Friday, December 28, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Every December, right after Thanksgiving, we are all drowning in holiday music, continually watching Christmas movies on TV, and spending endless hours in Target trying to figure out a gift for the ONE person you don't really know that well, but of course you're their secret Santa.

And every year we're all reminded of how commercialized the holiday season is and how you must make travel plans and adjust your schedule in order to gather at a relative's house and be forced to talk to in-laws and cousins you don't see often and don't seem to have much in common with. Plus this year, the world was apparently supposed to end just before Christmas.

But then something happens. 
You start singing along to that holiday music. 
You remember how much you enjoy seeing the Grinch's heart grow. 
You finally give your secret Santa gift and it turns out to be perfect. 
You're with your family and spend time with your new nephew who's cuter than any baby you've ever seen.
...And the world doesn't end.

All of these reasons are just some of the things that make Christmas the most wonderful time of the year!

This year, Asha and I enjoyed wonderful family time (featuring both sets of parents) and continued our new Christmas traditions: Carolina Panthers home game, the Christmas Eve church service and Family Time.

Tradition #1: Carolina Panthers game

So last year, we went to the Tampa Bay Bucs-Carolina Panthers game on Christmas Eve. It was a Christmas present from Asha which turned out to be the most entertaining Panthers game (and possibly Cam's best performance) of the year. This year, we semi-planned to attend this game, but never got around to actually purchasing tickets. Then, the day before the game, Nickie (Asha's sister) calls and offers us tickets to the game! It was a Christmas miracle! Of course we went to the game, had great seats and watched the Panthers get their 3rd consecutive win.

Bank Of America Stadium aka "The Vault!"

So glad Asha suggested taking that scarf...
Christmas time in the Queeeeeeeeeen Citaaaaaaay!

Tradition #2: Christmas Eve church service

There's something special about the Christmas Eve church service at Forest Hill. I can't quite put my finger on it, all I know is while we're all there, celebrating the birth of Christ, it just feels like God is there celebrating with us. This year the worship team gave us a little Trans Siberian Orchestra lights/music show to open the service. Those guys are good. I should've taken a picture, but I don't think God would've liked that very much.

The service also included communion and Christmas hymns. As always, it was a joyous occasion celebrating giving, joy, peace, love and Jesus.

Tradition #3: Family Time

Our family time this year was also pretty special. Asha and I hosted Christmas (Eve) dinner (which meant we had to a lot of cleaning to do, but got soooo muuuuuuch leftovers!), we had the families together (one advantage of having both sets of parents in the same city), and it was Keegan's first Christmas! (By the way, our nephew should probably be on the cover of some Huggies or something cuz he's a cute one). I swear, it seems like just a short while ago Keegan entered this crazy world and now he's already walking! We need to take advantage of his size right now and get him riding Apollo bareback. (Side note: Apollo loves babies/small children. No, he doesn't snack on them as some of you may think - Sairy.  Anyway, it doesn't matter who's kid, Apollo thinks he MUST get all up in their face and lick/sniff. He just fails to realize that the kid's head can easily fit inside his mouth so when he gets that close... yea, it looks like he's going to eat them. Rest assured, he doesn't like children THAT much.)

Get this kid on a package of Huggies!

Keegan's go-to move: 1 finger in the mouth. Classic.


NOT eating the small child. Just a lil' taste.

My AWESOME PJs. Don't hate. Just congratulate. 

Keegan was much more interested in the wrapping paper than any gift he got.

Guess who got Keegan the "Cool like my Auntie" onsie... 

Family photo take 1: of course Apollo ruins it.

Family photo take 2: wow... Apollo actually looked at the camera. Keegan did not... 

Another Christmas in the books. As always, it was fun spending time with family and continuing our new Christmas traditions. Now we prepare for 2013 and countdown  until we get to come back to the most wonderful time of the year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hot Chocolate Christmas Bags

Every year Jeremy and I like to give a little something special to our co-workers for the holidays. This year I made Mexican Hot Chocolate from scratch and packaged it in the cutest little brown bag around.

It's because of Pick Your Plum that I got the idea to send out hot chocolate in decorated bags. They posted the bags that you see above on their site and with it they provided pictures of what you could do with it. I thought it was pretty genius and doable, so I tried my hand at it and I must say, it turned out pretty successful.

So what is Pick Your Plum, you ask? It's an awesome website that emails you a daily deal on unique personalized products and crafting supplies at a HUGE discount price. Sometimes you have to be quick because they sell out on certain items pretty rapidly! All products ship fast and with a small goody included, just to make you smile!

I don't know what site I was on that lead me to Pick Your Plum, but whatever it was I love/hate them. I LOVE them because Pick Your Plum is nothing but AWESOME and hate them because sometimes I end up spending too much or getting more crafty ideas to add to my "To-Do" list :)

I used the recipe for the hot chocolate mix (from this blog) below, used washi tape (that I got from Pick Your Plum) for the first time (and I love it!) and packaged the mix beautifully with the help of Jeremy. Yes, Jeremy helped! He is pretty much the best husband around.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Mix
  • 3 cups non fat dry milk powder
  • 1 ¾ cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup white chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ Tsp. salt
  • 2 Tsp. corn starch
  • ½ Tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ Tsp. cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients.
In batches, pulse mixture in a food processor until smooth and well combined.
Store in a sealed container in a dry and dark place.
To make hot chocolate, put 1/3 cup of mixture into a mug and mix with hot water or milk.
Top with marshmallows and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Card Worthy

Christmas is right around the corner! Like seriously...only 7 more days...and we're just now getting our Christmas cards out. Better late than never :) Just like picking out our Christmas stockings, trying to decide our Christmas card feels like it takes me weeks to choose the perfect one. I can't help it. Sending out Christmas cards is one of my favorite things to do over the holidays. Who doesn't love snail mail and the thought of each of your recipients smiling down at the sight of your card? I genuinely love each and every card we get in the mail and hope everyone feels the same about ours.

If you are a regular reader of our blog, I'm sure by now you can see that I take my camera everywhere. I love photos and I would love to keep a tradition of professional family photos at least once a year. I know it's not Jeremy's favorite thing but I'm pretty sure he had a clue about my obsession before he married me :)

My friend and awesome photographer, Sunny of Themba Imagery, was nice enough to listen to my idea of having a photo shoot at a Christmas tree farm for our first-ever family photo session. She was able to book an afternoon at Penland Christmas Tree Farm in York, South Carolina and I was super excited to get out there and take some photos. It was the week before Thanksgiving, right before the Christmas Tree season hit, and we had the entire farm to ourselves.  The entire afternoon seriously felt magical...with a slight winter chill in the air and being surrounded by fresh, evergreens...I couldn't ask for a better afternoon.

Sunny had us laughing and having a good time the moment we hugged each other hello. She was ecstatic to have Apollo join in on the session and got some great shots of our slobbery beast :) Thankfully, Momma S (Jeremy's mom) was able to come along and take care of Apollo while we had a few pictures done of ourselves. Below are just a few of my favorites from the afternoon. There are a lot below but it was way too hard picking out only 26 to share. If you're looking for family photos (or any photos in general) in 2013, I highly suggest contacting Sunny. She is nothing but awesome and a great photographer at that!

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery
Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery
Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery
Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery
Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery
Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery
Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Sunny brought fake snow! I was beyond excited | Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery
Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Yup. That's drool wrapped around his snout, ladies and gentlemen | Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

SNOW! | Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

SNOW! | Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

SNOW! | Photo by Sunny at Themba Imagery

And lastly, here's a photo of Sunny and I! She is THE BEST!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Stockings were hung by the Chimney with Care

It's true. Last year we spent our first Christmas together without stockings hung by the fireplace. All because I couldn't find the perfect three for Jeremy, Apollo and I. I had something in particular in mind and when I finally found what I wanted, it was too late. All of the stores were sold out and Christmas had come to an end.

For some reason, picking out Christmas stockings is a BIG deal for me. I mean, these are stockings that will be in our family for years! I couldn't just pick any old sock to hang by our fireplace! A lot of thought goes into the process (at least for crazy old me).

I couldn't let this happen again and I am happy to report to you that this past weekend, I FINALLY purchased our Christmas stockings! Thanks to World Market, I was able to find just what I was looking for (and on sale too)! I couldn't be more happier with the four stockings that currently hang by our fireplace. Humor me and tell me that you love them.

Oh and while I was out shopping for our Christmas stockings, I came across these Reindeer antlers for dogs. I couldn't help myself and bought them for Apollo. He loves them! (Not really).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Photo A Day November

It's the third day of December yet November feels like it was AGES ago. As I looked back at my Photo A Day's from the beginning of the month, I said to myself, "Really?! That happend this month?!" Once we got back from our Kentucky Thanksgiving, I've had one thing on the brain and that's NEW YORK CITY. We're taking a trip to the city that never sleeps this month and I couldn't be happier that December has finally arrived.

Let's get back to November because it was a fun month for the Singletons. We hiked, traveled, and took family photos. What's not to love about that?! Although I loved November, the themes for Photo A Day were quite the challenge because I had already done at least 98% of the topics. That made me annoyingly (at the time) think outside the box but now that I look at them all together, I love what I was able to come up with. Oh, the joy of Photo A Day.

It's not too late to join Photo A Day! I can't tell you how much fun I've had playing along this year! Pick up the list at the bottom of the blog and let me know if you decide to play so I can follow you on instagram and see what you come up with :)

1. something beginning with 'C'. Well a camera, of course!
2. color. I had recently made some cake-pops with colorful sprinkles.
3. breakfast. A blueberry bagel from Poppyseed Bagels.
4. TV. There's nothing but football on in our house on a Sunday.
5. five o'clock. Headed home on the vanpool from work.
6. a favorite thing. I have seriously lived in this sweatshirt this Fall. It's super comfy and it was once my Grandad's so it hold's a special place in my heart despite it' being Chicago Bears.
7. reflection. This was a photo taken by our friend Eric Kramer for our engagement photos. I couldn't help but think of this photo when I saw the day prompt.
8. something you do everyday. Listen to music.
9. small. It was a Friday night and I came home to fresh flowers on the table. I don't remember having a hard week, but the small gesture from Jeremy had a big impact and I  couldn't stop smiling.
10. can't (won't) live without. As crazy as we can get, I can't live without my family. I was grateful to get together with them that day.
11. drink. Drinking from a mason jar is always fun.
12. night. The Charlotte skyline at twilight.
13. where you slept. The cold nights require a quilt.
14. man-made. My comfy TOMS.
15. in your bag. I picked up my Color Run packet that night and was excited to see what was in my goody-bag.
16. the view from your window. As I was waiting for a friend for dinner, I enjoyed the view of sparkling trees which reminded me that Christmas was coming!
17. the last thing you bought. New clothes and polka dots are my weakness. I fell in love with this purple, polka dot top and couldn't leave the mall without it.
18. happend this weekend. Jeremy and I wrapped up a wonderful Christmas Photo Shoot with the beautiful Sunny of Themba Imagery that day. We were lucky to have it done at a Christmas Tree farm. So. Much. Fun!!!!
19. something awesome. The fact that Jeremy was able to catch this shot of Sairy during the Color Throw at the Color Run was pretty awesome. He's become quite the photographer!
20. work/play. My adorable nephew, Keegan is working hard to walk so he can play even more!
21. what you wore. Nothing but comfy clothes on the 6.5 hour drive to Kentucky!
22. grateful. Words can't express how grateful I am that after 10+ years, my extended family is able to get together for Thanksgiving. We only see each other once a year so I always treasure and soak in the time spent with them.
23. black. I become a little kid when we come across a tunnel when traveling. Hold your breath!
24. a sound you heard. Now that Thanksgiving was over, it was time to bust out the Christmas music. I will always be an *NSYNC fan :) ALWAYS.
25. sky. Traveling through the mountains is the way to go. It's always a breath of fresh air to see those mountains staring back at you.
26. in the cupboard. Yellow plates and bowls.
27. tree. This photo was taken on our hike during Thanksgiving.
28. vehicle. I had to go back to 2010 for this one. During our first Warrior Dash, we trekked through an old junk yard weaving through old cars.
29. big. Sometimes you forget just how big the world really is. This was on our hike to see The Natural Arch during Thanksgiving.
30. on the wall. A clock. Tick-tok. Tick-tok.