Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Unwrapped

Happy Holidays from the Tews! The past several days have been a whirlwind of food, presents, food, family, more food and holiday cheer. I think I may need to invest in some pants with an elastic waistband to compliment the few extra pounds I unwelcomingly gained this Christmas in Arab. Big families mean there are half a dozen family Christmas gatherings with more casseroles than a Southern Living cookbook, but I am not complaining. I enjoyed sampling each and every one!

Christmas morning is always an exciting time for the Hamilton household. Christmas is my mom's favorite holiday and she LOVES finding her children the perfect gifts. After all the presents are unwrapped, we have to tell her what our most favorite gift was.

Brad's favorite gift was an iPod docking station. Fyi...this was Brad's first Christmas Day with the Hamilton family...and he survived:)

My favorite gift was much needed luggage...Thank You!

Trey's favorite was a Sirius satellite radio. He could not wait to install it in his truck!

Mallory's favorite gift was the cutest black jacket!

After we opened our Santa presents, we went to our grandparent's house for lunch. Here we are with Granny Ham and Daddy Jack.

And, here is my whole family together. This pic turned out pretty good considering everyone is smiling!

After we ate lunch and opened presents at the Hamilton's, we drove across town to our other grandparents house for yet another Christmas. Here we are with Granny Honey and Daddy Dick. We are so fortunate to have grown up with both sets of our grandparents in the same town.

Well, now we have packed up all of our loot and tomorrow we will head even further south to have Christmas with Brad's family in Mob town. Stay tuned for Christmas Unwrapped Part Two!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Family Game Night: Hamilton Style

Tonight, the Hamilton family continued the game-night Christmas tradition. For the last several years, everyone gathers at Granny Ham and Daddy Jack's house to eat and play games during the holidays. As many of you know, my family will find any excuse to get together and eat:)

Tonight's menu consisted of a variety of soups including Taco Soup, Broccoli Cheese Soup and Sausage Turnip Green Soup all accompanied with a pan of fresh cornbread.

After we were stuffed silly, we kicked off the competition with the crowd favorite Apples to Apples. Us Hamiltons have the tendency to be very competitive and very loud. Perhaps some would describe it as ear deafening - ear plugs recommended:)

Now that great grandchildren have come into the picture, they seem to get all the attention. Isn't Tillie Ann cute? I don't know how we entertained ourselves before she and Jackson came along!

While the family was together, we took the opportunity to celebrate my cousin Anna's recent graduation from graduate school. Congrats Anna!

Deck the Halls

Last year, my mom had the bright idea to purchase a new Christmas tree, but not just any tree. An enormous, fifteen foot fraiser fur that takes three grown men to assemble.

It is as if the Rockefeller Christmas Tree has engulfed the living room. The reasoning behind this purchase seems logical: tall ceilings=tall tree. But, when it takes a twelve foot ladder and the balance of a tight rope walker to decorate the top, it begins to seem more like an overrated impulse buy. Although I must admit, it is absolutely beautiful!

Mom has a growing collection of hand blown, glass ornaments.

Not to be overlooked, there is a more understated "fruit" tree in the dining room.

My favorite Christmas decoration of all are our hand-stiched felt stockings.

Mom just finished Brad's stocking that she has been working on for a couple of months. The kit contained 126 pieces that had to be individually sewn together!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Yum, Yum!

After Mom, Mallory, Trey and I finished some last minute shopping, we decided to get in the holiday spirit by making some Christmas cookies.

Holiday baking has become a long standing Christmas tradition in my family. It was a bit touch and go this year, but the finished product is all that matters!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama

After driving eight hours in the rain earlier this week, I have finally made it back to Alabama...home to Dreamland Bar-B-Que, monogramming (there are NO monogramming shops in Winston-Salem!), Rick & Bubba and all things conservative...ahh, its good to be back! Unfortunately, I had to leave Brad at work back in North Carolina. He will fly home next week for Christmas.

Tomorrow, my mom, sister and I plan to brave the crowds and finish our Christmas shopping on Saturday. I thought I had checked all the names off my list, but inevitably I have forgotten a few things here and there.

John and Sherry over at This Young House have some clever, last minute holiday gift ideas. Check them out here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weekend Getaway: Part Two

On our way home from Raleigh, we made a detour to Durham, NC. You know that Brad couldn't be that close to Duke University and not stop! Brad was so excited to show me the legendary Cameron Indoor Stadium, home of Duke basketball. I was surprised when we pulled up to this:

My reply was, "Were is the stadium?" It doesn't look like much on the outside - just like another Gothic building on Duke's campus. I wasn't very impressed, but I think Brad got a little teary eyed at the sight of Cameron:) He is already making plans to venture back to Durham for the Duke vs. UNC Asheville game tomorrow!
My favorite building, was the Duke Chapel. Isn't it gorgeous? This picture really doesn't do the Chapel any justice. It is a huge church with rows and rows of ornate, quatrifoil windows - so beautiful! I wish the we could have gone inside. The online pictures of the interior look even more impressive!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Weekend Getaway

On Friday night, we were thrilled to have dinner with one of Brad's co-workers, Adam and his girlfriend Liz who was in town for the weekend. We went to a local restaurant downtown called Sweet Potatoes and it was delicious!

On Saturday, we hit the road for Brad's Brasfield & Gorrie Christmas party in Raleigh. The party was to be held at the fabulous Umstead Hotel & Spa. This hotel was by far one of the nicest that we have stayed at! The Umstead prides itself on pampering guests with luxury and great customer service. When we arrived, our personal concierge gave us a tour of the property and escorted us to our room.
This beautiful glass sculpture was displayed in the lounge as part of The Umstead's private art collection. There were amazing paintings, pottery and sculptures throughout the property.

The hotel was also decorated for Christmas with an abundance of natural foliage. I just loved the hand-blown glass ornaments on the Christmas trees!

After checking things out, we finally made it to our gorgeous room.

That night, we got all dolled up for the B&G Christmas party. Of course, we didn't know a soul other than Adam and Liz but, we enjoyed dinner and dancing! By the end of the night, we did meet a few people...too bad they live in Raleigh!

On Sunday morning, sweet Brad made arrangements for us to have a couples massage at the spa. It was such a wonderful treat! The spa was so amazing, I wish I could have taken more pictures. But I didn't want to offend all the people walking around in their bath robes:) One of my favorite things about the spa was sitting by the fire sipping this delicious Bombay Chai tea.

Sadly, our luxurious weekend getaway had to come to an end. But I couldn't leave without one of the lovely glass ornaments as a memento! On the way out, our concierge placed bottles of Voss water in our car for the drive home - so nice! Bye, we hope we can come back soon!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bragging Rights

When you have the cutest niece and nephew, you have bragging rights. Look at the Christmas card Brad and I received today:

Can you believe that Walker and Kathryn are two and a half now? They are fraternal twins and usually don't look anything alike. But, I think they favor in this picture. I don't know how Lauren got them still enough to get this great shot...too cute!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Seasonal Scents

For Thanksgiving this year, The Tew family spent the holiday in beautiful Highlands, North Carolina. Of course, the girls couldn't resist browsing the quaint shops downtown. We came across this charming store full of distressed furniture and accessories called Dutchman Designs. As we walked in the door, there was a large display of red, bean-looking things that smelled wonderful. The little beans were actually scented rose hips. If you are like me and don't have a clue what a rose hip is, find out here.
I left the store with several scoops of the signature holiday scent and sweet lime. Thankfully, I don't have to wait until next year to get a refill! For only $3 a scoop, you can order more online here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Home for the Holidays

Well, its more like home away from home for the holidays. Since we have moved to North Carolina, I have been working to make our temporary house a home. Recently, I drug out our Christmas decorations and began to dress our nest for the season.

Our tree showcases our collection of ornaments. My favorites are those that were handmade by my Mom's mother, Granny Honey. She works throughout the year to create these beautiful hand-stitched, felt ornaments. Each Thanksgiving Day, Granny Honey lets each grandchild choose one of the ornaments to keep. I now have 25 of these works of art that are very special to me. Here is a closer look at a few:

This is the ornament that Granny Honey gave me on my very first Christmas.

This is my favorite!

After an eventful morning of gathering a few stems of fresh greenery from the neighborhood, I was able to put together a few decorations for our mantle and coffee table. My neighbors were not happy that I had taken the liberty of "pruning" the holly bushes and evergreens in our culdesac.

I need a few more pieces of these pine branches, but I am not sure I am brave enough to endure another confrontation with the neighbors.

I love setting the table for the holidays. Unfortunately, our small breakfast table doesn't have much room for grand decorations, but I think it turned out ok. I love these crystal candlesticks that we received as a wedding present!