Friday, December 31, 2010

Under construction...

Work is kind of slow today so I thought I'd update my blog so it doesn't seem like I'm stuck on Christmas when the rest of the world is moving on to the next thing. I tried to make it look cool, but it's lame. I need the stellar graphic designer in my life, Cory, to design me something new but he's out of town. So it'll have to stay like this for a few days...

Basically I gave up, and I just wanted you to know that I know it's ugly and I'm working on it (or will have Cory work on it asap). AND I'll be back to blog soon. Hope you have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 27, 2010


Everyone loves the idea of cold and snow up until Christmas. BUT, when Christmas is over, the beauty and chill of the season quickly wear off and many of us are ready to get on with spring. I hate to break it to you, but spring isn't going to be here for a while... technically the season of winter just started 5 days ago. So we've got some time to kill and we might as well embrace it.

I saw this picture on my brother Joel's blog the other day. It's by a photographer named Stephane Suisse and it's amazing. It combines two things I love dearly: trees and benches. I feel like this depicts everything wonderful about winter. A few other things I love about winter...

1. Wearing hats, scarves, and gloves... but especially scarves. I love being able to layer and bundle for a season.
2. Sparkly snow. It still amazes me how beautiful snow can be when it hits sunlight and looks like God sprinkled a classy version of glitter everywhere. Well done, God.
3. Frosty grass. I've mentioned this before but just thought I'd give it another shout out.
4. Drinking hot drinks. I love coffee, and hot chocolate, and apple cider, and pretty much anything warm. My drink of choice this season has been hot chocolate with butterscotch Schnapps. It's pretty much delicious.
5. Snuggling in bed under multiple blankets. I don't really like climbing in bed when I feel hot, I don't really like sleeping when I'm cold either. But I do love going to bed a little cold, loading up the blankets, and finding this happy medium of bundled loveliness. Trust me, it's great.

So as the holidays wind down but the chill in the air does not, just remind yourself of all the lovely things about winter and then spring will be here before you know it! Happy Winter!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Baking!

I love baking for the holidays... For some reason, around Christmas it's ok for you to bake 3 different kinds of cookies, two different kinds of fudge, assortments of candy and as many cheesecakes as you want. Ok, I haven't gone THAT far, but I have been baking a lot. Needless to say, with my baking and my mom's combined, our house is pretty much in a constant state of food/sugar coma. Here are some of the things that I've already baked or plan on baking for the remainder of this week. Wish you were here to enjoy them with me!

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies by Lovin' From the Oven.

Lemon Cheesecake Cheese Ball by Annie's Eats.

New York Cheesecake by Annie's Eats.

Peanut Butter Fudge by the Brown Eyed Baker.

Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies by the Pioneer Woman (P.S. I got her cookbook for Christmas and I'm pretty stoked about it...)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Cheer!

Yesterday three things happened that just made me think, "Christmas cheer is alive and well." Want to know what happened?

1. We had a cookie exchange at work. The whole point was for people to mingle to each others' desks, chat it up, and enjoy some quality baked goods. Mingling and baked goods? Those are pretty much two of my favorite things in the world. Only around Christmastime can you pull that off. It was lovely.

2. I got a Christmas/Welcome card. I've been in training since I started my job at JP Morgan in October. This week was our last official week of training and we were split into our respective teams. I didn't really know anyone on my new team. I'd chatted with a few of them when I'd been up to set up my cubicle (by the way, I'm totally a person with a cubicle now... more to come on that later.) But yesterday when I went up to my desk I saw a box of Andes mints and a card saying, "Merry Christmas, Welcome to the Team, and Happy New Year, too! From, John." From John? The guy that hadn't said one word to me since I'd been up there? I'd assumed he was shy or anti-social or something. I was wrong... John rocks. And he's the coolest guy ever for going out of his way to welcome me (and another guy from my training class) to the team.

3. We got serenaded by a co-worker. One of the head trainer's sings as a side job and we keep bugging him to sing for us. He won't, but yesterday he went up and asked one of our co-workers who also sings if she'd want to come down and sing for us. Her name was Dawn. She sang The Christmas Song. It was beautiful. And it was one of the coolest things I've experienced at JP Morgan thus far. ("The best way t spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Name that movie!)

What a great day... You know what else is great, though? I get the next 4 days off of work and I don't have to set an alarm to wake me up tomorrow morning. Now that is great.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wrapping gifts.

I've been a slacker at blogging this past week. I was on a roll... then I got busy and fell off the face of the earth. But I'm back. Don't. you. worry.

I don't mean to brag, but I kind of rocked at getting my Christmas shopping done early this year. I knocked it all out in pretty much one day... and it was awesome. You know what else I knocked out early? Wrapping everything. I was done (ok, false, I still have one more gift to wrap, but for good reasons that I can't reveal here) early last week and it was great.

I love wrapping gifts. I'm not really sure why... Maybe because I think of the person I'm giving the gift to while wrapping. Maybe because it's kind of systematic but not too much. Maybe because it involves a little bit of creativity. Maybe because it's one more Christmas thing that I get to check off of my list. I don't know what it is. But I just love it.

I sure do hope you enjoyed/will enjoy (if you're a slacker unlike myself, and have yet to wrap your presents... JK, jk...) wrapping your presents as well! T minus 5 days until the big day... Get excited!

Monday, December 13, 2010

DIY Holiday Decorations

One of the many things that I love about holidays is that you get to decorate your house for them. You can't be constantly change the decor of your every day home (unless you have tons of money, which I don't...) but you do get to mix things up a bit when holidays come around.

I love decorating. I love "DIY." I love seeing an idea in a magazine, or on a TV show, or in a store window and figuring out how to make it yourself for less. Because I live with my parents I don't get to do much of it. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, I love living with my parents and am SO thankful that they're letting me stick around for a while... And they DID let me redecorate a bathroom.) But when the holidays come around, my mom and I tag team (although Mom still does more than I do, because she's a harder worker than I am...) the holiday decorating. This year I had a few projects that I got to work on, and I loved it.

1. A Christmas wreath. My cousin Christina inspired me because she made a wreath from an old one and some old materials she had laying around from her wedding decorations. I used one of our old wreaths and bought a few materials from Michael's. And voila, a $7 wreath.
2. Thanksgiving Day table decorations. A friend at church is a florist and I saw some decorated mini pumpkins like these that she had made and was inspired. We got the pumpkins for free and bought ribbon and fall silk flowers at Michael's, used some candles from past years, and tada, $4 table decorations! (For 4 different tables... not bad, eh?)
3. The girl's tree. I've shown this to you already, but it was a fun little project Mom and I worked on. Trees require a little more to spruce up, but I think we spent less than $25 to fix up our old tree from last year. And we both think it's beautiful, so we're happy. :)

Anyway, thanks for letting me talk about creativity for a while. I really enjoyed working on these projects...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Frosty grass.

Remember about two years ago when I was fascinated with the fact that because I left for work so early (I was a baker and had to be at work at 4:30 am...), I beat the morning freeze and never had to scrape off my car? Well... that happens no more. My car is frosty... all. the. time. A couple years ago my parents gave me this spray de-icer stuff in my stocking and it's kind of revolutionized the morning scraping. It's wonderful... You know what else is wonderful?

Frosty grass. Yeah, you read that right... I like it when grass it frosty (and it's frosty when my windows are frosty, just in case you didn't catch the segue.) I like how it's crunchy when you walk on it. I like how it glitters like a Christmas ornament. I like how it helps redeem a chilly morning as I'm walking out to my freezing car. I just think it's beautiful.

Some of you may not even know what I'm talking about, you get the luxury of parking in the garage and don't have the experience of walking out and getting your car ready to be driven in the winter. But those of you who are with me, who park outside, next time you're walking out to your car, enjoy the crunchy, frosty grass... It'll make your chilly morning a little warmer.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday Night Lights.

A few months ago my friend Emily said, "Abby, I think you should watch Friday Night Lights. I feel like you're a person who really gets into TV shows and I think you would like it." I wonder why she would think that I really get into TV shows...? (Proof #1, Proof #2, Proof #3) Oh, right... I guess it's true.

Well, about a month ago I decided to take Emily's word and try it out. It was just too easy because four of the five seasons are currently on Netflix. So I started watching, and I thought, "I like this, I don't know if I'll be hooked like the other shows..." False. I'm hooked... bad. I watch at least an episode a night. I've been irritable at work because I haven't been getting enough sleep because I've been staying up late to watch the silly show. But it's great. It's got everything you could want in a show...

1. Teenage drama: I was totally that girl who watched The OC, One Tree Hill, you name it, back in the day. This is basically just like those shows, but a toned down, Texas version.
2. Inspirational sports movie characteristics: slow claps, always winning, a couch that'll do anything for his players, etc....
3. Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins: the good boy and the bad boy... take your pick, they're both wonderful in their own way.
4. A solid husband and wife duo: I love the Taylors. They make me smile.
5. A hot coach: You know you're growing up when you find the coaches and teachers more attractive than the high schoolers in TV shows... I'm getting old.
Ok, so those are some lame things to love, but the show is great. Take my word for it or check it out yourself. You won't be disappointed...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Little Thing: uh... Jesus's Birth!

The last six days have all been well and good, but the truth is, all of that stuff means nothing. It's fun, and promotes love and bonding, but it really means nothing. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. I think a lot of people, we'll call them the "Happy Holiday" people, are trying to take Christ out of Christmas, but it's never going to happen.

I love that we celebrate Jesus's birth. Truly, Christmas is the only holiday that nearly everyone observes (ok, I know there are large crowds who don't, but in the suburban midwest, they're kind of few and far between...) and hasn't excluded religion yet. It's the one time of year where you can hear songs being played from radio station to radio station and in every store that are actually proclaiming the word of God.

I just like that we've managed to hold on to this holiday. And that for a season, it's for some reason acceptable to mention Jesus's name or invite someone to your Christmas Eve church service. Christmas time is one of the few times of the year where Jesus's presence in our talk and minds is more like it should be the rest of the year. I love Christmas for the simple fact that it's a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Little Things (ok, so the birth of Jesus is not a little thing, it's a big, BIG thing) Christmas Edition Day 7: Jesus's Birth.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Little Things: Christmas Parties.

Christmas parties, like many things of the Christmas variety, can be very good... or very bad. I've never been to one of those awkward work Christmas parties that they always depict in the movies (or like in one of my favorite TV shows the Office) but I can imagine they're horrible. The only Christmas parties I've ever been to have been wonderful. Here's what I love about them:

1. The good food.
2. The good company.
3. The Christmas carol background music.
4. The Christmas sweaters.
5. The cheesy (yet awesome) Christmas themed games.
6. The atmosphere of joy and thankfulness.
7. The catching up.
8. The Christmas cookies.
9. The Christmas decorations. (No matter the occasion, I'm going to like the decorations...)
10. The good cheer. (Ok, I couldn't really think of a 10th thing so I went with the cheesy.)

Basically, I love a good gathering, especially when Christmas is involved. That's all I'm saying.

Little Things Christmas Edition Day 6: Christmas Parties!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Little Things: Christmas Shopping.

Call me crazy, but I actually love Christmas shopping...

Yesterday I ventured out with the intent to begin and finish my Christmas shopping. Normally I would invite a friend along (because we all know that I don't love being by myself) but I decided to go it alone this time. It was great! I loved going at my own pace, I loved the Christmas store displays, I loved the Christmas music being played, I loved the holiday cheer, and I loved the discounts (let me tell you, getting a Gap card was one of the best decisions I've ever made...) I just love Christmas shopping! I think I love it because it combines multiple things that I love:

1. Shopping.
2. Thinking of the people I love.
3. A list that I get to check things off of.

So hurray for a great day of Christmas shopping and hurray for being done for the year! (As much as I love it, I also love it when it's over...) I can't wait for Christmas to give everything away!

Little Things Christmas Edition Day 5: Christmas Shopping!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Things: Christmas Decorations.

I'm currently sitting in my living, in my favorite seat in the house and I'm surrounded by beautiful Christmas decorations. For as long as I can remember my mom has decked out the house beautifully and tastefully (which is key, because a lot of people tend to venture toward "cheesy land"... Thankfully, we stay away.) Over the years, I have begun to appreciate the festiveness (and the work that goes into it) more and more and now I get to partake in the decorating fun!

One of my favorite things to do is decorate my mom and I's Christmas tree. We have a big tree in our living that everyone decorates and we put all of the family ornaments on. And we have a "girl's tree" that is a smaller tree on our sun porch that is even more beautiful. This year we changed up the color scheme a bit and I'm really excited about it. I think it's beautiful and I love doing it with my momma.

So basically... I love Christmas decorations. And I love how our home looks during Christmastime. It's hard to not be filled with holiday cheer when you're home. Here are some pictures of our house. I figured pictures speak louder than words for this occasion. There are a lot, but I just had to... I love them!

Little Things Christmas Edition Day 4: Christmas Decorations!
(Mom and I's tree!)
(Our Mustard Seed tree topper!)
(I love taking this walk up to my room!)
(Our mantle... gotta love it.)
(Our outside decorations...!)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Little Things: Christmas Movies.

I love Christmas movies. Sure, the classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas are great but they aren't really my cup of tea. The more recent Christmas movies that have been dubbed as "classics" like A Christmas Story and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation I kind of despise (sorry, I knew I try to keep it positive, but I just can't when it comes to those movies.) Obviously what you like and dislike is incredibly subjective (I suppose this whole blog is subjective. Nothing that's come out of my mouth/fingers is fact, really...)

I do love Christmas movies though. The cheesey lines. The background Christmas music. The abundance (or lack of it in some movies) of Christmas cheer. They're great.

My top 5 favorite Christmas movies

1. Elf
2. Home Alone
3. Home Alone 2
4. Santa Clause
5. The Holiday

Little Things Christmas Edition Day 3: Christmas Movies!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Little Things: New Christmas Songs

To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas songs that are either new Christmas songs or re-releases of classics. Sometimes I hate them. They can be awesome or they can be lame. There's this really fine line that few people have figured out how to walk it correctly. For example, Jessica Simpson's new song "My Only Wish", it errs on the side of hate. Now, I didn't say I hate it, but it's for sure more in the direction of hate than love.

But let's not focus on the negative here. There are some people who have managed to write new songs or new versions of old songs that I really love. When that happens I get really excited! Below are some of the songs that have managed to win my favor. If you're willing to let yourself steer away from the classics for a little while, I recommend that you check them out.

"Sister Winter" by Sufjan Stevens (actually, he has TONS of good Christmas stuff, his Christmas album(s) is my favorite non-classic Christmas album.)

"Carol of the Bells" by Gungor (unfortunately I can't find this song anywhere because it came from a Christmas album given to Mocha Club members. If you're interested, let me know... I'll send it your way!)

"Winter Song" by Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles (pictured above)

"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by the Glee Cast (don't judge, this is actually pretty good stuff...)

Little Things Christmas Edition Day 2: New Christmas Songs. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Little Things: Christmas Lights.

One of my favorite things about Christmas time is Christmas lights. I'm the cool kid who has Christmas lights in her room all year round, so when people finally join me around December 1st, I get pretty excited! Above is one of my favorite pictures of Christmas lights. I took it a few years ago in my apartment at college. My talented brother Cory, a graphic design genius, made the picture into the new header of my blog. What do you think?

Last night I got to enjoy one of my favorite things about Christmas: Christmas lights, with my friend Jessie and her sons Liam, 4, and Eli, 2. (Jessie documented our evening here but I thought I'd give it a whirl, too.) Liam wanted me to bring my camera to take pictures of the Christmas lights so I could "send them to him on the computer." We would stop occasionally when he saw lights that he liked and Jessie or I would quickly snap a shot to not come across as the creepers that we truly were. It was great riding around and hearing the boys reactions. Their excitement got me all the more excited. One of my favorite things of the evening was how the boys called candy canes "candy candies." "Look at all those candy candies! We got some rainbow candy candies at home." Oh man... it's always a good time with the Crows. Check out some of my creeper shots of the lights below. (Don't judge, we were snapping them quickly.) I think I need to send Liam an e-mail with them attached. I wonder what his e-mail address is... (Sorry, lame joke, but I had to.)

Little Things Christmas Edition Day 1: Christmas lights. Hope you're enjoying them as much as I am.