Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...

...I never want to take you down.

I also never want to take down the stockings, the mistletoe, the plastic candle lights in the windows, the paper snowflakes in the windows, the Merry Christmas sign hanging on the drapes, the ornaments hanging from the ceiling, the wreath on the front door, the snowman, or the snowflake garland on the record player.

Sigh. The idea of having to take it all down in a few weeks is seriously depressing me. Would it be so wrong to leave my Christmas decorations up all year 'round?

Since its highly possible that I won't be posting again before Christmas, and since Seth and I aren't sending out cards this year (things have just been waaaay too hectic), let me go ahead and say MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope everyone has a great holiday and a great break from work and safe travels. I'll be back to blogging next week, and hopefully that will include pictures of a newly painted bedroom! And maybe snow? It sure would be nice to have a White Christmas for a change... ;)

My new favorite thing...


...is Lady Vols basketball. I went to my first game last Thursday, and it is so EXCITING!! I instantly loved it. When its time for the game to start, all the lights in the arena go down, flames shoot out of the goal posts (seriously!), and this music blasts out of the speakers as the players run out. Its so intense! And that was just the beginning of the excitement...the Lady Vols are really fun to watch because they're so talented and Pat Head Summitt is such a great coach. My favorite 2 players are #00 Shannon Bobbitt and #3 Candace Parker (she's 6'4" and is one of the few women's basketball players to be able to slam dunk the ball).



All it took was 1 game and I'm already looking into season tickets ;) Go Lady Vols!!

Baking

Its treat time again at my office, which means that everyone signs up to bring something to eat every day for the month of December. I made another carrot cake (from a box) with cream cheese frosting (also store bought), and I'm telling you...as long as you decorate the cake in an interesting way, no one questions whether or not you made the cake from scratch. If someone asked me straight up, I'd tell them, but no one ever does so I just say "thank you!" when someone says its good :) Last year I made the mistake of using tubed gel icing, and it was mess...I definitely learned my lesson and used a can of icing that came with 4 different tips for decorating this time.



It was a hit! And I purposefully signed up for an early date so I could get it done and cross it off my list. The other thing I got to cross off my list today was giving gifts to the people in my department. Last year....well, last year was just stressful. I took on too much and ended up being completely stressed for a solid month. And part of that stress was due to trying to figure out what to give my coworkers. I ended up picking up some random items (mostly ornaments), and the whole thing just felt forced and expensive. Lots of little things add up! So after watching an episode of the Barefoot Contessa, I decided to make 1 batch of her jam thumbprint cookies and put them in plastic bags and tie them with cute ribbon (like she did) and be done with it.

If you're panicking because Christmas is 2 weeks from today (!!!) and you're trying to figure out what in the world you're going to give your coworkers and you want to only spend about $10 and 2 hours of your time, this is the thing to do. Here's the recipe for the cookies, and the website says its only going to be available for a limited time, so be sure to print it out if you're going to use it. I'm not a baker (I prefer to cook, plus I prefer salty over sweet), and I was able to pull these off easily. Of course, it helped to have Stacy there with me (so I could ask, "Am I doing this right?" and "Is this how the dough is supposed to look??") and the use of her Kitchenaid mixer, but still...this is a recipe that I think anyone could manage :)

It hasn't really occurred to me until now that I've been writing this blog for over a year (13 1/2 months to be exact), and its pretty cool to be able to look back at what I was doing a year ago...pictures and all. If I keep this up, I could potentially look back at what I was doing 5 and 10 years ago! That's pretty cool. Thank you technology! :)

Our new pet

The craziest thing happened yesterday. Seth was in the kitchen, I was in the living room, and all of a sudden he yelled for me to come look out the window because THIS was in our backyard:



Can't tell what it is? Here's a close-up:


And here's a close-up of the back of his head:


This guy was in our BACKYARD!! Unbelievable. It still blows my mind when I think about it. He started off in the middle of the backyard with a squirrel. He wasn't eating it...just holding it in his large talons and standing there for a long time (maybe 20 minutes?). He finally flew off with the squirrel, and here's a video of him standing there, Seth and I flipping out, and then the hawk flying off at the end):

video

So once he flew away we thought it was all over, but then an hour later I looked out the bedroom window and there he was again! He had brought his squirrel back and now he was eating it. He was back there for about 3 hours, eating every last bit of that squirrel. Amazing.

We named him Tiger, and after lots of googling, I'm pretty sure he's a ferruginous hawk. I'm no bird expert so could definitely be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's what he is. If anyone thinks he's a different kind of hawk (or even an eagle!), please let me know. His thick white legs are what make me think there's a small possibility that he's an eagle.

It was just so unbelievable to have a creature like that right in our backyard!! Tiger, I hope you come back soon :)