Our Christmas in Review: 2013

I am just now settling back into my normal routine this week.  Brent went back to work after eighteen days off so I have been busy the past few days getting the house back in order after Christmas as well as uploading and editing our photos from the season.  I feel way behind in internet times blogging about Christmas the second week of January but my heart is at peace knowing I did not force myself to rush like I usually do.  No new year's resolutions for me.  Just a spirit of slowness and reflection as I ease into this new year.

This holiday season I wanted to make things simpler.  But in a sense that I choose what I want to spend my time on and let go of the rest.  The things I choose to do are not necessarily simple but the concept is simplifying how much I do just to the most important (to me).

Every year I like to make some sort of baked goods for neighbors, family, and friends.  Instead of sending out Christmas cards to people we do not see much, I choose to invest my extra time at making the everyday people feel a little more special.  

The past two years I have made this pumpkin bread recipe (with the addition of chocolate chips...using my Halloween pumpkin puree that I store in the freezer--same simplifying concept here--which my friends make fun of me about because apparently this post did not come off the way I intended.  Making pumpkin puree is not simple.  I get it.) and dressed them up with my printable gift labels (holiday ones and food gift ones).

 As for gift wrap, I played around with some brown kraft paper, doilies, washi tape, and ribbon. 

This year I also decided to let go of gift giving guilt.  For my side of the family we have started to draw names and give one $40 gift.  Not only does this save us both time and money, it is nice to get one great gift that we each really wanted.  For my husband's side of the family and my parents I put together couple's baskets that consisted of a few handmade items (canning jar travel cup and candle), Trader Joe's goodies and then one or two more personal gifts.  It made my life so much easier plus they seemed to be a hit to those who received them. 

Things tend to move around this time of year, based on company and what is going on in our house.  These little trees that got temporarily moved to our dining room table caught my eye.

We get together with my parents usually a few days before Christmas since my side of the family gets together with extended family on Christmas day.  My introvertedness likes to give and receive a little one on one attention with them so we usually have dinner and open gifts together.

Making sugar cookies with my nephew and happy to have a photographer off of work to snap some shots of us.

Christmas Eve Brent and I spend the day together so that we have our own time and traditions together since we spend all of Christmas day with our families that are local.

We carried on the tradition of pancakes, but a simpler version than previous years.  I went for the bagel sandwich.

We headed off to church that night and Brent and our nephew looked pretty cute in their matching shirts.  

This is the first year since we have been married that we attend a new church.  Previous years we went to a large church where we did not know a lot of people.  Though we loved it, due to distance, we have started to attend my parent's church which I attended in high school and is literally down the street from where we live.  It has been a huge blessing to be around family as well as reconnect with old friends and make new ones.  We are feeling really thankful and excited about our future settling here.

We then headed home for a Christmas Eve dinner.  This year I made chicken cordon bleu.  We usually do gifts as well but decided this year to save and not do presents.  I will admit, though the discipline was good, it was a little sad to not have anything to open with each other.  I suppose if we do this in the future we would maybe do one small gift or stockings.  

Christmas day is filled with lots of family.  Here is my side of the family with my mom's brother and sister's families.  

And our little family plus one more baby nephew coming this year!

A few days after Christmas we went ice skating with friends.  We pretty much made a fool out of ourselves.  

And then a few days later we headed to the bay area to visit my grandma.  Isn't she cute?

My grandma is the only one left in our family that speaks Chinese.  I am thankful Brent has gotten the chance to get to know her.  It is kind of crazy for me to think that the Chinese culture of our family ends with her and that my own kids will not grow up around it.  Maybe my mom can try to pick up the language!?  wink wink.

We ended December trying out my nephew's new scooter.  I got the chance to pull out my sweet Razor scooter I have had since high school.

And we rung in the New Year by not going to the restaurant we wanted to go to because we didn't make reservations.  We showed up at 4:45 but they would not let us stay without a reservation...even if the entire restaurant was empty.  I suppose that is what happens when you do not eat dinner at a normal hour like everyone else.  We have lost all site of social norm.  So instead we went to The Old Spaghetti Factory.  This view from the waiting area redeemed the night.  As well as the garlic butter, bleu cheese salad dressing, and spumoni ice cream.  We have not been there in awhile and I forgot how amazing it was.  

So there you have it.  Our Christmas and New Year in a very large nutshell.  I feel incredibly thankful for yet another busy but blessed season.  I am happy to get back to my normal routine which includes blogging.  The house is getting cleaned and walls are rearranged.  I look forward to sharing it all with you in these coming weeks.  Thank you for another beautiful year at Domestic Fashionista.  I am so thankful for your friendship, encouragement, and support.  Blogging is such a wonderful part of my life and it would not be what it is without you.  xo