Mid-December Recap

How is December flying by so quickly? It’s already mid-December. I can’t believe Christmas is next week! Are you done with your Christmas shopping yet?

I’ve been a bit MIA on the blog recently, due to lack of time because I’m working now and because the holiday season is always packed with adventures (what I actually mean is feasts). Activities lined up every single weekend until my parents come to town (yay, this weekend!). I’m especially excited about this year because we’re renting a cabin in Tahoe in between Christmas and New Years for my family and my in-laws. Don’t know if we’ll be skiing yet but there’ a high possibility!

Since my last post, I’ve had 3 holiday parties. One that consists of all you can eat Brazilian BBQ. And two other parties where I was one of the main head chefs (think pounds and pounds of prime rib). Here are some fun recaps from pics on my iPhone.

Here at Espetus in sequins and fur – my favorite combo!

Dinner

And now for the church Christmas parties – here are the goods. The Costco employees even commented on how much food we had in our carts!

Goods

And look at these awesome veggie trees – you simply buy a styrofoam cone, wrap it in plastic wrap to keep it from crumbling, and skewer veggies onto the cone with toothpicks. I carved stars from pineapple as toppers (remember to soak your pineapple in salt water so it doesn’t brown).

Veggie Trees

Crab cakes galore! I definitely made over 100 crab cakes.

Crab Cakes
Use my crab cake recipe here

And MEAT!

Prime Rib
My perfect prime rib recipe here

And here’s my little sweetheart guarding the presents. “You shall not open the presentz!”

Chubs' Present

I’m also taking my parents to The Christmas Story musical on Christmas Eve. Each year, Neighborhood church in Castro Valley hosts a broadway-like musical for only $5 per ticket. It’s such a great form of entertainment and good price too! Tickets are going fast so order ahead, and constantly check their site to see if there are new musicals on the horizon – totally worth the cost.

What are you most excited for during this Christmas season?
Jay

  

Annual Tree Chop

This past weekend was the Lam-Luu annual tree chop weekend! It’s a little tradition of ours now to go to a tree farm, pick out a tree, and chop it yourself to bring home. It’s fun to do now, so I imagine it to be even more fun with kids.

Well… the Luus brought their new kid, fur-kid that is, to the party this year! Meet Casey – he was adopted about a week ago, such a cute little guy! So happy that I have a little puppy to play with now.

Saturday was a gloomy and rainy day, but it felt perfect for a winter day to go tree shopping. It set the mood. This year we tried a new place in Los Gatos called Summit Tree Farms. This place was amazing, definitely better than the last few places we’ve been to! First off, it’s a huge lot with plenty of trees. And most importantly, all the trees were perfectly shaped triangles. After about 30 minutes of strolling the farm, we finally picked out our trees.

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Ming
^^^ My manly man!

Lam-Luus
Lam/Luus <3

Now that the tree was home, it was a decorating weekend! One of my favorite things to do during this season, I love digging through the stuff that I have, with each piece providing a little piece of my memory. I’m also reminded of the things I purchased post-Christmas and haven’t seen for a whole year! I’m all about those post-holiday sales.

With this little guy as my helper, I was determined to finish decorating the house to get into that Christmas spirit.

Chubs

Done
Ta-Da! All decorated in gold and silver with a little rustic burlap skirt (it’s the same burlap from my wedding!). Now I need those presents!

Often times, there are little branches that need to be trimmed from the tree. Those don’t go to waste in this house! I put them in vases and placed them around the house as well. They are such cute little editions to the home.

Branch

Toby

Decor

Wanna know something funny? MG and I bought our first real tree 2 years ago, back in 2012. We wanted to pick the fattest tree we could possibly find at the farm. Challenge accepted and succeeded. I present to thee, the Christmas bush. This is from my old iPhone since I didn’t even have a fancy camera yet. Notice how we still have blinds and white walls! In 2 years so much has changed.

Christmas Bush

Not even gonna lie, I miss the Christmas bush. It gave so many people lots of laughs! What are some of your friend/family traditions for this time of year? What gets you into the holiday spirit?

With love,
Jay

  

Pre-Christmas

It’s the time of holiday parties!

MG and I had our own date night, gift opening party on Friday evening. I bought him some amazing Shun knives (basically I get to use them too, best kind of gift). And he bought me a Fisheye lens for my camera and Snake Oil, only the best game ever. I should let you know that we’re going to Texas to visit my family and friends for Christmas soon. That’s why we celebrated our own Christmas early and opened gifts.

On Saturday we went Christmas tree chopping! We’ve made this an annual tradition to go with our friends and chop your own tree at the farm. I can’t wait until the day all my friends and I have toddlers, and we can bring the little ones to run around and help saw the tree. Those will make for good memories. What are some of your annual Christmas traditions? Please share, I’d love to know!

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Doesn’t the tree on the right look like someone is hiding in camo? Freaky… and bushy.

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Give a guy a saw and he feels like Ron Swanson! (Any Parks and Rec fans here?)

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Sawing the perfect tree!

DSC03534Soooo muddy…

DSC03548The Luu’s tree ^^^

DSC03559Always a great time with these two

We also went to our church’s annual White Elephant Christmas party. Food was delicious. Fellowship was great. Gifts were… creative. I say this because the maximum amount you could spent was $4. I came out with an olive oil dispenser. I’m happy! I’ve discovered that at this age, kitchenware is the best gift you could get (am I old?).

DSC03663Singing Christmas carols 

BTW, did you notice I’m using my fisheye lens? Thanks hubby.

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My love ^^^

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We had a gingerbread cookie mansion decorating table. People were encouraged to continually add to the mansion. Look at that ice skating rink in the front and the garden on the right – so much imagination! Making a gingerbread house is SO difficult. Props to those that can make one look like something… Ha!

On Sunday night I celebrated Christmas with my lovely in-laws. We had a seafood feast at home, played a round of Snake Oil, unwrapped gifts, and then had some homemade vanilla ice cream. It was a splendid night of family.

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Our tree filled with presents!

DSC03687A fantastic family picture. Isn’t it Christmas card worthy?

What did you do this weekend?

Love,
Jay

  

OCC

It’s Operation Christmas Child time!

Many kids around the world do not get gifts during the holiday season. It’s a sad but very true fact of life. Samaritan’s Purse has a program where people can pack shoeboxes filled with gifts to children all over the world. Ultimately the boxes are opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Every year my church hosts their annual OCC boxing event. The congregation eats lunch together, we sprawl out on the floor, and pack our boxes together. The church provides some of the sanitary/school items (combs, toothbrushes, soap, crayons, pencils, and pens), and it’s up to each individual to buy their toys.

Walking into the toy aisle always reminds me of when I was a little kid – aisle upon aisle of dolls, stuffed animals, legos, and games. To this day it’s still fun to shop for toys! MG and I decided to put together 4 boxes this year but to personalize each box by writing a letter to our kids and sending a a Lam family picture. It’s always nice to get a gift with a personal touch.

We made these cards at home with some stuff lying around the house (construction paper, twine, glitter, dollies, and cotton balls). These cards are perfect for little kiddies to make.

OCC Cards

I’m really proud of the snowflake one, so here’s how I did it!

Dollie
See the swirly design in the middle of the dollie? Basically trace the pattern with glue and sprinkle glitter!

Cards

Snowflake

So easy, and such a fun way to use items around your house.

Here are all the toys we purchased for our boxes! We got some jump ropes, a baby doll, a stuffed bunny, and some sidewalk chalk for 2-4 year old girls. For the 5-9 year old boys we purchased marbles, trucks, zombie figures, and putty.

Toys

PackingMG packing his boys’ boxes. I chose girls!

DoneAll done and filled to the brim! Enjoy little ones!

My favorite thing about OCC is watching kids pack boxes. For them to give up toys for other children in need is a profound understanding of love, a sacrificial love that Jesus has for all of us.

Kayla and KelseySweet, sweet Kayla and Kelsey

Abby
Adorable Abby

Niko
Very handsome Niko (maybe this guy got some help with his boxes)

I encourage you to pack a box for a child in need. For under $20, you are able to provide so much joy for a child that may have never received a gift before. Plus, it’s great entertainment for you to go toy shopping. There is more information on OCC and how to pack a box here.

Have you participated in OCC before? What is your favorite part of packing the box? If you haven’t done this before, is this something you may consider?

In His Name,
Jay