Dear 2011,

Every year I write a letter on December 31st.
To read the other yearly letters, click HERE.

Dear 2011,

Here we are...another year in the books.
You are been a most memorable year.
You did not disappoint!
Let's look at some highlights!
My favorite part of January was Kate turning 4, throwing her a Cinderella Birthday Party & having Cinderella arrive at the party. It was pure magic & such a fun party!
Also in January, Kevin and I got to pour wine at the ZAP wine festival in San Francisco because our brother in law's wine was in the Top 100 for the San Francisco Chronicle.
It was such a fun event & I can't wait to do it again this January, since another one of his wines got Top 100!

February was another fun filled month which started out with throwing a Something Blue {with a Twist} Bridal Shower for my younger sister.
Also in February, The one and only Pioneer Woman had a book signing in San Fransisco, and my friend Becky and I went!
Could we look anymore ecstatic?!?! It was SUCH a fun night & made me love the PW even more than I already do!
February held a milestone...Potty Training Claire!!! Such a great feeling!

March held more pre-wedding celebrations and we had Rebecca's Bachelorette Party. During the day, went Wine Tasting in Napa in a limo!
So.much.Fun! Then we came back to my house & for an Around the Clock Bridal Shower.

March also means St. Patty's Day for this Irish girl.
We had a leprechaun visit our house, leave a treasure map & turn our food green!

The highlight was of course April 2nd when my sister got married!!!
And, another big milestone in April. We became a crib-free house & Claire got a Big Girl Bed!
And, yes...I cried when we took the crib down.

Oh, May. You were not a good month.
Claire was at the peak of her terrible 2's.
She wasn't listening, wasn't napping anymore & wasn't sleeping well at night.
My students last year were a very tough group and by May, I was D-O-N-E.
My energy & patience were non existent.
I was taking all my school stress out on my girls & Kevin and that was not fun for anyone. Yuck.
Also, in May one of my former students committed suicide and her memorial service was on my birthday. It was just an icky month. I was glad to see that month go.
2 highlights in May was that we celebrated 1 year of living in this house and Kevin built me garden boxes & we planted our very first garden!
Although May wasn't a good month, June TOTALLY REDEEMED May.

June meant school was out & Summer Vacation was here!
It also meant it was time for our long awaited Disney Cruise & Disney World trip with Kevin's family!
{Click HERE for my Disney posts}

One of my favorite days of the year....4th of July!
This was the year I hosted my parent's annual 4th of July Party at my house (so that we could swim...it was 100 degrees out!)
This year did not disappoint & was such a fun day.
Already counting down the days until 4th of July 2012!

We had our annual summer trip to Tahoe with my family which is always fun!
August was when my garden exploded with veggies! I loved going out to the garden each morning with the girls & picking veggies.
Highlights of September were definitely Claire turning 3 and throwing her Cowgirl Party.
The Party had been planned in my head for almost a year. It was so seeing it come to life!
Another highlight of September was having a girls weekend & going to Blog Sugar.
Such an amazing weekend!

Hands down, the highlight of October was my Grammy turning 100 years old!
Being able to celebrate her with all our family was incredible.
And of course, Halloween was a highlight.
This year, we had friends over to our house for appetizers/dinner and then went Trick or Treating in our neighborhood. It was so much fun.

November is quickly becoming one of my favorite months. October will always be #1, but November is pretty special also. This November was a good one. I was super busy with photo shoots, but was able to get away for a few days during Thanksgiving break & my favorite part of the month was going to Pebble Beach for my Mom's Birthday weekend.
This was one of my favorite Decembers that I can remember.
I think the reason I was able to enjoy it was because I actually had boundaries this year for the first time EVER & told people I wasn't doing photo shoots past Thanksgiving. By December 1st, I had everyone's photos done. I was able to truly enjoy the season of CHRISTmas, not feel rushed, not feel stressed and not feel overwhelmed with a busy schedule. Relishing in the glory of Christ's birth. I was able to soak in the season and enjoy it with Kevin and the girls. I will always look back to December 2011 as special and magical time.
Another huge highlight was being part of Project 320 and raising money to build a 4th well in Africa. Praise God for clean water!

So there you have it, some snapshots of 2011.
Tonight, I am sick, so I am ringing in the New Year watching Friday Night Lights and snacking on Saltines & Gatorade while the girls are sleeping & Kevin is at our court NYE party.
But, I am thankful for the chance to be still & quiet and reflect on all the 2011 has given us.
A year where God has taught me many things:
I need to trust Him more.
I need to have more patience. WAY more patience.
I need to love like He loves.
He has shown me grace over and over and over again.
He is our Provider.
He has done more than I could ever ask or imagine. EVER.
We have a good, good, God.

Thanks for the trials, tribulations, blessings & joys, 2011.

Happy New Year, dear friends. Thanks for reading!
May your 2012 be blessed!


Merry Christmas!

"I bring you good news of Great joy that will be for all people. Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you...He is Christ the Lord!"
Luke 2:10-11


My Favorite Things Party!

On Tuesday night, I hosted a My Favorite Things Party with some of my close friends from church. I saw the idea to have a Favorite Things Party on Pinterest & knew I had to have one.
Here is my version of a Favorite Things Party!
I mailed out these invites to the girls:
I printed them on brown paper & tied bakers string around them (to play off the words to the song....Brown Paper Packages tied up with string...These are a few of My Favorite Things)
The invite stated to bring 3 of your favorite thing costing that costs $10 or less.
I have seen Favorite Things Parties where you bring 5 of something costing $5 or less, but because our party was small (only 6 of us) we did 3 presents.

Here are some snapshots of the party!
I made a veggie tree that I saw on Pinterest:
The PW's Artichoke Dip (and fun red & green toritalla chips!) and Bruschetta:
Brie with Apples, Pecans & Dried Cranberry chutney. SO good.
Cheese Plater:
Egg Rolls:
I had little frames up with some of the words to the My Favorite Things Song.
Drinks (including a pitcher of Becky's cosmos!)
And, of course....The Dessert Table!
(Yes, I know there were only 6 girls at this party, but I can't help myself...I love making Desserts & having Dessert Tables!)
Another frame with words from the song..."Cream Colored Ponies & Crisp Apple Strudels"
So, of course, I had to make mini apple pie bites (aka: apple strudels)
Chocoalte Dipped Strawberries:
Red Velvet Cakeballs:
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream:
And, I had some roses in vases because of "Raindrops on Roses...."
I know. I am crazy. Embrace the crazy.
Susan & Becky:
Bridgette & Nicole:
Here is picture of all the presents:
I did a "theme" for my present. My theme was "Girls Night In" I had a bottle of one of my favorite Wines (Cameron Hughes 273) a copy of one of my favorite movies... 27 dresses ($4 on sale!) and a bag of 100 calorie microwave popcorn). Mine cost a little more than $10, but that is okay, because it is my party, I can do what I want ;)
I made 3 name "tags" for each person at the party & then we each drew 3 names to give our 3 presents to.
Once everyone picked 3 names we went around & each person said what they brought & why it was one of their Favorite Things. And then they gave out their gifts!
Kelly was the first to hand out her gifts. She brought her favorite breakfast bar & a bottle of Cupcake Chardonnay (great minds think alike!)
Susan's gift was handmade. It was a wine bottles & beer bottles spray painted with chalk board paint. Each person got 3 bottles & chalk. Such a cute idea!
Here is what I got. My friend Nicole's favorite mascara, Becky's gift of 2 journals, her favorite pen & some of her husband's home roasted coffee. Score!!
And, I got Bridgette's gift which is her favorite hand lotion from Restoration Hardware.
At the end of the night, I had everyone put their name back in the bowl so I could pick a winner of the Bonus Bag/Swag Bag!
I had another little bag of a few more of my favorite things to give out to 1 lucky friend.
That bag included:
A Diet Coke
A Starbucks Gift Card
A Bag of Trader Joe's Chocolate Kettle Corn
A bag of Trader Joe's Peppermint Pretzel Slims
& Glad To-Go Tupperware (which have the dip container attached. Genius!)

Group shot of all of us:
(Thanks for the photo, Becky!)

It was such a FUN night.
It was so great to have a smaller party so that you could have good conversation with each person. It was a much needed Girls Night with some of my favorite people!
We are definitley going to make this an annual thing!
Can't wait for next years party...I am already brainstorming what to bring!


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