but I'm not supposed to tell you we have them."  Marshmallows were not bought for quite a while...

So that I didn't look too crazy, I figured I needed to have marshmallows with something else.  In comes my love of hot chocolate!  In college I drank hot chocolate at least once a day (even when it was hot) just so I could have an excuse to have my marshmallows.  I tried every type of hot chocolate too.  Yes, I had ones I liked pretty well, but nothing I HAD to have like my marshmallows.  

A couple of years ago I decided to try to make my own hot chocolate, and let me tell you, I found THE BEST hot chocolate recipe EVER.  I like it so much that I drink it without marshmallows now...yes, it's THAT good.  Here's my recipe! (adapted from the original I made...which I have no clue where it came from)

Sara's Super Duper Doesn't-Even-Require-Marshmallows Hot Chocolate:
6 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 (5 oz.) packet of chocolate pudding
1 cup hot chocolate mix
1/2 cup powdered creamer (You can use ANY flavor and make it unique for you! I used Peppermint Mocha this time, but most everything I have tried is good...makes it a little more exciting!)
1 cup powdered sugar (my mom likes it with 1/2 cup, but my sweet tooth says it needs a full cup :) )
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Gather all of your ingredients.

Through trial and error, I've found that it is easiest to measure out ALL of your ingredients before you start...

In a large bowl or container (I use a container because you can mix it really easily) pour in about half of each ingredient.

See all of the pretty layers?! Now, put on the lid and shake until mixed.


Now add the rest of all of the ingredients, replace lid, and shake until thoroughly mixed.

Doesn't that look yummy?!  And it makes A TON...well, a ton for a normal person, about 3 weeks worth for me. :)  Mix 1/3 cup of mix with one cup of boiling water.  If you like less or more of a chocolatey flavor, you can adjust it. 

 ***After adding water, stir, stir, STIR! And then when you think it's stirred enough, stir some more!  Some of the ingredients don't dissolve quickly, and you DO NOT want to ruin your first taste with globs of unmixed mix! :) ***
Like I said before, my marshmallow kick has died down a lot since I discovered this hot chocolate.  Now, I like using whipped cream!  (And I forgot to buy the marshmallows at the store when I was taking pictures....) I found this delicious peppermint whipped cream!  How yummy does that sound?!

And the finished product!! Mmmmm...

I'm telling you, this mix changed my life...less marshmallows, more chocolate!  It's creamy, sweet, SUPER easy and next to impossible to mess up!  Try it and let me know what you think!!  Merry Christmas! (Almost..)

Love, Sara :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Story of the Second Blog...

If you didn't already know, I recently started a Kindergarten blog.  Now, you may be thinking, "A Kindergarten blog?  Seriously?" When I first heard about them, I never imagined there were that many "teaching" blogs out there.  Well, I was so, so, so, SO wrong.  There are TONS of them out there and they are so addictive!  They all reference various other blogs, so I end up clicking away without realizing that an hour...or two :)...have passed. 

I made a bunch of activities for my Kindergarten blog with the intention of sharing the files with other Kinder teachers.  Well, long-story-short, one of the graphics companies I used (and ADORE) saw one of the activities I made, and it's being sold on their website!!  How so fun is that?!

This is the preview for the activity on their website!!  Go check it out at DJ Inkers!  Make sure you scroll down to the larger name is even on it!!  And if you are a fontaholic like me, they have some AWESOME fonts... I have pretty much every one. :)  Happy Wednesday!!

Sara :)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December, December, December!

It's December in our town! What a wonderful place to be!
It's December in our town! Excitement look and see!

Now, if you just read that, go back and sing it...the tune doesn't matter.  Way back in the day when I was in 6th grade I was in my school choir.  6th grade is still elementary school where I went, so it wasn't any official choir or anything.  Anyway, our 6th grade fall choir program was all about different holidays in December.  The theme song for the program was "It's December In Our Town." For some strange reason, I sing the song (mostly to myself!) at the start of every December - complete with the hand motions.  Anthony has already heard the song (plus about 3 others from the program) about 4 times, and I called Maggles the other day to sing it for her too. ...She was in the choir with me, but I doubt she remembers the songs and motions, nor do I think she sings them like I do. :)

So now on to what I REALLY wanted to write about... CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS!!!!!  I love, love, LOVE all things Christmasy and Decemberish, so this is easily my favorite time of the year.  I look forward to Thanksgiving being over and being able to decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Since we were out of town that weekend and over Thanksgiving, I decided to put up a few things before Thanksgiving.  I know, I know, I'm not supposed to overlook Thanksgiving, but no one was even going to be at our apartment!  

I thought it would take a while to put everything up...I mean, it always took us at least a week to get everything out and in the right spot when I was growing up.  This year, however, it took MAYBE an hour... that's what I get for living in a tiny apartment. :) 

P.S. I'm warning you that there may be a few more pictures than normal for this post...just a heads up! :)

 Getting all of the Christmas decor out from my closet!!  We bought a TON of stuff on sale last Christmas and it's been in this box ever since...I was SOOOO excited to finally get to use it!

 And setting up our Christmas tree.  While Anthony worked on that, I...

put out pretty Christmas balls!

 And set out the Christmas pillows!

Set out my Christmas plate from Steph!

 Arranged the table!  Flower arrangement look familiar?  Oh that's because it's the same one from my fall decorations, just with a new vase "wrapper."

The whole table!  Pretty much all of this stuff is what we bought on sale last year...without knowing where we were going to live or what furniture we would have.  That is code for I bought the wrong sized tablecloth and had to fold it to make it fit correctly... :)

 I put out Anthony's Arkansas nutcracker.

 No mantle?  That's okay!  Stockings will be hung on a chair this year!

 I put out Christmas towels and aprons!

Got out my measuring spoons from my Faithful Friend at school! And then...

it was finally time to put up ornaments!!!!!!

 Some engagement ornaments...(thanks Brittany!)

Some more engagement ornaments... (thanks Holly!)

 An Ellie ornament...

And some owls! (of course)

 We have no tree topper yet, so we are using an owl finger puppet that I made in a class in college (that sounds really weird, but it was a kid's art class...I promise I didn't just go to college to learn make finger puppets!)

And our finished product!!

I hope your holiday has started off as fun as mine!  Happy December!!!

Love, Sara :)