Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were everything I was hoping for. Our holiday consisted of relaxing, eating, laughing, playing games, spending time with close friends and family, attending church and reveling in the beauty of the season. Washington even blessed us with a good-enough snow fall on Christmas Eve for a white Christmas! Here are a few scenes from the last few days. Because I feel like we are good friends, I have also included a few oh-so-glamorous Christmas morning bed-head pictures. Sorry and You're Welcome.

Usually the McLaws kids have our traditional "waiting-on-the-stairs-till-we-can-see-the-presents" picture, but this year we all gathered on the couch. Yes, on one couch. Can we say sibling love?

Top picture: The lovely Bird family came over once again for Christmas Eve dinner. I think every Christmas I have spent in Washington involved the Bird family somehow, someway. We were especially happy to spend time with Sheri-mom. I've mentioned her before. Her story is here.
Bottom picture: The most humorous picture from Christmas morning. Russ and I have been swimming a lot lately, so I was excited to get some goggles to make me pro (ha!). I even got a swim cap, but sadly for you, did not take a picture with that one. :)

 We had a post-church photo session. I sure do love all the people in these pictures. 

Today we're packing up to leave Washington for another country! That's right, we're escaping to Canada to spend a few days in a cabin in the mountains. Ohhhh, this is going to be good. 

Happy Holidays everyone!

Christmas Vacation is Here!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tonight marks the beginning of our Christmas vacation! Hallelujah! I was a very happy girl as I left work this evening for a week and a half of zero stress. {Queue sigh of relief} As a pre-Christmas celebration, we ate our dinner by candlelight while listening to some Christmas tunes. We wanted to do our own "thing" before joining the rest of the family for all the festivities. We opened a few of our gifts for each other, and I must say that Russ did good.  Now we are scrambling around the house making sure we have everything before we take off in the morning for a lovely holiday vacation in the Northwest (wahooo!). Vacation is so near I can taste it.

I hope everyone is having a fantastic holiday season spent with friends and family, and most of all, remembering why we have this holiday to begin with. If you have a minute,  watch this video about the true Christmas spirit. It brings a tear to my eye. 

Family Pictures 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

When my parents were in town over Thanksgiving break we got together and took some long overdue family pictures. My mom realized we didn't have a proper picture with her two "new" son-in-laws! My lovely friend Brooke helped us out and captured some great shots. I had full intentions of making a Christmas card, but it turns out the busy-ness of the season (and getting a bit sick! blech!) has gotten the best of me. I know you are weeping inside due to the lack of our Christmas card, but hopefully these family pics will get you by. I know I sure love them!

First Time for Everything

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Would you believe me if I told you that before yesterday Russ had never ever made sugar cookies? Like he'd never used a cookie cutter in his life. Well by golly, we ended that! We made ooodles of cookies last night for friends and neighbors (using my favorite recipe compliments of Sheri Bird). Judging by this picture, I would say he had fun, wouldn't you? He particularly enjoyed making his "gingerbread army." I loved spending the evening baking, frosting, singing, and dancing in the kitchen with my favorite person in the world. 

Another first for us? Shoveling the driveway on our very own house! We woke up to a blanket of snow. It made me feel that much more  in the Christmas spirit (even if I was sliding around trying to get out of our neighborhood. Oy. I need to remember my snow-driving skills from years past). 

Is it Christmas break yet?!? 

Adobe Knows How to Party

Monday, December 12, 2011

{Russell wins the award for the most animated face!}

Friday night we went to Adobe's Holiday Party. This was unlike any Christmas party I've ever been to for a few reasons. First of all, it was 80's themed. Huh? I was so confused and honestly really skeptical of what kind of party it would be (foolish Camille, foolish!). Second, when we showed up we saw the Back to the Future car in front of break dancers being watched over by Mr. T. I'm dead serious. You throw some dancing competitions, arcade games, flaming donuts, thousand dollar prizes that you can win by playing rock-paper-scissors (I got really close!!!), awesome "goodie boxes" with 80's movies and treats, and a live 80's cover band and you have one rockin' party. I also got to reunite with one of my old college roommate Erin! Oh I have missed her. Her husband also works for Adobe -- it was so good to see her after way too long! (Her hair is crimped because that is back in style, didn't you know? Just kidding. You could dress up in 80's attire. We were lame and did not).

Since we are party animals and never want the night to end (ha!) we stopped by temple square after the party to check out the lights in the freezing cold. It was the perfect end to a perfect night. We really do love Adobe and are so grateful for Russ's job! They sure know how to treat their employees right. Thanks Adobe for showing us another good time! 

Herb-Roasted Veggies

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

These roasted veggies have been our favorite go-to dish for a while now. Please make these and tell me you don't like them, because I'd be willing to bet even those people that don't like vegetables will enjoy! You can literally throw in whatever vegetables you want or have on hand. I'm a particular fan of the butternut squash (they are like candy!), and Russ loves the potatoes. It's a perfect combination... I pay special attention to pick out the butternut squash and he gets the potatoes! Best part? Leftovers for lunch at work. Mmm mmm. Here are some rough instructions on how to make these bad boys:

What you'll need:
1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
4-5 red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 small sweet potato
1 small onion, peeled and sliced into thick slices
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch thin slices
(Other vegetables I have used include red peppers, zucchini, gold potatoes, and more! Experiment!)
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper

How you do it:
Once all of your vegetables are peeled/cut/sliced, use a large bowl to splash some olive oil and balsamic vinegar -- the amount you need will vary on how many vegetables you are roasting. Basically you need just enough to cover the vegetables, but not too much where they are drowning in the oil. :) If you don't have a large enough bowl, you can throw the vegetables directly onto a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil (I used a Silpat baking mat) and slowly spoon and cover the veggies in the oil/vinegar. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven @ 450 degrees for 30-40 minutes, turning occasionally.

* Adapted from A Hint of Honey

Scenes from the Weekend

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This last weekend included a few fun Christmas-oriented activities. Friday night I had a few of my cute friends over for a Christmas craft night. We made Soup Mix jars and ate way too many delicious treats. Oh, and this crock-pot Tomato-Basil Parmesan soup that was oh-so-good. When the temperatures outside are bitter cold, nothing else sounds good but warm, hearty soup. {And who doesn't love another crock-pot soup?!?}

The next night we went out with some of our favorite people -- The Hills {who just happen to be our neighbors/saving grace}. We met one other couple from our neighborhood for dinner and then ventured to the Festival of Trees. I had never been! It's basically a huge organization where people decorate and donate hundreds of decked-out trees, gingerbread houses, wreaths and quilts. There is then an auction for all of the items and all proceeds go to the Primary Children's Hospital. Pretty cool. The first pictures is of us in front of one of my favorite trees of the night -- the Harry Potter tree!!! And the second picture is when we came upon an exact version of our house made for dwarves... or children... or any other small person who wants to live in a blue house.

Other highlights of the weekend that should be noted, for posterity sake of course:

* Learning once again that miracles do happen and prayers really work. Thanks friends for helping my sister out.
* Making my first home-made cinnamon rolls that turned out bomb.com
* Starting to refinish those dang night-stands that I have been putting off for years. Literally.
* Visiting the Collette's in their new home. So exciting!
* Sleeping in till 10 am two days in a row!! Wha???
* Playing Gin Rummy with Russ. We are too competitive for our own good. :)

Bowls & Oats

Friday, December 2, 2011

Last night a package arrived on my doorstep that made me extremely giddy. It's amazing how the most random purchases are so exciting. Like bowls, for example. Do pretty, colorful little bowls also make your heart go pitter-patter? I sure hope so. Otherwise Russ's suspicions that I'm going loony are correct. 

I've been eyeing these bowls from West Elm for quite a while. So last week when I saw that they were on clearance with free shipping (wahoo!), I snatched them up. They remind me of the days when my good friend Sada and I used to kill time on our lunch breaks oooh-ing and awww-ing at pretty things at the West Elm store in San Antonio. Sadly there is no West Elm here in Utah, so now I just ooh and aww through a computer screen. :) Anyway, now it looks like I will need to make some sort of dessert to serve these in. They're just calling for something tasty to be served in them.

Speaking of tasty things in bowls, let me introduce you to my new favorite breakfast:

My mom was in town last week and brought these lovely little steel-cut oats into my life. Thanks Mom!! I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat instant oatmeal again. The texture and flavor of these little guys are amazing, and might I say, leave you feeling full for a lot longer. I'm sure the add-in possibilities are endless, but so far I have been adding in some brown sugar, a little bit of vanilla soy milk, craisins, apples, and a dash of cinnamon. They take about 30 minutes on the stove to cook, but once you have a big batch made they will literally last you all week! Mmm mmm. I'm a cereal girl at heart, and always will be, but I'm so happy to add these steel-cut oats into my morning routine. Give 'em a try!

Subway Tile. Done and Done.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I have been wanting to have subway tile in our kitchen forever! I knew it was a project we would work on sometime, but definitely far in the future. Until one of my best friends and her husband were over one day and asked if we wanted some of their leftover subway tile. Let me think about that.... YES. We got in the car immediately, drove to their house, and became proud owners of some new subway tile ready to schnazzy up our kitchen. Thanks again, Elyse! We owe you big time!

What do you think? I am in love! It totally transforms the look of the whole kitchen and definitely takes it one step away from a builder-grade kitchen. One step at a time, people. Just to get it in your head, this was the back splash before - just the basic 3 inch continuation of the counter surface. 

We were debating whether to take off that back splash or not, mostly just because we had no clue how to do it (and afraid we  would create huge gaping holes in our walls). One of our neighbors works with granite countertops and he came over to help us out. Who would have thought you literally just pop that thing off?!? Thank goodness for friendly neighbors.

Russ was the main wet saw-worker, and I was the main tile-applier. The whole process was pretty do-able overall. The only times it became a little difficult was cutting around the window well and electrical sockets. For anyone contemplating this project, I say DO IT!!! Thanks to some YouTube videos we got the job done. Even though we got most of our tile for free, we had to buy a small section after we ran out. The tile is "Daltile" brand, which you can buy at Home Depot. A 2 foot section of tile cost only about $10, so really, I think it's pretty affordable. (You just need to add in cost of mastic, grout, and a few supplies).  

One more project crossed off the list! 9,723,982,357 more to go! :)