Happy New Year!

Monday, December 31, 2012 No comments
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Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

Appetizers: 3 Ingredient Crockpot Meatballs

Friday, December 28, 2012 No comments
 These are better than they look (weird film exposure making it look like a dish from the 70's with an avacado green crockpot), and super easy.  I love things you can cook in the crockpot b/c they are usually easy, travel well, and free up the oven.  For like, cookies or something, not that I want to actually cook additional meals in a free oven this time of year.  Here's an easy appetizer recipe for New Year's Even parties....or other special occasions, like, days that end in y. 
One bag of frozen meatballs, one thing of ketchup (I used the smaller of the two jars), and one small thing of grape jelly (amounts don't really matter, it's the sauce, I had about twice as much ketchup as jelly). 
 Place the sauces over the frozen meatballs in the crockpot.....wear shades, this thing is bright....
Cook on low for 6 hours (until meatballs are heated through).  Serve....and bake those cookies in that free oven. 

New Year's Eve: Champagne Bubble Cookies

Thursday, December 27, 2012 No comments
I saw the idea for champagne bubble cookies at chiccookiekits, and I had to try them out for New Year's Eve.  I used my favorite sugar cookie recipe, dyed the icing a light yellow, and added sprinkles.  These should be fun served in champagne glasses, and they'd even be a cute gift to send home with guest.  I assure you they won't last long enough at my house....

Mini New Year's Eve Calendars

Wednesday, December 26, 2012 2 comments

 I was trying to think of a fun little gift to give out this new years.....meet....the mini calendar.  I found a free 2013 calendar online, and I printed it onto cardstock. 
 I trimmed it down....
 I decorated a coaster from a restaurant with a glue stick and some scrapbook paper....punched twho holes. 
I stapled the calendar onto the decorated board, added a bow, and a magnet to the backside so it can hang, and then packaged it up with some confetti and a little party popper.  :O) 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012 2 comments

I love Christmas.  I love Santa and the reindeer, giving gifts, eating cookies, and the music that has been running through my car since :cough October: November.  Most importantly, I love remembering that more than the tinsel and the toys, it's about a little baby born in a stable, sent here because we can't do it on our own.  If it's not a story you've heard, if it's not a story you've accepted, it's a story that can change your life.  I understand how difficult it can be to look around at the people that call Jesus Lord and wonder who or what they are worshiping based on their behavior, but when you look around, I hope you see people, equally as undeserving of this beautiful gift, yet God did come for them.  I've looked around at my own family, all eating the same meal despite choices we've made that perhaps make us 'less deserving' in the world's standard, and I've been grateful at a glimpse of the table we will all sit at someday with God, celebrating His son's birthday.  People will always disappoint.  We have been since an unfortunate walk through a garden, but the one thing I can tell you-despite all the imperfect people I've met, God has always been perfect in my life.  He's always been present.  If you test people, they will fail you, but if you trust God, He never will.  No doubt, you'll experience life in a way you wouldn't write it, but if you wait and see what God is doing, you will find He's the ultimate author and as a loving Father, He does know what's best for each of us, and what we need to be better for him. 

Kiddos Color Your Own Thank You Cards

Monday, December 24, 2012 No comments
If you've ever sent me a gift, I hope you know a good, prompt thank you card follows.  I've always loved to send and receive a nice thank you.  In this day in age with text, email, mail, unlimited phone minutes...it seems so easy.....and yet....  
 My friend Mary told me when her kids were little she sat them down with thank you cards and gifts from family and they could not open the next gift until they had written a thank you card for the first gift.  I've never NOT received a thank you card from any of her adult kiddos when I've sent them gifts for one reason or another. 
I  made these using a free block font I found online for some kids to color that my friends are helping support, more on this later, but....it's not a bad idea for any kid that might be too young to write the details inside, but certainly would enjoy creating/coloring a little picture.  So, with a day of gift giving coming up tomorrow....I'm attaching a free printable for these cards (after I came up with this thought I googled it, and-of course, you can purchase cards like this online as well).  I printed mine off on 5/7 blank white notecards that I got at the craft store, but you could also run tag board through the printer, fold and trim it down.  Here is a free printable.

The Menger in San Antonio

Sunday, December 23, 2012 1 comment
 Last weekend I got to check 'San Antonio in December' off my wish list.  I wrote about the full weekend yesterday-filled with Christmas decor, and the usual color that comes along with this festive city, with a side of twinkling lights and luminaries in celebration of Christmas.  I've always loved San Antonio, and I've been visiting since I was a little girl.  It's a living history lesson you 'have' to experience as a Texan-whether it's official on the birth certificate, or you've just had the good fortune of moving down/over/up to the state.  The Alamo is where a big chunk of the heart's state beats.   As a young(er) girl, my Mom took me down I-35 to visit the place her parents had taken her, and their parents before them.  When I was little, I remember staying at the Menger.  It's about as close to the Alamo as you can get without actually having to be removed from the property by security when the site closes.  The hotel has been sitting on this spot for over a hundred and fifty years and it's been the stopping spot for many US presidents.  It's history is rich, and it's walls and halls echo it's story.  It's made the list of one of historic hotels in America.  If you've known me for a nano second, you'd know this appeals to me.
 I'll stop and say I booked a room, knowing I was headed south, but then I wrote the manager and I said-I'm planning on staying at your hotel.  I'm planning on blogging about your hotel.  He wrote me back and he comped my room for doing what I was  already planning on doing,  how cool is that?   I appreciate someone who appreciates my appreciation.  Or something like that.   If you've also known me for that same nano-second, you'll know I don't do a lot of advertising, and I've yet to do any reviews-I want to be able to be real and  not obligated to say I love it unless I really love it.  I really love it.  I've shared things I've loved with no compensation.  I share it because I love it-and there are a lot of things I don't love, so when I find something worth eating/making/buying-I want others to know!   My hotel room was booked regardless, at an incredibly affordable price considering the location and the quality-it's hard to not want to stay here.  And I have before.  And I will again.   The price is right, and the location couldn't be better.  It's next to the Alamo, two blocks from the river, across the street from the wax museum.  The carriages and trolleys take off from one side of the hotel, and the River Center Mall is it's next door neighbor. 
When you aren't at one of these stops, the hotel itself is worth a look.  In fact, when I was walking around taking pictures, I wasn't the only one and I ran into a few people I chatted with about the history that were visiting the halls, sitting in the lounges, and soaking up it's history because it's a site worth visiting, though they weren't staying for the night. 
I love the lobby areas.  It's a maze of sitting areas, antique furniture...
 Large windows, old chandeliers, and wall paper that give testament to the time period in which she was born and raised.  Tables inside and out for leisure, balconies, and patios for socializing.
They have various restaurants, unusual shops from the tourist stops, to unique toy stores, an antiques store, an Alamo visitor center, a bar (not changed much from 1859, the oldest operating bar in Texas), where Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders once upon a history book, and my personal favorite-an ice cream shop. 
The other thing I love about old hotels are the ceilings.  From the foyers to the room, they are high.  And I think....I'm glad I don't have to pay the bills, but there is something really luxorious about that extra space!  I wouldn't mind being able to house a tree this big. 
 Here is the ceiling from one of the main foyers.  Stained glass and moldings, and iron work are one of my weaknesses.  Combine all three and I need a 12 step program to leave.
 The room's ceilings are all at least 12 feet with ceiling fans, four poster beds and everything else that says-I'm old and an authentic beauty.
They also have quite a few places to hang out outside the hotel in courtyard gardens overlooking historic spots, like this chisolm trail marker. 

 Lots of seating...
 And a large pool area many of the iron clad balconies overlook.  They have a spa, and workout room, it was too cold for the pool, and I was too lazyfor the workout room....maybe next time!
 You can grab a carriage right outside the hotel. 
 Or sit and eat Hagan Daaz for dinner and just appreciate the other people appreciating the carriage and trolleys while you get in your fill of dairy for the day. 
OK, one other side note I'm going to mention just because it seemed to be a big deal with all the people hanging out in the halls, and on most of the sites I happened across when booking my stay-there are a lot of ghost stories attached to the hotels.  It's apparently 'the most' haunted hotel in Texas.  I'll take their word for it, and if you'd like to meet a ghost, there are groups offering that service as well, or save yourself the group fee, and stay in a room and go on your own hunt.   I'm not into ghost stories, but I'm into old hotels.  I just found a great room, and a great weekend. 
I'm a fan.  I'll be back. 

San Antonio: Feliz Navidad-ing

Saturday, December 22, 2012 2 comments
 One thing I've always wanted to do....and when I say always, I really do mean-at least ten years, and not 10 days like most of my stories go, is see Christmas lights on the river during December.  Once, when I was much younger, like, not even driving yet-which is a really long time ago, we spent spring break in San Antonio, which accidentally fell over St Patrick's Day, where I accidentally learned they have a parade down the river and dye the river green.  Which led to me discovering they do all sorts of cool things, aside from the normal 'cool things' that go on at one of my very favorite Texas spots.  One of them?  Lighting up the river with lights and luminaries (and MX tradition) each night during Christmas.  It's quite a feat, and quite a sight.  It was worth the drive, and totally list worthy.  I took a quick trip down and started in the market. 
 There isn't anything much cuter than mini pinatas.  I took a poll of all things mini and these are in the top three. 
 Every time I go into a restaurant this colorful I want to redo my house....but I'm worried my friends wouldn't be responsible enough not to swing at the 457 hanging pinatas when they came over. 
 ...and I'm worried if I installed a bakery this colorful in place of my kitchen I might need a bigger door.  After shopping and eating my way through the Market (my first time to try out Mi Tierra-worth the reputation), we headed on to the downtown area. 
This year I stayed at the Menger.  I've stayed here several times in the past, and I'm seriously in love with this hotel.  It gets it's very own post tomorrow, but the tease is-it's one of America's historic hotels.  Presidents have stayed here, the insides are authentic to it's past, and it's reputation as a great place to stay, and-unless the Catholic Daisi's and state department let you sleep in the Alamo, you can't get any closer to the site, which is literally right next door. 
The Christmas trees in town had fun colorful fiesta themed ornaments, and I've decided if I can't redo my whole house like a TX MX restaurant, I at least need a tree this fun. 
The Alamo is, clearly, one of the coolest things about San Antonio, but most of my time was spent on the river walk, it's always impressive in the day-so many restaurants, so much going on, and so much history....
 I swung by La Villita, outside of the market, my favorite area to look around at artsy stores, and apparently they decorate for Christmas (or winter?) in their artistic fashion.  The trees were all wearing colorful yarn decorations in various styles and colors. 
 Once the sun set, I took a boat ride up the river, affordable, informative, and the best place to catch the lights on the bridges and luminaries along the side.  A lot of the boats had been rented out by companies for caroling, so many of those passing had the occupants singing carols that echoed up and down the river, which was added bonus to the lights. 
I headed back to the hotel (just two blocks away from the river which sits down a bit from the main strip with the Alamo and entertainment).  I had an ice cream dinner, because I believe dairy is an important element to the diet (ha), and got to see this...
 They had carriage rides passing, lit up for Christmas, trees and buildings were participating in the festivities, and a group of bikers went by as I sat and consumed calories. 
Before leaving on Sunday, I wanted to check out some of the missions, which I never knew, before I realized how much I enjoyed missions (thanks to my Spring trip to San Diego), are only 5 minutes away.  There are four, but I only saw two this trip....I have to need a reason to return. 
 Church was being held at both missions, so I walked around outside and enjoyed the songs, trumpets, and prayers seeping through the doors.   
 San Jose is the largest and the main National Park service is housed here, though all the missions have a national park offices.  San Jose is the main park. 
 It also still has the walls/houses that surrounded the mission, and it was neat to see how people lived within the walls. 
 San Jose really had some fabulous arches and angles.  I'm looking forward to exploring some of those views on a sunnier day! 
Every year, as Christmas rolls forward, there is a wish list of things I want to do.  I'm definitely glad I finally get to mark this off my list, but it was so fabulous, it's just going right back on it because as much as I love San Antonio at any time of year, there is something really special about her decked out for Christmas.  When an already colorful city twinkles those same vibrant colors-I'm impressed!