December 21, 2011

The makeover of all makeovers!!

I have moved up in the world of blogging!!!  By that I mean that I actually spent a little money to spruce up this here blog.  I wanted it to be pretty, and I really didn't want to spend 3 millions hours of my time doing so!  I have life to live and hardly any time to spare on graphic design that I would have to teach myself to do;)

So...I turned to Etsy!  Trusty, lovely Etsy - and I searched through a few affordable designs and found this design you see, by Little Grey Willow I saw a few of her designs and really liked them and then stumble on this one and fell in love.  Isn't it soooo pretty?!?!

I am off to bake some cookies and dip some pretzels in chocolate!  I am making sweet goodies for my fabulous office staff at school!

Let me know what you think of the new digs;)

December 19, 2011

Traditions and such...

What is Christmas without family traditions?  These days, I am finding that our traditions are growing and changing.  Since Dave & I were married just a short 1.5 years ago - we haven't had tons of time to establish many.  Our families (my parents, and his mom) are sort of boycotting Christmas this year - so we are finding that we have to come up with all new plans and new ways of doing things.  It's a little sad, but also sort of nice.

One traditions that we have had for years now, at least Ashley & I, is making a gingerbread house.  I used to do this with my cousins, Tatiana & Sabrina, every year when I was a teenager and they were just little wee things.  Once Ashley came along (as in...when Dave & I started hanging out and then dating) she joined in the fun. 

This year, we took it to the "next level" as my dear friend Crystal said, and made a gingerbread village!  I bought this village at Target, where else, and we had a great time with it!

I bought a foam board to hold the whole thing on, it's sturdy and is a nice workspace.  The green "river" is Jell-O, the store I bought it from did not have blue, but I think it looks extra "Christmas-y" in the green color.  We bought extra candy to jazz it up, those kits never come with enough.  We also used a whole can of cake icing, and a whole bag of coconut for the snow.  The whole thing took about an hour and it was super fun, a lovely this to do with a pre-teen!

Close up.


the "Toy Store".  So fun.

Other traditions we do are driving around looking at Christmas lights.  We did that yesterday evening too!  We listen to Christmas music and drive around really nice neighborhoods looking at the beautiful houses that we dream of living in one day;)  Don't get me wrong, I love our home!!  It's just nice to dream.  Oh and we also decorate OUR home, 2 weeks before Christmas, with lights and Santa's and Mickey Mouse lights. 

Dave & I also like to watch White Christmas on Christmas Eve after we get home from all the family and friends fun, and church. 

I usually make chocolate covered pretzels for friends and family, and cookies.  I made Christmas cookies last weekend, Ashley, Heather (BFF) and Addison (BFF's daughter) helped me decorate those:

This year I am adding Cake Balls (not the Pops) to my baking repertoire.  I have fancy little candy holders that are going to make the Cake Balls look so sweet!  Pics to come;)

Another tradition we seem to have is shopping last minute.  I did a little shopping early on around Black Friday, but the bulk of the shopping was done on Friday & Saturday.  Dave and I made a date of it, we went out for sushi first (so we weren't starving as we shopped, that is a nightmare) and then drove all around spending way too much on presents, and then ended up at our favorite place, Du Claw, to celebrate our success in finishing up each other's presents.  It was a lovely evening, not stressful at all, even though people were probably annoying and traffic was awful and the crowds and lines were bad...we didn't mind because our bellies were full and we were together.  That's the way to shop!

Also, since we usually eat with family on major Holidays, I make a meal the Sunday before so that we can have our own family dinner to celebrate.  I did this for Thanksgiving last year and this year, and I did it for Christmas this year too.  It gives me a good reason to break out my beautiful Kate Spade China AND practice my major holiday cooking skills for when the responsibility falls on me one day to make a meal for a whole family.

New traditions this year (not necessarily going to be every-year deals) going to Boordy Vineyards on the 23rd for a Christmas tasting and a cheese picnic, going to Disney the day after (!!!!!), going to Jonathan & Krystal's on Christmas morning, and there may be more but I forget.

I love this season.  I love how happy it makes me!  I love counting my blessings, which is nice to do ALL the time, but I seem to do that more around this time of year.  I love the music and the company and the laughter and fun and all the time I have with my family!  So wonderful!!  I need to live my life more so like it is Christmas everyday;)

The point is, these traditions and memory making experiences make Christmas so sweet and enjoyable.  It's about spending time with family, having fun, and most importantly - celebrating the birth and life of Jesus, who gave his life for us! 

Merry Christmas, from the Bland Family to yours!!

December 11, 2011

I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack;)

Hello friends and family!

I have almost had this blog for a whole year!  Now, my posting was a little heavy early on in the year, not so much in the past few months.  The blog is evolving as my life does, I am learning and thinking of the best way to use it! 

You will see some changes over the next few weeks.  I am think of re-naming, re-designing, as I have been over the past few months.  I can't have it be a place just to talk about books, although I am crazy about books, there are a dozen (or two) other things I'd love to feature on this here blog.  I find that since I have it so limited that I will need to open it up to other things, I lose motivation in blogging when I don't have time to read.  But when I am not reading, I am doing so many other fun things.  I want to talk about these things! 

Life has been sweet lately!  I am enjoying special times with family.  I think the holiday season reminds me that time with my loved ones is fleeting, unfortunately.   I have to cherish every moment I can!  I can't ever get comfortable in living for myself, in selfishness, I want to always be thinking about the ones I love and making sweet memories with them.  I can remember when I was younger, how bland (lol) life seemed for people who were married and did the same things every day, being with the same people and seeming "tied down" to one specific way of life.  How wrong I was!  My life is never the same thing every day!  Even if it was, I would be so happy because of the people in my life who make it worth living for - My wonderful hubby and my crazy, growing-up-way-too-fast stepdaughter, my wild cat, and my loving parents and my brothers and sisters (Jonathan and my in-laws), my mother-in-law and all the other family that we spend time with.  They make life worth it every day. 

My "new" but now not-so-new job has been a dream come true.  I am incredibly lucky to be working in such a great school, being a counselor to 650+ adorable, rowdy students.  I love it!  I can't imagine doing anything else!  It feels great to finally be settled in a career that I enjoy, one that I know I will be a part of for many, many years.  It keeps me very busy, and wears me out daily, but it's all worth it. 

In my free time lately, I have been doing any amount of the following: couponing, cooking, running, decorating for the holidays, shopping for the holidays, reading, Pinning, crafting, and planning our Disney trip.  I want to be BLOGGING about all this fun stuff, it feels good to share with whomever is interested:)  Even if no one is interested, it's still fun to talk about it!  It's cathartic:)

 I need to tally up how many books I've read this year.  I dropped the ball with the whole reading 10 a month, but I know I've read more this year than any other year in my life - which is really fun! 

Anyways, I'm back and hopefully you (my few readers) will enjoy being a part of the blog again - I love being part of the blogosphere and can't wait to re-design and get rolling.  I think I'll go do some designing right now!