Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Home Tour

Funny that I'm finally sharing our Christmas decorations around the house on the day we decided to take everything down and pack it away for next year!  Hope you enjoy!

Yes, we have 2 trees in our little house.  What can I say?  I love Christmas!  The first tree is my "decorator" tree where all the ornaments coordinate.  This tree is our "family" tree.  It's always a real tree and the ornaments all have a special meaning or were gifts from friends & family.  Every since I was a baby, my mother gave me an ornament each year that signified something that happened in my life that year.  When we were married she handed them all down to me and I've continued the tradition for Cameron & I.  Our Christmas tree really tells a story and it means so much to me!

This ornament was a gift from our friend Lance who has gotten into woodworking.  How pretty is that?

This was the ornament we got this year - an anchor for our first boat!
I hope you enjoyed my little home tour.  Maybe next year I'll actually get it up BEFORE Christmas!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holidays at the Gills

Wow!  I feel like I blinked and both Thanksgiving & Christmas just flew by!  I am someone who really loves the Christmas season, but I have to admit this year I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  Blogging was just not in the cards.  But now that the family has gone home, the house is cleaned, and I feel like I have had a moment to breathe - I figured I should sit down and fill you in on our holiday season.  Be warned - long post ahead!

This year, we spent Thanksgiving at my grandmother's house (my mom's mom).  She lives on farmland in rural Goshen, AL.  Never heard of it?  Didn't think so - there's not even a stoplight in the town.  But it's where my mother and her siblings grew up and I have so many memories of visiting there.  It's always great to go back!  We had a full house - between my grandmother's 5 children, my 8 cousins and their spouses, and now 9 great-grand children, we ended up with 32 people.  Typical for most families, the time is spent eating, catching up, and of course watching football.  With the whole family together, my mother, aunts & uncles presented my grandmother with an early Christmas gift.  They had dedicated one of the new stained glass windows in her church to she and my late grandfather.

After our food settled, some of us headed out into one of the fields for some skeet shooting.  We certainly aren't very good (Cameron is the only hunter in the family), but it's always fun.

Cameron had to work the next day, but I stayed the night to spend more time with my family - especially my adorable nephew & niece visiting from Austin.

we're going to have to work on her selfies

my cousin's new Boston terrier

the best of many attempts to get a picture of Elijah with my cousin's daughter

after lots of fun, melt downs happen.  But how cute is he??

The day after Thanksgiving, the girls in the family that stayed at the house headed to Troy to visit a store I have been dying to go to for a while.  The Perfectly Imperfect shop.  It was everything I had imagined.  The rest of the group wasn't too sure what they were getting in to, but I think just about everyone purchased something and I walked out with an armload - including a new Dash & Albert throw at 40% off!  It's probably a good thing I don't live closer!!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving came another holiday in the state of Alabama - the Iron Bowl.  I've actually already blogged about it here, but it was such an amazing game - I just had to mention it again! :)

homemade Mama Goldberg nachos

this about sums it up

The next Saturday, Auburn headed to the SEC championship for a match-up with Missouri.  Crazy that the two worst teams from the conference last year were now playing for the championship this year.  I knew a win would be tough and frankly I was just happy for Auburn to be there after last year, but the right tigers pulled out the win.  I settled in for the night, content with our victory, socializing with the friends over the watch the game.  But the real excitement in the Gill house that night was when Michigan State pulled ahead of Ohio State.  No more discussion of whether or not a one-loss SEC team should skip an undefeated Ohio State with a less intense schedule to play for the title.  Our house erupted.  The Auburn Tigers, the laughing stock of the SEC last season, are headed for the National Championship game in Pasadena in January.  I am still in amazement!!  No, the Gills will not be attending.  I may bleed orange & blue, but I can't stomach spending several thousand dollars to watch a football game.  At the beginning of the season, I was just hoping for a winning season, now I'm hoping Auburn takes home the crystal football!

Early in December the Alabama Shakes came to town.  It was a sold out show and we were so excited to go with our friends Steve & Leslie - their first official outing since baby Ellie was born in September.  They put on an amazing show in a classic venue - the Saenger Theatre. 

Then the hustle and bustle of Christmas officially began.  With Thanksgiving coming late this year, I was definitely feeling the crunch.  My work schedule was packed so I may not have accomplished all the projects I had planned, but I did get my house decorated.  AND managed to take some decent pictures - but I'll share those in another post.

We hosted our friends' annual Dirty Santa party at our house this year.  It can get a little vicious, especially when the couples start strategizing - something Cameron & I perfected.  When a gift can only be stolen 3 times, you can really work that in your favor since it's coming home to the same house anyways!  After a little Dirty Santa, we played multiple rounds of Heads Up - an app on the Ipad much like charades.  It's hilarious!  We had a great time with friends before everyone got wrapped up in family time.

Geoff's Dirty Santa gift - scratch off tickets!


This year was our year to spend Christmas in Mobile.  We also invited my parents down to spend the holiday with us.  My mother was a huge help!  She jumps in and gets things done without me ever asking.  I'm not sure I would have pulled off Christmas dinner without her.  The night before Christmas Eve, we headed out to Bellingrath Gardens for their annual walking Christmas lights show.  Cameron & I hadn't been since before we were married.  It was beautiful, but cold!

my parents

On Christmas Eve, we went to Chris (Cameron's brother) & Anne's house for dinner- delicious beef tenderloin, then off to service at the church both they and Dottie, my mother-in-law attend, Trinity Episcopal.  This service was extra special because last Christmas Eve, the church was hit by a tornado that damaged many homes in the area, including Dottie's.  The congregation is still meeting in the parrish hall because repairs on the historic sanctuary have not been completed.  Several news channels were in attendance and somehow Cameron, me, and my parents ended up in a photo of the service.  It's not often you have pictures of your family in Christmas Eve service.  It's also a little funny that this is the second time I've ended up in a photo in a news article about Trinity, a church I don't attend!



Cameron & Philip


Chris, Anne, & the boys

Cameron & I spent Christmas morning opening presents with my parents at our house.  It's funny how my wishlists have changed over the years.  I'm now the proud owner of a Dyson Animal vacuum cleaner.  I think I'm officially old!  After a little lounging, we started preparing Christmas dinner - stuffed flounder & redfish on the half shell.  The other Gills came over and we presented our 4 nephews with their gifts.

First, they unwrapped a new nerf gun for each of them.

Then off to the backyard to hunt for their new target.

posing with their "kill"

For dessert, I my mom made this amazing cake from the cover of the December issue of Southern Living - alternating layers of red velvet cake and white chocolate cheesecake.  Cameron had requested it and I quickly realized I didn't have the time as it really is a 2 day process, so my mom stepped in and made it happen.  I'm pretty sure it was a success.

The next day, my mom and I hit up a few after Christmas sales - our Dec 26 tradition, met Cameron, my dad, and Dottie for lunch, then they were on their way back to Memphis.  And in the wink of an eye, Christmas was over.

I think that sums it up.  Still reading?  Bless you.  I'll be back with another post on our Christmas decorations and our Christmas card.  Hopefully, that won't take me another month to do!