Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Catch-Up Post.

Because I am so behind on here, I am devoting this post to recap everything I've been up to from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

Well, not everything. Just the important things.

Bonus: This post includes step-by-step instructions on how to be cool while on vacation, fabulous Christmas party ideas, and a tip for buying Christmas presents right in front of the recipient without them ever knowing.

For Thanksgiving, my family and my grandparents went to visit my aunt, uncle, and two cousins in Alabama.

I love visiting them because they live on the lake in the middle of nowhere. It's just so pretty and peaceful out there.

You know how people make up hashtags for their vacations and stuff? Well apparently that's the cool thing to do, so I made up one for my trip, too. You know, to be cool. It's #kaylabama. Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it was too perfect to pass up.

Here are a few pictures from my trip. To see the rest, check out #kaylabama on Instagram.

Isn't the view beautiful?

Reading by the fire. It's the simple things.

 Part of our Thanksgiving morning hike included climbing all the way up to the top of this.

 And, as you can see, it was totally worth it. I don't know why I look like I have two black eyes.

I'm on top of the world!

So that was Thanksgiving. My favorite part was our Thanksgiving morning hike. I actually love hiking and wish I did it more. It was quite the climb but totally worth it because the view was GORGEOUS.

I didn't like Thanksgiving being so late this year, because it felt like there was NO time to prepare for Christmas. This resulted in me having an exhausting week before Christmas.

Case and point: The week of December 15th I went to FOUR parties (two of which I was hosting), baked 11 dozen cookies and two dozen blondies, did virtually all my Christmas shopping and present wrapping, worked 21 hours a week, and saw a minimum of 10 people each day...which is overload for an introvert.

So Sunday after church when I had no plans for the first time in a week, I went home and laid on the couch and watched Christmas movies for 8 hours and then went to bed at 9 o'clock. And I felt SO MUCH BETTER.

Anyway, one of the parties I helped host was this past Saturday and I was in charge of all the food for it. The other party I hosted was the night before to help get some of the food ready. Here is a picture of some of the food:

 Santa hat white chocolate covered pretzels and Christmas tree cupcakes.
For the cupcakes, I just used a box mix and then made the Wilton frosting (stiff consistency). I colored the frosting green and used the Wilton 1M tip to pipe tall frosting in the shape of a Christmas tree. I then used little ball shaped sprinkles (they only had white available, though I would have preferred colors) for ornaments and a star shaped sprinkle on top. I had to stick each sprinkle on individually and one at a time which was tedious but they turned out so cute so it was worth it.

These santa hat pretzels are the easiest thing ever. Just melt some white chocolate, dip half the pretzel into it, dip into red sugar crystals, and top with half of a mini marshmallow. They are so cute and taste yummy -- these were a huge hit.

I also made cake batter blondies with Christmas-y sprinkles, Christmas-shaped sugar cookies to decorate, and I bought chips and dip and a fruit and veggie tray for the healthy people.

It's funny how much I love food when I hardly eat anything.

We also had a hot chocolate bar:

For some reason the border here looks blue. It is actually white so I guess it's just an optical illusion...? Ignore it.

I had three different types of hot chocolate mix (regular, dark chocolate, and caramel), marshmallows, whipped cream, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, sprinkles, and candy canes to stir with. We also gathered up all our Christmas mugs to use as cups to make it a little more festive.

My co-host Meagan set up a photo booth, because no party is complete without a photo booth.

Now, onto actual Christmas!

Christmas Eve was spent with my dad's side of the family. We spent the morning preparing dessert and fruit and wrapping presents, and then headed over to my aunt's house for a late lunch. After lunch, my uncle had put together a crossword puzzle based on facts about ourselves that each of us sent him. That was really a lot of fun and a great way to get to know the family better!

After that we exchanged gifts. I got a lot of cash plus a really cool cookie press I've been wanting.

That evening, we spent some time with the other side of the family at my grandparents' house. They have us over every Christmas Eve for snacks and family time and a couple games of pool.

But the real excitement happened around 6pm -- one of my good friends from high school got engaged! I am beyond excited for them and cannot wait for the wedding. :-)

Christmas morning we had a big breakfast (our tradition) and then opened presents. more than 50% of my gifts have to do with baking, haha. The only two that didn't, aside from a few stocking stuffers, were my two main gifts -- a new phone (FINALLY! I have been due for an upgrade and I'm sick of my iPhone 4) and a 24" TV for my room!

The TV was a total surprise and here's how my parents bought it right in front of me without me knowing:

On black Friday, while we were still in Alabama, we were looking online at some deals on our phones. My mom found a cheap TV from Best Buy and asked if we needed a TV for any reason. I joked that I needed one for my room. My mom was all like, "You don't have the set up for a TV in your room" but really what was going on was she and my dad were using secret hand signals across the room -- while I was lying RIGHT THERE ON THE COUCH IN THE SAME ROOM -- and my dad told her to get it.

So now I have a TV! And I purchased a Blu-Ray player with wifi (so I can hook it up to Netflix, of course) on sale at Best Buy so I'm pretty much never leaving my room now. I'm also the ideal roommate whenever I move out because I come with a TV.

In the afternoon, my mom and I made some desserts and then decorated a gingerbread house. We finished off the evening with dinner and gifts with my mom's side of the family.

We should be on HGTV.
Oh my gosh! And my former English teacher got engaged on Christmas. So that makes 9 couples I know who have gotten engaged in the last, like, 4 months. 2014 is going to be a big year for weddings.

But that's totally okay with me, because I love weddings.

Hope you all had a very merry Christmas as I did! I'll be back in a few days to talk about New Year's Eve!

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