Friday, December 31, 2010

looking back {2010}

It was impossible to pick a picture from each month that could sum up our entire year but I think I was able to do a fairly good summary...

We started eating healthier and enjoyed the results. Unfortunately, we got away from that later in the year. Must revisit this ASAP!

We saw several concerts this year but Gary Allan was my favorite. He definitely knows how to put on a great show - one of his band members wore a kilt, his dog made an unannounced appearance, and there's always a bottle of whiskey on stage.

We did a ton of traveling but it all started over Spring Break when we visited my mom & step-dad and took the girls to Disneyland & CA Adventure.

I took Nicole's Photo 101 class and played with my camera a lot. This one of Maggie remains one of my favorites.

We lost Lee's sweet grandmother {Mama Jane} and while our trip to NC was sad, it was also filled with many great family moments. This picture of David with the girls makes my heart melt each time I see it.

We took full advantage of our farmer's market this year and consistently came home with some amazing fruit. The bunch above was used in a cobbler and tasted divine!

What an awesome month! I won a community "award" for my time volunteering at the children's hospital, got to wear an incredible sparkly necklace for the month, and played with my camera while visiting our families in Park City.

Did more baking and played with recipes I found online.
[This one's kinda lame but my photo choices from August were incredibly limited.]

Traveled to Mexico where we celebrated Lee's birthday & had an early anniversary celebration.

Got to spend a long weekend with the gals in my family & celebrated my grandmother's 85th birthday over a wonderful homemade meal.

Took a once-in-a-lifetime trip with some of the most incredible women and was baptized! This picture was snapped shortly after the baptism to text to Lee. Awesome.

This month was filled with family & friends and, at least for me, there's nothing better.

Here's to remembering the good + the bad of 2010 and looking forward to all the possibilities 2011 holds. Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

pics from carneros inn

After breakfast at Boon Fly we walked around the grounds of The Carneros Inn. Oh how I love this place! One of my sweet blogging friends is hoping to stay here one day so I took some pics for her...

I highly recommend it if you're looking for a romantic getaway.

christmas in california

Every other year Lee & I spend Christmas with my family in California and this was that year! I love my time visiting the town where I grew up and it was made even more fun this year because I got to have some girl time with a few of my favorite gals...

No trip home would be complete without a visit to Vasquez Deli. They seriously have the best mexican food I've ever had!

Can't believe how much my nephew has grown just since July!

Another spot that I crave is Boon Fly Cafe, located at the Carneros Inn in Napa...

Lee and I stayed here for our 1st anniversary and the location and food quickly found their way into our hearts. I'm thrilled that my sister lives only 45 minutes away & they love the doughnuts as much as we do so a trip over is always on the "must" list when we visit. When I took this I was purring like a contented kitty cat...

In addition to Lee & I, Joining us for this yummy breakfast were my dad, step-mom, grandpa, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew.

My sweet grandpa wore the hat Lee & I got him for Christmas last year - quite dapper, don't you think?

Christmas Eve day dawned to find me in my sister's newly renovated kitchen inaugurating her brand spanking new Wolf oven. I was pretty nervous but thrilled to get to use it. [Side note: her kitchen has been completely torn apart for almost 2 months. When I arrived it was still in complete disarray and not one appliance had been installed. Not exactly what you want to see when you're hosting Christmas dinner for 15!]

Given the craziness of the kitchen I opted to take a very easy route with Santa's cookies [hence the mix]...

I tried a new recipe for pumpkin pie [the one on the back of the organic pumpkin can] and it was phenomenal. Super full of pumpkin + spice flavor - yum!

I may be a little biased but I think they turned out rather pretty looking [although that may just be because they're on my sister's new granite countertops!]

Unfortunately none of my iphone pics of Christmas Eve turned out but it was such a special night. Every year we're in CA for Christmas we have a tradition of eating my step-dad's "famous" clam chowder for dinner. I seriously crave it! There was a little scare when my sister's kitchen was still under construction but it was finished in the nick of time! While my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew were enjoying time with the other side of their family, Lee & I enjoyed some awesome time with my mom, step-dad, grandma, and step-grandfather. We played cards, visited, and settled in to watch a serious Christmas classic...A Christmas Story. It was absolutely perfect!

Christmas morning started bright + early [just like I like it!] As you can tell, we like to fill everyone's stocking to the brim!

Normally I get a early morning pic with Lee but he wasn't sitting on the floor next to me like usual [his getting older tush can't take it!] so I snapped one of me and my favorite nephew. Oh how I love that kid [although he isn't a kid any longer -- he's taller than me!]

Due to the renovations going on in my sister's house [the replaced the floors in the downstairs & painted], they didn't get a large tree like normal. Instead, we got to decorate this cute little guy...

Christmas morning surrounded by my grandma {Jeanne}, step-grandfather {Gene}, and my step-dad {David}...

My mom {Sue} and sister {Carol} [posing with the super fun gag gift my mom got my sister -- trust me, LONG story]...

Brother-in-law {Keith}...

Lee + Jordan rocking the UNC look...

I'm happy to report I got one of Lee + I after all. Oh how I love this guy!

I had such a wonderful time surrounded by many of my absolute favorite people & feel super duper blessed because of it. I hope you all had a wonderful day with your favorites as well!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

getting my groove back

It's been way too long since my last post because, honestly, I just haven't been feeling it. There's been plenty to talk about but at the end of a long, crazy day I just didn't seem to have it in me to download pics and write. Sad, isn't it? Up until yesterday I hadn't baked a thing for the holidays or even watched a Christmas movie, and for me, that's WAY out of the norm. Don't get me wrong, I've definitely been feeling the holiday spirit...our house is decorated, gifts thoughtfully purchased, cards lovingly addressed, and a good dose of Christmas music can be heard blaring from our speakers on a regular basis...I just haven't had the energy to write about it.

Sure, I have a million excuses but they're no different than what everyone else is going through and yet they've had the time + energy to complete post after post. Apparently I'd fallen into some sort of funk and didn't know it. That all changed when I walked into our kitchen yesterday for an afternoon of creating sweet treats for our neighbors. Normally I deliver a smorgasbord of different cookies but this year I just wasn't feeling it {can you sense a theme?} so I reached out to an expert for some different ideas. She sent me links to some awesome ideas {here, here, here}, as well as giving me a wonderful list of others. In the end, after bouncing around from blog to blog, I ended up deciding to do a rather unusual gift idea. For most of you this time of year is filled with cold weather and lots of daydreaming of sunshine + warmth, for us in Louisiana it's filled with crazy, erratic weather...a few days in the 30's/40's and the next near 80 {I kid you not, this was my week}...and the inability to correctly dress ourselves in appropriate clothing. Anyway, I decided to embrace our weird weather and create a "Louisiana Winter Survival Kit" filled with things to keep you cool when it's warm {ice cream sundae fixin's} and warm your tummy when it's cold {hot cocoa}.

I made hot fudge {amazing, btw}, pecan praline sauce {also super yummy}, candy & sprinkle-dipped Oreos, and some incredibly decadent brownies...

Tempted by the brownie? No?! Let me give you another look...

Now you're craving some, aren't you? {Sorry but I couldn't resist.}

To this I added some yummy hot cocoa packets I found at World Market, individual packets of marshmallows, Christmas themed sprinkles, and some fun holiday napkins {not pictured}.

Not pictured are the kits I had to improvise when my first batch of pecan praline sauce didn't turn out so well since I got the pecans more than a bit too toasty, and didn't have enough corn syrup for an additional {3rd} batch. For those I {obviously} omitted the praline sauce but added a cute {small} glass dish that contained fun sprinkles, crushed oreos for another topping option, and instead of two candy-dipped Oreos on a stick I gave them several of the version without sticks. The boxes were filled up lickety split and I must confess, I was pretty happy with the results.

Another thing making me happy was having my "big" camera out & playing around with it. Just having it in my hand made me smile and I slowly felt myself turning back into "me" - it was a wonderful feeling! Apparently baking + photography are two things that make me smile big time!

Oh sweet camera, how I've missed you!

It also made me super happy to get a quick label made so we could deliver these to our sweet neighbors/friends.

Here they are ready to brighten someone's day. It's always so much fun delivering these. I just wish I could have figured out a way to put some ice cream in there as well!

Hope you're having a great holiday season and find yourself gettin' your groove on!