Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt

The day after Thanksgiving is my favorite day to decorate for Christmas... and this year we were home to do it!  Not only were we home, but we had family with us to share the fun.

We headed off to the Buffalo Creek Recreation Area of Pike National Forest, which issues tree cutting permits every year.  We get beautiful, natural Colorado Christmas trees for $10, all while helping prevent forest fires.

The first stop on the itinerary is to see Smokey the Bear and be reminded that only I can prevent forest fires. I mean, YOU.  I mean, you know what I mean.

Photo by Kathleen

After that we trek off into the woods to find THE ONE TREE.  This year we ended up on pretty steep terrain, and had to hike 3/4 mi in to find any stands of soft, short-needle pines.  But then there it was.  Everyone wanted to get in on the saw action.

Photo by Kathleen

Photo by Kathleen

Photo by Kathleen

Photo by Kathleen

Photo by Kathleen
 After we ceremoniously hauled the tree back to the car, we had a "winter" cookout.  And by "winter," I mean that it was 60 degrees and sunny.  Needless to say we didn't need to bust out the hot cocoa.  We did have polish sausage on the grill and chili (made expertly the day prior by Uncle Devin).  Uncle Tyler and Aunt Monique found a tree to take home to Oklahoma, too.

Photo by Kathleen
Andrew took Callahan for a walk
 When we got home, we put the tree up in its place of honor and spent the afternoon decorating, hanging out,  and being together.  That evening we celebrated our fall birthdays (Monique, Tyler, and Travis) by making s'more cones for dessert.

We wore Callahan clear out


I couldn't be happier to have had our dear, dear family with us for a few precious days.  As they all left, I felt really sad, and I remembered how much harder it is to be left than to leave.  Hopefully we'll be able to do this again sometime in years to come!

Thursday, November 22, 2012


For Thanksgiving this year, we did something we've been wanted to do since we bought this house: have the entire family over for the holiday!  Our house was bursting with love and people and FOOD and attention for the kids and festive spirit... and gratefulness.  

Since our parents (the kids' grandparents) are often together with us, we decided it was a good idea to give them different names.  The opportunity was there, since Andrew is starting to remember things like that.  Indeed, by the end of the weekend, he knew exactly who everyone was, and he was quizzed on it!

Travis's parents (now officially known as Grandma and Grandpa - or possibly Gma and Gpa in blog shorthand) rolled in the week prior and got in some grandkid time.  Andrew refused to sit in his chair to eat dinner for the first few days that they were here - he just wanted to sit on their laps.

The weekend prior to the holiday I made my Costco and grocery runs and loaded up on food. Turns out it takes a large volume to feed 8-13 people for 4-5 days.

My mom (now Nana) came in on Tuesday, and we got straight to work making pies.  Andrew is, of course, a very eager kitchen helper, and very good at beating eggs, actually.

Apple pie - known as it was made as the "ugliest pie ever" - my first attempt at double crust.
Uncle Devin and Aunt Kathleen came in on Wednesday evening, and Kathleen helped me construct the "fruit turkey."  Yay, Pinterest!  Andrew said, "Cheese and grapes!  My two favorite things!"

Uncle Devin made chili for lunch on Friday
Aunt Kathleen takes lovely pictures.  Here's her website.

My dad (Papa), Uncle Tyler, and Aunt Monique arrived on Thursday.  Ty and Monique drove like the wind from Oklahoma and surprised us by walking in the door so early!  They brought their gorgeous weimaraner, Callahan, to round out the party.

Everybody chipped in to help get our massive dinner on the table.  We had ham, turkey, sausage and mushroom stuffing, twice baked butternut squash, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole (ala Grandma and Grandpa), creamy corn, homemade noodles from Monique and her mom, orange-scented cranberry sauce, and rolls.  The squash was my favorite.  Here is the recipe.

I brined the turkey, which was my first time trying that.  To be quite honest, I couldn't tell the difference.  The turkey wasn't dry, but it wasn't particularly mind-blowingly moist, either.  It was just normal turkey.  So... I'm not sure if I'll put in that effort in future years.

For dessert, there was mile high apple pie, PW pecan pie (for my hubby), and a pumpkin pudding/mousse thingy.

It was definitely a day to feel incredibly blessed, happy, and thankful.

Friday, November 16, 2012