Two Days Till the End

... not to sound dramatic or anything, right?
This week held the last family gathering of the year!  We got together with Dad's side at my grandpa's house, ate food, made a gingerbread house, talked politics, and played music until the cows came home (oh wait, that was the boys).  My cousins and uncle were up from downstate, and our newest little cousin was there in all his Gerber-baby cuteness.
Liam watching Grandpa play carrom, an indispensable game if you care at all about traditions.
Liv and I assembled a gingerbread house; I did not eat myself sick this time!  *cheers*
It's like pulling teeth to get a picture of these three! Someone always has to crack a joke or jab their finger into someone's spine right as I take the photo.   Next time I'm grabbing a couple of these before I attempt a group shot:
Should do the trick.
Never in my life have I seen longer eyelashes.


when friends come to call!

Technically we went calling on a coffee shop, not on one another's houses, but anyway.  My siblings were going to see "The Adventures of Tintin" across town, so I thought "hey, why not get coffee while they're at the theater?" and called up one my best amigas, Holly
So we did.
We curled right up in these here two leather chairs. 

Her 20-ounce-with-four-shots-of-espresso-macchiato-latte dwarfed my peewee hot chocolate... those veteran coffee drinkers!  Holly then treated us to a delicious slice of caramel apple cheesecake, and like the shameless blogger I am I had to take a picture of it.

The cheesecake was so perfect, I believe it could only be topped by something like this:
Mmm.  Delectable. 

Moving on, Hols and I headed up to the thrift store to find the perfect "ugly-yet-cute-enough-to-wear-again" Christmas sweater, and I think she scored big time:

Another neat thing we spied was this necklace, which is totally overdone but still the coolest thing I've ever seen.  I considered buying it but knew I'd just hang the piece up on my wall as artwork instead of an accessory!  What do you think?  Like it?
Since we'd killed about an hour, we ambled around downtown, then sat down again in front of the coffee shop (called Jolly's, which I thought was appropriate since I'm with Holly and it's Christmas... get it?)

Then we took pictures in an alley (in case you ever visit my town, you're required to take pictures in an alley.  we have very photogenic alleys.).  

We look like a bumblebee.  And that's all!  

Happy Christmas Eve, dear ones.  I hope you're off enjoying the holiday instead of reading my blog.  Get off your computer and get outside!  Take a walk!  Make it a memorable holiday - after all, the world may end next year before Christmas has a chance to come again!   


Birthdays, eight times over

   Birthdays are a big deal here.  What with having eight people under one roof, you'd think hardly a month would go by without a birthday!  When I was about 11 my mom and dad implemented a new rule - full-out birthday parties were to be planned for the fifth, tenth, 13th, 16th, and 18th birthdays.  Hosting six different birthday bashes a year, every year is a little much!  We kids all like this way of  celebrating.  It makes birthday parties feel a lot more special, and we still do the whole "sing-happy-birthday-and-eat-cake-and-ice-cream-and-open-presents" thing, just with our family.
   Since this is Anders' tenth birthday, he's going to have a party.  However, it's going to be in the summertime because he's sick of inviting all his little guy friends over just to play in the snow!  I would do exactly the same thing if I were him.  

What are some of your birthday traditions?


a night to remember

Last night was our Christmas Formal/Cookie Exchange!  We've put on the party seven years in a row; it just gets better and better every year, thanks to the wonderful people attending and my mom's great planning.  My sister explains what it's all about on her blog, here. 

My dearest friend, Willow, whom I never see anymore,
was there with her family - so good to be with her again!

The lovely ladies of the Exchange!

Ella, Amy, Holly, and I; Amy did have a formal on but changed into
her pirate costume for her incredible performance of THIS SONG (in
that arrangement)

The bloggin' cousins!  Me, Alivia, Phylicia, and Ella.
Phylicia (in the red dress) and I both got our dresses at Goodwill - hers for $2.50 and mine for $2!!  Ella got her brown dress from the bridal salon where I work.  

Do you have a yearly get-together with family, friends, or both?  I'd love to hear about it!

Meet Virginia Design


fun & fancy-free

I am just now realizing how late I really am in posting these pictures.  This was almost a week ago!  
Amy and I at the Holiday Open House downtown
photo by Alivia

photo by Alivia
And now a photo OF Alivia, since 'tis not fair for my lovely cousin to go un-faced :

This is another must-do of the Christmas season!  The Holiday Open House is always one of the most fun nights of the year.  All the little stores are open with free treats and drinks for all, and the streets are closed to all traffic - unless you're on foot, of course!  There's a huge pine tree in the park, where Santa makes an appearance to toss the "magic dust" and light up the tree.  What seems like the entire population of my wee town turned out this year, thanks to the balmy weather.  No snow, and about 40 degrees - Michigan, what are you thinking?!  
I really didn't mean to turn these posts into a tell-all on my family's Christmas traditions, it just turned out that way!

Journeying and Tea

My sister's friend Becky came up from Florida (that's her on the right below) to visit and see the snow up here.  Unfortunately for her, this was our first December (in my memory anyway) that we didn't even have a hint of the fluffy stuff!  I guess she'll just have to come visit again... 

We drove up to see an indispensable Christmas tradition of ours.  A little church puts on what's called the "Journey to Bethlehem", which is basically a walk-through story of the Nativity, complete with actors, donkeys, and a ride on a horse-pulled wagon!  We've been going to it since we were babies, and it's one of our favorite events of the holiday season.

Riding the wagon to "Bethlehem" with Amy and Anthony

King Herod's court
Since Becky and Amy were staying the night, we decided to do hair masks to make our hair all nice and shiny.

A few "Four Weddings" episodes later, we rinsed our hair out and were left with soft, shiny locks!
The next day we said goodbyes at church, and Phy & Becky headed downstate and Amy went home with her family.  What a fun weekend!  

On another note, Ella and I were asked to head up and perform the music for a Christmas tea at our church; it was definitely a lesson in communication and planning, but the evening went well!  About 120 ladies attended; my other sister, Phylicia, was the speaker for the night and did a wonderful job, speaking on the subject of "Keeping Joy in the Holiday Season".

Today I go to work, then tomorrow is our big holiday party, and the day after that I retake the ACT, and the day after that I have to get up at 5 a.m. to sing at church!  I can't wait for this week to be over, but at the same time I don't want it to go away.