A Tree, Cookies and Some Presents

Christmas is finally in full swing at our house. We put up our tree and outdoor lights the weekend before Thanksgiving since it was like 65 degrees outside, but I finally got the ornaments on the tree this past week. Other than the tree and a few other items, we don’t go all out in the decorating department. A part of it is laziness … spending days decorating does not sound like fun to me.

So, anyway, here is our tree. Nothing fancy, but full of sentimental ornaments that take me FOREVER to put on the tree because I pet each one like it’s a new puppy. I’m a sap.

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I also spent waaaay too much time photographing some of our favorite ornaments with our new DSLR. We don’t have kids, so it was a full-on ornament fashion show.

Some of our favorites include the nutcracker men that move their arms and legs, an Alzheimer’s ornament in honor of Scott’s grandpa who recently passed away, the firetruck mice, Sailboat Santa (Scott’s favorite), present-guarding Darth Vader, and of course, one of our wedding ornaments.

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I’ve been trying to learn how to use the aperture, ISO and shutter speeds on the camera. I’ve got a LONG way to go, but it’s been fun trying to figure all this out. If anyone has any tips or cheats, let me know!

This was the first year that we’ve been at the house where Scott didn’t have to put up the Christmas lights in 20 degree weather! We still reign as the Grizwolds of the street, and we love it. 🙂

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Yes, Scott is hanging up a doubled-up strand of lights. One strand is not bright enough in our book. We want full-on lighthouse beacon!

Also, I don’t know how many Darth Vader Santas you have in your house, but we have like 5. It’s crazy and they are everywhere! I guess there are four wisemen this year. Watch out Baby Jesus. I wouldn’t trust the one in the back…

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I was a super slacker and didn’t order Christmas cards to send out this year. I designed them and everything, but I forgot to order them over Black Friday and when I finally got around to it, they were WAY more expensive. Sorry peeps. E-card it is. We don’t love you any less!!

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Onto the tasty part of this post – COOKIES!

I’ve been searching for the best chocolate cookie recipe for a while now. Years, actually. And I believe I finally found it!! They are big cookies full of chocolate yumminess.

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For the recipe, go HERE. The recipe is adapted from Jacques Torres … which I’ve never had his cookies, but he is known as “Mr. Chocolate” and anyone with that name must make one mean cookie. And these cookies have LOTS of chocolate in them. No chips … full on wafers. I used Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips. I had to restrain myself from shoveling handfuls of the wafers in my mouth before mixing in the dough. The struggle is real, ya’ll.

Saving the best for last: presents!! My sister gave Scott and I our gifts at Thanksgiving and they were so awesome that I thought I’d share with you. These were more like double gifts because by purchasing them, they gave back.

First off was a handbag by JOYN. This is what it says on their website:

Today, JOYN employs a diverse and growing team of Americans, Australians, Brits, Indians, Tibetans, and Nepalese working together in Rajpur. Theirs is a community of people who strive to take care of one another.

JOYN continues to sell beautiful products handmade by artisans who do 100 percent of the work, from weaving to block printing to stitching. This brings JOY to those who make the products, and JOY to those who buy them.

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Each one of these bags is hand woven, painted and sewn by women working to make a living for their families. To check out the process, go HERE.

My bag was made by three different women:

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So, if you are looking for a way to give back twice and for a last minute gift, definitely check this site out. The handbags are beautiful and are very affordable!

The other gift my sister gave us was a marriage devotional called “You and Me Forever” by Francis and Lisa Chan.

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This is another amazing story where Francis and Lisa decided to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary by serving in a village in Africa that one of their friends started. Here is what it says on their website:

This body of believers had been building a village to feed children dying of starvation, liberate women trapped in prostitution, and give hope and opportunity to a community ravished by poverty. Moved by what God was doing there for the poor, Francis and Lisa wanted to bless the ministry to double or triple its impact. 

All proceeds from this book go to this village to feed the hungry kiddos, help free women from prostitution and spread the gospel to unreached places. Pretty amazing! To check out more on this, go HERE. The video on their website is so incredibly moving. Definitely redirected my heart for what was important in this season of giving.

Finally, I want to leave you with a couple songs that Scott and I have been playing on repeat this past month. There have been some uncertainties in our lives lately and these songs have been like a breath of fresh air when we get too wrapped up in the junk of the world and try to fix and do everything ourselves.

My favorite is “Times” by Tenth Avenue North.

Scott’s favorite is “Christ Be All Around Me” by Leeland.

I know this time of year can be hard on some people. Families don’t always function the way you want them or expect them to. Some loved ones are missing. People are tired or worn out or hurting or may have to work over the holidays. So, this season we are choosing kindness. To be kinder than necessary. And love. Because there can never be too much of that.

One final photo for you. Scott in his ugly Christmas sweater vest playing at the “Holly Jollies and Frosty Follies Christmas Celebration.” If that’s doesn’t get you in the holiday mood … 🙂

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And yes. That’s a piano tie.

Much love,
–  Allie

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4 thoughts on “A Tree, Cookies and Some Presents

  1. What an inspiring message today… We can all adopt your special words for the season ~ “kindness and love”. Your favorite songs are beautiful! Love them! Thanks for lifting my spirits!

  2. Allie, you should try your hand at writing novels, you have a great way with words. You and Scott could lift anyone’s spirits. Love and blessing’s to you as you prepare for the coming of our Savior’s birth.

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