Our first Christmas Tree

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I could not wait to start decorating the house for Christmas on Monday.
I believe that anytime after Thanksgiving is fair game, and if I had been in town I would have started decorating on Friday.
Thankfully Jake didn't have to work on Monday, so we were able to go get our Christmas tree! We had better luck than my parents did. There is a place right down the street from us selling trees, so that's where we decided to get ours from. It took us MAYBE 10 minutes to decide on our perfect tree.

To make things even better there was a random cold front, so it was in the 50s all day!
Before decorations:

Jacob's job was to put the lights on.

And mine was to put the ornaments on.

The finished product.

It kind of looks like a mini version of my parents tree, it must be the ornaments :)

Merry Christmas!!

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend in Orlando was great! 
Everyone had a wonderful time, and I am so happy that we got to stay for the entire weekend.

My cake was a success!!

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious, as always.

Honestly, I can't wait to go back for Christmas. 

The day after Thanksgiving we went with my parents to get their tree. 
Sadly, it's not quite the same as when we lived in Oregon:

Look through a tent of previously cut trees in Lowe's parking lot.

Have guy working as Lowe's show you trees.

I don't look very entertained.

Once the tree is picked out the guys at Lowe's package it all up, and attach it to your car.

You would think that would be the end. 
Once we got the tree home and unwrapped, everyone came to the conclusion that it didn't look right. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. So, it was on to tree #2. 
Jake and I didn't go with my parents to pick it out this time, but what they came home with was much, much better.

We didn't get to stay long enough to see the whole tree decorated, but I got to watch my mom start.

So many beautiful ornaments!

Ahhh, Christmas time. My favorite time of year.

My Contribution to Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We are driving down to my parent's house in Orlando for the holiday, but I still wanted to make my own contribution to Thanksgiving dinner. 
My husband and father both love pie, so my mom always bakes one for them. 
BUT her and I both dislike pie, so I decided to bring something for my mom and I to enjoy for Thanksgiving dessert.

I found a recipe for a pumpkin and chocolate layer cake on bakingbites.com. I thought it was going to be quite complicated, but it actually wasn't too difficult.
Basically it's a 4-layer cake with alternating chocolate and pumpkin layers, and a cream cheese frosting.

(This is before I frosted the entire cake)

The recipe recommends baking both cakes at the same time, which is what I did.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom and sides of both. (My pans were non-stick so I skipped this step. They were also 9-inch instead of 8, which didn't seem to make a difference).
Pumpkin Layer:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil (I used vegetable)
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. In another bowl whisk together eggs, veggie oil, melted butter, pumpkin puree, milk and vanilla until all ingredients are well combined. Pour pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients and stir until no streaks of flour remain visible. Pour into prepared cake pan.
(I used an electric mixer to mix the dry ingredients because the brown sugar and be hard to break apart. I used a whisk for the other ingredients, and my electric mixer to combine all ingredients).

Chocolate Layer
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 large eggs
1/4 cup veggie oil
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-oz dark or bittersweet chocolate, melted

In large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Sift in cocoa powder and whisk to combine.
In another bowl whisk together eggs, veggie oil, melted butter, pumpkin puree, milk and vanilla until all ingredients are well combined. Whisk in melted chocolate.
Pour pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients, stir until no streaks of flour are visible. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake both cakes for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. It took exactly 30 minutes for mine to bake.
Turn cakes out of their pans and onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temp.
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar (aka powdered sugar)

Combine all ingredients and beat at high speed until smooth, gradually adding the confectioners' sugar until thick and spreadable consistency is reached.
Additional confectioners sugar may need to be added to thinking frosting, ESPECIALLY if humidity is high in your area.

THIS is the one mistake I made. I do NOT believe I added enough confectioners sugar seeing as I will be in FLORIDA.

Cake Assembly

Slice both the pumpkin cake and chocolate cake in half horizontally. 
Place a chocolate round on a cake stand or serving platter, spread with a thin layer of cream cheese icing, place a pumpkin layer on top. Make sure to spread frosting all the way to the edges of cake rounds. Spread pumpkin layer with frosting and repeat with remaining chocolate and pumpkin layers.
Use remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake.
Since I'm afraid of the frosting slowly melting off on our drive, I have it in the fridge right now in hopes that the frosting will set.

The frosting recipe makes A LOT.
Obviously I haven't tried the cake yet, since it's for tomorrow, but my only worry is that there will be too much frosting on it....
We shall see!

I also had some free time on my hands the other day, and my crafting goodies were still out from a previous project, so I decided to make little name cards for the dinner table.

What on earth happened to my handwriting??? Its terrible!
Besides the horrible penmanship, I think there pretty cute.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Little Things

Monday, November 22, 2010

Life is all about the little things that make you happy.
I think it's important to find small things that you can incorporate into your day to day life that bring a smile to your face, or to find a time during the day to sit back, relax, and just enjoy.
I like to drink tea in the afternoons, but I love it even MORE when I drink it out of my wedding china. So why not? Why shouldn't I be able to enjoy my afternoon tea out of my wedding china? It's a small tweak in my day that makes me happy :)

What about you guys? What do you do each day that makes you happy?

My Love Affair/Recent Obsession with Monogramming

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A couple of mornings ago Jacob and I somehow found ourselves on the topic of monograms. I asked him what he thought of a monogrammed throw I had found at Pottery Barn. He responded by telling me he really doesn't like monogramming.
He clearly has no idea what he is talking about.
I personally love monogramming. It is a recent obsession of mine. I think it started while I was planning our wedding.
Our invitations contained our monogram:

Our monogram was written in flower petals at the vineyard where we had the ceremony:

My Uncle Chuck, who did all of our flowers, created custom-made slips to go over the vases of all the centerpieces with our monogram on them:

And of course, our cake had our monogram as well:

Notice the gorgeous Waterford Crystal toasting glasses, a gift from my Grandparents. ALSO personalized.
Yea, my husband sure seemed to like monogramming then.
Monogramming takes average things and makes them AWESOME.
This morning I was looking at monogrammed aprons at PreppyMonogrammedGifts.com. They have the largest personalization options that I have found thus far.
I would like mine in Dotville-Lime with my monogram in hot pink thread. Please and thank you.
I am also in love with these red hemstiched placemats from Williams-Sonoma. I think they would be PERFECT for the holidays, and would go great with my everyday dishes, which are already green.

And of course, the Pottery Barn throw that started it all

I think I've proved my point.
Jacob, you are wrong.
Monogramming, is in fact, awesome.
I mean come on, the guy even had a shirt custom made for him with HIS INITIALS stiched on the cuffs for our wedding.

Hmmmm... Doesn't look like he dislikes monograms there....

Perhaps monogram is just too feminine of a word. Maybe when we are addressing guys we need to simply refer to it as "putting your initials on something" and then they'll be cool with it.

Either way, I'm going to stick monograms where ever I please!

Christmas Cards

Monday, November 15, 2010

Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE the holidays. Therefore, there will probably be many more posts revolving around this topic.
Since this is our first Christmas together as husband and wife, I am SUPER excited to send out holiday cards for the first time!
I've been very into do-it-yourself projects lately, but I have a feeling if I try and tackle that many Christmas cards on my own the result won't be pretty. I think it would be MUCH easier to simply order them online.
Last year I used Shutterfly.com to create a personalized calendar as a Christmas gift for Jacob, before he left for his deployment. It not only turned out great, but it shipped really quickly too.
I decided to check out Shutterfly.com again this year, and discovered some super cute Christmas cards. Here are some of my favorites:
Starlight Flurries Card

Red Revamped Card

Family Frame Card

I love classic, fun looking cards, and I personally prefer the flat stationary cards to the folded cards. Growing up my mother would always tape the Christmas cards we received to a cabinet door, or put them all on the refrigerator.
I'm not quite sure what I want to do for the picture yet, but I plan on figuring it out within the next couple of weeks!
How I love the holidays :)

For My Girlfriends

Seriously, I miss my girlfriends.
My husband is amazing, and he honestly is my best friend. BUT sometimes a chick just needs some girl time, and I happen to have some AMAZING ladies in my life. I think they have set such high standards that everyone I've met here in Georgia just can't compete.
I have the most interesting and entertaining group of friends, and yes my mother is included in that group.

Boring is one word they are not.
Basically, one of you better plan a trip to come visit me soon, or better yet move near me. 
Jacob is getting tired of watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with me (he prefers New Jersey). 
He is tired of going shopping with me and patiently waiting as I do laps around stores and then head into the fitting rooms for another 30 minutes. He does not care about celebrity gossip, who wore what, or what the newest trends are.
Guys are great, but a girl still needs her girlfriends too.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I've been so bad about writing in here lately!
Jacob is still working crazy hours, but we are SUPER excited that he has Thanksgiving weekend off, so we will be heading to Orlando to spend the holiday with my parents :)

We finally received the disk with our wedding pictures. They weren't edited very well, but luckily my hubby has some amazing photography software, so he was able to fix them up. We are going to be uploading them to www.mpix.com sometime this week so we (along with everyone else who wants some pics) can order them.

I also just found out that Jacob has this weekend off! I'm not sure what we are going to do yet, but I'm really happy to have more time to spend together. This six day a week work schedule he has going on is tough on both of us.

I'm already getting excited about Christmas. 
I'm ready to start putting up decorations.
 I'm ready to start watching Christmas movies and sing along with Christmas music. 
BUT I'm forcing myself to wait until after Thanksgiving.
I spotted this salt and pepper shaker set a couple of weeks ago and HAD to get it.

Santa Clause kissing Mrs. Clause on the cheek. How cute!

Last week I had a couple of job interviews. One of them was here in Georgia, and the other was for a job in Portland. I should find out about the Georgia job this week, and the Portland job in a couple of weeks.
Yes, Jacob and I have decided that we are definitely going to move back to Portland.

He wants to finish school at University of Portland, and I've always wanted to move back. This also means that Jacob will NOT be re-enlisting. I'm pretty happy about that :) I'm excited to not have to go through another deployment. That was NOT fun. So the plan is that Jacob will move back to Portland this summer (when his enlistment ends) and I will move back sometime between then and now. Basically whenever I get a job there.
Is it sad that when I think about moving to Oregon I get excited about wearing coats and boots?

Oh how I've missed cozy sweaters, warm fireplaces, and the chance of a white Christmas.