Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas with the Duvalls

While in Missouri, we also enjoyed several days with my family, including Christmas morning! Christine, Charles, Aubri and Alayna joined us at mom and dad's house to open gifts and enjoy lunch together. Here are a few photo highlights from Christmas together:

Aubri's new winter hat!

Alayna has the energy of the Energizer Bunny! She always keeps going...

Hard to read, but Aubri's shirt says "Girls Can Change the World" - I really liked this!

Alayna helping me open my gifts :)

A Duvall family tradition is setting up the Play Mobile train that I received when I was little. Each year my parents got me a new piece to go with the train set - I have a ranch, a sheriffs station, indians, gold miners, lots of train passengers, a horse drawn wagon, and more! Mom saved the train for Chris and I to set up when we got into town - Chris and dad played with my train, and then got down some of dad's collectable trains as well. These are some of my favorite photos from this Christmas!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas with the Gilstraps

We had a wonderful time in Missouri, visiting family and friends. Sunday evening was spent at the bi-annual Gilstrap Christmas celebration at Granma Sherry and Grandpa Bob's home. We had a wonderful time catching up with cousins and chatting with new spouses. 

At one point, we all went around and shared what "need" we have become aware of in our lives. Many shared about efforts they support through their church, things like producing clean water in Africa for an orphanage, and "adopting" single moms that were victims of the Joplin tornado, providing them with items to fill their new homes. It was very inspiring to hear about the impact that just one family is having across the country and around the globe.

Grandkids and spouses:

The "kids" table:

Grandkids, spouses and grandparents:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Glenwood Springs Mountain Weekend

The weekend before we left for Missouri, we had a getaway weekend in the mountains. It was nice to rest, relax and enjoy some downtime before the busyness of the Christmas trip to Missouri. Chris snowboarded Beaver Creek on Saturday, then we spent the night in Glenwood Springs. We soaked in the hot springs in Glenwood, which was fabulous! Chris snowboarded Vail on Sunday with our friends Dave and Kate, while I did some last minute shopping at the outlets in Silverthorne. Overall, wonderful getaway weekend :)

Hot Springs in Glenwood Springs:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Denver Lit Up at Christmas

A few photos of Denver lit up at Christmas time!

The courthouse downtown:

Belmar shopping area:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Art!

I had another itch to paint, and found the idea for this art on Pinterest. See it here: canvas. The photo doesn't give it justice ;) The canvas is painted green (for those of you that know our house, it's the green from our little bathroom) and I wrote the words with a white paint pen. I'm really happy with how it turned out and look forward to keeping it up for another week or two, then brining it out around the holidays each year!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Amos Lee Concert and Jingle Bell Run

Chris has been counting down the days until the Amos Lee concert in Denver, and finally, it came! The concert was at the Buell Theater in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and we went to the show with Hilary and her roommate. We had a great time, and Amos Lee really knows how to put on a good show.

On Sunday, we volunteered with the Arthritis Foundation at the Jingle Bell Run. We were at the registration table, and had the opportunity to talk to people as they were checking in for the run. There was such a mix of ages participating in the walk. Arthritis affects all ages, and I got a little teary eyed meeting the kids that were participating in the walk because they have juvenile arthritis. We are committed to continuing to be involved with the foundation when we can, and giving of our time as volunteers. It's such a great cause, and so near to our hearts. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Cookies and Cocktails

It's the most wonderful time of the year! I love to bake and one of my favorite things to do at Christmastime is bake cookies. I have such wonderful memories from growing up baking with my mom and with Grammie (my dad's mom). I also enjoy showing love through baking, so I'm looking forward to bringing cookies back to Missouri for our Christmas visit!

We hosted a "Cookies and Cocktails" party this week and enjoyed celebrating the holiday season with our Colorado friends. Here are a few photos from the cookie spread!

Pretzels with a rolo and pecan on top. Pretzels with a Hershey's Hug Kiss and M&M on top.

Gingerbread men.

Our tree!

Sugar cookies rolled in red and green sugar, with a Hershey's Candy Cane Kiss in the middle. Sugar cut-out cookies, recipe from a sorority sister's mom.

Gingerbread stars with yellow royal icing. Chocolate dipped peanut butter Ritz sandwiches - these are a Gilstrap family tradition, so Chris made these for the party!

Peanut butter reindeer.

The coffee table with a center piece, carmel pecan pretzels, chocolate covered peanut butter Ritz sandwiches, and Hershey's Hugs pretzels.

The cookie tower...

A canvas I painted that says "O Holy Night, the Stars Are Brightly Shining, This is The Night Of Our Dear Savior's Birth" - I will have to post another photo that is close up.

My Little Art Project

I have been looking for a piece of decor to hang in between our two little windows above our bed, since we don't have a headboard. I have had the hardest time deciding what I want in that space, and what would work well between two square windows. I finally settled on ordering a vinyl wall cling, with maybe a quote or something about love, in white. In looking online I found you could order monograms, perfect! The only catch was that the size I wanted was going to be about $250 to order! YIKES! I woke up Saturday morning and had an epiphany, I could just paint a monogram! So I stripped the sheets off the bed, got the white paint down from the attic, and went to work. 

Meanwhile, Chris had been up for a couple of hours and was working on installing the waterline in the kitchen that would connect the sink to our new refrigerator, that was scheduled to be delivered Saturday morning. It's pretty common that Chris gets up early on weekend mornings, leaving me to sleep a couple of extra hours, and then comes in to check on me mid-morning. Saturday, he came in to check on me and found me painting our wall! I love that he trusts me enough to know that I have thought through the decisions I make without consulting him. Thankfully, he liked the finished art :)

And here's a quick picture of our new fridge! The final piece to the kitchen remodel!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Our 3rd Year Anniversary!

We like to celebrate special dates in our lives for a full week, so when it's time for a birthday or anniversary, we have a full week of celebration! I can't believe how fast three years has gone by both being married and living in Colorado. We've had so many wonderful memories over the last three years and I can honestly say, though I didn't think it was possible, I am even more in love today than I was on the day I said "I Do!" 

Flowers at work...

Anniversary dinner celebrating Chad and Michelle + Our 3 year anniversaries, both in November. We celebrated together at The Melting Pot - the fabulous fondue restaurant in Littleton, Colorado in an old Carnegie Library... the architecture is incredible! It's definitely one of our favorite restaurants in Colorado because of the setting and ambience.

This is a photo after our date night dinner, where we completely forgot to snap a photo at the restaurant! Chris found this great wine and cheese bar in Westminster > Here. It was a bit of a drive, but definitely worth it. We ordered flights of wine, one 2 oz pour of three different wines, and also ordered a cheese and meat tray. We had a great time sampling the different wines, many of which were grapes and blends we were not familiar with. The cheese and meat platter was served with apples, bread, crackers, cranberries, walnuts, Colorado honey, apricot preserves, dijon mustard, and figs. Delicious! These were our cheeses:

Walnut Gourmandise - Cow’s milk. France. Soft, buttery and with a hint of sweet served drizzled with Colorado wildflower honey. A customer favorite with its smooth and creamy layering of cheese and crunchy walnuts.

Prima Donna Red – Dutch Cow’s Milk. Full bodied, and full of flavor. Tiny salt crystals burst in your mouth as bite down. Then it suddenly melts and turns to cream in your mouth. Absolutely wonderful & served with a drizzle of Balsamic glaze. 

And our meal looked similar to this:

The meal was WONDERFUL and we will definitely have to frequent this gem again.

We stayed downtown Denver and watched the Parade of Lights from our room! This was our first Parade of Lights and it was so much fun that we've decided to go every year.

More balloons at the Parade of Lights.

We even got some snow for our anniversary! It was beautiful, and really put us in the mood for Christmas time, the most beautiful time of the year!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Bench!

Our Lee's Summit friend Julie was generous enough to sew us a custom bench cushion to fit our new kitchen bench. We picked a thicker, durable fabric with bright colors since our kitchen is primarily neutrals. The piping is an olive green velour/suede fabric, adding an extra punch of color. My parents brought the cushion when they came to Denver this trip, and we are happy to report the cushion fits perfectly and looks fabulous! It's the perfect accessory to complete our little breakfast nook! Thank you Julie!

Thanksgiving in Denver

This year for Thanksgiving, my mom, dad, sister Mollie and niece Aubri drove out from Lee's Summit. Also, Chad and Michelle joined us from Colorado Springs. We are thankful for friends and family that we were fortunate to be able to spend Thanksgiving with! We had a great time together, and three days later, we're still nibbling on leftovers. YUM!

Friday we drove out to Operation Christmas Child warehouse to drop off Aubri and Alayna's boxes they packed. We were able to get a quick tour of the processing center as well. We weren't able to work this year in the processing center because Aubri is 10, and you have to be 13 to be out on the floor, but we wanted her to be able to see the awesome process and volunteers that help to get her shoebox to kids all over the world! She's very excited to get to work at the processing center in 3 years!

We took a trip to IKEA, wandered around for two hours, and came out with a gingerbread house kit... plus a few other must-haves. Aubri built the house, with a little help from the home builder himself. After the house was complete, we realized it looked a lot like our original house! In hindsight, we should have purchased two kits and built an addition...

Our family wandered around downtown Littleton, CO on Saturday evening, perusing the cute boutiques and admiring the Christmas lights. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year!

Thursday evening, we had our own Christmas lights lighting, and Aubri was in charge of throwing the switch!

Mom and I spent Saturday shopping at the Castle Rock outlets (this is the big Christmas tree at the outlets)...

While Mollie and Chris watched football...