Friday, November 21, 2008

The Holiday Season is Upon Us!

Today I had my first taste of the Holiday season! I was invited by Christopher's step-grandma, Lupe, to the Harvest Festival in Sacramento. I have seriously been looking forward to going for almost two months. It was fantastic, and the best part was, like any sweet and loving grandma would do, she gave me $50 to spend!! Amazing since I really didn't have any extra cash. She told me this is a tradition, I'm all for it:)

We had such a wonderful time! I am definitely someone who LOVES the hustle and bustle of hundreds of woman running around and squishing each other in hopes of finding the perfect gifts and holiday goodies! I purchased some super cute things and I really can't wait to decorate for Christmas next weekend!!!

The best part of my day was spending time with Lupe and Chris' Pop when we finished at the festival. You see, since I moved to California, twelve years ago, I haven't had grandparents nearby. I have grown very grateful to have his twenty minutes from us. As we sat and chatted for about two hours I realized three things that I really love about grandparents:
  1. Stories! I am a big fan of them. Today, we happened to stumble upon a few about Chris as a kid. It is beyond endearing to hear his grandpa tell me about how Chris was his right-hand man when it came to building things:) It makes me especially proud to share stories about what an amazing man and husband he has become!
  2. Home baked treats! As I am sipping hot pomegranate tea and savoring a warm, toasted piece of homemade zucchini bread, I simply cannot deny that grandparents make the best goodies:)
  3. You are never in a rush at their house. It almost feels as if time stands still, just for you! I have decided that the next time I am feeling stressed out, that's where you can find me:)
I am praying that you too, are enjoying the season as much as I am. Take time to look around and count your blessings!

A fun Christmas survey that Jeannine sent to me. Copy and paste it and send it along to your friends and family (and me too!)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper for sure! You can do so much more with it!!
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real! I just love everything about picking it out on a chilly evening and the smell!
3. When do you put up the tree? Two days after Thanksgiving. The day after is reserved for shopping, of course:)
4. When do you take the tree down? Right after New Year’s.
5. Do you like eggnog? Not really. It is so rich, but I do love Silk Nog.
6. Favorite gift received? Definitely my pink Kitchen Aid mixer!
7. Hardest person to buy for? My Dad because he doesn’t get excited about anything.
8. Easiest person to buy for? My mom because we have very similar likes and dislikes. If I love it, I can pretty much bet that she will too!
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Not yet, but give me a break, this is my first Christmas in my own home.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Definitely mail. I am old fashioned like that!!
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I don't really like this question. I love presents and the thought that people put into them!
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? It’s a tie between White Christmas and Elf.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I start getting ideas around October, but don’t usually start buying until day after Thanksgiving.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I can remember!
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Mom’s Crème Brulee French toast!!! I will learn to make it someday!
16. Lights on the tree? Yep! Clear.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Baby it’s Cold Outside, on Christmas with the Rat Pack
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Never spent a Christmas away from home!
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? I sure can!
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? A beautiful bow that cascades down the tree (thanks Mom!)
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? One on Christmas Eve and the rest in the morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Grouchy people!
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? My Disney ornaments!
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? We do a big crab dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas brunch, so dinner is usually fairly simple.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? New running shoes, the basics: VS undies and cute nighties, Origins Shedonism, a good vacuum, and a bunch of Taste of Home stuff;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chicago, Our First Married Trip!

So it's back to the grind for the Hansens. We just got back from what was, a pretty fantastic trip! Last Thursday we left for Chicago to visit my family. The weekend was full of fun with my young siblings, meeting new additions to the family and great evening outings with my dad and step mom, Rebecca! This trip started with a little extra excitement because it was our first trip MARRIED! (with the exception of our honeymoon, of course!) It is so cool to realize the freedom you have as a couple!

Upon arriving Thursday night, we took a cab downtown to meet my dad at an event for a ministry that he supports in Zambia. It was really neat to take part in and meet some new people that my dad works with, but we were exhausted from the flight!

We were awakened Friday morning by my brother, Nathan, and oldest sister, Audrey, standing on the stairs and deciding how they would tickle us. It was so cute to listen to and I am pretty sure they thought that nobody could hear them. I just love the mornings I spend there with the kids. They are so adorable and lively in the morning! We also met my new sister, Madeline for the first time!!! She is the most beautiful thing! She looks like a perfect baby doll!

Once we were all ready, it was off to get the kids hair cut. Talk about an ordeal! Imagine getting four kids ,under 4 years old, ready to go and buckled into the car!! And to top it off it was cold so they all needed coats! Whew! Friday evening, after the kids went to bed, we went to a fabulous Greek restaurant. I forgot how much I love Greek! After we ate, my dad and Chris went to a poker game held by my dad's best friend and Rebecca and I went to Second City, a great comedy show where often, the comedians from SNL come from. It was hilarious! Afterward we sipped hot chocolate at Starbucks and chatted for a few hours. We knew the guys wouldn't be home for a while. We were right about that, they didn't get home from the game until 5:30 AM!! Apparently, the game ended around 2:30, but some of my dad's buddies, who are highly successful men, stuck around and gave Chris a bit of drilling about financial planning and a lot of good advice. To top it off, Chris won second in the poker game! A little extra cash never hurts, right?

Unfortunatly for Chris, I woke him up at 8 am on Saturday so we could get an early start to Wilmington, the town my parents grew up in and where a lot of my family still lives. It is only an hour drive, but we had a lot of people to see! Our first visit was having breakfast with my cousin Brianne, her boyfriend Jerry and their new baby Gavin!! I just love babies! Gavin is such a perfect little baby! Next we went to visit my cousin Josh and his new Great Dane puppy, Ellie. Chris has wanted a Great Dane for years, so when Josh sent us a picture of her, he was a bit jealous! Then we drove to my cousin Brittany's new house and spend a while with her and her husband, Josh. It was so great for us to spend quality time with some of my cousins individually, since most of time we spend together is sparce and in big family gatherings. Throughout the day, we visited with my grandpa and a few of my aunts and uncles. The day was fantastic and suprisingly very relaxing.

Sunday was such a laid back day for us. We hung around the house with the kids and the guys watched football. Who could ask for more? Well, we could. The trip wouldn't have been complete without an outing to a sporting event! The four of us went to the Blackhawks vs. Sharks hockey game! The game was especially good because Chris is a huge Sharks fan. Honestly, I had never been to a hockey game, but I am pretty sure it is my new favorite sport to watch! There was constant action and it didn't hurt that we had really good seats where we could see everything! I will admit that I was a little scared that the Chicago fans may throw beer on us or something because Chris was wearing his Sharks jersey. Thankfully, Chris is not an obnoxious fan, even though the Sharks won 6 to 5!!!

The kids after waking us up on our first morning.

Me and Ava

After hair cuts

Me and Audrey. She is acting shy:)



Beautiful Madeline!! Seriously, doesn't she look like a doll?

Chris and I with my Dad and Rebecca

So we are back home and wishing the weekend hadn't flown by so fast, but incredibly thankful that we could spend such an fantastic weekend with my family! Can't wait to go back, which hopefully will be sooner rather than later!

On a side note, I am seriously considering doing the Chicago marathon with my dad in October. He has done it for years and I kind of feel challenged to do it too. If my dad can run three marathons and do two triathlons this year, surely I can do one, right?!? I have to decide by December. Yikes!

Also, we had such a pleasant welcome home as my dad (step dad) had cleaned our carpets while we were gone! He is so sweet! We had been complaining about them for a few weeks and he took the liberty of taking care of it while we were gone:) Our family is such an awesome blessing!

Lastly, Thanksgiving is in 10 days!!! Can you believe how quickly the year has gone by? I can't wait since this year our families are coming over to our place! Woo hoo!! And, my mom an I are doing a 10/5 K on Thanksgiving morning!

That's it, I promise! If you took the time to read this entire blog, thanks so much and enjoy the season!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Being on a Budget has Taught Me

I hate waste! I especially hate it now that every penny I spend on groceries is accounted for. What's the point of spending money on something and then throwing it away in two weeks because it has gone bad? I am constantly preaching this to my family. I am pretty sure they are tired of hearing it, but it must be said! I didn't always feel so strongly, but since being married, I have especially come to appreciate every last carrot, zucchini and bag of spinach I purchase. In my quest to feed Chris and myself the best and nutritionally sound meals, I have become quite crafty and frugal during my weekly outings to the grocery store. A nice perk that has come along with this endeavor is more eco-friendly ways. I also feel passionate about living more green. I believe that it is the small things that can make a huge difference. Here are some things I have learned.

  • Only buy what you need!! ~ First of all, it cuts back on waste and you can buy the best ingredients while staying within your budget. I never realized how much excess I bought until I really couldn't afford to buy it anymore, and I survived! The biggest question I have heard regarding this is, "How do you know exactly what you will need for a whole week?" This brings me to my next point.
  • Create a meal plan and a grocery list ~ Being a self-pronounced "list-maker", this comes naturally to me, but it is easy enough to pick up. Obviously I understand that things come up, but you can always work around impromptu nights out with friends. A list helps to ensure that you buy what you need and don't stray down the cookie isle and buy those Double-Stuffed Oreos. I love the Menu planner and Grocery list at Anthropologie. They are adorable and made in retro colors!
  • Cook a majority of your meals ~ I cannot stress this enough. It is so much cheaper to eat in. And the added benefit is that you know exactly what is in your food. I always appreciate a healthy meal more when I have labored over it myself. Plus, it's fun!
  • Pack a lunch ~ What happened to the old days when we brought a sack lunch to school and work? Again, it is so much cheaper to pack a lunch and can be much healthier. I love sending Chris to work knowing that he has good, healthy fuel for his day.
  • Re-useable grocery bags and containers ~ My weekly trips to the grocery store are always accompanied by my cloth grocery bags. I love that I don't have to throw away 10 bags each week. Along with grocery bags, how annoying is it to use a plastic baggie for a sandwich, just to throw it away in a few hours? We rarely use them. I have come to love ''Fit and Fresh" re-useable containers. They are great for packing lunches and snacks. You can find them at Target and Linens and Things. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they each have individual ice packs that snap to the lid so your food stays cold.
  • Cloth napkins ~ I came to love the idea of using cloth naking a few years ago when I went to a friends house and saw that her family used them at every meal. They may cost a bit up front, but they can be used over and over and they add so much color and character to a table. I think it is funny that when people come over, they feel like it is "fancy" because we are using "nice" napkins. Haha! I pretty much avoid using paper products at all costs. Except in the bathroom:)
  • Water bottles and coffee cups ~ Stop before you buy that case of water bottles!! Invest in a stainless steel water bottle that can be used over again. Also, if you are planning on stopping at Starbucks on your way to work, bring along one of their reusable tumblers. You save a cup and they give you a little discount. Every little bit counts, right?
  • Make your own goodies!~ So, what I'm about to write may not be what most people think of as "goodies', but trust me, they are! I have started making my own peanut butter, applesauce and hummus. These healthy treats are delicious and made with REAL ingredients, you know, the way they are suppose to be. It is so easy and really does save money. Trust me, try it!
These are just a few practical things we do around the house to save money and help to eliminate waste in our home. I am always looking for new ideas. Let me know if you have any!

My next experiment is homemade surface cleaner. Here's a recipe I am thinking about using:

Mix equal parts vinegar and water. Add a few drops of Lavender essential oil and shake.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Preach it John Piper!

Okay, I found this clip today and totally and completely love it! Just wanted to share it with you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It sucks to be a Sickie!

So this afternoon I have finally come out of my sick coma, to find my house in utter disarray! Let me explain my dilemma. I have been sick since Monday. I hate being sick. You know the kind of sick where you feel like if you get out of bed, you might fall over from being so dizzy and never get back up? Yeah, I was that kind of sick. Yuck!!

I am very lucky to have a husband who is so gracious and nurturing and completely takes care of my every need while I am in this condition. The only thing is, he is not exactly blessed with a former girl scout's keen sense of leaving the kitchen, living room, den, etc. exactly the way he found it! It really doesn't bother me that much since I am clean-freak enough for the both of us. However, this morning I was finally able to get out of bed feeling decent and I walked into the kitchen to find dishes in the sink, a used pan on the stove, garbage overflowing, etc. Haha! Trust me, I don't mind cleaning up when Chris was so amazing to me while I was sick, I just find it very comical that all of the time I spend organizing and cleaning can be destroyed in matter of days! I pray we have lots of girls:)

On to other things. This past week was so jam packed with so much activity, I felt as if I hadn't blogged in 2 weeks, when in fact, it has only been a week! You all know Halloween was last Friday~Happy late Halloween by the way! I hope you all had a fabulous and eventful day/evening! We certainly did. We spent Thursday night doing the typical festivities: carving pumpkins and making caramel apples! It was a great, relaxing night, but the real fun started Friday.

My dad (step dad for all who aren't familiar with my family dynamics) turned 65 on Sunday! He kept saying he didn't want anything and didn't want to celebrate. Well, little did he know, we already had something planned! His daughter and granddaughter, who live in Oklahoma, flew in on Friday to spend the weekend with us! He was definitely surprised! We spent Halloween at my parent's having chili and cornbread...Yum! His party was on Sunday, but Chris and I spent most of the weekend there. It was so fun to be with my family and to top it off, it rained almost the entire weekend! Talk about a perfect Fall treat! The only bummer is my dad had a terrible cold on his birthday:( You can tell in this picture. Sad!
So,we have a new president. I think I will leave it to Chris to blog about this topic. He is far better at discussing these things and I don't know that I have the emotional energy to write about that right now. Though I will say, while Obama was not my choice for president, I will respect him and hope that he ends up doing some good for our country. We all know it needs some help!

Lastly, I am so very happy that it is November. First of all, I can officially start listening to Christmas music without being a total weirdo and secondly, our new Whole Foods opened this morning!! You don't understand, I am so ecstatic to finally have one five minutes from my house! Actually, there is one more reason I am glad it's November. We are leaving for a four day trip to Chicago next Thursday to visit my family! I can't wait to meet my new sister, Madeline!!

Lots to look forward to! Stay warm and check out Diana Krall's Christmas CD! I am also totally hooked on Hot Apple Cider Tea by Republic of Tea!!

Lots of love,
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...