7th Day Of Christmas: St. Nick’s

‘Tis the day after the Fast Family Christmas. I’m a little behind (late) with writing yesterday and today’s blog because we’ve been spending time with family and traveling. It’s okay though, I’m sure the faithful three people who read this will understand.

Crouching Nick + Katie

Crouching Nick + Katie

Yesterday my brother Nick and his girlfriend Katie hosted Christmas for the first time. It was an eventful trip up there. Our GPS took us on a pretty slippery yet scenic route. But we couldn’t get there before I got a bloody nose mid-drive and on the interstate. Talk about multi-tasking. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Nick and Katie made ham and mashed potatoes (two of my favorites) along with some chicken and lefse. My mom brought a cheese ball and crackers and we had an arrangement of different desserts including my grandmas family-famous fudge.

Logan + A Little Bit Of Tania

Logan + A Bit Of Tania

We visited, ate dinner, opened gifts, and played a couple games. Overall, we had a pretty good time. It’s really nice to be able to have everyone under one roof which sadly doesn’t happen often anymore because we’re all growing up and spreading our wings.

My favorite part of the afternoon and early evening was watching It’s A Wonderful Life headlining Jimmy Stewart. My family insists I have (but I haven’t) seen the movie; until last night. I guess if I have, my memory is just about as bad as my dads – who, by the way, doesn’t remember going to the movie Click featuring Adam Sandler or RV starring the late Robin Williams. We went to both of those films as a family!

My brother had the colorized version of IAWL. I was only half paying attention at first but towards the middle, the movie pulled me in. It was a great movie and Channing and I are planning on watching it again this week before the end of the Christmas season.

Dad + Grandma Rita

Dad + Grandma Rita

I really wish we could all be a little closer. It seems that as we grow older life moves faster. Time slips away and pretty soon you don’t quite know who is who anymore. I love my family more than anything else in the world but each time I visit with my brothers, I get a feeling that I don’t like. An awareness that makes me feel like I don’t know them like I should. We’re still very close but nowhere near as close as we were just two or three years ago seeing each other every single day.

Reflecting on our drive home this afternoon it makes me want to appreciate moments like Christmas even more than usual. I chose to let a couple small things irritate me this weekend not only at family gatherings but in regular, everyday life and I need to quit that. It’s a waste of time to get bothered by little things. I’ll still do it, probably for the rest of my life just because that’s who I am but I don’t need to let it alter my mood or attitude.

My Beautiful Mom

My Beautiful Mom

This morning my parents took Channing, Nick, and myself out to breakfast. It was a nice send off before we parted ways. I know I’ll see my mom in the next month or so but I don’t know when I’ll see Nick or Logan next. Thinking about this, it circles back to a previous post I wrote about a year or so ago – holding onto the past. I sometimes catch myself living in the past thinking that the past was so much better or so much easier then it is now. Friendships, relationships, sibling-hood, everything. Everything was so much better but life happens. We have to deal with it and evolve. Evolve into an even better past than what we thought was already the best past.

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Channing + Me

With that being said, thanks to Nick and Katie for hosting Christmas. To Grandma Rita for coming to Christmas and brining your legendary fudge. To mom and dad for breakfast, the gifts, and the unconditional love. To Logan and Tania for visiting and making me laugh. And to Channing, for getting creative when my face was gushing blood. Merry Christmas to us. I hope that whatever happens and wherever we go in the year 20-15, that we’ll always have each other and never to forget to share our best memories with each other always. ❤

 

6th Day Of Christmas: Holiday Treats

Easy peasy recipe time! Tomorrow my brother is hosting Christmas in Fargo. One of the things I was asked to bring was dessert. Well actually truffles, but I thought I’d try something different that took less time since I’ve been so busy this week. I remembered a super delicious treat that an old co-worker brought at a potluck back in Grand Forks and I thought it’d be the perfect time to try it out!

I made two variations of pretzel candies. One for a salt lover and one for a chocolate lover. Don’t worry, they both contain salt AND chocolate. Christmas must haves right?

Prep Time: 10 Minutes               Cook Time: 2-3 Minutes               Cool Down: 15 Minutes

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Hug-M’s Pretzels
Pretzels
HUGS Kisses
M&M’s

Turtle Pretzels
Pretzels
ROLO’s
Cashews

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Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Unwrap all the candies. (This is the “hardest” part 🙂 )
3. On a regular cookie or pizza sheet, lay down a piece of wax paper
4. Put as many pretzels as you can fit on the sheet. Make sure they are all whole (not broken) and don’t overlap.
5. Place a HUG or ROLO in the center of each pretzel and then carefully put the cookie sheet of pretzels and candies into the oven.
6. Depending on which candy you’re using, set your timer.
For HUGS: 2 Minutes
For ROLOS: 3 Minutes
7. Once they are semi melted, pull out of the oven and top with either M&M’s or cashews. (M&M’s for the HUGS and cashews for the ROLOS)
8. Put in the fridge for about 15 minutes to cool.
9. Every cook deserves the first bite – Enjoy!
Repeat as needed depending on how many batches you want to make.

5th Day Of Christmas: Secret Santa

IMG_8012Today was our Employee Appreciation slash Secret Santa Exchange Party. I got pretty lucky. “Santa” dropped off a few small gifts during the week which was a pleasant surprise each morning. Tonight, at our party, we snacked on some delicious food from a local grocer, played a little Tenzie, and opened our Secret Santa gifts. I received a candle (lilac, my favorite!) and beautiful Christmas ornament along with a “new to town” Paul Bunyan shot glass and magnet! An added surprise from our employer was a gift card for groceries which definitely comes in handy this time of the year!

IMG_7993And since my giftee was so excited about their Christmas gift, I decided to post it as well because it was really fun to make. I’m one of the newest employees to the office so I don’t really know anyone too well. I had to do a little “snooping” in order to find something really good. And based on my research, this was the perfect fit! I knew it was cool but I was actually surprised by his reaction and I quote: “This is kick-ass!” The photo to the right doesn’t do it justice but you’ll get the idea.

Does your employer or group of co-workers host a Secret Santa Exchange? I’d love to hear what you gifted and were given!

4th Day Of Christmas: The Night We Light

Winter parades are something that Minnesota does. While other people were out and about finishing up their Black Friday shopping a few weeks ago, my Channing and I decided to head downtown and see what “The Night We Light” parade was all about.

DSCN4510Keep in mind, up to this point Bemidji seemed kind of dark and gloomy. I was wondering if the city had lost it’s touristy vibe that it’s so famous for in the Summer months. But the city has a secret you see, and it’s this parade.

I don’t know why they wait to light up the city until the day after we’re stuffed full of turkey. Maybe the city officials want to savor the holiday goodness of Thanksgiving and out of respect for the holiday, it waits to light the town up in Christmas until the day after?

Whatever the reason be, it was worth it. Of course, it was freezing cold outside but we were lucky enough to find a spot by the curb. We popped open the back of my Rav-4, blasted the heat and enjoyed the lights.

Winter parades are interesting if you’re not from around here or if you’ve only been to the typical summer parades. Winter parades in the dark are even better. They still throw out candy on the street and kids all bundled up to the eyes wobble to grab it before the next shipment is delivered. The lights are obviously the best part. Up to this point, I don’t know if I’ve seen so many vehicles and floats fully decked out in lights.

DSCN4535It’s like a pre-Christmas, post-Independence Day treat put on the by city. There’s music and hot chocolate. Fire flames 20 feet into the air and the color guard still marches. Instead of shorts and rollerblades, the procession of people are decked out in snow pants and boots.

We didn’t have enough warmth to fully participate in all that was offered this year. I hear the one and only Santa Claus showed up, sleigh rides were available and families enjoyed some quality time sledding down Library Park hill. This will definitively be something that we continue doing each year. Now’s a better time then ever to start a new tradition!

Does your city have a festival of lights, parade, or city-wide get together to light up the town? I’d love to hear about it!

3rd Day Of Christmas: Pinterest Miracle

‘Tis the 3rd day of Christmas! I thought I’d bring forth a little creative fun today. I was Pinteresting this morning and came across a super cute and adorable way to bring forth Christmas decor aside from the traditional garland and lights. Don’t get me wrong, I love garland and lights. Floor to ceiling in that jazz, I say.

I saw a few very easy yet creative Christmas posters that could be printed off and put into a festive frame. I love to steal other peoples genius ideas but I didn’t like the colors they had used and I kind of thought that they could look a lot more fun than the bland black and white single font ones I had come across. So of COURSE I created my own. And I love them!

………………Wish-page-001   Hug-page-001

I created these both to fit into an 8 x 10 frame that you can pick up anywhere you little heart desires. I picked up two just over the weekend. One at Target for $8.00 and another at Wal-Mart for $4. Can’t go wrong with that!

Unfortunately (for me), the frames I picked up were for a couple other gifts I am busy preparing so I don’t have the final result for you today. If you’d like to download the posters I made for yourself to add a cheerful and darling touch to your already beautifully decorated home, feel free. You can also see them on my personal Pinterest page by clicking here!

2nd Day Of Christmas: ‘Tis The Season Of Giving

IMG_7437Today’s story comes to you in the form of a good deed done by my mom. My mom’s heart will always be the biggest of anyone I know. She has this uncanny way of being accepting and compassionate even towards those who least deserve it. She has the ability to look beyond the surface without judgement. She’s who I want to grow up and become because there really isn’t anyone much more wonderful than my mom.

If I’m correct, my mom has been donating to the Grand Forks homeless shelter; Northlands Rescue Mission for awhile now. $10 or so here and there whenever she could. I don’t think it’s been too regular or anything but I think the mission sends out donation requests periodically and if she can afford it, she’ll throw a few bucks their way.

Bags-of-Blessings-2014-231x300Recently, Northlands Rescue Mission sent out flyers with the tagline “Bags of Blessings.” As we all know, Christmas is definitely coming. Those [believers] of all ages, races, and income levels in some way, shape, or form have Christmas on their yearly bucket lists. Whether you have the money or you don’t; Christmas is special. ‘Tis the season where miracles are possible and kindness is spread.

My mom took part in being someone’s Christmas miracle this year. Instead of tossing the flyer she received like I’m sure a lot of people would do (sadly, myself included) she decided to spread the wealth. Good karma if you will.

On a routine trip to Grand Forks she picked up all of the items on the list including a sweatshirt, socks, shampoo, deodorant, and a few other things. She also bought a gym bag as asked and marked the front of it male also noting the size she had bought for. All that was left was to bring the bag with the items in it to Northlands Rescue Mission and that she did.

The total cost of all the items purchased came to $72 and some change. When I asked my mom what her reasoning was for helping the homeless shelter more than she usually does, she left me with this:

Matthew 25:40 “What you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” ~Jesus Christ

I’ve been one to judge too quickly and assume things that I do not know.  I’m sure that many people in homeless shelters across the region and country are truly in need of generous help from those like my mom and I hope that I can find the empathy needed towards causes like that. My mom deserves a round of applause not only for buying a few things and donating it to the shelter but for being a damned good person. Coming from someone (myself) who finds it hard to see beyond the grime and the dirt on the surface and actually wonder what the story behind the homelessness is – it really takes a heart of gold and compassion to donate towards a cause that faces so much ridicule.

IMG_7970If you’d like to donate to your local homeless shelter please do so; I’ve listed both Grand Forks and Bemidji’s contact information at the end of this post. They need more help than any of us are probably capable of even understanding. If you chose not to donate towards the shelter, find a cause that you feel comfortable donating towards even if it’s just one time a year.

In an effort to embrace the season of giving and to do some good; I’ve decided to do some research myself and donate a little bit this Christmas season as well. I fully believe that rehabilitation is one of the key factors to solve many of the homelessness cases in the area. I’ll be looking online and around the area locally for a non-profit rehabilitation program to donate towards.

Northlands Rescue Mission – 420 Division Ave, Grand Forks, ND 58201
Village of Hope – PO BOX 1035, Bemidji, MN 56619

Merry 2nd Day of Christmas!

 

1st Day Of Christmas: Oh, Christmas Tree

IMG_7985Beginning the 12 days of Christmas I only found it fitting that I’d introduce you to my Christmas tree. For the past five years I’ve accumulated quite an assortment of blue and silver Christmas decor but once Christmas clearance was in full swing last December, I decided to change it up and opted for a more “traditional” color scheme. You probably can’t really tell by the photo but I chose reds, golds, and greens – Christmas colors of course.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had much Christmas spirit yet this year. Usually our apartment is dolled up floor to ceiling; kitchen to bathroom in Christmas but not this year. So far we’ve only managed to put up the tree, a couple decorations, and a string of lights.

I think part of it has to do with the struggle we had to move and get settled into a new city so quickly. Three months ago we hadn’t even been planning to move and here we are. Settled in (kind of) two hours away, new jobs, new people, new life. I really do have to give Channing a pat on the back though…we’ve been through a lot of unmentionable shit (for lack of a better word) over the years but boy that man will do anything for me. We could have very easily stayed in Grand Forks. We both had great paying jobs, enjoyed the people we knew, had a comfortable living situation but it wasn’t our “dream.” We didn’t see ourselves planting our tree there.

It was definitely a financial risk moving to Bemidji for both of us but we’re bound and determined to rise above it in order to pursue our dreams. And before you laugh at that last sentence – Bemidji wasn’t our dream either. We don’t know exactly where we want to grow old at but we knew for sure, above anything, that it wasn’t Grand Forks.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. ~Maya Angelou

And we did.

Another part of feeling out of the Christmas spirit this holiday season is knowing that not a soul will be coming to visit us through the holidays. We won’t be hosting Christmas this year which I’ve come to terms with but the way that certain things have been gone about really has given me a bitter taste in my mouth. That’s my problem though – there’s a point when we all need to be the bigger person and watch how the acorns fall rather then picking them off ourselves.

To help me fully get into the holiday spirit this year, I’ve decided to do this “12 Days Of Christmas” blog series. I believe I explained it a bit more in my previous post but that’s day one! I’d love to see your Christmas tree pictures and hear how you’ve gotten into the Christmas-y mood this year!