.merry christmas.

Merry Christmas from Josh, Courtney, Annabeth, & Atlas!

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Josh, Atlas, Annabeth, & Courtney

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Annabeth sitting in my childhood rocking chair.

We’re spending the day with family before attending Christmas Eve service at church.  After that, we’ll head to Mother and Daddy’s house for grilled cheese, tomato soup, Scrabble, and A Christmas Story.  Traditions are so important to our family and I cannot wait to share this fun and festive time with my best girl.

We hope you have a safe and blessed holiday season!

XOXO,

Court

 

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.christmas eve date night.

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It’s our first year acting as Santa’s liaison, so we’re trying to establish some new traditions.  This will be the first time in thirty years that I won’t sleep over at my Mother and Daddy’s house on Christmas Eve.  It’s a little jarring, but we wanted Annabeth to be able to open her presents at home before we join in with the rest of the family.  This year we’re doing a bit of a hybrid by spending Christmas Eve with my parents until close to bedtime and then heading back over there after Santa has officially been enjoyed.

One way we thought we’d make Christmas Eve special is to turn acting as Santa’s helpers into a bit of an at-home date night.  The recipe for an at-home date night is simple:

  • good snacks
  • something sparkly to drink
  • a good flick to watch
  • something cute, but cozy to wear

I’m a planner, so I already have our snack menu planned out.  We’re going to do a miniature charcuterie board with something salty, something creamy, something nutty, and something sweet.  I like pairing salami (salty) with a nice, smoky Gouda (creamy), and some toasted pecans (nutty…toast them with a little butter and rosemary!), and these chocolate covered almonds from Trader Joe’s (sweet).  We eat Christmas Eve supper at my Mother and Daddy’s home, so we’ll really just need something light to snack on.

Something sparkly is kind of up to you.  We’re religious about drinking La Croix in our home (we love the lemon, lime, and coconut flavors).  We also love sparkling pear juice from Ikea.  Champagne is another great option, if you’re so inclined.  Whatever you pick, it should be something out of the ordinary that feels special.  It’s a great time to break out pretty wedding flutes that are just collecting dust in the china cabinet.

As far as Christmas movies go, there is only one choice as far as our Christmas Eve Date Night is concerned.  This is, of course, Christmas Vacation.  Is there anything more quintessentially wonderful that Clark W. Griswold having a meltdown over eggnog-filled Marty Moose punch glasses?  The answer is no.  We’ve watched Christmas Vacation more times than I’d care to count this year and we’re not showing any signs of slowing down.

Something cute to wear is a bit strange considering that a date night at home should be about feeling comfortable.  On a typical evening, I wear my afternoon uniform of running clothes with a topknot and dishpan hands, but Christmas Eve is not the time for a pair of Lulu’s and a ratty intramural t-shirt.  My Mother, Queen of Coordination, ordered us all matching Christmas pajamas (and my Daddy is in for a real surprise when he realizes that we’re all matching…from him all the way down to Annabeth), so cute and cozy fit the bill.

I know it seems kind of silly to have an at-home date night on Christmas Eve.  Realistically, you could just help Santa out as necessary, tidy up, and go to sleep, but where’s the fun in that?  We’re doing our very best to keep ourselves centered on each other first so we can give Annabeth a great representation of marriage.  Knowing that Mommy and Daddy have something special planned after bed is just another way to demonstrate how we can love each other well by being intentional with our time.

Do you have any special Christmas Eve traditions?

XOXO,

Court

PS:  Love, Actually is another fantastic Christmas movie that’s more “adult” than your average holiday flick.

PSS:  This might be the greatest Christmas shirt of all time.

.christmas recipe round-up.

Is there anything more wonderful than Christmas?  The lights, the presents, the food…it’s all just too much.  Though I typically don’t indulge in sweets, that all goes out the window during the holiday season…my bikini body will still be here, ready for some routine maintenance when January rolls around.

For this recipe round-up, I focused on the Four C’s of holiday goodies:  a cookie, a candy, a cake, and a cracker. I’ve also included links on where you can buy dupe treats if you’re not the holiday baking type.

First up:  the most fool-proof, wonderful, perfect chocolate chip cookie known to man.  If you have ever eaten a Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookie, you know I’m telling the truth.  If you haven’t, stop what you’re doing, run (don’t walk) to the store, and treat yo self.

If you’re looking for an indulgently crunchy cookie, this is your go-to recipe.  They’d be perfect to take to a Christmas Cookie Swap or as a gift to your office mates or neighbors.  And honestly, if you’re not the baking type, just buy a couple of sleeves and put them on a platter and you’re set.

Next up:  buttery, rich Seat Salt Caramels that are fun to make and the perfect sweet and salty treat for your child’s teachers.  I’ve made these several times and I would definitely recommend having a candy thermometer and having all of your supplies ready to go because this process is speedy quick.

Emily, the genius behind Jones Design Company also has cute little labels and packaging suggestions in her shop available for downloading (and it’s my favorite price…free).  She actually posted an Instagram Story earlier this month about making the caramels which inspired me to bake a ton of stuff for Josh’s co-workers.  If you’re not into a little basic science, you can just grab these at Trader Joe’s.

The perfect pound cake is a staple in the Southern home and Ina Garten (though decidedly NOT Southern) has the most wonderfully foolproof pound cake recipe of all time.  It’s quite labor intensive, but it has never failed me.  It has this wonderful, thick crust and pairs perfectly with macerated strawberries and freshly whipped cream.

If you don’t have the time or energy to make a pound that has to be sifted three times (Ina is the most extra of all time), just order one at your local deli.  Pound cakes are a great Christmas gift or even hostess gift to give.

Lastly:  crackers.  Last Christmas I tried these Fire Crackers at the Shealy Family Christmas gathering and I couldn’t control myself.  They are so good and they are so, so easy.  I tried them over the weekend with homemade pimento cheese and it made me practically melt into a puddle of goo.

If you don’t want to spend the time creating your own mix, you could easily just try this.  This would be a great accompaniment to a cheese ball or even potato soup.

What about you?  What are your favorite holiday treats?

XOXO,

Court

PS:  these are my favorite cookies to order for special occasions.

PSS:  Ina made these yesterday on Food Network and they were beautiful.

 

 

.jolly old st. nick.

There are so many decisions young families face, especially when welcoming a new baby into the fold.  Breast or bottle?  And if you choose to do the bottle, what type?  What about pacifiers?  Nursery school or nanny?  Sleep training (YES, please) or co-sleeping (no thanks)?  And on the other side of every single decision is harsh judgement from everyone from close relatives to the nosy lady you always run into at the market (you know the type…The Sock Dictator).

One decision that was easy for us was Santa Claus.  In my pre-parenting days, I was wholly against the idea of Santa Claus.  I’m not really even sure why because per my Mother’s rules, I still technically have to believe in old St. Nick in order to receive any gifts at her house.  I think I perhaps wanted all the credit for the massive amount of work that a great Christmas requires, but now that I am a mother in my own right, I’m all for it (the IT being all things magical and festive).

I’m the mother who made my two-month old leave out carrots for the Easter Bunny, so  of course we’re not only leaving out cookies for Santa on a special plate, but we’re also making reindeer feed to sprinkle in our yard and leaving out carrots for Rudolph.  And of course, I have a Burl Ives vinyl to play on our vintage record player that sits beneath our mammoth tree.  And of course we all have matching Christmas pajamas.  Childhood only happens once and it’s only for a few years, so it may as well be magical.

Another thing that was easy for us to decide was how we wanted to go about giving presents from Santa.  Annabeth is spoiled absolutely rotten by her Darling and Pop (especially her Darling).  My Mother buys her shoes, clothing, toys, books, and puzzles constantly and has been squirreling away Christmas gifts since before she was born.  My Mother is the Queen of Christmas and of Giving (and my Daddy is the lovable Clark Griswold type who often asks, “What did I get you?” on Christmas morning when we’re unwrapping gifts).  Since I’m directly related to the Queen of Christmas and of Giving, I knew it would probably be smart to limit what Santa brings to Annabeth by dividing her gifts into four categories:  something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.

I’m hoping that by limiting myself to four gifts, I’ll be able to find the most special and significant gifts and create a heart of gratefulness in Annabeth.  I also know myself enough to know that I would literally go broke if I got her everything I wanted to purchase her.  If all else fails, Baby Jesus only got three gifts and if it was good enough for the Savior of All Mankind, then four gifts will be good enough for Annabeth Shealy (nothing like a Southern Baptist mother to lay it on thick!).

This year Annabeth’s something you want is a Pottery Barn Anywhere Chair.  In October PBKids had a massive sale and I got her chair at a great price.  I chose the Light Pink option because it matches her bedding and Boppy cover.  She has a small chair at my Mother and Daddy’s house that she loves, so I thought this would be a sweet addition to our living room.

Annabeth’s something you need is a sweet little riding toy I found at Target called a Buggly Wuggly.  My petite girl is just too tiny for most riding or pushing toys, so this was a perfect choice for her.  I’m also kind of a witch when it comes to toys (not in the living room) and baby paraphernalia (why the primary colors????), so the muted tones help soften the blow a bit.

The something to wear portion of this list is kind of a joke because Annabeth Shealy is never without something sweet to wear.  Between my Mother and myself, she’s got all the lace and frills and smocks and monograms she’ll ever need.  I opted to go with a sweet dress from Cecil and Lou and got our sweet new nephew Asher the matching romper for our Christmas day festivities.  I didn’t care for the fonts offered for these particular outfits, so I had them monogrammed with this one instead.

The something you read part was simple.  Over the summer, Josh read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to Annabeth.  He took great delight in this pastime and did all sorts of accents and voices.  My sweet cousin Lauren gave me this beautifully illustrated copy for Christmas last year.  Josh can’t wait to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to her!  And if you’re wondering, we absolutely read chapter books to our baby.

We decided to let stocking stuffers be from Mommy and Daddy.  We did a handful of bath toys (our little mermaid baby loves the water) and this bracelet for when she gets older.

How do you do Christmas in your home?  Santa or Belsnickel or no Santa at all?

XOXO,

Court

PS, I got this for Josh for Christmas.  I know nothing about these types of things, but I also know he’s been dying to open it since it arrived.

PSS, I’m dreaming of a Tory Burch Christmas (don’t let me down, Santa).