Attempting to Meet Santa

no one looking

Five years ago I found out that Petsmart has a “Santa Claws” photo event. They set aside a few days in December for your pets to come in and take photos with Santa. Adorable! I took Belle that year and the next, with the idea of making it a yearly tradition. However, we then moved to Albania, then NYC and the so-called tradition was forgotten. Until this year…about a week ago my friend Bella informed me that the Green Hills Mall in Nashville was hosting their own “Pet Photos with Santa” event.

We decided it would be fun to go together with ALL of our pets, including our newest addition, Duckie. I texted Bella beforehand to see what she was wearing… I decided to go all out in Christmas colors and elf looking socks and I didn’t want to be the only cheeseball. She responded with a pic of a red sweater bedazzled with sequins. Thank God, I’m not the only one who likes to play dress-up.

The Green Hills Mall set aside two hours at the end of the day for crazy people and their pets to take their photos with Mr. Claus. We arrived a few minutes early to beat the crowd. However, when we arrived there were already about 100 people and their pets of all sized in line and Santa was taking a break. When he returned he took photos with some kids who had waited first, and then took another break! After waiting for 45 minutes, not one pet had its picture taken with Santa and the animals were getting restless. We decided it was not going to be worth our wait (at least another hour) and created our own photo-op in the mall. We grabbed our pets, headed to the big tree behind Santa’s chair and took our own family and friend photos!

Unpacking the cat
Unpacking the cat

christmas2013 allthepets lovetheanimals

I think our photos turned out great. Who needs Santa anyways? We weren’t the only ones with restless animals either. Lots of people started following our lead, taking their own photos and heading home.

meandpets
My Christmas sweater won’t even cover my big belly!
my babies
All 3 of my babies!

green hills mall

It may have been a failed mission, but it was pretty exciting just to stand in the crazy line and watch the hundreds of pets and owners. There were dogs of all sizes wearing costume of all sorts. It was worth the wait just to watch them. Although, we may still try going to Petsmart next weekend to get an actual Santa photo.

bad kitty
naughty kitty attacking her sister

Anyone else crazy enough to attempt pet pictures with Santa?

Cheers!

P.S. The cat was much better behaved and more calm than our dog… Husband was probably the least happiest to be there, but he’s a good sport when it comes to my ideas of festive fun.

Chopping Down Our Own Tree

country cove

When I was very young we had a real tree at Christmas time, but most of my life we had artificial trees. Husband always had a real tree growing up, and once, before he can remember, they chopped down their own Christmas tree at a tree farm. Now, that we are semi-grown up and able to pick our own tree for our own house we agree that real is the way to go, and why not pick it out at a tree farm?

trees

Over the weekend, we went to Country Cove in Murfreesboro, TN to pick out our tree, chop it down and take it home. I didn’t really know what to expect on a tree farm, but it’s exactly what it sounds like…a big farm of trees. The farm was cute and complete with a souvenir shop, a fire pit, free hayrides and a wreath shop.

souvenier shop fire pit

 

There were two different types of Christmas-y looking tree to choose from if you want to go the chopping down route, or you can buy a pre-cut tree of a different species.

picking

It was Freezing and I am now unable to button my winter coat, so I was running through the fields trying to find the perfect tree as quickly as possible. I was really surprised at how small most of the trees looked. I wanted a tree that is at least taller than us. Eventually, we found a whole group of tall looking trees, but then they all looked too perfect. I made Husband decide on “the one”. I pretended to cut it down for about 2 seconds, but Husband did all the actual work.

handsaw

chopping actual chopping

I imagined us using a big ax to chop down our tree…in reality we had to use a little hand saw, but it worked just the same. After the tree fell (aww, sad) it was our Husband’s  job to drag it back to the main house. Once we got it back some young guys quickly scooped it up and got to work. The guys put our tree on some sort of shaking machine to knock off all the loose needles. After it’s turn on t the giant vibrator, it went through a contraption that wrapped it up in netting so it could travel easily on top of our car.

dragging tree shaker tree pooper

While they worked, we enjoyed the free hot cocoa and hot apple cider. Nice touch, Country Cove.

hotdrinks

The strapping young men tied the tree on top of our car. We drove home, realized we don’t own a tree stand, stopped at Walmart…and Voila! We now have a tree!

loading

 

our tree

Our tree turned out to be a 7 foot tree, so I guess they look smaller out in the field.  Now, all that’s left are the decorations.

It took us an hour to get out to the tree farm, but it was cute and fun and I can imagine this being a family tradition with kids, so I think we’ll be back. Any of you have a fun tree-getting tradition?

sunset

Cheers!

Cheers!

Christmas Traditions

I love holiday traditions with my family. In Texas, my family has lots of little special traditions I looked forward to each year while growing up. We eat seafood gumbo, say a prayer before opening presents, watch White Christmas, and spend Christmas Eve at my Grandma’s with our extended family every year. When I became serious with Husband we began splitting holidays. At first, it was a big adjustment. I was sad to miss out on my Texas traditions, but I soon realized I was gaining a whole new set of family traditions! Now, I feel lucky to have two families to celebrate with each year.

The year is a Tennessee Christmas. (We swap holidays every year.) Husbands family also spends Christmas Eve at his Grandmothers. His extended family is much smaller than mine, but it is really nice to be able to have a close relationship with everyone.

Me and Zoey
Me and Zoey

One of their Christmas Eve traditions is to decorate the tree together.

Aww aren't they matchy and cute?
Aww aren’t they matchy and cute?
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Zoey has put the top on the tree every year since anyone can remember.

Then, the whole family eats chicken cacciatore (and vegetarian cacciatore) together.

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Once everyone is stuffed, we go home so Santa can fill the stocking at Grandma’s with goodies. I, of course, went to sleep watching White Christmas.

Best movie ever.
Best movie ever.

On Christmas morning, everyone goes back to Grandma’s for homemade crepes with fresh fruit, chocolate, and homemade whip cream.

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The rest of the day is spent opening gifts, playing games, watching TV, eating all day, and spending lots of quality time together.

Some of Grandma's handmade stockings.
Some of Grandma’s handmade stockings.
We found the old Sega game and started a tournament!
We found the old Sega game and started a tournament!

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Mom-in-laws modern doll house gift from us.
Mom-in-laws modern doll house gift from us.
We had a nice fire going too.
We had a nice fire going too.

Christmas in Tennessee was wonderful, and I still have a few days left of vacation time! I am thoroughly enjoy the break, and the much needed extra sleep.

And the cuddle time with the cats.
And the cuddle time with the cats.

Cheers!

 

 

Best Advent Calendar Ever

I had every intention of keeping up the blog while spending my holiday vacation in Tennessee, but relaxing with our friends and family has taken up a lot more time than I anticipated. So, this post is a teensy bit late. Oh well. It’s time well wasted.

Husband is sometimes too good to me, and Christmas is one of those times. This year he bought me an advent calendar from Vosges Chocolate, my favorite chocolate shop. The box itself is beautiful and enormous. It’s adorned with gold trimming and letters and opens up to tell the story of “The Night Before Christmas”.

The outside of the advent calendar.
The outside of the advent calendar.

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lovely
lovely

Each day offers a new gourmet chocolate, enough to share. These chocolates are so tasty I wish there were a way for me to share bites with you over the Internet.

Mmmm
Mmmm

The chocolate, however; turned out to be only half of my calendar. Husband decided to add a special just-for-me gift to each day. He used Sephora for most of the daily gifts because he knows me so well, but he even ventured to a few other cosmetic/girly stores to find me little goodies.

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Some days I got nail polish, other days chap-stick, lotion, perfume, or even a small bottle of liquor. Waking up has never been so fun!

We have had a few advent calendars over the years, but this one is by far the best! Thank you Husband!

Cheers!

I Really Love This Place

We had a blast at the Holiday Train Show last weekend, but it was not the only event at the Botanical Gardens. Once we left the Train Show, we headed over to the Children’s Adventure Garden to see what exactly was happening in the Gingerbread Adventures.

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The Gingerbread Adventures program is a hands-on and educational exhibit meant for children. I looked around anyways, for research purposes of course…. It’s super cute and makes me want to have children just to take them there and force them to take hundreds of adorable photos.

gingerbread house cookies IMG_3564

After exploring the Gingerbread Adventures, we walked around the gardens in the rain just long enough to numb our feet and then decided it was time to head home.

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If you are in the city for the holidays or if you are a host to visitors during the holidays I highly suggest making the trip to the NY Botanical Gardens. It’s an experience unlike any other in this town, or most towns.

I hope you are all getting time off to spend with your loved ones and enjoy special events like this for the holidays!

Cheers!

P.S. We found this in the trains station on the way home…

Don't ask because I do not know.
Don’t ask because I do not know.

The Holiday Train Show

Husband and I have been attempting to get out to the New York Botanical Gardens for their annual Holiday Train show for weeks now. We finally made it out this past Sunday. We took the train…the real train, not the subway train, to the Bronx and found the Gardens to be raining and freezing. Boo. Not exactly cheerful weather, but the cappuccino’s in the café quickly warmed and cheered me up.

Grand Central Station...I love this place.
Grand Central Station…I love this place.
Making my way to train terminal...All Aboard!
Making my way to train terminal…All Aboard!
"Tickets!" I kept wishing Tom Hanks would check our tickets, and men would come dancing down the aisles while serving us hot chocolate.
“Tickets!” I kept wishing Tom Hanks would check our tickets, and men would come dancing down the aisles while serving us hot chocolate.

I honestly was not sure what to expect at the train show, and I can now honestly say it was phenomenal!!! It is is a wonderland of landmark replicas and over a quarter-mile of model train tracks. The whole show is inside, so it’s warm and dry. The staff is all dressed in train conductor costumes. The lines have interesting train facts posted every ten feet or so. And, I swear within the first ten minutes I heard two ten year old boys discussing their own ideas for building a train show, plus a grown man telling his little girl “It’s just so magical!” I agree; it is magical.

Just adorable
Just adorable
You learn something new everyday.
You learn something new everyday.
The Macy's building is a new addition to this year's show.
The Macy’s building is a new addition to this year’s show.

All of the replicas are made from only natural materials such as bark, twigs, stems, fruits, seeds, and pine cones. We had such a good time trying to guess every landmark without reading the labels.

Some of Manhattan's most iconic buildings.
Some of Manhattan’s most iconic buildings.
The 5th Avenue library, Penn Station, and the Brooklyn Bridge
The 5th Avenue library, Penn Station, and the Brooklyn Bridge

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Can you guess which museum this is?
Can you guess which museum this is?
Such much detail!
Such much detail!

The trains running throughout every scene are pretty cool too. There are late-1800’s American steam engines, modern freight trains, passenger trains, and trolleys chugging along the tracks and through each scene.

Central park
Central park
St Patrick's Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral

It was not perfect…the lines were long, and it was very crowded, but once we were in the midst of the show we did not care about anyone around us.

I truly loved this Holiday show and I know we will be returning next year. It’s just too good to miss! Big big thanks to the NYBG for sponsoring this post. If any of you are interested in seeing the show (you know you are) check here for tickets!

Cheers!

A Christmas Carol in the Village

Over the weekend, Husband and I had the pleasure of seeing A Christmas Carol at the Player’s Theatre in Greenwich Village. I was pretty pumped to see a Christmas play, especially such a classic one, so we hopped on a train to the artsy side of town. The theatre is located between several little bars and restaurants, but it was impossible to miss, thanks to the carolers.

It was refreshing to hear Christmas carols as we made our way to the theatre.
It was refreshing to hear Christmas carols as we made our way to the theatre.

Literally Alive is this really awesome and creative children’s theatre company that encourages reading by bringing books to life through art, dance, music and puppetry. Don’t you love them already? A Christmas Carol is playing five times a week until December 30th.

The theatre itself was small and cozy (every seat is a good one). It had a very neighborhood feel as we entered, checked in, and a friendly woman showed us to our seats. In fact, it felt like a very specific neighborhood…my favorite fictitious neighborhood, Stars Hollow.

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Everything about the theatre and show made me feel like I had stepped into an episode of Gilmore Girls. The costumes looked like Lorelei’s handiwork. Luke obviously built the set. The choreography was all Miss Patty. Kirk probably directed the show and starred as Ebenezer Scrooge. I swear even Babette was sitting right behind me! I could not have been happier.

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The play began with two funny actors who welcomed us with dramatic British accents and excellent comedic timing. The actress who greeted us turned out to be our favorite out of the entire show. Just look at all of her facial expressions!

She was hilarious.
She was hilarious.

The music and sound effects were all performed by three percussionist who not only played the score, but used various props to replicate specific sounds, like the chains of Jacob Marley.

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The show is meant for children so we expected the silly jokes and familiar songs, but it wasn’t all puppies and snowflakes. The ghost of “Christmas Yet to Come” had me shakin’ in my boots as he floated across the dark stage. I suppose that is the point of this last ghost though.

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The show was a perfect combination of cheesy and charming. When it ended the entire cast lined the aisles to wish us a “Merry Christmas” and “God bless us, every one!” It was impossible to leave without feeling cheerful. We literally wakled to the train singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas! (We are also the perfect combination of cheesy and charming.)

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If you are interested in seeing A Christmas Carol you can buy tickets here. It is playing at the Players Theatre  at 115 MacDougal St. Also, every 11am show includes a free one-hour interactive arts workshop where everyone learns how the show was created.

Big thanks to Literally Alive for sponsoring this post!

Enjoy the show!

Cheers!

A Little Christmas Cheer

Hey there, long time-no see, I know… We have had visitors since Thursday (great friends of mine), and they will be with us until Friday. We are having a great time touring the city, but there’s little time left for writing! I cannot wait to fill you in on our week, but until then here’s a look at some of the Christmas decor around the city.

Husband and I took a nice walk around the city last week when we needed some holiday cheer. Nothing could cheer us up more then the window displays in all the department stores!

The Cirque Du Soleil themed windows at Bloomingdales.
The Cirque Du Soleil themed windows at Bloomingdales.
Belle and I enjoying the windows and our long walk.
Belle and I enjoying the windows and our long walk.
Bergdorf's! Always my favorite windows!
Bergdorf’s! Always my favorite windows!

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Cartier
Cartier
Fendi
Fendi
Saks 5th Avenue's windows are running a very close second to Bergdorf's this year.
Saks 5th Avenue’s windows are running a very close second to Bergdorf’s this year.
This shelves in this snow-globe window at Saks turned every minute to keep the snow moving.
This shelves in this snow-globe window at Saks turned every minute to keep the snow moving.

Barney’s window has been a HUGE controversy this year. (They made the Disney characters look like super models…in case you haven’t heard.) However, I think the display was very cute, and not nearly as distasteful as it may come off. There is actually a super cute short Disney movie playing in all the windows that I think is adorable.

barneys

We ended our walk at Rockefeller Center! It was uber-crowded, but we managed to make our way to the famous tree.

O.M.G the crowd!
O.M.G the crowd!

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Hope you find some time to enjoy the Christmas cheer around you, wherever you are!

Cheers!

OH Christmas Trees!

While visiting my parents in Texas I had enough time to help my Mom put up her tree…(AKA I put up the tree while she said, “Um, I think that ornament needs to be moved a little to the left.”) Putting up the tree together was a tradition with my Mom and I when I lived at home. Arguing over where they should be placed, and sneaking the “ugly” homemade ones to the front was all part of the tradition. Taking out the ornaments each year was like Christmas for me.  My Mom bought my sister and I a new ornament every year that we picked out.

Pretty sure that's Elf playing in the background
Pretty sure that’s Elf playing in the background
The final product
The final product
Well wasn't I just adorable?
Well wasn’t I just adorable?

By the time I was 18 it was pretty humorous to look back at all the ones I’d chosen. They are a collection of my interests over the years. Age 3-6: all puppy ornaments, 1st grade: Ninja turtles, 3rd grade: Lion King, 5th grade: Santa playing basketball, 8th grade: jazz dancer, 10th grade: ballerina, and now? I’ve got the most random assortments of ornaments.

Husband and I have our own tradition now; we buy each other an ornament every year. We also buy (or try to buy) an ornament on every trip we take. Sadly, most of our ornaments are in storage in Nashville. Our NY tree only consists of ornaments collected over the last couple of years.

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I miss our large ornament collection.
I miss our large ornament collection.

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From the time we went to see the Rockettes...
From the time we went to see the Rockettes…
That time we went to the Macy's parade...
That time we went to the Macy’s parade…
From the Prada and Schiaparelli exhibit at the MET
From the Prada and Schiaparelli exhibit at the MET

Oh, and did I mention our NY tree is 12 inches tall?

Belle looks like Clifford the big red dog here.
Belle looks like Clifford the big red dog here.

We decorated, ate chocolate, and watched Home Alone 2. I love the holidays!

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Cheers!

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

The weekend we went to Disney was the opening weekend of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! I have seen these dancing lights a handful of times now, and they never get old. The whole event is beautiful, magical, and topped off with artificial snow

 

Disney began this show in 1995 after getting the lights and the idea from the Osborne family. The Osborne family is a real family from Little Rock, Arkansas who spent God knows how long transforming their house into a crazy spectacle of over 3 million lights synced up with music every holiday season (I’m sure the neighbors were thrilled.) Their idea was so successful and unique that Disney had to be a part of it.

Look at this crowd!

After a few court cases from disgruntled neighbors, the Supreme Court actually shut down the entire display. Disney thought this was too magical to disappear so they talked with the Osborne family and decided to move the entire display to Hollywood Studios.

Now, 17 years later, Disney has added a couple more million lights and over 40 hidden Mickey’s.

Can you find the hidden Mickey???

It’s so magical to stand in the “snowy” streets of Hollywood Studios in the midst of thousands of people all staring at the dancing lights and singing along with the Christmas music.

I officially felt festive and in the Christmas spirit after seeing Disney’s famous lights. Let the Christmas shopping, constant carol singing, holiday movie marathon, and fattening food consumption commence!

Cheers!