Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Years Eve

A few ideas that struck my fancy for New Years 2011 :

A great way to invite your guests to your rockin' eve. Get the how to from my favorite party gal at Oh Happy Day

image via oh happy day!

I am going to try and recreate these beauties for our party

 via purlbee

Fun idea to pop a balloon every hour with an activity idea inside (I would add a little glitter to the balloons to make it a little more magical!)

via how does she

Free Download: Resolution Packet

via Run Lucas Run

Wouldn't this Pinata set the mood?

via confettisystem

Special drinks always seem to make an event seem extra special. For any of you pregnant ladies or Mormons (of which I am only one of those) there are tons of resources for "mocktail" beverages to kick your party up a notch. Some of my favorite include:

Martha Stewart
Drink Alternatives

via Martha Stewart
Love these sky lanterns.  A perfect way to end the evening, releasing your new year wishes into the night sky. I also appreciate that this is a very peaceful activity rather than making a ruckus; it may start the year off a little differently. My favorite resource for these is Amazon. (Hint: They take at least 2 people to prepare, so you may not need as many as you think!)
image via
For more ideas see my New Years post from 2009
Happy New Year and Happy Partying!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Picks of the Week

Cyprus High School Class of 2001 10-year Reunion

I love this time of year. I feel rejuvinated and refocused. We clean out the clutter of Christmas and start fresh in the new year. Here are a few articles I found inspiring this week:

1. 12 things happy people do differently.
2. A No frills Kitchen still cooks. Great advice for the basic kitchen needs.
3. A great new (to me) blog with fascinating and useful content: becoming minimalist.
4. Change the conversation: Focus on what we LOVE about men, our husbands and marriage. This is a movement I can get behind!
5. What every girl really needs: great girl friends!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Top 5 Experiences Leading up to Christmas...

#1 The North Pole Express

My absolute favorite experience of the Holiday season had to be our trip on the North Pole Express. We sent invites to our oldest niece and 2 nephews inviting them to join us on a “train outing” without giving much more detail.

We went around and picked them all up (their parents were kind enough to let us steal them away for an afternoon/evening) and gave them each a present to open once they were all settled. They each received their own copy of the book The Polar Express so they could follow along as I read the book aloud. I wanted to review the story so it would click in their heads that this was no regular train ride, but instead they were being transported into the story of The Polar Express where they become the children in the book.

The train left at 5:00. We were able to see the train and train station in daylight while boarding and getting settled, then were able to watch the beautiful sunset as we rode along. The kids dressed in their pajamas were treated to cookies and hot chocolate by elves; carolers came through periodically to sing for our train car; and the hostess of the evening played Christmas trivia, asked the kids questions, and led us in some Christmas carols.


The Boys

The Girls

The ride was only about 40 minutes, each way. As we reached the “North Pole” we saw Santa and Mrs Clause waving to us in their “front lawn” decked out in Christmas lights. We were told that Santa would be boarding the train and coming through to see the children in our car soon. The train went back the way we came and we practiced our best Santa inspired songs hoping he would hear our joyful noise and hurry to see us. The hostess helped the kids practice what the kids might ask for from Santa and we all waiting in anticipation for him to arrive.

It was magical seeing their faces light up as Santa asked each of them what they wanted for Christmas, shook their hands and gave them each a bell.

(Don't I have a handsome husband!?!)

We finished the evening with dinner at the local Dairy Keen which is a darling little train themed diner. They each got a kids meal with a toy inside. As our cute niece was finishing her food, she said “Uncle Mason, how about dessert?” Mason looked at me and said, “How can we say no to that!?!” Kiddie cones would suffice with all the other sugar we had them hopped up on and as I suspected the boys weren’t really interested once they had their toys in hand.

The night was every bit as special as I had hoped (as I had been planning the event out, running through every detail in my mind since August). We loved getting to spend some more personal time with our nieces and nephews we love this holiday season, as nothing seems to bring more magic to the holidays then sharing it with children.

Top 5 Experiences Leading up to Christmas...

#2 Savior of the World

I first went to see this production 10 or so years ago. I was on a date so I think I was quite distracted, wondering if my outfit was okay, how I was sitting, and if my hands were poised just right to invite or discourage hand holding. So I really didn't remember much about the production. So, I went this time around expecting to see the ever familiar Nativity, but got so much more!

First of all I was amazed that although we were some of the last people in the theater (How is it that when I am “on time” everyone else is still there before me?) we probably got the best seats in the balcony: Front and center. They just happened to be the only 2 seats together in the whole upper section. I felt blessed.

Then, they had beautiful programs that explained some of the Jewish traditions at the time around Christ’s birth. Although we hear the nativity story time and time again, this really helped me gain a better understanding of the temple ceremonies, why Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, and even The First Resurrection.

Christ's Birth: surrounded by Shephards and Angels

Not to mention, the production was so well done. The direction, costumes, voices, acting, all were top notch; not that I would expect anything less from the Church.

I left feeling like I had learned more about my Savior in that hour and a half than I had in my 28 years leading up to this point. Really, I knew about all the circumstances and stories surrounding the events, but this production just helped me put it all together to gain a stronger testimony. I truly loved every minute of it and hope to be able to catch the show again next year!

Christ appearing to his apostles after his ressurection

images via

Top 5 Experiences Leading up to Christmas...

#3 Family Christmas Parties

Grandma and Grandpa Heywood

Mason's Mom and our sweet niece
I have always loved Mason’s family but for some reason, this year I was especially excited for his family Christmas parities. To me, they are the quintessential party that every kid (and adult, in my case) dream of.

Growing up, my extended family lived far away and so we usually had own quiet Christmas celebrations with my parents and 2 brothers. My mom always found a way to make them magical for us and although I can appreciate the quiet simplicity of a small family gathering, there is nothing quite like being surrounded by a houseful of wonderful people you love.

His extended family all live here in Utah so they get together and do a big celebration at Aunt Kassi’s home every year, complete with a production of the nativity, singing carols, a family talent show, fabulous food, and lots and lots of family.

Kris, Blake, Mason and Brady sang 3 Barber Shop songs and sounded great!
Watching their Dad's sing
Then the Sunday before Christmas his immediate family (all 7 children plus spouses and our nieces and nephews) gather at his parent’s home for our traditional Lasagna dinner, spiritual message from Dad, and gift exchange. What a lovely way to celebrate the Holidays!

Among other things, his parents gave us these beautiful illustrated church songbooks

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top 5 Experiences Leading up to Christmas

#4 Work Parties

We made it to one of Mason’s Work Parties (they had 2). The Pediatric Department always does a big event at the Williams Building on the U of U HealthCare Campus. They convert an entire floor of the office building into a formal convention space. I love the way they have it set up with various food stations: seafood appetizers, salads & veggie appetizers, main course station with roast beef, potatoes and hot veggies, pasta bar, drink station, and a whole room dedicated to desserts. It really is a wonderful affair to enjoy the company of your co-workers and eat fabulous food.
My company Christmas party was held at Flemings Steakhouse. Our firm had done some of the design work on the Gateway so it was a wonderful place to hold our event and appreciate the work of our structural engineers. I was on the planning committee but not in charge (yay!) Our private room was cozy and the plated dinner was delicious! The salmon was some of the best I have ever had in my life! (I know, I am one of those crazy people who order fish when at a steakhouse, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t snag a bite of Mason’s!) We also played a game where a family member of all the employees sent in a picture of a prized possession, collection, or something that represents the employee. It was put together in a power point presentation and we all had to guess which items belonged to which of our co-workers. And guess what, I won!

As if that wasn’t enough, my generous employer also decided to give us all a Christmas gift…our very own personal use ipads! I feel so spoiled already and Christmas isn’t even here yet!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Top 5 Experiences Leading up to Christmas

#5 Decorating my little home

I love pulling out the Christmas decorations and transforming our home into a winter wonderland. 

I am always amazed with the emotions attached to the various pieces. 

Whether it’s an ornament from a vacation we took together (we always buy one for each trip we take New York, Mexico, Jackson Hole, Moab, Sun Valley, etc.), a handmade project, a beautiful piece that you just “had to have,” or nativities to evoke the gratitude I feel for my Savior this time of year; Decorating is the kick off of the season for me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Picks of the week

1. Fear Not! Keeping your positive Christmas Attitude a little longer this year. My favorite quote from this article:
When you are afraid you’re not good enough, your focus is on you. You are worried about getting love and validation. This insecurity is a selfish place to live from. In this state you cannot build healthy relationships because you can’t really focus on other people.

2. This article on "Staying True to Yourself" made me stop and think . It was a "Huh" moment (versus an "Aha" moment) for me.

3. One of the best tips to gaining a happier marriage. I am in total agreement!