As mentioned in my previous November update, we decorated our tree right after Thanksgiving and immediately started with the Christmas music and movies. I absolutely adore the living room during Christmastime. It's just so cozy to me!
Sitting in the glow of the Christmas tree is one of my favorite things to do. This elephant ornament is really special to me because it was given to me by my sister after her time in Uganda with the African Children's Choir. It was special to me back then, but now that she is gone it holds even more significance each Christmas I spend without her.
A little bit of my gift-giving took me to one of my favorite places at Christmas - Ponce City Market. It is always amazing, but the added Christmas cheer makes it extra special.
Apart from the typical decorating and gift-giving aspects of Christmas, Allie and I did a lot of fun things celebrating the season this year. One night earlier in the month, I took her out for a special night. I had been wanting to take her to this restaurant called Bread & Butterfly which serves a pretty epic tomato soup (which is one of her favorite foods). Bread & Butterfly is a charming, French restaurant in Inman Park with incredible details and intentional ambiance. Here are some pics provided by the restaurant. :)
We went at night so the place felt even warmer and cozier than when it is flooded with natural light.
After our quick bite at Bread & Butterfly, we headed over to Buckhead to attend The Grove, Passion City Church's monthly women's event. I brought Allie here twice last year, but we had never been at Christmas time.
The whole evening was really special, but for me... what stands out the most are the stories. They had 6 or 7 women share their stories in the most beautiful way. All of them were so different but so beautiful as they shared how God had transformed their pain into hope, how He has been their "help from heaven". The last two women (pictured below) were two of the mothers who lost their daughters in that tragic UGA car accident last spring that took the lives of 4 young students.
Thanks Passion City for such a wonderful evening encouraging the women of this city.
The following week was Perimeter's Christmas program called One Child and it was incredible. Utilizing some new technology, they pulled off a really phenomenal experience celebrating who Jesus is and what He has done. The whole team did such an amazing job. Really, photos don't do it justice, but thanks to Jon Berry Photo, I have a few to share!
The following week Zach was scheduled to be out of town for work so that meant Allie and I had a week to ourselves. Since the likelihood of this happening again is very slim, I wanted to make the most of it by planning something special and Christmasy for each day.
On Monday, we served with the Norcross Co-Op. This organization supports over 800 families and provides Christmas for thousands of homeless or needy children in our area. The concept seems simple, but the execution is one giant beast of a project! The overly simplified description of this initiative is that people/businesses/etc. donate tons and tons of gifts for children. All these gifts are then organized and set up like a giant store. Volunteers then come through the store and "shop" for a specific family, picking out gifts for each child based on their age, wishes/interests. Those toys are then bagged and tagged for the appropriate family and they are transported to another location where pick up will happen. Last year we participated in the "shopping for a family" portion of the process, which you can check out from last year's Christmas post. This year I wanted us to serve the families in person so we signed up to work one of the pick-up nights where families come to collect their gifts.
After getting their snacks and cocoa, the kids got activity packets (to keep them occupied while they waited in line) and then a chance to get a photo with Santa!
On Tuesday Allie and I had a "Buddy the Elf" night. I made breakfast for dinner (which included lots of Buddy-inspired syrupy treats) and we watched the movie Elf!
Triple Ginger Brew from Trader Joes. I love gingerale (well, ginger anything) and this stuff is so good!
This triple berry compote is good on pancakes/waffles or I just enjoy it alone with some whipped coconut cream on top!
Dad is scoping out the engine.
|Jon Berry Photo|
|Jon Berry Photo|
He also sang one of my favorite Christmas songs - Winter Snow by Chris Tomlin :) Here's a short clip!
Of course the highlight moment of Christmas Eve is always the traditional singing of Silent Night in candlelight.
|Jon Berry Photo|
Merry Christmas from our family to yours! :)
|Jon Berry Photo|
Although Zach and his brother Ian had two more services to play at the church, the rest of us headed home for a relaxing Christmas Eve. I served up my family's traditional Christmas Eve meal- mini pizzas (made to order) and soup! I was so busy I didn't have a chance to photograph my own dishes, I made this Ham Potato Kale soup
On Christmas morning I hit the ground running cooking and prepping for breakfast and lunch. The family enjoyed time gathered in the living room opening gifts and listening to Christmas music while a snowy winter scene displayed on the TV distracted us from the fact it was like 60 degrees outside. Ha! Zach and I love giving each other "good" cards for various celebrations throughout the year. Good cards mean well designed cards typically found in boutique paper shops. I have a knack for finding the best ones and I must say I did *slay* this Christmas by finding this little gem for him. LOL
another appetizer: dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto (Zach's favorite)
2 main proteins: Ina Garten's herb roasted turkey and poppyseed chicken (that isn't pictured because it basically just looks like a casserole dish of crushed crackers haha This dish is beloved by my BIL Ian)
Sides: Sauteed skillet green beans, AIP scalloped sweet potatoes (requested by Allie), broccoli salad (which my dad loves and used to be prepared by my sister at Thanksgiving), GF biscuits and regular rolls.
2 desserts: Chocolate brownie trifle and Paleo blueberry crisp
I mean... SO GOOD.
My big AG (Anna Grace) showing us her mastered skills on a two-wheeler. We've known this sweetie since she was 4 months old and I just adore her. We spent a good part of our time together building the Beauty and the Beast castle out of legos. :)
Unfortunately, not long after arriving back home Zach got a stomach bug. :( And then I got it the next day which just happened to be New Years Eve. :( :( :( Needless to say it was a VERY uneventful new years haha since I spent almost all of it in bed. No yummy treats for us, just lots of pear ginger tea,