December 26, 2010

Ornaments, finger food, and friends

On the 22nd we had our first annual Christmas party and ornament exchange. It was hosted by Danielle and Andrew, whose new house looked suuuuper cute decorated for Christmas! They had a real tree and it looked so great next to their fireplace with all our gifts on it. Danielle had really cute Christmas-y plates to put our food on that we brought. We were supposed to bring a finger food, so I brought a finger-dessert: cake balls! I had such a busy day trying to see friends at Casa Grande and return wedding gifts at Short Pump, but I made the cake balls happen! It was tough, but Nicole came to help me do the last part, which took the longest. It was great to get to see her and spend more time with her before she heads off to Australia for a year!

It was so fun to see all our friends and get to hang out. I LOVE all those people!! It is the best time when we get together - everyone knows each other so well and we are all crazy, so it makes for a fun time. I know there were some great quotes from the night but I can't remember them (let's not forget the lunch quote - can I change mine to beans??). We were mostly divided into girls and guys after the game so it was fun to get some girl chatting time in - we talked about weddings a lot because there are so many that just happened and are coming up! (And Jamie and Kevin are engaged now!!! Yaaaay congratulations to them!!)
Danielle had the great idea to do an ornament-themed white elephant gift exchange, which was great because we all got stuff we can use, even if it was weird. Jamie and I decided we're going to make this a tradition, have it at a different house every year, and get a small tree to put all our ornaments on that we get from the party. There were sooooo many weird ones!! Actually I think they were pretty much all weird. Here are some highlights: sock animals, sparkly ones (including giant lips), feathery birds, a hula cow, a couple homemade ornaments, and a bag of pipecleaners to make your own ornament. The guys used the pipe cleaners to make penguins for the girls.
We had so much fun and can't wait for next year!

December 19, 2010

I'm making a list & checking it twice...

Just thought I would share my new packing strategy! It works great! I am one of the worst packers I know. I know some other people who struggle with packing, but I'm one of them. It's not that I don't like packing, I think it's that I like it too much. I could pack for so long! That is a really weird thing to say, but anyways it just means I don't like to be done with packing so I don't like to do it quickly. Another problem is that I take FOR-EVER to make decisions, especially when I have to choose something that I'm going to want in the future. How could I possibly know what I'm going to want in the future? Anyways I've started using this strategy that really helps eliminate a lot of time. It's so simple but for years I never thought of it. Before I ever start physically packing, I sit down at my computer and make a list of everything I want to bring. It sounds so simple but it really makes a difference for me because instead of looking at all the options of clothes and books and trying to choose between them, I decide what I want beforehand, so that when I see all the options I already know what I want. Also it helps to start with a smaller list and add instead of getting out every shirt I want to bring and then trying to get rid of some. Anyways this is probably old news for most of you, but if any of you packing strugglers are having trouble this holiday season, hopefully this method can help you! :)

December 18, 2010

A Dicken's Christmas

Last night we went to Dicken's Christmas in Roanoke. It's a really fun Christmas tradition for us! We found out about it our junior year (well technically it was my sophomore year) and went with a bunch of friends the next two years. I missed it a lot last year! The historic part of downtown Roanoke is decorated and lots of vendors are set up outside as well as regular shops being open too. You can browse lots of cool handmade items and then run inside somewhere to warm up!
Whit had really wanted to eat at a nice restaurant overlooking the decorated streets. We found the perfect place! It was so cute and right in the middle of everything. There was no wait, which we were worried about, so even though we got there a little late we didn't lose any time. I was excited to finally order gnocchi, which I tried once last year but haven't seen on a menu since, and Whit tried duck. Both were scrumptious! So the reason they call it Dicken's Christmas is because they have all these people dressed up as characters from A Christmas Carol who act out various scenes randomly throughout the night. We stopped to watch a few performers who standing right outside a shop. In the middle of this girl's lines, this lady hastily comes out of the shop and knocks over this thing containing like a million beads, which went everywhere and made a huge commotion! It was hilarious, and the poor girl could barely get through her lines without losing it. This is them picking them all up afterwards.I bought a sweet hat from Nepal! I hate how I look in hats, but Whit thinks I look really cute in this one :)Enjoying the festivities :)Then we walked over to the Hotel Roanoke to look at their decorated Christmas trees. They had about 25 trees decorated by different organizations. You walk around the whole hotel and vote on your favorites. The contest was already over, but we enjoyed looking at all the trees and wandering around the nice hotel (and getting the feeling back in our toes!)This was my favorite - the Grinch! It was by some water supplier. Another good one was from Advance Auto - they had put wheels and an engine on a cool-looking sleigh and put it in front of a backdrop with lights twinkling for stars. It was pretty awesome. The most elaborate one was by the Boy Scouts who had cut like 50 sections of a tree trunk and laid them out on the ground for you to walk on which led you into a tent. Then at the end (outside of the tent) they had a cool tree.


We had our very first overnight guests last weekend! The winners: Evan and Courtney! They came up on Saturday night and stayed through Sunday evening. We had so much fun! They wanted to come because the previous weekend they had found some old Christmas movies on VHS that they wanted to watch with us. We don't have a VCR, so Evan just brought his whole TV with him - ridiculous!

I was thrilled that they found the videos, because they were ones that were lost in the Mysteries of Life - memories that I have that I have no idea what they are because they were such a long time ago (another great example: Bon Bons cereal (little cinnamon buns) - has anyone else ever eaten them??? I've never met anyone who has). Soo the biggest one, that I always think about but never know if it was real or not or what it was, is this weird Christmas movie where these geese are waddling along singing the song "a here we come a wassailing..." ...turns out Evan FOUND THE MOVIE!!! craaaaaziness! It is a Claymation Christmas special. Want to know something even more awesome?? Nathan watched the movie when he was little too - but it scarred him for life and is the reason he hates claymation. Hilarious. (We know now why he was scarred - it is pretty creepy). The other ones we watched are A Garfield Christmas (which in my mind was always Garfield Thanksgiving because they eat a big meal with turkey and my family only does that for Thanksgiving) and Sesame Street Christmas (of which I always remember this part where they all hold hands and skate around in a circle and then Oscar goes flying off the ice, down a few flights of stairs, and lands outside).

We had fun watching the videos, and then later that night we played Monopoly Deal, which Courtney hadn't played before but loved, especially since she really wanted to play regular Monopoly, but that of course takes way too long. I dominated in Monopoly Deal, and I guess you could say I had a monopoly on winning that game. The next day we took them to our church, which was a great one for them to go to since it had all the traditional traditions that are classic "GCPC" - Tobias playing guitar, harmonica worship, old folky songs (including a Christmas one), etc. The only thing we were missing was kids getting to speak up during the children's time at the front. We ate lunch at the Rivermill and then played games the rest of the day - we played Clue and a lot of Wii. Then Evan and Courtney took the myers-briggs test and we analyzed it until they left. I love myers-briggs, it's so interesting, accurate, and informative! Evan is the same type as me, which we suspected (INTP). No wonder we understand each other and get along so well. Since we missed the text at lunch saying that my dad would pay for us, we ordered a pizza with his money for dinner. We had such a fun time actually hanging out with them all four of us, and I can't wait for the next time! (Christmas Eve!!)

Love y'all!

December 10, 2010


Meet Ellie. She's our Christmas tree. The day Whit and I went to get her we were brainstorming Jackson family Christmas tradition ideas. We decided that one will be to choose an ornament together every year. Once we brought our little "pet" home, we decided that we should name our Christmas tree each year since we feel like a real family now - celebrating Christmas together and having our own tree. We figured that the name should be meaningful to our lives each year, and since we live on Ellett Road we decided on the name Ellie. She's so cute, soft, and smells so good! We love having her!

This was our house before she came (a wreck!):She wanted to cuddle up close with us when we took her home - she loves us already! We rearranged the dining area for her so we can sit in that big cozy chair and enjoy her beautiful lights. She got all dressed up and looks so fancy now! (Thanks Mom for saving all my old ornaments - we didn't need to buy any!)Jackson family Christmas picture 2010 (with Ellie)! Yay! :)

December 9, 2010

My oversized truck

Today in staff team we were talking about jealousy. Every time Jeff sees an F150 or an Fx4 or whatever those huge trucks are called, he gets jealous. I immediately knew what my "truck" is - a nice camera. I love photography and taking pictures and really want an SLR camera that I can learn to shoot manually, but start out just taking great pictures with not much effort. I don't even really know what to call that kind of camera or if that's right so that's kind of sad. But I originally wanted a Nikon D40 when they had that commercial about "Picturetown" where Nikon handed out cameras to everyone in the town in order to prove that anyone can take great pictures with their camera. Another camera in the running is a Canon Rebel - what my photographer started out with...she's awesome and has recommended that camera so it must be great. Why do I bring this up? Because in the past week, THREEEEE close people around me have gotten the camera!! What the heck. The problem with this is that I really don't like trends, and I don't like it when people take my ideas - so this kind of falls into that category of "I wanted it first so now if I get it it's not as special." I almost bought the camera this summer, but had so many other things I wanted to buy, and ended up buying a sweet waterproof camera instead (which is currently broken and needs to be fixed....sad). I love islands, and want to take beautiful pictures of beaches, so I wish that I had the camera last year when I went to Aruba and Curacao, so I was thinking I'd want it for Jamaica, but that it'd be a bad idea cause all I'd want to do on our honeymoon is take pictures. So I decided that I'll wait until we go to St. John for our 5 year anniversary trip (this is my dream - hopefully Whit catches on soon) and buy one before we go if I don't have one already. Or if I'm going anywhere awesome in the next few years maybe I'll buy one then....or if we get a puppy. So now you know my weakness...and what I'm struggling with as everywhere I look people are learning how to use the sweet camera that I wanted to be cool and original with! Guess I'll just have to take a humble pill and just get the camera when it's appropriate for my life, not to just be cool - hah.

December 7, 2010


The number of blankets on our bed last night. For our one-month anniversary, we ventured out from our cold apartment to El Mariachi for a much needed Mexican dinner. (I hadn't had Mexican since before we got married so it was long overdue!) It was a good choice because, since they're Mexican, they had the heat up pretty high. When we got back we were supposed to decorate our Christmas tree, but we were too cold because our heat isn't doing its job. We've had it set on 70 for the past week and all it's been able to do the past few days is 65 at its peak. This morning when we woke up it was only 60! SIX-TY. Brrr!! When I walked into the office this morning I found Whit bundled up in shoes, his ski jacket, a hat, gloves, and a face mask. I was very confused since I had just woken up. So anyways last night, now you will understand why we couldn't resist snuggling in our bed with seven blankets on top of us, between us, and wrapped around us. Hope you're finding ways to stay warm too!

December 3, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

I love Christmas trees!
The Triangular-ness, the aroma, the decorations.... the taste!
No, I am not referring to the big green one that stands in your living room. I am talking about the little debbie snack cakes - and brownies!!
This year I have been obsessed - nay, in love - with Christmas trees. I had totally forgotten about them for years, but when I saw them on sale at Target before our wedding (whoa - that was awhile ago), I decided I needed to re-instate them into my Christmas tradition. I started out with the cakes and now I have progressed to the brownies. Whit loves them too (it works out because he favors the cakes and I favor the brownies). We have had them on stock ever since before I left for our wedding. They are such a fun treat and make me so excited for Christmas every time I eat one! Sooo go buy some!!

December 2, 2010

Christmastime is Here

I am triple excited for Christmas this year. Why?
1. It's Christmas.
2. I didn't really get the whole Christmas experience last year, tradition-wise.
3. Whit & I are married!!

This creates lots of Christmas thoughts and planning in my little Sydni brain. I cannot stop planning parties/get-togethers, thinking of things I want to bake, and decorating the house. It's just so fun!! Since last year right after Christmas when I went shopping and bought a few things for our house for a year from then (when I knew Whit & I would be together - we had to be), I have been too excited about it. It's bad - I seriously have been anticipating Christmas ALL year. And everything since I've come back to the US has reminded me of Christmas, or at least winter. This resulted in Whit and I listening to a Christmas CD throughout our Thanksgiving break travels - which were plentiful. We were in the car for SO long, listening to so much Christmas music, that I had to turn it off a couple times for fear of ruining Christmas music before it even became DECEMBER. Ridiculous.

December welcomed us to Christmas merrily by giving us two days so far of snow flurries! And more expected to come! When I came out to my car tonight I just thought it was so cute - it was all trimmed nice and neatly with snow exactly how you would create it if you were decorating a car for a movie. YAY Christmas! :)