31 January 2013

Thankful to be With Family on Thanksgiving

Kent and I flew to Houston very early on Thanksgiving morning so we could spend the holiday weekend with Lissa and Jason's family.  
However, after looking through all the pictures we took while we were there I see we didn't have a single picture with Lissa or Jason in it.  I guess they just aren't as photogenic as their girls!
   Here we are ready to sit down to our Thanksgiving feast.
 Savannah enjoyed cuddling with Grandpa.
 Not sure how we got a picture of Kiera without her making a silly face, but this is a nice one.
 The weather was very nice and we were able to spend some time outside.
 If weather permits Kent and I usually take the girls to the little neighborhood playground when we go to visit them.

 I finished sewing Savannah's Christmas stocking while I was there.
Now the Stinson family Christmas stockings are finished.
 A couple of random cute pictures of our time there.

 See what I mean that Kiera has a hard time being serious in pictures?
There were other cute pictures. but Lissa already used most of them on the blog post she did about our visit there.  She was more timely than I and posted her pictures in November!!

23 January 2013

Christmas at America's Largest Home

I heard about Biltmore, which boasts to be America's largest home, last year on a TV special about America's must-see Christmas trees.  So this year we decided to check it out.  
 Biltmore is near Asheville, North Carolina, and was built by the Vanderbilts in the late 1890's.  It was about a seven-hour drive from our home in Virginia.
Biltmore has with over 250 rooms, but only a fraction of those are open to the public.  Within the rooms we toured were 68 decorated Christmas trees, a bowling alley, an indoor pool and an indoor exercise room.
Below are a few details of the outside of the house.  It reminded us of the cathedrals and castles in Europe. 
 The picture below is a bit fuzzy, but there were many carvings like this.
 We chose the ticket option to visit the house twice, first during the daytime, and second in the evening for the candlelight tour.  In the evening the fires were lit, there was live music throughout the house, and there were luminaries lining the driveway and entrance to the house.  Of course those 68 lighted Christmas trees looked even more lovely in the dark as they did in the daytime.
 Pictured below was the entrance into the grounds at Biltmore.  We drove for several miles before we came to the house itself.
 This is the same view as pictured at the top of the blog, but was much more dramatic when it was dark!

 Here's a shot of the entrance as we were waiting to go in.  The house was lavishly decorated for Christmas.
We weren't supposed to take pictures, but we snapped a couple to remind us of how amazing it was on the inside.

We had a great time and were glad we went.  It was a fantastic way to put us into the Christmas spirit!

16 January 2013

Tyler and Rachel's Open House in Virginia

The first time Tyler and Rachel could get up to Virginia after their wedding for an open house was on Veteran's Day weekend, which was November 10th.  Adri and Sophia also came, and Rachel's parents, David and Brooke Judd.  It was fun to see everyone, and we put them to work on projects Saturday before the open house. 

The open house was held at a community center about half a mile from our house, and it was an ideal venue for the occasion.
Fortunately we had a good crew of workers to get the lights around the entryway and the banner flags up that I'd made.  There were also rope lights along the front of the planters. It looked just as pretty as I'd hoped it would! 

I made the wreaths with glittered organza, and painted and stenciled the letters to put into the wreaths. Rachel's colors for her reception in Michigan were eggplant and sage, so I used the same colors for the open house in Stafford.
 This is a nice shot with the parents, but I wish we'd taken a picture with Adri and Sophia in it, too.
 A three-generation photo.
 Sophia is a good little eater and liked the fruit kabobs.
Sophia was just starting to walk and she got some practice in at the open house.

 Here I am with Tresha Andrews, Bonnie Jeo and Mylinda Stone. We were all in the Kaiserslautern ward in Germany back in 2004-2007.
A talented sister in our ward, Lisa Harris, made several phenomenal chalkboards for the open house. The one below is my favorite.

I set up a milk and cookies bar for the refreshments.   
 I found the half gallon milk jugs at an Amish store in central Virginia, and used my silhouette machine to make vinyl lettering to identify the jugs.

 There were 13 different kinds of YUMMY cookies!! Many kind friends baked cookies for the open house.

I used washed out Starbucks frappuccino jars to hold the signs for the cookies 
and for the flower arrangements.  That's salt in the jars to look like milk.
Large cookie jars held the take-home favors.
Tyler and Rachel signed each of the favor bags.
I added tulle and flowers to the picture frames with photos from the wedding in Michigan.
I spent many hours looking for ideas and planning and creating the decorations for the open house, but I think it was worth it.  It all turned out pretty much the way I'd envisioned it in my head.  It was fun to see it all come together in reality!